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Greater New York Council of the Blind

A chapter of the American Council of the Blind of New York; An affiliate of the American Council of the Blind

A self-help organization dedicated to improving the lifestyle and independence of the blind and visually impaired

Working in New York, Our Members Have:

Things We Are Doing

A Library That is Not For Us

On April 24, Terence Page and Derek Pollitt wandered into Lincoln Center’s Library of the Performing Arts. The library is a magnificent two-story reserve at the edge of the plaza with a white stone façade and inlaid oak grain paneling throughout the interior, with polished gray granite floors. It is dedicated to housing thousands and thousands of recorded performances on DVD, from dramas, comedies, musicals, ballet, modern dance, operas and much, much more. And would you believe there are only maybe eleven audio-described performances on DVD, and only five are on the premises, though Mr. McMullin, a librarian in the Rodgers and Hammerstein Division, wasn’t even sure! He could not tell us if the library’s streaming service Kanopy which was started in 2017, had audio-described movies.

After informing Mr. McMullin about our issues, he sent me an email from the Head Librarian promising to address our complaints. He stated this may take a while and that the process is slow, but that they will address our concerns.

We at GNYCB will stay on this situation and make sure we get what we pay for. After all, libraries are for everyone.

Recent Things We Have Done

Disability Pride Parade
by Derek Pollitt

photo of chapter members at the Parade

On July 14, 2019, seven members of the Greater New York Council of the Blind assembled at Selis Manor to participate in the fifth annual New York Disability Pride Parade. Our undaunted team was led by Terence Page, our president. He told us to “let New York know we are proud and blind.” Infused with resolve, we marched down the parade route, which began at Fifth Avenue and 25th Street and ended at 14th Street and Union Square. Mirko Kunstek and William Gluck held our State banner high, followed by Terence Page, Robert Weekes, Karen Kacen, Chantel Pena, and Derek Pollitt. As we approached 25th Street and Fifth Avenue, one could feel the excitement in the air. There were clowns, floats, information on disability support agencies, and people from the entire New York disability community. Once the parade got underway Terence Page shouted out, “Who are we?” The small but intrepid group shouted back, “We are ACB, the American Council of the Blind.” As we made our way down the parade route, we passed out our business cards to members of the public. When we waved our canes in the warm July afternoon air, one could feel the crowd was as excited as we were. As with anything, all things must inevitably come to an end, but not before we took time to congratulate one another on making ACB history.

Verizon Attempts to Answer GNYCB’S Questions

On June 1, the Greater New York Council of the Blind continued its goal of having the cable providers address your issues in person. Shavi Shapiro, a representative of Verizon, addressed our organization. He stated that Verizon is dedicated to making our viewing experience as pleasurable as possible. He said he is not a specialist in accessibility. He stated, “I will try to answer your questions as best as possible.” With a smile he said, “Please take it easy on me,” followed by light laughter. Mr. Shapiro’s primary responsibilities are selling Verizon’s cable products and services. Shapiro was bombarded with questions, which he had very few answers to, but he promised he would return with more information.

The Q and A section of our meeting went on for about 45 minutes. Some of the questions posed were: Does Verizon have an accessible contract? Does Verizon have an accessible website? Is Verizon’s app accessible? Does Verizon have a person that just deals with the visually impaired community? and Why doesn’t Verizon’s Accessibility Department stay open past 5 p.m.? Terence Page, President of the chapter, jokingly said some of us stay up past 2:00 sometimes. When Mr. Shapiro stated that Verizon (at the time of this article) did not have a visually impaired representative at their company, there were members at the meeting who shouted out a desire to work for Verizon, such as Victor Andrews—a Board member and the person responsible for arranging Mr. Shapiro’s appearance. He suggested, “I will work for Verizon!” There were smiles and laughter all around. Verizon does have a talking remote and set-top box and will provide your bill in large print and Braille.

Overall, the presentation was not very informative, but we appreciated Mr. Shapiro’s coming to our meeting and having the courage to attempt to answer our questions. We at GNYCB will ask Verizon to return and keep us and you informed on their accessibility updates.

ACB Goes to CUNY CAP (College Assistance Program) Conference

On April 24, CUNY held its annual College Assistance Program (CAP) Conference for Disabled Students at John Jay College. CAP is a program designed to help students transfer from the classroom to the work environment. The conference was well-attended by the CUNY colleges and some private colleges and universities, such as Fordham University and the School of Visual Arts. Victor Andrews, a member of our Board of Directors; Derek Pollitt, Head of our Membership Committee; and Terence Page, President of our chapter, were allowed to attend this event because of our association with Mr. Andrews, saving our organization the $500 entrance fee. Our chapter was granted time at the podium to introduce our group, its accomplishments, and our website.

The conference provided us a wealth of networking opportunities! Our band of representatives was introduced to the Disabled Student Officers of City University, the School of Visual Arts, Fordham University, and many others. Mr. Pollitt happened to be a classmate of two of the Disabled Student Officers, guaranteeing a long-term connection to a pool of newer and younger members for our organization. One of the nuggets gleaned from the conference is that the School of Visual Arts has blind and visually impaired students on its roster. Our chapter has been graciously granted a tour of the facilities of the School of Visual Arts. (date to be announced)

Upcoming Events

The Greater New York Council of the Blind (GNYCB.org) Welcomes Spectrum to Selis Manor

On Oct. 18, 2019, at Selis Manor (135 West 23rd Street between 6th and 7th Avenues in Manhattan), from 2:00 p.m.-6:00 p.m., Spectrum will be demonstrating its Accessibility features such as the Talking Set-Top Box (Guide Narration on Spectrum World Box 2.0) and the accessibility features on the Spectrum TV app on Apple TV. You will also have a chance to learn about Spectrum Mobile and the fully accessible experience that Spectrum has created for customers with disabilities on their latest addition to their product line-up.

