Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Inaugural Insight Expo: March 5, 2011

InSight Expo

Houston Area InSight Expo
HAVIN 2011 Conference

A Day of Information and Networking

for the Visually Impaired

College of Optometry

4901 Calhoun
Houston, Texas 77204

Saturday, March 5, 2011
8:30 am - 4:30 pm
Registration Fee $5 per person

Ron Graham
or (713) 825-9108


The Houston Area Visually Impaired Network, HAVIN, is a newly formed (2010) organization in the greater Houston Area. Although our organization is new, its executive committee members have been active leaders in various support groups for the visually impaired for several years. HAVIN has been working diligently, combing resources, working towards a common goal: to bring the visually impaired community together and provide resources for success.

On March 5, 2011, HAVIN will be presenting the InSight Expo at the University Of Houston College Of Optometry-Center for Sight Enhancement. Registration/check begins at 8:30am, workshops beginning promptly at 9:30am. The day will be filled with valuable resources for the visually impaired community, such as workshops, feature speakers, panel discussions, information, as well as a separate children's portion, and informative vendors of technology. Lunch will be provided. Please see the attachments below to register for the conference. We look forward to seeing you there.

Go here for a downloadable registration form:


Monday, August 30, 2010

New meeting location and schedule of dates

I want to let everybody know that we have a new location for our meetings. We now meet at Second Baptist Church, North Campus. It is located at Highway 59 and Loop 494, right next to Lowe's. We meet in building B, which is on the south end right next to Lowes and the building is clearly marked as "Building B."

We certainly appreciate the folks at Second Baptist for allowing us to meet here. It also lets us set a fixed schedule for our meetings. If you can remember that we meet the third Monday of each month, from 6:30-8:30, then you'll always know when our next meeting is.

The following are the dates we have a confirmed room reservation. The room for all these meetings is Room B303, which is right across the hall from the restrooms and water fountains. Yes, the first "3" of that room number means this is on the third floor and there are both stairs and an elevator which will let you get to that floor.

Monday, September 20—Room B303

Monday, October 18—Room B303

Monday, November 15—B303

Monday, December 20—B303

Monday, January 17—B303

Monday, February 21—B303

Monday, March 21—B303

Monday, April 18—B303

All right, now that you know when and where we meet, we'll see you there! Remember, each of these dates is the third Monday of each month.

And remember: Don't get upset, get VIPSET!

Monday, January 25, 2010

February meeting reminder

Hello everybody,

Just a quick note to remind you that our February meeting is coming up on Wednesday, February 10, 2010. Like our other meetings, it will be at 6:30 pm at the Kingwood Branch Library.

We're not sure what the theme will be just yet, but I promise it will be fun and enjoyable.

Our group is steadily growing. Our last meeting had over 20 people in attendance and we will most likely have some new folks at this next meeting. Come join us and remember that you are always a VIP with us!

See you at the meeting.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Meeting dates set for January and February 2010


Our next VIP meeting is set for Wednesday, January 13, 2010 at 6:30 pm. The meeting location is at the Kingwood Branch Library, 4102 Rustic Woods Drive, Kingwood, TX 77345.

The fine folks at the Kingwood Library also went ahead and let us schedule our February meeting, so you can mark that one on your calendar for Wednesday, February 10, 2010. That time is also 6:30 and the location is again at the Kingwood Branch Library, but the exact address might change as they are in a transition process. The library will soon be moving to a location near the Kingwood Fuddrucker's. Stay tuned here for updates on the exact address.

We look forward to seeing you then!

Recap of our December meeting


What a wonderful meeting this was. I’m still energized and pumped up about the fantastic resources that were shared among all of us as a group. I’m a big believer of knowing one’s resources and this meeting was living proof that we are each others’ best resources. Thanks again to each of you for coming and sharing with one another.

This meeting was special as it was our last one before the Christmas holidays. A big thank you to Julie and Karen Johnston for singing the inspirational and meaningful song, “Light A Candle,” and sharing their great CD with everybody as a personal holiday gift. A special thank you also goes out to Karen Eitel for sharing her awesome keyboarding skills on the holiday tunes she played for us. We are a blessed group to have these talented ladies amongst us! And, additional thanks go to Bob and Peg McAndrews, Laura Mulraney, and Linda Swanson for providing us with the tasty treats.

