The ACB E-Forum, October 2014

Downloadable versions available here.
The ACB E-Forum
Volume LIII October 2014 No. 4
 
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 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.

Forum Subscription Notes
 
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To subscribe to "The Braille Forum" via e-mail, go to www.acb.org/mailman/listinfo/brailleforum-L.
 
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The ACB E-Forum, October 2014 downloads

President’s Report to the National Convention, Part II, by Kim Charlson

I need to comment briefly on developments surrounding ACB's efforts regarding accessible currency. We continue to work with Jeffrey Lovitky, our pro bono attorney, on the Bureau of Engraving and Printing case. I want to acknowledge his efforts and recognize that he is here this evening sitting at the head table. He is incredibly committed to accessible currency, and I want to express our continuing appreciation for all of his work on behalf of ACB on this important issue.  
 
Eric Bridges and I met in person at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing in October, with a large group of staff from the Meaningful Access Unit. We received an update on research, developments and testing of currency with tactile features. We also had a demonstration of the updated iOS app Eyenote, which has been upgraded and is faster to use. A high-ranking BEP official will be addressing the convention Monday morning with a special announcement about electronic currency readers. I believe you will be pleased with this latest step in our journey toward accessible tactile currency, and ACB will not lose sight of the end goal of currency that people who are blind can identify by touch.
 
In the area of guide dog access rights, ACB has been involved with two cases. First, you may have heard about the experience of ACB member Albert Rizzi, a guide dog user, who was ejected from a U.S. Airways flight on Nov. 13, 2013 because he was not able to put his guide dog far enough under the seat of the person sitting next to him, which did not please the flight attendant. Mr. Rizzi had been assigned a seat at the rear of the small plane, in the center of the bench seat, with no passenger seat in front of him since that was the aisle itself.
 
The Air Carrier Access Act grants people who use guide dogs the right to full access to air travel, accompanied in the cabin by their working dog.  It is the responsibility of each airline to insure that personnel both understand and respect the rights of passengers who use guide dogs. ACB has called upon all airlines to guarantee that appropriate policies regarding the access rights of people who are blind traveling with guide dogs are in place, and that airline personnel who interact with passengers before, during, and after travel receive appropriate training regarding the treatment of guide dogs and their handlers during all phases of travel.
 
Given the number of years that our access laws have been in place, there is no excuse for airline personnel to engage in practices that demean or discriminate against passengers who travel with guide dogs.  Such conduct is unacceptable. We take this issue very seriously, and airlines should do likewise.  Nothing less is acceptable. For discrimination against one guide dog user is discrimination against all of us.
 
In a continuing investigative series documenting discrimination against guide dog handlers trying to get cabs in Washington, D.C., WUSA9, D.C.’s local CBS affiliate, conducted an undercover investigation with Melanie Brunson and Eric Bridges and field journalists to document the discrimination. More recently, WUSA9 followed up on its previous investigation into discrimination by taxi cab drivers in the nation’s capital.
 
Their findings sparked the first official complaint using evidence gathered by the undercover cameras. Since the story first ran, D.C.’s Office of Human Rights has established a special online reporting web page as part of its initiative to document taxi cab discrimination. As ACB’s Eric Bridges, director of external relations and policy, attempted to fill out the online complaint form against the documented taxis that discriminated against him and his guide dog, he found the web page was not accessible with a screen reader. An intermediary from the D.C. government had to assist Eric in filing his complaint by phone.  When asked about the inaccessibility of its web page, D.C. officials stated it is a government-wide issue and vowed to have the online reporting page accessible to the blind by Labor Day. If the agency rules against the cabs cited in the complaint, it has the power to levy penalties as high as hundreds of thousands of dollars.
 
On behalf of the American Council of the Blind, our pro bono attorneys from the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs and Sutherland Asbill and Brennan LLP, have filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of blind federal contractors and ACB against the General Services Administration (GSA), the federal executive branch agency responsible for administering the government’s non-defense contracts. The complaint, filed in federal district court in the District of Columbia, alleges that GSA has failed to provide a web site accessible to blind federal contractors who must register and annually renew their federal contractor registration. The complaint names three individual federal contractors and the American Council of the Blind as plaintiffs.
 
GSA is responsible for ensuring that recipients of federal funding comply with the Rehabilitation Act, which prohibits both the federal government and recipients of federal funding from discriminating on the basis of disability, including blindness.  GSA requires federal contractors to register and annually renew their registration on a GSA web site, SAM.gov. The complaint alleges that SAM.gov is incompatible with screen-reading software that many blind individuals, including the individual plaintiffs in this case, rely on to navigate the Internet. The lawsuit seeks to force GSA to make its web site accessible to blind federal contractors.
 
The great irony here is that the agency charged with ensuring that others comply with the Rehabilitation Act and make their web sites accessible to the blind is not itself complying with the law. GSA is effectively telling federal contractors to “do as I say, not as I do.” ACB is honored to work with the Washington Lawyers’ Committee and Sutherland on this important cause. Our goal is that SAM.gov become accessible to blind and visually impaired federal contractors. And we won’t rest until GSA has made it accessible.
 
Now, let me shift to television and audio description. Last fall, the Federal Communications Commission   published final regulations requiring that virtually all TV and TV-like devices must be accessible through audible controls, guides and menus! This action by the FCC is the result of an unprecedented outpouring from the blindness community demanding greater accessibility. Many of you may recall that there had been attempts by some industry groups to thwart the intent of the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA), which revolutionizes the television viewing experience for people who are blind or visually impaired. ACB, along with the American Foundation for the Blind, successfully negotiated with leading industry advocates to draft the consensus that the FCC ultimately used to adopt their new rules. Under this consensus, virtually all TV and TV-like devices, inclusive of tablets and smart phones, receiving digital video programming must be accessible through audible controls. These requirements will go into effect in 2015.
 
ACB’s own Audio Description Project continues to be active advocating for all types of audio description – for television, live theater, museums, movies, and on DVDs. Two major activities are planned this week by the project – first, starting today, the Audio Description Conference, featuring three days of the latest developments, research, and trends with audio description in all genres. Then on July 16-18, Joel Snyder will be training a large group of future describers. Attendees of the Audio Description Training Institute have been matched with experienced blind mentors to learn about life experiences for a person who is blind.
 
On the governmental affairs front, three legislative initiatives that ACB has been working on deserve an update. In December, Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) 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) has perpetrated for many years through the denial of coverage of low-vision devices for Medicare recipients. CMS has elected to very narrowly interpret the regulations so that devices that have one or more lenses are treated the same as eyeglasses. This interpretation is flat-out ridiculous. These tools are often essential for individuals with low vision who, without the aid of assistive technology, cannot read product labels, medication bottles, handle their mail, pay bills, and manage their health and personal independence. Without the aid of such assistive devices, many more individuals will be forced into assisted living or nursing home facilities as our population ages. 
 
