ACB Braille Forum, February 2013

ACB Braille Forum
Volume LI (51) February 2013 No. 6
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: 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 © 2013 American Council of the Blind

All content created initially for use by ACB 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. Creative content that appears elsewhere originally remains the property of the original copyright holder. Those responsible for creative content submitted initially to ACB are free to permit their materials to appear elsewhere with proper attribution and prior notification to the ACB national office.

Forum Subscription Notes

You can now get "The Braille Forum" by podcast!  To subscribe, go to "The Braille Forum" page on www.acb.org. If you do not yet have a podcast client, you can download one from the Forum page.

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.
 
ACB Radio Mainstream has blindness-related news you can use.  Go to http://acbradio.org/node/1 and choose Mainstream to keep up with the talk of the blind community.  Keep up with the haps when affiliates stream conventions by choosing ACB Live Event.

Table of Contents

ACB Braille Forum, February 2013 downloads

President's Message: The Blind Divide, by Mitch Pomerantz

Back in the 1990s when the Internet was first taking off as a communications and entertainment medium, former Vice President Al Gore talked about the increasing importance of the "information superhighway" and the digital divide as a serious issue facing this nation.  He was referring to the fact that as the web became an integral part of people's lives, those who lacked access would be left behind relative to those who had the technological means to achieve such access.  At that time I believe Gore was focusing specifically upon those in the lower socioeconomic stratum of society, typically minorities and the poor.  While he likely wouldn't admit it, the former vice president probably didn't have people who are blind or visually impaired in mind when he talked about the digital divide between the "haves" and "have-nots."

This divide was brought to mind recently thanks to a pair of seemingly unrelated matters.  The first concerned the working group I serve on representing ACB under the auspices of the U.S. Access Board to establish best practices for making prescription drug label information fully accessible.  (By the time you read this, I will have returned from the first meeting of this working group, taking place in Washington, D.C. Jan. 10-11.)  Without going into detail, I received an e-mail from an individual who will be demonstrating a software-based product at that meeting which would permit a blind user to obtain all necessary label information.  The company he represents hopes to be marketing this product in the near future.

The second matter concerned a proposal brought forward by the board of publications to publish as many as six issues of the "ACB Braille Forum" in an online format exclusively.  The rationale for this initiative is to address the rising cost of braille production and the imminent demise in the production of audio cassettes.

In both instances the question which must be asked is: What do we do about those among us who cannot access the Internet; do not have computers, portable notetakers, smartphones, and the like?  In the name of progress, does society in general and the organized blind in particular, turn our collective backs on our non-techie brethren?  A few years ago, Dr. Ronald Milliman, a retired marketing professor and active ACB member, conducted a survey of members which indicated that a sizable majority have access to and use computers.  While I don't recall the specifics, the survey findings surprised many of us who believed that the percentage would be far lower than the results indicated.  Nonetheless, I still contend that the vast majority of people who are blind or visually impaired do not use computers and hence, are on the wrong side of the digital divide.

Perhaps a more basic question than the one posed above is: Who exactly comprises the generic group we call "the blind?"  Although I can't reasonably argue with Milliman's findings relative to computer use by ACB members, I still maintain my previous contention that most blind and visually impaired people are on the wrong side of that divide.  Let's consider some facts.

First, given the statistics, somewhere around 2 to 3 percent of the overall blind and visually impaired population in the United States belongs to one of the major consumer advocacy organizations: ACB, NFB or BVA (Blinded Veterans of America).  I am assuming here that those of us who are members of one of these organizations may be more likely to use a computer because we are more aware of the value provided by having access to the Internet, as well as having more of an opportunity for exposure to access technology.  This leaves well over 95 percent of our population who, while generally understanding that they would benefit from the use of a computer, have had little if any such exposure.  Therefore, these individuals are less likely to have acquired the technology necessary to cross that divide.  One caveat is the recognition that blind and visually impaired people under the age of 30 certainly do understand the value of technology and have made efforts to acquire it.  The issue is whether such people have the resources to do so given cuts in the rehabilitation budgets of nearly every state in the union.

Second (and this is only an educated estimate), something like 70 percent of the blind/visually impaired population is over the age of 60.  Certainly a significant number of folks in this age group (myself included) are computer users but again, we have been exposed to access technology and its benefits.  Overall, members of the "baby boom" and "greatest generations" who have experienced vision loss in recent years are not computer savvy, especially those in their 70s and beyond.  This situation will obviously change as 30, 40 and 50-somethings (a group that is far more likely to embrace technology) age and begin losing their vision.

Hence, for at least another decade or so, how do we address the information needs of those who are not on Gore's information superhighway?  ACB must remain mindful of who comprises the overall blind and visually impaired population in this country.  In the case of access to prescription drug label information, we will advocate for both high-tech solutions -- Talking Rx bottles, ScripTalk and other technologies -- to facilitate accessing vital information, as well as low-tech solutions -- braille, large print, etc.  In the case of assuring access to our publication for those lacking computer access, we will work closely with the International Association of Audio Information Services (IAAIS) to bring "The ACB Braille Forum" to those individuals.  If we truly represent all blind and visually impaired people as we say we do, then ACB must advocate for everyone, regardless of which side of the blind divide they find themselves.  To do less would be putting the lie to our mission.

ACB Braille Forum Now Available On NEWSLINE

ACB is pleased to announce that "The ACB Braille Forum" is now available on the Newsline service. Newsline is an audio information service which provides access to print publications. It is a free electronic service that gives any blind, visually impaired, or print-disabled person access to newspapers, magazines, and TV listings 24 hours a day, 7 days a week -- using a touch-tone telephone, on the web, or by download to a digital talking-book player or MP3-playing device. Most states have full access to content on Newsline, but for those states that do not, individual users can have access to the content within the Blindness Specific section.

Once registered, a user can dial in on a specific telephone number, enter in your designated identification number and security code to listen to all of the available content. After the initial call, the system will remember your log-in information which will speed up the call-in process for future sessions.

If you are a current subscriber, you do not need to create a new account or obtain new codes; your current codes will allow you to access Newsline and "The ACB Braille Forum." If you've forgotten your codes, you can call 1-866-504-7300 for assistance.

There are over 320 newspapers, including the Associated Press newswire, the United Press International newswire, and CNN Press; 39 magazines such as "The Economist" and "AARP Magazine"; 10 international newspapers, including "The China Daily" and "The Jerusalem Post," and several blindness-specific publications, including "The Matilda Ziegler Magazine."

You can find "The ACB Braille Forum" in the magazine section, under the Blindness Specific category, option 7 from the main menu followed by option 1.

You can also now listen to publications on your iOS device such as the iPad, the iPhone, and the iPod Touch. Just download the Newsline Mobile App from the Apple App Store by searching for NFB Newsline.

If you are not currently a Newsline subscriber, you can sign up for the service by contacting your state braille and talking book library program or by calling 1-866-504-7300 for more information on how to register.

Newsline also provides other types of information such as job listings, option 9 from the main menu; TV listings, option 8 from the main menu; and weekly Target ads from the Target Corporation, option 6 from the main menu.

You can also visit www.nfbnewslineonline.org to read more about all of the technological initiatives, including information on how to access Newsline In Your Pocket, Web News on Demand, Podable News, and KeyStream.

Give this new way of reading "The ACB Braille Forum" a try -- we think you will definitely like it!

When Less Can Become More by Paul Edwards

The board of publications is going to change the face of ACB, we think! I am excited to be writing this article and excited about what it contains. To understand what we propose, I need to go back into history a little. As ACB has found itself facing tough budget decisions, "The ACB Braille Forum" has, at various times, had to take it on the chin and produce fewer issues. This is largely because of the relatively high cost of making our magazine available to you. Up until four years ago, the Forum represented about 15 percent of ACB's budget. When an issue or two got dropped, ACB saved a lot of money. The other thing that folks need to know is that the size of the magazine has decreased as well. During 2012, ACB produced 10 issues. Nine of them were 32 pages of large print and one was 48 pages of large print. This got us 336 pages of "The ACB Braille Forum." Because we have seriously purged our subscription list, the publication cost about $70,000.
 
The budget committee informed us that we were going to lose an issue this year because ACB will be operating with a deficit budget this year and there just was not enough money to publish the Forum with 10 issues.
 
Some of us did some number-crunching and discovered that the difference between the cost of our 32-page issue and our 48-page issue was not very large. So we decided to propose a radical alteration to "The ACB Braille Forum." We will be producing six issues of the Forum this year, not the nine we were offered by the budget committee and board. However, each of the issues will be 56 pages long, which will allow us to publish more and longer articles than we could with such a small footprint as the one with which we operated. That will actually mean that we will be producing exactly the same number of pages as we did last year but for considerably less money. I think that decision by itself would have been a good one.
 
However, that is not where we propose to stop. We will be producing the new and enlarged "ACB Braille Forum" every other month, and we'll be producing a second magazine that will appear in the month that "The ACB Braille Forum" does not. This magazine will be produced in electronic form and will not be size limited. It will be available as a Web-Braille file on BARD and, we firmly believe, as an audio download from BARD as well. It will be available as an RTF electronic file, and as a narrated version that will be downloadable from our web site. Of course you can receive a copy of the new magazine by e-mail and, in addition to all these places where you can find it, "The ACB Braille Forum" and our new magazine will both be available through Newsline thanks to the good offices of the NFB and state library systems who support it. There is more detail about this new development in a separate article.
 
For now, we are calling the other publication "The ACB E-Forum," and you can look forward to your first issue in April or May.
 
