The ACB E-Forum, December 2014

Downloadable versions available here.
Volume LIII December 2014 No. 6
Published by
the American Council of the Blind
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© 2014 American Council of the Blind
Melanie Brunson, Executive Director
Sharon Lovering, Editor
2200 Wilson Blvd., Suite 650, Arlington, VA 22201
All content created initially for use by ACB in publications, in any media on any web site domains administered by ACB, or as a broadcast or podcast on ACB Radio, archived or not, is considered to be the property of the American Council of the Blind. Creative content that appears elsewhere originally remains the property of the original copyright holder. Those responsible for creative content submitted initially to ACB are free to permit their materials to appear elsewhere with proper attribution and prior notification to the ACB national office.

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The ACB E-Forum, December 2014 downloads

President’s Message: Thanks for Our Blessings by Kim Charlson

As 2014 winds down, I thought I would take a few moments to reflect on some highlights for me personally, and some positive moments for ACB.
First, I have to give thanks for my successful conquering of breast cancer in 2014! I was declared 100% cancer-free in June, and when you receive that kind of news, you can’t help but take stock of all the things that matter. Family and friends truly made the difference for me as I dealt with my treatments, work responsibilities, and ACB commitments. I am so grateful for all of their support and encouragement. Having many things to do kept me focused on what needed to be done … and allowed me to keep my medical situation in perspective. When I received my diagnosis on Feb. 14, 2013, I told my oncologist that she had to cure me because I had very important work to do for the blind community all across this country, and I didn’t have time to be side-tracked by cancer. She said she would do that … and she did!
Several years ago, I had the privilege to work with Sue Ammeter and the ACB Health Issues Task Force on implementation of a structured negotiation settlement with the American Cancer Society (ACS). ACB’s work made it possible for many of the ACS informational publications on all types of cancer to be available in accessible formats. Now, over 10 different publications are available in braille, large print, audio or electronic formats directly by contacting the ACS at 1-800-227-2345 or at We all need to continue to spread the word about the accessible materials available from ACS, how they can be ordered, and that it is because of work by ACB that these materials are now accessible.
Because providing access to information is so important to me professionally in my work as a librarian, the ACS settlement was one of my favorite successes ACB has achieved. It really became personal when I discovered that I would need to avail myself of the ACS materials to learn more about my own diagnosis and treatment options. I am glad it was there for me, and for the hundreds of other people who unfortunately have needed to utilize the resource because of a cancer diagnosis. What is good for all of us is that we have this resource available to us and that it is now accessible. Please help to share this information with others who may be in need of accessible materials about cancer for themselves or to help with a family member or friend’s diagnosis.
I also want to recognize the Women’s Concerns Committee for their commitment to making a Breast Cancer Support Group available. I want to extend my personal commendation to Lori Scharff of New York and Linda Porelle of California, the two social workers who facilitate the teleconference support group. This monthly call is for blind or visually impaired women who are going through, or have experienced, breast cancer, and is usually around 90 minutes in length. Whether you are newly diagnosed or in treatment, or a 5-year-plus survivor, you are welcome to join the discussion. Meetings are the first Tuesday of each month and start at 8 p.m. Eastern. If you are interested in becoming part of this support group, contact either Lori at or Linda at (415) 577-8437 for more information about the group.
I am so proud of ACB for recognizing the importance of access to medical information in accessible formats, and for recognizing the importance of specialized support networks like the breast cancer monthly support call. While we all wish this wasn’t necessary, cancer in all of its guises touches the lives of so many people every day. ACB continues to do our part to make the independent management of health care easier for people who are blind with accessible information, support groups, and now with the successes of ACB with braille, large print and audio prescription label information. Stay tuned for more details in this area in the near future.

Announcing the 2015-16 ACB Scholarship Program

Spread the word far and wide.  The 2015-16 ACB scholarship program is going live.  Beginning Dec. 1, 2014, the online application for ACB scholarships will be available for students interested in participating in the program.  Go to and fill out the application and submit it.  Each student’s information will be evaluated and notifications will be sent to every applicant. 
All pertinent information, including eligibility requirements, submission dates and needed documentation, can be found online.  If you are a student or if you know a student who would like to apply, direct him or her to the web site. 
For further information, contact Dee Theien at (612) 332-3242 or Michael Garrett, scholarship committee chairman, at

It’s Holiday Auction Time, by Carla Ruschival

It's a holiday celebration! It's bidding and buying and lots of holiday fun! 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 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 now 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 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 Bits and Pieces, by Janet Dickelman

Plans for the 54th annual American Council of the Blind conference and convention are under way! Convention dates are July 3-11, 2015. The convention committee and the ACB board descended on Dallas the weekend of Oct. 18th. We met up with the Dallas host committee for dinner, a meet and greet, and visits to many tour venues. The host committee is enthusiastic, hard-working and very excited about the upcoming American Council of the Blind conference and convention.
Margarine Beaman made her list for the hotel of any accessibility needs and Sally Benjamin began rounding up volunteers. Michael Fulghum has a great start on tours, which I hope to highlight in next month’s article.  It was a very successful and fun-filled weekend!
It isn’t too early to begin making plans for Dallas. Our first tour will be on Friday, July 3rd. Additional tours will be scheduled all day on Saturday and Sunday, afternoons Monday through Thursday, and our final tours Saturday, July 11th. On Saturday, July 4th, tech sessions and some committees will begin programming.  Many affiliates will hold their board meetings, and the evening will culminate with the Welcome to Dallas Party, which the host committee says will be the biggest and brightest ever!
Sunday is the beginning of many affiliate sessions as well as our evening opening general session. General sessions will run Monday through Thursday mornings and all day on Friday. Affiliates and committees will hold numerous activities in the afternoon and evenings. The Friends-in-Art Showcase will be Tuesday evening, and don’t forget the walk Sunday morning and the auction on Wednesday evening. We are working on an amazing banquet speaker for Friday evening’s banquet.
The home of the convention is the Sheraton Dallas. The hotel has 3 towers; we will be in the central and north towers. The lobby area is quite large but can be easily traveled by following a series of carpeted and tiled areas leading to restaurants, business link, gift shop and other amenities.
When heading to the front desk, there are 3 shallow steps to be aware of. The steps are not along the main corridor and you won’t need to be concerned with them unless you are visiting the front desk. Meeting rooms are on the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th floors, and can be reached from all sleeping towers. There are several elevator bays going to various floors in each sleeping tower. This will make elevator travel to your room much faster. All elevator bays will have signs in braille and large print for easy identification. The sleeping room towers are set up in squares with elevators in the center of the square. That means no dead-end halls; if you start out in the wrong direction, you can continue around the square to locate your room.

Food in Dallas

Convention attendees will have four restaurant choices at the hotel.
Peet’s Coffee: open daily, 6 a.m.-4 p.m.
Serving pastries, yogurts, cereals, sandwiches and other grab-and-go breakfast and lunch items
Draft Media Sports Lounge: 11 a.m.-1 a.m. for food service: lunch, appetizers and dinner
The Kitchen Table Restaurant (TKT): open daily from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., serving comfort food in a casual setting. 
The Sheraton’s room service hours are 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.  Everyone who visited the Sheraton found the service excellent and the staff extremely friendly, helpful and eager for our convention.
Of great interest to attendees will be the food court at the Plaza of the Americas, which is connected to the Sheraton by a second-floor skyway. As of this writing there are approximately 20 venues, some with familiar names such as Taco Bell, KFC Express, Blimpie’s and McDonalds. There are restaurants featuring pizza, Chinese, Japanese, Mexican, Philly cheesesteaks, and much, much more. Many of the food court options serve breakfast, and all are very reasonably priced.
Still looking for more restaurants? Within a 5-block radius of the hotel there are numerous dining options in all price ranges! No one will go hungry in Dallas!

