Palmetto Blind

The Palmetto Blind

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

Photo Captions:

Frank Coppel talking with Lenora Robertson about a door prize

NFB of SC Virtual Convention by ZOOM on computer





WINTER 2020-21

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.

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 leading 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

Table of Contents Winter 2020/21

80th Anniversary National Federation of the Blind Convention, First Ever Virtual Convention – A Convention of Diversity and Inclusion – By David Houck

The 64th Annual Convention of the NFB of SC – A First Virtually with the Best Attendance in Years – By David Houck

NFB of SC Convention Resolutions


NFB of SC’s White Cane Awareness Day Observance  By Dominic Calabrese

Being Blind During Pandemic Creates New Challenges; Sumterite Shares Story, How She Perseveres  By Bruce Mills, The Sumter Utem

Controlled Carbs Recipes – Turkey Tacos  By Melanie Torance

Shrimp & Brown Rice Recipe  By Herbert Boykin, Sumter Chapter-NFB of SC

Braille and Me  By —Bob Gardner

LEGO Launches Bricks with Braille

UNO Braille and the Importance of Inclusive Play  By Cayte Mendez

From the President’s Desk  By Jennifer Bazer

From the Editor’s Desk  By David Houck

Final Thought

80th Anniversary National Federation of the Blind Convention

First Ever Virtual Convention –

A Convention of Diversity and Inclusion

By David Houck

In 2019 it was announced that the 2020 NFB Convention would take place in Houston, Texas from July 14 to July 19 at the Hilton Americas.  In fact, even up to March of 2020 this was still our plan as many had made hotel reservations and transportation arrangements.  However, the Covid-19 virus placed a halt on these plans.  With “shelter in place”, “social distancing” and “mask wearing,” everything ground to a halt.  As a side note, if this were even ten years ago, the technology to hold a “virtual convention” would have been difficult at best.

With the use of today’s social media, instant conference, the ability to work from home and the existence of the ZOOM platform, the federation locally, statewide and nationally was able to develop means to keep the blind connected.  In just a few short months the NFB National Convention was put together.  The agenda was developed and the blind across the nation became familiar with the ZOOM platform as a way to connect and interact during the convention.

A record 7,252 delegates registered for the NFB Convention by the deadline!  As July 14 approached, the agenda was released which contained every aspect of a regular national convention with organizational and divisional meetings, access to the Presidential Suite, Exhibits, and committee meetings as well as General Convention Sessions and even the Banquet.  Keep in mind that this cost the participating federationist nothing except for voluntary contributions.  Oh yes, there were door prizes!

One thing to note is that experimenting with ZOOM for the NFB Convention prepared all of us for the virtual NFB of SC convention on August 21 to 22.  This event as well, had all the aspects of a usual state convention.

The first General Session took place Wednesday, July 15 from 2:00 to 4:30 p.m.  The agenda timing was skewed to afternoon and evening sessions since time zones from Eastern, Central, Mountain, Pacific, Alaska, Hawaii and even across the globe could be better accommodated.  For instance, in South Carolina 2:00 p.m. would be 11:00 a.m. in California and 9:00 a.m. in Hawaii.  To join any of the meetings just go to the agenda link online, click on the meeting ID and say I am listening from my computer or phone and click on join meeting.  It was as easy as that!

For those of us who could see some, it was interesting to see each board member up close on the computer or cell phone.  The sound was excellent too.  After the board’s roll call President Riccobono called out those who were deceased since the last convention including Donald Capps.  Other convention arrangements were discussed including the rules of engagement.  Diversity and inclusion was stressed by board member Shawn Callaway as an important part of the federation.  A practice vote was taken on how you feel about the 2020 baseball season.  Vote 1 for like, 2 for don’t like.  The vote number was for those who registered at NFB Vote by July 12, dialing in at 667-206-6677.  I voted “like” and it was quick and easy to vote.  Two-thirds stated “like”.  Other reports were made by various board members.  The convention kickoff attendance included South Carolina which was ranked number 10!  Garcia Olivio of Texas won the Educator of Blind Students Award.  South Carolina ranks number 13 on the NFB PAC Plan at the convention kickoff and I know some have signed up or increased their Pre Authorized Contribution Program amount during the convention as signing up can now be done online at  The Give $20 campaign will culminate in a drawing for a trip for two to the 2021 NFB New Orleans Convention, all expenses paid plus $1,000 spending money.  The drawing will take place at the convention Banquet Saturday evening.  During the introduction of NFB Scholarship recipients, this included South Carolina’s own Matthew Duffell-Hoffman whose career goal is in electrical engineering and he hopes to develop self-driving cars for the blind.

Keeping in mind that this is a virtual convention, it was announced that guide dogs should be relieved wherever the owner used the day before and that virtual pick up bags would be distributed.  It is also to be noted that all of our NFB convention delegates could have anything they desired for lunch, dinner or at the Saturday Banquet!  Groups of delegates made plans ahead of time to meet together personally to meet and eat during the Banquet.

Earlier in the day I attended the Autonomous Vehicles for the Blind meeting where issues regarding these vehicles were discussed in depth.  This is the area of our South Carolina NFB Scholarship winner, Matthew Duffell-Hoffman’s career interest.  This was only one of many meetings on a variety of topics open to all throughout Thursday.  Diversity and inclusion meetings were held throughout the convention as well.  Many attended these sessions.

Thursday’s Opening General Session began at 7:00 p.m.  As the convention was getting ready to start it was announced by Chris Danielsen that the 2021 Convention will be held in New Orleans (now scheduled to begin on July 6, 2021) which would be Chris’ 30th annual convention.  The opening session kicked off with a testimonial from a Mississippi federationist and a musical introduction.  Five door prizes were given out at a time.  The Houston Mayor welcomes the 2023 NFB national convention to be held in Houston, and Texas culture was featured during the opening ceremonies.  Recognition was then made of blinded veterans followed by saying the Pledge of Allegiance and the National Anthem being sung.  Anna Price of SC was in the second batch of five door prize recipients.  The PAC Plan was discussed as well as the Jernigan Fund.   The Roll Call of States was next.  SC ranks number 10 with 231 registered delegates and NFB of SC official delegate, President Frank Coppel represented South Carolina very well.  Our alternate delegate is Debra Canty.  Many states holding conventions during the remainder of 2020 are holding them virtually.  The Rules of Engagement were read and voted on and approved by a wide majority.

