The ACB E-Forum, December 2013

The ACB E-Forum
Volume LII December 2013 No. 6
 
Published by
the American Council of the Blind
 
The American Council of the Blind strives to increase the independence, security, equality of opportunity, and to improve quality of life for all blind and visually impaired people.
 
Kim Charlson, 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 ACB E-Forum (TM) is available via e-mail, as well as via download from www.acb.org. 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.
 
The ACB Radio Café features the work of blind artists 24/7 at www.acbradio.org/café.
 
Got a request? Tune in to ACB Radio interactive and ask the DJ on duty to play it for you at www.acbradio.org.

ACB E-Forum December 2013 downloads

President's Message: Making Employment a Priority: ACB and NIB Share a Mission, by Kim Charlson

For the past 50 years, we have been hearing the same statistics about the rate of employment for people who are blind in the United States. Seven out of every 10 Americans of working age who are blind are not employed. These numbers have not changed significantly over the decades, which is why ACB continues to make employment issues one of its highest advocacy priorities.
 
One of ACB's partners in the work of growing opportunities for employment for people who are blind is National Industries for the Blind (NIB). NIB is the largest employer of people who are blind or visually impaired in the U.S., with its associated agencies employing roughly 5,000 individuals with vision disabilities. NIB-associated agencies provide people who are blind with employment and rehabilitative services such as early childhood intervention, adult literacy, low-vision services, braille literacy, nutritional/health services, occupational/physical therapy, personal and career counseling, recreation, transportation, mobility, daily living skills, employment training, and more. NIB operates under the AbilityOne Program, which helps employ individuals who are blind as well as those with other severe disabilities.
 
Each year, NIB and the National Association for the Employment of People Who Are Blind (NAEPB), hold a conference to bring together leaders from associated agencies to discuss best practices in procurement, human resources, manufacturing, and other relevant areas to the AbilityOne Program. At this year's conference, NIB and its agencies also held a closing gala dinner, which celebrated the 75th anniversary of NIB's programs and services. Eric Bridges, ACB director of external relations and policy, and I represented ACB and were honored guests on Friday evening, Oct. 11, 2013. The awards gala also recognized the achievements of employees of the year from NIB-associated agencies for their dedication and outstanding work inside the AbilityOne Program.
 
For 75 years, National Industries for the Blind has been focused on its mission to enhance opportunities for economic and personal independence of persons who are blind, primarily through creating, sustaining and improving employment. Despite continued gains in employment, people who are blind remain one of the nation's greatest untapped labor resources.
 
Today, NIB is not only focused on creating jobs, but on developing careers through challenging, skilled positions in high-quality work environments. NIB works with 91 associated non-profit agencies based in 35 states, at more than 250 locations, offering a wide range of career opportunities.
 
Federal budget uncertainty and the across-the-board cuts that resulted from sequestration have been devastating for many of NIB's affiliated agencies. It is estimated that hundreds of people have been laid off throughout NIB's nationwide network of agencies. Hundreds more have been impacted by work slowdown and furloughs. If the sequester remains law, it is clear that more blind or visually impaired employees will be negatively impacted.
 
According to a survey by NIB and NAEPB that measured employment conditions during the first three quarters of fiscal year 2013 at NIB-associated agencies, budget uncertainty and sequestration have resulted in considerable layoffs. In particular, product purchases by the Department of Defense and the General Services Administration have fallen and people who are blind are losing their jobs, with little hope of obtaining other employment. Those people experiencing job loss will also be forced into greater reliance on federal benefit programs, thereby increasing costs for the federal government and taxpayers.
 
During the first three quarters of FY 2013, 35 of the 55 NIB associated agencies responding to the NIB/NAEPB survey were forced to reduce hours for their employees due to lower AbilityOne sales, and since the end of the third quarter, 31 agencies were forced to lay off employees. The result is jobs lost for a total of 774 employees (both blind and sighted), including 465 employees who are blind (61% of total employees).
 
A reported 66.7% of respondents – 36 agencies – anticipated a need to lay off employees before the end of FY 2013 if AbilityOne Program support does not improve. Anticipated layoffs by agencies that were able to predict the impact include a total of 1,205 additional employees (both blind and sighted), including 720 additional employees who are blind (61.6% of total employees). This data shows a clear connection between the triggering of sequestration and its negative impact on the employment of people who are blind and employed through the AbilityOne Program.
 
Many NIB-associated agency employees are ACB members. During our national conference and convention in Columbus, ACB adopted a resolution calling on NIB to develop a communications plan to spotlight the damage that the sequester has caused for so many blind and visually impaired employees working under the AbilityOne Program. NIB has done so, and is embarking on several initiatives, including outreach to Congress to inform members of the negative impact of sequestration.
 
ACB stands ready to assist NIB in reaching out to Congress, the federal government, and national media to insure that the damaging effects of the sequester are reversed so that people who are blind can continue to work and be active participants in the American dream.

Access to the Television Environment Now in Sight by Melanie Brunson

On Oct. 31, 2013, the Federal Communications Commission released a Report and Order adopting new accessibility requirements for televisions, set-top boxes, and other devices used to watch video programming, as required by the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 (CVAA). 
 
This final rule represents a victory for ACB and the broader blind community! This outcome would not have been possible without the energetic response to our calls for assistance from members, as certain consumer electronics industry representatives sought to reverse accessibility language contained in the CVAA. As a result of your efforts and the productive negotiations that ACB and our colleagues at the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) had with the consumer electronics industry, manufacturers of televisions, computers, tablets, smart phones, and other devices used to watch video programming will need to make built-in functions related to video programming and on-screen text menus and visual indicators accessible to individuals who are blind or visually impaired, if achievable.  Manufacturers must also enable viewers to access video description via mechanisms that are reasonably comparable to buttons, keys, or icons.
 
Manufacturers of set-top boxes and cable and satellite television companies that lease or sell set-top boxes must make their on-screen text menus and program guides that are used to display or select video programming accessible to individuals who are blind or visually impaired, if achievable.  Accessible set-top boxes or accessibility solutions must be provided upon request and at no additional charge to individuals who are blind or visually impaired.  Documentation that verifies that the individual is blind or visually impaired may be required in certain circumstances.
 
These requirements take effect three years after the Report and Order is published in the Federal Register, and five years after publication for mid-sized and smaller cable operators and small cable systems.
 
Well done, everyone! The days of being able to have full access to our home theater environment are in sight!

Touring Las Vegas by Janet Dickelman

The 53rd annual ACB conference and convention will be held at the Riviera Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nev. Convention week will be filled with informative seminars, workshops and programming, our exhibit hall will be brimming with technology, crafts and products for home, school, work and play. This month I'll focus on our tour plans!

2014 Tours

Come early, and stay late! See what fun we have planned for this year's convention in Las Vegas. This is a tentative overview of our 2014 tours. Please keep in mind that due to unforeseen circumstances, dates and tour venues may be changed.
 
On Friday, July 11th, visit the west rim of the Grand Canyon. This portion of the canyon is on Hualapai Indian reservation land.
 
The Hualapai will act as our ambassadors as we visit several different sites. Take a wagon ride on the ranch. Stroll through Indian Point, a village of Indian dwellings from teepees to adobe huts which represent the lifestyles of several tribes covering several hundred years. Visit with the artists who create unique turquoise jewelry. If you'd like, you can add on a walk on the glass skywalk overlooking the canyon. Sorry, but because of the glass floor on the walk, the Hualapai nation cannot have dogs or metal-tipped canes travel the walk.
 
On Saturday, July 12th, get ready for the most extraordinary ride of your life!!! Experience the thrill of tandem skydiving! You will be trained by licensed instructors who have made thousands of jumps. Soar up to 15,000 feet with views of the Las Vegas strip as well as Lake Mead, Hoover Dam, and the Colorado River. You and your instructor will jump, free-falling at 120 to 140 miles per hour for 50 to 60 seconds. After the parachute opens, you will have a 5- to 7-minute parachute ride where you will be able to help the instructor steer the parachute to the ground for a nice, soft landing. Note that this once-in-a-lifetime experience will cost approximately $225 and has a 240-pound-per-person weight limit.
 
Once again we will offer city tours on Saturday and Sunday (July 12 and 13), where you can learn about the history of Las Vegas without leaving the comfort of your tour bus.
 
Another all-day tour will be a raft trip (no paddling, just relaxing) on the Colorado River through Black Canyon. The canyon, formed over millions of years by volcanic activity, lies just below the mighty Hoover Dam where the canyon walls rise nearly 2,000 feet from the river's edge. Raft downstream through spectacular and historic Black Canyon, with a beach stop for lunch, before arriving at Willow Beach Marina on Lake Mohave, where you can visit the gift shop. ACB's immediate past president Mitch Pomerantz did this tour last fall and said it was wonderful!
 
One of our final Saturday tours on July 19th is a visit to the Richard Petty driving school. Get suited up and, along with a driver, experience the thrill of going from zero to 60 miles in 3 seconds. Take 3 laps around the track at speeds of 150 to 165 miles per hour! After speeding around the track, visit the Petty garage for a hands-on look at race cars and the tools used to maintain them.
 
We are also working on setting up a hard-hat tour at Hoover Dam. Our second tentative tour on either Friday the 11th or Saturday the 19th will be a visit to Bonnie Springs Ranch. If you are a horse lover, take a trail ride through the Red Rock Canyon. Tour an authentic replica of an 1880s mining town, and a petting zoo featuring native and exotic animals. Indulge in a western barbecue.
 
During the week there will be tours to the Mob museum, the atomic museum and a "thrill seekers" tour to ride the world-famous roller coaster at New York New York, along with the coaster and slingshot rides at the Stratosphere.
 
We'll also take a tour of two local wineries. It will be grape harvest time, so in addition to wine tasting, we'll learn about how grapes are harvested.

Calling All Kids!

Bring the family to Las Vegas! While the adults spend time at a variety of programs, the convention has plenty to offer the younger set.

Kids Explorers Club

Bring the kids (ages 6 to 12) for a great week of games, crafts, swimming, and trips; every day is packed with fun.  Breakfast, lunch and snack included.  Open Monday, July 14th through Thursday, July 17th, from 8:15 to 5:00, and on Friday from 8:15 until after the banquet.

Calling All Teens!

Don't be bored – have a blast with Teen Blast.  Be a Teen Blast volunteer; have fun on Teen Blast trips.  Teen Blast launches on Saturday at 2:00; there will be pizza, prizes, and planning more cool stuff for the week.  For teens and young adults 13 and up.
 
Participants for Kids Explorers Club and Teen Blast must register and pay the convention administrative fee before attending any events. 

Reservation Details

Room rates at the Riviera are $87 (single or double) plus tax, plus $10 per additional guest. Room taxes are currently 12%. Make telephone reservations by calling 1-800-634-6753 or online by visiting the ACB web site at www.acb.org and following the 2014 conference and convention link.

