Quarterly newsletter of the National Federation of the Blind of New Mexico
(Published in March, June, September, and December)

Adelmo Vigil, President
E-mail: Avigil74@gmail.com
(575) 434-8391

James Babb, Editor
E-mail: jim.babb@samobile.net
(505) 792-9777

Tonia Trapp, Assistant Editor
E-mail: Tonialeigh513@earthlink.net
(505) 856-5346



WHITE CANE ESSAY, By Iridiana Fresquez
MY WHITE CANE, By Jazmin Castillo
THANKSGIVING, By Richard Derganc



The National Federation of the Blind of New Mexico (NFBNM) is a 501 (c) 3 consumer organization comprised of blind and sighted people committed to changing what it means to be blind. Though blindness is still all too often a tragedy to those who face it, we know from our own personal experience that with training and opportunity, it can be reduced to the level of a physical nuisance. We work to see that blind people receive services and training to which they are entitled and that parents of blind children receive the advice and support they need to help their youngsters grow up to be happy, productive adults. We believe that first-class citizenship means that people have both rights and responsibilities, and we are determined to see that blind people become first-class citizens of these United States, enjoying their rights and fulfilling their responsibilities. The most serious problems we face have less to do with our lack of vision than with discrimination based on the public’s ignorance and misinformation about blindness. Join us in educating New Mexicans about the abilities and aspirations of New Mexico’s blind citizens.
(Adapted from NFB of Ohio newsletter.)


By Jim Babb

Hello everyone, I hope you all are healthy and preparing for the holiday season. The most significant thing I did recently was exercise my right to vote. This year I voted absentee and this process couldn't have been easier. That’s especially true given what I heard about the long wait in line on election day; in Rio Rancho it was more than 4 hours, and many folks left in frustration. I also heard that one blind person had difficulty in getting an accessible voting machine to work. The important thing is to exercise your privilege to vote, whether that be on election day or through early voting or absentee voting.

My first voting experience was in 1960. I was just eligible age-wise and the Presidential candidates were John Kennedy and Richard Nixon. My father orientated me to the voting booth and then I pulled the lever to close the curtain. For each candidate or issue, you pulled the correct lever downward. I used my large magnifying glass to read the names and issues, and when I was done, I opened the curtain and it was over. There were no paper ballots, these were the early mechanical voting machines. Since then I have voted in every election by using machines, paper ballots with a human reader, and more recently, using the accessible talking voting machines.

If you are a college student please consider applying for the NFB scholarships ranging in value from $3,000 to $12,000. See the Useful Telephone Numbers and Websites article at the end of this issue for more information.

Many of the articles in this issue are dedicated to the use of the white cane. Though many of our members use a guide dog for independent mobility, most of them have a white cane for backup. Please remember that at one time not so long ago, a blind person was always at fault even if a car hit them on a sidewalk! Thanks to the model white cane law and New Mexico's white cane law, this awful situation has changed and not only can we legally walk on sidewalks but also cross streets, etc. Of course we use the long white cane or guide dog for both independent travel and identification. Hope you like the articles and essays.

Late breaking news: We just learned that Dr. Frederick K. Schroeder has been elected to the position of First Vice President of the World Blind Union. Fred is also First Vice President of the National Federation of the Blind. Congratulations Fred!


By Adelmo Vigil


We are coming to the end of another year, and I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone for your support in the work of our great National Federation of the Blind of New Mexico state affiliate. We all agreed that we needed to work on a Chapter At Large, and we continue to move forward in building up such a chapter. We were also able to provide leadership training for chapter and division leaders.

I look forward to the new year and all that we will accomplish as an organization. It is not too early to start planning for the upcoming NFB State Convention in April in Albuquerque and the National Convention in July in Orlando, Florida.

I want to wish everyone a great holiday and a happy New Year.


We will continue to call on members of each local chapter and division to help move forward and grow as an affiliate. Together we will change what it means to be blind for children, youth and adults of all ages in New Mexico.