Friday’s General Sessions began at 1:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.  Before this at 11:00 a.m., there was a ZOOM meeting of the South Carolina caucus where participants discussed their first NFB virtual convention experience and several other topics of interest.  There were as many as 68 participants.  A variety of NFB fundraising methods were also discussed and participation was encouraged.  The 29 NFB Convention resolutions on a variety of issues were presented in brief.  These resolutions can be accessed at or at

The Friday afternoon General Session featured the Presidential Report by Mark Riccobono which is always a convention highlight.  A number of success stories over this past year were presented which assists the blind to live the life they want despite many barriers.  These cases provided encouragement to all concerning the power of the NFB to represent the blind.  The Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi addressed the convention. She addressed several blindness issues.

Other topics presented included Pearson’s Global Products which dealt with Educational Accessibility in Products and Services, and Blind Students Organizing Against the College Board – finding equal access in taking the College Boards, then the American Printing House for the Blind’s partnership with the Federation and our shared values, then Dr. Cynthia Bennett’s research and wisdom regarding the future of technology innovations, and then how Vispero has advanced independence through technology for the blind; and finally, Suman Kanuganti who is CEO of Luther AI being partners with the NFB.  Rebecca Breece of South Carolina was a door prize winner in this session.

The Friday evening session began with Cynthia Graham of SC winning a door prize.  The Honorable Dick Durbin, United States Senator. Democratic Whip spoke on Congressional assistance to the nation’s blind dating back to Dr. Jacobus tenBroek, NFB Founder.  Mariyam Cementwala, a blind US State Diplomat; Washington, DC presented information on progress in civil rights and her experiences being a blind diplomat. Carla Hayden, Librarian of Congress, US Library of Congress; Washington, DC gave an update on the National Library Service covering equal access for the blind.  Gregg Peters from Nettflix spoke regarding access for the blind in audio description using Netflix.  Laura Wolk, blind Law Clerk to the Honorable Clarence Thomas, explains her behind the scenes view in the Supreme Court.  Moderator: Scott LaBarre, President, National Association of Blind Lawyers; President, National Federation of the Blind of Colorado moderated a panel concerning legislative issues and the ADA,  legislative history and what’s ahead for the next 30 years.  Michael Naranjo, Sculptor; Albuquerque, New Mexico talked about being a blind artist. And finally,  Molly Burke, YouTuber; Los Angeles, California and Mary Fernandez, People and Communities Consultant, Cisco Systems; Woodbridge, New Jersey concentrated on their experiences in the broadcasting industry.  This completed Friday evening’s events as everyone looked forwarded to the Saturday agenda.

The Saturday afternoon General Session kicked off at 1:00 p.m.  Mention was made of Congressman John Lewis who just passed away as he was noted as a civil rights leader.  A presentation he made at an earlier convention in 2007 was played.  This session focused on hearing the NFB financial report, voting on the 29 resolutions with the passed ones listed in a Fall edition of the Braille Monitor and were referenced at  A panel discussion on the experience of being black and blind in America and in the Federation was held, Chaired by Ever Lee Hairston who did an excellent job.

Officers and board members elected are as follows:  President Mark Riccobono, First Vice President Pam Allen, Second Vice President Ron Brown, Secretary James Gashel, Treasurer Jeanie Massey, and board members Amy Burrish, Shawn Callaway, John Fritz, Carla McQuillan, Amy Ruell and Adelmo Vigil.  The afternoon session of the convention concluded until the 7:30 p.m. Banquet.

The Banquet session was exciting with much anticipation.  Ever Lee Hairston gave the Banquet invocation.  Since Pam Allen was not able to host the Banquet session, Anil Lewis stepped in as the Master of Ceremonies and he did an excellent job!  Scholarship supporters were recognized before the scholarships were announced, one of which was given to South Carolina’s Matthew Duffell-Hoffman.  A Myrtle Beach, South Carolinian won a door prize.  A record 8,261 ZOOM convention participants surpassed the 7,252 who registered for the convention.  $35,467 was raised for the Jernigan Fund and the winner of the trip for two to the 2021 NFB New Orleans convention with all expenses paid and $1,000 spending cash went to Ed McDonald of West Virginia.  PAC Plan awards were distributed and over $500,000 in annualized PAC contributions now exist.  President Mark Riccobono gave an excellent banquet address focusing on how words develop a philosophy which results in action having shaped the NFB over these 80 years to where we are today. He emphasized how, or if, the word “blind” is used says a lot about that organization’s philosophy. The use of words like “blind” are to us the language of freedom.  Blind people in leadership positions can make a real difference if their philosophy about blindness is proper and influences others in leadership positions.  Collective action can change and shape our destiny.  Dr. Ray Kurzwile discussed the history and development of the NFB Kurzwwile Reading Machine.  Pauli Wilson from Belton, SC won a banquet door prize.  The Dr. Jacob Bolotin Awards were distributed to Geneva Astrophysics and STEAM Education which received $25,000 and to Acting Access Academy who also received $25,000.  The ending $2,100 door prize (the year 2020 plus the 80th anniversary of the NFB) went to Rod Holloway of Louisiana.  This concluded the 2020 NFB Convention as delegates made their way out of the meeting room, chatting with each other about the week’s festivities.

The 64th Annual Convention of the NFB of SC –

A First Virtually with the Best Attendance in Years

By David Houck

Following the July 14 to 19, 2020 NFB Convention, South Carolina was one of the first to host a virtual convention due to the Covid virus.  As we learned much by observing our national office putting a virtual convention together on short notice; other state affiliates would join us in seeing how we also did it virtually.  Our registration ahead of the August 21 to 23 state convention was 357, a number of registered delegates we had not seen in two decades.  As with the recent national convention, we were accessible “anywhere and everywhere.”  There were no crowded hallways as delegates entered the room.  The Saturday evening Banquet had an unlimited menu, offering whatever you would like.  There were no crowded elevators as everyone headed for their rooms after the sessions and it was entirely possible to visit all of the divisional meetings on Friday.

We would like to thank our convention sponsor, Vanda Pharmaceuticals, Inc. which contributed generously to help offset our state convention expenses.  All sessions were conducted by the ZOOM platform, allowing access via the computer, laptop, cell phone, land line and through the Echo Dot.  The Computer Science and Technology Division, with assistance by its 1st Vice President, Steve Cook placed the convention information, registration, and agenda on our website and conducted several training classes ahead of the convention.  Thom Spittle and Valerie and Larry Warrington performed the virtual setup and ZOOM access ahead of and during the convention.

