ACB E-Forum, April 2013

The ACB E-Forum
Volume LI April 2013 No. 8
Published by
the American Council of the Blind
 
The American Council of the Blind strives to increase the independence, security, equality of opportunity, and to improve quality of life for all blind and visually impaired people.
 
Mitch Pomerantz, President
Melanie Brunson, Executive Director
Sharon Lovering, Editor
 
National Office:
2200 Wilson Blvd.
Suite 650
Arlington, VA 22201
(202) 467-5081
fax: (703) 465-5085
Web site: http://www.acb.org
 
The Braille Forum (TM) is available in braille, large print, half-speed four-track cassette tape, data CD, and via e-mail.  Subscription requests, address changes, and items intended for publication should be sent to Sharon Lovering at the address above, or via e-mail to slovering@acb.org.
 
The American Council of the Blind (TM) is a membership organization made up of more than 70 state and special-interest affiliates.  To join, contact the national office at the number listed above.
 
Those much-needed contributions, which are tax-deductible, can be sent to Attn: Treasurer, ACB, 6300 Shingle Creek Pkwy., Suite 195, Brooklyn Center, MN 55430.  If you wish to remember a relative or friend, the national office has printed cards available for this purpose.  Consider including a gift to ACB in your Last Will and Testament.  If your wishes are complex, call the national office.
 
To make a contribution to ACB via the Combined Federal Campaign, use this number: 11155.
 
For the latest in legislative and governmental news, call the "Washington Connection" toll-free at (800) 424-8666, 5 p.m. to midnight Eastern time, or read it online.
 
Copyright 2013 American Council of the Blind

All content created initially for use by ACB in publications, in any media on any web site domains administered by ACB, or as a broadcast or podcast on ACB Radio, archived or not, is considered to be the property of the American Council of the Blind. Creative content that appears elsewhere originally remains the property of the original copyright holder. Those responsible for creative content submitted initially to ACB are free to permit their materials to appear elsewhere with proper attribution and prior notification to the ACB national office.
 
Corrections
 
Due to an editing error, the wrong number was listed for the Hyatt Regency in Columbus, Ohio.  The correct number to call is 1-888-421-1442.  We regret the error.
 
In the February 2013 issue of "The ACB Braille Forum," in the article entitled "ACB Braille Forum Now Available on Newsline," there was a word missing.  The official name of the service is NFB-NEWSLINE (R), which is a registered trademark owned and operated by the National Federation of the Blind.  We regret the error.
 
Forum Subscription Notes

You can now get "The Braille Forum" by podcast!  To subscribe, go to "The Braille Forum" page on www.acb.org.  If you do not yet have a podcast client, you can download one from the Forum page.
 
To subscribe to "The Braille Forum" via e-mail, go to www.acb.org/mailman/listinfo/brailleforum-L.
 
Are You Moving?  Do You Want To Change Your Subscription?

Contact Sharon Lovering in the ACB national office, 1-800-424-8666, or via e-mail, slovering@acb.org. Give her the information, and she'll take care of the changes for you.
 
For news you can use, check out the new ACB Radio News and Information Service at acbradio.org.
 
ACB Radio has a new and improved web site; come see for yourself at www.acbradio.org.

ACB E-Forum, April 2013 downloads

President's Message: A Matter of Balance by Mitch Pomerantz

As those of you who have been reading my columns for awhile likely know, I worked in the public sector for close to 34 years.  Hence, I think I can speak knowledgeably concerning the role of our civil servants - local, state and federal - in terms of balancing the various competing interests with which such public officials must interact.  That is what I wish to do in this month's column: reflect on the obligation/responsibility that such government types have relative to the two national consumer organizations of the blind.
 
This issue arrived on the front burner of my consciousness earlier this year when the president of the Randolph-Sheppard Vendors of America (RSVA) expressed to me his affiliate's belief that the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) was favoring the vendors division of the NFB, the National Association of Blind Merchants (NABM).  I was also made aware of an agency head who has apparently been pressuring his state's vendors to join that group.  Even prior to this, I had certainly observed a bias toward the Federation among members of NCSAB, the National Council of State Agencies for the Blind, as an attendee at several of its meetings during my time as ACB president.
 
I want to make it absolutely clear that I do not begrudge the Federation or its leadership for trying to exert influence over the policymakers in work for the blind.  That is clearly its right as an advocacy organization.  No, my issue is with those state and federal civil servants who have, by their words and actions, demonstrated their bias toward one organization's policies or members while taking a salary from the taxpayer.  It is these individuals with whom I have a serious disagreement, and to whom this message is intended.
 
Let me first acknowledge the many state agency employees who are members of either ACB or NFB who truly set their personal allegiances aside in order to provide the best possible service to all blind people: ACB members, NFB members, and the vast majority who are not affiliated with either organization.  I know that these individuals exist because I hear about them from our members.  Someone will say to me: "He or she belongs to X organization, but is fair and objective with members of both consumer groups." I also know a number of agency officials and staff who purposely refrain from joining either organization of blind people because of their position in government.  While I don't necessarily agree that someone working in the blindness field needs to avoid affiliation, I certainly respect and understand that point of view.
 
One of the earliest lessons I learned as a new employee of the City of Los Angeles was that those of us whose paychecks came compliments of revenues obtained from the taxpayer had a responsibility to those taxpaying citizens to give the best service we possibly could.  And while I suppose this seems rather trite today, I still believe this sentiment to be wholly appropriate.  Given the overall lack of respect (deserved or not) toward government and those who work in the public sector, it seems particularly important for those working in the blindness field, whether in a state agency for the blind or in a federal entity such as RSA, to be fair and even-handed in the implementation of policies and the provision of services.
 
You may now be asking, "So what should be done when a state or federal bureaucrat plays favorites?"  From some, but thankfully not a great deal of personal experience, I can tell you that when a member of the public took issue with something I did or didn't do, he or she usually went over my head to my boss, who was the department's executive director.  When that occurred, I then had to justify my decision.  Fortunately, my judgment was pretty much on-target in most instances where a decision of mine was called into question by a member of the public.
 
Based on the concerns communicated to me by RSVA, a letter went out to the highest ranking RSA official at the time expressing ACB's sense that the agency was showing its bias toward NABM.  (A new RSA Commissioner, Janet LaBreck, has subsequently been named.)  Shortly thereafter I received a response offering RSA's position on the matter in question and pledging to work with ACB and RSVA in a more collaborative fashion.  Time will tell, as will RSA's actions.
 
In order to hold all governmental officials' collective feet to the fire, we, as consumers of services for the blind, have an important responsibility as well.  Our responsibility is to remind those aforementioned civil servants in writing and at public gatherings of their responsibility, and to further remind them if bias is shown in the implementation of policies or the provision of services that we can and will inform their superiors and demand action be taken to correct such bias.  Need I mention here that not only do we have a responsibility on behalf of our blind brothers and sisters, but a right to do so as citizens of a free country.  And to those of you who respond that the official's superiors hold a similar bias, I strongly urge you to then go up the chain of command, to the governor if necessary.  If that fails, you should consider alerting your local newspaper to the problem in a clear, concise letter to the editor.  What I know for certain is that sitting by complaining that nothing will change, so why bother, will definitely result in nothing changing.

ACB'S 2013 Legislative Imperatives by Melanie Brunson

I am writing this article two days after the conclusion of another very successful legislative seminar.  Again this year, attendees at this year's seminar spent their final day in Washington visiting the offices of members of Congress.  They took information with them about two issues which we are focusing on this year, namely Medicare coverage of low-vision devices, and the education of children who are blind or visually impaired.  The text of the paper we distributed to Congressional offices is below.
 
Legislative Imperative: Low Vision Aid Exclusion
 
The Issue: In November of 2008, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) promulgated a regulation that has had a detrimental impact on the lives of countless individuals who are blind or visually impaired.
 
To the dismay of the blind community, the Durable Medical Equipment, Prosthetics, Orthotics, and Supplies (DMEPOS) Competitive Acquisition Rule contains a provision entitled "Low Vision Aid Exclusion" which states that all devices, "irrespective of their size, form, or technological features that use one or more lens to aid vision or provide magnification of images for impaired vision" are excluded from Medicare coverage based on the statutory "eyeglass" exclusion. ACB is well aware that this extremely restrictive reading of the "eyeglass" exclusion has resulted in the denial of vital assistive devices for seniors and other Medicare beneficiaries who may have disabilities, particularly those with vision loss, who need to use such devices to live healthy, safe and independent lives.
 
This proposal has had a significant impact on beneficiaries with vision impairments who depend on assistive technology that incorporates "one or more lens" to aid in their vision. The expansion of the eyeglass exclusion has prevented access to devices such as hand-held magnifiers, video monitors, and other technologies that utilize lenses to enhance vision.
 
Legislative Proposal

ACB urges Congress to introduce and promptly pass the Medicare Demonstration of Coverage for Low Vision Devices Act of 2013.

This legislation would evaluate, through a five-year national demonstration project administered by the Department of Health and Human Services, the fiscal impact of a permanent change to the Social Security Act. This legislation would allow reimbursement for certain low-vision devices that cost $500 or more as durable medical equipment.

Individuals will be eligible to participate in the demonstration project only after completing a low-vision exam performed by a physician who would then deem a low-vision device as medically necessary.
The national demonstration project is designed to provide a rich, well-structured and defined data set that can yield Medicare-program-wide evidence-based conclusions using appropriate statistical methods.
 
Legislative Imperative: The Anne Sullivan Macy Act
 
The Issue: Since 1975, Public Law 94-142, now the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), has revolutionized educational opportunity for all children and youth with disabilities. However, without key improvements, our national special-education system cannot fully keep IDEA's promise of a truly appropriate education for students who are blind or visually impaired. The Anne Sullivan Macy Act is intended to do just that, to improve the delivery of appropriate special education and related services to all students who are blind or visually impaired, including students who may have additional disabilities. Once enacted, the legislation will ensure that properly designed and individually tailored services are in fact provided, meeting the unique learning needs of students who are blind or visually impaired  and that the educators who serve them are prepared and supported to do their jobs well, based on evidence-driven best practice.
 
Legislative Proposal
 
ACB urges Congress to introduce and promptly pass the Anne Sullivan Macy Act. This legislation will:

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

For more information, contact Eric Bridges, ACB's director of advocacy and governmental affairs.  He can be reached by phone at (202) 467-5081, or 1-800-424-8666.  His e-mail address is ebridges@acb.org.

From The ACB Treasurer: Ready, Set, Certify! by Carla Ruschival

Each year, as March 15 rolls around, you hear groans from all across the country.  Affiliates large and small, state and special-interest, are checking their records, comparing members' addresses to those appearing on their list from ACB, adding and deleting names.  By March 15, each affiliate submits to Sharon Lovering their current membership list, along with dues owed for members on that list.
 
