The Braille Forum, December 2012

Volume LI December 2012 No. 4
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.


Due to an editing error, "economics" was misspelled, and the name "Burson" left out of the name of the scholarship in the article "And the Winner Is …" (October-November 2012).
Due to an editing error, the third "W" was left out of National Braille Press' web site address, and the word "a" was left out of a sentence in "Here and There," October-November 2012.
We regret these errors.

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Table of Contents

The Braille Forum, December 2012 downloads

In Memoriam: LeRoy Franklin Saunders by Nolan Crabb

Life has an unusual and sometimes wrenching way of connecting and reconnecting people.  When I first met LeRoy Saunders at a low-rate Las Vegas hotel in 1990, I had no idea that some 22 years later, I would be tasked with writing a memorial to him in these pages.  As to that Las Vegas encounter, it wasn't nearly as sensational as you might think.  LeRoy had come there to interview me for the editorship of this publication in early January.  I thought I was being the prospective employee hero by booking LeRoy into a low-budget hotel, and while he was truly a good sport about it, he later admitted to me that he would have been OK with a slightly better quality place to spend the night.  Thus began a close association that was to positively shape my life for a decade.
LeRoy was born May 9, 1931 and grew up in Virginia.  He began his career with Virginia Industries for the Blind in 1951.  In 1973, he moved to Oklahoma City, Okla., where he worked initially as the assistant director of the Oklahoma League for the Blind.  He would eventually become the director — a position he held until 1992. 
He believed passionately in the potential of blind and visually impaired people to succeed, and he worked tirelessly to improve social and economic opportunities for them. 
He served three two-year terms as president of ACB, and was appointed to the Committee for Purchase by President Clinton. 
His awards and honors included an Irwin Award and the highly acclaimed M.C. Migel Medal from the American Foundation for the Blind. 
My mind is awash in hundreds of memories of a man who supervised with equity, decency, and the kind of thoughtful humility that is a hallmark of truly great leaders.  LeRoy came into my life a few years after my dad died, and I came to love him for his willingness to continue to believe in me during times when my performance would have made a non-believer out of a lesser man.  He and I ate scores of private meals together over those years, during which he shared his hopes and goals for the organization and helped me better understand how I could be instrumental in helping him achieve those.  His care for those who worked for ACB during his tenure as president was genuine indeed. 
His ability to press forward through difficulty and adversity was equally impressive to me.  In the early 1990s, when ACB struggled to free itself from a significant amount of debt, LeRoy found ways to both implement new technologies and to encourage the staff to embrace them in ways that translated to benefits for every ACB member.  He wore the mantle of president with a thoughtful grace that elevated the organization but left LeRoy approachable and unchanged.  On one occasion, when he had spoken to a group of dignitaries gathered at the ACB office in Washington, he came into my office at lunch time.  It was clear to me that he wanted a quiet place to eat, gather his thoughts, and regroup.  We had a rather quiet conversation about things that mattered to both of us — children, computers, and other less consequential things.  As we threw away our lunch plates, he sighed wistfully and said, "Well, I guess I'd better go out there and be presidential."  I was struck then with the knowledge that there were scores of people in that larger room with whom he could have productively had lunch.  Instead, he sought the relative solitude of my office and some simple conversation.  He understood, as great leaders do, that the welfare of the individual is crucial to the success of the organization.
Upon learning of his death on Sept. 14, ACB members from throughout the nation expressed their sorrow at his loss and their condolences to his family. Michael Byington, a long-time leader in ACB in his own right, perhaps best summed up what so many feel with LeRoy's passing.
"Although I chaired some minor task forces when I was on the ACB board, LeRoy was the first ACB president to offer me a major committee chairpersonship, the resolutions committee, a post which I kept for seven years. That work really allowed me to come into my own in ACB. It gave me the opportunity to learn about why ACB is the organization that it is. It allowed me to establish my own journey in ACB rather than just being that verbose son of those charter members, Jack and Bonnie Byington. ACB is a valued and very integral part of my life, and always will be. … LeRoy was one of those who most contributed to that being the case.
"When LeRoy stepped down from his presidency of ACB, he accepted a position on the Council of Citizens with Low Vision International (CCLVI) board of directors. I feel sure that he did not accept this position because he had a lot of fire in his belly for doing so. He accepted because he knew that the organization was struggling a bit at the time, and frankly, that I was struggling as its president. He told me simply, 'You helped me out on the ACB board, and now I am here to help with CCLVI.' That was LeRoy. He knew where he was needed and he stepped in to help.
"LeRoy understood the politics of employment for people who are blind, not only National Industries for the Blind, but the entire field of employment for the blind, and related governmental entities and related governmental purchasing and procurement issues. When I became director of governmental affairs for a facility which included National Industries for the Blind affiliation, in 1995, LeRoy became a mentor. He was someone I could consult for information and perspective that just was not available anywhere else.
"In summary, LeRoy was a friend, a motivator, an educator, a helper, and a mentor. I will miss him much."
LeRoy is survived by his wife of 30 years, Pat; his son, Franklin; and Franklin's wife, Lynn; and his daughter Becky.

