The ACB E-Forum, February 2014

Downloadable versions available here.
The ACB E-Forum
Volume LII February 2014 No. 8
Published by
the American Council of the Blind
The American Council of the Blind strives to increase the independence, security, equality of opportunity, and to improve quality of life for all blind and visually impaired people.
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:
The ACB E-Forum (TM) is available via e-mail, as well as via download from Subscription requests, address changes, and items intended for publication should be sent to Sharon Lovering at the address above, or via e-mail to
The American Council of the Blind (TM) is a membership organization made up of more than 70 state and special-interest affiliates.  To join, contact the national office at the number listed above.
Those much-needed contributions, which are tax-deductible, can be sent to Attn: Treasurer, ACB, 6300 Shingle Creek Pkwy., Suite 195, Brooklyn Center, MN 55430.  If you wish to remember a relative or friend, the national office has printed cards available for this purpose.  Consider including a gift to ACB in your Last Will and Testament.  If your wishes are complex, call the national office.
To make a contribution to ACB via the Combined Federal Campaign, use this number: 11155.
For the latest in legislative and governmental news, call the "Washington Connection" toll-free at (800) 424-8666, 5 p.m. to midnight Eastern time, or read it online.
Copyright 2014
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.

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ACB E-Forum, February 2014 downloads

President's Message: Making a Difference in Someone's Life by Kim Charlson

I am often asked by people who are both sighted and blind, "Who were your role models in life?" I think we all have had role models, whether we realized it at the time or not. Many people acknowledge their parents, and that is absolutely an invaluable relationship that truly defines a person's outcome in life. However, there are often others who contribute in so many ways that we should acknowledge and recognize.
There were two women who served as my role models — one was blind and one was not. I think this variable of someone with vision and someone who was blind was also critical in my growth and development as a person, as a woman, as an advocate, and as a leader in the blindness movement.
My first mentor is my mother, Frances Young. As early as I can remember, she always had me do the same things I would have done had I not lost my vision when I was eight years old, from complications of glaucoma. She was once criticized by her older sister for having me take my turn washing the family's dinner dishes. My well-meaning aunt said, "Why are you making her do that, she's blind?" My mother responded, "I won't always be around to do things for her, so she needs to learn how to do as many things as I can teach her now." This caused a family rift for several years, until my aunt realized the wisdom behind my mother's philosophy.
Throughout my childhood, my mother was always ready to take on anyone she needed to in order to get me what I needed for my education. Once, she went to the Board of Education in Oregon after she discovered that there was no bus service to transport me to and from school. She testified before the board and they found funding to provide day students at the Oregon School for the Blind with transportation every day.
I learned my advocacy skills from my mother as she wrote letters on issues. She always said that if there is a problem, then write a letter identifying the problem and asking for an official to correct the situation. Give suggestions, don't just complain. Those words always stayed with me as I grew to begin advocating for myself and then for other people who are blind through ACB.
My second mentor was a professional woman who is blind. Carol McCarl, my teacher in sixth grade at the Oregon School for the Blind, had a major impact on me as I grew up. She was incredibly independent, traveled everywhere she needed to go, raised two children, started a non-profit organization to publish two magazines, Lifeprints, which merged into Dialogue, available today from Blindskills; and she advocated for people who were blind in Oregon. She made me work, and whenever I tried to take shortcuts and less than accurate paths on assignments, she would insist that I redo it correctly. I learned that I needed to do my best and work hard. She taught me that I would need to have a resume that showed activity, volunteer work, and solid grades. My success in future employment would depend on having skills that an employer would find useful.
I often ponder where I would have been in my life without such strong and dynamic women as mentors. As I travel around this country, I have opportunities to talk with people who have not had mentors; and they have struggled on a path of independence and success. I have also had the opportunity to speak with people who are mentors to others who are blind in their communities. Mentoring isn't always between a child and a grown-up; it is more common between adults. We have many examples of mentors in the workplace, with someone taking a newer employee under their wing, or recognizing the possibility of someone and investing time and energy to help them reach their full potential.
I have had the opportunity to be a registered mentor in CareerConnect, a program of the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB), CareerConnect is an employment information resource developed by AFB for job seekers who are blind or visually impaired. It presents employment information, career exploration tools, and extensive job-seeking guidance for students and adults with vision loss and professionals working with them. It matches potential mentors with job seekers in a similar field to provide guidance.
Several of the staff who work at the Perkins Library, where I am the director, came to me via CareerConnect. Whenever I can, I work to mentor people with vision loss. Presently, there are 10 employees who are legally blind working at the Perkins Library out of a total staff of 26.
Mentoring doesn't always mean that I don't say things that are sometimes difficult for someone to hear, but reality is part of what I can provide with my experiences. I believe in people having dreams and goals in their lives to accomplish, but I also believe that reality has to factor into the equation.
As we start 2014, I would like to challenge you to mentor someone. Whether you are a career mentor, or a personal mentor, everyone can help someone else who is blind or visually impaired. Whether you make sure that a new member in your community has a personal invite from you to the next chapter meeting, or that you take a newly blind person in your area under your wing to introduce them to people and to services that can help them adjust to vision loss, there are many ways you can mentor and help someone who needs support. Take the time in your day to mentor someone else who is blind. A personal invitation and support goes far in building that relationship and growing a mentoring role for you with others. Share what you know, or what you have learned through life experience, with others in your sphere of influence.
Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor probably said it best. "When a young person, even a gifted one, grows up without proximate living examples of what she may aspire to become — whether lawyer, scientist, artist, or leader in any realm —  her goal remains abstract. Such models as appear in books or on the news, however inspiring or revered, are ultimately too remote to be real, let alone influential. But a role model in the flesh provides more than inspiration; his or her very existence is confirmation of possibilities one may have every reason to doubt, saying, 'Yes, someone like me can do this.'"
Make 2014 the year when you become a mentor and make a real difference in someone else's life!

Update on ACB's Efforts to Obtain Medicare Coverage for Low Vision Aids by Melanie Brunson

In December 2013, Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) and Gus Bilirakis (R-Fla.) introduced H.R. 3749, the Medicare Demonstration of Coverage for Low Vision Devices Act of 2013. This bill seeks to right a wrong that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have perpetrated for many years by denying coverage of low-vision devices for Medicare recipients.  As many of you know, CMS has elected to very narrowly interpret the regulations so that devices that have one or more lenses are treated the same as eyeglasses.  ACB is very pleased with the efforts by Reps. Maloney and Bilirakis to correct this situation through legislation.
In a press release issued by ACB on Dec. 16, 2013, ACB president Kim Charlson said, "These tools are often essential for individuals with low vision who, without the aid of assistive technology, cannot read prescriptions, medicine bottles, and other important materials containing content that is vital to their personal health and safety as well as read their mail, pay bills, etc."
Without the aid of such assistive devices, many more individuals will be forced into assisted living facilities as our population ages. Seniors on fixed incomes often find the cost of such devices burdensome and therefore are unlikely to be able to afford to purchase them on their own.
H.R. 3749 seeks to do the following:

  • Individuals would be eligible to participate in the demonstration project only after completing a low-vision exam performed by a physician who would then deem a low-vision device as medically necessary.
  • It would allow reimbursement for certain low-vision devices that cost $500 or more as durable medical equipment.
  • The legislation would evaluate, through a five-year national demonstration project administered by the Department of Health and Human Services, the fiscal impact of a permanent change to the Social Security Act.