We have already begun negotiations with radio reading services to see if we can encourage them to air part or all of our new magazine, and we encourage those of you who use such services to help us by asking them to carry the E-Forum and other ACB Radio programming, for that matter. The board and the board of publications are excited about our plans for the future. We will be able to communicate with you more often and with more material and for less money! We hope you will let us know what you think of the new and exciting approach we are taking this year and we hope you will write for both publications!

Planned Giving: A Win-Win Resolution to Consider in 2013 by Melanie Brunson

One of the comments we hear fairly frequently in the ACB national office is that people like "The Braille Forum" so much that they "read it from cover to cover as soon as it comes!"  I suspect some people do, but I also suspect that for most readers, that statement is almost but not quite true.  There is one little sentence that appears in this magazine regularly that I am afraid most of us skip right over, or if some read it, they don't give it much thought.  That sentence says, "Consider including a gift to ACB in your Last Will and Testament.  If your wishes are complex, call the national office."
 
Now, don't panic and skip the rest of this article.  I promise not to talk about writing wills.  What I would like to point out is that making bequests in wills is one small part of what is often referred to as "planned giving."  Planned giving involves planning to donate to charity at some time in the future, and then actually putting those plans in writing with the person or institution that you want to carry them out for you at the appropriate time.  ACB has begun an effort to encourage more people to consider planned giving and to make ACB the recipient of their planned gifts.  We hope that as some of you consider implementing new year's resolutions that involve putting your financial affairs in better order, you will consider ways in which you might help ACB at the same time.  Below is some explanatory information taken from a new brochure that ACB can make available to you upon request.
 
There are many ways to make a charitable contribution. 

Gifts of Cash

Cash contributions are a quick and easy way to show your support of the services provided by ACB.  Simply write a check or make a cash donation through our web site. If your employer has a matching gifts program, you could double or even triple your donation to ACB.
 

Bequests

By leaving a bequest to ACB in your will, you will make a lasting contribution to help people who are blind to achieve independence and dignity. You can designate a specific amount, a percentage of your total estate, or a share of the residue after gifts to your heirs.
 

Gifts Through Living Trusts

If you choose to establish a living trust instead of a will, you can provide for yourself and your family before and after your death.  As in a will, you can arrange a contribution through a living trust by naming ACB as a beneficiary.

Gifts of Real Estate

Your charitable contribution of real estate – a personal residence, vacation home, commercial real estate or vacant land – is a tax-wise gift that has income and capital gains tax advantages. By choosing an option called "Retained Life Estate," you can give your personal residence to ACB and still maintain lifetime use of the property.

Gifts of Life Insurance

When your life insurance was originally purchased, you certainly had a need for its benefits.  However, if you no longer have that need, consider contributing your existing life insurance policy to ACB.  You can simply name ACB as its owner and beneficiary, either in whole or in part.  Also, if you are a donor committed to making annual gifts, you can direct a portion of your annual gift to an insurance policy, guaranteeing the continuation of that gift in perpetuity.

Gifts of Retirement Plans

You can name ACB as beneficiary of your pension, 401(k), IRA or other retirement plan. This gift could be the most cost-effective that you can make, because you avoid the possible double taxation on retirement plan assets left to your heirs.

Gifts of Securities

Contributions of stock or other securities are a welcome gift at ACB. If you contribute appreciated securities that you have held for one year or more, there are potential capital gains benefits.  For transfer options, please call our Minnesota office at (612) 332-3242, or 1-800-866-3242.
 
Other giving options include the following: charitable gift annuities; charitable lead trusts; and charitable remainder trusts.
 
If you are interested in learning more about which of these options is best for you, the first thing to do is contact your financial or tax advisor.  He or she can provide you with additional information on how your participation in the above programs may affect your personal tax situation.  Then, if you have questions about how you can most benefit ACB, please feel free to contact either me or Lane Waters.  You can reach me at the Arlington office, and you can reach Lane in the Minnesota office.  Either of us would be happy to assist you, and we thank you in advance for the assistance you will provide to ACB for years to come.

ACB Conference and Convention -- A Week of Discovery by Janet Dickelman

ACB's 52nd annual conference and convention will be one of the best ever.  Make plans now to be in Columbus, Ohio, July 4-12 for an incredible week of special activities, information, exhibits, fun and friends.
 
Often people ask if there are activities that can help them in their careers.  They want to know about information available on important issues, and how they can learn more about new adaptive technology.  Here's a sampling of these outstanding opportunities; share them with your employer and explore the possibility of using at least part of your time in Columbus as professional development.  Perhaps your employer will even assist with part of your expenses or give you a few days of professional development time.

Exhibits

Compare and contrast the latest products for blind and visually impaired people.  Discover which video magnifier, scanner, braille display, notetaker or speech program best meets your needs or the needs of your students or clients.  Examine an endless variety of products for work, school and daily living.  Collect materials to take home to others in your office or organization.  You will want to spend hours and hours browsing the exhibit hall; it opens on Saturday, July 6, at 1:00 and closes on Wednesday, July 10, at 3:00.

Workshops and Focus Groups

Every conference and convention features unique opportunities to learn new skills, tips and techniques on a wide range of topics.  Seminars on diabetes, employment issues, rehabilitation, transportation and access to off-the-shelf technology are some examples.  Get instruction and tips on technologies such as iDevices, screen readers, braille notetakers, low vision products, and much more

Programs and Discussions

ACB general sessions (Saturday evening, Sunday-Wednesday 8:30 a.m.-noon, and all day Thursday) address education, rehabilitation, employment, access, health-related issues and much more.  The presentation by a talking book narrator and update on library services are always popular.  While the 2013 program is not yet complete, you can be assured that it will be exciting and information-packed.
 
ACB committees, special-interest affiliates and others sponsor an endless variety of break-out sessions and small-group discussions.  Look for informative programming for teachers, government employees, blind vendors and entrepreneurs, attorneys, human service professionals, and information technology specialists.  Students can explore careers and meet people working in their areas of interest.  Parents of children with visual impairments can gather tips on how to advocate for their children and learn what to expect from the years ahead.  Special programming targets issues related to low vision, guide dogs, deaf-blind concerns, braille, etc.

Networking

It is often said that networking with others with similar interests is as important as education and training, and that it greatly enhances the job-seeking process and long-term success in any career path.  Whether you are a teacher or student, rehabilitation counselor or administrator, parent or caregiver, employer or job-seeker, you will be able to network with others in your field.

Exhibits, Marketplace, Advertising and Sponsorships

The 2013 ACB conference and convention gives businesses, agencies, organizations and individuals a chance to let people from all over the country and around the world know about their products and services.  Exhibit booth space, Marketplace tables, advertising, and sponsorships are now available.  Exhibitors who register early and who purchase advertising can take advantage of discounted rates.  There's something to fit every budget.
 
Back by popular demand - Take advantage of our registration bag special!  We'll stuff one brochure or other item of your choice FREE in our registration bags (a $250 value) for each premium booth space you reserve in the exhibit hall.  This is your chance to reach every attendee and drive traffic to your booth.
 
Visit www.acb.org to explore all of our 2013 exhibit, advertising and sponsorship opportunities.  You may also contact Michael Smitherman (exhibits) at (601) 331-7740 or amduo@bellsouth.net, or Margarine Beaman (advertising and sponsorships) at (512) 921-1625 or oleo50@hotmail.com.

Details

Special-interest groups, ACB committees, and others wishing to sponsor programs or activities at the conference should submit all information for the pre-registration form by April 15.  Program details need to be submitted by May 1.  Remember that ALL arrangements related to conference events (reserving meeting and event space, ordering food or A/V equipment, etc.) must be made through Janet Dickelman.

Reservations

The home for ACB in 2013 is the Hyatt Regency  Hotel in downtown Columbus.  Room rates are $89 plus tax for up to four people in a room.  Rooms come complete with refrigerators.  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 (888) 421-1442; be sure to mention that you are with ACB in order to 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, chair, ACB national conference and convention committee, at (651) 428-5059 or janet.dickelman@gmail.com.

DKM First-Timer Program: A Tribute to an ACB Pioneer by Allen J. Casey

One would be hard pressed to attend an ACB conference and convention without hearing numerous references to one or more ACB pioneers who helped shape the organization in its early years.  Among the more frequently referenced pioneers is Durward K. McDaniel, ACB's first national representative and a mentor to ACB leaders and members for more than two decades.
 
In the dedication of "People of Vision" (2003), former ACB president Chris Gray acknowledges Durward's "indefatigable belief in people" and credits "his high ideals, his integrity, his commitment and values" as key elements of ACB's survival.  Throughout "People of Vision," authors James and Marjorie Megivern recognize Durward's efforts to lead ACB out of the political uncertainty of the early 1960s. 
 
M.J. Schmitt, a charter member of ACB and longtime board member, calls Durward the "guts and blood" of ACB, one who encouraged others to lead by becoming involved.  "Durward," she asserts, "attracted me to and kept me in ACB."  Former ACB president Oral Miller recalls Durward's "interesting technique" to attract one to ACB.  He would find a common interest with the individual – for Oral, bowling – then parlay the conversation into a discussion of the individual's place in ACB.  Oral spoke to the 1969 convention on the value of sports to the blind; the rest is history.  So it was with a group of young people involved in the Blind Leadership Council of Massachusetts.  Terry Pacheco, Marlaina Lieberg and Charlie Crawford were the beneficiaries of Durward's wisdom and encouragement.  Durward's commitment to recruiting and developing new leaders – of which M.J., Oral, Terry, Marlaina and Charlie are but a few – may stand as his most lasting contribution to ACB.
 
It is fitting, therefore, that ACB remembers Durward today through a special program which recognizes and encourages new leaders – the Durward K. McDaniel First-Timer program.  Each year two ACB members are selected as DKM first-timers.  Eligible applicants must meet each of the following criteria: be age 18 or older; blind or visually impaired; be an active member in good standing of ACB or one of its affiliates; and must not have attended a previous national conference and convention.  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) letter of recommendation from the president of the applicant's affiliate.  Applicants should provide current contact information, including mailing address, e-mail address and telephone number.  Applications must be received in the ACB national office not later than April 1.
 
