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                           CCB OUTLOOK
                           WINTER 1997
                      Steve Dresser, Editor

                          Published by
              The Connecticut Council of the Blind
                     Marcia Nigro, President
                    Telephone: (203) 407-0737
                    Toll-free: (800) 231-3349
               Together, we can make a difference.

                       Produced in braille
                          Steve Dresser

                     Produced in large print
                          John Mattioli

                      Recorded on cassette
                       April Hutchins and
                         Bryan McGucken


  5. special report:
  7. ANNOUNCING: Q&A FOR CCB by Pam Garde


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By the time you read this, 1996 will be nothing more than a memory, and we'll all be wondering just what surprises await us in 1997. I know this is usually the time when many of us are tempted to start using the R word. I'm not making any of _those this year, especially when it comes to getting this newsletter out on time. I'd like to say there's a good reason why we had no Fall issue last year, but there isn't. I had planned to publish one in November, right after the convention, but suddenly it was Christmas, and then came the new year...so much for the best laid plans of mice, men, and this procrastinating editor! Nevertheless, we have an exciting issue ahead of us, and I hope you'll find it worth waiting for. As we start 1997, it seems appropriate to try a unique way of binding the braille edition of the _Outlook. With this new technique, you'll be able to tear out any pages you want to save, while still being able to open and read the newsletter easily. Let me know what you think of this experiment. If it works well, we'll be able to cut our production costs some more, and as you know, every penny helps. During the past few months, some significant changes have occurred, both in and outside of CCB. As a result of the elections held at our convention last October, CCB has two new officers: April Hutchins and Cheree Heppe. April, who has served on several CCB committees, now takes on the formidable task of keeping track of what goes on at board meetings and conventions. Cheree, who joined CCB just last year, is now our Corresponding Secretary. She has already shown a lively interest in our organization, and will, no doubt, be a welcome source of new ideas. Unfortunately for us, Julie McLean, Dan Mills, and Paul Morline are no longer on our board of directors. All three have served us well as CCB officers, and I hope they will let us continue to draw on their wisdom and experience. Looking back at 1996, it seems to me that we have a lot to be proud of. Two deserving high school students have received scholarships from CCB, and we are expanding our comunity outreach more than ever through our toll-free number. And now, thanks to Dave McLean, we've leapt onto the Information Superhighway with a brand new Web page! Want to know more? Well, you'll just have to read Dave's article. In other computer-related news, I've been experimenting with a voice mail system, which will eventually replace the answering machine we have on our toll-free number. Although I've found the project fascinating, I won't bore you with the details except to say that with this new system, we'll be able to give people even more information over the phone. For now, the voice mail system is available in the Hartford area at (860) 521-6749. Feel free to call and check it out. I'm open to any and all suggestions on how to improve the system. On Friday, September 27th, George Precourt was replaced as Executive Director of BESB by Kenneth Tripp, a former state representative and retired SNET executive. Many people have expressed concern that Mr. Tripp's lack of experience with blindness-related issues will hamper him in his new position. They may be right, although it's still too early to tell. On the other hand, we know from history that expertise in blindness is no guarantee that good decisions will be made. Our best hope is that Mr. Tripp will be open to our ideas, and that he'll be skilled enough to keep BESB on track. For our part, CCB must continue to be a strong advocate for blind and visually impaired people in Connecticut. It's our responsibility to see that Mr. Tripp gets an accurate picture of what we need, to offer him our assistance, and to give him the chance to make positive changes at the agency. Let's prove in 1997 that, "Together, we _can make a difference!" --Steve Dresser


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     Happy New Year, everyone!

     Our fall convention at the Cabin was a great success,
despite some extraneous noise from a wedding reception in the
next room.  It was indeed a pleasure to have Jessica Beach as our
guest, and she gave us valuable suggestions, particularly
regarding our scholarship, and membership and chapter

     Elections were held; your new Board of Directors is as

President, Marcia Nigro
First Vice President, Steve Dresser
Second Vice President, John Mattioli
Third Vice President, Alice Jackson
Recording Secretary, April Hutchins
 Corresponding Secretary, Cheree Heppe

Dave Bates has graciously agreed to continue as Treasurer until
we find someone to assume this responsibility.  Bryan McGucken
has accepted an appointment as board member at large.  Please
contact me if you are interested in serving on the board.

