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Eye On Central Minnesota

By Lori Peglow

Message from the CMC President

The Central Minnesota Chapter National Federation of the Blind (CMCNFB) held our annual elections in October of 2013.  Kevin Horodenski was elected as the president of the CMCNFB.  Two of Kevin’s goals as the new president are to make our name more publicly known and to get new members into the chapter before the next chapter elections.  One way to do that is to take Beth Moline’s idea for celebrating Louis Braille’s birthday.  He, Beth and several other members of the CMCNFB will be having a presence at the St. Cloud Library on the first Saturday of January.  We will pass out brochures and share technology at that time. 

Kevin also welcomes other ideas for making our chapter known in the community and hopes to do his best for our chapter.  There is no excuse for saying that I can’t do it because I am blind.  With today’s technology, no one can say that anymore. There is a whole world out there with assisted equipment and technology for us.  I think the saying goes, “No I can’t turned into I can do”.

         Meet Members of the CMCNFB

Gayle Gruber-Bengtson has been a member of the CMCNFB since its inception in 1971.  Gayle has been blind since birth.  She attended Washington Elementary School in St. Cloud.  Washington Elementary School had a Sight Saving Resource room.  The teacher believed strongly that the sooner a sight-impaired person learned to get along in the sighted world, the better off they’d be.  The teacher had the students sit in a circle.  Using a flute ball that beeped, she had the students roll the ball to another student who would then say their name.  If the ball rolled outside the circle, the student had to go find it by listening for the beeps.  This was an effective tool to teach great listening skills.  The teacher also had the students use a raised relief globe.  This allowed the students to feel the continents and mountain ranges, etc.

Gayle also learned to type in the 6th grade.  The only problem with this was that if you made a mistake, it went right past you unless you had a sighted person point out your errors so you could correct them.  She used a tape recorder to tape her lessons.  Then Gayle would translate the important notes using Perkins Big Brailler.

Gayle had several jobs after finishing school.  One of her favorite jobs was working for the Minnesota Migrant Council.  She made copies for the staff.  Gayle came up with the idea of having masking tape on the copier to mark the top and bottom of the papers to be copied so she got the right sized copies.  She also had just enough vision to see the lights on the phones so she was able to answer phones and type up messages.

Another special job was when Gayle started an answering service business.  That is where she met her husband, Jim.  Jim was very special to Gayle and very helpful.  He would label her belongings and would often use humor on the labels.  One example was the use of “shampooey” on her shampoo bottle.  Jim passed away five years ago.

Gayle uses a number of tools in her home, such as talking clocks and talking thermometers, the ones that tell the outside and inside temperature as well as one that tells your body temperature.  She uses Window-Eyes on her computer.  She likes to listen to The Legend and Minnesota Radio Talking Book on her computer.  The Legend is a program started by a blind person and all the presenters are blind as well.

Gayle has attended several national conventions.  One memorable one for Gayle was held in Louisville, Kentucky where she was able to tour the American Printing House for the Blind.  She met one of the readers while on the tour.

As a blind person, Gayle would like sighted people to know that the fact that blind people have the same hearing skills as a sighted person, nothing better or extra special.  It is just that they have learned to rely heavily on that sense in place of their vision.

Upcoming Events

On Friday, January 17th we will be holding our 27th annual fund-raising spaghetti dinner.  The dinner will be held at the Eagles Club in Waite Park, from 4:30 pm to 8:00 pm.  Tickets are $7.00 for adults, $3.00 for children from 6-12 and free for children under 6.

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