The ACB Braille Forum, May 2015

Downloadable versions available here.
The ACB Braille Forum

Vol. LIII May 2015 No. 11
 
Published by
the American Council of the Blind

Be A Part of ACB

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 1-800-424-8666.

Contribute to Our Work

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 by the Combined Federal Campaign, use this number: 11155.

Check in with ACB

For the latest in legislative and governmental news, call the “Washington Connection” 24/7 at 1-800-424-8666, or read it online.
 
Listen to ACB Reports by downloading the MP3 file from www.acb.org, or call (231) 460-1061 and choose option 3. Tune in to ACB Radio at www.acbradio.org or by calling (231) 460-1047.
 
Learn more about us at www.acb.org. Follow us on Twitter at @acbnational, or like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/AmericanCounciloftheBlindOfficial.
 
© 2015 American Council of the Blind
Melanie Brunson, Executive Director
Sharon Lovering, Editor
2200 Wilson Blvd., Suite 650, Arlington, VA 22201

Are You Moving? Do You Want to Change Your Subscription?

Contact Sharon Lovering in the ACB national office, 1-800-424-8666, or via e-mail, slovering@acb.org. Give her the information, and she'll take care of the changes for you.
 
ACB Radio brings old-time radio drama to you 24/7 at www.acbradio.org/trove.
 
The ACB Radio Café features the work of blind artists 24/7 at www.acbradio.org/café.

The ACB Braille Forum, May 2015 Downloads

Acknowledgement

It is with tremendous gratitude and appreciation that the American Council of the Blind recognizes Ross and Lexi Pangere for their generous gift that covered the cost of producing this issue of “The ACB Braille Forum.”

President’s Message: Riding the Rails, by Kim Charlson

Recently, I had an opportunity to do something that I haven’t done for almost 20 years – ride Amtrak. This seemed so odd to me because I live outside Boston, the city with the nation’s second largest train station. Most of my travels are usually by air or locally with public transportation or taxi. So it was refreshing to be reintroduced to what Amtrak has to offer.
 
I traveled to New York City to speak on behalf of ACB at the Baruch College Computer Center for Visually Impaired People 8th Annual Conference on Visual Impairment and Employment, Policy and Practice. The conference was well attended, with over 300 participants, and had an outstanding program with excellent and informative speakers. I discussed ACB’s work in the area of structured negotiation settlements with pharmaceutical chains with regard to accessible prescription drug label information. I was able to share much information about ACB’s work with Walmart, CVS Health and Walgreens.
 
Traveling by train was a different experience for me. The train was on time, and the assistance I received from station redcaps in handling my luggage and getting to the correct track and train was extremely helpful. My seat was roomy, and the train had wireless for those of us who like to stay connected, as well as power jacks right at my seat. The club car was nearby as well for those who needed refreshments during a trip.
 
In preparing for my trip, I did some research and learned quite a bit about Amtrak’s offerings. Amtrak offers a 15% rail fare discount to adult passengers with a disability and up to one traveling companion. You need to provide some kind of documentation of your disability at the ticket counter or when boarding the train. I wasn’t asked to show anything specific, but I do travel with a Seeing Eye dog, so that was probably sufficient. Acceptable documentation includes: transit system ID card for persons with a disability; letter from a physician; Veterans Administration ID; or disabled/accessible parking placard issued by a state Department of Motor Vehicles (photocopy is acceptable).
 
Amtrak makes it easy to purchase tickets for passengers with a disability by offering several booking options:

  • Online: Reservations for one-way and round-trip train travel can be made on www.Amtrak.com for passengers who are blind or have low vision and up to one adult companion.
  • By telephone: Call 1-800-USA-RAIL (1-800-872-7245). Agents are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • At an Amtrak ticket counter: Ticket agents at staffed stations are available to sell tickets during regular ticket office hours.

ACB has a representative on the 24-member Amtrak Customer Advisory Committee. Berl Colley, ACB board member from Lacey, Wash., has served on this group and its subcommittee for people with disabilities and seniors for several years. Berl will continue to represent ACB until his term expires in September 2016. If you, or someone you know, is interested in rail travel, has some experience in advocacy in this area, and would like to be considered to represent ACB in the future, please let me know.
 
If you haven’t given Amtrak a try, I strongly recommend you step out and try riding the rails. You won’t be sorry!

ACB Sues Four D.C. Cab Companies for Discrimination Against People Who Use Guide Dogs, by Melanie Brunson

Two years ago, ACB’s director of external relations and policy, Eric Bridges, and I participated in an undercover investigation by a local television station into the practices of taxi drivers in Washington, D.C.  During this investigation, a significant number of taxi drivers were caught on video passing by people who were accompanied by guide dogs and stopping for a sighted passenger standing a short distance down the street.  During the intervening months, ACB has tried to work with local officials and cab companies to address the concerns raised by this video footage. However, those efforts have not been successful. 
 
As a result, both Eric Bridges, as an individual who was repeatedly denied transportation by drivers from four different cab companies, and ACB, on behalf of its members who are guide dog users, have decided to sue the four cab companies in question.  Suit was filed in the D.C. Superior Court on March 16, 2015.  On the same day, a press release was circulated detailing the circumstances that led to this action, and outlining the violations of both federal and District of Columbia law that are alleged in the complaint.  The release is below.

Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, American Council of the Blind and Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP File Lawsuit Against D.C. Taxicab Companies for Refusing to Pick Up Blind Passengers with Service Animals

 
Contact:
Matthew Handley, Director of Litigation, Washington Lawyers’ Committee, matthew_handley@washlaw.org; (202) 319-1000
Melanie Brunson, Executive Director, American Council of the Blind, mbrunson@acb.org; (202) 467-5081
Matthew MacLean, Partner, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP, matthew.maclean@pillsburylaw.com; (202) 663-8183
 
WASHINGTON (March 16, 2015) – The Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs and Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, LLP announced today that they have filed a lawsuit on behalf of Eric Bridges and the American Council of the Blind (ACB) against four taxicab companies in the District of Columbia for discriminatory practices against visually impaired individuals accompanied by service animals.
 
The complaint, filed in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, alleges that Yellow Cab of D.C., Grand Cab, Elite Cab, and Pleasant Taxi all engaged in discriminatory practices when their drivers failed to pick up Eric Bridges, an ACB employee and member, who was hailing a cab with his service dog, General.  This discriminatory treatment is all too common for blind and low-vision passengers who use service animals. As soon as taxi drivers see the service animal, they frequently drive by or refuse to pick up the passenger outright.
 
Matthew Handley, Director of Litigation at the Washington Lawyers’ Committee, commented, “The incidents alleged in the complaint are just a few examples of the systemic discrimination that blind individuals with service animals face on a daily basis. Like anyone else, the blind depend on taxis and public transportation to get to work, meetings, and other daily activities.  Equal access to public transportation and transportation services is a fundamental right under the D.C. Human Rights Act and Americans with Disabilities Act. The cab company defendants have all contributed to this systemic discrimination and illegal activity by engaging in, and allowing their drivers to engage in, a pattern and practice of discrimination. This is not acceptable and will not be tolerated.”
 
Said plaintiff Eric Bridges, director of external relations and policy at the American Council of the Blind: “I often use taxis for business and personal travel. It is upsetting to have to stand outside on a cold, hot, or wet day and wait 40 minutes for a cab to stop for you simply because they don’t like your professionally trained dog, which is a mobility aid for the blind. Furthermore, not being able to see who is deliberately passing you by and report the incident because you can’t see the cab number or driver is frustrating. I am so glad that the filming done by WUSA9 has brought this issue into the public eye.”
 
Added ACB executive director Melanie Brunson, “The American Council of the Blind is glad to be a part of this lawsuit on behalf of the blind in the District. People come to D.C. from all over the country to attend conferences, advocate on the Hill, and as tourists. D.C. should be the gold standard for equal treatment and opportunity, including access to transportation services for the blind.”
 
In 2010, the Equal Rights Center (ERC), a national non-profit civil rights organization in D.C., completed a study of taxicab hauling practices for blind individuals entitled, The Equal Rights Center, “No Dogs Allowed: Discrimination by D.C. Taxicabs against People who use Service Dogs” (2010) (www.equalrightscenter.org/site/DocServer/Taxicab_Report.pdf?docID=242). The ERC report concluded that there is a 50% rate of refusal of service for blind individuals with service dogs in D.C. The ERC report further concluded that this discriminatory conduct requires a three-pronged response: periodic testing to ensure compliance by drivers, training of drivers and certifications that they will comply with the law, and enforcement of penalties against drivers and their taxicab companies for violations.
 
Taxicab companies are prohibited under federal and state law from discriminating on the basis of a disability such as blindness. Drivers are explicitly prohibited from refusing to pick up passengers with service animals. The complaint is based on only four incidents caught on camera by WUSA Channel 9 in a report on discrimination by taxicabs in the District of Columbia. The drivers at issue were videotaped passing Mr. Bridges and his service animal and stopping for an adjacent passenger who was sighted and did not have a dog accompanying him. The blatant discrimination seen on these videos is particularly shocking because blind individuals cannot see it themselves, nor can they identify the drivers or cabs that are passing them by.
 
Among other remedies, the lawsuit seeks to establish an annual random testing protocol for taxicabs in the District of Columbia. It cites recent operations run by the D.C. Taxicab Commission, the Anonymous Riders Program, which revealed systemic discrimination against blind individuals with service animals in the District.
 
Pillsbury became involved in the case through the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs. The committee became aware of the case when Mr. Bridges contacted the committee after initially filing administrative complaints with the D.C. Office of Human Rights.
 
Copies of the complaint are available online at www.washlaw.org

About the Washington Lawyers’ Committee:

The Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs has represented both individuals and groups seeking to vindicate their civil rights for over 45 years. It has handled over 5,000 civil rights cases in employment, housing, public accommodations, and other aspects of urban life. It represents people with claims of discrimination based on race, gender, national origin, disability, age, religion, and sexual orientation. Leveraging its own broad expertise in discrimination litigation with the resources of Washington, D.C.’s private bar, the committee’s litigation efforts have become nationally known for landmark court victories, record judgments, and precedent-setting consent decrees. Its capacity to mobilize the private bar has made it possible for the committee to provide its clients with more than 50,000 hours of quality legal representation every year. For more information, visit www.washlaw.org; write to: Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs, 11 Dupont Circle, NW, Suite 400, Washington, DC 20036; phone (202) 319-1000; or fax (202) 319-1010.

