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I mage of Firefly


2-St.Louis trip participants follow-up meeting
8- First day of school, Knox County
12-Delta Gamma back to school party
19-Tandem bicycling, Cherokee Blvd, 2:00 pm; RSVP to Sue
21-Board meeting, 6:00 pm
24-26-TCB conference, Holiday Inn Cedar Bluff; details below
25- Belk Back to School Charity Day sale, 6:00 am-10:00 am
TBA-Meeting for Savannah trip

3-Happy Labor Day
5-Walking with Delta Gamma
6-Members meeting, 6:00 pm Buckley's house
9-Greenway walk, 5:30 pm West Hills Greenway; RSVP Sue for details
11-Board meetig, 6:00 pm
19-Walking with Delta Gamma
22-Adaptive Sports Expo, at the Cove on Northshore; details to come

Freedom to Fly Blog

This month's post is a guest blog on giving vision-based directions. John describes this as one of his all-time favorites. To read blog,  click here

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Fifteen VIBES members, all either low vision or blind, along with volunteer guides have returned from traveling with VIBES to the American Council of the Blind convention in St. Louis MO in early July. We will include personal reports and testimonials about the attendees experiences overthe next couple of newsletters. We will begin with an overview by Sue followed by personal articles by Jacoby and Sophie.

Group photo of VIBES attendees of ACB Convention in St. Louis

By Sue Buckley 
Thanks to a lot of local support, in early July, 15 members and awesome volunteers of Club VIBES loaded our bus to attend the national Convention of the American Council of the Blind held in St Louis. This amazing trip allowed us to have a hands-on experience with the latest in technology products and innovation. 

Our Club rode in comfort on the Premier Company bus. It was a wonderful addition to the overall Club experience. The bus ride allowed us to get to know each other and even teach some basic Braille along the way. Laughter could be heard for miles.

At the Convention, we met many new friends and were inspired by lots of ACB members  from across the country. There were over 1200 like minded legally blind members in attendance. We learned a bit about Self-Defense as a blind person, got demos of new Technology, various Smart glasses and much, much more. The trip was a true reality check with many laughs together and some frustrations. Just like in real life, we ran up against some challenges. Members of VIBES learned how hard it can be to learn a huge building layout and try to locate your meeting room. Stairs were also something of a challenge, but not impossible.  The entire building was a beautiful, old renovated train station with so many levels and different wings of the building to study and to memorize the different ways to get around. Even the sighted volunteers struggled with this for the first few days. We learned the routes about the time we were to leave for home. 

We even included some cool off time at the hotel outside pool. The temperature was 105 without the heat index included. Believe us, teachable moments can even happen poolside. 

We had three private sessions just for our Club VIBES group. One presenter was Penny Verity, a Tennessee owner from the State vendor program. She talked about the pros and cons of being a vendor in the State and how to begin your journey if you wish to start this as a career goal. The other was Michael Garrett. Michael is the past Chair of the ACB national Scholarship committee. He joined us to present info on applying for scholarships and the deadlines along the way. Many questions were directed at both of these ACB members from our Club. Lastly, we had a personal demo of "Cyber Eyez" glasses. These glasses are just one of many that are coming on the market to help the legally blind scan print, read and see faces along with using the Amazon Alexa while wearing them. Think of them as "Info at your ears",  Not your fingertips. We enjoyed the time spent with many other technology companies and reps at the busy exhibit hall. We took away many flyers and much info.

Over the next few newsletters, we will try to cover some items of interest and even include some audio podcasts from vendors at the Exhibit hall. It was a very jam-packed four days for all of us. Sad to say, we could not tell you half of what we did. It was just so fun and busy. 

The bus trip home was an additional bonus for VIBES. It gave us a chance to debrief and become much closer in our shared experiences. Thanks to Premier Bus company for a smooth and safe ride to and from St. Louis. 

Overall, it was a super experience for our members. It was the most team-building time we have ever had in our ten year history  of Club VIBES. We hope to be able to fund raise in the future to help us do similar learning events again. Stay tuned to more articles on our adventures.
 Traveling in style 

                                              Sarah learning self defense

By Jacoby
We invaded the city wth the big arch and left no prisoners.  Our time in St. Louis for the ACB (American Council of the Blind Conference) was amazing and jammed packed.  To summarize the trip in one word, I would use JAMMED.  Not only was our schedule that way, but so was the convention hall.  From wall to wall, you could only see vendors, and all of those vendors had valuable information for us about products and opportunities.  For some in our group, attending the convention was a fact finding expedition; for others, it was an experience in independent mobility; and for all of us, it was a bonding experience.   