The national demonstration project is designed to provide a rich, well-structured and defined data set that can yield Medicare-program-wide evidence-based conclusions using appropriate statistical methods.
There is widespread support for this legislative approach within the blindness community.  We look forward to working with Reps. Maloney and Bilirakis, as well as our partners in the blindness field, to see that this demonstration project becomes a reality.  If you would like to help, or if you have questions about it, please contact the ACB national office.

The Riviera is the Real Deal! by Janet Dickelman

The Riviera Hotel in Las Vegas, Nev. will be home to the 2014 American Council of the Blind's conference and convention. Pre-registration pickup will be Thursday, evening, July 10th. The first tour and the leadership institute will be on Friday, July 11th. Some tech seminars and affiliate and committee meetings, workshops and programs will begin on Saturday, July 12th (through Thursday, July 17th); Saturday night will feature the Nevada welcome party. Sunday evening features our opening general session (convention sessions daily Monday through Thursday, 8:30 a.m. until noon, and Friday, 8:30 a.m. until 5 p.m.). The banquet will be held on Friday, July 18th. Our final tours will be held Saturday, July 19th.
The following information will be helpful in planning your time in Las Vegas.

Convention Volunteers

Sally Benjamin, volunteer coordinator, and the host committee are working on finding volunteers to assist at the hotel and airport. Just a few reminders regarding volunteer assistance.
Volunteers are happy to help you locate meeting rooms, the exhibit hall, your table in the ballroom during general sessions, restaurants in the hotel and elevators. Volunteers cannot accompany you to the sleeping room floors to your room at the Riviera. If you need help getting to and from your hotel room, you will need to make arrangements for a friend or family member to assist you. Volunteers or hotel staff cannot administer medications, assist with injections or read blood sugar test strips. If you need assistance in these areas, please make arrangements prior to the convention for a friend or family member to help you.
If you use a wheelchair, ACB convention volunteers may not be physically able to push your chair. Please don't count on ACB volunteers to be wheelchair pushers.
A limited number of volunteers will accompany each tour.  While they will help as much as possible, ACB volunteers are not personal guides or personal care attendants.  If you need individual help, plan to attend the tour with a friend who can act as your guide or PCA, push your wheelchair, etc.

Reasonable Accommodations

If you plan to attend the convention and need a support service provider or interpreter, please contact Lori Scharff. Send her an e-mail,, with "interpreter for Las Vegas" in the subject line, or contact her via phone, (516) 695-6370.
If you need a wheelchair or scooter, contact Janet Dickelman (contact information shown at the end of this article). The Riviera has some wheelchairs and scooters available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Transportation around Las Vegas

A taxi from McCarron Airport to the Riviera is approximately $16 to $21. The fare may vary depending on time of day or traffic. If you use a credit card, there is an additional $3 fee. There is no additional charge for up to five passengers.
The Super Shuttle is providing convention attendees a rate of $14 round-trip from McCarron Airport to the Riviera. They will also honor a $7 one-way fare. When booking the shuttle, please use code YJGVH. Reservations can be made online at or via phone at 1-800-258-3826. Reservations can be made any time, but must be made 24 hours prior to your arrival.

Using Paratransit

To become certified with Clark County's paratransit, call them after June 1st at (702) 676-1815 and give them your name and address. Then have your transit provider fax your certificate of eligibility to the Clark County certification office at (702) 676-1732. You must contact them at least one week prior to the date you wish to use their services in Las Vegas. Rides cost $3 per ride (cash only) and should be booked 1 to 3 days in advance by calling (702) 228-4800 or TDD (702) 676-1834.

Reservation Details

Room rates at the Riviera are $87 (single and double), plus $10 per additional guest. Room taxes are currently 12%. You will be charged for one nights stay when you make your reservation. Make telephone reservations by calling 1-800-634-6753 or online by visiting the ACB web site at 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

2014 Exhibit Information

Michael Smitherman, (601) 331-7740,

2014 Advertising and Sponsorships

Margarine Beaman, (512) 921-1625,
For any other convention-related questions, contact Janet Dickelman, convention chair, at (651) 428-5059, or via e-mail,

DKM Can Help You Chart Your Path in ACB by Allen J. Casey

Most of us remember our first involvement in ACB or one of its affiliates.  We could not know then where this experience would lead us.  We could not visualize the opportunities for participation and learning that we would encounter.  We could not predict the challenges that lay before us.  And yet, with so much uncertainty, we survived!
Over the past 18 years, approximately 34 ACB members experienced these uncertainties as they approached their initial ACB national conference and convention as Durward K. McDaniel First-Timers.  Today, many of these first-timers hold leadership positions in ACB and its state and special-interest affiliates.  Kenneth Semien Sr., for example, a 2010 DKM First-Timer in Phoenix, is president of ACB of Texas and ACB Lions; a member of the membership committee and the DKM (McDaniel Fund) Committee; president of the Beaumont Area Council of the Blind; and chair of the Disability Section of the Regional Council on Aging and Disability.  Kenneth describes his first conference and convention as an "exploration" and an "adventure."  He was impressed by the opportunities to learn, to make new friends and to grow as a leader.  Cindy LaBon, a 2012 DKM First-Timer in Louisville, is vice president of ACB of Maryland; president of the National Capital Area chapter; a member of the ACB Store-Mini Mall Committee and the DKM (McDaniel Fund) Committee; and vice president of her local DAR chapter.  Cindy came to Louisville with much apprehension about her ability to negotiate a large, unfamiliar hotel.  She followed the lead of hundreds of her fellow ACB members, threw herself into convention activities and even ventured into one of the hotel's kitchens.  Both she and Kenneth have participated in every subsequent ACB convention.
How does one share the experiences of Kenneth and Cindy?  First, satisfy the DKM program qualifications — age 18 or older; blind or visually impaired; member in good standing of ACB; never attended a previous national conference and convention.  Second, submit two letters to the DKM committee — a personal narrative of your background, participation in and contributions to ACB and your affiliate, including a statement of the importance of selection to your affiliate and your community; and a letter of recommendation from the president of your state or special-interest affiliate.  It is essential that each applicant provide complete contact information; i.e., mailing address, telephone number and e-mail address.  The deadline for receipt of all application materials is April 1.
Applications should be forwarded to Francine Patterson in the ACB national office,  Questions should be directed to DKM chair Allen Casey,

