Prepare, Empower, Employ
As Eye See It

April, 2018                                                                           Volume 21      Issue 1


Greetings from the President                                                              By Lerae Olesen

Hello everyone, Welcome to spring, even though, as usual, our South Dakota weather can’t quite make up its mind which season we’re in. At this writing, Easter Sunday was a rather chilly day and we have received more snow, and that’s no April fool! Well, enough about the weather. SDAB board has been rather busy since our last newsletter, having met 3 times since the beginning of the year. A summary of our meetings

(continued on Page. 3)







Greetings from the President                                                                            1

Disabilities Awareness Day at the Capitol - February 14, 2018                      4

Ready to Volunteer                                                                                           5

South Dakota Association of the Blind Membership and Officers                 6

SDAB Family NEWS                                                                                        7

BLIND BLUNDERS                                                                                        7

MINUTES                                                                                                         8

SKI FOR LIGHT                                                                                            11

SIOUXLAND NEWS                                                                                     12

AS EYE COOK                                                                                              13

EXPRESSVOTE                                                                                            15

NEW MEMBERS                                                                                           16

CONVENTION  NEWS                                                                                 17

MEMBERSHIP FORM                                                                                  18






can be found elsewhere in this newsletter.  I want to extend a heartfelt thank you to Dawn LaMee who edited the AS Eye See It for the past 20 years. In early January, she submitted her resignation from this position, though she is still willing to serve on the publicity committee and help with future issues. We welcome a team of Koni Sims and Kathy Nelson as our new editors. The board is pleased to hire Kathy, who has assisted us in getting our website up and running.  We want to make wise use of her time and expertise.

As all of you know; there have been plans made for several changes to the campus at NSU in Aberdeen, including transfer of land and building a new SD School for the Blind and Visually Impaired. Since the six State universities as well as “our” school and the school for the Deaf are under the jurisdiction of the board of Regents, those SDAB board members who live in Sioux Falls were invited to a question/answer session during their December meeting, and four of us were available to attend.  We expressed concerns about the changes and came away feeling that the discussion had been well received. Thanks to Marje Kaiser for inviting us. 

The 2018 SD Legislative session recently ended. There were two bills of particular interest to us as a part of the blind community in our state. HB1071 was related to the previously mentioned land transfer and new school.  This bill passed the House and the Senate and was signed by Governor Daugaard. HB1058 was related to qualifications for the Superintendent of the SDSBVI and the State School for the Deaf. We sent a letter to each of the Representatives across the state, encouraging that the qualifications include “professional experience with students with sensory disabilities.” After contacting the Representatives by email, I received a number of responses ranging from “Thank you for contacting me,” to two phone calls asking for clarification. The bill was amended to include this change, and it was signed by the Governor.  This is a good example of how we can advocate through the legislative process.

In February, Koni Sims represented SDAB at the annual Disability Awareness Day. It’s not only a good opportunity for the legislators to meet people with disabilities, it’s also a good opportunity to network with others face to face.

In January, I participated in my first conference call as a member of the SDSBVI Advisory Council, representing SDAB, and as an alumnus of the school.  The council consists of several individuals, including, but not limited to parents, a teacher, someone from the Aberdeen Lions Club, someone from the Braille and Talking Book Library, people from the Aberdeen community who have been associated with the school, and representatives from both of the consumer organizations in South Dakota. The council is scheduled to meet again on April 30th. As we move into spring, I can tell you that plans are underway for our SDAB convention this fall. Stay tuned for more details. I hope this newsletter finds you doing well and keeping busy, though not so busy that you can’t be involved in our organization as we Integrate into the sighted world, educate people as to our abilities, and Advocate when and wherever appropriate.

Until next time, let’s continue to work together for the benefit of all of us.



SDAB Mission Statement:  To support and advocate for the full inclusion of persons who are blind and visually impaired into all aspects of society.  This is accomplished through public education, peer support, community service, self and systems advocacy, and developing and supporting legislation.