But that is far from the end of the process.  It is, rather, only the beginning for Sharon and the national office.  As lists come in, whether on paper or electronically, the information must be hand-checked with data in the ACB database, corrections made, and new information entered by hand.  It is a gargantuan job, and one that takes several months to complete.  And it must be completed as quickly as possible, because the credentials committee needs that data before the annual conference and convention in July.
 
This entire process is called certification; it is required by the ACB Constitution, it is a great way to keep our records current and accurate, and it is tedious and time-consuming with a capital "T." Until now.
 
Last spring, almost a year ago, at the urging of ACB's director of development, the board of directors made an investment in ACB's infrastructure and purchased a software package called Donor Perfect.  Up to that time, ACB had maintained several databases with sometimes duplicate and conflicting information on "ACB Braille Forum" readers, convention registration, people requesting specific types of information, donors etc.  There was no good way to compare information across databases, and so, as the old saying goes, "The right hand didn't know what the left hand was doing."
 
Donor Perfect came on-line last September, and ACB's thousands and thousands of records were merged into one database, accessible by both our Arlington and Minneapolis offices.  By that time, we were pleased to confirm that our initial hope was in fact possible: Donor Perfect was fully capable of handling membership certification, Forum mailings, convention mailings, etc.
 
Affiliates have for many years been asking for on-line certification.  Since 2006, ACB has been attempting to create an on-line system that would allow this to happen.  While some progress was indeed made, the system was not complete, and after all that time and expense there still were gaps in the software.  For example, there was no way for to generate reports, so member data entered could not be retrieved for use by the credentials committee, for mailings, etc.
 
At its September meeting in Columbus, the board voted to contract for the creation of a simple, accessible software interface that would allow our affiliates to certify their members directly into the Donor Perfect system.  This new software would also give each affiliate its own secure "contacts" area, separate from all other affiliates and from ACB, where it could organize information on prospective members, contributors, or anything it wished.  The board stipulated that this new system needed to be complete and ready for use for the 2013 certification process.
 
These goals have been met.  Our new member certification software and affiliate contact system is in fact up and running.  The system has been tested by a team of individuals using a variety of adaptive software (speech, screen magnification, braille notetakers), and I was pleased to be part of that team.  More than 40 affiliates have indicated an interest in being trained on this database, and as of this writing (in late January) that training is being scheduled; it will take place by phone, in small groups of two or three, and trainers will be familiar with the adaptive software used by the participants.  Even better, some affiliates are also planning to make extensive use of the contacts to help them with their local, state and special-interest work.
 
Your affiliate can get in on the fun.  It's free; it's quick and easy to use.  For more information, contact Sharon Lovering in the Arlington office at 1-800-424-8666 or (202) 467-5081.
 
Finally, I will be using the database to certify several affiliates.  If you would like to learn more about my personal experience with the system, and how I plan to use it for specific tasks in addition to certification, feel free to give me a call at (502) 897-1472.
 
This is a great time to be a part of ACB.

ACB - Exploring New Worlds: Countdown to Columbus by Janet Dickelman

The 2013 American Council of the Blind conference and convention is a fantastic week of programs, exhibits, tours, and fun.  It all gets under way on Thursday, July 4 and doesn't end until Friday, July 12.  Our convention home is the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Columbus, Ohio, located at 350 N. High St.
 
The serious side of the 2013 ACB conference and convention is packed with outstanding workshops, seminars, exhibits, and programs. Whether you are a teacher or rehabilitation counselor; if you are looking for a new job; if you use technology; if you can use new tips and ideas to improve your professional or everyday life, the 2013 ACB conference and convention is where you want to be.
 
Begin planning your week with ACB. Below is a synopsis of the week's schedule; there's much, much more to come. Pre-registration and the acbconvention e-mail list will include many more events and details. Join the acbconvention e-mail list by sending a blank message to acbconvention-subscribe@acb.org.
 
Please note:  Events listed here are subject to change. To save space, most groups are mentioned only on the first day of their programming; additional days are shown in parentheses.

Friday, July 5

  • ACB pre-convention board meeting
  • ACB Information Access seminar
  • Keys to the Convention seminar (repeated on Saturday)
  • Welcome to Columbus Party
  • Student welcome party (more student activities throughout the week)
  • Milly's Place Pin Swap (Blind Lions, other events Monday and Wednesday)

Saturday, July 6

  • Exhibits open (through Wednesday)
  • ACB Walk
  • NABT breakfast and meeting (teachers, other events on Monday and Tuesday)
  • Special meetings for attorneys (through Monday), blind vendors (also Sunday and Monday), and information technology specialists (through Monday)
  • ACB board of publications meeting
  • Diabetics lunch and workshop (other activities on Wednesday)
  • Mixers held by Government Employees (ACBGE, also on Wednesday),  people with low vision (CCLVI, through Monday), Friends-in-Art (FIA, other activities through Tuesday), and Blind LGBT Pride (activities throughout the week)
  • ACB opening keynote general session

Sunday, July 7

  • General session (mornings through Wednesday and all day Thursday)
  • IVIE breakfast meeting (luncheon and meeting on Tuesday and small business expo on Wednesday)
  • ACB Youth Activity Center (all-day fun for kids through Thursday)
  • Special events for teens (through Thursday)
  • Multicultural lunch and program (Mid-week Jam on Tuesday)
  • Special meetings and activities for library users (also Tuesday), guide dog users (through Wednesday)
  • Alliance on Aging and Vision Loss lunch and program (also Tuesday)
  • ACB Women's Concerns (other activities through Thursday)
  • Employment Issues Task Force
  • ACB seminars (TBA)
  • ACB Recreation Zone (through Wednesday, healthy and fun options)
  • Afternoon tours (different venues every day through Wednesday)
  • Tech user groups and product spotlights (through Tuesday)
  • Evening activities (ACB Families fun, CCLVI game night, RSVA auction and karaoke, FIA prose and poetry reading, etc.)

Monday, July 8

  • Special programming for braille users and supporters of braille (through Wednesday)
  • ACB Rehab Task Force and Education Task Force seminars
  • FIA Performing Arts Showcase

Tuesday, July 9

  • ACB employment seminar
  • Legislative and National Education & Legal Defense Service (NELDS) workshops
  • ACB Auction

Wednesday, July 10

  • ACB membership seminar and board of publications workshop
  • Affiliate presidents' meeting
  • ACB Audio Description Project training (through Friday)

Thursday, July 11

  • ACB all-day business session
  • ACB banquet

Friday, July 12

  • ACB post-convention board meeting

Exhibits, Advertising and Sponsorships

Information for these important opportunities is listed in the March Forum and on our web site at www.acb.org. Follow the links to register as a sponsor, advertiser, or exhibitor, or for a table at Marketplace.
 
Convention sponsorships, advertising and booth reservations must be received by May 15 in order to appear in the official conference and convention program.
 
Contact Michael Smitherman (exhibits) at (601) 331-7740, or Margarine Beaman (advertising and sponsorships) at (512) 921-1625.

Scheduling Events

Special-interest groups, ACB committees, and others wishing to sponsor programs or activities at the conference and convention should submit all information for the pre-registration form IMMEDIATELY. Program details need to be submitted by May 15. Make all arrangements related to events (reserving space, ordering food or A/V equipment, etc.) with Janet Dickelman.

Hotel Reservations

Room rates are $89 per night (plus tax) for up to four people. Visit our web site at www.acb.org and follow the 2013 conference and convention link to find a link for Hyatt reservations. Or make reservations by telephone at 1-888-421-1442. Make certain to mention that you are with the American Council of the Blind.

Transportation

The Mega Bus stops across the street from the Hyatt Regency. The Greyhound bus station is eight blocks away.
 
For those flying to Columbus, Arch Express has agreed to provide ACB with a special shuttle rate of $17 one-way, $22 round-trip, from Port Columbus airport to the Hyatt Regency. These rates must be booked in advance and prepaid. The shuttle will leave every half hour from the airport and from the hotel.
 
Paratransit services in Columbus are provided by the Central Ohio Transit Authority. To use this service, fax your name, phone number and either a copy of the approval letter with expiration date on your transit authority's letterhead, or a copy of the front and back of your ADA picture ID (showing its expiration date). Send the fax to Tonia L. Pullins at (614) 272-3015.
 
Paratransit rides can be made up to a week in advance. To book a ride, call (614) 272-3033. Rides should be scheduled at least a day in advance; same-day rides are not guaranteed. Rides are $3.50 each way; same-day rides cost an additional $1.50 per ride.
 
For convention questions or special concerns, contact Janet Dickelman, ACB convention committee chair, at (651) 428-5059 or by e-mail, janet.dickelman@gmail.com. Or call the ACB national office at 1-800-424-8666.

Overcoming the Age Gap by Sara Conrad

At the affiliate presidents' meeting this February, I had the honor of presenting on the topic of younger membership across our organization. We discussed the problem as well as possible solutions to not only encourage recruitment of students but also to retain their membership.  We had many strong suggestions for ways all affiliates can work together to decrease the age gap influence in ACB for a brighter future.
 
ACB Students offers a variety of opportunities for affiliates to join with us in such efforts. The first is our Adopt a Student program, which is being implemented this year for the first time. This program offers a collaborative effort on all levels between our student affiliate and other special-interest or state affiliates.
 
Another program, which will be in its second year this July, is our scholarship mentoring program. This program strives to link national scholarship winners with ACB affiliates. We hope to have more of a joint effort this year across the organization in order to successfully retain our students.
 
Additionally, ACB Students offers other connective resources such as our web site (www.acbstudents.org), our general e-mail list, Twitter and Facebook, and conference calls. It is our hope that our fellow affiliates will collaborate with us using these various opportunities to encourage students.
 
Another resource mentioned in my presentation was focused on in-person contact. Our members are scattered throughout the country and are eager to assist with local student programs and efforts. I am pleased and honored that I will be at the Bay State conference in April to help renew their student chapter. It is our hope in ACB Students that other affiliates will reach out to us for such possibilities in order to directly assist one another.
 
Beyond such resources offered in my presentation, we discussed the importance of making student membership a priority in our organization. We have only a small number of students and young people involved in ACB, inferring a limited number of future leaders and members. While all affiliates experience the burdens of restricted money and time, we must make this a priority. We do many wonderful things in our organization, but if we lack people to continue such efforts in the future, we fail.
 
