ACB Braille Forum, June 2013

The ACB E-Forum
Volume LI June 2013 No. 10
Published by
the American Council of the Blind
 
The American Council of the Blind strives to increase the independence, security, equality of opportunity, and to improve quality of life for all blind and visually impaired people.
 
Mitch Pomerantz, President
Melanie Brunson, Executive Director
Sharon Lovering, Editor
 
National Office:
2200 Wilson Blvd.
Suite 650
Arlington, VA 22201
(202) 467-5081
fax: (703) 465-5085
Web site: http://www.acb.org
 
The Braille Forum (TM) is available in braille, large print, half-speed four-track cassette tape, data CD, and via e-mail.  Subscription requests, address changes, and items intended for publication should be sent to Sharon Lovering at the address above, or via e-mail to slovering@acb.org.
 
The American Council of the Blind (TM) is a membership organization made up of more than 70 state and special-interest affiliates.  To join, contact the national office at the number listed above.
 
Those much-needed contributions, which are tax-deductible, can be sent to Attn: Treasurer, ACB, 6300 Shingle Creek Pkwy., Suite 195, Brooklyn Center, MN 55430.  If you wish to remember a relative or friend, the national office has printed cards available for this purpose.  Consider including a gift to ACB in your Last Will and Testament.  If your wishes are complex, call the national office.
 
To make a contribution to ACB via the Combined Federal Campaign, use this number: 11155.
 
For the latest in legislative and governmental news, call the "Washington Connection" toll-free at (800) 424-8666, 5 p.m. to midnight Eastern time, or read it online.
 
Copyright 2013 American Council of the Blind
 
All content created initially for use by ACB in publications, in any media on any web site domains administered by ACB, or as a broadcast or podcast on ACB Radio, archived or not, is considered to be the property of the American Council of the Blind. Creative content that appears elsewhere originally remains the property of the original copyright holder. Those responsible for creative content submitted initially to ACB are free to permit their materials to appear elsewhere with proper attribution and prior notification to the ACB national office.

Forum Subscription Notes
 
You can now get "The Braille Forum" by podcast!  To subscribe, go to "The Braille Forum" page on www.acb.org.  If you do not yet have a podcast client, you can download one from the Forum page.
 
To subscribe to "The Braille Forum" via e-mail, go to www.acb.org/mailman/listinfo/brailleforum-L.
 
Are You Moving?  Do You Want To Change Your Subscription?
 
Contact Sharon Lovering in the ACB national office, 1-800-424-8666, or via e-mail, slovering@acb.org. Give her the information, and she'll take care of the changes for you.
 
ACB Radio has a new and improved web site; come see for yourself at www.acbradio.org.
 
For news you can use, check out the new ACB Radio News and Information Service at acbradio.org.

ACB E-Forum June 2013 downloads

President's Message: Will There Ever Be A Unified Organized Blind Movement? by Mitch Pomerantz

In a column some years back I wrote about my standard response to comments from Congressional aides when visiting Capitol Hill during ACB's legislative seminar, to wit: "I just had a visit from another organization of the blind and they have a different position on the issues you are talking about.  Why can't the two organizations get together and come to us with a unified position?"  My response to such queries is short and to the point: "With all due respect, we will probably get together as soon as all Democrats and all Republicans do so."  I can't think of an instance where that response didn't turn on the proverbial light bulb in the mind of the staffer in question.
 
I suspect that the overwhelming majority of blind and visually impaired non-members of ACB and NFB have asked the same question and I know with certainty (because I've heard it) that many of our members have raised that question themselves.  Given the fact that people classified as legally blind comprise something approaching 1 percent of the U.S. population - hence considered a low-incidence disability - doesn't it make sense for the leadership of the two major national consumer advocacy organizations to put aside our differences and work toward a merger?
 
Before attempting to offer a rational answer, I want to muse for a few paragraphs on the state of American politics in 2013.  I do so from the perspective of someone who, for nearly 20 years, has chosen not to affiliate with either major party, or any of the minor political parties for that matter.  Prior to the mid-'90s, I was registered (at different times of course) as a Democrat and a Republican.  In the late '80s, I even attended a couple of state party conventions here in California.  I have closely followed politics since my teen years and majored in political science in college.  I say that not to put myself up as an expert on the subject, but only to emphasize the point that I've done a lot of observing of the political scene over the decades and have developed some fairly strong opinions about how things get done, or don't, in our nation.
 
One of America's founding principles was the notion of the importance of the individual.  The first 10 amendments to our Constitution, the Bill of Rights, set forth very clearly our rights as individual citizens.  And while our culture has always valued, perhaps even glorified the individual - the cowboys of the Old West, trail-blazing explorers, heroes of our various wars, and entrepreneurs throughout our history - over the intervening 200-plus years of that history, those with similar interests recognized the necessity of banding together to form groups in order to advocate for their particular interests.  When I was studying political science, the textbooks talked about America as a "pluralistic nation"; that is, a nation where many competing interests advocated on the local, state and national levels for that group's particular position.  Hence, what we see today are many organizations with similar goals, but with differing notions of how to accomplish those goals.  Why, for example, do we have so many service organizations today: Lions (of which I'm a member), Rotary, Kiwanis, etc.?  These outstanding organizations are, to some extent, competing for members and perhaps offering similar services in their communities.  While not a perfect analogy for the subject at hand, I hope you get the point: there are many entities heading toward the same destination on different roads.
 
So, would all of us be better off if there was but one national organization of the blind?  My strong hunch is that most people, blind or sighted, would immediately answer in the affirmative.  They would say: "Of course, with one voice speaking for us, we could achieve far more than we have to date with two often contentiously competing voices, especially in a time of ever-shrinking resources."  But what makes us think that with one organization, we'd be speaking with one voice?  Consider the infighting we periodically witness in the two major parties.  What about the frustrating gridlock we've observed in both houses of Congress for the past several years?
 
The so-called "civil war" fought within the Federation which led to a group of longtime leaders and members walking out and founding the American Council of the Blind in 1961 offers an illustration of why "the blind" could no more speak with one voice than today's Congress.
 
While much was accomplished during the 1940s and '50s when there was only one organization of the blind and even into the 1960s following the split, given the nature of the discourse preceding that momentous event, I doubt seriously that one single organization of the blind would have been very successful under the circumstances.  The leaders and rank-and-file membership at the time (and to a significant degree today) had and have extremely different ideas about a whole range of issues.  Should the organization be governed from the top by a strong president, or by the grassroots membership?  What is the overall importance of blindness in the lives of those who are blind: is it a mere nuisance or a significant disability?  To what extent should accommodations such as accessible pedestrian signals and video description be advocacy priorities.  I could go on, but I think it's clear that within the community of people who are blind and visually impaired, there truly are strongly held ideological positions which argue against one overarching blindness organization and one so-called philosophy of blindness.
 
As I conclude a more than 20-year period of active leadership in ACB, I honestly believe that I will not see a unified blindness organization in my lifetime.  I also sincerely question the efficacy of having such an organization representing all of us simply because I don't think it's possible.  That doesn't mean we won't work together to advocate for issues on which both organizations agree; we have done so many times and will continue doing so when the occasion arises.  However, just as ACB believes in and values the principle of choice and eschews the notion of one-size-fits-all, we should also recognize the reality that blind people, like the society in which we live, hold disparate views about the issues which affect us on a daily basis.  That is what this nation is all about, and that is why we in ACB uphold and champion democracy, both for this nation and for our organization.

Looking for a Few Good Advocates by Melanie Brunson

As many of you know, the ACB offices receive inquiries on a fairly regular basis from people looking for help with legal or access issues.  Some of the most frequent issues include:

  1. Problems related to Social Security, SSI, or SSDI benefits;
  2. Questions about technology, and assistive technology;
  3. Medicare and Medicaid issues;
  4. Housing issues, such as discrimination against guide dog users in rental housing, accessibility issues, availability of rent subsidies, Section 8 vouchers;
  5. Transportation and paratransit eligibility;
  6. Employment discrimination and reasonable accommodations; and
  7. ADA provisions and/or protections.

Sometimes, we're able to help, but sometimes people who call us would benefit from assistance from someone closer to home who could personally work with them to resolve an issue, attend a hearing, or provide other direct advocacy, counsel, or training. Increasingly, we find that such help is either very limited, or not available through local organizations.
 
