The ACB Braille Forum, November 2014

Downloadable versions available here.
The ACB Braille Forum
Vol. LIII November 2014 No. 5
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 Braille Forum (TM) is available in braille, large print, half-speed four-track cassette tape, data CD, and via e-mail.  Subscription requests, address changes, and items intended for publication should be sent to Sharon Lovering at the address above, or via e-mail to
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
You can now get “The ACB Braille Forum” by podcast!  To subscribe, go to “The ACB Braille Forum” page on If you do not yet have a podcast client, you can download one from the Forum page.
To subscribe to "The Braille Forum" and “The ACB E-Forum” via e-mail, go to
Are You Moving? Do You Want to Change Your Subscription?
Contact Sharon Lovering in the ACB national office, 1-800-424-8666, or via e-mail, Give her the information, and she'll take care of the changes for you.
Listen to “The ACB Braille Forum,” E-Forum and “ACB Reports” by phone.  Dial (231) 460-1061.
Want to enjoy ACB Radio but have no computer?  It’s all there for you by phone. Call (231) 460-1047.
For news you can use, check out the new ACB Radio News and Information Service at
Keep up with the haps when affiliates stream conventions at

The ACB Braille Forum, November 2014 downloads

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

For the better part of the last 20 years, ACB has worked with banks to ensure the customer experience for people who are blind or visually impaired is accessible. Whether we talk about braille statements or talking ATMs, ACB has led the way in working with the banking industry.
Earlier this year ACB was approached by JPMorgan Chase to discuss the next generation of outreach that they were seeking to have with the blindness community. These discussions culminated in a day-long meeting held at JPMorgan Chase’s headquarters in New York City, where ACB was represented by Eric Bridges and Brian Charlson. This was a clear sign that JPMorgan Chase is taking accessibility seriously. All and all, it was a great first step to kick off the next generation of banking accessibility for our community. ACB and JPMorgan Chase view this relationship as long-term and very valuable. It should be noted that JPMorgan Chase is conducting focus groups this week, seeking feedback on the use of braille in conjunction with their products. We thank JPMorgan Chase for being a sponsor of the 2014 conference and convention.          
Much of my work this year has been with what I call the ACB infrastructure. This includes the board, committees and task forces, and the board of publications. Recognizing all of the great work being done by ACB committees and task forces, I want to give a shoutout to some significant communication initiatives undertaken by ACB’s Strategic Plan Goal Group 1 on communications and an effort by the board of publications to bring information to members in new ways.
Thanks to Larry Turnbull, you can now access ACB Radio itself on the new ACB Radio telephone system at (231) 460-1047 – where you can listen to the six ACB Radio channels over the phone. To listen to “The ACB Braille Forum” and “The ACB E-Forum” by phone, you can call (231) 460-1061.
For those using technology to keep up with information, ACB is there for you as well through social media.
You can opt to “Like” us on Facebook (americancounciloftheblindofficial); or “Follow” us on Twitter (acbnational). For those of you using Twitter, you can follow more detailed convention coverage at hashtag ACB14. We urge you to share and re-tweet messages to your friends and followers to help us spread the word about ACB.
The ACB Twitter account has grown over 65 percent in followers since last convention, and it continues to grow weekly. I want to publicly express appreciation to both the Twitter and Facebook teams for ACB. The Twitter team consists of four individuals who rotate week-long coverage for sending tweets out on our Twitter account. This team includes: Lisa Brooks (Ariz.), Jim Denham (Mass.), and Michael Malver (Minn.). ACB board member John McCann of Virginia is the Twitter liaison to the social media team.
The Facebook team is structured a bit differently based on the way Facebook is used and accessed. ACB’s Facebook page is just one year old, and I am very pleased that we have over 550 followers, and it is growing at a rapid rate. ACB treasurer Carla Ruschival (Ky.) is the Facebook team leader, assisted by second vice president Marlaina Lieberg (Wash.), Will Burley (Tex.), and Katie Frederick (Ohio). Francine Patterson and Eric Bridges, both of Virginia, from the ACB staff round out the team.
ACB has a strong commitment to expand its available communication channels to meet all of the information needs of our membership. Balancing everyone’s needs and taking full advantage of emerging technologies is important to me as president of ACB. We also continue to work hard to ensure that members without technology can have a variety of options to get the ACB information they need.
In closing, the American Council of the Blind and our thousands of members have much work to do over the next several years, not simply to improve programs and services for blind and visually impaired people, but to hold onto what we've fought so hard to obtain during the previous half century. We proudly represent all blind and visually impaired people regardless of economic status or functional ability. ACB advocates for a wide spectrum of programs and services for people of all ages and capabilities. Our work isn't always easy and at times, it can be discouraging.  Nonetheless, that is our charge and our mission. Our victories are even more exciting as they are hard-fought, and we should celebrate our successes as important steps in our advocacy. Working together we can make change happen … and I look forward to working hand-in-hand with all of you to make sure our dreams become realities.