About American Council of the Blind:

The American Council of the Blind is the largest consumer-based organization of blind and visually impaired Americans advocating for the rights of blind Americans. Comprised of more than 70 affiliates across the United States, the organization is dedicated to making it possible for blind and visually impaired Americans to participate fully in all aspects of American society. For more information, visit www.acb.org; write to American Council of the Blind, 2200 Wilson Blvd., Suite 650, Arlington, VA 22201; phone (202) 467-5081; or fax (703) 465-5085.

About Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, LLP:

Pillsbury is a full-service law firm with an industry focus on energy and natural resources, financial services including financial institutions, real estate and construction, and technology. Based in the world’s major financial, technology and energy centers, Pillsbury counsels clients on global business, regulatory and litigation matters. We work in multidisciplinary teams that allow us to understand our clients’ objectives, anticipate trends and bring a 360-degree perspective to complex business and legal issues — helping clients to take greater advantage of new opportunities, meet and exceed their objectives and better mitigate risk. This collaborative work style helps produce the results our clients seek.

Convention Week Sneak Preview, by Janet Dickelman

Are you anxious to learn what will be going on during the 54th conference and convention? Do you want advance information to plan your week of seminars, programs and meetings? Read on for a snapshot of what you have to look forward to in Dallas! It all begins on Friday, July 3rd; the fun will last through Saturday, July 11th.
 
Pre-registration will open on May 22nd and will run through June 25th. You can find additional registration details in the April issue.
 
Convention week is packed with outstanding workshops, seminars, exhibits, and programs. Whether you are a teacher or rehabilitation counselor; if you are looking for a new job; if you use technology; if you can use new tips and ideas to improve your professional or everyday life, the 2015 ACB conference and convention is where you want to be.
 
Begin planning your week with ACB. Below is an overview of the week's schedule. This is just an overview. There will be much, much more to come. Watch for convention previews on e-mail lists and ACB Radio.
 
To save space, most groups are mentioned only on their first day of programming. ACB affiliates and many committees hold events throughout the convention. ACB committees not mentioned in this list have program information that is not yet available.

Friday, July 3

  • ACB tours to AT&T Stadium and Mesquite Rodeo

Saturday, July 4

  • ACB pre-convention board meeting 
  • Tech user groups and product spotlights (through Wednesday)
  • Exhibits (open through Wednesday)
  • City bus tour
  • Zero Gravity thrill-seekers tour
  • Tour to the Fort Worth Stockyards
  • Welcome to Dallas Party (Sponsored by the Dallas host committee)
  • ACB Students’ welcome party

Sunday, July 5

  • ACB Brenda Dillon Memorial Walk 
  • Programming begins for teachers, attorneys, blind vendors, information technology specialists, guide dog users and diabetics.
  • ACB board of publications meeting
  • Scholarship winners’ luncheon
  • Sports fanatics’ luncheon
  • Keys to the convention seminar
  • Mixers for government employees (ACBGE), people with low vision (CCLVI), Friends-in-Art (FIA), and BPI (Blind LGBT Pride)
  • City bus tours and a visit to Old Red Museum and Heritage Village
  • Sunday evening: ACB's opening keynote general session begins at 7 p.m.

Monday, July 6

  • Morning general sessions begin and run through Thursday and all day Friday.
  • Independent Visually Impaired Entrepreneurs (IVIE) breakfast and meeting
  • Multicultural affairs luncheon and program
  • Special meetings and activities for library users, Alliance on Aging and Vision Loss, women's concerns, rehab task force, sight and sound impaired committee, international relations
  • ACB Recreation Zone (features healthy and fun options including yogalates and water aerobics)  
  • Afternoon tours (different venues every day through Thursday) 

Tuesday, July 7

  • Special programming for braille users and supporters of braille, and sessions for consumers of audio description.

Wednesday, July 8

  • Legislative seminar (conducted by Eric Bridges, director of external relations and policy)
  • Seminar on navigating Social Security (sponsored by NELDS and the advocacy committee)

Thursday, July 9

  • ACB membership seminar and board of publications workshop 
  • Affiliate presidents' meeting 

Friday, July 10

  • ACB all-day business session

Saturday, July 11

  • Final ACB tours: South Fork Ranch and Riding Unlimited for horseback riding, hayrides and cookout

Evening Activities

Monday

  • ACB Families Bingo
  • CCLVI game night
  • RSVA comic and karaoke
  • FIA prose and poetry reading

Tuesday

  • FIA Performing Arts Showcase
  • Texas Rangers baseball gam

Wednesday

  • ACB auction
  • BPI movie night: “The Imitation Game”

Thursday

  • ACB movie night: audio-described “Birdman”

Friday

  • Life members’ reception
  • ACB banquet

Kids’ Explorers Club

Kids’ Explorers Club will open Sunday evening, July 5th. Activities will run daily from 7 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. Monday through Friday, culminating with a final party Friday evening during the ACB banquet.

Assistance at the Airport

New this year! Are you flying to Dallas? Would you like assistance at the airport? Since there are two airports in Dallas, DFW and Love Field, to make sure that either airport personnel or ACB volunteers are available to assist convention attendees from the gate to baggage and ground transportation, we are asking you to provide the following information: your name, cell phone number, arrival airport, arrival date, airline, flight number and arrival time, departure airport, departure date, airline, flight number, and departure time. Please e-mail this information to Margarine Beaman at oleo50@hotmail.com. In the subject of the e-mail, please put “airline information for ACB convention.” If you do not have e-mail, you may call Margarine at (512) 921-1625. Please provide this information to Margarine prior to June 15th if possible.