Reasonable conference expenses will be covered for each first-timer: travel to and from Columbus; hotel lodging; per diem allowance for meals and incidentals; and appropriate conference fees.  DKM recipients are expected to be active participants in conference sessions and educational and special-interest seminars.  Questions may be directed to DKM committee chair Allen Casey at (336) 222-0201 or mahatmaac@aol.com.

Update on GDUI

Colleagues:
 
Over the past several months there has been growing discussion relative to our affiliate, Guide Dog Users, Inc., and the involvement of the ACB board of directors.  By motion of the board at a teleconference meeting held on Dec. 17th, I am providing a brief update on where matters stand at the present time.
 
Prior to our fall board meeting in Columbus, Ohio, Jenine Stanley and other past GDUI presidents including first vice president Kim Charlson formed a group to attempt to resolve differences within that affiliate.  It was generally believed by the board that this group was acting as a neutral party; and therefore, I invited Jenine to speak to us about events up to that point.
 
Jenine did so and after lengthy and serious deliberation, the board chose to take no action.  We took that position because one of ACB's founding principles is that our affiliates are autonomous entities, with the power to set their own agendas and policies.  While a thorough review of our constitution and bylaws reveals no specific provision prohibiting board intervention in affiliate business, such a prohibition is one of the strongest tenets of ACB governance and culture.
 
Subsequently, the GDUI president, Laurie Mehta, and I exchanged correspondence in which, among other things, she requested an opportunity to address the board of directors.  By another board motion, I have tendered such an invitation to Ms. Mehta to speak to us in early January.  It is our sincere hope to gain a better understanding of where matters currently stand within GDUI and it is further our belief that Ms. Mehta will help us to gain that understanding.
 
The ACB board of directors has every expectation that the leadership and membership of Guide Dog Users, Inc. can and will resolve whatever differences exist and continue to be one of the strongest organizations within the American Council of the Blind.
 
Sincerely,
Mitch Pomerantz, President
American Council of the Blind

The ACB Holiday Auction: What a Happening!

If you were fortunate enough to be one of the almost 130 listeners on ACB Radio to the first annual holiday auction held on Dec. 2, you know that this event was truly a rousing success. We raised more than $4,100 for ACB Radio.
 
There are so many people to recognize and thank for this wonderful event. Clear Channel Communications gave us the use of their Louisville studio and even provided some staff assistance. The broadcast team and those handling the almost constant stream of bids over the telephone, which included several members of the Kentucky Council of the Blind and members of the ACB Radio management team, did an awesome job.  We are especially appreciative of those individuals, companies, and ACB affiliates who made such generous donations to the auction and provided so many of us with food, sports memorabilia, jewelry, dolls, and much, much more. In addition, the ACB Minnesota staff worked extremely hard on many aspects of the auction. Most of all we thank all of you who listened to the auction. We hope you had as much fun in listening, bidding, and, if you were lucky, placing the winning bid, as the auction committee did in working on this auction. So, even though the end of 2013 seems a long way off, get ready for next year's holiday auction where you can help raise money for ACB Radio and get some great gifts for family, friends, and even for yourself.

A Journey of the Blind in the Blind by Dan Marshall

I'm a good example of the 24-hour sleep-wake disorder because it's between 3 and 4 in the morning. I'm up and have to write this article. I can't get it off my mind.
 
My working life has been a series of different vocations. I grew up on a farm in South Dakota during the '60s. I graduated from Tulare High School, Tulare, S.D., in May 1971.  I graduated with a bachelor of arts from the University of South Dakota in May 1976. I practice-taught in Mitchell, S.D. My teaching in German was fun and rewarding, while my teaching in 7th-grade social studies was disastrous! There was no demand for German teachers.
 
Because I knew I could not teach, I went to the then-Arkansas Enterprises for the Blind to the TSR course and went to work in Saint Louis, Mo., during the 1977 filing season working with 1976 tax returns.  After April 15, my hours were cut to 6 hours for every 2 weeks, so I resigned.
 
I entered law school at the University of South Dakota in the fall of 1977. I went to class and studied for 12 hours per day for 2 semesters before finding out that law school wasn't for me! That summer I volunteered at the school of education at the University of South Dakota. I had to fight get into the master's program in special ed with an emphasis on learning disabilities. It took me 18 months to earn my master's degree.  Then I began looking for a teaching job.
 
I was hired in Council Bluffs, Iowa, partly because the principal had a disabled son who couldn't work. The principal thought he should give me a chance in just the same way he hoped someone would give his son a chance if it were possible for him to work. I taught learning disabilities resource for 3 years. That meant that I had students for one or two periods per day. Then I was moved into a self-contained classroom with integration. This meant that I had students from three to five periods per day. I was responsible for the main academics at a lower level than their grade. In the resource room I was teaching remedial math and reading. I worked 9 years but was ready for a change of location and assignment.
 
In the fall of 1991 I relocated to Port Sulphur, La., 60 miles south of New Orleans in Plaquemines Parish. Highway 23 was the only road in and out. On one side was the Gulf of Mexico. Then there was a strip of land. Next came the Mississippi River followed by another strip of land. Finally after that came the Gulf of Mexico. In that first year it rained over 100 inches there. I stayed there for four years but left when there was no more demand for my skills teaching the blind and visually impaired.
 
The next two years, from fall of 1995 to the summer of 1997, I taught braille at the Louisiana School for the Visually Impaired. I enjoyed Baton Rouge but left because of financial problems and difficulties with the administration. From July of 1997 through Aug. 1, 1998, I worked at the Affiliated Blind of Louisiana Rehabilitation Center teaching braille, keyboarding and money management. I left there and took a position in Ouachita Parish just outside of Monroe, La. on Aug. 24, 1998. There I taught the visually impaired classroom until my students either moved up to junior high or moved away.
 
I left Ouachita Parish and moved to Vernon Parish, Leesville, La. on Dec. 19, 2000. I was hired as an itinerant teacher of the visually impaired. I taught there until I was riffed on May 25, 2007. There were blind students just to the south in Beauregard Parish, but the parish refused to provide services even after being sued. I just couldn't face starting over again in another parish.
 
During the filing season of 1977 I had worked in Saint Louis as a taxpayer service representative and liked the job. This was pre-computer. You could look up an answer in the braille material and give the answer. After attending Lions World during the fall of 2007 and the spring of 2008 I relocated to Denver, Colo. This time everything was based upon what is on the computer screen. At the beginning of the classes at Lions World, the IRS hired me to work in accounts. At Lions World I did well in tax law and horrible in accounts. I was never fast enough on the computer.
 
I lasted just over 6 months before I resigned. My evaluation said I was horrible at 3 months and hadn't improved at the 6-month time but they would help me. I knew that I was never going to be able to do what they required of me at a fast enough rate to satisfy them.  By this time I was just barely hobbling along with my Seeing Eye dog, Toffee. I applied for admission to the University of Colorado's downtown campus to receive another master's degree in counseling. I was accepted in March of 2009 but rejected in May. There had been a mistake, and I should never have been accepted.
 
I returned to Baton Rouge in July of 2009. By this time I was using a wheelchair because both of my hips were shot. Thanks to hard work and good luck I was able to receive public assistance and a place to live. My left hip was replaced in September of 2011, and my right hip was replaced in January of 2012. I'm now walking with a quad cane and my 6th Seeing Eye dog. I've also begun assembling novel plots in preparation for a writing career. This is the short version of my vocational journey, but it does teach some valuable lessons. First, there are very few set jobs for blind workers today. Second, a blind person has to be very determined to work. And finally, that determined person must figure out what his or her God-given talent is and use it to the max to succeed!

A Review of Peter Altschul's 'Breaking Barriers: Working and Loving While Blind' by Michael Byington

When invited to review this rather amazing book, I first hesitated a bit. Given the target publication for the review, it will be read by blind and low-vision people, many quite capable and successful, all over America and the world. My thought was, "Why would a bunch of blind folks be interested in some blind guy telling his life story?"
 
Most of us who are blind or severely visually impaired probably feel we have had some unique life experiences, and that we should write them into a book. The difference between most of us and Peter, though, is that he actually wrote the book. Additionally, Peter is not just another blind guy who has had some life experiences from which others may learn, and which may have entertainment value. Sight or blindness notwithstanding, Peter is a highly experienced and intuitive management consultant, an experienced social worker, and a musician and composer who has great talent and considerable credits for his artistic accomplishments.
 
He has the credentials to write cogently and at length on any of these subjects in addition to, or instead of, his blindness and his dog guides. The extraordinary nature of his now-published memoir is that he has woven all of these themes together in an artful, entertaining, and educational manner.
 
Many memoirs take the "I was a child, then I was a teenager, then I was a young adult, and now I am however old" format. This often gets boring, and gives the reader a "why should I care?" attitude. Peter avoids this through creating what I would call an "events tapestry." He tells various stories from his life, in various sections of the book, and within them, he flashes back to other stories from other times that are relevant to the main themes of the section. The result is that one is not left with the impression of "Now Peter has told about his life" as much as "These are informative and thought-provoking comments on the structure of effective organizations, the successful training of dog guide teams, how to get along with bosses and deal with blindness in the workplace, and about falling in love."
 
The book covers such issues as blindness and family dynamics, how blind adults may relate to children, job interviewing tips, and theories of public education for those who are blind. It does so in a manner that is so subtle and well crafted that the reader may first think, "That was a good read about Peter, his remarkable family, his dog guides, and the way he met his equally talented, creative and brilliant wife." A bit more reflection makes the reader realize that he has been enlightened concerning effective management, orientation and mobility for the blind, how dog guides are trained, and a myriad of other issues about how people who are blind often cope with everyday life.
 