David Houck, Federation Center Executive Director, produced braille, email and print agendas and distributed them upon request.  A virtual literature table was available offering NFB kernel books, a variety of NFB, NFB of SC, Rocky Bottom, Federation Center, and Successful Transitions brochures and braille alphabet cards, not to mention print and email (pdf) NFB PAC forms for distribution.  He also assisted Lenora Robertson, our longtime Door Prize Chairman in putting together many door prizes mailed in from all over.

Friday afternoon, August 21, kicked off at 1:00 p.m. the NFB of SC convention with a variety of divisional meetings, including the South Carolina Association of Blind Students – Derique Simon, President, the Parents of Blind Children Division – Jennifer Duffell Hoffman, President, the Annual Seniors Division Meeting – Shelley Coppel, President, the Computer Science and Technology Division meeting – Thom Spittle, President, the Blind Merchants Division – Belinda Banks, Coordinator, the Resolutions Committee meeting and the evening wound up with the state board meeting at 8:30 p.m.  Each meeting was well attended averaging 60 at the divisional meetings and 85 for the state board meeting.  Our NFB national representative, Everette Bacon of Utah, former state President Parnell Diggs and current state President Frank Coppel participated in all of the meetings as did federationists from South Carolina and several states.

Saturday’s morning session got off to a good start after President Coppel gaveled the convention to order as Lenora Robertson, Door Prize Chairman called out a $100 door prize won by Clifford Long from Spartanburg.  Over 150 were attending online with over 30 participating at the Federation Center of the Blind.  Three of the $100 door prizes were furnished by the NFB of SC Successful Transitions program.  JW Smith, President of our Greenville Chapter gave the invocation.  Doug Hudson sang a few songs like, “Thank You Lord” and “This Old House” with enthusiasm.  Laverne Addison, Charleston Chapter President gave the host chapter welcome and gave us a tour of Charleston’s highlights as Charleston was to be the location of this year’s convention.  President Coppel gave convention announcements and arrangements.  NFB Board Member and our National Representative Everette Bacon gave our National Report.  He sent his respects from NFB President Mark Riccobono who will attend online from time to time.  He reviewed our recent NFB Virtual National Convention.  Next year the NFB Convention will take place in New Orleans.  Increasing our membership, diversity and advocacy are very important to the future growth of the Federation.  Parnell Diggs, an Administrative Law Judge with Social Security and a former NFB of SC President presented his report on “Doing Your Fair Share.”  He recounted how the late Dr. Donald C. Capps made such a historical legacy in work with the blind on so many different levels.  Mr. Diggs also spoke concerning the succession of the presidency.  Darline Graham, Commissioner of the SC Commission for the Blind gave an update on the agency’s programs.  The Commission has had good employment outcomes in quality competitive employment for the blind.  The virtual summer teen program partnered with Successful Transitions and was very successful as was the virtual Senior Blind program this past Spring and in the Fall.  Adjustments to the COVID virus restrictions have gone well.  Valerie Warrington, Resolutions Chairman then read a Resolution which encourages the NFB of SC and the Commission to work together to have more blind people to be hired into the management structure of the Commission and Commissioner Graham was very receptive.   Scott Falcone, Director of Outreach Services for the SC School for the Deaf and the Blind, reported on how the School overcame the Covid virus restrictions.  Outreach Services assists students, schools and teachers in alternative instructional methods.  Marty McKenzie and Scott Falcone have never before dealt with this situation but they were able to make services work smoothly.  Preschoolers and their parents use Tele Health to communicate.  The ZOOM platform works well with the Deaf-Blind workshops which also draws national participation.  Because of this, it will be interesting to see how the future of education will be impacted once the virus is gone.  Wayne Marshall, Independence Training Services LLC from Atlanta, Georgia addressed My “VOICE” or Vision, Opportunity, Independence, Confidence and Effort to bring about equality for the blind for now and in the future.  President Frank Coppel’s Presidential Report began by explaining how he became President of the NFB of SC in 2015.  His goals included increasing finances and membership.  Youth recruitment became possible through the NFB of SC’s Successful Transitions program.  The NFB of SC divisions are growing.  Maybe say the state constitution was amended, giving sighted (associate) members, the right to vote and hold office, with the exception of president and vice president Ed Bible headed up the new At Large Chapter which now has 29 members.  Belinda Banks became President of the reestablished Blind Merchants Division.  Our overall membership is growing.  An overview of this year’s programs was reviewed.  Adjustments were made to the Covid virus.  Chapters had virtual meetings.  NFB Connect was a good way to meet with the blind and address member’s issues and concerns.  Succession to the Presidency is important.  Much progress has been made over the past five years.  Jennifer Bazer was recommended to take over as state president for her leadership skills and ability to get the job done.  Whoever is elected President, we must give them our full support.

The Nominating Committee met during the lunch break.

The afternoon session began with a report from Marty McKenzie, Principal of Statewide Blind and Visually Impaired Education and Vision Consultant concerning the South Carolina Vision Partnership, Celebrating Twenty Years of making a difference in the lives of blind students in South Carolina.  The concept was originally established through the efforts of Dr. Donald Capps and Dr. Brieitweiser to bring all agencies and organizations together in work with the blind to work cooperatively for the betterment of the state’s blind student population.  Issues dealt with covered moving the Vision Education USC Chair from Columbia to Spartanburg and UEB Braille implementation.  Kristen White, Director of Talking Book Services gave an update on their programs and services.  Talking Book machines are just about as popular as using BARD downloads.  Volunteer services kept up even during Covid.    The name changed but not its purpose.  TBS now covers all the print disabled community.  She congratulated and recognized the various teams who make TBS work so well.  There has been much cooperation between agencies serving the blind through the VISION Partnership including the NFB of SC.    Shannon Cook introduced the 2020 NFB of SC scholarship class.  Bailey Hightower is a double major in Chinese and Dance.  Casey Rose is working on her Masters in Arts: Specializing in Rehabilitation Counseling. Kaitlyn Kelley goes to Johnson & Whales University majoring in Pastry and Restaurant Management.  Steve Cook reported on Newsline in SC.  He extolled the variety of accessible newspapers, magazines and even Federation activities.  Contact Steve Cook at the SC Commission for the Blind to get signed up.  You can access Newsline by your Echo device.  Next on the agenda was the Rocky Bottom Retreat and Conference Center of the Blind Report.  Chairman Frank Coppel gave a brief history of the camp beginning with Dr. Capps in 1958.  Shelley Coppel spoke about the second annual National Seniors Retreat last Fall.  Shannon Cook spoke about the twice annual week long Senior Camps, from last Fall at Rocky Bottom to this year presented virtually.  Frank Coppel, Chairman of RBRCCB, spoke about the operational aspects of Rocky Bottom.