We are interested in tapping the talent of ACB's own membership to see if ACB can make up this shortage of advocates.  Some fine folks have already volunteered to make their expertise available to people who need assistance, but we could use more volunteers.  Therefore, we are reaching out to you, the readers of "The Braille Forum," who either have expertise in any of the issue areas listed above or may know someone who does.  If you, or someone you know, would be willing to provide advocacy assistance to individuals who need help, we would like to hear from you.
 
If you are interested in joining this network of advocates, please send an e-mail to Eric Bridges at ebridges@acb.org.  Let him know the issue areas you can help with and include as much specific information as possible about any advocacy work you have done that demonstrates your qualification to provide assistance in this subject area. We will contact you with any follow-up questions.  It is our hope to find people throughout the country who can share their expertise with other ACB members, and members of the public who need advocacy assistance, and thereby enhance the reach of our organization. If you can help, please contact Eric Bridges at ebridges@acb.org, or send your information to the Arlington office.  Thank you in advance for your assistance.

Countdown to Convention by Janet Dickelman

Whether you have never attended a convention or have been coming for years, we want to see you in Columbus! Our first tour begins on Thursday, July 4th. Beginning Friday, July 5 through Wednesday, July 10 affiliates, committees and technology sessions will be held. Opening general session is Saturday evening, July 6th and the ACB banquet is on Thursday the 11th. Our final tour will be Friday, July 12th.
 
2013 convention pre-registration is open. You can register online at www.acb.org.  Last year's registration went smoothly, but there were some issues, especially with the login screens. We listened to your suggestions and made updates to the form. You can now begin your registration on one computer and update it on another computer. We have also changed the log-in information, so it will be easier to create your password.
 
Once again we will be offering pre-registration via phone. Our efficient crew from last year, Pam Cox, Nicky Schlender and Dave and Deb Trevino will be waiting to assist you. Please remember that there are times when callbacks are numerous and it may take a couple of days for someone to call you back. To register via phone, call 1-800-866-3242. When leaving a message for a pre-registration callback, be sure to leave your name, phone number, time zone and best time to reach you.
 
For up-to-date information pertaining to the ACB conference and convention, subscribe to the convention list by sending a blank e-mail to acbconvention-subscribe@acb.org

Calling All Dogs!

Once again Tim and Maria Stone of Scoop Masters will be maintaining the dog relief areas. They will deliver dog food directly to your hotel room at the Hyatt beginning July 3rd. To take advantage of this great service, you must pre-order your dog's food no later than 9 a.m. Pacific time on June 30th.
To order online, visit www.premiumpetfood.com/acb. You can also order over the phone by calling 1-800-787-7667.

Interpreter Services

If you plan to attend the convention and need a support service provider or interpreter, please contact Lori Scharff, who will assist in making arrangements. Send her an e-mail with "interpreter for Columbus" in the subject line, loris1@optonline.net. Or contact her via phone, (516) 695-6370.

Mobility Aids

Do you need a wheelchair or a scooter in Columbus? Margarine Beaman is working on procuring wheelchairs and scooters for convention attendees. Please contact Margarine by June 15th with your name, phone number and arrival and departure dates at oleo50@hotmail.com. When you arrive in Columbus, give me a call at (651) 428-5059 and we'll make arrangements for you to pick up your equipment.

Airport Shuttle to the Hyatt

Arch Express has agreed to provide ACB with a fabulous shuttle rate from the airport to the Hyatt.  The rate is $22 round trip ($17 one way). Arch would prefer that you reserve your ride in advance.  Make reservations online at www.archexpress.com or by telephone at (614) 252-2277, or toll-free at 1-800-325-1882.  Make sure to mention you are with the ACB convention, and provide them with your name, airline, flight number, arrival time and cell phone number. Also indicate if you will be using a wheelchair and if you need a lift-equipped van.

Paratransit Services in Columbus

To use Central Ohio Transit Authority services, you need to fax information to Tonia L. Pullins at (614) 272-3015.  Be sure to include your phone number and either a copy of the approval letter with expiration date on the transit company letterhead, or a copy of the front and back of the ADA picture ID, showing the expiration date. To set up 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. You should plan for at least two hours between rides, whether the second is a return or a continuation to another location. When scheduling a ride, you will be asked about manner of payment (cash, ticket, or pass), pickup and destination addresses (have the zip code ready in case it is requested), whether you need the lift, and if you have a  service animal. PCA's ride free; one guest is permitted at $3.50 per ride.  If your ride is 20 minutes late, call dispatch at (614) 272-3007.
Are you an exhibitor, advertiser, sponsor or interested in volunteering at the 2013 convention? It isn't too late to sign up for any of these great opportunities. Visit our web site, www.acb.org.

Exhibits

Michael Smitherman has received registrations from many vendors; some are familiar exhibitors who have joined us in the past. We welcome our returning exhibitors and are always glad to see new faces. As I write this, I know there will be several first-time exhibitors joining us in Columbus.  Vendors who have reserved booths will be listed in the conference and convention program, and you can obtain an exhibitor list when you visit the exhibit hall in Columbus.

Back this year by popular demand is Marketplace, which will run Saturday through Thursday prior to general sessions. It's a great location for affiliates or committees to sell non-food items.

Sponsorships

Corporate sponsors help defray conference and convention costs for the information desk, communication center, ACB Café and a myriad of other items. Sponsorship information will be listed in our program, recognized in our daily newspaper and announced by Margarine Beaman during general sessions. If you have an opportunity, make sure to acknowledge how much you appreciate those sponsors for helping to make many convention activities possible. 

Volunteers

One of the most important aspects of our convention is the assistance offered by convention volunteers. Volunteers are at the airport to meet and assist convention attendees when they arrive and depart Columbus. They are at the hotel to help locate meeting rooms. Those of us who attend the conference and convention truly appreciate their assistance in an unfamiliar environment.

Room Reservations

Reservations for the 2013 convention at the Hyatt Regency can be made via phone or online. To make your reservations via phone, call 1-888-421-1442. Be sure to mention you are with the ACB convention. If you'd like to make your reservations online, go to www.acb.org.  There is a direct link to reservations at the 2013 conference and convention link. Room rates are $89 per person (single, double triple or quad) plus applicable taxes.

Convention contacts

Exhibits: For additional information on vendor or Marketplace registration, contact Michael Smitherman, amduo@bellsouth.net or (601) 331-7740.
 
Sponsors and advertisers: Margarine Beaman, oleo50@hotmail.com or (512) 921-1625
 
Volunteers: Sally Benjamin, volunteer@acb.org or 1-877-630-8399
 
Convention questions: Janet Dickelman, Janet.dickelman@gmail.com or (651) 428-5059

The Candidates' Page Is Back!

The board of publications is again hosting the Candidates' Page in 2013.  The information from this page will be made available to members who do not have Internet access.
           
The Candidates' Page is a web page where people declaring candidacy for office present themselves to the ACB membership. This allows ACB chapters and affiliates to have more information at their disposal before they send delegates to the national convention.  We are also offering those with social networking and personal web sites a chance to promote their candidacy via our page. But you won't get to take advantage of this great opportunity if you don't submit!
 
Many members have told us how much they appreciate the opportunity to participate more actively in ACB's democracy because of the early dissemination of this information.
           
Entries on this page do not constitute nomination for any office. Although people may campaign for office without submitting entries to the Candidates' Page, only those individuals who declare their candidacy on this page will be interviewed on ACB Radio in June.
 
In 2013, ACB members will elect the five officers: president, first vice president, second vice president, secretary, and treasurer.  All candidates have the opportunity to respond to the same set of questions.  These questions, developed by the BOP, are as follows. 

  1. What office are you seeking, and what are your qualifications?
  2. What would you do to strengthen the relationship between the ACB national leadership and state and special-interest affiliates?
  3. In light of the current national economic crisis, how can long-term financial stability be achieved for ACB?
  4. List three issues you plan to work on should you be elected and how you plan to effect change in those three areas.

We encourage candidates to include addresses for any social networking or personal web sites related to their campaigns for ACB national office at the end of their submissions. We will only accept social networking or personal web sites. You may include your e-mail address but no discussion or distribution list addresses.  Links will not be live from the page to these sites. This information will not count in the word count of any answer.
 