Snowflakes and Birthday Cake: It’s Holiday Auction Time, 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 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 2014 Holiday Auction has it all: sparkling jewelry, mouth-watering holiday treats, exquisite music boxes and dolls, gifts for everyone on your list.
Auction preview pages are once again available on the ACB web site; follow the Holiday Auction link at to 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 at, or by telephone by dialing (231) 460-1047.  Michael McCarty and Carla Ruschival will once again be your on-air hosts; Larry Turnbull and Jim Fenn will be in the studios, working behind the scenes to keep us on the air; and Patti Cox and Paula Wiese will be taking your calls and registering your bids.
Bidding is easy, and will be fast and furious. Two telephone numbers and additional telephone lines will allow us to take your bids more quickly this year, and there should be fewer busy signals. 
To bid on an item, listen for it to be announced on the air. Call 1-877-904-1080 or (502) 571-1080 to place your bid. If you do receive a busy signal, hang up and try again. Please note that there are more local lines available, so you may wish to use the 502 number for bidding.
All items will be shipped to winners during the week of Dec. 8. Shipping costs are the responsibility of the buyer. Payment must be made by credit or debit card; sorry, no checks or cash payments can be accepted due to the short processing time.
Homemade treats will be shipped by the donor; all other items will ship from the ACB Minneapolis office.
Happy bidding, and thanks in advance for your support of ACB Radio.

Convention Attendees Find ‘The Real Deal’ in Las Vegas, by Sharon Lovering

This year, the convention resumed its normal schedule, with the opening session on Sunday night. Convention-goers found triple-digit heat awaiting them when they arrived at the Riviera Hotel in Las Vegas. It got so hot that ScoopMasters put mats out on the sidewalks near the relief areas so the dogs wouldn’t burn their paws!


ACB president Kim Charlson greeted everyone, saying, “Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the 53rd annual convention of the American Council of the Blind!”  Rick Kuhlmey, president of the Nevada Council of the Blind, welcomed everyone to Las Vegas. After all the welcomes, Charlson presented her report. (For the full text, see the September and October issues, as well as this issue.)
Charlson and Lane Waters then introduced this year’s new ACB life members: Shelia Towns of Tennessee; Gretha McLamb of North Carolina; Ray Campbell of Illinois; Sandra Edwards of Arkansas; Eldon Cox of Missouri; Albert Pietrolungo of Maryland; and Eugene Spurrier of Maryland. 
Charlson thought that was all the life members, until Waters interrupted. “It was brought to my attention earlier this afternoon that there’s been a serious omission and someone has been forgotten that is going to be receiving one of these awards tonight,” he said. Then Brian Charlson spoke. “On behalf of the Bay State Council of the Blind … [we] would like to honor [Kim Charlson],” Brian said.
Afterward, Kim Charlson called on Dan Spoone to introduce the ACB Angels Memorial Tribute program. “The idea of this program is to honor individuals and guide dogs who have been a member of our family,” Spoone said. (For details, see “Special Ceremony Introduces ACB Angels Memorial Tribute at Opening Session” in the September issue.) He then introduced Dan Dillon, who sang “On the Other Side” as a tribute to Brenda. Several people came forward to donate in memory of their loved ones, both human and canine.
Allen Casey introduced this year’s Durward K. McDaniel First-Timers: Carol McGhee of West Virginia and Steve Fiksdal of Washington.
Charlson next called on Jean Mann to give the first credentials report.  “Now I know what you all go through, because I’m the membership chair of New York,” Mann quipped. There were some problems with the recertification process, and two affiliates would not be seated: Delaware and ACB Human Service Professionals.  Neither had the required 13 members as of the March 15th deadline.
The session wrapped up with the roll call of affiliates.


