March 2013

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






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

I got to thinking recently, how long have I been your editor? I did some research and found that I started in 2003. That’s amazing to me since I never thought of myself as a writer let alone an editor. It's also amazing to me that it has been almost 10 years since I began writing and assembling my first issue in the summer of 2003. I plan to say a little more about this in the actual anniversary newsletter later this year. In the meantime please read on and enjoy the great articles in this newsletter. Thanks to all who have submitted articles, poems, recipes and more. Thanks to the many great leaders (too many to name) that we have in this state that promote the philosophy of changing what it means to be blind.

Thanks to Tonia Trapp who has been helping me recently with organizing and assembling this newsletter, and she also does a great job in reading it on New Mexico Newsline.


By Adelmo Vigil

Greetings Federation Family::

Here we are in 2013 with many exciting events coming up this year.

First of all, on Saturday, February 2nd through Monday, February 4th Joni Martinez and I had the opportunity to participate in the first Legislative Director’s Seminar in Baltimore at our National Center. It was a very informative seminar and beneficial to our State Affiliate.

Christine Hall, Joni and I also attended the annual Washington Seminar. We were able to schedule appointments with staff members of all of our New Mexico delegation. All our meetings were very positive regarding the three issues we presented.

The issues presented were the following:

  1. The Fair Wages for Workers with Disabilities Act of 2013
  2. Equal Access to Air Travel for Service-Disabled Veterans (HR 164)
  3. The Technology, Education, and Accessibility in College and Higher Education Act (TEACH)

We are happy to report that Congressman Stephen Pearce agreed to co-sponsor Equal Access to Air Travel for Service-Disabled Veterans (HR 164).

I feel confident that our other members of Congress will join Congressman Pearce.

We are planning for our State Convention on April 12 through 14, 2013. Mr. Scott LaBarre President of the National Federation of the Blind of Colorado will be our national representative. Our agenda is packed with great speakers and topics. On Friday, April 12 we plan to invite state legislators to our convention for a Legislative Forum after our welcome luncheon. I invite you to join us in Albuquerque for our state convention.

It is not too early to start planning for our National Convention in July in Orlando, Florida.

I want to invite those of you who are not near a local chapter of the National Federation of the Blind to join us during our National Federation of the Blind Chapter at Large meetings. You can participate by calling 218-339-2699 and the access code is 782566. Our meetings are held every third Monday of the month, at 7:00 pm.

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 Pat Munson

Introductory Note: I first met Adelmo at a National Federation of the Blind (NFB) educators meeting at our national convention in 1983 when we were both teaching in the regular public schools. I was teaching foreign students English and he was educating third graders. However, neither he nor I could have taught had it not been for years of work by NFB members who preceded us both. There was a clause in every contract pertaining to teaching which mandated that a teacher have normal sight. I’m sure Pauline Gomez and others cleared the vision requirement at the state House in New Mexico. The following is Adelmo’s story in his own words, as told to me.

I was born in a very small community in southern Colorado called Jarso. I grew up in Amalia, a farming area where my family had a ranch. When I was very young, just old enough to walk, I tended cows, horses and sheep. Of course, I hauled and stacked hay and then fed the animals (alongside the other family members.) Blindness did not hold me back!

I was very, very lucky because I was first brought home by my adoptive parents when I was only ten days old. I was their first and only child, so you can imagine how happy they were to have me. I was very happy to be with them, also.

Although I had trouble seeing, I was sent to the local school because that was the only school my family had any knowledge of. Even with the best glasses, I could not read a word, so there I sat and listened but could not read. After joining NFB, I learned of many other blind children who sat in public school classes because their families did not want their child labeled blind. The child suffered academically as well as psychologically. Thank goodness attitudes have changed concerning the word blind.

By the time I entered my teens, with encouragement from others, my parents finally decided to send me to the other end of the state so I could attend the New Mexico School for the Blind in Alamogordo. Being their only child, the decision to send me was very, very difficult. However, had I not gone, I never would have been educated. The only employment for my future would have been bleak.

I made my first wrenching journey to the school for the blind in the fall of 1964 by myself. Since my family did not even have a telephone, letters were our only communication. The only times I could return home were Christmas and summer vacation. But, I was learning to read which unlocked endless doors of opportunity for me. I always thank my family for putting my education ahead of everything.

Now, let me tell you about my first couple of years at the blind school. You will not believe this but it is sadly true. Since I wore thick glasses and could see a bit, they tried to make me read what I could not see. Shame on the school. Anyone with vision loss can profit by using Braille.

