The Braille Forum, January 2013

The Braille Forum
Volume LI January 2013 No. 5
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) 467-5081-3354
fax: (703) 465-5085
Web site: http://www.acb.org
 
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 slovering@acb.org.
 
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.

Forum Subscription Notes
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To subscribe to "The Braille Forum" via e-mail, go to www.acb.org/mailman/listinfo/brailleforum-L.
 
Are You Moving?  Do You Want To Change Your Subscription?
Contact Sharon Lovering in the ACB national office, 1-800-424-8666, or via e-mail, slovering@acb.org.  Give her the information, and she'll take care of the changes for you.
 
The ACB Radio Café features the work of blind artists 24/7 at www.acbradio.org/cafe
 
Blind show hosts offer a plethora of musical genres at www.interactive.acbradio.org

Table of Contents

The Braille Forum, January 2013 downloads

President's Message: So Much To Do ... by Mitch Pomerantz

A new year begins: 2013!  We have all come through an election season, the holiday shopping and celebration season, the ACB budget season (for some of us), and everything else associated with November and December.

Donna and I have just survived and recovered from a serious case of International Date Line jetlag.  Ten days ago as I write this, we staggered off an airliner after a marathon flight from Bangkok, Thailand to Los Angeles involving a very brief stop and change of planes in Hong Kong which followed our attendance at the 8th quadrennial conference of the World Blind Union.  For those who don't know (and I didn't until our trip), Bangkok is 15 hours ahead of Los Angeles, which made calling home an exercise in addition and subtraction.  It took us a while to readjust to the Pacific time zone.

A brief note about the WBU gathering.  Our international guest of honor at last summer's convention, Arnt Holte, was elected to a four-year term as president.  As vice president of the North American/Caribbean region of the WBU, I participated in two meetings of what is referred to as the executive, comprised of the president, vice president and two at-large members from each of the six WBU regions, as well as the five officers elected at the conference.  We heard a number of fascinating presentations during the week, both during the plenary sessions and at the various workshops conducted on Thursday and Friday.  I returned with a score of business cards from attendees, many of whom I will maintain contact with in the future.  ACB's other delegate, first vice president Kim Charlson, did an excellent job in representing ACB; she and Brian took a few additional days to be tourists in Hong Kong following the WBU meeting.

Since this is my first column of the new year and the beginning of my final few months as ACB president, I got to thinking about some of the initiatives which still require serious attention between now and the close of our conference and convention in mid-July.  The one which immediately comes to mind is my participation on the working group established under the auspices of the U.S. Access Board - as the result of language ACB had included in legislation - to develop "best practices" in the provision of accessible prescription drug labeling.  On January 10th and 11th, I will attend the first meeting of this working group in Washington, D.C., along with a representative from the Council of Citizens with Low Vision International, participants from a number of other senior and disability organizations and several pharmacy industry representatives.  This group has been charged with having a final report available for public comment by this July, which means we will be working hard to suggest methods for making certain that people who are blind, deaf/blind, visually impaired, or have other disabilities will have access to the same printed information on prescription drug labels as do non-disabled people.

We are anxiously awaiting release of the document from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) regarding minimum sound standards for hybrid vehicles which was supposed to have been released on or before our national conference and convention this past July.  When it finally emerges from some government official's inbox, ACB will have the opportunity to offer our comments in response to this long-delayed report.  As mentioned previously, I've also had the opportunity to give input to a group of engineers working with SAE, the Society of Automotive Engineers.  These folks have done some excellent work and appear to truly understand that without identifiable sound for every hybrid vehicle, blind and visually impaired people will be in serious peril whenever we leave our homes.

Leaving the advocacy arena, ACB Radio continues to bring our message to the blind community throughout the United States and the world.  During the aforementioned WBU meeting, ACB Radio's managing director, Larry Turnbull, heard from listeners from several countries who were depending upon our gavel-to-gavel coverage of the conference.  During this month, we will be launching a new stream, ACB Radio World News and Information, which is aimed at attracting listeners who do not necessarily have any sort of vision impairment.  We are excited about this new venture as it develops over the next several months.

Our board of directors is fully engaged in implementing the strategic plan which was finalized during 2012.  The plan has four specific goals and four excellent chairpersons to facilitate the tasks required to see those goals brought to fruition.  Each goal group includes several board members as well as other leaders with expertise in specific areas.  The goal and chair of each group are as follows: Goal 1 - Strengthen communications and marketing of ACB, Carla Ruschival; Goal 2 - Strengthen ACB funding efforts, Dan Spoone; Goal 3 - Develop and implement a plan to strengthen paid staff and volunteer help, Kim Charlson; Goal 4 - Review and recommend modifications to the overall structure of ACB to maximize its work performance, Paul Edwards.  I have participated on monthly calls for goal groups 1 and 2, and I can tell you that both are doing an outstanding job of meeting those goals and achieving the objectives outlined in our strategic plan.

Preparations are moving forward for the affiliate presidents meeting and legislative seminar scheduled from Saturday through Tuesday, Feb. 23-26, at the Holiday Inn National Airport in Arlington, Va., and the 52nd annual ACB national conference and convention taking place from July 4-12, 2013 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Columbus, Ohio.  I want to strongly encourage affiliate leaders, especially newly elected state and special-interest affiliate leaders, to attend the presidents' meeting.  Our goal is to provide you with information that will help you to manage your affiliate effectively and give you a better understanding of what the national organization is doing to improve the lives of blind and visually impaired people.  As for the conference and convention, all I can tell you is that if you have never attended one, you will have a wonderful experience which you will remember for years to come.  The energy and camaraderie at one of those gatherings must be experienced firsthand and I hope many of you will do just that.