The guide dog school from which Peter has received several excellent dogs is Guiding Eyes for the Blind. Guiding Eyes seems to have a penchant for graduating guide dog users who are also extraordinary writers. Stephen Kuusisto, a graduate and former employee of Guiding Eyes, wrote "Planet of the Blind" in 1995. In that best-selling memoir, Kuusisto articulated his experiences as he moved from being visually impaired as a child to being totally blind. Peter Altschul has followed up with an equally well-penned volume, discussing his life experiences as a person who was born totally blind. While he has done that competently, he has gone miles further. The book is an informative and essential read for anyone working in management consulting, community organizing, orientation and mobility, rehabilitation, social work, customer service, or job placement. It is also a pretty uplifting read for many of us blind or severely visually impaired folks, who will likely finish the book thinking, "I could never write my story that well, and will probably never get around to doing so at all, but I am surely glad that Peter did. Getting the information out in the way Peter has accomplished it is good for us all."
 
"Breaking Barriers: Working and Loving While Blind," by Peter Altschul, is published by iUniverse Books, Bloomington, Ind.  It is available through iUniverse.com (hard cover, soft cover, and e-book format); Amazon.com (soft cover and Kindle); and Borders.com (soft cover).  Please contact Peter through www.peteraltschul.com if you want a copy of the book as a braille-ready file (BRF).

Enjoying Your ACB Family Vacation on a Budget by Ron and Lisa Brooks

(Editor's Note: Ron and Lisa Brooks are members of ACB Families and occasional contributors to "The Braille Forum." They are also the founders of an information resource for blind families called www.blindfamilies.com.)
 
Last year, Lisa, our three kids, our two guide dogs and I attended the ACB conference and convention in Louisville. Because of cost, work and school schedules, our trip to Kentucky represented not only a chance to get involved with ACB. It also served as our annual family vacation.
 
As family vacations go, our trip to Louisville was just about perfect. We had fun on our flights to and from Louisville. We enjoyed our time in the hotel, eating in a variety of restaurants, both in and around the hotel. We enjoyed a couple of tours, and Lisa and I had a great time at convention. However, bringing a family of five to Louisville for a ten-day trip was not cheap, and quite honestly, our biggest concern about coming to Columbus next year is money. Given this fact and knowing that money is a pretty big deal for most ACB families, we decided to share the strategies we used for keeping our convention costs manageable.
 
There is no secret recipe for making convention attendance cheap. It comes down to common sense and planning. Here are the steps we took, which we recommend for you and your family for having a more affordable conference and convention experience.

  1. Plan ahead.

    Room rates at the Hyatt Regency are $89 per night plus tax for up to 4 people per room.  And the rooms all include refrigerators.

  2. Build a budget.

    Well before we bought our airline tickets, booked our hotel or previewed the ACB convention program, Lisa and I had a good idea of what we would be spending for the week. The budgeting step was critical because it really helped us to determine which activities might or might not fit in, and this helped us to plan our week. Having a budget also helped when we got to the end of the week and wanted to do something we hadn't planned. We could easily see that we had money to spare, and that enabled us to treat ourselves to a horse and buggy ride with a clear conscience, and that night with our kids was one of the high points of our entire trip to Louisville.

  3. Save, save, save.

    The key to saving is not having to pay for everything during convention week. Ways you can save include the traditional approach of putting money back each week and pre-paying for specific cost elements of the trip so that you don't have to pay all at once. In our case, we bought airline tickets very early. And we prepaid our convention registration fees on a debit card as soon as we could do so online. We also parked some money in our savings account each month until we hit our target amount for the 10-day trip to Louisville. This approach meant that by the time we arrived in Louisville, most of our expenses were already paid, and we had cash in hand to cover the rest.

    Before closing the "save, save, save" discussion, we want to address the use of credit cards. Credit cards can make convention travel more convenient, but we recommend saving and paying ahead. This approach will spare you the headache of having to pay thousands of dollars plus interest for your week-long vacation. Better still, by paying in advance, you will be ready to start saving for next year's vacation immediately after concluding this one.

  4. Use the YAC.

    Our best strategy for saving money was the ACB Youth Activity Center. For a total of about $40 per kid, our kids ate breakfast and lunch for five days, attended five days of pre-planned activities, including swimming and tours, and had a pizza and movie party on the night of the ACB banquet. The YAC not only saved us money, but it gave Lisa and me the ability to attend the bulk of the convention without having to worry about entertaining the kids or planning their activities.

  5. Plan your downtime.

    As soon as we got our registration packet, we identified the evening events that looked interesting, and we locked those events in. This meant that we had a clear idea of what we'd be doing and how much it was going to cost. The alternative is no plan, which means finding something to do at the last minute and probably paying more for it. … Oh, and if your family is like mine, those moments of indecision are painful indeed. Better to have a plan that everyone knows in advance.

  6. Think family-friendly.

    More and more, there are activities that are designed to be family-friendly. In Louisville, the ACB Families affiliate sponsored a bowling night, and ACB sponsored a baseball game and a number of Recreation Zone activities. In general, these activities cost less and were great ways for families to spend time after a busy day at the convention or in the YAC. In addition to ACB-sponsored events, there were a number of nearby public venues with activities to fit every budget, and many of these were kid-friendly. Figuring out what to do is as easy as typing a few key words into your favorite Internet search engine or checking with the hotel concierge.

    We encourage anyone with a family to consider the ACB convention for your next vacation. Although the cost is significant, careful planning and a bit of creativity can keep the budget manageable, and where else can you find an accessible hotel, tours designed just for you, a low-cost built-in program for your kids, family-friendly activities and tours, and the chance to have a meaningful and positive impact on the lives of other blind and visually impaired people -- all in the same place? Well, the answer is nowhere else. This is an ACB exclusive!

Showoff Time at The Apollo by Ken Stewart

There is a question I like to ask of any friend with whom theatre and performing comes up in conversation. I query mischievously, "Have you ever met anyone who has performed at the world-famous Harlem theatre, the Apollo?" To the predictable negative reply, I respond, "Yes, you have."  That becomes an excuse to tell the following true tale.
 
As one of several hundred volunteers for New York City's Big Apple Greeter, I was asked to escort a visiting novelist from the United Kingdom.  She wanted to walk around the city's world-famous traditionally African-American neighborhood, Harlem, as part of her research for a story she was writing.  I met her at her Manhattan hotel one morning (the time was arranged in advance).  We took the subway uptown from midtown, exiting at 116th Street, adjacent to the campus of Columbia University.  After meandering across the quadrangle, we headed farther north on foot, continuing to navigate with a combination of her good eyes and my knowledge of the city.
 
Arriving at 125th Street, a broad avenue which is the commercial heart of Harlem, we turned east.  Almost immediately, she spotted the marquis of the Apollo Theater on the north side of that busy crosstown artery. "Oh great, can we stop there?" "Sure," I agreed. Once in the modest lobby, we learned that, fortuitously, there was a group tour of the facility scheduled in less than an hour.  We had just enough time to stroll along one block of nearby 124th Street, and get back in time to join the tour.
 
On 124th Street, we observed the striking contrast between two portions of that one long block.  Much of it was still seriously blighted with crumbling tenements and boarded-up brownstones scarred by a former era of neglect and vandalism.  But the far end of the street was proudly displaying the effects of "gentrification" – sprucing up and remodeling with the new money flowing into the neighborhood.
 
As we were returning to the Apollo, a mob of gawking tourists was pouring out of the charter bus that had scooped them up around Times Square.  We blended in with the chatty crowd as we were herded about the building, a rather ordinary-looking facility except for the celebrity portraits which surrounded us on the walls.  Those were the celebrities who were vaulted to stardom by their performances at the Apollo.  Many were immediately recognized by visitors: Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, Redd Foxx, Jimmi Hendrix, The Jackson Five, Chris Rock, Stevie Wonder, and many others.
 
Our tour guide, Billy Mitchell, was a diminutive person, but a larger-than-life personality suggested a performance history of his own.  At the conclusion of our walk-around, he ushered us into the orchestra of the 1,506-seat theatre space.  Standing up on the stage, he presented to us, as he must have done myriad times before, the building's illustrious past going back to 1913.  Then he asked who among us would like to come up to the stage and perform.  Moving up the aisle with long white cane deployed, I joined about five others accepting the challenge.  Each of us was invited to recite a favorite poem, tell a joke, or try to entertain our fellow visitors with some other shtick.
 
Once gathered in the wing, Billy asked how to introduce each of us. When he came to me holding my cane and quite obviously vision impaired, I identified myself as "Fuzzy View."  (Some Forum readers will recognize the reference to the "Fuzzy Thoughts" one-liners I write for "Dialogue.")  But Billy flinched at that.  Apparently he felt it wasn't nice to make fun of the disabled, even if the fun was self-inflicted.  I put him at ease by modifying my handle to just "Fuzzy." Billy introduced me that way, and I recited several of my original, and hopefully amusing, limericks.  They did elicit giggles and then applause from that very forgiving audience.
 
A braille user's boyfriend sadly opined
"I have forehead acne of the bumpiest kind."
She replied, "Don't suppress it.
I want to caress it.
It's my way of reading your mind!"

Shades: The Randy Cook Story by Vincent Sobotka

At 18, Randy Cook stood at the sill of a window basking in the warmth of the early summer sun.  His mind was triggered into a battle between what he had been used to and the unexpected reality of his current situation. The result was a collision between senses and emotions, followed by a temporary stalemate of brain activity before Randy's awareness that the visual beauty of his world would be forever blanketed by darkness would surface. His shift in mentality created a tsunami of internal entrapment. Fear, pain and sorrow kept Randy bed-bound and teary-eyed for the remainder of that crucial day.
 