I wanted to please the teachers so I pretended to read, but it was material I had memorized. I also invented ways to pretend to read my handwriting. The teachers were not paying attention.

Finally, the nurse at the blind school took me to the eye doctor. He told me that I could not see, which I knew, but he said I would have to learn Braille. Then the nurse repeated the news as if a dread disease had taken hold of me. I surprised them all by saying that I was very glad because I really wanted to read. I knew blind kids could read as well as sighted kids and I wanted to join the ranks of the literate!

Back in the stone age when I was in school, cane travel was not even mentioned until my late teens. I got a cane and shortly thereafter I was driven to El Paso so I could learn to use a cane crossing wide, busy streets, taking buses and so on. My cane travel teacher said that I could travel in New York City or anywhere in the world because I used the cane safely and could solve travel problems. Perhaps my working on the ranch taught me spatial and directional movement.

Participating in sports helped in developing my confidence in myself. I ran track and wrestled. My coaches and dorm parents encouraged me to push myself harder.

I helped with the younger students. I taught them sports and other subjects and really enjoyed helping them learn the skills of blindness.

When I was nearing graduation, my dorm parents and others told me that I had done very well in assisting with the younger blind students and that to further my life skills I would need to go to college to become a teacher.

I went to Western New Mexico University and obtained a degree. While in this process, I met and married my lovely wife who was also a student.

I found a wonderful teacher (under whom I did my student teaching) and loved every minute of it. It was after completing my student teaching that I hit a brick wall, because I had not joined the National Federation of the Blind yet.

The Silver City school personnel director told me that school principals could be calling me. When I did not hear, I went to a principal myself. He told me that my name was not on the list. I then made a visit to the superintendent. He said that they are probably not hiring you because they see on your application that you are blind. He suggested that I talk to the principals and let them know that I was interested in working at their school.

When I spoke with each principal, I got the same story that my name was not on the list of available hires. I then filed a grievance with the Human Rights Commission. Had I been a member of NFB I would have gotten legal assistance and perhaps my case might have been settled much quicker.

While my case was very slowly moving through the legal system, I did apply at other school districts, and did get hired in Shiprock. So, my wife and I rolled up our tent and moved to the other end of the state.

I was hired to teach remedial reading. My new principal was not happy with me and thought he could say whatever he wanted. He said that he felt stuck with me. The superintendent had hired me.

When I had first called the Shiprock district I had not told them I was blind. Two days later I thought I had better tell them, so I did.

The top administrator of the Shiprock schools told me that he did not care if I was blind or not, but that I had gotten my teaching credential with the rest of the students, and that was good enough for him. He further stated that he knew I could do a good job.

So, my wife and son made the long move and I taught reading and then third grade for six years. I then transferred and taught first grade for one year. I found them very difficult to teach because they were so young. Then I moved to teaching second grade for six years.

While time passed, situations for the blind changed dramatically. The National Federation of the Blind was expanding. In the early 1980’s Fred Schroeder and Joe Cordova came to Shiprock and helped me found an NFB chapter. I had known Joe from school so I was anxious to learn about NFB and how in turn I could advance its work and opportunities. Then, before I knew what was happening, Fred had me on a plane to talk to NFB Californians about my teaching. I then attended my first state and national NFB conventions. The Commission for the Blind was founded in New Mexico, and Fred Schroeder was assisting greatly to bring about a very positive movement for the blind in this state. So, I retired from teaching elementary school to work with blind adults at the Commission’s training center.

I had proven to everyone that a blind teacher could do the same teaching as a sighted teacher, and I had loved my work, but I wanted to broaden my teaching skills in working with adults.

By 2006, I had had a variety of jobs which for a number of years had me living in Albuquerque. I decided it was time for me to retire. By the following year, I found I had a bit too much free time, so I started doing contract work for the commission. By 2009 I was back working a full week. Then in 2010 I took over running the orientation center fulltime. In January 2012 a new director was found so I then was only teaching cane travel.

In 2010 I took on a vice president’s position of NFBNM, and this past April I became president. In years past I had had a variety of offices both in and out of NFB. I served on the board for the school for the blind, and was also active in the NFB Educators Division.

As you see from these pages, I have had an interesting life so far. Had I been born fifty years earlier, my future as a blind person might not have been so bright, but it did not happen. Where my path will wind, only time will tell. But with the National Federation of the Blind as an integral part of my life, the future is mine, and it can be yours, too, if you so choose!


