ACB Braille Forum, March 2013

ACB Braille Forum
Volume LI March 2013 No. 7
Published by
the American Council of the Blind

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

Got a request? Tune in to ACB Radio interactive and ask the DJ on duty to play it for you at
Want to stream your convention?  ACB Radio can help you out; write

Table of Contents

ACB Braille Forum, March 2013 downloads

President's Message: Making Sausage or, Those Devilish Details, by Mitch Pomerantz

We have all heard that old saw to the effect that there are two things you really don't want to see made: sausage and legislation.  Let me add a third item to that short list; namely, regulations or in this case, a document outlining best practices for the provision of accessible prescription drug label information.  Let me explain.
As almost everyone likely knows by now, this past July Congress passed, and the President signed, P.L. 112-144, the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act.  Among other things, the statute called for the establishment of a working group "to develop best practices on access to information on prescription drug container labels for individuals who are blind or visually impaired."  On Jan. 10 and 11, I spent a day and a half at the headquarters of the United States Access Board in Washington, D.C., along with nearly a score of individuals representing the blind and visually impaired community, senior citizens' organizations and the pharmacy industry to begin the process of drafting those best practices.  Aside from ACB, other participants from our community included the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB), Blinded Veterans of America (BVA), Council of Citizens with Low Vision International (CCLVI), and the National Federation of the Blind (NFB).
Prior to our meeting, participating organizations were invited to submit comments on what we believe would constitute "best practices" for provision of accessible prescription drug label information.  Along with ACB, I am pleased to say that CCLVI submitted a paper, as did our colleagues from AFB.  I need to acknowledge here the efforts of Linda Dardarian, one of our attorneys involved in ACB's structured negotiations efforts, for taking the lead in drafting ACB's best practices document.
In ACB's Statement on Best Practices for Prescription Drug Labeling, we recommend a broad range of accessibility options including braille, large print and the use of audio devices, recognizing that blind and visually impaired people represent a broad spectrum of abilities and ages and thus, one or even two methods for providing information may not address everyone's needs.  The full text of ACB's statement may be found at It is also available by going to the Advocacy link on the home page, then clicking the link called ACB's Statement on Best Practices for Prescription Drug Labeling.  Here is an excerpt from the introduction:
"Accessible prescription information is critical to the safety, privacy and independence of people who are blind or visually impaired (customers with visual impairments).  All pharmacy customers, whether sighted or visually impaired, have an expectation and a right to manage their medications independently and privately and to have the confidence that they are taking their medications safely, securely, and as prescribed.  For pharmacy customers with visual impairments, the inability to read medication labels, instruction sheets and medication inserts puts them at serious risk of taking the wrong medication at the wrong time and in the wrong amount, to the jeopardy of their health and safety.  Without having ready access to their prescription information, customers with visual impairments are also at risk of taking expired medications, of not being able to timely obtain refills, and of being unable to detect pharmacy errors."
During the meeting, groups representing the various consumer constituencies were each given an opportunity to describe our positions relative to what we felt should be best industry practices for the provision of accessible information.  I am pleased to say that among those of us representing blindness-specific organizations and agencies, there was absolute agreement regarding the need for a broad range of accessibility accommodations, both low- and high-tech.  Several industry representatives commented that they hadn't realized how many different options were potentially available for making drug label information accessible.
Then it was the turn of the industry representatives to talk about what they had already done, or would be doing soon, to provide accessible label information for their blind and visually impaired customers.  Several individuals representing well-known chain pharmacies mentioned their initiatives but, not surprisingly, failed to mention that these initiatives were the direct result of the structured negotiations activities undertaken by Linda Dardarian and Lainey Feingold on behalf of ACB and several state ACB affiliates.  All I could do was to mentally shake my head and smile at the omission.
A number of vendors demonstrated products to make it possible to access the printed information contained on prescription labels.  A couple of those products are familiar to ACB members who attend affiliate and/or national conventions, but at least two vendors showed items that were entirely new, at least to me.  Those new products emphasize a point which we made in our written statement: that whatever methods for achieving accessibility are recommended, we must keep the door open for innovative solutions to providing access.
It became apparent to all of us representing blind and visually impaired consumers that while the industry agrees in theory that we should have access to the same information as sighted customers, we are still a long way from achieving unanimity regarding how that should happen.  While a couple of participants representing chain and/or mail-order pharmacies did seem genuinely willing to think out-of-the-box in terms of overcoming obstacles such as the small size of printed labels and the length of time available on speech chips (for talking bottles), there was definite resistance from those representing the industry to a number of the proposals suggested by those of us representing blind and visually impaired consumers.
At least one teleconference meeting has been scheduled with the expectation that others will be necessary before a final best practices document is released during July, the deadline imposed by Congress in the statute.  It's a good thing that I like sausage.

Audio Description Project Update - The White House is Described! by Joel Snyder

ACB's Audio Description Project welcomes an announcement from The White House regarding the availability of an audio-described tour for people who wish to visit The White House on one of its self-guided public tours. 
The announcement from The White House provides additional detail:
"The audio tour features welcoming remarks from Mrs. Obama followed by a room-by-room audio description of the highlights and features of the White House. The audio tours are only available on MP3 players that will be provided by the White House to those requesting the audio tour. The players must be requested at the time the request for a tour is made through a member of Congress, and will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. The [public tours] are available from 7:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 7:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Fridays, and 7:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Saturdays (excluding federal holidays or unless otherwise noted). Requests can be submitted up to six months in advance and no less than 21 days in advance. For more information on tours, please go to"

ACB Conference and Convention: World of Learning, World of Fun by Janet Dickelman

The American Council of the Blind will hold its 52nd annual conference and convention in Columbus, Ohio, July 4-12.  Join us for an incredible week of exploring, learning, fun and friends.
In Columbus you will find the latest new technology; information on education, career, and leisure-time opportunities; and updates on issues facing people with vision loss of all ages and from every walk of life.  You'll discover special programs and events for students, families, senior citizens, braille readers, and people who are just losing vision for the first time.  You'll discover meetings targeting attorneys, teachers, small-business owners, artists, computer programmers, and other professionals, and much, much more!
Below are some answers to questions that I have received about the upcoming conference.


Speakers and presenters at general sessions and break-out meetings are listed in the conference program, but not in the pre-registration materials. You may pick up your braille or print program with your registration materials when you arrive in Columbus, or you may download it from the ACB web site AFTER June 30. ACB does NOT mail programs prior to the conference.


As of this writing (late January), many events and programs are still being developed.  Below is a sketch of the week; watch future "ACB Braille Forum" articles, the pre-registration form, and the convention list and web pages for updates.

  • Thursday, July 4 and Friday, July 12: Tours
  • Friday, July 5 through Wednesday, July 10: Seminars, special-interest affiliate meetings and programs, tech workshops, and tours
  • Saturday, July 6 through Wednesday, July 10: Exhibits
  • Saturday, July 6 through Thursday, July 11: General sessions and Marketplace
  • Sunday, July 7 through Thursday, July 11: Youth Activity Center
  • Sunday, July 7 through Thursday, July 11: Activities for teens (new this year!)
  • Thursday, July 11: Banquet


Pre-registration begins on June 1.  A one-page brochure will be distributed in mid-May announcing that registration is about to begin; the information will also be posted on the acbconvention, leadership, and ACB-L e-mail lists. The announcement will contain an estimated date that registration will be live on-line and a toll-free number for those who wish to register by phone.
Paper forms WILL NOT be sent to the entire mailing list. If you would like a paper pre-registration form, request it from ACB's Minneapolis office by calling (612) 332-3242 before May 1. Forms will be sent via first-class mail when pre-registration opens June 1.


The 2013 ACB conference and convention gives businesses and agencies a chance to let people from all over the country and around the world know about their products and services. Premium, tabletop and affiliate booth spaces are now available.
Look for special discounts on exhibit space for blind entrepreneurs, exhibitor discounts on advertising, and premium booth specials on registration bag stuffers.

Advertising and Sponsorships

Many outstanding opportunities are available to let attendees and folks at home know about your products and services. Color and black-and-white program pages, newspaper advertising, and ACB Radio spots and features are great ways to get the word out to potential customers.
Conference sponsors (our gems) have a unique opportunity to add their logos and names to workshops, seminars, educational and leisure activities, youth and teen programs, and convention services.  These are high visibility opportunities, with lots of extras such as program and newspaper ads, listings on the official convention T-shirt and sponsor board in general session, and features on ACB Radio.  It's great for businesses and affiliates; there are levels from pearl ($1,000) to diamond ($20,000), and all gems in between.
For more information on exhibit, advertising and sponsorship opportunities, visit our web site at, or contact Michael Smitherman (exhibits) at (601) 331-7740, or Margarine Beaman (advertising and sponsorships) at (512) 921-1625.

ACB Heroes

Every state and special-interest affiliate, every chapter, has special people who have played significant roles in the lives of blind and visually impaired people. Often these outstanding individuals go unheralded on the national scene.
Share the accomplishments of these special people by participating in the ACB Heroes section of the 2013 conference and convention program.  Heroes pages can include a photograph of your special person and a short caption about his or her accomplishments. What a wonderful way to honor or memorialize that special person!
Heroes pages must be reserved by May 15. For more information, contact Margarine Beaman at (512) 921-1625.

