The Palmetto Blind

National Federation of the Blind logo and tagline - live the life you want.The Palmetto Blind

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


Longtime Federationist Leader and Piano Tuner Marshall Tucker Passes at age 99


Summer 2023


          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 text email format.  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.  Upon request, we can email a color photo version in a pdf format.  This version is not useful to adaptive technology like JAWS or Guide.  Braille or large print copies may be retained for personal libraries.  A special thank you goes to Shannon Cook who proofreads the Palmetto Blind.




I pledge to participate actively in the effort of the National Federation of the Blind; to achieve equality, opportunity, and security for the blind; to support the policies and programs of the Federation; and to abide by its constitution. 




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.


January 7, 2023 Statewide Seminar Kicks Off the New Year in Fine Fashion

By David Houck



          The morning of Saturday, January 7 was crisp and cool with bright sunshine as federationists from all across the state entered into the Federation Center of the Blind, culminating in an audience approaching 125 for the first fully in-person seminar in three years. NFB of SC President and Clarendon Chapter President, Marty McKenzie called the seminar to order promptly at 10 a.m., welcoming those in attendance.  NFB of SC Board Member and Columbia Chapter President, Isaiah Nelson gave a warm welcome to everyone participating.  Isaiah was in the process of preparing the seminar luncheon as he has done for many years.  NFB of SC Board Member and Lee Chapter President, Linda Dizzley gave the invocation.  NFB of SC 2nd Vice President and Sumter Chapter President, Debra Canty gave the one minute speech followed by NFB 1st Vice President and Rock Hill Chapter President, Lenora Robertson who led in the Pledge of Allegiance and the NFB Pledge.  NFB of SC Board Member and Rocky Bottom Board Chairman, Thom Spittle presented auction items throughout the day, raising funds for RBRCCB, totaling $2,770 by the end of the day.

Photo captions:

Left to right:  Linda Dizzley, Marty McKenzie, and Debra Canty with Isaiah Nelson in back.


RBRCCB Chairman Thom Spittle

performing the auction with a table full of auction items.


          Thanks to Larry Warrington, the seminar was live streamed over ZOOM, increasing our overall audience.

          Our next presenter was Andrew Adams, NFB of SC District 2 Board Member, presenting his story of both physical struggles as well as struggles concerning blindness.  Mr. Adams is a true example of perseverance.  He completed his degree in Early Childhood Education from Midlands Tech in 2008.  Shortly thereafter he began losing his sight and he joined the Columbia Chapter in 2020.  Andrew graduated from Limestone College with a degree in VR studies in 2023.  He is involved as Co-chair of the NFB of SC Fundraising Committee, the Computer Science Division and the SC Association of Black Leaders.

          Karma Marshall, Director of Consumer Services with the SC Commission for the Blind encouraged federationists to share ideas concerning delivery of services to the blind, referrals for filling Commission board positions, and in hiring qualified blind persons within the agency.  She did caution that funding limitations restricted the agency in certain areas.

          As President McKenzie stated in the January 9 Positive Note, “Jennifer Falvey, Director of Talking Book Services from the SC State Library, provided statistics regarding current patrons.  The Talking Book Services program currently has more than 4,000 registered. There will be a patron drive this year, because it’s estimated that 120 to 130 thousand South Carolinians are eligible for this wonderful service. Jennifer also commented that the National Library Service is currently working on the next generation book player, but progress is slow.”

Photo Captions:

Andrew Adams

Karma Marshall            

Jennifer Falvey      

Sonia Timmons

          Sonia Timmons shared experiences she and her daughter went through concerning blindness.  She is interested in becoming active in the Parents of Blind Children Division of the NFB of SC.

          Former NFB of SC President, former NFB Director of Governmental Affairs and current Administrative Law Judge, Parnell Diggs spoke on the purpose of conventions.  He recounted that as a child he wanted to be a fire fighter but he was told that for a blind person this was unrealistic.  However, although his young brother wanted to be Santa’s helper, no one told him this was unrealistic.  There seems to be low expectations for the blind but no expectation is too far out for the sighted.  That is why we have the NFB.  “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.”  The One Minute Message is for real. That is how we accomplish and exceed our goals.

          Next on the agenda former NFB of SC President, Frank Coppel took some time to raise SUN Shares for the NFB as their rainy day fund.  In short order it was estimated that $2,870 in SUN Shares was collected or pledged. 

Photo captions:

Parnell Diggs

Frank Coppel

Seminar audience

Board meetings

          During the NFB of SC luncheon board meeting, it was determined that Marty McKenzie will be the NFB of SC national convention delegate and Lenora Robertson would be the alternate delegate.  The January 29 to February 2 Washington Seminar would be attended by Debra Canty, Diana Singleton, Jennifer and Matthew Duffell-Hoffman, Lenora Robertson, Anna Price, Elizabeth Rouse, Tomecki Williams and Janice Smith.  The NFB of SC Convention is scheduled for August 18-20 and will be located in Columbia at the Embassy Suites.  The price will be $112 per room night.  The board will request Norma Crosby to be our National Representative at the state convention.  The state board suspended for the RBRCCB board to meet briefly.  One change was made in the rental price for outside renters at Osterneck Cottage with a $25 charge per room night plus a $15 per person fee per night for those under 18 and a $20 per person fee per night for those 18 and over.  This includes a $100 minimum fee.  Frozen pipes in December are being replaced by plex expandable pipes.

          Following the luncheon, the afternoon session covered the Accessible Pharmacy over ZOOM.  Andy Berstein presented this pharmacy which takes your needs in mind.  It is structured around getting to know what you are using, how you want to receive your medications and much more.  The Accessible Pharmacy accepts Medicare and Medicaid as well as other health plans and is available in 32 states including South Carolina.