Candidates should answer each question with a maximum of 300 words. Submit answers the following accessible, readable media, i.e., in hard‑copy print or braille, computer disk (in ASCII text, rich text, or Microsoft Word formats), or via e‑mail. Pasting the text into an e‑mail message is preferable to sending attachments, but attachments in ASCII text, Microsoft Word or rich text format will be accepted. Please note that the national office has Word 2001, and is unable to open documents in newer versions of Word.  Submissions will not be accepted via telephone, voice mail, audiocassette, or in handwriting.
 
Note that we will not edit submissions for spelling, grammar, or content. Submissions will be coded into HTML for placement on the web site. It is our webmaster's role to convert documents into HTML; we will not accept submissions which you have coded in this format yourself.
 
Word counts are based on the total number of words in each answer, with each answer being a maximum of 300 words. Word counts will be determined through the use of MS Word's "word count" feature, in which every word contained in the answer enters into the total word count. Hard-copy submissions will be converted into electronic format then counted. Entries for each answer will terminate at the end of the sentence containing the 300th word.
 
When submitting answers electronically, candidates should place name, address, telephone numbers, and e‑mail addresses at the top of the body of the submission. When submitting information in hard copy, place the requested identifying information at the top of the first page and name and a page number at the top of each subsequent page. Send completed submissions to the following address: American Council of the Blind Candidates' Page, 2200 Wilson Blvd., Suite 650, Arlington, VA 22201.  E-mail submissions to slovering@acb.org with the words "candidates' page" in the subject line.

Time Lines

Submissions should be mailed, either by postal delivery or electronic mail, so that they reach the ACB national office no later than 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on June 1, 2013. When we receive a declared candidate's materials, we will check the membership database to ensure that he or she is a member in good standing. The Candidates' Page will be available at the ACB web site as soon after the submission deadline as possible. The pages will be available online no later than 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on June 15, and will remain online at www.ACB.org until the conclusion of convention.
           
We encourage ACB members who have computer access to share the contents of the Candidates' Page with members who do not. Anyone who does not have Internet access to the Candidates' Page may call the ACB national office and request the information in an accessible format. An announcement will go out to all ACB lists when the page is up and ready for viewing.
 
The board of publications will also host the Candidates' Forum, a live question-and-answer session for all declared candidates, on Wednesday of convention week at 7 p.m. Columbus time, which will be broadcast live on ACB Radio. We want to hear from you! Submit questions in writing to the communication center, and stay tuned for more details about this exciting event.

The Universe Can Be Yours at the Exploration Party Auction

It's a cosmic happening! Come join us for the ACB Exploration Party Auction, to be held on Tuesday evening, July 9, as part of the 2013 ACB conference and convention. The action gets wild and wacky, and the only thing you can take to the bank is the great time you'll have.
 
How does a junket to Key West sound when the alternative is to shovel the snow from your driveway? This is just one of the vacation packages you'll have a chance to snap up. Perhaps you're just dying for some of that beautiful jewelry that will be for sale, or maybe your tastes run to a night out at a lovely restaurant or some sweets to take home. Whether you're a sports lover, a techie, a music aficionado, or someone who likes the truly unique item, the Exploration Party has it all. But the most important part of our auction, whether you are a donor or a purchaser of a great item, is that you are supporting the programs and services of the greatest organization of people who are blind or have low vision, 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 must have a thorough description of your item by 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 at (360) 689-0827. In fact, because we intend to promote our auction items on the ACB web site, the sooner you provide us with that information before the June 15 deadline, 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, send it to Ms. Mickey Prahin, 3738 Taliesin Pl., Columbus, OH 43219. The shipped item needs to be received by Tuesday, July 2.
 
Don't miss a moment when the stars align for the ACB Exploration Party Auction.

Nearing the Finish Line: Show Your Support for the 5th Annual ACB Walk! by Rebecca Bridges

Do you enjoy ACB Radio? Do you want to see the organization continue to support efforts including accessible prescription drug labeling, scholarships for students, and video description? One easy way to ensure that these and other critical services continue is to register for or make a donation to ACB's 5th annual walk!
 
This year's event will take place on Saturday, July 6 at Goodale Park, located at 120 W. Goodale Blvd. Transportation to and from the Hyatt Regency will be provided. Registration begins at 6:45 a.m., with the walk starting promptly at 7:30 a.m. Whether you have plans to join us in Columbus or not, you can support the walk in any of the following ways:

  • Register as an individual or as a team for a small fee of $25. Just as we have done in the past, you may register as an onsite or virtual walker.
  • Support a friend or a walk team by making a donation in any dollar amount.
  • Become a corporate sponsor.

All participants will receive a commemorative ball cap and refreshments. In addition, four drawings will be held immediately after the walk for great prizes. To be eligible to win, participants must raise a minimum of $500. The drawing thresholds are $500, $1,000, $2,500, and $5,000. Finally, awards will be given during the general session for first and second place walkers; the individual, team, and affiliate with the most contributions, and the team with the most participants.
 
For general information or to register for this exciting event, visit https://walk-run.acb.org. You may also contact Dan Dillon, walk committee chairman, at (615) 874-1223, or dan.dillon@comcast.net.
 
I am proud to be an ACB member and walk participant for the 5th year in a row. I invite you to join me in helping to ensure the continued vitality and success of the organization we so dearly love. I'll see you at the finish line in Columbus!

Extra, Extra! Convention Newspaper Now Seeking Volunteers

Are you coming to convention? Do you like helping out where needed? The communication center is now seeking volunteers to help collate and staple papers, take ads and announcements, and staff the room. Sharon Lovering is the operations manager. She is seeking volunteers to fill two-hour shifts throughout the day (8-10 a.m., 10 a.m.-noon, noon-2 p.m., and 2-4 p.m.). The communication center will be open Thursday through Tuesday, and be taken down Wednesday morning; it will open daily at 8 a.m. and close to the public at 5 p.m. To sign up for a shift, contact Sharon at the ACB national office, 1-800-424-8666, or via e-mail, slovering@acb.org.
 
This year's convention newspaper will be called "The Columbus Explorer." It will run from Friday through Wednesday in braille and large print. Ads and other items intended for publication must be in the center's hands by 2 p.m. each day. Ads should be 100 words or less. By a directive from the board of publications, ads will be allowed to run for only three days.  If you wish to advertise in the newspaper, please contact Margarine Beaman, advertising and sponsorship coordinator, at (512) 921-1625 or by e-mail, oleo50@hotmail.com. The BOP's editorial policy manual prohibits us from producing or distributing campaign materials.
 
During the evenings, we will need people to help collate and staple the braille papers. Thanks to Enabling Technologies, we will have three braille printers this year. Are you a night owl?  Are you good at sorting, collating and stapling?  Drop by and see if the communication center needs help.
 
If you have signed up for home delivery of "The Columbus Explorer," drop by the information desk and give them your name, room number and format preference once you arrive. This will ensure that you don't miss an issue. Hold onto your Friday issue; it will include all the suite numbers, phone numbers, and room changes.
 
If your committee or affiliate needs something brailled, we will be able to do that. Make certain you label your thumb drive or memory card(s) before bringing them down to the press room, and tell us how many copies you will need, by what time, as well as how we can reach you (room number, cell phone, etc.). Bring your items down in the morning before the general session to help us fit them in. If you need something brailled for a 1 p.m. meeting, don't wait until 12:30 p.m. to bring it to us.
 
Affiliates, if you know who your delegate, alternate, and nominating committee representative will be, please let Marlaina Lieberg and Sharon Lovering know as soon as possible.

Affiliate News

ACB Diabetics in Action Convention Sneak Preview

It's hard to believe that summer is already approaching, and may have already begun in some areas of the country.  This is a great time to exercise, swim and take walks in the cooler morning and evenings.  It's also time to talk about our convention plans! 
 
Our luncheon begins at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, July 6. We will be having soup, chicken croissant sandwich, salad, and veggies, with sherbet for dessert, and, of course, tea and coffee.  Our business meeting will follow the luncheon, and wrap up around 4 p.m.  If anyone wants to join our group, the business meeting would be a great time to do that.
 
