Lisa Helen Hoffman

March 30, 1965-September 23, 2019.

Lisa Hoffman entered heaven on Monday September 23, 2019. The celebration of Lisa’s life was held on Saturday, October 5. Mass was at St. Mary’s Church in downtown Rochester, followed by a celebration of Lisa’s life at the Geva Theater.

Lisa entered this world on March 30, 1965 with a smile on her face and never stopped smiling. At 14 months, she was diagnosed with retinoblastoma causing her blindness by the age of three. This challenge never slowed Lisa down or prevented her from living a life full of adventures. Lisa saw this world through her heart and her hands.

Lisa was a student at the original World of Inquiry School on Moran Street where she made lifelong friends. West Irondequoit school district welcomed Lisa and her love of learning with open arms.  Lisa’s love for music offered her the opportunity to play her violin in the school orchestra, with Dr. Suzuki and at the Shakespeare plays at Highland Bowl. Lisa loved to dance. She was a member of an English Country Dancing group and looked forward to designing her ball gown for the annual ball.  She loved it so much that she went by herself to an English Dance weeklong camp where she once again made lifelong friends.

Lisa earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Buffalo, in psychology and Spanish. While in Buffalo she joined with the Society for Creative Anachronism. Lisa loved participating in Pennsic.  Lisa’s proficiency in Spanish was put to the test when the family went on their annual trip to Puerto Vallarta (PVR) and she served as their interpreter. Lisa visited her Mexican family many times and was often complimented on how beautifully she spoke the language.

Lisa loved to read braille and had a voracious appetite for learning.

She became quite an Anglophile in her early years with the highlight coming in 1976 in New York City when Lisa was introduced to Queen Elizabeth! This was just one of her many adventures.

Lisa embraced so many things and loved all things tactile. Her creativity with jewels and stones inspired her to make her own jewelry. Many of her friends wear her jewelry on a regular basis. Her jewelry has been sold at the Memorial Art Gallery.

Lisa was featured in an episode of the TV show, “That’s incredible”.

Lisa was a committed advocate for people with disabilities specifically the blind. She was instrumental in the design of the pedestrian bridge over 490 connecting South Clinton with downtown. With a great love of the theatre, Lisa brought audio description to the Geva THEATRE where she worked as a consultant for 25 years. Through her advocacy Lisa received countless honors and accolades, too many to list.

The ripple effect Lisa had on those she touched will her big hugs and infectious laugh will continue for years to come.

Lisa is survived by her Dad (Dan), her “Momma” (Barbara), the “best sister in the world” (Susan), and her four-legged lover from Shakespeare’s, “As you like it” (Orlando).

In lieu of flowers, consider donations to the Geva Theatre or the Memorial Art Gallery in Lisa’s honor.

49th Annual Convention of the American Council of the Blind of New York, Inc.

Download the Program in PDF format here

October 25 through 27, 2019

Hampton Inn Albany Downtown
25 Chapel Street
Albany, NY 12210


The 2019 Convention Committee welcomes you to our 49th annual convention of the American Council of the Blind of New York (ACBNY). We hope you find the weekend informative and fun. Please let us know if there’s anything we can do to make your stay more enjoyable.

2019 Convention Committee

Kathy Casey, Chair

Nancy Murray

Jean Mann

Mike Godino

Lori Scharff


Dear ACBNY Members and Friends:

Fall is upon us and it’s time for our annual ACBNY convention. It is hard to believe that it has been just over a year since we were in Rochester.

This year, we are at a “new” hotel for us. Please let us know what you think of the Hampton Inn for a convention in the future. Unfortunately, this location is not available during the legislative session at a rate within our budget!

We have a nice schedule planned out this year. Thursday evening, the nominating and finance committees will be meeting to conduct their business to present at Friday afternoon’s business meeting.

Friday morning, the New York State Commission for the Blind will be holding their town hall. Please come and express your thoughts on services in NY. Remember, this input is then used in the plan for the Rehabilitation Services Administration.

Friday evening, our fantastic scholarship committee is hosting a talent show. So, come and support the growth of the scholarship fund, have a laugh and a good time.

On Saturday we have several presentations and also special interest chapter meetings. We will end on Saturday with the annual banquet.

Sunday the ACBNY Board of Directors will be meeting. As always, the board meeting is open to everyone.