In addition to priorities, I expressed the great need for communication. There is an obvious disconnect between affiliates in our organization, a disconnect that challenges the possibilities for collaboration. The problems of student membership cannot be overcome with such separation. Students must be networked between both ACB Students and other affiliates. This includes both state and other special-interest groups. Students need the connections of every aspect in ACB in order to find a sustaining place.
 
Finally, I am fully aware that this issue is a concern of all affiliates. Many leaders expressed very troubled and raw situations regarding the age gap issue. We must work together throughout the year to continue the efforts suggested at conferences. It is my sincere hope that we do not continue to have "mountain top" experiences after such presentations in which we lose enthusiasm upon returning home. Our organization's future depends upon immediate action on this issue. Together, we have the chance to make ACB a vibrant place to which all ages belong.
 
I look forward to working together. Please contact me, Sara Conrad, at President.ACBStudents@gmail.com.

An Update from GDUI

Guide Dog Users, Inc. (GDUI) continues to confirm our commitment to good governance and to work hard to meet the expectations of members and friends of guide dog teams. Our board and committees are fully staffed. Communication between and among our state and regional affiliates is thriving under the direction of our affiliate liaison, Dana Gantt. Our e-mail discussion lists are up and running. Our advocacy committee, which is chaired by our second vice president, Charlie Crawford, is striving to improve housing opportunities, pedestrian safety, and airport security experiences for guide dog users across the country.  Don Brown's legislative committee is following guide-dog-related legislative efforts on many fronts. GDUI's finances are benefiting from the informed and conscientious oversight of committee chair, Maria Hansen. Our nominating committee, under the able leadership of Dianne Phelps, is finalizing plans for the universally accessible May election, which will fill two vacant board seats.  Plans are under way for the convention in Columbus, Ohio. Empathizers are available to help guide dog users from every region of the country solve problems and cope with challenging situations; and we expect a more efficient and expanded product sales and delivery system to be up and running soon. 
 
Many members and friends have stepped forward to assist us during a difficult transition period, and we wish to sincerely thank ACB's president and board for their support of and confidence in our affiliate, the office of the District of Columbia Attorney General and our own attorneys for their continued counsel and work on our behalf, and the many volunteers who have stepped forward to fill board seats, chair and serve on committees, offer suggestions, and assist us in so many ways.  Our annual membership renewal and recruitment effort is under way, and you can still renew your membership or become a new GDUI member.  Please visit our web site, www.gdui.org/, or call our office manager, Paula Barton, or our treasurer, Lynn Merrill, who can be reached at 1-866-799-8436, to complete the membership form and pay your annual dues. GDUI has been proudly serving guide dog teams for more than 40 years.  We want to assure our many members and friends that you can count on Guide Dog Users, Inc. for effective advocacy, empathetic support, compelling discussions, informative and entertaining convention programming, and universally accessible and up-to-date media that meet the needs of all who rely on well trained and well behaved dog guides for safety and independence.
 
If you have questions or concerns, you can reach any GDUI officer, board or staff member via the toll-free number listed above, or via e-mail through our web site, www.gdui.org/.  Between board meetings and quarterly issues of "PawTracks," visit our Facebook page, www.facebook.com/guidedogusersinc.
 
Sincerely,
Laurie Mehta, President
Guide Dog Users, Inc.
president@gdui.org

Information Desk Volunteers Needed by Deb Lewis

I am the coordinator of the Information Desk for the 2013 convention and I would appreciate your help.  First, a little about me.  I live in Louisville, Ky., and I am president of KCB and GDUKy.  This is my 14th ACB convention, so I know the volunteers at the information desk help a lot of people every day.  
 
Please consider signing up for one or more three-hour slots at this year's convention.  We need people with good braille skills, people who can read braille or print quickly to find information for people in a hurry.  You must be able to work in a fast-paced environment, be courteous and punctual, so we have enough help at all times.
 
We copy files for people, especially in the morning.  We need you if you have a laptop or notetaker and can copy files to a thumb drive, compact flash card and a high-capacity SD card. 
 
Information desk hours are: Wednesday, July 3rd for early convention arrivals; Thursday, July 4th through Thursday, July 11th from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.; and Friday, July 12th, from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
 
At the information desk you can: make reservations for banquet tables; give your room number for newspaper delivery; drop off your convention door prizes; pick up information such as hotel orientation information or get the convention newspaper; tell us about lost or found items; and receive answers to any convention-related questions. Information desk volunteers must: quickly search for information as to the location of meetings, caucuses, and special activities; be patient and friendly; be able to work in a fast-paced environment where several people will be waiting for your assistance. 
 
Please sign up to volunteer with me at the information desk in Columbus; you can do so by e-mailing me at debbiel09@insightbb.com or call (502) 721-9129 and let me know your contact information and what days and hours you want to work. Remember, the sooner you sign up, the better your chance of getting the hours you prefer.  If you have ever wanted to help at the Information Desk, now is the time to do it. E-mail me, call me or come sign up to volunteer at the desk when you arrive at convention. Though I would prefer to have a schedule prepared before convention, I am sure we will use your help.  Thank you in advance.

DKM Committee Presents the Ticketless Prize-A-Rama Giveaway

Here's How It Works:

For every $5 donation you make to the Durward K. McDaniel First-Timer Fund, your name will be entered into our appreciation drawings to win one or more of the prizes. Appreciation drawings will be conducted on Wednesday, July 10th during the DKM reception at the ACB conference and convention. There is no need for tickets; just provide your name and phone number at the time you submit your contribution to any DKM committee member.

Here's What You Can Win:

  1. CD boom box with AM/FM radio and full stereo sound
  2. Dual-powered portable cooling fan
  3. $25 national restaurant chain gift card
  4. $25 Walmart Gift Card
  5. Solar and/or crank-powered AM/FM emergency radio with flashlight & USB port
  6. Five individual surprise consolation drawings

Here's What You Help To Provide:

  1. A secured continuation of the DKM First-Timer annual awards in memory of the vision and dedication of Durward K. McDaniel  
  2. Support to assist in identifying future ACB leaders
  3. Orientation and education for award recipients

We truly appreciate your support.  Don't delay, make a donation today!
 
If you have questions, contact DKM committee chair Allen Casey via e-mail, mahatmaac@aol.com, or call him at (336) 222-0201. You may also contact Kenneth Semien Sr. by e-mail, semien@sbcglobal.net, or via phone, (409) 866-5838.

Stride to Explore New Worlds by Donna Brown

As ACB prepares to set sail and discover new worlds in Columbus, Ohio this summer for its 52nd national conference and convention, the ACB Walk committee is taking huge strides to be an integral part of this expedition.  The fifth annual ACB Walk will be held on Saturday morning, July 6, at beautiful Goodale Park, which is very close to the convention hotel.  The walk route is less than a half-mile long, so we will most likely walk it more than once.
 
So how can you stretch out your stride and be a part of this exciting outdoor event and help ACB at the same time? In just three small steps you can be making large strides for ACB.
 
Step 1: Sign up for the walk by paying an entry fee of only $25.  You may do this one of three ways: register online as an individual or a team by clicking the walk link on www.acb.org, by requesting assistance with online registration by calling Donna Brown at (304) 822-4679, or by filling out a hard-copy registration form by either requesting one from the ACB national office or downloading one yourself.
 
Step 2: Begin collecting donations.  Just simply ask everyone you know, and even people you don't know.  You may be surprised! Don't forget to ask your family, friends, neighbors, colleagues, and businesses.
 
Step 3: Walk proudly for ACB! You may walk either onsite in Columbus or you may walk in the comfort of your own community.
 
Once again, prizes will be awarded to individuals and teams who reach various levels of received donations and to onsite walkers.  Tune in to the next issue of "The ACB Braille Forum" for more information about these opportunities to win prizes.
 
If you have any questions, contact Dan Dillon, chair of the walk committee, at (615) 874-1223 or e-mail dan.dillon@comcast.net.
 
Please join me in this endeavor, and let's really stride out to raise funds for ACB.

Have a Blast at the Exploration Party Auction

Come join us for a world full of gifts, goodies, and bargains galore at the ACB auction, to be held on Tuesday evening, July 9, as part of the 2013 American Council of the Blind conference and convention. If you've been to the ACB auction, you know what fun you'll have and what great items you can purchase. If you've never attended, get ready for a marvelous evening. From vacations to delicious food items, sports and music memorabilia to jewelry, and technology to leisure items, that's only the beginning of what you can find at the auction! But the most important thing is that the auction supports the many activities of our organization, the American Council of the Blind.
 
If you or your affiliate would like to donate an item for the Exploration Party Auction, remember that we absolutely must have received a thorough description of your item no later than June 15, including its approximate value and the identity of the donor. This information should be sent to Cindy Van Winkle, either by e-mail (cindy.vw@gmail.com) or by phone, (360) 689-0827.  In fact, because we intend to promote our auction items on the ACB web site prior to convention, the sooner you provide us with that information, the more we can promote the item and acknowledge your generosity.
 
When you or your affiliate are considering a donation that might be fairly large in size, remember that it may need to be shipped by both the donor and the purchaser. If you would like to ship an auction item to the convention, you may obtain shipping information from Cindy.
 
So, all you dream-weavers, stargazers, and bargain-hunters, let's get ready for a galaxy of fun at this summer's ACB Exploration Party Auction.

Want to Win the $5,000 Grand Prize?

Tickets are now available for "The ACB Braille Forum" drawing. This is your chance to support our wonderful magazine.  A single ticket can win you $5,000, $1,000 or $500, and can be shared by up to five individuals. There are only 500 tickets available and they will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis.
 
There are several ways to enter the drawing.  Tickets are now available in the ACB Minnesota office, which you can contact at 1-800-866-3242.  Also, you can buy a ticket with your convention registration.  Tickets will be sold in person the week of the conference and convention.  The drawing will be held the evening of July 11 at the banquet.  This is the best $50 investment you can make in ACB.  Buy two, three or more!  "The ACB Braille Forum" appreciates your support.

Posting the Colors by Jenine Stanley

How many times have you stood reverently in a convention as members of our military have brought the flags forward through the room? I never imagined that one day I would be one of those people. Thanks to my service in the Coast Guard Auxiliary, I have experienced this amazing opportunity and also have been able to share it with ACB members.
 
In November of 2011, my husband Kent and I were invited to the ACB of Maryland convention. In addition to presenting a workshop and selling my handmade jewelry and gift items, Kent was asked to present a workshop about volunteering for the Coast Guard Auxiliary. We asked convention organizer Cecilia Warren if they might also need someone to present the colors at their opening ceremony. She said yes, and we began to prepare.
 
Posting, or carrying in and setting up the flags during an opening ceremony, has a very specific sequence. Normally everything is done silently as the color guard has drilled previously in staying in step during their march to the front of the room. Since we did not have much time to practice, Kent called the cadence as we walked.
 