One of the realities any outgoing president must come to grips with is the fact that he or she did not accomplish everything they intended to.  Nonetheless, I begin my final approximately six months in office believing that a great deal of what I set out to do has either been accomplished, or is well on its way toward being achieved.  In my final president's column later this year, I'll spend more time discussing this topic as well as some of my disappointments as president.  Suffice it to say for now that all of us in the ACB family still have much work to do to complete our mission.  Every member of this organization has something he or she can contribute to that mission if only we are motivated to contribute the time and energy necessary.  There is still so much work that needs doing!

Important Announcements From The ACB National Office by Melanie Brunson

I have two announcements to share with you this month.  Both concern changes.  We have made some changes to our ACB telephone service that you should find helpful.  We will also have one change in our ACB staff by the end of 2012. 
 
First, ACB recently began working with a new telephone company, and when we made this change, we were able to make some changes to how we handle telephone calls that come into the office.  We now answer our 800 line during the entire business day.  If you call during business hours and want to listen to the Washington Connection, staff members can transfer your call to the Washington Connection menu.  We think these changes will increase both our ability to respond promptly to requests for information and assistance from callers, and the accessibility of the information in the Washington Connection.  Callers will now have a greater likelihood of getting the information they need when they call, rather than having to wait for it.
 
The other change I have to report to you is not so positive.  Steven Obremski has resigned his position as ACB's director of development.  As of Dec. 15, he will be leaving our staff.  During the last 18 months, Steve's sense of humor and his sense of purpose have been a tremendous help to both the ACB staff, and the committees he worked with, as we wrestled with how to maximize ACB's resources in the midst of very challenging economic times.  His insights were crucial to the development and launch of several initiatives that I believe will benefit ACB for years to come.  He played a key role in the development of the advisory board proposal that the membership approved last July, he has enhanced our direct mail program, and increased our visibility in the Combined Federal Campaign, but these are just a few examples of the things he has accomplished during his time with ACB.  Thank you, Steve, for your hard work and diligence on behalf of ACB.  They have been very much appreciated.  We wish you the best in your professional endeavors, and all that you do in the year ahead.

Discover Ohio in 2013 by Janet Dickelman

It's a new year, and it's time to do some serious planning for discovering our new world in Columbus, Ohio.
 
Come early and stay late at the 52nd annual ACB conference and convention, July 4-12, 2013. Don't miss the exhibits, tours, workshops, presentations and other events that make conference week special.

Tours

A tour option on Thursday, July 4, will be Fort Ancient.  With its 18,000 feet of well-preserved earthen embankment walls dating back 5,000 years, Fort Ancient spotlights three distinct eras in the history of man - the gatherers, the tillers of the soil, and when worlds collide.  Explore the re-creation of a prehistoric garden and many touchable artifacts.  An indoor and outdoor excursion for the whole family.
 
A daytime option on Friday, July 5, is a unique opportunity to discover two major agencies that provide services and employment to people who are blind.  Travel to Cincinnati to tour both the Clovernook Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired and the Cincinnati Association for the Blind.
 
Spend the day on Friday, July 12, at Wright Patterson Air Force Base.  Discover the history of flight during an exclusive white-glove tour of the famous museum; you'll be invited behind the barricades to touch biplanes, World War I and II aircraft, and modern planes.  Many other surprises will pack this family-friendly day of discovery and exploration.
 
Once again we will offer city tours, where you can learn about the history of Columbus without leaving the comfort of your tour bus!  Other tours may include a dairy, glass-blowing demonstrations, a whistle factory, and a candy company.  In the works are a baseball game, ziplining, and a visit to Slate Run Farm (a historical 1880s-style living farm).  Visit the Santa Maria, a to-scale replica of Christopher Columbus' flagship.  More tour details coming soon.

Families

Expanded programming for kids and teens makes this conference the perfect place for a family vacation.  The Youth Activity Center, for kids 6 to 12, will feature games, contests, crafts and excursions; breakfast, lunch, and light snacks are included.  New this year will be special activities geared for teens and young adults; watch for details.

Sponsors

Corporations, organizations and agencies are invited to become 2013 ACB gems.  There's a sponsorship to fit every budget, from pearl ($1,000) to diamond ($20,000).  Many advertising opportunities are also available.  Visit www.acb.org for information and forms, or contact Margarine Beaman, advertising and sponsorship coordinator, at (512) 921-1625 or oleo50@hotmail.com.
 
Exhibit booths are now available on a first-come, first-served basis.  The exhibit hall will open Saturday, July 6 at 1 p.m.; it closes Wednesday, July 10 at 3 p.m.
 
There's something different each day in the ACB Marketplace, a great venue to sell CDs or books, crafts, cosmetics, toys, etc.  Affiliates, chapters and committees can use Marketplace to spotlight fundraisers (no food items allowed).
 
Visit www.acb.org for exhibit and Marketplace information, or contact Michael Smitherman, exhibits coordinator, at (601) 331-7740 or amduo@bellsouth.net.

Volunteers

Whether you assist with a tour, the FIA Showcase, the ACB auction or walk, registration, exhibits, or some other aspect of the conference, you need to register as a volunteer with Sally Benjamin, volunteer coordinator.  Visit www.acb.org for complete information, or contact Sally at 1-877-630-8399 or volunteer@acb.org.

Planning Events

Each ACB committee and affiliate holding events at the upcoming conference and convention has a representative on the convention-planning e-mail list.  Your participation on this list is imperative if you expect your event to go smoothly.  If you are unsure whether you have a representative on this list, contact Janet Dickelman immediately.