Enjoy your time in Albany and have a good convention. See you around the hotel!

Lori Scharff

President ACBNY


The New York State Commission for the Blind (NYSCB)

is Proud to Be Part of the

 American Council of the Blind of New York’s

 Annual Convention

The NYSCB congratulates the American Council of the Blind of New York on its annual convention.

NYSCB provides vocational rehabilitation and other direct services to legally blind or deaf-blind New York State residents including children, adults, and older adults. The commission works closely with not-for-profit agencies for the blind throughout New York State to provide technical, educational and resource assistance to our participants. One of NYSCB’s primary services is assisting participants in achieving economic self-sufficiency and full integration into society. NYSCB offers these services through seven district offices across New York State.

Vocational Rehabilitation Program – provides guidance and counseling to assist participants who are legally blind, find or retain employment.

Business Enterprise Program – provides training for blind vendors in operating food service facilities in federal and state buildings. Any New York State resident who is legally blind or deaf-blind and is a United States citizen may be eligible for this program.

Children’s Program – rehabilitation services to legally blind children between the ages of birth and 21. Early intervention, empowering parents, arranging services to supplement educational activities and ensuring a smooth transition to adult services

Transition Program – pre-employment transition services to students ages 14 to 21 and vocational rehabilitation services for all youth who are legally blind, including those with additional disabilities.

Summer Socialization Skills Program – summer camp and recreational opportunities for youth who are legally blind.

Equipment Loan Fund -helps to purchase equipment that will improve the quality of daily life.

Independent Living Program – helps individuals with low vision carry out day-to-day activities and assists them in living at home and in the community.     

     Contact us at:


The members and friends of the American Council of the Blind of New York Inc. (ACBNY) deeply thank and greatly appreciate the generosity of all the sponsors of the 2019 ACBNY Convention.

Diamond New York State Commission for the Blind (NYSCB)

Individual Sponsors

Platinum:  Fred Scheigert

Gold:  Sal Moscato

Silver:  Bob Cronin, Mary Ellen Cronin

Bronze:   Lori Scharff, Mike Godino, Ian Foley, Karlene Fiorello, Maureen Moscato

2019 Convention Agenda

Hospitality Suite, Room 1001, will be open daily; come visit us.

Thursday, October 24

2 to 6pm Registration, Hotel Lobby

8:30 p.m.  Nominating Committee Meeting, check with Mike Golfo upon arrival for room location; closed meeting.

Friday, October 25

10-12 Noon, Registration outside Ballroom.  

10 a.m. to 12 Noon NYSCB Town Hall Meeting, Ballroom B.

12:30 p.m.  Lunch, Ballroom A.

        Brian Daniels, Executive Director, New York State Commission for the Blind

        Carrie Laney, Executive Director, New York State Preferred Source Program

   1:45 to 2pm Break

2 p.m. ACBNY Business Meeting, Ballroom B.

6 to 10 p.m. ACBNY Scholarship fundraiser; Cash Bar, Plated Dinner, Silent Auction,

Entertainment; Comedian Steve Sabo from Comedy Company, ACBNY talent, Ballroom B.

Saturday, October 26

8:30-11:30  a.m. Randolph-Sheppard Vendors of New York Organization Meeting, Ballroom B.

9:00-11:45 a.m. Guide Dog Users of New York, Guide Dog Trivia and Guest Seaker TBA, Ballroom A.

9:00-11:30 a.m. NYSCCLV Meeting, Capital Board Room

12:30 p.m. Lunch, Ballroom B.

1:45-2:00 p.m. Break

Afternoon Speakers, Ballroom A.

2 p.m. Annie Chiappetta, author; Annie will talk about the process of having books published and will read some of her poetry.

2:45 p.m. Satauna Howery; Satauna will talk about her job doing professional voiceovers and will play demos of her work.

3:15 p.m. Break

3:30 p.m. We will show the documentary  The Invalid Corps. Everyone thinks they know the story of the Civil War – Four years of America’s bloodiest history. Over 600,000 men killed and more than 40,000 men with amputated limbs and even more with other injuries and illnesses. What no one ever asked is “What happened to those disabled men afterwards?”

6 p.m. Banquet, Ballroom B.

           Guest Speaker:  Day Al-Mohammed, producer of Invalid Corps

          ACB of New York Life Membership Presentations

           Door Prizes.

