A self-help organization dedicated to improving the lifestyle and independence of the blind and visually impaired
Working in New York, Our Members Have:
Advocated for the installation of speech-enabled payment systems in New York City taxis
Worked to make crossing streets safer by increasing the number of Accessible Pedestrian Signals (APS) installed at intersections
Advocated for accessible Web sites in both public and private spheres
Worked to ensure programs and professionals serving people who are blind and visually impaired provide the highest quality services
Things We Are Doing
GNYCB Gets Masks and Gloves for Selis Manor
By Terence Page
Photo of Ramakrishna Kadukuntla, Elijah Hobbs, Terence Page, and Braulio Thorne receiving PPEs.
On Feb. 22, 2021, a shipment of masks and gloves were hand-delivered to Selis Manor by Mr. Ramakrishna Kadukuntla, a representative of the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD). Mr. Kadukuntla provided the answer to an urgent request to acquire Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
Mr. Elijah Hobbs, a Rep. for Selis Manor Management, approached me, President of the Greater New York Council of the Blind, in the lobby of Selis Manor and stated, “We give out masks to anyone entering the building or to anyone who is in need, and we are in short supply. Could you or GNYCB acquire any masks?” I responded, “We will try our best.” I called and emailed the MOPD, but our request seemed to get lost in the early COVID fog. We didn’t give up.
We assigned the task to Mr. Victor Andrews, known for being a dogmatic Board Member. Within a week or so, we received a call from Mr. Kadukuntla, and the 2,500 masks and 50,000 pairs of gloves were handed to Mr. Hobbs, Mr. Braulio Thorne, and me, by Mr. Kadukuntla.
The PPEs were distributed on Wed., March 3 at 10 a.m. to the residents of Selis Manor, acknowledging the efforts of MOPD and the Greater New York Council of the Blind.
Mr. Kadukuntla stated, “I tried to give your group as many as I could. We usually send PPEs to individuals, but when we were informed of your need, my driver and I got here as soon as possible.”
While shaking my hand, Mr. Hobbs sang our praises: “GNYCB, you guys kept your word and delivered, and I respect that!”
We at GNYCB thank Mr. Jonathan Novick and Mr. Kadukuntla of MOPD for their continued support of the blind and visually impaired community.
The GNYCB wants to help you, so please contact us and let us know your concerns.
by Terence Page
The Greater New York Council of the Blind (GNYCB) has been in a state of mourning since the COVID-19 pandemic began, but that does not mean we have been inactive! Our website has continued to grow and keep the community informed with our excellent Web team of Rachel Graff, designer, webmaster, and editor, and Karen Kacen, designer, editor, and monitor of our museum lists. Our new Social Media Director, Yasmin Campbell, has established our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts. We are dedicated to being the ultimate source for advocacy, legislation, voting, health, entertainment, sports, and activities for individuals in New York City who are blind and visually impaired. Our chapter meets via teleconference the first Saturday of the month, and all are welcome.
Since the pandemic, GNYCB has been called on in many capacities. We are currently on the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD) COVID Response Team, along with other grassroots organizations. We are tasked with disseminating and gathering information on the mood of the community. We have come up with the following ideas:
Outdoor restaurants must leave a clear path for the blind and visually impaired;
COVID-19 testing information should be available and accessible to screen reader software;
PPE (personal protective equipment) must be distributed throughout our community; and
The blind and visually impaired should receive proper nutrition during the pandemic.
Our Work with the TLC
Ellen Rubin, Gail Sussman, and Terence Page have been working with the Taxi and Limousine Commission to improve the relationship it has with our community. Concerns put forth by this group include:
Passengers who are visually impaired and blind must be able to maintain clear communication with drivers at the highest level to ensure the safety of our community. A lack of clear communication between drivers and passengers has caused some of our members to be placed in dangerous situations.
The braille and large print in taxicabs is sometimes damaged, making it difficult to identify the cab. We are requesting that inspections of the signage in taxis are increased and are carried out by a person who has a sufficient knowledge of braille and large print.