By Daphne Mitchell

Hi y’all, bonjour, and recuerdos:

Three years ago I relocated to the Land of Enchantment for employment purposes, and did not know very many people. Though my excitement to begin a new position was strong, leaving my beloved Louisiana and all of her familiarity was quite daunting. As a longtime Federationist, I knew that a rapid way to cure myself of this problem was only a short phone call away. Having made the acquaintance of Fred Schroeder, Brian Quintana, and Jessica Ewell (née Bachicha) along my Federation journey, I was assured that a hospitable NFB family would graciously welcome me into its ranks, upon my arrival in Albuquerque. Reality did not fail my expectations and I am certain that I have made lifelong friendships in New Mexico.

This past November, I was elected president of the Albuquerque Chapter. I cherish the opportunity to lead such a spirited group, and I am humbled by the task the chapter members bestowed on me and the other board members. We look forward to welcoming you to the Duke City in a few short weeks for state convention, and I anticipate meeting more of my New Mexico Federation family at that illustrious event.


By Daphne Mitchell

As I searched the pages of various reputable online dictionaries, the number of available definitions for the term literate was dumbfounding. The most simplistic and to-the-point definition was found in Merriam/Webster—one who has the ability to read and write. For many years in the blind community, the debate has raged on and on whether listening is literacy, and if Braille is too hard and/or obsolete to learn. In my opinion, the answers to the aforementioned questions are a resounding NO! The number of blind people who report the ability to read Braille continues to plummet with each set of published statistics—some show the percentage as low as 10% of blind children being taught Braille. If one researches employment patterns and trends amongst the blind, they will learn that approximately 90% of employed blind adults credit their ability to perform in the workplace to their ability to read Braille.

Six years ago, a program was designed and implemented in the Maryland affiliate by a Georgia teacher of blind students called the Braille Enrichment for Literacy and Learning Program (BELL). In true NFB fashion, we took the bull by the horns and said if you won’t teach our blind children the basic skills they will need to be successful adults, then we will teach them ourselves! Each year more state affiliates have answered the call to join in the fight to reverse this despicable trend, and New Mexico has stepped up to the challenge.

Our affiliate has been selected by the Jernigan Institute to bring this exemplary program to the deserving children of New Mexico. The goal of this program is to provide children ages 4-12 with two weeks of intense Braille instruction through fun, hands-on learning activities. The program will target blind and low vision children who are not currently receiving enough Braille instruction in school or who could benefit from Braille enrichment over the summer. The program is designed to run Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. In addition to Braille crafts, games, and other engaging projects, children may also enjoy field trips to sites related to the NFB BELL curriculum.

This summer, the program will be hosted in Albuquerque. If you would like to learn more, please send an E-mail to: nmbellprogram@gmail.com. The New Mexico affiliate looks forward to adding our voice to the BELL choir.


By Nancy Burns

New Mexico holds a treasure chest of scenic and cultural delights. When Don and I moved to Albuquerque from California several years ago it was easy for me to adapt to my new way of life. The colorful and spicy food with its red or green chile was an instant hit. The Native American culture, not to mention the beautiful silver and turquoise jewelry, had long since been appreciated by me. Hot air balloons had always fascinated me even though I can’t see them. It boggles my mind to know that these magnificent works of art can actually take off and land without mishap, at least most of the time. I have never been brave enough to climb into one but perhaps someday …

Friends of ours who are part of a chase crew learned of my interest and made it possible for me to get my hands on a balloon during the annual Balloon Fiesta. The basket is just that--a large woven basket large enough to hold a pilot and several passengers. There is a burner inside the basket which sends propane flames into the balloon, filling it and allowing it to rise. Once airborne, the hot air balloon is guided mostly by air currents. Although there are such events all over the world, the Albuquerque wind currents are very friendly for such flights.

The shapes of these flying wonders range from fairly small, such as the bumble bees, to the huge Maribell the Cow and the Stagecoach. There are butterflies and turtles and American flags ranging in height from 50 to 70 feet. During the Balloon Fiesta hundreds of these gigantic creations grace the blue Albuquerque sky.
One early January morning I stepped outside and heard the obvious sound of a hot air balloon and it sounded very close to the house. I had always hoped that such a balloon would land in our street but it had never happened. I yelled at Don and he rushed to find the camera. He then ran out the front door and decided the balloon was going to land but the wind kept moving it further away. He yelled at the pilot and asked if he was landing. The pilot said yes and could he grab the basket. Don ran into the street and took hold of the basket. I grabbed my cane and took off down the street. It was just a house or two away. Several neighbors had come out and we held on to the basket until it was on the ground. The chase crew was not yet in sight. Volunteers helped to fold up the balloon which was now deflated and lying in the street. I told the pilot that I had always wanted a hot air balloon to land in our street but it had never happened. He told me that it was not his intent to land here but the wind currents kept moving the balloon away from his chosen landing spot.