Convention Contacts

Stay in touch by joining the ACB convention e-mail list. Send a blank e-mail to
acbconvention-subscribe@acb.org.

2014 Exhibit Information

Michael Smitherman, (601) 331-7740, amduo@bellsouth.net

2014 Advertising and Sponsorships

Margarine Beaman, (512) 921-1625, oleo50@hotmail.com
 
For any other convention-related questions, please contact Janet Dickelman, convention chair, at (651) 428-5059 or via e-mail, Janet.dickelman@gmail.com.

Announcing the 2014-15 ACB Scholarship Program

Spread the word far and wide.  The 2014-15 ACB scholarship program is going live.  Beginning Dec. 1, 2013, the online application for ACB scholarships will be available for students interested in participating in the program.  Go to www.ACB.org, fill out the application, and submit it.  Each student's information will be evaluated, and notifications will be sent to every applicant. 
 
All pertinent information, including eligibility requirements, submission dates and needed documentation, can be found online.  If you are a student, or if you know a student who would like to apply, direct him or her to the web site. 
 
For further information, contact Dee Theien at (612) 332-3242 or Michael Garrett (scholarship committee chairman) at Megarrett4443@sbcglobal.net.

Expansion at the Mini Mall by Carla Ruschival

Listen! Can you hear it? Sawing, drilling, pounding!  New shops, kiosks – even a new department store – are under construction at the ACB Virtual Mini Mall.
 
If all goes as planned, and there are no delays in delivery of materials or strikes by construction workers, you'll find these new businesses in the Mini Mall, ready for your visit just in time for the holiday shopping season.  Best of all, most purchases throughout the Mini Mall support the good work of ACB.

Canes:

Oops! You broke your cane?  It slid down a grate, or you left it on the bus?  Our new Mobility Kiosk in the Mini Mall can help.
 
We've sold the B-Canes for years, and customers love being able to select the exact length of their cane as well as any number of sections they want.  Now, we've added graphite and aluminum canes from Revolution.  All these options – all in one handy Mini Mall kiosk.

Cell Phones:

Next is our new cell phone store, with talking phones from Odin Mobile.  Check there also for accessories featuring the ACB logo for iDevices and other popular brands; also available in the ACB Treasures Store.

Maxi-Aids:

Talking watches and clocks, braille and large-print cards and games, magnifiers, practical products for every room in the house – browse the thousands of items on the Maxi-Aids web site.  When you order products using the partner link from the Mini Mall, a percentage of most purchases goes to ACB.

4 Paws Gallery:

Is your dog or cat just too wonderful for words? Give family and friends, puppy raisers and others gifts featuring your guide dog or pet. The 4 Paws Gallery lets you add photos to mugs, T-shirts, sweatshirts, magnets, bags, and many other gifts; make your own ACB Treasure. For more information and custom pricing, e-mail us at acbmall@acb.org, or give us a call at 1-877-630-7190.

ACB Treasures:

There are new ACB Treasures designs for the holidays.  Our cute Christmas teddy bear is seated with a red-and-gold-wrapped package between his feet. He's wearing a Santa hat, and the pads of his feet are ACB logos.  Look for Christmas Teddy on stockings, ornaments, greeting cards, mugs and T-shirts.
 
Our other ACB Treasure for this season is a snowy Christmas town scene.  A beautiful angel is coming out of the clouds above, and she's ringing the Christmas bell. This exquisite design is available on cards, ornaments and much more.
 
Note: Angel or Teddy can be added to other ACB Treasures products upon request. If you find a product in the ACB Treasures Store that you like, but it is not available in the holiday design of your choice, drop us an e-mail or give us a call and we will try to create it for you.

ACB General Store:

Check here for products like the audio dart board, talking thermostats, and a neat little SD card organizer that keeps up to 10 of those little cards secure, each in its own snap compartment.

Amazon:

Whether you are shopping for described DVDs, batteries, non-perishable food items, toys, digital downloads, tabletop grills, or any of thousands of other items, you can help ACB and get your shopping done at the same time when you visit Amazon.com through the special link on our Audio Description Project page.  Follow the link to the ADP page from the ACB home page at www.acb.org, or go there directly at www.acb.org/adp.

Details:

Visit the ACB Mini Mall from the ACB home page at www.acb.org, or by entering mall.acb.org.  Remember that each store has its own shopping cart and check-out process, just like in a regular mall.  Call us at 1-877-630-7190 or e-mail us at acbmall@acb.org if you need help locating products or ordering in the Mini Mall.
 
A catalog of ACB Treasures and other selected products in the Mini Mall is available in braille, large print, and on audio CD.  The catalog does not contain all products in the Mini Mall, as items are constantly changing.  Prices are also subject to change and items may be removed from the catalog without notice.  For information on Maxi-Aids products, please see their catalog.
 
Stay up to date.  Subscribe to the mall e-mail list by sending a blank message with the word "subscribe" in the subject line to mall-subscribe@acb.org.

Charting the Course for ACB's Information Future by Ron Brooks

At the beginning of 2013, and in response to a very tight budget, the board of publications took two actions which are still being discussed today. First, we increased the size of "The Braille Forum" from 32 to 56 pages, and decreased the number of issues from 8 to 6 bimonthly issues. Second, we introduced a new publication (which was ultimately dubbed "The ACB E-Forum") to run in those months during which "The ACB Braille Forum" was no longer offered. One result of these actions was that we were able to share more than twice as much information with ACB members and subscribers as before at virtually no additional cost. However, our actions have also led to a growing concern by some members that we are denying informational equity to a large percentage of our members, namely those who cannot access or read information presented electronically. It is true that more and more blind and visually impaired people are gaining access to technology and to the Internet, but there remains a large percentage of our members who either cannot or will not access information presented electronically.
 
For these reasons, and in light of our evolving use of technologies like computers, the Internet, smart phones, refreshable braille and all the rest, the members of the BOP feel that the time has come to take a fresh look at what ACB publishes, how we publish it, and the best and most appropriate ways of distributing the information we publish.
 
For now, the BOP is not planning any changes to either "The ACB Braille Forum" or to the newly created E-Forum. However, we are planning a number of activities during 2014 which will help us to plan changes for 2015 and beyond. The purpose of this article is to summarize our plans for 2014 and to let each of you know how you can assist the BOP as we move forward.

Answering Ms. Bopeep

When a BOP member hears the call of Ms. Bopeep, we do not hear the call of home. Rather, we hear the call of an ongoing quality assurance exercise called "Board of Publications Editorial Excellence Project" or BOPEEP for short. We use BOPEEP as a means of checking every published edition of "The ACB Braille Forum" and E-Forum for everything from consistent formatting, to spelling and grammar accuracy, to the consistent use of page margins and white space. Through BOPEEP, it is our hope that absolutely every page of every edition of "The ACB Braille Forum" and "The ACB E-Forum" will be just as we all want it to be — namely, perfect. This will not only make the magazines better and more appealing to those who obsess over comma splices or dangling participles; it will make the magazines more accessible and user-friendly for all of us.

Improved Formatting for Large Print Publications

In response to concerns raised by several representatives of one of ACB's largest special-interest affiliates, the Council of Citizens with Low Vision International, the BOP is in the process of investigating various ideas for improving the readability of all of our large-print publications. Ideas we are exploring include larger print, different fonts, more white space around blocks of text, and different page sizes and layouts.

Panning for Gold

The need to improve the accessibility of our large-print publications could further stretch our resources. Therefore, we will continue to work with the board of directors, the resource development committee and interested affiliates and chapters to develop new and innovative ways to increase the amount of money which is earmarked for Forum and E-Forum productions.

Seeking Your Input

Those of us on the BOP know and believe that the best way to garner support and financial assistance for any and all ACB publications is to ensure that those publications address the needs, interests and concerns of as many ACB members and subscribers as possible. Therefore, we are planning to conduct a comprehensive survey of as many ACB members and Forum subscribers as possible. Subjects for which we will seek your comments will include, among others: 

  • Information formats which are accessible to you and your relative preference for each, e.g., large print, braille, audio cassette or audio CD/DVD, computerized speech, etc.
  • Reading devices which you use and your relative preference for each, e.g. cassette tape recorders or players, CD/DVD players, computers with and without Internet access, computers with refreshable braille and/or braille notetakers, iPhones and other smart phones, etc.
  • Which formats of "The ACB Braille Forum" and E-Forum are accessible to you
  • Which format you prefer
  • How often you read "The ACB Braille Forum" and "ACB E-Forum" and how much of each publication you read each time they are published
  • Which articles or types of articles you like and which are of less interest to you
  • Whether, how, and to what extent you use the information provided to you within ACB publications
  • Whether, and how much, you would be willing to pay to offset the actual publication cost of ACB publications and whether you would pay more or less if payment was sought on a voluntary rather than mandatory basis

In order to ensure that our survey reaches the widest possible audience and that return rates are as high as possible and reflective of our entire membership base, including people who do not have access to computers or the Internet, we will publish the survey in an upcoming edition of "The ACB Braille Forum," in an upcoming edition of "The ACB E-Forum," on-line accessible via the ACB's web site and via e-mail. We will also provide copies to each state chapter and special-interest affiliate as well as to each member of the board and national staff. All of these members will be asked to assist any member to complete the survey if asked. Finally, we will use the BOP Editors' Workshop during the 2014 conference and convention to conduct a town hall meeting regarding this project and to receive feedback from any and all who attend.
 
The members of the BOP want to assure you that we will continue to publish both "The ACB Braille Forum" and "ACB E-Forum" with the same frequency as we did in 2013, and we will work hard to improve the quality and accessibility of both publications. In the meantime, if you have specific comments or suggestions, please share them with us by sending an e-mail to bopchair@acb.org. You may also contact any member of the BOP or the editor, Sharon Lovering, in the ACB national office.

Summaries of the 2013 Pre-Convention and Post-Convention Board Meetings by Denise Colley

One of the responsibilities of the representative of the board of publications to ACB's board meetings is to provide our membership with a timely report of what our board is doing in "The ACB Braille Forum."  Included here are summaries of the 2013 pre-convention and post-convention board meetings.  I apologize for their lateness and pledge to do better in the future.

ACB Pre-Convention Board Meeting

The ACB pre-convention board meeting, held in Columbus, Ohio, on July 5 was called to order at 9 a.m.  The first item of business was the roll call. Brenda Dillon and George Holliday were absent. The minutes of the mid-year board meeting were approved.
 
President Pomerantz began his report by informing everyone that the ONCE president, Miguel Carballeda, was unable to attend the convention due to an injury he sustained from a fall.  He then reported that work has been concluded on the accessible prescription drug labeling committee; a report will be sent to the Access Board on July 10, 2013.  ACB will be further involved in the upcoming public relations effort regarding this matter in conjunction with the National Council on Disability.  A new member to the advisory board, approved via a constitutional change in 2012, was named earlier in the week. His name is Dr. David Stuchiner.  He is a medical doctor who is blind.
 
