The Braille Forum, October-November 2012

Volume LI October-November 2012 No. 3
Published by
the American Council of the Blind

The American Council of the Blind strives to increase the independence, security, equality of opportunity, and to improve quality of life for all blind and visually impaired people.
Mitch Pomerantz, President
Melanie Brunson, Executive Director
Sharon Lovering, Editor
National Office:
2200 Wilson Blvd.
Suite 650
Arlington, VA 22201
(202) 467-5081
fax: (703) 465-5085
Web site:
THE BRAILLE FORUM (TM) is available in braille, large print, half-speed four-track cassette tape, data CD, and via e-mail.  Subscription requests, address changes, and items intended for publication should be sent to Sharon Lovering at the address above, or via e-mail to
The American Council of the Blind (TM) is a membership organization made up of more than 70 state and special-interest affiliates.  To join, contact the national office at the number listed above.
Those much-needed contributions, which are tax-deductible, can be sent to Attn: Treasurer, ACB, 6300 Shingle Creek Pkwy., Suite 195, Brooklyn Center, MN 55430.  If you wish to remember a relative or friend, the national office has printed cards available for this purpose.  Consider including a gift to ACB in your Last Will and Testament.  If your wishes are complex, call the national office.
To make a contribution to ACB via the Combined Federal Campaign, use this number: 11155.
For the latest in legislative and governmental news, call the "Washington Connection" toll-free at (800) 424-8666, 5 p.m. to midnight Eastern time, or read it online.

Copyright 2012

American Council of the Blind

All content made available in publications, in any media on any web site domains administered by ACB, or as a broadcast or podcast on ACB Radio, archived or not, is considered to be the property of the American Council of the Blind. Those responsible for creative content may allow their materials to appear elsewhere with prior notification to the ACB national office and with appropriate attribution.


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This month's installment of my national conference/convention report continues the discussion about our efforts toward accessible prescription drug labeling.

The bill language -- which earlier this year was incorporated into S. 3187, the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act -- calls for establishing a working group comprised of representatives of the blind and aging communities, along with pharmacies and the U.S. Access Board.  This group will develop "best practices" for pharmacies to ensure that people who are blind or visually impaired have access to prescription drug labeling.  These recommendations would provide guidance to pharmacists on actions they can take to ensure that their blind and visually impaired patrons understand the information on their prescriptions and to enable independent access to that information.  The guidelines will provide pharmacies a range of options they can choose to offer consumers.

Both houses of Congress approved our language and it only awaits the President's signature.  We are proud of this initiative and believe this will go a long way toward protecting blind and visually impaired people from inadvertently taking the wrong pill or the incorrect dose of medication.

Since I'm discussing access to prescription information, we can't forget the tremendous work being done by our attorneys, the queens of structured negotiations, Lainey Feingold and Linda Dardarian.  Both of them send "wishes for a successful conference and convention and congratulate ACB on 51 years of advancing the rights of people with visual impairments across the United States and the globe."  This is Lainey and Linda's 17th year working with ACB, and they look forward to many more years of collaboration, friendship and landmark advancements in making information and technology accessible.

So, let me mention Lainey and Linda's activities addressing access to prescription information.  On June 8th, Walmart announced that it has begun a pilot program to provide talking prescription containers to mail-order customers with visual impairments across the country, and also at three stores.  ACB, CCB and AFB were structured negotiations partners in this groundbreaking initiative.  Any ACB member who can, is encouraged to order a prescription through Walmart and try the ScripTalk talking prescription system.

This pilot is the first step, and is part of a broader initiative that Lainey and Linda have engaged in with Walmart and other major retail chains including CVS/Caremark, Walgreens, Target and Rite Aid to provide talking prescription containers, braille and large print label information, as well as braille, large print and electronic versions of patient information sheets which are included with prescriptions.

Access to other types of information is high on the priority list.  ACB has made substantial progress with Weight Watchers in the past year on the accessibility of its web site including online weight-loss tools, its iPhone app, and alternative formats for print information.  Accessibility improvements have already been made and more are in the works.

Lainey and Linda continue to monitor ACB's historic agreement with the American Cancer Society addressing the needs of people with visual impairments who have cancer.  Under the agreement, ACS is providing information in braille, large print, audio CD, MP3 and electronic formats.  The web site has also been updated to comply with accessibility standards.  This year, ACS has agreed to provide additional documents in braille.

In 2012, ACB and its Massachusetts and California affiliates continued to partner with Major League Baseball in their ongoing work to ensure the accessibility of and all major league team web sites.  I'll say no more about this because we are going to hear from a representative of MLB very shortly and I'll let him talk about what happened in early June.

Much more is happening in the structured negotiations arena.  Discussions in various stages continue with the Cinemark movie chain, Bank of America, Safeway, WellPoint Health Insurance and Charles Schwab.  If you do business with any of these companies and want further information, please contact either Lainey or Linda.  The ACB national office can provide their contact information.

I need to comment briefly on developments surrounding ACB's efforts regarding accessible currency.  The most recent status report released by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing was, to say the least, a major disappointment.  It fails to stipulate a time-table for circulation of the first accessible bill since our 2008 court victory.  Our attorney, Jeffrey Lovitky, has issued a very strong response to the judge overseeing implementation of the settlement.  Interestingly, the bureau is once again at our conference and convention to obtain still more input on the useful tactile features to incorporate into U.S. currency.  Stop by their booth; be polite, but let the bureau's representatives know that our impatience is growing over the lack of tangible progress toward fully accessible legal tender.

You will remember that in 2010, the 21st Century Video Accessibility Act (CVAA) became law and as a result, the Federal Communications Commission established the Video Programming Accessibility Advisory Committee, or VPAAC.  This entity included several ACB members (some of whom you will hear from on Wednesday), but also a preponderance of industry representatives whose perspective on what constitutes accessibility under the CVAA differed significantly from ours.  Despite the best efforts of our people, the VPAAC reports on the availability of video-described content, access to emergency information to blind and visually impaired people, and access to user interfaces, program guides and navigation to devices, leave much to be desired.  Thanks to the efforts of Pratik Patel, chair of our information access committee, and Eric Bridges, ACB has submitted comments in response to those reports.

Part III will conclude this year's report to the ACB membership.


At long last, efforts to obtain ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities by the U.S. Senate have begun to develop some momentum. In recognition of this, the following resolution was adopted by the ACB members attending our 2012 conference and convention in Louisville, Ky. earlier this summer.
WHEREAS, President Obama has signed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; and
WHEREAS, the United States will not be considered a signatory to this important treaty until it is also ratified by the United States Senate; and
WHEREAS, the American Council of the Blind (ACB) has long supported this treaty;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the American Council of the Blind in convention assembled at the Galt House Hotel in Louisville, Ky. on the 13th day of July, 2012, that this organization strongly urge the United States Senate to ratify this treaty; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization direct its staff, and advocates speaking on its behalf, to express the sense of this resolution to members of the United States Senate with all due promptness.
Copies of this resolution were sent to the members of the United States Senate.

Then, on July 26, 2012, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) by a vote of 13-6. Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), chairman of the foreign relations committee, said that he would prefer to get this treaty to the floor as soon as possible.  We are hopeful that this floor vote will take place some time in September.

Many ACB members have called and written their senators urging the swift passage of this treaty.  Those efforts have been very helpful, but as I write, work is still under way to gain enough bipartisan support for the treaty to insure its passage when the vote is taken.  Please check the Washington Connection by going to the ACB web site, or calling the office at 1-800-424-8666, to get the latest information on the status of this important legislation.

Discovering Columbus by Janet Dickelman

The 52nd ACB conference and convention will take place from July 4-12, 2013 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown Columbus, Ohio.

Plans are well under way for ACB's first visit to the Buckeye State.  Several members of the convention committee have visited the hotel, met with the host committee, and begun the process of obtaining sponsorships, recruiting volunteers and visiting potential tour sites.  The first tours will happen on Thursday, July 4, and we hope you will spend the holiday with ACB in the city named for the man who discovered America.  The Ohio host committee invites everyone to their welcome party on Friday evening, July 5.

Traveling to Columbus

Port Columbus International Airport (code CMH) is located just 10 minutes east of downtown.  Columbus is served by all major air carriers, including Air Canada, AirTran, American, Delta, Frontier, Southwest, United, and US Airways.

Columbus is served by Greyhound and Megabus, but not by Amtrak; the closest train stop is two hours away in Cincinnati.

Columbus is easy to access by car.  The main east-west highway is I-70, and the two primary north-south freeways are I-71 and state route 315.

Food News

Each year there is a question as to whether individuals, affiliates and others may sell food items at the ACB conference and convention.  The Hyatt Regency's convention services office has provided us with their policy, as follows: "All food and beverage arrangements must be made through the hotel.  Only food and beverage purchased from the Hyatt may be served on hotel property.  No food or beverage may be sold at any events, trade shows or any general events on hotel property."