On Tuesday, July 9, at 1:45 p.m., we will hold the annual diabetes seminar.  It will end around 4 p.m.  Our first speaker is from the American Diabetes Association, and will talk about issues pertaining to health and education.  The second speaker will give us a quick review of the new Prodigy Voice.  Our final guest speakers will be a registered nurse who has many certifications in diabetes.  What a speaker!  Be sure to hang around to hear her talk about new treatments for diabetes.
 
Hope you all have a wonderful, not-too-hot summer, and hope to see many of you at the ACB convention and DIA doings!

Blind LGBT Pride International 2013 Convention

Join Blind LGBT Pride International (BPI) for a fun-filled 2013 convention program with lots of exciting activities and informative seminars/workshops. BPI's theme for its convention is "Exploring the True Vision of Equality," and we are excited to be collaborating with four other ACB affiliates that will allow us to provide some really great programming this year.
 
BPI will be starting its program off with a Welcome Party/Mixer on Friday, July 5th, where you can enjoy a nice glass of wine or a fun mixed drink and a light dinner.
 
On Saturday, July 6th, BPI will hold a caucus in the afternoon, and later that day, a joint seminar with ACB Students. Sunday, July 7th will feature an audio-described movie, complete with popcorn.
 
On Monday, July 8th, BPI will hold an employment diversity seminar with special guest speaker Kathy Martinez, which is co-sponsored by ACBGE. BPI will also hold an informative seminar on "The State of Equality for All" with Kim Welter from Equality Ohio.  Later that evening, we'll hold our business meeting.
 
Tuesday, July 9th will be a busy day, featuring a joint seminar with IVIE and Will Burley speaking on "Gaining a Strategic Edge with Social Media." BPI will join ACB Diabetics in Action for a great seminar called "Diabetes in Progress."  But the day isn't over yet! BPI will also hold a meet-and-greet with its board of directors that evening. We hope many of you can attend.
 
On Wednesday, July 10th, BPI will host a phone app workshop with special guest speaker Kevin Ratliff called "What's Appening." Another workshop, called "Exploring Your Passions," will feature Will Burley. BPI will wrap up the week with its Farewell Party Wednesday evening with a light dinner and drinks.
 
Yes, BPI will have a suite during the convention and it will be open throughout the week. BPI invites you to come visit us during the convention and take advantage of the many opportunities that our convention program has to offer.
 
For more information on any of BPI's convention activities or programming, visit us online at www.blind-lgbt-pride.org, or send an e-mail to convention@blind-lgbt-pride.org. Or you may contact me by phone directly at (323) 533-4395.
 
- Mark Hanohano

IVIE Convention Sneak Preview

he Independent Visually Impaired Entrepreneurs (IVIE) has an exciting convention program planned for 2013! Read on for more information.
 
The theme for our convention is, "Building Confidence and Competence." This year, we are collaborating with three other ACB affiliates to provide attendees unique opportunities for fellowship, education and inspiration. We kick things off Saturday evening, July 6th, when we have a combined mixer with RSVA. Meet and greet old and new friends and have a good time! Since all activities for this year are running a day earlier during convention week, our annual IVIE breakfast and business meeting will take place Sunday, July 7th from 7:00 to 8:15 a.m. Enjoy a hearty breakfast and help make important decisions for IVIE.
 
Tuesday, July 9th will be a very busy day for IVIE! We have invited BPI to join us for our luncheon and combined program, which will begin at 12:15 p.m. After a delicious lunch, we will start building our competence as we address two timely topics for business owners. Our first presentation, "Taking the Ice out of Cold Calling," will teach you valuable strategies for approaching new customers and clients. This will be followed by "Gaining A Strategic Edge with Social Media," a presentation on social networking for business owners. At 2:45 p.m., we will learn some strategies for building confidence and improving our public speaking skills when we join CCLVI for a Toastmasters presentation.
 
Our always popular IVIE Business Expo will take place on Wednesday, July 10th from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. Blind and visually impaired business owners will showcase their products and services and answer questions. Would you like to have a booth at the IVIE Business Expo? The cost is $10 for IVIE members and $25 for non-members, with the option of $15 going toward IVIE dues. Of course, browsing the Expo is free. You can register for a booth at the Expo or pay your annual dues through the IVIE web site, www.ivie-acb.org. There, you will find the IVIE membership form and other information about our affiliate. Alternatively, you can register for a booth and/or pay your annual IVIE dues by mail by sending your name, address, phone number, e-mail address, the name of your business (if you have one), your preferred format for receiving "The ACB Braille Forum," and your check to our treasurer, Sila Miller, at 2201 Limerick Dr., Tallahassee, FL 32309.
 
Please make your check payable to IVIE and designate whether it is payment for IVIE annual dues, an Expo booth, or for both dues and a booth. Our calendar year begins on July 1st. This means that it is almost time to pay your annual dues. If you pay your dues now, you will be an IVIE member through July 1, 2014.
 
As you can see, we have an exciting convention planned for you this year! I hope you will join us in Columbus! For more information, visit our web site, www.ivie-acb.org.  If you have any questions, contact Carla Hayes at (724) 941-8184.
 
- Carla Hayes

Touch the Universe with NABT

The theme for the 2013 National Association of Blind Teachers convention to be held in conjunction with the ACB National Conference and Convention in Columbus, Ohio will be "Touching The Universe." I am sure that you will find our convention agenda to be "out of this world!" Read on for more information.
 
Because this year's convention schedule is being moved forward a day, our annual breakfast, business meeting and program is scheduled for Saturday, July 6, at 8 a.m. We will begin with a delicious breakfast and time to mingle with friends. This will be followed by our program which will be titled, "Old and New Ways of Touching the Universe." Come and participate in a discussion of old and new methods of teaching science to blind and visually impaired students. After our program and a short break, we will hold our business meeting and elections. During this time, you will have the opportunity to help us elect new officers and make important decisions for NABT.
 
Monday, July 8 will be STEM Day for NABT. In case you don't know, STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, all of which are crucial subjects for the student of the 21st century. During this exciting STEM Day program, which will take place from 1:15 to 4 p.m., participants will learn about and have hands-on experience with cutting-edge products which can greatly enhance the teaching of the STEM subjects to students who are blind or visually impaired. One of our presenters will be Dr. Marjorie Darrah, the CEO of ETouch Sciences, Grafton, W.Va. ETouch Sciences has developed the low-cost Novint Falcon, a rugged, reliable and market-proven haptic device which can be used in conjunction with several innovative computer apps to create an interactive 3-D virtual world to enhance the teaching of life, physical, earth and space sciences as well as mathematics. The apps incorporate sound, touch, high-contrast graphics and embedded assesments, and you will be truly amazed when you experience it! A representative from the American Printing House for the Blind will also give a presentation on the Talking Graphic Calculator and other STEM-related APH products. This will be a day that you will never forget!
 
Tuesday, July 9th, will also be a very busy day for NABT. First, we will combine with LUA for a joint session from 1:15 to 4 p.m. The first part of this program will feature a presentation  by a talking book narrator  Then, we will learn about Benetech's Literacy Project and how Bookshare can produce graphs and other STEM materials. We lighten up later on Tuesday afternoon at 5:45 when we join FIA for a musical session, "Singing Around the Universe." In keeping with our theme, we will learn and sing songs about the moon, stars and other heavenly things!
 
We have an exciting convention planned for this year! We may not be blasting off into space, but we will be having a blast! Why not come and touch the universe with us?
 
- Carla Hayes

RSVA Convention Preview

The 2013 RSVA summer convention will be July 5th-8th. On Saturday morning, the RSVA board of directors meeting will be from 10 a.m. to noon. On Saturday afternoon, RSVA will have a panel of vendors from the BEP program as well as representatives from the Ohio BEP staff speaking about their programs.  We plan to have someone from the Social Security Administration speak about current regulations which affect vendors now and in retirement. We will then have a presentation on the importance of PR followed by a presentation on advocating for the Randolph-Sheppard Program in your state and in Congress, led by the RSVA legislative committee. After the programming, the nominating committee will meet.  On Saturday night after the ACB opening session, RSVA will hold its open hospitality with IVIE.
 