A motion was passed that a meeting of the advisory board be convened this summer

Staff Reports

Melanie Brunson began the Arlington office report by informing the board that ACB has received a grant from the Aid Association of the Blind of the District of Columbia, in the amount of $30,000 to fund audio description in the D.C. area, and to fund advocacy efforts regarding monitoring of Section 508 compliance and requirements.  Kim Charlson asked for clarification on the division of grant funding; Melanie stated and Lane Waters corroborated that the grant was a 50/50 disbursement.  Eric Bridges, who now serves on the Aid Association's board, clarified that the association has cleared ACB to use more than 50 percent for advocacy, if necessary.
 
Melanie touched on her recent WIPO-related work in Marrakech.  She indicated that the World Blind Union will be involved in next steps regarding the treaty to improve access to books for people who are blind or visually impaired, particularly in places in the world where there are not authorizing agencies such as the NLS.  The U.S. must sign and ratify this treaty, which will take effect only after it has been signed and ratified by a total of 20 countries.
 
Eric Bridges reported on various activities, including ACB's testimony to Congress concerning access to media. ACB participated in an undercover story regarding discrimination by taxi drivers against guide dogs.  A local TV channel recruited Melanie and Eric to participate.  While the story was local, it went viral, and calls came in from all over the country. Both Melanie and Eric will be filing complaints against the cabs that passed them in the video.
 
CMS coverage of low-vision devices will be an ongoing effort; it is moving slowly. Eric believes that this coverage will eventually occur, but more advocacy work will be needed.
 
Brian Charlson represented ACB to the Senate where he testified on video description.
 
All priority 1 resolutions have been addressed; some are still ongoing.  AFB and ACB have held meetings with Senate staff regarding the Anne Sullivan Macy Act.  Many pieces of legislation are being held up and the parent legislation, IDEA, is scheduled to be updated. However, there is no clear idea when this legislation will in fact be brought forward. It is hoped that the ideas involved in the Macy Act will find their way into the reauthorization of IDEA even if the act itself is not introduced.  This makes the Anne Sullivan Macy Act negotiations even more important, as these will help raise awareness of the needs of students with visual impairments.
 
The resolution regarding UEB has resulted in the creation of a UEB implementation planning group. On Oct. 16th, there will be a planning meeting held in Louisville, Ky., to which ACB has been invited by BANA. After that, more detailed plans will be developed where the role of all braille readers and stakeholders will be more fully designed and implemented.
 
Ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities fell short by 6 votes. Sen. John Kerry is interested in continuing to carry this effort forward.
 
In her editor's report, Sharon Lovering provided an overview of her activities since January.  All information from affiliate lists that had come in were entered into the new AMMS database by the end of May.  She said she enjoys using the new system. She especially likes being able to export to an Excel file; many more of our affiliates are using Excel.  She provided a statistical comparison of "ACB Braille Forum" and "E-Forum" issues sent out, by format, for January-July of 2013 and 2012.
 
Lane Waters reported for the Minneapolis office.  The audit is complete and will be distributed to the finance committee. A meeting was to take place after convention with the auditors for finalization of the audit report.
 
Lane said the Donor Perfect database is working well, and he will work with Implex to streamline the synchronization of data to the Donor Perfect database system.
 
The thrift stores are still an issue. He needs to make a trip to Texas to look at new management in Amarillo.
 
Carla Ruschival did not present a detailed treasurer's report, though the figures through May 2013 were distributed. Instead she highlighted some of the most significant current trends. Our investments have been down over the past few months, but we are actually a little better off in terms of net difference between what we need and what we have.  Another reason that we are not taking a detailed look at the treasury for this meeting is that much of our financial activity now surrounds the convention, so we will gain more knowledge of where we are after it is over.
 
The next element of the meeting was reports from the strategic plan goal groups.  Carla Ruschival, group one, reported that our social networking presence has improved; a description of duties for administrators in these ventures has been developed and disseminated.  ACB now has a Facebook page, and they expected to send posts from convention. ACB Radio has updated its web site.  This group plans to be involved with the database improvements over the next year. The group will be submitting a marketing plan for ACB to the board for its review.
 
Dan Spoone, group two, reported that it is working to fill positions on the advisory board.  Groundwork has been laid to improve the functionality of the ACB Radio and acb.org donor databases.  Thought is being given on how to conduct e-appeals; e-mail addresses are being linked to individuals and as of July, we had linked 3,300 names and addresses.
 
Kim Charlson, group three, reported that this group is responsible for dealing with staff and volunteer support for the organization.  Issues which have been identified include staff benefits and compensation, ensuring that policies and procedures are consistent between the Arlington and Minnesota offices, and regular performance appraisals.
 
Janet Dickelman gave the convention report.  She reported that staff was working really well with convention-goers, and things were going well thus far. Many afternoon sessions would either be streamed live or recorded for later airing on ACB Radio.  The 2015 convention will be held at the Sheraton in Dallas.
 
The board then moved into executive session, where no action was taken.
 
The meeting adjourned at 2:35 p.m.

ACB Post-Convention Board Meeting

The ACB post-convention board meeting, held July 12, was called to order at 10:03 a.m.  The first item of business was the roll call. All board members were present.  After the roll call, the news was shared that immediate past second vice president Brenda Dillon had passed away after a long illness.  A moment of silence was observed in Brenda's honor.
 
Larry Turnbull, ACB radio managing director, next gave the ACB Radio report.  He provided listener counts broken down by convention session or workshops.  Overall, listenership was up from 2012, except for the opening session, where we were down.  95 listeners tuned in to the Candidates' Forum. We received some nice feedback from listeners. He indicated that all of the convention sessions and workshops which were either streamed live or recorded would be available on the ACB Radio Archives, which can be accessed at www.acbradio.org/acb; click on the 2013 link, then access general sessions under one heading, workshops under a second heading.  The ACB Radio web site has been converted into Drupal and has undergone a makeover, with Live Events and World News streams added.  Larry acknowledged the team which helped him with ACB Radio coverage this year.
 
Jeff Thom and Mark Richert next presented the resolutions prioritization report.  This process is used to determine which resolutions need to be worked on, in priority order, by staff.  This year there are more of priority-one resolutions than usual.
 
President Kim Charlson began her report by repeating the appointments she has made to the board of publications.  They are Denise Colley, Lacey, Wash., as chair, and Ron Brooks, Phoenix, Ariz., as the other appointed member.  She indicated that she will be taking immediate past president Pomerantz's list of current committee chairs and his recommendations as she works to appoint ACB committees for 2014.  She also indicated she wants to expand the role of officer liaison to include directors as well.  She reminded the board that the fall board meeting will take place on Saturday, Sept. 28 at the Riviera Hotel in Las Vegas, Nev.  The dates of the 2014 midyear board meeting, presidents' meeting and legislative seminar in Washington, D.C. are Feb. 21-25, 2014.  A suggestion was made that the board contact affiliates who have not had representation at recent midyear meetings to do what we can to encourage and help them to get people to those events.
 
Tom Tobin, development director, joined by phone.  He, Melanie Brunson and Jo Steigerwald, whom Tom has engaged to assist with grant writing, will be meeting to review grant opportunities, some of which have Aug. 1 due dates.  Tom has developed a five-page plan to generate additional revenue.  He reported that the last direct mail appeal, sent out in April to 3,600 donors, has generated $5,864.55 in donations thus far with a 4.78 percent return rate, at a total cost of $6,000.  He recommends that our next appeal go out in late August, focusing on back to school, with an end-of-year appeal after that.  Tom indicated if we wish to increase our mailing database to 10,800 which would be a threefold increase over the April appeal, we'd need to increase our budget, and he, Melanie and Lane would be meeting in the next 10 days to develop budget numbers.
 
Motions were made and passed that the board conduct a planning session either on the Friday before the fall board meeting or on Saturday before that meeting to develop a strategic fundraising plan for ACB, and that the board hold a teleconference meeting within the next month with Tobin.
 
Dan Spoone gave the resource development committee report.  He discussed the proceeds we'd received from the walk, the ACB auction, "ACB Braille Forum" raffle and appeal for donations during convention roll call.  As of convention time, ACB had received $60,000 in donations and pledges, with additional dollars still coming in from the walk.  A motion was made and passed to rename the ACB walkathon the Brenda Dillon Memorial ACB Walkathon.
 
Carla reported that the ACB Mini Mall had done well during the conference and convention, bringing in between $6,000 and $7,000.  She thanked everyone for their support and all of the people who helped in the booth.
 
Don Stevens, ACB parliamentarian, addressed the board.  He indicated he will be unable to work with ACB in 2014 after 10 years for personal reasons.  He thanked ACB for giving him the opportunity to learn about the organization and help ACB with parliamentary issues, helping us to do business in a more efficient manner.  The board thanked Don for his work and wished him well.
 
Jeff Thom reported that the voting task force intends to conduct a mock telephonic vote as they work through the issue of remote voting for ACB.  This will happen after a number of logistical issues are addressed.
 
Janet Dickelman gave a final convention report and indicated she would be taking suggestions on the 2013 conference and convention.  Several suggestions and questions were offered by the board.  Janet will begin working on the 2014 conference and convention, which will take place from July 11-19, 2014 at the Riviera Hotel, Las Vegas, Nev. Finally, she will begin working with Dallas for 2015, dates of July 3-11, 2015.
 
Berl Colley indicated plans are under way for a second national leadership training to be held on Friday, July 11, 2014 in Las Vegas.  It will be a similar format to the 2012 training in Louisville.  He stressed we need to let our affiliates know about this soon so those interested in attending can plan on being there.
 
A motion was made and passed by acclamation to elect Berl Colley, Carla Ruschival and Dan Spoone to the 2013-14 ACB budget committee.
 
Following caucuses by both the ACB officers and directors, those elected to the 2013-14 executive committee include: president Kim Charlson, first vice president Jeff Thom, immediate past president Mitch Pomerantz, and directors Sara Conrad and Dan Spoone.
 
Dan Spoone asked that the board have a discussion of officers and board members adopting affiliates to help strengthen their relationships with them, and that such discussion take place during the fall board meeting.
 
The post-convention board meeting adjourned at 2:27 p.m.

In Memoriam: Florence Adeline Holden Sept. 4, 1916 – Aug. 6, 2013 by Margaret Johnson

Florence Adeline Holden, 96, of Perryville, formerly of Little Rock, passed away Aug. 6, 2013.  She was born in Independence County (Mitchell's Cove) located three miles west of Locust Grove, Ark. in 1916.  Visually impaired from birth, she attended the Arkansas School for the Blind at age 9 in 1925, graduating in 1936.  She served as the recording secretary for the ASB Alumni for 25 years. Adeline married Chester Hamilton Holden in Pine Bluff on August 9, 1950.  They were married for 42 years until his death on July 26, 1993. 
 