ACB Goes Social by Carla Ruschival

Like us on Facebook (americancounciloftheblindofficial); follow us on Twitter (acbnational).  Share and retweet messages to your friends and followers to help us spread the word about ACB.
At the midyear meeting in 2012, the ACB board spent one entire day developing a new strategic plan for ACB.  Four goal groups were formed, with each being charged with specific tasks to accomplish.  I chair the Goal One group, which addresses such issues as the web site, ACB's social media presence, ACB Radio, the Mini Mall, and the ACB member database.
In 2013, the Goal One group began working to establish "teams" to handle ACB's social media presence.  Then board member Ray Campbell took the lead in writing a "job description" for these volunteer opportunities, and an interview process ensued.  Since ACB already had a Twitter page, that team came first.  Lisa Brooks (Ariz.), Jim Denham (Mass.), and Michael Malver (Minn.) joined the team, and board member John McCann became the liaison between the team and the Goal One group.
ACB has not had an official Facebook page, and so Francine Patterson from ACB's Arlington office and I created a page on July 2, 2013, just prior to the opening of the 2013 ACB conference and convention in Columbus, Ohio. We, along with second vice president Marlaina Lieberg, have served as the initial Facebook team.  The page has grown rapidly, and the Goal One group has continued recruiting volunteers for a permanent Facebook team.
Now, in 2014, Will Burley (Tex.) is the newest member of the Facebook team.  The Goal One group hopes to add at least one more volunteer to the Facebook team.
For more information about the ACB social media presence or the Goal One group, contact Carla Ruschival, at (502) 897-1472 or  And thanks for sharing.

Something to Crow About by Ann Chiappetta

If your special-interest group, affiliate or chapter completed a successful project or outstanding marketing event in 2013, we'd like to hear about it. We are seeking nominees for the awards for most outstanding affiliate project or event.
This is your chance to receive some well-deserved kudos for your efforts. We all know how much work goes into planning and executing a successful event or outreach project, and we want to share your successes at the 2014 membership and PR workshop in Las Vegas. Once the project is done, quite often those who have volunteered the most receive little recognition for their efforts and simply go onto the next project. This is your chance to spread those wings of success and tell others about it and gain recognition for your efforts.
If, for instance, you completed a special project in which your ACB affiliate connected and engaged new members or even other important stakeholders outside your affiliate, we want to hear about it. Perhaps your chapter took part in White Cane Day or a disability awareness event, or coordinated a webinar or seminar. Maybe you utilized not only your e-mail list but also created a press release and posted it on Facebook, Twitter and sent it out to other media sources.
Did your event contribute to public education about blindness, raise funds to support your affiliate or chapter, or increase visibility within your community? Did your project or event promote your chapter or affiliate in the public eye in a positive and productive way? If so, the PR committee wants to know. We are inviting affiliates and chapters to submit a description of some type of successfully conducted event carried out by your affiliate or chapter in 2013.  Your initial submission should be a short description of no more than 300 words. In order to be considered by the committee, it must be received no later than May 1, 2014. If the committee needs more information or detail, we will request it. Your submission should include such information as:

  1. The name of your organization
  2. What is the full contact information for the person(s) we can contact if we need more information?
  3. What type of event was it?
  4. Describe the event; tell us about it.
  5. What was the target audience(s)?
  6. When and where did the event take place?
  7. What were your reasons or goals for conducting the event?
  8. To what extent were your goals achieved?
  9. How many of your organization's members assisted and/or participated in conducting your event?

We will carefully evaluate each submission and select the most outstanding, the most impressive, and the most unique for special recognition and to receive certificates of accomplishment during the 2014 ACB national conference and convention in Las Vegas.
All submissions must be received on or before May 1, 2014. For more information, or to submit your event for consideration, contact Ann Chiappetta by e-mail,, or call (914) 393-6605.

Helping One Another Is a Vital Part of Life by Larry P. Johnson

(Reprinted from "The San Antonio Express-News," Nov. 28, 2013.)
Sometimes when people ask me, "May I help you?" I say yes, even though I don't need the help. I accept their help for two reasons. First, because it lets me teach them how to help a blind person. For example, if they are offering to guide me, I can show them that it's much better to let me take their arm and follow rather than their grabbing my arm and pushing me ahead. Second, it makes them feel good to be of use to someone. And we all like to feel useful.
Some people need more help, like small children, seniors, people who are sick or injured and people with disabilities. As a blind person, I have appreciated and benefited immensely from the help of people all of my life.  During my school years, I received literally thousands of hours of help from fellow students and volunteers offering to read my assignments and textbooks to me. And, throughout my adult life, I have continued to receive invaluable assistance from people — family, friends, neighbors, strangers —  volunteering to help with all manner of things like transportation, recreation, shopping, reading print material, studying for a professional certification exam, or serving as a sighted guides.
There is the myth that people who are blind are totally dependent or helpless, that we can do very little by ourselves, that we need constant help. The truth is that we can and want very much to help others.
Several years ago I was waiting in front of the Bexar County Courthouse for my transportation. I'd just come out of a meeting and was wearing a suit and tie. A female voice spoke to me: "Do you know how to tie a tie?"
I was somewhat annoyed by her question.  Was she doubting my abilities because I was blind?  "Yes," I said, a little sternly.
"Could you tie my husband's tie?"
What? Was this some kind of trick? We hear a lot about instances where unsuspecting good Samaritans are lured into situations by con artists. I felt a bit apprehensive. Still, it was broad daylight and I could hear lots of people passing by on the sidewalk. "Sure, where is he?"
"Over here." She guided me by the arm a short distance and placed my hand on the shoulder of a man wearing a suit coat.  I slid my hand around to the front of his collar. A tie was hanging from his neck tied in a square knot. "No, this is not right," I said.
"I didn't know how to do it," she replied apologetically.
"Let me show you." I untied the tie and slowly tied it again in a Windsor knot, explaining each motion as I did so.
"Thank you," the man said.
"Yes, thank you," she repeated. And then she added, "We are going inside to get married and I wanted him to look nice."
Suddenly I felt a wave of embarrassment and remorse. I had been so suspicious, so reluctant to do such a small thing to help this young couple. "Congratulations," I said as I hugged them both. It was such a joy to be of help.
No one is completely independent or self-sufficient. We all rely on each other. I am grateful to the people who have helped me when I have needed it, and equally grateful to those who have given me the opportunities to be of help to others.  Helping one another is, without a doubt, not only important to our self-esteem but a vital component to the economic life and social welfare of our human society. And that's how I see it.