By Jim Babb

The 2012 White Cane Celebration for the West Mesa and Albuquerque Chapters of the National Federation of the Blind was held on Saturday October 13 at the Albuquerque Sheraton Uptown. We were served a very tasty Greek-style lunch along with salad and dessert. Many thanks to Veronica Smith and Tara Chavez and the program team that they chose. Those team members were: Daphne Mitchell, Raquel Aguirre, Rafael Aguirre and Sharon Dandy. This team did a great job with choosing the location and planning the menu and program. Also thanks to Josh Brownell and his team for getting those nice door prizes. Thanks to Gail Wagner for soliciting and evaluating the white cane essays. And thanks to the children, young adults and adults that took the time and effort to write and submit the essays; some of them are included in this issue.

Our master of ceremonies this year was an old friend, Mike Santullo, who did a masterful job as usual.
We had a nice opening ceremony with the flags done by the Eldorado JROTC.
Veronica Smith, President of the West Mesa Chapter, and Tara Chavez, President of the Albuquerque Chapter then welcomed us all to this year's event.
Daphne Mitchell gave the invocation.
The White Cane proclamations by Governor Suzanna Martinez and Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry were read by Francine Garcia who is an excellent braille reader.

Our SunVan driver who was slated to present on paratransit issues was unable to attend due to a family emergency. Greg Trapp, Executive Director of the New Mexico Commission for the Blind then spoke on the history and issues of blind New Mexicans prior to the 1967 passage of the Model White Cane Law. It is unbelievable that prior to that law, blind people were considered at fault no matter the circumstances in a pedestrian/car accident! Blind folks were supposed to stay home, off the streets and sidewalks and basically out of sight! Wow, how much our world has changed in the subsequent forty-five years.

Our keynote speaker was our newly elected affiliate president, Adelmo Vigil. Thank you Adelmo for making that long trip from Alamogordo. He gave a very inspiring presentation on the white cane and how we have come a long way in a relatively short time. He was very happy about the current essays by the young students and the fact that they say that they use their canes as opposed to saying I carry my cane. That’s a giant difference, because to use a cane is for safe travel, and to carry a cane is just for identification. He said that when he was in denial, he carried a cane. He used to fold up his cane and put it in his back pocket, and he got what he wanted: nobody knew he was blind. He went on to say, “I knew I was blind, and the poles in Alamogordo also knew!” Bottom line, we all need to get over denial and use a cane, not just carry one. His presentation was educational, funny and to the point. Thanks again, Adelmo!

Thanks to Gail Wagner for soliciting and reviewing the white cane essays. She chose two essays from three categories to present to us. The categories and names of each person are as follows:

Elementary School:
Iridiana Fresquez
Arianna Benally

High School:
Lupita Lopez
Jazmin Castillo

Jim Babb
Nancy Burns


By Iridiana Fresquez

I bumped into a tree one day and that's when I decided I wanted to learn how to use a cane. When I use my cane I feel safe. It helps me not bump into things when I'm not paying attention. I like using my cane because when I am walking by myself I can find all the little things in front of me and no one has to tell me they're there.


By Arianna Benally

I had a cane a long time. I got my cane from preschool. My cane is tall to my chest. My cane is white. My cane has a tapping tip. I use a white cane to look out for things. I use a white cane to not trip. I use a white cane to tap on metal or hard things. I use a white cane to walk with. I use a white cane to travel with. I took my cane to the National Federation of the Blind convention in Dallas. I used my cane to find things that were in front of me like chairs, beds, stairs and doors. I use a white cane to take it everywhere all day. My cane makes me feel safe.


By Lupita Lopez

Hi. My name is Lupita Lopez and I am a junior at Albuquerque High School. I love to walk with my white cane everywhere I go, especially on overcast days or when it is about to rain. My white cane allows me to enjoy nature safely, without worrying about any obstacles on my way. But I didn't always have a positive attitude about my white cane.

I started mobility lessons eight years ago when I was in third grade. I had just arrived from Mexico and I was terrified because it was my first week of school and I didn't know English. I had a cane that I brought from Mexico, though I never used it because I always ordered people to take me by the hand instead. So when my mother and I were visiting Zia Elementary School to get me enrolled, and when my mobility teacher told my mother to let go of my hand and told me to walk with my cane on my own, I was angry. More than angry, I was terrified. Thoughts raced through my head immediately. What are you doing? Are you crazy? You can't do that, you're blind! What are you thinking! I grew up with the mentality that blind people were useless, that's why I thought I couldn't do anything.