The flags can come in either together with the people marching side by side, or with the American flag first and the state flag following. This works well with narrow aisles.
 
As we are both guide dog handlers, we also had to teach our dogs to walk either beside each other or mine following his. The dogs had to ignore absolutely all distractions, including another dog lying on the floor in our path. Both dogs caught on quickly as we practiced at home on our driveway and then again in the hotel. Our dogs work with hand signals which we used in the ceremony to direct them and also command them to sit and stay.
 
Once the flags were at the front of the room, we halted briefly then walked to the flag stands and placed the poles into them. We then stood beside the flags. The American flag is always on the left side of the front stage area, as viewed from the audience, with the state flag on the right.
 
Since this was our first time posting the colors, we asked that volunteers stand next to the flag stands and assist us in placing the flags into their stands. This worked very well.  
 
Who gets to salute during the Pledge of Allegiance? Any military personnel in uniform may salute during the pledge, but must not speak.
 
We stood silently, saluting as the pledge was recited by the crowd. Then we left the room as we had come in, Kent in the lead, counting the cadence. We turned at the door and saluted again before leaving the room. The torrent of applause both surprised and humbled me.
 
Next we were asked by the Florida Council of the Blind to post the colors and hold a workshop at its 2012 convention in June. This time we decided to do things a bit differently.
 
Prior to the presentation of the colors, Kent gave the audience a brief description of what would take place. Since we only had the American flag this time, Kent would be carrying it and I would follow and stand in the place where the state flag would go.
 
Kent also described our uniforms. We wore the Coast Guard Auxiliary tropical blue uniform which is a short- or long-sleeved shirt in light blue, similar to those worn in the Air Force, dark blue pants, or in my case skirt, and combination cap. We wore our shoulder boards with the "A" denoting Auxiliary and stripes denoting our offices, name plates and flotilla awards above each pocket. Our caps bore the Coast Guard Auxiliary symbol in silver. All medals and other insignia for the Auxiliary are in silver. Such insignia for the U.S. Coast Guard are always in gold.
 
At this convention we also deposted the colors. Deposting is the official term for taking the flags out of the room. Retiring a flag means that it is being disposed of; there is an entirely different procedure for that.
 
When deposting the colors, I did the description. We first had to march up through a room set up in banquet style, which proved to be challenging at times. Kent then took the American flag and we exited the room, turning again to salute at the door.
 
The pride I felt as I walked through both of those conventions cannot be adequately described. Being able to tell people who may never have known what goes on during the posting of the colors was very moving as well. Many people came up to tell us that they had never known what took place and were so grateful to now understand all of the symbolism in this ceremony.
 
As I write this article, it is Veterans Day 2012. My grandfather served and earned a Purple Heart in World War I. My uncles served in World War II and Korea while cousins served in Vietnam. A nephew and more cousins have served since, including the recent conflicts. I am lucky enough to have a job in which I can give back to those veterans by assisting them to obtain well-trained service dogs. My service in the Coast Guard Auxiliary, which could be the subject of many more articles, has given me an even deeper appreciation for our military, but also for the traditions that built our country: hard work, volunteerism, and pride in a job well done.
 
If you would like to learn more about the Coast Guard Auxiliary and how you can serve, please contact me via e-mail at cga.jenine@wowway.com or visit our Coast Guard Auxiliary flotilla's web site at http://a0821806.wow.uscgaux.info.

Update from BANA

February 8, 2013
 
Dear Ms. Brunson and Mr. Pomerantz,
 
As chair of the Braille Authority of North America (BANA), I want to thank you for your continued support and participation. Your organization is an important part of BANA's efforts to promote braille literacy by providing rules and guidelines for use of braille codes. This letter will highlight some of BANA's activities in the past year and update you on current projects.
 
As always, BANA is grateful for the many hours of work and the dedication of many individuals who serve on our 13 technical committees. One major accomplishment of such volunteers was the completion of a comprehensive revision of the Braille Formats: Guidelines for Print to Braille Transcription publication, which went "live" on the BANA web site in April 2012. Members of BANA's Publication Committee developed a process to create accessible, searchable, and downloadable online versions of both the new Formats publication and the first-ever tactile graphics guidelines. These materials will also be available for purchase in print and braille from the American Printing House for the Blind.
 
BANA gained a new member organization in 2012, bringing the number of full BANA members to 15. The Alternate Text Production Center (ATPC) adds a welcome perspective to the board with its focus on post-secondary texts. Our representative from Horizons for the Blind, which joined in 2011, attended her first meeting in the spring. Having new members and representatives adds fresh ideas and new enthusiasm for the work, and the ongoing service of our dedicated continuing members brings needed continuity and background to current projects.
 
Much of BANA's activity last year was involved with Unified English Braille (UEB) and our continued conversations about braille code change. We have spent a great deal of time at our meetings in recent years in discussions on the pros and cons of UEB and on the current state of braille in the United States. BANA focused its efforts on informing our constituents about why braille needs to be updated to meet the needs of 21st century readers. A motion was carefully drafted to adopt UEB in the United States to replace English Braille American Edition. The motion also included language specifying the retention of Nemeth as an official code, along with music and IPA; the continued use of our formats and tactile graphics guidelines; and the need for the immediate development of a thorough implementation plan. The motion in its entirety can be found on our web site at www.brailleauthority.org/ueb/UEBpassed.html. This motion was passed at BANA's fall meeting in November 2012.
 
A UEB task force is in place working on an implementation plan. There are many decisions to be made in these early days as the work begins. It is important that all our constituents have a place at the table to share their ideas and concerns. You will be hearing more from BANA this year as we move forward. We are counting on the continued support of all our member organizations. Please consider what your organization can do to play a key role in the implementation of UEB. Thank you again for your support.
 
Sincerely yours,
Frances Mary D'Andrea
Chair, Braille Authority of North America

How Braille Changed My Life by Jan Lavine

I love to cook.  I love to read cookbooks and try new recipes.  However, on March 25, 2006, while I was in the shower giving my eyes a good rubbing I heard and felt a "pop," and it was not a champagne bottle.  The next day I noticed my vision had begun to rapidly deteriorate due to leaking blood vessels behind my retina, filling the pigment epithelial detachment (PED) which was the "pop."  I could no longer read my print cookbooks.  What was I going to do?  I need recipes in order to cook.
 
Two weeks after my diagnosis, a university was holding a week-long Disability Awareness Fair.  I had a hands-on tour of the adaptive equipment demo room at Oklahoma ABLE Tech.  I learned to use a CCTV and screen-magnifying software and thought, "I can see myself with a CCTV on a wheeled cart moving it from room to room."  However, within weeks, I found that no matter how powerful the setting on the CCTV and the screen magnifying software, I could not overcome the vast distortions in my vision.
 
I never knew any individuals who were blind, but I did know they used braille to read.  But where to find braille instruction?  Our local office of the state Division of Visual Services only told me about vocational training.  I was a housewife.  I didn't want vocational training; I just wanted braille so I could cook from recipes and read books. 
 
During that summer, I found a resource listing that mentioned the Hadley School for the Blind.  Hadley offers free distance education courses in many areas to promote independent living, including braille reading and writing.  Before I married, I had taken correspondence courses for my job.  I knew I could do this since the great joy of correspondence courses is that you can take them at your own pace in the privacy of your own home.  I called Hadley and received their catalogue.  I found 16 courses I wanted to take and could not wait to start. 
 
My first Hadley instructor had no idea who I was, but she exuded such a warmth, caring, openness and concern.  Her friendliness to the stranger, me, stretched out over the distance to make a bond touching me deeply and making me so at ease.  It became obvious no matter the problem or time of day, I could always contact my Hadley instructor either by toll-free telephone, snail mail or e-mail and get a timely response back. Each and every time, I have found my Hadley instructors always go above and beyond the call of duty.  Furthermore, my first Hadley instructor lives on her own with a guide dog and is a cook.  She had great ideas and advice for independent living and cooking skills.  But I still needed braille for recipes.
 
Hadley has a braille series for a newbie like me without any previous exposure to braille.  The six easy lessons of Braille Literacy 1 taught hand movements and got my hands tactilely ready for braille.  The course arrived with braille workbooks and audio cassettes, which worked in my National Library Service (NLS) tape player.  All the information and lessons were on the cassettes.  I could sit down comfortably on the recliner with a braille workbook in front of me, put on a cassette and feel as if the instructor was right there with me.  I could also stop whenever I wanted and rewind the tape to listen to a particular part again.  I found myself able to complete sections in approximately 15 minutes.  Not bad - spending just 15 minutes each morning working on braille!  This was easy!  After completing a lesson, I had to complete a short assignment to send off to my instructor for grading.  An assignment is required once a month, but I was able to complete much more in that period.  In some cases, the assignments to Hadley courses can be left as a voicemail message using Hadley's toll-free telephone number or sent to the instructor via e-mail.
 
The next course was Braille Literacy 2, which taught the braille alphabet and how to make braille labels to use around the house.  There were 10 lessons, which again used braille workbooks and audio cassettes.  Hadley has been in the business of distance education for over 90 years and their experience and knowledge showed strongly in this course.  Furthermore, many of Hadley's braille instructors are lifelong braille readers who know all the tricks to help you learn.  There was no doubt, after completing this course, I would never forget the braille alphabet.  It was so easy to learn using a comparative type method, learning a few very distinctly different braille letters at a time. 
 
While the lessons in Braille Literacy 1 taught hand movements concurrent with starting Braille Literacy 2, I requested an uncontracted braille book from the National Library Service.  NLS sent me "Cinderella," which allowed me to actually practice the lessons in a real braille book.  I had just gone through the first lesson in Braille Literacy 2 learning the braille letters, "l," "c," "a," and "d."  With the "Cinderella" book on my lap, my fingers were on the search for those first letters.  Lo and behold, my fingers found a "c," "d," and an "l-l-a."  It was obvious this word was probably "Cinderella."  I was so ecstatic to find this first word, but then also shocked to find the word "Cinderella" filled up most of a braille line.   
 
During Braille Literacy 2, students receive a free braille label maker from Hadley.  Not long after receiving the braille label maker, our house's circuit breaker box required replacement.  Moments after the electricians left, that braille label maker was in my hands busy making labels for each circuit.  I wonder if I am the only person in the state with a braille-labeled circuit breaker box?  
 
For individuals who only want to learn the braille alphabet in order to make and read labels, they can stop after just 16 easy lessons.  But for me, I wanted to read braille, and I wanted to cook from braille recipes.
 