Charlson called the session to order. The convention then adopted the standing rules, and Jean Mann gave the final credentials report. “This year around March 14th, 15th, I started getting these panicked phone calls,” Mann said. She recommended affiliates set a deadline for their chapters to get information in, and that affiliates work on their changes, deletions and additions as they come in. Mann also reminded the audience to double-check their lists, and to count their paid members and send the check in on time. The convention adopted the credentials report.
Afterward, John Huffman gave the first reading of a proposed constitutional amendment.
Charlson turned the podium over to Jeff Thom, who called on Chelle Hart to present the affiliate membership growth awards. This year’s winners were: ACB of Colorado for the largest percentage of increase (82.6 percent), and the California Council of the Blind for the largest number of new members (242 people).
Thom then introduced Denise Colley, chair of the board of publications, to present awards. Colley first tackled the Ned E. Freeman Writing Award; it went to the author of “How Braille Changed My Life” (April 2013), Jan Lavine of Stillwater, Okla.
 “We don’t normally do this, but we have an honorable mention this year for this award,” Colley said. It went to Sara Conrad for her article, “Brenda Dillon: Keeping Her Spirit Alive.”
Colley presented the Hollis K. Liggett Braille Free Press Award to “The Houston Council of the Blind Beacon.” She then talked briefly about the Vernon Henley Media Award. “This one is also a surprise, and it took a little doing … to keep this a surprise,” Colley said. As she described the person, audience members looked around to find the winner. The winner was Joel Snyder.
Thom introduced Mark Hall-Patton, administrator for the Clark County Museum System, for a bit of Nevada history. “Some of you may be aware that this is the sesquicentennial of Nevada,” Hall-Patton stated.  But Las Vegas was not part of the state until 1867. Why did they change the state’s borders? “In the Civil War, the territory of Arizona leaned Confederate …” After the war ended, the government gave some of Arizona’s land to Nevada; Nevada took the land, but didn’t tell the residents of that area.
Because people thought their towns were still part of Arizona, that’s where they were sending their taxes.  A tax collector showed up in 1869, he said, “and he told the miners down in Eldorado Canyon, ‘Oh by the way, you’re in Nevada and you owe us three years of back taxes.’ And they said, ‘No we don’t, we’re in Arizona.’”  In 1870, the government finally sent surveyors to the area.
“It’s kind of hard to imagine just how far out in the middle of nowhere this area was in the 1860s, 1870s, 1880s,” Hall-Patton continued. “There was no way to get here except just going across the desert or coming up the river. … In the 1860s and 1870s and 1880s the river was actually navigable. You could take steamships all the way from Yuma … to where Hoover Dam is today.”
After the break, the convention got an update on accessible tactile currency from Dawn Haley, senior advisor to the director of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.  Haley reminded everyone that making changes to currency was a slow process. The bureau developed the iNote application to allow individuals to scan and hear the denominations of U.S. currency. The app is free and runs on all iPhones 3g and later, iPads, and iPods. Version 2.0 was released in December 2013 with a feature that automatically identifies the bill.  BEP also has available an app for Android-based mobile devices, the Ideal Currency Identifier, which can be downloaded from Google Play. For more information, go to
“Of course these currency reader apps are not in lieu of other methods to provide meaningful access,” Haley noted. The bureau will roll out the currency reader nationally on Jan. 2, 2015. But first, there would be a four-month pilot program beginning Sept. 2, where NLS patrons can pre-order a currency reader. Convention attendees who were current NLS patrons were able to pick them up in the exhibit hall. For more information, call 1-844-815-9388 or visit
Haley discussed the tactile feature issue. “Bank note redesign is an extremely complex and technical process, and while I don’t want to get too bogged down in the scientific or technical aspects … I do think it would be helpful for me to illustrate why it takes so long,” she said. The government plans bill designs as “families,” where all denominations that are redesigned are considered a “family.” The new family of bills is already in the planning stages, and the $10 is scheduled to be the first in the family to contain a tactile feature, she stated. “However, if there is a threat against a different denomination, then the $10 could be pushed aside for something else, but whatever note comes out next will have a tactile feature.”
Mark Richert then read a resolution dealing with paper currency, which was adopted.
The next speaker was Karen Keninger, director of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. She listed the priorities for the year. First on her list was expanding the NLS collection. “NLS has traditionally done about 2,000 talking books a year and maybe up to 500 braille books a year,” she said. “But that’s not enough. So we’re doing more.” NLS is accepting recordings from network libraries, and has opened up BARD to locally produced materials. Today there are about 23 new audio titles available on BARD, with more in the works. NLS has also added about 1,200 locally produced braille titles to Web-Braille.
NLS has been working with local audio producers, too, she said. The library has agreements with four major audio publishers to get their recordings at no cost to NLS. It has also been converting its analog titles to digital, at a rate of about 4,000 to 5,000 a year, and hopes to finish the process in the next three to four years.  Another thing NLS is trying is putting multiple titles on a cartridge when those titles are part of a series.
Her next priority was to use technology to make more books available sooner. Last fall NLS released BARD Mobile for iOS devices. NLS is working on the newest version of that app, which will include a sleep timer and an improved braille portion, she noted.  An Android app is also in development.  The library is currently working on the requirements for the next digital talking book machine, and seeking new braille producers, Keninger added. If there are things you want to see in the new machine, let NLS know.
The convention moved on to access to QuickBooks. Albert Rizzi, founder and CEO of My Blind Spot, Inc., spoke first.  “What My Blind Spot has achieved could not have been realized without my having joined this family,” Rizzi said. “What we’ve accomplished through a simple dialogue … is why we are here today to talk about the accessibility and usability that was built back into a 20-year program ...”
Rizzi presented a plaque to Ted Drake of Intuit. Drake, who manages accessibility for Intuit products, stated that QuickBooks Desktop is the fully accessible version, and that the company is working to get the online version accessible, too.