Reservations

The home for ACB in 2013 is the Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown Columbus.  Room rates are $89 plus tax for up to 4 people in a room.  Reserve your room online; visit www.acb.org, follow the 2013 conference and convention link, and choose the direct link to the Hyatt for online reservations.  Telephone reservations can be made by calling 1-800-648-1177; be sure to mention that you are with ACB so you receive the conference rate.
 
For more information, call the ACB national office at (202) 467-5081 or 1-800-424-8666, or contact Janet Dickelman, national conference and convention coordinator, at (651) 428-5059 or janet.dickelman@gmail.com.

ACB Scholarship Applications Available for 2013-2014 School Year

The American Council of the Blind annually awards approximately 20 scholarships ranging in amounts from $1,000 to $3,000 to vocational, entering freshmen, undergraduate, graduate and full-time employee (32 hours or more per week who are attending college part-time) students who are legally blind, maintain a 3.3 GPA and are involved in their school/local community.  Applications and all supporting materials must be received by 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on March 1, 2013.
 
To read the scholarship guidelines and complete an on-line application, please visit www.acb.org/scholarship.
 
For more information, contact the ACB national office at (202) 467-5081 or 1-800-424-8666.  We look forward to receiving your application materials!

Highway to Success: Crossroads Leadership Conference by Carla Ruschival, Nolan Crabb and Dave Trevino

Get in the driver's seat and take the on-ramp to an outstanding weekend of leadership training.  Plan now to attend the Crossroads Leadership Conference, March 15-17, 2013, in Louisville, Ky.
 
Are you an emerging leader, just beginning to explore ways to get involved in committees or participate on your local chapter board?  Have you been involved in your local chapter, state or special-interest affiliate for a while, but need to learn some new leadership techniques, or fine-tune those you already have, so you can move to the next level?
 
The Crossroads Leadership Conference is a skills-based weekend designed with beginners and more advanced leaders in mind.  Open to anyone who wishes to attend, Crossroads will include interstates (general sessions) for the entire group, and side roads (break-outs) targeting more specific skill levels.  Participants will create their own unique road maps as they choose the sessions that best fit their needs.
 
Crossroads is being hosted by the Kentucky Council of the Blind.  The planning team spans several affiliates and chapters, including Blue Grass, Ohio, Tennessee, West Virginia, Guide Dog Users of Kentucky, and others.
 
The conference will be at the Best Western Plus Airport East/Expo Center, 1921 Bishop Lane, in Louisville.  Room rates are $79 a night plus tax; a hot breakfast is included.  Free wi-fi is available throughout the hotel, and the hotel shuttle will pick up guests at both the airport and the Greyhound bus station.
 
Crossroads is open to any state or special-interest affiliate, any local chapter, or any individual who wishes to attend.  Affiliates may select people to attend, but anyone wishing to participate may register as well.  Crossroads is open to all.
 
To make reservations at the hotel, call (502) 456-4411; be sure to let them know that you are attending the Crossroads Conference.
 
Pre-registration will open in late January.  Request your pre-registration packet and get more information by calling the Kentucky Council of the Blind at (502) 895-4598, or by e-mailing kcb@iglou.com.
 
Take the right turn and meet us at the Crossroads.

An Experience for the First Time and a Lifetime by Allen J. Casey

Most of us will remember our first ACB conference and convention, the city, the hotel, new friendships forged and perhaps a few of the speakers.  It was a fast-paced, event-filled week, a time we are likely to recall and recount in the future.  ACB offers members the opportunity to experience their first conference and convention through the Durward K. McDaniel First-Timer program.
 
In commemoration of the life and work of ACB pioneer Durward K. McDaniel and with the objective of promoting new leadership in ACB and its affiliates, the DKM program recognizes two ACB members who possess leadership potential and have never attended the national convention.  DKM recipients - one from east and one from west of the Mississippi River - attend the convention as guests of ACB and the DKM committee.  All reasonable expenses are covered, including transportation, lodging, meals and conference fees.  DKM first-timers are expected to be active participants in conference and convention sessions, as well as educational and special-interest seminars.
 
Eligible applicants must meet each of the following criteria: (1) age 18 or older; (2) blind or visually impaired; (3) active member in good standing of ACB or one of its affiliates; and (4) must not have attended a previous national conference and convention.  Additionally, each applicant will submit required supporting documentation to the committee: (1) a personal narrative describing the applicant's background, contributions to ACB and the applicant's affiliate and community as well as a statement of the importance of the first-timer experience to the applicant's growth as a future ACB leader; and (2) a letter of recommendation from the president of the applicant's ACB affiliate.  It is imperative that appropriate contact information be provided, i.e., current mailing address, e-mail address and telephone number.  Applicants may be contacted by DKM committee members for a follow-up telephone interview.  All application materials must be received in the ACB national office no later than April 1, 2013.  Questions may be directed to DKM committee chair Allen Casey at (336) 222-0201 or mahatmaac@aol.com.
 
If you are ready for the experience of a first-timer - the experience of a lifetime - then submit your DKM application to the ACB national office before the April 1 deadline.

How ACB's MMS Program Compares With Others' Giving Programs by Ronald E. Milliman

When discussing the ACB Monthly Monetary Support (MMS) Program with our ACB members, often they tell me something like: "Ron, I'm not participating in anything that is like the NFB PAC Plan, and I don't see any difference between the NFB PAC Plan and our MMS Program."  So, I thought I would tell everyone about the similarities and the differences. 
 
Like many of you, I was a member of the NFB at one time.  And, yes, I participated in the NFB PAC Plan.
 
While there are some similarities between the PAC Plan and the MMS Program, there are also some very important differences.  The only similarity between the PAC Plan and the MMS Program is that both offer a way for our members to support our organizations by making regular, monthly contributions.  But the "PAC" in the PAC Plan stands for pre-authorized check.
 