Scheduling Events

Breakfasts begin at 7:00, lunches at 12:15. Four afternoon sessions are available; session 1 (1:15 to 2:30) is reserved exclusively for special-interest groups. Sessions 2 (2:45 to 4:00) and 3 (4:15 to 5:30) are open to special-interest affiliates and ACB committees. Session 4 (5:45 to 7:00) is available to affiliates, committees and others not affiliated with ACB.
Anyone wishing to schedule programs or activities in Columbus should submit all information for the pre-registration form by April 15.  Program details must be received by May 1.  Make all arrangements related to conference and convention events (reserve meeting rooms, order food or A/V equipment, etc.) with Janet Dickelman (phone (651) 428-5059 or e-mail


The Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown Columbus, Ohio is home to ACB for convention week.  General sessions and exhibits will be on the third floor, registration is on 1, and meetings and events are on 1 and 2.  Hotel restaurants are on 2, and the food court is on 1.
Make hotel reservations by calling 1-888-421-1442. Room rates are $89 per night plus tax.  You can also book online by following the 2013 conference and convention link at
For convention questions or special concerns, contact Janet Dickelman, convention chair, at (651) 428-5059 or by e-mail at Or call the ACB national office at 1-800-424-8666.

Have You Noticed Changes to the ACB Web Site? by Annette Carter

My name is Annette Carter, Web Site Administrator, contracted with ACB to administer and maintain I have been with ACB since January 2012, but have been a member of ACB and some of its affiliates for years.  I am excited to be part of the team that does so much invaluable work with so many active members voluntarily contributing to its success.  You may or may not have noticed some changes on our web site. 
What's New?
The front page is dynamic with fresh, new content changing on a regular basis.  So come back often to see what's new.
Behind the scenes there are increased security measures in place that further protect our site as well as your information when filling out an application or making a donation.
You may have participated in the holiday auction and found it convenient to have the item descriptions and photos online.
Enhanced accessibility includes screen reader navigation by heading levels, lists (numbered and bullets), and filling out and submitting forms with required fields labeled.
For the low vision site visitor, options are included for color combinations of font and background and font size by a button right up front in the header.  Also included are "hover tags," a text box that appears when a mouse hovers over a link in an article, menu list, or photo.  These hover tags are the same descriptions that a screen reader announces.  Also, where downloadable files are available, such as "The ACB Braille Forum," look for a large print format.
For sighted visitors, improved visual appearance includes a clearer logo, easy-on-the-eyes color background as well as improved font clarity and layout, encouraging the visitor to linger and read more about us.  There are more photos (alt-tagged of course) to be visually appealing and interesting dotted throughout the site that will increase as we go along.
Read our newly updated About Us page with photos presented in a visually appealing way by going to
How Smart is Your Smart Phone?
Many of you may have encountered web sites that have a link offering you to choose a special layout of their web site to be more compatible with, and accessible from, your mobile device.  Some web sites have no alternate layout, leaving you with skewed content that is difficult to navigate, or completely absent information.  It can be a challenge to make a web site look and work well on all the new screen sizes.  Did you know that some web sites can be built to be easy to read and interact with on all screen sizes, all from one basic layout? is built that way.  Try it.  If you already use your mobile device to access web sites, you can not only browse to read articles and pages, but you can also make a donation, receive immediate e-mail confirmation of the donation, e-mail an article or page to a friend, fill out and submit a scholarship application, read the ACB Constitution and Bylaws, browse "The ACB Braille Forum," download each of the offered Forum formats, and listen to ACB Reports.  Good to know, huh?
Even the accessibility choices for low vision site visitors work beautifully from your mobile device.  That means you can, directly from the "Text Size & Color Choices" button in the header, choose a text size, and/or choose a color combination of font and background colors.
These features are designed to benefit you, the member or site visitor.  But have you thought of how they could benefit ACB?  When you are talking with people and boasting about all we do as an organization, and you think they may be interested in finding out more about ACB or making a donation, have them open their mobile device and they will notice the handy "Donate Now" button.  It takes them immediately to all they want to know about our organization, and the form is easy to complete, with immediate confirmation of their gift being submitted. Could it get more convenient?  Pass the word; support ACB.
There are currently about 1,200 pages on and increasing very rapidly.  As time permits, I am going back on previously created pages to update the accessibility.  If you have compliments or suggestions for the web administrator, feel free to send an e-mail to the web task force chair, Nolan Crabb, at If you are from an ACB committee or affiliate and want content changed or added to the web site, send an e-mail to Nolan Crabb at with copy to Melanie Brunson at

Summaries of the Fall and Winter Board Meetings by Paul Edwards

One of the responsibilities of the representative of the board of publications to ACB's board meetings is to provide our membership with a timely report of what our board is doing in "The Braille Forum."  I am our representative this year and I did not meet my obligation to get the September board report out in a timely fashion.  I am including in this report discussion of that meeting and three additional board meetings.  I apologize to the membership for my failure and pledge to do better.

ACB Fall Board Meeting

The ACB board met in Columbus, Ohio in September 2012. Marlaina Lieberg was the only member absent. Ray Campbell took the minutes.
The president, Mitch Pomerantz, included in his report that he will become the next vice president of the region of the World Blind Union. He and Kim Charlson will be attending the Bangkok meeting of the World Blind Union in November. The Thailand Association of the Blind is funding Larry Turnbull and Brian Charlson to stream the WBU meeting and other meetings that will occur, including a meeting of world educators and a diversity conference, on ACB Radio.
Melanie Brunson, our executive director, reported that Francine Patterson started as the new administrative assistant in the national office on Aug. 1, and she is doing well. ACB is transitioning to a new telephone provider. The service quality should be higher and the cost will be half of what it currently is.
Melanie is currently looking for someone to update the various Spanish messages on the phone system. She reported on her work to change international copyright law. She will be spending Thanksgiving in Geneva with WIPO in November and will also be going to Geneva in October. The negotiations cannot be discussed publicly but there is hope that there will be some significant progress to report after the November meeting.
A working group has now been created to work on prescription drug labels. A first meeting was held with Eric Bridges representing ACB. This meeting also concerned Section 508. A rule for implementing the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act is currently with the Office of Management and Budget. Melanie reported that there is going to be a Google Summit where ACB will be represented by Pratik Patel and Brian Charlson. While there, they also plan to meet with Facebook and Apple.
The Combined Federal Campaign is now under way and there are now 22 volunteers who have agreed to give presentations at various locations to encourage federal employees to designate ACB as a recipient of dollars they donate.
Our annual report for 2011 is almost ready for release. It will be sent to the board list and will be on the web site.
The advisory board approved via a constitutional change this summer at the convention is still being put together. One meeting has been held concerning its organization and it is hoped that the advisory board will be in place by the end of the year.
There are currently five grant proposals that are awaiting approval. These total $45,000. There are five more grants that are expected to be submitted by the end of the year.
Melanie reported that, with the assistance of Bob Hachey from Massachusetts, Eric Bridges of the national office and Joel Snyder of our Audio Description Project have prepared instructions on how to file a complaint with the FCC if you are in the top 25 markets for TV and cannot get description as you should have been able to do after July 1st. The Audio Description Project had a successful training program this summer in conjunction with our convention. We have also continued work with a grant that we have received from Smith-Kettlewell in San Francisco. We reported to them on our activities and our report was well received.
Lane Waters reported on activities in the Minneapolis office, where there are three full-time people and one part-time person. The office is responsible for overseeing our thrift stores, handling our convention accounting and providing financial oversight for ACB. He indicates that everything is going smoothly.
Carla Ruschival informed everyone that a new report has been generated that shows the percentage of the revenue or expenditure that has been expended or received for the year for each budget item. She believes this can help the board and the budget committee better track where ACB is financially. While she recognizes that we are only two-thirds of the way through the year, most of our revenue is received during the first part of the year. Currently we have received 34.1 percent of the funds that were expected under unrestricted revenue in our 2012 budget. Restricted revenue is at 63 percent of the budgeted amount. Grants are at 10.7 percent. Total revenue is at 46.1 percent, which she described as a real concern. One bright spot is that our convention should generate more profit than it ever has, though exact figures are not yet available. On the expenditure side, we are at 59.8 percent of the funds we expect to spend for the year. Carla indicates that we will probably need an additional $200,000 from our reserves to make it through this year.
The next segment of the meeting was devoted to the consideration of our strategic plan.
Mitch indicated that he expected groups to meet from now on each month and be prepared to report at each upcoming board meetings. He indicated that Carla will replace Chris Gray as chair of group one, which is working on communications. The second goal relates to fund-raising, and Dan Spoone has been named as the new chair. The third goal is chaired by Kim Charlson, and relates to the development of staff and volunteer practices.
Group one held a meeting at which a report was given and progress was noted with the web site, ACB Radio, public relations, and in other areas. It is a complex goal and, while considerable progress has already been made, many elements of the plan await implementation.
The second group has not yet met, but the new group was defined. It will work with ACB's president to add the advisory council that was approved by the membership this summer. The new database for fund-raising was discussed. It is being implemented and this task should be completed by mid-October.  It was also reported that work is being done on the diversification of funding sources from outside ACB.
Goal three is looking at staff and volunteer efforts. Kim presented goal three to the staff of both offices on Sept. 10. There was also a board orientation dinner at which an hour was spent discussing questions that new board members had. The group is also considering how to make committees meet at more reasonable times so as not to require staff to devote lots of their non-working hours to meetings. The goal three group believes there may be some sources for law interns, which will be a better way of recruiting people who can help with ACB's advocacy efforts.  It is being recommended that we explore and implement making the ACB 800 number available all day rather than just from 2 to 5 p.m.
Goal four, which relates to ACB governance, has not yet met and is led by Paul Edwards.  An executive session was held during lunch at which personnel matters and other issues were discussed. No actions were reported out by that session.
After the executive session ended, the board recessed so that the membership meeting of the American Council of the Blind Enterprises and Services could convene for the purpose of electing new members of the ACBES board. During that meeting, Dan Spoone, Carla Ruschival, Jeff Thom and George Holliday were elected to the American Council of the Blind Enterprises and Services board.  After this action, the ACBES membership meeting was adjourned.
The ACB board then went back into session and began consideration of where ACB ought to go with regard to the ACB membership database. Chris Gray has been working on a membership database for ACB for the last several years. ACB has recently purchased a database called Donor Perfect to manage our donations. It is now being proposed that Donor Perfect be used for ACB's membership information rather than the one that Chris has been working on.
The president read a recommendation that would authorize ACB to enter into a contract with a company called Implex to create a membership module that would work with Donor Perfect, our fund-raising database. This would involve taking up to $7,500 from board reserves.  After lengthy discussion, a roll call vote was taken. Of the 14 members voting, Chris Gray,  Allan Peterson and Dan Spoone voted no while the remaining board members voted yes.  It is expected that the membership database module will be ready by Dec. 15, 2012.
As chair of the convention committee, Janet Dickelman reported that plans are going well for our 2013 convention in Columbus. Janet indicated that she is rewriting the specs for our RFP to reflect lower convention attendance and the need for a little less space. At her recommendation, the board postponed a decision on the 2015 convention location.
The last part of the board meeting was devoted to officer reports concerning what work the committees they supervise are doing.