Readers' Memories of LeRoy Saunders

It was with great sadness that I learned of the passing of LeRoy Saunders.
LeRoy was one of those ACB stalwarts who I could always turn to for advice on a wide variety of blindness-related issues.  He served for several years on the Committee for Purchase for the Blind and Visually Impaired, which works closely with National Industries for the Blind in its procurement of federal contracts.
I was fortunate to have been in attendance a few years back when LeRoy was honored with the Migel Medal at the Josephine L. Taylor Leadership Institute.  He had fallen earlier that morning and was in some discomfort, but was at the luncheon to accept his award and the accolades of those in attendance who had known and worked with him for so long.
Rest well, dear colleague.
-- Mitch Pomerantz
It was sad to hear of the passing of LeRoy Saunders. I, like so many others, had LeRoy as a mentor when I became involved with ACB on the national level. LeRoy was convention committee chair in 2000 when Paul Edwards appointed me to the convention committee, and I enjoyed the years I worked with him on that committee. Not only was LeRoy great to work with, he was a very special and beautiful person. He knew what he wanted, and he made those who worked with him feel as though their part was just as important as his.
One of the highlights of convention week for Alison and me was to have a night set aside for dinner with Pat and LeRoy. LeRoy would always call us about a month or two before convention and say, "Set aside a night for us to go eat dinner," and we always did. Those were some of my best memories of the ACB convention week.
LeRoy was more than a mentor in ACB; he was a dear friend who cared about everyone he knew. Another thing that we liked about LeRoy was that he loved his Pat. All of us in ACB will miss that strong, kind and loving man who cared about everybody he came in contact with.
Pat, our thoughts and prayers are with you in the loss of your husband and best friend. LeRoy always thought of you first. That's the kind of man he was.
Rest in peace, friend.
-- Mike Smitherman
LeRoy provided me with a great deal of guidance when I was first elected president of the Connecticut Council of the Blind. LeRoy was a truly kind and thoughtful gentleman. Once, I was having a terrible time locating some room at the national convention, and LeRoy dropped everything and walked with me to my destination. That's the kind of man he was. I will miss you, LeRoy!
-- Marcia Dresser
It is a real shock to hear that LeRoy has suddenly left us. I echo the thoughts expressed by others on the list of how LeRoy was a kind and gentle person. Even though he was president and had a lot on his plate, he found the time for the individual members when they needed him.
I served on the board under his leadership and remember him as a real fine manager. He was president when ACB was going through real financial hard times and guided us through recovery.
-- Richard Villa
I want to add my voice to all of those who send greetings of sympathy and prayers of hope to Pat.  I am one of those who became active in ACB during LeRoy's presidency.  I still remember his calm voice and that genteel Virginia accent.  What struck me most about LeRoy was his compassion and caring attitude.  When I was a very new member of ACB from a tiny affiliate that was just beginning to make its mark, LeRoy always knew who I was and always took the time to speak to me and ask questions that let me know that he knew exactly who I was and what we were endeavoring to accomplish in the great state of Maryland. 
I remember the calm yet authoritative manner in which he presided, fair to all, honoring respectful debate while keeping us all on course.  Much of what little I personally know about presiding over a meeting and best practices of leadership I learned from LeRoy. 
Early on, I noticed that both Durward and LeRoy invested themselves in meaningful ways in those beginning their ACB and affiliate journeys.
Go with God, LeRoy. 
Pat, I know that you will continue to walk worthy of the husband whom you loved and who loved you so much.  I know that walking this path isn't easy; but it is very doable because of the life example of our husbands.
-- Debbie Grubb
The loss of LeRoy Saunders is truly painful for all of us.  LeRoy was president of ACB when I joined in 1992 and, as Debbie said, he always recognized and encouraged me.  He was a really kind man who cared deeply for the organization, as well as all of us.  I remember a conversation when he told me how much it meant to him to be able to help folks and that it was getting harder as he was aging.  I know he was the first low-vision president for ACB, and that meant a lot to me as a later life low-vision joiner. 
I will never forget how kind and supportive both LeRoy and Durward were to me.
LeRoy has left a legacy of loving, gentle leadership.
God bless LeRoy and Pat.
-- Teddie-Joy Remhild
LeRoy Saunders was one of the most decent and caring people I and all of ACB have had the privilege to call a true friend.
-- Terry Pacheco