Skills to Pay the Bills: Preparing Young People for the World of Work by Maria Town

(Editor's Note: Maria Town is a policy advisor in the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy; she focuses on youth issues.)
Who can forget their first job? Mine came as a teenager when I worked as a receptionist for a personal injury attorney. You know, one of those lawyers who comes on television and says, "If you've been in an accident, call me!" Well, all sorts of people called our office seeking help, and I answered phones, made copies, scheduled appointments and filed papers.
Aside from being in an office, this job had little to do with the profession I eventually pursued. However, it was probably the most valuable job I've ever had — because it helped me understand the value of a paycheck and the importance of work and personal responsibility. But there's something else I learned in that first job that helped fuel my professional success today — and that's the importance of "soft skills." That experience was about more than simply answering phones and taking messages; it was about supporting clients, relating to co-workers, being punctual and behaving professionally. In other words, it helped me recognize the importance of interpersonal and other soft skills that were so vital to my boss and our business.
There's no question that early job experiences are essential to developing soft skills. Conversely, soft skills are essential to getting early work experiences, because they make us more marketable. Yet, many young people — particularly those with disabilities — do not receive training or education about soft skills before dipping their feet into the world of work.
Recognizing this, the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) has developed two free career development resources designed to sharpen the communication and other soft skills of young workers, both with and without disabilities. Called "Skills to Pay the Bills: Mastering Soft Skills for Workplace Success," this series includes a curriculum and a set of videos with an accompanying discussion guide, both of which are available for download or mail order.
These resources are targeted at youth, ages 14 to 21, in both in-school and out-of-school environments. The curriculum was designed to be inclusive and is comprised of modular, hands-on, engaging activities that focus on six key skills: communication, enthusiasm and attitude, teamwork, networking, problem solving and critical thinking and professionalism. The curriculum can be adapted to suit the needs of any group. The video series also addresses these six themes and can be used separately or as a complement to the curriculum. In fact, mail-order DVDs of the videos include a guide with "conversation starters" to help spark discussions among youth about the importance of soft skills to career and personal success.
These are outstanding, practical tools, and I encourage anyone who works with young job seekers to check them out. Simply access the "Skills to Pay the Bills" curriculum and video series on ODEP's web site or order them in hard copy, free of charge.
I’ve come a long way from that first job working the phones. Today, I'm a policy advisor in ODEP and part of the team behind the soft skills products. And as I continue my journey along my own professional trajectory, I know I'll never stop honing those "Skills to Pay the Bills."

Still Crazy After All These Years: Preventive Services and Healthy Aging by Ron Pollack

(Editor's Note: Ron Pollack is the executive director of Families USA, the national organization for health care consumers.)
A fun-loving, active couple I know, both of whom are older than 85, recently performed in an hour-long musical production. And they were pretty darn good! They are clearly in love and enjoying life. What are they doing right? They told me that they "take care of themselves." Nothing magical, and no miracle treatments have extended their golden years.
Both these friends eat healthily, exercise, and see a doctor regularly to catch problems early. Both have had colon cancer, which was detected early and treated successfully. Both take medication for their high blood pressure. One of them is managing diabetes. Both go to the doctor once a year — even if they feel great — to get "some basic tests."
The way they take care of themselves mirrors a key public health strategy: Getting appropriate screenings and regular check-ups, which can prevent disease or detect disease early when treatment is more effective. These services include screenings for chronic conditions, immunizations, and counseling about personal behaviors like eating habits.
Despite the fact that preventive services can save lives, only 25 percent of adults aged 50 to 64 are up-to-date on getting preventive services, and less than 50 percent of adults aged 65 years and older are up-to-date on these services.
Fortunately, the Affordable Care Act makes getting preventive services easier — and easier to afford. Private insurance and Medicare must cover all preventive services that are recommended by the United States Preventive Services Task Force for free. These services include:

  • age-appropriate immunizations
  • screenings for high blood pressure and cholesterol;
  • screenings for colon, breast, and prostate cancer;
  • bone mass testing for osteoporosis; and
  • screening for diabetes.

And Medicare now provides a free "Welcome to Medicare Exam." This is an initial physical exam you can get within the first year of signing up for Medicare Part B (which covers doctor and other outpatient care). This exam looks at your current health status, identifies risk factors, reviews your medications, and sets reasonable goals for improving your health. This visit also looks for weight, hearing, and vision issues, which are critical for older patients.
In addition, Medicare provides an annual, free "Wellness Exam," which includes many of the same tests as the Welcome to Medicare Exam. During these exams, you and your doctor have the opportunity to work together over the long term to achieve health and wellness goals.
We all want to have a long, healthy life. What are the "secrets" of living to an advanced age? Research gives us some clues that reinforce the common sense of the friends I mentioned earlier. A large-scale study found that five key factors make a tremendous difference in longevity and quality of life: 

  1. not smoking
  2. maintaining a healthy weight
  3. keeping blood pressure under control
  4. controlling diabetes
  5. staying physically active

An older person who scores well on these key factors has a 10 times greater chance of reaching 90 and being healthier. The regular wellness visits and screening and preventive services that are now available and affordable under the Affordable Care Act are key to putting you on the path to a long, healthy life.
Of course, if you do get sick, Medicare covers your doctor and hospital bills the same as it always has. Make sure you understand what Medicare covers and what it doesn't and how Medicare works with any other coverage you have (like a Medigap policy, coverage from a former employer, or Medicaid). If you have questions, call 1-800-MEDICARE. You can ask for the name and number of your local State Health Insurance Assistance Program, which offers free insurance counseling to everyone with Medicare.
(A couple of important notes about costs: While you do not have to pay for many preventive services, you may have to pay for a doctor visit if you receive additional services while you are there. Also, if you need to have more frequent screenings, you may have to pay for those screenings. And if you receive your preventive services in an ambulatory surgical center or a hospital's outpatient department rather than at your doctor's office, you may have to pay for those services.)

Another View: Turning 80 Has Its Privileges by Larry P. Johnson

(Reprinted from "The San Antonio Express-News," Aug. 28, 2013.)
Now that I am 80, I can go to my doctor's office and flirt with the receptionists and let them call me "Sweetie."
I can work as many hours a week as I like and not have my Social Security benefits reduced. That is, if I can find someone who wants to hire me.
I can sleep until noon, have a container of yogurt and a cup of ginger root tea and go back to sleep in my rocking chair. That is, unless my son calls and asks me to baby-sit his boys.
I can walk the 3/4 mile (in the street because we have no sidewalks in our neighborhood) to my Valero corner store to get a bear claw and coffee — while hoping and praying that drivers who pass by me will not be texting on their cell phones instead of watching for pedestrians like me.
I can show off my culinary skills by preparing a sumptuous meal of meatloaf, mashed potatoes and green beans, and then have it for supper for the next five days because I don't know how to cook for just one person.
During my 80 years, I have acquired a great many useful skills: I know how to dial a rotary telephone, although I can't seem to find many around any more; do multiplication tables in my head ("You're kidding!"); use an Olivetti portable typewriter ("What's that?") and use my imagination to make up stories to tell to my grandchildren. ("What's imagination, Grandpa?")
I know how to make peanut butter fudge, really good guacamole and old-fashioned split-pea soup with a ham bone.
And I am very proud and excited to tell you that I was sworn in by the Texas Secretary of State last month as a member of the Texas Silver-Haired Legislature, a non-partisan non-profit organization that seeks to identify the issues and problems faced by seniors like myself, develops workable solutions and then advocates for adoption of these solutions by the Texas legislature. It is really important to feel useful, valued and part of something.
I don't know how many more years, months or days I may have. Nobody does. But it's good to be 80. As someone smarter than me said, "Being alive to celebrate your birthday sure beats the alternative." And that's how I see it.