Entering the convention hall, vendors from all over lined the walls waiting for attendees to try their products and to ask questions.  Companies like, AIRA, Industries of the Blind, Maxi Aid, and a host of others provided information for us to walk away with.  While some booths featured assistive technologies for independent living, others had products that provided accessibility to the working world, helpful for those seeking to find a job.  Whatever you were looking for, most likely it was in the convention hall.   

Navigating the convention hall was definitely a lesson in mobility training. Everywhere you turned, if you were not bumping into a booth, you were bumping into a blind person.  Every turn of the convention hall was a new adventure, from finding what booth you were at, to finding what booth you were hoping to go to, while trying to not step on anyone's toes.  As funny as this may seem, this was a great opportunity to learn how to navigate in new surroundings and how to make it to your predetermined destination.  Along the way, several folks made new friends with visiting attendees possibly leading to life-long connections.  

With all the excitement from the ACB Convention, one of the biggest moments was bonding with everyone in the group.  From the utilization of our sighted guides, to meeting some new Club VIBES members and forming deeper connections with old members, we definitely made every minute of our trip count. 

Thank you to our partners and all of those who supported our fundraising efforts. Without your help, this trip would not have been possible.

A group of the St. Louis travelers were interviewed on the WBIR show, Live At Five.   
To watch WBIR video,  click here

Sue, Illya, Tammy, and Sophie at WBIR
Yes, it is true--Sue has a valid, up to date drivers license which she has renewed, in person, at the Department of Motor Vehicles three times. Thankfully, Sue has the sense to realize that she cannot really drive, but you might wonder about some of the other people that routinely renew their driver's licenses without being questioned about their ability to drive, or even appearing in person. You can get all of the details by clicking here.

On July 8, friends and family of VIBES got together to meet Coraline, the 8 month old daughter of Travis and Jamie, two of our very dedicated NFC Challenge guides. There was a big turnout of well wishers to welcome Coraline into the VIBES family and celebrate her successful recovery from heart surgery.  Everyone is encouraged to walk with the VIBES team in the Knoxvlle Buddy Walk on November 4 to honor Coraline and to  support local programs and services for Down's Syndrome, as well as National Down Syndrome Society advocacy and public awareness initiatives that benefit all individuals with Down syndrome.  Watch for more details in upcoming newsletters.

Travis, Jamie and Coraline made a thank you video for Club VIBES.  Use this link to watch the video,   click here .
Three new members, Said, Muzher, and Owen joined Club VIBES in time to go to St. Louis. They are all adults, two of whom have recently lost their vision and are excited to participate in our programs.  In addition, are Campbell, a fifteen year old from Dandridge and another fifteen year old, Mariah, from Oak Ridge who are just getting started with VIBES. Mariah also has two younger brothers and her father who are low vision and looking forward to VIBES programs.

We are happy to welcome GroupOne as one of our new partners for 2018-2019.
GroupOne Mediation Training offers classes in conflict resolution for attorneys in East Tennessee. Courses teach techniques that enable parties and their attorneys to resolve disputes amicably without the stress and expense of litigation. 

Without the help of our partners, Club VIBES could not offer our members such opportunities as our recent trip in which we took 15 VIBES members to the American Council of the Blind convention.  All of us at Club VIBES extend our thanks to GroupOne.

Throughout my trip to St. Louis, I was very fortunate to encounter various different accommodations for those with low/no vision. Devices covered in the exhibit hall as well as the general sessions ranged everywhere from Ruby magnifiers to Amazon Locker and Echo products. Of course, options for mobility such as canes and guide dogs were present, too.

Perhaps the most memorable accommodations came from Cyber Eyes and Aira, a company dedicated to making sighted guide quicker to access and more technologically advanced than ever! I was shocked when I put on the special glasses that have a small camera. An Aira employee who was at another location began vividly describing every detail in front of me via the view this person had via the small camera. I can certainly see this as being useful to me, especially for looking at distant things such as overhead fast food menus. When it comes to using Aira, however, one must either have a subscription or be near an Aira hotspot. This way, people can use the service from almost anywhere! The employees, CEO, and other company members are so wonderful and were an absolute blast to hang out with because of the positive atmosphere they provide! 