          Next the Federation Center report was made by Executive Director David Houck and Board Chairman Ed Bible.  Mr. Houck recounted how he saw the potential of the Center when he was hired 40 years ago and gave Ed Bible credit for his insight and foresight in renovating the entire facility including technological advances.  As Successful Transitions moved back into the Federation Center in December 2022, a new Director’s office had to be built.  By the time it was constructed, friends and federationists alike contributed the $6,470 to meet the total cost of construction.  Ed Bible was exuberant about the fact that the Center belongs to the blind and is supported by the blind with direction by our Center’s statewide board. .  Mr. Bible got the crowd revved up by encouraging continued progress for the Federation.

          Thom Spittle gave the Rocky Bottom Retreat and Conference Center of the Blind report.  Over $5,000 was raised through the Friends of Rocky Bottom fundraiser that took place from October to December 2022.  As reported above, the auction went well.  Rocky Bottom’s $5 fundraising tickets were available to sell, providing the buyer of the winning ticket $500, the seller $50 and the chapter or division selling the most tickets $300 for its treasury.  The drawing will be held on March 18 at the Leadership Seminar.  Tracy Spittle spoke about the summer Children’s Camps and Shelley Coppel spoke concerning the Spring and Fall Senior Camps.  The RBRCCB Board decided that the blind would determine its own programs and not any outside agency.

          By the end of the day, much was accomplished.  Everyone returned home to share new-found knowledge about the Federation and statewide blindness programs and issues. The point was reinforced that we can live the lives we want! Blindness is not what holds us back!

Photo captions:

 Left to right:  Shelley Coppel, Tracy Spittle and Thom Spittle


Ed Bible                         



Marshall Tucker – Eight Decades as a Federationist, a Charter Member,  Leader and a Piano Tuner

By David Houck


Photo of Lois and Marshall Tucker

Marshall Tucker was an active member and supporter of the Federation since its inception in 1944.  From the beginning until 1975 the NFB of SC was known as the South Carolina Aurora Club of the Blind.  Founded by Dr. Samuel Miller Lawton under an apple tree, Marshall was one of its founding members.  He was involved in many aspects concerning blindness.  At that time Marshall was a piano tuner in Spartanburg and the Marshall Tucker band was named after him.  Marshall Tucker served as state President in the 1960’s.  He worked tirelessly on closing down the Association’s run down workshop which hired the blind that lived in poor conditions.  From 1962 to 1966, Mr. Tucker and Donald Capps and others saw the need for a separate state agency for the blind and on May 6, 1966 the SC Commission for the Blind was established.  By the way, the Association’s Workshop property was given to the Commission.  He took his first trip to Washington DC in 1968.  He moved to Columbia in 1968.  In 2022, Marshall and his lovely wife Lois celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary, being married in 1972.  She was always at his side in all that he accomplished.  He spoke historically at the NFB of SC’s 75th anniversary and he was present at the Federation Center’s 50th and 60th anniversary.  During 2022 the NFB national office did an oral history on Marshall Tucker.  All of these things are written up in previous editions of the Palmetto Blind.  Marshall was and Lois Tucker is very hospitable and they were generous in giving to all aspects of the Federation throughout the years.  We will all miss Marshall Tucker as he died at age 99 and we give Lois Tucker our best wishes, condolences and love.

          Marshall Tucker’s funeral service on January 25 at Calvary Baptist Church was packed with many family members, friends and Federationists.  As much as we individually knew of Marshall, it seemed that we each learned much more.  I was pleased that Thom Spittle, Doug Hudson and Jean Sutton all sang during the service.  You could tell that Marshall loved the Lord, technology, baseball and the Gamecock football team.  He had an internal GPS wherever he went and wouldn’t give up all his tricks when others asked him how he knew something.  We wish blessings for his wife Lois and their family members.  Lois Tucker presented the Federation Center of the Blind with a t-shirt which belonged to Marshall.  It is bright yellow with an Apple tree in the center, having wording over the tree which reads, “That which is essential is never invisible in our eyes,” and  by the trunk is the “NFB of SC,” andunder the tree it reads, “Under the Apple Tree, Spartanburg Chapter.”

          On January 20, David Houck emailed the Marshall Tucker Band about his passing and importance to the blind community and others.  At the funeral, the Marshall Tucker Band had a large floral arrangement set in Calvary Baptist Church.  Here is a photo and a few of the comments from their Facebook page:

Photo of Marshall Tucker at the piano


Marshall Tucker Band

Posted January 21, 2023 at 11:33 a.m.

We are saddened to hear of the passing of someone very special to our hearts, for very obvious reasons. Our band’s namesake, Mr. Marshall Tucker, passed away peacefully yesterday morning at the age of 99. Though he was never a member of our band, we wouldn’t be here today without his historic name. In the early days when we were rehearsing in an old warehouse in Spartanburg, we found a keychain inscribed with his name. We needed a name asap… and the rest is history! Marshall was blind since birth but amazingly could play the heck out of the piano. He always said his talent was simply God-given. He tuned pianos in South Carolina for decades. We are thankful for Mr. Marshall Tucker and the life he lived! Sending blessings to his wife and family.

God Bless,

The Marshall Tucker Band

Vicki Phillips

The man whose curious never wore out. The day before he fell, he called me to test out a process with their phone

Wouldn't y'all be his namesake; the definition is being named after someone. Mr. Tucker was technically there first—smile

Doug Gray

He has a lots of love. We’re very sorry.  God bless his family today and forever.

Paul Pabst

Very sad to hear of his passing. Mr. Tucker was a customer of mine over the past 15 years. When he came in he always asked for me by name, to help him with his battery powered gadgets that made his life easier to deal with his blindness through daily life.

Always such a pleasant and appreciative demeanor.

I feel blessed to have known him on a personal level.

Fair Well My Friend - Rest comfortably now.