The eventual diagnosis was rod-and-cone cell deficiency in the retinas of his eyes, but there was an underlying cause responsible for this demise: Randy was born an albino. But actually, Randall Cook was not born as Randall Cook; he was born Kim Nam Kwan in South Korea on Jan. 11, 1970. During that period in time, much of the Korean nation was stricken with poverty and conflict, robbing many families of the means to care for their own children, and pushing them into orphanages to await adoption.
 
Kim Kwan spent nearly a decade of his childhood in an orphanage, but it was not due to poverty.  Albinism was largely considered a sort of taboo in South Korean society.  Kwan's biological parents immediately placed him in Star of the Sea Orphanage.  As Kwan's stay at Star of the Sea extended, so did besiege by those living around him.  Though Kwan would learn to defend himself and develop the early habits which would foot his hardened personality through peer altercations, he would also experience persistent effects of trauma, developing a keen sense of awareness. 
 
Star of the Sea was near a United States military base and was surrounded by deep woodlands in which the children would play -- against the wishes of the orphanage's administration.  In those woods, bullet shell casings and undetonated grenades and mines left over from the Korean War were often found. Randy recounted two particular ventures into the woods. He depicted the first witnessed tragedy as feeling a sense of uneasiness sweeping over him while he and other children headed into an area deeper into the woods, causing him to lag behind the group. Suddenly an explosion occurred that knocked Kwan to the ground.  He stood with ringing ears and disorientation to realize that not more than 10 feet from where he stood, a blazing shatter of flesh and bone had erupted as a result of the blast, and in the same instant went the life of a child. During another instance, he spotted a child tossing around an undetonated grenade. Kwan was several feet away and only recognized a dark, roundish object.  The grenade detonated and screams of panic filled the air. The child was rushed to the nearest hospital with one of his arms mangled above the wrist. The only treatment available to him was to suture his wounds and protect him from infection.
 
Kim Nam Kwan was adopted at age 8 by a couple surnamed Cook.  He was given the name Randy by his new mother. Randy moved to Royal Oaks, Mich., a town home to a small population and located in the southern peninsula of Michigan, near the border of Wisconsin.  Randy belonged to his first real family; two parents, a brother who was also an adopted orphan from Vietnam, and a sister.  From then on, he learned to read, write, and speak English, although at a slow pace due to the complexity of the language. Much of his exploration into a foreign tongue was credited to American television.  Randy eventually became a fluent speaker of the language, but he often struggled in school as a child, partially due to the information lost in translation. Unfortunately, Randy was not welcomed much differently by the people in Royal Oaks.  Physical altercations and teasing were unavoidable, and Randy's attitude continued to toughen, while his personality blossomed into an outspoken, controversial, witty, and sometimes inappropriate individual. He was continuing to survive the only way he knew how, but he spent many years starving for companionship and acceptance.
 
At age 13, Randy was riding his bike through the neighborhood streets with a friend.  Randy rode full speed toward a driveway barricaded with a chain, which he did not see. His throat absorbed all of the impact as the collision into the chain knocked him from his bicycle. For several moments, Randy was barely conscious and unable to breathe. He was rushed to the emergency room. From that day on, Randy would spend several years of his life being examined by various doctors as he and his family frantically attempted to find a diagnosis and a cure for his poor vision.
 
In 1982, just a few years after Randy was adopted, his parents divorced. Two years later, in 1984, his mother earned a certification to be an ultrasound technician and continued her education until she obtained a bachelor's degree in zoology. Randy's father remarried in 1984. Randy credits his mother as his primary support through his trials from degrading vision. After his parents' divorce, Randy's contact with his father became scarce, eventually turning purposeless for Randy as contacts initiated by his father were typically driven by greed.
 
At age 15, Randy obtained his first job – running a paper route in the morning before school. He would hold this job for a brief time, even as his vision deteriorated to nearly a blur of shapes, shadows, and colors. By 1988, Randy was in his senior year of high school and his mother had remarried. He continued delivering newspapers for several months by memorizing where the subscribers along his route were located. But as the rod-and-cone deficiency continued to harm his vision, Randy quit the job. His stepfather had immediately shown just as much support for Randy as his mother had for 10 years prior.
 
When Randy was 19, after completing high school, and after he lost his vision, he entered a rehabilitation program at the Michigan Commission for the Blind in Kalamazoo. It was at the commission where he learned to navigate, using a cane and public transportation, read braille, and perform many other tasks that would allow him to live an independent life without vision. During his rehabilitation, Randy's mobility instructor recommended he use a guide dog. Randy, with his parents' approval, applied for the program, was accepted, and trained with a guide dog. On Oct. 25, 1989, he received his first guide dog, named Shadow.
 
Shadow quickly became a friend to Randy. At age 20, Randy took Shadow to a local Pizza Hut in Royal Oaks with hopes of finding employment. When he entered the restaurant, he made his intentions clear to the manager who greeted him. She led him to the back office where the two discussed where Randy could fit in their operation. Though Randy was willing to do any work, some would require certain modifications or equipment, and both he and the manager agreed that he would run the dishwasher inside the kitchen. Randy proudly performed his duties for nearly four years, picking up additional hours during extended breaks from Oakland Community College in downtown Royal Oaks.
 
Randy earned an associate's degree in 1993. He then enrolled in Western Michigan University and relocated to university housing in Kalamazoo, Mich. He retained his job with Pizza Hut until the end of summer break following his freshman year at WMU.  After his resignation and his return to campus, Randy was unable to find employment in Kalamazoo; so he depended on student loans to complete his bachelor's degree. Randy majored in sociology and minored in computer science, and graduated in December 1995. In January 1996, Randy returned to WMU to earn a graduate degree in rehabilitation teaching and education with an emphasis on the use of technology. He completed the program in April 1997.
 
In the late 1990s, Randy bid farewell to his Michigan home, as well as a romantic engagement in which he had been involved, in order to pursue a career with the Illinois Department of Rehabilitation Services, Department for the Blind. His first home away from home was in Peoria, Ill. Tragedy struck again during all of this change as Randy, at the age of 31, had to make the difficult choice to euthanize Shadow. He accounted the depression he accrued from the experience to be at least as bad as the sort he felt during his childhood; but he pushed himself to move on.
 
Though Randy did graduate to teach technology as a form of rehabilitation, technology then was far less developed than today's standards; thus his new job role also consisted of teaching other visually impaired people the same practices that he had learned more than a decade earlier -- the practices that allowed him to live an independent life. In addition to his work, Randy dove into community activities, such as attending churches, as well as other organized groups. He has admitted to having trouble meeting people, and even further trouble making friends.
 
After three years in Peoria, Randy transferred, under the same job title, to Aurora, Ill. He believed Peoria was too rural an area to pursue his aspirations. Once settled in Aurora, Randy continued his practice of attending community events.  In 2005, the man who adopted Randy nearly 30 years earlier, but kept little contact with him after Randy's adoptive parents divorced, passed away due to complications from obesity (the man weighed 618 pounds and stood 5'8"). Soon after, through a network of friends, an opportunity for Randy to contact his biological mother, whom he had known nothing of, presented itself. Randy issued an open invitation for communication with her, but was denied a response. He accepted it and continued on with his life.
 
To this day, Randy continues to perform all of the functions of his job. All of Randy's clients are visually impaired, and one job task which has developed over the past decade is the teaching of software that allows such clients to navigate a computer operating system through screen-reading technology. During the hours he is off work, Randy receives door-to-door bus service in order to complete errands, attend group activities, and visit friends. His employer provides Randy with a personal driver when he is required to meet clients at their homes for appointments.
 
At age 43, Randy has an impressive list of accomplishments and knowledge. He has a master's degree in his field and has successfully worked with a diverse client base, improving hundreds of lives. He is familiar with sign language and has used it when required to help clients who have endured both visual and hearing impairments. They draw signs on Randy's hand and he communicates verbally back to them.
 
Randy continues to live an independent, healthy, and pleasant life. The division that people tend to create based on one's appearance and physical conditions has never thwarted him. He believes that everybody either has dealt with a condition, presently has a condition, or will someday develop a condition of some kind and that nobody should believe that they are incapable or inferior for such a reason.

A Miraculous Moment by Cindy Van Winkle

It was cold, wet and rainy on that blustery November afternoon in the Pacific Northwest. We had stopped at the local Dollar Tree for my disposable coffee cups. While Tim ran in, Molly and I sat out in the cab of the truck, radio on, she in her booster seat playing with her dolls. My phone rang, and I was chatting for a brief moment when suddenly, Molly said, "We're rolling!"
 
I said, "Hold on" as I undid my seatbelt, and moved the phone away from my face, opened the door and flung my leg out to touch the moving ground with my toe. From that moment, the next 15 seconds or so felt like a lifetime.
 
I jumped down out of the truck and braced my feet, leaning into it, positioning my body in an attempt to stop our 2-ton Ford F-150 pickup truck. Not being able to see, I didn't know how far we'd gone or where we were headed. I just knew that I needed to get my 4-year-old granddaughter out of that truck with me.
 
I reached as far as my hands could and unhooked the belt that was tightly fastened across Molly's lap, telling her, "Come on!" I remember her saying she was stuck; the belt was clinging under the armrests of her seat and I couldn't climb in to get it moved. I had somehow managed to stop the truck as all of this was happening, but the truck began to roll forward, which made my sense of urgency stronger, knowing I didn't have the same leverage of the door in my favor. Yet, somehow, I was able to stop the truck again, this time as Molly was shrieking of her inability to remove the belt.
 
