In This Issue
Message from Chair/CEO
Meet Mark Lucas!
VisionServe in Pictures!
Member News, Innovations and Ideas
Stone Soup Submissions
Mission Statement

Message from Chair and CEO 
Message from Miki 

Spring is a time of renewed vitality and new beginnings.  As hints of spring evolve into a joyous burst of color, energy and light, our thoughts come alive with hopes for the future and a resolve to seize every minute of each beautiful day. 

We share this sense of optimism and sense of purpose within our individual organizations and with our colleagues at VisionServe.

 The challenge is to keep this spirit of hope and resolve through the rest of the year.  I encourage you to stay in touch with your cronies, sharing, encouraging and coaching each other through the day-to-day as well as the critical times we all encounter.

Enjoy the sunny days ahead and know that you have your friends here at VisionServe to call upon when the rainy days come.


Miki Jordan
VisionServe Chair
Junior Blind of America
Los Angles, California
Message from Roxann 

It is April as you read this - Spring, when the snows and frosts are finally gone, flowers and trees are blooming, grass is  greening, and sweet breezes are blowing. It is also baseball season!  Yep, that's right - I'm a baseball fan!

Baseball is a team sport - a true team sport - each position on the team is dependent upon another to be successful.  Just like we are dependent upon one another here at VisionServe Alliance.  Many of our members are doing remarkable things locally, but the accomplishments will always be local without playing on the VisionServe Alliance Team by sharing innovations, new practices, funding opportunities, and more.

The single most important member benefit mentioned by our members is the ability to network with peers, the noncompetitive environment within our membership, the support and knowledge that we share so willingly.   Tommy Lasorda said, "There are three types of baseball players: Those who make it happen, those who watch it happen and those who wonder what happens." 

And Babe Ruth said, "The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don't play together, the club won't be worth a dime."  I hope you will take time this Spring to be a player "who makes it happen" and that you continue to make VisionServe "worth a dime" by continuing your commitment to our team! 

8 Concepts For Baseball Teamwork,  
Or Playing Together As A Team

1. We can all count on each other.
2. Accept your role on the team.
3. Find a way to win.
4. Be willing to make some personal sacrifices.
5. Help each other out.
6. Understand what we can control and what we cannot.
7. Anyone ~ Anytime.
8. Walk the talk.


Roxann Mayros                                         
Meet Mark Lucas of USABA!  
What are your favorite apps? and Dulingo 

What are you reading right now?

The Book Thief and
Sycamore Row

What are you listening to?
NPR and my wife selectively

List 3 things you would take to a deserted island.   Matches
My wife and dogs
Stocked Yacht

What do you do for yourself?
Run and yoga
VisionServe in Pictures!

Lauren Branch 

Erica Arbogast 

Board Members

 Fall Conference in Pittsburgh November 2013

David Ekin Presented Mark Lucas
Excellence in Leadership Award
Miki Presented University of
Pittsburgh Special Recognition Award
Miki Jordan Presented
Tom MacMurray Special Recognition Award

Mark Lucas, Al Avina, and Miki Jordan. Presented Tom Miller with the Lifetime Achievement Award
Mark Ackermann and Edward Gabriel, Department of Health and Human Services

Elaine  Welch, Doug Fowler, Jim Phipps at Western PA School for Blind Children

Florida Vision Summit
Conference attendees partook in Blind Yoga for added relaxation and a new experience.
Sylvia Perez &
Roxann Mayros


What's Cookin'? 
This section features news, innovations and ideas form VisionServe Alliance member agencies.  
2014 International Conference

The AER International Conference 2014 is scheduled for July
30 - Aug. 3, 2014, in San Antonio, Texas, and will draw participants from around the world. Sessions on assistive technology, education, aging & blindness, low vision, vision rehabilitation therapy, multiple disabilities, and will be presented.  Read more  



Thanks to a generous donation from the University of California, Los Angeles Division of Undergraduate Education, BIA will be expanding its Special Collection of free books in braille to students in grades 10-12 through their new Digital Dots program this Fall.


Digital Dots will provide high quality fiction and non-fiction recreational books in an electronic file format that high school students can download to a braille note taker or computer/tablet with a refreshable braille display-the preferred mode of reading braille for a tech-savvy   generation of blind students.  Read More.      


With funding from the local United Way, two Western Pennsylvania nonprofits - Blind & Vision Rehabilitation Services of Pittsburgh and Rebuilding Together Pittsburgh - have joined forces to better serve the health and home safety needs of seniors in their service area. The program helps seniors with vision problems by providing counseling, caregiver instruction and home modification.

In addition, the HomeSafeHome collaboration offers training videos and checklists to help caregivers, family members and volunteers assess the homes of seniors and make improvements that will increase safety and decrease risk to the resident. Each training video and accompanying checklist identifies issues that could be hazardous in the home.  Read More. 



The Iris Network, in collaboration University of Maine Center on Aging and the University of New England, Department of Geriatrics, is participating in a research project funded by a two-year grant from the National Institutes of Health.


This project will determine if elders with vision loss can improve their balance using the self-paced exercise program called U-ExCEL Balancing Act, developed by Marilyn Gugliucci and Anne Cowles from UNE.