Meetings of Dec. 6 and 17, 2012

At the start of the meeting, only Brenda Dillon was missing.  The president did not offer a complete report but indicated he will give a full report in February.  He indicated that he would respond to questions.  Chris asked that his questions regarding ACBES be answered and was told that they would be covered, perhaps in executive session, at the February board meeting.  John McCann asked where we are with Donor Perfect.  Lane indicated that the system is working well.  Everyone seems happy with it.  The back-end program is almost finished.  The test site should be up next Monday.  There is a small task force of members who have provided input.  The interface is finished and it works. 
The board went into executive session. Personnel matters were discussed.  In particular, there was discussion of the resignation of Steve Obremski.  No action was taken.
A report on the ACB Radio auction was discussed.  It raised $4,145 minus the expenses to get Larry to Louisville.
By the end of the board meeting, the whole budget must be adopted.  This evening, however, only the revenue side was discussed.  While each element of the revenue side was reviewed, only two elements provoked major disagreement.  The first concerned the $125,000 that was budgeted for bequests.  ACB received less than $4,000 this year but in virtually all of the 20 previous years, considerably more has been received and, in several years, far more than the proposed revenue has been received.  The proposed budgeted number was approved. In this budget, ACBES is proposing to provide no funds to ACB.  As an outgrowth of this decision, a motion was made that the membership of ACBES hold an extraordinary meeting in executive session within 45 days.  After the revenue side of the budget was adopted with a total expected income of $871,059, the board meeting was recessed until Dec. 17, at which time the board considered the expense side of the 2013 budget.
At the beginning of the Dec. 17 meeting, the board went into executive session.  Two motions were made.  One indicated that Laurie Mehta of GDUI be invited to meet with the board early in January to discuss issues relating to that organization.  The second motion called on the president to publish a statement to our lists indicating that this meeting will happen.
The board then considered the expenses of the budget.  Minor changes were made to various expense items.  Perhaps the most significant change was made in the board of publications area.  It was originally proposed in the budget to go from 10 to 9 issues of "The Braille Forum" in 2013.  The board of publications proposed going to six issues, each of which would be 56 large-print pages.  In addition, the BOP proposed publishing an electronic publication in those months when there is no regular "Braille Forum" published.  This will mean that we will be publishing a larger magazine, which will allow us to publish significantly longer articles.  We will also be able to keep members informed every month.  The BOP proposed a budget to accomplish this of about 70 percent of the allocation originally proposed by the budget committee.
By the end of the meeting, final figures for the new budget were not available for two reasons.  There are still some components of the budget that need to be finalized and a couple of organizational elements of the budget must be rearranged.  Despite the absence of final figures, the board voted to adopt a budget that will require us to withdraw $250,000 from our reserves unless our revenues are significantly higher than they were projected.  In round figures, we anticipate spending just over $1,100,000 in 2013.
At the end of the meeting, the board adopted the expense side of the budget and the budget as a whole.

Meeting of Jan. 3, 2013

This meeting was called to order by the president and, after the roll was called, a motion was made by Chris Gray and seconded by Dan Spoone that the report to be received from Laurie Mehta, president of Guide Dog Users, Inc., be held in open session.  After considerable debate, this motion was defeated and a motion was subsequently made to go into executive session.  During that session, a report was received on the background and current state of GDUI from its elected president, Laurie Mehta.
At the end of the executive session, the passage of two motions was reported by the president. The first motion indicated that ACB will extend a line of credit of up to $3,000 to GDUI for the purpose of covering bills that need to be paid outside of any funds owed to ACB for dues.  This line of credit was authorized for four months commencing on Jan. 3, 2013, and will be repaid by GDUI as soon as their accounts are available.  The signatures of the president and the treasurer of GDUI will be required on any requests for funds through this line of credit.  The second motion asked the credentials committee to consider extending the deadline for the receipt of GDUI's dues payment.   

The meeting adjourned after this report was received.

A Final Note

While it is beyond the scope of this article to report on the membership meeting of ACBES since it is a separate entity, I feel compelled to report that, based on a motion passed during the Dec. 6 meeting, an executive meeting of that corporation was held on Jan. 28.  I expect the chair of ACBES, Michael Garrett, to report what the corporation decided to do at the next ACB board meeting.

Join the DKM Tradition before April 1 by Allen Casey

The first-timer tradition is a vital feature of recent ACB history.  Its purpose has been and remains the honoring of an ACB pioneer and the encouragement of new leadership in ACB.  As the April 1 deadline for receipt of 2013 DKM first-timer applications nears, interested applicants from east and west of the Mississippi River should assess their desire to join the ranks of future ACB leaders.
To be considered for selection, applicants must meet these qualifications: be age 18 or older; have never attended an ACB conference and convention; be a member in good standing of ACB or an affiliate; and be blind or visually impaired.  Additionally, each applicant must submit a letter describing his/her interest, qualifications and accomplishments, as well as the importance of being selected as a first-timer.  The president of the applicant's ACB affiliate also must provide a letter of recommendation.  All materials are due in the ACB national office no later than April 1.  Questions should be directed to DKM chair Allen Casey at (336) 222-0201 or
All ACB members attending the 2013 conference and convention are invited to attend the DKM reception on Wednesday evening, July 10, as we recognize the newly selected Durward K. McDaniel first-timers.  Watch for details in the pre-registration packet.

Worthy Nominees Sought for Prestigious ACB Awards! by Cindy Van Winkle

The awards committee is seeking nominees who are deserving of national recognition for their work in ACB or the blindness community. Awards will be presented at the upcoming conference and convention in Columbus, Ohio. Candidates will be judged on the quality of their nomination letter and how well they meet the spirit of the award for which they are nominated. It is up to you to assist the committee by presenting worthy candidates and clearly identifying the ways your nominee meets the criteria for the award you believe they should be considered for!
The deadline for nominations is May 15, 2013. This means letters must be received electronically by 11:59 p.m. on that day. Please e-mail nomination letters to A confirmation e-mail will be sent to verify receipt of nomination letters.
The awards committee looks forward to the challenge of selecting worthy recipients for the 2013 ACB awards. But we can't do our job without your help! We need you to tell us about these special people, and how they meet the below criteria. Please remember that these are national awards, and nominees will be judged accordingly.
The Durward K. McDaniel Ambassador Award is given in recognition of a blind person who may or may not be a member of a blindness organization but who has, through his or her personal characteristics and activities, unrelated to his/her employment, contributed most to the acceptance and understanding of blind people as capable, contributing members of the community.
The Affiliate Outreach Award is based on a recommendation by an affiliate president, which recognizes a local chapter for a new outreach program. This program must have a measurable outcome.
The George Card Award is given to an individual who has dedicated his or her life to work with and for blind people, making a real difference and improving quality of life, for providing leadership and being a positive role model.
The James R. Olsen Distinguished Service Award is periodically given to individuals who have made important contributions which have advanced opportunities for the blind community. This award can be given to an individual or an organization.
The Robert S. Bray Award is given to a person who has made a contribution for improving library technology or communication devices. It could also be given for expanding access for blind people, or making opportunities within the mainstream media.
The Affiliate Growth Awards are based on the greatest increase in membership, as determined by the 2012-2013 membership reports.
Do not delay; submit your nominations right away! Late submissions will not be considered! If you need help with the nomination process, call Cindy at (360) 689-0827.

Board of Publications Awards Your Excellence in 2013

The ACB board of publications proudly recognizes excellence each year with three awards.
The Ned E. Freeman Writing Award applies to articles published in either "The Braille Forum" or an affiliate publication and is awarded to the author of the chosen piece of work. Mastery of the craft of writing is a major consideration by the BOP. Interesting subject matter, originality in recounting an experience, and novelty of approach are also considered.
All articles published in "The Braille Forum" between April 2012 and March 2013 are automatically eligible for the Freeman Award. Articles published in state or special-interest affiliate publications within this time frame are also eligible if submitted by either the president or newsletter editor from that affiliate.  If submitting such an article for consideration, please include a cover letter noting the affiliate, publication name, date of publication, and a brief notation about the article. The article may be submitted in any format.
The Vernon Henley Media Award is presented to an organization, company, or person, either sighted or blind, who has made a positive difference in the press -- whether in radio, TV, magazines, newspapers or electronic media -- that may change public attitudes to recognize the capabilities of people who are blind, rather than focusing on outdated stereotypes and misconceptions. Programs and/or articles written and produced specifically for a visually impaired audience, as well as those intended for the general public, are eligible. Multiple articles or programs submitted by one author or organization will be judged as separate entries. Submissions such as books or recurring columns or blogs from the same person must include a letter of nomination, a synopsis, and no more than three sample chapters/columns/blogs. Incomplete submissions will not be accepted.
The Hollis K. Liggett Braille Free Press Award is intended to promote best journalistic practices and excellence in writing in publications of ACB's state and special-interest affiliates. All periodicals of ACB affiliates, distributed no less than semi-annually, are eligible to be considered. Periodicals must be submitted by the affiliate's newsletter editor or president, and must include the following:

  1. Two issues of the affiliate's publication from the calendar year 2012, sent electronically and in hard copy in the format which the affiliate recognizes as the format which best represents its readership.
  2. Answers to the following questions: A. How many members are in your affiliate? B. How often is your publication published per year? C. In what formats is your publication produced?