As all this was happening, my husband Tim was at the check stand and another customer was leaving the store. Just as the store door was opened for that brief moment, he heard Molly's scream and looked out the window to see our truck no longer in its parking spot. He ran outside toward the truck. I heard him say my name, and all I could muster is, "Tim, the truck is rolling."
 
Tim ran around the truck and jumped in, putting his foot on the brake. No longer needing to hold the truck at bay, I climbed into the cab as Tim started the engine and moved it back into our parking space. He got out, securing the emergency brake, and went back into the store to complete his minor purchase. And as suddenly as the horrors of those 15 seconds began, they had ended, leaving me to ponder the reality of experiencing a truly miraculous moment.
 
We've all heard of incidents where someone does something beyond natural human strength, usually in an emergency situation where adrenalin kicks in. We've also heard of times where someone accounts for a super-natural act involving a super-natural power beyond the physical one. I believe both very much came into play over the course of our 15-second ordeal. From a 4-year-old having the ability to communicate so quickly and clearly what was happening, to my being able to stop 4,000 pounds of metal from rolling (my feet staying secure to the wet ground), the store door opening just at the right moment for Tim to hear Molly's scream, and for him to be able to physically run to the truck and jump in with his bad back and not slip; those 15 seconds were amazing.
 
After we all caught our breath again, Papa and I were praising Molly for letting me know about the truck moving. Papa told her she was a hero. She sweetly replied, "I'm not a hero. Nana stopped the truck. I didn't stop the truck." Although a week following our incident, my body tells me I stopped the truck as aches and pains abound, I write this knowing with every fiber of my being that whether it was adrenalin, a spiritual intervention or a combination of both, it was nothing less than a miracle.

How to Entice Junior Members to ACB compiled by Ardis Bazyn

"How to involve junior members in ACB affiliates" was the topic of our last membership focus call. Most participants on the call felt that conventions offer the best way to entice young people to an affiliate. Chapters can do similar events or topics, but the chances of having a number of younger attendees are more likely at a convention. We identified some programs, topics, and events that affiliates have tried and some ideas on possible others to implement in order to draw young members.
 
The Washington affiliate has had several conventions where a youth conference offered a vocational program and invited as many as 20 youth. The program used rehabilitation training funding. The youth program would have separate speaker and training times and would join WCB for its Saturday programming, which included an employment panel and state agency personnel. The announcements were sent through the state agency database of transitional students. WCB also holds scholarship events at each convention where members can meet the winners and interact with them.
 
The Pennsylvania affiliate offers scholarships to junior members so they can attend conventions. It was suggested to have a form for students under 18 to give to a parent to encourage them to come and the organization to pay their way or the parent sign a waiver to allow the student to room with an older student. The Texas affiliate sends announcements to the special services offices for high schools and colleges. A Tech Olympics had 120 blind youth entering competitions in the use of specific technology: magnification, computer skills, braille devices, etc.
 
Contacting the vision teachers throughout the state and offering assistance or mentoring to students or parents would be a good way to connect. Contact your state's board of education, the director of education in your state, or school district to find vision teachers in your area. The American Printing House for the Blind (APH) has a registry of blind students. Since there is a federal allocation for books, they find where schools have registered visually impaired students.
 
School districts who have VI students would know if they had students, so you could circulate your events to those schools. APH would have a list of trustees for each state. Services are provided to VI students through the regional library. Your local adaptive services agency would offer tech training to students. Your chapter could offer an intro to braille to get to know your members and promote braille. Public libraries have bookmobiles; make friends with them so you can share your information with visually impaired readers. Your chapter or affiliate could host students throughout your area once a year to let them know of your existence.
 
A member who works for an independent living center invited youth she met to the affiliate events. Youth camps for students with disabilities might allow your affiliate members to meet youth or allow someone to speak about your affiliate or chapter. Another participant said the affiliate had two $2,000 scholarships for college students.  Applications were sent to the school for the blind, high schools, and state colleges. Tennessee gives scholarships and keeps in touch with scholarship winners and requires them to give a midyear report of their achievements in school. They can share the update with their closest chapter.
 
Chapters or an affiliate can work on starting a student affiliate in your state. You could plan award days, band concerts, give a braille achievement award at the local school, or play accessible board games. If a local school with blind students has a science project, you could ask them to share their experience. If you offer to feed them (e.g., a pizza party), they'll probably come. If members get interested in them, they'll appreciate the mentoring from an active blind adult.
 
RS Games are accessible for blind students. One is Quentin's Playhouse, which is popular. Your chapter could hold a match between students and adults. If your school for the blind has a game station, you can ask them to teach chapter members how to play. They'd probably enjoy meeting interested adults.
 
If you find young people either on your local paratransit board or attending meetings, build relationships with these students. Social media is often used more by younger people. You might ask a student to teach you how to use it. Tandem biking could also be an activity of interest for younger members or other youth you meet. You'd be an interesting role model if you invite a young person to join you. If your local area has a tandem biking event with celebrities involved, youth might be excited about this annual event and the rides leading up to it.
 
Members should try to get connected with parents of visually impaired groups, such as National Association for Parents of Children with Visual Impairments (NAPVI) or the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AER) and their organization of parents. ACB also has a families chapter.
 
Get involved with the Braille Challenge. Visit www.braillechallenge.org. Scoring is performed by certified transcribers; help is also needed for hosting events. You can meet the students at break time. You can also sponsor events for them. If your area has a transition program, have a booth at an event or speak as a role model, career option, or tell them about your chapter. Find out if your state has a summer program for students moving from high school to college and see how you can get involved. Many states have Read Across America challenges.  Offer to tutor or read a story and talk about braille.
 
Other suggestions for meeting parents and visually impaired youth were given. If you hear of conferences for transcribers and teachers of braille, your affiliate or chapter should consider having a booth and/or speakers. NAPVI and AER have state or regional conferences where you could have a booth. State and regional conferences for people with disabilities may have visually impaired youth attending or parents trying to find information. Contact vision teachers or school districts and have members offer to tutor children who have difficulty in braille.
 
Since there are so many ways to find young people, why not have your local membership committee work on a couple of these efforts? Have fun reaching out to students. If your affiliate would like assistance with membership, give the membership committee a call.

Using Social Media to Support the Goals and Objectives of Your ACB Affiliate and Chapter by Ronald E. Milliman

The following information is based upon the PR committee's open conference call held Nov. 18.  The topic was: "Using Social Media to Support the Goals and Objectives of Your ACB Affiliate and Chapter."  Participants discussed numerous social networking sites, with emphasis on Facebook and Twitter.

Facebook

Facebook is currently the most popular social media site on the Internet. But it is especially challenging for screen-reader users to navigate because it is very graphic. One of the challenges is that it changes quite frequently, requiring users to re-learn how to access and navigate its pages.
 
The first step in using Facebook is to establish a Facebook account. To do this, you need to go to www.facebook.com and fill out the basic information, such as name, e-mail address, and the password you'd like to use.  You also must solve an audio or visual captcha.  Most participants reported that the mobile version was much more accessible using a screen-reading program; the mobile version is m.facebook.com.
 
Participants highly recommended Freedom Scientific's free webinars about Facebook; the site is www.freedomscientific.com/training/Free-Webinar-Archives.asp. While these tutorials are mainly use JAWS and MAGIC, they should be useful to any blind or low-vision user. 
 
One of the major questions that came up during our conference call discussion was "what is the difference between a Facebook page and a group page?"  To better answer this question, the following is paraphrased from Nick Pineda's Facebook Tips on Facebook.

Facebook Pages

Like a friend's profile, Facebook pages enable public figures, businesses, organizations and other entities to create an authentic and public presence on Facebook. Facebook pages are visible to everyone on the Internet by default. You, and every person on Facebook, can connect with these pages by becoming a fan and then receive their updates in your news feed and interact with them.
 
Authenticity is at the core of Facebook. Just as profiles should represent real people and real names, so should pages for entities or organizations. Only the official representatives of a public figure, business or organization should create a Facebook page.

Facebook Groups

While pages were designed to be the official profiles for entities, such as celebrities, brands or businesses, Facebook Groups are the place for small group communication and for people to share their common interests and express their opinion. Groups allow people to come together around a common cause, issue or activity to organize, express objectives, and discuss issues, post photos and share related content.
 
When you create a group, you can decide whether to make it publicly available for anyone to join, require administrator approval for members to join or keep it private and by invitation only. Like with pages, new posts by a group are included in the news feeds of its members and members can interact and share with one another from the group.
 
Groups range widely, from members of a church group or athletic team organizing activities to serious topics on politics and world events or even more lighthearted themes.
 
Say that you and your friends have a favorite celebrity or cause you want to rally around, but you are not the official representative of either. You can either become a fan of the official Facebook page for the celebrity or cause and show your support there or create your own group on Facebook around the common interest.

How Facebook Can Be Used Effectively by ACB

ACB does not have an official Facebook presence, though most participants widely supported the idea that ACB should have a presence there. It would be ideal for ACB to have a Facebook presence with a person responsible for keeping it up-to-date, posting the official news, media releases, and other information from ACB headquarters. Then, if each affiliate and each chapter also had a Facebook presence, information could be effectively and efficiently exchanged from the top down and the bottom up throughout ACB and to all of our Facebook friends. Imagine the impact we could have!

Twitter

Twitter is an unbelievably popular microblogging service which allows you to post notes of no more than 140 text characters to the web at a time and have these updates, or tweets, as they are called, read by your followers. If you don't currently have a Twitter account, you may create one at www.twitter.com/signup.
 
However, since Twitter is not very accessible with a screen-reading program, it is useful to use an interface program that makes Twitter accessible to screen-reader users.