The Federation Center of the Blind Report first was presented by Center Chairman, Ed Bible who expanded MOU’s with the Commission for the Blind in computer training for the blind.  Our four blind instructors work hard to train the blind in adaptive computer technologies.  Once Covid came, all classes switched to virtual training.  He recognized our instructors, Thom Spittle, Eric Swinton, Jim Jackson and Garrett Mosley.  Barry Chavis who does our renovations and Jack Hagood who performs our janitorial services was also recognized.  David Houck reviewed the services the Center was involved in this year and spoke in depth about our facilities renovations.  Frank Loza spoke about our federation jacket sales project.  Jennifer Bazer talked about Successful Transitions and going virtual this year.  “ST” outgrew their offices at the Federation Center and moved into new offices at 104 Corporate Blvd. in West Columbia.  The Center’s newly renovated kitchen will be used by ST for training purposes.  $10,000 was contributed by ST toward kitchen renovations.  ST still pays the Center $1,500 quarterly.  They also use Rocky Bottom for their programs but in spite of Covid, the camp still received $10,000.  ST also took over this year’s Commission for the Blind Summer Team Program and did an excellent job.  An excellent video of their services was viewed.  Three of the Summer Team participants explained what they learned during the program.  Valerie Warrington, NFB of SC Treasurer, read the NFB of SC, Successful Transitions, and Rocky Bottom financial reports.  Each report was passed by the convention.  Valerie Warrington the Resolutions Committee Chairman read two resolutions.  Both resolutions were passed and are listed at the end of this article.  The proposed constitutional amendment of Article 12 was read before the convention and will be voted upon later in the convention.  This change is listed following the two resolutions at the end of this article.  The afternoon session was adjourned until the evening Banquet at 7:00 p.m.

The evening convention Banquet session began by Debra Canty, NFB of SC Second Vice President giving the invocation.  Gene Pardue of Union won a $100 door prize.  Then the “head table” was introduced.  Everette Bacon, our NFB national representative gave the keynote Banquet address.  He focused on his history as he rose to a national board position and highlighted those who influenced him along the way.  He discussed how the sighted world looks at the blind.  To them blindness is like the albatross around the neck of the blind.  How will you overcome that albatross?  He went on to tell about several experiences he had being blind.  Although he did well at Blockbuster video as a top manager, he was still let go after requesting adaptive equipment in order to do his job better.  The NFB represented him in a lawsuit against Blockbuster in which he won a settlement.  How different things would be today if he knew about the NFB years ago!  That is why these conventions and state affiliates are so important.  Awards and Scholarships were then distributed.  Clemson University’s Department of Information Technology received the Employer of the Year Award Plaque by Chairman Steve Cook for their hiring Billy Irwin. JW Smith received the Donald C. Capps Award from Chairman David Houck.  JW is President of the Greenville Chapter, and Board Member of the Federation Center’s Board and the NFB of SC Board of Directors.  He is heavily involved with Rocky Bottom and the plaque also comes with $100.  Valerie Warrington gave a trophy award to those who raised the most funding to Midlands Gives, raising $8,000 for Rocky Bottom which includes the NFB of SC 3rd place tie between District 4 and Successful Transitions, 2nd place was District 5 and 1st place was District 2 headed up by Steve Cook.  Scholarship Chairman Shannon Cook distributed three scholarships amounting to $1,600 to Casey Rose, $650 to Katlyn Kylee, and $950 to Bailey Hightower.  Shannon thanked all who participated in contributing to the Scholarship Fund.  The final Banquet event was the Banquet Fundraiser.  $4,300 was raised in advance of the Banquet.  By the time all was said and done, $10,000 was raised.  The final door prize for a $100 VISA gift card donated by Successful Transitions was won by Nata Watkins.

The Sunday afternoon Session began with a Devotional and Memorial Service provided by Dorothy Barksdale with assistance from Jerry Johnson where the names were read of those who passed away over this last year in the NFB of SC.  A $100 door prize was won by Patricia Fullard.  The Constitutional amendment change on Article 12 regarding dues was read and voted on.  The proposed amendment passed.  Funding our national organization was discussed.  David Houck and Dale Wolthoff spoke about the NFB PAC (Pre Authorized Contribution) Plan.  Since the NFB convention, those who have signed up on PAC from SC raised us from being ranked 13th to beat New Mexico, now coming in 12th place.  Shelley Coppel reported on the NFB’s SUN Program where we give shares amounting to multiples of $10 each to help grow this rainy day fund.  Parnell Diggs read the Nominating Committee Report which was approved as read.  Those elected were:  President Jennifer Bazer, First Vice President Lenora Robertson, Second Vice President Debra Canty, Secretary Shannon Cook, Treasurer Valerie Warrington, District 2 Steve Cook, District 4 JW Smith, District 6 Marty McKenzie, At Large 1 Demetrius Williford and At Large 2 Neel Sheth.  Congratulations to all who were elected and to Frank Coppel for his five years as state president.  Also, congratulations to those who previously served on the Board of Directors of the NFB of SC.


Resolution 2020-01: Regarding Agencies for the Blind

WHEREAS, agencies for the blind are established to serve blind people; and

WHEREAS, an essential part of the governing structure of an agency for the blind is to include the processes, policies, and procedures that will ensure that the agency for the blind administration comprehends the interests, needs, and aspirations of its constituency; and

WHEREAS, the most logical representatives of the constituency of agencies that serve the blind are blind people who have shown the interest and the commitment to engage in self-organization and who are willing to be partners of agencies for the blind and advisors to them: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind of South Carolina in convention assembled this twenty second day of August, 2020, that this organization call upon the South Carolina Commission for the Blind to adopt a governing structure that will assure partnership with the organized blind of this state by adopting a best-practices governance pledge as follows:

Our agency, the South Carolina Commission for the Blind, was created and exists to help blind people. We believe that those we serve should have a significant say in the help we give, in supervising how we give it, and in seeing that we are most effectively using our resources to benefit them. We, therefore, pledge ourselves to the values and commitments that follow:

We are managed by executives who are compensated for their work, and they are, in turn, managed by a board of commissioners. We believe that blind people must be a part of our management team at both of these levels. While their numbers may appear to be arbitrary, we know that, without them, it is impossible to measure whether we are meeting our goal of significant involvement. We therefore pledge that this agency will have at least half of the management team be people who are blind and make the same commitment for the board of Commissioners. So that this is more than an aspirational goal, we pledge to meet these numbers within five years and to maintain or better them going forward.