The BOP will take the submitted information into consideration as well as the following:

  1. The number of contributing writers in a single issue;
  2. The variety of information in each issue;
  3. How well the publication portrays the affiliate;
  4. The quality of writing throughout the publication; and
  5. The overall layout and presentation of the publication.

Recipients of these awards for the last five years are ineligible to enter the contests. Members of the ACB national office staff, the board of directors, and board of publications serving during the awarding period are also not eligible.
Submissions for all awards must be received by Sharon Lovering at the ACB national office on or before April 15, 2013. Presentations will be made at the 2013 national convention. For more information about judging criteria, please consult the Board of Publications Policy Manual, found on the ACB web site.
Send all submissions with cover letter to: BOP Awards, American Council of the Blind, 2200 Wilson Blvd., Suite 650, Arlington, VA 22201, or e-mail

New Electronic Magazine Needs a Name

In a previous article in this issue, you read about the plan of the board of publications to produce a second magazine in electronic format that will appear in the months that "The ACB Braille Forum" does not.  (See "When Less Can Become More," February 2013.)  This second magazine is temporarily being called "The ACB E-Forum."
Here is where you, the ACB membership, come in.  The board of publications is holding a contest to come up with a permanent name for this new and exciting publication.  Below are the details for the contest.
To submit your ideas for a name, send an e-mail message to or call 1-877-651-9560 and leave a message.  Please do NOT call the national office with your votes!  The contest will run through April 30, 2013.  A $50 gift certificate to the ACB Store will be awarded to the individual whose electronic magazine name is selected by members of the board of publications as best encompassing what ACB and this new publication are all about.
So let's all get into the creative spirit and start those names coming.  You could be the big winner!

Does Your ACB Affiliate or Chapter Have a Winning Brochure?

This year the PR committee is once again going to recognize our affiliates and chapters for their marketing and PR efforts by giving out certificates for the Most Outstanding ACB Affiliate/Chapter Marketing Brochure. Entries will be judged on the following criteria: attention-getting; useful information; portrayal of your affiliate/chapter; writing quality; and overall layout and presentation, including graphics.
So, if you think your affiliate or chapter has a winning brochure, send three copies to Sharon Lovering, c/o American Council of the Blind, 2200 Wilson Blvd., Suite 650, Arlington, VA 22201.
Certificates will be given out during the national conference and convention for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place. All submissions must be received no later than May 1, 2013 to be considered. You can't win if you don't enter!  So, get your brochures out to Sharon today!

More News from the Audio Description Project

Fifth Annual Young Described Film Critic Contest

Young people with a visual impairment have a chance to win prizes for themselves AND recognition for their schools.  And a chance to hold the awesome title: Young Described Film Critic of the Year!  All you need to do for a chance to win is to write, type or record your own film review of any described movie.  The top nominees in three age categories will be invited to an awards ceremony at the American Council of the Blind 2013 convention in Columbus, Ohio during the week of July 7.  The deadline for entries is Friday, June 7, 2013.  For more information, and to enter on-line, visit Or you can send a written entry in regular, large print or braille, via e-mail or postal mail to: ACB-Young Described Film Critic, 2200 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 650, Arlington, VA 22201; e-mail, or phone (202) 467-5083.

Call for Nominations for the Fifth Annual ADP Awards-2013

This year's ADP Awards include a call for nominations in six categories:

  • Achievement in Audio Description – Media
  • Achievement in Audio Description – Performing Arts
  • Achievement in Audio Description – Museums
  • Achievement in Audio Description – International
  • Dr. Margaret Pfanstiehl Memorial Achievement Award in Audio Description – Research and Development
  • Barry Levine Memorial Award for Career Achievement in Audio Description

 The call for nominations ends June 15, 2013, with winners announced during a plenary session of the ACB conference and convention in July in Columbus, Ohio.
Nomination material, criteria and more information are available at

Fifth Annual Audio Description Institute

The signing of the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act has spawned a virtual cottage industry for the development of description for broadcast television.  You can be a part of it, working as a describer, or, if you're an avid description consumer, work is available as a consultant on the scripting for museum tours, media and for the performing arts.
The interactive sessions (limited use of lecture, questions/discussion throughout, generous use of media, and individual and group writing exercises) are designed to provide immediate feedback and give and take, allowing for adaptation according to a sense of participants' grasp of the material.                                                            
This three-day intensive program will begin at 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday, July 10, 2013 and conclude at 4 p.m. on Friday, July 12, 2013.   
Participation is strictly limited.  The institute will issue certificates to all successful participants confirming completion of this professional description training program.         
You can apply in June with your on-line registration for the ACB conference and convention.  For more information, contact Joel Snyder at, or phone (202) 467-5083 or (301) 920-0218.

Filling the Financial Gaps in Medicare Coverage by Ron Pollack

(Editor's Note: Ron Pollack is the executive director of Families USA.)
If you already have Medicare, you know that the coverage is very valuable, but it is far from free health care. Medicare charges substantial premiums, can require you to pay part of the cost of some services, and does not cover a number of other services at all. That's why many seniors have some kind of supplemental coverage, either from a private Medicare supplement (Medigap) plan or from a former employer. Others join Medicare Advantage plans that offer some limits on what you have to spend for health services out of your own pocket, though these plans can charge extra premiums and usually restrict what doctors you can see.
But paying for health care is especially challenging for people with limited incomes. Despite the rhetoric we sometimes hear about seniors being very wealthy, in reality, there are not all that many Warren Buffetts out there. About half of people with Medicare have incomes below $22,000 a year. For them, even routine Medicare premiums and health-care costs can be a real financial burden - and an unexpected expense can be devastating.
So it's important to know that help is out there if you or someone you know has Medicare and has limited financial resources. Here are some of the main programs designed to help people with Medicare afford health care:

  • The Part D Extra Help program, run through Social Security, can cover most or all of your Part D prescription drug costs. You can learn more and apply online at the Social Security web site,
  • Medicare Savings Programs run through each state's Medicaid agency can cover your Medicare Part B premium ($104.90/month in 2013), and, depending on your income, can cover your Medicare cost-sharing as well.
  • People with low incomes or high health care expenses may be eligible for their state's Medicaid program, which covers a number of services that Medicare does not.

You'll want to talk to a local counselor in your state to help you find out more. You can call 1-800-MEDICARE and ask for a referral to your local State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP), or go to and click on your state.
Among those who qualify for some of these programs, as many as two-thirds are not enrolled and many don't even know they qualify. The names of the programs can vary from state to state, and some states also have programs of their own, so talking to a local counselor can really help. And unlike the rest of Medicare, these programs do not have specific enrollment periods, so you can apply for help at any time.
Like most things in life, these programs are good but not perfect. If you can find help, it may be limited and may still leave you with significant out-of-pocket costs. Eligibility for many of these programs is also tighter than it ought to be. Income limits are generally very low. In most states, individuals with incomes over about $15,500/year and couples above $23,000/year have a hard time qualifying, although a few states have adopted more generous standards. Most programs also limit the value of financial assets like savings and retirement accounts you can have to less than $14,000 for an individual (about $27,000 for a couple). Keep in mind that things like your house and car usually don't count, however, and some states allow you to have more savings.
The programs available that serve low-income people with Medicare can make a real difference in the lives of millions of seniors. But there's no doubt they need to improve, both in enrolling people who are already eligible and in offering better coverage. In the meantime, if you or someone you know has Medicare and is struggling with health-care costs, it's worthwhile to see if you're getting all the help you qualify for.

We Want to Worship Too by Donna Rose

When most people think about the word "disability," they think about wheelchairs, curb cuts, ramps into buildings, and wheelchair-accessible restrooms.  But what about those with sensory deficits?  For most people who are blind or visually impaired, church can be one of the most isolating places.  Hymnals are seldom offered in large print or braille; rituals such as communion involve navigating aisles of pews, chairs and/or people; and on the most sacred days of the Christian calendar, there is no public transportation.  And yet most churches do not address these problems of inaccessibility.
In addition, it is unfortunate that our church leaders still refer to the blind beggars in the Bible as sick or ill, especially during ceremonies to anoint the sick.  Blindness may have been seen as an infirmity in biblical times, but today blindness and visual impairment are not viewed as illnesses.  This story, and others like it in the Bible, is about faith.  Most people with disabilities are not suffering, but accepting lives of challenge with the emphasis on ability.  We would like the church to catch up with this notion.
When we speak of the church, we are talking as much about our brothers and sisters in Christ as we are the leadership of our churches.  Church is not just a place to go and receive a seed, it is the place where seeds are planted and then should grow.  Seeds know what to do; they just need water and sunlight.  It isn't rocket science!
When it comes to attending church, the most pressing need for those with vision loss is transportation.  Public transportation and related disability van services are often limited on the weekends and do not operate on most holidays.  We have found that it is almost impossible to bend the ears of church leaders to try and help solve this dilemma by developing a committee in each parish/church that can organize carpools for those who need rides.  Not only would such a program be helpful to its recipients, but it is God's word in motion!
Vision impairment makes it difficult to navigate past pews, chairs and people to receive communion.  In many churches, pews are often on an angle, which adds to this mobility nightmare.  We don't want to accidentally tip candles over, either.  It would be much easier if those with vision loss could sit in the front pews or chairs so that communion could be brought to them, or so moving forward to receive communion would be less cumbersome.
There is really no reason why churches don't have large-print hymnals, and now that braille embossing has become so easy using computerization, lyrics to songs can easily be put into braille as well.
It is often difficult for those with vision loss to strike up a conversation with people in a crowd, since eye contact won't automatically bring them together.  It is equally difficult to recognize a person's voice from only a couple of encounters.  It is for this reason that it is polite to add your name to a greeting when addressing someone who cannot see.  A simple, "Hi, Mary, it's John," will do.  Likewise, if you wish to help a person with vision loss navigate, let them take your arm just above the elbow and walk normally, announcing any upcoming steps or stairs and whether they go up or down.  There is no need to shout.  Our hearing is fine!
People who are blind or visually impaired live normal lives, just like you.  And although it might be difficult for you to imagine living life with limited or virtually no sight, we cook, clean, graduate from college, volunteer to help the needy, and even hold down good paying jobs, not to mention learning and using public bus services.  You may say this is amazing, but this success requires intelligence, talent and hard work with a little courage mixed in.
It is my belief that God would like everyone to be able to worship comfortably.  More attention needs to be given to ways in which worshipping can be shared by all.  The people are the church, and we are the people!