Qwitter

Qwitter is a program created to make using the Twitter system as easy and efficient as possible. There are many advantages to using Qwitter. Here are just a few: 1) using a client allows for easy and fast response to new tweets; and 2) you don't have to go to the web page just to check if you've gotten a new tweet. It automatically alerts you when something new comes in. Also, you can limit what you see to certain types of tweets, such as mentions, direct messages, and sent messages, along with your regular full messages list. Qwitter is very easy and intuitive to use. For more information, go to www.qwitter-client.net/.

Qube

John McCann recommended another program that is very similar to Qwitter, called the Qube. Unlike Qwitter, the Qube is being kept up-to-date by Quartizer Projects. For Windows, the Qube is an accessible Twitter client. It is quite similar to Qwitter; the key commands are the same. To obtain a copy of the Qube, go to www.quartzprojects.co.uk.

Easy Chirp

Easy Chirp, formerly called "Accessible Twitter," is a web-accessible alternative to Twitter. It is designed to be easier to use and is optimized for disabled users. It also works with keyboard-only, older browsers like IE6, slower Internet connections, and without JavaScript. More information about this program can be found at www.easychirp.com/.

McTwit

McTwit is a free, open-source desktop client for Twitter. It is designed to be accessible to screen readers and for keyboard users. Additionally, if a screen reader is active, some information is conveyed through direct speech messages. Such messages are also displayed on the status line for visual users. McTwit works on almost any version of Windows, including 64-bit versions. Its flexible, direct access to Twitter features makes it convenient to explore and communicate interactively. You can select a user either by pointing to a list item or entering a screen name. For more information, go to www.empowermentzone.com/McTwit.htm#A1.         To help you get started on Twitter, Lisa Brooks recommended two sites with excellent tutorials. They are Blind Families' Tutorials at www.blindfamilies.com/tutorials.php#main and the tutorials from Freedom Scientific mentioned above.

What Are Hash Tags?

The # symbol, called a hashtag, is used to mark keywords or topics in a Tweet. It was created by Twitter users as a way to categorize messages or tweets by keywords. People use the hashtag symbol (the number or pound sign) before a relevant keyword or phrase, but without any spaces, in their tweet to categorize those tweets and help them show more easily in Twitter searches. Clicking on a tagged word in any message shows you all other tweets marked with that keyword or phrase. Contrary to what some people believe, hashtags can actually occur anywhere in the tweet – at the beginning, middle, or end. In the case of ACB and its affiliates, you might see such hashtags as #quietcars, #holidayauction, #FIAShowcase, or #ACBConvention. You should not use more than two hashtags per tweet, and only use hashtags on tweets relevant to the topic. For more information, visit www.hashtags.org.

Other Social Media Networks Discussed

Foursquare

Foursquare is a free app that helps you and your friends make the most of where you are. When you are out and about, you can use Foursquare to share and save the places you visit. And, when you're looking for inspiration for what to do next, Foursquare will give you personalized recommendations and deals based on where you, your friends, and people with your tastes have been.  To get Foursquare, go to www.foursquare.com.

Blindsquare

Andrea Damitio recommended a site similar to Foursquare, called BlindSquare. This is a new solution that combines the latest technology to help the daily life of the blind. It has been developed together with blind people and carefully field tested. BlindSquare is available on App Store for iPhone and iPad. It works by using GPS and compass to locate you. You can ask BlindSquare such things as, "What is the most popular café within 200 meters radius? Where is the post office or the library?" BlindSquare will assist you to a place you like whenever you mark it. Shake the device and listen to information about your location: address, nearest crossing, compass direction, etc. You can share information about places with your friends. For more information, go to www.blindsquare.com/.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is almost exclusively professionally based.  According to LinkedIn, it is "the world's largest professional network with over 175 million members and growing rapidly. LinkedIn connects you to your trusted contacts and helps you exchange knowledge, ideas, and opportunities with a broader network of professionals." You can create your professional profile, e.g. education, professional experiences, your expertise, and various professional skills. You can find other people with similar professional backgrounds and interests and people you want to connect with in your profession when looking to make a career change. You can also connect with groups and organizations that share your professional background and interests. For more information, go to www.linkedin.com/.

Pinterest

Pinterest is a bookmarking site organized around what are called "pinboards." When you find interesting things, such as web sites, resources, recipes, hobbies, travel locations, or anything of interest, you pin them to your board. You can create pinboards, or categories, and pin images and videos to those boards. You can create boards that can be managed by several people, allowing a group of people to add to and grow your boards. You can follow other people's pinboards, multiple boards, or just single boards created by other people. When you do, their pins will show up in the home page when you log in. You can even add a "Pin It" button to your browser, making it easy for you to pin any web page you like while you are surfing the web, and to your web pages, encouraging your users to pin your content to their boards.
 
However, Pinterest is very visual and graphic-oriented. Before your content can be promoted on Pinterest, it needs to have images (or embedded video). When you pin a page to Pinterest, it looks for images in the page. If it can't find images or video, it will not let you pin the content. For this reason, while Pinterest can be accessed using a screen-reading program, it is difficult to gain maximum value from it if you are blind. For more information, go to www.pinterest.com/.

Change.org

Andrea Damitio says, "Change.org is a site where you can begin or sign a petition for change. Their motto is: Change.org - Start, Join, and Win Campaigns for Change.  I could see ACB and its affiliates using this site to get the attention of large corporations, such as Amazon, as a part of ACB's efforts to get them to make the Kindle more accessible, or in legislative issues such as putting sounds onto quiet cars.  It is a great way to get our cause into a much larger audience that could help us effect change for a more accessible future!" This site is quite blind-user friendly. For more information, visit www.change.org/html.

Causes

Causes is similar to Change.org. It is built to create change. If you've ever thought about organizing a boycott, creating a petition, or raising money for a good cause, you can do it with Causes. It is a free online social media network that provides easy-to-use tools for driving change. It helps passionate people share ideas, find supporters, raise money, and make an impact. 153 million people are involved with Causes.com; 1 billion actions have been taken across 142 countries. Create or take action to support the things you believe in. This site is screen-reader friendly. For more information, or to create a Causes account, go to www.causes.com/?utm_campaign=home.

iSocial Connect

Chris Ward, another call participant, reported, "There is an iPhone app that allows you to view up to 16 social networking sites within just one app. It is called iSocial Connect. It works quite well as a way to view your different social networking accounts at a glance. Naturally there are some limitations to having all these programs contained within this app; but to get a quick overview of one's multiple social networking accounts it works quite well." (Author's Note: I know nothing about the accessibility of this app; I am only sharing with you what Chris shared with me.)

ACB's Social Networking List

Finally, I want to encourage you to join the social networking list. Jenine Stanley states, "If your affiliate or state/local chapter has a Facebook or Twitter page, or if you have been considering setting one up but aren't sure what kinds of information to post, ACB's Social Networking list has been established by the board of publications (BOP) to promote accessible social networking, share ideas and strategies for using social networking to increase awareness of our organization, its affiliates and related issues, and to assist those interested in starting social networking sites representing their chapters or affiliates. Who is welcome? ACB leadership from state and local chapters, special-interest affiliates and committees and task forces wishing to learn about the use of social networking sites. However, we regret that we cannot offer assistance to individuals with personal use of social networking sites, such as technical support with screen readers, etc." To join ACB's social networking list, go to www.acb.org/mailman/listinfo/social-networking.
 
We also discussed YouTube, Tumblr, Digg, StumbleUpon, NewsVine, and Plurk. If you want to know more about these sites, visit www.ask.com and type into the edit box "what is Tumblr.com?" or "what is Digg.com?

Affiliate News

ACBDA Update

Happy new year! We hope everyone has a happy and healthy year ahead.
 
Remember, the logo contest is still open.  Anyone can send a drawing to the following e-mail addresses: slovering@acb.org and blemoine@acb.org.  If you have any questions, please contact me via e-mail, plawolf@earthlink.net, or by phone at (626) 622-8344.
 
It's also time to renew your membership!  If you're a member, or would like to be, our dues are $10, and they're due in mid-February.  Mail dues to: ACBDA, c/o Alice Ritchhart, 125 Willow Pond Way, Brunswick, GA 31525.  When you send in your name and address, also tell us whether you are legally blind, what format you want your newsletter (large print, braille, or cassette), your e-mail address (if you have one) and phone number, and the month and date of your birthday.
 
Thanks to all the board member of DIA.  Your help during the past year is much appreciated!

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 Feb. 3 at 3 p.m. Eastern time.  Dial (567) 314-5605 and use access code 999999#. If you are interested in helping 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.

A Million Pennies

ACB of Colorado (ACBCO) is launching a new campaign for 2013 – the "Million Pennies Campaign." Now through March 31, ACBCO has set a goal to raise one million pennies in support of education and services for Colorado's seniors who are blind or losing their vision. We have partnered with several local businesses to place collection containers throughout the Denver metro area. These locations include Metropolitan State University of Denver (Chicano Studies), Beyond Sight, Crown Lanes of Southwest Denver, and Kentwood Properties.  To locate a collection site near you, or to make an online donation, visit www.acbco.org.
 
Your change will support: adaptive aids and devices; support groups; home assessments; peer mentoring; volunteer assistance; health education; workshops and seminars; orientation and mobility training; individualized life skills training, and much more.  For more information, contact Yolanda Johnson, development coordinator, at (303) 830-0117 ext. 8 or send e-mail to yolanda.johnson@acbco.org.

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.

Hadley Introduces New eBay Module

The Hadley School for the Blind has introduced a new module, Selling on eBay, as part of its Forsythe Center for Entrepreneurship (FCE). Selling on eBay is a short, one-lesson module that introduces students to eBay by identifying how it works, how to register, and how to set up a seller account, as well as how to purchase an item off eBay. Another module, Learning to Sell on the eBay Web Site, provides an opportunity to start a new business or to expand a current business into the online environment.
 
