Blindskills, Inc. - Publisher of DIALOGUE Magazine
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by Carol M. McCarl, Salem, Oregon

November 30, 2009, two days after my 71st birthday, a new chapter in my life began. I received a gift that was so amazing that it was nothing short of a miracle. My dear friend, Linda Mendro (whom I met and became friends with in the '80s when she started teaching at the Oregon School for the Blind), gave me the gift of life by giving me one of her kidneys. I have not the space to explain the level of detail involved with this gift but suffice it to say that I cannot possibly adequately thank her, and that both Linda and I are improving every day as we strive to reach this new level of "normal".

As I mentioned, the preparation for the transplant seemed overwhelming as of course all the materials were prepared with sighted people in mind. Pamphlets on what to expect and explanations of the actual procedures, were just a few of the beautifully-prepared materials available--yet practically useless for a blind patient.

It was at this point that I experienced a sort of epiphany; I had been working my whole life for the betterment of those who were blind but often felt like it was "the others" who needed help. I realized that my creation, Blindskills, was to help ALL blind people including me! I asked the transplant center for electronic versions of the materials to be read which I then e-mailed to Blindskills, and voila! a braille copy was produced for me. Post transplant, subsequent documents such as dietary restrictions and medication lists were brailled. So you see, the world works in mysterious ways. A founder of an organization can turn around and be a beneficiary.

The year 2010 has also opened a new chapter at Blindskills. Although I will continue to serve on the Board of Directors, I am stepping down as Publisher to become Publisher Emeritus, which will remove me from the day-to-day stress involved with keeping a non-profit such as this afloat. In the Publisher Emeritus role, I will read manuscripts along with B. T. Kimbrough and continue with the local low-vision support group which Cathy Bickerdike and I have coordinated together for fifteen years. This step back is hard for me as Blindskills has been a big part of my life and my raison d'Ítre since I founded it in 1983, but it was clear to those around me that the worrying was taking a toll on my health, so I am asking others who are willing and able to step forward to help, including you.

Have you ever learned something in the pages of DIALOGUE which you used to adapt your life? Or, have you ever called Blindskills, Inc., and received direction toward a resource or product you were seeking? If so, we need you on the Blindskills team in some capacity. Because of the weak economy, many corporate foundations have stopped awarding grants which, along with big-hearted individual donations from loyal readers and friends, are two of the pillars that support Blindskills. I beseech you to send Blindskills Executive Director B.T. Kimbrough your suggestions as to how we can procure funding to support the services on which you and many others rely. We want all of your ideas with suggestions for implementation. Do you know of a company that might consider us as their tax-deductible charity? Can each reader sign up another reader or their local ophthalmologist or low-vision related organization (optometrists, senior centers, Lions or American Legion clubs)? What can we all do to ensure the Blindskills, Inc., and DIALOGUE will be here for future callers and readers?

Here is an encouraging example which we experienced in January: The new president of the Blindskills, Inc., Board, Dr. Keirsten Eagles, OD, volunteered to put on a bowling tournament to benefit Blindskills. Although the board members had never tackled such a project before, Keirsten had past experience with bowling tournaments and she had every detail covered. Her idea and leadership has made a financial difference which will translate into services to readers and callers.

Please phone, mail, or e-mail your ideas and suggestions to Together, we can write a new chapter for Blindskills.

After 50 years of working in my field, it is time for me to enjoy this new chapter I've begun. I am feeling stronger the last two weeks. I have a wonderful family and two grandchildren to spend time with and I'm looking forward to some short jaunts around the country when my health returns completely. If any of you wish to contact me directly, you may write to me at my personal e-mail at or write to me in braille or print at 735 21st Place, NW, Salem, OR 97304.

Remember to always count your blessings and have a great year in 2010.

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DIALOGUE editor for the last five years, Karen Lynn Thomas, has chosen to take on new projects as she begins 2010. Her meticulous, thorough editing was evident in each issue of DIALOGUE. She often included article content that was a direct answer to reader requests. I have enjoyed working with Karen the last eleven years (she was a columnist previous to becoming editor), and I will miss our proofreading sessions. I expect that she will realize success with new projects tackled.

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During my two stays at Good Samaritan Hospital and my many visits to the Legacy Transplant Center in Portland, I was able to distribute the article "How to Assist a Blind Person in a Hospital Setting," which you can find on the Blindskills website. It describes how nurses, doctors and support staff can communicate with and properly assist blind patients. All staff appreciated and used the methods described. One nurse who is responsible for the training of other nurses read her copy and later returned to my room to let me know that the article will be required reading for her students. So if you have a hospital stay in your future, you might wish to download a copy to give to the medical staff. You will improve communication and consequently your stay in the hospital. If you don't have access to the web, call the Blindskills office and we will provide a copy.

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