Come and meet the Spectrum Accessibility Team and learn how they have improved the cable-viewing experience for blind and visually impaired persons. This event is a part of GNYCB’s continuing series of bringing the cable providers to you to answer your questions in person. Here are some of the issues GNYCB and Spectrum have worked on for our community:

  1. Persons who identify themselves as blind or visually impaired can get up to two Talking Set-Top Boxes (Spectrum World Box 2.0) at no additional cost! (for a limited time)
  2. The Spectrum Set-Top Box 2.0 now moves from the Spectrum app to the Netflix app with Guide Narration.
  3. Spectrum is working to train their installers to be better-informed when installing and explaining accessible equipment in the residences of persons in our community.
  4. We at GNYCB have made Spectrum aware that the Audio Description ceases to function in the Video On-Demand feature. While they are currently technically unable to offer this capability, Spectrum has committed to exploring ways to offer audio-described programming in their On-Demand content as well.

We at GNYCB and Spectrum are continuously working together.  So, come and check out our efforts on Oct. 18, 2019, at Selis Manor (135 West 23rd Street between 6th Avenue and 7th Avenue in Manhattan) between the times of 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. Please spread the word!

Greater New York Council of the Blind Annual Brunch

Date: December 14th, 2019
Time: 12:30 PM – 4:00 PM
Place: Parnell’s Restaurant and Pub
350 East 53rd Street (corner of First Avenue)
New York, NY
(Entrance is on the corner of First Avenue. Wheelchair entrance is on 53rd Street.)
(212) 753-1761
Price: $36 per person
Menu Choices:
Complimentary Mimosa, Bloody Mary, Wine, Beer or Juice
EGGS FLORENTINE – With sautéed spinach and hollandaise sauce
COUNTRY OMELET – Choose 3 fillings (ham, tomato, onion, bacon, cheese, peppers, and mushroom)
CORNED BEEF HASH & EGGS - Served in a skillet with roasted tomato
* All of the above egg dishes are served with country style home fries or fries.
BUTTERMILK BATTERED CRISPY CHICKEN SANDWICH – Baby spinach, grilled tomato, spicy cherry peppers and old bay aioli - Served with fries and coleslaw
FISH & CHIPS - Beer battered Cod, herbed fries, house tartar sauce and red cabbage sweet slaw
SHEPHERD’S PIE - Ground Angus beef, peas, carrots, celery, onions and parsnips with a potato crust – Served with small green salad
PARNELL’S BURGER - 9oz. fresh ground Angus on potato sesame bun - Served with seasoned herb fries, lettuce, tomato, onion and pickle
--- Coffee and Tea ---
RSVP with entree choice and who you wish to be seated with by November 30th to Gail Sussman
Payment must be received by Saturday, December 7th at our ACB meeting.
If paying by check, make check payable to Greater New York Council of the Blind.

Apple Works with ACB

On April 25, Lori Scharff, President of the ACB of New York, contacted the President of GNYCB to say that she'd been contacted by Josh Rifkin, manager of the Apple store on 59th Street in Manhattan. He wanted her to know that New York City Apple stores wanted to reach out to the local ACB chapter to promote “Accessibility Week” in Apple stores. Due to the lateness of the outreach phone call, GNYCB was not able to partake in “Accessibility Week." But Josh Rifkin and Edwin Ramirez Pery, manager of another Apple store in Manhattan, have assured us that you can get the schedule of accessibility classes for your local Apple store, and that an Apple representative will speak to our chapter about the latest updates for Apple products (to be scheduled). Please see the link below for the Accessibility classes offered throughout New York City:

https://www.apple.com/today/calendar/?topics=accessibility-audience

Our Meetings

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. Upcoming meeting dates are Nov. 2 and Dec. 7. All are welcome! Come on out and help shape the world!

Board of Directors:

President: Terence Page
Vice President: Barbara Robins
Treasurer: Gail Sussman
Recording Secretary: Shanel Cherry-Mitchell
Corresponding Secretary: Rachel Graff
Delegate / Legislative Representative: Maureen Moscato
Board Members: Victor Andrews, Karen Kacen, Sal Moscato, Ellen Rubin
Immediate Past President: Bob White

Articles Written By Our Members

Resources

(Check back regularly for updates.)

Community Events

Accessible Community, Culture and Technology Fair 2019
Wednesday, November 6, 2019, 12:30 - 5 p.m.

Join us at The New York Public Library's  Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, entrance on 42nd street, just West of 5th Avenue, in the Bartos Forum. This year's added theme is ”Know Your Rights! Know Your Opportunities!”

The Fair will include tablers from educational, employment, advocacy, arts, recreation, technology, and support organizations; fun accessible activities; financial counseling; resources for English Language Learning and Citizenship, Employment advice, featured speakers on Human Rights 101, Healthy Homes, Immigrant Resource Forums, Financial Counseling appointments, and more. Spanish language information and guides will be available.  Goody bags while supplies last.

Free! No registration needed.

Email Jill Rothstein for more information.
212-621-0620

Entertainment

Audio Description is available for select performances. Listening devices are issued which transmit a trained describer's description of what's happening on stage.

Museums in NYC

Activities

Patient Matters

This section of our site is dedicated to the health and well-being of blind and visually impaired persons.

Life Apps

Important Help Desk Phone Numbers

Useful Web Sites

Organizations That Can Help

FYI

Shop on Amazon Smile and 0.5% of the purchase price of eligible products will be donated to GNYCB

Contact Us

For questions regarding the Greater New York Council of the Blind, email our President

If you have any comments regarding this site, email the Webmaster / Corresponding Secretary or call us at 929-244-9272

The Greater New York Council of the Blind is a registered 501(c)(3) organization.