AS EYE SEE IT South Dakota Association of the Blind, Inc. Volume 20 Issue 1-4    January-December 2017              Editor: Dawn LaMee

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. Check out our website at: and our Facebook page at: South Dakota Association of the Blind


President’s Greetings! By Lerae Olesen, President

Welcome to the wonderful fall season and our latest newsletter. We have not forgotten about any of you and it may seem like nothing has been happening with the South Dakota Association of the Blind over the past several months but the Board and several of our committees have been working hard to keep our organization active. I’m pleased to announce our web-site and Facebook page are now being updated regularly with interesting articles and information, much of which comes from the American Council of the Blind (ACB) leadership list-serv or their Facebook page. Thanks to Koni Sims and the Publicity Committee for keeping them both updated. Soon biographies of our Board members will be put on our website so everyone can get to know them.  If memory serves me correctly, 65 names were submitted last year for membership to ACB, our National affiliate, for voting credentials on the convention floor at the ACB National Convention in Reno in July. Chelle and Steve Hart attended the convention and represented SDAB well. Chelle serves on both the Awards and Scholarship committees and SDAB again provided a piece of Black Hills gold jewelry for their auction. I represent SDAB and set in on a bi-weekly conference call with the Disability Advocacy Network, which keeps groups like ours informed on legislative issues affecting people with disabilities. Of course, one of the major concerns that have been discussed at great length is the National Health Care situation. Knowing how important it is to our membership SDAB signing a support letter requesting that the Affordable Care Act not be repealed. We will keep you updated as we know more. As many of you are aware, a survey about SDAB was sent out by email or regular mail and was compiled by the Board. I want to say a heartfelt thank you to those who completed it. Also, thank you to Shelly Pfaff for assisting us with the dissemination and compilation of the results. Now that I’ve given a bit of a summary of the past several months, it’s time to look ahead to one of several topics/items for future consideration or action. As many of you know, SDAB was founded in 1928 as an alumni association of blind students from the then School for the Blind. As an organization, we encourage everyone to keep apprised with the plans going on at the South Dakota School for the Blind & Visually Impaired (SDSBVI) as they continue their journey and commitment to serving students who are blind and visually impaired around the state of South Dakota. At our meeting last month, Superintendent Marjorie Kaiser shared with us about a proposed plan for the school, related to plans at Northern State University. While the discussion of change can be difficult, our main concern will always be for the education and needs of the students who are blind or visually impaired. Our 2017-18 committee appointments have been made (list on page six) so if you have any questions or concerns about any appointments please contact me. If you have been chosen to serve it is because we believe you have an interest in our organization and the ability to serve on a committee. Thank you for everyone’s willingness to be involved with SDAB and its members. Our next board meeting is scheduled for November 6th at 7:00 central time via telephone conference call. If you would like to be involved in the call please let me know. In closing, I wish everyone a very pleasant fall season, Merry Christmas, and a Happy 2018. If there is anything that I can help with please don’t hesitate to call me.


White Cane March By Lerae Olesen

The 6th Annual White Cane March was held in Sioux Falls on October 14. For the 2nd year in a row the group walked along 41st Street between Western and Kiwanis Avenues, beginning and ending the route at the China Express restaurant with a brief program before and after the walk. Thankfully it didn’t rain, although the weather was dreary. We were pleased that several SDAB members, friends, and SDSBVI students & staff who traveled from Aberdeen joined us. My guide commented that drivers who passed us along the way were waving and smiling, in support of our efforts to get the word out. At least one sighted friend even walked with a guide using a blindfold. Thanks to all who were involved. This is a joint effort of the blindness community.


Ski for Light  By Virginia Miller

A Sioux Falls group is organizing a bus to take us to the Black Hills Regional Ski for Light event at Deer Mountain near Deadwood on January 22-25, 2018. For information contact Virginia Miller at 605-428-3651 or

I would also like to introduce my new guide dog “Wiggles”, a 58 pound golden lab who fits her name.


Rehabilitation Center (SDRC) News  By Gaye Mattke

We said goodbye to Lori Kwasniewski this past summer as she accepted the Employment Specialist position, working with transition-aged students, in the Sioux Falls School District. Kellie Hauglid, a Senior Rehabilitation Counselor, accepted Lori’s position and moved over from the Sioux Falls SBVI District Office to the Rehabilitation Center for the Blind. Kellie brings a wealth of experience and knowledge of blindness, vocational services, counseling, and working with transition-aged youth. Also Jennifer Geffre, SDRC Orientation and Mobility Specialist, completed her coursework and obtained her Master’s degree from Western Michigan University. Congratulations to her, after almost 2 years of attending classes and studying she passed her certification examination. The Rehabilitation Counselor position is currently open if anyone is interested go to the Bureau of Human Resources website at: 


SAVE THE DATE: June 10-14, 2018

For Transition Week which is a time for students to learn more about working, post-secondary opportunities, friendships, living in a college dorm, technology, as well as getting to tour a variety of businesses to discover job opportunities that may match their interests. If you are aware of any students who would be interested in attending, please contact either their Rehabilitation Counselor; Dawn Backer, SDRC Manager (367-5260); or Steve Kelsey, SD School for the Blind Transition Specialist (626-2580) for more information.