On Sunday, we will hold our annual awards luncheon; we have invited the new RSA commissioner to speak. The luncheon will be followed by awards presentations and business. On Sunday evening, RSVA will hold its annual auction and karaoke night.
 
On Monday, RSVA affiliate presidents and the board of directors will meet for lunch. From 2:45 until 5:30, the ACB Rehabilitation Task Force will have a session on getting rehab to work better with students, seniors, and the Randolph-Sheppard program, so vendors are encouraged to attend. On Monday evening, RSVA will hold its casino night.
 
Watch the RSVA web site for more updates on the RSVA conference segments. See you in Columbus!

Illinois Summer Fest

Are you going to be in Chicago in early August?  If so, the Illinois Council of the Blind invites you to join us on Saturday, Aug. 3 from 4-9 p.m. at 115 Bourbon Street, 3359 W. 115th St., Merrionette Park, Ill. for the first annual Illinois Council of the Blind (ICB) Summer Fest featuring the rockin' tunes of Blind Reflexx as part of their Start Me Up tour.  Admission also includes a buffet dinner, draft beer (Budweiser and Bud Light), wine and soft drinks.  There will also be a silent auction, raffles and fun.  Children are welcome.
 
Advance tickets are $30 for adults and $15 for children. Kids 5 and under are free.  Tickets purchased at the door will be $40 for adults and $20 for children.  Funds raised will help ICB provide scholarships for students who are blind, reading materials for children who are blind through our Dots for Tots program and other things.  Food, fun and great music await you at ICB's Summer Fest.  Please contact our office at (217) 523-4967, e-mail icb@icbonline.org, or go to www.icbonline.org to purchase tickets or get more information.

Committee News

Is Rehab Working? And How Do We Know?

You are invited to take a multifaceted look at the rehabilitation system in this joint session with our task force, Randolph-Sheppard Vendors of America, ACB Students, and the Alliance on Aging and Vision Loss Monday, July 8 from 2:45-5:30 p.m. at the ACB conference and convention in Columbus, Ohio.  We will hear from the newly appointed Commissioner of the Rehabilitation Services Administration, Janet LaBreck; Jamie O'Malley from Mississippi State University speaking on several relevant research projects they are conducting; Sara Conrad,  ACB Students president and ACB board member; Paul Edwards, chair of the board of publications speaking on elder blind programs; and a speaker on Randolph-Sheppard issues.  In all cases, the remarks will look at system performance, whether we're asking the right questions when assessing performance, and whether there are new questions that would open new avenues to improve outcomes for blind and visually impaired consumers.  You will be invited to contribute to the query.
 
We hope you are as excited about this thought-provoking session as we are, and hope you will attend!  (Pre-registration is only $5, $7 in Columbus.)  If you are interested in rehabilitation in this country, this is one session you should not miss!  We look forward to seeing you there.
 
- Doug Powell

Passings

We honor here members, friends and supporters of the American Council of the Blind who have impacted our lives in many wonderful ways.  If you would like to submit a notice for this column, please include as much of the following information as possible.

  • Name (first, last, maiden if appropriate)
  • City of residence (upon passing)
  • State/province of residence (upon passing)
  • Other cities/states/countries of residence (places where other blind people may have known this person)
  • Occupation
  • Date of death (day if known, month, year)
  • Age
  • ACB affiliation (local/state/special-interest affiliates or national committees)

Deaths that occurred more than six months ago cannot be reported in this column.

Jim Doherty

James Edward "Jim" Doherty passed away March 12, 2013 at Providence Hospital in Washington, D.C.  He was 80.
 
Jim was born Dec. 8, 1932 in Kansas City, Mo.  He graduated from the Missouri School for the Blind in 1951.  From there, he proceeded to higher education, studying journalism at the University of Missouri in Columbia, graduating in 1955.
 
Jim worked as a braille editor and proofreader at the Ho'opono Rehabilitation Center in Hawaii from 1956 to 1960.  He studied Russian at Georgetown University from 1960-1961, and later became an instructor there.  In 1961, he took a job as a writer and editor at the Office of Economic Opportunity, then took his skills to the Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society in 1991.  He retired in 1998.
 
Jim was a long-time member of the D.C. Council of the Blind, well known for his volunteer work in many Washington area groups.  He wrote and edited the DCCB newsletter, and volunteered at ACB's national office.  He is survived by 2 children, 5 grandchildren, a brother, and a sister.

James F. "Jim" Shaw

James F. "Jim" Shaw, 60, of Louisville, passed away at his home April 28, 2013. He was a retired claims representative for the Social Security Administration, past president of the Kentucky Council of the Blind (2000-2004), and was also a member of the board of directors. He was treasurer of the Greater Louisville Council of the Blind 2009-present, and a board member from 2005-2009. He was also the current president of the Kentucky School for the Blind Alumni Association. Jim was a member of the American Council of Blind Lions and current treasurer of the Tri-state Library Users. Jim was the former president of the Middletown Lions Club. He served as the Kentucky Council of the Blind representative to the Office for the Blind Statewide Rehabilitation Council 2007-2013. He was currently on the TARC Accessibility Advisory Counsel.
 
Since his retirement, Jim was a proofreader of braille textbooks for the Kentucky School for the Blind. He cared deeply for his family and friends and touched the lives of many people across the country.
 
He is preceded in death by his parents, Rollin and Mary Ellen Shaw. Jim is survived by his brother, Rollin Arkins Shaw Jr.; nephews, Justin and Jordan Shaw; and their mother, Linda Shaw. His funeral service was held May 3 at Middletown United Methodist Church, followed by burial in Ebenezer Baptist Church Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, the family requested that donations be given to the Kentucky School for the Blind Charitable Foundation, c/o Rick Ricks, executive director, 214 N. Haldeman Ave., Louisville, KY 40206, or the KSB Alumni Association, Carla Ruschival, treasurer, 148 Vernon Ave., Louisville, KY 40206.

Summary of the Midyear Board Meeting by Paul Edwards

The American Council of the Blind board met in Washington, D.C. on Feb. 22 in conjunction with the midyear meeting and legislative seminar. The meeting was called to order at 9 a.m. and everyone was present except Chris Gray, who was stuck in the airport in St. Louis because of weather and arrived later in the day. The agenda was adopted, and minutes of previous meetings were approved. The president began his report by introducing Tom Tobin, who has just been contracted to work part-time as ACB's director of development. Tom indicated that he is glad to be involved with ACB again, and said that he is looking forward to finding funds for ACB.
 
Mitch reported that he continues to be interested in receiving nominations for our advisory board. He reported that Dr. Lloyd Bowser is the second appointee to that group.  Mitch indicated that he is proud to represent ACB on the committee that was appointed under the law passed last summer to consider prescription drug labeling.  He informed his listeners that he had just returned from Sagebrush, a conference at which Randolph-Sheppard Vendors of America is a primary sponsor. Mitch said that he told the vendors that it is time for us to stand up and share when we believe that public bias is happening where the needs of some groups are being underserved. Carla reported that there is currently a case where vendors are seeking to continue to operate on military bases. In Kentucky, there is currently a case where the military is challenging the right of a vendor to retain priority on military bases and wants to open the facility for bidding to commercial entities.
 
As a part of his staff report, Eric Bridges announced the appointment of Rebecca Bond, who is the new head of the disability rights section at the Department of Justice. Eric reported that a representative of the Department of Justice will be here for part of our legislative seminar. There appears to be a concern that complaints are not moving through the Department of Justice when they are filed as a response to the Americans with Disabilities Act.
 
Melanie reported that she just returned from Geneva, Switzerland where she continues to work with the World Intellectual Property Organization. It is still uncertain just how much progress has been made. It is hoped that language will be ready for a higher level meeting which is scheduled to take place in Marrakech, Morocco in June. Eric reported on the work that he and Brian Charlson are doing with Google and indicated that ACB and Google recognize that they have by no means fixed all their accessibility problems. They are working closely with us and that is helping to build more cooperation among Google departments.  Allan Eustace is the Vice President for Knowledge at Google and is leading the championing of accessibility throughout Google. Last September, Google held an accessibility summit where the leaders of different divisions reported on accessibility rather than hearing from accessibility people.
 