So no, food sales will NOT be permitted in Columbus.  When planning your fundraisers, exhibits, Marketplace tables, etc., think outside the box.  For example, ACB Students had an innovative fund-raiser in Louisville, delivering food from the ACB Café or the hotel deli to attendees in general sessions.


Room rates are $89 plus tax per night (single, double, triple, quad).  Make telephone reservations by calling 1-888-421-1442, or online by visiting the ACB web site at and following the 2013 conference and convention link.

Convention Contacts

Exhibits: Michael Smitherman, (601) 331-7740;
Sponsorship Opportunities: Margarine Beaman, (512) 921-1625;
Convention Coordinator: Janet Dickelman, (651) 428-5059;

ACB: Full Steam Ahead! by Sharon Lovering

(Editor's Note: To download the file for any convention session, go to, select "On Demand," then select "ACB Convention 2012," and choose the day you'd like.  The Candidates' Forum and the banquet are also available.)


"Ladies and gentlemen, the 51st annual conference and convention of the American Council of the Blind is now in session!" stated Mitch Pomerantz, president, calling the session to order.

Following the opening ceremony, Mitch Pomerantz gave his president's report.  (See this issue, next issue, and the September issue.)

The keynote speaker was Dr. Tuck Tinsley III, executive director of the American Printing House for the Blind.  "The theme of your 2012 convention, 'ACB: Full Steam Ahead!,' certainly rings true and in tune with the history that was forged right here on the banks of the Ohio River … The history of the falls of the Ohio and a captain's essential need to read the river offer a powerful analogy for the work of ACB...  ACB prides itself on its talented leadership, its captains … To effectively achieve ACB's goals, they … must recognize when you can go full steam ahead, when you have to adjust … In the lives of organizations, just as in river traffic, it's necessary for us to gauge our routes and our solutions and our speed by the condition of the waters in which we're traveling. … To navigate them effectively and to arrive successfully at our destinations, we must chart the course we're taking wisely and cooperatively, and together we must read the river."

Afterward, Allen Casey introduced the winners of the Durward K. McDaniel First-Timers Awards: Cynthia Julun of Texas and Cindy LaBon of Maryland.

The convention next heard from Caleb Olin, a local representative of Major League Baseball's Advance Media. "On behalf of Major League Baseball, I want to thank the ACB for having us here at the 2012 convention," Olin said.  "We launched the entire revamped architecture and sites on opening day in 2001."  Since then, MLB-AM has grown to about 500 employees, launched an iPhone app, and included accessibility for blind and visually impaired web site and iPhone users. 

Pomerantz then presented life memberships to Charles Glaser, Lonnie Lanning, Berl Colley, William Hawkins, Adam Ruschival, and Grady Ebert.  He also presented new charters to ACB Students, Blind LGBT Pride International, and ACB Families, then called on Jean Mann to give the first credentials report.  The evening wrapped up with the roll call of affiliates.


Following the pledge and invocation, the convention got right to work.  Marlaina Lieberg received several updates for affiliate delegates.  Mitch Pomerantz announced the names of two new life members: Terry Lewis and Caroline Ward.  Margarine Beaman, advertising and sponsorship coordinator, read the list of Kentucky gems.

After a few brief announcements, Jean Mann presented the final credentials report.  Washington's vote count was corrected to 17.  She read a list of "affiliate annoyances" – things affiliates do that make things harder for the office and the committee, such as making up their own lists instead of using the one the office sends, sending lists from past years, sending Excel spreadsheets with names and no other information, not counting their members, not removing dead people, counting women once under their maiden names and once under their married names, etc.  She told everyone that if you know your affiliate is not going to get its list in on time, let the national office know ASAP.  She also warned them that if their affiliate sends in a list other than the one the office sent out (with appropriate corrections made to it), the office will return it to the affiliate, and the affiliate will be counted as being late.  The convention adopted the credentials report, along with the standing rules and the program.

Next up was John Huffman, who, assisted by Jay Bader, read two proposed amendments to the constitution.

Then it was on to awards!  Chelle Hart presented the Membership Growth Award to the Nevada Council of the Blind, which had both the largest percentage and the largest number of new members.  She also gave the Robert S. Bray Award to Regal Entertainment Group.  Paul Edwards, chairman of the board of publications, presented the Vernon Henley Media Award to the American Cancer Society.  Carl Jarvis was the winner of the Ned E. Freeman Award, for his article "Old Attitudes Die Hard" (July-August 2011).

From awards, the convention moved on to the topic of driverless cars.  Two women from Google, Naomi Black, an engineering program manager for accessibility, and Laura Palmaro, an account manager with the online sales division, discussed Google's self-driving car. Why is Google investing in a self-driving car?  Palmaro said, "Our real mission here is to improve people's lives by transforming mobility."

So how does it work?  "The first step is we build a map," Black said.  She and her team build this map by driving the road, using cameras, lasers and radar to put together a model of what's on the road, such as construction zones, speed limits, traffic safety zones, etc.  Once they've collected the data, they send it to data centers to turn it into a detailed map.  Then they drive the route without driver assistance, using the cameras and sensors to record what's changed.  "When we're driving these cars on the road and running through our tests, we have a safety driver present in the car at all times," she noted. "And that driver can take over in any situation the car hasn't been fully programmed to handle."

When will we see these cars on the roads?  Probably not for several years, Black says.  "Organizations like ACB can really help us; you can help support our efforts in discussions with lawmakers at the state and federal level."

Kim Charlson then introduced David Strickland, an administrator with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, to talk about progress toward providing sound for quiet cars. "Before I became the administrator of this agency … I worked in the United States Senate as a lawyer," he said.  "And one of the issues that was brought to me several years ago by … the members of ACB … was the problem of hybrid vehicles and the fact that it is making it very dangerous for people that are visually impaired and blind to actually know where a car is …"

In 2009, NHTSA did a study, which recognized that hybrid vehicles in parking lots and other slow-moving environments doubled the crash risk for pedestrians. When the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act of 2010 passed, it gave the agency the opportunity to finish the rule regarding hybrid vehicles and sound.  "You will not be … surprised by another vehicle again when this rule gets finished and the implementation of this technology comes to the fore," Strickland said.

After a break, the convention heard from Arnt Holte, first vice president of the World Blind Union, of Norway.  "In Norway we have one organization, [the] Norwegian Association of the Blind and Partially Sighted … which takes care of the advocacy work, but it is also a service-providing organization," he stated.  Norway's population is 5 million people; the association has 12,000 members.  "Norway is one of the richest countries in the world today, and of course that also gives an opportunity to give good services to disabled people and also to blind and partially sighted people."

One thing that surprised him was the similarities in unemployment rates of blind people around the world.  "Why is it so that even if we have a rich country, we still have unemployed blind and partially sighted people?  My belief is that it is because there is an attitude … that blind and partially sighted people cannot produce, they are not equal with other people, and we need to change that."

The World Blind Union has developed a strategic plan, Holte said.  "We have been working to achieve a treaty which will open the borders for braille and accessible format [books] for blind and partially sighted; it's called the WIPO Treaty," he says. "And we try to get this treaty through to secure … braille from one country to another."  One of the World Blind Union's goals is to try to improve the situation for all blind people around the world.  He invited listeners to be a part of WBU's work, and to "act locally, think globally."

Charlson introduced the new director of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, Karen Keninger.  One of the important things is to maintain the quality of materials the library produces, Keninger said.  NLS has produced about 2,000 audio titles and about 500 braille titles per year.  "That's maybe 1 percent of the number of books published in a year.  That's not enough."  How does NLS plan to remedy that?  "There are a number of things on the horizon," she added. "BARD is up for a makeover, and one of the things that we're going to do … is to open it up so that the material that Kim produces in Massachusetts … can be loaded on BARD and everybody can have access to it." NLS also plans to look at commercially available audio material for inclusion in its collection, and to look at ways to improve the digital talking book machine. The library is currently working on an iPhone app.


Members of the Visually Impaired Veterans of America led the Pledge of Allegiance.  Afterward, Eric Bridges announced that "late yesterday afternoon, President Obama signed the FDA Safety and Innovation Act." Margarine Beaman read a list of this year's titanium and platinum sponsors.  Pomerantz then introduced Dominic Gagliano of HumanWare to give a brief report.

Next, Pat Sheehan gave the nominating committee report.  The slate for 2012 was: for the board of publications, Judy Jackson, Marcia Dresser, and Denise Colley; for the board of directors, Berl Colley, Michael Garrett, Dan Spoone, John McCann, and Sara Conrad.