National Conference/Convention Report, Part III by Mitch Pomerantz

This final installment of my national conference/convention report begins with developments since passage of the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act.
Also in 2010, Congress passed the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act which directed NHTSA (the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) to draft minimum sound standards for hybrid vehicles.  The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking or NPRM was supposed to be released last week for public comment; something you can be sure ACB will do.  (Note: as of this writing in mid-October, the NPRM has yet to be issued.)  Tomorrow, you will hear from the NHTSA administrator, whom I trust will have some relevant comments for us.
Last year at this time I mentioned the fact that the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) refused to cover the cost of low-vision aids as durable medical equipment based on the statutory eyeglass exclusion.  CMS will pay for devices to assist people with physical disabilities, but will not pay for devices such as hand-held magnifiers, video monitors and other equipment which use lenses to allow blind and visually impaired people to remain independent.
ACB has put together a coalition of agencies, vendors and organizations to join with us in order to redress this inequity.  Thanks primarily to the efforts of Mark Richert, we have draft legislation which we hope to introduce during the next session of Congress.  This initiative will not happen soon, but ACB and the other members of the coalition know what's at stake: the continued independence of thousands of visually impaired people who aren't ready for a nursing home or assisted living facility.
ACB continues to assume a larger role in the international blindness arena.  As I reported at last year's conference and convention, in April 2011, I was asked to chair the World Blind Union's Mobility and Transport Working Group.  We were asked to draft a position statement on the issue of hybrid/silent vehicles to include strategies to inform and educate WBU members and to offer approaches for addressing this growing problem.  This paper was recently adopted as policy at a WBU executive committee meeting.
For the second time, ACB Radio will be streaming the meeting of the WBU taking place this fall in Bangkok, Thailand, from Nov. 12-16.  Our "stream-team" will consist of Larry Turnbull and Brian Charlson.  Kim Charlson and I will serve as ACB's two delegates to the 8th quadrennial WBU gathering.
And, for the first time that I know of, ACB has been asked to present during the WBU meeting.  I was just contacted about making a presentation on the Sunday before the actual conference as part of WBU's Diversity Forum on "Inclusion -- Bringing About Change," and Thursday at a workshop conducted by ICEVI (International Council for Education of People with Visual Impairments), on "Challenges and Solutions to Independently Accessing the Physical Environment." I am honored to have been asked and proud that ACB is being recognized in this way.
Thanks to Melanie, ACB continues to play a prominent role in the work of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) to craft a treaty permitting freer movement of accessible materials across international borders.  In fact, she leaves for Geneva almost immediately upon her return from Louisville.  Happy jetlag, Melanie!
Before closing, I want to talk a bit about what the board is doing to address the future of our organization.  Just as times are changing in America, inevitably times and circumstances will change for ACB.  While many of you don't want to hear me say this, ACB is going to change; already is changing, in fact.  It is up to all of us to see that this change is positive and for the better, as opposed to going in the other direction.  Whether change is positive or otherwise will largely depend upon all of us, the membership, board and staff of the American Council of the Blind.  At last fall's board of directors meeting, we voted unanimously to contract with Don Wells, an individual with many years of experience conducting strategic planning activities for not-for-profit organizations.  Many of you were asked to contribute input to this effort and in February, at the midyear board of directors meeting, we participated in a day-long session which resulted in ACB's second strategic plan.
This document, which contains four specific goals and multiple objectives for each goal to be undertaken by the board and staff over the next two years, will serve as ACB's blueprint to our future, to ensure that we move in a positive direction.  Those goals are: 1) strengthen communications and marketing of ACB; 2) strengthen ACB funding efforts; 3) develop and implement a plan to strengthen paid staff and volunteer help; and 4) review and recommend modifications to the overall structure of ACB to maximize its work performance.  That's a lot of work and will require the efforts of each and every one of us to achieve.
The American Council of the Blind and our thousands of members have much work to do over the next several years, not simply to improve programs and services for blind and visually impaired people, but to hold onto what we've fought so hard to obtain during the previous half century.  ACB doesn't only represent the so-called elite blind: the employed blind, the blind of a certain age.  No, we represent all blind and visually impaired people regardless of economic status or functional ability.  ACB advocates for accessible prescription drug labeling for blind seniors as well as the teaching of braille for blind youth.  Our work isn't always easy and at times, it can be discouraging.  Nonetheless, that is our charge and our mission.  Join with me and the other ACB leaders and staff in carrying out that charge.  Together we will persevere and we can succeed!  Thank you.
Let me close by wishing everyone a happy and joy-filled holiday season and a healthy and prosperous 2013.

World Intellectual Property Organization Inches Toward Agreement on Reading Rights for People with Visual Impairments by Melanie Brunson

Since the ACB conference and convention in July, delegates to the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) have held two more meetings. At both meetings, access to books for people with print-reading disabilities was a priority agenda item.  The most recent meeting, which took place Oct. 17-19, focused exclusively on issues surrounding this item.
The goal of this committee is to develop a text that can be used as the basis for an international treaty that will provide changes to copyright law. We need this treaty to provide changes to copyright law, enabling producers of books in accessible formats located in one country to share them with readers in other countries who have visual impairments. The hope is that by removing copyright barriers to transfer of alternate format books across borders, the shortage of reading material faced by people who are blind worldwide can be eased, if not eliminated.
If consensus can be reached on the text of an agreement during the upcoming meeting in November, there is a chance that a diplomatic conference could be held on the issue in 2013.  All of this hinges upon the ability of WIPO's member states to agree on the details of the limitations and exceptions that are needed to ensure that the instrument adequately addresses the problem.  For those of us who attend the WIPO meetings as representatives of the World Blind Union, watching the process of working out those details is at times frustrating.  It sometimes feels like for every item on which consensus appears to have been reached, another issue gets raised to take its place.  Even so, we are heartened to note that support for meaningful measures to address the shortage of books in accessible formats is growing.  As a consequence, I can report that, slow though it may be, progress is being made toward reaching our goal. 
As we prepare for the next round of WIPO meetings, a working group of delegates from Brazil, India, the European Union, Nigeria, and the United States is meeting to try and work out agreement on additional outstanding issues prior to the next formal WIPO copyright meeting.  They hope this informal work will help to move the process along at a faster pace when the entire committee gets together.  The World Blind Union has also submitted comments for consideration by the working group.  In addition, here at home, we have kept in close contact with the U.S. delegation and have had several very good discussions with them about all aspects of the proposal under discussion.
We are cautiously optimistic about the possibility of bringing this process to a satisfactory conclusion some time next year.  We will keep you posted here as the proceedings conclude and we have details of a text to report.  It will be exciting to write about a process with such momentous implications for people with print-reading disabilities worldwide.  Stay tuned!