Microsoft changed its platform for cell phones and introduced a phone which completely excluded the blind community. A promise was made that by November of last year we would have an accessible phone. That did not happen. ACB wrote a letter under Mitch's signature and under the signature of Brian Charlson, who is now chair of ACB's Information Access Committee, indicating our dissatisfaction with their accessibility efforts. As a result of that letter, a face-to-face meeting was held with Eric Bridges and Brian Charlson where our concerns were frankly expressed. Eric believes that some progress is being made but only time will tell just how much can be accomplished. 
 
Lane reported that Nancy Becker has replaced Sheila and has become the expert on Donor Perfect in Minneapolis. Lane reported that Jerry Berrier, John McCann and Ray Campbell were extremely helpful in training affiliates to use the new membership component of the Donor Perfect database. He reported that, while there are ongoing hiccups, the system is working well. Kim and Mitch both commended Lane and others for the successful implementation of the new system. It was also reported that the committee that worked on the design of the membership component and included Kim Charlson, Carla Ruschival and Lane was very helpful. Over 40 affiliates are already making use of the new database.
 
Carla began her report on our financial status. For the purpose of her report, she used two documents. One of them is a monthly report for January while the second is a full 2013 budget with final figures for December 2012 included.  Carla felt that, with more creativity, we could get more revenue in such places as ACB Radio and from our web site.
 
Carla also drew the board's attention to the budget elements that show income from investments and pointed out that, when we withdraw from our reserves, we are also lessening our opportunity to benefit from dividends earned by our stocks. The investment report went over ACB's three accounts. These accounts are restricted funds which are used for scholarships, board-designated reserves, and current cash accounts.  The cash account changes all the time, so no figures will be included there. Our scholarships account grew quite a bit last year and, for the first time, reached $1 million by the end of 2012. Our scholarships are now self-sustaining on the income produced by these accounts, and we have been able to increase the size of some of our scholarships. We hold reserves in our board-designated reserve fund that now is at a little more than $1,300,000.
 
Next on the agenda were reports from each of the four goal groups from the new long-range plan. Goal one concerns marketing ACB and an outline for a marketing plan has been developed. Work is continuing to update the ACB web site and to embark on social media in a much more meaningful way.
 
Goal two talked about three approaches that are now being taken to raising funds for ACB. First, Dan Spoone, the chair of goal two, reported that his group is working on ways of raising funds within the organization, outside the organization, and using e-appeals. Progress has been made in all these areas. Donor Perfect is now beginning to provide us with more data both about our members and about those who donate to ACB. Dan also reported that a brainstorming session is scheduled as part of this year's midyear meeting. It is hoped that new ideas for fund-raising as well as on ACB programs and services will emerge from this meeting. Specific efforts will be made to analyze what is learned and to incorporate the results of this meeting into future fund-raising plans. Another important component of fund-raising is the advisory board approved last summer. The creation of this board continues.
 
Goal three concerns staff and integrating them into ACB efforts. Kim Charlson, leader of this goal group, reported that meetings of the group and with staff have been held and, among other things, this group is working on helping to plan meetings so staff do not have to use their free time. There is also work to see how more volunteers can be encouraged to work directly with the staff. It was reported that a new phone system has been acquired at the national office which costs half as much as the old one and has many more features. This will impact information that can be stored there and perhaps how staff can make use of the new system.  Performance reviews have now been implemented so that there are ways of objectively evaluating the effectiveness of staff.
 
The group responsible for the fourth goal, which relates to ACB governance, is headed by Paul Edwards. He went over some of the components of that goal and a tentative meeting date for the group was set.
 
The resource development committee reported that it has already begun to work with our new development director, Tom Tobin. Trivia night has been implemented in several local affiliates. Donation boxes have been distributed in Orlando and will be tried in Tennessee. RDC is investigating "Connect to Give" and had a presentation on this subject, which is a program for donating by cell phone. RDC talked about having a national fund-raiser with a national chain. A letter is planned to encourage people to get involved with convention activities which will this year include the MMS program, the annual walk and our auction.
 
A plan to set up joint fundraising activities between affiliates and ACB is being developed. The board encouraged the RDC to put together a full proposal in this area and bring it back for their consideration.
 
At the end of the board meeting, officers reported on what their committees were doing. The meeting adjourned just after 5 p.m.

No Easy Answers for Long-Term Care by Ron Pollack

(Editor's Note: Ron Pollack is the executive director of Families USA, the national organization for health care consumers.)
 
Tax time has just passed. For many people, that's a time to take stock of finances and to start planning for the future. That should include plans in case you or a family member needs long-term care. It's a tough topic. But if you plan ahead, you're more likely to get the kind of care you want. Here are some questions and answers to help you jump-start the process.

If you need long-term care, what are your preferences?  

Once, long-term care meant staying in a nursing home. Not anymore. Today, there are assisted living facilities, retirement communities with many levels of care, and devices that can help you stay in your home longer.  Think about what you want, and then do as much as you can in advance to plan for it. For example, if you want to stay in your home, make modifications like adding grab bars and accessible entryways.

Should you consider buying long-term care insurance?

Planning is a good idea, but you may end up needing more care than you anticipated. That's where long-term care insurance may help. Long-term care is expensive: The average cost for a year in a nursing home is $84,000, and it is not covered by Medicare. Evaluate your finances and see what you can afford. You might consider buying long-term care insurance, but it doesn't make sense for everyone. Policies are expensive, what they cover varies, and you'll have to be able to keep up with premium payments for years or even decades. Talk to a financial planner or an elder care attorney to help you evaluate what's best for you. The web site www.eldercare.gov, operated by the U.S. Administration on Aging, can help you find an elder care attorney.

When should you start thinking about buying long-term care insurance?  

Financial advisors suggest that it is best to purchase long-term care insurance when you are in your 50s. You can still get a policy if you are older, but the longer you wait, the more a policy will cost.

What should you look for in a long-term care insurance policy?

Policies vary a lot. Here are some things you'll need to understand before you sign up. First, make sure the policy includes inflation protection. Policies usually pay up to a certain amount per day and have a lifetime maximum. You might not need care for decades after you buy the policy, so you need to make sure that the amount it will pay keeps up with inflation. Most policies don't start paying until after you need care for a certain period of time, which is known as the elimination period. You need to know how long that is. Also ask how disabled you'll need to be before coverage begins: Policies require different levels of disability before they start to pay. Finally, make sure the policy covers both home care and nursing home care, and check to see if it excludes coverage for certain conditions. In the end, you need to balance what a policy costs and covers with what you're able to pay. Some experts recommend that you spend no more than 5 percent of your income on long-term care insurance.

What if you can’t afford long-term care insurance and end up needing expensive long-term care?

If you don't have insurance and need care, you generally have to pay for it yourself, which can eat up your assets. But if that happens, there is a safety net: Every state's Medicaid program pays for long-term care. While it's best to not have to qualify for Medicaid, it's there if you need it. It's the only reliable long-term care insurance we have right now.  

Are there other options or resources?

Some states have what's called "long-term care partnership programs." If you buy an approved insurance policy through such a program, you can qualify for Medicaid when you run out of insurance coverage, instead of when you use up your assets. Check if your state has a program. Also visit www.longtermcare.gov, a resource clearinghouse for senior services that includes information on long-term care options.

Are there any policy changes on the horizon that might help?

Unfortunately, we don't have anything like Medicare for long-term care — a national insurance program for everyone. But there is hope for progress. President Obama and congressional leaders recently appointed members to a Long-Term Care Commission. Over the next six months, they'll be developing a plan to improve consumers' long-term care choices. Hopefully, you'll be reading about their recommendations soon.

Will We Ever Gain Access to Game Consoles? by Anthony James

I am writing this not just to the specific agencies involved in blindness advocacy, but to the blindness community as a whole.  The United States has made tremendous progress toward leveling the playing field for the nation's blind and low-vision communities in terms of accessibility in schools and the workplace.  With accessible tests and other study materials, students can now engage on the same level with their sighted peers.  Similarly, the workplace has been improved, with employers now having a better understanding of how best to meet the needs of their blind employees so they can be most productive.  The nation has a long way to go in terms of equality, and there is one specific area that I wish to bring to your attention.  This one area has been long-standing and thus far unaddressed: the issue of dedicated game consoles.
 