In February, Reps. Matthew Cartwright (D-PA) and Steve Stockman (R-TX) introduced H.R. 4040, The Alice Cogswell and Anne Sullivan Macy Act. H.R. 4040 will improve the delivery of appropriate special education and related services to all students who are blind or visually impaired as well as students who are deaf or hard of hearing.
 
The introduction of this bill is a critical first step to ensuring that the special-education system can be transformed in a manner that will truly allow for blind or visually impaired students to succeed in a 21st century classroom. Anne Sullivan Macy is well-known as Helen Keller’s teacher, and Alice Cogswell was the first deaf girl to be educated at a school for the deaf in the U.S.
 
As many of you are aware, late last month the House and Senate reached an agreement on compromise bill language to reauthorize provisions in the vocational rehabilitation program contained in the Workforce Investment Act (WIA). The compromise bill H.R. 803, Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), was passed by the Senate in late June and by the House in early July. Here are a few of the provisions that are of interest to ACB.
 
The compromise bill keeps the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) in the U.S. Department of Education. The RSA Commissioner position remains a presidential appointment requiring Senate confirmation. The Older Blind Program stays with RSA and is not moved to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. ACB will continue to monitor implementation of this legislation and keep you posted on developments.

An Update on ACB’s Annual Giving Programs and a Thank-You to Some Very Special Donors by Melanie Brunson

Earlier this year, we told you about a new program to honor those individuals, families, and affiliates who contribute to ACB by enrolling them in annual giving societies.  The first members of these new annual giving societies will be determined in January of 2015 based upon the amount contributed by an individual, a household, or an affiliate during this calendar year.  Since this program has been very well received, I thought it might be good to give you an update on how memberships look at this point in the year. 
 
As of mid-August, 63 people have contributed between $250 and $999 to ACB, which will qualify them as the first members of ACB’s Leaders Society.  Eleven people have qualified to be members of the Advocates Society by contributing between $1,000 and $2,499.  Our Champions Society currently has two members, each of whom has contributed between $2,500 and $4,999.  At this point, our Presidents Society, for those who contribute a minimum of $5,000 during a calendar year to ACB, has no members.  However, we are pretty certain that some of our current Champions may become Presidents by the end of the year, when the final memberships for this year are determined.  Since any donations that are tax-deductible are counted, including such contributions as those made to the Monthly Monetary Support (MMS) program, there is still plenty of time for donors to contribute and join any of these annual giving societies.  If you have any questions, please e-mail Lane Waters in the Minnesota office at lanewaters@acbes.org, or call 1-800-866-3242.  We will be publicizing the names of each annual giving society’s members early next year, and I encourage anyone who is interested in joining one of them to contact the Minnesota office.  You will have some fun, and assist ACB at the same time.
 
Several years ago, ACB established another society, which we called the Patrons Society, in order to honor individuals or organizations who have contributed $100,000 or more to our organization.  There is a plaque hanging on the wall of the ACB national office that lists the names of our current Patrons Society members.  I am very pleased to tell you that we have the privilege of adding two new names to this plaque.  Earlier this year, we received a contribution from the estate of Anneen Laub of New Mexico that qualifies her for membership in the Patrons Society.  For several years now, ACB has been the beneficiary of proceeds raised each January by a group of Ferrari owners who gather in Palm Beach, Fla.  Their annual event is known as the Cavallino Classic.  Since Paul Edwards first introduced this group to ACB in 1998, their event has brought ACB over $100,000.  In addition, one of the individuals who participated in this event recently, but who wished to remain anonymous, has donated another $100,000 to ACB’s scholarship fund.  We are incredibly appreciative of the very generous support we have received from participants in the Cavallino Classic over the past several years.  I could not pass up an opportunity to publicly acknowledge and thank them for their support of ACB.  I also want to thank Paul Edwards for reaching out to them while he was president of ACB, and for attending their event every year since to bring the group up to date on what ACB is doing.
 
ACB is fortunate to have many generous supporters.  Many of you are reading this article.  In closing, let me say to each of you a heartfelt thank you.  We cannot continue our efforts to improve the lives of people who are blind without you.  Whether you contribute at a level that enables you to become part of one of our annual giving societies or not, all that you do for and give to ACB is very much appreciated.  We hope to add to the rolls of our annual giving societies and we invite those who can join them to do so. But every contribution, no matter its size or shape, makes a difference as we consider how to reach our goals.  No one should think their efforts are too small.  Every contribution is, in fact, priceless!

Audio Description Awards Announced

We proudly announce the 2014 Achievement Awards in Audio Description, an initiative of the American Council of the Blind’s Audio Description Project (ADP).  
 
In conjunction with ACB’s 53rd annual conference and convention in Las Vegas, Nev., the awards were presented at a gala luncheon during the Audio Description Project’s conference and shared with almost 2,000 ACB members/convention attendees.  The prestigious awards included:

Achievement in Audio Description – Performing Arts:  Adrienne Arsht Performing Arts Center, Miami, FL

The Arsht Center’s audio description program provides more complete access to full-length opera — masterpieces of the classical repertoire — as well as exciting musicals.  The describers used are professional, eloquent and succinct in the crafting of their descriptions; the system used is of top quality, and everyone at the center is knowledgeable, welcoming and encourages participation in audio-described performances.

Achievement in Audio Description – Media:  Diane Johnson and Descriptive Video Works, Vancouver, BC, Canada

Diane Johnson and Descriptive Video Works have described thousands of hours of film and television programming, including over 300 feature films and 179 hours of “I Love Lucy” alone!  (That’s a lot of Ricky and Lucy and Fred and Ethel!)  Diane was a founding member of the Canadian Described Video Broadcast Committee and she has been a tireless advocate for people who are blind.

Achievement in Audio Description – Museums:  Sandy Malmquist and the Connecticut Children’s Museum, New Haven, CT

The Connecticut Children’s Museum in New Haven is a community resource inspired by the tenets of universal design and dedicated to nurturing children, their families and teachers in a literacy-based and arts-rich, textured place.  They developed an audio-described tour for children and all visitors to the museum; they researched the application of audio description for the support of increased literacy in all children; and the museum is accessible in innovative ways:  visitors are greeted by four life-size, touchable, flat metal sculptures of children frolicking right side up, upside down and in a wheelchair on the grassy lawn; on each landing is a large wooden floor map to direct visitors to the rooms.  They’re wall-mounted, tactile and in braille.

Achievement in Audio Description – International:  Steph Kirkland and the VocalEye Descriptive Arts Society, Vancouver, BC, Canada

The VocalEye Descriptive Arts Society’s season has grown from 15 productions in 2010-11 to 26 productions this past season.  During the most recent season, the group described 81 productions for more than 400 audience members with vision loss.  A highlight of VocalEye’s programming is their Touch Tours.  They invite AD consumers to the stage to tour the set and handle some of the props and costumes and to meet some of the cast and crew.  