The MMS program offers its participants the options of either having contributions automatically withdrawn directly from your bank account or from your credit or debit card.  It offers you the option of making your contribution at the beginning or at the middle of the month.  The MMS program offers new participants the flexibility of enrolling online, over the telephone, by mail, or by e-mail.  It also allows contributors the ability to split their contributions between the national organization and an affiliate of the contributor's choice.  The PAC Plan does none of the above!
 
ACB rewards its members for participating in the MMS program by giving them special gifts, such as the little FM Scanner radios.  ACB encourages participation in the MMS program by holding annual drawings that reward our members with prizes such as gift certificates worth hundreds of dollars, and other grand prizes such as a talking microwave oven, BookPort Plus, GW Micro BookSense, a fully accessible Olympus Digital Recorder, Victor Reader Stream, Touch Memo, and others.
 
We value and respect all of our contributors' privacy, and do not share any confidential information such as the amount contributed to anyone, except to those people who must know in order to maintain our accounting records as required by law.  In ACB, your political stardom is totally dependent upon you, and what you step up and contribute, not in money, but in effort to further the mission and goals of our organization!
 
So how can you become a participant in the MMS Program?  You can join by going to www.acb.org/node/28 or you can call the Minnesota office at 1-800-866-3242.
 
Now, when someone says, "I don't want to participate in the MMS Program because it is too similar to the NFB PAC Plan," you know what to tell them!

Getting Answers To Your Health Coverage Questions by Ron Pollack

(Editor's Note: Ron Pollack is the executive director of Families USA.)
 
No matter how savvy you are, if you've ever used the health-care system, there's a good chance that you've been confused by something relating to your health coverage at one point or another. It could be a letter from Medicare or a private insurance company saying that a service you need isn't covered, or that your coverage is changing. It might be a bill from a doctor or lab that you didn't expect and don't understand. It might be a brochure you read or a sales pitch you heard that left you with a lot of questions.
 
Health coverage can be confusing. Over the past decade, the number of coverage choices has increased. Television, mail, and the Internet now bring us an overwhelming amount of information, and it's not always reliable. So where can you turn for personalized, unbiased help with health insurance problems? Fortunately, there are free resources in every community that can provide you (or a loved one) with individualized counseling and assistance.
 
If you have a question about Medicare coverage, a good place to start is the 1-800-MEDICARE hotline. The staff is trained to answer the most commonly asked questions about Medicare benefits, including individualized questions about your coverage. It's a great way to get basic personalized information.
 
If you need one-on-one counseling to take a closer look at your problem and help you figure out your options, you can contact your local state health insurance assistance program (SHIP). SHIPs exist in every state, though the names of the organizations vary from state to state. They are designed to provide free, unbiased counseling and assistance to people with Medicare. This help can be as simple as explaining how benefits work. It can involve meeting face to face or over the phone to figure out which prescription drug, Medigap, or Medicare Advantage plans make the most sense for your particular situation, and which additional benefits you might be eligible for. Or, if you disagree with a bill you got or with a decision by Medicare or your Medicare Advantage or drug plan, SHIP counselors can help sort it out and file a request for an exception or an appeal (if needed). Many SHIP counselors are trained volunteers who are members of the community. To contact your SHIP, call 1-800-MEDICARE and request a referral to your local SHIP, or go to www.shiptalk.org and click on "Find a State SHIP."
 
Need more help? Local area agencies on aging can connect you with legal services organizations in your area. Check www.eldercare.gov for a list of resources. National non-profits like the Medicare Rights Center (www.medicarerights.org) and The Center for Medicare Advocacy (www.medicareadvocacy.org) can also help.
 
What if you're not covered by Medicare? Many states have consumer assistance programs staffed by insurance experts that focus on other health insurance issues. For example, these programs help you file an appeal if your private insurance plan denies a claim. They can advise you on Medicaid issues or help you understand your rights and choices if you lose job-based coverage. You can find contact information for consumer assistance programs online at www.familiesusa.org/resources/program-locator. The health care law provided much-needed funding to strengthen consumer assistance programs, and they are going to have an increasingly important role to play in the next few years.
 
So the next time you or a loved one feel baffled by the complexities of Medicare or other types of health insurance, take a deep breath. It's perfectly normal. And remember, you're not on your own - there's help out there for you!

Identifying and Mentoring Committee Members for Your Affiliate compiled by Ardis Bazyn

Participants on the call discussed the various components of developing excellent committees. Ideas expressed in this article came from both membership committee members and members from affiliates across the country. We appreciate the lively discussion and hope these ideas are helpful to your leadership.
 
Leaders should encourage members with particular interests and expertise to serve on the committees which would benefit most from their expertise. They should ask for interested members to request particular committee assignments. Some affiliate and chapter committee members are chosen by the president, particularly the chair, and others are chosen by the chair of the committee. It isn't always clear what members might work well on a committee, so asking for input from others is often beneficial, since they may know the capabilities of members and get them involved. To assist affiliates in finding committee members, a written list of duties for standing committees should be available so members know what each committee does. State the number of members on each committee and whether term limitations apply. Explain your expectations for members' level of participation and follow-through. Committee members need to know that the board expects committee reports at its meetings.
 
Each chair should be passionate about the work of the particular committee. The chair needs to be inclusive when holding meetings and assign each member tasks to perform. She/he should also be a good listener with give and take. The chair should allow committee members to share in major decision-making, rather than have a "my way or the highway" attitude. All committee members should be aware of what other committee members are doing.
 
Tips for chairs should be provided so they know what to do.  Goals should be outlined. Keep in touch regularly through scheduled meetings and e-mail. Time limits should be listed for meetings. Develop and implement incentives for completing tasks. If the chair expects reports from subcommittee chairs, they will more likely complete their tasks before the next meeting. 
 