The Second Generation Stream: From Disaster to Impressive by Paul Edwards

I think I am only stating facts when I say that by far the most widely used NLS-compatible small player is the Victor Reader Stream. This product is made by HumanWare and, early this year, the "second generation" Stream was announced by HumanWare. I was one of its first customers and I need to begin this review by saying unequivocably that I and many other people were not impressed with the product. It promised a lot and delivered very little when it came out. It still has a ways to go to fully live up to the hype that preceded it. However, it now does some things effectively and automatically that make it well worth considering.
The new Stream is a little smaller than its predecessor and there is really virtually no learning curve for those who already have an original Stream. The controls are exactly the same, except that there is one additional button between the "go to" key and the "bookmark key." This button performs a number of functions which we will get to later.
The new Stream is supposed to have better voices and better speakers. I think the first is true, but I am not so sure about the second assertion. It is perhaps a little louder but not very much. I think that synthetic speech is extremely subjective so you should take what I am about to say as one man's opinion. The new stream arrives loaded with Heather and Ryan. If you have heard the voices on the Stratus, these are the same folks. I am not a fan of Ryan, but Heather is a strong voice. There are other options you can load from the HumanWare web site. Initially, I loaded the British English voices. I happen to think they are better than Heather and Samantha. However, I believe that there is a third alternative that is better than either of the others. These are the Australian voices: Tyler and Lucy. Each of these three options are available where there are updates to the Stream software on the HumanWare web page. Once you have changed voices, new updates that come to your machine do not change your choice.
When the new Stream came out, that was really the only substantive difference that was apparent. It is a significant one, though, particularly for folks who are not technologically savvy. If you can get your wireless to work, the new Stream tells you when there is a new update and then, when you are ready, downloads and installs it directly into your machine.
When the machine was first announced, there were all kinds of capabilities that were supposed to be available. Most of these related directly to the wireless capability of the new machine. Most of them were not yet available when the machine came out and, as of Oct. 24, 2013, some of the promised options are still not there. We were promised that we could play Internet radio stations. We still can't as far as I know, to offer just one example. However, particularly with the last update, the new Stream can do some impressive things.
Before I get to those, let me make clear that the new Stream is capable of playing NLS BARD talking books and does a very good job of doing that. It also does a good job of playing a range of file types in audio and text formats. My machine came set to read UEB braille and that can create problems if you are trying to read current Bookshare books. There is a spot in the menus that allows you to change to U.S. braille. (You access the menus using the 7 key on the numeric keypad.) Eventually you will probably need to switch back to UEB and it is good that this capability is already built into the device.
The first major update that was released allowed the new Stream to play Audible books which are commercially available books that can be bought from Amazon. It does a good job with these, as did its predecessor.
It is with the second major update, however, that the second-generation Stream begins to live up to its promise. With that update, the device did two major things. First, it allowed the direct downloading of books from Bookshare. Most other devices allow you to look at the most recent books that have been released by Bookshare and also allow for a single search option. The Stream takes a slightly different approach. It allows you to search in one of three ways. You can search by author, by title or using both criteria. You use the numeric key pad in the same way as phones use it for texting to write in your search term.  Once you complete your search, you have the option of choosing a book from a list and then downloading it directly to your machine. This process is handled well. It downloads the DAISY version, automatically takes it apart and makes it available in an area of internal memory that comes with the machine. Of course, you have to go through the process of putting in your Bookshare user name and password before you can access this feature.  You also have the option of moving a book you have downloaded onto your SD card. While the book is open, just press the 3 key. I have not had any problems with this feature. It is well designed and functions well.
The second feature included in the latest update is access to NFB-Newsline (R). As I am sure all of you know, this service allows access to a broad array of newspapers and magazines. Again, you have to enter your user name and pin number before you can use Newsline. I have found this feature particularly handy. You must go to the Newsline's online page and choose your favorites for your machine. Among others you can, of course, choose to read "The ACB Braille Forum" in both its versions. Once I chose my newspapers and magazines, I had to add a new task to my daily routine. I turn wireless on using the new button. It actually says "airplane mode off" when turning wireless on every morning and, within a few seconds, my choices are loaded onto my Stream ready for me to read. Again, this system has worked well. There have been a couple of times when there appear to have been glitches, but these corrected themselves. Again, you can move periodicals to your card if you wish. However, you do not need to do so. Old issues are automatically deleted when you load new ones.
I am sure there is more to come with the second-generation Stream. For now, though, with its new features it is beginning to live up to the hype that accompanied its launch. I suppose that the last thing I would say is this. If all the tech things I have talked about here are not your thing, your old faithful Stream will continue to serve you well. If you read a lot of text files, the new voices are better. If you are primarily using the Stream to read NLS talking books, I do not think there is enough to justify spending the $369 that the new Stream costs. Shipping in the U.S. will cost between $20 and $30. If there are taxes in your state, these will be added. If, on the other hand, you are a Bookshare user or like to get quick, easy access to lots of newspapers or magazines, this is a device you should seriously consider acquiring. For more information, check out the HumanWare web page at


We honor here members, friends and supporters of the American Council of the Blind who have impacted our lives in many wonderful ways. If you would like to submit a notice for this column, please include as much of the following information as possible.
Name (first, last, maiden if appropriate)
City of residence (upon passing)
State/province of residence (upon passing)
Other cities/states/countries of residence (places where other blind people may have known this person)
Date of death (day if known, month, year)
ACB affiliation (local/state/special-interest affiliates or national committees)
Deaths that occurred more than six months ago cannot be reported in this column.