Disabilities Awareness Day at the Capitol - February 14, 2018w









Koni Sims and Catie Greseth pose at the SDAB display at the Capitol Building in Pierre, SD





Now’s your opportunity! During the fall convention of the SDAB, several positions for officers and board members are available, so now’s the perfect time for you to step up to the plate. This organization can not run without you to take a leadership role, to make a difference in the lives of people who are blind and visually impaired across the state and nation, and to “repair” what you see as “broken” within the organization. It’s not too early to contact Dawn Brush, chair, nominations committee, at 605-229-4129 to accept nomination for one of the following positions: president, first vice- president, second vice-president, secretary  treasurer and two board positions. Let me hear from you by phone 605-229-4129, or email










Check out the ExpressVote article on page 17.




South Dakota Association of the Blind Board and Officers

South Dakota Association of the Blind

Mailing Address: PO Box 1622 Sioux Falls, SD 57101-1622

Facebook: South Dakota Association of the Blind



President: Lerae Olesen: Sioux Falls - 605-978-9267

Past President: Dave Miller: Rapid City - 605-336-6628

1st V-President: Chelle Hart: Sioux Falls - 605-332-6059

2nd V-President: Seth Sims: Sioux Falls – 605-339-9512

Secretary: Dawn Brush: Aberdeen – 606-229-4129

Treasurer: Steve Hart: Sioux Falls – 605-332-6059

Board Of Directors:

Koni Sims: Sioux Falls – 605-941-9512

Deb Ver Steeg: Sioux Falls – 605-331-2131

Tevan Fischbach: Aberdeen – 605-226-2574

Doug Puetz: Rapid City – 605-355-0668

Eric Rippentrop: Sioux Falls –  605-252-1031

Nick Pavel: Sioux Falls – 605-661-7707

Committees: (The first person named is the chair of the committee)

Finance: Seth Sims, Lerae Olesen, Chelle Hart, Dawn Brush, Steve Hart, Eric Rippentrop, Doug Puetz, Lisa Rippentrop

Membership: Koni Sims, Tevan Fischbach, Doug Puetz

Program/Social: Chelle Hart, Koni Sims, Seth Sims, Tevan Fischbach, Linda Biffert, Steve Hart

Nominating: Dawn Brush, Dave Miller, Virginia Miller, Casey Trowbridge

Publicity: Koni Sims, Nick Pavel, Dawn LaMee, Deb Ver Steeg, Steve Hart, Helen Hartmann, Chelle Hart

Resolutions/Legislative: Lerae Olesen, Casey Trowbridge, Dave Miller, Marje Kaiser, Linda Biffert

Scholarships/Awards: Virginia Miller, Deb Ver Steeg, Seth Sims

Consumer and Community Outreach: Chelle Hart, Allen Vanderberg, Tevan Fischbach, Kari Lortscher


Newsletter: Koni Sims, Kathy Nelson

SDSBVI Advisory Council: Lerae Olesen

SBVI Board: Koni Sims





We want to send our condolences to the following members and friends in their time of loss:  Dawn Brush and her father, Louie, on the passing of Dawn’s mother, Joyce;  Deb Ver Steeg and her family on the passing of Deb’s brother-in-law, Harold McAdams; Dean & Donna North in the passing of Deans sister, Karen.

Many of you will remember M.J. Schmitt, who attended two of our state conventions representing ACB in the 1980s and 1990s. M.J. passed away on January 12, 2018 at the age of 86. I remember she was the keynote speaker at the 1984 convention, and she was an encouragement to me as I was contemplating leaving Sioux Falls to go to Western Michigan University to further my education.  Many of us will also remember the tornado warning that was issued during the banquet at which M.J. was speaking. She was a founding member of ACB in 1961, along with our own Delbert Aman and other leaders and advocates at the time.   

Please keep these families as well as  other members who have been ill in your thoughts and prayers. If you have items of interest—milestone birthdays, anniversaries, or close family loved ones who have passed away, and you want our SDAB family to be aware of these, please email me at:

Thank you. Lerae Olesen






BLIND BLUNDERS                                                                                        By Chelle Hart

Hi!  Do you sometimes have trouble recognizing the voice of the person who just sat down next to you and began his/her visit with “hi. How are you, today?”  Not knowing who it is that just addressed you can make for an awkward encounter.