After Sheehan's report, Pomerantz called on John Huffman to read the remaining proposed amendments to the constitution and bylaws.  He then turned the podium over to Brenda Dillon, who introduced Patty Slaby, chair of the scholarship committee, to present the 2012 scholarships.  To see who won, read "And the Winner Is …" elsewhere in this issue.

After the break, the convention heard from Allan Steinberg, former executive director of the Kentucky School for the Blind Charitable Foundation. He asked whether there was anyone in attendance from the commonwealth of Virginia; shouts came from the rear right.  "Do you know why you are important to Kentucky? … The entire commonwealth of Kentucky was a county in Virginia, and then we became a state, and that's why we are a commonwealth."  Kentucky was the 15th state, in 1792, and is represented by the last stripe on the U.S. flag.

The convention then heard an update on developing regulations following the passage of the Communications and Video Accessibility Act.  Mark Richert from the American Foundation for the Blind was the panel moderator; panelists were Melanie Brunson; Brian Charlson, director of technology at the Carroll Center for the Blind; and Paul Schroeder, vice president for programs and policy at the American Foundation for the Blind. 

Richert informed his listeners that what Title II of the CVAA does is require video description, up to 450 hours of it every quarter.  It also makes sure that your TV, cable box, satellite equipment, etc. is as accessible as possible, and includes access to emergency information that scrolls across the screen with a beep tone.

He then introduced Paul Schroeder. "Starting last Sunday, July 1st, we finally have the law in place that many of us fought for a long time, lost for a little bit … and got back for the 50 hours a quarter of video-described program[ming] on the top 4 broadcast and the top 5 networks in America," Schroeder said.  Those nine networks are ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC, and Disney, USA, TBS, TNT and Nickelodeon.

There are difficulties ahead, he noted.  They are which programs are actually described, and how you find out about them, and how you get access to them.  "We're going to talk a little bit about some of the issues that have yet to be dealt with …" One issue was quality.  "What is a good quality description?  Arguments were very heated about that …" There was a great deal of discussion about information, too, he said, including making lists of described programs and putting them on web sites so people would know which programs were being described.  Another contentious issue that was hard to resolve was how to provide the description.

Melanie Brunson addressed the topic of emergency alerts.  "Everybody initially reacted the same way that Mark did – 'yeah, this is motherhood and apple pie, this is what we need to do' … but, but, but … and the buts got more emotional every time we said 'and so this is what you need to do.' And we ended up in a situation where the devil was in the details, and by golly, there were lots of devilish details. … The goal of the emergency alerts group was to figure out how to make emergency information accessible." The short-term solution was grouping emergency situations into several levels of severity, from most serious (which would interrupt the broadcast, such as tornado warnings) to least.

Brian Charlson spoke next.  "I came into the process when the time frame was half over, and the first thing the committee decided to do was to junk everything they had done … and literally start over," he said. They broke it down to bare-bones basic concepts, beginning with on-off. "How do you tell how to make it go on or off? I laid out the 8 remote controls in my living room and I tried to find commonalities between them, and we used some of that experience to write up our recommendations.  We said, 'All devices which happen to have an on-off capability, you need to be able to readily identify where the control is, either by its location, its shape or its texture … And this needs to be readily achievable for those who are blind or visually impaired and those who are deaf or hard of hearing.'"

Brunson chimed in.  "It is important for individuals like you out there to make comments as well, because the more comments they hear on either side, the more they have to back up their action that they want to take," she stated.


After the pledge and invocation, Margarine Beaman read the list of Kentucky gems and the list of gold sponsors.  Judy Jackson read several resolutions.  Marlaina Lieberg then introduced the talking book narrators, Jack and Jill Fox from the American Printing House for the Blind.

"It's great for us to be here and get to meet you," Jack Fox said. "It helps us to know who we're reading to."

Jill Fox added, "I definitely followed my father up the hill, and I've been tumbling along ever since." Jack Fox told everyone he started in radio, and Jill followed along.  Jack began reading at APH in 1978; his voice is also featured in many airports at the TSA checkpoints and on the moving sidewalk systems.

At one point, father and daughter had "The Jack and Jill Show." Jill said, "I was 16, I think … and Dad was at the radio station, and I came down and I helped him … and that was my intro to radio."  After graduation, she returned home, and APH was holding auditions for narrators.  She began working there in 1996, and has recorded 964 titles, including children's books, non-fiction, cookbooks, knitting, how-to books, and magazines.  More recently, she recorded "The Help."  She then read a selection from "Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail" by Cheryl Strayed, which she is now recording.  Jack followed with Charles Osgood's essay "Words to Live By." 

Lieberg introduced Eric Bridges, ACB's director of advocacy and governmental affairs.  "The President late Monday signed the FDA Safety and Innovation Act into law.  … What does this mean for us, ultimately? The need for accessible prescription drug labeling is great and is only going to grow, especially as the baby boomers age, and some of them age into vision loss and/or blindness."  The law sets up a working group at the Access Board that will be composed of consumers and pharmacy representatives. 

Over the next year, the group will meet and identify ways that blind people can go into a pharmacy and, upon request, gain independent and private access to the label information on their prescriptions.  After the group decides on what best practices are, pharmacies will have some low- and high-tech solutions, from large print and high-contrast printing to RFID tags and accessories like ScripTalk.  Sometime later, GAO will do a study to look at the adoption rate of best practices and look to see if there are other barriers that prevent people from gaining information from their prescription labels.

Other issues Bridges is working on include the vehicle donation legislation, which currently has 289 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives.  He reminded his listeners that their advocacy is crucial to ACB's success. "There's a lot happening, and I can assure you that when you listen to the resolutions being read here, that it's not just stuff that is done at the convention and gets filed away on a bookshelf somewhere in the national office. We take the lead of the membership, and I'm proud to represent ACB on these issues."

After the break, the convention learned about accessible TV and audio description.  Richard Orme, head of accessibility for the Royal National Institute of Blind People, addressed accessible television.  "Access to television was identified by us as an important issue many years ago, and we considered this to have two key aspects: the content and the interface, the access to the equipment."

In the United Kingdom, they use the term "audio description," Orme notes.  Audio description is very popular; "when we polled our members last year, 70 percent of our blind members are using audio description on TV, and 40 percent partially sighted.  Eighty-two percent of those using it wanted us to encourage broadcasters to produce even more."  Currently in the UK, 69 TV channels carry audio description; they are required by their licenses to describe at least 10 percent of their programs all the time. "The most popular channels … have committed to produce 20 percent themselves, voluntarily, and many in fact broadcast more than a third of their programs with audio descriptions, some even reaching 40 percent."  This week in the UK, 1,335 programs are being broadcast with audio description.

Broadcasting is important, but so is the equipment, he said.  "Navigating the many TV and radio channels … is really challenging if you find the onscreen messages, menus and grids difficult or impossible to read."  Many people were having trouble finding the programs they wanted to watch, programming their recorders and controlling their TVs, so RNIB started talking to TV manufacturers about making their sets accessible to blind people. "But when we met with manufacturers, we were told, 'It's just not possible to make televisions usable by blind people.'"  So RNIB partnered with companies that made television equipment, and developed the world's first talking set-top box, which launched in 2010.  More than 10,000 homes in the UK now have one, he noted.

Once people had talking TV, they wanted more options, including the ability to record programs, Orme said.  RNIB worked with a leading manufacturer to create a spoken interface for their digital video recorders; it also has worked with Panasonic, which now has 30 models of talking TVs on the market in the UK. "The TV industry is highly competitive, and when one company introduces a feature, often the others follow," he noted.  "We've shown what's possible, and it would be wonderful if the voice of ACB could also be heard by these companies so we can really get them to deliver for blind consumers. Accessible TV is real; it is achievable, and there is no reason why you shouldn't have it in America."

Next on the agenda was Josh Miele of the Video Description Research Center at the Smith Kettlewell Institute. "My wife calls me a mad scientist," he said.  "I'm not mad, but I am irritated about a bunch of things.  And one of them is the fact that it is so difficult to get hold of video description."

The VDRC is developing a system called the Descriptive Video Exchange (DVX), which is at the heart of a number of the technologies the company is investigating and developing.  "The research center … is a place where we're looking two, three, five, ten years down the road to see what types of technologies are we going to need to address the barriers that may exist now but will almost certainly exist in even more profusion in a few years.  Because as technology progresses, of course it creates opportunity but … it also creates barriers.  And unless there are plans laid to figure out how to address the accessibility barriers of the future, we are going to be stuck in the same cycle that we always are …"

The Descriptive Video Exchange was a concept they came up with to address the availability of video description, he added.  "Television is beginning to be a smaller and diminishing part of the video market. What about YouTube? … What are we going to do for equal access to education when educational materials are largely video and are largely on the Internet …? These are the issues that we need to be thinking about." 