Braille Literacy 3 in only 9 lessons really got into the business of reading and writing uncontracted braille.  Hadley provided a free slate and stylus, and instructions on how to use them.  Now I could write braille myself!  After completing Braille Literacy 3, I again requested NLS send the uncontracted braille book, "Cinderella."  What exhilaration!!  Each and every embossed item in the "Cinderella" book was discerned by my fingers, whether a letter, number or punctuation sign.  Such excitement to see the progression in my braille literacy!!  
 
I attended the ACB national convention in 2008.  In the exhibit hall there was a booth for the Hadley School for the Blind.  Who was at the Hadley booth?  Why, my first braille instructor!  It was so exciting to finally meet in person.  What was even more amazing was the high percentage of people passing by the Hadley booth who turned out to also be her braille students! 
 
Since most braille books, especially cookbooks, are in contracted braille, I needed to take the Hadley Braille Literacy 4 course in order to learn the 189 braille contractions.  This course has 30 lessons.  As I started this course, I found NLS had my favorite cookbook in braille so I spent my mornings doing my Hadley lessons and the afternoons brailling recipes.  I brailled enough recipes to fill five volumes! Now I could cook.  I fell in love with braille and with Hadley. 
 
Prior to March 25, 2006, I had no exposure to blindness nor braille.  Braille made me whole again, giving me back what I had lost.  I was literate again, albeit in a different format, but I could read, cook from recipes, and even do my favorite Sudoku puzzles all in braille.  How wonderful it is to have a book in my hands and to turn its pages again! Do you know I can do things with braille which I could not do reading print?  I can read braille while lying flat in the dentist's chair, in unlit concert halls and in bed without a light.  Just think how much our electric bill went down! 
 
Braille is my passion.  I cannot get enough. I take a braille book with me wherever I go, since I want people to see someone reading braille.  I became an annual volunteer reader in the National Education Association's "Read Across America" Program.  I go into elementary school classrooms and show students my love of reading, which was not stopped because of vision loss. Rather, I learned a new way to read, using braille with my fingers.  Braille is also a great way to break the ice.  Since I read braille in public places, I often hear someone say, "Look, she's reading braille."  I invite them to touch my book and learn more about braille.
 
Over 10,000 students take courses from Hadley each year, ranging from academics to container gardening.  And if you missed the chance, you can even get your high school diploma through Hadley. But guess which courses are the ones with their highest enrollment?  You got it, braille!
 
For more information about Hadley's distance education courses, visit www.hadley.edu or call toll-free, 1-800-323-4238.

Touched by Braille by Alice Jane-Marie Massa

Since I was five years old, my parents knew that my vision was diminishing; by second grade, I had a clear concept that my vision was not like that of the other 88 children in my rural grade school.  Although I was legally blind by the age of 16, none of my doctors ever mentioned the word "braille" because they all agreed that I would retain usable vision.  They were wrong - a factual statement that I have always found easy to accept.  I suppose that my only regret is that I did not learn braille earlier in life. 
 
Clearly, I remember the first time I saw a print representation of braille: the entire braille alphabet was pictorially displayed in my Scholastic Book "The Story of Helen Keller."  I was fascinated by this book and still have it on a shelf today.  Realizing the limits and pains of magnification, I, at age 30, began teaching myself grade-one braille.  After having borrowed a standard brailler from someone for a while, I purchased my electric brailler in 1983 and still use this marvelous machine.  Since I wanted to learn braille extremely thoroughly and well, I decided to take the Library of Congress braille transcriber course.  Well, I had to do a maximum job of convincing a local braille transcriber (in Indiana) to agree to check my work for the 18 lessons, prior to the final lesson that would be evaluated by someone in Washington, D.C.  The reluctant transcriber eventually realized my determination and became more understanding of my goal.  Being certified by the Library of Congress as a braille transcriber made me more proud than earning the B.A. and M.S. degrees that I had achieved by that time.  During this period, I had become tremendously intrigued with the life of Louis Braille (1809-1852) and tried to read everything I could about him.
 
After teaching braille as a volunteer, I had an opportunity to attend Western Michigan University, where I earned my second master's degree - this one in blind rehabilitation instruction.  After six years of teaching braille and other courses as a blind rehab instructor, I returned to the classroom where I taught English in a technical college until my retirement. 
 
Currently, I am studying music braille, also invented by the brilliant Louis Braille.  Having grown up reading print music, I have long wanted to learn music braille; now, thanks to a new course of the Hadley School for the Blind, I am able to work toward this goal.
 
Without braille, none of my goals would have been accomplished, and none of my dreams would have come true.  Thus, each Jan. 4, the birthday of Louis Braille, I give my respectful and abundant thanks to Louis Braille for how his gift has touched my life and the lives of millions of others around the world.  If a thoracic surgeon were ever to examine my heart, I think he or she would find braille in each chamber of my heart. 
 
Besides having taught braille to blind people from age 18 to 82, one summer vacation when my (sighted) nephews were 7 and 9, I decided to teach them and their mother (my only sister) grade-one braille.  I was delighted with their enthusiasm about learning braille.  Through the years, only my younger nephew Eric (a violinist and Ironman triathlete who served one deployment in Iraq and one in Afghanistan as an Army Ranger after graduating from college) has continued with brailling on greeting cards for me by using a slate and stylus.  Thus, 12 years ago, Eric's brailling was the focus of my Christmas poem for my holiday card of the year 2000, which follows.

2000 Holiday Wishes!

This holiday season,
of all the cards that frame my door,
there is one I like just a little more:
actually, I like it the very best -
it far surpasses the Hallmark test!
 
While some cards are musical and contain a microchip,
others picture Santa - ready for his yearly trip.
While some cards dazzle with golden print,
others are fragranced with peppermint.
 
Some cards are sprinkled with silver script and snow;
still other cards glitter with candles aglow.
A few include a recipe,
and most contain a rhyme.
A few arrive a little late,
but most are here on time.
However, not even a card by Currier and Ives could compare
to this one - this holiday card
created with loving care.
 
Some Christmas cards are scented with the sweet smell of pine;
but then, there is this one -
that is especially mine.
 
From Colorado, it came through the mail.
So, why is it special?
It's written in braille -
slated well by my young nephew's hand.
(He learned braille - not for himself,
but for me, you understand.)
 
Through these years, how his hand around the stylus has grown!
Yet, with each passing season, I have certainly known:
Eric's embossing all from "A" to "Z" -
these dots of Merry Christmas -
are his best gift to me.

Assistive Technology Enriches Martin Kline's Life by John M. Williams

Twenty-six-year-old Martin Kline is happy, enthusiastic and a hard worker. He says, "I have no complaints with life."
 
Many people believe that a man with cerebral palsy who is legally blind should feel sorry for himself. Looking at Martin, they see an individual who has difficulty walking, who is visually and dexterity challenged and whose speech can sometimes be difficult to understand.
 
Kline is aware of his physical challenges and shrugs them off. "I can't change what and who I am. And so I find ways to compensate for my physical limitations."
 
Technology plays an important role in creating Martin's positive attitude. Sometimes he uses text-to-speech technology to speak for himself when calling people. He uses large print when reading and typing.  Over a year ago, he started using the MoreKeyboard for word processing and, being an avid golfing enthusiast, he started playing computer golf games. 
 
Kline researches information on world economics for an international investment firm in Washington, D.C. He has a master's degree in macroeconomics, and he is working on his Ph.D. He is silent on his dissertation topic. He is one of nearly 200 people working for the firm. He will not discuss his responsibilities. He will discuss assistive technology. 
            
"Technology eliminates the challenges facing me daily," says Kline who spends an average of six hours daily on a computer. He is pleased to have discovered the MoreKeyboard (www.morekeyboard.com/), an innovative large-key, large-print computer keyboard. It is designed to benefit the physically and/or visually impaired. The big keys and easy-to-see lettering enable Kline to improve his skills.
 
The larger keys make it easier for Kline to do word processing. The MoreKeyboard's letter and number keys are more than 25 percent wider than those of standard keyboards. The larger landing area on the big keys helps with locating and operating the keyboard and is a perfect solution to enable users to type with more accuracy and confidence.  Kline knows braille and has put braille labels on the keys. The labels improve his productivity and accuracy.
 
He has used other alternative keyboards, and he is certain he will use others. He is grateful to manufacturers who make products designed to compensate for physical disabilities. He sees technology as equalizing opportunities for him.
 
The Sportsman
 
According to Theodore Kline, Martin's father, his son is athletically competitive. They spend hours weekly playing sports games on Martin's computers. A frustrated golfer, Martin loves playing golf games. His favorite golf game is "My Golf Game" featuring Ernie Els (www.vtreellc.com/home/my-golf-game.html).
 
"There are many free, fun golf games on the web, and I've played many of them," Martin says.  "'My Golf Game' suits my competitiveness."
 
Martin wears very thick glasses that enable him to see well enough to play. "I magnify the golfers, which also helps when playing," he adds. 
 
"The game is easy to install on the computer and fun to play," Theodore says. It takes minutes to install, and you only have to type in a code that comes with each game.
 
Martin plays "My Golf Game" alone, and often with his father and sometimes with his mother. When he plays alone, Martin plays nine holes. When he players with others, he tries to get them to play 18 holes. An 18-hole game with two players lasts about 75 minutes. If three or more play, the game lasts nearly two hours. The game gives the players five courses to play on. Pinehurst, Westchester and Firestone are some of them.
 
The game has three levels. Level 1 gives players a chance to practice putting, chip shots, getting out of a sand trap and offers a driving range. Level 2 allows players to pick golfers to play with or create a golfer. Level 3 is golfing.
 
Martin likes the choices offered in level 1. "It's the hand-eye coordination that I relish when playing this level," he notes.
 
"The Avatar golfers look real and show emotions when they are good or when they play lousy," says Theodore.
 
Other features of the game that Martin thinks are cool are the claps, cheers and boos from the crowd.
 
Kline's mother Frances has her likes, also. "The women golfers are very attractive," she says. She thinks the good-looking women are one of the reasons the men spend so much time playing the game. They play three times a week.
 
Kline believes "My Golf Game" offers individuals with disabilities therapeutic benefits such as relaxing and building friendships. He feels he is included into his community when he can play games on an equal par with friends who do not have a disability. He hopes to see golfers with disabilities in a future version of the game.

Making Changes for Making Change by Gayle Yarnall

In the United States, identifying money has been an ongoing issue for many people who are visually impaired.  At one time I could just barely see the numbers on a bill.  However, for the past 15 years I have been at the mercy of trusting people to give me the right change and then remembering to fold the money and put it in the right pockets in my wallet.  Last year I started using the iBill from Orbit Research.  I had seen other such products, but the price seemed too high and, at least as far as I knew, I was not getting shortchanged.  I also have an iPhone, and I know there are money identification apps for it, but I just can't get to the point where I can read the bill fast enough.  I am also getting older and want everything to be easy as possible.
 