     The dedicated, hard-working ad hoc convention committee
members completed their task in the fall.  Based on the findings
of their survey, they presented detailed recommendations for
changing our convention structure, which were voted on and
adopted by the membership.  We will continue to have semiannual
conventions, with the larger one in the fall, and the scaled down
version in the spring.  Our spring convention will take place
April 26, and we will try for an overnight convention in October,
1997.  More details will follow as the newly created convention
committee works to implement this plan.  Alice Jackson has agreed
to be committee chair, so please contact her if you are willing
to serve on this important committee.

     Several of us will soon be doing some traveling for CCB.
 Alice Jackson and I are heading out to the affiliate presidents'
meeting in Houston February 14-17, and Dave Bates will be
attending the ACB legislative seminar March 8-11. Be sure to
contact us if you have thoughts or suggestions.  It is especially
important that Dave hear from you, since he will be meeting with
our national representatives and senators while he is in

     In closing, I'll remind you again that CCB needs _you!  Why
not make a New Year's resolution to join just one CCB committee?
 At the back of the newsletter, you'll find a list of the
committee chairs.  They will be eagerly awaiting your call.
 Together, we _can make a difference!

     Have a happy, healthy, fulfilling 1997!

              --Marcia Nigro


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Great news! Senator Prague and Representative Hyslop have introduced the Braille Bill into the legislature. Introduced separately as Senate Bill 292 and House Bill 5695, both versions, which are virtually identical, are now under consideration by the Education Committee. Without the endorsement of the Education Committee, the Braille Bill will never come before the full legislature. Therefore, when you contact committee members, be sure to express your support of this legislation, and urge them to bring this matter to a public hearing. Inform them that braille is the primary means of literacy for the majority of blind people. Your message will be especially effective if the members you contact represent your district. The members of the Education Committee are as follows: Chairmen: Senator Gaffey; Representative Staples Vice Chairmen: Senator Handley; Representative Merrill Ranking Member: Senator Friedman Senators: Mattiello; Kissel Representatives: Beals; Boucher; Cafero; Cardin; Currey; Daimantis; Dyson; Eberle; Feltman; Fritz; Giannaros; Greene; Hammers; Herlihy; Kerensky; Powers; Ryan; Sawyer; Scalvo; Tymniak; Veltri; Wallace; Widlitz You can contact these people in their home districts, or you can call toll-free: Senate Democrats: 1-800-842-1420 Senate Republicans: 1-800-842-1421 House Democrats: 1-800-842-1902 House Republicans: 1-800-842-1423 To check the status of any legislation, or to find out who your senators and representatives are, call (860) 240-0555. Massachusetts just passed their Braille Bill last year; it's time for us to follow their example. In order to get this important bill passed, we all need to get involved.

Life in the fast lane: CCB enters the information superhighway by Dave McLean

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     CCB is now "on the Web".  Along with our other outreach
efforts such as our 800 phone line the CCB Web page can be an
invaluable means of letting the world know who we are.

     The main purpose of our Web page will be to provide general
information about CCB, including our mission, the CCB Outlook,
and eventually the brochure and a calendar of events.

     In addition, links are provided to other interesting sites,
some of which are blindness related and some not. Come visit our
site at:


     Please don't hesitate to send me any comments or ideas you
have to improve the site.

     Send comments to:


Happy surfing!

Special Report

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                         SPECIAL REPORT

     Editor's note:  The following articles are reprinted in full
as they appeared in two Connecticut newspapers, and are published
here solely to inform our readers.  The authors' views are their
own, and are not necessarily those of the Connecticut Council of
the Blind, or this newsletter.

                              * * *

                        by Nancy Thompson
            [From the Manchester _Journal _Inquirer,
                   Tuesday, October 1, 1996]

     Gov. John G. Rowland has replaced a Manchester man who
headed the state Board of Education and Services for the Blind
since 1989, citing "serious mismanagement" at the agency.

     Rowland replaced George A. Precourt, of 29 Laurel Terrace,
as executive director of the agency on Friday [September 27th].
 The new executive director is Kenneth R. Tripp of Bridgeport, a
retired executive with Southern New England Telephone Co. and
former state representative.

     In a letter to Precourt, dated Friday and informing him of
Tripp's appointment, Rowland says:  "The performance of the Board
of Education and Services for the Blind under your leadership
suggests that it has suffered from serious mismanagement, which
is underscored by the auditors' findings of numerous financial
and operational deficiencies."