I am a totally blind 22-year-old who enjoys gaming like every other young adult.  The problem is that many of the newer consoles, like the Sony PlayStation 3, Xbox Original and Xbox 360, both manufactured by Microsoft, and the Nintendo Wii, are totally inaccessible to the blind and low-vision community.  While it is true that a very limited number of games are playable by the blind community on these consoles, the multitude of other functions available to the sighted community such as movie watching, web browsing, and downloading extra content such as movies and other games from the respective manufacturers are not at all accessible.  As a nation which values equality for all, I believe it's our responsibility to insure that blind gamers who choose to use these consoles have the same rich experience as their sighted peers.  While I understand that a game console doesn't hold the same level of importance as a computer does, I would also like to point out that modern consoles like those listed above are in and of themselves computers with similar functionality.  These consoles can browse the web, download content, be used as DVD players, and connect wirelessly to one's home or office wi-fi network, among other things.
 
While I am not a programmer, I know that several companies have invested time and money in developing screen readers for computers.  JAWS, written by Freedom Scientific, Window-Eyes by GW Micro, and NVDA are the major screen readers, with each one offering a slightly different user experience for the blind or low-vision individual.  Additionally, Apple offers VoiceOver, a powerful yet simple screen reader which assists the blind user to locate and activate items on the screen.  Android offers Talkback, a screen reader similar to VoiceOver.  Both of these screen readers come pre-installed at no additional charge to the user. Several accessible games exist that run on these platforms, games that use audio feedback to help the user know what to do.  Text-based games also exist for these platforms.  In these games, buttons and other page elements are clearly labeled for the screen reader. I believe that a similar solution is not only possible for game consoles, but is, in fact, needed.
 
Modern gaming consoles are powerful devices with so much functionality.  Consoles like those above are menu-driven, meaning that they have a menu structure like a computer to allow the user to access the multitude of functions available.  It is because of this menu system that modern consoles are inaccessible to those who cannot see the screen.  This is where a screen reader can come into play.  The screen reader can load with the regular operating system and guide the user through the menu structure by describing the menu options available. Once a game is loaded, the screen reader can be deactivated manually or automatically.  The screen reader could be used to guide the user through both the system options and the specific menu structure of the game.
 
The blindness community is losing out on so much which is easily available to the sighted community simply because the technology is not accessible.  I am confident that if game manufacturers are made aware of the fact that if they start directing resources toward developing screen readers to run on their respective consoles, they will increase their customer base.
 
The United States is a nation which was built upon the principles of equality for all regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, and most importantly, disability.  The nation has made great progress toward equality for all, but there is still much that can be done, and making game consoles accessible to the blind is yet another way for the nation's population to be equal.

Apathy or Advocacy: Which Shall We Choose? by Larry P. Johnson

(Reprinted, with correction, from "The San Antonio News Express," July 4, 2011.)
 
This July the ADA turns 23. So, what has it done for me? Has it gotten me a job? Installed accessible pedestrian signals at the intersections I use? Put in detectable warnings where I walk? Made the power company send me my bills in braille? Forced manufacturers to make a microwave oven, TV remote, washer and dryer that I can use without sight? Convinced people to stop treating me like a helpless, pitiful burden on society?
 
No, it hasn't done hardly any of that. So, why should I care about the ADA? Why should I celebrate? The ADA hasn't done anything for me. 
 
A better question to ask is: What have I done to help the ADA live up to it promise? How many phone calls have I made, e-mails or letters have I sent, meetings have I attended, hours have I spent advocating for my rights and those of other individuals with disabilities to elected officials, business owners and the general public?
 
We have a choice. We can focus on all that has not yet been accomplished by the ADA. We can lament the huge government deficits at both the state and federal levels, the record high general unemployment, the widespread housing foreclosures and the stagnating economy, and we can surrender ourselves to apathy and inaction. And who would blame us?
 
It's easy to give up, to listen to and believe the politicians' forecast of gloom and doom. It's easy to tire of the struggle, the never-ending daily struggle of trying to right the accumulated wrongs of more than 200 years of American history.
 
But still, we have a choice. Yes, it's a difficult choice. It is the choice to have the courage and commitment to advocate for change. Being advocates means believing that our efforts can make a difference.
 
Things will get better for people with disabilities only when people with disabilities themselves are convinced that it is up to us to make them better. We can no longer afford to waste our time or energy in blaming society, public officials or our families or friends for the state of affairs we're in. Nor does it serve any useful purpose to portray ourselves as helpless victims of a cruel society. We are in charge of our destiny. We have in our hands the power for change.
 
We stand at a historic crossroads. Will we choose the way of apathetic surrender and dependence or the way of self-determination and self-advocacy?

Letter to the Editor

The contents of this column reflect the letters we had received by the time we went to press, May 13, 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.

Difficulties with Stratus

I purchased a Victor Reader Stratus. After using for a while it began intermittently to not remember its place in the music and talking book folders when changing to another folder or turning it off. The software also "froze" when using the 0 key to get information. I made several calls to Humanware tech support and tried several things which did not solve the problem. They finally agreed to have it returned to them for repair. They could not duplicate the problem and returned another used unit that had the same problems. Since this problem has not been satisfactorily resolved, I would strongly advise everyone not to buy a Stratus.  I am extremely displeased with Humanware's customer service.
 
- Ernest and Cheryl Heyborne, Cedar City, UT

A Dream Come True: 'Roots, Reflections, and Role Models' by Sila Miller

Several years ago, I began spotlighting members in "The White Cane Bulletin," Florida Council of the Blind's (FCB) bimonthly newsletter. I could not know then, but those articles would become the foundation for a history book for FCB. With the help of John Richards and the archives committee, we put together something pretty spectacular!
 
The two-CD set consists of everything from Voices of Yesterday, where yesterday's "movers and shakers" speak, to a 1957 edition of our newsletter, to many spotlight articles. There are hours and hours of entertainment, inspiration, and education crammed onto these CDs. Those with a bit of vision will also enjoy the front cover, a collage of pictures as well as a jpg folder with lots more pictures inside. Several people who have played a prominent role in ACB are also featured in the book, including Debbie Grubb, Paul Edwards and Carl McCoy.
 
The "unveiling" of our book was indeed an unforgettable moment for me as I had the honor of presenting Carl McCoy and Donnagene Knutsen with their gift copies on National Library Service (NLS) cartridges. This project/book was dedicated to them for the leadership roles they've played in shaping FCB and working toward the betterment of all people who are blind.  With the blessing of the FCB board, the archives committee decided to market the two-CD set as a fundraiser for FCB. The purchase price is $30 for a two-CD set or $50 for two sets. If you purchase two, you save $10.
 
Sets of FCB "Roots, Reflections and Role Models" CDs may be ordered by contacting me at either silam@earthlink.net or by phone at (850) 251-5556. The disks can be played and viewed in the CD drive of most any computer. Most DVD players also support MP3 and jpg file types as well. Enjoy listening to them in a home or car audio CD player, providing that the player is MP3 compatible. (Check the player documentation in order to locate this information.) If you are using an Apple device, you should be able to load the files from these disks using iTunes.  Chock-full of memories, there's something of interest for everyone in there. Best of all, it is "real-live blind people's" success stories and a huge step towards preserving FCB's rich past. Thank you in advance for supporting FCB with your purchase of our book!

Here and There edited 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.

Braille Summit in Massachusetts

For the first time ever, braille readers, librarians, braille teachers and other professionals with a stake in the future of braille will convene in a braille summit June 19-21 at the Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown, Mass.  This event, organized by the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, will solicit ideas on ways libraries can promote and support braille literacy.  There will be five tracks: braille readers, library selection and collection development, braille production, braille technology, and promoting braille literacy and awareness.  Participants will have the opportunity to listen to experts on each of those topics, then engage in discussion with their peers.  To view the agenda, visit www.loc.gov/nls/conferences/braillesummit/agenda.html.

Scholarship Winners

Learning Ally recently honored six students with its National Achievement Awards.  They are: Michael Jernigan, St. Petersburg, Fla.; Brenton Fuchs, Connecticut; Nichole Green, Lincoln, Neb.; Jack Greene, Boulder, Colo.; Nathan Bouldin, Birmingham, Ala.; and Keith Amundsen, Staten Island, N.Y.  Jernigan, Fuchs and Green received the Mary P. Oenslager Scholastic Achievement Awards, which are presented to blind or visually impaired college seniors or graduate students. Bouldin, Amundsen and Greene received the Marion Huber Learning Through Listening Awards, which are presented to high school seniors with learning disabilities such as dyslexia.