Hotel Details

Room rates at the Sheraton Dallas are $89 (single, double, triple or quad) plus applicable state and local taxes (currently 13%) and tourism district fees (2%). For reservations by telephone, call 1-888-627-8191 and mention that you are attending the ACB convention in order to obtain our room rate. To make reservations online, visit and follow the 2015 convention link.

Convention Contacts

Stay in touch by joining the ACB convention e-mail list. Send a blank e-mail to
2015 exhibit information: Michael Smitherman, (601) 331-7740,
2015 advertising and sponsorships: Margarine Beaman, (512) 921-1625,
For any other convention-related questions, contact Janet Dickelman, convention chair, at (651) 428-5059 or via e-mail,

A Partnership for Affiliate Empowerment, by Doug Powell

Question: When blind and visually impaired people get together, what is one of their favorite subjects to complain about? Answer: their rehabilitation experience. Hopefully, but rarely, the next question should be: "How do we improve the system?" The answer: Advocate for change.  Some affiliates are very successful at advocating at the state level for change in general, and at their rehabilitation agency in particular.  Other affiliates have been having a very tough time getting the changes they feel are important implemented.

An ACB Partnership to Help

The Rehabilitation Issues Task Force and the Advocacy Services Committee have committed to a joint project to try to improve affiliate advocacy at the state level and advocate successfully at the local and state level to improve rehabilitation services (and perhaps increase ACB membership in the process).
We have identified three ways to accomplish our goals:

  1. We will co-host a series of conference calls focusing on different subjects of advocacy and rehabilitation.  The first call is scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 8 at 9 p.m. Eastern.  The subject will be: The Essentials of the Rehabilitation Act.  Subsequent calls will focus on topics such as: Advocacy 101 — The Basics; Developing Relationships and Trust; Changing Procedures vs. Changing Laws. These calls and topics are still in the planning stages, so input from you on topics you would like to see discussed is welcomed.
  1. The partners will coach affiliates committed to specific advocacy efforts upon request by the affiliate. We cannot do the advocacy for you, but if you want guidance on what to do and how, we will help. If interested, please submit a request with the following information: affiliate name, contact person and his/her contact information, the specific concern to be addressed along with desired outcomes, and specific information on previous efforts on the issue and their results.
  1. We will co-sponsor a session at this year's conference and convention either reviewing some of the highlights from the activities above, or delving more deeply into a topic arising from the work above.

Get on Board

We are very excited about the opportunity to contribute and share successful skills and techniques for advocacy at the state level with you. We're also excited about helping affiliates understand and use information about the rehabilitation system to help members and potential members have a meaningful, successful rehabilitation experience. If you have questions or suggestions about this initiative, or if you'd like to submit a coaching request, please contact rehabilitation issues task force chair Doug Powell at or (703) 573-5107, or contact advocacy services chair Jeff Thom at or (916) 995-3967.
And lastly, if you would like to be in the conversation about rehabilitation, please join ACB's rehab-stakeholders list from the listserv page at We look forward to your participation.

Avoid the Crowds; Shop from Home at the ACB Mini Mall, by Carla Ruschival

Stuff those stockings; fill those cookie jars! Do all your holiday shopping at the ACB Mini Mall; visit, or follow the Mini Mall link on the ACB home page.
Mugs and cookie jars with our old-time Christmas scene, stockings and bears with our cute reindeer, ornaments and jewelry boxes with our ACB wreath, and a fancy Merry Christmas added to just about any item you like — see all the designs at the Holiday Castle in the Mini Mall.
Good news! We can add our holiday designs to many of the items in the Mini Mall. Give us a call, or drop us an e-mail, to order holiday shirts, pillows, keepsake boxes, magnets and more.
Boombox Plus — New from England and available at the Tech Stop in the Mini Mall. This portable MP3 player is designed especially for people who are blind or visually impaired and who are not tech-savvy. With an internal speaker on each end, easy-to-grasp on/off volume control on the front, and only three bright yellow buttons with tactile markings on the top for playing music, listening to books and other digital recordings, or tuning in FM radio stations, the Boombox Plus is easy to use. It plays music or audio from thumb drives that plug into the USB port on the top of the device; it also plays DAISY formats, but does not allow use of DAISY navigation. It remembers where you were in the last track played when the thumb drive is removed or the unit is switched off, up to a maximum of four drives. There's a headphone jack for private listening, but headphones are not included. Measures 4.88 by 3.2 by 2.8 inches and weighs only 10 ounces. Rechargeable battery, AC/USB cable and AC adapter included.

New Book on Audio Description

"The Visual Made Verbal: A Comprehensive Training Manual and Guide to the History and Applications of Audio Description" is a new book by Dr. Joel Snyder, president, Audio Description Associates, LLC and director, Audio Description Project at the American Council of the Blind. This is a definitive work by a recognized authority in this highly specialized field of accessibility. Look for it in the Pages and Tracks shop in the Mini Mall.

Mini Mall Reminders

Visit the Cane Kiosk in the Mini Mall when you need a folding graphite and aluminum cane; you'll also find a variety of cane tips.
Shop at Amazon through the links from the Mini Mall. ACB receives a commission on most purchases made through these links; excludes products sold in the Amazon Marketplace.
The ACB Audio Description Project maintains a web page listing to all audio-described DVD's currently available. Use the Amazon links on the ADP pages to purchase your DVD's; you'll be sure you are buying the versions with audio description and you will be supporting ACB at the same time. Other purchases made through these links also support ACB.

Mini Mall Catalog

Our Mini Mall Catalog includes products available online and by phone at the time of its publication. Updates to the catalog will be published periodically; however, products may be added or discontinued in the online mall prior to publication of the catalog and/or updates. Prices are also subject to change without notice, both online and in the catalog. Catalogs are available in braille, large print, audio CD, or electronic format.