The iBill allows me to take the fistful of bills I shove in my pocket or purse and easily sort them.  I can also check my change, although honestly, I still trust people to give me the right change and usually wait until I am putting the money away to make sure it is correct. 
 
Now there is a new iBill, and they have made some great changes to it.  There is a raised bevel around the buttons.  This means your purse won't suddenly start saying "error" because something bumped the buttons. They have also changed the way the money is inserted.  Instead of sliding it into both sides of the unit, you now have only one closed side.  You feed the bill into something that looks like a money clip.  A small ring is attached near one corner.  You can attach a keychain to this ring.  And there is a leather case for the iBill, too; it has a loop that enables you to put it on your belt or the strap of your backpack or purse.  There is a headphone jack so you can use your iBill in complete privacy.  Even better, the highest setting on the volume is much louder.  This will make it easier to hear how much money you have or don't have.
 
The iBill can now better serve a wider range of people.  The vibration mode makes the unit usable for someone who is deaf-blind.  The addition of a headphone makes using the unit completely private for anyone and more usable for someone with hearing loss.  The louder volume makes it easier for someone like me who is feeling the effects of age-related hearing loss.  Until the U.S. changes its money in some way so it can be identified by everyone, the iBill is an easy-to-use solution.

How to Build a Social Media Plan for Business by Will Burley

(Editor's Note: Will Burley is the owner and founder of Burley-Wilson & Associates, a virtual administrative, bookkeeping and paralegal firm.  He has helped numerous clients with a social media strategy.  Will is an active member of a number of ACB affiliates.  To learn more about Will and his business, visit www.burley-wilson.com.)
 
Many business owners have a scattershot approach to social media. They may have a page on Facebook and a profile on Twitter, but their links and posts are random and disorganized. Social media can be an important marketing tactic. However, like any marketing tactic, it's more powerful when there's a plan in place. Here's how to build your social media plan so that you can, and will, follow through.
 
Step 1: Identify a Goal
 
What do you want to accomplish with social media? Do you want to drive more traffic to your web site? Do you want to build your e-mail list? Do you want to sell more products or services? Do you want to reach more prospective clients?
 
There are dozens of potential goals. Choose one goal to focus your attention on. It doesn't have to be an overwhelming or complicated one. Choose one that makes sense for you and be specific. If you want to reach more potential clients, how many? If you want to drive traffic to your site, how much do you want to increase your traffic by?
 
Step 2: Choose Your Tool
 
Which sites do you want to use to achieve your goal? Chances are you already have profiles on the big players in social media. You may want to start with the sites you already have a following on. However, take a look at your page or profile. Does it support your goal? Can you improve your page or profile? Take those steps now.
 
Step 3: Plan Your Interaction
 
This is a big step and it can take some time to complete. There are two parts to this step. You'll want to identify a time that you interact online each day. For example, maybe you want to spend 30 minutes on social media each day. These 30 minutes will be spent connecting with others, commenting on posts, sharing information, and building your following.
 
The second part of this plan is your content plan. What information will you share, how will you share it, and when will you share it? For example, maybe you'll share infographics once a week and links to your recent blog posts once a week too. Finally, you'll want to plan how and when you'll create your social media content.
 
The last step is to follow through. This means scheduling time to plan content, create content, interact and assess your progress. You can use a number of automated tools to help you with all of these steps. If social media is part of your business marketing strategy, make sure to plan it so that it's easy for you to follow through!

What Happens When the Power Goes Out? by Martha Hoch

I am past 80 years old, visually and hearing impaired.  Fortunately, my vision has been on a plateau for a number of years and my loss has not gotten worse.  I can still see a crack in the sidewalk and a vein in a leaf.  I cannot read handwriting, menus or road signs.  I am very careful about many things, and I no longer cross the street by myself.
 
I have an alert button which I can use to signal for help.  If I am alone, I put the button around my neck.  I cannot use a cell phone, as I cannot read the numbers well enough to be accurate in dialing.  I cannot hear a person on a cell phone well enough to converse.  I do have a portable phone which I keep near me when I'm sitting in the living room.
 
Some years ago, I received an electric garage door closer as a gift.  There is a button near the kitchen door, and outside there is a box which requires code entry to open the door if needed, such as a fireman or policeman.  I could transmit this number by my portable phone.
 
One afternoon, the power went out.  My daughter would not be home for a couple more hours.  What was I going to do?
 
I decided to go to the garage and check on the supplies in the extra pantry.  I did pick up a pad and marker to note anything we might need to get from the grocery store.  I opened the kitchen door leading to the garage and stepped out onto the landing.  Without thinking, I closed the door only to realize, too late, that it was locked.  I was locked in the garage.  There was no real emergency.  My daughter would be home soon.  I was not ill, nor was it storming, so I kept my cool.  I opened the cabinet and looked at the supplies on hand.  I made a number of notes about what to pick up from the store.  To my surprise, I saw a package of cookies.
 
If I got hungry, I could have a snack.  Along with the cookies there were some bottles of tomato juice and soft drinks, but I didn't have any way to open the drinks.
 
I walked around the garage for a while, then finally sat down on the top step at the kitchen door.  My watch seemed to have stopped.  No, time just goes by slowly when you're in a situation such as this.
 
In our garage there is a cabinet that had been there for years.  It contains a mixture of old things from the house.  I had to move several things stacked in front of it before I could even get a door open.  Once I opened the door, I seemed to be looking at treasures from another time.  I saw football glasses, glassware, and broken garden tools.  I spent a little time reminiscing about the items.  I finally closed the door again, and put all the junk back in front of it as close to the way it was as I could remember.  I sat down on the top step again, and looked at my watch.  By now, an hour had passed since I had shut the kitchen door behind me, locking myself in the garage.
 
Because there was nothing else I could think of to do, I decided to have one cookie.  Only one, because I didn't want to get thirsty.  So I sat there and ate a cookie.  It tasted so good that I ate another one.  I was munching on the second cookie when I heard a car.  I hurried over to the door and yelled that the power was off.  "Go through the living room door."  I prayed she had her key.
 
Soon I heard the welcome sound of a lock turning.  I turned around to see my daughter looking at me.  I just said, "Have a cookie?"

Playing the Rescuer by Barbara Mattson

I've often thought that I would not help anyone or any organization unless I thought I was rescuing someone or an organization from certain catastrophe or death.  For example, for several years, I've served as our local National Organization for Women's secretary either in title or in function.  Without the secretary, members don't receive minutes or meeting notices. This is how the members know of their organization's continuing activities and yes, even its existence.  A few years ago, I "rescued" a tape correspondence club from what some members thought would have been certain demise by taking on more of the management of the club as secretary. (I was already newsletter editor.)
 
Then there's been my church.  When it was smaller, I served on the caring committee, and the social concerns and worship committees.  As the church has grown, I've decided other members were just as able, if not more so, to serve.  So I've limited my activities to one committee plus singing in the choir - a group that's more consistently rehearsing and performing now that the church is larger.
 
One Sunday morning the choir was getting ready to rehearse with the sound system.  The lectern mike was working, but another floor mike seemed dead.  Jack was speaking into the dead mike with less than flattering comments directed at Brian, who was trying to get the sound going.  Finally Brian came over near where the floor mike was.  At that point, I knew Brian thought the problem was in the mike.  Knowing the lectern mike had a switch, I reached over, found a switch on the floor mike, slid it up, and we had sound.  
 
That same Sunday, before the church service, Meg (our minister) was trying to find the sheet that had what the service leader needed to read.  I teased and said I would loan mine, which is in my Braille Lite.  She said that a person would have to be extra smart to read braille - a common reaction sighted people have.  They usually say, "I could never do that," as they run their untrained fingers over the dots on my braille display or braille page.
 
I asked Meg if she could get another service leader page printed out.  She seemed to think it would take too much time.  Instead she said, "I may have to ask you to do it if you don't mind."  Minutes later, after making sure the service leader hadn't taken the sheet for rehearsing, she returned and I was elected.
 
In a more general, long-term way, I am also playing the rescuer by starting a chapter of the American Council of the Blind in Spartanburg, S.C.  Many familiar with the National Federation of the Blind's strength in South Carolina will understand when I say that I am trying to rescue blind consumers from believing there's only one organization to join in this state. 
 
The other, and more important reason, is that I'm actually hoping to work with the Federation to promote safer and better traveling conditions in Spartanburg.  This mission to help save lives has led to my involvement with the Mayor's Committee on Disabilities and the Partners for Active Living organization.  The other goal I believe both the Federation and Council can work toward is improving transportation.  This was also a goal of the Mayor's Committee on Disabilities.
 
As I look over the above, it sounds like I'm tooting my own horn.  I didn't start out with that intention. Rather, I'm simply giving these "rescue" illustrations as examples of activities I've been involved with in the community and volunteer contributions I've made to national organizations.  So, I ask you, who or what will you try to rescue?  What is your goal?  How will you accomplish it?

Affiliate and Committee News

Voting Task Force Seeks Your Input

 
The ACB Voting Task Force is continuing to study possible ways for members who are not able to be present at an annual convention to participate in voting for officers and directors and on constitutional amendments and resolutions (otherwise known as remote voting). It has been studying ways that such participation could be arranged without overburdening staff or generating unacceptably high costs, while protecting against multiple votes, and assuring well-informed voters.  It is exploring options for the holding of a mock telephonic vote in the fall of 2013 in which members would be allowed to participate. Any members with specific input on any of these aspects of any feasible remote voting procedure are welcome to submit their ideas or concerns to the task force. Contact task force chair Jeff Thom via e-mail at jsthom@comcast.net, by telephone at (916) 995-3967 or by mail at 7414 Mooncrest Way, Sacramento, CA 95831. You may also contact any of the other task force members, Becky Barnes, Brenda Dillon, Patrick Sheehan and Ken Stewart. Your input is greatly appreciated.
 

Illinois Has Scholarship Available

 
The Illinois Council of the Blind (ICB) is now accepting applications for the 2013 Floyd R. Cargill Scholarship.  This $750 scholarship is available to individuals who are blind or visually impaired, who are Illinois residents attending a post-secondary educational program.  The deadline to apply for this scholarship is July 31, 2013.
 
To request an application, contact the Illinois Council office at (217) 523-4967, or send e-mail to icb@icbonline.org.  This year, for the first time ever, you can submit your application on-line.  To complete an on-line application, go to www.icbonline.org and click on the 2013 ICB Scholarship Information and Application link.
 