Chapter committees may have an easier time to have in-person meetings. Conference lines and e-mail lists are two ways to keep committee members in contact with one another. Webinars are becoming popular, especially when sharing information. It is crucial to keep in mind the possible committee members' ability to use the systems you choose. Deaf-blind members may need different types of accommodations. Ask each member about his/her particular needs so that each can participate and fulfill the committee tasks most effectively.
 
The chair should recognize the success and follow-through of committee members, too. Sharing the load with all the committee members is valuable to the success of your committee. A board rep on your committees would add experience. A note-taker should be designated for each committee meeting. Even if the chair takes notes, taking notes can be a mentoring tool for members of the committee, since active listening is necessary to get specifics written. If a new note-taker does the follow-up notes, it would be helpful for them to know what aspects of the call/meeting are important to capture. When taking notes for meetings, all commitments must be noted. Either the chair or a designee should send reminders of upcoming meetings, including dates and times. Remind your committee members about the tasks they have promised to do.
 
Communication is essential. After the meeting is over, the chair needs to make sure notes are sent to the committee members in a timely manner. Committee members must be problem solvers, forward thinkers, and able to assist in developing your chapter or affiliate. When adding new members to a committee, the chair should greet and welcome new and continuing committee members and ask each to assist for some aspect of the committee. Appoint each to assist with a subcommittee if possible. Make sure each member of the committee knows the duties of your committee and how various assignments are related so the work gets finished on time. Delegating and follow-up are key elements.
 
Some states have leadership trainings where members can learn a variety of leadership skills. Some of these could be accomplished through conference calls instead of in-person training. Affiliates and chapters should have a meeting of all chairpersons occasionally and receive and review the goals of all committees so each knows the overlapping aspects. The chairs can discuss ways to work together in these overlapped areas. (Sister chapters could be formed to make connections, meet people and share ideas.)

Getting the Most From Your Affiliate's or Chapter's Web Site by Ronald E. Milliman

The following information is a summary of one of the PR committee's quarterly open conference calls.
 
This conference call began with participant introductions.  Ron Milliman, chair of the PR committee, reviewed the various affiliate web site certificates of recognition that were presented during the combined workshop of the membership and PR committees at the ACB national convention in Louisville in July.

Ease of Access and Navigability

Most of the web sites were easy to access and navigate.  However, on some sites you could click on a link to an interior page, but then you could not get to any of the other pages of the site, including back to the home page.  You should be able to get to the other pages within the site and back to the previous page easily.  Some sites were not set up very well for a screen-reader user.  For instance, many sites had no way to change magnification.  Annette Carter, web site administrator, mentioned an accessibility bar that is being incorporated into the newest versions of browsers.  Putting accessibility-related options in headers was recommended, linking it to an accessibility tab where text and background color and size can be adjusted.  The web site www.w3schools.com has tutorials for learning code for building web sites.  Drupal 7, an open-source content management system (CMS) for web design, offers two modules called text size and page style.  You can find tutorials on these modules along with language options at the creator's page at http://www.zwahlendesign.ch/en.

Website Content

While some of the web sites evaluated were quite current and appeared to be kept up to date, others were not.  The dates on the pages were often months, and in a few cases even years, old.  In some instances, the content on the page was much more current than the date shown on the bottom of the page.  Make sure your contact information is current, visible and accessible.
 
To keep your site looking fresh, it was recommended to change the looks of your front page quite often.  This also makes your page more visible to search engines, such as Google, Yahoo, MSN, and others, resulting in a higher ranking on these search engines when searches are done.  Displaying pictures and graphics is highly recommended, too.  Be sure to alt-tag all pictures and graphics so that screen-reader users will know what they are.  Alt-tags are also important in facilitating photo recognition and cataloguing by the search engines.

Writing and Obtaining Content

Maintaining a consistent layout and style was highly recommended.  Keep the information current, present a variety of information, and continually ask members if they have done anything recently that could be included in the content of your site.  For instance, a member might have participated on a city mayor's advisory council, or perhaps someone received an award or some kind of special recognition, or maybe someone has a unique hobby worthy of a story.  Be sure to include pictures whenever possible.  Pictures add appeal and credibility to your content.  Much of your content needs to be of interest to your members, but some content should be of interest to non-members as well.  It's important to have a reasonably complete list of resources, categorized by the type of resource, e.g. blind and low-vision products, blind and low-vision related services and organizations, common eye diseases, etc.  Again, your resource list should be current, extensive, inclusive, and well organized.  It is extremely important that your links on your resources page open in their own separate windows.  In this way, when the link is closed, it will take you right back to the original site. 
 
While participants agreed that it is good to include a donation link on your web site, a rather lengthy discussion ensued about how often and where a donate button should be placed on your site.  The conclusion was that a link to a donation page should be included on the front page of your web site, and it should be clearly visible on the bottom part of the page to avoid projecting the image that you are only interested in soliciting money.
 
Ann Chiappetta, a member of Guide Dog Users, Inc., informed participants that GDUI uses an open-source content management system called Joomla, available from www.joomla.org/. It is fairly easy to use and is accessible.  Be sure to find the 508 compliant template.

Some Additional Observations

The remaining time was spent discussing other things to consider when designing your web site.  Having a site map link at the top of your pages is highly recommended.  A "skip to content" link is also good to incorporate into your site.  A "contact us" link should be visible on every page.
 