Charlson called the session to order. Mike Godino presented the nominating committee report.  Board nominees were: Allan Peterson, Horace, N.D.; Patrick Sheehan, Silver Spring, Md.; David Trott, Talladega, Ala.; and Katie Frederick, Columbus, Ohio. For the board of publications, nominees were: Doug Powell, Falls Church, Va., and Judy Wilkinson, San Leandro, Calif.
Charlson turned the microphone over to second vice president Marlaina Lieberg, who introduced Michael Garrett, chairman of the scholarship committee, to present the scholarship winners.  (For more information, watch for “And the 2014-2015 Scholarship Winners Are …” in December’s E-Forum.)
After the break, the convention heard from Tom Wlodkowski, vice president of Comcast Accessibility.  “It’s really nice to be working on products that people are interested in. I think there’s some interest in video description around here, correct? How about braille and large-print channel line-ups? … Accessible program guides, maybe?” Attendees applauded loudly.
Wlodkowski said that Charlie Herrin, senior vice president of product design and development, gave the team the mission of building the smart home for everyone. “A couple of years ago he said, ‘You think we need an [accessible] remote control, like something that’s targeted at folks with disabilities?’ And of course I said, ‘No, we don’t need that, Charlie.’ … Two years later I walked back into his office and said, ‘Charlie, you know what I’m doing at this convention? Creating a focus group so that we can figure out what that remote will look like that you talked about two years ago.’”
Comcast customers can order braille and large-print channel guides by calling the customer service center for people with disabilities at 1-855-270-0379 between 9 a.m. and 10 p.m. Eastern, or sending e-mail to For general information on Comcast’s accessibility efforts, visit
The convention next heard from Rob Sinclair, chief accessibility officer of Microsoft Corporation. One of the new things at Microsoft is the CEO, Satya Nadella, who is “talking publicly about three things: … mobile, … cloud technologies, and … people-centric technologies. And that’s really where I think … accessibility directly aligns with where the company is heading.”
Microsoft is thinking about the economics of accessibility, Sinclair said, and mentioned the partnership with GW Micro and Microsoft Office. “That was directly in response to the feedback we’ve heard about the desire for having commercial-quality established screen readers at a different price point,” he added. Microsoft continues to work with other AT vendors, too, such as Freedom Scientific, Dolphin, and NVDA.
Microsoft is also working its own program, Windows Narrator. He asked for a show of hands of those who use an Apple product, and those who use Office, and got tremendous applause. “… We’re not just investing in technology. We’re also trying to think deeply about how do we raise awareness about accessibility and the power of technology to really be a benefit. Because there are still so many people today … that are amazed that somebody who’s blind can use a computer.”
Sinclair encouraged people to try the Disability Answer Desk; you can reach it by calling 1-800-936-5900.
After a tribute to Greg Brayton, one of the early DJs of ACB Radio, the convention heard an update on ACB’s Audio Description Project. Panelists were Dan Spoone and Joel Snyder. Spoone took his listeners back to 1999. He and Leslie had just married, and their state library was offering a program that users could join for $25, which would send subscribers one audio-described movie on VHS tape per month. “Look where we’ve come in 15 years! We now have over 1,000 parks and museums that are offering audio description tours. We have over 500 — soon to be thousands — of movie theaters offering audio description.”
Joel Snyder, director of the Audio Description Project, spoke next.  “I’m pleased that the Audio Description Project — and ACB — has been such a big part in all of those advancements,” he said. ADP created the audio-described tour of the White House, voiced by Ed Walker, with welcoming remarks from the First Lady. You can make a reservation for the tour through your Congressman.  For more information, visit


