Letters to the Editor...
Tribute to Sam Work
The Michigan Regional Group recently lost a valued BVA member, Retired Master Sergeant Sam Work.
As an advocate and officer of the group, Sam attended many support group meetings around the state. He always had a smile and exuded a positive attitude.
Sam was a past regional group president and was our secretary at the time of his passing. As a leader, Sam always projected an optimistic and supportive outlook. He attended many conventions and was pictured on the cover of the Bulletin following the San Antonio convention in 2002. That same photo is now on the cover of our current membership brochure.
Sam is the person who most motivated me to get more involved with BVA when the group needed a treasurer. He was a great friend and mentor. He will be missed by the Michigan Regional Group and the many outside the group who knew him and his great service to all of us.
Michigan Regional Group
Sun Valley Good Times
Our Visually Impaired January Sun Valley Adaptive Snow Sports Camp in cooperation with BVA was a huge success! All warriors had an amazing and truly therapeutic experience.
We were even able to do our first-ever visually impaired snowmobile trip with all of the warriors driving the machines.
We were glad to have Steve Beres join us so that a BVA representative could experience a Higher Ground program first-hand. The gift bag items from BVA were great. Thanks for your support!
Higher Ground Program Coordinator
Sun Valley Adaptive Sports
Reader Weighs in on Previous Editor Letters
In your previous issue, Dennis Wyant complained in a letter to the editor that he had not received a new digital book player and that he reads up to 100-150 books per year. I went on the list almost four years ago and I currently average more than 250 books per year. At the time I went onto the Minnesota list, I was reading more than 400 books per year.
Although the availability of the machines may have seemed somewhat limited, each eligible veteran will most assuredly receive his or her digital readers as they become available at each NLS library. I cannot tell you the model or manufacturer name of the one I am using but it was well worth the wait.
Another letter from Earl James Ryan in the same issue commented about VA providing him with only 50 blood level test strips per month. In my experience, this is not correct information. Mr. Ryan needs to speak with his VA provider. I have been a diabetic for 25 years and have been seeing my provider for 20 years. Not only have they provided me with a talking meter, they also give me enough test strips to permit testing four times a day. His primary provider needs to send the correct information to the pharmacy so that the latter can provide the correct amounts to him.
James A. Cecil
Sauk Rapids, Minnesota
We at the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS), Library of Congress, were disappointed and distressed to read Dennis Wyant’s letter to the editor entitled “Digital Reading Machines” in the Bulletin, Autumn 2009 issue, which we received the first week of January. It is especially unsettling since Mr. Wyant’s request to NLS for a digital player was turned around in a matter of 24 hours—and he acknowledged this with a thank you note.
Mr. Wyant submitted a request for a digital talking-book player through the NLS website on October 27, 2009. His request arrived at the appropriate authority at 9 a.m. on October 28 and he was told that afternoon via email that he would receive the player the next day, October 29.
In his letter to the editor, Mr. Wyant stated that he was “told that [the new machines] would go to those who had used the service for the longest time and those who read the most books.” The implication is in direct conflict with the legislation that underpins the talking-book program, Public Law 89-522. The law states that “preference shall at all times be given to the needs of the blind and of the other physically handicapped persons who have been honorably discharged from the Armed Forces of the United States.” NLS and its network of cooperating libraries have judiciously abided by this policy in distributing its materials and equipment. Veterans are—and always have been—served first.
To ensure that veterans received the first digital players, NLS required regional libraries to maintain a waiting list, with veterans placed at the top. As of January 8, 44 of the 56 regional libraries had served all of the veterans on their waiting lists. The remaining libraries expect to complete the distribution of digital players by the end of this month.
We honor the men and women who have served this country with distinction and are committed to ensuring that they may continue to enjoy reading. Network library staff members are available to demonstrate the new digital talking-book players and to provide information about the digital program. Veterans are encouraged to contact their local libraries for more information.
Frank Kurt Cylke
District Director Says Vets Also Have Responsibility
As a Talking Book user in Florida for more than 50 years and as a representative of BVA, I feel comfortable in responding to the concerns expressed regarding the NLS digital player.
We feel that NLS and regional libraries have a responsibility to provide prompt and quality service to qualified readers. We also feel that the Talking Book users have an equal responsibility to NLS and regional libraries to access the available information so that we can deal appropriately and responsibly with the Talking Book system. It is a two-way street.
If Florida does not have the best regional library in the country, it is certainly among the top several. The library sends frequent newsletters in both large print and recorded format with information about their services. During the past year, issues of that newsletter have included information about the progress of the digital program.
In addition, the Chief of the Florida Bureau of Braille and Talking Book Services has given a Talking Book service update at the Florida Regional Group State Convention in Daytona Beach. At that convention in May 2009, the update included extensive information about the digital program. He gave us the regional library toll-free number and encouraged all blinded veterans to contact the library to ensure that they were listed as veterans in the database. Similar presentations by sub-regional librarians to VIST support groups throughout Florida have done the same.
During the past year, I have attended Florida Regional Group meetings in nine cities from Fort Lauderdale to Pensacola. Through that experience, I feel that Florida blinded veterans receive excellent Talking Book services.
I have also attended a variety of regional group meetings around the country. Further, I have attended the past 41 BVA National Conventions. From all appearances to me, blinded veterans are most happy with the service they receive from NLS and regional libraries. When we complain, we must be sure that we are not part of the problem.
George E. Stocking
Director of District 5