Ron emphasized the main limitation on nearly all of the sites was the lack of pictures and graphics.  When designing web sites, you need to meet the needs of these three populations: screen-reader users, the low-vision population, and sighted people.  You need to make the necessary tools available for people to change their own settings for visual preferences.  Design your site with simple navigation and with screen-reader users in mind.  Clear color contrast of print and backgrounds on your web pages is also important.  For color scheme samples, visit www.colorschemedesigner.com. After designing your web site, have other people look at it with different browsers and versions of browsers to make sure your site is fully accessible and functional using those different browsers.

Driving Traffic to Your Site

Use social media to drive people to your site as well as different search engines.  Interactive content and blogs will help improve your search engine rankings.  Contact owners of other web sites devoted to blind and low-vision issues and arrange to exchange links with them.  This will also help to improve your listings and rankings on Google, Yahoo, and MSN, among others. 
 
All of your individual pages should be optimized for search engine recognition, listing, and ranking, making sure key words are emphasized on every page, reflecting the essence or theme of that page.  To increase optimization, be sure to use whatever word(s) or phrase you want to help you get to the top when people are searching for information.  You can even pay a small fee to the search engines, e.g. Google Pay Per Click, to make sure your site is ranked among the top listings when people search for the key words or phrases on which you want to be ranked.  You could pay a small fee to receive a high listing whenever someone searches for the phrase "blind support group," or "low vision services."  You pay the fee for each time someone clicks on your listing when they have put in such a phrase.  The fee varies depending upon the word or phrase.  Google and other search engines have tutorials available to help you optimize your site.  Remember that web site rankings are extremely dynamic, and you can make the top 10 listings one day and drop to the top 100 six months later.   Monitor your rankings and modify your web site frequently.

Affiliate News

CCLVI Scholarships

The Council of Citizens with Low Vision International (CCLVI) will award three scholarships in the amount of $3,000 each to full-time entering freshmen, undergraduate and graduate students who are low vision, maintain a strong GPA and are involved in their school/local community. 
 
Application materials must be received by March 1.  Scholarship monies will be awarded for the 2013-2014 academic year.  To read the scholarship guidelines and complete an online application, please visit www.cclvi.org and click on the "CCLVI Scholarship Programs" link.
 
Applications will be available to submit online until March 1 at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.  If you have questions, contact CCLVI at 1-800-733-2258.

New Chapter for Those with Cerebral Palsy

My name is Alexander Kaiser; I'm a young blind adult with cerebral palsy.  I would like to form a special-interest affiliate of the American Council of the Blind to provide legislative advocacy, support independence, to mentor others, to develop better social opportunities, work with problems in rehabilitation for people who are blind who also have cerebral palsy, and to research social problems and find solutions.  Meetings will be held by conference call on the first Sunday of the month, starting with Jan. 6, 2013 at 3 p.m. Eastern time.  Dial (567) 314-5605 and use access code 999999#. If you are interested in joining me to create this affiliate, contact me by braille letter, cell phone, or e-mail at: Attention: Mr. Alexander Scott Kaiser, 3928 NW 89th Ave., Coral Springs, FL 33065, cell phone (954) 594-2710, alternate phone (386) 258-9440, e-mail alexander.kaiser@myacc.net.

Results From The 2012 London Paralympic Games by Lacey Markle

The 2012 London Paralympic Games marked the 14th edition of the games, and was the largest Paralympic Games in history, with an estimated 4,200 participating athletes from 165 countries. Team USA finished with 98 medals (31 gold, 29 silver and 38 bronze).
 
Congratulations to all of our 227 athletes for a great Paralympic Games! Here are the results for Team USA athletes who are blind and visually impaired. To look up other results, visit www.paralympic.org.

Sailing

JP Creignou and Jen French (two-person keelboat) raced in 10 events and never finished below fifth place. This hard work and determination led them to the silver medal!

Rowing

Andrew Johnson and Eleni Englert were a part of the mixed coxed four – LTAMix4+ team that won in repechage, which placed them into the final A group. At the end of the final race, Team USA came in 6th overall.

Goalball

USA women's goalball had its share of ups and downs in London. The ladies won against Sweden 5-1, lost to Japan 2-1, beat Australia 3-0 and lost against Canada 1-0. They then took on China – and lost 5-0. The team took 8th place overall.

Swimming

Tucker Dupree took fifth in the 400m freestyle and fourth in 100m butterfly. He won a bronze medal in the 100m freestyle, silver in the 100m backstroke and bronze in the 50m freestyle.
 
Brad Snyder set a Paralympic record with a time of 57.18 seconds in the preliminaries for the 100m freestyle and ended up winning the gold medal in this event. He also took home silver in the 50m freestyle. He placed eighth in the 100m backstroke, sixth in the 100m breaststroke, fourth in the 100m butterfly and sixth in the 200m individual medley. And in the 400m freestyle, he won the gold medal! 
 
Kelley Becherer won the gold medal in the 50m freestyle. She also won gold in the 100m freestyle. In the 200m individual medley she took the bronze medal, and won another bronze in the 100m breaststroke.
 
Rebecca Anne Meyers took fourth in the 50m freestyle. She brought home the bronze medal in the 100m freestyle, and silver in the 200m individual medley. In the 100m breaststroke, Rebecca finished fifth in her heat.
 
Colleen Young came in sixth place in her heat for the 50m freestyle, fifth in her heat for the 100m freestyle. She also took fifth in the 100m breaststroke and seventh in the 200m individual medley.
 
Letticia Martinez took sixth in her heat in the 100m backstroke, eighth in the 100m breaststroke and third in her heat in the 200m individual medley.

Judo

Ron Hawthorne took seventh in the 60kg weight class.
Cindy Simon came in fifth in the 57kg weight class.
Cristella Garcia (70kg) and Katie Davis (70+ kg) made it to quarterfinals.
Dartanyon Crockett won the bronze medal in the men's 90kg.
Myles Porter took the silver medal in the men's 100kg.