A Vision for Using Computers for Inclusive Worship by Rev. John Jay Frank

We can increase or decrease the size of projected, printed, or Internet text with our churches' computers. Typically, the tendency is to use smaller fonts (letters) and to squeeze in more words and pictures. Instead of a standard 12-point type (let alone 14-, or 16-point type, or 18), we use 6, 8-, or 10-point font on web sites, in e-mail, and in print. This affects more than people with low vision or low reading ability. Small-print bulletins, sermon outlines, and Bibles are hard for anyone to read in a sanctuary with low lighting. Also, instead of communicating a song, scripture, or message in the most readable format, we make projected text small and more confusing with pictures, designs, colors, and poor letter/background contrast.
Inclusive use of computers could help the more than 25 million Americans of all ages (about 8 percent of the population) who report they cannot see well even with glasses (source: It could also help the 12 to 14 percent (about 40 million) non-disabled, English-speaking Americans, age 16 and older, who cannot read at a basic literacy level (source: NAAL at The Biblical rationale for using computers inclusively is also clear. (1) Do not curse the deaf or put a stumbling block in front of the blind (Lev. 19:14). (2) Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others (Phil. 2:4). (3) We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves (Rom. 15:1). (4) "I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me" (Matt. 25:40).
The Gospels reveal that people were antagonistic toward those who could not see and who requested help. When two men who were blind shouted at Jesus for help to see, "the crowd rebuked them and told them to be quiet" (Matt. 20:31). When people who were blind came to Jesus in the temple, the leaders were indignant (Matt. 21:15). When Bartimaeus, who was blind, cried out to Jesus for help seeing, "many rebuked him and told him to be quiet" (Mark 10:48). When a man cried out for help seeing, "those who led the way rebuked him and told him to be quiet" (Luke 18:39). Moreover, the religious leaders "hurled insults" at the man born blind, and "threw him out" (John 9:28 & 34).
In clear contrast, Jesus called the two men who were blind, asked what they wanted and had compassion on them (Matt. 20:32). Jesus stood still and commanded Bartimaeus to be called. He talked to him and helped him (Mark 10:49). Jesus stopped and asked a man who was blind what he wanted and gave it to him (Luke 18:40). Jesus saw a man who was blind and He acted (John 9:1). He did not wait to be asked. Jesus also sought feedback about the help He gave. After trying to help a man who was blind, Jesus asked if His efforts were successful. The man said things were still not clear, so Jesus went a little further, prayed a little longer, and did a little more (Mark 8:23-26).
Most of us cannot heal blindness, but we can help people to see by how we use our churches' computers. That choice is ours, but have we chosen to create stumbling blocks instead of helping people see? Just as in Biblical times, it is hard for people who cannot see or read well to protest the hurtful use of technology today. Instead, they just participate less or do not show up at all. We know what Jesus did. What can we do?
The knowledge, time, and money needed for enlarging projected or printed text or text posted on the Internet is minimal. It takes a few extra minutes to learn how to use programs in a way that creates the most readable text. Not everyone would come to church and participate, but more could, if we used our computers in an inclusive way.
Optimum readability of projected, printed, or Internet text
Projection: It is easiest to read projected text when the contrast is a solid, medium-blue background with plain, yellow letters. A darker background enhances glare and gives the effect of staring into a light bulb or a car's headlights. It is harder to read projected text if the background has objects, shading, areas of bright light, patterns, pictures, multiple colors, dark and light areas, lines, or any movement in it.

It is also easiest to read projected text with only 15 to 20 words per screen with the font as large as possible (about 50 to 80 points), that still creates meaningful chunks of words filling the entire screen. Projected text is easier to read if it uses only one type of font with an even thickness, such as Arial (sans serif fonts). It is harder to read text if the letters, words, and lines are condensed or if the letters are thin, uneven, fancy, or if they have italics, cursive, bold, shadow, or are written in all caps.
Printed Material: With printed text, the standard definition of large print is 18-point type (source: the American Foundation for the Blind). The minimum size for large print is 14-point type (source: U.S. Post Office regulations for free mailing for the blind). Normal-sized print is 12-point type. The best contrast for printed material is dark ink on solid white paper. It is hard to read dark ink on a dark background, or light ink on dark paper. It is difficult to read text on paper (or an e-mail, or web site) that has pictures, patterns, multiple colors, shading, or lines. Readability is best with a plain sans serif font without appearance effects and without condensing the letters, words, or lines of the text.
Reducing the margins or slightly lowering the above-printed text standards may be a wise choice when there are just a few words or lines left for a new page. Omitting unnecessary designs may lower costs too. Draft quality printer or copier settings may or may not work well. Just a few, or a few dozen larger 14-, 16-, or 18-point font bulletins, outlines, or other handouts using 8½" by 14" paper, folded in half, may not be too costly.
Bibles: Few Bibles indicate font style or size, or the ink/paper contrast. There are no Bible-publisher standards for the terms "large," "extra large," "giant," or "super giant" print. These may be 11-, 12-, or 13-point font which is not even the minimum size for large print. Bookstore staff is usually unaware of this issue. A truly large print (18-point type) entire Bible in a single volume is only available in a King James Version. On-demand computer printing might make it possible to print other versions in truly large print -- if people request them. Most Bible software programs allow for text enlargement and color and contrast change. Some e-book devices allow for font size changes, but these may not seem large enough if they have little or no color and contrast control and if the lighting is insufficient. Alternatives to reading exist, such as a Bible on tape or CD, but for people with enough vision, or if magnifiers help, holding and reading the Bible may be preferred over listening to it or reading it from a computer.
Internet: On a web site or e-newsletter, add a text-only option and put descriptive tags on pictures. Allow the text to wrap so that the ctrl and + keys, pressed together, will enlarge the text without extending it beyond the screen sides. Set up PDF text so it can be copied and enlarged in a word processor for reading without sideways scrolling.
To see the complete outline on how to use computers for inclusive worship, go to People who are legally blind who use screen readers or braille notetakers can request a free library of Bibles and Bible reference works on a DVD at

A Hitch in Time by Carl Jarvis

In the dark forests of the Olympic Peninsula, there are more strange and mysterious tales than those of Bigfoot.  Here is an account told by a totally blind man. 
It had been two years since I'd cleared the long, steep trail up to the big water tank sitting high above our house.  We pump the water from a well by the garage, about 160 feet deep, up the hill to the tank, where gravity sends it back at 30 pounds pressure. 
Now my hip replacement was pretty much healed and I strode out with my trusty old brush axe on my shoulder.  If you've never seen a brush axe, it has a long handle like a splitting maul, only longer.  On the end is a large, flat, curved blade.  Razor sharp.  Great exercise, swinging my way through the tall thistles, nettles and salmon berry bushes.  Little alder trees had taken hold, too.  All fell before the mighty brush axe.  The trail climbs straight up for about 600 feet before leveling out at the base of the tank.  My nephew and I dragged that 500-gallon tank up through the brambles about 16 years ago, when he, a massive defensive lineman, was home from Humboldt State University and I was, well, younger.  It took me three afternoons to pound through that ugly tangle.  But now I was feeling flushed with victory. 
I turned toward the back of our 10 acres of forest and began whacking my way down a trail I'd not cleared for over four years.  It followed an old narrow gauge railroad bed and then cut up through a stand of the tallest, straightest grove of cedars, Douglas fir and hemlocks that ever grew.  It was like nature's park, covered with tall ferns and only filtered sunlight finding its way through the mighty branches.  But to get to this fairyland was like fighting the jungles of Vietnam.  This trail was going to take a lot more sweat and muscle than the one I'd just reclaimed.  For the next two days I hiked up the hill to that trail, hammering down the bushes and berry vines, slowly working my way back to my forest path. 
On the third day I knew I was closing in, water pouring off my body from a hot, almost windless afternoon.  Suddenly the air became totally still.  No bird song, no hum of busy bees, not even a whisper of a breeze.
And then the ground shook.  Just a whimper, a suggestion of something in the distance.  Every nerve in my body yelled, "Earthquake!"  But no, it was not the ground.  It was the huffing and grinding of a huge machine.  I backed quickly into the brush at the edge of my trail just as this steaming, screaming monster rounded the bend and roared straight down upon me.  As it lumbered past, I knew, even without being able to see it, that here was a real steam engine.  A locomotive straining down this old logging road pulling a long string of flatbeds.  I could smell the scent of freshly cut logs. 
The relentless noise was hypnotizing and I felt myself being drawn toward the side of the train.  I stuck my brush axe out in an effort to stabilize myself.  With a mighty yank, my brush axe was slammed out of my hand, and I sprawled backward over an old rotten log. 
Then, as suddenly as it had appeared, it was gone.  Just a faint wiggly vibration fading into the distance.  And the breeze reappeared, and the bees went about their business as if they'd never missed a beat.  The song birds took up exactly where they'd left off. 
I struggled to my feet and shakily moved forward.  Then I stepped on my brush axe.  I picked it up and poked about in the middle of my trail, looking where the tracks must be.  Gone.  Nothing. With a sudden cold shiver, I quickly turned and picked my way down the long hill back to the safety of my house. 
My wife was happily watching a golf tournament, and I thought of telling her what had happened.  "Oh sure," she'd chide me.  "I keep telling you to drink lots of water when you're out in the hot sun."  And maybe that was it.  Heat stroke, or something like that.  I took a long, deep breath and felt so much better that I went back outside thinking I'd sharpen my brush axe. 
And that was when I discovered that the blade had been twisted and bent.