Dr. Margaret R. Pfanstiehl Memorial Achievement Award in Audio Description – Research and Development:  Dr. Louise Fryer, London, UK

Louise Fryer is one of the few individuals, world-wide, who possesses a Ph.D. with a focus on audio description.  She is a leading media and performing arts describer and specializes in the analysis of dance movement and its “translation” to words for the benefit of people who are blind or have low vision.

Barry Levine Memorial Award for Career Achievement in Audio Description: Dr. Joel Snyder, Takoma Park, MD

In developing the ACB’s Audio Description Project, now in its sixth year, Joel Snyder has accomplished more than could have been imagined:  we’ve created consumer-focused guidelines for audio description; with the expert assistance of webmaster Fred Brack, we’ve created a top-notch web site that has established itself as the go-to site for information on all forms of audio description; each year we’ve honored leaders in audio description and we’ve given prizes to children who write reviews of described programming; we’ve sponsored three international conferences on audio description; and just this year ACB published an adaptation of his doctoral dissertation — one of the few worldwide focused on audio description.  Indeed, he has literally “written the book” on audio description; he was one of the first audio describers in the world, beginning with The Washington Ear in 1981.  Joel has described hundreds of performances in all genres, as well as hundreds of nationally broadcast television programs and feature films —including both of President Barack Obama’s inaugurations on ABC television and the first-ever audio-described tour of the White House; and he has trained describers and introduced audio description in over 30 states and 38 countries. 
 
The Achievement Awards are made to individuals and/or organizations for outstanding contributions to the establishment and/or continued development of significant audio description programs.  The Barry Levine Memorial Award for Career Achievement in Audio Description recognizes an individual for outstanding contributions to the field of audio description over an extended period of time, leading, inspiring or providing significant service to others.
 
“Audio description uses words that are succinct, vivid, and imaginative to convey the visual image from television, film, DVDs, theater, museums and many other settings,”  stated Kim Charlson, president of the American Council of the Blind.  "The organizations and individuals honored with these awards are among the leaders in description.  They help make so many aspects of our culture accessible to people who are blind or have low vision; they deserve this special recognition.” 
 
Additional information about ACB’s Audio Description Project is available at www.acb.org/adp.

Traveling to Dallas by Janet Dickelman

The 54th annual ACB convention will be held at the Sheraton Dallas, located at 400 N. Olive St. in downtown Dallas. Pre-registration pickup will be on Thursday evening, July 2nd. Convention activities and tours will be held from Friday, July 3rd through Saturday, July 11th.  We are just in the beginning stages of convention planning; however, for those of you who just can’t wait to know about tours, we definitely plan to visit the museum which chronicles the life and legacy of President John F. Kennedy.  We’re hoping to take a tour of Cowboy Stadium and perhaps take in a rodeo! Stay tuned for details! 
 
As always, the ACB conference and convention will feature an exhibit hall showcasing vendors from around the country.  The exhibit hall will be open from Saturday, July 4th through Wednesday, July 8.
 
The opening general session will be held Sunday, July 5, with daily sessions Monday through Thursday mornings, and all day Friday.  Tech sessions, committee and affiliate programming begin on Saturday and run through Thursday.  Convention week culminates with our banquet Friday evening. 
 

Traveling by Air

 
Dallas is served by two airports, DFW and Love Field. Love Field is serviced by Southwest Airlines and, effective April 2015, by Virgin America. DFW features flights from numerous airlines including American, Delta, Frontier, Jet Blue, Sun Country and United. For a list of airlines serving DFW, visit www.dfwairport.com/airlines/index.php.
 
Go Yellowchecker shuttle is offering ACB a round-trip fare from either airport of $30. Information regarding booking this service will be available closer to the convention. 
 
You can also take the light rail from both airports. Light rail stops at Terminal One at DFW; from Love Field you would take a shuttle to the light rail station. The Pearl Street light rail station is outside the Sheraton.
 

Rail and Bus Travel

 
Amtrak comes to Dallas’ Union Station, approximately 1 mile from the hotel. Union Station is served by the light rail’s red or blue line or a very short cab ride to the hotel.
 
There is a Megabus stop in Dallas as well as a Greyhound station; both are located within easy traveling distance from the Sheraton. For additional information on Greyhound, visit
www.greyhound.com/en/locations/terminal.aspx?city=680780. Megabus information can be obtained at
https://us.megabus.com/Megabus%20adds%20downtown%20Dallas%20service.aspx.
 

Hotel Details

 
Room rates at the Sheraton Dallas are $89 (single, double, triple or quad) plus applicable state and local taxes (currently 13 percent) and tourism district fees (2 percent).  To reserve a room, call 1-888-627-8191, and be sure to mention that you are attending the ACB convention. To make reservations online, visit www.acb.org and follow the 2015 convention link.
 

Convention Contacts

 
Stay in touch by joining the ACB convention e-mail list. To join the list, send a blank e-mail to
acbconvention-subscribe@acb.org.
 
2015 Exhibits: Michael Smitherman, (601) 331-7740, amduo@bellsouth.net
2015 Advertising and Sponsorships: Margarine Beaman, (512) 921-1625, oleo50@hotmail.com
 
For any other convention-related questions, contact Janet Dickelman, convention chair, at (651) 428-5059, or via e-mail, janet.dickelman@gmail.com.

Snowflakes and Birthday Cake: 2014 ACB Radio Holiday Auction by Carla Ruschival

It's a holiday celebration; it's a birthday party! ACB's third annual Holiday Auction will be coming to you live on ACB Radio from Louisville, Ky. on Sunday, Dec. 7, from 7 to 11 p.m. Eastern (4 to 8 p.m. Pacific). Kick off the holiday season in style AND celebrate ACB Radio's 15th birthday - all at the same time. Join in the fun from anywhere in the country, from any computer or any telephone.
 
The 2013 ACB Holiday Auction was a huge success.  Packed with yummy holiday treats and great gift ideas, the auction raised over $5,000 for ACB Radio.
 
The ACB Radio staff and brand-new Holiday Auction Committee are teaming up to bring you a wonderful shopping experience and the perfect opportunity to support ACB Radio!  Whether you are searching for that special gift for a loved one or a holiday surprise for yourself, the Holiday Auction has it all: sparkling jewelry, mouth-watering holiday cookies and fudge, exquisite music boxes, and gifts for everyone on your list (even your dog).
 