     Rowland refers to the mismanagement as "a flagrant violation
of the public's confidence and trust in that agency" and says
that appointing a new director is necessary to restore public

     Precourt, 66, could not be reached for comment.  He was
appointed to the post by Gov. William A. O'Neill and made $66,000
a year.

     Rowland also sent letters to Attorney General Richard
Blumenthal, asking for any information on investigation of
complaints filed against the agency under the state's
"whistleblower" law, and to Reginald L. Jones, Jr., secretary of
the Office of Policy and Management, asking that office to
conduct a thorough review of the agency within 30 days, including
a complete financial accounting.

     In his letter to Jones, Rowland says, the preliminary
findings in the 1994-95 audit of the agency indicates,
"significant operational deficiencies, including failure to abide
by state law and lack of compliance with generally accepted
accounting practices."

     "The auditors' findings indicate a strong possibility that
BESB is not meeting the needs of the blind and vision-impaired
residents of Connecticut," Rowland's letter adds.

     The Board of Education and Services for the Blind has a $12
million annual budget and provides services to about 3,000
people, including education, training, consultation,
rehabilitation, employment, medical care, and relief. It also
operates 32 snack bars in municipal, state, and federal office

     State Auditor Robert G. Jackle said Monday that the 1994-95
audit will be made public later this week and that he could not
talk about specific findings until then.  The final report will
include a response from the agency.

     Jackle did say that the audit includes some findings that
are critical of the agency.

     Tripp, the new executive director, said he's seen a summary
of the audit findings, adding that the problems seem to be in the
area of record-keeping and bids.

     The last audit of the agency covered the fiscal years ending
in 1992 and 1993.  That audit pointed up several problems, and
Jackle said some of the same ones were found in the 1994-95

     In the 1992-93 audit, the auditors cited a lack of contracts
between the board and the Connecticut Center for Vision
Independence to warehouse and sell board products.  In addition,
the board prepaid CCVI for training that had not been performed.

     The audit for 1992-93 also found inaccurate inventory
records, a lack of supporting documentation for grants that had
been paid out, a lack of contracts with vendors, and an inability
to reconcile accounts receivable against the balance reported.

     Some of those problems had been cited in the previous audit
of the agency, the audit report says.

     In addition, at least two "whistleblower" complaints have
been filed against the agency.  Jackle, whose office investigates
such complaints before sending the information to the attorney
general, said he could not discuss the complaints because they
are exempt from disclosure under state law.

     However, the auditors' reports to the legislature do list a
complaint received May 18, 1995, against the Board of Education
and Services for the Blind that dealt with food service, along
with another complaint on May 31, 1996, Jackle said.

     Tripp, the new executive director, said the governor asked
him to take over the agency because he wanted someone with a
managerial background.

     Since 1991 Tripp has been executive director of the Food
Bank of Fairfield County Inc.  He also served as director of the
Human Resources Department for Bridgeport from 1990-91 and
administrative assistant to the mayor of Danbury from 1987-89.

     He also worked as a consultant after retiring from SNET in
1985.  He had worked for the company for 20 years in
administrative and support services. Tripp was a Republican state
representative for the 90th District, which includes Cheshire,
Prospect, and Bethany, from 1981 to 1983.

                              * * *

                          By Ken Dixon
    [From the Connecticut _Post, Thursday, December 19, 1996]
                         Capitol Bureau

     Hartford: The former director of the statewide services for
the blind violated state laws while running up a $3.6 million
budget deficit, state auditors charged on Tuesday.

     Gov. John G. Rowland's office said Tuesday that Chief
State's Attorney John M. Bailey has been asked to investigate
possible criminal wrongdoing by former agency head George A.
Precourt of Manchester, who Rowland fired Sept. 27.

     In a review of the Board of Education and Services for the
Blind (BESB), auditors said Precourt turned over the operation of
a state-office cafeteria to a Hartford company without
competitive bidding and kept little control over cash from snack
bars operated by blind clients of the program.

     The audit also questioned the ties between Precourt and a
nonprofit Hartford-based company, the Connecticut Center for
Vision Independence (CCVI), which won the contract for operating
two large cafeterias in state office buildings.

     Precourt was "closely involved" with the formation of CCVI
and the selection of its employees, the audit said.  A receivable
bill of more than $130,000, due from CCVI, was reduced to zero
with no explanation.  Also, CCVI took over a vending-machine
contract without a competitive bid.

     The report also charges Precourt apparently billed the state
for travel to professional conferences that he did not attend.