Innovations, such as the talking screens and the card readers in taxis, are sometimes inactive or difficult to operate. We suggest that training for drivers and anyone they share their cabs with be implemented and a series of instructional outreach programs be made available to inform the visually impaired and blind community of how to use this equipment.
Victor Andrews has diligently and dogmatically made sure we have had more speakers than at any time in recent history.
Audrey Schading has driven our membership recruitment efforts. In addition, years ago she encouraged our current President, Terence Page, to join our ranks.
Bob White facilitated our seamless move to virtual meetings.
Recent Things We Have Done
Procter & Gamble:
Our chapter was tasked by ACB National to distribute products by Procter & Gamble to assist during the current pandemic. The products were shipped in see-through plastic bags. In these bags were shopping bags containing a mask and various cleaning and personal hygiene products. Some of the products were damaged in shipping, but overall, the packages ended up in the hands of very grateful residents of Selis Manor. The bags were handed out by Braulio Thorne, Robert Weekes, Yelitza Picon, and Terrea Mitchell in the lobby of Selis Manor with social distance kept in mind.
ACB Community Events List:
Sign up to receive daily emails containing announcements of virtual events scheduled throughout the day. Also includes notices of upcoming ACB conferences throughout the country. Membership in the organization is not required to join the email list or participate in any of the events. Subscribe to the list by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
ACB National and State Legislative Imperatives for 2021
The Greater New York Council of the Blind meets on the first Saturday of the month from 2:00-4:00 at the
Andrew Heiskell Braille and Talking Book Library.
Please note: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, our meetings will be held via Zoom until further notice. Feel free to join us via one of the following Zoom links:
Join Zoom Meeting Meeting ID: 531 230 9378 Passcode: 135230
Telephone number: (929) 205-6099 Meeting ID: 531 230 9378 Passcode: 135230
Upcoming meeting dates are Oct. 2, Nov. 6, and Dec. 4. All are welcome! Come on out and help shape the world!
Board of Directors:
President: Terence Page
Vice President: Barbara Robins
Treasurer: Suvro Banerjee
Recording Secretary: Shanel Cherry-Mitchell
Corresponding Secretary: Rachel Graff
Delegate to the State Board: Fitz Martin
Board Members: Victor Andrews, Karen Kacen, Audrey Schading, Gail Sussman
Immediate Past President/Legislative Representative: Robert White
Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts
165 West 65th Street, 9th Floor
New York, NY 10023
(212) 875-5375 e-mail for more information
Lincoln Center is pleased to offer a variety of programs that help extend accessible arts and education to all visitors. They provide large print and Braille
programs for most Lincoln Center performances and offer Verbal Description Tours of the campus. Audio Description is available for select performances.
United in Stride
A tool for uniting blind and visually impaired runners with sighted guides
United States Association of Blind Athletes National organization that provides sports programs to athletes of all ages and abilities who are blind and visually impaired. Includes local grassroots
programs to the elite Paralympic level.
Visions at Selis Manor offers free ceramics class: Free ceramics class for people who are blind/visually impaired. Classes are held at 135 West 23rd Street in Manhattan, from 3:00-5:00 p.m. on Tuesdays. They are currently seeking new students.
To register, call (646) 486-4444, ext. 223
This section of our site is dedicated to the health and well-being of blind and visually impaired persons.
Accessible Pharmacy Joins Be My Eyes
Be My Eyes welcomes their first partner pharmacy onto the Be My Eyes app. Users in the United States will be able to ask questions about medicine, drug
interactions, and starting in December, order in-home COVID tests from trained professionals who know how to safely and effectively set up the tests. Learn more by visiting:
ACB is also a specialized help provider on the Be My Eyes app. Download the app today and locate ACB in the Specialized Help menu under Blindness Organizations. Make the call – our ACB representatives are ready and waiting!
CVS Pharmacy Introduces New App Feature
Spoken Rx is a free new feature of the CVS Pharmacy app that reads a specific type of label. When the RFID labels are scanned by Spoken Rx in the CVS Pharmacy
app, prescription label information will be spoken out loud in either English or Spanish. For more information, and a list of active stores, visit
Foundation Fighting Blindness
Learn about research they fund to prevent, treat and cure inherited retinal degenerative diseases. Also provides information, resources and referrals.