Here is a recap of what was shared at the “My Favorite Things” part of the meeting.

Rick Swanson showed us the VIP 1007 talking thermostat, a great tool for independent living. And, Rick also offered to help with installation for anybody who gets one. You can find out more about this product at:

Linda Swanson showed us the I.D. Mate II, a bar code reader with a database full of rich information about a variety of products. It is made by En-Vision America and can be bought through different distributors and even the Ebay online auction site. You can find out more about this product at:

Laura Mulramey demonstrated two of her favorite things. First, was the Braille Note, a useful electronic notetaker, manufactured by Humanware. You can find out more about this product at Humanware's
BrailleNote page.

She then demonstrated the JAWS screen reader for computers, using a Windows PowerPoint slide show she had created. You can learn more about this great screen reader at the
JAWS web page
on the Freedom Scientific web site:

Julie Johnston demonstrated the powerful Victor Reader Stream digital book player, manufactured by Humanware. You can learn more about this great piece of assistive technology at the Humanware site:

Also, Julie’s Victor Reader Stream was able to be heard by the entire room, which she said was because she had a great, portable speaker manufactured by MacMall. Their web site is:

And, finally Ron Graham demonstrated the portable System Access Mobile screen reader and magnifier, which launches from a U3 smart drive and runs on any Windows computer running any of the XP, Vista, or Windows 7 operating systems. You can find out more about this “accessibility anywhere” tool at the web site of its manufacturer, Serotek:
Ron also shared that Serotek makes the screen reader available for free to students in K-12 in their Keys for K12 program, and for free, as a web-based screen reader, to anybody who is on a public computer connected to the internet, such as in a library, school, or when visiting at somebody else’s house. This web-based version is available at the web site:

Two additional web sites which came up in conversations/demonstrations were:

The Movie Vault at the Blind Mice Mart. The web site
is a resource of its own for many blindness related items, but the link to their movie vault will open another window which is stocked with mp3s of the audio tracks of hundreds of full feature movies with the added narration to describe the visual scenes for the blind. Being these are mp3s, they will play on any digital music player or computer. And, the price of these movies is just right…they are free to download.

The final web site that was shared was
a web-based file sharing site. Drop Box lets users upload and store files and share them with others who can later come and download them.

In closing, I do want to remind you that, besides this blog, there is also a twitter site sset up online for our group. Our Twitter site is:

Okay, that’s it for the notes from this months meeting. I hope all of you have a rich and joyous holiday season and look forward to seeing you next year.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Second meeting will be "My Favorite Thing" theme

Being our next meeting is on Dec. 2, and will be our last meeting before Christmas, we're having a theme of "My Favorite Thing" for it.

Please come and share your favorite blindness-related resource, tool, or toy. This can be a web site where you like to shop for blindness-related items, your favorite piece of assistive technology, or just a fun toy you want to share with the group.

We understand that not everybody wants to speak up in a group, or might not have anything they want to share, and that's okay too. Sharing is voluntary Come to the meeting and see what everybody else has to share. There might be something you see here and want to add to your Christmas list.

And, keeping a focus on the nearness of Christmas, VIPs Julie and Karen Johnston have offered to sing a Christmas song for us. I've got their CD and, let me tell you, we're in for a wonderful treat when these ladies sing!

So, come on down to the Kingwood Branch Library on Wednesday, December 2, 2009, from 6:30-8:30 and join us for some seasonal fun.

See you there!

Monday, November 2, 2009

First meeting reflections and second meeting planned

The first meeting of the VIPs of SouthEast Texas was last Wednesday and is in the books. I thought the turnout represented a great beginning. There were seven of us who were visually impaired, one teacher of visually impaired students, three spouses, and even one mother.

The stories were as individual as each one of us, and that's saying a lot if you know the group that gathered. From the youngest to the oldest, everybody had a unique perspective on blindness to share.

There were no guest speakers present, but this was planned to be a meet and greet, so everybody could get to know one another. A roster of names with phone numbers and email addresses has been compiled and shared with everybody who was there, building our network, putting us instantly in touch with one another when we need that unique support.

Instead of meeting the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, we have our next meeting scheduled for the first Wednesday in December. So mark your calendar with Wednesday, December 2, 2009 and plan on being at the Kingwood Branch Library once again at 6:30 pm. We hope to see everybody from last week there again and, hopefully, we will have even more people present.