Donating Items: Individuals, chapters, affiliates and businesses are invited to contribute items to the Holiday Auction.  Contact Brian Charlson by e-mail at brian.charlson@carroll.org or by phone at (617) 926-9198 for more information.  When donating an item, provide item descriptions to Brian, and ship all items except baked goods by Monday, Nov. 3, to the ACB Minnesota office, 6300 Shingle Creek Pkwy., Suite 195, Brooklyn Center, MN 55430.  All donors will be recognized on our Holiday Auction preview pages on the ACB web site and on air during the auction.
 
Bidding and Buying: Auction preview pages will once again be available on the ACB website by mid-November.  Browse the preview pages and choose the items on which you plan to bid.  On Dec. 7 between 7 and 11 p.m. Eastern, tune in to ACB Radio by computer or telephone for all the fun, and be ready to call and place your bids.
 
Watch for more holiday and birthday celebration surprises in the November "ACB Braille Forum," and thanks in advance for your support of ACB Radio.

Let Your Light Shine: Be A DKM First-Timer

Many of us will recall the familiar parable of the candle hidden under a basket, a light obviously not visible to anyone.  The message, of course, is the importance of letting others see one’s abilities and potential.  We may apply a similar standard to the cultivation of new leadership in ACB and its affiliates.
 
Critical to this process is the recognition of these talents and abilities accompanied by the opportunity and encouragement to apply them.  ACB’s Durward K. McDaniel First-Timers program fulfills this role.  Each year the DKM committee selects two ACB members — one from east and one from west of the Mississippi — to attend the national conference and convention.  DKM first-timers must meet each of the following criteria:

  • Age 18 or older
  • Blind or visually impaired
  • Member in good standing of ACB
  • Never attended a previous national conference and convention 

Reasonable round-trip travel, hotel accommodation (double occupancy), per diem allowance and convention registration fee are provided.
 
Applications — a letter from the applicant and a letter from the applicant’s ACB state or special-interest affiliate president — will be accepted in the national office between Jan. 1 and April 1, 2015.  The formal invitation for DKM applications will be published in the January “ACB Braille Forum.”
 
State and special-interest affiliate presidents: Identify that potential leader among your members, make that person aware of the leadership opportunities available through ACB, and encourage him or her to apply for the 2015 DKM First-Timers award.
 
— Allen Casey

Getting Help with Your Medicare Costs When Money Is Tight by Ron Pollack

(Editor's Note: Ron Pollack is the executive director of Families USA, the national organization for health-care consumers.)
 
Medicare provides vital health insurance for 50 million seniors and people with disabilities. But even when you have Medicare, health care is not free. People with Medicare pay premiums and have other costs that they pay out of pocket, like deductibles and co-insurance. For lower-income people, these costs can be overwhelming.
 
There are several programs that help low-income people with Medicare pay their health care costs — but many Medicare beneficiaries don’t know about these programs. Let’s see if we can shed some light on them. 
 

Why might I need help?

 
Anyone with Medicare knows that the program has significant costs. Here are some common costs for 2014:
 

  • Medicare Part A, which covers inpatient care, has a $1,216 deductible that you’ll have to pay if you’re unfortunate enough to be hospitalized. 
  • Medicare Part B, which covers outpatient care (like doctor visits), has a monthly premium of $104.90.
  • Doctor visits also come with a 20 percent co-payment, and so do lab tests.
  • If you have Part D drug coverage, that’s an additional premium, which averages about $40 a month, plus co-payments for your prescriptions.
  • Finally, there are a number of services that Medicare does not cover, like most long-term care.
  • Half of people with Medicare live on incomes below $23,500 a year, so it’s no surprise that a lot of seniors spend a good share of their budget on health care.

 

What help is available to beneficiaries with low incomes?

 

  • The Part D “Extra Help” program can cover all or part of your Part D premiums and costs.
  • Each state runs three Medicare Savings Programs. Different states have different names for these programs.  All of these programs will cover your Part B premium. Lower-income people can also get their Medicare co-insurance and deductibles covered.
  • Some beneficiaries with low incomes or high health care expenses may qualify for their state’s Medicaid program, which covers a number of services that Medicare does not. 

 

How can I qualify?

 
Income limits vary from state to state and are adjusted every year. But they are low. In general, the 2014 income limit for any type of assistance is about $17,500 a year for an individual and $23,600 a year for a couple.
 
Most programs also look at how much you have in assets (bank accounts, retirement, etc.), although the value of your home and car usually don’t count toward asset limits. In 2014, the asset limit is about $7,000 for an individual and $11,000 for a couple. But some states have adopted higher asset limits or eliminated them altogether, so check to see what the rules are in your state.
 

How can I get help?

 
To learn more about the programs in your state and get help navigating the application process, contact your local State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP). Every state has one, and they provide free, unbiased advice to people with Medicare. Call 1-800-MEDICARE or go to www.Medicare.gov and click on “Find someone to talk to.”
 

How do I apply?

 
You can learn more about the Part D Extra Help program and apply through the Social Security website at www.socialsecurity.gov/prescriptionhelp.
 
To apply for your state’s Medicare Savings Programs or Medicaid, contact your state’s Medicaid agency. A counselor with your local SHIP can help you start the process and advise you if you run into problems.
 

Are there other options for getting help with Medicare costs?

 
Maybe. These options are worth investigating.

  • It’s always a good idea to explore options in your area. Some states provide additional help with prescription drug costs.
  • If you are a veteran, you may qualify for additional help through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
  • Make sure you’re taking full advantage of any help you may get from a former employer.

Finally, you may want to explore getting a Medicare supplement (Medigap) or Medicare Advantage plan. But be careful, because some of these plans can be costly, and others may limit which doctors you can see. A local SHIP counselor can help you assess your options.

Two Weeks to Go by Deon Lyons

Two weeks to go and here I am, typing away. I haven't been posting much this past month, and for those of you who take the time to come in and read what I have to say, I apologize. My mind has been a swirling torrent of distraction lately, and this time, I have an excuse.
 
I am supposed to get a new laptop tomorrow, along with a fresh copy of Office 2013 and some much-needed tutoring with the accessibility of these new items. I have two weeks to go before I embark on my new adventure on a college campus, and I can hardly believe what's happening.
 
Am I ready for this new chapter? I would like to think that I am, but the old me, the old ways of thinking pull me off to the side and whisper in my ear, "Dude. What are you, crazy?" Fact is, I am partially confused, but I am continuing to move my feet forward, one step at a time, one sweep of the cane at a time. It's all I know and it's becoming who I am.
 
I have two weeks to learn the new laptop, which is Windows 8.1. I have two weeks to learn Office 2013, which is infested with those pesky ribbons. I have two weeks to figure out where all my clothes are.  My wife spent a whole day sorting and arranging and cleaning and hanging my clothes so that I can know where everything is and have no worries when it comes to how I look. The worst thing I could do is to show up on the first day of classes wearing a plaid dress shirt over a striped T-shirt.
 
