Photo montage of people having fun at various ABL fundraisers

Raise Your Glass!

Honoring the New Year Edition 2022

Happy New Year ABL!

We have so much to celebrate this year! Let’s raise our glass to everything we as an organization and training center have accomplished and all the lives we have touched and changed for the better. In the last several years we have witnessed unprecedented trials concerning the Covid-19 pandemic. Through it all, We, the ABL family, continue to support each other and our mission.

Thank you for remaining ABL Strong! The ABL State Board and the State Office Team applaud all of your efforts.  Our hearts are as full as our glasses, as we toast in honor of the new year and our future endeavors!

Meet the ABL State Board of Directors

A new Affiliated Blind of Louisiana State Board was elected in Lafayette during the 2021 Livin’ ABL Strong State Convention. Your Board of Directors are planning an array of fun and educational activities for the organization. We would like to take this time to welcome our State Board members listed below:

President – Gertie Bias, Acadiana Chapter

1st Vice President – John James, Shreveport Chapter

2nd Vice President – Emma Palmer, Shreveport Chapter

Secretary – Peggy Goodman, Bayou Region/Acadiana Chapter

Treasurer – Tyrhonda White, Baton Rouge Chapter

Board Member – Shelly LeJeune, Baton Rouge Chapter

Board Member – Kim Savoie, Acadiana Chapter

Board Member – Debra Wells, Baton Rouge Chapter

Board Member – Ferral Domingue, Baton Rouge Chapter

We appreciate each of you for helping the ABL State Office in its mission to educate our communities about blindness, to support the ABL Training Center and to serve as mentors to others who are blind, visually impaired, and DeafBlind.

2022 Chapter Goal Setting

It’s a new year and most of us set goals or make resolutions that we may or may not achieve. As an ABL Chapter, you should be planning to set goals that support our organization’s mission. Here are some ways to make SMART decisions about what goals you set for your Chapter in 2022.

Before deciding on whether your Chapter is having a fundraiser, blindness awareness activity, or a membership drive, remember these five SMART tips to successful goal setting!

S – Specific: Make sure that your goal is very specific. Sometimes we are too vague with our goal definition, and it may not be successful.

For example, if you are planning a plate lunch fundraiser:

  • Specific – Our Chapter is planning a plate lunch fundraiser on Saturday, February 12 at noon at the local Wal-Mart. We are serving BBQ chicken, rice dressing, green beans, roll and bottled water. Tickets will go on sale Saturday, January 29, and each member is responsible for selling ten tickets at $10 each ticket. We will make a minimum of $2000.
  • Not Specific – Our chapter is having a plate lunch fundraiser in February.  The lunch will be BBQ chicken and sides. The plate lunches will be sold for $10 each.

M – Measurable: Your chapter will need to measure the success of your goal.  Be sure to assign a committee to lead the goal and/or activity. Measure and track your expenses, income, outreach, etc.  You may even have past goals that you can compare and measure your rate of success. For example, our chapter spent $350 on our BBQ fundraiser and after expenses, raised at total of $2300.  This is an increase of $400 from last year’s plate lunch fundraiser.

A – Attainable: Make sure that the goals you are setting are attainable for your chapter. The goal must be realistic and achievable. For example. A plate lunch fundraiser with a goal of selling 200 lunches, may not be attainable, if your chapter is made up of only 10 members and you only have $125 in your treasury. Any goal can be achieved, but you must be realistic to be successful. Do not plan without knowing the strengths of your membership and setting goals with that in mind.

R – Relevant: Stay on task! Your leaders must keep the goals on track. When you are meeting to plan, cut out unnecessary or irrelevant work that might take away from what is important to your goal. For example, your chapter plate lunch fundraiser committee is meeting to send out letters to request food donations. Someone on the committee suggests that the chapter have a Mardi Gras party.  The leaders should point out that this group is concentrating their work on the fundraiser and the party suggestion can be brought up at the next chapter meeting. This is very important to achieving success and keeping organized.

T – Time Management: If you don’t set deadlines for completing steps, you may lose focus of your goal and fall short of what you want to accomplish. Set a clear beginning and end to reaching your goal. For example, the chapter plate lunch fundraiser committee does not meet due to bad weather and does not reschedule until the next chapter meeting. This may bring up unanswerable questions at the chapter meeting and you may encounter unwanted discussion.  Instead, reschedule the committee meeting as soon as possible or use the conference call or Zoom options to meet your deadline.