Linda Williams Belcher

The summer of 1965, I worked for a music company. Marshall Tucker came in each week to check the pianos. I loved to watch, and hear, him play. He was a kind man and a wonderful pianist. Blessings to his family during this time of loss

Melissa Croft Price

Thank you for your tribute to my Uncle Marshall and Aunt Lois. He bought me my first piano when I was 6, a Kimball, which I had for 39 years. We played many a duet together and sang many hymns together around that piano. He was such an amazing person and a Very Very Special Uncle, Great Uncle and Great Great Uncle of my family. He always brought sunshine to our family Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. Always had the BEST stories and history to share! So thank you for sharing your story with us of your memories with Uncle Marshall

Amie Harrison Mansperger

Back in the 80’s Mr. Tucker came to our house to tune our piano and he told me this story about the band and how it got its name. He was so proud. He also asked me about our piano and how we came about it, which was quite a deal. I told him. Before he left, he turned at the door and said, “How did you sleep last night?” I said, “very well, why?” He said, “because you stole that piano!” We all had a laugh. I will never forget the days Mr. Marshall Tucker came to my house to tune that piano.

Joyce Smith Williams

Marshall Tucker tuned my piano twice. The first time was in Spartanburg when I was about 8 years old. The next time was here in Columbia when I was in my twenties. He was a marvel to observe. His love of God and his Christianity shone through in everything he did. He gave us a concert each time after tuning my piano. I was certainly blessed from knowing him. The song I remember the most was when he played “How Great Thou Art” and sang along with it. It was amazing. RIP, Dear Man!

'He had our best interests at heart' Namesake of Spartanburg's Marshall Tucker Band dies at 99

By Joanna Johnson, Spartanburg Herald-Journal

          Marshall Tucker was a South Carolina piano tuner, who was born blind, but friends say he had an extraordinary ear for pitch and could name any note he heard.

Tucker died peacefully Friday, Jan. 20 in West Columbia, according to a message on the Instagram page of the Marshall Tucker Band. He was 99. The Instagram post also said "Marshall was blind since birth but amazingly could play the heck out of the piano. He always said his talent was simply God-given. He tuned pianos in South Carolina for decades."

          "He was a very nice guy who had our best interest at heart. He would do interviews and had always good words for us," said Douglas Gray, lead singer of Marshall Tucker Band. "He's just a great guy, so kind all the time, and I'd call just to cheer him up when he was sick."

          Tucker's name became synonymous with the Southern Rock Band, but he was never part of the group. However, some band members have said over the years without Tucker there would have never been a band by that name. The band saw the name in 1972 when they rented an old warehouse in Spartanburg to use for rehearsals.

          Marshall Tucker Band Concert, Marshall Tucker Band performs in front of crowd of 5,500 in downtown Spartanburg.

          What is it about a name? How the Marshall Tucker Band got its name

          One of the members noticed the name "Marshall Tucker" inscribed on the building's key, as it had been previously occupied by Tucker for his piano tuning business. And the rest is history.

          "How do you cover 99 years of life? He was kind, nonconfrontational and he just went with the flow," said Deborah Duval, the daughter of Tucker. "He loved people and could talk to anybody about anything. He was just a good, Christian man."

          Duval said her father's disability never stopped him from learning and trying new things, and she never thought of her father as blind.

          "My daddy has been independent, since forever," Duval said. "He learned how to use a computer and had a house full of toys such as his organ, piano, harmonica and radio. They [Tucker and his wife] did their Sunday school lessons and read many books, and he even worked for the National Federation of the Blind. He and a few blind friends would go to Columbia to discuss politics for blind people. He's done so much, we should write a book."

          Tucker also served as the president for the National Federation of the Blind in South Carolina and worked on legislation for blind residents.

          When the band started using his name, Tucker didn't know anything about it and the band didn't know him. The band and Tucker eventually figured out what was happening. Tucker was the namesake for the band ever since.

          Marshall Tucker BandIn their own words: Spartanburg classic rockers Marshall Tucker Band talk legacy, future

          The six founding members of Marshall Tucker were, brothers Tommy and Toy Caldwell on bass and lead guitar, rhythm guitarist George McCorkle, drummer Paul T. Riddle, lead singer Doug Gray and Jerry Eubanks on flute and saxophone,

          Through tragedy, various lineup changes and more have happened   with the band, but it has now spanned a half-century. Last year in celebration of the group’s 50th anniversary, Gray and the rest of the group's current members - guitarists Rick Willis and Chris Hicks, drummer B.B. Borden, keyboardist-saxophonist-flutist Marcus James Henderson and bassist Ryan Ware -- played dozens of shows across the U.S., including a free hometown performance on June 7 at Morgan Square in downtown Spartanburg, held in conjunction with the BMW Charity Pro Am golf tournament.  

"We are in California right now for our shows, but I wish we were over there to give the family our condolences," Gray said. "He's in a much better place now, and someday we will be in a better place with him too."



Marshall Columbus Tucker

January 20, 2023

          Columbia, South Carolina - A funeral service for Marshall Columbus Tucker, 99, will be held at 12:00 noon Wednesday, January 25, 2023 at Calvary Baptist Church, with burial in Greenlawn Memorial Park. The family will receive friends from 10:30 until 11:45 a.m. prior to the service at Calvary Baptist Church.

          Mr. Tucker passed away on Friday, January 20, 2023. Born in Givhans, SC, Marshall was the youngest son of Arthur Seabrook Tucker and Louise Langdale Tucker. Marshall graduated from the South Carolina School for the Deaf and Blind. After graduation, Marshall was employed by Rice Music House in Spartanburg and later became a self-employed piano tuner in Spartanburg. Marshall later moved to Columbia to work for Havens Music Company before again becoming self-employed. Marshall was an active member of Calvary Baptist Church for 47 years. He was a Deacon, choir member, Sunday School teacher and very active in the music program.

          Marshall was a charter member of the National Federation of the Blind of South Carolina and worked tirelessly on legislation for the blind citizens of SC.

          Surviving are his wife of 50 years, Lois Boltin Tucker; and two daughters from a previous marriage, Deborah Duval (Rick) of West Columbia, SC and Anita Satterfield of Leesville, SC; 3 grandchildren; 6 great-grandchildren; and 5 nieces. Marshall was predeceased by his son-in-law, Henry Satterfield.

          Memorials may be made to Calvary Baptist Church, 500 S Kilbourne Rd, Columbia, SC 29205, or Federation Center of the Blind, 119 S Kilbourne Road, Columbia, SC 29205.