Contact Us

Visit the ACB Mini Mall by following its link from the ACB home page at or at Subscribe to the mall e-mail list by sending a blank message with the word "subscribe" in the subject line to  Reach us by phone at 1-877-630-7190 or by e-mail at

And the 2014-2015 Scholarship Winners Are …, by Michael Garrett

All of the 2014 ACB scholarship applications are in.  They’ve been sorted, categorized and carefully analyzed.  With so many deserving candidates, the selection process was as difficult as usual.  This year’s awards featured some new scholarships and the return of others which had been temporarily suspended.  Award amounts ranged from $1,000 to $3,500, which represented an increase in the top level we were able to give.
This year’s scholarship winners are:
Justine Aragon, Colo. – the Duane Buckley Memorial Scholarship
Hamid Hamraz, Ky. – the Kellie Cannon Memorial Scholarship
Kaitlyn Siekert, Wis. – the ACBS Brenda Dillon Memorial Scholarship
Lorise Diamond, Calif. – the Norma Shecter Memorial Scholarship
Nicholas Corbett, Mass. – the Bay State Council of the Blind Scholarship
Hina Altaf, Ill. – the John Hebner Memorial Scholarship
Elizabeth Muhammad, Pa. – the William G. Corey Memorial Scholarship
James Debus, Ohio – the Eunice Fiorito Memorial Scholarship
Sherrie Lilley, N.Y. – the Arnold Sadler Memorial Scholarship
Leslie Weilbacher, Ore. – the Oregon Council of the Blind Scholarship
Tabitha Brecke, Ala. – the Alma Murphey Memorial Scholarship
Emily Pennington, Ohio – the Ross and Patricia Pangere Scholarship
Kathryn Webster, N.C. – the Ross and Patricia Pangere Scholarship
Rachel Zeiter, Ohio – the Floyd Qualls Memorial Scholarship
Garrett Haywood, Fla. – the Floyd Qualls Memorial Scholarship
Antonio Vega, Fla. – the Floyd Qualls Memorial Scholarship
Charlotte Reed, Ky. – the Floyd Qualls Memorial Scholarship
David Techman, Va. – the Floyd Qualls Memorial Scholarship
Each year, the students bring a new sense of energy and excitement as they pursue their academic goals.  This year’s group was no exception.  It’s always a joy to be in their midst as they discuss what the future holds.  During the convention, the ACB Students were instrumental in getting the winners involved.  James Debus, a high-energy first-time winner, is now the president of ACB Students.  And to show how much the program means to some of the students, one of last year’s recipients came to Las Vegas just to be with his fellow students. 
A huge thank-you goes out to the scholarship committee and the Minneapolis staff for completing the selection process.  Special thanks go to our donors for investing in the lives of these worthy students. 
Congratulations to all of you! You may face challenges and obstacles, but your perseverance and persistence will ultimately pay off. 
2015 scholarship applications will be available on ACB’s web site on Dec. 1.  If you are interested in applying, or if you know someone who is, please refer him or her to the scholarship link on for more information. 
Group photo of 2014 scholarship winners
Caption:  The scholarship winners of 2014-2015. Bottom row, left to right: Leslie Weilbacher, Rachel Zeiter, Staci Mannella, Justine Aragon, Kathryn Webster, Elizabeth Muhammad, Tabitha Brecke, Nick Corbett, Sherrie Lilley, Kim Charlson. Top row, left to right: Cathy Schmitt Whitaker, Lorise Diamond, Sara Conrad, David Techman, Michael Garrett, Garrett Haywood, Antonio Vega, Hamid Hamraz, Lindsay Tilden, Jim Debus, Charlotte Reed, Don Koors.

Celebrating Successes at the Banquet, by Sharon Lovering

After a long week of meetings at the American Council of the Blind’s 53rd annual conference and convention, members enjoyed the annual banquet on Friday evening.
“Good evening, everyone!” said Kim Charlson, ACB’s president. “You all may notice that on the agenda it says that Kim Charlson will be your emcee. Well, besides the fact that you’ve listened to me an awful lot this week … part of the process, I think, of being a good emcee is being a little bit of a stand-up comic, and since I can’t stand up, I didn’t think that that was such a great thing for me to do.” The audience roared with laughter as Charlson introduced the evening’s emcees: Brian Charlson and David Trott.
Brian Charlson introduced Sara Conrad, who gave the results of the ACB Students Money War. Third place, $125, went to the Washington Council of the Blind; second place, $185, went to ACB of Texas; and first place, $310, went to the Tennessee Council of the Blind.
Charlson then introduced keynote speaker David Lepofsky, chairman of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance. Lepofsky described the scene in a Canadian courtroom when opposing counsel stopped in the middle of a case and said, “I can’t continue. We need to take an adjournment.” Lepofsky asked his law student what had happened. The student told him the power had gone out; court adjourned.
From that event, he learned two things.  One was that people who don’t have disabilities don’t ask whether they’ll be able to read the materials handed out at various conferences; they just assume that will happen. But the most important lesson was that disability isn’t about biology; it’s about the world having been designed without equality in mind.
The world has changed radically in the last decades, he noted. “The same dramatic transformation in the world … has taken place in the life of people with vision loss in the past 40 years, if not sooner, in terms of access to information. Forty years ago, if the book wasn’t available on an audio tape … you had to line up human beings to read it to you. ... Forty years later, the distance between a book we’ve never read and has never been recorded, if it’s in clear print, and us … is either waiting 10 seconds, if it’s slow technology, or about 1 or 2 seconds if it’s faster technology.”  The biggest challenge blind consumers face is deciding who’s going to come out with the best device more quickly, and whether to spend a few hundred bucks on it or wait for the next one, he quipped.
“Our capacity to take part in society has always been high, but it’s been radically improved in my lifetime,” Lepofsky added. “However, the opportunities have not expanded commensurately.” He offered a few examples.  In the ‘80s, he worked with a group of people with various disabilities, fighting to get equality for people with disabilities into the Canadian constitution and in the Ontario Human Rights Code. In the ‘90s and early 2000s, he worked with others on a campaign to enact the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, and has led the campaign to get that act enforced. He has also taken on the Toronto public transit system, which wasn’t announcing stops on its rail system. He sued the system, and won the case in 2005. He sued them again to get them to announce all stops on their buses, too, and won that case in 2007.
What did he learn from those cases? “The first is that we have to redefine ‘we.’ When we ask for what we ask for, we’ve got to end the discussion of people with disabilities versus people without disabilities and what can they do for us. The way we end that discussion is through a little exercise I’m going to do with you. … Would you please raise your hands if you have no disability now and are certain you will never get one?” No hands went up. “Everyone either has a disability or has someone near or dear to them who has a disability or will get one if they live long enough, since the most common cause of disability is aging. … This kind of advocacy for equality for people with disabilities is not asking what people without disabilities can manage to do for us. Rather, it is what we can do for people who haven’t yet gotten their disabilities so when they do get theirs, they won’t face the barriers we did.”
By framing the argument that way, Lepofsky said, it puts people with barriers against everybody. “Barriers are a universal language,” he noted. “And what unites us – all of us, regardless of what kind of disability we have – is that we all face barriers and we shouldn’t.”
To learn more, follow @aodaalliance or @davidlepofsky on Twitter.  To receive e-mail updates, send a request to  For the link to Lepofsky’s lectures on YouTube, visit 
Trott called Chelle Hart, co-chair of the awards committee, to the podium to present awards.  Hart began with the James R. Olsen Distinguished Service Award. “This year’s winner joined the Washington Council of the Blind as a charter member in 1971. … In 1976 he became ACB’s first intern … Today he continues to live his commitment to the blind of America as executive director of the Missouri Council of the Blind.” The winner was Chris Gray.
“What an honor to receive this award,” Gray said. “I want to thank you all very much.”
Hart next presented the George Card Award. “This year’s nominee and winner has spent most of his adult life working to help improve the lives of people who are blind or have low vision … A few of the areas where our lives have benefitted by his leadership and guidance include: 1) the priority he placed on increasing the Title II funding for elder blind programs; 2) ACB Radio began streaming around the world with the great talents of Jonathan Mosen during this president’s administration; 3) the Thirteen Principles of Consumer Choice in Rehabilitation …” The winner was Paul Edwards.
“Normally I speak pretty well,” Edwards said. “Tonight I don’t. … Thank you so much.”
Hart then presented the Durward K. McDaniel Ambassador Award. “This year’s recipient has been actively involved in establishment and expansion of several non-profit organizations which have provided inclusive opportunities for the blind and visually impaired ... In the field of sports and recreation, he has introduced many … to groups such as Ski For Light, United States Association of Blind Athletes …” The winner was Oral Miller. 
Trott then called on Dan Spoone to do the Forum raffle drawing. The $500 winner was Trish Mangis; the $1,000 winner, Peter Pardini; and $5,000 winner, Mike Arnold.

