Our Members Are Resources

The NOVA Council of the Blind has created a new program called Our Members Are Resources (OMAR). We hope it will afford the opportunity to offer our members' special skills to assist teachers, families and/or children in the community. Teachers of the visually impaired (TVIs) have indicated they would like people who are Braille readers to come in for events like career days and read aloud. Our members can assist with activities like this as well as training on assistive technology, such as cell phones, screen readers, book reading devices, etc.. We can also assist with brailing for social reasons, such as Valentines or song lyrics, and the playing of Braille board games with students who are blind or visually impaired. We would like to share thoughts and strategies we have developed relative to working, living and/or parenting as a blind or visually impaired person.

Our members would love to come to a school to speak with teachers, parents, or students to share our education and employment experiences and how we use Braille, large print, and technology to live and work. Several members have provided their biorgraphical information and email contact information below.

Marie Brinas

Marie Brinas is an experienced administrative professional from the Northern Virginia area. She has been newly elected to serve as secretary in 2011 for ODBCVI.  Marie has also been reelected to a second term as the secretary of the NOVA Council of the Blind and Visually Impaired. Totally blind since her early twenties, Marie is a graduate of James Madison High School (Class of 1992). She has a wide range of experience in both the public and not-for-profit sectors, including administrative and program support work for the Commonwealth of Virginia government agencies and community-based non-profit organizations.

Marie is currently involved with QL Plus, a non-profit organization which in partnership with engineer students from Cal Poly in California and locally with Chantilly Academy, is working on the development of a radar and/or guidance system for the blind and visually impaired.  Marie was instrumental in bringing this particular Challenge to the Quality of Life Plus Program in December 2009.

Email: marie@mbrinas.net

Lisa Busch

My name is Lisa Busch and I live in Alexandria. I am a parent of a grown daughter and have taught a visually impaired student as a teacher's aide. I taught braille reading and writing and abacus. I also was a braille proofreader at National Braille Press. I sing and write poems and stories and would be willing to volunteer in any way I can.

Email: gjbusch@comcast.net

Paul D’Addario

Paul d’Addario lives in Arlington, VA, is a father of 2 boys, and is a retired database administrator, who is blind as a result of Retinitis Pigmentosa. He has experience using assistive technology for such functions as web surfing, scanning and OCR, emailing, word processing, spreadsheet creation, and has trained sighted as well as blind and low vision computer users. He continues to participate in vision research at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, including a project in witch a computer chip was implanted in his eye. He is a board member of the Metropolitan Washington Ear, a service allowing those who cannot read, to listen to newspapers and magazines using a telephone, and also provides audio description at theaters.

Email: mostreliable@verizon.net

Michelle Duquette

My name is Michelle Duquette and I have BBS which contains Rp. I loss my vision when I was walking on a Halloween night when my Mom noticed it. I am learning JAWS and using ZoomText on my computer. I can read Braille and read using audiobooks on my cd player. At work, I have a reader that reads me the information to put on the computer. I am a swimmer for the Paraolympics team at Providence Rec Center as well as Masters at Coral Burke Swim and Tennis Club and Special Olympics at Spring Hill Rec Center in McLean.

Email: mkd1982@aol.com

Doug Powell

Doug Powell lives in the Falls Church area of Fairfax County and is a husband of 37 years and a father of a daughter and a son.  He works as an instructor of adults in communication, Leadership, and teamwork skills as well as T'ai Chi.  He is also a sports/fitness/health nut, and uses regular and assistive technology to help him in all of the above pursuits.

Email: Doug.powell.oldjock@gmail.com

Vicki Ratcliffe

Vicki Ratcliffe has been totally blind for all her life (ROP) and she was mainstreamed in Arlington and Fairfax County schools. Vicki worked for the Federal Government for 33 years mainly in the computer field and still keeps abreast of current assistive technology even though that she is retired. She uses JAWS, is familiar with the PacMate and Braille Plus, Kurzweil scanning software and spends much time surfing the web, answering emails and is familiar with web accessibility and using excel spreadsheets. Her hobbies are many and include cooking, travel, participating in community activities and music. Vicki reads Braille fluently, travels with a cane around the D.C. area and on vacation and enjoys attending plays and concerts. Vicki is the 2010 President of the NOVA Council of the blind and when time permits, she would love to assist parents, students or teachers in whatever way is needed.

Email: vicki.ratcliffe@gmail.com