Sunday, October 27

8:30-12 Noon, Board Meeting, Ballroom A., First Vice President Mike Golfo

12 Noon, Close of Convention.

FrancesR. (Frank) Casey

Francis R. “Frank” Casey, 62, died Wednesday, January 18, 2012 at Samaritan Hospital. Born in Albany, he was son of the late Thomas and Agnes (Thornton) Casey. He was a graduate of the New York Institute
for the Education of the Blind in the Bronx, N.Y. Mr. Casey worked for the Albany County Sheriffs’ Department for 32 years, retiring as a 911 Supervisor in 2001. He was president of the Capital District Chapter of the American Council of the Blind. He enjoyed amateur radio “W2JIO”, was an avid fan of the New York Mets and was a weather buff. Husband of 25 years of Kathy (Wilkens) Casey of Albany; brother of Thomas “Sonny” (Dorothy) Casey of Bohemia, N.Y., Mary (Charles) Fullam of N.J. and the late Patricia Burns; uncle of Nicole Hornsby, James and Timothy Burns; also survived by several grand nieces and nephews and cousins.

Janet (Hotchkiss) Wettenstein

Janet (Hotchkiss) Wettenstein was born on July 14, 1949 in Rochester, New York and passed away suddenly on the evening of January 8, 2019 after a lengthy illness. She attended the New York State School for the Blind in Batavia, New York, and graduated from there in June, 1968. Her family lived on a farm outside of Rochester, and it was there that Janet developed her love of nature and the outdoors. She was a dog lover, having had five guide dogs during her life.

After graduating from high school, Janet spent several years in New York City, where she took transcription typing courses at the Lighthouse. She also met her husband there. They eventually moved to Syracuse. Shortly thereafter the marriage ended in divorce and Janet moved back to Rochester, where she spent the rest of her life. She was hired by the Monroe Developmental Center where she did transcription work for the next 41 years, retiring in January, 2018 because of ill health.

Janet’s parents helped her purchase a house in Rochester. They spent summers with her and lived in Florida during the winter. When they were unable to return to Florida, they lived with her fulltime until
their deaths and she took care of them. She stayed in touch with many of her childhood friends and they were always welcome at her house. She was always willing to help anybody anyway she could.

Janet was an active member of the New York State School for the Blind Alumni Association, having held several offices and attending reunions every year. She was also a member of the American Council of the Blind (ACB) for over 35 years. She hosted many of her chapter’s events, held several officer positions, and had a hand in running several state conventions. Until her health precluded her from traveling, Janet attended most state conventions and legislative weekends. She felt very badly that for the last couple years of her life she was unable to be in the loop as far as what was happening on the state level. She was treasurer of the Rochester Chapter at the time of her death.

Janet is survived by her sister-in-law who was living with her at the time of her death and a brother in Arizona and his family. She will be deeply missed by her many friends and colleagues.

2018 Scholarship Application

Submit an application here!




RE: 2018 Scholarship Announcement and Application
To: All Eligible Students

The American Council of the Blind of New York, Inc. (ACBNY) is proud to
award a one thousand-dollar ($1000) scholarship to a deserving

The winner will be expected to attend the annual ACBNY State
Convention in Rochester, NY the weekend of October 5‐7, 2018.
Expenses for travel, lodging and meals will be covered by ACBNY.
To be eligible for the scholarship, applicants must:
 Be legally blind in accordance with the New York State
Commission for the Blind (NYSCB) criteria see NYSCB website:;
 Be enrolled and in good standing (passing grades) in college, tech
or trade school or other training program following high school
 Present three (3) letters of recommendation (cannot be a family
 Show proof of community involvement. This may be documented
via one of your recommendation letters. Said letter or document
must be clearly marked as such.
 Applications and all documentation may be submitted by web-
form, email or by regular mail in print or braille by July 1, 2018.
*ACBNY will not accept handwritten documents.

All applicants must provide:
 Name (first and last)
 Address
 City, State and Postal Code
 Phone number
 Email address
 Date of Birth
 Best way to contact you
 Visual Status

Applicants must write a standard format essay of no more than one
thousand (1000) words encompassing two (2) of the following three (3)
1. Why did you choose your major or program of study? What future
goals do you have and how do you plan to accomplish these
2. Explain what methods you use for doing class work (reading and
writing assignments, taking notes, etc.) and why you use the
methods you do.
3. What does advocacy mean to you?
 ACBNY will not accept handwritten documents.
 ACBNY reserves the right to publish, post and / or share the
submitted essay in whole or in part.
All applicants should be aware that the top three (3) submissions will be
followed with a telephone interview by three (3) scholarship committee

Application Submission
Applications can be mailed, United States Postal Service (USPS),
e‐mailed to or submitted on the ACBNY
website form.