I have two weeks to try and figure out Blackboard, my new Kennebec Valley Community College e-mail account, Learning Ally digital book portal, Firefly, my new digital recorder, and the hits just keep coming.
 
I also have two weeks, followed by the rest of my life, to try and thank all of you for your continued support, love and inspiration. I have been humbled by it all and do not want to think where I would be without it. This amazing bombardment of "Wow!" has come at me from all angles, most recently by the folks at the KVCC campus. Their infectious attitude and overall eagerness has helped me in so many different ways. I feel as though they have welcomed me to their family of learning in a most unique way, and with my efforts to show my appreciation, I truly feel as though I am heading into an amazing time in my life.
 
I used to drive around central Maine in my work truck wondering how my life might have been if I had done things differently. I wondered what it would have been like if I had applied myself. I wondered how things might have been different if I had gone on to college, or chosen a different profession, or taken a right on red, instead of just waiting for the light to turn green so I could drive straight ahead. I wondered, and I pondered, and I contemplated and scratched my head, tapped my feet and checked my rearview mirror, then I stepped on the gas and continued on with the way things were.
 
I have two weeks to go before I end up right where I'm supposed to be. This is sort of scary. This is the next step of this crazy, wild, amazing roller coaster ride. This is something I should have done about 30 years ago. This is something my wife told me I should do. This is something I never thought I'd do.
 
This sure is something.

Embracing Life Is Key For Disabled, Society by Larry Johnson

(Reprinted from “The San Antonio Express-News,” July 19, 2014.)
 
(Editor’s Note: You may contact Larry Johnson via e-mail, Larjo1@prodigy.net, or visit his web site, www.mexicobytouch.com.)
 
Being blind since birth, I didn't know that when you're driving a car you have to keep moving the steering wheel left and right just to keep going straight. I didn't know this until I actually got behind the wheel and drove a car with the assistance of a sighted friend. I fulfilled this rather capricious whim on a freeway in Chicago when I was 21. It was an exhilarating experience.
 
I didn't know that the skin of a dolphin feels like wet plastic until I actually got to hug a dolphin named Napoleon during a Dolphin Encounter experience in Cozumel, Mexico, on a cruise with my wife 12 years ago.
 
I didn't know that you weren't allowed to touch the hat of the Swiss Guard at the Vatican in Rome until I asked during my recent trip and was smartly told “No.”
 
The learning process for a blind child or a blind adult flourishes best in an environment where there is opportunity for exposure to new experiences. This requires openness, flexibility and patience. Most of what sighted children learn, they learn first by watching others — everything from throwing a football to jumping rope to threading a needle. They learn by seeing someone else do it first.
 
Blind children miss out on a whole lot of information and experiences by not seeing things happening around them. Blind individuals learn by doing — the hands-on experience of throwing a football, threading a needle, hugging a dolphin or driving a car. (Well, the latter perhaps not recommended for everyone.)
 
It may take a little longer, a little more patience and certainly a sincere commitment from the teacher, family member or friend. How can I describe for you the sensation of skiing, if you have never been on a pair of skis? Sensation and feeling are a vital part of the learning experience. The more experiences we are exposed to, the greater is our capacity to understand and relate to the world. The more knowledge and experience we acquire, the greater are our opportunities and choices. And that is what independent living is all about — the right and human privilege to practice self-determination, to choose our own lifestyle, our own success or failure.
 
Independent living is, in the broadest sense, exposure to an unlimited number of choices to experience life. To the extent that parents, teachers, rehab professionals, society in general, provide children with disabilities the opportunity for exposure to those choices and to those experiences, to that extent will their needs be met and their dreams fulfilled. And that's how I see it.

Teen Engineer Develops A Braille Printer out of LEGOs by Robert Kingett

San Francisco — One of the greatest challenges for lowering the cost of printed braille is making braille printers affordable to everyone. A 7th grader, though, has made a solution that may eradicate this problem entirely.
 
According to reports from the World Health Organization, there are estimated 285 million visually impaired people worldwide, 90 percent of which live in developing countries. Many of these blind people don't have immediate access to an embosser due to the cost of the devices, but that is changing with the mind of a young engineer with big dreams.
 
Shubham Banerjee, a San Francisco Bay Area 7th grader, received recognition for a revolutionary project on behalf of the California State Assembly for his groundbreaking contribution to the lives of the blind and the visually impaired. The invention is a braille printer that is made entirely out of LEGOs called BRAIGO.
 
Using LEGO's Mindstorms EV3 kit and some parts from a hardware store, Banerjee came up with a way to make a braille printer that will give braille access to people who are blind and visually impaired like never before. The Lego kit cost $349; the hardware from Home Depot cost another $5. The project uses the base reference model known as Banner Print3r and was redesigned with new software to print the letters A-Z.
 
“A flyer came to our house that said help the visually impaired with donations,” Banerjee reflected in an interview. “I didn't know how blind people read so I asked my dad how they read. He told me to Google it. I did, and I saw braille printers cost about $2,000 or even more, and I felt that was very expensive, so I wanted to create something to help lower that cost.”
 
He began working on the project just before his local science show, often staying up until 2 a.m. to construct the hardware and the software. When he finished the initial prototype he presented it to his science show, where he astonished the crowd. Soon afterward, many awards arose for his successful accomplishment as well.
 
Banerjee wishes to make this project open source, with the design and software readily available for public consumption free of charge. “I want to give away the design and code for free, so that anyone can take the idea and develop the concept further,” he added.
 
It is possible for someone to take the open-sourced design and develop it further.  This model doesn't print thousands of words very quickly as in typical embossers. In fact, as illustrated via his YouTube video, the printer only prints a letter every five to seven seconds.
 
At this point, the printing speed may be too slow for many applications as well as different situations where the need for braille is time-sensitive, but the cost will hopefully open the doors to more of the blind having access to braille around the world. It will be fascinating to see how this project progresses.

Who Was Laura Bridgman? by Elizabeth Fiorite

Laura Bridgman was the most famous woman of her day, second only to Queen Victoria, according to her teacher, Dr. Samuel Gridley Howe, director of the Perkins Institution for the Blind in Boston. The reason for this renown? Laura was the first deaf and blind person to learn to communicate with others through language. 
 
Laura was born in 1829 in the small farming community of Hanover, N.H. When she was two years old, she became totally deaf and blind, and later, after a severe bout with scarlet fever, also lost her senses of taste and smell. She was seven years old when she entered the Perkins Institution, where Dr. Howe personally supervised her many years of education.
 
Howe, a famed educational reformer, philanthropist, and, later, senator, carefully recorded Laura’s progress and published annual reports for the board of trustees for the Perkins School. These reports were widely circulated in educational journals and newspapers across the United States and Europe. Within a few years, people thronged to the school’s auditorium to see Laura read, write, and talk, using the manual alphabet, and to buy Laura’s autograph or samples of her sewing or knitting.
 