The SDRC is continuing their “First Friday” training program with walk-in assistance on assistive technology with JoMarie Laughlin from 8:00-11:00 and then the afternoons, from 1:00-3:00, will have group style discussions of a variety of topics. The “First Friday” schedule includes: November 3 will be an open house to showcase the variety of skills of blindness taught at the Rehabilitation Center; December 1: adaptive leisure ideas; January 5: winter travel techniques; February 2: Cyber Security; March 2: medication safety techniques; and April 6: new technology. Anyone interesting in receiving information (by email or mail) about any of the training opportunities please feel free to contact Ione Carlson at the SDRC at 605-367-5260.  


“Build a Better World”       By Mary Sjerven, SD State Library

A record-breaking 63 youth, age’s birth to 20, participated in the Braille and Talking Book Library Summer Reading Program, thanks in part to a collaborative effort with the School for the Blind and Visually Impaired and LifeScape, an amazing 81% completed the program. The program ran from June 5 to July 14 with all readers registered with the Talking Book Program and read their books in digital audio or braille format. The readers documented their total times (minimum of 20 minutes) on reading charts with their total time entered into a drawing for each age division. The 1st place winners received a $50 Amazon gift card and a t-shirt and the 2nd place winners received a $25 Walmart gift card and a t-shirt. Division Birth to 6: 1st Phoenyx Benson-Bartscher & 2nd - Jeren Scheff; Division 7 to 11: 1st Caramia Estes & 2nd Rylee Stahl; Division 12 to 16: 1st Cheyenne Krieger & 2nd Savannah Stahl; Division 17 to 20; 1st Emily Bush & 2nd Ben Parry The grand prize winner of the 12-inch tactile globe was a lucky Brayden Schlader. The Braille and Talking Book Library is part of the South Dakota State Library and would like to send out a special thank you to those who provided funding for the program including: Evening Star Lion’s Club of Rapid City, South Dakota Association of the Blind, South Dakota Foundation for the Blind and Visually Impaired, and the Downtown Lion’s Club of Rapid City. Details will soon be sent out about the Winter Reading Program.


Division of SBVI Updates By Gaye Mattke

New SBVI Board appointments were made by the Governor’s office in July with Cole Uecker, Client Assistance Program Director and Connie Sullivan, Special Education representative being reappointed. Tami Francis was appointed to replace Bruce Micheel and Jill Kundtz was appointed to replace Julie A vacancy which existed due to the resignation of  Dr. Lynda O’Connor who resigned due to a move to Iowa.  Due to the requirement that 50% of members be blind, the SBVI Director will be seeking nominations for an individual with vision loss.  The Board of SBVI voted unanimously to support the White Cane March on October 14th by contributing $500 toward the cost of digital billboards at four locations around Sioux Falls. 

Congratulations to Koni Sims who received the Outstanding Citizen with a Disability award and Tami Francis who was chosen as the Outstanding Employee with a Disability at the recent Governor’s Award’s luncheon held in conjunction with the 2017 Fall Conference. Both are members of the Board of SBVI and were nominated through the Board of SBVI public relations committee. The awards were presented by Lt Governor Matt Michaels. The next Board of SBVI meeting is December 8th in Pierre.


Bear Sightings

The SDAB Bear spent about a year with Marcia Hultman, Secretary of the Department of Labor and Regulation.  Marcia offered to give the bear a makeover, and returned it in September.  The bear joined Marcia and old pals from SDAB (Chelle Hart and Koni Sims) at the Fall Conference in Pierre.  We were surprised to find that the bear is actually a girl! 

Following is Marcia’s story. “Once upon a time, there was a disheveled little bear that was a little rough around the edges.  Life hadn’t always been easy for Miss Bear, but she was tough, had good friends and persevered in spite of the challenges she faced.  Her motto for life was, ‘not all who wander are lost.’  Her faith in a brighter tomorrow and her knowledge that all her travels were making her stronger helped her to never give up on her future dreams.  One day, Miss Bear was fortunate enough to meet Miss Gaye who worked for the Department of Human Services.  Miss Gaye quickly recognized all the potential within Miss Bear and knew that with the right resources and help, Miss Bear could achieve her full potential.  DHS in teaming with the Department of Labor provided Miss Bear with some supports (a bubble bath) and tools (new threads) allowing her to thrive in the workforce and stand independently on her own two flowered-tennis-shoe feet.  Though today Miss Bear is pink and cute on the outside, she is still the same strong survivor underneath her bows and tutu. Her transformation represents what can happen when we work together to help another achieve.” The Bear is currently enjoying life as a “couch potato” at Gaye’s house.  She has been well behaved with the exception of a few beers at the Fall Conference hospitality thanks to Deb Brinkman and Twyla Eggers. 