For more information, or to register, visit www.hadley.edu/fce.

Guide Doggie Coloring Book

"Guide Doggie: Learn How Guide Dogs Help the Blind in This Coloring Book" is a new coloring book, and a great way to introduce children to the world of a guide dog. Help educate your child while they have fun with Guide Doggie! Meet Guide Doggie when he is a puppy, then follow him on his adventures during guide dog training. Learn what a guide dog does during the day, including the chores he completes for his handlers. Your child will learn how guide dogs help the blind live more independently, and how dogs can be heroes too! With narration of the book done by a guide dog, each page is an educational adventure for all ages. Bonus games include a word search, a crossword puzzle, and word jumbles based on the story. To get your copy of "Guide Doggie," send an e-mail message to info@danielsaynuk.com. Or you may obtain "Guide Doggie" online at Amazon.com.

Blind American Idol Finalist

Since captivating the nation as a finalist on American Idol, Scott Macintyre has continued to move audiences to laughter, tears, and standing ovations all over the world.  As an acclaimed singer-songwriter, he has toured in arenas across North America, headlined concerts in Japan, Austria, England, Canada, and the U.S., and written and released his latest CD "Heartstrings," which debuted at number 18 on the iTunes Pop Album Chart.  He has performed with many notable acts, including Alice Cooper, Jason Mraz, and Queen, and his original song "Christmas Angel" received national radio play and became one of the top holiday indie singles of 2010.  In his new book "By Faith, Not By Sight," he powerfully demonstrates that no obstacle is too great to overcome. Visit him online at www.scottmacintyre.com and follow him on Twitter (@ScottDMacIntyre).

Message of Hope

Unity's Message of Hope ministry, serving the blind and visually impaired, has the following products and services available free of charge:

  1. Daily Word in braille -- bimonthly, one braille volume;
  2. Daily Word on CD. 2 CDs, bimonthly;
  3. A virtual library of downloadable braille Unity publications, available free of charge to anyone with access to a computer, braille notetaker or digital talking book player;
  4. An audiobook lending library. Contains Unity publications on audiocassette and CD;
  5. Hard-copy braille book lending library. Unity publications in braille.

Visit the Message of Hope web site at www.unity.org/messageofhope/, e-mail message-of-hope@unityonline.org, or call 1-866-421-3066 for information about these publications.  Visit the Message of Hope Facebook page at www.facebook.com/messageofhope to stay updated.

Circle of Love

Circle of Love Ministries has launched a web site, www.circleministries.com. The site includes a downloadable sample issue of "Circle of Love" magazine, as well as links to subscribe to the magazine.  Another link tells about Camp Siloam.  There's also a page of resources for blind computer users. Visit www.circleministries.com, or send a message to info@circleministries.com, for more information.

Blind Ambitions

"Blind Ambitions Magazine" is the newest magazine on the block.  For more information on how you can receive your free copy, send an e-mail to christine.chaikin@blindambitionsgroups.org with the subject line reading "how can I receive a free copy of Blind Ambitions Magazine?" (without the quotes).

Yismehu

Are you ready to jump into Jewish learning, maybe even Hebrew? Yismehu connects meaningful Jewish learning with students eager to learn — even though they happen to be visually impaired or blind. Students of every age and religious background receive free instructional materials in braille or large print, as well as a one-to-one student-teacher relationship. For more information, visit www.yismehu.org, contact Joan Myles at (503) 391-7754, or e-mail her, director@yismehu.org.

Computer Training

Blind Access Training offers one-on-one training for blind or visually impaired individuals who are looking for training in the use of a screen reader, web design or Apple products.  Training is provided via Skype, or talking communities over the telephone, or in person, depending on the client's location.  For more information, visit www.BlindAccessTraining.com or call 1-877-774-7670 and press 1 to speak with Kimsan Song.

Seeking Materials for Students

I am an English teacher from Macedonia.  My students would welcome blindness-related items and materials like magazines and books in all formats, games and other useful learning materials and items. We are also starting an early childhood program in our school soon and items for this group of children would be also welcomed. My postal address is: Adrijana Prokopenko, bul. Jane Sandanski, 43. 5 / 6, 1000 – Skopje, Macedonia. My e-mail address is adrijana.prokopenko@gmail.com. Please write to me in braille, 2-track tape or by e-mail before sending anything to me.

Creative Hands Co-Op

The Creative Hands for the Blind/Multipurpose Cooperative Society is a group formed by the blind, visually impaired, and a few sighted members for the purpose of inclusion and integration in Nigeria as well as in the world as a whole. This two-year-old organization has received support from the United States African Development Fund to expand entrepreneurial and capacity-building ventures. The group currently produces nylon crafts such as bags, sandals, belts, purses, and palm slippers for men and women. The grant from USADF will also enhance braille and audio book production around the country. The group seeks opportunities to sell its crafts and production services to individuals and organizations in the U.S. To learn more about this project and its offerings, or to invite the group to showcase its crafts, call Mr. Samson Ogowewo at +2348051989995 or e-mail creativehandscooperative@yahoo.com.

Seeking Materials

The Louis Braille Memorial Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped in Bangladesh seeks donations of gently used books and magazines, including religious material in braille, large print, or regular print; white canes; braille embossers; computers; writing guides; talking and braille watches, and Perkins braillers. The library welcomes the donation of braille paper as well as educational materials and equipment. Send all items free matter for the blind to Plot # 11/1, Road # 06, Block # E, Mirpur-12, Dhaka-1216, Bangladesh. For more information, contact the library by e-mail using louisbraillememoriallibrary@gmail.com.

The Daily Connection

DailyConnection is a phone-based chat system which offers free chat rooms, audio books, bulletin boards, podcasts, voice mail, conferences and friendly conversation. Examples of the thematic chat rooms include Cara's Friday Morning Coffee Clutch; the Night Owl Room; Those Were the Days Room; and the hospitality room. Participants must be over age 18. To join this new community, call (231) 732-7141. DailyConnection is seeking hosts for additional chat rooms. Inquire about this paid opportunity by pressing 6 at the main menu and leaving a message for T.J., or by e-mailing DailyConnection@comcast.net.

Blindspace

Blindspace is a social network for the blind and visually impaired. With Blindspace, you get no struggle, no clogged news feeds, no "juggling," and best of all, no inaccessibility! And if you find something that isn't accessible, just let our support team know, and we will do our best to get it fixed!   You can make new friends and keep in touch with old ones, and much more. Membership is free; you get a customizable profile, customizable user/board settings, the ability to post messages in a shoutbox or on someone's profile, add friends, create foe list, chat and individual message, 24/7  access to our support team, and more. Visit Blindspace at www.blindspacecommunity.co.cc.

Gamers Wanted 

The Gamer's List is an e-mail discussion group for blind and visually impaired people to chat about accessible games. To subscribe to the list, send a blank e-mail to gamers-subscribe@topica.com. For questions about the list, contact Hunter Parker at hunter.parker61@gmail.com.

Special-Interest Websites

Tanis Hooker runs two web sites that may be of interest. The first, The Sports Zone, offers sports-related news, scores, and a blog at www.thesportszone.110mb.com. The second site is HT Zone. It includes podcasts of interviews, technology demonstrations, and more at www.htzone.110mb.com.

Blind Singles List

There is a new e-mail discussion list for single Christians who are blind, visually impaired, or sighted. The purpose of the list is to share devotions and prayers, while offering opportunity for fellowship and lasting friendships. To subscribe, send a blank e-mail to blind-christian-singles-subscribe@yahoogroups.com.

New Singles Group

Adrijana Prokopenko is considering starting a discussion group for heterosexual blind and visually impaired singles. If you would like to participate in such a group, e-mail her at adrijana.prokopenko@gmail.com. Please include some information about yourself, including gender, age, occupation, hobbies and interests.

Disabled Dating

Enablelove.com is a free dating site for people with different disabilities. It is blind-friendly. Visit www.enablelove.com to join.

High Tech Swap Shop

For Sale:

Power Braille 40 with adapter and cable to connect to other devices. Clean and in excellent condition.  Asking $300 or best offer.  Contact Pearl Arnold at (716) 836-2796 or send e-mail to pearlarnold@roadrunner.com.

For Sale:

Enhanced Vision Merlin CCTV LCD 24.  One year old; has 2 years remaining on warranty.  Price negotiable.  E-mail Ron at ronocken@cox.net.

For Sale:

New, still in unopened box, Window-Eyes 7.5.3. Asking $600 plus shipping/handling. Call Jean at (702) 631-9009 or send e-mail to contact@blindconnect.org.

For Sale:

Juliet Classic braille embosser, in good condition.  Lightly used.  Asking $1,500 (negotiable).  If interested, contact Don Hansen via e-mail, donald801@cox.net.

For Sale:

Perkins Brailler, standard, brand new condition, in original packaging. Includes dust cover and manual. Asking $450. PayPal available. Call Deanne at (619) 600-2501, or send e-mail to papersforme@gmail.com.

For Sale:

HIMS BrailleSense notetaker plus QWERTY, 32-cell braille display.  Rarely used.  Includes 32-gig flash card. Comes in original packaging.  Asking $3,500 or best offer.  Call John Russo at (903) 285-2519.

Wanted:

Donation of cassette player/recorder.  Contact Father Jesus Pamias at 145 E. 126th St., Apt. #5G, New York, NY 10035.

Wanted:

Windows XP disks.  Contact Bob Groff Jr. at 487 PC Circle, Quitman, AR 72131, or via e-mail, bobgroff64@gmail.com.

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