From that moment on I hated mobility because I thought I was being pushed too hard. My cane skills were not good so I spent months learning how to use it combined with learning my way around school. When I mastered my cane skills and when I learned my way around school, we started moving on to more advanced stuff like finding places out of campus and crossing streets.

Though I was getting better with mobility, I wasn't getting better with independence. I was very afraid to go to places at school on my own, because even though I knew where they were, I wasn't confident enough. Two of my friends helped me go everywhere in school. I felt lost when they were not around. Soon their helpfulness turned to bullying. The breaking point happened when my aggressors broke my so hated white cane. I felt weird without it. I felt unsafe. I felt lost, I felt as if a part of me had broken, too. That moment, I realized that my white cane was a part of who I was.

Thanks to my bullies, I discovered that one of my missions in this life was to educate people about blindness and what it really was. To teach them that blindness doesn't stop a person from living normal lives, that real blindness is in the mind not the eyes, that blind people see differently than everybody else, but that at the end they do see.
So why do I use my cane? That's the main question right? Well, I use my cane because I feel safe when I walk, I use my cane because sometimes I can't find things with my hand that I drop, and I use my cane to look for my brother's ball when I can't find it with my hands. But I also use my cane because that's the way I identify myself as a blind person, because it reminds me that there are people out there that don't know and need to be taught, and because it reminds me that not only can blind people walk around using this tool, but that they can do anything they set their minds to.


By Jazmin Castillo

Hello. My name is Jazmin Castillo. I am 14 years old and I am in the ninth grade freshman academy at Albuquerque High School. I first got introduced to my white cane through this summer program in Alamogordo for the visually impaired. We had to work with canes around the campus and I noticed that using the white cane really helped me with my depth perception. But I really think that the white cane really made me more confident with life and walking around in new places that I do not know.

When I returned home, I had to go to the Commission for the Blind to take care of some business with Kelly Burma. She had asked me a few questions about the white cane such as if I had ever used a white cane before. One thing led to another and about one week later I had my very own white cane.

When I first got my cane, I had almost no training on how to use it, so I just based it off of prior knowledge from seeing some of my friends using their white canes. I tried to use my cane as much as possible, or as I felt that I would need it because I can still see, just not as good as some people can.

Using my white cane has helped me in many different ways, but what I really noticed that benefited me the most with the use of my white cane is the confidence, the confidence that I need to succeed.
Since I have had pretty much zero training on my usage of the white cane, I thought that I should start mobility lessons to be able to take my white cane confidence a step further in the world. So far I have had one mobility lesson, and I thought that using the white cane was just moving it side to side and sensing if there is something in front of you or not. Turns out that there is a whole lot more than just moving it side to side. I found out that there were plenty of different techniques to use, especially echo location. My mobility instructor put my cane skills and my confidence to the test by putting sleep shades on me at school. Let’s just say that I may have lost my dignity that day, but at least I still had my confidence.

I have now had my white cane for around two months. In what little time I have had with my white cane, I can say this, my white cane will always be a big part of my life. Confidence may be a big part for me in using my white cane, but even bigger than confidence is safety. The use of my white cane makes me feel safe, safe enough for me to take that extra step in life that will give me the knowledge, the power, and the key to succeed in whatever I decide to do in the near or far future.


By Jim Babb

I fought the cane and the cane won. That’s pretty much the story. Like the popular song goes: I fought the law and the law won. The law of the white cane is if you are blind, then you use a white cane. I fought the white cane out of pride and ignorance, ignorance on my part and others.

In the third grade, my teacher asked me why I was looking so close to my book. I told her I needed to be that close to see the print. My parents took me to an eye doctor, and they said I was legally blind. The school system sent me to another school across town where I was placed in a sight-saving class. From that point on, I used readers through grade school and high school. No one ever mentioned a white cane or for that matter braille lessons. If someone would have suggested a white cane, I would have resisted same. I had enough sight to walk around, get places etc. So what if I occasionally stumbled on stairs or walked into things. That was part of being a clumsy boy. It was bad enough being called four eyes!