Everyone’s time is valuable, please keep in mind all members are volunteering their time.

Your SMART goals can work if formulated properly. They can only succeed if the goals set are clear and your chapter agrees to participate. Now, let’s use these tips to create fun and exciting goals for ABL in 2022!   

Celebration Sensations

Celebration Brownie Mix

This impressive, layered brownie mix makes the perfect party favor from your kitchen to someone you love!


¾ cup Gold Medal™ all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

½ cup baking cocoa

¾ cup granulated sugar

½ cup packed brown sugar

½ cup white baking chips

¾ cup chopped pecans

1 bottle (50 ml) coffee-flavored, raspberry-flavored, or Irish cream-flavored liqueur or ¼ cup flavored syrup.


  • Layer all ingredients except liqueur in order listed in 1-quart jar with screw-on lid. Pretty jars make great containers for this mix. If you have a jar on hand and need to check its capacity, fill it with water from a 4-cup glass measuring cup. Attach liqueur or flavored syrup bottle to jar with ribbon. Tie a package of long, thin sparkler candles to the mix to really celebrate!
  • Include these directions:

Heat oven to 350°F. Grease bottom only of square pan, 8x8x2 or 9x9x2 inches, with shortening. Melt ½ cup butter or margarine. Beat melted butter, 2 eggs and the liqueur in medium bowl with spoon until blended. Stir in the Celebration Brownie Mix. Spread batter in pan. Bake 8-inch pan 30 to 35 minutes, 9-inch pan 25 to 30 minutes, or until dry around edges and toothpick inserted in center comes out almost clean. Cool completely, about 1 hour. For brownies, cut into 4 rows by 4 rows. Makes 16 brownies.

Sensational Mini Bacon-Wrapped Sausages

A sweet and savory sauce coats mini bacon-wrapped sausages. It’s a crowd-pleasing snack!


1 pound bacon (14 slices)

1 package (1 pound) cocktail-sized smoked link sausages (40 sausages)

¾ cup ketchup

½ cup granulated sugar

½ cup packed brown sugar

1 tablespoon white vinegar

¼ teaspoon onion salt

¼ teaspoon garlic powder

¼ teaspoon pepper


  •  Set oven control to broil. Spray 13x9-inch (3-quart) glass baking dish with cooking spray. Spray broiler rack and pan with cooking spray. Cut each bacon slice crosswise into 3 pieces. Wrap each piece around 1 sausage, securing with toothpick (use festive toothpicks for celebrating!): place on rack in pan.
  • Broil with tops about 6 inches from heat 12 to 16 minutes, turning once, until bacon is crisp.
  • Meanwhile, in 1-quart saucepan mix remaining ingredients. Cook over medium heat about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until sugar is dissolved, and mixture is bubbly.
  • Heat oven to 350°F. Transfer sausages from broiler pan to baking dish. Pour sauce over sausages: turn to coat with sauce.
  • Bake about 20 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Serve hot.

Party Snack Mix

A little bit of salt, a little bit of heat, and a lot of satisfying crunch: this winning party mix gets an extra kick from hot pepper sauce and garlic.


4 cups Corn Chex™ cereal

2 cups Wheat Chex™ cereal

2 cups small pretzel sticks

2 cups Spanish peanuts or mixed nuts

½ cup butter or margarine, melted

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

⅛ teaspoon hot pepper sauce

1 teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon garlic powder


  • Heat oven to 325°F. In large bowl, mix cereals, pretzel sticks and peanuts.
  • In small bowl, mix butter, Worcestershire sauce, hot pepper sauce, salt, and garlic powder. Pour over cereal mixture; toss to coat. Spread in ungreased 15x10x1-inch pan.
  • Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until lightly toasted, stirring occasionally. Cook 30 minutes. Store in tightly covered container.  

Mini Doughnut Hot Buttered Cheerios™

These lil’ snackers are perfect for celebrating any occasion!