It was a true honor to hang out with the Aira team with Illya and our new friend Veronica and hear from their CEO about   their goals to improve mobility at  the Hard Rock CafĂ©

In addition to all of the information we received at ACB, another important aspect of the convention was making contact with others encountering the same issues that we encounter.  Personally,  I think it is crucial as a visually impaired student to find others who are willing to share their stories while also giving advice about how to pursue a particular career even with physical limitations. I found this in Veronica, a fellow writer and advocate for assistive tech. 

Overall, the trip allowed me to grow closer to fellow members of Club VIBES, experience a new city, gain new mentors and friends, play around with all sorts of devices, navigate independently using Aira, and even discover potential employment opportunities! It was an absolutely fantastic way to celebrate finishing the National Fitness challenge!   

To learn more about AIRA  click here 

To learn more about Cyber Eyez  click here

                                              Paige trying out Cyber Eyez

VIBES member, Ryne Goodrich, loves running. He participated in the Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon and is now training for a marathon in December in California. Ryne is thankful for the running guides that are helping him train, but he needs more sighted guide runners. Anyone interested, please email Sue. There will be training to help you get started.  Please pass this on to anyone you think might be interested.

Delta Gamma is helping us get back into the spirit of the new school year by inviting us to a party at the DG House on UT campus.  The party is for VIBES members along with one of their parents. The theme is UT game day so be sure to wear your orange and white. You are asked to bring a side dish to share. The main dish will be provided.
DATE: August 12
TIME: 12:00 noon-2:00 pm
Delta Gamma Sorority House, 2906  Sorority Village Circle.

This  organization is the state level affiliate of the American Council of the Blind. They are having their annual convention in Knoxville from August 24-26.  Most of the activities of interest are on Saturday.  Registration and a social are on Friday evening with a wrap-up on Sunday.  The location is the Holiday Inn Cedar Bluff. Pre-registration is necessary.  VIBES believes that it is time to introduce some new members to TCB and therefore we encourage a VIBES contingent to attend. There will be vendors showing off their new products.  One vendor that is a bit unusual is Kustom Kane that allows you to customize your cane with different color handles, adding logos, and selecting a variety of charms to express your interests.  For a sneak preview,  click here

Contact Sue for more details.

Don't let that fitness you worked so hard to achieve slip away.  Two events are coming up to help you stay in shape.  VIBES plans to participate in both of these.

-October-Thompson Cancer walk (details later)

-November 4- Buddy Walk in honor of those with Down Syncrome; VIBES will be walking to honor Coraline.(details later)

It doesn't stop here. The folks who attended ACB will meet on August 2, 6:00 pm at the Buckley's to discuss how we go forward with the information and experiences from St. Louis.  Think about what you would like to see and bring your ideas.  Pizza will be served.

We will again be selling tickets to the Belk Charity Sale which will be on Saturday, August 25,  from 6:00 am until 10:00 am.  VIBES will be represented at West Town and Turkey Creek stores. The $5.00 ticket will allow you early entrance into the store to shop special sale items including many things not usually reduced. In addition, $5.00 will be taken off of the price of your first purchase. Club VIBES receives the total $5.00 of the ticket. Contact any VIBES board member for a ticket. 
This is a non-profit organization based in Texas, whose mission is to provide computers to blind and visually impaired persons. Donated computers are refurbished by volunteers and loaded with accessibility software that is needed by the recipient. If you or someone you know is interested in getting a computer,  click here for more information. Information is also available if you have a computer that you wish to donate. For more information,  click here

PLATINUM- Delta Gamma Fraternity and Nalls Sherbakoff
GOLD-Group One Meditation Training Inc.
SILVER-Smoky Mountain Wheelmen
BRONZE-Blount County Eye Center and West Knox Lion's Club


       PLATINUM                        GOLD                                  SILVER                                 BRONZE
     Delta Gamma                Group One                       Smoky Mountain                       Blount County
        Fraternity           Mediation Training Inc               Wheelman                                Eye Center

                                                                                                                     Nalls Sherbakoff                                                                                                           West Knox                                                                                                                                                        Lion's Club
    Li                                                                                                                         Lion's 

                                                                                                                           L  Lion's C;ub