Build an Even Better Idea: Promote the Anne Sullivan Macy Act by Mark Richert

A Campaign to Improve Results for Kids with Vision Loss

Since 1975, Public Law 94-142, now the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), has revolutionized educational opportunity for all children and youth with disabilities. However, without key improvements, our national special education system cannot fully keep IDEA's promise of a truly appropriate education for students with vision loss. The Anne Sullivan Macy Act is intended to do just that, to improve the delivery of appropriate special education and related services to all students with vision loss, including students who may have additional, and potentially even more profound, disabilities. This comprehensive model legislation, drafted by the American Foundation for the Blind and endorsed by ACB and a growing coalition of leading organizations and individuals, is published at Once enacted, the legislation will ensure that properly designed and individually tailored services are in fact provided, meeting the unique learning needs of students with vision loss, and that the educators who serve these students are prepared and supported to do their jobs well, based on evidence-driven best practice.
The process for making this critical legislation the law of the land will begin early in 2013 with the bill's formal introduction in Congress. Over the next two years, the 113th U.S. Congress is expected to review and amend IDEA as part of Congress' periodic reauthorization of that law. The Anne Sullivan Macy Act can be passed by Congress at any time in advance of IDEA reauthorization, or it can be incorporated, in whole or in part, into reauthorization itself. In either case, the Macy Act represents our community's unified voice in support of much-needed improvements to IDEA. By calling on Congress to promptly pass the Macy Act now, we communicate our sense of urgency and that the changes we seek are long overdue. Even if Congress fails to act on the Macy bill itself as a stand-alone piece of legislation, it will nevertheless continue to be the source from which Congress will draw the specific proposals for change we are advocating.

What the Macy Bill Will Do

Named for Helen Keller's beloved teacher, the Anne Sullivan Macy Act would strengthen the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and improve results for the more than 100,000 children and youth with significant vision loss, including those who also have additional disabilities. Key provisions of the legislation include:

  • Clarify that proper evaluation of students with vision loss includes evaluation for students' needs for instruction in communication and productivity (including braille instruction, and assistive technology proficiency inclusive of low-vision devices); self-sufficiency and interaction (including orientation and mobility, self-determination, sensory efficiency, socialization, recreation and fitness, and independent living skills); and age-appropriate career education. Such instruction and services constitute the Expanded Core Curriculum, the body of services which teachers of students with visual impairments and related professions are expertly trained to provide.
  • Establish a national collaborative organizational resource, the Anne Sullivan Macy Center on Visual Disability and Educational Excellence, to proliferate evidence-based practices in the education of students with vision loss, to keep special educators current with the latest instructional methods, and to supplement state and local educational agency provision of the instruction and services constituting the Expanded Core Curriculum.
  • Expect states to conduct strategic planning, and commit such planning to writing, to guarantee that all students with vision loss within each state receive all needed specialized instruction and services from properly trained personnel.
  • Ensure that every student with vision loss is properly identified regardless of formal disability category or classification (e.g., multiple disabilities) so that all students with vision loss, including those with additional disabilities, are counted and properly served.
  • Ramp up U.S. Department of Education responsibilities to monitor and report on states' compliance with their obligations with respect to instruction and services specifically provided to students with vision loss.
  • Assist parents and educators of students with vision loss through regular and up-to-date written policy guidance from the U.S. Department of Education.
  • Expand knowledge about the scope and quality of special education and related services provided to students with vision loss through refined data collection that tracks all students with vision loss, regardless of formal disability category or classification.

Why the Macy Bill Is Needed

We know that students with vision loss are among the most academically successful students with disabilities, and yet they are among the least employed. The situation for students with vision loss who also have other disabilities is even more disappointing. Far too many students do not benefit from instruction provided by a properly prepared teacher of students with visual impairments (TVI) or orientation and mobility (O&M) specialist. Most students who do get to work with these highly trained instructors do not get to spend as much time with them as is needed. Instructors are frequently carrying enormous caseloads and are working with a tremendously diverse student population with widely varying educational needs and capabilities. By and large, states and schools make the erroneous assumption that all that kids with vision loss need is a braille book or a low-vision device (assuming that these critical services are even provided at all) and then the kid is good to go. This ignores the reality that students with vision loss can only receive the free and appropriate public education that IDEA mandates when they are evaluated and served in each of the areas of the so-called Expanded Core Curriculum (ECC). At the federal level, there is little currently being done to hold states and schools accountable for the provision of the full array of instruction and services, from braille to low-vision devices to independent living and other critical skills, that all kids with vision loss, including those with additional disabilities, have a right to receive.
The Macy Act is aimed at addressing all of these current and persistent obstacles to the provision of a truly appropriate education for children and youth with vision loss. In addition, teachers need to keep current with the latest developments in educational methods, and these methods need to be based on a significantly richer body of quantitative and qualitative research than is available today. In order to do their jobs well, professionals must also have up-to-date continuing education opportunities. The Macy bill would dramatically expand both the scope and quality of vision loss-related educational research and the availability of continuing education for professionals in our field. With the legislation's establishment of the Anne Sullivan Macy Center on Visual Disability and Educational Excellence, these objectives will be achieved while also making a wealth of additional direct instructional opportunities available to students who need instruction in the ECC through short course and other means not readily or widely available to most neighborhood schools across the country.

What You Can Do

Support the Anne Sullivan Macy Act today, and dramatically improve results for students with vision loss tomorrow. Join the more than 1,500 individual consumers, parents and educators from across America who have already done so and sign the online petition at Spread the word about the petition and this critical legislation, and ask family, friends and colleagues to join you in urging Congress to promptly enact the bill. Contact your two U.S. senators and your Congressional representative and urge them to sponsor the bill and work for its prompt enactment. Only by working together can we ensure that America's special-education system provides our kids an education worthy of their potential.