DVX is one approach, he noted. "Imagine that one of Richard's video players could have any video described simply by turning on the description feature. That description doesn't have to be recorded on top of the existing program. … [It] can be provided separately." The other half of the system is a server that stores only the description information. In a system like this, there can be multiple descriptions of any given video, Miele said. "What I'm trying to excite you about today is all of the ways in which a technology like this can provide better access for the video of the future."

The final presenter of the day was Joel Snyder, who updated everyone on ACB's audio description project. "Description is everywhere, and can be everywhere, and should be everywhere," he said.  "Consumers must advocate … the producers are not going to do description until they see it in their faces.  We have to put it in their faces."

Snyder mentioned that it was the fourth year of the audio description project, and offered a few highlights.  Thursday through Saturday, there would be the Audio Description Institute, an intensive three-day training seminar for describers and would-be describers.  This past year, the project received a $5,000 grant from the Aid Association for the Blind of Washington, D.C. to provide description for Access Dance Theater, a company of dancers with a variety of abilities.  He referred people to the web page,, and the project's Facebook page.

Snyder told his listeners that this year's described movie would be "Hugo," and that the White House would soon have an audio tour of the East Wing and White House public tour route.  He then turned the mike over to Chris Gray to announce the winners of the audio description awards (see "Here and There," September 2012), as well as the Young Described Film Critic of the Year Award.  The winner was Rebecca Baumgarten for her reviews of "Wall-E" and "Rio."


Following the pledge and the invocation, the convention heard from Patty Slaby, who announced that Kae Seth was the winner of the Oregon scholarship.  Mitch Pomerantz then presented a life membership to Dennis Yacks.  Margarine Beaman read a list of convention sponsors and silver sponsors (plus one platinum sponsor).  Jack Mendez from Vanda Pharmaceuticals gave a short sponsorship presentation.

Pomerantz then called on John Huffman for the constitutional amendments.  The first proposal concerned the establishment of an advisory board; following discussion, the amendment passed.

Melanie Brunson presented her report next.  She mentioned the work of Annette Carter on the web site, and Larry Turnbull as ACB Radio manager, and Joel Snyder.  She thanked Lane and Lori, who have been working hard in the registration office; Sharon, who has been busy making sure everyone gets "The Paddlewheel Gazette"; and Steve Obremski for their work.  "I have a special thank-you to two people.  Back in the office … is Barbara LeMoine, who's holding down the fort for us in D.C. … I want you to give a special thank-you to somebody who has done some dynamic work and is now… celebrating their 5th anniversary with ACB ... Eric Bridges has now been with us for five years."  She also thanked Chi, Dee and Sheila of the Minnesota office.

One of this year's highlights was working with RSVA to get an executive order encouraging federal agencies to recognize and enforce the Randolph-Sheppard priority; the order was issued in January.  Another item was the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.  "Back during the Bush administration, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was put forward by the UN, and there's been an interest among the disability community … [in] having our government ratify it," she stated.  "And just recently efforts have gotten under way to push that process along."

A related issue is copyright and access to books.  "We are constantly involved with issues related to copyright and the impact and the interest of copyright rights holders has on our ability to get accessible format books," Brunson said.  ACB is also working to make sure that Medicare covers devices that people with visual impairments need to access their medications and to live their lives independently.

Ongoing activities include monitoring of Social Security for compliance with the decision to provide documents in alternate formats and tracking the progress of the currency case.  Coming soon is work on the budget for 2013.  And the midyear meeting will be held Feb. 22-26, 2013 at the Holiday Inn-National Airport in Arlington, Va.  If you have questions, concerns, ideas, or suggestions, contact the national office.

Pomerantz next called on convention coordinator Janet Dickelman.  She thanked the Galt House and its staff, the national convention committee, the Arlington and Brooklyn Center office staffs, the communication center, registration, and the local host committee. "This was a convention of firsts," she said, "the first-ever national leadership institute … the first-ever Marketplace … Hope you enjoyed all that the convention had to offer." She requested that people send her their compliments, complaints, and suggestions via e-mail (, and in the subject line, put "convention suggestion box."

Following the break, the convention heard from Lane Waters.  In 2011, ACB took in revenues of $1,941,891, and expenses were $1,276,305, giving a surplus of $665,586.  Non-operating income, consisting mainly of convention funds and investment income, totaled $130,222, which gave ACB a total surplus of $795,808 for 2011.  Reserves at the end of 2011 were $1,773,401.  The endowment fund wrapped up the year with $856,317.

2012 has gotten off to a rough start, Waters said.  Revenue as of May is $369,026; expenses, $518,745, leaving a deficit of $149,718.  Investment income is $74,120.  Reserves are $1,591,785.  Endowments have grown to $875,997.  He noted that ACB was lucky to receive generous bequests in both 2010 and 2011.

Following Waters was Michael Garrett, who gave the ACB Enterprises and Services report.  He explained that ACBES was a subsidiary of ACB, which consists of six thrift stores. "Our thrift stores are not only set up to help us financially, but it's also a way to educate the community about ACB," he said.  The stores are holding their own, and he believed they would give their full portion to ACB this year.

Next, Marsha Farrow and Dan Dillon discussed ACB's fund-raisers.  Farrow thanked the committee members and auctioneers for their work on the auction, which raised $26,870. Dan Dillon thanked all walkers, pledgers, the walk committee members, walk sponsors and volunteers.  The walk raised $24,725.

John Huffman presented an amendment concerning submission of a list of officers and chapter presidents with the annual membership list.  After much discussion, and a roll call vote, the amendment was referred back to the constitution and bylaws committee.


After the pledge and invocation, the convention dove right into business.  Margarine Beaman thanked the Kentucky gems and bronze sponsors.  Mitch Pomerantz then called on John Huffman for the remaining constitutional amendments.  The first proposal dealt with references to "The Braille Forum."  After an amendment, and much debate, the change to "The ACB Braille Forum" was approved. The second proposal dealt with the removal of exclusion language from Article III.  After heated debate, the amendment failed.  Huffman thanked the members of the constitution and bylaws committee for their work. The convention next dealt with a resolution on autonomous vehicles, which failed.

After a break, it was time for elections.  Pat Sheehan restated the slate for the board of publications and the board of directors.  The winners were Judy Jackson, Marcia Dresser and Denise Colley for the BOP.  The convention then broke for lunch. When the session resumed, so did elections for the board of directors. The winners were Berl Colley, Michael Garrett, Dan Spoone, John McCann and Sara Conrad.

The remainder of the afternoon session dealt with resolutions.


Chelle Hart presents the Robert S. Bray Award to Regal Entertainment Group.  She is standing behind a wooden lectern marked "Galt House" on stage at the front of the general session room.
Arnt Holte tells ACB conventioneers about the Norwegian Association of the Blind and Partially Sighted and his role in the World Blind Union.  He is standing behind the Galt House lectern on stage.  Behind him, just visible, is the American Council of the Blind banner, hanging off the pipe and drape at the rear of the stage.
Karen Keninger discusses NLS' plans for the future, including an upgrade to BARD and an iPhone application.  She's wearing a red jacket over a white blouse, and a multicolored beaded necklace, and carries a white cane in her right hand.  She's standing behind the Galt House lectern, speaking into the microphone.
Paul Schroeder, Brian Charlson and Mark Richert discuss video description and the Communications and Video Accessibility Act.  Richert stands behind the lectern; Schroeder and Charlson are seated at the table to his right.  Charlson is speaking into the table microphone.
Jill and Jack Fox, talking book narrators from the American Printing House for the Blind, talk about how they began recording books.  Jack is standing behind the Galt House lectern; Jill is to the left.
Richard Orme talks about audio description and accessible TV in the United Kingdom.  He surprised convention attendees when he told them that in the UK this week, 1,335 programs would be broadcast with audio description.  He stands behind the Galt House lectern, facing the audience.
Melanie Brunson congratulates Eric Bridges on his 5 years with ACB.  She's standing behind the Galt House lectern on stage, speaking into the microphone.
Lane Waters tells the convention about ACB's finances, explaining that 2012 has gotten off to a rough start.  He's wearing a green-and-white-striped shirt, standing behind the Galt House lectern, looking out at the audience and speaking into the microphone.
Dan and Brenda Dillon wait for their turn at the microphone as Marsha Farrow, standing behind the lectern and talking into the microphone, discusses the success of this year's auction. Dan carries a box full of trophies, and Brenda is double-checking to be sure they're in order.

AND THE WINNER IS … by Patty Slaby

Congratulations go to our ACB scholarship winners for the 2012-2013 school year!