Road/Track Cycling

In track cycling, Clark Rachfal and his pilot Dave Swanson took sixth in the individual pursuit and seventh in the individual 1km time trial.  They also competed in road cycling, where they finished eighth in the time trial and 10th in the road race.

Athletics

Markeith Price took eighth in the 400m, sixth in the long jump, and fifth in his heat for the 200m.
In the 100m, Josiah Jamison and his guide Jermone Avery placed fourth in their heat. They also finished second in their heat for the 200m, which qualified them for semifinals. During semifinals, Josiah and Jermone were disqualified and did not advance to the finals.
 
Lex Gillette won the silver medal in the long jump. He also finished fourth in the triple jump with a distance of 12.39m. Lex and his guide Wesley Williams took third in their heat for the 200m. In the 100m, they placed third in their heat.
 
Tanner Gers took 11th place in the long jump.
 
David Brown and his guide Rolland Slade took second in their heat for the 200m. In the 100m, they finished second in their heat, and placed third in the semifinals. 

Hall of Fame

The United States Association of Blind Athletes (USABA) would also like to extend a huge congratulation to Trischa Zorn! The most decorated Paralympian ever was inducted into the Paralympic Hall of Fame in London. She competed as a member of the USA swim team from 1980-2000. In seven games, she won a staggering 55 medals, including 41 gold, 9 silver and 5 bronze. Trischa held many world records during her career, two of which still stand today! 
 
To relive your favorite moments from the 2012 London Paralympic Games, visit www.youtube.com/usparalympics/.

Here and There by Sharon Strzalkowski

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 info@acb.org, 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.

NASA Internships

NASA is looking to increase the number of students with disabilities pursuing science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) careers through its internship programs. Students can apply for summer internships now! The deadline for submitting applications is March 15, 2013. Apply early -- the best opportunities are likely to be filled early.
 
Register for an account and look for internships at the One Stop Shopping Initiative (OSSI): NASA Internships, Fellowships, and Scholarships (NIFS) at http://intern.nasa.gov/.  Summer 2013 internships run for 10 weeks for college students, and six to eight weeks for high school students, from early/late June through early/mid-August. College students receive a stipend of $6,000 and high school students $1,800. As an intern, you are responsible for your own housing. NASA internships for college students are also offered during spring, fall and year-long sessions.
 
Applicants must be U.S. citizens, with a minimum GPA of 2.8 for college and 3.0 for high school; however, applicants must understand that the competition for internships is keen. High school students must be at least 16 years old at the time the internship begins.
 
Students who are selected for summer internships will receive an offer letter by e-mail after Feb. 1. They will then have five days to accept or reject the offer through their OSSI: NIFS account. The offer will automatically expire after five days if no action is taken.
 
If you need more information, or help with applying, contact Kenneth A. Silberman via phone at (301) 286-9281, or e-mail kenneth.a.silberman@nasa.gov.

Rocking the Cradle

The National Council on Disability recently released a report entitled "Rocking the Cradle: Ensuring the Rights of Parents with Disabilities and Their Children," a study providing an overview of factors supporting and obstructing Americans with all kinds of disabilities from exercising their right to begin and maintain their families.  The study's key findings include: estimates indicate 6.1 million children in the U.S. have parents with disabilities – nearly 1 in 10, almost 10 percent of the population; parents with disabilities are the only community of Americans who must struggle to retain custody of their children; extremely high removal rates and loss of parental rights for parents with sensory or physical disabilities; parents with disabilities are more likely to lose custody of their children after divorce; prospective parents with disabilities have more difficulty when it comes to accessing reproductive health care such as assisted reproductive technologies; and prospective parents with disabilities face significant barriers to adopting children. To view the full report, go to www.ncd.gov/publications/2012/Sep272012/.

BANA Adopts Unified English Braille (UEB)

On Nov. 2, 2012, the Braille Authority of North America (BANA) adopted Unified English Braille (UEB). The motion specifies that UEB will eventually replace the current English Braille American Edition and that the U.S. will retain the Nemeth Code for Mathematics and Science Notation.
 
The transition to UEB will not be immediate; it will follow a carefully crafted timeline. Implementation plans will be formulated with the input and participation of stakeholders from the consumer, education, rehabilitation, transcription, and production communities.
 
UEB is based on the current literary braille code and was developed with input from many people, primarily braille readers, who worked to achieve an optimal balance among many key factors. Those factors include keeping the general-purpose literary code as its base, allowing the addition of new symbols, providing flexibility for change as print changes, reducing the complexity of rules, and allowing greater accuracy in back translation. Letters and numbers will stay the same as they are in the current literary code. There will be some changes to punctuation, but most will remain the same. Some rules for the use of contractions will change. Nine contractions will be eliminated, and some contractions will be used more often. More information about these changes is available on the BANA web site, www.brailleauthority.org.

Pacific Rim International Conference

Don't miss the 29th annual Pacific Rim Conference on Disability and Diversity, 2013: Being in Community, April 29-30, 2013 at the Hawaii Convention Center in Honolulu. Formerly called the Pacific Rim International Conference on Disabilities, Pacrim is one of the world's top-rated international educational offerings. We are looking for your creative ideas to build the just, sustainable and inclusive future we all want! We have many topic areas relevant to educators and researchers including Teach to Reach, Indigenous and Native Hawaiian Education, Post-Secondary Education and much more.  To learn more, visit www.pacrim.hawaii.edu, e-mail prinfo@hawaii.edu or call us at (808) 956-7539.