          Dunbar Funeral Home, Devine Street Chapel, is assisting the family. Memories may be shared at


National Issues at the Annual Washington Seminar


(Editor’s Note:  In 2023 a number of SC Federationists went to Washington, DC to promote the following three legislative issues.  For the first time in a few years because of the pandemic, our SC Federation delegation, among hundreds of Federationists, were again allowed to roam the Halls of Congress to garner support for these issues instead of using ZOOM to contact our SC Congressional Delegation.)

Blind Americans Return to Work Act

          Issue—Current Social Security law contains a policy that has the unintended consequence of discouraging blind Americans from maximizing their earnings potential. 

          The Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program has a built in “earnings cliff”. Title II of the Social Security Act provides that disability benefits paid to blind beneficiaries are eliminated if the beneficiary exceeds a monthly earnings limit.  This earnings limit, often called the “earnings cliff,” is in effect a penalty imposed on blind Americans when they work. For example, the earnings limit in 2023 for a blind person is $2,460 per month. If a blind individual earns more than that threshold, even by just one dollar, they are engaged in substantial gainful activity (SGA). Under the current law, any individual engaged in SGA is not entitled to any SSDI benefits. This means that if a blind person earns just one dollar over the earnings limit, all benefits are lost.

          The earnings cliff has the unintended consequence of creating an incentive for blind people to remain unemployed or underemployed, despite their desire to work. In a 2018 survey, National Industries for the Blind (NIB) found that 21 percent of respondents from thirty-four of their non-profit associations had turned down a raise or promotion to retain their SSDI benefits.  The survey also found that 37 percent of respondents had turned down additional hours or even asked to reduce their hours in order to retain their SSDI benefits.  Blind Americans who are willing and capable to work are intentionally limiting themselves in order to keep from suddenly losing all of their SSDI benefits.

          The current work incentive in the form of the trial work period is needlessly complicated and counterintuitive. Under the current SSDI program, if a blind worker wants to try and earn more money they will likely trigger a nine-month trial work period. These nine months do not have to be consecutive, but instead are any nine months during a rolling sixty month period in which the worker earned more than a certain amount (for 2023 this amount is $1,050 per month). When all of those nine months are exhausted, the worker is once again subject to the earnings cliff if they cross the SGA threshold. This is supposed to act as an incentive for blind recipients to determine if they are ready to work, but the complexity of the rules makes it easier to just ignore the process altogether. Additionally, 80 percent of respondents to NIB’s 2018 survey said they did not have access to coaching or guidance on federal benefits. 

Solution—Blind Americans Return to Work Act will:

          Eliminate the earnings cliff by instituting a two-for-one phase-out of earnings over the SGA limit. For every two dollars a blind worker earns above the SGA threshold, their benefits amount will be reduced by one dollar.

          Create a true work incentive for SSDI recipients. With a phase-out model, blind workers will always be better off striving to earn as much as possible, which will facilitate the transition of those workers from the SSDI system as benefits are gradually reduced. With this model, blind Americans will never lose by working. As an added benefit, fewer workers earning SSDI benefits and instead paying into the Social Security Trust Fund means a more balanced Trust Fund in time.  

          Simplify the SSDI system by eliminating the trial work period and grace period, making the rules more compatible with the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. Under the proposed system, the SSDI program will become less complicated. With both programs using similar rules, there will be less confusion, and the incentive for blind people to return to work will be consistent and clear.


          Sponsor the Blind Americans Return to Work Act.


Medical Device Nonvisual Accessibility Act

Issue—Inaccessible digital interfaces prevent blind individuals from independently and safely operating medical devices that are essential to their daily healthcare needs. 

          Medical devices with a digital interface are becoming more prevalent and less accessible for blind Americans. The rapid proliferation of advanced technology is undeniable. Most new models of medical devices, such as glucose and blood pressure monitors, along with the emergence of in-home devices that offer medical care options, such as chemotherapy treatments and dialysis, require consumers to interact with a digital display or other interfaces. This new technology has been and continues to be developed and deployed without nonvisual accessibility as an integral part of the design phase, which creates a modern-day barrier. The inaccessibility of these medical devices is not a mere inconvenience; when accessibility for blind consumers is omitted from the medical technology landscape, the health, safety, and independence of blind Americans are in imminent danger.

          Telehealth currently makes up 20 percent of all medical visits, and more healthcare providers are looking to expand telemedicine services.  The National Center for Health Statistics also reported in 2021 that 37 percent of all adults used telehealth, illustrating an increase in telehealth visits.  Unfortunately, these visits assume that a person has easy access to accessible medical devices to take their own vital signs. As a result of inaccessibility, blind and low-vision Americans are at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to receiving the same virtual healthcare as their sighted counterparts.

          Nonvisual access is achievable, as demonstrated by several mainstream products. Apple has incorporated VoiceOver (a text-to-speech function) into all its products, making iPhones, Macbooks and Mac desktops, and iPads fully accessible to blind people right out of the box. Virtually all ATMs manufactured in the United States are accessible, and every polling place is required to have a nonvisually accessible voting machine. Frequently, a simple audio output or vibrotactile feature can make a product accessible at little to no additional cost for manufacturers.

          Current disability laws are not able to keep up with advancements due to the expeditious evolution of medical technology and its incorporation into medical devices. Although the Americans with Disabilities Act and other laws require physical accessibility for people with disabilities (e.g., wheelchair ramps, Braille in public buildings), no laws protect the blind consumer’s right to access medical devices. The National Council on Disability concluded that accessibility standards lag behind the rapid pace of technology, which can interfere with technology access.  This trend of inaccessibility will continue if accessibility solutions are ignored. Only a fraction of medical device manufacturers have incorporated nonvisual access standards into their product design, while others continue to resist these solutions.

          Solution—Medical Device Nonvisual Accessibility Act:

          Calls on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to promulgate nonvisual accessibility regulations for Class II and Class III medical devices. The FDA will consult with stakeholders with disabilities and manufacturers and issue a notice of proposed rulemaking no later than twelve months after the date of enactment of the act. No later than suggest style guide for numbers means twenty-four months after the date of enactment of the act, the FDA will publish the final rule including the nonvisual accessibility requirements.