Membership meeting and weekend By Lerae Olesen, Acting Secretary

Just this past month, in lieu of our Annual Convention, we held a membership meeting in Sioux Falls. Thanks to those who attended and for your valuable input as it was a very productive day. If you were not able to make it, we missed you. One of the things that came out from the survey we recently sent out was the need for more communication between the Board and the membership. With this in mind, one of our goals is to publish “As Eye See It” three times per year - October, February, and June. This is your newsletter and we welcome input/articles from any of you who would like to contribute, please contact Koni Sims and/or Dawn LaMee. Time was spent in the morning: reading the 2016 minutes, reading the proposed bylaw, discussing the White Cane March, information given on the Ameriprise investment, an SBVI report from Gaye Mattke (read by Koni Sims); and information on the school for the Blind and Visually Impaired given by Marjorie Kaiser. In the afternoon, we reviewed the SDAB Mission and went through the survey questions. Marjorie Kaiser did a good job of putting questions 5 and 6 into perspective as far as themes and how to help us formulate some goals for the upcoming year. These goals, each with a deadline of September 1, 2018 include: Consumer Community Outreach: implement a program to distribute low tech vision aids to individuals; increase communication with members through regularly timed newsletters and electronic communication; identify and implement one focused public education campaign; and schedule two regional meetings one each east and west river. As for fund raising, we discussed sending appeal letters to eye doctors and lions clubs and possible use of Amazon Smile.


Bylaws: Thanks to Casey Trowbridge, Lerae Olesen, and Doug Puetz for serving on this committee. The Bylaws were amended to include the following: BYLAW XI DISSOLUTION: Upon the dissolution of this organization, the board of Directors, after paying or making provisions for the payment of all of the liabilities of SDAB, shall dispose of all the assets of this corporation to such organizations which have been organized and operated exclusively for charitable, educational, religious, or scientific purposes qualifying under Section 501 (c 3) of the Internal Revenue Code and any future tax code.  Two board members were elected: Eric Rippentrop and Nick Pavel both of Sioux Falls. We thank Casey Trowbridge (5 years) and Linda Heller (1 year) for their service on the Board. Plans for the 2018 Convention were deferred to the Board of Directors. Audio Description and information was discussed after Lerae made contact and received a response from the Midco cable company, which serves a lot of South Dakota citizens that audio description will be in place by the 2018 deadline. We still need to contact them to continue to be aware of their progress and to keep them aware of our presence.  We decided to add a “little bit levity” to the day’s activities and also to raise some money for SDAB so Koni Sims filled a jar full of M&Ms and for a $1 sold chances to guess the number in the jar. The winner received 50% of the money as well as the candy. Steve Hart was the lucky winner and chose to donate the $44 back to SDAB. To end the busy day a group of us gathered at Nick Pavel’s apartment building for pizza. Overall, the weekend was a big success.


Siouxland Chapter News  By Lerae Olesen

The Siouxland chapter continues to meet on a regular basis at the downtown library on the 3rd Saturday of most months. Issues that have been discussed include audio Description for the West Mall 7 Theatres, local TV channels as well as contacting Midco for those who access TV through cable; educating Sanford employees and volunteers on awareness skills about blindness and visual impairments, and Braille literacy education for children. Within or braille Literacy program I shared about presenting a program at the Caille Library with 15 children in attendance. I read a portion of the print/braille version of the Disney book Frozen and wrote out several braille questions and sentences for the children to decode in addition to writing each child’s name in Braille. It is a good way to keep involved in the Sioux Falls area. We challenge you to do the same wherever you live.


 Membership By Koni Sims

If you have not already mailed your memberships, please submit it by March 8, 2018 so it can be included with the names submitted to the American Council of the Blind membership list. The more names we submit, the more votes South Dakota will have at the national convention. We encourage your spouse, children, friends, and teachers to join need not be blind or visually impaired to join. Members:

Carol Arens, Dawn Brush, Louis Brush, Gailand Fischer, Lon Gellhaus, Marva Gellhaus, Chelle Hart, Steve Hart, George Jones Marje Kaiser, Nancy Michlitsch, Lerae Olesen, Shelly Pfaff, Nancy Pierson-Refener, Doug Puetz, Eric Rippentrop, Lisa Rippentrop, Koni Sims, Seth Sims, Dawn Srstka, SD Coalition of Citizens with Disabilities, Bio Schreur    Deb VerSteeg        Lisa Waldner Steve Waldner                 Elaine Wiese         James Zuber, Sherri Zuber, Mark Krogstrand, Zelda Gebhard


News and Notes

Our thoughts and prayers go out to several of our members and/or family members who are fighting battles with medical issues.