Louise Kimbrough

Sarah Louise Kimbrough, age 77, of the River Mountain Road section of Lebanon, Va., passed away Oct. 27, 2013 at her home. Born Sept. 19, 1936 in Manchester, Ky., she was a daughter of the late Billie Baker and Opal Ruth Johnson Rogers. She had resided in Lebanon, Va. for the past seven years, moving from Kentucky. She had attended Transylvania University in Lexington, Ky., Louisville School for the Blind and had earned a master's degree in social work from Ohio State University. An accomplished writer, she had served as editor for Dialogue Magazine for the Blind; proofreader for the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. and a freelance writer for "The Washington Post.: She enjoyed playing bridge and she sang opera and played the piano. She was a member of the Madison Avenue Christian Church in Covington, Ky. and attended Swords Creek Community Baptist Church.
In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by one brother, James Steele; one brother-in-law, Richard Wagonfield; and her former spouse, Lynn Mitchell.
Survivors include two sisters, Jean Wagonfield of Ross, Ohio and Ruth Tuttle of Louisville, Ky.; two brothers, Frank Rogers of Frankfort, Ky. and Joe Rogers and wife, Linda of Hamilton, Ohio; nieces and nephews, Will Wagonfield, Kristy Traugh, Nicole Rogers and Aaron Tuttle; former spouse, B.T. Kimbrough; special friend, Darlene Howard and her family; and several grand-nieces and grand-nephews.
Memorial services were held at Swords Creek Community Baptist Church. Interment will follow in Annville, Ky. at a later date.

William Jerome "Bill" Orester

William Jerome "Bill" Orester, 82, passed away Jan. 14, 2014, of pneumonia at Saint Elizabeth's Hospital. Bill was born Dec. 28, 1931, in Rock Springs, Wyo. to Steve and Eleanor Orester. He attended the Nebraska School for the Blind. Bill then graduated from Creighton University with a history major and then attended Creighton University School of Law, achieving his J.D.
He settled in Lincoln, Neb. and was an assistant attorney general for the state of Nebraska for 40 years and a member of the state bar association for 50 years.
Bill was a member of the American Council of the Blind for many years. He was also a member of the Bethany Lions Club. Bill attended Leader Dogs and obtained several guide dogs from the school.
Bill is preceded in death by his parents; sister Wells; brother Steve; and first wife Betty.
He is survived by his wife, Mary Susan; daughters, Barb (Ed) Kunz of Olathe, Kan. and Gloria (Kevin) Rediger of Lincoln; grandsons, Andy and Alex Kunz; granddaughter, Carly Rediger; and his brother, Don (Jean) Orester of Rock Springs, Wyo.
A memorial service was held Jan. 16 at the Lincoln Memorial Funeral Home. Memorials may be sent to: Lincoln Memorial Funeral Home, 6800 S. 14th St., Lincoln, NE; be sure to put Bill Orester's name on it. Condolences may be left online at

Letter to the Editor

The contents of this column reflect the letters we had received by the time we went to press, Jan. 6, 2014.  Letters are limited to 300 words or fewer.  All submissions must include the author's name and location.  Opinions expressed are those of the authors.

Regarding 'Who Is King?'

The recent article titled "Musings" by Paul Edwards brings forth a sensitive issue which has prevented organizations such as ACB from becoming more successful and cohesive.  Within the vision loss community, there is often a division between those who are totally blind and those who are visually impaired.  Although it is sometimes assumed that all who have less than 20/20 vision are considered peers, that is far from the truth.  Varying levels of acuity can result in differing experiences and perspectives. 
As someone who has dealt with macular degeneration for over 50 years, my condition contributes to the largest community experiencing vision loss.  However, there are many like me in this community who are uncomfortable with the term "blind," which the general public often views as a total vision loss.  Although my central vision is greatly impaired, I have adapted my peripheral acuity in ways that many find hard to understand.  Though there is no denial on my part concerning the less functional portion of my acuity, it is amazing what individuals like myself must do to get respect for the acuity we retain.  For example, when I describe myself as legally blind, I sometimes get asked why I do not have a white cane or guide dog.  My response has always been the same: "It wouldn't make sense to use either as I mow the lawn or go for a bike ride."
In Edwards' article, he talks of experiences whereby those with some vision who foster a negative opinion about totally blind individuals.  Unfortunately, that and the opposite can occur due to the fact that others' perspectives and opinions are often misjudged or misunderstood.  That is why, as I said in the beginning of this letter, there is a division within the blind and visually impaired communities.  Blind and visually impaired are two different terms with two different meanings.  And a comprehensive conversation about respecting and acknowledging these differences is long overdue.
— D.J. Sullivan, Wausau, Wis.

In Response to Musings: Who Is King — Or Queen? by Teddie-Joy Remhild

In Paul Edwards' article entitled "Musings: Who is King?," I am responding to the invitation to provide another perspective.  Mine is a vision loss experience which did not occur either in childhood or in later years — the most common age groups losing vision today.  I cannot relate to the experience of living in an environment populated by both totally blind and legally blind with low vision.  I lived in the totally sighted world until I was 32 years old.  At that time in my life, I was a married, suburban housewife with 3 small children.  I had never known a blind person, either total or partial.  Three years after my diagnosis of juvenile macular degeneration, I divorced and became a Department of Rehabilitation client.  I needed a job in order to support my 3 children and was directed to DOR by a sighted friend who worked with blind children.
My relationship with DOR led me to "blind female jobs" in the 1970s.  I had no indication that my low vision was an advantage, as I worked with several totally blind women as a medical transcriber for 9 years.  During my relationship with my rehabilitation counselor, I was introduced to the organizations of the blind, beginning with NFB and two years later, the American Council of the Blind in 1991.  I was recruited into the ACB by a totally blind employee of the city of Los Angeles, where I was working at that time.
It was only in my experiences with NFB and ACB that I became aware of a distinction between totally blind and high partials.  One of the differences was that I was perceived as a useful guide by many totals.  At the time I was flattered to be noticed for whatever reason.  I also observed that I was, on the other hand, deemed inadequate as a non-braille reader and lacking in childhood school for the blind life experience.
I also became aware, over the years of my membership in ACB, that a political hierarchy existed.  The end result was an eventual realization that I fit neither into the world of the sighted nor the world of the blind, and not even into any world deemed "low vision."   It did occur to me that the totally blind did reign supreme in the organizations of the blind.
Thus it is that I traverse an organization of one.  This journey I travel is now known as my solitary sojourn, and of that organization of one, I am the queen!

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, 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.

Award Winner

National Industries for the Blind (NIB) and the National Association for the Employment of People Who Are Blind (NAEPB) recently recognized John Matchette, a managing director at Accenture Federal Services, with the NIB Customer Appreciation Award for his personal and professional interest in creating and supporting jobs for people who are blind.

Secretariat Award Winner

Donald C. Fletcher, M.D., medical director of Envision, Inc.'s Vision Rehabilitation Clinic, has been awarded the Secretariat Award, one of the highest honors bestowed by the American Academy of Ophthalmology, in recognition of his lifetime of helping others learn techniques to live with low vision and contributing to international low vision missions, education and programs.  The Secretariat Award recognizes ophthalmologists for special contributions to the AAO and ophthalmology. Nominees are seen as having provided service and effort above and beyond that of other volunteers, contributing through outstanding organizational, management and/or administrative activities.