I Wandered into a Memory by Robert Kingett

When I was little, I did not wander as a cloud. I floated on one. I have to admit, when the assignment was given to us to write about a poem, I did not think I would find one that would capture my interest or memory. For days, my ears would burn the table of contents as my fingers struck down page numbers in a hopeless search to find something that I could connect with, something that I could write about and have it be genuine. I was lost.  My hopes for finding a poem that would hold my interest long enough to allow me to write about it seemed to be impossible. I was a bibliophile at heart, but I did not like writing about poetry. I enjoyed reading it, but writing about it was a different kind of circle of hell. On my fifth haphazard hunt through the table of contents, my ears caught something that I had not noticed. I was instantly drawn because it sounded familiar. "I wandered lonely as a cloud," by William Wordsworth. I wanted to see why the poem sounded familiar. I had an odd sense that it would be significant to my life, but I did not know why. I wanted to explore the kind of emotional journey that this poem would take me through.
After listening to the first line, I was instantly transported to a memory that I did not even know I had. It is late at night sometime in 1995. I do not know how old I am, but I remember feeling the braille calendar poised in my lap, my finger tracing the soft indentations of the moons among the days. A sound erupts from the living room and I look up, my ears picking up every shift of the air just a few rooms from me. Shouting soon breaks out as if I am in a pep rally. It grows louder and more obscene with each passing word. My mother has made her appearance on stage yet again, and I start to sob. I am guessing that Grandma and Grandpa are out in the fray as well, but I do not want to be in here all alone. The shouting reaches a volume that I do not even know exists, and my fright and anger mesh into one emotion as the stupidity of the situation finally reaches me. As my mother and her husband continue to scream at each other while mixing in some sounds of hitting and smacking, and manage to produce sounds of someone hitting the table, Grandma comes into the room. I know it is she because I can smell the peach-scented perfume that she always wears. It is as if the smell alone is a blanket, about to wrap me up. My bedroom door softly clicks shut, and tender shoes thud over to me. She takes my small hand in hers.
"Are you ready for bed?" she asks me. I smile and nod, while trying to hide my anger at my mother.
"Well, I'm sorry. I do not have a story for you tonight. All I have is this book of poems your grandfather gave to me." I groan at the mention of poetry. Even at that young age, I much preferred it when she read me something GOOD, such as Nancy Drew or the Hardy Boys. I do not want to stay here any longer.  But I like it when Grandma reads to me. Outside of my bubble of safety, my mother starts to cry as Grandpa yells at her about how stupid she is acting. I hear pages slowly open. Grandma leans to read and instantly I am transported to the place of golden daffodils.
"I wandered lonely as a cloud, that floats on high o'er vales and hills, when all at once I saw a crowd, a host, of golden daffodils."
I am soon floating on that cloud looking at dancing yellow flowers. As Grandma continues to read the poem to me, I feel a sense of peace. I am flying, and the newly developed sounds of clashing in the kitchen are just a faint whisper. I am swept away by Grandma's reading. We both are wandering as a cloud, but not lonely. I listen eagerly as she finishes the poem. Once she is done, she tucks me in and kisses me goodnight. She tells me she loves me, then leaves the room. I soon drift on my own cloud of safety, finally able to feel calm and happy enough to go to sleep. I am comfortable and soon floating on my own cloud across vales and hills, far from the treachery of the world. I am safe.
That was back in 1995. I do not know how old I was back then, but that memory sprang to mind when I first listened to the poem. I re-read the poem after that, repeatedly, making it my comfort poem. While I was reading the poem at that young age, I had a rather literal visual interpretation of the poem. It seemed pretty logical and obvious to me that that was what the poem meant, that the speaker was looking down at golden flowers swaying in the wind. I believed it so strongly that I vividly imagined this. Back then, I pictured vibrantly the golden tendrils swaying gently in the breeze, and some shadow sitting up high on a pink cloud looking down at this dancing show. For a long time that is how I interpreted the poem.
I do not know where my interpretation changed, but it did. I presume that it changed just after my grandmother died, and I had no way of escaping the domestic violence I had to endure. I would always wish that Grandma would come softly into my room, click my door shut and take me with her on a cloud high above the bad things in my life. With the passing of years, I never saw or heard the poem again.  Now, hearing it again, I was instantly back in 1995, feeling a sense of love. I replayed the poem, wearing out the skip-back button on my CD player in order to keep hold of the memory that this poem helped to bring back. I loved this rare opportunity to smell Grandma's peach-scented perfume again. I loved the chance to hear her powerful, delicately articulate voice read me a poem to take away all the bad things in my life. Listening to the poem now, I soon realized that I had a different interpretation.
Perhaps this interpretation came from her death in 1996. I believe that the loss of my grandma, physically and mentally, has helped me to make this interpretation once I reclaimed her in my memory after so long of an absence. This poem helped me regain a memory that I did not even know existed within me.  The speaker talks about how he is happy to watch golden daffodils dance. My grandmother was always like that, happy to see, create, and experience pure happiness. This poem, I believe, is what my grandmother sees and saw. Because of this realization about my grandmother, I no longer have the same image when I listen to the poem. I picture someone looking down on people, but not just any people. I picture someone looking down at me and other people, some wealthy, some poor, some old, some young, some black, some white, some Asian, and some of everything. All of us are dancing with an airy display for our spectator. We all twirl and giggle as we all choreograph a perfect rhythm. I no longer picture the shadow on top of the cloud as having no face or figure. It now has a form and a shape to it. It is someone I know. I picture the wrinkly old woman looking down at us, smiling. She is comfortable on the pink cloud, basking in her glory and her peace. I am sure, if we were closer, we would smell the peach-scented perfume. I picture the old woman slowly bringing her wrinkled hands together, clapping and shedding silent tears as she watches the spectacle. I would like to think that she would be smiling, glad to finally have the opportunity to watch the best show in the world, the show of a host of golden daffodils tossing our heads up in a sprightly dance.

I Know, or Eye No by Philip Kutner

What's it like to not see everything? What's it like to see nothing?
For fully sighted folks, these are questions that rarely enter their thoughts other than when conversing with the visually impaired. One can only imagine what it's like when trying to walk in someone else's shoes.
There are experiences that one can only imagine, but must experience to grasp its real feeling or meaning. What's it like to see a baby chick hatch? What's it like to be high on drugs? What's it like jumping out of an airplane, going into freefall, pulling the string, and finally coming down on land? What's it like to give birth to a child? I have experienced none of them, and never will one of them.
I want to share an event that half of us have, or may have. It was one of the most profound and definitely the one that had the greatest emotional impact on me. It was the first time I saw my first grandchild.
Our daughter was in our home when she started having labor pains. We clocked the time between pains and decided it was time to take her to the Hackensack General Hospital in Hackensack, N.J.  After a while, we left to eat and were called to return. Baby
Melanie had been born.
As we rushed in, we passed by the nursery where the babies were kept. They were lined up with bassinettes along the viewing window. I said to my wife, Sally, "Go on in to see Debbie, I want to just spend a moment looking at baby Melanie." 
All of the babies were covered in blue or pink blankets. I held up a sheet of paper with Melanie's name for the nurse to point to my granddaughter. She was the third from the right. The blanket covered all but the top of her head that had quite a bit of dark hair.
As I stood transfixed with my nose squashed against the windowpane, a sudden peacefulness passed over me. It was like standing on top of Mount Everest and looking down at the rest of the world. There were no thoughts going through my mind - only a calm and quiet I had never experienced.
Time passed and the others came out and said, "Let's go." I remember only a weak and then strong tug on my sleeve and then sort of like waking from a dream. Later they said that I had spent over 40 minutes staring through a nursery window.
You may have had an unusual experience and tried to explain it to someone and they may have said, "I know." You may have had a like experience, but it is impossible to feel the intensity unless you actually experience it.
Losing one's sight is a traumatic experience. Only sightless folks can sense the enormity of the loss. People have been blindfolded and told to try to experience sightlessness. They all note the helplessness and hopelessness of their feelings, but they know that it is only for a short while and they will soon be back in the sighted world.