It was a real struggle to get my VR counselor to allow me to go to college; I had a poor academic record in high school. I was entered on a trial basis and got through college and even a Master's degree. My counselor never brought up the issue of a white cane, but I was still occasionally tripping and walking into things.

I then became a VR counselor and worked in that position for more than three decades. Most of my clients (now called consumers) received cane training and a white cane. I still resisted that cane for myself, except for the occasion when I needed to be identified as a blind person, for example when I traveled alone on an airplane.


Near the end of my career, I decided I needed a cane for more than identification; I needed it for safe independent travel.
I received a shortened version of the training my clients received. The cane length was not to be any taller than the middle of my chest and I was to use my remaining vision along with the cane training.

When I retired to New Mexico, I learned that there was an entirely different philosophy in cane training. And boy was there! In mid last decade, I enrolled at the Adult Orientation Center primarily for the cane travel instructions under the structured discovery method. It was fabulous and I should have done this long ago. The bad part is that this method is not used or even known about in most states.


By Nancy Burns

When you see me approach with my white cane in hand
Are you quick to judge and not to understand
That I am not someone who needs pity and care
This cane will find doorways, a curb or a stair.

This is my independence--a valuable tool
That got me to neighbors and stores and to the school
When my children were small and needed a guide
I walked there with dignity, I walked there with pride.

With the extension of touch that my white cane gives me
I can navigate safely and watch out for that tree.
I use it while walking alone or with others,
We use it with confidence, my blind sisters and brothers.

I took buses to work, I have stories to tell
I saved money for a trip and it went quite well.
I traveled to London to visit a friend,
I went shopping at Harrods, I had money to spend.

This white cane and I have traveled coast to coast.
This message is meant to teach; it is not meant to boast.
And now when you see us with white cane in hand
Please try not to label, just try to understand
That we do not want pity--just open your mind
And help us to change what it means to be blind.


By Art Schreiber, President Emeritus

Once again, Albuquerque and New Mexico witnessed the New Mexico affiliate of the National Federation of the Blind walking proudly in the New Mexico State Fair Parade. The weather was sunny and warm, a typical New Mexico September day. There were 37 individuals ranging in age from very small to nearly 85. No need to identify the 85 year old!
We were led by our President, Adelmo Vigil. Adelmo, Lucy Alexander and Art Schreiber carried our banner. The coordinator was, again, Roger Velarde. Roger was again very ably assisted by his wife, Ramona and his brother-in-law, Jesus Galarza. Thanks, also, to Aaron McGavran and Doug Guthart, staff members at the Orientation Center.

The reaction from the several thousand spectators lining the parade route was again overwhelming. Even though Meet the Blind month is October we in the New Mexico affiliate manage to meet many thousands either in person or via television because Channel 7, KOAT TV in Albuquerque televises the State Fair Parade each year. President Vigil urges all members to pledge to walk in next year's parade and those who can't will, hopefully, be able to ride behind the walkers. See you next year in the State Fair Parade.


By Pat Munson

At the retirement facility where Jack and I live, the residents show those working in the community that their work is appreciated. Older folks need many services and that includes the folks who live with us.

This year our outreach committee decided we would particularly thank our local firefighters and paramedics by taking dinner to their fire station.

The dining staff at our retirement facility prepared dinner for the workers. Some residents, including Jack and me, carried the food and presented it to them. We thanked them for all their trips down the hill to our retirement complex. Many times they save a resident a trip to the hospital or provide other services.

I am not a bit ashamed to tell you that I did not prepare even a crumb for the workers. I’m retired from the kitchen. Hope you are, too! I’ve graduated to full laziness.

Besides the food we carried a banner signed by many residents which again thanked them. Before we left, the fire crew had hung the banner on their bulletin board. And, yes I had signed it in Braille.