We believe there is no better way to demonstrate our commitment to the constituency we serve than to have blind people as a part of our managing structure. The agency’s current operation and its goals for the future must involve those we serve, and we must, in appearance, and in fact, be run and guided by blind people.

Our commitment to those we serve and those who work for us is that every document we create will be accessible. We will strive to see that our presence on the World Wide Web is exemplary and that it serves to demonstrate that websites can be both visually attractive and completely usable with screen reading technology. Our commitment to accessibility will extend far beyond the written word. When we produce charts, graphs, and documents with pictures, we will use state-of-the-art technology to make these accessible for the blind. We further commit ourselves to working collaboratively on solutions that extend the power of this technology and to work collaboratively to develop new paradigms that will help blind people in going beyond the written word for meaningful communication.

We value the feedback and active participation of our consumers in the development and implementation of the services we provide. We pledge to establish a committee consisting of the consumers we serve. The members of the committee and the chairperson of the committee will be chosen by the consumers themselves, and the committee will meet monthly with agency executives.

Resolution 2020-02 Regarding Accessible Absentee Voting

Whereas, the State of South Carolina has established procedures by which citizens may vote by absentee ballot upon meeting one of the criteria set forth under current election law; and

Whereas significant progress has been made in establishing Accessible voting systems that enable blind and print disabled individuals to vote privately and independently at polling places throughout the state; and

Whereas, Electronic absentee ballot systems, such as Democracy Live, offer accessible alternatives to voting for individuals who are blind or print disabled; and

Whereas under current state law, a person with a disability is eligible to vote by absentee ballot in this state, and there is no time like the present to consider measures to accommodate blind and print-disabled voters while protecting the integrity of the voting process; now therefore,

Be it resolved by the National Federation of the Blind of South Carolina in convention assembled this 22nd day of August 2020 that this organization call upon the South Carolina Election Commission to develop a means by which blind and print disabled individuals can vote using an accessible absentee ballot marking system.


(Editor’s Note:  This minor change below which was passed by the convention allows the Board of Directors to set a cut-off date for members paying their dues prior to the convention.)


“The dues of this organization shall be $10 per year, payable during the month of January. In accordance with Article IV of the Constitution, local chapters shall pay the state dues of their members. Members who are not affiliated with local chapters shall pay their dues before the annual convention by a date set by the board of directors. No person may vote who is delinquent in the payment of his/her dues.”

NFB of SC’s White Cane Day Observance

By Dominic Calabrese

South Carolina Governor Salutes White Cane Day

Leaders of South Carolina’s blind community, including NFB of SC President Jennifer Bazer and NFB of SC Federation Center Chair Ed Bible, joined South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster for a special presentation saluting White Cane Day on October 15.

Signed into federal law by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964, the day celebrates the achievements of Americans who are blind and recognizes the white cane as a symbol of independence.

State of South Carolina

Governor’s Proclamation

Whereas, the white cane is a simple yet effective tool of independence that contributes to the self-sufficiency of individuals who are blind and visually impaired and symbolizes their ability to achieve a full and independent life and their capacity to work productively in competitive employment; and,

Whereas, the white cane is a symbol of dignity and determination as well as a tangible reminder that individuals with impaired eyesight are able to go, to move, to be, to compete and to contribute with all others in society and to lead full, independent and productive lives; and,

Whereas, established by the National Federation of the Blind, the observance of “White Cane Safety Day” emphasizes the need for all Americans to be aware of the presence of persons with disabilities in our communities and to work together to keep the streets, highways, sidewalks, walkways, public buildings and facilities, and places of public accommodation, amusement and resort safe and functional for the disabled community; and,

Whereas, the White Cane Law was a forerunner to the Americans with Disabilities Act, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year; and,

Whereas, the 2020 observance of “White Cane Safety Day” provides an opportunity for people across the Palmetto State and the nation to renew their dedication to eliminating barriers for persons who are blind and visually impaired and to recognize their value as individuals, employees, and productive members of our communities.

Now, Therefore, I, Henry McMaster, Governor of the Great State of South Carolina, do hereby proclaim October 15, 2020, as WHITE CANE SAFETY DAY throughout the state and encourage all South Carolinians to show respect for those who carry the white cane, to honor their many achievements, and to reaffirm our commitment to improving access to basic services and opportunities for persons who are blind and visually impaired.

Henry McMaster


State of South Carolina

Governor McMaster read a state proclamation in honor of White Cane Day, urging all South Carolinians to “renew their dedication to eliminating barriers for persons who are blind and to recognize their value as individuals, employees, and productive members of our communities.”

He noted that the 1972 White Cane Law, enacted by the South Carolina General Assembly, was a 20 year forerunner of the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year.

Other guests who attended the ceremony, which was held outside the Governor’s Office, included Commissioner Darline Graham of the South Carolina Commission for the Blind; State Representative Rita Allison; Lions District Governor Judy Scott; Jolene Madison, director of special education at the South Carolina School for the Deaf and the Blind; Lions Vice District Governor Jim Barbare; Steve Fullerton, a manager at Clemson University; Billy Irwin, a young blind man who has successfully found employment at Clemson; an area blind student, Matthew Duffell-Hoffman; Julie Bible; and Dom Calabrese, who helped organize the event.

Following the presentation, Governor McMaster posed for a group photo.

Photo Caption:

Leaders of South Carolina’s blind community and top officials from the Lions pose with Governor Henry McMaster (center) for a group picture as part of a celebration of White Cane Awareness Day.

Being blind during pandemic creates new challenges

By Bruce Mills The Sumter Item

Picture Caption:

Sumterite shares story, how she perseveres Sumter resident Debra Canty sits in her home on Wednesday. Canty has been the Sumter Chapter president of the National Federation of the Blind for 20 years.

Picture Caption:

Debra Canty, right, talks with her sister, Judy Simon, on Wednesday at her home. Canty has been the Sumter Chapter president of the National Federation of the Blind for 20 years.

Posted Thursday, December 3, 2020 6:00 am

COVID-19 has affected everyone’s daily lives this year, and the blind and visually impaired are no different.

Most of the blind and sight-impaired normally live different lives from what people with sight might expect, according to Debra Canty, who is the Sumter chapter president of the National Federation of the Blind.

Many blind and visually impaired usually go to the movies, dine out, have social lives, are active in social and religious circles, participate in community functions and travel, Canty said.

Like for everybody else in the pandemic, those activities have been taken away.

The local chapter’s monthly meet-and-greet fellowship at Shiloh-Randolph Manor assisted living facility – a highlight on the calendar generally – has now become a phone teleconference.