New Affiliate for Those with Asperger's

 
Britt Lincoln of Cincinnati, Ohio, would like to start an affiliate for those who are blind and happen to have Asperger's.  Please call her at (513) 878-6064 or send braille or taped letters to 7100 Hamilton Ave. Apt. 9, Cincinnati, OH 45231 if interested.
 

DCCB to Celebrate 100 Years of Service!

 
Mark the date of Saturday, June 8, 2013, to attend the day-long celebration taking place at the Channel Inn Hotel in Washington, D.C.  The celebration will feature delicious meals, educational exhibits, presentations about the organization's history, services as performed then and now, accolades earned over the years, and warm hospitality.  To obtain the program schedule and registration form, send your name, e-mail address and home address to Marilyn Lutter, marlutt@verizon.net.  Come and help us honor those blind advocates of 100 years ago!
 

Calling All Radio Amateurs!

 
The American Council of Blind Radio Amateurs will hold its annual meeting on Wednesday afternoon at the 2013 ACB Conference and Convention in Columbus.  Whether you're a long-time ham, or just getting interested in the hobby, here's your chance to get together with fellow radio enthusiasts, swap stories, and maybe even learn something new.
 
At the end of the meeting, we'll announce the winner of an exciting door prize.  Tickets will be on sale throughout the week, so don't miss your chance to get in on the fun.
 
In addition to our meeting, we will hold nightly nets at 9:00 on 147.48 MHz, and talk to each other on that same frequency throughout the week.  So bring your radio and join us at the 2013 conference and convention.
 
73, and see you in Columbus!

Letters to the Editor

The contents of this column reflect the letters we had received by the time we went to press, March 15, 2013.  Letters are limited to 300 words or fewer.  All submissions must include the author's name and location.  Opinions expressed are those of the authors.

In Response to the President's Message

 
Dear Editor:
 
The President's Message in the February issue laudably articulates a concern shared by many ACB leaders, i.e., the "digital divide" which separates a portion of this organization's membership from those who are well-connected by the Internet.
 
President Pomerantz recalls research conducted by Dr. Ronald Milliman around 2007 implementing the first of three mandates in Resolution 2005-15 passed virtually unanimously at the ACB annual convention held in Las Vegas.  A report posted to the Leadership e-mail list in May of 2010 detailed the conscientious study done by Ron and an assistant identifying about one-quarter of the survey sample who did not have Internet access.  But I, and some others too I am sure, felt that we cannot reliably determine how many ACB members are Internet users from that prodigious work done by Ron interviewing 234 members who may not have been representative of the total membership.  As Ron reported, he was limited to working with members from less than half of ACB affiliates (with no special-interest affiliates in that group of affiliates, and none from 15 states), and only with those individual members who had phone numbers on file with the affiliates.
 
Such a small sample, about 2 percent of the universe being studied, could still yield reliable data if the 234 subjects were the result of what social scientists call a "random sample." But here skeptics can claim that Ron's sample was "self-selected" by being people who assure that their affiliate had their phone numbers, and by belonging to affiliates which were willing to cooperate with this study. 
 
Alas, as discussed in the board of publications meeting which received Ron's study results in March 2008, Resolution 2005-15's first directive remains unsatisfied, and it is still unknown how large a portion of our ACB membership does not have Internet access.  Indeed, Ron found that among that probably "plugged in" group, almost one-quarter were not Internet users.
 
One affiliate leader has suggested attempting to collect Internet-use data during the annual membership renewal process. Or perhaps we can find a well-financed academic body with sufficient resources and research know-how to make contact with every member in a truly random sample.  In the meantime, it is reasonable to expect that the size of that portion of our members on the wrong side of the digital divide has dwindled in the years since the original research effort, aided no doubt by the shrinking size of the nation's area not yet reached by broadband service.  And ACB is respecting the second mandate from Resolution 2005-15, "establish policies which minimize the communication disadvantages to this population …", and the third mandate, "Promote activities, communications and programs to encourage and facilitate Internet use by non-Internet users."  One example of this assistance, aiding members to become more plugged in, is spreading the word that there are more and more ways to reach the Internet without a computer.  A company called Voice on the Go makes it easy to send and receive e-mail messages by telephone for only $4.99 per month.  Internet Speech is another of the companies with e-mail service via phone.
 
In the interests of full disclosure, I confess to being the author of Resolution 2005-15.  So I cannot claim objectivity in this discussion!
 
- Ken Stewart, Warwick, N.Y.
 

In Response to 'Tips on Dealing with a Power Outage'

 
I read the article about preparing for a blackout (March 2013). We have them quite frequently where I live. Here are a few additional comments which may help folks.
 
Putting an audio device playing something at the stairs or some other appropriate place may be useful. For instance, put a radio playing music or spoken words at the entrance to a basement. The audio can act as a homing signal. Of course, this would require a rechargeable or hand-crank radio.
 
If your phone is electronic, it will not work during a power outage. So, having an old-time phone is vital.
 
Leave the freezer door closed as much as possible. Only take out what you will need and use an ice chest. The less you open a freezer door, the longer your food will stay frozen and usable. Speaking of food, keep food that can be eaten without cooking on hand at all times, and have a non-electric can opener. Ideas for food supplies include: nuts, dried fruit, canned fruit, canned tuna, ready-to-eat cereal, rice cakes and crackers, nut butter or peanut butter, snack bars, granola bars or energy bars.
 
Finally, about generators. Some home owners install in-house generators. These come on automatically when the power goes out and run on propane or natural gas. They are fairly expensive to install but well worth it in emergencies. If a household does not have its own generator, knowing somebody who does can be valuable. If your house has well water, having a generator is particularly important. Without one, your well pump will go out when the power goes out. If flooding is happening, your sump pump will also go out and your basement will flood. Sump pumps with battery backup are available and are invaluable during times of flooding.
 
Hope these hints prove valuable.
 
- Elizabeth Aldworth, New Paltz, N.Y.
 

In Response to 'ACB Braille Forum Now Available on Newsline'

 
I recently checked out "The ACB Braille Forum" on the NFB Newsline site and one of the articles I read in the magazine was about its availability there.  As I read, I was acutely aware that, although NFB sponsors the Newsline, that fact was only mention once in the entire article except for the web site address.  I know that many in the ACB consider the initials "NFB" akin to an unpleasant four-letter word, but I feel that credit should be given where it is due.  Just as "The ACB Braille Forum" is called by its complete name, shouldn't NFB Newsline be given the same respect?
 
- Carol McGhee, Romney, W.Va.
 
Carol, you are correct.  We do apologize.  See the correction on this issue's table of contents.

Here and There by Sharon Strzalkowski

The announcement of products and services in this column does not represent an endorsement by the American Council of the Blind, its officers, or staff. Listings are free of charge for the benefit of our readers.  "The Braille Forum" cannot be held responsible for the reliability of the products and services mentioned.  To submit items for this column, send a message to info@acb.org, or phone the national office at 1-800-424-8666, and leave a message in Sharon Lovering's mailbox.  Information must be received at least two months ahead of publication date.
 
NLS Survey Going On Now!
 
The Library of Congress National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) is currently conducting a survey to understand how best to serve the needs of readers of talking books and braille. It runs through May 10th. 
 
You do not have to be a current NLS reader to take the survey. This survey is designed to learn more about your experiences with talking books and braille, what types of talking book and braille materials and services you are looking for, and what NLS can do to get you interested in the free Library of Congress talking book and braille program. If you aren't currently using NLS, let us know what services you want and how we can add you to our list of NLS readers. If you are a current NLS reader, let us know what we are doing well, where we can improve, and what new services you would like NLS to offer.
 
Take the survey now and let your opinions be heard! To take the survey online, or to learn more about it, go to www.LibraryOfCongressSurvey.com. Or call 1-866-545-1618 to schedule a time to take the survey over the phone. Your answers to the survey questions will be kept confidential.
 
BANA to Hold Spring Meeting in D.C.
 
The Braille Authority of North America (BANA) is holding its spring meeting in Washington, D.C., April 11-13.  This meeting is being hosted by the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped.  Agenda items include reports from all committees (e.g. music, formats, tactile graphics); in-depth reports will be presented by the bylaws committee and the Unified English Braille task force.
 
Meetings on April 11 and 12 will take place in the Madison Building at the Library of Congress, which is located at 101 Independence Ave. SE., Washington, DC 20540. Meetings on Saturday, April 13, including an Open Forum, will be held at the Arlington Public Library, 1015 N. Quincy St., Arlington, VA 22201.
 
The open forum will give participants the chance to discuss braille and learn more about BANA. Members of the BANA board will share plans for the transition to UEB. Braille readers, teachers, and students as well as producers and distributors of braille are encouraged to participate. It will be held Saturday, April 13, from 10:30 a.m. to noon at the Arlington Public Library. A meet-and-greet time with snacks will begin at 10 a.m. To reserve a seat, contact Frances Mary D'Andrea at (412) 521-5797 or by e-mail at literacy2@mindspring.com.
 
Tax Time Assistance
 
It's tax time again, and the IRS has a wide variety of accessible tax forms and publications available for blind and visually impaired people. You can now download hundreds of the most popular federal tax forms and publications from www.irs.gov. These products range from accessible PDFs to e-Braille formats and are accessible using screen-reading software and refreshable braille displays. Publication 907, Tax Highlights for Persons with Disabilities, explains the tax implications of certain disability benefits and other issues, is also available.  To download forms or publications, visit www.irs.gov/uac/IRS.gov-Accessibility.  Individuals who are unable to complete their tax forms because of a disability may also get assistance from a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance or Tax Counseling for the Elderly site (VITA or TCE). To find a Tax Assistance Center near you, go to www.irs.gov, click on contact IRS and then select contact your local IRS office, or call 1-800-906-9887.
 
Camp Abilities
 
Camp Abilities Nebraska is a week-long residential sports camp for youth, ages 9-19 who are blind, visually impaired or deaf-blind. Campers will enjoy sports and recreational activities in a safe environment with instructors who have experience in adaptive techniques. The camp is co-sponsored by Boys Town National Research Hospital and Outlook Nebraska, Inc.  The cost is $300; scholarships are available.  Nebraska residency is not required.  Registration is limited to 20 campers, and the deadline is May 1!  Camp Abilities is also seeking volunteers in the areas of adaptive physical education and special education; orientation will be held July 20th-21st.  For more information, contact Kristal Platt, camp director, at (402) 498-6365, kristal.platt@boystown.org or visit www.BoysTownHospital.org/HearingServices/EducationalOutreach.
 