HHS Launches Hotline to Improve Access to COVID-19 Vaccines for People with Disabilities: The Disability Information and Access Line (DIAL) is now available to help people with disabilities find vaccination locations in their communities and assist callers with making vaccination appointments. They also connect callers to local services, such as accessible transportation. Call
from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
In-Home COVID-19 Vaccinations Available for Some New York City Residents: Eligibility is based on one of three categories: 75 years or older; a person with a disability; or fully homebound. Can request vaccine preference: Pfizer,
Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson.
Request an in-home appointment
Vitacost.com: Items found in health food stores, including food that isn’t refrigerated or frozen
Silver Sneakers: Silver Sneakers is a program available to seniors and people with disabilities with Medicare Part C that provides free gym memberships. Please check for participating gyms.
Walking Can Keep You Sane and Healthy by Terence Page
How do we stay sane during this COVID-19 thing? I’m not breaking ground by saying a healthy body leads to a healthy mind. Keeping this idea in mind, here are some simple exercises that can help you to stay moving which releases the chemical known as endorphins into the brain. Endorphins give you a feeling of happiness, joy, and lightheartedness. After completing these simple exercises, you will also feel a sense of completion.
So, this is what I recommend. We all hated calisthenics in school, but in this time of limited movement, running or walking in place is quite cathartic and fun.
Step 1: Clear an area to run or walk in place. This area must be buffeted on all four sides or at least three sides. When I attempt to do this in my apartment, I tend to drift in all four directions. My choice of places to do this exercise is between my bed to the left, the window and radiator to the right, and my chaise to the rear.
Step 2: Make sure that you are wearing sneakers or a very soft shoe with a lot of padding. If you have a padded non-slip rug or mat, that will help keep you from drifting because when your feet reach the edge of the rug or mat, you will recenter yourself. And a non-slip rug or mat will cushion your joints. If you have hand weights, use them.
Step 3: I suggest that you do this exercise for about 15 minutes and build up to 30 minutes walking. Then build up to a very light jog for 30 minutes. If you have an iPhone, you can say, "Siri, set timer for 15 minutes.” If you don’t have a smartphone or an iPhone, I suggest you play music or use your favorite TV show to time your workout. The average song is about four minutes long, so four songs is about 15 minutes.
Remember, before attempting any exercise, check with your doctor, and stretch your legs by trying to touch your toes. You don’t have to touch them - just try to touch them. Note: If you feel any pain or health issues, STOP!
Wishing you the best of health and reminding you to wash your hands!
Walmart Adopts ScripTalk Accessible Prescriptions at All Stores! - Advocacy Update Podcast
Happy 29th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act! On this episode of the Advocacy Update Podcast produced by the American Council of the Blind, Clark Rachfal is joined by Amanda Tolson,
En-Vision America, and JoAnn Stephens and Carrie Farber, Walmart, to discuss how Walmart is making the ScripTalk accessible prescription solution available
at all Walmarts and Sam’s Clubs throughout the U.S. To get started with ScripTalk, call En-Vision America at:
or speak with your local Walmart or Sam’s Club pharmacist today! If you have any feedback or questions about getting setup with ScripTalk, please let us know by
emailing usListen to the podcast
ACB Link: Stay up to date with ACB National events and items of importance to ACB members and friends; view a complete list of affiliates and make contact with them; and stream all seven ACB Radio streams. Price: FREE
Aipoly Vision: An artificial intelligence app. Point the camera to a thing or person, and it will learn to identify it. Price: FREE
Aira: Provides virtual sighted assistance by connecting you to a human being. Price: Free to download the app and for calls lasting less than five minutes each; monthly plans vary.
BARD Mobile: A digital book app from the Andrew Heiskell Library to download audio books, magazines, instructional music material, some in multiple languages or in digital Braille format. You must join the library first. Price: FREE
Be My Eyes: An app that uses the camera on your phone to identify objects or anything with a visual assistant (real person). This app is also connected to the Microsoft Disability Answer Desk for 24-hour computer assistance; Google products are also supported. Price: FREE
Blindfold Games: Games everyone can play but developed for blind and visually impaired persons. Price: Depends on the Game.
