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Individuals with Visual and Intellectual Disabilities Create and ‘See’ Touchable Art in New Class

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Do not touch’ is a common mantra in art galleries, exhibitions and museums. Viewers are asked to observe compositions, textures, colors, brushstrokes, carvings, materials and castings. Individuals who are blind, have visual impairments or other disabilities that require a tactile, sensory experience are often deprived understanding, appreciation and enjoyment of art.

The Carver Community Cultural Center intends to change that with a new Saturday art class for these individuals, in collaboration with San Antonio’s annual interactive art show The Color of Blind and its creator Trina Bacon.

The new four-week class, Ceramics for the Visually Impaired, is designed exclusively for individuals with visual impairments and individuals with intellectual disabilities, ages 10 and older, who are able to function independently without the assistance of a caregiver (excluding transportation needs).

Instructors Trina Bacon and Laura Salazar will offer students an understanding of art and color through touch, technique and association by working with clay, paints and glazes to produce electric kiln-fired projects. Additionally, class participants will be invited to show and sell their work at the next iteration of The Color of Blind, to be exhibited at The Carver in September 2019.

Each class session will occur from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., in the Carver’s ADA-compliant art studio, 215 N. Hackberry, 78202, beginning Saturday, October 20. The cost is just $10, which includes all supplies and four weeks of instruction. Online enrollment is available until Friday, October 19.

For more information or enrollment assistance, contact Andrew Gordon, education coordinator, at 210-207-2719 or email andrew.gordon@sanantonio.gov. To request disability related accommodations a minimum of 48 hours in advance of the program, contact Relay Texas by calling 7-1-1.

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Student Volunteers Operate One of the Busiest Tax Offices in the City

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St. Philip’s College students will open San Antonio’s most productive income tax preparation site when the 2019 Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) season begins on Jan. 22.

Currently the top floor of the college’s Bowden Building, at 1801 MLK Drive, has been taken over by the VITA San Antonio program for training its entire corps of new and returning tax preparers. The St. Philip’s site, which was established in 1992 and run by students, is ranked No. 1 in productivity locally in 2018, No. 4 in productivity in the region, and No. 12 in productivity nationally.

Kenneth Bankston is the VITA college site leader and the instructor for the tax training center. He said they have already trained 300-400 volunteers on campus since December. VITA provides free income tax return preparation to taxpayers earning up to $60,000 annually. All VITA tax returns are prepared and submitted to the IRS electronically by volunteers. Taxpayers can anticipate receiving a check in seven to 10 days business days.

For the 2018 tax season, the VITA-St. Philip’s College volunteers processed $7.3 million in refunds for 4,170 clients. Many of the students who volunteer to help taxpayers are scholarship recipients of the HEB Student Engagement Grant.

Crystal Gandara is a 2015 alumna of the college’s liberal arts and business administration programs who began volunteering for VITA in 2014.

“For 2019, I’m going to help with Spanish speakers and see if we can serve 5,000 people. I think both are achievable,” said Gandara.

Lisa Alvarez is a 2018 alumna of the college’s computerized accounting program. Now she’s training this week to become the leader at VITA’s Brook Hollow site.

“When I got into VITA, I was no longer unsure what I wanted to do. When I tell people what I love do with taxes, they are like, well you are one of the few. When I get to Brook Hollow, I’m going to have my St. Philip’s College VITA experiences in my head the whole time. I love it, because this is helping people,” Alvarez said.

For details, contact site leader Kenneth Bankston at spc-vita@alamo.edu or call (210) 486–2122. To learn more, go here.

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New Interim District 2 Councilman

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Former Councilman Art Hall has been chosen as the interim District 2 Councilman to replace William “Cruz” Shaw. Hall previously served on the council, representing District 8. He has residences in both districts.

Hall was selected among a group of three finalists that included military veteran and motivational speaker Jada Sullivan, and Denver Heights Neighborhood Association President Aubrey Lewis. Thirteen people originally filed to be considered for the position. Hall said he will not file to run for the position in May. Hall must wait 10 days before being seated on the council.

Hall, who is an attorney and a dean at St. Philip’s College, served two terms from 2003 to 2007 when he represented District 8. The recent District 2 Council seat became vacant when Shaw resigned to accept an appointed judicial position at the Bexar County Courthouse.

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San Antonio City Council *Live*

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