Ordering Dog Food

Once again this year, Tim and Maria Stone of Scoop Masters will be handling the dog relief areas at the ACB conference and convention.
 
Don’t want to tote a huge bag of dog food through the airport?  Don’t worry! You can pre-order your dog food through Scoop Masters. Food will be delivered directly to your hotel room beginning July 2nd. Scoop Masters’ web site has a list of the most popular brands. If your dog's food is not shown on the list, don't worry; Tim will try to obtain it for you. Please make any special requests prior to June 15th. All other orders should be to Tim by Wednesday, June 24th.  Visit Tim online at http://premiumpetfood.com/acb, or call him at 1-800-787-7667. When placing your order, make sure to give Scoop Masters your cell phone number so they can contact you in Dallas.

Stay Connected

Once again this year the convention announce list will be filled with information about the convention. Subscribe to the list today by sending a blank e-mail to acbconvention-subscribe@acblists.org. If you've been on the list in the past, you don’t need to subscribe again. Don't have e-mail? No problem! Convention updates will also be featured on ACB Radio and by telephone through Audio Now at (231) 460-1047.

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 make sure to mention you are attending the ACB convention in order to obtain our room rate. To make reservations online, visit www.acb.org and follow the 2015 convention link.

Convention Contacts

  • 2015 exhibit information: Michael Smitherman, (601) 331-7740, amduo@bellsouth.net
  • 2015 advertising and sponsorships: Margarine Beaman, (512) 921-1625, oleo50@hotmail.com
  • For any other convention-related questions, contact Janet Dickelman, convention chair, at (651) 428-5059 or via e-mail, janet.dickelman@gmail.com.

Show Your Love for ACB and Get the Chance to Win up to $5,000!

Support “The ACB Braille Forum” and win $5,000, $1,000 or $500.  The RDC committee will be drawing three lucky winners at the conference/convention on Friday, July 10 at the banquet in Dallas.  Tickets can be purchased through your convention registration or by calling the ACB Minnesota office at (612) 332-3242.  Tickets will be also be sold throughout the convention by committee volunteers.  This is a wonderful opportunity to show your support for “The ACB Braille Forum.”  Each entry can be shared by up to five people.  Tickets can also be purchased by local chapters, affiliates, friends and family members.  Let’s show our love for ACB and buy, buy, buy!

Got an Amendment for the ACB Constitution and Bylaws? A Few Reminders, by John Huffman

This note is to remind ACB leaders and members of the procedures for proposing amendments to the organization’s constitution and bylaws.
 
Proposed amendments must be presented in writing to the constitution and bylaws committee before the end of the first day following the day of the roll call session of the conference and convention.  In 2015 this deadline is midnight (24:00) Central time, Monday, July 6.  Amendments received after that time will not be considered.  Amendments, whenever possible, shall be submitted electronically in ASCII text format.
 
Proposed amendments may be sent to me at j73.huffman@comcast.net.  Questions concerning this message may be sent to the same e-mail address or via telephone at (317) 228-0496.
 
Additional information about the amendment process or procedures of the constitution and bylaws committee can be found in Article XI of the ACB constitution and in Bylaw 6, Section D.  The current constitution and bylaws can be read by visiting the “About Us” section at www.acb.org.  We encourage anyone interested in proposing amendments to review the current constitution and bylaws before doing so.
 
— John Huffman

Join the Stampede at the ACB Brenda Dillon Memorial Walk, by Donna Brown

The 7th annual ACB Brenda Dillon Memorial Walk will be held on Sunday, July 5, at 7 a.m. during the ACB conference and convention in Dallas, Tex. This year’s walk will be held in the hotel at the Downtown Sheraton.  The walk will start in a hotel conference room, continue across a scenic second-floor skywalk to the Plaza of Americas food court and return to the hotel.
 
Last year’s walk had 22 teams and raised over $37,000 for ACB and its affiliates.  Our goal this year is to have 30 teams and raise over $40,000. Affiliate teams can split up to 50 percent of their registration fees and donation pledges with their state and special-interest affiliates.  The registration fee is $25.  Each on-site walker will receive an official walk hat, drinks and snacks, and top participant plaques in various categories.
 
We are excited to announce a new web site for the walk. The URL is http://acb.donorpages.com/AcbMemorialWalk2015/.  Each team will be able to create its own web page with photos and a real-time scoreboard.  You can contact walk chair Donna Brown at (304) 822-4679 or Nancy Becker in the Minnesota office at (612) 322-3242.
 
This is a wonderful opportunity to meet new friends in a relaxed environment inside the hotel.  Lasso your affiliate teammates and head to the ACB Brenda Dillon Memorial Walk Stampede!
 
— Donna Brown

An Update on Giving Societies, by Tom Tobin

In 2014, to better honor and recognize our generous donors, ACB created four new Annual Giving Societies.  Levels are based on the amount of annual contributions to ACB.
 
The Annual Giving Societies include:

  • Leader’s Society, for those who donate between $250 and $999 annually;
  • Advocate’s Society, for those who donate between $1,000 and $2,499 annually;
  • Champion’s Society, for those who donate between $2,500 and $4,999 annually; and
  • President’s Society, for those who donate $5,000 or more annually.

In 2014, six donors achieved the President’s Society with total contributions of $87,566. Seven donors became part of the Champion’s Society with total contributions of $20,001. Twenty-two donors made it to the Advocate’s Society with total contributions of $25,825, and 158 donors achieved the Leader’s Society with total contributions of $68,505.  This totals 193 individuals or couples who gave a total of $201,897.
 