Howe set out to prove that human nature was intrinsically good, and became evil when outside influences corrupted it. He carefully monitored the information Laura received, believing that he could mold a person with a pure nature.
 
Howe did not condone physical punishment for any of his students, but Laura spent hours, even days, in isolation for such minor infractions as fighting with the other blind girls, spitting out her food, or having temper outbursts. To the girl who was so dependent on others for information which she insatiably sought, the denial of social contacts and emotional support seems exceptionally cruel. Laura, however, seemed remorseful, and often affirmed her trust and love for her teachers.  
 
As Laura matured and made choices that conflicted with Howe’s principles, he began to have second thoughts about his ability to mold another’s personality and character. The educational techniques he pioneered and provided, had, in fact, given Laura the opportunity to learn language and skills that enabled her to socialize and communicate with others, an opportunity previously denied to people who were deaf and blind.
 
Half a century after Laura entered the Perkins Institution for the Blind, a teacher who trained there, Annie Sullivan, used the knowledge she acquired to teach her student, Helen Keller. In a matter of weeks, Helen learned what had taken Laura, through trial and error, months to master.
 
As a young girl, Helen met the older, reserved Miss Bridgman. In her youthful exuberance in attempting to kiss Laura, Helen stepped on her toes. Laura chided the child, an event Helen recounted in later years. Laura, living a regimented and sheltered life according to her own strict moral code, which placed a priority on cleanliness and order, had little understanding of this lively child. The differences in the personalities of the reclusive Laura Bridgman and Helen Keller, who went out to the world and embraced causes not limited to blindness, could have given Howe another lifetime’s worth of research.
 
A case could be made that each woman had been exploited, for career or political gain, but the fact remains that their personal lives were enriched, regardless of the motives of their promoters, and without Laura Bridgman, there would not have been the Helen Keller we know today. 
 
A detailed account of Dr. Howe’s career, Laura’s experiences at the Perkins Institution, and the social climate of the time can be found in “The Education of Laura Bridgman” by Ernest Freeberg, DB051875.
 
A fictionalized novel of this remarkable woman’s life has just been published, entitled “What is Visible?” by Kimberly Elkins, and will soon be available from the Talking Book Library, DB078666.

Helping the Hospitality Industry Become More Hospitable by Ken Stewart

Bravo to ACB president Kim Charlson for her exemplary advocacy work described in her “President's Message” in the August E-Forum!
 
I was particularly pleased to learn about her efforts to assist hotels to include design features of particular value to visually impaired and blind guests, features such as non-visually interactive guest room thermostats, and easy-to-use electronic door keys.  Among the other hotel design features on my "to get" list are elevator control panels and bathroom grab bars.  In both hotels and other multi-floor public buildings, I am often annoyed to find an elevator with two control panels, one on each side of the door, both positioned low for wheelchair users.  I am, of course, pleased there is a control panel accessible to occupants with limited reach.  But why both panels?  One of those panels should be at the conventional height so that those of us who must look very closely or position a hand beneath the buttons to feel their braille or tactile labeling can utilize them easily.  Not only do hotel bathrooms need grab bars, but those grab bars should be very conspicuous, accomplished by high visual contrast — a dark bar against the white bathtub wall, or at least polished metal with a dark base, never white on white please!
 
 Likewise, wall switch plates, and even wall electric outlets, would benefit from high visual contrast. Incidentally, I have learned by way of my advocacy work that the general public and even some architects and designers can misunderstand what visual contrast is when we use the term “color contrast” rather than “visual contrast.”
 
The U.S. Access Board offers the following clarification: “visual contrast” is a light versus dark comparison between two surfaces, an object and its immediate surroundings, or an object and its perceived background.  It is neither an expression of, nor achieved by, color differences.  Visual contrast can be quantified with the use of a luminance meter that measures the amount of light reflected by each of the subjects, where zero is total darkness and 100 is theoretical complete light reflection.
 
I sometimes read that this rating, commonly referenced as an "LRV," Light Reflectance Value, is ideal at a 70 percent level. It is not! That percentage has become the standard for the minimally acceptable level.  Eighty percent is even better. The closer to black and white the better!

Affiliate News

GDUI Update

 
GDUI held elections for officers and two directors in early July. The officers are: Penny Reeder, president; Will Burley, first vice president; Maria Hansen, second vice president; Sarah Calhoun, secretary; and Lynn Merrill, treasurer. GDUI’s new directors are Annie Chiappetta and Betsy Grenevitch.
 
Want to keep up with GDUI’s news? There are several ways to do it. You can join the GDUI-Announce list. Our goal is to send out an informative announcement once each week. To subscribe to GDUI-Announce, visit www.acb.org/mailman/listinfo/gdui-announce. Then, you will receive an automatically generated e-mail message which will include instructions for confirming your subscription. For those of you who do not want to join an e-mail list or who don't have a computer, GDUI makes its weekly announcement available via telephone, too; just call (646) 653-1900. The telephonic announcement is updated every Tuesday.  
 
To chat with others about guide dogs or anything related to GDUI, we encourage members and friends to subscribe to our GDUI-Chat e-mail discussion list. Send a blank message to gdui-chat-subscribe@acb.org to sign up. You will receive a message which will ask you to confirm your intention to subscribe. Just hit reply, allow up to three days for your subscription request to be processed, and you'll be all set to chat about your guide dogs and all things GDUI-related!
 
GDUI's board meetings are open to anyone who is interested in GDUI.  Meetings are held at 1 p.m. Eastern on the last Saturday of every other month, beginning Sept. 27. To attend the conference call, dial (712) 432-0075, and enter the access code, 919245#. All are welcome.
 

Top Dog in Charleston

 
Dixie Land Guide Dog Users, Georgia Guide Dog Users and Guide Dog Users of Florida invite you to attend the Top Dog Charleston-2015 "Funvention" at the Comfort Inn & Suites (Savannah Highway), West Ashley, Charleston, S.C. beginning Friday, Jan. 30 through Sunday, Feb. 1, 2015.
 
The fun begins on Friday morning with an optional session, “Paws 4 Technology,” where Kimberly Taylor and her guide, Abby, and Dixie Land's very own 2nd vice president, Brianna Murray and her guide, Lacey, will introduce us to the iPhone and iPad. The lucky winner of our early bird door prize will win a carriage ride through the historic streets of downtown Charleston, provided by Charleston Carriage Tours.
 
Be sure to check out the exhibit hall! We've already gotten 6 guide dog schools committed, as well as a chocolatier, a technology firm, a couple of jewelry representatives and a master woodcrafter. If you'd like a table in the exhibit hall, get your request in early. The exhibit hall will be open all day Friday and Saturday.
 