¼ cup butter

¼ teaspoon vanilla

4 cups Cheerios™ cereal

¼ cup sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon


  • In 10-inch skillet, melt butter over low heat. Stir in vanilla. Add cereal; cook and stir 2 to 3 minutes or until cereal is well coated. Transfer cereal to large bowl.
  • Add sugar and cinnamon to cereal in bowl; toss well to coat. Store tightly covered at room temperature. Try using Honey Nut Cheerios™ cereal or Apple Cinnamon Cheerios™ cereal for a fun flavor twist.

FREE 2022 Braille Calendars

Need a Braille calendar for this year? The National Federation of the Blind is now working with the American Action Fund for Blind Children and Adults to bring you free Braille calendars. If you need a calendar, contact them at (429)659-9315 or check out their website at

Social Call

Social Call provides increased opportunities for social connection by matching volunteers and adults 60 years of age or older for one-on-one, weekly visits. Volunteers and their matches create thriving relationships with participants through phone or video visits.  These matches often blossom into lasting friendships and become a favorite part of participant’s and volunteer’s lives. This relationship is based on the idea that the volunteer and participant both have much to give to one another, ensuring a reciprocal bond.

To be a participant you must be 60 years of age or older and complete a registration form.

Volunteers must be 18 years of age or older, pass a background check, and attend online training. Volunteers are asked to commit to weekly 30-minute visits for at least 6 months. This volunteer opportunity is highly convenient and flexible. Volunteers are encouraged to embrace the experience and stories that come with aging or living with a disability, as it’s sure to give them a unique perspective!

Participants are also invited to volunteer to give a visit. Volunteering can be a great opportunity to create connections with peers and brighten another person’s day.

To register, become a volunteer, or for more information you can send an email to or call 1(877)797-7299.

Amazon’s Echo Show

Amazon’s Echo Show has several accessibility features for those who are visually impaired and blind. You can customize your Echo Show devices with these features:

  • VoiceView reads aloud items on the screen.
  • Screen Magnifier allows you to enlarge the screen.
  • Color Inversion exchanges color values.
  • Color Correction modifies the screen to assist with color blindness.
  • Show and Tell identifies items you are holding with your Echo Show’s camera.

To turn on VoiceView on Echo Devices with a screen say “Alexa, turn on VoiceView.” or use the following method:

  • Press and hold the mic/camera button.
  • When you hear an alert, place two fingers (slightly apart) on the screen.
  • Hold for five seconds.

Show and Tell with your Echo Show is an accessibility feature that identifies common pantry items and other things using your Echo Show’s camera. Just hold up a product in front of your Echo Show’s camera and ask Alexa to identify it. Alexa then tells you what you’re holding and provides a brief description. To hear the tutorial and learn more about this feature say, “Alexa, help with Show and Tell.”. The tutorial gives you product placement hints, sounds to expect, and camera tips. For more help with using Show and Tell say “Alexa, more help with Show and Tell.”

Show and Tell is available on all Echo Show devices!



Eh, What’s up doc? Join your ABL Family Monday, March 7, 2022, at 6:30 pm to kick off the new year of trivia with Saturday Morning Cartoon themed questions. Points will be taken, and winners will be made, so brush up on your Saturday Morning Cartoons and get ready to win some ABL Swag!

Join us via Zoom at

Or call 1(888)788-0099

Meeting ID: 663 962 5326

Accessible Mastercard Design

Mastercard extends its commitment to inclusivity by introducing a new accessible card standard for blind and partially sighted people, called the Touch Card. There are few effective ways for the visually impaired to quickly determine whether they're holding a credit, debit, or prepaid card, particularly as more cards move to flat designs without embossed name and numbers. Mastercard is addressing this challenge with a simple yet effective innovation.

With the new Touch Card, Mastercard has improved upon a current design standard by introducing a system of notches on the side of the card to help consumers use the right card, the right way, by touch alone. The new Touch Card credit cards have a squarish notch; debit cards have a rounded notch; and prepaid cards have a triangular notch. The standard has been designed to work with point-of-sale terminals and ATMs, ensuring it can be deployed at scale.