I’m reminded of a time in college when a good friend of mine, also blind, and I walked down to a local ice-cream shop for our favorite flavor of the month.  We got our cones and found an empty table at the back of the shop.  Not long after that, a gentleman came along and sat down at our table and began to talk with us as if he’d known us all our lives.  We talked about the nice summer weather, some city politics going on in town, and I believe he shared with us the next ice-cream “flavor of the month: which was printed out on a sign at the front of the store.  We talked for about an hour.  Then my friend and I threw our trash away and headed out the front door of the ice-cream shop.  Just a few steps down the block, she said to me, “Who was that?”  I replied, “I don’t know; I was only visiting with him because I thought that you knew who he is.  Do you mean that neither of us know his identification?”   Yes,” she said.  “It looks that way.  Do you suppose we should have asked?”

I’m guessing that the man was just being friendly and stopped to pass the time of day with us.  We never did figure out who he was.  That ever happen to you?  It’s always advisable to identify yourself to someone who may not be able to recognize your face or, in this case, your voice.  You never know; a new and great friendship may be found in this way.





01/08/2018 and 02/06/2018

On 01-08-2018 at 7:00 PM the officers and directors of SDAB met mia phone for a board meeting. President Olesen reviewed the agenda. Dawn Brush called the roll with the following members present: Lerae, Chelle, Seth, Steve, Dawn, Dave, Koni, Nick, Doug and Deb. The past minutes were adopted.

The treasurer’s report came from Koni who has assisted Steve during his rehab. Some nice memorials have been received as well as a reissued check from the Del Aman fund from Lon Gellhaus. There are more checks to deposit.

Fundraising: Although Seth did not give a report, Dawn thanked the group for the nice fundraiser with Pampered Chef.

From the Public Relations Committee Koni talked about the newsletter and recommended that Kathy Nelson be hired as the editor. She would work for $15.00 per hour with approximately four hours per issue. It will be essential that members provide information for each issue! Although she and Koni are researching various printing companies rather than QQP in Aberdeen, the website, facebook and email are suggestions for distribution. The next issue will come out in March or April and would cover topics such as the welcome of new members, information about the SDAB family, blind blunders, recipes, and pictures which interest readers. There was a suggestion to cut back on the number of newsletters mailed out and to focus on the email of issues to members. The motion was passed to allow the committee $15.00 per hour for the three issues in 2018  with a budget of $500.00 for Kathy. Everyone is encouraged to contact Koni with suggested topics for the newsletter.

For memberships to count for voting at ACB, Koni asked that they be in to her by 03-08-18 and the deadline to ACB by 03-15-18. Koni and Seth rewrote the membership letter. Members of the Board may be asked to make calls to encourage people to join SDAB and to pay memberships.

On 12-06-2017 SDAB board members from the Sioux Falls area attended the Board of Regents meeting at the invitation of Marje Kaiser, superintendent of the SDSBVI. After the SDAB Board approved and submitted a letter in regard to the proposed new School for the Blind, this meeting came at a good time for questions and interaction with the BOR members.

Disability Awareness Day at the Capitol in Pierre takes place on 02-14-18 and the board of Service to the Blind and Visually Impaired will sponsor a table at the event in which SDAB can participate. Doug would consider attending and there was a discussion about financial assistance for him. A motion was approved to provide one night’s lodging with state rates at the Governor’s Inn plus lunch and dinner.

In regard to a representative on the Advisory Council for the SD School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Lerae agreed to fill this position.

A motion was passed to pay membership of $100.00 to the Coalition and $50.00 for the SD Foundation of the Blind.

The next meeting is scheduled for 03-05-2018. The meeting was adjourned.