ACB Convention 2013: Discovering the Hyatt by Janet Dickelman

The ACB national convention committee held its fall meeting in Columbus, Ohio, and we are more excited than ever about the 2013 conference and convention.
The Hyatt Regency Hotel is a great venue for anyone operating on a budget.  Each room is equipped with a refrigerator, so everyone will have a place to store medications, leftovers or snacks! Hotel rooms are good-sized and comfortable, featuring either two queens or one king bed.  Room rates are $89 per night plus tax for up to four people.
Meeting rooms are located on the first and second floors of the hotel. The Regency Ballroom (where general sessions will be held) and exhibits (in Batelle South Ballroom in the adjoining convention center) are on the third floor.
Restaurants are located on the second floor.  Market Stand Café has a breakfast buffet as well as a full-service breakfast. Market Stand also serves lunch and dinner.  Prices are similar to Café Magnolia at the Galt House.  Perks Coffee and More is open for breakfast and lunch, serving coffees, teas, juices, pastries, sandwiches and salads.  They are reasonably priced and the service is prompt.
Big Bar on Two is the hotel's cocktail lounge. Enjoy a beverage along with an appetizer or sandwich; prices range from $8 to $15.  And Einstein Bagels is another great option for breakfast and lunch.
And there's more!  There's a food court on the first floor of the hotel containing 11 restaurants.  You can feast on ethnic food (Mexican, Greek, Asian) as well as burgers, pizza, fried chicken and Subway.  There's even an ice cream shop and a spot that serves a variety of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches made with their homemade jams and nut butters.  And within walking distance of the Hyatt are many restaurants, so nobody will go hungry!
Our theme for the 2013 conference and convention is "ACB - Discovering New Worlds." We will discover air, space, ancient times, and Christopher Columbus' voyages during convention week.  Remember that our first tour will be on Thursday, July 4, and our final tour on Friday the 12th.


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;
Advertising and Sponsorships: Margarine Beaman, (512) 921-1625;
Convention Coordinator: Janet Dickelman, (651) 428-5059;
The convention committee wishes you a very happy holiday season!

Comments from the Credentials Committee Chair by Jean Mann

When I gave my credentials report at the convention in Louisville this past summer, I gave you a whole list of things the committee wishes you would and wouldn't do.  At the time, our president asked me to put all the information in an article for "The Braille Forum," so here it is.  Hope it helps you help us!
Please make sure Sharon Lovering, our "Braille Forum" editor, knows who in your affiliate is supposed to receive this year's membership list from the national office.  She likes to have them out to you before the staff leaves for the Christmas holidays.  Sometimes we have to track some of you down to find out who in your affiliate is supposed to receive them.
Please use the list the national office sends you.  Make your additions, deletions and corrections as per the instructions provided with the list.  Sending in your own list adds hours of work for staff.  Starting this year, these lists will be returned to you, and if the proper list is not submitted by the deadline, you will be considered late and your state or affiliate could be penalized and lose votes at the national convention.
Make your list and check it twice, or three or four times.  Make sure names are listed only once.  If a member's name has changed since last year due to marriage, divorce, or anything else, make sure that person is listed only once.  The instructions will tell you how to make name changes.  Also, while we are happy to receive them, you do not need to pay dues for life members.
Please do not include people who have died as members!  We know that people sometimes pass away after you've sent your lists in, but we often receive names of people we know have been dead for several years.  If somebody has died during the past year, mark "deceased" on the list by their name, as per the instructions.  If you've sent your list in before the deadline and one of your members passes away, let us know.  If it happens after March 15, they will be counted for that year, as they did pay dues.
Do the math.  Dues are currently $5 per member.  So if you know how many members you have and subtract any life members, multiply that remainder by five and you should come out right.  Sometimes you send in names after your list has come in.  That's OK, but please make sure you communicate with your treasurer so the right amount of dues gets sent in with those names.  It makes it hard for us to keep track of how many members you have, and then how many votes you should receive, when those numbers keep changing and we keep receiving $5 and $10 checks from you.
Send complete addresses.  Include apartment numbers, street numbers, city, state, and zip codes.  If an address has changed, put the new address in the blank line provided at the end of the old address.
If you lose the list you are sent by the national office, or for some reason have not received one by early January, please call and request another one.  DO NOT try to use an old one or create your own.
Finally, if your affiliate is having issues and you know you won't be able to get your list and dues in on time, call us immediately and let us know what the situation is.  We're more than willing to work with you if we know there's a problem, and we'll do whatever we can to help you.
I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season, and we're looking forward to hearing from you by March 15!

'Tis the Season by Kathy Brockman

December finds most of us celebrating some major holiday. Whether your celebration is religious or secular in nature, it usually involves some form of gift-giving. Most of us enjoy receiving gifts, but we usually enjoy giving as well. The reasons may vary, but it's frequently a pleasant experience for each of us.
That brings me to ACB and the first point – receiving gifts. It's good to take a moment occasionally to reflect on what we have been given. So what does ACB do for us? Many of us enjoy going to the annual conference and convention. This is an educational time filled with friendship, fun, and many opportunities. Then there is advocacy - a time-consuming process involving both staff and members to educate the community and legislators.
ACB advocates for audible traffic signals so that we can safely cross streets. ACB is fighting for accessible currency that will enable us to independently manage money, and working with the auto manufacturers to add sound to their electric-powered, quiet vehicles so we can hear them.  ACB provides scholarships to further the educational goals of blind students. Through the efforts of ACB, we can now receive accessible Social Security notices. We receive "The ACB Braille Forum," which keeps us in touch and informed as well.  And let's not forget ACB Radio, which serves to keep us abreast of blindness-related happenings from around the world and entertains us too. 
These are just a few of the wonderful things that ACB does, and all of them cost money to provide. Wouldn't a holiday gift for ACB be a nice thank-you? Some prefer to make a large gift at the end of the calendar year for tax reasons. That can be a challenge for others - which is where the MMS (Monthly Monetary Support) program comes in.
How can you give such a gift to ACB?  You can make a donation monthly by having it automatically put on a charge card or deducted from a checking account. To join, visit the web site at or call our Minnesota office at 1-800-866-3242. Payments can be processed either on the 10th or 22nd of the month.
Another benefit of the MMS program is that you may designate up to 50 percent of your monthly gift to your state or a special-interest affiliate. In this way, you can help two organizations with one contribution!  So enjoy your holiday season, celebrations, friends, the great gifts you receive - and take a moment to give back to others and ACB.