ABL Chapter Spotlight

Baton Rouge

The ABL Baton Rouge chapter held its first meeting on January 8, 2022, at the main library. They elected a new chapter board as follows:

President: Mr. Shelly LeJeune

1st Vice-president: Mr. Tommy Murphy

2nd “Vice-president: Mr. Beau Ellerbee

Secretary: Mr. Benjamin Miles

Treasurer: Mrs. Marie Mendel

The president and the first and second vice-presidents are working alongside the East Baton Rouge Lions Club, Lakeshore Lions Club, and the Blinded Veterans association to obtain and present a Braille plaque of the USA flag to the Louisiana School for the blind sometime in the spring. Also, at their March meeting, they are expecting the director of the East Baton Rouge DPW to make a presentation of “Move BR” regarding following ADA guidelines.

Let’s hear it for the ABL Baton Rouge Chapter! They have surely started the year off with great plans and activities supporting the ABL mission!


I hope everyone’s year is starting off well. We look forward to training as many clients as we can who need our services in 2022. The Covid-19 pandemic has created many challenges for training.  All of our staff and clients are being tested weekly and we are taking precautions to keep our facility safe.  Currently, we are closed on weekends and our meals are being catered in, but as our census grows, we are planning to extend our residential services to include weekends again and open our cafeteria. When appropriate we can do some training via Zoom or by phone, but of course the best quality of training is face to face.

Here is where you all come in. If you know of anyone who would benefit from our residential training, please have them reach out to us. Call Susan Reed, the center’s Program Director, at 337-234-6492, ext. 112. We appreciate all of you and your mission to support the ABL Training Center.  Help us keep the ABL Training Center Dream alive!

Have a wonderful year and be safe out there.

Lynn Blanchard

Executive Director

Affiliated Blind of Louisiana Training Center

Welcome to Earth

Erik Weihenmayer, blind explorer has climbed the Seven Summits, kayaked the Grand Canyon, and is now guiding Will Smith on an enthralling journey to Mount Yasur, an active volcano sitting on Tanna Island, Vanuatu.  You can be part of this thrilling experience on Welcome to Earth, a new series streaming on Disney +. Erik is quite passionate about nature and the earth. “Go and experience the earth and beauty and joy and really cool stuff that you have never heard about nature” he says. “I’m happy that big studios like Disney + are putting a concerted effort into providing closed captioning and audio description. I was so proud to be part of this project that is accessible to everyone.”

All six episodes of the Welcome to Earth series are now available on Disney +, so go and check it out!

Here is the link to the audio description trailer for Welcome to Earth

Look what Facebook Has For You!

With everyone going virtual these days, it’s getting harder to socialize. That’s where Facebook comes in. Here is a list of Facebook groups for the blind and visually impaired. The groups range from support, tech advice, groups specific to eye conditions and even cooking! So, get out there and be social through social media!

Sight For Sore Eyes – Assistive Technology & Aids – (Closed Group)

A group to sell your unwanted or unused assistive technology and equipment!

The Sightless Chef – (Closed Group)

This is a group for visually impaired and blind people to share and learn about cooking. Feel free to ask for tips and advice, to share your cooking experiences, and to seek support.

Retinitis Pigmentosa Support Group (The RP Family Group) – (Public Group)

We are here to support people with RP in the UK and the rest of Europe, and also America, Canada ,Australia, New Zealand ,Asia, Africa and anywhere else in the world ,you are all welcome in this group full of wonderful inspirational people .

I believe we can learn to live better lives through encouragement and sharing of our stories and lessons learned.

Retinitis pigmentosa (RP) is a hereditary disease of the eye that leads to deterioration of vision and can lead to blindness.

I am proud to have formed a network of support for everyone with (RP) to talk and support each and help inform people who may not have ever heard of Retinitis Pigmentosa to understand exactly what it is.

iPhone and iPad Apps for the Blind and Visually Impaired – (Public Group)

Share Apps, videos; ask questions and share tips for those who are blind or visually impaired and use iPads, iPhones and iPods.

Bold Blind Beauty Group – (Public Group)

Bold Blind Beauty, a brand created and owned by a blind woman of color, is empowering, connecting, and sharing inspiring stories about living life on the blindness spectrum while breaking barriers along the way!

Each of the people featured has unmatched strength and resilience. Every story is different as we walk separate paths yet the one thing we share in common is a shift in our perspectives.

Accessible Smart Homes – (Public Group)

With the advancement of technology, it is easier to create an accessible home, let us help each other as we build our smart homes together. Whether you’re just starting out with your first Echo Dot, or you’re an advance user in home automation using Home Assistant, this group will support you with your smart home ventures!