Adeline was preceded in death by mother Kate Rutledge Foushee; her father, Fount Louis Foushee; her brothers Fount Louis Jr., Easrom Dewey, Lee Frank, Herman Russell, Barr, and Charles; her sisters Elizabeth, Virgie B. Keller, and Hazel P. Niehaus.
 
Adeline was active in all consumer organizations of and for the blind in Arkansas.  She belonged to the Arkansas Council of the Blind, and served several years as president. She was a member of Antioch Missionary Baptist Church of Little Rock from 1968 until her death. 
 
When those of us in Arkansas think of Adeline, we think also of her husband, Chester, because they worked as a team on everything.  They both were quite active in helping to establish the Arkansas Radio Reading Service, and when Adeline retired from the health department, she donated the $500 given to her as a retirement present to the radio reading service. There were all those dinner parties at their house, with crowds of friends filling every room except the bedrooms.  There were all those trips to the national conventions of the American Council of the Blind where we shared lunch in their hotel room, where they hosted the Arkansas caucus.  Then there were the times when they had their friends and ours, Bill and Erline Bauer, over to help Chester study the Sunday school lesson he was to teach the next Sunday.  Of course, this event included a serving of Adeline's freshly baked pie and cups of coffee. 
 
When Adeline and Chester were able to participate in the Arkansas School for the Blind Alumni Association, they seemed to make everything run smoothly, and they really had a concern for the students at the school and blind people in general.  Their lives were filled with church activities, the ASB Alumni Association, the American Council of the Blind that they brought to Arkansas in 1970, Adeline's job at the Hearing and Speech Clinic at the Arkansas State Health Department, and Chester's work in the Arkansas Business Enterprise Program for the Division of Services for the Blind that included the RSVA affiliate of the American Council of the Blind. 
 
Adeline was interred at Pinecrest Memorial Park, right beside Chester.
 
Adeline and Chester are in a much better place, but we do miss them, and we will remember them the rest of our lives. 
 
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Missionary Baptist Seminary at Antioch Missionary Baptist Church, 5300 Stagecoach Rd., Little Rock, AR 72205.

Understanding the Difference between Medicare and the Marketplaces by Ron Pollack

(Editor's Note: Ron Pollack is the executive director of Families USA, the national organization for health care consumers.)
 
If you have Medicare, you may be confused by the buzz surrounding the launch of the new health insurance marketplaces, which are part of the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare). What do these marketplaces mean for you? It's important to understand that Medicare and the marketplaces are entirely separate. If you have Medicare, you should make the same kinds of decisions about your Medicare coverage that you make every year during open enrollment. You should not sign up for a marketplace plan. But if you know people who don't have insurance, they should look into this new option. Here are some frequently asked questions about Medicare and the marketplaces.
 
Q: If I have Medicare, should I look for insurance in my state's marketplace?

A: No. The marketplaces are intended to help people who don't have health insurance. If you have Medicare, you already have health insurance. You should make the same kinds of decisions about your Medicare coverage that you make ever year.
 
Q: If I have Medicare, do I need to worry about the new requirement to have health insurance?

A: No. If you have Medicare, you already meet the requirement that people have insurance starting in 2014. This is true even if you have only Medicare Part A. You do not need to buy any supplemental coverage to comply with anything in the Affordable Care Act.
 
Q: So what should I do about my Medicare coverage?

A: Similar to last year's schedule, Medicare's open enrollment period runs from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7, 2013. During Medicare open enrollment, you can decide whether to change plans, join a new plan, or keep the same Medicare coverage you have. If you have a Medicare Advantage or Part D prescription drug plan, you should check to see if your plan will be changing in 2014, and you should assess whether your medication needs have changed. If you have traditional Medicare, you can think about whether you want to join a Medicare Advantage plan. And thanks to the Affordable Care Act, Part D drug coverage will continue to improve in 2014, and Medicare will continue to cover most preventive benefits with no co-payments.
 
You can learn about your Medicare choices by going to the Medicare web site at www.medicare.gov or by calling 1-800-MEDICARE. For personalized counseling, ask for a referral to your local State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP).
 
Q: What if I have Medicare and someone tells me I need to get a new plan because of Obamacare?

A: This is not true. Watch out! Dishonest people may try to take advantage of consumers by telling them they need to buy a plan when they don't need to. In fact, it is against the law for anyone to sell you a marketplace plan if he or she knows you have Medicare. Also, remember that Medicare supplemental ("Medigap") plans are not sold through the marketplaces. Never give your Medicare number or Medicare card to someone you don't know. You can report suspected Medicare fraud at www.StopMedicareFraud.gov.
 
Q: What about people I know who do not have Medicare or other health insurance?

A: There is good news for these folks! People who do not have insurance will be able to buy health plans through the marketplaces, or they may qualify for expanded Medicaid. Coverage starts on Jan. 1, 2014. Many people will also be eligible for financial assistance to help pay their premiums. These folks include early retirees who are waiting for Medicare coverage, or they could be your adult children or grandchildren. Help your friends and loved ones by letting them know they have new options. They can learn what's available by going to www.healthcare.gov or by calling 1-800-318-2596.

My Last Mobility Lesson by Deon Lyons

This will probably be my last written lesson recap, as my orientation and mobility program is winding down. It has been a long, hard, and grueling 20 or so months since I first held a cane, and I have learned a lot. I have learned how to deal with different dilemmas, and have been taught the skills necessary to take on the world and be an independent traveler. I have been praised, as well as reprimanded, when the time was right. I have learned how to take my fears, worries and nightmares and turn them into a tremendous opportunity for growth and maturity. I have been blessed to have been given the opportunity to turn the frightened, vulnerable person from those dark days in early summer 2010 into a capable, independent individual who just happens to be blind.
 
This lesson was one of the most difficult things I have ever done. It also gave me some excellent learning opportunities. It was one of the best cane-travel days I'd ever had.
 
Several weeks ago, Rosemary, my O&M instructor, told me of the lesson that she had in mind. She left it up to me to come up with a plan, and to carry out the lesson on my own.
 
The objective was to plan a trip from my home to the Apple store, located in the Maine Mall in South Portland, where I was to meet up with Rosemary. At first, I cringed at the thought. After several days of thinking about the task, I thought about the promise I made myself: that I would not walk away from any challenge, no matter how much I wanted to.
 
Trying to lay out the lesson in my head was rather confusing at first. I tried to figure it out in one fell swoop, without being able to jot down notes or map out the lesson on a piece of paper.  It was quite trying at times.
 
The first thing I needed to do was to learn the schedules of the three different buses that I needed to use. The first bus, the KVCAP bus from Waterville, was fairly familiar to me, as I had taken that particular route a couple times in the past few months. I determined that the best time would be the 8:30 bus, which would put me at the Concord Coach terminal in Augusta around 9:15 that morning.
 
After calling the Concord terminal, I was able to plan the second leg of the lesson, which would have me on a bus departing from Augusta at 10:15, and arriving at the Portland terminal around 11:25. This part of the lesson had me a little worried, as I failed to fully prepare for the transition from the Concord Portland terminal out to the Portland city bus stop, which was the starting point of the last leg of the trip. I also had to do some last-minute preparations for when I arrived at the Maine Mall.
 
I did not follow each step of the planning in an orderly fashion. I ended up zigzagging from one step to another. I was a little upset that I let my planning get disoriented, but it all worked out in the end. In the future, I should be able to better sort out the planning, and make sure that each step is done in order.
 
After getting a ride from my wife to the Concourse in Waterville, I hopped onto the 8:30 KVCAP bus to Augusta with no problems. There was one other gentleman waiting for the same bus, and we struck up a nice conversation.
 
I informed the bus driver that I was going to the Concord Coach terminal, and asked her whether the drop-off point was in front of the doors. She told me that she would be able to drop me off directly in front of the terminal entrance. She did, and I entered the building with no difficulty. As I walked through the terminal, the head clerk asked me if I needed help, and directed me to the counter, where I purchased a ticket for the 10:15 bus to Portland. I asked him if it would be possible to have some assistance when I arrived in Portland. He told me that he would call the Portland terminal to let them know, and also let the bus driver know. I settled into a seat in the terminal to wait for the bus.
 
The next hour was filled with sounds of travelers arriving at the terminal. It got rather loud and busy inside the terminal. I always get excited in situations such as this – always have – and without the visual input to explain what was going on, I felt a little uneasy with all of the commotion around me. But the anxiety that I felt was very small compared to what it would have been just a few short months ago.
 
The bus departure was announced over the loudspeaker. I could hear where the passengers were leaving the terminal to catch the Portland bus, so I got up and started walking toward the doors. The head clerk approached me and told me he would be happy to help me get out through the doors and onto the bus. I told him I would appreciate the help, and was told to wait in the lobby, as he had to go out first and help the driver load the bags into the storage compartments of the bus.
 
I took a few more steps toward the doors, as I could see the light coming through them. As I approached them, a passenger asked me if I would like some help outside. I accepted his offer. The bus driver came up to me and introduced himself, and then offered his assistance. Once again, I accepted the offer, and soon found myself in the front seat, immediately behind the driver. I sat down and took a deep breath, and felt relaxed, as I had an hour to go before I arrived in Portland.
 
The bus pulled into Portland on time, and as soon as I exited the bus, a Portland terminal employee approached me, introduced himself, and said he would be able to help me out to the Portland Metro bus stop. I felt like I had cheated somehow – it seemed too easy. Having him guide me all the way out to the bus stop was very helpful, and I think I shook his hand 11 times as I thanked him.
 
As I stood at the stop, I felt a sense of accomplishment and a burst of pride. I felt like I was a million miles from home. It felt exhilarating, and scary, and unbelievably electrifying. I had been in Portland so many times in the past, but this was the first time I had felt like I was really "in" Portland. I felt a little overwhelmed with all of the sounds and smells. As I stood there, I realized that at that particular time, I was experiencing the end results of all of the hard work I had done in all of my lessons. I was being handed something new, and for the most part, I knew exactly what to do. It felt good, and new, and strangely appropriate.
 
As I waited for the 11:35 bus to the mall, a girl came up to the bus stop. I could hear her drop her heavy suitcase, and immediately asked her if she was taking the bus out to the mall. She said that she had been on the bus from Augusta with me, and that she was taking the bus out to the airport, and wasn't sure if it was the same bus that I was waiting for. The bus stop apparently had a placard on the inside wall that contains the routes and numbers of the bus line, and as she studied the information, she told me that we were waiting for the same bus. I smiled as another piece of the puzzle fell into place.
 
She told me that she was heading home to New Mexico, and had just finished her year at Colby College. I told her that I lived nearby Waterville. She seemed a little preoccupied, so I ended the conversation. As she told me that she needed to go back to the terminal to get some change, the bells from a nearby railroad track sounded. Once again I was hit with just how far from home I was, and how vulnerable I felt. This feeling didn't last long, as the sound of the approaching bus grew closer.
 