2014 ACB Membership Seminar, compiled by Ardis Bazyn

On Thursday afternoon during convention, the ACB membership committee held its annual membership seminar with the theme: “How Successful Chapters and Affiliates Recruit and Maintain Membership.” Our first panel addressed the popular topic, "What are successful strategies used to recruit newcomers?" Marlaina Lieberg, ACB’s second vice president, Burien, Wash.; Will Burley, vice president of Blind LGBT Pride International, Houston, Tex.; and Norman Culver, president of the Alabama Council of the Blind, Talladega, Ala., gave us insights.
Some of the suggestions given were:

  • Publish events and meetings in newspapers, bulletin boards (online and stores), and relevant newsletters
  • Share meeting and event announcements on public phone systems
  • Create public service announcements
  • Sending letters to colleges
  • Visiting senior centers
  • Getting contact info from visitors or outreach days
  • Being social when riding paratransit or buses
  • Have chapter challenge and give cash award
  • Leave invitations and brochures at eye doctors’ offices

The second panel followed with "How to ‘wow’ your members to keep them involved!" Brian Charlson, president of Library Users of America, Watertown, Mass.; Cindy Van Winkle, president of the Washington Council of the Blind, Bremerton, Wash.; and Will Burley, vice president of Blind LGBT Pride International, Houston, Tex., relayed some tips. The list of ideas is below.

  • Invite newer members to serve on a committee, assist with hospitality or welcoming
  • Invite younger members to help with a Facebook or LinkedIn page
  • Invite members to leadership seminars once they have been a member for a year
  • Have interesting speakers or topics to interest participants
  • Plan occasional social events
  • Create interest groups, either in person or conference calls focusing on topics such as diabetes, books, technology, aging, etc.

After the presentations, the committee recognized the two affiliates with the largest growth. The highest percentage of growth award went to the American Council of the Blind of Colorado, which increased its membership by 82.6 percent. The award for the highest number of new members went to the California Council of the Blind for its 242 new members. Two hand-outs, "Reaching Out to Seniors with Vision Loss" and "Attracting Young People," were also disseminated. If you'd like a copy of these hand-outs, e-mail If your affiliate has changed its membership committee chair, please contact the membership committee to add their e-mail address to the membership e-mail discussion list.

A Look into the ACB Pre-Convention and Post-Convention Board Meetings, by Denise Colley

One of the responsibilities of the representative of the board of publications to ACB’s board meetings is to provide our membership with a timely report of what our board is doing in "The Braille Forum."  Included here are summaries of the 2014 pre-convention and post-convention board meetings.

ACB Pre-Convention Board Meeting

The ACB pre-convention board meeting, held in Las Vegas, Nev., on July 12 was called to order at 9:08 a.m.  All board members were present.  The minutes of the June 9 board teleconference meeting were approved.
In her presidential report, Kim Charlson introduced to the board the three members of the advisory board who had joined us for this meeting.  They were Dr. David Stuchiner, Dr. Lloyd Bowser and Mr. Roger Bridges.  Each was given an opportunity to say a few words.

Staff Reports

Melanie Brunson began the D.C. area office report by informing the board that negotiations have been ongoing with the Holiday Inn National Airport and other venues in Arlington, Va. for the 2015 midyear meeting and legislative seminar.  She indicated we are close on terms with the Holiday Inn, which will include a slight room rate increase.  Also, ACB is currently being offered a one-year contract.
A motion was made that, pending ACB receiving a written contract which reflects the terms as negotiated, we hold the midyear meetings at the Holiday Inn National Airport from Feb. 21-24, 2015.  A friendly amendment was offered that ACB seek a multi-year contract with this hotel for these meetings.  The amended motion passed.
Eric Bridges gave the external relations and policy report.  Highlights include:

  • Resolution 2013-15, which deals with safe paths of travel for pedestrians in parking lots, has been submitted to the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) A-117 standards setting committee thanks to our representative on that body, Chris Bell.  Chris has chosen not to continue serving on this committee, and Charlson will be working to find an individual to serve.
  • H.R. 4040, the Cogswell-Macy Act, had 20 co-sponsors at the time of the report, of which ACB has been responsible for probably 14.
  • H.R. 3749, Medicare Coverage for Low Vision Devices Act, had four co-sponsors at the time of the report.  We need to generate more interest and advocacy on this issue with members of Congress.
  • The vehicle donation legislation which ACB has been working to pass for several years has been re-introduced.
  • Thanks to ACB’s efforts to engage technology companies on accessibility, we had three new convention sponsors: Comcast, Facebook, and JPMorgan Chase.  Also, while not a sponsor, Microsoft was at the convention and would be discussing Windows Phone accessibility.
  • The International Association of Audio Information Services, in addition to exhibiting, is also a sponsor.
  • Salus University in Pennsylvania, which has a graduate program for students wanting to go into special education, has convened a group to discuss the future of the teacher of the visually impaired profession.  This group met in April, and there will be ongoing discussions.
  • ACB is watching as there have been discussions of opening up the Chaffee Amendment of the U.S. Copyright Act, which allows producers of materials in specialized format to make material available to people who are blind or visually impaired without having to seek permission from the copyright holder to do so.  This could happen either in the fall of 2014 or early in 2015.  The feeling is that the Chaffee Amendment needs to be updated to reflect changes in reading and technology such as the e-book.
  • In the area of litigation/advocacy, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) is evaluating the efforts of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing to implement the order requiring that paper currency be made accessible.
  • Activities are ongoing regarding litigation against the General Services Administration over the inaccessibility of, which must be used by federal contractors for registration with this agency.