          Requires manufacturers of Class II and Class III medical devices to make their products nonvisually accessible. Manufacturers will have twelve months following the publication of the final rule to ensure that all the Class II and Class III medical devices they produce are nonvisually accessible.

          Authorizes the FDA to enforce the nonvisual access requirements for Class II and Class III medical devices. Any manufactured device found to be out of compliance, whether by a public complaint to the FDA or by an independent FDA investigation, will be considered an adulterated product under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. Manufactures may file for an exemption for one of two reasons: clear and convincing evidence that making the medical device nonvisually accessible would fundamentally alter the use of the product; or proof that modifying the medical device would create an undue burden for the company.


          Sponsor the Medical Device Nonvisual Accessibility Act.


Websites and Software Applications Accessibility Act

          Issue--Websites are required by law to be accessible, but without implementing regulations most businesses and retailers have little understanding of what accessible means.

          Websites and mobile applications are an essential part of modern living. More than 307 million Americans use the internet,  and 81 percent of Americans say that they access the internet at least once each day.  That means that nearly the entire country is accessing websites and mobile applications every day. However, the need to access websites and mobile applications doesn’t stop when it reaches Americans with disabilities. According to the American Community Survey, conducted by the United States Census Bureau, there are approximately forty-one million Americans who currently have a disability.  This means that millions of disabled Americans are using websites and mobile applications. 

          The Department of Justice announced its intention to publish accessible website regulations more than a decade ago. On July 26, 2010, the twentieth anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the government published an advance notice of proposed rulemaking to address website accessibility.  After that initial announcement, the Department of Justice failed to publish a notice of proposed rulemaking, and by extension, final regulations. Without these final regulations in place, blind and disabled Americans face significant difficulty in electronically accessing businesses, applying for jobs, or working due to the barrier of website inaccessibility.

          The past few years have seen a significant increase in the prevalence of so-called “click-by” lawsuits. Many businesses are required by law to make their websites accessible but claim to have no clear-cut definition of what “accessible” actually means. Meanwhile, people with disabilities must cope with inaccessible websites. ADA Title III lawsuits, which include website accessibility suits, hit record numbers in 2019, topping 11,000 for the first time.  The number of lawsuits has been increasing steadily since 2013, when the figure was first tracked.  Businesses yearn for a clear definition of website accessibility and to be able to expand their potential customer pool to consumers they were not reaching before.

          Solution--Websites and Software Applications Accessibility Act will:

          Direct the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to promulgate accessibility regulations. The DOJ and EEOC will have twelve months following the enactment of the legislation to issue a notice of proposed rulemaking regarding website and mobile application accessibility, then an additional twelve months to issue the final rule.

          Establish a comprehensive statutory definition for “accessibility.” A comprehensive and clear-cut definition of “accessibility” will end any confusion regarding the requirements that covered entities and commercial providers need to meet.

          Establish a technical assistance center to provide technical assistance to covered entities, commercial providers, and individuals with disabilities. The technical assistance centers aid in the construction, development, design, alteration, and modification of websites in accordance with the rules. The Attorney General, the Commission, the Secretary of Education will award a grant program to a qualified technical assistance provider to support the development, establishment, and procurement of accessible websites and applications.

          Ensure that accessibility regulations keep pace with new and emerging technologies. A periodic review of the regulations is required and the DOJ and EEOC are required to update the regulations if necessary.


          Cosponsor the Websites and Software Applications Accessibility Act.



A Season of love and Joy…By Debra Canty and Andrew Adams,

Co-Chairpersons of the Fundraising Committee


          It was a beautiful liquid sun shiny day in Columbia for a warm National Federation of the Blind of South Carolina, Sweethearts Ball. The banquet hall was beautifully decorated with a touch of eloquence and classy by Janice Smith and company. The soft music welcomed guest and the lovely atmosphere provided by DJ B with intriguing sounds of joy and happiness. With eighty in attendance, sharing the love and smiles throughout the fantabulous evening.

          Kudos! To those who played an integral part with leaving no overhead cost for this fundraiser such as David Houck, Executive Director of The Federation Center, Marty McKenzie, NFB of SC President, Janice Smith, Melinda Jones, DJ B, Stacey Fulwood, Ed Bible, Frank Copple and Kent the Tent Man. The Fundraising Committee participation brought this expressive evening to it’s potential.

          The evening smoothly developed into great company, a delicious tasty dinner, wonderful dancing music, awesome giveaways and fun galore.

          We appreciate the Fundraising Committee for all of their dedicated involvement and it’s the overall team effort that brought it all together.

          We are the blind and this is how we do it in the NFB of SC!!!


Isaiah Nelson – An NFB of SC Board Member, Columbia Chapter President

and a Whole lot More!


          One of the hardest working members of the NFB of SC is Isaiah Nelson.  Thus, we are pleased to spotlight Ike as he is affectionately called.  He was born in Georgetown and grew up there.  He has seven brothers and three sisters and one daughter, Takelah.  His beloved parents are still living and raised their big family with love.  Ike attended SCSDB beginning in 1969 and completed his education in 1975.  From 1975 to 1988 Ike worked with the Coca-Cola Bottling Company in Spartanburg.  Also, during that period of time Ike worked at night for the School.  As you can see, there's not a lazy bone in Ike's body.  After 1988, Ike worked a year at McDonald's in Columbia after which he received on-the-job training in the BEP program of the Commission for the Blind.  Now retired, since 2003, Ike has been a vending facility operator in the Columbia Judicial Center located on Main St.  Because of his outstanding and friendly manner, Ike is well liked at the Judicial Center as well as with others.  He has held and continues to serve in several different positions in the Federation.  Ike has served as President of the Columbia Chapter at least twice as well as First Vice President and as Second Vice President of the chapter.  Ike is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Federation Center.  Also, Ike is a member of the Board of Directors of the NFB of SC.  Additionally, he has been President of the SC Blind Alumni Association.  He has been a member of the NFB of SC since 1991 and has attended dozens of state and national conventions. He also is a good cook and no one cooks spaghetti like Ike.  Ike is in charge of preparing the monthly meals for the Columbia Chapter except when the Telephone Pioneers or others like the Church of the Harvest provides the meal.  Asked why he joined the Federation, he replied that he observed the spirit and togetherness of Federation members which impressed him.  He states that he learned very early that the NFB of SC has a lot of influence and remembers that blind vendors were greatly benefitted when the NFB of SC successfully filed litigation against the legislature and others who had illegally reinstated set-aside fees, later having to return these set-aside fees to blind vendors as the Federation proved that the earlier withholding of set-aside fees was illegal.  Ike enjoys bowling but didn't mention how many strikes he's made throughout the years. It is not uncommon to see Ike fixing the Statewide Seminar luncheons and for other occasions.  Congratulations to Ike who works hard and makes a difference in the lives of blind South Carolinians.