The bus pulled up to the stop, and the doors opened, with the driver shouting out to me, asking me if I was going to the mall. I smiled and hollered yes. As I approached the bus, he informed me that there was about a foot gap between the curb and the bus entrance. I thanked him as I climbed aboard. As I handed him the fare, he informed me that there were seats open on the left. I quickly made my way to an open seat. Just as I sat down, I felt a large bag plopping onto the seat to my right. It was the girl I had been chatting with at the bus stop. I smiled, sat back, and took another deep breath.
 
The bus ride to the mall was full of all types of audible excitement. The sounds of the air brakes, the city traffic, car horns, sirens, and the sounds of the passengers in the bus, it all sounded wonderfully busy to me. It sounded like I was heading to the mall, and as I smiled again, the loudspeaker bellowed, "Macy's, Maine Mall, next stop."
 
The bus stopped, and as I got up and moved toward the front, the driver asked me if I needed help exiting. I politely told him that I didn't. He again told me that there was about a foot gap between the bottom step and the sidewalk. I thanked him again as I navigated down the steps and out onto the sidewalk in front of Macy's.
 
I took several steps until I found the wall of the store. I turned and reached into my pocket for my digital recorder and my cell phone. I had recorded all the information that I would need for the trip, and quickly found the mall security phone number, which I called. I told the officer on the other end that I had arrived at the Macy's stop of the Metro route, and that I needed assistance to get into the mall and to the Apple store. After ending the call, I leaned onto my cane, and wondered if Rosemary was nearby, watching and waiting.
 
A few minutes later I heard the faint sound of keys jingling, and wondered if it was one of the security officers approaching. It was, and as I took his arm, I smiled again. The last piece of the puzzle took its place. I was on my way into the mall, and to the Apple store.
 
As we arrived at the store, he asked me if there was someone I was supposed to meet, and what they looked like. As soon as I described Rosemary, I heard her voice behind me. At that point, I started celebrating in my mind. The confetti and balloons started falling, and as the master of ceremonies congratulated me, I took another deep breath. I had made it. I had successfully thought out, planned, and carried out my last mobility lesson, the hardest, most gratifying lesson of all.
 
I thanked the officer, shook his hand, and turned my attention to Rosemary. She asked if I was hungry, and I told her I was. We made our way to the mall's food court, with her guiding me along the way.
 
We ordered sandwiches and found seats, and as we sat there and ate, I couldn't keep from wandering back through the past few hours. I tried to stay focused on our discussion, but I found myself thinking about making my way to Portland. I felt great, and as I took a deep breath, I was able to take in all of the sounds of the mall. I had grown up nearby, and had been in the mall a hundred times during my youth. I knew where I was, and how I got there, and it felt wonderful!
 
We talked and ate our sandwiches, and then made our way back to the Apple store, where we got information on some of the apps that are available for their products. I also got the chance to play a little with a new iPad. The store was alive with the sounds of technology.
 
As we left the store, and headed outside to Rosemary's car, I actually got a small sad feeling that the lesson was finished. I realized that we still had an hour and a half ride back to Waterville, but the lesson felt like it had come to an end.
 
The ride home was full of discussion about the lesson, the past year and a half, and all of the things that blended in between. Rosemary told me several times how proud of me she was, and how confident I looked as I stepped off the bus at the mall. After hearing this from her and from others, it is starting to sink in. The scared little boy is starting to look and feel like a competent, capable man. I need to remember where that boy has been, and all that he has felt, been scared of, and overcome. I can never let myself forget how far I have come, and will hopefully never lose focus on how much farther I still have to go.
 
I realize that every time I leave home, I will embark on a new mobility lesson. All of the variables of the day will continue to come cascading in on my world. I also realize that I am no longer fearful of the unknown. I am ready, willing and able to tackle the rest of my life, one mobility lesson at a time.
 
I can never properly express my thanks to the division for these learning opportunities, and for having such a wonderful instructor as Rosemary placed in my path. I am where I am today because of her devotion, steadfast drive, determination, and wonderfully natural guiding instincts. I am blessed to have been given the chance to work with her, and have grown quite fond of the comfortable feeling of knowing that she has always been just a few steps behind me, ready to teach, praise, and steer me straight.

Creative Aging: It Ain't Over Until It's Over!! by Teddie-Joy Remhild

Now that I have actually attained the amazing age of 80 years, how does that feel to me and to the others in my world?  For me, it is a breathtaking thought. How did it arrive so quickly?  Do I feel decrepit, demented, or displaced?  How am I perceived by those I encounter in my world? Do they view me as any of the above, or do they view me as "amazing" or the exception to the negative image of "old woman"?
 
These are only a few of the questions which occasionally cross my mind as I proceed into old age, and I do not "go quietly into that dark night."
 
Why do we think of aging as being similar to a crime?  We especially criminalize females who dare to age, turn gray or display a wrinkle.  I wonder why aging has become a dreaded prospect, and yet we hear that more and more people are celebrating 100th birthdays.
 
I want to be one of the celebrators and to proclaim that I am still of as much value as any young girl and possibly even more so.  I have more knowledge, experience, hopefully wisdom and creative thoughts now than at previous times in my younger life.  I am smarter about my relationships and about how I choose them.  I keep friendships and cherish them, and that's a new realization of aging.  As I come to the awareness of how valuable and limited my time is, I not only cherish it, I expend it selectively and with great care and consideration.  I also carefully select those with whom I will spend that treasured time.
 
I consciously care about my mental and physical health and I work hard at disciplining and educating myself on ways to enhance both aspects of my humanity.
 
As I create my personal version of aging, I must, at the same time, confront and protest the demeaning and disrespectful attitudes which permeate our media and our own perceptions.  While I was a student at the USC School of Gerontology, one of the facts which stuck with me is that, if you hate the idea of aging, that will ultimately become self-fulfilling in your own aging process.
 
I celebrated my 80th birthday and plan to celebrate the gift of every birthday as they unfold and my own unique version of creative aging.

What's an SRC? What Are the Functions That Distinguish an SRC from an Advisory Council? And Why Is It Important to Have ACB Representation on Yours? by Doug Powell

(Editor's Note: Doug Powell is the chairman of the rehabilitation issues task force.)
 
In the October ACB E-Forum, we looked at ways to have input into the rehabilitation system.  This article will look at the State Rehabilitation Council (SRC) to see the vital role it plays in influencing policy, programs, and practice of the rehab system.  We hope to persuade you that among all the advocacy opportunities that you confront as an active ACB member, your representation on your state's SRC is important to the services your members and potential members receive.  We also hope to guide you in how to get appointed to the body in your state that is directly shaping policy and program decisions.

Consumer Advocacy into Vocational Rehabilitation

"The intent of the Rehabilitation Act is to create a public rehabilitation system that is both consumer-oriented and consumer-driven. For practical purposes, the state must manage the day-to-day operation of the VR program. But it is vital that consumers and advocates have an effective voice in this system at the highest levels. The SRCs ARE that voice. They embody the essential partnership needed to make sure state VR services are truly consumer-focused." (Reprinted from "The Role of the State Rehabilitation Council Training Module," www.erehab.org.) States have chosen different configurations to meet the Rehab Act requirements.  Some have boards rather than councils.  Twenty-four states have a separate agency serving blind and visually impaired citizens, and many of those agencies have separate SRCs. Regardless of their configuration, according to the Rehab Act amendments of 1998, SRCs are more than advisory councils; they are partners with the state agency in reviewing, analyzing, and advising the agency on policies and programs.

The Mandated Seats on the SRC

The federal Rehab Act mandates at least 15 seats on the council.  States may add to this number, but the basic requirements are in the law.  These seats are designated to different stakeholder groups so that policy and program decisions will have positive outcomes in employment.  The designated seats differ slightly between combined agencies and "blindness" agencies, but examples of groups to be represented on the council are:  business and industry, current or previous recipients of services, and disability advocacy organizations.  Complete lists can be found in the resources at the end of this article.

Responsibilities of the SRCs

The law goes further in defining specific responsibilities that are supposed to be accomplished by the partnership of the agency staff and the SRC.  These functions include:

  • Annual Report – The SRC takes primary responsibility for the production of this yearly progress report going to, at minimum, the state governor and RSA.
  • Consumer Satisfaction Surveys – The SRC has primary responsibility for soliciting, compiling, and reviewing these surveys and suggesting program and policy improvements based on the feedback.
  • Public Meetings – The SRC has primary responsibility for determining how, when, and where these meetings take place, and compiling the feedback for suggested improvements.
  • Comprehensive Statewide Needs Assessment – The SRC helps implement and review results of this triennial look at whether eligible citizens are receiving adequate services.
  • The State Plan – The SRC reviews this plan of how programs and services will be implemented and suggests improvements based on the functions above.
  • Quarterly Meetings – The SRC meets at least quarterly with VR staff to exchange progress reports and review, analyze, and advise staff on policies and programs.

Although this is not a complete list, you can see that our representation and voice on SRCs can have a very real impact on VR services.  The scale of relative partnership responsibility in all of these functions outlined above differ from state to state, but if you sit on a body that is not doing a lot of what is mentioned above, you are not directly impacting VR on an SRC.

How to Get Appointed to an SRC

The law says that the governor or his/her designee makes SRC appointments, so the particulars are left to the state.  There will be some kind of application/vetting process that many times takes more time than we would like.  Contact your VR director or commissioner for information on how it works in your state.  Anecdotal evidence suggests that it may be harder to get on an SRC of a combined agency (where all disabilities are served by one agency) than it is for a separate "blindness" agency, but we feel that representation on a combined agency is critical for a low-incidence, profound sensory disability group so that our needs don't get lost in the push for quick, cheap, successful case closures.

Resources

The Rehabilitation Act – part of the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) that applies directly to the rehabilitation of people with disabilities: Rehabilitation Act Training Modules for SRCs (or anyone interested in rehab and the work of SRCs):  http://www.erehab.org
 
The SRC/VR Partnership: Working Together Works, IRI Document #36 – an excellent resource on what the SRC does and how various SRCs organize to accomplish their responsibilities: http://www.iriforum.org/books.aspx#36ua
 
The ACB Rehabilitation Issues Task Force
Doug Powell (VA), chairman; home (703) 573-5107, cell (571) 438-7750; e-mail doug.powell.oldjock@gmail.com
Sue Ammeter (WA); phone (360) 437-7916; e-mail sue.ammeter@cablespeed.com
Lucy Birbiglia (NM); home (505) 323-2190, cell (505) 307-3718; e-mail birbiglia@q.com
Paul Edwards (FL); (305) 692-9206; e-mail edwards.paul955@gmail.com
Sarah Presley (DC); (202) 246-6506; e-mail gosarah@yahoo.com
Lori Scharff (NY); (516) 695-6370; e-mail lorischarff@gmail.com
Pam Shaw (PA); (267) 319-3737; e-mail pshaw228@aol.com
 
Join ACB's rehab stakeholders list to keep abreast of happenings in the rehab world and exchange ideas with others trying to improve the rehab system.  Go to www.acb.org/mailman/listinfo and follow the instructions to subscribe to rehab-stakeholders@acb.org.