“The Quiet Cajuns”

There is a film about the Usher Syndrome Type 1C that is genetically tied to the Acadian population. This film will feature Dan Arabie, a leader in the DeafBlind community in Louisiana and a very proud Cajun. It includes the Babineaux family that has a son with Usher Syndrome that hosts the annual Ush ONe see 5K, which is a non-profit organization to create awareness and raise funds for a potential cure to stop the vision loss aspect of Usher Syndrome Type 1C. It will also feature Dr. Jennifer Lentz's research on USH1C. The film will be shown at the Acadiana Center of Arts in Lafayette Louisiana on March 12th at 5pm. It is a FREE event.

Here is a link to the trailer:


Film Synopsis:

The Quiet Cajuns: One Heritage. Two Generations. One Disease.

There are hundreds of Cajuns who have never heard a fiddle waltz and who lose their vision because of a genetic quirk that came here with the Acadians over two centuries ago. This documentary tells the story of Acadian Usher Syndrome, which has sprinkled many Cajun family trees with deafblind aunts, uncles and cousins. Documenting the genealogy of families like the LeJeunes, Babineauxs, Desormeauxs, Heberts and Benoits helped researchers uncover its molecular basis and bring us to the brink of a cure. Now technology, services and education are eliminating isolation, thus setting yet another vibrant culture on the path to assimilation.

Facebook event announcement:


Please share with your community members and join us at this film screening.

FREE At-Home COVID-19 Tests

Every home in the U.S. is eligible to order 4 free at-⁠home COVID-⁠19 tests. Orders will usually ship in 7-12 days. Order your tests now so you have them

when you need them.

Order your test by visiting the link below:

Need help placing an order for your at-⁠home tests?



(TTY) 1-888-720-7489


The tests available for order:

  • Are rapid antigen at-home tests, not PCR
  • Can be taken anywhere
  • Give results within 30 minutes (no lab drop-off required)
  • Work whether or not you have COVID-⁠19 symptoms
  • Work whether or not you are up to date on your COVID-⁠19 vaccines
  • Are also referred to as self-tests or over-the-counter (OTC) tests

For more information visit:


We’re excited to announce a new partnership with the National Federation of the Blind. Together, with their generous support, we are able to make Covid-19 at-home testing accessible for even more blind people. Residents of the United States may call Aira and receive professional visual interpreting assistance with any type of Covid-19 rapid antigen or PCR home test.

To learn more about this offer and about the NFB’s advocacy toward making this and future testing processes accessible for blind and low vision people, visit

Please share this important announcement with anyone you know who may not be part of the Aira community; while you do need to have at minimum an Aira Guest account, membership in the NFB is not a requirement to take advantage of the offer.

For more information about this offer or using our app, contact our Customer Care team at 1-800-835-1934 or email us at

ABL’s Jolly Jokes!

Marie Paints the Kitchen - It was a typical South Louisiana July afternoon. A hundred degrees and a hundred percent humidity. Hot and wet. Boudreaux comes home from working at the crawfish farm to find Marie wearing not some old comfortable clothes, but two heavy jackets. (In July, yet). Boudreaux asks Marie why she was dressed that way on what surely had to be one of the hottest days of the year. Marie tells him, “Mais Boudreau, look de can of paint. It say, ‘For best results, put on two coats.’ So, dat’s what I did!”

A Father and Son Dinner - A boy asks his father, "Dad, are bugs good to eat?" "That's disgusting. Don't talk about things like that over dinner," the dad replies. After dinner the father asks, "Now, son, what did you want to ask me?" "Oh, nothing," the boy says. "There was a bug in your soup, but now it’s gone."

Elevators - An Amish husband, wife and son travel to the city on vacation. They visit a shopping mall and while the mother is shopping, the father and son are standing in awe in front of an elevator (having no idea what it is). As they watch, an elderly lady walks into the strange silver doors and the doors close. The father and son watch as the numbers go up, and then back down. When the doors open, a beautiful young woman walks out. The father leans over and whispers to the son, "Son, go get your mother!"

To have your joke added to the next ABL Buzz Newsletter, email your joke to the ABL State Office at

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How Can You Help?

To help in any way, please contact us here at the ABL Training Center by giving us a call, making a donation, or just stopping by.