Canty said the toughest part for the blind in COVID-19 has been “living in solitude.”

“It’s hard enough to be in total darkness every day and all day, and now we lack a social life,” she said. “Before, we were able to get out and socialize and do other things.

“Even if it was just taking a walk at Swan Lake or going to the movies or dining out at a nice restaurant.”

Similar to everyone else, it also has been harder to visit with loved ones and family, she said.

As second vice president of the National Federation of the Blind in South Carolina, Canty usually attends the state and national conventions annually, but both were canceled for 2020.

Grounded in her strong faith in God, she stays active in ways that she can, such as at her church, Trinity Missionary Baptist, and on the phone with local chapter members.

Because they can’t meet monthly, she tries to call many of them once every two weeks, sometimes more.

“As a leader, I try to ensure our members are actively involved,” Canty said.

The Sumter chapter’s volunteers are always helpful and continue to be during the pandemic, she added, with running errands, taking members to doctors’ appointments and picking up essential items, such as a white cane, magnifier or a talking watch.

Canty answers all her phone calls, operates a desktop computer and sends emails regularly.

She credits a computer screen reader program that allows blind and visually impaired users to read the screen either with a text-to-speech output or by a Braille display with “opening up my world to communicate” with others.

One of her slogans in raising blind awareness is “we can do, but we do it differently.”

Blind since 1999 because of optic neuritis, she became the Sumter chapter president in less than a year after joining the group.

The story goes, she said, the chapter needed a president, and the state president attended a local meeting.

“He said he saw potential in me and encouraged me to be the president,” Canty said.

Her faith is the No. 1 thing that has gotten her through blindness, she said.

“That is when I realized that God had a plan for my life,” Canty said, “and it was to encourage other blind people. God also said to me, ‘Whatever I assign to you, I will equip you for it,’ and I was so thankful for that.

“This work is not hard for me because God chose me to do this. So, it’s not a task. It gives me joy. I enjoy what I do, and I say, ‘I don’t even want my sight back because if I did, I couldn’t give the same message.'”


Canty said the Sumter chapter of the National Federation of the Blind will have its annual fundraiser Christmas Gala on Tuesday at 7 p.m. Because of the pandemic, it will be a virtual Zoom meeting this year.

One of the purposes of the gala is to raise blind awareness, she said. Canty facilitates the annual gala, and the keynote speaker will be Ever Lee Hairston, a member of the national federation’s Board of Directors. Hairston is also a member of the California affiliate.

Zoom info call-in number 1-929-205-6099, ID is 8032543777.

Anyone is welcome to attend, Canty said, and donations are welcome. For more information on the gala, contact Canty at (803) 775-5792.

Controlled Carbs Recipes

Melanie Torrance


Eating carbohydrates( Carbs) is essential to any healthy diet. Carbs

provide energy to our cells. Energy is needed so that our cells can grow and function properly, so eating carbs is not a bad thing. Carbs are broken down into glucose in our bloodstream, therefore controlling carbs is a goal for diabetes and pre-diabetes management, as well as the prevention of weight gain.


SERVES: 6 SERVING SIZE: 1 taco PREPARATION TIME: 10 minutes. COOKING TIME:  10 minutes.

2 Teaspoons olive oil

1/2 red onion, diced

2 Tablespoons finely diced jalapeno pepper

16 Ounces 93%-lean ground turkey

1 large garlic clove, minced

1 Tablespoon cumin

1 Tablespoons chili powder

1/2 Teaspoons smoked paprika

2 Tablespoons water

6 (6-inch) corn tortillas

1 large (8-Ounces) avocado, diced

6 Tablespoons nonfat plain Greek yogurt

6 Tablespoons no-salt-added pico de gallo.

  1. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over mediumhigh heat.
  1. Add the onion and jalapeno to the skillet and cook for 2 minutes. Add the turkey and cook until the meat is browned and the vegetables are cooked through, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cumin and cook for 30 seconds.
  1. Lower the heat and add the chili powder, paprika, and water, and mix thoroughly.
  1. Fill each tortilla with 1/2 cup of the turkey mixture, plus about 2 Tablespoons diced avocado, 1 Tablespoons yogurt, and 1 Tablespoons pico de gallo.

PER SERVING: Calories 260, Total Fat 12 grams (Sat. Fat 2.6 grams), Cholesterol 60 Milligrams, Sodium 80 Milligrams, Potassium 460 Milligrams, Total Carbohydrate 19 grams (Fiber 4 grams, Sugars 2 grams), Protein 19 grams, Phosphorus 275 Milligrams. CHOICES: Starch 1, Nonstarchy Vegetable 1, Lean Protein 2, Fat 1.5.

Sides. Nonstarchy Vegetable 1/2 cup coleslaw Calories 130 Carbohydrate 16 grams Choices: Carbohydrate 1, Fat 1.5.

Dessert. 1 grilled plum, sprinkled with cinnamon and topped with 1 Tablespoons nonfat plain Greek yogurt Calories 40 Carbohydrate 8 grams

Choices: Fruit 0.5.

Recipe adapted from Diabetes Superfoods Cookbook and Meal Planner:

Power-Packed Recipes and Meal Plans Designed to Help You Lose Weight and Manage Your Blood Glucose by Cassandra L. Verdi, MPH, RD, and Stephanie A.

Dunbar, MPH, RD. Find it at

Shrimp & Brown Rice Recipe

By Herbert Boykin, Sumter Chapter-NFB of SC

1 pound of frozen or fresh medium sized peeled  shrimp

2 boil in the bag brown rice

1 small onion diced

1 can of diced tomatoes

1 cup of chicken broth

3 shakes of garlic, red peppers and ginger

Boil the 2 bags of rice in a separate pot for 10 minutes.

Then, pour 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet.

Sauté shrimp and diced onions together in skillet.

When the rice is done, add to the Sauté shrimp and onions and stir together in the skillet.

Add chicken broth and 1 can of diced tomatoes and stir together and simmer for 15 minutes.

Ready to serve 4-6. Enjoy!!!  This is a quick meal to serve on any given day.

Braille and Me

By —Bob Gardner

Reprinted from

Monday, April 6, 2020

Picture Caption:  Bob Gardner

“Well, Bob,” said Melody, my Braille instructor. She stood up, small and frail. “we’re done!”

“Yes, ma’am.” I closed my McDuffy Reader for the final time, standing up also. I shook her tiny hand. “Thank you for all your patience with me.” I’d just finished, successfully, the Braille class, one of the requirements for graduation there at the NFB training center.