On 02-06-18 President Olesen called a special meeting of the Board to discuss membership contacts for the March deadline to ACB as well as content for the newsletter. Koni reported that 50 members are current so lets try for several more people to join. Several board members took names of people to contact. Dues need to be paid by 03-08 so that Koni can submit the membership information to ACB by 03-15-2018.

In regard to the newsletter, Koni and Kathy have reviewed the lists and found that many copies have been sent to Lions clubs, optometric clinics and others. It was suggested that calls be made to ask if these entities want to receive the newsletter and if so,would an email copy be sufficient. This would bring the printing cost way down. For the next newsletter, articles need to get to Koni by 03-15-18 and then on to Kathy.


Board, March 6, 2018

On March 06, 2018, the SDAB Board of Directors met at 7:00 PM. The roll was read with all present except for Tevan and Eric. The agenda was approved. The minutes from the past two meetings were approved as emailed.

Steve provided the treasurer’s report which reflected some nice memorial donations. Koni’s name has now been added to the checking account. The bill to QQP in Aberdeen has now been paid. The Aberdeen Lioness Club sent a donation for the newsletter. Additional information can be obtained from Steve.

For membership Koni reported that 58 people have joined so far for the coming year  and contacts to perspective members will continue to be made. In the future she suggested a contest to promote memberships would be fun.

As for the newsletter, members of the Publicity Committee continue to work on a new phase with a new editor. Since Kathy has been out of town, the next issue will be completed a little later than planned but will include  helpful information from members.

Lerae reported on legislative activities. Alan Peterson from the ND Association of the Blind once again represented SDAB during the legislative forum in Washington, D.C. Topics to be discussed with Legislative and Congressional members will include concerns for HB1058 and the ADA.HB1071, relocation of the SD School for the Blind and Visually Impaired passed both Houses and is on the Governor’s desk for his signature.

Earlier in Feb., Koni represented SDAB at the Disability Awareness Day in Pierre. Although she was not extremely busy, she suggested that having a second person there would be helpful to draw in more people. She discussed transportation issues for blind and visually impaired people and those with other disabilities statewide. For advocacy vision simulators were a great hit. Next year the 25th anniversary will be celebrated so have some type of item to hand out to participants.

Lerae represented SDAB on the Advisory Council for the SD School for the Blind and Visually Impaired and discussed the agenda and events of the meeting. She participated by phone and gained interesting information.

The ACB Convention will be held in St. Louis, MO, over the Fourth of July week. If any member is interested in attending, let Lerae know by April 15th and some financial assistance would be available.

As for the SDAB state convention, Chelle and her committee will be checking out locations and dates in Sioux Falls. One topic of interest is state transportation issues specific to rural travel. Another topic could focus on elderly support groups. It was suggested a luncheon could be held rather than an evening banquet. This could help to cut down on meal expense.

Koni represents SDAB on the Board of Services to the Blind and Visually Impaired, and on 03-23-18 the next meeting will be held. They will discuss stipends for newcomers to attend the SDAB Convention. Candidates are needed for this board, especially those with visual impairments and from SDAB. Another position that’s difficult to fill is someone with multiple disabilities.

It is not too soon for Dawn Brush and members of the Nominations Committee to find interested people to serve terms as officers and board members of the awesome organization of SDAB so step up to the plate and volunteer. Call Dawn at 605-229-4129.

As for special interest stories on the local news channels, Lerae provided a very interesting interview to answer questions as to the reasons for braille on ATM machines. Deb mentioned the issues concerned with service animals on various airlines and how this impacts trained guide dogs and their handlers.

The next meeting is planned for 04-30-18 at 7:00 PM. This meeting adjourned at 8:10 PM.



SKI FOR LIGHT                                                                                              By Nick Pavel

This year I attended the annual Black hills Regional Ski For Light event in Deadwood SD for my 7th year. When I attended in 2011, I was excited, but I wasn't sure what to expect. From what I can remember, I think I spent my first night on my own, although I did meet some people.  As the week went on, I started getting very comfortable and really enjoying myself.