Science Sense Tours

New York's Museum of Natural History offers Science Sense tours to visitors who are blind or partially sighted. Specially trained tour guides highlight specific themes and exhibition halls, engaging participants through extensive verbal descriptions and touchable objects.  Science Sense tours are available to individuals or groups, and are free with museum admission. Space is limited and advance registration is required. Programs may be subject to change. For additional information, or to register for a Science Sense tour, call (212) 313-7565 or e-mail accessibility@amnh.org.
 
Saturday, July 13th, 10 a.m.: Ocean Life. Plunge into the ocean to explore aquatic habitat dioramas in the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life.
 
Thursday, August 15th, 2:30 p.m.: North American Mammals.  Discover the dioramas in the stunningly restored Bernard Family Hall of North American Mammals, which offers a snapshot of North America's rich environmental heritage.

Voice-Compatible Weather Station

Netatmo's Urban Weather Station, made for iPhone personal weather station with air quality sensors, is now compatible with Apple VoiceOver!  It allows users to monitor indoor and outdoor environmental elements such as: CO2 concentration, temperature, humidity, barometric pressure, noise pollution levels and air quality, indoors and outdoors, and sends data via Wi-Fi to the Netatmo app on an individual's iPhone.  For more information, visit www.netatmo.com.

Big-Button Remote Controls

Big Button Universe recently released its newest product line, big-button universal remote controls, designed specifically for visually impaired, seniors and those with memory problems.  The BB20 controls a TV and one other device, such as a cable box.  The BB30 controls a TV and two other devices.  All BBU remote controls feature a large-faced keypad, which allows a senior citizen to easily see and understand which buttons he/she is pressing. Each button is also imprinted with braille, to help both blind and low-vision customers with channel surfing. For more information, visit www.bigbuttonuniverse.com.

Ready for Graduation?

Are you looking for a special gift for your favorite graduate?  National Braille Press has many gift ideas for graduation, including decorative magnets, books and tutorials, pendants, and much more.  Go to www.nbp.org or call1-800-548-7323.

Blind Campus Opens with Two Ribbon Cuttings

Blind Campus held an open house April 6th to celebrate the opening of its new office and resource center. Blind individuals and their families as well as center staff joined together to cut the ceremonial red ribbon.
 
The official grand opening of Blind Campus was held April 18th.  Rock Springs, Wyo.'s mayor, Carl Demshar, was in attendance, along with the Rock Springs Chamber of Commerce's executive director, David Hanks; both presented gifts to Robin Lonnevik, executive director of Blind Campus. 
 
Many events, classes, support groups and clubs are being planned.  If you have any questions, please contact Robin M. Lonnevik, Blind Campus, P.O. Box 2303, Rock Springs, WY  82902; phone (307) 352-9811, or visit the web site, www.blindcampus.com, or e-mail blindcampus@hotmail.com.

Karen Gourgey Honored

Karen Gourgey, director of The Computer Center for Visually Impaired People (CCVIP) at Baruch College, was recently honored with two awards for her dedication and service to the blind and visually impaired community throughout the city and state.  New York City Council member Gale A. Brewer presented her with the Matthew P. Sapolin Visionary Award during the 6th Annual Employment & Visual Impairment Conference at Baruch College on April 19.  On April 23, the New York State Association for Education & Rehabilitation (NYSAER) for the Blind & Visually Impaired also recognized Dr. Gourgey's achievements with the Nat Seaman Award, given in recognition of leadership and service to people with disabilities throughout the state. The award was for 30 years of advocacy for furthering the cause of people who are blind and visually impaired.

WonderBaby Wins Award

WonderBaby.org, a web site dedicated to helping parents of young children with visual impairments as well as children with multiple disabilities, is among this year's winners of a Parents' Choice Approved Award in the Website category.  WonderBaby was created in 2006 by Amber Bobnar, after her son Ivan was diagnosed with Leber's congenital amaurosis.  The site offers helpful and practical articles and links, as well as the chance to connect with families in similar circumstances.

Children's Stories from Around the World

Storybud features children's stories from around the world.  It's designed specifically for visually impaired users.  You have 3 different formats to choose from: text versions, audio versions, and combined text and audio versions.  You can download them to your own computer and enjoy them anytime.  Stories are categorized by age, theme, continent and title. For more information, visit www.storybud.org, or send e-mail to tigerone@eircom.net.

Braille Awards & Signs

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

Facebook Group for Overbrook Grads

Are you on Facebook?  Did you graduate from the Overbrook School for the Blind?   If so, there's a Facebook group for you.  Visit  http://m.facebook.com/groups/355612747846239?prev_msg_time=1345602219&pr....

Blind Café

Looking for entertainment or inspiration?  Visit the Blind Café!  It's a place where the blind community can learn, laugh, chat and make long-lasting friendships with people from around the world. Come and check out the music, trivia games, tutorials, interactive chats, and a whole lot more! It's accessible and easy to use.  And it's free!  For more info, visit www.BlindCafe.net.

High Tech Swap Shop

For Sale:

Brand new, 2013 high-end HP Pavilion G6 notebook computer in sparkling black.  Has 2.7-gig processing speed, 8 gigs RAM, 1 TB hard drive, Windows 8 with JAWS 14 installed, Kurzweil scanning software, Office 2010, awesome sound system/speakers with thousands of MP3 songs also installed, large library of hundreds of described audio tracks of movies (many recent and classic ones too), high-definition screen, fully wireless, Bluetooth, multiple USB type 3 ports, multi-card reader, DVD drive, 8 hour+ battery life, and free American phone tech support for life of computer.  State-of-the-art technology for a blind person, and it's ready to go right out of the original shipping box.  Asking $950 or best offer.  Call Al at (410) 382-6506 or e-mail Ducharme.alfred@gmail.com.

For Sale:

CCTV Topaz 17".  Has had less than 5 hours of use.  Asking $2,000 or best offer.  Contact Rick Agman at sunshinerick@att.net.

For Sale:

Braille writer in excellent condition.  Asking $450.  Call Rosemir Rodriguez at (714) 865-5555.

For Sale:

Perkins brailler.  Asking $300 (includes shipping).  Contact David New at (561) 703-9716, or via e-mail, rdavidnew@gmail.com.

For Sale:

Western digital portable hard drive with 2 TB capacity, USB 3.0, brand new.  Asking $120.  Dell computer with 1 gig RAM, 80-gig hard drive, Windows XP, Microsoft Office 2007, and JAWS 14.  Asking $125.  Brand-new Samsung laptop with Intel 7 processor, 8 gigs RAM, 1 TB hard drive, Windows 7, Office 2007 and JAWS 14.  Asking $1,250.  Brand-new Sony Ultrabook with 13.3" wide screen, weighs 3.8 pounds, has 8 gigs RAM, 750-gig hard drive, Windows 7, JAWS 14.  Asking $1,250.  Toshiba laptop with 15.6" wide screen, Windows 8, 3 gigs RAM, 1 TB hard drive, and a demo version of JAWS 14.  Asking $800.  Contact Jose at (818) 220-6256.

Wanted:

Digital Bible (the New King James Version) and a 27-line by 30-cell Marburg braille slate and stylus, so that I may take a Bible course from Torch Trust for the Blind in England. Send those items to Ibrahim Umar Abdulkarim, PO Box 5426, Kano, Kano State 700001, Nigeria; or contact him via e-mail, ibrazain02@gmail.com, or via cell phone, 234-701-210-6080.

Pears

To learn my pears,
I line them up on a windowsill
at my reading table
where their stems lean,
becoming like wicks.
 
The sun's finger and thumb
will rub those stems
without kindling them,
choosing to caress
their plump bodies warm.
 
My pears will not melt
as would scented candles
lit in the aging twilight,
but they will still shine
my kind of light.
 
Then I will know
how to bite into pears
in the kindest way
and how to accept
their sweet forgiveness.
 
- John Lee Clark

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