The mailing address for USPS submissions is:
Karen Blachowicz
29 Meridian St
Depew NY 14043.

All applications must be received by or postmarked no later than July 1,

If you have any questions or comments regarding the ACBNY
Scholarship application or submission process, please contact the
scholarship committee chairpersons, Karen Blachowicz at 716-510- 4560
or Mike Godino at 516-612- 3368 or by e-mail at
Thank you for your interest in the American Council of the Blind of New
York (ACBNY); we look forward to reviewing your application and
reading your essay.

Good luck,
Karen Blachowicz, Mike Godino
ACBNY Scholarship Committee Co-Chairs

Legislative Weekend 2018

Register here with Paypal!

Register here with Check!




March 5, 2018
Re: Legislative Weekend

Dear ACBNY Members and Friends:
It’s once again time to get registered for the annual ACBNY Legislative Weekend.
You are all invited to join us at the Albany Ramada Plaza, 3 Watervliet Ave. Ext.
Albany, NY, 12206, 518-438- 8431. The dates for this event are April 28, 29 and
30, 2018. Please join us and register today!

The annual Legislative Weekend will again be at the Albany Ramada Plaza. The
Agenda is:
 Saturday April 28, 2pm board meeting. Dinner will follow on your own.
 Sunday April 29, 9am training on the issues, organized group lunch,
followed by afternoon speakers on various topics. Dinner is again on your
 Monday April 30, 8am transport to the Legislative Office Building.

As in the past, the hotel offers a free shuttle service from the Albany Airport and
Amtrak station; please call the hotel when you arrive. There is a free full
breakfast with each night’s stay at the hotel. The room rate is $84 per night
payable to ACBNY when you register. The Sunday lunch is $22, the choices are:
Monty Crisco, Turkey BLT, Tuna Croissant, Chicken Caesar Salad, Grilled Veggie
Wrap. All lunches come with vegetable soup, Saratoga chips and dessert. Please
register and make your lunch selection today.

You can register online here by Paypal, or here by check, you can email a completed registration form to, make your check payable to ACBNY and send it to Mike Godino c/o ACBNY, 104 Tilrose Ave. Malverne, NY 11565-2024. Click here for the registration form. Please get your registration in as soon as possible to ensure your place on the roster of attendees.

The ACBNY Board and Legislative Co-Chairs look forward to seeing you in Albany. Finally, the ACBNY Scholarship Chair, Karen Blachowicz, reminds all chapters to prepare and send baskets to be awarded in a drawing on Sunday of the Legislative Weekend. Thank you.

Thanks again,
Ian Foley and Mike Godino
ACBNY Legislative Co-Chairs

The M.J. Schmitt First-timer’s Award

The MJ Schmitt First Timers Award was created in March of 2008 to honor one of the founding members of the American Council of the Blind for her grass roots advocacy, lifetime commitment and inspirational leadership. MJ Schmitt, originally from Rochester, New York, has dedicated a lifetime of work toward improving the lives of blind and visually impaired Americans. For over forty years, MJ Schmitt has held numerous board positions and served on various ACB committees on a state and national level.

The purpose of this award is to enable members from across New York State to attend the annual ACBNY legislative seminar or state convention for the first time. The intent of this award is to provide members with an opportunity to gain the knowledge and inspiration to continue the work of the organization demonstrated by the ACBNY leadership.


Application criteria and guidelines



  • Applicants must not have previously attended the ACBNY annual Legislative Seminar or ACBNY State Convention, depending upon which award is sought, in any capacity.
  • Applicants must be a blind, vision impaired or deaf-blind member of an affiliate of ACBNY or a member at large for at least six months.
  • Applicants must be a New York state resident for at least six months.
  • Applicants must have a strong interest in advocacy and becoming a more involved, active member of the ACBNY state affiliate and local chapter or community. The applicant’s desire and explanation of this criteria will be highly considered for the award.