For more information about ACB’s Annual Giving Societies, or to make a gift to ACB and become a member of one of these prestigious societies, please contact Tom Tobin, director of development, at ttobin@acb.org, or call the Minnesota office at 1-800-866-3242.  We thank you in advance for your support of this initiative!
 
— Tom Tobin

ACB Monthly Monetary Support Program (MMS) Funds Many Useful Services, by George Holliday

The ACB Monthly Monetary Support Program (MMS) operates throughout the year, with the big drive held during the annual conference and convention. This program helps fund many of the services ACB provides to its members and other blind folks throughout the nation and beyond.
 
Last year at the annual conference and convention in Las Vegas, Nev., the MMS committee staffed a table adjacent to the Mini Mall in the exhibit hall. During this week-long event, numerous members and friends visited the table and signed on as participants of the program.  Some of these contributors were new to the MMS program, while others were current contributors increasing their monthly donations to better assist ACB throughout the year.
 
In Dallas, Tex., members of the MMS committee will once again be waiting to talk with you about the program.  This year, if you choose to increase your monthly donation by $5, or start a monthly donation of $10, your form will be filled out using hard copy or via computer and printed for your signature at the table. Also, plans are being finalized to take your credit card information at the time of signature.  Additionally, we have been busy planning some interesting giveaways for participating members to the MMS program.  The list of giveaways are as follows: for every $5 increment of your start-up ($10 or more) or increase of your existing contribution, your name will be entered into a daily drawing of assorted gift cards on Monday, July 6, through Friday, July 10. There will be two drawings each morning at the general session.  So, the earlier you begin contributing, the better your chances are to win a daily drawing.  Also, for every new contributor or increase of $10 or more, you will receive a $5 gift certificate to be used exclusively at the Mini Mall.
 
Finally, everyone participating in the MMS program from the end of the 2014 convention in Las Vegas through the end of the 2015 convention in Dallas will have their name entered into the grand prize drawing for a new HumanWare Victor Reader Stream.
 
Just remember, all donations to the MMS program are tax-deductible and are automatically deducted from a checking account or charge card. A minimum of $10 per month is required to become a member of the MMS program. Forms can be obtained online, by calling the ACB office, or by visiting the MMS table near the exhibit hall in Dallas.
 
Affiliates can get involved and receive a portion of a donation, if the signee designates to have some portion, no more than half, donated to the affiliate. Affiliate presidents can assist ACB and your individual members to contribute by talking about the program.
 
Remember, while in Dallas, don’t forget to stop by the MMS table in the exhibit hall and say hello. We look forward to meeting new members and renewing old friendships at the convention in the lines at the MMS table!

Seeing Can Be Deceiving, by Ken Stewart

A newspaper item reporting that Richard Bernstein was elected to the highest court in Michigan noted that he is the first totally blind judge in the U.S.  But many of us who knew Richard Casey from his participation in Ski For Light events remembered that he was appointed by the President to the federal court many years ago and became the first totally blind federal court judge.
 
I was reminded of a conversation that Dick and I had after his appointment while lunching at a restaurant near the federal court building in lower Manhattan.  I shared with him an experience I had just had while presiding as an Impartial Hearing Officer.  At the start of the second day of the hearing, the attorney for one of the parties asked me to recuse myself because my blindness, which prevented observation of facial clues, was hindering my ability to detect when a witness was testifying less than completely honestly.  I considered the request, then declined to do so, concluding that I might actually be better at detecting a conniving witness than an I.H.O. who is depending on staged visual clues like avoidance of eye contact and other facial gestures.  I was likely more aware of non-visual nervousness clues like the sound of shifting shoes and voice characteristics, not noted by a sighted I.H.O.!
 
Dick's reaction was immediate and totally supportive. He recounted his experience undergoing examination by a panel of sitting federal justices during his appointment process, when one of the examiners asked him if he thought his blindness might be a limitation on his judicial effectiveness.  Dick responded that his blindness actually could be helpful.  He would not be improperly influenced by irrelevancies like a witness’ race or quality of attire. One of the examining panel erupted with enthusiastic agreement.  That judge proceeded to recount his experience during a trial with a gorgeous woman in gorgeous attire on the stand.  He confessed, “When she was finished testifying, I had no recollection of anything she said!”

Affiliate News

Come One, Come All to ACBDA in Texas!

Now is the time to get your plans made for the conference and convention in July in Dallas, Tex. The diabetes seminar is going to be great this year. Have you ever wondered what those numbers really mean when you check your blood sugars? Well, come and find out on Sunday, July 5th at 1:15 p.m.
 
We are having our luncheon on Wednesday, July 8th; it will be followed by our general meeting. If you have ideas for us, come and let us know. Remember, this is your affiliate, not just the board’s.  We want input from everybody!
 
Our mixer will have a few new twists to grab your interest. Come join us at 9 p.m. on Thursday, July 9th!
 
Watch for information in the pre-registration and be sure to sign up for these activities. More details will be in the next Diabetics in Action newsletter, too.
 
ACBDA will also be at the marketplace this year, with lots of new items for sale. Be sure to stop by, say hello, and check out the new items.
 
Hope to see many of you in Dallas this summer!

CCLVI: Come See What We're Up To!