Marketing and PR Strategy and Resources by Ron Milliman

(Editor's Note: Ron Milliman is the chairman of the public relations committee.)
 
The objective of this article is to share with all of you the overriding strategy that guides the ACB PR committee, and the many resources the committee has created that are available to all of our affiliates and chapters. These resources, including our personal consultation, are completely free. Just ask, and you shall receive!
 
The overriding strategy this committee has adopted and uses as its guiding light is as follows.
 
To compete with other organizations with much larger budgets, the PR committee seeks to empower our numerous affiliates and chapters by providing the tools and resources they need to launch and sustain effective marketing and public relations efforts within their respective geographic target market areas.
 
In fulfillment of this strategy, the PR committee has created and provides the following tools and resources free of charge to our ACB affiliates and chapters:

  • An extensive set of professionally created public service announcements (PSAs) that are available for their use from www.acb.org, or upon request from our national office or from the chair of the PR Committee;
  • The Press Release Handbook for ACB Affiliates and Chapters, which includes: Chapter One: The Magic of the Press Release; Chapter Two: Writing Press Releases the Media Will Love; Chapter Three: Getting Your Press Release Distributed; and Chapter Four: Recognizing Press Release Opportunities;
  • The PSA Handbook for ACB Affiliates and Chapters, which includes: Chapter 1: What Is A PSA; Chapter 2: Audio Recording at Home; Chapter 3: Creating a Video PSA; Chapter 4: Getting Your PSA Distributed; Appendix A: Sources for Audio and Video Files That You Can Use; and Appendix B: Sample Media Release Form;
  • The Guerrilla Marketing Handbook for ACB Affiliates and Chapters, which includes: Chapter One: Getting Started: Planning, Developing and Launching Your Guerrilla Marketing Campaign; Chapter Two: Free Bulletin Boards and Calendar Listings; Chapter Three: Free Placement of Flyers and Brochures; Chapter Four: Creating Effective Media Releases; and Chapter Five: How to Develop Your PSA Campaign;
  • White paper entitled "Are You a Senior Citizen Struggling with Vision Loss?";
  • White paper entitled "Are You the Parents of a Blind Child?";
  • White paper entitled "Creating a Media Kit for Your ACB Affiliate or Chapter";
  • The PR committee's quarterly open conference calls that focus on specific marketing and PR-related topics that are open to all of our members;
  • Marketing and PR-related articles, like this one, published in "The ACB Braille Forum"; and
  • Personal consultation available to all affiliates and chapters from the PR committee.

Again, all of these tools and resources are readily available free of charge from the ACB web site, or our ACB national office, from the PR committee, or from me, chair of the PR committee: Dr. Ron Milliman, phone (270) 782-9325, or via e-mail, rmilliman@twc.com.
 
Now, when the question comes up about marketing and PR efforts in your monthly meetings or during your affiliate conventions, you can share with your members the availability of these tools and resources. If our ACB affiliates and chapters do their part in their geographic target market areas, we will be covered in all of our states and in many areas within each state. Collectively, we can be far more effective than ACB national can be with its extremely limited budget. To achieve the same results from our national office that our affiliates and chapters can achieve by using the tools and resources our committee provides would require a national marketing and PR budget in the millions of dollars, money that we simply do not have. So, we urge all of our ACB affiliates and chapters to obtain copies of the materials described in this article, read them, and use the strategies and tactics covered. It will allow you to reach out and bring in new members, and at the same time educate the general public, letting people know we are not a bunch of poor, helpless blind people, but we are much like they are, leading very normal lives, raising families, going to work and facing many of the same life challenges as they are in their lives.

Musings: Bleak, Bleaker, Bleakest by Paul Edwards

In 2007, before the crash, there was a general belief that the unemployment rate of people who are blind remained at the same level it has been at for two decades. Seven out of every 10 blind people were alleged not to be working. Then came the crash. Suddenly huge numbers of people with no disabilities were out of work and were now competing with people who are blind in a job market with fewer and fewer jobs. Though I have not seen statistics, I would expect that jobs are harder to find if you do not have experience or if you have a disability. Soon after the crash came the disturbing news that the federal government was not doing a good job of employing people with disabilities. In fact, statistics suggest that the feds are or, at least, were doing worse than they were 20 years ago.
 
What is true at the federal level is likely to be true at the state level as well. One of the most usual ways of employing people with disabilities at the federal level involves the use of schedule A employment. This allowed agencies to hire people with disabilities who might not meet all the criteria for a job. Such "employees" were placed in a probationary status that often lasted for two years. I have again not seen statistics but there is certainly a lot of discussion that suggests that many of these schedule A probationers are let go before their probation is up. I hope that the federal government will explore this contention. It is ridiculously easy to dismiss probationary employees and most have very little recourse. All too often, a dismissal, whether justified or not, makes employment at the federal level in the future impossible.
 
And then came sequestration! Suddenly, people who were blind who had hitherto been exempt from inclusion in the ranks of the threatened, now found themselves seriously affected. These are people who work in industries programs. These programs depend on federal contracts and, as a result of sequestration, these contracts are just not available. Suddenly programs all over the country do not have enough work for those blind people who work there. Most programs are trying to survive by offering blind people fewer hours. However, unless sequestration goes away or contracts with industry programs are exempted, there is a real question as to how long these outfits can stay open.
 
And then came the federal shutdown. Now another group becomes disadvantaged. Vendors in federal buildings are not federal employees. However, when buildings are closed, vending facilities are closed too! The shutdown is over now, but perhaps only for a few months!
 
So, as 2014 arrives, we are probably worse off than we have been for years. And, as if that were not bad enough, we are faced with bills in the House and the Senate that contemplate making changes in the way that rehabilitation services are delivered. Of particular concern is the idea that RSA should be broken up and moved to other agencies. ACB is working actively on all these issues, but I am not sure that it is likely to have much impact. The truth is that I am beginning to think that we need to make changes that are even more far-reaching than those that are already happening if we are to succeed in making much of a dent in employment levels of people who are blind.
 
Why do I feel this way? First, more and more people who are blind have secondary disabilities. Because of mainstreaming, I would argue that more and more people who are just blind are coming out of high school less able to be placed in a job. I think this is particularly true because most blind youngsters don't have nearly enough contact with other blind people. That, in itself, may be the subject of another whole article. For now, though, I want to look at another issue. More than a decade ago I saw a statistic that was both interesting and frightening. It suggested that a huge percentage of blind people who were let go before they completed their probationary period were absolutely capable of doing the job for which they were hired. Instead, other factors beyond pure job performance were responsible for them losing their jobs. Sometimes it appears that blind employees do not know how to behave on the job. Sometimes blind people are not comfortable living on their own. What these realities suggest is that rehabilitation may be focusing too narrowly on job training and not paying enough attention to broader issues that may be far more responsible for failure.
 
The whole point of this rehearsal of how bad things are is to suggest that it is time for us to try thinking out of the box about employment. Do we need to look at changing what we do for blind job seekers? Should rehab be doing more about assuring that people who are blind are truly adjusted to the community as well as job-ready? Should we look at changing post-employment services so that cases can be reopened more easily? Should more attention be paid to adjustment in post-employment services? Is there a role for organizations like ACB at the local level in helping rehab do a better job?
 
I don't pretend to have all the answers! I may not even have all the questions! The issue that we need to face squarely is that things are as bad as they have been for decades in terms of employment. Those who supervise rehabilitation are looking at making changes because they know as we do that we are not doing any better with employment than we were 20 years ago. I absolutely know that nobody will continue to support programs where only three people out of every 10 are successful! Somehow we must work with rehab to make things better!
 
We also have to work with blind people. If we are honest, we know that a lot of people who keep going back to rehab are doing so for all the wrong reasons. There are lots of people who go back for what they can get and have very little intention of truly going back to work. There are others who want to put in enough quarters to qualify for SSDI and then are quite content to quit and live for the rest of their lives on us. That has to change too! There are hard questions that we as leaders of the blind community must face. The truth is, though, that only 10 percent of the people who are blind have chosen to join consumer organizations. So the question that we need to ask more urgently than any other is how do we change people who are blind who have no intention of becoming members of ACB?

Jury Awards Blind War Vet $160,000 for Discrimination by Credit Union

Jury finds NuVision Credit Union denied disabled vet loan because he did not have a driver's license
 

Huntington Beach, Calif., Oct. 25, 2013 – A federal jury awarded Army Sgt. Major Jesse Acosta $160,000 in a legal victory finding that Huntington Beach-based NuVision Credit Union violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Unruh Act by denying Jesse Acosta a loan because he could not produce a valid driver's license. In 2006, Sgt. Major Acosta was blinded and suffered severe Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) while serving in Iraq.  
 
The jury found that NuVision discriminated against Acosta when it refused to fund a $20,000 loan that had been approved but not funded when NuVision found out he was blind at the signing of the loan documents.  Acosta received a phone call from the bank informing him, "You didn't tell us you were blind, that's a problem." "I told them it was wrong to cancel my approved loan because I was blind; I felt humiliated and very angry," stated Acosta, who advocates on behalf of veterans and wants his win to help others fight disability discrimination.
 
The jury found that the ADA prohibited NuVision from requiring a blind person to produce a driver's license to qualify for a loan, without a legitimate business interest. Instead of modifying the discriminatory policy, NuVision required Acosta to look for a co-borrower with a driver's license, and submit a new loan application.
 
"The $160,000 damages included exemplary damages because it was intentional discrimination," explained civil rights attorney Patricia Barbosa. 
 
Acosta sought legal help following his experience as he battled depression, anger and severe episodes of PTSD that caused him great physical and mental anguish, as he relived the helplessness he felt in dealing with NuVision's denial of his loan. "It was never about the money," Acosta said, "it was to make sure NuVision never treated another disabled person like they treated me."
 
Attorney Patricia Barbosa, the founder of Barbosa Group, who has more than 20 years of experience enforcing civil rights, said, "I'm very happy that the jury vindicated Mr. Acosta, and will end NuVision's discrimination. Their policy — that blind customers must have valid driver's licenses — is reminiscent of past bank practices requiring women have their husbands co-sign a loan, because women could not be trusted with business decisions. The ADA became the law of the land 23 years ago.  It is long past time for NuVision and other businesses to recognize that persons with disabilities are entitled to full and equal access to all aspects of our society."

Voting Rights Victory in California

San Francisco, Oct. 16 – In a major victory for voters with disabilities who are blind and visually impaired, a federal court ruled today that Alameda County must ensure that blind and visually impaired voters are able to vote privately and independently during elections. The secret ballot is one of the most fundamental and cherished American rights, yet Alameda County argued that blind and visually impaired voters do not have a right to a private and independent vote.
 