Sharon Lovering gave the editor’s report. She reported that the statistics for the May 2014 issue of “The ACB Braille Forum” were: 3,860 large print readers, down 1.31% from 2013.  Cassette readers accounted for 1,740 issues, down 10.31% from 2013.  Braille readers accounted for 875 issues, down 11.17% from 2013.  CD readers accounted for 181 issues, up 8.38% from 2013.  E-mail readers accounted for 3,580 issues, up 5.6% from 2013.
Lane Waters, ACB controller, gave the Minneapolis area office report.  He indicated that he and his staff had been very hard at work on completing ACB’s audit and IRS Form 990, as well as work on convention.  Both Lane and Melanie publicly expressed thanks and appreciation to the staff in both ACB offices for stepping up and taking on extra work.
Tom Tobin, ACB director of development, answered questions on his written development report.  He highlighted comparisons between the 2014 and 2013 spring direct mail appeals, saying while the spring 2014 appeal has raised far less than the spring 2013 appeal, the 2014 packets were sent on May 24, so there’s probably some additional revenue to be realized.  Also, comparing the 2013 year-end appeal to 2012, we sent out many more packets in 2013 and have raised more in revenue.  The next direct mail piece will go out Sept. 5.  ACB’s year-end appeal will feature Jesse Acosta, a veteran blinded in the Iraqi war who has a good story to tell.  In the area of foundations, ACB has received two grants totaling $45,000, and 9 denials.  There are 11 grants pending and 3 being written.
Carla Ruschival presented the treasurer’s report.  She reported that total support and revenue year-to-date as of May 31 was $715,677; total year-to-date expenses were $424,633.
The board next heard reports from the strategic plan goal groups.  Carla Ruschival, group one, reported that all of the items this group is responsible for, which include the ACB Mini Mall, ACB Radio, ACB web site and ACB’s social media presence, are working well.  All ACB web site content is expected to be rolled over to the new Drupal platform by the end of 2014.  As of this meeting, ACB had 730 Twitter followers and 545 likes on Facebook.
Dan Spoone of group two stressed that fundraising is all about relationships.  This group has set up committees for the 12 key fundraising programs the board identified at its fundraising planning meeting in September 2013.
Spoone also discussed the proposed ACB Angels Memorial Tribute.  This fundraising program would allow anyone to pay tribute to someone special by honoring that person with a donation of $500 or more to ACB.  There will be an opportunity to provide a photo and an up-to-500-word personalized biography of that person.  The tribute can also be for a guide dog. Tributes will be posted on the ACB web site as well as on a wall of angels which can be displayed at each annual convention.  The board voted to implement the Angels Memorial Tribute program.
Mitch Pomerantz reminded the board of the wall that is set up in the ACB office to honor individuals contributing over $100,000 to ACB.  Melanie will send the board a list of those honorees.
The board moved into executive session at 12:38 p.m., and returned to open session at 2:45 p.m.  Charlson reported that during executive session, the board passed a motion ratifying a loan of $48,000 to ACBES for payment of a legal judgment.
Janet Dickelman gave the convention report.  She indicated that there were a lot of room changes because many events grew larger than expected and needed to be moved.  Many afternoon sessions would either be streamed live or recorded for later airing on ACB Radio.
Jeff Thom informed the board that the goal 3 group is looking at changes to the employee handbook, and beginning discussion of whether there are real staff training needs we need to plan for, as well as looking at new board member orientation and updating of the board handbook.
John McCann, who reported on the work of the goal 4 group, indicated that the group had nothing new to report outside of the affiliate relations constitutional amendment which had been circulated via the leadership list.
Dan Spoone gave the Audio Description Project report. He indicated the committee is working well and pledged to keep the ADP reports coming to the board every two months.
Denise Colley discussed “The ACB Braille Forum” survey and indicated that the BOP would hold two town hall meetings during this convention to gather input on the Forum and E-Forum, and have individuals available to assist those who need help filling out the survey.  The BOP will be discussing two items over the next year, political campaigning on ACB’s leadership list and advertising in the conference and convention newspaper.
Berl Colley presented a report on the leadership training conducted on July 11.  While attendance was small, he and others felt the people who were there wanted to learn about and interact on the issues presented.
Dan Spoone discussed the Audio Description Conference taking place at the convention.  There would be 24 panelists, 36 attendees, and 25 ACB mentors who would be working with the attendees to help them better understand what it’s like to be a blind person as they learn how to be audio describers.
The meeting adjourned at 3:34 p.m.

ACB Post-Convention Board Meeting

The post-convention board meeting, held July 19, was called to order at 10:11 a.m. by president Kim Charlson.  All officers and board members were present.
Charlson informed the board that Dr. Ron Milliman had tendered his resignation as chairperson of both the public relations and the Monthly Monetary Support committees, and that she would be looking for new people to chair them.  She then asked the board for ideas and thoughts on conference and convention voting procedures, which came up under new business in convention and will be taken up by the voting issues task force.  Board members discussed several ideas.
Mark Richert, resolutions committee chairman, gave the resolutions prioritization report.  There were 20 resolutions adopted by the convention.  There were seven priority-one resolutions, including the three thank-you resolutions; 11 priority-two resolutions, and two priority-three resolutions.  The resolutions prioritization report was accepted.
Larry Turnbull, ACB Radio’s managing director, gave the ACB Radio report.  Highlights included:

  • We ran into issues with the Icecast server due to a software update.  The issues we found did not surface until larger numbers of listeners were accessing content during convention.
  • We averaged 130 to 140 listeners during convention week on the server side, with 130 during the Sunday night opening session.
  • We had 625 listening by phone during the Sunday night opening session, with an average of 610 to 620 during the remainder of convention week.  For the candidates’ forum, we had 65 listeners on the server, 450 on the phone.
  • The workshop recordings will be archived soon.
  • The ACB Radio management team will discuss how to use exhibit hall interview content.

Convention coordinator Janet Dickelman reported that overall we had a good conference and convention.  There were a few audio-visual issues, but we had a plethora of volunteers.  The board brought forward several issues and questions.
Charlson discussed logistics for the fall board meeting, which will be held Oct. 17-18 in Dallas, Tex.  Following this discussion came the selection of members for the 2014-15 budget committee: Carla Ruschival, Berl Colley and Dan Spoone.
Carla Ruschival presented the ACB Mini Mall report.  She stated that during the conference and convention, we had $9,000 in gross sales, up about 50 percent from last year.  The online mini mall has a working shopping cart which is almost ready for use.
Under new business, Melanie Brunson indicated that ACB needs to take a look at and possibly revise its positions on the issue of accessible voting.
Officer and board liaisons reported on the convention activities of the committees and task forces they work with.
The meeting adjourned at 1:40 p.m.

Affiliate News

Get Ready for the Next Generation of ACB!

The American Council of the Blind is about to gain a brand-new affiliate.  At the 2014 ACB conference and convention in Las Vegas, a group of young professionals came together to create ACB Next Generation (ACBNG). The purpose of this affiliate is to promote membership of young adults and professionals in the national organization; connect this demographic with resources and networking opportunities; help bridge the gap to existing affiliates, and to develop leadership skills for the next generation of ACB leaders.
Here is what we have accomplished thus far:

  • Elected a provisional board of directors:

    • President - Tiffany Jolliff – Virginia
    • First VP - Sara Conrad – Michigan
    • Secretary - Katie Frederick – Ohio
    • Director - Rebecca Bridges – Virginia
    • Director - Caitlin Mongillo – Connecticut
  • Created a Facebook page (
  •  Set up a Twitter account (@acb_next_gen).
  • Created our own ACB listserv.  To subscribe, please visit

To date, we have had two well-attended membership calls, and we have decided to hold all future calls on the first Thursday of every month at 8:30 p.m. Eastern.  To join our calls, dial (857) 232-0159 and use the access code, 361875.
The intent for these monthly calls is to be a time for the membership to come together and chat about the issues currently facing our age group. Some of our calls will include special guest presentations and others will be a time for purely socializing. We have also done some brainstorming within our group, and come up with ideas to keep our membership connected with each other and with ACB.
We invite you to join us or share our information with anyone you think may be interested in learning more about us. We also welcome your support and input on our e-mail lists and social media pages. If you have questions or would like more information, please contact Tiffany Jolliff at ACBNG is excited to cultivate the next generation of leaders in ACB and to contribute to the work of this great organization

New Affiliate for Those with Cerebral Palsy

Alexander Scott Kaiser is a young blind adult with cerebral palsy. He needs your help to start a special-interest affiliate for blind and visually impaired individuals who have cerebral palsy.  His goals in forming an affiliate are to provide socialization, support, education, fellowship, information, advice, mentoring, and legal advocacy. From problem-solving and rehabilitation training issues to civil rights challenges unique to those with physical impairments and blindness/visual impairment, this affiliate will provide support from others who understand.
Meetings will be held by conference call on the first Saturday of the month, starting Dec. 6, 2014, at 9:59 p.m. Eastern time. To access the conference, dial (567) 704-1512 and use access code 999999#. If you are interested in joining the affiliate, contact Alexander by postal mail at Alexander Scott Kaiser, 7 Arms Ct., Brick Township, NJ 08723; send an e-mail message to; or call him at (848) 205-0208. He would like to hold an in-person meeting at the 2015 conference and convention.