Wednesday was all about information access.  Charlson called on John Huffman for constitution and bylaws amendments. Huffman briefly described two proposed amendments that had been received and withdrawn. Following him was Mark Richert, chair of the resolutions committee. Richert read a resolution about fire codes and another about braille instruction; both were adopted.
Charlson turned the microphone over to Ray Campbell, the day’s presiding officer.  Campbell introduced Gabriella Cavallero, a narrator from Talking Book Publishing Company in Denver, Colo.  Cavallero reminisced about a night when her family went to a concert for children, and how the leading lady “led us … [in] a story that night, weaving it around all the instruments up on that stage, all those melodies, and I was totally mesmerized. And I thought, ‘Wow. That’s magic. I love how my worlds, music and words and stories, get to be woven together, how she does that. I want to do that!’”
She said that she had moved with her family to the United States when she was 8. “I had a nasal Puerto Rican accent, which I got rid of very fast because I got made fun of very badly,” she added. “But the feeling of being [on] a totally different planet was not as easily banished as losing my accent. I loved recording Julia Alvarez’s ‘How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents’ ...” She read a snippet from the book.
Cavallero said she always felt like an outsider, until she discovered theater. “I got a BA in theater … Then my MFA in acting in a conservatory in beautiful Denver, Colorado, led me to be a part of … the Denver Center Theater Company, and to find a home at Talking Book Publishers … Who would’ve thought that after that woman on stage with the great voice planting that seed, I would indeed become a narrator … for the National Library Service? Total dream come true!”
Cavallero has played a variety of parts, from queens to ladies of the court to ladies of the evening. The studio was abuzz when she recorded “Fifty Shades of Gray.” “I had quite an adventure for the next three weeks,” she said. “All the monitors seemed to want to at least have one shift with me to see why … these books were flying off the shelves and making billions.”  She wrapped up with a collage of some of her favorite writings.
The convention next heard about cell phone technology with a panel moderated by Brian Charlson. “It used to be that what we talked about in the blindness community was ‘We need choice,’” Charlson stated. “And then it started happening to us. And then we had to start to figure out, ‘So which one do I choose?’”
Charlson then introduced the panelists. Dr. Stephen McCormack of Visus Technologies spoke first.  “The iPhone is a wonderful tool, and it’s opened up a world of difference for people,” McCormack said. “Throughout the course of really working within the field I noted that there were some very gigantic gaps in the ability of the individuals to do a number of things. The three that came paramount to me were: the independence first and foremost, the ability to communicate with loved ones … and then, more broadly, the social networking that’s taking place right now …”
McCormack mentioned that he’d worked with students at the Carroll Center. “We were asking them point-blank, ‘OK, what is it that you want? What do you need? …’” He introduced the Velasense system, which connects an Android phone or tablet with a computer system that includes Cloud computing, social media, and much more.
Next was Jennifer Crutchfield from Sprint. Crutchfield informed the audience that Sprint began its journey into accessibility about four years ago, when Eric Bridges asked what Sprint was doing about it. The company realized that choice was important, and one device wasn’t enough. She asked her listeners to continue to send feedback.
The final panel member, Joseph Martini, director of assistive technology at Perkins Products, discussed the Odin VI phone. He said the phone had been introduced in the U.S. within the last six to eight months, and that it fits in the palm of your hand. The phone can make calls, send texts, and manage your contacts.
After the break, the convention heard about access to prescription medications. Melanie Brunson asked how many people took prescription medications, and how many had ever gotten their medications mixed up. The applause levels were about the same for both questions. She called on Mitch Pomerantz to discuss the best practices that were developed.
Pomerantz described how legislation mandated the creation of a working group composed of members of the blind community and the senior community, along with representatives from pharmacies. That group worked hard to craft a best practices document that included how braille, large print, and audio material should be provided. The document was adopted by the working group, then approved by the U.S. Access Board around convention time last year.
The next step was to involve the National Council on Disability, which was to develop an outreach and education campaign, he continued. NCD “really has not done its job. They’ve fallen flat on their prescription.”  Pomerantz asked attendees to get a copy of the best practices document off the ACB web site and take it to their pharmacies.
Brunson introduced Lainey Feingold, an attorney who has been working with pharmacies on structured negotiations; she joined the panel via phone. Feingold thanked ACB for its leadership on access to prescription information; CVS, Walgreens and Walmart for working through structured negotiations to be the first in the U.S. to offer accessible prescription information to their blind customers; and Rite-Aid, Caremark, Humana’s mail order pharmacy, and ExpressScripts.  Visit for more information.
The next segment involved demonstrations of various devices, beginning with Walgreens’ Talking Pill Reminder.  Brunson purchased one at her local Walgreens; the device is round, about the same diameter as a pill bottle, comes with some adhesive tape, and affixes to the bottom of the bottle.  She played a recording of the device.
David Raistrick, vice president of En-Vision America, demonstrated the ScripTalk. He said his company began this kind of work in 2002 with the Veterans Administration. “It’s taken all this time to get pharmacies … to act upon that issue,” he added.
Then the convention heard about AccessaMed’s Digital Audio Label, demonstrated by Chad Hazen, director of community outreach. Hazen said the company started on the Digital Audio Label project about two and a half years ago. He invited people to check out the device at the exhibit booth and to visit for more information.
Brunson introduced, which gives consumers access to the printed information that comes with prescriptions, and Dr. Steve Leuck, the owner and president of the company. The information comes in digital audio form. “We like to call it medication information you listen to,” Leuck quipped. The information on the web site is also available via Android app and iTunes.
Following the panel, John Huffman gave the first reading of a proposed amendment.  Mark Richert then read two resolutions, one regarding orientation and mobility instruction and one dealing with Randolph-Sheppard vending facilities; both passed.