Leaving the Braille room, I thought about tomorrow. Then, I would have to do the “graduation walk,” a three-hour walk through unknown parts of the city. That would be the final hurdle needed to pass the mobility requirements for graduation. Well, that would be tomorrow’s anxiety.

There I was, a man in his sixties, going to graduate in two days from BLIND, Inc. Was I supposed to be too old to get through a strenuous program like that? Well, I’d just about done it. And there I was, in my sixties, having just learned to read and write contracted Braille. Wasn’t it common knowledge seniors couldn’t learn Braille? Well, I’d done that, too.

Braille, however, had certainly been the most difficult class for me. Memorizing those pages of rules and the one hundred and eighty some contractions had been somewhat difficult, but feeling those little dots had been really problematic. I often wondered if the sensitivity in my fingertips wasn’t quite what it ought to be, but I wasn’t going to use that as an excuse.

Reading aloud my lessons in Braille class before three or four other students had been humbling, me stumbling and bumbling. It seemed like the majority of those other students already knew Grade 2 Braille, and they were just trying to improve their proficiency. So with me learning contracted Braille from square one, I often felt like the dumbest one in the class. At my age, I thought I’d endured enough failures through the years to have acquired a reasonable amount of humility. But it still stung to be such a low performer in Braille class.

Once home after the center, I set out to improve my Braille skills. I’d sweated blood to get to my present level, and felt I’d slide backwards if I didn’t continue reading. I started ordering books from the National Library Service, mostly getting smaller books aimed at a younger audience. Being realistic, I thought it best to start out with simple material.

Several years later, a handful of us from our local NFB chapter formed the ABLE Group, all of us relatively slow readers with a goal of getting better. ABLE stood for Access to Braille Literacy for Everyone. We met weekly, each of us with a copy of the same Braille book. We took turns reading sections of text to each other, making us read aloud (no cheating by skipping undecipherable words like when reading to yourself), but also settling those contractions into our brains by repetition.

I found the ABLE Group pushed me to read Braille daily, and like others in the group I became a better reader for it. I remember being told on leaving my Braille class back at the center, “Read something tonight.” I found out now how right my instructor had been. Going through the lessons in the McDuffy Reader wasn’t enough; you needed to read books to cement those rules and contractions into your head.

Some rationalize Braille is unnecessary in this age of technology, but I believe knowing it is always a useful tool for a blind person. I always remember an incident when I was at Washington Seminar and needed to use the bathroom. Badly.

I knew the men’s and women’s were down this short hallway there in the hotel, and the men’s was the first door, the women’s the second. My need urgent, I dashed into the door, then was confused. I couldn’t find any urinals. And there was no one in there to ask. Being in a rush, I used a stall and darted out of there.

Outside in the hallway, now feeling more relaxed, I checked the Braille on the door. You probably have guessed what I’d done: I’d gone into the wrong door and was in the women’s bathroom. Who said Braille isn’t useful? I still thank my lucky stars that bathroom had been unoccupied.

I continue to read Braille regularly, recognizing that having learned Braille at my age, I will never get to the fluency of those who started their Braille journey as young children. But to me it seems a small miracle I can read Braille at all. Not only do I owe it to myself to not let my skills dissipate, but I also owe it to the staff at BLIND, Inc. who gave their time and effort to teach me. I still hear Melody in my head: “Read, Bob. You need to read, read, read!”

Lego launches bricks with Braille

-875705.html  UPDATED: AUG 20 2020.

Picture Caption:  Braille Lego Blocks spell “PLAY”

Danish toy maker Lego said Thursday it was launching a new version of its iconic plastic bricks featuring Braille for the blind or visually impaired in seven countries.

The bricks have the same shape as the regular ones, but the studs on top are rearranged. “The bricks are molded so that the studs on top reflect individual letters and numbers in the Braille alphabet while remaining fully compatible with the Lego system,” a statement from the company said.

The bricks also feature a printed version of the symbol or letter.

Lego said it wanted to encourage blind and visually impaired children to explore new ways of learning to read and write.

“With thousands of audio books and computer programs on the market today, fewer young people are learning Braille. Yet, individuals with blindness or impaired vision all over the world rely on Braille to work, study and enjoy their daily lives to the fullest,” Lego said.

The new bricks will first be sold in Brazil, Britain, Denmark, France, Germany, Norway and the United States, before being extended to another

13 countries in early 2021.

In 2019, Lego allocated 25 per cent of its earnings to the Lego Foundation, which helps disadvantaged children.

UNO Braille and the Importance of Inclusive Play

By Cayte Mendez

From the NFB Blog

Picture Caption:  Cayte Mendez

Over the course of my fifteen years in the classroom, first teaching kindergarten and most recently first grade, I have developed a deep appreciation for how much learning children accomplish through play.

Not just in the structured sense, via games specifically designed for classroom instruction, but also through the hours they spend with their families and friends just having fun. Students develop language skills, literacy skills, and socio-emotional skills every time they play an interactive game.

Every kid deserves the opportunity to interact on an equal footing with their peers when it comes to this most fundamental of childhood activities. However, integrated play can often be road blocked by the unavailability of inclusive games. For sighted kids, receiving age-appropriate, interactive games for a birthday or holiday present is as simple as a quick trip to the local toy store. The minute they open up that box, they are ready to play. For blind children, acquiring accessible games tends to involve a lot of extra steps. Either the game must be ordered well in advance from a specialty retailer, or someone, a Braille literate parent or teacher, must painstakingly add Braille to an existing game to allow the blind child to have access. Opening up that birthday present is an entirely different experience when the excitement of receiving a new toy is overshadowed by “We’ll find a way to put Braille on it so you can play.”

Having Braille be an add-on, or a specialty feature, sends the message to blind children and their families that they are somehow different from other kids. In education it has long been established that separate but equal is not an acceptable concept. So why, when it comes to play, the most natural and engaging form of learning, is accessibility still outside the norm?

When I first heard that Mattel was coming out with UNO Braille, I was thrilled. Any child, regardless of their vision level, can now obtain an accessible game right off the shelf of the local toy store. Imagine the thrill of being able to walk into a store and buy a game, on the spot, that is inclusive and ready to play? No more special orders, no more waiting!

As an educator, I consider it one of the privileges of my work to set an example of inclusivity by including Braille, which is my primary form of literacy, into my classroom of thirty sighted first graders. I read books with both print and Braille, take attendance in Braille, and keep my materials organized with Braille labels. Having Braille in my classroom helps me do my job, and I like to think that my kids, going forward through life having had this experience, will consider inclusivity as a matter of course. I am delighted to think that now thousands of sighted kids across the country will get a taste of this experience as well when they open up a pack of UNO Braille cards and encounter something new. Insatiable curiosity being a hallmark of every child, it is exciting to anticipate the conversations that will be sparked by their inevitable questions about why there are dots on their new game!