The chase crew finally arrived and everything was taken away. My wish had finally come true as I got to experience a hot air balloon up close and personal.


By Greg Trapp, J.D.
Executive Director, New Mexico Commission for the Blind

One of the most important and difficult tasks faced by the Commission for the Blind is to prepare, submit, and administer its state budget. Chaired by Art Schreiber, the Commission board met on August 31, 2012, and voted to approve its annual “Request Budget” for the period from July 1, 2013 through June 30, 2014. The Request Budget was initially considered by the Legislative Finance Committee on October 25, 2012, nearly three months before the start of the legislative session, which began on January 15, 2013. The session commenced with forecasts of a state budget surplus. However, hopes for a surplus evaporated as the session progressed and revised budget projections were received. Under the backdrop of an increasingly tight budget, the Commission’s next step in the budget process happened on February 4, at which time the House Appropriation and Finance Committee voted to recommend level funding for the Commission. Unfortunately, the recommendation, which was part of House Bill 2, also included language that would have reduced 5 of the Commission’s vacant positions. Fortunately, the Commission was able to have the 5 positions restored before House Bill 2 was passed. Key to the Commission’s success was the advocacy efforts of Chairman Schreiber. Another important reason for the success was the fact that, for the second year running, the Commission had no findings in its all-important state audit.

While the Commission was able to influence its destiny at the state level, events were taking place at the federal level that were outside of the Commission’s influence. The most significant of these was “Sequestration.” Arising from the Budget Control Act of 2011, Sequestration is the process of across-the-board cuts in federal programs that were to be triggered if Congress could not agree to a budget that would produce savings through other methods.

Unfortunately, Congress was unable to reach a budget deficit reduction deal, resulting in Sequestration. Fortunately, the Commission had thoroughly planned for the possibility of Sequestration, and have sufficient budget to compensate for any loss of federal funding. One of the ways the Commission did this was to request and match $339,000 in unused funds that the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation would otherwise have “relinquished” back to the federal government. On March 1, President Obama issued orders for mandatory across-the-board spending reductions. For Vocational Rehabilitation the amount of the cut is 5.1 percent, and for Independent Living the amount of the cut is 5 percent. However, the Vocational Rehabilitation program receives an annual CPIU cost of living adjustment, and funds for both VR and IL are distributed through a funding formula, meaning that the actual impact on the Commission will be significantly less.

Because the Commission is in a very strong financial position, the Commission will not need to implement a waiting list, or “Order of Selection,” for Vocational Rehabilitation consumers. The Commission will also be able to hire Independent Living teachers and Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors, as well as fill vacancies at the Orientation Center and in the Business Enterprise Program.


By Greg Trapp, J.D.
Executive Director, New Mexico Commission for the Blind

The Commission’s Orientation Center recently achieved a new milestone in its ongoing commitment to provide the highest level of services. On March 5, 2013, the Center was recertified by the National Blindness Professional Certification Board (NBPCB). This certification means that the Center is using the Structured Discovery model of instruction, the same method that is used by training centers that are operated by the National Federation of the Blind. The Orientation Center is located in Alamogordo, and is under the leadership of Lucy Alexander. She and her team of excellent staff worked hard to achieve this significant accomplishment.


By Veronica Smith

My daughter was writing a small paragraph a few days ago and it made me think. The question was, “should graffiti be illegal?” We’ve all heard that word, “graffiti” and when we do, it leaves a bad taste in our mouth.
The question was, “should it be illegal? Why or why not?”
While she was writing her stuff, I googled the word and found this definition: “Graffiti: an array of drawings used to depict one’s feelings at a given time.” That in itself doesn’t sound bad.

The reason I am writing now is to let you all know what I found out about that distasteful word. It can be a good thing, if used in a proper and meaningful manner. The problem is, not all drawings are in good taste, most are not esthetic, a word that means pleasing to the human eye.
In one part of California, graffiti is legal because, it is just that, used for a good purpose. The area of town is called the Haight, found in San Francisco. Store owners sell paraphernalia, basically tools for taggers. Taggers is basically a word for the artists of the graffiti. If they go out and better the area, they add value, then the businesses make more money. Silly how that works.