Charlson called on Mark Richert for resolutions.  Richert read one that dealt with Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act, and another that dealt with Section 508 and the U.S. Department of Justice; both passed. Afterward, John Huffman gave the second reading of a proposed constitutional amendment regarding non-discrimination, which passed.
Charlson then turned the microphone over to Carla Ruschival, who called on Melanie Brunson to give her report. Brunson read the “best of times, worst of times” passage from Dickens’ “A Tale of Two Cities” to introduce her report. “As I reflected on the past year for ACB and for our community in general, it occurred to me that this passage pretty accurately describes the situation we face. As we have heard presentations throughout this past week, it’s been clear that ACB and the disability community in general face many challenges ... But we also have many opportunities to make a huge difference.”
Brunson’s example of a challenge was this year’s convention. “The number of companies that are represented here is incredible,” she noted. The other thing that impressed her was the sheer numbers of people those companies had brought with them; Google had 13 people, Amazon had quite a few, and Sprint had 10 people. She commended the companies for their involvement. “This is the result of work begun by your director of external relations and policy Eric Bridges … We have come a long way, and I believe that we have every reason to believe that we can continue to move forward with efforts to enhance accessibility to our society at all levels because of the reputation that ACB has achieved.”
It didn’t happen overnight, but it happened because ACB stuck to its guns and continued to work on the issues, she added. “… Sometimes advocacy work, whether it be advocacy with industry or government or other entities, begins with the behind-the-scenes work, work that sometimes seems routine and insignificant, but it is valuable work, and without it, the job doesn’t get done.” Such work involves people at all levels, including administrative and management staff from the office, and volunteers. She thanked the staff of both offices for all their work, as well as Larry Turnbull, Annette Carter, Tom Tobin, Jo Steigerwald, and Joel Snyder.
Next on the agenda was Janet Dickelman with the conference and convention report.  “For those of you who’ve heard my convention reports in the past, I’ve started out equating the convention to having a baby: pregnancy, labor, childbirth,” Dickelman said. “This year I’m kind of thinking our convention is a toddler, and anyone who’s a parent or grandparent or takes care of children knows all about toddlers and two-year-olds …” She thanked the host committee, the telephone registration crew, the convention committee members, the volunteers, the Minnesota office, and the Riviera staff.
The 2015 convention will be held July 3-11 in Dallas, Tex., at the Sheraton Downtown; the 2016 convention will be at the Hyatt Regency in Minneapolis, Minn., July 1-9. Room rates for Dallas and Minneapolis are $89 per night plus tax.
After the break, conventioneers heard a report on the walk and auction. Dan Spoone thanked all the affiliates for their contributions this year, and for their continued support of the MMS program. He said that ACB received $11,000 during the roll call, and $5,000 in donations to the Angels program Sunday night. The auction raised more than $20,000 for ACB. Dan Dillon said the walk had raised $33,738 as of July 17.  The top team was the Brenda Dillon Mall Walkers from Tennessee, which raised more than $3,600.
The next speaker was Michael Garrett, presenting the ACB Enterprises and Services report. ACBES operates five thrift stores across the country. “The thrift store business — and the key word in that phrase is ‘business’ — is a competitive and challenging business subject to the same challenges that any other business faces,” Garrett said. “Our mission at ACBES is to provide financial contributions to ACB to sustain its mission and its goals.”
Ruschival then presented her report. She gave the figures from the first 5 months of 2014. The total support and revenue budgeted for 2014 is $772,669. “When you divide that by 12 and multiply by 5 … the part of the budget that you would expect to have received by this time would be $321,945,” she stated. On the expense side, total budgeted $1,109,746 for 2014; through May, the amount actually expended was just $424,633.
ACB was very fortunate to receive a six-figure bequest in the spring, she said. “I want to caution you that in listening to these numbers, the bequest makes things look pretty good. … We need to remember that … we cannot depend on bequests, especially $400,000 bequests, just kind of happening all the time ...” Because of the bequest, ACB has a surplus at this point of $382,195. The board has put most of the bequest money into reserves.
Ruschival called on Richert for a few resolutions. He tackled a resolution dealing with 14(c) certificates, and another that dealt with the misrepresentation of service animals; both passed after discussion.


Mark Richert first read a resolution dealing with Lions replica canes, which passed.  He then tackled resolutions dealing with access to Medicare information, technology and library access, and identification of download-only BARD books; all passed. John Huffman then gave the second reading of the affiliate relations amendment, which passed after much discussion.
Before elections began, Mike Godino reviewed the nominating committee’s slate. Peterson, Sheehan, Trott and Frederick were elected by acclamation. Charlson called for nominations from the floor for the final seat. Martin Kuhn nominated George Holliday; Debra Wells nominated Kim Hebert.  While the voting crew distributed ballots, Richert read resolutions dealing with mail delivery and the vending stand program; both passed.
Following the roll call, Richert read a resolution dealing with taxis and ride-share companies, which passed. Charlson then announced that Holliday had won the election, 773 votes (90.15 percent) to 84.5 (9.85 percent).
Next up were elections for the board of publications.  Doug Powell and Judy Wilkinson were elected by acclamation.  Charlson then called for nominations from the floor for the remaining seat. Kathy Devin nominated Tom Mitchell. With no other nominations, Mitchell too was elected by acclamation.
After a few door prizes, Richert read the remaining resolutions, dealing with accessible set-top boxes and TV, plus expressions of thanks to the hotel, host committee and Nevada Council of the Blind, and the volunteers.  All passed.
After announcements, the convention adjourned.


Kim Charlson begins the life membership presentations. She is standing on stage speaking into a podium microphone, wearing a black-and-green-printed dress and dark sunglasses.
Dan Spoone talks about the ACB Angels Memorial Tribute program. He is wearing a red plaid shirt and speaking into the podium microphone. Dan Dillon is seated behind him, wearing a dark green shirt and holding a guitar.
Donna Pomerantz accepts the Affiliate Growth Award for California from Chelle Hart.  California had 242 new members in 2014. Donna is standing on stage behind the podium microphone, wearing a black shirt and a gold necklace. Chelle is standing beside her on the left, wearing a white knit vest over a dark dress.
Denise Colley, left, presents the Hollis K. Liggett Braille Free Press Award to “The Houston Council of the Blind Beacon.” Peggy Garrett, standing on the right behind the podium microphone, accepts on behalf of the newsletter editor.
Dawn Haley discusses the process of making currency accessible. She stands on stage behind the podium microphone; the podium has the word “Riviera” on the front. She is wearing an army green blouse under a golden-brown sweater, tortoiseshell glasses, gold hoop earrings, and a long gold necklace.
Karen Keninger discusses what’s new at the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. She’s standing on stage behind the podium, speaking into the microphone. She’s wearing a beige blouse, green suit jacket, and gold necklace with polished stones.
Tom Wlodkowski tells the audience about Comcast’s accessibility team, video description, braille and large-print channel guides, and the new customer support center for people with disabilities. He’s standing behind the podium microphone on stage, wearing a white pinstriped shirt and navy blue tie. Behind him, just visible, is the American Council of the Blind banner.
Gabriella Cavallero tells the audience how her dream of becoming a talking book narrator came true. She is standing behind the Riviera podium microphone, wearing a deep red sleeveless V-neck dress and a silver necklace.
David Raistrick, right, of En-Vision America demonstrates the ScripTalk device. He is wearing a white polo shirt, and speaking into a microphone at the head table on stage. On the left is Dr. Steve Leuck, wearing a dark shirt, paisley tie, and dark horn-rimmed glasses.
ACB’s executive director, Melanie Brunson, reads from “A Tale of Two Cities” at the start of her report. She is standing behind the podium microphone, wearing a periwinkle suit jacket, gray shirt, pearl necklace, and dark sunglasses.
The ACB board and officers. Top row: David Trott, John McCann, George Holliday, Michael Garrett, Dan Spoone, Ray Campbell, Jeff Thom, Allan Peterson, Berl Colley, Mitch Pomerantz and Pat Sheehan. Bottom row: Sara Conrad, Katie Frederick, Kim Charlson, Marlaina Lieberg, Melanie Brunson, Denise Colley and Carla Ruschival.