The finishing touches are going on the 2015 CCLVI convention program.  CCLVI's convention committee, consisting of Jim Jirak as chair, and committee members Bianca Knight, Dan Smith, and Lindsey Tilden, has worked tirelessly to ensure the convention program is memorable for all of the right reasons.
 
CCLVI programming is slated to run from July 4-8.  The CCLVI board of directors will meet Saturday, July 4.  On Sunday, July 5, programming begins at 9 a.m. with introductions, the reading of any proposed constitutional amendments and resolutions, followed by the popular Low Vision Showcase affording vendors the opportunity to display the latest in low-vision technology.  That afternoon from 4 to 6 is our mixer; attendees will have the opportunity to meet our scholarship winners.
 
Monday, July 6 from 1:15 p.m. to 2:30 p.m., CCLVI will partner with ACB's Rehab Task Force and discuss the pros and cons of structured discovery and conventional methodology in the rehabilitative process.  Certified O & M instructor Michael Byington and Mark Bulger plan an informative, lively and interactive discussion on understanding both methodologies and how to advocate for effective rehabilitative service delivery back home.
 
From 2:45 p.m. to 4 p.m., we will partner with ACB Next Generation.  This partnership will feature a panel of those who use apps on a regular basis; they will present not only low-vision–friendly apps, but also apps of interest. 
 
That evening, you’ll have the chance to unwind and have some fun from 8 to 11 p.m. at the always popular game night.  Relive the game shows of the past as we resurrect Peter Marshall and Gene Rayburn by way of Michael Byington and play Hollywood Squares and Match Game.  The price of admission includes two beverages of your choice from the cash bar.
 
CCLVI’s business meeting will be held Tuesday, July 7 from 1:15 to 4 p.m.
 
On Wednesday, July 8 at 1:15 p.m., we’ll hear from a representative from Comcast. He or she will talk about low-vision–friendly accessibility features contained within the X1 platform.  X1 allows Comcast subscribers to control their TVs right from their phones using voice commands to change channels, search for shows, and get recommendations.  Then from 2:45 to 4 p.m., we plan to hear from Leandre Jo, general manager of Uber, about how Uber can help visually impaired non-drivers.
 
CCLVI encourages you to watch ACB’s pre-registration information for more details.  Hope to see many of you in Dallas!

ACB-Ohio Offers Scholarships

The American Council of the Blind of Ohio has several scholarships available.  This year we are adding a new scholarship specifically for incoming college freshmen.  Called the Friends of Freshman Scholarship, it will be a $1,000 scholarship offered to an incoming college freshman in any field of study. As long as you are legally blind and an incoming freshman, you qualify for this scholarship!
 
The $2,000 Max Edelman Scholarship and the $2,000 David Newmeyer Scholarship are both offered to legally blind undergraduate students in any field of study.  Anybody with a visual impairment can apply, and it doesn't matter whether you want to be a business owner, a doctor, or a preschool teacher.
 
Don't worry, we have scholarships for graduate students as well.  In fact, we have two of them.  The $2,500 Joann Fischer Scholarship is offered to a legally blind graduate student in any field of study. Also at $2,500, the Linwood Walker Scholarship will be awarded to a legally blind graduate student in a service-related field.  This includes teaching, health, and public administration.
 
For those of you going into a blindness-related field such as special education, rehabilitation, teaching or counseling, orientation and mobility, or concentrating in programs serving people who are blind or visually impaired, the $2,000 Nola Webb-McKinney Scholarship is for you.
 
To apply for these scholarships and get qualification information, go to www.acbohio.org/convention/scholarships/requirements.html. You may also request information by calling the ACBO office at (614) 221-6688. Applications are due Aug. 1.

D.C. Council Enters Internet Age

The D.C. Council of the Blind has entered the Internet age with a web site of its own, www.dccounciloftheblind.org/.  It features DCCB’s history, information about upcoming meetings, referrals to local blindness-related agencies, transportation and mobility information, low-vision resources, opportunities for recreation and entertainment (such as rowing with the Out of Sight Dragons or bowling with various blind bowling leagues), and much more.

Passings

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)
Occupation
Date of death (day if known, month, year)
Age
ACB affiliation (local/state/special-interest affiliates or national committees)
 
Deaths that occurred more than six months ago cannot be reported in this column.
 

Marvin E. Price

May 13, 1930-March 2015
 
Marvin E. Price, age 84, passed away the week of March 7th.   He was born May 13, 1930 in Terre Haute, Ind.  He graduated from Indiana State University.  Marvin began his life’s work as a rehabilitation counselor at the state agency working with the blind and visually impaired.  He retired after approximately 35 years of service.
 
Marvin was a member of the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired.  He was active for many years in the American Council of the Blind on the local, state and national levels.  While attending national conventions, Marvin and Pat spent many hours helping in the communication center, putting the newspaper together for the next day, and other braille documents, too. He and Pat would arrive before the start of the opening general session and stay until just before time for roll call during Pat’s term as secretary, sorting, collating and stapling papers.
 
Marvin never wore a watch. He said he couldn’t wear one. When pressed as to why, he admitted that when he wore one, after a while it demagnetized and wouldn’t work anymore.
 
Kay Hervey remembers how helpful and kind he was to her when she began working with the blind and visually impaired.  She said he was always very positive, which had a very positive influence on those around him.  His kindness and strong character helped him to be successful in working with those trying to adjust to blindness and/or visual impairment.  Kay said he was a man of kindness, love and integrity.  During his time at work, Marvin also helped many other staff members learn the special needs of those who had recently lost vision. 
 