Top Dog will officially begin with “Paws 2 Recognize,” featuring Pastor Ed Grant of Calvary Lutheran Church and the veterans from the VFW, followed by Yappy Time! Bring your appetite, because Jamie Westendorff of Charleston Outdoor Catering is going to cook up the Frogmore Stew that he's so famous for.  Don’t worry, no frogs are injured in the preparation of this low country dish.  It originated in Frogmore, S.C., and contains giant shrimp, sausage, corn on the cob and potatoes. For those who can't or don't eat seafood, we'll have Southern fried chicken and all the fixin's.
 
Saturday’s events start with "The Blessing," featuring music by Laurel Jean, with a couple of pastors to officiate. This year we're going to do a different tribute to our retired guides and a special service for dogs that have crossed the Rainbow Bridge. Pack lots of tissues.
 
Dr. Ruth Roberts will return to tell us how we can help keep our guides healthy, and San LeBeauf will discuss making final arrangements. A group of puppy raisers will tell us some of their favorite stories about the dogs they've raised.  The final program will be “Paws 4 Updates,” where a panel of distinguished guests will tell us about the latest developments with airport in-house relief areas and fake service dogs.
 
After lunch, join us outside for an exciting motorcycle ride (in a sidecar) or an exhilarating tandem bike ride with the Charleston Flyers.  If you're really up for a challenge, try your skills in our obstacle course. The four-legged finishers will get a Frosty Paw and their handlers, an ice cream. By dinnertime you'll be ravenous; but don't worry, Jamie will be back with his world-famous all-you-can-eat barbecued pork and chicken!  After dinner, we’ll be entertained by the renowned Ann Caldwell and the Magnolia Singers.
 
Registration is $55 per person and includes a professionally done photo of you and your guide; all meals; entertainment, and a bright blue T-shirt boasting a guide dog in harness and a matching bandana for your guide. But you need to register by Dec. 31, 2014.
 
Room rates at the Comfort Inn & Suites are $89.99 per night plus tax, and each of their suites can accommodate up to 6 people. A hot breakfast is included. They've agreed to honor that price for the entire week. Make your hotel reservations by calling (843) 769-9850. Be sure to tell them you're coming to Top Dog-Charleston, and reserve your room by Dec. 15, 2014.
 
For more information, send an e-mail to retired51837@msn.com, or call (843) 571-0737. To register online, visit www.dixielandguidedogs.org and scroll down to the registration form.

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 E-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.
 

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

 
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  On the first Tuesday of each month the ACB Women’s Concerns Committee hosts a conference call support group meeting for women who have been diagnosed with or who are survivors of breast cancer.  The meeting allows women to talk about their concerns and questions in a caring and sharing environment.  The calls begin at 8 p.m. Eastern time and last for approximately 90 minutes.  For more information, contact Lori Scharff at lorischarff@gmail.com or (516) 887-1336, or Linda Porelle at lmporelle@gmail.com or (415) 586-2622.    
 

Get ‘Em While They Last!

 
National Braille Press is clearing out its Primary Phonics books for ages 4-7. The books are in large print, uncontracted braille, and contracted braille, all on the same page! Each set contains 10 illustrated storybooks in a carrying case. These books, published by Educators Publishing Service, have provided the first reading experience for millions of students.
 
Set One is already sold out. Set Two covers vowel digraphs (ie, oe, ee, oa, ai, ea); long vowels with silent-e; and sight words. Set Three goes over initial consonant blends; final consonant blends; compound words; two-syllable words; twin consonants; consonant digraph ck; consonant x; sight words; and plural -s. Set Four covers controlled vowels; initial consonant blends; final consonant blends; consonant digraphs (sh, ch, wh, th); vowel digraphs (ie, oe, ee, oa, ai, ea, ee); silent-e; sight words; short vowel sounds; and using phonics to read decodable, connected text.

Get a set while supplies last!

NBP also has available “The Other Way to Listen” by Byrd Baylor and Peter Parnall. It is a print/braille edition, with the braille being in contracted form, for ages 5 to 9.
 
When you know “the other way to listen,” you can hear wildflower seeds bursting open. You can hear rocks murmuring and hills singing, and it seems like the most natural thing in the world. It takes a lot of practice, and you can’t be in a hurry.
 
For more information about this book, visit www.nbp.org/ic/nbp/BC1408-LISTEN.html, or call 1-800-548-7323 or (617) 266-6160 ext. 520. To view all of NBP’s offerings, visit www.nbp.org/ic/nbp/publications/index.html.
 

Job Opening at HIMS

 
HIMS Inc. is looking for an inside sales/customer service representative for its braille products.  Candidates should be high-energy, well-organized, capable of multi-tasking, and possess a strong work ethic.  The position is based at HIMS Inc. in Austin, Tex.
 
Duties and responsibilities include providing pre- and post-sales customer service to dealers, new and current customers; providing company and product information that qualifies customers for products; responding to incoming sales department e-mails, providing price quotations, referring customers to appropriate dealers, etc.; assisting in identifying shipping priorities based on dealer and customer calls and e-mails; reporting customer contact information to the marketing department; providing content for the dealer newsletter, web site changes and content, product brochures, and similar marketing materials; identifying and communicating customer sales and marketing opportunities, and customer feedback and concerns to the management team; and writing a daily customer service report. Responsibilities also include occasional travel to attend national and regional industry conferences to staff exhibit booth or travel with dealers to visit accounts; initiating calls and e-mails to K-12 schools, colleges and universities, departments of rehabilitation, Veterans Administration and other federal government agencies, non-profit service and support organizations, etc.; assisting the sales management team to contact prospective demonstration sites, client referral agencies, potential resellers, and set up appointments for their nationwide travel schedule; calling and e-mailing to help launch new products with promotional campaigns to key accounts nationwide; and helping train dealers and resellers on new and current products, features and options. New responsibilities will be added as the market develops and company grows.
 
Requirements: Applicants must have 3 to 5 years of work experience in inside sales and customer service, call center or related experience providing telephone and e-mail pre- and post-sales service and support; experience selling to and supporting K-12 schools, and state and federal government agencies desired. Experience with educational, medical or computer products a plus. Candidates must have excellent professional and friendly customer service telephone skills, as well as effective verbal and written communication skills to speak with and e-mail dealers and customers. Must have knowledge of Microsoft Word, Excel, and Outlook.  AA degree, BA/BS degree preferred. 
 
To apply, send your resume to hims@hims-inc.com.
 

Florida Hospital Uses Talking Menus to Aid Visually Impaired

 
South Miami Hospital is conducting a pilot program that provides patients with a hand-held wireless device that enables them to order meals in English, Spanish or French developed by a Florida technology company, Taylannas, Inc. (Visit www.taylannas.com for more information.) The unit speaks to patients and displays text in their chosen language and is designed to serve visually impaired, elderly, and non-English-speaking patients.
 