The Floyd Qualls Memorial Scholarships have been awarded to several people.  In the vocational/technical category, the winner is Anna Havig, who is attending Mesa Community College in Mesa, Ariz., majoring in assistive technology.  She hopes to work with visually impaired people. The entering freshman winner is Alex Tettenhorst, who will begin his career at Washington University in St. Louis, Mo. He will be majoring in economics. Valeria Paradiso continues her undergraduate work at Hunter College in New York City, majoring in psychology with a goal of med school. Bianca Knight, the graduate winner, is in her second year of law school at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn.

Kristen Boyle has been awarded the William G. Corey Scholarship. She will begin her freshman year at St. Joseph University in Philadelphia, majoring in psychology and a possible minor in business. The Arnold Sadler Scholarship is awarded to Caitlin Lynch. She is completing her second year in a master's program in social work. She is attending Stony Brook University in Stony Brook, N.Y. Tyler Littlefield will be a freshman at Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction, Colo., majoring in computer science with an emphasis in security. He has received the Kellie Cannon Scholarship.

The Dr. S. Bradley Burson Science Scholarship is awarded to Shawn Berg. He will be a freshman at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Ariz., where his major will be mechanical engineering.  Minh Ha is the Bay State Council of the Blind scholarship winner. She will be a freshman at Boston College in Chestnut Hills, Mass., majoring in environmental science. The John Hebner Scholarship goes to Kaylyn Kasun, who is working full-time and taking a significant amount of course work. She is enrolled at Sullivan University in Louisville, majoring in human resources with an emphasis in leadership.

Brianna Jeffre has received the Eunice Fiorito Scholarship. She is majoring in vision rehabilitation therapy at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Mich. The Dr. Duane Buckley Scholarship is awarded to Rob Blachowicz, who is an undergraduate at Buffalo State College in Buffalo, N.Y. He is majoring in elementary and special education. Kae Seth, a long-time ACB member, is awarded the ACB of Oregon scholarship. She is attending George Fox University in Newberg, Ore. She is working toward a M.A. in divinity.

Chandler Whittington has received the James R. Olsen Memorial Scholarship. He will continue his undergraduate work in finance and is attending Harding University in Searcy, Ark. The last 2 winners have been awarded the Ross & Patricia Pangere Foundation for the Visually Impaired Scholarship. Cody Bair is an undergraduate at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, Colo., majoring in accounting with a minor in economics. Our final winner is also a long-time ACB person. Paulette Monthei is a graduate student at Bellevue University in Bellevue, Neb. She will complete her master's degree in public administration.


The 2012 scholarship winners and committee members.  Top row, standing, left to right: Valorie Stanard, Gillie Presley, Mitch Pomerantz, Michael Garrett, Kristen Boyle, Alexander Tettenhorst, Chandler Whittington, Edward Aloi, Cody Bair, Shawn Berg, Bianca Knight, Paulette Monthei, Alan Bentson, Sharon Strzalkowski, Don Koors, Linda Jacobson.  Bottom row, seated: Chelle Hart, Minh Ha, Tyler Littlefield, Anna Havig, Cathy Schmitt Whitaker, Patty Slaby, Caitlin Lynch, Kaylyn Kasun, Rob Blachowicz, and Allison Riley.


Immediately following our 2011 ACB conference and convention in Sparks, Nev., the Monthly Monetary Support (MMS) program committee got busy kicking off our 2011-2012 promotional campaign, which we called our "Round Tu-It" campaign. 

We were delighted to have the American Printing House in Louisville step up and contribute a BookPort Plus as our grand drawing prize for this new campaign.  To be eligible to win the BookPort Plus, you had to either join as a new Monthly Monetary Support (MMS) Program participant or increase the amount of your monthly contributions any time from the end of our 2011 convention through the conclusion of our 2012 convention held in Louisville.  All of those participants were placed into a drawing for the APH BookPort Plus. 

As soon as we got all of our data entered into a spreadsheet following the convention in Louisville, the winner was selected using a random number program to ensure total fairness and objectivity. Each eligible contributor was numbered, and the computer program selected the magic number 19. 

Number 19 turned out to be Marcia Dresser of Reading, Mass.! Congratulations to Marcia, and we certainly hope she gets lots of good use out of her BookPort Plus.

We thank the following people who either became MMS Program contributors for the first time or increased the amount of their contributions during our 2011-2012 campaign. These people are: Dot Taylor, Rachel Schroeder, Karen Gourgey, Darlene Barton, Michael Golfo, Chris Gray, Rochelle Hart, Edie Huffman, Richard Johnson, Sandy Smith, Marian Haselrud, Joseph Wassermann, Nicky Coby, Marcia Dresser, Ken Jessup, Martin Kuhn, Teddie-Joy Remhild, Marion Howell, Susanne Howell, Linda Teixeira, Richard McDonald, Donna Brown, Sarah Presley, Dee Clayton, Lynn Powers, Casey Dutmer, Dan Spoone, Gaylen Floy, Kathy Devin, Lerae Oleson, Pam Evans, Fred Scheigert, Viola Bentson, Bill Deatherage, Debbie Deatherage, Stephanie Hunolt, Sue Wesley, Marie Brinas, Lisa Brooks, Lucinda Talkington, John McCann, Jean Mann, Elizabeth Barnes, Marie Brinas, Judy Burch, Mark Burns, Josephine DeFini, Carol Gray, Evelyn Larson, Josh Metz, Kenneth Semien Sr., and Deb Wild.

During the 2012 conference and convention, we gained 21 new contributors; 22 existing participants increased their monthly contributions.  Another nine people joined the MMS Program between the end of the 2011 and the beginning of the 2012 conventions, bringing our total enrollment up to 245 members.  We are continuing to make slow but steady progress. I sincerely thank all of you who have made this progress possible.

As chair of the MMS committee, I also want to recognize the efforts of the other members of our outstanding committee: Ray Campbell, Kathy Brockman, William Benjamin, Mike Godino, Kenny Maddox, and Carla Ruschival. We also thank Lane Waters and the wonderful staff in our Minnesota office for their extraordinary assistance throughout the entire year and during the convention.  Finally, we would be remiss if we did not recognize the extraordinary contribution of APH providing us with the BookPort Plus as our grand prize this year.  The American Printing House is, indeed, a very good friend of ACB!

The MMS program committee is currently planning the next big campaign and will be announcing it shortly. If you want to become a participant, or to increase your current contribution, you can contact our Minnesota office, 1-800-866-3242, or contact me at (270) 782-9325.  You can also visit the web site; the form is at

Who will be the winner next year? In order to win, you have to participate. So, sign up and be a new contributor, or increase your current contribution. Maybe you'll be the next big winner!


The next membership focus call will focus on the topic of "How we can encourage junior members in our affiliates." It will be held on Oct. 28 at 5 p.m. Pacific/8 p.m. Eastern. All are welcome to share your experiences. Please contact the ACB membership committee about any affiliate issues and we'll assist you with possible solutions.


The membership and public relations committees conducted a combined panel presentation during the 2012 ACB national conference and convention in Louisville this year.  The membership committee's segment focused on using affiliate web sites to address the needs of members, including recruiting new members.  The PR committee's segment focused on using affiliate web sites to market their mission, goals, activities, fundraisers, and other events to appeal to both members and non-members.  The PR committee's panel participants were Gaylen Floy as the PR committee representative, Ann Chiappetta representing Guide Dog Users, Inc., Denny Huff representing the Missouri Council of the Blind, and Ron Milliman as the panel moderator.  Each panelist discussed various ways their web sites were being used to effectively promote the mission and activities of their affiliates.  

Earlier in the year, the PR committee posted a call for nominations for the Most Outstanding ACB Affiliate and Chapter Web Sites.  Fifteen affiliate web sites were nominated.  Each site was carefully evaluated using a 5-point, 10-item scale, e.g.:

  1. Links: Are there lots of useful links to other sites that will help its position on search engines like Google and that take people to other valuable resources, but without taking the user entirely off the site?

Very poor 1__, 2___, 3__, 4__, 5__ Excellent
Based on the results of this evaluation process, the PR committee presented the following certificates of recognition to several affiliates.

  • The Most Outstanding ACB Affiliate Web Site 1st place certificate was presented to Guide Dog Users, Inc. (GDUI); 2nd place went to the Missouri Council of the Blind (MCB); and 3rd place went to the Blue Grass Council of the Blind (BGCB). 
  • The Most Accessible & Navigable ACB Affiliate Web Site was a three-way tie, with certificates going to GDUI, Missouri Council of the Blind, and the New Jersey Council of the Blind (NJCB). 
  • The Most Functional, Current, and Useful ACB Affiliate Web Sites belonged to GDUI and the Missouri Council of the Blind. 
  • The site recognized as the Best for Visually Appealing and Links was GDUI. 
  • The web sites deemed Most Appealing to Members and Non-Members were the Tennessee Council of the Blind (TCB) and GDUI. 

The affiliates with the Best Public Relations Content were the Missouri Council of the Blind and GDUI. 