Happy Birthday: To all of us!!!

Friends will be missed: To the family and friends of Clifford Foley (Chelle Hart’s dad) we keep you in our thoughts. I know I’ve missed someone, if so please accept our thoughts and prayers.


Annual Pampered Chef Fundraiser for the SD Association of the Blind

With the holidays fast approaching and your lives becoming even busier SDAB has a quick solution to help your Christmas shopping plus it is an easy way to support a worthwhile organization: Pampered Chef will make a donation to the SDAB based on a percentage of sales from this fundraiser so mentioned it to friends, family, and any one you meet so that this event will be a successful endeavor to carry on the mission of SDAB. To shop for Pampered Chef products go to As you shop, with every order of $75 you’ll receive your choice of an item from the “Guest Special” and for anyone who books a show to be held in Jan. or Feb., 2018, Dawn Brush will refund 10% of your order to SDAB. Start date: Nov. 01, 2017 - End date: Nov. 27, 2017

With any questions or for assistance, contact: Dawn Brush, Pampered Chef Consultant at 605-229-4129 or


The following is a list of items that have been found to be helpful to cooks who are blind or visually impaired cooks and even the amateur cook: 1544 Brownie Pan $21, 1461 Whipped Cream Maker $25, 2431 Classic Batter Bowl $18.50, 1689 Dual: Sided Cleaning Brush $4.75, 2325 Basic Tool Set $20.50, 2583 mix N chop $13, 3151 Rockcrok casserole $99, 2585 Food Chopper $34, 1071 Vegetable Peeler $10, 1012 Cutting Board $19, 1508 Coated Utility knife $16, 1793 Salad and Berry Spinner $68, 1287 Infusion Water Bottle $19.50, 2759 Smooth Edge Can Opener $21.50, 1457 Microwave Popcorn Maker $25, 2776 Small Micro-Cooker $9.50, 1448 Toaster Oven Pan $19.25


2018 SOUTH DAKOTA ASSOCIATION OF THE BLIND Mailing address: PO Box 1622, Sioux Falls SD 57101-1622

Facebook: South Dakota Association of the Blind   Web-site:     

President: Lerae Olesen: 2500 S Dakota Ave Apt 102, Sioux Falls SD 57105 605-978-9267

Past-President: Dave Miller: 3730 Locust St, Rapid City SD  57701 605-336-6628

1st V-President: Chelle Hart: 820 S Juneau Ln, Sioux Falls SD  57106  605-332-6059

2nd V-Pres: Seth Sims: 2000 S Grange Ave, Sioux Falls SD  57105 605-339-9512

Secretary: Dawn Brush: 1523 Royal Rd, Aberdeen SD 57401 605-229-4129

Treasurer: Steve Hart: 820 S Juneau Ln, Sioux Falls SD  57106  605-332-6059

SDSBVI Advisory Council:

Newsletter: Dawn LaMee1702 Prospect Ave #A3, Aberdeen SD 57401 605-226-3211       


Koni Sims: 2000 S Grange Ave, Sioux Falls SD  57105    605-941-9512

Deb Ver Steeg: 2505 S Willow Ave, Sioux Falls SD  57105           605-331-2131

Tevan Fischbach: 811 S 16th St, Aberdeen SD 57401           605-226-2574

Doug Puetz:  1805 W. Fulton St #501, Rapid City SD 57702 605-355-0668

Eric Rippentrop: 3254 S Pillsberry Ave Apt 1, Sx Falls SD 57103 605-252-1031

Nick Pavel: 1000 E 14th St Apt 312, Sioux Falls SD  57104         605-364-7013


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, and Casey Trowbridge

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

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 Vandenberg, Tevan Fischbach, Kari Lortscher


South Dakota Association of the Blind Membership Form (2018)

One name per form: Name, Address, City/State/Zip, E-Mail, Phone: Home, Cell:

Fully Sighted, Totally Blind, Legally Blind, Visually Impaired


Membership dues are $15 per person. Dues are for the 2018 membership year. Please make checks payable to SDAB. Membership must be received prior to March 8, 2018 to meet the American Council of the Blind (ACB) membership deadline.  To recognize and welcome members SDAB publishes their names in our newsletter, “As Eye See It.” Please indicate if we may publish your name. 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:  Koni Sims, SDAB Membership, 2000 S Grange Ave, Sioux Falls, SD 57105