World of Work by Larry P. Johnson

(Excerpted from his book "Inside My World.")
Finding a job when you're a blind teenager or young adult was a major problem back in the 1940s and still is today. 
Sighted kids could get jobs as soda jerks, newspaper delivery boys, gas station attendants, dishwashers or busboys in restaurants, stockers, car hops, babysitters -- scores of jobs -- and didn't even have to be 16.  My brother Jimmy worked selling popcorn at the neighborhood girls' softball park when he was 15.  My sisters Eileen and Dorothy began babysitting when they were 12 and were making ice cream sodas and milk shakes at the corner drugstore by age 15. 
But, because I was blind, those opportunities were not available to me.  I did make a few dollars playing my accordion for neighbors, but that felt more like begging for money than earning it. 
My first real job was the summer I worked at the Chicago Lighthouse on the assembly line, at 50 cents an hour.  We had to be there on time, punch a time clock, take our rest breaks and lunch when the buzzer sounded and keep up our production.  It wasn't a job I wanted to do for the rest of my life, but it taught me about work ethic and it put some money in my pocket.  One of the items that we made was for the airlines.  We made sturdy, plastic-lined bags passed out by flight attendants to passengers with queasy stomachs.  We playfully referred to them as "whoopy" bags.
I learned how to make hand-made leather belts.  I bought the kits from a wholesale store downtown, and I sold them to anyone and everyone I knew.  I liked doing that because I was fast, I could set my own hours and I was a pretty good salesman.  My profit on each belt was nearly 100 percent, not a bad return. 
The absolute worst job I ever had was as a door-to-door magazine salesman.  Paul, Dennis and I were looking for a summer job we could do that would earn us some quick cash.  Paul read an ad in the neighborhood newspaper offering "a great chance for bright, intelligent young college students to earn good money."
So, the three of us went to apply.  The fast-talking company recruiter told us we could easily make $20 to $30 a day knocking on doors and giving a foolproof sales pitch to the lady of the house to subscribe to one or more magazines which the company sold.  We were skeptical, but it was worth a try, and the company rep didn't seem to care that the three of us were visually impaired. 
Along with four other fresh recruits, we were driven to an upscale residential neighborhood on the far north side of Chicago.  Getting out of the station wagon, we were rehearsed on what we should say and how to overcome possible objections.  We practiced our parts several times until the team leader was satisfied.  Then, he gave each of us an order book, a few sample magazines and turned us loose.
I found my way to the door of the first house and rang the bell.  After a wait, a guy with a gruff voice answered.  "Wadaya want?"  I started to recite my message.  "Not interested!"  Slam. 

Second house.  A sweet old lady told me in broken English she didn't do much reading.  At the third house, I was greeted by the barking of a mean-sounding dog.  Fourth house, no answer to my incessant ringing.  Fifth house, "We already have too many magazines."  Sixth house, "I never buy from door-to-door salesmen."  Seventh house, "I work nights, and you woke me up."  And so it went for the next two hours.  Not a single sale. 
It was now noon and the temperature was close to 100.  Turning the corner, I came across Dennis and Paul.  "How you guys doing?” I asked. 
"Nothing," they replied.  "Not a single sale."  Grunts of discouragement and disappointment. 
"Hey look," Paul said.  "There's a Walgreens drugstore across the street.  Wadaya say we go have an ice-cold Coke?"
"A great idea," Dennis and I agreed.
Once inside the cool, air-conditioned comfort of Walgreens, there was little motivation to go back out to face the July heat.  "So, any of you guys wanna knock on some more doors?" I asked. 
"Not me," said Paul. 
"No thanks," echoed Dennis. 
"Then what'll we do with these order books and magazines?" I questioned. 
"Let's just give 'em back." 
"Who's gonna do it?" 
"Since Paul got us into it, I think he should do it." Dennis said.  Paul agreed, and that was the end of our short careers as door-to-door salesmen.

Tips on Dealing with a Power Outage by Martha Hoch

Power outages are common.  Some are very brief; others may last days.  But visually impaired people need to take precautions.  Know your way around your house.  Have flashlights with working batteries in many places throughout the house, and a portable phone to call for help.
If an outage occurs during the day, it is not as difficult to find your way around because there is sunlight coming in through the windows.  But at night, it is a different story.
I am visually impaired, but I can still see to some degree.  One Friday night a week before Christmas, I decided to go to the basement to start another load of laundry.  I was on my way to the stairs when the lights went out.  My daughter, who lives with me, was able to get to the basement door with a flashlight.  I had felt my way around the furnace and told her to stay upstairs; I could see well enough to get up the stairs as long as she stood there with the light.
My daughter said all the houses in the area were dark.  She thought she had seen flashing lights and thought a cruiser might have been on the next street.  Perhaps someone had had an accident and hit a light pole.
It was already getting colder in the house.  We had plenty of warm clothes to put on and now we had several flashlights near us.
With so many houses dark, we did not try to call the electric company.  McDonald's and Walgreens were also dark.  We decided that if nothing happened in an hour or so, we would call.  An hour and a half later the lights came back on.  Soon the furnace was warming up.  We kept the flashlights nearby all night in case something more happened.
But I realized that I should not have gone to the basement at night.  If the lights had gone out, I would have had a difficult time getting to the stairs.  We have a lot of things stored in all rooms of the basement, and it would have been very hard to walk without bumping into things.
I am not sure how many older people live in my area, nor how many have someone checking on them all the time.  For safety's sake, we older people who are visually impaired should limit our trips to the basement to daylight hours.  If you're alone during the day, it would be wise to carry a portable phone with you if you do have to go to the basement.  And be sure to have the phone numbers for the electric company, police and fire departments near the phone.

How Affiliates Grow Their Membership compiled by Ardis Bazyn

January's ACB "Membership Focus" call focused on how affiliates grow their membership. Many good suggestions were given by various affiliates. I've included a list below of those suggestions and ones given to me by presidents who've won the growth award.

  • Special-interest affiliates having joint meetings on interesting topics
  • Joint affiliate fundraisers
  • Telephonic mixer to connect members
  • Conference calls inviting members
  • Technology and employment focus calls
  • State transportation focus meetings
  • Asking state library to send letter to all patrons
  • Giving everyone a job to keep them involved: invocation, phoning, handing out documents
  • People need purpose for coming
  • Encouraging small groups of members to have coffee
  • Profiles of individual members instead of speaker
  • Wine tasting and wine dinners draw people who don't normally come
  • Restaurant fundraisers also social occasion
  • Picnic for membership only
  • Nest egg -- members bring donations and pay $0.50 raffle
  • Non-members pay $10 while members free for picnic/social
  • Pizza/pasta party -- draws outsiders
  • Variety of activities draw more people -- 3 to 4 activities each month, such as game night, cookie exchange, tours, with quarterly regular meeting
  • 50-50 drawings
  • Bargain table -- gently used items, e.g., clothing, radios, jewelry
  • Dine out every two months
  • Bingo -- have different person in charge of each activity
  • Find strengths of members
  • Delegate tasks to new people
  • Support ideas of new members
  • More socials, such as dinner out
  • Ask each member to bring one new person to the chapter
  • Take brochures and flyers with you
  • Mini-lunches -- talk to other local presidents
  • Read documents available from ACB PR committee
  • Ask the national office for a list of "Braille Forum" readers and contact them
  • Tech Olympics -- partner with vision teachers to get kids to come; also contact consultants, VI teachers and regional education centers
  • Call state education agency that does registration of VI students, schools for the blind, or superintendent of public instruction to contact kids about special programs
  • Visit any group which might have visually impaired members such as low-vision groups, senior centers, independent living centers, etc. and share your programs
  • Provide benefits to members, such as assistance with transportation or readers
  • Form new membership team and take a new approach to recruiting
  • Have several people take names of former members and encourage them to join again
  • Have a team work together – even stuffing envelopes
  • Provide return envelopes to make it more convenient for prospective members to return forms and payment of dues
  • Encourage a support group to form a chapter

This call was recorded and will be available for those interested in listening. Please contact the membership committee for details. Our next "Membership Focus" call will be held on Monday, April 29 at 5:30 p.m. Pacific/8:30 p.m. Eastern. The focus will be on how to encourage people that it is OK to be blind.

Affiliate News

Diabetics in Action

It is hard to believe it is almost March! Hopefully the roughest time of year, weather-wise at least, is almost over. It is a difficult time of year for diabetics to get out and do the same kind of outdoor exercise as can be done during nicer weather.  It is also a time of year when you want to stay indoors and eat comfort food!   Besides not making big amounts of the comfort foods, it is also a good thing to find exercises that can be done inside. Some of these are running in place or leg and arm exercises while sitting in a sturdy chair.
Like most other affiliates, DIA is working on presentations for the ACB convention in July.  We are lining up some interesting speakers and good food for our luncheon.  We will also be selling raffle tickets again.
Membership dues can still be paid to Alice Ritchhart, 139 Altama Connector #188, Brunswick, GA 31525.
We are still looking for someone to draw a logo for DIA.  It can be anything related to diabetes and needs to be sent either by fax, (703) 465-5085, or e-mail to: and  You do not have to be a member of DIA or ACB to enter this contest. The winner in this contest will receive $100.

DCCB Prepares to Celebrate Its 100th Birthday

The District of Columbia Council of the Blind (DCCB) was established in 1913 as the D.C. Association of Workers for the Blind to encourage and enable both sighted and blind citizens to provide necessary educational, vocational, mobility and other services before those services were available from governmental sources.  The DCCB, which joined the American Council of the Blind in the 1970s, will celebrate its 100th birthday late this spring with a celebration to which the general public will be invited.  A review of some of the services provided in the early days will amaze you, so stay tuned for details regarding the date and place of the historic celebration.

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, 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.
Call for Artwork
Very Special Arts (VSA) is proud to announce that the 2013 International Art Program for Children with Disabilities is open for entries! Student-artists with disabilities are encouraged to create a family portrait that illustrates themselves among the people that provide love, support, and encouragement in their lives - their families. Portraying themselves with some of the most important people in their lives gives testament to the idea that family – no matter how big or how small - help shape who we are and provide the foundation for who we will be.