Want to check the sites out for yourself? Their addresses are:
Guide Dog Users, Inc.:
Missouri Council of the Blind:
Blue Grass Council of the Blind:
New Jersey Council of the Blind:
Tennessee Council of the Blind:
If you'd like a copy of the evaluation scale, contact me at (270) 782-9325 or via e-mail,


Do you want a chance to get some great gift items, help ACB at the same time, and not even go out into the cold December evening? Well, get ready for a fun time at the ACB Holiday Auction, to be held on Dec. 2, from 7 to 10 p.m. Eastern time.

The auction will be streamed live on ACB Radio Mainstream and you'll be able to telephone in your bids. Items will include jewelry, dolls, handbags, food, sports collectibles and much more. The proceeds will go to support the outstanding work of ACB Radio.

If you would like to donate something to the auction, please send it to: American Council of the Blind, 6300 Shingle Creek Pkwy., Suite 195, Brooklyn Center, MN 55430. Items must be received by Nov. 5.

So, whether you're a major bargain hunter or just want to have some great fun, join us on Dec. 2 for the holiday auction.


ACB teddy bears, ACB Treasures collectible mugs, magnets, steins and shot glasses, canes, toys and jewelry - you'll find all these things and more in the ACB Store.

A new line of logo products and ACB Treasures collectibles debuted at this year's conference and convention in Louisville.  Visitors to the ACB Store in the exhibit hall found cuddly plush teddy bears wearing ACB logos on their vests.  There were sippy cups, Thermos products, baseball jerseys, super-sized coffee mugs, shot glasses, steins and magnets, all proudly sporting the ACB logo.  Our canine friends were part of the action, too; ACB logo doggie T-shirts were barking up the right tree.

But that wasn't all.  A new line of collectibles, called ACB Treasures, greeted each visitor to the booth.  The conference theme was "ACB: Full Steam Ahead"; a picture of two steamboats racing up the Ohio River on a beautiful sunny day in May, with the Louisville skyline in the background, adorned the official program cover and found its way onto shot glasses, beer steins, magnets, coffee mugs, and much more.  These same products were also available with an image of Churchill Downs from years past, taken from the winner's circle and showing the fans, flowers and beauty of the track on its biggest day of the year.

These are just some examples of the exciting new products in the ACB Store this holiday season.  There's something for everyone on your shopping list; some items can even be personalized with a name or year.

Order ACB Store products by calling 1-877-848-3218, or by visiting us on-line at

Keep up with the latest news from the ACB store by subscribing to our new e-mail list.  Send a blank message to, or look us up on the e-mail lists page on the ACB web site.  Don't have a computer?  Call 1-877-848-3218 to request a braille or audio list of products.

Happy holiday shopping!


Durward K. McDaniel personified the traditions of leadership, commitment and involvement as the fledgling American Council of the Blind evolved into a national advocate for the blind and visually impaired.  In the mid-1990s, Durward's legacy was manifested in the Durward K. McDaniel First-Timers Program, providing opportunities for ACB members to become involved at the national level.  At least two individuals were to be selected annually to attend the national conference and convention as guests of ACB and the DKM committee.

Eligible applicants must meet four criteria:  (1) age 18 or older; (2) active member in good standing of ACB or one of its affiliates; (3) blind or visually impaired; and (4) never attended a previous ACB national conference and convention.  Each applicant is required to submit a narrative to the DKM committee as well as a letter of support from the president of the applicant's ACB affiliate.

The application period opens in January 2013 and closes April 1, 2013.  The official call for applications will appear in the January issue of "The Braille Forum."  Questions should be directed to DKM chair Allen Casey at (336) 222-0201 or by e-mail,


RSVA looks forward to the 2013 Sagebrush National BEP Training Conference Feb. 18-22, 2013 at the Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino in downtown Las Vegas, Nev. 

Rates in the Gold Tower are only $42 per night!  The address is 129 E. Fremont St., Las Vegas, NV 89101.

Room reservations must be made directly with the hotel.  You may call 1-800-634-3454. Please inform the reservationist it is listed as "RSVA Sagebrush Conference 2013."

The RSVA Sagebrush Conference Committee is working on some recommended topics, including: Apple products and updates, offering ATMs for customers, tracking systems for vending, accepting credit cards, a vendor panel, business plans, and customer relationships.

Check for updates on the conference at the RSVA web sites.  You should receive copies of the Sagebrush registration forms in the mail if you have previously attended. The registration forms for participants, exhibitors, and sponsors will also be available online at or


Blind Pride Elects New Officers

Blind LGBT Pride met July 9th at the American Council of the Blind convention in Louisville, Ky.  During its business meeting, new officers and board members were elected. They are: president, Guillermo Robles; vice president, Mark Hanohano; secretary, Kevin Ratliff; treasurer, Gabriel Lopez; members at large: Connie Torrisi, George Ashiotis, and Mikey Wiseman; immediate past president, Don Brown.

Committee chairmen were also appointed. They are: public relations: Guillermo Robles, chair, Rob Hill, co-chair; communications and social media: Will Burley; fundraising: Gabriel Lopez, chair, Don Brown, co-chair; constitution and bylaws: Don Brown; convention coordinating: Eric Smith; Internet technology: Kevin Ratliff; outreach: Mikey Wiseman; membership: George Ashiotis.

RSVA Honors Award Winners

At the 2012 ACB convention, RSVA presented several awards to its members.

The Don Cameron Award winner has been in the program since 1974 and at his present location (the Hoover Dam) since 1977.  Kae Pohe's first assigned location was a new city hall on the 10th floor. After they realized the elevator didn't go to the 10th floor, he was sent elsewhere.

In early 1980, Kae called 5,000 people to keep the Department of Employment and Rehabilitation office in his state open. In making so many calls, he met many people, one of whom is still a friend and colleague today -- Rick Kuhlmey. Together, they reactivated the Nevada Council of the Blind, which is still going strong today. 

Kae was very instrumental in securing the Fallon Naval Air Station in Nevada.  He has also chaired his state committee and advocated tirelessly for vendors in his state, and was instrumental in the founding of the annual Sagebrush Training Conference 32 years ago.  Kae has devoted his talents and knowledge to make the Sagebrush Conference a continuing success in Las Vegas, Nev. each year.

The Jennings Randolph Service Award is presented to someone outside of the Randolph-Sheppard program who has given his or her time and energy to Randolph-Sheppard Vendors of America and for his or her service to blind vendors, but is not an active vendor.  This year's winner has been a friend of RSVA for many years. Rick Kuhlmey, now the president of the Nevada Council of the Blind, moved to Las Vegas in 1971. After becoming legally blind, Rick walked from Las Vegas to Carson City for the POWs, culminating in 18 days and 450 miles, which gained national news coverage. He was then appointed to the Governor's Committee on the Employment of the Handicapped.  An Air Force veteran, Rick became a lobbyist after earning a B.A. in psychology. 

The Vendor of the Year Award is presented to an RSVA member who has been an active member for at least five years and has given his or her time and energy to Randolph-Sheppard Vendors of America and for service to blind vendors.     This year's winner has been in the Mississippi BEP program 25 years. Eddie Turner had operated snack bars, cafeterias, and vending locations until obtaining his current location, the Naval Air Station Meridian.

Tandem Mania in Middle Tennessee

In June, more than 1,500 participants, including a number of blind and visually impaired people on tandem bikes, joined in the Harpeth Bicycle Club's (HBC) Harpeth River Ride.  The bike club provided tandem bikes, helmets, and other special gear, as well as sighted captains and volunteers.

For this year's ride, Dan Dillon, president of the Mid-Tennessee Council of the Blind, was selected to be the honorary lead rider and official starter. Dan, who celebrated his 70th birthday in March, completed a 62.5-mile route and came in ahead of people half his age. This was a thrilling experience for Dan and all the other MTCB riders.

At the reception on the evening prior to the ride, HBC presented MTCB with a check for $1,000 in appreciation of its support of this adaptive athletic program.

Want to learn more?  Contact Dan via e-mail,, or by phone, (615) 874-1223. Our helmets are off to HBC for this fabulous program.

- Brenda Dillon


The announcement of products and services in this column does not represent an endorsement by the American Council of the Blind, its officers, or staff. Listings are free of charge for the benefit of our readers.  "The Braille Forum" cannot be held responsible for the reliability of the products and services mentioned.  To submit items for this column, send a message to, or phone the national office at 1-800-424-8666, and leave a message in Sharon Lovering's mailbox.  Information must be received at least two months ahead of publication date.