Marvin was preceded in death by his wife, Pat, of almost 50 years.  He is survived by his brother, Robert; his sister-in-law; and some cousins.

Here and There, edited by Sharon Strzalkowski

The announcement of products and services in this column does not represent an endorsement by the American Council of the Blind, its officers, or staff. Listings are free of charge for the benefit of our readers. "The ACB Braille Forum" cannot be held responsible for the reliability of the products and services mentioned. To submit items for this column, send a message to slovering@acb.org, or phone the national office at 1-800-424-8666, and leave a message in Sharon Lovering's mailbox. Information must be received at least two months ahead of publication date.

DOJ Unveils New Online ADA Complaint Form

The Department of Justice now has available an online form for individuals wishing to file ADA complaints. It can be filled out and submitted directly from the web site. Filers will also immediately receive a reference number that can be used whenever contacting the Department about that complaint. To view the form, visit www.ada.gov. Effective March 15, 2015, e-mail complaints will no longer be accepted by the Department. However, complaints will still be accepted by U.S. mail. Contact the Department's ADA Information Line at 1-800-514-0301 (voice) or 1-800-514-0383 (TTY) to receive a paper complaint form by mail.

Visionary Award Winner

The Computer Center for Visually Impaired People (CCVIP) at Baruch College will present Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer with the 2015 CCVIP Matthew P. Sapolin Visionary Award at the 8th Annual Employment and Visual Impairment Conference on Policy & Practice: Making It Happen. Named after the late commissioner for Bloomberg’s office for People with Disabilities, the award is intended to recognize and honor someone who has made an outstanding and long-lasting contribution to the advancement, well-being and full participation of people who are blind or visually impaired in all aspects of life in New York City. Brewer has been an advocate for pedestrian safety for people who are blind or visually impaired since 2007.

Still Waiting for the Migraine Book?

Are you still waiting for the little migraine book that Ojocion Ingram has talked with 21 of you about? You can download it for free from http://livinganyway.com/wp/the-little-big-headache-book/! It’s called “The Little Big Headache Book, A Fellow Sufferer’s Home Remedy Guide” by Ojocion Ingram. Get it while it’s free! The cover will be on Instagram.

New Books Available from NBP

“A House Is a House for Me” by Mary Ann Hoberman, for ages preschool and up, is now available from National Braille Press. It is in contracted braille, with a blank line between each line of braille. Please note that this book is transcribed in Unified English Braille (UEB). A cheat sheet with special/new UEB characters is included.
 
Where does everyone and everything live? In this rollicking book about houses, some are familiar like ant hills or dog kennels. And others are surprising, like corn husks and pea pods.
 
For more information about this book, visit www.nbp.org/ic/nbp/BC1503-HOUSE.html, or call 1-800-548-7323.
 
Over in the adult section, there’s “Getting Started with the iPhone and iOS 8 Step-by-Step Instructions for Blind Users” by Anna Dresner. It’s available in braille, eBraille (BRF), Word, ASCII text, ePub, or DAISY formats. If you like step-by-step tutorials, you'll appreciate the detailed way in which you're guided through setting up your phone, loading and backing up music, contacts, etc., placing calls, entering text, using a Bluetooth keyboard and braille display, and more. If you prefer to look up the commands you need, you'll love the first appendix, which lists every gesture and button on the phone in an organized manner so you can find the one you want.
 
Other appendices include troubleshooting tips and a list of resources to help you learn more. Most of the book is relevant for iPod Touch users, and since the layout of many iPhone 6 Plus screens resembles that of corresponding iPad screens, iPad users should find this edition useful as well.
 
Want more information about this book? Visit www.nbp.org/ic/nbp/IPHONE-IOS8.html, or call the number above.

Cloud-Based Document Accessibility

Actuate Corporation-The BIRT Company™, Braille Works, and Venatôre recently announced a collaboration to deliver Cloud508, the industry’s first cloud-based document accessibility service for U.S. federal government agencies. The new Cloud508 service is designed to support Section 508 compliance, while reducing cost and complexity from traditional processes to assist people who are visually impaired.
 
The collaboration will integrate Actuate’s patented PDF Accessibility technology, taking high-volume documents and turning them into fully accessible, standards-compliant PDF format; Braille Works’ more than 20 years of accessibility expertise and design best practices; and Venatôre’s secure cloud infrastructure and engineering required by government agencies.
 
Together, this joint offering helps government agencies meet compliance by automating the conversion of some of the most important and broadly used documents such as tax, health and other notices and statements, into accessible PDF, braille, audio and large-print formats to assist and provide equal access to people with visual impairments.
 
Cloud508 is only available in the U.S.

WRBH Launches Web Site

WRBH 88.3 in New Orleans is the only full-time reading service on the FM dial in the U.S. and 1 of just 3 in the world, and now, it has its own information-packed web site! What’s the URL? It’s www.wrbh.org, and it makes information more accessible for the visually impaired and streams live broadcasts worldwide. The station’s more than 200 volunteers make 24 hours of programming, 365 days a year possible.
 
WRBH’s programming includes: “The Wall Street Journal,” “Newsweek,” “Time,” “The Onion,” weekly and monthly magazines, area publications, listings of local events, short stories, and both fiction and non-fiction books, including current bestsellers like “Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt” by Michael Lewis and “All the Light We Cannot See” by Anthony Doerr.
 