For hospitals, the use of a talking menu reduces printing expenses and staff costs. The pioneering technology developed with the advice of dietary management at South Miami Hospital also allows for nearly instant changes in menu content and can provide dieticians with greater control to fine-tune each patient’s nutrition.
 

Welch Allyn Showcases New Screening Devices

 
Welch Allyn, Inc. showcased two handheld screening instruments that help promote early detection of vision and hearing problems at the National Association of Community Health Centers' (NACHC) 2014 Community Health Institute and Expo in San Diego. 
 
The Welch Allyn Spot Vision Screener is a new generation of user-friendly vision assessment technology.  Spot is a fast, portable, easy-to-use binocular vision screener with wireless communication capabilities designed to screen for refractive error which can be associated with several eye conditions.
 
The Welch Allyn OAE Hearing Screener is a portable, handheld device that delivers sounds into a child's ear canal and measures the otoacoustic emission (OAE) response produced by outer hair cells in the cochlea. It is designed to detect hearing loss in newborns, infants, toddlers, preschool and school-age children. It does not require patient response.  The device features Bluetooth® connectivity that enables automated patient data transfer to data management software.
 

1Touch Self-Defense Project for the Blind

 
Have you heard of the 1Touch Self-Defense Project for the Blind?  The program was designed for the blind but has proven accessible and beneficial for numerous demographics: deaf, deaf-blind, children, seniors, veterans and people who are multi-disabled.
 
Others taking the training include martial artists, cops, aerobics instructors, assistant professors, graduate students, human resource assistants, and individuals just interested in self-defense  or teaching. The program is not limited in scope. There are many benefits beyond safety that come from the program: greater communication skills, increased confidence and independence, spatial awareness and O&M skills, just to name a few.
 
For more information, send an e-mail message to info@1touchproject.com.
 

Ski for Light to Celebrate 40th Anniversary

 
The 2015 Ski For Light International week will be held in Granby, Colo. from Sunday, Jan. 25 through Sunday, Feb. 1, 2015. Join over 200 active blind and sighted adults from across the U.S. and around the world.
 
Participants will stay at The Inn at Silver Creek and ski at nearby Snow Mountain Ranch.  The Inn at Silver Creek has more than 200 rooms, an indoor/outdoor swimming pool, both indoor and outdoor hot tubs, and plenty of convention and meeting space.  Snow Mountain Ranch, near Winter Park and part of the YMCA of the Rockies, has 100 kilometers of wonderfully groomed trails.
 
The total cost of the week per person is $850 for triple occupancy, $900 for double occupancy or $1,225 for single occupancy. This includes room and all meals for the entire week, round-trip transportation between the Denver airport and the Inn at Silver Creek, all trail fees, and all afternoon and evening activities. Skis, boots, and poles will be provided free of charge to first-time blind/visually impaired participants. Partial stipends based on financial need are available for guides and first-time and second-time participants.
 
Applications are due Nov. 1, 2014.  Those who apply after Nov. 1 will be accepted only if space permits, with priority given to first-time applicants.  For more information, and to submit your application, visit www.sfl.org. If you do not have web access, or need more information, contact Bob Hartt at (703) 845-3436 or via e-mail, bobmhartt@gmail.com.
 

Free Music Education Manuals to Visually Impaired Children in NYC

 
The Melador Book Publishers commends Mayor de Blasio, Chancellor Fariña and Comptroller Stringer on their initiative of July 1st, “New Arts Programs for Thousands of Students,” with an infusion of $23 million.
 
In support of this initiative, Romanian-born Juilliard graduate David Livianu is offering 2 music educational manuals to every child in the New York City school system, with a special focus on visually impaired children. The 2 manuals are available in printable PDF format: Lesson 1 of 32 (volume 1) “i-Learn Perfect Pitch with Solfege in The Do-C Major Scale” (for beginners, with names of notes written under the music), 76 pages; and Lesson 1 of 32 (volume 2) “i-Learn To Sight-Sing with Solfege in The Do-C Major Scale” (for beginners, with names of notes written under the music), 108 pages.  Livianu’s work can be reviewed at www.youtube.com/iLearnMusic4Free. For a copy of the 2 manuals, send a request to david@livianu.com.
 

Maps of Michigan

 
The Princeton Braillists recently released “Maps of Michigan,” a single volume including an overview of the state followed by individual maps showing cities, rivers, counties, highways, farm and mineral products, and climate. A more detailed map shows the vicinity of Detroit. The book includes 15 maps, 41 pages total. Shipping by free mail where eligible. For more information, write to The Princeton Braillists, 76 Leabrook Ln., Princeton, N.J. 08540, phone (609) 924-5207, or visit www.princetonbraillists.org.

High Tech Swap Shop

For Sale:
Telesensory CCTV model AL2A in good condition.  Asking $1,500.  Contact Carolyn Graham at (715) 416-0668.
 
For Sale:
Trekker Breeze, only used a couple of times.  Comes with all packaging, documentation and cables.  Asking $500 (including shipping).  Check/money orders preferred, but if you use PayPal, you will need to add $15 to cover the service charge. Contact Jeff at mplsjeffm@gmail.com or (612) 869-7410.
 
For Sale:
A first-generation Victor Reader Stream. Comes with charger and a 32-gig SD card. Asking $75.  Perkins Braille writer in good condition. Asking $100. Contact Mike Hutchens at (507) 550-0164 or e-mail him at pressthehellokey@gmail.com.
 
For Sale:
Power Braille 40-cell refreshable braille display. Asking $750. Contact Philip at (703) 581-9587 or via e-mail, philip-ashley2006@hotmail.com.
 
Wanted:
Start-up or recovery CD or floppy disk for Windows XP computer or a memory card for a Kurzweil Reading Edge. Also looking for an external hard drive; would prefer a Sony. Contact Bob Groff Jr. at (501) 589-7577.

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)
Katie Frederick, Columbus, OH (1st term, 2018)
Michael Garrett, Missouri City, TX (final term, 2016)
George Holliday, Philadelphia, PA (final term, 2018)
John McCann, Falls Church, VA (1st term, 2016)
Allan Peterson, Horace, ND (final term, 2018)
Patrick Sheehan, Silver Spring, MD (1st term, 2018)
Dan Spoone, Orlando, FL (1st term, 2016)
David Trott, Talladega, AL (1st term, 2018)
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)
Tom Mitchell, Salt Lake City, UT (1st term, 2016)
Doug Powell, Falls Church, VA (1st term, 2016)
Judy Wilkinson, San Leandro, CA (1st term, 2016)
Ex Officios: Nolan Crabb, Hilliard, OH
Bob Hachey, Waltham, MA
Berl Colley, Lacey, WA