Play is the cornerstone of learning. I hope that the wide availability of UNO Braille will inspire other game manufacturers to consider how they can make their products accessible as well. The possibilities for literacy, language, and emotional growth are endless when all kids have equal access to interactive play.

From the President’s Desk

Beginnings, Changes, New directions

By Jennifer Bazer

Four months ago, I took on a new challenge, a new beginning, and a new chapter in my life. As president of the National Federation of the Blind of South Carolina, NFB of SC, I promised to lead with authenticity, integrity, and transparency. I promised to build membership, strengthen communication across the state, create mentoring opportunities, and expand committees, divisions and chapters. I promised to be available to all of you, to listen to your ideas, your feedback, and your dreams for the Palmetto State. Today, I stand with you as we build the Federation in South Carolina and around the world. I stand with you as we break down barriers. I stand with you as we eliminate discrimination based on racism, age, creed, political views, religion, sexual orientation and any other types of discrimination that we may face. I stand with you to be the best person I can be. I stand with you as we create a safe place for blind individuals to join our family. I stand with you as we march together as the largest blindness organization in the Palmetto State and across the nation.

Let our tongue be slow to anger, our lips be sweetened with kindness, our hearts be full of love, our hands ready to heal, our feet marching together, our backs be straight and proud, our head held high with confidence, our minds be open to new ideas, our joy be contagious and our expectations be raised.

In four months, we have grown as an affiliate. We have added a new chapter in Florence; we have created the Sports and Recreation, Diversity and Inclusion and Diabetes Action Network committees; we have continued our Palmetto connect calls twice per month to inform members of happenings in the state; we have expanded the Positive Note to include additional NFB of SC and national NFB information and resources; we have spread NFB of SC events and information to other affiliates through listservs, social media and our website; we have expanded Text-Em-All and Call-Em-All to notify individuals of immediate needs and information; we have increased our listserv participation to over 100 individuals who receive our information electronically; our committees are meeting once a month to plan events, fundraisers, networking opportunities, and are creating innovative ways to build on our solid foundation. I want to thank all of you who participate actively in our movement; who share your gifts and talents; and who make this affiliate, this organization a place of love, hope and determination.

As 2021 approaches, I know you will join me in fulfilling our NFB pledge to be active members of the NFB. I hope you will mark the following events on your calendar and join your Federation family at the following events either through zoom or in-person.

Statewide Seminar, January 9, 2021 from 10:00 until 4:00.

Leadership Seminar, April 10, 2021 from 10:00 until 4:00.

Both events will be hybrid so all can join from zoom or in-person at the Federation Center of the Blind, 119 S. Kilbourne Road, Columbia, SC 29205. The seminars are open to all.

Let’s welcome 2021 with happy hearts, open minds, attitudes of gratitude, high expectations, active participation, and a welcoming spirit. I wish all of you blessings for a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

From the Editor’s Desk

By David Houck

It was 2020, what can you say?  It was an interesting year.  “Hindsight being 20-20,” we have some clarity as we review this past year.  The year began as usual with a very successful Statewide Seminar.  Local chapters were meeting in-person.  Rocky Bottom Retreat and Conference Center of the Blind (RBRCCB) was looking forward to a year full of bookings, children’s and senior camps, a fishing expedition, retreats and much more.

Then the COVID 19 pandemic hit everyone in March with all the restrictions and social distancing that entails.  In-person meetings were halted and other means had to be developed to accomplish our purpose.  The Federation Center of the Blind diverted all of our computer trainees to virtual training and by the end of 2020, 42 blind individuals received training.  Following the lead of our national NFB office, the Computer Science and Technology Division adopted the ZOOM platform, offering it as a means for chapters, divisions, committees and board meetings to go on as usual.  There was a learning curve, especially regarding the NFB of SC convention and registration, but we observed the procedures of the NFB’s 80th Convention and followed suit.  Everything worked out and both our national and state conventions had a record attendance!

Successful Transitions needed to rearrange their busy schedule of activities as some of the staff were able to work from home, meetings and programs were conducted over ZOOM.  Jennifer Bazer, the staff and others at Successful Transitions did a great job in adapting to the pandemic situation without skipping a beat!

Rocky Bottom Retreat and Conference Center of the Blind (RBRCCB) was hit hard as the entire Spring, Summer and Fall season of activities and rentals had to be cancelled.  Thanks to our members, a host of volunteers, Linda Bible our Resident Manager, the Salem and other Lions Clubs, Mt. Hebron United Methodist Church and a hard working board of directors, much was accomplished in both contributions of funds and efforts to keep RBRCCB afloat during this most difficult time.  Successful Transitions and the Federation Center of the Blind gave significantly as well.  There was a bright side to the pandemic as we were able to focus on renovations and SC DHEC regulations which greatly enhanced our property and facilities.  Programs were not in-person but were still held on the ZOOM platform virtually.  Participation in Senior Retreats, Children’s activities, etc., each was outstanding, innovative and enjoyable.

The prospect for a slate full of in-person activity is anticipated for 2021 if the virus does not intervene, but if it does, we will be ready to implement alternative methods in order to be successful.

Finally, we wish Frank Coppel well as he has served as President of the NFB of SC for five years and we congratulate Jennifer Bazer for being elected to this position.  She brings much energy and excitement to this new decade of service.  Also, Frank Coppel stepped down as Chairman of RBRCCB and we have already seen his commitment and dedication to the growth and development of RBRCCB and its programs.  As Thom Spittle picks up the mantle of leadership, he has already shown insight into what Rocky Bottom’s current, medium and long term goals need to be.  I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge Ed Bible, Chairman of the Federation Center’s board as he worked hard on the growth and development of our programs and the progress of our many renovations.  Mr. Bible also had a hand in overseeing the operational needs of RBRCCB.  While we are saddened to see the RBRCCB Resident Manager, Linda Bible leave on December 31, 2020 we wish the incoming Resident Manager, Suzanne Bryant to be successful and come to love RBRCCB as much as we all do.

Final Thought

“STRESSED is DESSERTS spelled backward; so relax and have a piece of pie!”

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:_____________________________

who resides at ___________________________________________


Please acknowledge me with a copy of this memorial letter:

My Name _______________________________________________

Address ________________________________________________

My check is enclosed. (Tax deductible)

Thank You!

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


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.