Photos From Summer Camp

By Elizabeth Crow


Taken from Camera in the Wild magazine – Summer 2022

Upstate region


          I have recently been declared legally blind.  I had the opportunity to go to the South Carolina Rocky Bottom Camp for the Elderly Legally Blind of South Carolina.  [Rocky Bottom Retreat and Conference Center of the Blind Senior Blind Camp]  

          I was there hoping to find friends who were in similar situations as I, information channels technical advice, and better techniques for operating in the dark (besides screaming).

          I found all those things at Rocky Bottom, along with opportunities to take photos with my new Pro 13 iPhone.  These are photos from our nature walk along the creek.

          Rocky Bottom Retreat and Conference Center has cabins and a convention center they also rent out to people who are not blind; See for more details.  The National Federation of the Blind of South Carolina website is and the camp’s phone number is 864-878-9090.


Photos taken from Rocky Bottom by Elizabeth Crow


Santee Blind Fishing Event Returns for 30th Year


by Website Administrator | Mar 14, 2022 | Events, Lions Clubs, Lowcountry, Press Releases, Santee Blind Fishing Event


(Editor’s Note:  For 30 years the blind of Columbia and the Low Country have participated in this annual event.  This year Jim Jackson and Tronda Anderson won prizes for fishing.  Jim gets to attend the NC Outer Banks LVS regional tournament later this year.  Lion Phil Marrett of Pendleton did a similar Upstaste trip for many years utilizing Rocky Bottom and going out over Lake Keowee.  Our gratitude goes out to the Lions for this wonderful opportunity for blind South Carolinians!)


Photo Caption:

Blind fishing on  Lake Marion on a pontoon boat.


          Santee, SC – After a 2-year hiatus caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Lions Vision Services has assumed management of the Santee Blind Fishing Event and is celebrating the 30th year of the event April 22-23, 2022.

          For 30 years blind and visually impaired Lowcountry residents have looked with eager anticipation to the special experience of the Santee Blind Fishing Event. This memorable weekend is an all-inclusive over-night trip to Lake Marion including hotel accommodations, transportation, 3 meals, fishing supplies, and lake access by shore or boat for registered attendees who are blind or visually impaired and their caregivers.

          The Santee Lions Club created the event in the early 1990s as a service project to support blind and visually impaired people living in the Lowcountry. When the Santee Lions Club folded due to declining membership in 2018, the Summerville Evening Lions Club stepped in to run the event for a year before handing the event off to Lions Vision Services, which is the nonprofit organization created by the state association of Lions Clubs in 1969.

          For blind and visually impaired participants the Santee Blind Fishing Event is more than a weekend on the lake, it is an exciting change to a sometimes mundane routine and a chance to meet new people or reconnect with friends.

“This event is the result of our shared commitment to improving vision health for all South Carolinians and to creating a healthier world where the blind and visually impaired know no limits,” said Lions Vision Services President & CEO, Daniel Prohaska. “We are thrilled to be managing this event and are excited to bring our community of clients, volunteers, and vendors together again for a safe and fun weekend commemorating the event’s 30th anniversary.”


Mission Team Gives Rocky Bottom a Boost

By David Bundy


          A Team from Mt. Hebron United Methodist Church in West Columbia spent April 12-15 at Rocky Bottom making repairs and generally sprucing up the facilities and grounds. The team of twelve made a number of repairs to the buildings as well as picked up debris and mowed the grass surrounding Osterneck, the Chapel and the Conference Center and pool area.

          Gary Lain and David Bundy arrived on Wednesday and toured the facilities with Resident Manager Susanne Coker to identify needs and plan projects.

          On Thursday and Friday, team members performed a number of projects including repairing plumbing leaks in Oglesby and the conference center, installing ceiling fans in the Conference center bedrooms, replacing broken windows in the chapel and repairing screens that had been damaged by a bear at Osterneck. They also Replaced light bulbs, fluorescent tubes and even lighting fixtures as well as repaired the golf cart and mowed the grass in the lower part of the camp.

          Finally, on Saturday, the boardwalk leading to Oglesby was replaced and the range hood that arrived while they were working on that project was installed in the kitchen at Oglesby. When all the work was finished, they cleaned the buildings and hauled away the trash.

          According to Susanne Coker, while Rocky Bottom receives financial contributions from various organizations and individuals, Mt. Hebron is the first group to come up and do hands-on work in quite some time.  There is always work to be done at Rocky bottom, and while donations are needed and appreciated, we welcome groups like Mt. Hebron who provide much needed labor.


Breaking Barriers: Blind to Triathlete

By Amy Hatten


          Have you ever thought of doing something and thought it was impossible? Thought there was no possible way you could accomplish that something? Or thought you have too many barriers to break down to achieve the impossible?

          Well, that was me, as an individual who is blind and struggles with my body weight. I stumbled across a social media post asking women if anyone is interested in competing in a triathlon or challenging themselves in a new way physically and mentally and to consider participating in Tri It For Life, a 12-week training program that prepares women who have never done a triathlon. As someone who is determined and likes challenges, I responded - “I’d love to if I can get a guide to do it with me, as I am blind”. I acquired my blindness, at the age of 21, very unexpectedly. I loss all my vision within four days; luckily, I regained some vision but I am still legally blind.