Rejecting this argument, Magistrate Judge Spero issued a groundbreaking decision that will help allow voters with disabilities to fully participate in the electoral process. The ruling is expected to have national implications. Read the court's decision at www.dralegal.org.
 
Plaintiffs are represented by Disability Rights Advocates (DRA), a non-profit law center with offices in California and New York City, which specializes in civil rights cases on behalf of persons with disabilities. The suit, which seeks no damages, was filed on July 25, 2013, the day before the 23rd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Plaintiffs, California Council of the Blind (CCB) and five blind individuals, filed the action after blind voters in Alameda County encountered numerous problems voting with the audio and tactile features of the county's accessible voting machines during the November 2012 general election. When functioning properly, these machines read the on-screen ballot information aloud via headphones, and allow blind voters to independently input ballot choices using tactile controls. As a result of the malfunctioning machines, blind voters were forced to dictate their votes to others instead of voting independently.
 
The court's ruling recognizes that, in this day and age, the widespread availability of technology that allows visually impaired voters to vote privately and independently makes it unacceptable for public entities to deny voters with disabilities the benefits of their voting programs that non-disabled voters have taken for granted for decades. As Judge Spero noted in his order, "Requiring blind and visually impaired individuals to vote with the assistance of a third party, if they are to vote at all, at best provides these individuals with an inferior voting experience – not equal to that afforded others." Donna Pomerantz, president of CCB, said, "For all of us here in the United States who are blind and visually impaired, it is imperative that we have full and equal access to the same benefits and services available to sighted people, including the fundamental right to exercise our vote privately and independently. It's imperative. Since the technology already exists to make this a reality for all of us, there is no reason why we should not have this right."

How to Elect a Board of Directors Which Will Best Work for Your Chapter or Special-Interest Affiliate compiled by Ardis Bazyn, ACB membership co-chair

At the recent California convention, the CCB membership committee sponsored a breakfast seminar on this topic. Members attending discussed how to get the best people for chapter and affiliate board positions. We developed the following list of recommendations.

  • Have candidates write a statement saying why they would be best for the job.
  • Outlining job responsibilities before asking possible candidates to give statements.
  • The nominating committee chooses a slate based on how each available member could handle each position.
  • Allowing time during voting meeting or prior month to give summary of their abilities.
  • Asking candidates to answer questions for either a Candidates' Page or to read prior to the voting meeting.
  • Having Candidates' Forum a month ahead to state position.
  • Providing materials to other chapter members about statements.
  • Providing training for members who have not served previously but are willing to learn.

One concern expressed was what can a chapter do if capable people are not willing or not available to run? It may be difficult at times to know if a member would be able to handle a particular position. If a member who had handled a position earlier could assist as a mentor, a newer member might offer to run. Other officers could switch parts of the job if an aspect of the position is of concern. Sometimes, members aren't aware of responsibilities and would be more likely to volunteer if a mentor agreed to work with them.
 
A co-president, co-secretary, co-treasurer position might work. Also, you could eliminate an unnecessary position like second vice president.  If a smaller chapter doesn't have the necessary people to fill the positions, positions could be combined so fewer positions are needed, such as secretary-treasurer. A change of your constitution might be needed to make these changes.

Future ACB Membership Focus Calls

The next ACB membership focus call will be held on Sunday, Jan. 26, 2014 at 5 p.m. Pacific/8 p.m. Eastern. The topic will be "Creative ways to meet, especially in rural areas." The April call will be held on Monday, April 21 at 5:30 p.m. Pacific/8:30 p.m. Eastern. The topic will be "What leadership training has your affiliate provided to members?" If you have questions about membership, feel free to contact the ACB membership committee, co-chairs Ardis Bazyn and Cindy Van Winkle. As stated in our last article in "The ACB Braille Forum," we would like to hear from Spanish-speaking members interested in assisting us in finding new members who speak Spanish.

Affiliate News

ACBDA Brings Back an Old Favorite

ACB Diabetics in Action is bringing back its monthly conference calls.  The first one will be on Wednesday, Dec. 11th at 9 p.m. Eastern time (6 p.m. Pacific). The conference is opened to anyone interested in diabetes.  If you have a relative, friend or know someone who is diabetic or interested in diabetes, please tell them about the conference.  The dial-in number is (712) 432-3675; follow the instructions to room 0.  President Dee Clayton will preside over the conference this month.  The topic will be "Sharing Ideas about How to Make It through the Holidays without Busting Your Diet."  People are encouraged to bring their ideas and recipes that they have incorporated into their holiday meals. 
 
If you are not on our listserv, we invite you to join by sending a blank e-mail message to ACB-diabetics-subscribe@acb.org
 
It's time to start thinking about renewing your membership for 2014.  If you are not already a member, please think about joining us.  You will receive a quarterly newsletter in the format of your choice: e-mail, braille, large print or cassette.  When you send your dues of $10 in, please give your name, address, phone number and e-mail address; be sure to mention whether you are blind, legally blind, partially sighted, fully sighted, or visually impaired, and which format you would like to receive "The ACB Braille Forum" and DIA newsletter.  If you join between Dec. 1, 2013 and Feb. 1, 2014, you will receive a small gift from ACBDA.  Send your dues to Alice Ritchhart, 139 Altama Connector, Suite 188, Brunswick, GA 31525, and make checks or money orders payable to ACBDA. 
 
At the ACB conference/convention each year we hold our business meeting and a seminar with interesting speakers.  We have had luncheons, a breakfast and mixers in the past, but we always make sure to have time for fellowship. 
 
We hold our board meetings on the first Wednesday of each month.  Anyone is welcome to join the meeting at (712) 432-3675 and go to room 0.  Only members are able to vote.  Our president always announces the meeting date and time, along with the agenda, on our listserv. 
 
Have a great and safe holiday!

GDUI Calls for National Service Animal Protection Law

Guide Dog Users, Inc. members from across the country are reporting a frightening and increasingly frequent incidence of attacks on their guide dogs by uncontrolled dogs they encounter on their routes through neighborhoods and city streets. Their guide dog's work has all too frequently been intentionally obstructed, stated GDUI president Laurie Mehta. She explains inadequate and inconsistent laws, far too often, prevent local law enforcement agencies from exercising the authority to view and treat these violent attacks as criminal acts. That is why the organization announced it will seek a national Service Animal Protection Law as a key component of its 2013 legislative agenda.
 
When GDUI conducted a survey of its members, 89 percent of the 119 respondents reported having experienced interference with their dogs, and 42 percent reported experiencing a full-blown attack against their guide dogs. Of those experiencing interference, nearly 51 percent were interfered with by the same dog more than once, 47 percent planned alternate routes to avoid known problem dogs, and almost 4 percent of the guide dogs who had been attacked had to retire from working altogether as a result of the trauma they experienced during an attack. Each guide dog, specially trained for this unique job, costs approximately $50,000.
 
GDUI's legislative committee chairman, Don Brown, stated the organization's intent is to have legislation with criminal penalties enacted, so pet owners will be motivated to exercise additional care to control their dogs when in public. For more information, contact Don Brown at (510) 484-8282 or e-mail legislation@gdui.org.

North Carolina Welcomes Mark Richert, Elects Officers

At its 2013 annual convention Sept. 27-29 in Greensboro, the North Carolina Council of the Blind welcomed keynote speaker and national guest Mark Richert, Esq., director of public policy, American Foundation for the Blind.  In his remarks to the convention, Mark reviewed the evolution of regulations and legislation relating to people with disabilities.  He emphasized the importance of persistence and patience, recognizing the need to pursue goals and objectives relentlessly and acknowledging the time necessary to effect change.
 
Other convention speakers represented the Governor Morehead School for the Blind; North Carolina Division of Services for the Blind; North Carolina Library for the Blind; Summit Credit Union; North Carolina Lions-Camp Dogwood; Industries of the Blind-Greensboro; International Civil Rights Center and Museum; and Vanda Pharmaceuticals. 
 
Additionally, Iris Blackwell, NCCB's initial first-timer delegate to the ACB conference and convention, shared her experiences in Columbus.
 
Several officers completed their constitutional terms.  So the members elected a new slate of officers: president, Tamika Polk of Greensboro; first vice president, Terry Lewis of Durham; second vice president, Gretha McLamb of Greensboro; secretary, Iris Blackwell of Durham; treasurer, Jane Ferrita of Burlington; members at large, James Snell of Granite Falls and Tim Snyder of Mount Olive.  Outgoing president Allen Casey of Graham will remain on the board as immediate past president.

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 ACB 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 slovering@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.

Passing of a Pioneer

It is with a deep sense of personal and professional loss and sadness that I report here the passing of Dr. Abraham Nemeth.  Abe was without a doubt the single greatest contributor to braille in the United States and perhaps the world in the past hundred years.  His contributions to the brailling of science and mathematics are unmatched anywhere in the world.
 
I have known Abe since 1981 and throughout these years have had the pleasure and privilege of working with him on many projects.  His sharp wit, concern for the needs of students, and commitment to providing the best possible braille for its readers never wavered.  He remained actively involve in perfecting the Nemeth Uniform Braille System until days before his passing on Sept. 30 at age 94. 
 
Nemeth was an active participant in the formation of the Alliance for Braille Literacy and worked tirelessly on the Nemeth Uniform Braille System.  Hopefully, these legacies will ultimately lead to improvements and a modernization of our braille system.  Those of us committed to these projects will continue to work on them in honor of Dr. Nemeth and, even more importantly, for the betterment of blind students and adult learners who wish to excel in the fields of science and mathematics (STEM).
 
– Chris Gray

New England Blind/VI Ski Festival

Another ski season is just around the corner. Time to make plans for the 3rd annual
New England Blind/VI Ski Festival!  The 2014 festival will be held at Sugarloaf  Mountain in beautiful Carrabassett Valley, Maine Feb. 9-13, 2014.
 
Eric Weihenmayer, the first blind person to climb Mt. Everest, will be joining us this year as our guest speaker. We welcome you to join us at Sugarloaf to hear him tell of his many amazing adventures!
 
Randy Pierce from 2020Vision Quest is returning once again to kick off the opening reception on Sunday evening.  Eric and Randy will be with us all week. 
 
We are planning a busy week of activities, including skiing, tubing, and snow cat rides.  New this year will be cross-country skiing!
                 
For more information, visit www.nevifest.org, contact Bruce Albiston at (207) 576-6621 or balbiston@maineoxy.com, or Liz Peacock at (207) 824-2440 or lpeacock@maineadaptive.org.

ZoomText 10.1.1 Released

Ai Squared recently released the first upgrade for ZoomText 10.1 for Windows 8. It now supports 17 international languages, includes a few features like Desktop Finder and View Mode, and supports Windows 8. If you already own version 10.1, then this is a free update for you. If you've got ZoomText set to download updates automatically, you're good to go – the next time you launch ZoomText it will install the update for you. Otherwise, just go to the Help menu and choose "Check for Program Updates."
 