Unfortunately, in other cities and towns, most taggers don’t use their artistic talent for good.
Taggers mark up walls, the undersides of bridges and overpasses, and sides of buildings to show who they are and what they are: gangsters, rebels, etc.

So back to the original question, should it be illegal?

I would like to say no, but of course, there will always be those who take the beauty and make it into the beast.


By Jim Babb

The U.S. Post Office has declared that Saturday delivery of mail will end August 1, 2013, so we will need to adjust to this major change. It also plans to close many small rural part-time offices. It is doing this because it is losing billions of dollars each year and needs to make many changes to become solvent. Let’s hope they don't look at free matter for the blind and physically handicapped.

Social Security, in the same vein to cut operating costs, will close its offices one half hour earlier on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday and one hour earlier on Wednesdays.

In addition, paper checks for federal benefits will be no more after March 1. All Social Security, SSDI, SSI and other federal benefits will be direct-deposited to your bank or credit union account, or if you have no such account, they will be electronically deposited to a Direct Express debit card issued to you.

And what is this word Sequester? Beats me! I think it is a fancy word for meat ax. A mindless way of chopping money from government programs instead of discussion and compromise.


By Richard Derganc

Now I sit me down to write.
No interruptions, not even to Skype!
Concentrate, evaluate, make your message tight.
It takes time to get it right.

Write and read and trim and add,
Substitute for words that are "bad."
Write only about your experience,
Write with passion, not offense.

Keep to the topic you had in mind,
Don't let the reader fall behind.
Keep up a rhythm and a rhyme,
Understood is what you'll be, demonstrating a clear mind.

Add a little, prune a lot,
Rewrite often, until you’ve got,
The message you were aiming for,
Clear, concise, no metaphor.


By Dona Orgeron, R.N., Diabetes Educator

Hello Federationists! As a Diabetes Self-Management Educator, I just wanted to pass along a few facts that reflect the seriousness of and financial impact that this disease has on every American.

Please be sure to have a physical examination each year. Have an eye exam each year, see a dentist at least annually. Take medications as prescribed. Exercise 30-60 minutes at least 5 times a week. Make healthy food choices and use portion control at each meal.
If there is any interest, I would be willing to write an article each month to touch on many of these subjects.



Submitted By Jim Babb

12 small corn tortillas
1 pound lean ground beef, cooked and drained
1/4 cup diced onions
1 can Campbell’s chicken soup, directly from can
1 can Campbell’s cream of celery soup, directly from can
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 12-ounce jar of enchilada sauce
1 4-ounce can of green chilies

Combine cooked beef, diced onions, chilies, enchilada sauce, and soups in a bowl.
Spray a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray.
Layer the tortillas then the beef mixture as you would lasagna; top with the grated cheese.
Cover with foil and bake in a pre-heated oven at 325 degrees for 30 minutes.
Remove foil and bake another 5 minutes.



Learn more about New Mexico's wonderful Museum of Natural History and Science located at 1801 Mountain Road NW in Albuquerque. Free admission to New Mexico residents on the first Sunday of each month.

Go here to learn more about that wonderful wooded area along our Rio Grande.

http://godirect.org or call 1-800-333-1795
No more paper checks as of March 1, 2013! All federal benefit checks including Social Security, SSDI and more will come as a direct deposit to your bank or credit union or will be put on your debit card issued by the government.

This is new! You go to this website and register, and then you have access to your Social Security earnings history. If you are retired, receiving Disability benefits or Supplemental Security Income, you have access to your benefit account. Take advantage of this new service. For example, you can go online at this site and get an official benefit verification letter that you can immediately print out. This letter can be helpful in securing a loan, mortgage, state or local benefits, and much more.

This is the U.S. Capitol switchboard. Call this number to talk to or leave a message for your Representative or Senators. For example, you can give them your opinion on the issue of sub-minimum wages or the dropping of postal delivery on Saturdays.



March 21, 2013
Deadline for registration for our annual State Convention. Print out and complete and mail the form with your check to Tonia Trapp. See you there; we'll have a great one.

March 31, 2013
Deadline for completing your application for the 30 scholarships to be given at our National Convention in Orlando, Florida at the Banquet. See details at www.nfb.org/scholarships

July 1 thru July 6, 2013
National Federation of the Blind annual convention, Orlando, Florida