     The new director of the BESB, Kenneth R. Tripp of
Bridgeport, said he's trying to correct the problems, but the
accounting system was in such disarray that he's only just
getting a handle on it after 10 weeks on the job.

     "Unfortunately, the conditions delineated in this audit are
a sad commentary on the past performance of my predecessor," said
Tripp, who took over Sept. 30.  "We've been able to start to
accumulate hard data on a very disorganized set of books and
figures while putting in people and systems who will immediately
ensure this cannot and will not happen again."

     Dean Pagani, spokesman for Rowland, said the governor
recently asked the chief state's attorney to investigate possible
criminal actions by Precourt, who earned $66,000 a year at the
post.  Calls to Precourt's home Tuesday were unanswered.  Bailey
was unavailable for comment Tuesday.

     The BESB provides education, training, medical care and
employment for 3,000 blind and vision impaired state residents.
 The program has a $12 million budget and at 103 years of age, is
the longest continually operated state agency for the blind in
the country.

     Among the claims in the audit are charges that the BESB
delayed paying bills until the following fiscal year for several
years until a $3.6 million deficit was rung up.  During the
1994-1995 year alone a $1.4 million deficit in the agency's sales
and service account occurred and subsequently rose to $1.8
million by June 30, 1996.

Making the differenct with Connecticut's pbulic transportation by Cheree Heppe

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     At the fall, 1996 CCB convention, we learned that, despite
assurances from Connecticut Transit that blind riders are
satisfied with bus service, many people continue to experience
problems, such as stops being passed, failure to pick up blind
passengers, and failure to call out stops as requested.  When
presented with these complaints, Connecticut Transit officials
admitted union resistance to complying with the legal requirement
for stop announcement.  At best, Connecticut Transit is complying
with the barest letter of the law.

     During March, 1997, we are asking blind bus riding members
of CCB to fill out a survey developed by the Transportation
Committee.  The results will be used to improve bus service and
responsiveness to transportation issues relative to blind riders.

     During March, 1997, consider bringing a note taking device
along whenever riding public buses.  This may be a slate and
stylus, Braille 'n Speak, paper and felt-tip pen or small
cassette recorder.  Using the survey provides uniformity of
information on which to base a reliable report.

     Additional comments or areas of concern not addressed by the
survey may be appended to the survey you fill out.

     Return your survey in the media of your choice and results
will be published in the CCB newsletter.  CCB needs your help and
strongly encourages you to participate to improve public bus
transportation for us all.

     If you have questions, please contact Cheree Heppe, 68
Gilman Street, Hartford, CT 06114-2536.  Phone (860) 296-4922.

                              * * *

                          Sample Survey

Name:  Jane Doe
City:  Watterville
Route Name or Number:  Route A
Time boarding: 9:30 a.m.
Time Exiting: 9:55 a.m.
Stops Announced:  None
Transfer Points Announced:  None
Reminder to driver required:  Yes
Stops Passed:  None

Announcing: q&a for CCB by Pam Garde

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     "I have a question!"

     Many of you have uttered this phrase from time to time.  We
at the Connecticut Council of the Blind have tackled many major
issues, from guide dog topics to general blindness legislation;
but have any of you given serious thought to how someone else
organizes a room, or how we label such things as canned goods,
boxed items, CD's, or cassettes?  Does anybody care?  Well, _we

     Presenting: Q&A for CCB, a fun, innovative column where we
can share some ideas about how we cope with everyday life.  In
each edition of the _Outlook, I will pose a question, and you
will supply the information.  This is not a contest, yet I will
choose some answers and, in the next issue, I will recap the last
question, and supply some valuable information.  This column will
not only be fun, but also you will build a massive storehouse of
information, which will also be educational to you as well.

     Therefore, on that note, let's bring on the first question:

     How do you label cans, boxes, CD's, or cassettes?

     Send your responses to:

    Q&A for CCB
    Care of Pam Garde
    92 Homestead Street
    Manchester, CT 06040.

     Your comments, suggestions for questions, and criticisms are
also welcome.

CCB Classified

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     [The listings of products and services in this column are
provided free of charge for the benefit of our readers, and
should not be considered as endorsements.  The Connecticut
Council of the Blind cannot be held responsible for the
reliability of products and/or services mentioned.]

     International Disabled Marketing Associates has available
the following catalogs for 1996-1997:

     The Ann Morris Enterprises "Catalog of Innovative Products
for People with Vision Loss," featuring 190 new products this
year.  This catalog is available in large print, audio cassette,
and IBM diskette at no charge.  The braille edition is $6.