At its fall 2012 meeting, which will be held Nov. 2-4, the Braille Authority of North America will take a vote that will set the course for the future of braille codes in the United States. Under consideration is the adoption of Unified English Braille while maintaining the Nemeth Code for technical materials.  Detailed information about the background of the code issues can be found in the article "Evolution of Braille: Can the Past Help Plan the Future?" Links to this article are available on the BANA home page at Print and braille copies of this article are available upon request. To get a print or braille copy, send an e-mail containing your name and mailing address, as well as which format you'd like, to

Science Sense Tours

The American Museum of Natural History offers a variety of Science Sense Tours for visitors who are blind or partially sighted.  This fall's offerings include the following.

Sunday, Nov. 11, 10 a.m.: Vertebrate Origins.  Explore the story of the burgeoning of vertebrates through the oceans and onto land in the Hall of Vertebrate Origins. 

Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2:30 p.m.: Primitive and Advanced Mammals.  Examine the fossil mammal specimens that illustrate the story of vertebrate evolution in the Hall of Primitive Mammals and the Hall of Advanced Mammals. 

Science Sense tours are available to individuals or groups. Space is limited and advance registration is required. Programs may be subject to change.  For more information, or to register for a tour, please call (212) 313-7565 or e-mail

Hadley Courses in Entrepreneurship

In September 2011, The Hadley School for the Blind announced the launch of The Forsythe Center for Entrepreneurship (FCE).  Hadley recently introduced five new "modules" for its entrepreneurship center: FCE 290-Using PowerPoint 2010; FCE 280-Networking with LinkedIn; FCE 220-Networking Skills; FCE 210-Obtaining Financing; and FCE 180-Federal Government Benefits.

In addition to the new modules, the FCE has introduced three new tools — the FCE Discussion Group, Minding Your Own Business (MYOB) and the Business Directory. The Discussion Group is a conventional e-mail list, where members can discuss any aspects of starting and running a business by posting questions or responses.

For more information on the FCE, or to enroll, visit


Registration is now open for the Southeast Regional Top Dog workshop, Jan. 11-13, 2013, in Savannah, Ga.  Georgia Guide Dog Users, DixieLand Guide Dog Users and Guide Dog Users of Florida welcome guide dog handlers, puppy raisers and many dogs and puppies from the southeast and around the country to the Holiday Inn Express Hotel and Suites Gateway Conference Center, 17 Gateway Blvd. E., Savannah, Ga., for three days of workshops, exhibits, fine Southern food and hospitality, an optional city tour, and more!  Room rates are $89 per night plus tax.  To reserve your room, call (912) 925-2700, and mention group code GGD (Good Good Dog); the reservation deadline is Dec. 11, 2012. The event is also listed under the name of Georgia Guide Dog Users. Highlights of the workshop include: a veterinarian speaking on the basics, ears, teeth and flea prevention; an optional Red Cross certification course in canine first aid; a panel discussion on advocacy issues for guide dog handlers; and much more. Online registration is available at, or by phone and through the mail. Contact Sally Benjamin at (850) 588-9070.  Or send e-mail to Be sure to register by Dec. 11!


Choice Magazine Listening, a free, nationwide service that provides current, outstanding magazine writing on audio, is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. Four times a year, professional editors select 12 hours of unabridged articles, short stories, and poetry from such publications as The New Yorker, National Geographic, Sports Illustrated, Time, New York Times, and many others.  Today the editors at CML read more than 100 publications, searching for memorable writing to bring to their subscribers throughout the country.

Choice Magazine Listening ( is recorded on formats compatible with the National Library Service's digital talking-book players. To subscribe, or for more information, call 1-888-724-6423 or send e-mail to


Jay Doudna, class of 1967, and Mary J. Smith, class of 1952, were this year's recipients of the Overbrook School for the Blind's Distinguished Alumni Awards.  Doudna was recognized for "his impressive and extensive history in the field of work for the blind."  He created radio reading services in Lancaster and Philadelphia; served two terms as president of the Pennsylvania Council of the Blind; and for a time worked full-time at Overbrook.  Smith's nomination noted that, after graduation, she got a job with the American Casualty Company, eventually obtained a better-paying job with the Berks County branch of the state welfare department, and after graduation, became a rehabilitation counselor with the Berks County Association for the Blind.


Mary Warren, MS, OTR/L, SCLV, FAOTA, Associate Professor of Occupational Therapy and Director of the Graduate Certificate in Low Vision Rehabilitation at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), has been selected by a panel of her peers to receive Envision's "Excellence in Education" Award for 2012.

The Envision "Excellence in Education" is a distinguished peer award, and is presented to the individual(s) or organization that has demonstrated outstanding research outcome, program, career or effort in low vision research with national or international impact for people who are blind or low vision.


Qiutang Li, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences and the Kentucky Lions Eye Center at the University of Louisville, has received the Ernest & Elizabeth Althouse Scholar Award in the amount of $75,000 from Research to Prevent Blindness (RPB) to support research into the causes, treatment and prevention of blinding diseases. The award is part of RPB's Special Scholar Program to support outstanding young scientists who conduct research of significance and promise.

Li's research focuses on the genes that regulate epithelial cells in the cornea, those cells that are found on the surface of the cornea, and the genetic signaling that occurs in corneal epithelium development and wound healing.


Olga Overbury, Ph.D., associate professor in the school of optometry at the University of Montreal, and in the department of ophthalmology at McGill University, is the winner of the 2012 Envision Award in Low Vision Research.  This award is presented each year to a mid-career senior investigator in low vision and vision rehabilitation research.  Overbury's research interests lie in the area of acute as well as chronic visual impairment and its sensory, perceptual and psychosocial impact. The goal of her research is to gain a better understanding of the perceptual abilities of individuals with vision loss in order to better tailor rehabilitation training to their unique needs. 


The second annual New England Blind and Visually Impaired Alpine Ski Festival Week will be held at Sugarloaf Mountain Resort in Carrabasset Valley, Maine, Feb. 10-14, 2013.  This national event is designed to create a unique social, recreational and educational experience for skiers of all levels. Skiers will have the opportunity to develop their skiing abilities with their own guides or qualified festival volunteers. Skills enhancement will also be available for guides from certified PSIA adaptive and experienced clinicians. Visit our web site for additional information at  Also be sure to check out NEVI's Facebook page, If you have questions, call Scott Anderson at (603) 469-3668.


National Braille Press has just released a new braille board book called "Llama Llama Wakey-Wake" for ages baby to 3 years old.  Llama Llama models his morning routine for toddlers under the watchful guidance of Mama Llama.

NBP has also released "Chrysanthemum" for ages 4 and up.  Chrysanthemum loved her name. And then she started school. "I'm named after my grandmother," says Victoria. "You're named after a flower." Chrysanthemum wilts. Victoria starts a mean-spirited game of tormenting Chrysanthemum. Then the students meet the music teacher, Mrs. Delphinium Twinkle. And suddenly, Chrysanthemum blossoms.

For the budding chef in your house, check out "Stir It Up!"  This book was created especially for young blind children to get started in the kitchen. It's available as a print-and-braille book, with adaptive cooking techniques on the left page, and simple instructions on the right-hand page.

Also available are "A Visitor for Bear," for ages 2 and up; "Twenty-one iPhone Apps We Can't Live Without"; and many others.  For more information on any of these books, call toll-free 1-800-548-7323, or visit


Seedlings has just released its 2013 catalog, and it is chock full of books for a variety of ages.  For the youngest ones, there's a print-braille-and-picture book called "Llama Llama Hoppity Hop"; for older kids, there's the braille version of "The Hunger Games (Book 1)."  To get your copy of the catalog, call Seedlings toll-free at 1-800-777-8552, or view it online,


Perkins Products recently unveiled the Perkins SMART Brailler.  It provides audio and visual feedback coupled with hard-copy output so that everyone can learn braille together -- students, teachers, parents, and adults losing their vision. The new product enables a student to learn braille independently, even when a trained teacher of braille is not in the room. The audio and on-screen feedback are available in English, and a range of other languages via Acapela text-to-speech software. It was developed by Perkins Products in conjunction with the American Printing House for the Blind.  For more information, visit or e-mail


Many thousands of people who are both deaf and blind may soon be able to benefit from a new program, thanks to the National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program. Mandated by the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act, the Federal Communications Commission established this new program to provide support for the local distribution of a wide array of accessible communications technology. 

The FCC is also funding a national outreach campaign to educate the public about this new program. The iCanConnect campaign will be conducted jointly by Perkins School for the Blind, Watertown, Mass., the Helen Keller National Center in New York City, N.Y., and FableVision of Boston, Mass.  The campaign will ensure that everyone knows about the free communications technology and training that is now available to low-income individuals with combined hearing and vision loss.