Applicants must submit a letter of interest, no less than 2 pages and no more than 5 pages, including:

  • Name, address, phone number and email address (if available)
  • A short autobiography including life experience with blindness, hobbies, school and/or work. Include involvement with ACBNY activities on a state or local level.
  • The reason for applying for the ACBNY M.J. Schmitt First-timer’s award for the Legislative Seminar or State Convention and expectations of the event in question.


Applicants must obtain a letter of recommendation based on membership status:

Affiliated members must obtain a letter of recommendation from their local affiliate President.

At-large members must contact the ACBNY delegate at-large and obtain a letter of recommendation from one of the following:

    • CBVH counselor
    • Vision Rehabilitation Therapist (VRT) or Orientation & Mobility Instructor (O&M)
    • Teacher of the Visually Impaired (TVI) or Itinerant Teacher
    • High School teacher or College Professor
    • Community leader
    • Boss or supervisor
    • friend or ACBNY member


ACBNY Legislative SeminarApplications will be accepted until February 1 of the year in which the seminar is held. ACBNY State Convention applications will be accepted until July 1 of the year in which the convention is held.

Application material will only be accepted in electronic format via email. If the applicant is unable, then another person is permitted to submit on the applicant’s behalf.

In the Subject line of email submissions, write the following: ACBNY MJ Schmitt First Timers Award application

Attach letter of interest and letter of recommendation and email to the ACBNY Awards Committee Chairperson, whose email address is:


All awardees will be assigned a mentor to provide guidance and support before, during and after the ACBNY Legislative Seminar or State Convention. The mentor will contact the awardee within one week of award notification.


      • Maintain ongoing communication with mentor prior, during and after the event.
      • Obtain ACBNY Legislative Seminar or State Convention information and preregistration instructions.
      • Obtain, read and understand the Legislative Agenda or State Convention Program and any informational documentation provided before the event (to the best of the awardees’ ability).
      • Obtain, read and understand meeting Minutes from the immediate past ACBNY Board meeting.
      • Obtain, read and understand the ACBNY Board meeting agenda.
      • Plan to attend the ACBNY Legislative Committee meeting (at legislative seminars) and contact its chairperson about time and place of the meeting prior to the event.
      • Inquire about any expenses that are not included in the award. Plan to bring extra spending money.


        • Travel to the event and transportation reservations are the responsibility of the awardee
        • Awardees will not be reimbursed for door to door car service, or for trips otherwise accessible via public transportation

      li>Receipts must be submitted for transportation reimbursement within 1 week of the close of the event


      • Awardees are responsible for completing preregistration.
      • Complete the pre-regisration form including all meals and hotel room. Expect a roommate to be assigned whose name will be provided prior to the event.
      • Include the total cost and note MJ Schmitt First Timer’s Awardee. Do not pay.
      • Check in at the ACBNY registration table upon arrival to the hotel.

Expectations OF AWARDEE

      • Arrive to the hotel by 12pm of the first day of the event, check in and register.
      • Meet with mentor as previously planned.
      • Attend all scheduled meetings, training and activities.
      • Attend the ACBNY Legislative Committee meeting (at Legislative Seminars).
      • Attend the ACBNY banquet and accept the award certificate during a brief introduction.
      • Participate in all seminar advocacy activities, which may or may not include visits to legislators at the Legislative Office Building (at Legislative Seminars).
      • Write an article for Insight, the ACBNY newsletter about the Legislative Seminar or ACBNY State Convention experience as the awardee. Submit within one month of the event’s conclusion.
      • Continue advocacy efforts with local affiliate/community including visits to local legislators.


      • This award includes registration fees, hotel sleeping rooms, meals and travel to and from the event, excluding noted restrictions
      • Meal expenses are eligible for reimbursement
      • Total expenses that exceed $500.00 are the awardees’ responsibility
      • This award does not include expenses for alcoholic beverages, spa treatments, room service, or any extra amenities in the hotel or outside of the hotel.
      • Receipts must be submitted for transportation and meal reimbursement within 1 week of the close of the event
      • Awardees unable to fulfill the above award obligations, or who leave the event early for any reason are not guaranteed reimbursement. Each situation will be considered on an individual basis.
      • Preregistration is not permitted until a signed agreement is received.

The MJ Schmitt First Timer’s Award Committee
American Council of the Blind of New York, Inc.