     I.D.M.A. also has an electronics catalog for home and
business on one cassette for $1, and an Amway catalog on two
cassettes for $1.50.

     I.D.M.A. pays substantial cash rebates for products
purchased through both Ann Morris Enterprises and Amway.  In
addition, I.D.M.A. also offers excellent part-time or full-time
business opportunities.  A free introductory tape is available
upon request.  Make checks or money orders payable to Jack H.
Morgan, and send them to:

    901 Freeport Road
    Creighton, PA. 15030-1049
    Business telephone: (412) 226-9855.


     Black Hills State University will host its sixth annual
Retreat for Visually Impaired Persons on July 26 through August
2, 1997. The Retreat brings blind and visually impaired people
from all over the country to our campus in the Black Hills of
South Dakota for a week of study, relaxation and fun.

     Classes in western history and politics, Native American
culture, music, theater and creative writing, taught by
University faculty, will be combined with field trips to many
nearby tourist attractions.  Historic Deadwood, Devil's Tower,
and Mount Rushmore are among the many sights and activities that
will be a part of the retreat.  Depending upon participant
interest, plays and concerts, museums, nature walks, crafts,
trail rides, picnics and fishing trips are also often included in
the activities.  There will also be free time in which
participants will be able to follow individual interests.
 Sighted guides are provided to assist participants whenever

     Further information regarding the VIP Retreat may be
obtained on our Web site at:

or by contacting:

    Ms. Verla Fish, Director
    Extension Services
    Black Hills State University
    Spearfish, SD 57799-9508
    Telephone: (605) 642-6407
    Fax: (605) 642-6031
    E-mail: vfish@mystic.bhsu.edu

                              * * *

     For sale:  TeleSensory VersaPoint braille embosser.  Good
condition, manual included.  Comes with quietizer.  Price, $1500
negotiable.  Call Steve Dresser (860) 521-8903.


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     As always, I am grateful to everyone who has helped put
together this issue of the CCB _Outlook.  In addition to the
newsletter regulars and those who contributed articles, there are
four people who deserve special mention.  I'd like to thank my
son Raleigh, and my sister Clare for typing the articles for our
"SPECIAL REPORT" into the computer.  Thanks also to Joe Seiler
for the valuable information he contributed for "LEGISLATIVE
UPDATE."  Finally, we are indebted to Lexi Forrest for the logo
that appears on the title page of the print edition of the
_Outlook.  This same logo will also appear on our brochure.

     Please submit all contributions for the next CCB _Outlook by
May 1, 1997. Thank you.

CCB Standing Committees

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     Committee chairs are listed below:

Convention: Alice Jackson, (203) 281-0676
Legislative: Dave Bates, (860) 257-0602
Membership: John Mattioli, (203) 929-4244
Newsletter: Steve Dresser, (860) 521-8903
Publicity: John Mattioli, (203) 929-4244
Scholarship: April Hutchins, (860) 646-7631
Transportation: Dan Mills, (860) 643-8442
Ways and Means (fund-raising): Dave Bates, (860) 257-0602

     You can leave messages for committee chairs and board
members on our toll-free line (800) 231-3349, or on our new voice
mail (860) 521-6749.

     President Marcia Nigro is an ex officio member of all

CCB Board of Directors

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President: Marcia Nigro
    20 Towne House Road
    Hamden 06514.
    (203) 407-0737 (1-800-231-3349.)

First Vice President: Steve Dresser
    142 Webster Hill Boulevard
    West Hartford 06107.
    (860) 521-8903.

Second Vice President: John Mattioli
    146 Trap Falls Road
    Shelton 06484.
    (203) 929-4244.

Third Vice President: Alice Jackson
    191 Centerbrook Road
    Hamden 06518.
    (203) 281-0676.

Recording Secretary: April Hutchins
    140 Maple Street
    Manchester, CT 06040.
    (860) 646-7631.

Corresponding Secretary: Cheree Heppe
    68 Gilman Street
    Hartford 06114-2536.
    (860) 296-4922

Acting Treasurer and Immediate Past President:
Dave Bates
    44 Garden Street
    Wethersfield 06109.
    (860) 257-0602.

Board Member at Large: Bryan McGucken
    11 Hillside Lane
    Wallingford, CT 06492
    (203) 265-2452

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