Seventy individuals will be enrolled in the randomized controlled trial study, with both groups participating in pre and post testing on a variety of balance and health measures and periodic check-ins. Two part time employees were hired by The Iris Network to carry out the research. They will also enroll in Master's level programs to be trained as a VRT and O&M Specialist, thereby entering the field upon the completion of the research.


For more information please visit  



Leader Dogs for the Blind received the 2013 Governor Hugh L. Carey Award from Mutual of America Foundation for their Prison Puppy Raising Program. The award honors the outstanding contributions that nonprofit organizations, in partnership with public, private and other social sector organizations, make to society. The award was presented in November, 2012.

In 2002, Leader Dogs for the Blind collaborated with the North Central Correctional Facility in Calhoun County, Iowa to launch the Prison Puppy Raising Program. This groundbreaking partnership pairs puppies with inmates as a first step in preparing guide dogs for the blind and visually impaired. The program now places nearly 100 puppies each year with inmates at six minimum-security prisons in Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan.
Read More.

Braille Music Distance Learning  

By Miami Lighthouse in Collaboration with the Carroll Center   



A series of Braille Music lessons from the nationally acclaimed Better Chance Music Production Program is available in a distance learning format for blind and visually impaired students around the U.S. The course enables the Level 2 Braille reader to have information on sheet music equivalent to what a sighted musician has.  

Visit our website 

Thanks to a generous $220,000 grant from the WellPoint Foundation, the United States Association of Blind Athletes (USABA) is pleased to implement the National Fitness Challenge for the third consecutive year.

USABA will partner with 39 agencies throughout the United States to provide more than 800 blind and visually impaired individuals with an opportunity to increase their physical fitness levels, and live healthier more active lives.
The goal is to raise activity levels to that recommended by the CDC. The use of technology and social medi
a will help set goals, create team environments and encourage leadership. USABA will provide participants with a Nike+ FuelBand Silver Edition (SE).  Read More. 

A trip to Paris to see the world's first school for the blind in the early 1820s convinced medical student John Dix Fisher of the dire need for such a school in America. On a cold February day in 1829, Dr. Fisher brought together a group of prominent Bostonians to incorporate the New England Asylum for the Blind. On March 2, 1829, the Massachusetts legislature unanimously approved the incorporation and appropriated $6,000 a year for 20 students' tuition. Using rooms in his father's Boston home for classes, Perkins' first director Samuel Gridley Howe opened the doors of the school in 1832.

Throughout our 185-year history, Perkins has been an innovator in education for the blind, acting as a pioneer both in the U.S. and abroad. Some of our Perkins "firsts" include:
 Read More.
AVRE Kicks Off National Fitness Challenge  

Through a partnership with the USABA and the WellPoint Foundation, AVRE is participating in a national fitness challenge geared toward increasing physical activity and improving overall health.

Over 800 individuals who are blind or visually impaired from around the country will participate in the 7 month long challenge. Twenty employees, including AVRE's Board Chair, Kelly Storm, and CEO Ken Fernald, are equipped with a Nike+ Fuelband that monitors physical activity. Prizes and incentives will be awarded throughout the challenge to encourage some friendly competition!

In Memoriam:
Alice Geisler Raftary
(1927 - 2014)

On Saturday evening, March 29, we lost a true friend and hero when Alice Raftary, often called the Mother of Rehabilitation Teaching, passed away quietly.
Mike Bina had the opportunity to interview Alice Raftary shortly before her passing.  Her work in the field began following her own visual impairment. Shortly before the birth of her eighth child, the macular degeneration that Alice first experienced in high school caused a substantial loss of vision and she became legally blind. While still a full time homemaker, she returned to Marygrove College. Alice earned a Master of Education Degree specializing in Blindness and Rehabilitation in 1967.

Her article, "Assessment of Rehabilitation Students During Initial Contact with the Teacher" published in The Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness (November, 1977), continues to be used as a model in university rehabilitation teacher programs.

Throughout her career Alice Raftary was in demand as a conference and workshop presenter on the topics of working with individuals who are deaf-blind, insulin management, psycho-social aspects of blindness, funding sources, initial client assessment and aging and blindness among others.

Alice Raftary's outlook on her career in the blindness field is best summed up in her own words:

"It's exciting to participate in the restoration of life styles. Helping people to progress from hopelessness to confidence and competence is a thrill and a joy."

Click her to read the interview with Alice Raftary "The Mother of Rehabilitation".
Stone Soup Submissions 
This section includes deadlines and requirements fro submissions.  
2014 Submission Deadlines:

Friday, May 30, 2014
Friday, August 29, 2014
Friday, November 21, 2014

2014 Stone Soup Delivery:
at the end of the following months
March 2014
June 2014
September 2014
December 2014

We hope you enjoyed the new format for our quarterly newsletter, Stone Soup.  Please send your submission to Your submission should be a single word document that includes your logo, pictures, contact email link and verdana font.  Please tightly edit your submission to no more than 250 words and format your article as you would like it to read/display.
        Thank you.


Mission Statement: To engage leaders in building a better world through services for people with vision loss.

VisionServe Alliance

8760 Manchester Rd

St. Louis, MO. 63021