Learning Ally Offers Fee Relief for ACB Members

In October, Learning Ally (formerly Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic) announced that it would increase the annual fee for its individual memberships, going from $99 to $119. However, the organization has partnered with ACB's leadership to offer a special reduced rate of $79 through March 31, 2013 for members of ACB as well as several other organizations.
Learning Ally, a national non-profit since 1948, supports the educational and learning needs of the blind and visually impaired community.  It offers members unlimited access to the world's largest audio textbook library, with over 75,000 titles in all. 

Andrew Friedman, president and CEO of Learning Ally, said, "While certain factors have obliged us to raise the fee for our general membership base, we recognize the financial impact that is felt by many in our community, particularly individuals who are blind and visually impaired.
"Raising the fee for individual memberships is not a decision we have made lightly. Although we recently experienced a major loss of federal funding, we renewed our commitment to making increased investments in progressive technology that will help our members enjoy more efficient access to their content on mainstream devices.
"Most ACB members are aware that we've introduced an extremely popular iOS app, Learning Ally Audio, making our audio textbooks accessible on iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. On the near horizon, new major developments include an Android app (slated for release in late fall); text-based content that will support refreshable braille; and for members with learning disabilities, human speech synchronized-to-text (also coming this fall; we are on plan to produce over 2,000 books in that format this year). 
"Additionally, even though the membership price is going up, fees have been eliminated for all of the software needed to play Learning Ally content. The Learning Ally Audio iOS app and our ReadHear software for Mac and PC are now provided free to members, to improve their user experience and make access to their materials easier."
Friedman affirmed that Learning Ally values its long-standing relationship with ACB and remains fully committed to supporting the blind and visually impaired community.  In addition to the discount being extended to ACB members, Learning Ally provides its services for free to all schools for the blind across the country, and will continue to extend hardship waivers to those who demonstrate that they can't afford membership fees at all.
To learn more about Learning Ally, and to take advantage of our limited offer, call 1-800-635-1403 or sign up online at  Use the promotional code ACBREG01 to receive $40 off Learning Ally's regular annual membership fee. Offer expires on March 31, 2013.

Membership Committee Announcement

The next membership focus call will be held on Jan. 27, 2013; the topic will be increasing your membership. To participate in the call, dial (712) 775-7000 and use passcode 640009.  We will be interviewing affiliates which have grown in the last couple of years. We can learn from their techniques and efforts.  Please contact the membership committee if you wish to discuss your membership needs.

Affiliate News

Raisin' Cane in Colorado

On Oct. 15, ACB of Colorado members, friends, downtown employees and city/state officials challenged each other for a seven-block walk down the 16th Street Mall in Denver to support and increase awareness about eye health, accessibility and blindness issues.  Walkers included Debra Johnson (Denver clerk & recorder), Scott Gessler (Colorado's Secretary of State), Dennis Gallagher (city auditor), Mitch Morrisey (district attorney), Chris Nevitt (city council president), and Mary Beth Sussman (councilwoman).  The walk began at Skyline Park at 8 a.m. and ended at the Alliance Center parking lot.  Walkers received canes designed by a local artist, and had the option to walk blindfolded with a sighted guide.  Food was available at the finish line.  The canes were later redistributed to those in need.

Sweet Nothings

ACB Diabetics in Action (ACBDA or DA) is still growing and expanding! Our affiliate is open for new people to join. All that needs to be done is to mail $10 dues to: ACBDA, 139 Altama Connector #188, Brunswick, GA 31525. This will allow you to join our listserv, receive our quarterly magazine, and participate in other events.
The DA is having a contest! We need a logo for our letterhead. Everyone is eligible to participate, including friends and relatives who have drawing talents. It needs to be done in black and white on an 8 1/2" x 11" sheet of paper and sent by e-mail to both Barbara LeMoine at and Sharon Lovering at These lovely ladies from the ACB office have agreed to be our sighted judges. The logo needs to be in the office by Feb. 28, 2013. The winner will be awarded $100, and will be notified by March 15, 2013. Be sure to send your name, address, phone number and e-mail with your drawing. If you have any questions, please call either Pat Wolf at (626) 622-8244 or Dee Clayton at (515) 848-5007.
ACBDA has a monthly board meeting the first Monday of every month, except December. We also have a call that is open to all diabetics. We discuss a variety of diabetic issues. The number to call is (218) 862-1300 and the access code is 744429.  The call starts at 5:30 p.m. PST/8:30 p.m. Eastern. All are welcome.