Honor Achievement as You Celebrate the Holidays

Dear Members and Friends,
During this special time of year, I want to extend my personal thanks to each and every one of you for your membership and commitment to the American Council of the Blind.  Each of you are important to ACB’s success and, as president, I appreciate the time, talent, and energy you have given to our critical work over the past year.  If you have supported ACB financially, I thank you for your past generosity.  If you are able to do so, I would appreciate any additional financial assistance you can provide.  It is only through the support of people like you that our work can continue and flourish.
Let me highlight three of this year’s achievements that your support helped to make possible.
While we continue to advocate for fully accessible currency, inclusive of large print and tactile markings, I’m pleased to report that the Bureau of Engraving and Printing is now distributing the iBill Talking Money Identifier as an interim step in this process. This fall, a program has been launched for individuals who are blind to obtain a money identifier free of charge. ACB members interested in receiving the currency identifier should contact their cooperating Talking Book Library, and they will place your name on the list. Currency readers will be mailed over the next three months by the National Library Service directly to your home address.
To enhance services to ACB members, ACB Radio became available over the telephone late last year, giving people who are blind or visually impaired yet another option to access valuable information, resources, and programming. This new service enables access to ACB Radio’s six channels of programming, anytime, from just about anywhere, and does not require using a computer. Since its launch, 28,000 individuals have listened to ACB Radio via the telephone! To access ACB Radio by phone, just call (231) 460-1047.
Finally, Walgreens, the nation’s largest drugstore chain, joined a growing trend among pharmacies providing accessible prescription labeling for customers who are blind or visually impaired. Walgreens is the first in the industry to offer an exclusive talking prescription device, the Talking Pill Reminder, at its retail locations across the nation. The device attaches to prescription containers and is provided free of charge with prescriptions that Walgreens dispenses to customers who are blind or who have visual impairments. The Talking Pill Reminder is also available for purchase at Walgreens locations.
These three accomplishments in 2014 represent only a few of the achievements we have all worked hard to see to fruition. With your financial support, we will build on these successes. Please help us continue our efforts with a gift today, at whatever level you can manage.  Remember that no contribution is too small.  Every dollar we receive will make a difference. Thank you in advance for your generosity.
Kim Charlson, President
P.S. There are several ways for you to donate this year:

  • You can make a check payable to the American Council of the Blind and mail it to ACB at 6300 Shingle Creek Pkwy., Suite 195, Brooklyn Center, MN 55430;
  • you can donate online by visiting this link:;
  • or you can call our finance office at 1-800-866-3242.

However you choose to give, we thank you for your generous support!