At the fire station the workers saw me with my white cane examining the trucks and paramedic van. NFB members show the community that we are out and about and serve our communities as do many others. We are changing what it means to be blind!


By Art Schreiber, President Emeritus

The Duke City Marathon is one of Albuquerque's premier events for runners and walkers. Years ago, when I competed in 5 and 10k runs I always looked forward to entering one of these events. There is the marathon, a half marathon plus a 10k and 5k runs. There is also a half marathon walk, changed to a 20k walk the past two years, and a 10k and 5k walk. The day, near the end of October, sees more than five thousand entries into the various events.

This year my goal was to complete the 20k walk, nearly 13 miles, in less than 4 hours. Three years ago I entered for the first time in the half marathon and it took me 5 hours and 57 seconds. I think I was the very last to cross the finish line. My friend, Rick Walsh, walked with me and he crossed ahead of me.

The following year the walk was changed to a 20k. My time was 4 hours and 13 minutes. I again finished first in my age group because no one else was in my age group!

I set as my goal for this year to finish in less than 4 hours. I met with the Fitness Director at La Vida Llena, where I live. Leslie Kranz is an expert in her field. I asked her to put me on a training program and she did.
For nearly three months I trained every day and followed Leslie's program. I did all of my training on a treadmill and on the weight machines in our Fitness Center. I would walk three hours on Mondays, six hours on Wednesdays and 9 to 13 miles on Fridays. Rick Walsh agreed to walk with me again and we were joined for the second year in a row by Jan Trujillo, a physical therapist I had met at La Vida Llena. I knew I had to average 3.3 miles per hour in order to get under 4 hours.

Thanks to Leslie, Jan and Rick I did just that. My time was 3 hours, 53 minutes and 59 seconds. Again I finished first in my age group 'cause there was no one else in my age group! I turned 85 a few weeks after the walk.

Hopefully I will be up to entering again next year and yes, I would like to better my time. I just wish I could get more friends to walk with me. Come on NFB'rs. Join me next year.


By Nancy Burns

As we boarded our ship at Madeira Portugal it was nearly impossible to believe that we would not step foot on land again for seven days. The Atlantic crossing from Portugal to Fort Lauderdale, Florida was over 3,000 miles. The weather was mild and for the most part the ocean was smooth for this crossing.

Our 25 day cruise began with a spectacular gondola ride on a Venice canal. The walking trip from our ship to the canals took us over some rough cobblestone terrain, including the crossing of four bridges. Each gondola held four passengers and an oarsman who stood in the rear, propelling and steering with one oar and a lot of muscle power. There were seven or eight gondolas in our group. Music floated over the canal as love songs were being sung by an Italian baritone who was riding in one of the gondolas. It was an extremely romantic way to spend our first evening.

I could hear the water slapping against the side of the boat as we glided through the canal. We passed apartment buildings and businesses such as an open-air restaurant where I could hear people conversing and the clinking of dishes. Gondolas were tied up in front of the steps of what appeared to be private homes. I tried to imagine what it might be like to run out the door in the morning in order to catch the 6:15 gondola to get to work.

Our Mediterranean cruise took us from Italy to Portugal with port stops in Croatia, Spain, Greece and Portugal. As we sailed toward Livorno Italy we encountered a powerful storm and had to bi-pass that port completely. Arrangements had been made for a tour to Florence which had to be canceled and this was a big disappointment. The large ship dipped and lifted in the huge waves. This caused so much sea sickness that the placement of barf bags was on every level next to elevators. It is rather unnerving to take an elevator which sways from side to side in addition to climbing or descending.

Morning coffee is a priority with Don. Soon after climbing out of bed he would always throw on some clothes and head for the Lido deck where early morning coffee was brewing. I often wonder how he is able to balance two cups of coffee, and sometimes pastries, back down the elevator for nine decks and to our cabin. During those stormy days I asked how he was able to accomplish this. He reminded me that he was in the Navy and it was just a matter of balance. Nothing seemed to deter him and as a result we had coffee in the cabin every morning.