Migel Winners

The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) recently announced the 2014 winners of the Migel Medals, the highest honor in the blindness field. They are James Kesteloot and Oral Miller. They will receive the awards at a ceremony at the AFB Leadership Conference in Brooklyn on March 1.
The AFB Migel Medal was established in 1937 by the late M.C. Migel, AFB's first chairman, to honor professionals and volunteers whose dedication and achievements improve the lives of people who are blind or visually impaired.
James M. Kesteloot has had a distinguished career in the blindness field. He served over 40 years with The Chicago Lighthouse for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired and was the president and executive director from 1996 until his retirement in 2009. He was appointed by Illinois governors Thompson and Edgar to the Blind Services Planning Council and by Chicago's mayor, Richard M. Daley, to the Mayor's Task Force on Employment of People with Disabilities.
Kesteloot developed the placement program at the Lighthouse. Over the years, he had a hand in starting and improving other programs within the Lighthouse. President Obama appointed him to serve on the Committee for Purchase from People Who Are Blind or Severely Disabled (now known as the United States AbilityOne Commission) in 2010. He also served on the executive committee of the board of National Industries for the Blind, as president of the Central Lions Club, and as a member of the United Way of Chicago Council. He is currently a member of the American Foundation for the Blind's board of trustees.
Oral Miller has dedicated his life to significantly improving the lives of people who are blind or visually impaired, having first become a founding member of the American Blind Lawyers Association and serving there as treasurer, director, and president at various times. This activity eventually led him to the American Council of the Blind, where he served as president from 1978 to 1981, and as a member of the board of directors for many years.
Miller has also been a leader in the U.S. Association of Blind Athletes. His efforts have extended beyond the United States to the international level through the International Blind Sports Association, as well as the World Blind Union, which has enabled him to interact with leaders in the blindness field from many countries.
Miller's extensive background in law and government service has enabled him to work successfully in representing the interests of people who are blind or visually impaired, especially in the fields of employment, education, and accessibility.

Safeway Web Accessibility

Safeway recently announced a comprehensive initiative to make its online grocery shopping web site more accessible and usable for Safeway shoppers with visual impairments.  The site enhancements are the result of collaboration between Safeway and several visually impaired customers.
Safeway has adopted the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) version 2.0 level AA as its accessibility standard and has already made significant enhancements to its online shopping web site.  For more information, visit

Greeting Cards

Shadows in the Dark offers a wide variety of braille greeting cards, including Valentine's Day and Saint Patrick's Day cards.  All cards can be personalized.  The company also offers many different types of braille playing cards.
For more information, visit or  Or write to Shadows in the Dark, 22627 Mathis Rd., San Antonio, TX 78264, or phone (210) 376-0017.

Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday ...

National Braille Press recently released "Thursday Morning Quotations," which includes 52 new selections, one per week for a full year. This edition features luminaries like Oscar Wilde, Rumi, Warren Buffett, J.K. Rowling, Mae West, Emily Dickinson, and more. NBP still has a few copies of the Tuesday and Wednesday quotations books. For more information, visit, or call 1-800-548-7323.

AccessNote Updated

The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) has updated its note-taking app for the iOS platform, AccessNote, to version 1.2. AccessNote is a notetaker for Apple's iOS operating system. It uses standard iOS elements so that VoiceOver users can quickly operate the app using Apple's VoiceOver screen reader.
AccessNote version 1.2 includes many bug fixes and several enhancements. The "find" function has been completely redesigned to be more streamlined, and by popular request, it is now possible to import BRF files without changing the extension.
To learn about all the changes and enhancements in AccessNote version 1.2, visit AccessNote can be found in the Apple App Store.

Odin Mobile to Improve Access

Odin Mobile will improve access to Android (TM) for people who are blind with Nexus 4 from Google (TM). Nexus 4 is an ideal device for people who are blind because it quickly receives updates to the Android operating system, bringing its users the latest in Android accessibility. 
Purchasers of the device will receive a unique instructional package that will include a one-on-one tutorial on how to use the accessibility features of Android.  Tutorials will be provided over the phone by experts who are blind.  The package will also include the ability to call Odin Mobile experts and receive support for a period of one month after purchase of the device.  During this period, experts will assist with a host of issues, such as recommending accessible applications, as well as helping customers perform particular tasks.
For more information, visit

New Crossword App

Four Down is a crossword app for iPhone and iPad that uses VoiceOver to make it fully accessible to blind and visually impaired users. With VoiceOver enabled, you can easily navigate around the crossword grid and the clues. As you do so, Four Down reads the clues aloud, telling you the clue itself, how many letters the answer has, and describing any letters in the answer that are already known.  It may say, "Eight down. Male duck. 5 letters. D, three blanks, E." When you're ready to answer a clue, you double-tap and use the keyboard to enter the answer.
You can also use VoiceOver to find out how you're doing by checking individual letters, a whole answer, or the entire puzzle. Four Down will announce whether it found any mistakes and, if so, it will describe their locations on the grid so that you can easily find and correct them. If you get stuck, Four Down can lend a helping hand by filling in an individual letter or a whole answer.
There are 24 puzzles included in the app, and they're divided into four categories: all puzzles, new puzzles, puzzles in progress, and completed puzzles.
Four Down is available at the App Store,

Boing, Boing!

"Just suppose," said Ted "Dr. Seuss" Geisel, "there was a little kid who didn't speak words but only weird sounds?" Thus Gerald McBoing Boing was born, brought to life by United Productions of America as an animated cartoon. This story went on to win an Academy Award in 1951, and was briefly made available as a book at the time of the movie's release. And now it's back!
"Gerald McBoing Boing" by Dr. Seuss is now available from National Braille Press as a print-and-braille children's book, as well as a contracted braille book, for those ages 5 to 10.
For more information, contact NBP at 88 St. Stephen Street, Boston, MA 02115-4302, or call toll-free, 1-800-548-7323. Or visit the web site,

Blind Adult Camping Session

The 2014 Blind Adult Christian Camping Session will take place May 17-24 at the Golden Cross Ranch in New Caney, Tex.   The theme for the week is "Prudent Answers for Perplexing Questions."  Activities include a daily morning Bible study, good preaching through the week, swimming, two hayrides, homemade ice cream, horseback riding, zipline, a shopping trip, campfire, great food and fellowship and much more!  First-time campers can come free.  The cost for the week is $260.  For more information, call the Gospel Association for the Blind at (386) 586-5885 or toll-free 1-866-251-5165; enter mailbox 7128 and leave your contact information.  Or visit the web site,