Minnesota’s Winter Wonderland

The ACB of Minnesota cordially invites you to experience our winter wonderland and join us for our state convention Jan. 23-25, 2015. The theme is “The Future Is in Our Hands.” It will be held at the Holiday Inn Bloomington Airport South, 1201 W. 94th St., Bloomington, MN 55431. Room rates are $89 plus tax per night for single or double occupancy. To make reservations, call (952) 277-0242 by Dec. 31, 2014, and be sure to mention that you are with ACBM.
Friday we’ll kick off the convention at 6 p.m. with a pizza party, a bagpipe demonstration and ACBM “technology corner” featuring technology basics and computer games. Want more fun? Meet old friends and make new ones at our hospitality suite, open after Friday and Saturday evening festivities.
Saturday sessions will feature a myriad of topics: library services, news from state services for the blind, Minnesota radio talking book network, options for seniors, computer users group, changes in paratransit, and updates from the Minnesota State Academy for the Blind. In addition, there will be panel discussions focusing on audible pedestrian signals and employment opportunities. 
The "Lunch and Leisure" segment will focus on recreational opportunities in the Twin Cities, such as bowling, darts, beep baseball, and walking/running groups, among others. ACB president Kim Charlson will enlighten us about upcoming changes to the braille code; she will also be the keynote speaker at Saturday evening’s banquet. The exhibit hall will be open from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m., and will showcase a variety of items, including jewelry, technology, homemade soaps, products for the home and other items of interest.
On Sunday, we will hold our quarterly membership meeting. The convention will conclude at 11:30 a.m. 
Convention registration is $60, which includes two breakfasts, lunch and the banquet. Registration must be received by Jan. 15, and can be done online or via mail. To register online, visit Payment can be made at our web site through PayPal. If registering by mail, send payment to ACBM, PO Box 7341, Minneapolis, MN 55407.
If you miss this winter gala, you will have another golden opportunity to visit our great city with the 2016 national convention! Hope to see you at both events!

Hello from the ACBDA Membership Committee!

It is that time of year – time to start thinking about renewing your membership. Or, if you are diabetic and have not joined us, we would love to have you join. If you know a diabetic or someone who is interested in knowing more about diabetes, how about paying for a year's membership for them? Dues are only $10 per year. Send your check or money order to Alice Ritchhart, 139 Altama Connector, Suite 188, Brunswick, GA 31525 by the end of December. It would really be great if each member would bring in a new member. We would double our membership. Remember, this affiliate is only as strong as you make it.
If you used to be a member and have dropped out, our president, Dee Clayton, is back again and would like to see you all come back and give us another chance to make you feel welcome. To receive a complimentary copy of our newsletter, send an e-mail to  Be sure to include your format choice in your message – e-mail, braille or large print.
Each month on the second Wednesday at 9 p.m. Eastern (6 p.m. Pacific), we have a conference call. The number to call is (712) 432-3675; follow the instructions to room 0. Come join us and bring your ideas as to what you would like to hear about.
We know there are still a lot of diabetics out there, so let's all make an effort to make our great affiliate grow and become one of the best affiliates in ACB.
– Pierre Curry and Carol Edwards

Small Affiliate, Big Heart: ACB Human Service Professionals

The American Council of the Blind Human Service Professionals (ACBHSP) was created in 2006 and is here to provide a forum for the advancement of the understanding, knowledge and effectiveness of its members in relation to their respective vocations and professions through various affiliate activities.
Currently, our largest success reflecting this overreaching goal is the ACBHSP e-mail list. The list posts a steady flow of insightful articles related to the helping professions.  To subscribe, go to
ACBHSP is also working toward affiliate growth, and we invite anyone with knowledge and experience in the helping professions and human services to join us. Our members possess a wide variety of educational levels and experiences, including rehabilitation counselors, mental health counselors, life coaches, teachers, psychologists, social workers, family therapists, employment specialists and many others. Annual dues are only $10.
ACBHSP interacts with many of ACB’s groups both professionally and socially. It is our goal to support these groups within ACB by serving as a source of information and support. We will hold a conference call once every quarter; our first call was held in November. Each call will focus on a relevant sociological or psychoeducational topic, and will be posted on all available social media outlets.  
To learn more about ACBHSP, look us up on Facebook by searching for American Council of the Blind Human Service Professionals. The link is  For any other information, contact Annie Chiappetta, ACBHSP program chair, at or call (914) 393-6605.

News from GDUI

GDUI continues to grow in membership and to provide advocacy and support on behalf of guide dog users across the country.
Recently, GDUI adopted a policy statement regarding misrepresentation of pets as service animals, and members and affiliates expect to utilize the statement to educate the public, including businesses and chambers of commerce about the harm that can derive from misrepresentation of untrained dogs as service animals, and to advocate with state legislators for the passage of laws that make such misrepresentation a criminal offense. Other exciting news includes the availability of PawTracks in rich text format as well as narrated MP3 downloadable files for e-mail and 4-track audio cassette subscribers, an improved and updated web site at, fund-raising programs (including a silent auction and grand-prize drawing at next summer's convention in Dallas), and a GDUI Caribbean Cruise slated for December of 2015.