          I wasn’t expecting to have a tribe of people on my side to make things become possible, so I signed up for the Tri It For Life training program and registered for the She Tris Sprint Triathlon.

          In the beginning, I had doubt and thought “what did I get myself into”. Can I really swim 200 yards, jump on a tandem bike for 9 miles and the run/walk 2 miles and still be moving? I doubted my strength and endurance until the day of the race. I really didn’t think I had the stamina and energy.

It took a lot of trials and errors and people working together. I was the most nervous about how I would do the swim portion followed by the bike portion. I haven’t rode a bike for more than 20 years, let alone, riding a tandem bike and putting trust into another person.

          For the swim portion, we tried an audio waterproof headset, where I could hear someone speaking cues to me; however, I kept getting static feedback. We ended up using whistle cues. A whistle was blown to notify me I was a few strokes away from the end of the lane. Even though, on event day, I could barely hear the whistles over the loud cheering and music, the race directors allowed me to swim first and allowed me to finish the swim before starting other competitors. Therefore, I relied on the lane dividers and was able to complete the swim almost independently except for those who blew the whistle at the end of each lane.

          The bike took time to figure out a tandem system. It takes trust and being in sync with the pilot (the rider on the first seat). Once we got the basics down, it was pretty smooth from there. It was my own fear, anxiety and trust issues I had to overcome even on race day. The pilot was very encouraging and had experience with tandem cycling so it calmed my nerves on race day. After all, it wasn’t so anxiety provoking, except turning corners at a good speed of 12 mph!

          The run portion I did as a tethered run/walk with a guide. The guide provides verbal cues of any obstacles approaching and provides verbal directions. I’ve completed previous 5k races using a tether so the run portion was not an issue.

          Showing up to all training sessions even with transportation challenges to get to and from practices, was an important part for me. I knew each training session would build up my endurance and help me cross the finish line of my first triathlon. It took a tribe of supporters and those who believed I could do this to make my first triathlon a successful experience! If you put in the work, determined to achieve a challenge and show up - you will accomplish what you set your mind to. You can live the life you want.



From the President’s Desk

By Marty R. McKenzie


          Wow! What a first six months of this new year! After reading From the Editor’s Desk by David Houck, I wonder how the Federation Family found time to sleep. Many events took place to further the cause of the National Federation of the Blind of south Carolina. While all of these events were taking place, plans are underway for the last half of 2023. Through teamwork, we will get there; without it, we will fail!

          It is very important that we honor David Houck’s many years of service to the blind of South Carolina! He has served in his current capacity for just over 40 years and shows no signs of slowing down. David can always be counted on to do his fair share and then some! He always has answers to obscure questions about the Federation or he knows where the answers can be found. David tirelessly gives of himself to make sure that all events at the Federation Center run smoothly even if he must do the work himself. There are no words that can capture the impact he has on the NFB of SC in the short space alotted here. The NFB of SC appreciates David Houck and his strong federation spirit!

          The NFB of Sc participated in Advocacy Day on April 25, 2023. Shannon Cook served as the organization’s representative, and she did an outstanding job on our behalf. Advocacy Day is an annual event where organizations representing all disabilities gather at the State house to keep our state representatives and senators apprised of who we are, what we need and that we hold the power to vote when we are displeased with what is happening. Thanks to Shannon for representing us well this year!

          Recently, several federationists and I attended the celebration of life service for Dale Wolthoff, a long-time member of the Columbia chapter. I met Pat and Dale shortly after their arrival in south Carolina and spent many happy evenings at their home in the early years of my career. Dale and Pat were gracious hosts, entertaining to talk to, brilliant in their knowledge of the federation and just great people to know. When the Computer Science committee was formed in the 1990’s, David Bundy, Richard Thompson myself and others set up the computer lab at the Federation Center which is still there today. Then, we began teaching folks to use computers with the needed access software. Both Dale and Pat used computers in their previous work, but that was before the introduction of Windows and the access that JAWS for Windows gave the blind. Many happy evenings were spent in the computer lab as I had the opportunity to teach Dale and Pat how to use JAWS for Windows on a new interface.

          Dale was well-known for his love of cooking and he often pulled out his grill to cook in their driveway. Brilliant with numbers, he enjoyed finance and playing the stock market during his retirement years. He always doted on Pat and was the true love of her life. We will all miss Dale in the days to come. Let us remember Pat during this time in her life.

          Teamwork was mentioned earlier in my comments here, and it deserves more attention than it was given. According to Second Vice President, Debra Canty, “Teamwork makes the dream work!”

          Reflecting on all that was accomplished during the first six months of 2023, it is completely not possible without teamwork! When we all work together, the load is lighter, the rewards are greater and the morale is higher. In this big program of serving the blind, there is no room for big I’s and little you’s. We are all equally important with our own set of strengthsthat we can contribute to the organization;. The number of people who do work behind the scenes is astounding, but if they stopped doing that work, the impact would be instantaneous. Let us remember this is our federation and together, we will march forward to attain and preserve our rights in modern society!



From the Editor’s Desk

By David Houck


          2023 went off with a shot like at a track race!  The Federation Center was crowded as federationists arrived from across South Carolina attending the annual January Statewide Seminar.  It was a wonderful event as described in the article in this edition.  I have to say that NFB of SC President Marty McKenzie and many others who presided and participated were excellent.

          NFB of SC Second Vice President and Sumter Chapter President Debra Canty outdid herself at the Sweetheart Ball with 80 in attendance, a great dinner, music and a myriad of door prizes to give away.  Each year this event gets bigger!

          The Legislative Breakfast headed up by NFB of SC Board member Ed Bible was very informative.  There were 120 packets of information reviewing the 45 legislative victories for the bind passed through the General Assembly, a letter from President Marty McKenzie, Federation Center and Successful Transitions training information as well as a braille alphabet card.

          Marshall Tucker, a longtime Federationist who passed at age 99 had a beautiful funeral service.  The Calvary Baptist Church was packed with friends, family and many federationists.  The Marshall Tucker Band presented a large floral arrangement and there were many tributes on their Facebook page.