Lighthouse Center for Vision Loss

Vision loss or blindness can be tough … but don't let it stop you! Would you like to receive training in your own home via Skype?  Or do you want to come to a residential training program that is small, friendly and tailored to your distinct needs?  Or do you want an instructor to travel to your home or workplace in northern Michigan, Wisconsin or Minnesota? 
The Lighthouse Center for Vision Loss is a comprehensive training facility located in Duluth, Minn. — less than 3 hours north of the Twin Cities.  It features state-of-the-art technology instruction; student apartments located on the glorious Duluth Lakewalk; and recreational programming that has included self-defense training, tandem biking and more. To learn more, call (218) 624-4828 or send an e-mail message to

Envision Celebrates 10th Anniversary

Envision's Rehabilitation Center recently celebrated its 10th anniversary.  The center was established in 2003 to enhance the independence and enrich the quality of life of people who are blind or low vision through the delivery of research-based vision rehabilitation. Licensed and certified specialists at the clinic work directly with individuals and their families, providing comprehensive, state-of-the-art vision services. From basic training, which introduces many of the devices and resources that can help those who are visually impaired remain as independent as possible, to mobility training which helps them navigate their most frequently occupied settings and the routes between them, to situational tips and training that help them carry out everyday tasks such as grocery shopping and cooking, to occupational training that helps better prepare them to be more self-reliant and productive members of society, the Envision Vision Rehabilitation Center strives to help those with vision loss and impairment build the confidence and skills they need to enjoy fuller, more independent lives.  For more information, visit

BANA Affirms UEBC Implementation Date

The Braille Authority of North America (BANA), at its November meeting in Louisville, Ky., affirmed Jan. 4, 2016, as the date by which the United States will implement the general use of Unified English Braille (UEB). This action was based on a year of dialogue and planning that included the UEB Transition Forum, held on Oct. 16. The forum, which involved 48 delegates representing 31 organizations from the braille community, was structured to help organizations craft the steps and timetable through which the United States will make an effective transition to Unified English Braille.
BANA recognizes that the implementation of UEB will require major adjustments to the infrastructures that produce, deliver, and teach braille, as well as time and strategies for braille users to become familiar with changes in the code. BANA continues to work with leaders throughout the field to build a carefully designed timeline and coordinated plan. Detailed timelines are under development by individual organizations, and transition efforts are now being initiated. BANA stands ready to collaborate with the braille community as it builds and adapts the infrastructure necessary for a smooth transition to UEB.

Inaugural Whitener Family Scholarship Awarded

James Deom, Salus University class of 2014, is the recipient of the university's inaugural John Whitener Family Scholarship, to be awarded annually to an outstanding optometry student or optometrist who is completing a master of public health (MPH) degree at the Elkins Park-based university.
The $2,000 scholarship was established by former adjunct faculty member and member of the advisory board that created the MPH program at Salus, John C. Whitener, OD, MPH, in memory of his parents.

Picture Book about Guide Dogs

Have you ever been out and about with your children or grandchildren and run across someone with a guide dog?  Did the kids ask questions about the dog?  "Guide Doggie: Learn How Guide Dogs Help the Blind in This Picture Book" is a new picture book that can answer their questions.  It is available in large print at For more information, visit


Are you going to Philadelphia? Do you plan to take the family to the zoo?  Check out the Hamilton Family Children's Zoo & Faris Family Education Center at the Philadelphia Zoo.  KidZooU, which opened in April 2013, was designed with the future in mind.  The zoo calls it a wildlife academy, and there are several features that make it worth a visit.
Indoors, guests marvel at a world teeming with coral reef fish, colorful parakeets, desert ants and other extraordinary animals. The indoor education center serves as a wildlife academy focusing on the theme "Saving Energy to Save Wildlife." The education center features conservation stations and interactive exhibits. The outdoor portion of KidZooU includes a barnyard and stables where kids can pet and brush sheep; a 400-foot trail for rare goats to roam; and a goat bridge. While the goats scale their own super-size tower in the barnyard, children can climb a parallel structure and mimic their behavior.
Working with area special-needs community partners, including the Overbrook School for the Blind, the Center for Autism Research at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, and the Pennsylvania School for the Deaf, the Philadelphia Zoo ensured that KidZooU is accessible to everyone.  Zoo staff and volunteers have received training on assisting families with special needs.  KidZooU's signage identifies animals such as ducks, pigeons, chickens, horses, goats and sheep in braille. KidZooU also features quiet spaces.  Programming, at KidZooU and elsewhere in the zoo, provides the opportunity to touch animals and feel what keepers feel — such as touching the skin of a rhino or the shell of a giant tortoise.
The Philadelphia Zoo is located at 34th Street and Girard Avenue in Philadelphia's Fairmount Park.  For more information, visit

Pen Pal Magazine

Adrijana Prokopenko is starting an electronic magazine for people who would like to become or find new pen pals. If you would like to receive it regularly or would like to submit a pen pal ad for yourself, send a message to Include your name, age, location, hobbies and interests, and the kind of pen pal you are looking for.

High Tech Swap Shop

For Sale:

Approximately 200 classic rock albums from Spencer Davis Group to Steely Dan, including approximately 100-200 cassette tapes with braille titles. Albums have braille on the upper left side. Will include a double cassette player. Asking $100 for albums, $100 for the cassettes. Contact Robert Ziegler at (763) 537-8000 most days and evenings.

For Sale:

PAC Mate BX 400. Has 20-cell and 40-cell display, as well as wi-fi card, adapter and documentation. In good condition. Asking $2,000. Money order or PayPal only. Contact Shawn Cox at home, (585) 624-5462, or cell, (585) 905-8630, or by e-mail,

For Sale:

Braille Note PK with KeySoft version 7.2. Asking $450 or best offer. Power Braille 40-cell refreshable braille display.  Asking $1,200 or best offer. Contact Philip at (703) 581-9587 or via e-mail,

For Sale:

Gently used Braille Sense OnHand. In excellent condition; comes with two batteries, charger, carrying case, interface cables, and the original box. Asking $1,700 or best reasonable offer. If interested, contact John Glass via e-mail,, or call (408) 257-1034.

For Sale:

EyePal by ABISee. Asking $400. Compact, lightweight and fits in briefcase or backpack. Plug it into your computer, place a document such a letter on it, and it reads it aloud instantly. Will also save documents as text, images, or sound files. Contact Brian Wooten at

For Sale:

SARA reading machine, only used a couple of times. Asking $1,000 (negotiable). Contact Joseph Machise at (781) 599-6664, or via e-mail,

For Sale:

Brand-new Sony laptop with 14" wide screen, 1 TB hard drive, 4 gigs RAM, Windows 7 Home Premium, JAWS 14, and Office 2007 and antivirus program included. Asking $1,000 (includes shipping).  Call Jose Luis at (818) 220-6256.

ACB Officers


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


Ray Campbell (1st term, 2015)
460 Raintree Ct. #3K
Glen Ellyn, IL 60137


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)
Doug Powell, Falls Church, VA (1st term, 2014)