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

Fred Gissoni

Fred L. Gissoni, age 84, passed away Sept. 21, 2014. He lived in the Crescent Hill area of Louisville, Ky. Fred was known across the United States and around the world for his brilliant intellect, inventiveness, and impish sense of humor. Fred contributed 60 years of service to people who are blind and visually impaired.
Gissoni was born in New Jersey. Blind since birth, he did not, as he told it, go to one of the five widely renowned schools for the blind in that area, but rather, to a resource room in a public school, first in Garfield, N.J., and later in Hackensack. He was interested in amateur radio at age 6 or 7, and that marked the beginning of a lifelong passion for all things technical.
In 1956, he took a job with a subsection of Kentucky's Department of Education. His boss was the legendary Tim Cranmer. Gissoni and Cranmer learned the abacus together, and Gissoni wrote detailed instructions for its use. That book, “Using the Cranmer Abacus,” is still available from the American Printing House, as is the abacus itself. Fred also wrote and taught a course on use of the abacus for the Hadley School for the Blind.
In terms of the technology blind people are using today, what stands out most notably in the work of Fred Gissoni would probably be the development of the Pocketbraille and Portabraille, collaborations of Fred Gissoni and Wayne Thompson, while the two were colleagues at the Kentucky Department for the Blind.
The Pocketbraille was built to be housed in a videocassette box (one for a VHS cassette, which was state-of-the-art in the mid 1980s.) One could enter data from a Perkins-style keyboard and hear it spoken aloud. When Fred learned of a braille display manufacturer in Italy, the project grew into a refreshable braille device called Portabraille. The Kentucky Department made only 12 Portabraille units — two of which enabled blind people to retain their jobs. Rather than making a profit from the machines themselves, Gissoni and Thompson sold the detailed instructions for building the device for $5. Deane Blazie's interest in those plans led to the birth of the Braille 'n Speak.
Fred was particularly proud of the Janus Slate, the double-sided interline braille slate that holds a three-by-five index card for brailling on both sides. When asked about the name of this product, he said, “Well, Janus was the Roman god of portals. But I like to tell people that he was the Roman god of braille, and since we didn't actually have braille for several hundred more years, he didn't have much to do.” That is vintage Fred Gissoni banter.
Other inventions he developed for APH were also small items, including a pocket braille calendar and a gadget he called FoldRite, which simplified folding an 8-1/2” by 11” sheet of paper into thirds. When asked about his accomplishments, one of the things he mentioned was introducing Larry Skutchan to APH.
Fred always used an abacus and was never without a slate and stylus. Batteries die and chips fail, he said simply. On the Fred's Head web site, APH refers to him as a legend. He shared his tips, techniques, knowledge, genius, and generous spirit with blind people everywhere for more than 80 years. Fred's world of knowledge eventually became what is now the Fred's Head from APH blog (
A memorial service was being planned as we went to press. In lieu of flowers, contributions are requested to American Printing House for the Blind, United Crescent Hill Ministries for food (UCHM, 150 S. State St., Louisville, KY 40206), or the Crescent Hill United Methodist Church (201 S. Peterson Ave., Louisville, KY 40206).
See more and sign his guest book at:

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.

Annual Winter Ski Festival Application Open

USABA and Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sport (VASS) are now accepting applications for the 8th Annual Winter Ski Festival to be held in Pico, Vt., Feb. 6-9, 2015. Cost to attend is $220; funding is available for qualified veterans. For more information, or to apply, contact Katie Keating at or (719) 866-3222. Applications are due Jan. 6, 2015.

Breckenridge Winter Ski Camp

In partnership with Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center (BOEC) and sponsored by Anthem Life, USABA is now accepting applications for the 4th Annual Winter Ski Camp in Breckenridge, Colo., March 4-8, 2015. Funding is available for qualified veterans. For more information, or to register, contact Katie Keating at or (719) 866-3222. Applications are due Jan. 28, 2015.

Seeking Piano Tuners

Buddy Gray Music is the largest blind-owned and operated piano tuning service in the United States, and Buddy is looking to hire additional tuners to handle the workload and expansion. The company serves customers in over 13 states with a combined staff of 14 personnel for logistics, moving, shop, and tuning services.
All transportation provided for blind tuners by company drivers; no hassles, no buses, no taxicabs. We personally see that you get to your destination safely and our drivers serve as your assistants in make sure that you have all you need to perform the job. Company drivers are trained to assist in churches, civic centers, homes, etc. If you are a tuner and like to tune, there are 3 ingredients needed for this job: the ability to tune, a tuning kit, and a great work ethic.
Tuscaloosa, Ala. is a modern city with a population of 175,000 people. The area includes a hospital, the University of Alabama, Mercedes Benz Manufacturing Plant, BF Goodrich, and great real-estate opportunities. Don't worry about moving hassles - if you can get to Tuscaloosa, our moving crew can move you in with care and efficiency.
For more information and to apply, call Buddy at (205) 799-1056.

NASA Seeks Summer Interns

NASA is looking to increase the number of students with disabilities pursuing science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) careers through our internship programs. Disability means both physical and mental disabilities. Apply now for summer 2015 internships. The deadline for submitting applications is March 1, 2015; we will begin extending offers to students as early as Jan. 15, 2015. Apply early to increase your chances of being selected.  The best opportunities fill up fast! You can register for an account anytime at the One Stop Shopping Initiative (OSSI): NASA Internships, Fellowships, and Scholarships (NIFS) at
Summer 2015 internships run for 10 weeks for college students and six weeks for high-school students. All student interns get paid. Last summer at Goddard, college students received a stipend of $6,000 and high-school students $2,100. NASA internships for college and high-school students are also offered during spring, fall and year-long sessions through the OSSI web site.
NASA has internships for high-school students and for rising freshmen through doctoral students in STEM fields. Applicants must be U.S. citizens, with a minimum GPA of 3.0 for college and 3.0 for high school. High-school students must be at least 16 years old at the time the internship begins.
Internships are available at all NASA centers nationwide. As an intern, you are responsible for your own housing. You may submit a completed application regardless of whether you apply to an opportunity. However, applying to opportunities has the advantage of allowing applicants to be considered by mentors who work in disciplines of interest and at a particular center. Not applying to an opportunity means that prospective interns will be hoping that a mentor happens to read their applications rather than directing their applications to mentors in fields and at centers of interest. You may apply to as many as 15 opportunities.
Students who are selected for summer internships will receive an offer letter by e-mail sometime after Jan. 15, 2015. They will then have five days to either accept or reject the offer through their OSSI: NIFS account. The offer will automatically expire after five days if no action is taken.
For help with applying, contact Kenneth A. Silberman, Esq., at (301) 286-9281, or via e-mail,

National Church Conference of the Blind

The National Church Conference of the Blind will hold its 2015 annual Bible conference Aug. 8-14 at the Best Western Plus Hotel, 6820 S. Cedar Rd., Lansing, MI. For reservations, call 1-866-257-6990, or call the hotel direct at (517) 694-8123. Room rates are $88.50 plus tax per night. You may have up to four people in a room. For questions about the conference, contact Pauline Ohadi, membership secretary, at (405) 330-1331, or visit the web site, We hope to see you there!

FCC Report Released

The FCC has released its second biennial report to Congress on the implementation of the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act. This report, in plain text format, is available at

FEMA Award Winners

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recently announced the winners of the 2014 FEMA Individual and Community Preparedness Awards, recognizing the outstanding efforts of individuals, programs and organizations throughout the country working to prepare their communities for emergencies. This year’s honorees developed and implemented innovative tools, programs and resources, which provided opportunities for a wide variety of stakeholders to make their communities better prepared and more resilient. Some examples include:

  • The Mississippi State University Extension Service launched the Mississippi Youth Preparedness Initiative (MyPI), a grassroots effort to train and educate approximately 3,500 teens annually about emergency preparedness.  Participating youth also completed service projects to prepare families in their communities for disaster.
  • The Delaware State Citizen Corps Council, Partnerships in Assistive Technologies, and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s Office of Preparedness and Emergency Management supported the development of smartphone apps to enhance communications between professional responders and people with disabilities and others with access and functional needs.
  • The Smyrna Emergency Management Agency in Georgia became the nation’s first municipality to participate in America’s PrepareAthon!, conducting a community-wide tornado drill involving 200 businesses.
  • The New York City Office of Emergency Management’s Ready New York for Seniors Program conducted approximately 200 presentations to more than 8,000 older Americans living in the city.