For more information, call us at 1-800-859-0270 or (802) 362-3612 option 2, or visit www.aisquared.com.

Reading Kindle Books on Your iOS Device

National Braille Press recently released "Reading Kindle Books on Your iOS Device: A Quick Reference Guide" by Janet Ingber and the Kindle for iOS Team. It is available in braille, e-braille, Word, and DAISY formats. 
 
In the first section, Using VoiceOver with the Accessible Amazon iOS Kindle (reprinted with permission of AccessWorld), author Janet Ingber gives step-by-step instructions for installing the Kindle app and purchasing, downloading, and reading content. The second section lists and describes the special gestures used in the Kindle Library and the Kindle Reader interface.
 
For more information, visit www.nbp.org/ic/nbp/KINDLE.html or call 1-800-548-7323.

A Laugh a Day ...

Looking for just the right gift for a friend or loved one?  "A Laugh a Day Keeps the Blues Away" is a collection of true humorous and embarrassing stories written by people who are blind, have low vision and are deaf-blind.  Some of these stories will definitely put a smile on your face.  You may even recognize some of the names of the storytellers!  It is available in large print, braille, and on audio CD. For more information, contact Rita Kersh, hoosierrita@gmail.com, or write her at PO Box 2216, Bedford, IN 47421.

Tell Me's New Number

Tell Me's new number is (408) 752-8052. Long-distance charges apply.

Award Recipients

National Braille Press recently honored Karen Keninger, director of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, with the Hands On! Award. The Hands On! Award is given annually to an individual who has made and continues to make a difference in the world of braille literacy and whose accomplishments have helped blind children and adults succeed in their own lives.
 
Jay Hooley, chairman, president and CEO of State Street Corporation, received the President's Award at the annual "A Million Laughs for Literacy" gala on Nov. 1st at the Westin Boston Waterfront Hotel.  The President's Award honors individuals who have shown longstanding support for National Braille Press and its mission to promote literacy for blind children through outreach programs and to provide access to information by producing information in braille for blind children and adults.

Award Winners

The U.S. AbilityOne Commission recently named its 2013 award winners. Col. Roger H. Westermeyer, deputy director of Air Force Materiel Command at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, received the E.R. "Dick" Alley Career Achievement Award; he was instrumental in directing basewide maintenance and custodial contracts to the AbilityOne program.  Dennis Steiner, president and CEO of the Susquehanna Association for the Blind and Vision Impaired, received the Chairperson's Award for Leadership; he has created employment opportunities for nearly 30 years. Dennis A. Hass, director of business operations-operational contracting division at the Los Angeles Air Force Base, received the Outstanding Contributions Award. John Miller, CEO of Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Wisconsin, received the Office of the Executive Director's Enduring Leadership Award.  Dr. Carol E. Lowman, deputy to the commanding general at the Department of the Army Contracting Command, Army Materiel Command, U.S. Department of the Army, received the Office of the Executive Director's Enduring Leadership Award.
 
National Industries for the Blind also named its federal award winners. Shay Assad received the Spirit of Independence Award.  Capt. Mark R. Pimpo was honored with the Navy Supply Corps Sword.  And Gary Shute was the recipient of the Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support Award.

I-MerSee Launches Social Media Network

I-MerSee recently launched a social media network for the visually impaired and 50 and over communities.  It integrates assistive technologies, including text-to-speech, speech-to-text, and screen magnification, and allows users to interact with colleagues, family, and friends on various social media platforms, as well as acting as a stand-alone social network that offers users access to information, events and activities of interest.
 
To connect users to Facebook, I-MerSee's platform synchs with Facebook's interface, auto-populating Facebook information into I-MerSee's platform instantly, allowing seamless integration and navigation of the Facebook network. Once synched, users can log into I-MerSee directly to use Facebook and chat with friends, upload photos and preview friends and family photos and news through the platform's integrated assistive technology features. 
 
For more information, or to sign up, visit www.i-mersee.com.

drchrono Compatible with iOS7

Drchrono, an electronic health record application, recently released its iOS7-compatible app. It has three new features: Airdrop, which allows providers to share documents to any other iOS-enabled device; Parallax, which recognizes your usage patterns and pre-loads your patient files; and Background Loading, which lets your login screen move with your iPad. For more information on this app, go to www.securenetgate9.com/clicks.php?coid=9857272&cid=8254&url=26660.

Mobile Safety Application

We all know how useful cell phones can be. A new mobile safety application from React Mobile turns a cell phone into an SOS device with the touch of a button, alerting a pre-selected list of emergency contacts via SMS/text, e-mail, Facebook, Twitter and 911 in case of emergency.
 
React uses several features, including GPS tracking that transmits a user's last known location. The app's new "Follow Me" feature allows users to have pre-selected contacts follow their route in real time until they reach their destination safely. Ideal for runners, families and students, this allows designated users the security of alerting friends when they feel a danger may exist.
 
This app is free, and available in iTunes. The "Follow Me" feature is available as an in-app purchase for free, and is currently available for many Android devices, with additional releases anticipated later this year. For more information about React, visit www.reactmobile.com or watch the demo at www.vimeo.com/6190678.

Seedlings' 2014 Catalog

Seedlings recently released its 2014 catalog.  It includes 50 new book titles and a new braille puzzle.
 
The new-book list includes everything from "Animal Noises" (a print-braille-and-picture book for toddlers) to "Hunger Games Book 2: Catching Fire" (a 500+ page braille fiction book for teens and young adults). It also features a chunky shapes puzzle with braille through which children can learn their shapes by reading the names of the shapes that are printed on the board in print and in braille. The uncontracted braille is laser-cut into the wood.
 
For more information, visit www.seedlings.org/ and click on the "What's New" section!
To receive a print copy of the 2014 catalog, send your name and address to info@seedlings.org or call 1-800-777-8552.  You can also download the text file version from the web site.
 
Finally, Seedlings' Book Angel Program is open to visually impaired children who live in the U.S. and Canada. Through this program each child can receive 2 free Seedlings books each year (you list 4 books from our catalog and we will send 2 of them). If you haven't registered yet, please visit Seedlings' web site and click on "Book Angel Program."

Behind Our Eyes

"Behind Our Eyes: A Second Look" is the latest anthology by a collection of 65 writers with disabilities, including Donna Grahmann of Texas. Topics range from humorous to tragic, cats and rabbits to guide dogs and even a guide horse.  The book is available in paperback and Kindle formats on Amazon.com, ISBN 978-1490304472. You may also find it in Nook format at Barnes & Noble. To learn more, visit www.behindoureyes.org and www.magnetsandladders.org.

High Tech Swap Shop

For Sale:

Window-Eyes, brand new, never opened. Asking $600 or best offer.  Pebble handheld viewer with freeze frame, contrast change, and adjustable magnification levels.  Asking $400 or best offer.  Intel Reader, rarely used, does not have stand. Asking $600 or best offer.  Contact Peggy Ivie at (615) 673-0408.

For Sale:

Strix portable CCTV in like-new condition. Comes with stand, carry bag, new batteries, and all accessories.  Asking $1,500.  Contact Tom at (360) 353-8003.

For Sale:

Brand-new Sony laptop with 15.6" wide screen, Windows 8, Microsoft Office 2007, and JAWS 14. Also has 750-gig hard drive and 6 gigs RAM. Asking $1,200.  Dell desktop computer in good condition, with 320-gig hard drive, 2 gigs RAM, Windows XP, Office 2007, and JAWS 14.  Asking $225.  Dell computer in good condition with Windows 7, Office 2007, and JAWS 14.  Has 500-gig hard drive, 4 gigs RAM. Asking $275. Contact Jose at (818) 795-4178.

For Sale:

BrailleNote Apex with Keysoft 9.2, GPS and Oxford Dictionary, in good condition. Asking $2,100. Contact Dan Dillon at (615) 874-1223, or via e-mail, dan.dillon@comcast.net.

For Sale:

PACMate Classic with 40-cell braille display. In good condition. Comes with a case. Asking $1,700 (plus shipping). Talking Maxi-Aids Super Cube clock. Asking $20 (plus shipping). One cigarette lighter charger for the PACMate and mini-USB cable for flash drives, asking $5 each (plus shipping). Two 1-gig compact flash type II cards, asking $5 each or both for $10 (plus shipping). Contact Jeff Rutkowski via phone at (651) 756-8684 or via e-mail at jrutkowski7@gmail.com.

For Sale:

Brand-new chess pieces and board.  Asking $34. Brand-new backgammon game in leather-like carrying case. Asking $29. Contact June Galloway via e-mail, dnj.galloway@starpower.net, or call her at (202) 882-3816.

For Sale:

Braille Note mPOWER. Comes with a leather case and strap and power cord. Asking $5,000. Internet card, $100. Thumb drive with loads of games, $60. Intel Reader. Asking $1,000. Intel Reader station (holds the reader), $100. Contact MJ Griffith via e-mail, timbersgirl219@gmail.com.

Wanted:

HP LaserJet 4L printer. Contact Mari Bull at (909) 392-7975, or e-mail her, drmaribull@yahoo.com.

Wanted:

Most recent version of JAWS, or any version that's upgradable.  Contact Bill Hobson at (650) 593-9191 or e-mail him, check2x@gmail.com.

Wanted:

Braille wind-up clock in good working condition. Contact Marvin Porter at (612) 870-5749.

ACB Officers

President
Kim Charlson (1st term, 2015)
57 Grandview Ave.
Watertown, MA 02472
 
First Vice President
Jeff Thom (1st term, 2015)
7414 Mooncrest Way
Sacramento, CA 95831-4046
 
Second Vice President
Marlaina Lieberg (1st term, 2015)
15100 6th Ave. SW, Unit 728
Burien, WA 98166
 
Secretary
Ray Campbell (1st term, 2015)
460 Raintree Ct. #3K
Glen Ellyn, IL 60137
 
Treasurer
Carla Ruschival (2nd term, 2015)
148 Vernon Ave.
Louisville, KY 40206
 
Immediate Past President
Mitch Pomerantz
1115 Cordova St. #402
Pasadena, CA 91106

ACB Board of Directors

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)
Patrick Sheehan, Silver Spring, MD (1st term, 2014)
Dan Spoone, Orlando, FL (1st term, 2016)
David Trott, Talladega, AL (1st term, 2014)
Ex Officio: Denise Colley, Lacey, WA

ACB Board of Publications

Denise Colley, Chairman, Lacey, WA (1st term, 2015)
Ron Brooks, Phoenix, AZ (1st term, 2015)
Marcia Dresser, Reading, MA (final term, 2014)
Judy Jackson, Miami, FL (final term, 2014)
Doug Powell, Falls Church, VA (1st term, 2014)