New Chapter Starting in Illinois

Do you live in southern Illinois?  Do you want to make your voice heard, and have someone to stand up for you in the community?  Come help us form the new southern Illinois chapter of the Illinois Council of the Blind.
On Sept. 29, we had a meeting to see if there would be any interest in getting an Illinois Council of the Blind (ICB) chapter started in this area. The meeting was held at the Haven, located on Crab Orchard Lake. We had a really good time; we ate a great lunch and listened to Tom Jones, a member of the ICB board, tell us just what ICB is all about. We learned that ICB and its parent organization, the American Council of the Blind (ACB), are actively working on a number of issues, including access to prescription drug information for people with visual impairments, pedestrian safety, access to banking services and others.  We would really like to get an ICB chapter up and running here in southern Illinois.  I believe that ICB is just the voice that the blind and visually impaired community of southern Illinois needs.
For more information, contact Jonathan Brayfield by phone at (618) 833-0447, send e-mail to, or write to him at 206 E. Vermont St., Carterville, IL 62918.

Marlaina Lieberg Challenges North Carolina Council

Members of the North Carolina Council of the Blind welcomed ACB secretary Marlaina Lieberg to the 2012 state convention in Greensboro Sept. 28-30.  As the keynote speaker at the Saturday evening banquet, Marlaina discussed "The Power of One" and reminded members of the unique character and talents of each individual.  She challenged them to make a difference in their respective communities.
The convention opened Friday afternoon with a session on low vision followed by a panel discussion, Communication and Advocacy:  Talking to Your Legislator.  Panel participants included a member of the North Carolina legislature, two congressional staff members and a professional lobbyist.  Friday evening featured presentations by staffers from the Governor Morehead School for the Blind, the state's Division of Services for the Blind, the state library for the blind and Industries of the Blind-Greensboro.
Saturday's general session speakers represented North Carolina Radio Reading Services, Greensboro Historical Museum, the North Carolina Lions Foundation, Summit Credit Union, ACB, the Client Assistance Program and the Guilford County Board of Elections.  Members had the opportunity to interact with a touch-screen voting machine used in a number of counties throughout the state.  Scholarships were awarded to four students - Bradley Hinson, UNC Charlotte; Preston Davis III, UNC Pembroke; Shawn Dittmar, Elon University; and Derek Dittmar, Randolph-Macon College.  In keeping with longstanding tradition, two NCCB members were recognized for their service to the council with ACB life memberships - Tamika Polk of Greensboro and Anne Brewer of Graham.

South Dakota Casts New Vision

The South Dakota Association of the Blind (SDAB) held its annual convention at the Best Western Ramkota Hotel in Sioux Falls Sept. 22-23. The theme was "Casting a New Vision." Ardis Bazyn was our keynote and banquet speaker. During the Saturday program, we took a look at our history, what we are doing today, and shared thoughts of the future. Other presentations included a session from a police officer on identity theft, and information from a probation officer who showed us some of the things he works with such as handcuffs, the vest that he wears, and pepper spray. The banquet was followed by our auction. We brought in over $1,000 between the auction and our "jingle jar."
On Sunday morning, Keith Bundy shared some of his experiences from his mission trip to Nicaragua, taking assistive technology to people with disabilities in that country. And during the business meeting, we elected new officers: president, Lerae Olesen; first vice president, Chelle Hart; second vice president, Casey Trowbridge; secretary, Dawn Brush; treasurer, Steve Hart; and two board positions, Dave Miller and Mary Sjerven.

Here and There

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.

Sierra Regional Ski for Light

The 21st annual Sierra Regional Ski For Light (SRSFL) 3-day event will take place March 9-11, 2013 at the Tahoe Donner Cross Country Ski Area in Truckee, Calif.  A bus will depart from Sacramento early Saturday morning, March 12th.  Those coming from out of town will spend Friday night at the Fairfield Inn in Rancho Cordova. We plan to celebrate another fun SRSFL event, so please do come join us – incredible trails, incredible food, and incredible people!  For more information, contact Cindy Quintana at (510) 483-2948, or via e-mail,
There will also be two one-day trips, one on Jan. 12 and one on Feb. 9, 2013.  These will take place at Tahoe Cross Country, Tahoe City, Calif.  For more information, contact Betsy Rowell at (916) 362-5557, or send e-mail to

Update on Non-24

Vanda Pharmaceuticals recently reported that tasimelteon has been shown for the first time to restore daily cortisol rhythms in totally blind patients suffering from Non-24-Hour Disorder (Non-24).  Tasimelteon was previously reported to entrain the 24-hour rhythm of melatonin secretion in patients with Non-24.  This observation was made during a segment of the company's RESET study. 

Audio Description

Cinemark recently announced that it is installing audio description equipment on a rolling basis in its theaters across the United States.  Installation is already well under way, and all of Cinemark's theaters in California already offer audio description (also referred to as video description and descriptive narration). Cinemark will be offering audio description at all of its first-run theaters by mid-2013.

Love Seafood?

If you love seafood, but have trouble with the menus, we've got good news for you!  Red Lobster has begun handing out braille and large-print menus to guests who request one when they arrive at the restaurant.  Check out the newly updated menus in braille and large print at your local Red Lobster!

Next Generation iBill

Orbit Research has recently released its second-generation iBill Talking Money Identifier.  It has a sleek key-fob design with a rounded shape, making it easier to carry in a purse, pocket, or on a lanyard.  It also has an earphone jack for privacy, recessed buttons to prevent accidental activation, and increased volume. For more information, contact Orbit at 1-888-606-7248, or visit

Bath & Body Products

Charlotte offers a wide variety of handmade bath and body products, holiday items and gemstone jewelry. Bath products include soaps in a variety of shapes, shower gel, hand soap, shampoo and conditioner, hair and body spritz, pet spritz, lotion, body butter, bubble bath, bath salts, herbal bath teas, room spray, aroma beads, flavored lip balms, and more. There are several sizes of most products. Holiday items include ornaments, decorations, holiday jewelry and accessories, gift items, etc. She also offers one-of-a-kind handmade gemstone jewelry including bracelets, earrings, pendants, and necklaces. Treat yourself to a great gift or start on your holiday shopping. She accepts PayPal or money orders, and ships priority mail. She can also ship items to another recipient. Contact Charlotte via e-mail,, for more information, or call (952) 300-2188. Or join her Yahoo newsletter by sending a blank e-mail to