BlindSquare: A navigation app that lists locations of arts and entertainment venues, colleges and universities, restaurants and their menus, outdoors and recreation, nightlife spots, professional and other places, residences, shops, and services. While traveling, this app will also bring up a map and estimate your walking time to public transportation and how much it would cost to travel by Uber. Price: $39.99
EyeNote: An app that reads U.S. currency. Price: FREE
Google Duo: Allows iOS and Android users to make video calls to each other. Price: Free
Here We Go: Tells you how to get from one place to another; is easier to use than Google Maps. Price: FREE
KNFB Reader: Scans documents and will turn them into Word or emails. Price: $99.99 (price varies during the year)
Move It: A transportation app that tells you the nearest subway station or bus stop from where you are standing. This app will also tell you when the next bus or train arrives. Price: FREE
NaviLens: Tells the time of buses, how far away they are, and if they are crowded. Premieres on the M23. Price: FREE
Nearby Explorer: A navigation app that tells you where you are and what’s around you. Price: FREE
Netflix: A movie streaming app. A person can also request a movie on CD with audio description. A good portion of the movies are audio-described. Price: $13.99 per month
NFBNewsline: Provides access to the text of 400 newspapers and magazines, weather, TV listings, and retail ads. Price: FREE, but must register to use.
Notify NYC: Alerts you to city-related issues, such as road closures, transit disruptions, and emergencies within the five boroughs. Price: FREE
OO Tunes: A digital radio. Gives you access to hundreds of stations in the U.S. and around the world. Radio alarm clock, records online radio shows, stores your favorite stations. Price: $4.99
Over There: Tells you what store you're pointing your phone at. Price: FREE
Read to Go: A digital book app brought to you by Bookshare. Digital audio books and Braille format accessible by downloading into your phone. This app is associated with joining the library. Price: FREE
Seeing AI: Scanning program that reads documents, labels, money, environments, faces, and handwriting, depending on the model of your phone. Price: FREE
Soundscape: A navigation app that tells you where you are and what’s around you in walking distance. Price: FREE
Spectrum TV: Allows a person to watch those cable features you have trouble accessing on your TV, such as the guide, shows on demand, and movies. The app has a library so you can go back and continue watching much later. Price: comes with your cable provider.
Talking Tuner: A chromatic tuner that helps you to tune any instrument by listening. Price: $.99
Tap Tap See: A camera app that describes pictures you have taken. Price: FREE
Voice Dream Reader: This app allows the listener to improve or change the voice on the Read to Go app and other places on your phone. Price varies depending on voice purchased.
Voice Dream Scanner: A scanning app that does the job better than KNFB Reader and Seeing AI. Text can be oriented in any direction, and your phone can be tilted in different directions. Recognizes text in low light and can save it in various file formats. Price: $6
Blind Mice Mega Mall A shopping mall that contains stores carrying a great variety of products. Also includes a Movie Vault, where you can download the soundtrack of thousands of audio-described movies
Directions For Me A Web site that provides cooking directions or packaging information for thousands of products
ACB Partners with Be My Eyes: ACB has partnered with Be My Eyes, an innovative app that provides real-time video assistance for individuals who are blind and visually impaired. To contact
ACB through Be My Eyes, download the app from the
and locate ACB under “Specialized Help”.
read the press release about this partnership
Access-A-Ride: As of Jan. 19, 2021, Access-A-Ride has begun charging the standard fee of $2.75 per trip.
Accessible Station Lab: Learn about the Accessible Station Lab at the Jay St-MetroTech Station in Downtown Brooklyn, where the MTA is testing out various features designed to make subway travel more accessible to people with various disabilities, including blindness and visual impairment. Come test these features for yourself and provide feedback to NYCT.