Employees of the Year
 
Congratulations to Greg Szabo and Larry Irvin, who were named 2012 Employees of the Year at the Seattle Lighthouse for the Blind.  Szabo is a senior production worker, and Irvin is a help desk technician/front office support worker.
 
New Career Opportunities
 
National Industries for the Blind's Contract Management Support Training Program is assisting associated agencies in recruiting and hiring qualified blind professionals as contract close-out specialists for the Department of Defense. Positions will be located across the country, but primarily in Harrisburg, Pa., Columbus, Ohio, Richmond, Va., and Alexandria, Va.
 
What are the duties of these positions?  Staffers will complete contract close-out process as required, which requires payment history validation of any products or services, and will prepare close-out documents for contracting officer review and approval as required by standard operating procedures.  To be eligible, you must be legally blind; a U.S. citizen; have a four-year business degree or 24 business credits (equivalent work experience will be considered); be highly proficient in computer applications such as Word and Excel, as well as assistive technology (JAWS, Window-Eyes, ZoomText); have excellent verbal and written communication skills; be team-oriented and have a strong work ethic, with good attention to detail.  For more information, or to apply, contact Amanda Lee at (703) 310-0471 or via e-mail, cms.info@nib.org.
 
Blind Vets Help Deaf
 
Six blind Oklahoma veterans recently began training on how to make relay calls for veterans who have lost their hearing.  Imagine that you are a veteran of the United States Armed Forces who was deafened by an IED. You want to call your mom at home and wish her a "Happy Birthday," but that task is next to impossible. Maybe you want to call your daughter at college and wish her well on her exams, but aren't able to. But with this training from the Veterans Workshop, funded by the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Program of Oklahoma City, and the state of Oklahoma's Department of Rehabilitation Services, deaf veterans will be able to make those crucial calls courtesy of the newly trained, blind relay operators.  One trainee is 90-year-old World War II veteran Emory Finefrock, who served with the Navy in the Pacific. When asked why he requested to join this training, Emory said, "These are fellow veterans, and if I can help just one, then I will have done my job."
 
Blind Campus in Wyoming
 
Wyoming has very limited resources for legally blind individuals.  That is why some of its legally blind residents are asking for letters of support.  They have created the Blind Campus, a non-profit organization. The mission of Blind Campus is to provide and promote healthy and productive lives and social and economic independence in a secure and contemporary campus for legally blind Wyoming individuals over the age of 18.   Blind Campus has nine goals and objectives for the next five years.  They include: annual fundraisers and securing funding; transportation plan and services; permanent office;  resource center and crisis line; monthly activities and support group meetings; pilot educational classes; campus long-term, temporary and transitional housing; permanent school and training facilities; and private-enterprise programs.
 
Blind Campus has just opened an office and is accepting donations of new and used equipment and supplies that can be used at the campus or recycled to local legally blind individuals.  Please send any items that you no longer are using such as enlargers, magnifiers, computers and adaptive software, braille games and books, ham radios, braille teaching supplies, adaptive equipment, etc. Please mail all donations and letters of support to: Blind Campus, PO Box 2303, Rock Springs, WY 82902.  For more information, send e-mail to blindcampus@hotmail.com, or visit www.blindcampus.com.
 
Book Club Books from NBP
 
"Henry's Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground Railroad" by Ellen Levine is a print/braille children's book for ages 5 and up. It talks about Henry Brown, a youngster working as a slave in the time before the Civil War, and how he decides to gain freedom. 
 
"April Foolishness!" is a print/braille children's book for kids ages 4 to 9.  It tells the tale of Grandpa and the grandkids on the farm on April Fool's Day, and all the hilarity that ensues when the farm animals get loose.
 
For more information on either of these books, contact National Braille Press, 88 St. Stephen St., Boston, MA 02115-4302, or call toll-free, 1-800-548-7323.  Or visit www.nbp.org/ic/nbp/publications/index.html.
 
New Notetaker App
 
The American Foundation for the Blind recently launched the AccessNote (TM), a specialized notetaker for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.  This is the first notetaking app developed and designed specifically for users with vision loss.  What sets it apart?  Customized keyboard commands; automatic saving every few keystrokes; cursor tracking; DropBox integration; and its compatibility with BlueTooth keyboards. AccessNote was developed in conjunction with FloCo Apps, and is available at Apple's App Store (SM).
 
Read Across America with BRL
 
The Beulah Reimer Legacy (BRL) mission is to increase braille literacy and reading opportunities by placing braille in the hands of eager readers.  And now it has more ways to put braille at your fingertips!  BRL has over 750 titles of the most popular children's picture books such as Arthur, Clifford, Corduroy, Curious George, Disney, Dora, Fancy Nancy, Sesame Street, the Berenstain Bears and Dr. Seuss. We have classic fairy tales, holiday stories and much, much more. To kick off Read Across America in style, BRL is adding more books to its web site.
 
All of our books and flash cards are brailled in contracted (grade two) braille with clear plastic strips which are placed on or near the printed text. Our word flash cards are written in both grades one and two braille so that readers can learn spelling as well as contracted forms of words.

Our materials are shipped free of charge. Please allow two weeks for delivery within the United States.  For more information, call (515) 282-0049, e-mail endertona@wildblue.net, or visit www.beulahreimerlegacy.com.
 
The Technology Podcast
 
The Technology Podcast is a monthly feature that is produced by Stuart Lawler, manager of the National Center for the Blind of Ireland's training center. This is an audio podcast that focuses mainly on technology, covering interviews, product demonstrations and other bits and pieces regarding technology for the blind. If you would like to hear previous shows, visit www.ncbi.ie and search for technology podcasts.  If you or anyone else would like to be a part of the show, send an e-mail to stuart@stuartlawler.ie.
 
Blind Sculptor
 
Karen is a blind artist/sculptor working under direction of professional artists at a private studio.  She can make sculptures of dogs for guide dog users, such as Labradors and German shepherds; cats; sailboats; lighthouses; pots for plants; platters, mugs and a variety of Christmas decorations. All objects have raised designs; for example, if a mug has leaves, those leaves can be seen as well as felt. The dogs have many details and are about six to eight inches long. They are painted then fired in a large kiln. She also makes birds to coloring and Audubon specifications. For more information, send an e-mail to karenb7410@gmail.com or call her at (765) 216-6745.
 
Perkins, India Partnership
 
Perkins and the National Association for the Blind, India (NAB, India) recently announced a new partnership that will help to accelerate growth of programs in India for people who are blind.  Perkins will work with NAB, India to build capacity and expertise to educate children who are blind or deaf-blind, as well as to cultivate financial support outside the United States. By creating new opportunities for Indian donors to support the work of NAB, India and Perkins International partners, those organizations will be able to deliver more services to more people more effectively.  Perkins is also committed to promoting braille literacy in India.
 
Described Videos Available
 
Love watching movies, but get tired of bugging friends to tell you what's going on?  For those in the U.S. and Canada, more than 200 movies with audio description are now available.  Call Ken Mann at (972) 530-2949 to get a print or CD copy of the movie list.
 
Brailler Repairs
 
Leonard Kokel's Certified Brailler Service provides general service, minor and major repair on Perkins braillers.  He also has reconditioned braillers available.  For more information, contact him at (541) 888-0846 or e-mail leonardkokel@gmail.com.
 
Computers for the Blind
 
Need a computer, but don't have a lot of money?  Affordable computers are available from the Texas Center for the Visually Challenged.  These computers are between 2 and 4 years old, completely refurbished, with monitor, keyboard, speakers, and CD-ROM drive, along with 2 gigs or more of memory.  They will have Windows XP, as well as a demo copy of Window-Eyes and NVDA, along with a word processor, a bookkeeping program, and other applications.  And you can also receive a copy of ZoomText.  This offer is available in the United States and Canada only.  Call Lee Mann at (214) 340-6328 during business hours (Central time) for more information.
 
Revitalize Your Brailler
 
Bring your brailler back to life!  The Selective Doctor, Inc. specializes in the repair of Perkins braillers.  Free matter shipping is accepted. For more information, or to get your brailler repaired, contact The Selective Doctor, Inc., PO Box 571, Manchester, MD 21102; phone (410) 668-1143 or e-mail braillerrepair@yahoo.com.  You may also check out the web site, www.selectivedoctor.com.
 
Blind Singles Group
 
Blind_singles is a group intended to help blind heterosexual singles communicate with others and share ideas and experiences as well as discuss on different topics. If you would like to join, send a blank e-mail message to blind_singles-subscribe@yahoogroups.com.
 
New Book Available
 
"My Home Away from Home: Life at Perkins School for the Blind" by Robert T. Branco is now available in print and e-book formats. To get a copy, visit www.amazon.com or  www.smashwords.com.  Smashwords has a greater variety of download options; Amazon offers both e-book and print.

High Tech Swap Shop

For Sale: Black-and-white Aladdin Telesensory CCTV in great condition.  Comes with power cord; easy to use.  Asking $500.  Contact Cheryl at (215) 435-2625.
 
For Sale: Freedom Scientific PAC Mate BX 400 refreshable braille display.  Comes with carrying case, power cord and cables.  In original box.  Asking $1,200, including insurance and shipping in the United States only.  Contact Rod Bulloch at (801) 225-1835.
 
For Sale: i.d. mate 2 from En-vision America.  In good condition.  Comes with carrying case and power cord. Asking $200 plus shipping.  Call Caroline at (828) 297-5346 or e-mail sabrah@skybest.com.
 
For Sale: Large quantity of Rosie the Reminder talking clock, an alarm clock with the ability to record reminders for day and time of your choosing. Voice activated. Asking $99 plus $15 shipping.  For more information and/or an MP3 demo, call Jeff at (612) 869-7410, or send e-mail to mplsjeffm@gmail.com.
 
For Sale:  AmbuTech Mobility Aid iGlasses. Asking $80.  PowerBraille 81 braille display.  Asking $500.  Franklin Language Master Talking Dictionary and Thesaurus.  Asking $50.  Robotron C2 Talking Compass. Asking $45.  Juliet Classic braille embosser.  Asking $500.  All prices negotiable and do not include shipping.  All items come with accessories.  Call Dave at (519) 669-1456 or e-mail him, dvm975@gmail.com, if interested.
 
For Sale: BrailleNote mPOWER 32-cell refreshable braille display with Perkins-style keyboard. Comes with all documentation.  Gently used; in good condition.  Asking $1,500.  Contact Ann Wassermann at (732) 222-3510.
 
Wanted: I'm looking for an audible multi-meter, the kind that's used to detect different voltage levels. Also looking for a Sharp talking calculator-clock. Contact Wayne Coxey at (509) 783-0330.

ACB Officers

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

ACB Board Of Directors

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

ACB Board of Publications

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