In addition to visiting these fascinating ports and talking with locals, we always enjoy collecting gifts for friends and family. We purchased coffee and tea from Italy, Uzo from Greece, jewelry and glass from several ports and even a purse made from cork. The latter item was for me. It was fascinating to learn how cork is harvested and mostly from trees in Portugal. We sampled a variety of beer, wine, pasta, and pastries. This may have something to do with the fact that my jeans fit just a little tighter. Of course, there is also the matter of the fine dining on the ship to be considered.

Cruising has been our favorite way to vacation. As always, we met a lot of friendly people and attempted to educate and erase some of the attitude of “amazingness” that follows us around. Don lost his New Mexico I.D. card and before it was missed we received a call from the front desk indicating that his card had been turned in by a passenger. As Don was strolling along the deck one day someone came up to him, introduced herself, said that she had found the card and that she was from Albuquerque. A total of eight travelers from New Mexico, besides us, were on the ship and stopped to chat whenever they saw us. The fantail of the ship is our favorite place to hang out because of the audible wave sounds below. While standing there one day a woman approached us and said she had sailed with us three years ago. Her name was Lynn and I did, indeed, remember her. It is truly a small world.

Good shoes along with good cane skills are important commodities on any European trip. In addition to the experiences at each port, the souvenirs collected fond memories will remain with us for a long time. I have been asked more than once why I like to travel since I am unable to see the scenery. I generally respond by saying something like I could stay at home and listen to the stories of others but I prefer to have the experiences first hand. The salt air in my face, the cobblestones under my feet, the sampling of food and drink, and the fascinating dialog with those we encounter cannot be duplicated in any book.

By Richard Derganc

Mother Earth, Father Sky,
Brother Wind, Sister Water.
And in the center,
Here am I.

Noble parents for us all,
They span Summer, Winter, Spring and Fall.
Never lonely, just make a call.
I am thinking I have it all!

Make a bird call, in the air.
Be the Owl, in the night.
Make a rattle, to no one’s delight.
Or a coyote’s howl, prepare for flight.

If it’s scorching,
Call my brother.
When I plant,
I want my Mother.

I need my sister every day,
My Father shines the night away.
At night I rest, The only sound
Is corn and squash parting the ground.

The days pass, watching Bison eat the grass.
Deer and Antelope come to dinner.
Fish jump in my pan, but not in winter.
Heaven and Earth guide my day, could there possibly be a better way?


Parmesan Garlic Quick Bread
Submitted by Veronica Smith

A crockpot delight. Put it altogether at the start of your dinner preparations, and when you are
done, your bread is ready to enjoy!


1 and 1/2 cups reduced fat buttermilk baking mix
2 egg whites
1/2 cup skim milk
1 tbsp minced onions
1 tbsp sugar
1 and 1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 garlic clove minced (optional)
1/4 cup reduced fat parmesan cheese


Combine baking mix, egg whites, milk, onions, sugar and garlic powder
in a mixing bowl.

Spray slow cooker with cooking spray.

Spoon dough into cooker.

Sprinkle dough with parmesan cheese.

Cook on high for 1 hour.

Serves eight.



Now being introduced by Microsoft to replace hotmail.com. Initial users love it; you also get a free version of MS Word with it.

Check out the new Clarity Pal cell phone. It's not for gen x, y or z! But it has some nice features for those with low vision and/or hearing impairments. It has 25 decibels of amplification and works well with hearing aids. The Pal is an unlocked GSM model that works on T Mobile and AT&T and soon Verizon. It has a large readable screen and very large highlighted buttons and the numbers are announced as they are pressed. It has talking caller ID, and 5 preset buttons for emergencies, etc. It costs $99, and does not require a long term contract.

Check out that Christmas gift, etc. before you purchase it. This links to the Consumer Products Safety Commission.

Check out the charity to see if it is legit before making your contribution. As usual, you will be bombarded with charitable requests this time of year.

Go here and get the details on the NFB scholarships ranging from $3,000 to $12,000 and a free trip to next summer’s convention in Orlando, Florida.



February 4-7, 2013: Washington Seminar. It is an important time to meet and talk to your Senators and Representatives.

April 12-14, 2013: NFBNM State Convention. Sheraton Uptown Hotel, Albuquerque.