Ski for light also gave me the opportunity to try something new; I had never skied before in my life. When I put skis on for the first time, I was excited, but was also hoping that all would go well. Now that I have been going for a while, I really enjoy cross country and downhill skiing and I wish I could do it much more than just at ski for light. I still remember all the times I fell when I started, and as time moved on, I could tell that I was getting better with the help of the guides that I got to work with over the years. There were some other events that I really enjoyed attending such as karaoke night, the slot machine tournament, the bonfire they have on Wednesday, and much more.

The biggest thing that really has made me keep coming back every year is the people. I have met so many great people, and every year I have gone, there is always someone new. As the years went on, I have made life-long friendships that I wouldn't trade for anything. This is a week where I don't have to worry about my blindness; I can just be myself.

Next year is the 40th anniversary of the Black Hills event. If you have an opportunity to go, whether you are a participant or a volunteer, definitely take that chance. It will be an experience that you won't forget.


SIOUXLAND NEWS                                                                                   By Lerae Olesen

The Siouxland Chapter of SDAB continues to meet regularly. Although we try for the third Saturday of each month, it doesn’t always happen, due to weather or other extenuating circumstances.  We met in December and February, since our last newsletter was published. We continue to be aware of and involved with issues of access and transportation in Sioux Falls. Dawn Srstka and Lerae Olesen attended the grand reopening of the downtown “bus depot,” formerly known as the bus stop. Deb Ver Steeg and Lerae had attended an informational meeting pertaining to accessible sidewalks and Audible Pedestrian Signals. They reported on these activities at the December meeting.  A gentleman from the Engineering department came to our February meeting and demonstrated the audible signal for us. The first one has been placed at the corner of 69th Street & Western Avenue. We gave him suggestions of other possible intersections to place the signals as resources allow. Also, regarding transportation, South Dakota is the final state to have Lyft services, one of two widely used ride-sharing options which are available through a free app on a Smartphone. Nick Pavel and Lerae spoke to the group at the February meeting, sharing about their experiences using Lyft. This service is also available in Pierre, Aberdeen, and Rapid City. In my experience, Lyft fares are approximately two-thirds the cost of a cab fare, and the vehicle usually arrives at my pick-up point within five minutes of requesting it.

Lest you think that all we do is discuss ADA and transportation issues, we had our Christmas party at our December meeting. Chelle brought a tray of Christmas goodies and Lerae brought her guitar and we enjoyed singing Christmas carols. Koni often posts pictures of our Siouxland meetings on the SDAB Facebook page. If you live in the Sioux Falls area and would like to be notified of our meetings please contact Koni Sims by email or phone. Also, starting a chapter in another city is a good way to help SDAB grow.





AS EYE COOK                                                                                             By Dawn Brush

 For some reason, all of us need to eat! Women and men enjoy cooking. If you don’t, there are simple skills to make your meals fun and inviting and a time of relaxation. For this column, I invite any of you to submit a recipe, a new product suggestion and a favorite cooking hint, primarily with the blind or visually impaired cook in mind. While visiting my aunt in AZ, I tried a recipe for Corn Muffins with a new twist; try it, you’ll like it!


Banana Corn Muffins

Lois Eske and Dawn Brush

1 cup cornmeal

1 cup flour

2 tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. soda

½ tsp. salt

Mix together these ingredients.

Mash 2 ripe bananas

1 tsp. vanilla

1 egg

¼ cup honey

¾ cup apple juice

¼ cup applesauce

Mix together and combine with the dry ingredients; mix until combined.

Spoon into greased or lined muffin cups. Bake at 400 dg. For 15-20 minutes. Yield: 12.

 For the next issue contact me with your recipes or suggestions at: or call: 605-229-4129




ExpressVote: The New Voting Machine Replacing AutoMark         By Koni Sims


I would like to share with you some information about the new voting machine that is replacing the AutoMark. It’s called the ExpressVote. Seth and I had the opportunity to use it April 4th when we did absteene voting. I also had the chance to visit with Tom Greco, the City Clerk. He was excited to share the information about the machine and wanted our thoughts and feedback. This is some of things I shared with him and his responses. He also shared a document/picture of the machine. Please let me know if you have any thoughts or concerns. He has asked that I share any information I receive with him and Bob Litz, the county Auditor.