          The March Assistive Technology Expo was attended by the Federation Center and Successful Transitions.  WLTX 19 interviewed our purpose for serving the blind.  The next day WLTX 19 came to the Federation Center and interviewed NFB of SC Secretary Shannon Cook, Columbia Chapter President Ike Nelson and Center Director David Houck regarding our chapter activities and service to the blind.  WLTX Reporter Rachael Ripp was given a Center tour and we demonstrated our technology training.  At the Columbia Chapter meeting that evening it was announced that the Federation Center of the Blind received a $1,000 check from Holy Trinity Cathedral’s Greek Festival.

          Each year, Marty McKenzie hosts a Vision Summit among agencies serving the blind including the NFB of SC.  Aside from exhibits, Successful Transitions and the Federation Center were highlighted in the power point demonstration.  It is to be noted that Dr. Donald Capps established the Vision Summit some 23 years ago.  This important Summit is hosted by the SC Vision Education Partnership which includes USC-Upstate, the SC Department of Education, the SC School for the Deaf and the Blind, SC Commission for the Blind, the NFB of SC, the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Handicapped (SC Chapter), the Vision Institute of SC and the SC State Library’s Talking Book Services.  This coordination of services benefits all blind South Carolinians.

          To quote President Marty McKenzie from the March 27 Positive Note:  “The Federation Center was a busy place on Saturday, March 25 2023 as the Statewide Leadership Seminar commenced at 10:00 a.m. Federation leaders representing the board of directors, chapter and division presidents and others gathered for this day of training. Topics discussed included the constitutions for the NFB of SC, the Federation Center and Rocky Bottom. Other topics included how to run a chapter meeting and the responsibilities of the executive officers. Some intense discussions took place, as well as some light-hearted laughter. I sincerely thank past Presidents Frank Coppel and Parnell Diggs along with David Houck for all of their contributions to this training.

          “The Rocky Bottom ticket drawing took place at the end of the Statewide Seminar. The buyer and seller of the winning ticket was Ivy Dawkins of the Cherokee County Chapter. Congratulations to the Columbia chapter on a job well done selling the most tickets! Rock Hill came in second, and the Clarendon county chapter rounded out the top three ticket sellers. A total of 661 tickets were sold generating $3,305 in revenue. Thanks to all who participated in this fundraiser!

          “Second vice President Debra Canty was honored along with ten other influential Black women in Sumter at Morris College at the Inaugural Women’s Pioneers Luncheon on Saturday, March 25, 2023. Debra is one of eleven Black women in Sumter who tell their story in the community. Congratulations to Debra on this prestigious recognition!”

          Saturday, April 22 at 3:00 p.m., several happy, blind fishermen and women returned to the Federation Center. Jim Jackson  and Pathronda Anderson of Columbia won the top prizes and will go to the North Carolina Lions regional fishing tournament later this year. Thanks to Jon Nelson for driving the van and Isaiah Nelson for renting a small trailer for the luggage. We extend our appreciation to Lions Vision Services for providing Federationists with this wonderful opportunity now for three decades!

          The Federation Center over the past year has begun receiving phone calls from blind people all across the nation from time to time.  At first I did not know why we received these calls.  However, I did discover that blind persons using voiceover access with Google or Alexa would ask, “call the Federation of the Blind,” thinking it would dial the NFB National Office.  Because we are the Federation Center of the Blind, many of these calls were being directed to us, giving The Federation Center in Columbia the opportunity of hearing their request and directing them to the proper number.  The Center has an opportunity to get to know and discuss their unmet needs and we are happy to be of service.  You never know at times how these things happen but we are glad to be of service.

          On Saturday, April 23, 2023 I celebrated my 40th anniversary of being the Federation Center Executive Director.  During this time I have worked with such NFB of SC leaders such as Bob Bell, Donald Capps, Parnell Diggs, Frank Coppel, Jennifer Bazer and Marty McKenzie.  They each had their own leadership style and level of expertise.  I also want to thank the current Center Chairman of the Board of Trustees as Ed Bible had the foresight to begin a process which continues to this day of upgrading the Federation Center from floor to ceiling and improving our technical capabilities for the blind we serve.  I also served with various Chairmen of the Rocky Bottom Board of Directors who preserve and upgrade this beautiful property for the use of the blind of the state.  But as I continue to serve in my capacity as Center Director I want all of you to know that it has been my honor to serve alongside YOU as local leaders and members.  Over four decades I have learned much from those who were leaders and are no longer with us but I am also encouraged that the Federation family in South Carolina continues to grow because of YOU.  NFB of SC President Marty McKenzie is doing a great job as President and we should all back his leadership.  I know that I shall continue to do so.

          Finally, I want to share something with you.  Not too long ago I purchased some coffee mugs with the following inscription:  “Chaos Coordinator:  Someone who solves problems you never knew existed in ways that will blow your mind.  See also Ninja or Legend.”  The ones I presented these cups to know who they are.  A Chaos Coordinator can be anyone who, because of position or circumstance, is thrown into impossible situations and yet they deal with them in a positive and wonderful way.  It is obvious that these circumstances will either make you or break you.  These include organizational Chief Executive Officers, people who have more thrown at them than most others will ever know, or even ask the parents which have three or more children.  These people are usually the lynch pin that holds everything together.  You may have them in your local chapter.  Most likely they are volunteers, drivers, those that do setup and prepare for meetings, conventions and seminars but you never really notice them unless they are not there.  These individuals become leaders as others know the job will be accomplished in the best manner possible.  Are YOU a Chaos Coordinator?




My Path

By Unknown author


My life is a path

With many forks in the road.


Which way do I go,

To the left or to the right?


They both seem the same as they go out of sight

Which way is wrong, which way is right?


I examine each path carefully

To see where each might take me.


Is it too hard, too high or too low

To determine the best way to go?


It’s not so much the path you choose

Throughout my life I have found


Don’t keep your head in the clouds,

Just keep your feet on the ground.


A watchful eye and a solemn prayer

Was all I needed to get me there!