This year’s winners of FEMA’s Individual and Community Preparedness Awards are:

  • Outstanding State Citizen Corps Council Initiatives: Delaware State Citizen Corps Council
  • Outstanding Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Initiatives: MOCERT1 (Southwestern Missouri Regional CERT)
  • Outstanding Local Citizen Corps Council Initiatives: Albany (N.Y.) County Citizen Corps
  • Outstanding Achievement in Youth Preparedness: The Mississippi Youth Preparedness Initiative (MyPI)
  • Community Preparedness Heroes: Lieutenant Brian K. Rand (Mass.) and the Coalition for the Upper South Platte (CUSP) (Colo.)
  • Awareness to Action: Do 1 Thing (Mich.)
  • Technological Innovation: Partnerships in Assistive Technologies (PATHs, Inc.) (W.Va.)
  • Survivor Empowerment and Integration: Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Office of Preparedness and Emergency Management (Mass.)
  • Fourth Annual Recipients of the John D. Solomon Whole Community Preparedness Award: Smyrna Emergency Management Agency (Ga.) and New York City Office of Emergency Management: Ready New York for Seniors (N.Y.)

For more information, visit

MRC Honors Pat Wang

At its special 25th Anniversary Celebration, the Medicare Rights Center honored Pat Wang, CEO of Healthfirst, for her visionary leadership. Special tribute was also paid to three of Medicare’s most stalwart champions: The Honorable John D. Rockefeller IV, The Honorable John D. Dingell, and The Honorable Henry A. Waxman. All three received the Medicare Rights Center’s newly commissioned Hero of Medicare Award.

New Children’s Books

National Braille Press now has available “Bat Loves the Night” by Nicola Davies. It is available in contracted braille with an audio CD, and includes one tactile drawing of a pipistrelle bat. This book is geared for ages 5 to 9.  It describes a day – and night – in the life of a bat. For more information, visit
Also available is “Dragons Love Tacos.” It is the first book in NBP’s Great Expectations series, and tells what happens when you throw a taco party, invite a bunch of dragons, and they get into some spicy salsa. Available as a print-and-contracted-braille book for ages 3 to 5, it includes a couple of fun challenges (such as racing dragons over braille), music (“Dragons Love Tacos”), and instructions for how to make a 3-D dragon. For more information, visit
To check out more of National Braille Press’ books, visit, or call 1-800-548-7323.

Hungry Fingers

Hungry Fingers Tactile Puzzle Set includes a print/braille book, wooden magnetic puzzle, and magnetic board. Created by Hungry Fingers (a one-man company out of Poland), this tactile storybook and accompanying puzzle teach blind children how to construct a tactile image progressively. As the story unfolds, a character emerges, one body piece at a time, giving the child a chance to follow the sequence until the whole "mystery character" is formed.
The book does not have a title. That's because the child is unaware of what is being formed until the very end of the story. Only then is the child asked to give the teddy bear a name – which then becomes the new title of the book. (Shhh – don’t tell your child!)
After the concept of "drawing a bear" is understood, each child can construct his or her own teddy bear using the puzzle pieces. The tactile drawings in the book match the sturdy wooden, magnetic puzzle pieces, encouraging kids to make the connection between the drawing and the real puzzle piece.
Supply is limited! For more information, visit or call 1-800-548-7323.

UEB Reader

The Braille Authority of North America (BANA) recently released “The UEB Reader,” a resource designed to introduce braille readers to Unified English Braille (UEB). This introductory hard-copy braille booklet incorporates into one document several key resources found on the BANA web site. “The UEB Reader” is available free of charge upon request.
The UEB Reader includes content from BANA’s publication, “Overview of Changes from Current Literary Braille to UEB,” plus several example documents transcribed in UEB for readers to use as practice. This resource was compiled to help current braille readers become more familiar with UEB and to assist braille readers, transcribers, teachers, and families as they make the transition to UEB.
To receive a free braille copy of “The UEB Reader,” contact Kim Charlson at with your name and address for mailing purposes. Requests for “The UEB Reader” may also be left on the UEB Information Line, (617) 972-7248; be sure to include your name, address, and phone number when leaving a message.

Perkins SMART Brailler® Now Available Through APH

The Perkins SMART Brailler® is now available for purchase through the American Printing House for the Blind (APH), making it easier than ever for educators to access state-of-the-art braille learning technology.

The Perkins SMART Brailler was developed in partnership with APH and introduced in 2012. The mechanical brailler incorporates high-tech elements. A built-in screen display and speaker provide instant visual and audio feedback, allowing students who are blind to work alongside sighted friends and classmates on in-class or homework assignments, and leisure activities. The APH version of the Perkins SMART Brailler also includes built-in supplementary exercises for APH’s early braille literacy program, “Building on Patterns: Kindergarten,” at no additional cost.

For more information, call APH at 1-800-223-1839 or visit

High Tech Swap Shop

For Sale:
Braille Note Apex with latest firmware. Still under warranty; only 9 months old. Recently checked and the braille display cleaned by HumanWare. Asking $4,200. PayPal or certified check preferred.  Contact Maureen Young at or call (347) 821-4841.
For Sale:
Braille Note mPOWER. Comes with case, Internet card and power cord. Asking $1,000. Intel Read with station; asking $300. Braille writer; asking $200. Contact Maryann at or  She is also looking for an iPad and a women’s braille watch.
For Sale:
Power Braille 40-cell refreshable braille display. Asking $400. Contact Philip at (703) 581-9587 or via e-mail,
For Sale:
Braille Focus 40 Blue. Comes with power cord, case and audio manual. Asking $800. Call Rev. Julius Love at (256) 492-7426.
For Sale:
Talking calculator. Asking $20. Talking GPS; comes with cables, earphone mike, external speaker and microphone which connects to the external speaker, charger and carrying case.  The GPS contains maps for all 50 states and three territories. Asking $400.  We will accept money orders in U.S. funds.  Contact Nancy Ryder at or (319) 217-0439.
For Sale:
Freedom Scientific Power Braille 40 refreshable braille display with power adapter and parallel cable. The unit will work with JAWS and Window-Eyes, and probably any other ones that support refreshable braille displays. In mint condition physically, cosmetically and working-wise. Asking $500, which includes shipping and handling. HP OfficeJet 6500 all-in-one printer, copier, fax and scanner. Includes four cartridges: black, yellow, magenta and cyan. Also includes power cable, manual and all software programs and drivers, two telephone cables/cords and Ethernet network cable. In mint physical, cosmetic and working condition. Asking $75 plus $25 shipping, handling and insurance. I accept PayPal as primary payment at or money orders and/or cashier’s checks. Contact Don Risavy by e-mail at or by phone, (850) 208-1923.
For Sale:
Brand-new acoustic guitar. Includes strap, guitar, picks, and case. Asking $189.95. Call Buddy Gray at (205) 799-1056.
I’m looking for a used iPhone 4S. Contact Tonya Smith at or 1632 Paree St., Newport, MI 48166.

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

Accessing Your ACB Braille and E-Forums

The ACB E-Forum may be accessed by e-mail, on the ACB web site, via download from the web page (in Word, plain text, or braille-ready file), or by phone at (231) 460-1061. To subscribe to the e-mail version, visit the ACB e-mail lists page at
The ACB Braille Forum is available by mail in braille, large print, half-speed four-track cassette tape, data CD, and via e-mail. It is also available to read or download from ACB’s web page, and by phone, (231) 460-1061.
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