I noticed there was no writing on our ballots, I thought that was interesting. How does the machine know what to read?

***The ballot is different from the traditional 8 1/2 x 14 (or longer) ballots in that it's 4 1/2 inches wide. The ballot is referred to by the manufacturer as an "activation card." There is a barcode on each ballot that  activates the voter's vote session on the screen. Once choices are made, the ballot is printed only with the voters selections. This ballot is readable by the machines we use on election night to tally votes cast. For tabulation, each selection is associated with a barcode identifier as well.

In November when it’s a bigger ballot, will it work the same?
***The ExpressVote ballot may potentially be longer in length, but the concept is the same. The card activates the ballot choices on-screen, the voter selects, and the machine prints the selections.

Seth thought it was hard to hear. I know I had to turn it way up, think there was a lot of noise that made it hard.
***This is unfortunate and I'll be sure to look at the headphones we are using for that particular machine.  I hope it's just the headphones and not the system. In either case, we'll keep an eye on it.

It was nice to be able to hold the controls.
***That's great, an observation I made is that we need to ensure workers detach the keypad from the body of the machine so users know it's there.

Is this a statewide machine?
***To my knowledge, not all jurisdictions have replaced their AutoMARKS with the ExpressVote, but many have. I know both Minnehaha and Lincoln have made the transition. The system and associated software are certified by the Secretary of State. One final note, the system does not store voter data; like the AutoMARK it only prints (in this case) choices (AutoMARK marked a regular ballot.). 


Tom also shared,  After discussing this with some seasoned precinct workers there is one additional thing you may want to pass on.  In the past with AutoMARK voters were able to simply request a ballot and often did not "ask" to use the AutoMARK. But since the ExpressVote uses a different type of ballot, it may be best to let the precinct worker know an ExpressVote ballot is desired. If this step is skipped, the voter can always return the traditional ballot and receive an ExpressVote one.  Thanks again for your help and advice


NEW MEMBERS                                                                                              By Koni Sims


SDAB would like to welcome some new members for 2018! We have 5 new members. Bill and Jackie Shepherd are from DeSmet. Nancy Pierson-Rufener and Yeshau Elias Prestan are both from Sioux Falls. Catie Greseth is from Custer. I would like to thank those who recruited these wonderful additions to SDAB! New members are always great to get since they can bring new ideas to the organization. I always have membership forms available so don’t hesitate to contact me to get one. I would like to see us have a membership challenge for 2019 and have a prize for the most new members.




Photos from our Siouxland meetings












SDAB Board of Directors is starting to plan a convention to bring as many of our members and friends as possible together for a enjoyable, social and educational weekend.  Although still in early stages of planning, we would like you to have the following information to make your plans to join us:

WHERE – At the Country Inn & Suites 200 East 8th St. Sioux Falls, SD 57103.

PHONE NUMBER – (605) 373-0153

WHEN -- September 7th & 8th 2018.  Room reservations must be made by August 7th







SDAB 2018 Membership Form

One name per form





Phone: Home:____________________ Cell:_______________________________

___Fully Sighted   ___Blind/Visually Impaired

Are you a student?  ____Yes ___No

Membership dues are $15.00 per person. Dues are for the 2018 membership year. Please make checks payable to SDAB.


Your membership entitles you to receive a copy of our newsletter. If you are interested in receiving any or all of the following formats please indicate:

___Large print   ___Braille   ___E-mail    ___None

SDAB is an affiliate of the American Council of the Blind (ACB). Your membership entitles you to receive their publication, the “Braille Forum.” Please indicate the format you wish to receive:

___Large print   ___Braille   ___E-mail    ___Cassette  ___CD  ___None

                 Mail to:         

                                         SDAB Membership

                                         PO Box 1622

                                         Sioux Falls, SD 57101-1622