Former Editor Honored

Former "Braille Forum" editor Nolan Crabb received the American Council of the Blind of Ohio's Ambassador Award at the ACBO convention on Oct. 27. "It came as a great surprise -- I had no idea this would happen. It's one of those things that you get but you always felt you could've done more or worked harder, so it's a humbling thing to be recognized in that way," Crabb said.  He hopes to continue to work with people on the Ohio State campus to ensure that anyone with any type of disability can have an equal shot at the very best they can achieve.

NAPVI Joins Guild

The National Association for Parents of Children with Visual Impairments (NAPVI) recently joined Jewish Guild Healthcare as one of its subsidiaries. According to Susan LaVenture, NAPVI's executive director, NAPVI will continue to retain its identity.

APH, Dollywood Partner

APH and the Dollywood Foundation have formed a partnership to expand Dolly Parton's Imagination Library so that they can provide young blind and visually impaired children from birth to kindergarten age with accessible books.  For the past year, audio titles have been available as a download from the APH web site; now, each year, five titles will also be available in braille.  The books for 2012 were: "Old Bear and His Cub" (by Olivier Dunrea), "A Mud Pie for Mother" (by Scott Beck), "My Lucky Day" (by Keiko Kasza), "Read to Tiger" (by S.J. Fore), and "Llama Llama Misses Mama" (by Anna Dewdney).  For this year, 200 copies of each of the five titles are available free to blind and visually impaired children.  Applications for the books will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis.  Parents and legal guardians of visually impaired children from birth to kindergarten age can apply and enroll a child in the program by visiting www.aph.org/dpil/apply or calling (502) 899-2361.

Braille Awards & Signs

Rick Hume is a blind entrepreneur who owns an awards recognition company in Kalamazoo, Mich. The R.L. Hume Award Company sells promotional items, engravable gifts for all occasions, trophies and award plaques. The store can customize award plaques and ADA building signs with braille. The selection of braillable items can be reviewed at www.award-1.com/Awards/Plaques/BraillePlqs.shtml, or enter their new site name www.braille-plaques.com. For more information, call the store at (269) 344-2307.

New Book Available

A biography of Samuel G. Howe, "The Manliest Man: Samuel G. Howe and the Contours of Nineteenth-Century American Reform" by James W. Trent, is now available. The book explores Howe's life through private letters as well as personal and public documents.  It is available in print from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and will be available this winter as an electronic publication from BookShare.

Keller Archives Online

Have you ever wondered just how Anne Sullivan worked with Helen Keller?  Wonder no more.  The 1880s-era correspondence between Sullivan, Keller and Michael Anagnos at the Perkins School for the Blind is now available online thanks to collaboration between Perkins and the American Antiquarian Society, and a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.  Check it out at www.flickr.com/photos/perkinsarchive/collections/72157629303816171.

Mobile Speak Version 5.8

Code Factory recently released Mobile Speak version 5.8. It has more than 100 new features, improvements and fixes so that users can make the best use of both the latest touch devices and traditional phones with keypads. It is offered as a free upgrade for users of Mobile Speak v4.0 and above.  It includes support for WhatsApp, Symbian Belle FP1 accessibility, and much more.  You can download Mobile Speak 5.8 now at www.codefactory.es/en/downloads.asp?id=348#version_0_106.  New users can try it for free for 30 days. Only the Acapela Russian Alyona and Galop TTS installation packages have changed since v5.7.

Handheld Magnifier

Aumed recently released Image, a multi-use handheld magnifier.  It magnifies from 4.3x to 14x, has a folding grip handle, 5 color modes, 4.3" high-contrast LCD screen, TV out function, freeze frame, anti-blur technology, and only weighs 8 ounces.  For more information, contact the company: Aumed Inc., 131 Glenn Way, Unit 5, San Carlos, CA 94070, or call toll-free, 1-855-622-9071.  Or send an e-mail message to usa5@aumedgroup.com.

Pebble Mini

Enhanced Vision recently released the Pebble-mini, a lightweight, handheld electronic magnifier.  It has adjustable magnification, from 2x to 10x; large, easy-to-use controls; weighs less than 4 ounces; rechargeable batteries; 28 viewing modes; a hands-free reading stand; and a protective pouch and neck strap. 
 
The company also released the DaVinci, an all-in-one high-definition CCTV with text-to-speech (OCR) and 3 camera viewing positions: near, far, and everything in between. Features include: reads aloud with Nuance Registered software; high resolution HD LCD for crystal clear pictures and vibrant colors; 28 adjustable viewing modes; and adjustable magnification from 2.4x to 77x.
 
For more information, call 1-888-811-3161 or visit www.enhancedvision.com.

New Mice

Bierley has introduced the MonoMouse-Zoom, which provides variable magnification (14x-55x on a 20" TV), has freeze frame capability, and more.  Installation is easy; just plug it into a TV's video input plug and go! 
 
The company has also introduced the ColorMouse-USB-MD.  It, too, connects via cable to your computer's USB port.  It can magnify from 3x to 100x, and works with Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7.
 
For more information on either mouse, contact Bierley at 1-800-985-0535 or visit www.bierley.com.

Brailler Repairs

Leonard Kokel's Certified Brailler Service provides general service, minor and major repair on Perkins braillers.  He also has reconditioned braillers for sale.  For information, contact him at (541) 888-0846 or e-mail leonardkokel@gmail.com.

High Tech Swap Shop

For Sale:

BookSense basic. Comes with 2-gig SD card, USB cable, AC adapter (with braille label), earphone, attached lanyard and informational disc. Asking $200 plus ground shipping via UPS.  Contact Cindy via e-mail, darpaz@ameritech.net, and in the subject line, put "want to buy your BookSense" (without the quotes).

For Sale:

Like-new Intel reader with Capture-station.  Asking $400. Contact Solomon via e-mail, Solomoon@verizon.net or call him at (727) 412-3920.

ACB Officers

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