A selection of artwork from the online entries will be chosen for a live exhibition at the United States Department of Education in Washington, D.C., to take place in November 2013.  The deadline to submit your artwork is May 1, 2013. Who may submit artwork? Children with a disability, ages 5 to 18. For more information, and to submit an entry, go to
Texting Guide
Everybody is texting. Texting is so popular because if the other person is available, you can communicate in real time, but if your friend isn't around, you can still convey important information quickly. And if you have an Apple device (an iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch running iOS 5 or later, or a Mac running Mountain Lion), you can text anyone else with one of these devices for free using a service called iMessage. "A Quick Guide to iMessaging" (available in braille, eBraille, and Word) tells you how to text and use iMessage on all your Apple devices. You'll learn how to send and receive messages and delete the ones you no longer want. If several people in your family share an Apple ID for buying apps and music, but each person has his own device, you'll also learn to configure iCloud so that you can iMessage each other. For more information, visit, or call 1-800-548-7323.
Scholarship Opportunity
American Councils for International Education is excited to be offering a scholarship opportunity for visually impaired high school students to study Arabic or Russian in overseas language immersion programs this summer.  This pilot program is part of the National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y), which is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.  NSLI-Y provides merit-based scholarships to U.S. students, aged 15-18, to travel abroad for approximately six weeks to intensively study a critical language.  For more information, visit the web page,
While students selected for this new pilot targeted recruitment program will be part of the larger group of American scholarship winners traveling overseas, reasonable accommodations will be provided to meet their individual needs.  All program-related costs will be covered by the scholarship, aside from those associated with obtaining a valid U.S. passport, any required medical evaluations, and pocket money while on program.  Programs will take place in Morocco and Russia and students will formally study Arabic and Russian, respectively, experience the host culture, and serve as youth ambassadors. 
If you have a student who you think would be suitable for this opportunity, please contact Emily Matts ( and Loren Kupferschmid (, (202) 833-7522 at your earliest convenience.
Asking for Magazines
I live in Macedonia and was wondering if readers could help me get some particular magazines regularly. I find "Reader's Digest," "Ladies' Home Journal," "Newsweek" and "The New York Times" particularly interesting and informative. These magazines will help my students practice their braille skills and help them with their English. If you can send them to me regularly in any format except 4-track tape or large print, e-mail me at I appreciate your help.
Envision Has New CEO
Envision has named Michael Monteferrante as president and chief executive officer. He was selected by the Envision board of directors. He has more than 25 years experience in corporate leadership in a variety of industries including commercial real estate, e-commerce, transportation, construction and food. As CEO, Monteferrante will concentrate on executing the organization's mission, growing the Envision Rehabilitation Center, enhancing the Envision Foundation and diversifying Envision Industries.
Special Needs Research
Foundation for Jewish Camp (FJC) recently received a research grant to map current services available to children with special needs and physical disabilities at non-profit Jewish overnight camps across North America.  This is the first-ever research of its kind in the Jewish community and will drive the ultimate goal of making the unparalleled experience of Jewish camp available to all children. Thanks to a generous $60,000 grant from Dr. Allan and Nan Lipton of Hershey, Pa., FJC is working with Laszlo Strategies, a firm specializing in helping non-profit groups champion the causes of medical science and people with physical and developmental disabilities, to survey the field beginning in January 2013.  This research will provide a thorough understanding of the options Jewish camps offer to children with special needs and provide a baseline for expanding services.  It will be followed by a meeting of Jewish camp professionals and special-needs experts to allow FJC to locate the gaps, establish where and how the needs can be filled, and develop a set of guidelines for camps to use as a resource.
Warrior Games
The United States Olympic Committee (USOC) and Deloitte recently announced that the Warrior Games will be held in Colorado Springs, Colo., May 11-17, 2013. In addition to Deloitte, the week-long event is also supported by the Department of Defense, Department of Veterans Affairs, BP, USO, Fisher House Foundation and the Bob Woodruff Foundation.

More than 200 wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans are
expected to participate in 2013. They will comprise five U.S. teams representing the Army, Marine Corps, Navy/Coast Guard, Air Force and Special Operations, as well as one international team from the U.K. Teams will compete in seven sports including archery, cycling, shooting, seated volleyball, swimming, track and field, and wheelchair basketball. The opening ceremony will be held May 11th at the Olympic Training Center.  The ceremony, and the competitions, are free and open to the public.  For more information, visit
Kurzweil 3000
Kurzweil Educational Systems, a business unit of Cambium Learning Group, Inc. and Pathway Innovations and Technologies, Inc. recently announced that HoverCam Solo 5, T5, and T5-V high-resolution cameras can now be used as a scanner with the Kurzweil 3000 (R).
HoverCam products are all-in-one high-resolution cameras that allow users to digitize and archive print material. The cameras are lightweight, portable, and sized to require minimal space. To learn more about the Kurzweil 3000, go to For more information about HoverCam, visit
Guild Awards Scholarships
Jewish Guild Healthcare recently announced the winners of its 2013-2014 scholarships. They are: Jane Margaret Brunson, Carmel, Calif.; Juna Gjata, Boston, Mass.; Ricardo Rhett Gutierrez, Westminster, Colo.; Ian Kloehn, Menomonee Falls, Wis.; Mik So Kwak, Diamond Bar, Calif.; Alexander Lingfu, Darnestown, Md.; Lindsay Long, Deer Park, Tex.; Brooke Lovell, St. George, Utah; Reven McGee, Appleton, Wis.; Kelsey Morgan, Madison, Tenn.; Adam D. Mullen, Litchfield, N.H.; Alyssa Odell, Pikeville, N.C.; Brandon Skogen, Centennial, Colo.; John Strub, East Setauket, N.Y.; Alexander Taikwel, Palatine, Ill.; and Jennifer Tylock, Shrewsbury, Mass.
A teacher of one of the winners is also being acknowledged for her role in encouraging and bringing out the best in her students.  Each applicant was asked to write an essay about a teacher who is of great importance to them.  The teacher chosen from among the applicants' essays receives a prize of $5,000. And the winner is Jennifer DiFrancesca, an AP U.S. history teacher at Shrewsbury (Mass.) High School!  In her nominating essay, Jennifer Tylock wrote that Mrs. DiFrancesca's amazing creativity in the classroom, her ability to get students to work together and her training of her students in confident essay writing, all "inspired in me a newfound passion for history, and allowed me to learn not only about history, but also about myself."
The GuildScholar Program was created in part through a generous grant from the Jeannette A. Klarenmeyer Trust. For information on the GuildScholar Program's scholarships for the 2014 academic year, contact Gordon Rovins at (212) 769-7801 or e-mail
Braille Book Club
"The Little Red Hen" is National Braille Press' January 2013 book club selection.  This book is available in print/braille and in contracted braille with skipped lines, and it's for ages 4 and up.  Who doesn't remember reading this tale about Little Red Hen asking for help planting some wheat, watering it, cutting it, grinding it down, or baking it into a cake?  Neither the cat, dog nor mouse will help – but they're all ready for a snack when the cake comes out of the oven. But since none of them helped the hen with her chores, Little Red Hen eats the cake by herself.
For more information, visit, or call 1-800-548-7323.
Coaching Available
Feel like your life has gotten foggy? No, not because of your eyes, but your life has lost its focus. Want to find that focus again? Then maybe a coach can help.  A coach will help you find your goals, set a plan and support you in your journey. If this sounds like something you would like to explore more, visit or send e-mail to

High Tech Swap Shop

For Sale: Perkins Brailler in good condition with dust cover. Asking $300. Olympus digital recorder with cable, book, and case. Asking $20. Talking calculator. Asking $20. Talking key chain. Asking $20.  Magnifying ruler and pocket magnifier, three signature guides, and one deck of braille playing cards. Free. If interested in all items, the total cost will be $360 with no shipping costs.  If interested in certain items, you must cover shipping. Money orders only.  Contact Nancy or Owen at or call Owen at (319) 217-1922 or Nancy at (319) 217-0439.
For Sale: Perkins Brailler in excellent condition.  Comes with original mailing container.  Asking $300.  Victor Reader Stream, in excellent condition.  Comes with power cord, original CDs, and SD card; has soft pack activated.  Asking $175.  Contact Connie David at (612) 367-4995, or via e-mail,
For Sale: TripleTalk USB synthesizer, never used; in excellent condition. Comes with power adapter and USB cable. Asking $450 (negotiable). SmallTalk Ultra 2 in excellent condition, rarely used.  Comes with carrying case, new double capacity battery, and other accessories.  Screen reader not installed.  Asking $1,000 (negotiable).  Contact Jonathan Milam via e-mail at or at (336) 462-4179.
For Sale: Powerful, high-end Dell laptop with Inspiron 5110 2.4-gig Core I5 processor.  Has 8 gigs RAM, 600-gig hard drive, DVD, wireless, Bluetooth, full keyboard with keypad; comes with metallic black or purple swap covers, Windows 7 (64-bit version), JAWS 14, Kurzweil 12, scanning, Microsoft Office 2010, 3 USB ports, SD slot, and thousands of MP3 songs. Asking $900 or best offer.  Call Al at (410) 382-6506 or send e-mail to
For Sale: PAC Mate 40 braille display.  In excellent condition.  Comes with USB cable.  Asking $2,500 or best offer.  PayPal accepted.  Serious inquiries only.  Contact Shawn Cox at (757) 295-7785 or
For Sale: 4th generation iPod with 32 gigs of memory. In great condition. Asking $175. Call Caitlin at (517) 227-1122.
Wanted: APH Handi-Cassette 1 with 2- and 4-track playing capability.  Send an e-mail message to

ACB Officers

Mitch Pomerantz (final term, 2013)
1115 Cordova St. #402
Pasadena, CA 91106
First Vice President
Kim Charlson (final term, 2013)
57 Grandview Ave.
Watertown, MA 02472
Second Vice President
Brenda Dillon (final term, 2013)
313 Overridge Cove
Hermitage, TN 37076
Marlaina Lieberg (final term, 2013)
15100 6th Ave. SW, Unit 728
Burien, WA 98166
Carla Ruschival (1st term, 2013)
148 Vernon Ave.
Louisville, KY 40206
Immediate Past President
Christopher Gray
5568 Waterman Blvd., Unit 2W
St. Louis, MO 63112

ACB Board Of Directors

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

ACB Board of Publications

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