AIRA offers free service in Target stores and at JFK International, LaGuardia and Newark Liberty International airports. They have also partnered with ACB to offer members special pricing plans. The ACB Member Intro Plan:
Minutes: 30 per month
Price: $20 per month
Plan Share: no additional users
The ACB Member Enhanced Plan:
Minutes: 140 per month
Price: $99.99 per month
Plan Share: up to two additional users
Plans are only available through AIRA's Customer Care Team. To qualify for these plans, one must be a member in good standing of the American Council of the
Blind or its affiliates or chapters for the current membership year. Membership will be verified through AIRA's Customer Care Team.
Andrew Heiskell Braille and Talking Book Library updates:
Starting September 1 our call center hours have been extended to Mondays-Fridays 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Saturdays 10 a.m.-2 p.m. You may call
You can now order ten books per person per week, but you must call or email to order. We are unable to provide automatic mailings of books with our building closed.
Tech coaching and workshops are still available via phone and Internet.
Apple Offers Accessibility Classes: Josh Rifkin and Edwin Ramirez Pery, representatives of several Apple stores in Manhattan, have assured us that you can get a schedule of accessibility
classes from your local Apple store.
Get a listing of accessibility classes offered throughout New York City
We have also been assured that an Apple representative will speak to our chapter about the latest updates for Apple products (to be scheduled).
"Can You Help Me Fill This Out?": How many times have you been to the post office and asked a postal employee to help you fill something out only to be told, “We are not allowed to do that. I could lose my job.” This is NOT TRUE! I repeat, this is NOT TRUE! When blind and visually impaired persons try to use our local post office, we are often told the above phrase. Since we do not have knowledge of the postal codes, we take this information as fact. But we do have the information now. We at GNYCB have also encountered such difficulties, so we are making available a letter from a lawyer for the post office that you can print out and hand to your local postal worker to back up your argument that, “Yes, you can fill this out.”
Post Office Letter (Microsoft Word document)
Caribbean Club at Visions
The club helps individuals apply for services with the NYS Commission for the Blind and other agencies. They send canes to people who need them in the Caribbean and other countries, as well as to those in NYC. Recently, they collected money for the Bahamian hurricane
relief and for the earthquake in Puerto Rico. Contact Wayne McKenzie for further information.
Catholic Guild for the Blind:
Saying Goodbye to the Catholic Guild By Yasmin Campbell
The Catholic Guild for the Blind was an organization whose mission was to provide rehabilitation and education services to persons with vision impairments. It served New York City and provided services to help those in need which included independent living skills, employment training and placement, as well as information, referrals and other supports. Hearing of the Catholic Guild’s closing was a major blow to many people, especially the visually impaired and blind communities who depended on this organization’s services for assistance. We want to thank them for all their years of service and let them know the Catholic Guild will truly be missed.
VISIONS Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired:
A program is being offered at VISIONS Vocational Rehabilitation Center in Spring Valley, NY, for students who want to learn a trade, become work-ready and
want to be employed shortly after graduation. This job readiness program is for blind and visually impaired youth between the ages of 18 and 22 - until
their 22nd birthdate. The 15-week residential program was created to give youth who are not college-bound, and/or have dropped out of college, an opportunity
to gain more skills and experience. Participants will gain independence skills, learn technology and software-readiness skills, gain work experience and
complete a highly recognized Customer Service training from the National Retail Federation. There are opportunities to achieve vocational certificates
in programs including: Certified Nursing Assistant, Certified Teacher Assistant, Veterinary Assistant, HVAC, Technology - including Web Development, as
well as other courses offered. Certification is reciprocal with other States.
If you have any questions, please contact: Carmen Thorne, VCB Public Relations and Marketing Coordinator
Office: (212) 625-1616, ext. 107 or
Fax: (212) 219-4078 or
Black Lives Matter Statement: The GNYCB stands with the Black Lives Matter movement. We recognize that institutional racism was instrumental in the founding of our nation and that systemic racism continues to this day. We honor George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and countless others who have sacrificed their lives in the African-American struggle for equality.
Editor's Statement: We will not post anything that goes against the philosophy of the Greater New York Council of the Blind. In addition, we have the discretion
to edit all submissions for clarity, grammar and however else we deem necessary.
The Greater New York Council of the Blind is a registered 501(c)(3) organization.