Information about the new equipment distribution program is now available online at or by phone at 1-800-825-4595. Additional information is available through the FCC at


Kurzweil Educational Systems recently released the Kurzweil 3000 (R) – firefly app for the iPad. This application provides mobile access to digital content and powerful literacy tools to enable individuals with the ability, but not the literacy skills, to achieve their academic and personal goals.  To learn more, go to

Kurzweil also released Kurzweil 1000 (TM) version 13 for Windows.  New features include: support for HoverCam, in addition to ABiSee's Zoom-Ex and Eye-Pal, to provide fast access to print documents; support for reading EPUB documents and the ability to write EPUB documents; support for Microsoft Speech Platform; and an OCR upgrade to ABBYY (R) FineReader (R) 10 and ScanSoft 18. To download, visit


Clarity, the market leader in portable assistive technology for visually impaired and blind individuals, is announcing WinZoom, a plug-and-play screen magnifier and reader. WinZoom also contains several advancements over current screen magnifiers.  It supports 8 different viewing modes; contains several locators which allow the user to know where they are on the page at any time; and has several mouse enhancements. It is compatible with Windows XP, Vista, and Windows 7 (including 64 bit); provides magnification from 1.5x to 36x; offers font smoothing for clear text; has zoom scroll bars; reduces glare; and has a portable USB version as well.  For more information, or a free trial, call 1-800-575-1456 x204 or visit


Have you ever left the house wearing two different colored socks, or that the red dress you thought you were wearing was actually blue?  With the Touch Memo and washable labels, you'll now have complete control of your wardrobe.  You'll leave the house confident that everything matches and you're looking your very best.

With washable labels, simply record all the details you want; the color, pattern or even washing instructions and sew the label onto your clothes or simply fasten with a safety pin.  You'll be able to mix and match all the garments in your wardrobe with ease.  The labels can be used time and time again.  You'll never again be unsure of what you're grabbing from your closet or your dresser.  And best of all, you'll never again be reminded that you're wearing mismatched socks.

For more information on the Touch Memo with washable labels, call VisionCue at 1-888-318-2582.


Enhanced Vision recently introduced DaVinci, an all-in-one HD CCTV with
text-to-speech (OCR) and 3 camera viewing positions – see near, far and everything in between. It contains a Sony HD camera, an auto-focus camera, Nuance software, 24" high-resolution HD LCD for clear pictures, and 28 adjustable viewing modes.

The company also introduced the Merlin Elite, a desktop HD CCTV with text to speech.  It contains a Sony HD auto-focus camera, reads aloud with Nuance software, 24" high-resolution HD LCD for clear pictures, a screen that pivots horizontally and vertically, 28 viewing modes and adjustable magnification from 2.4x to 70x.  For more information on either of these CCTVs, call 1-888-811-3161.


Who doesn't love chocolate?  Sweet Tooth continues to add new items to its list of products.  The company's fudge, gourmet chocolate sauce, signature Chocolate Lab truffles, blueberry and raspberry clusters (in season) are becoming increasingly popular. Clusters of all kinds, molded chocolate, lollipops, coffee mugs with chocolate, braille chocolate bars and guide dogs with braille on them, are available as well.

Braille chocolate bars come with a variety of sayings, including "Thank You," "Have A Nice Day," "Happy Birthday," "Love You," "Merry Christmas" and "Happy Holidays." They weigh 4 1/2 ounces and can be made in milk, dark, white chocolate or sugar-free. The bars can also be made with crisped rice, nuts, peppermint or raisins.  The guide dogs can be personalized with the dog's name or the owner's name, and come complete with a harness done in chocolate. Many molded chocolate items can also be personalized with braille.

By request, Sweet Tooth can put braille or large print labels on candy packages. More information is available online, in regular or large print and braille, as well as via e-mail,, or by phone, (585) 544-1853. Sweet Tooth is also on Facebook and will be connected soon to Twitter.  Or visit the web site,


If you have a visual impairment or dual sensory loss, no matter how mild or severe it may be, I need your stories.  I'm looking for your embarrassing and humorous experiences that have occurred due to your being visually impaired or dual sensory impaired.  Even though the event may not have been funny to you at the time, you were later able to look back and laugh at yourself.

I'd like to have a compilation of stories depicting real people with vision loss who have used humor to overcome uncomfortable situations.  I hope to show others who are newly visually impaired and their family and friends that it's OK to laugh.  I will not include stories with vulgarity or profanity.

Please consider sharing your stories with me.  You do not have to include your full name, but I'd like to include at least your first name, your vision problem, and level of remaining vision.  Send me your stories in one of the following formats: e-mail at, or in braille, audio or typewritten to Rita Kersh, PO Box 2216, Bedford, IN 47421.



BookPort with case, software, USB cable, and extra SD card. Software works best with Windows XP. Asking $50. Contact Nancy via e-mail,


HumanWare BrailleNote PK, in excellent condition.  Comes with KeySoft 7.2 (upgradable to version 8), planner, address list, e-mail, Internet, media player, scientific calculator, book reader, games and more.  Has 18 braille cells, stereo sound, CF WiFi, Windows CE operating system, and an attractive, durable leather case and is fully supported by HumanWare online and over the phone.  Asking $800 or best offer. Trekker with Maestro bundle, latest versions installed on Dell PDA, with all U.S. maps, includes rechargeable wireless GPS receiver and mini speaker, plus shoulder harness, charger and original system CD.  Asking $300 or best offer.  Send e-mail to or call (410) 382-6506.


Freedom Scientific Braille Lite M20.  Asking $450.  HP 5400 scanner.  Asking $43.  Aladdin Telesensory Xerox Strategic Partner. Will accept best offer.  Brand-new games/toys with brailled pieces: dominoes and board, asking $23; chess pieces and board, asking $34; checkers, $15; backgammon game in leather-like carrying case, $29; and 3* sounded table tennis balls and paddles, $15. Contact June Galloway via e-mail,, or call (202) 882-3816.


Internet card for the Braille Note BT-32. Asking $90.  Sendero GPS 4.2.  Includes speaker, receiver, compact flash card, and software.  Asking $798.  PayPal accepted.  Contact Victor via e-mail, or, or phone him at (347) 987-1304.


Voice Sense QWERTY notetaker. Asking $1,500 or best offer. Rarely used. Comes with all supporting materials. Contact Michael via e-mail,, or call (561) 276-4336.


BrailleNote Apex, possibly with printer cord.  Call Kim at (719) 231-8974.


Donation of a tape recorder and a laptop computer, both in working order.  Can't afford to pay; working toward becoming a priest.  Contact Jesus Pamias at (212) 860-0594, or write to him at 145 E. 126th St., Apt. #5G, New York, NY 10035.


Perkins braille writer.  I've just completed learning grade 1 braille and am working on grade 2. Willing to pay, but can't afford $700.  Contact Tom Coburn, 6158 Nalon Ct., Apt C, Indianapolis, IN 46224; phone (317) 601-3447.


Gently used 2-year-old or newer 17" laptop that is wi-fi capable and voice activated for visually impaired senior.  Can only pay shipping and handling.  Leave message for Susie at (928) 251-4225 after 7 p.m. Mountain time weekdays or weekends.


Original braille Scrabble game.  Contact Donna Corson via e-mail,, or phone (386) 574-5391.



Mitch Pomerantz (final term, 2013)
1115 Cordova St. #402
Pasadena, CA 91106


Kim Charlson (final term, 2013)
57 Grandview Ave.
Watertown, MA 02472


Brenda Dillon (final term, 2013)
313 Overridge Cove
Hermitage, TN 37076


Marlaina Lieberg (final term, 2013)
15100 6th Ave. SW, Unit 728
Burien, WA 98166


Carla Ruschival (1st term, 2013)
148 Vernon Ave.
Louisville, KY 40206


Christopher Gray
5568 Waterman Blvd., Unit 2W
St. Louis, MO 63112


Ray Campbell, Glen Ellyn, IL (final term, 2014)
Berl Colley, Lacey, WA (final term, 2016)
Sara Conrad, Stevensville, MI (1st term, 2016)
Janet Dickelman, St. Paul, MN (1st term, 2014)
Michael Garrett, Missouri City, TX (final term, 2016)
George Holliday, Philadelphia, PA (1st term, 2014)
John McCann, Falls Church, VA (1st term, 2016)
Allan Peterson, Horace, ND (1st term, 2014)
Dan Spoone, Orlando, FL (1st term, 2016)
Jeff Thom, Sacramento, CA (final term, 2014)
Ex Officio: Paul Edwards, Miami, FL


Paul Edwards, Chairman, Miami, FL (final term, 2013)
Denise Colley, Lacey, WA (1st term, 2014)
Nolan Crabb, Hilliard, OH (1st term, 2013)
Marcia Dresser, Reading, MA (final term, 2014)
Judy Jackson, Austin, TX (final term, 2014)
Ex Officios: Ron Milliman, Bowling Green, KY
Bob Hachey, Waltham, MA