Summary of 2014 ACB Resolutions

Resolution 2014-01 directs ACB’s elected and staff leadership to implement all appropriate strategies to address the widespread problem of the misrepresentation of untrained and inappropriate animals as service animals.
Resolution 2014-02 calls upon Lions Clubs International to adopt a replica straight cane as a more accurate and appropriate symbol of the cane currently in use by most individuals who are blind or visually impaired.
Resolution 2014-03 identifies a variety of limitations, inadequacies, and challenges with the current nationwide provision of orientation and mobility training to children and youth with vision loss; directs ACB to take responsive action through advocacy and educational outreach; and demands that the U.S. Department of Education take immediate monitoring and enforcement action.
Resolution 2014-04 identifies a variety of limitations, inadequacies, and challenges with the current nationwide provision of braille instruction to children and youth with vision loss; directs ACB to take responsive action through advocacy and educational outreach; and demands that the U.S. Department of Education take immediate monitoring and enforcement action.
Resolution 2014-05 directs the ACB elected and staff leadership to enter only into agreements with convention facilities (i.e., hotels, etc.) when such facilities are in compliance with all applicable fire safety codes, and bars ACB from entering into such agreements when facilities are not in compliance and/or where no applicable fire safety codes are in force.
Resolution 2014-06 expresses deep frustration with the U.S. government's failure to fulfill its judicially recognized obligation to provide accessible paper currency, and empowers ACB’s elected and staff leadership to explore all appropriate means for compelling immediate compliance.
Resolution 2014-07 calls upon Overdrive, Inc. to make its library access software fully accessible to library patrons who are blind or visually impaired, and calls upon all public and academic libraries to join in this effort.
Resolution 2014-08 expresses ACB's support for the development and ultimate establishment of a Humphreys Randolph-Sheppard Employment Institute for the purpose of expanding the Randolph-Sheppard vending program nationwide.
Resolution 2014-09 clarifies that the recommendations proposed by the National Council on Disability to replace current law's allowance of the payment of subminimum wages with a supported employment model do not satisfy ACB's expectations for any policy proposal aiming to eliminate the subminimum wage allowance.
Resolution 2014-10 calls upon the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to refrain from defending federal agencies in court when such agencies face claims of Section 508 violation and have not met the "good faith" criteria which ACB urges DOJ to adopt.
Resolution 2014-11 demands that the U.S. Secretary of Labor amend the recently promulgated revisions to the Section 503 regulations concerning the affirmative action obligations of federal contractors to address the failure of such revisions to adequately communicate the technology accessibility obligations of such contractors.
Resolution 2014-12 requests that BARD book listings include indicators of book availability via download and cartridge or download-only.
Resolution 2014-13 reiterates ACB’s long-standing demand that all Medicare-related notices and/or documents requiring attention be offered in accessible format.
Resolution 2014-14 describes ACB’s deep concern with so-called cluster postal mail delivery and expresses opposition to its implementation.
Resolution 2014-15 identifies attitudinal and other systemic barriers to the promotion of the Randolph-Sheppard vending program; calls upon the Rehabilitation Services Administration, as well as state and other public entities, to work to address these barriers, and enlists the help of ACB and its affiliates in marketing the vending program more effectively.
Resolution 2014-16 decries the widespread failure of the cable and satellite industries to develop and deploy set-top box and related equipment that is required to be accessible by law, and directs ACB’s elected and staff leadership to aggressively engage with the industry to compel accessibility.
Resolution 2014-17 expresses reservations about the nationwide emergence of so-called ride-share services, calls upon ACB’s Transportation Committee to develop a study and recommendations paper with input from Guide Dog Users, Inc., and requires the ACB president to report on the paper's recommendations and any implementation at the 2015 ACB conference and convention.
Resolution 2014-18 expresses thanks to the Riviera Hotel & Casino.
Resolution 2014-19 expresses deep appreciation to the 2014 conference and convention host committee and to the Nevada Council of the Blind.
Resolution 2014-20 expresses profound gratitude to all who offered volunteer assistance to attendees of the 2014 conference and convention.

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.

Ski for Light Celebrates 40

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 If you do not have web access, or need more information, contact Bob Hartt at (703) 845-3436 or via e-mail,

Ramah, Ruderman Holding Video Contest

The Ramah Camping Movement and the Ruderman Family Foundation are happy to announce "TIPTOE (The Inclusion Project: Through Our Eyes)," an inclusion-themed video contest for participants from all Jewish camps. The goal of TIPTOE is to increase awareness of the inclusion work happening at Jewish camps across North America.
Campers and college-aged staff members who participated in a North American Jewish summer camp program in 2014 are eligible to submit 30- to 90-second videos that show their view of inclusion of children with disabilities in their camp. The first place prize includes $1,000 to the participant and a $1,750 donation to the winner's camp's inclusion program.
Submissions are due by Nov. 14. Additional details about the TIPTOE contest are available on and on Twitter at #TIPTOE2014.

Attention Anthem, Blue Cross and Blue Shield Members!

ACB is trying to spread the word about its agreement with WellPoint, a company that owns Anthem, Blue Cross and Blue Shield operations across the United States.  All WellPoint companies are now providing insurance information in alternative formats, including braille, large print, audio and electronic formats.  They've also designed their web sites and mobile applications to be accessible. WellPoint worked with blind members in structured negotiations with Linda Dardarian and Lainey Feingold on this initiative, and we really encourage people who are blind and visually impaired to take advantage of this new program.  You can learn whether your state is covered at
We also need feedback to help make the program as strong as it can be.  The best way to give feedback is to e-mail Lainey at, or call her at (510) 548-5062.  
Members can request the alternative formats by calling the number on the back of their health insurance cards, or any other number they use to reach a WellPoint company.  
WellPoint is now the industry leader in providing insurance information in alternative formats.  Please help us spread the word, and please let us know of your experiences with the new program.

High Tech Swap Shop

For Sale:
PowerBraille 40 in good condition. Asking $900. VersaPoint Duo braille embosser. Asking $2,500. Money orders only, please. Contact Mark at, or (615) 732-5807.
For Sale:
BrailleNote Apex 32-cell model.  In excellent condition; barely used.  Asking $5,000 or best offer.  Contact Donni Mitchell via e-mail,, or phone her at (801) 953-2158.
For Sale:
PAC Mate with QWERTY keyboard. Includes all cables and instructions CDs. Asking $1,000 or best offer.  Contact Ann Sims at (404) 615-8338 or via e-mail at
For Sale:
GW Micro Orabis CCTV. Comes with all cables and user guide. In excellent condition. Asking $1,250 or best offer.  Buyer responsible for shipping; can be picked up.  Call or text (814) 483-4366 or e-mail Andy Gannon,

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)
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