Knitters & Crafters Lists

If you're a crafter looking to advertise your wares, or you're looking to buy handmade items, then join the handmade sell and trade newsletter group. Send a blank e-mail to If you love to knit, or just want to learn, come and chat with other like-minded blind and visually impaired people. Send a blank e-mail to

Scentsy Candles

Linda Stewart is a consultant of Scentsy Flameless Candles.  Instead of using a match to light a candle, all you have to do is flip a switch, which turns on a 25-watt light bulb to heat the wax.  There are over 80 fragrances to choose from, and many beautiful candle warmers, too.  The warmers are a safer way to let beautiful fragrances waft through the room.  Room sprays are available in many scents, too. Many of those scents also come in body butters, sachet packs, etc.  Go to, and for best screen reader accessibility, click on "buy" and then go to "join party." Arrow through parties on the site and choose one.  For more information, call (859) 321-5577.

Children's Stories Recorded

Charli Wiggill's classes at Eden College Durban began a project involving reading and recording stories for blind children (ages 4-10) using mobile phones as recording devices. The project is young, but already has over 80 stories on the site in 7 languages (over 50 stories in English). There are stories in English, Afrikaans, Xhosa, Zulu, Arabic, German and Spanish. Soon there will be stories in French, Italian and Greek. We are still trying to find people to read and record a few stories in Swahili. All stories submitted (in ANY language) will be uploaded to the web site.  Visit
We would welcome any correspondence - letters of support to the pupils would be particularly appreciated, as that would convince them of the real-world audience they are supporting and would encourage and motivate them to put more into the project.  Contact Charli Wiggill via e-mail,

Lions & Goldfish

National Braille Press' newest release is "Library Lion," a story for ages 4 and up about a lion that shows up at the local library - and a librarian who has very strict rules, but none about a lion.  The lion is allowed to stay as long as he follows the rules (no running, and you must be quiet in the library). 
NBP has also released "Not Norman: A Goldfish Story."  It's a story about a boy who wants a warm, furry pet that can curl up on his bed at night - not a goldfish named Norman.  Some interesting things happen when the boy tries to trade Norman for a "good" pet.  Eventually he realizes there's no pet he wants more than Norman. 
For more information on either of these titles, contact NBP, 88 Saint Stephen St., Boston, MA 02115-4302, or call 1-800-548-7323.  Or you may go to

High Tech Swap Shop

For Sale:

i.d. summit barcode reader, two years old, gently used.  Asking $700 or best offer.  BookSense XT Daisy digital audio player, one year old, gently used. Asking $250 or best offer.  Contact Kenna Weiner at (347) 439-3188 or via e-mail,

For Sale:

Braille Sense Plus QWERTY notetaker. Has a 32-cell braille display and a laptop-style keyboard. Comes with AC adaptor, carrying case, USB cable, a braille user's guide, and a CD-ROM user's guide. Asking $2,000 or best offer. Please contact Greg DeWall at or (530) 828-6999.

For Sale:

Merlin LCD Reading Enhancer Model MRD17.  In excellent condition; hardly used.  Asking $1,500 for it.   Contact Karol Trammel at

For Sale:

PAC Mate Braille 'N Speak.  Comes with two batteries, but no charger.  Freedom Scientific says that they can provide a charger for about $40.  Has a Perkins brailler-type keyboard and only a couple other switches.  Asking $75 (includes shipping); will consider trading.  For more information, contact Nino Pacini via e-mail,, or call (734) 658-2919.

For Sale:

Perkins Brailler, standard, brand new condition, in original packaging. Includes dust cover and manual. Asking $550. PayPal available.  Call Deanne at (619) 600-2501, or e-mail

For Sale:

PAC Mate Omni QX440. Includes all accessories. Asking $3,100.  EyePal.  Asking $700.  If interested, e-mail

For Sale:

APH tabletop cassette recorder in good condition.  Asking $90.  Emerson CD player, AM/FM radio, portable.  Asking $10.  Toshiba laptop with 250-gig hard drive, 3 gigs RAM, 15.6" screen, Windows XP Professional, Microsoft Office and JAWS 13.0.  Asking $500.  Desktop computer with Windows 7, 500-gig hard drive, 2 gigs RAM, Microsoft Office, and JAWS 13.0.  Asking $450.  Call Jose at (626) 310-3132.

Free to Good Home:

Kurzweil reading machine.  Includes scanner and CPU, manual on cassette, and related hardware.  Contact Mel Blake at (301) 320-2661, or e-mail

Seeking Good Home:

The ACB national office has two braille embossers available to anyone who is willing to pay the cost of shipping from the national office.  One is a Romeo braille embosser; it does single-sided braille.  It needs repair on its tractor feeds, but is otherwise in good shape.  The other is a Juliet, which does double- and single-sided embossing.  It also needs repair.  Contact Melanie Brunson at the ACB national office, (202) 467-5081 or 1-800-424-8666, or e-mail


Older Kawai FS-800 Superboard with 61 keys and two wheels (one is for vibrato) in working condition.  Contact Walter at (661) 343-4828 or (661) 833-3663.

ACB Officers


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

First Vice President

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

Second Vice President

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

Immediate Past President

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

ACB Board Of Directors

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

ACB Board Of Publications

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