For the full broadcast schedule and information, visit the programming or news and event sections of www.wrbh.org.

Internet-Based TV Services and Apps

Like many blind people, David Goldfield grew up enjoying television along with sighted peers and watched/listened to TV programs on a daily basis, along with audio drama and the radio in general. With Internet-based TV, we are now able to enjoy many of today's TV shows not only on our TV but on our accessible devices, such as an iPhone, iPad, PC, Mac, etc. We are not limited to today's programs, either; we can also enjoy many of the classic shows we grew up with, such as “I Love Lucy,” “Lost in Space” and “Star Trek,” among many others.
 
This new freedom comes with various accessibility challenges, as some apps are more of a challenge to use than others. David has set up a mailing list for the purpose of discussing accessibility issues with Internet-based TV services. It won’t be discussing specific show; instead, it will facilitate discussion with questions, answers, tips and tricks for using your favorite Internet TV service with speech, braille or low-vision solutions. He would also like the list to facilitate some advocacy, such as contacting the developers of these services to alert them to accessibility issues or relevant bugs. To subscribe, send an e-mail message to blind-internet-tv-request@freelists.org. In the subject field of the message, type the word “subscribe” (without the quotes) and send the message.
 
For more information, visit www.davidgoldfield.info.

New Executive Director for Ramah

Howard Blas has been appointed director of the National Ramah Tikvah Network, in order to promote the growth of programming for campers with disabilities within the Ramah movement and beyond. Blas, who has served as the director of the Tikvah Program at Camp Ramah in New England for 14 years, is an award-winning disabilities educator who is widely recognized as a leading national expert and spokesperson on behalf of inclusion and Jewish education for young people with disabilities.
 
He will work closely with national Ramah staff including Orlee Krass, who currently coordinates staff training for the National Ramah Tikvah Network, focusing on helping camps expand their offerings in this area, the training of staff for Ramah and other Jewish camps, advocacy for the field, and strengthening the networking among parents, professional staff, summer staff, and donors.

Williams Joins Office of Public Engagement

Taryn Mackenzie Williams has joined the White House Office of Public Engagement as an associate director, where she will be our liaison to the disability community. Taryn joins OPE from the U.S. Department of Labor, where she served as a senior policy advisor with the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP). Taryn, who lives with ulcerative colitis and arthritis, is a passionate supporter of the rights of individuals with disabilities and chronic health conditions.  She can be reached at disability@who.eop.gov.

‘And That’s How I See It’

“And That’s How I See It,” selected commentaries by Larry P. Johnson, is now available in booklet format or as a 2-CD audio set. It includes 31 provocative, humorous and insightful commentaries from his popular newspaper column, including:  a hope for a better tomorrow, disability does not mean inability, and turning 80 has its privileges. Contact Larry Johnson, 10863 Lake Path Dr., San Antonio, TX 78217. Include your e-mail address so that he can acknowledge receipt of your order.

Enchanted Hills Camp for the Blind

Do you know anyone who would like to experience the joy, magic and independence of Enchanted Hills Camp for the Blind?  Enchanted Hills Camp for the Blind in Napa, Calif. is one of the only programs of its kind dedicated to blind, visually impaired, deaf-blind and multi-disabled participants. Since 1950 Enchanted Hills has been a place for campers of all ages to make friends, try new things and have unparalleled opportunities to explore and create. We are proud to announce our sessions for 2015 including our new horse camp, STEM camp, music academy and more!
 
2015 camp sessions include the following:

  • Family Camp, for families with children 17 and under, with visually impaired children or parents, features three sessions. Session 1 runs June 11-14; session 2, July 9-12; and session 3, July 29-August 1.
  • Blind Babies Family Camp will be held June 19-21. It was created for families of visually impaired children from birth to age 6.
  • This year’s adult session will be held June 27-July 2. It is designed for active, independent adults. Activities include swimming, horseback riding and much more.
  • Camp for adults with special needs will be held July 3-8. It is designed to serve developmentally delayed and cognitively impaired campers age 21 and over.
  • Youth session, for children in grades 3 through 8, will be held July 13-19.
  • New this year is TouchSTEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). It will be held July 15-18, and will focus on science, technology, engineering and math for ages 11 to 15.
  • The teen session will be held July 20-26, for youth in 9th through 12th grades. Its activities are geared toward promoting leadership.
  • New this year is the Music Academy for blind and visually impaired musicians ages 14 to 25. It will be held Aug. 2-8.
  • Also new this year is horse camp, which will be held Aug. 2-8. It is for independent visually impaired novice riders 16 to 24 years of age, who are interested in the best ways to work with horses.
  • Last but not least is the deaf-blind session, Aug. 9-13. It is for adults 21 and over with dual sensory loss, with an emphasis on vocational training.

To apply or learn more, call (415) 694-7310 or visit www.enchantedhillscamp.org.

Vegan Starter Kit for the Blind

PETA recently released an HTML version of its popular, free vegan starter kit for screen-reading software.  The kit has all the text on one page so that users don't have to navigate away to other pages. The new version also uses code that makes it easier for the screen reader to read the page.
 
To check out to PETA's new vegan starter kit for the blind, visit www.peta.org/living/food/vegan-starter-kit-html/. To get a free copy of the kit for sighted people, visit www.peta.org/living/food/free-vegan-starter-kit/.

Unwritten Hope Blog

Unwritten Hope is a movement by a group of alternative thinkers calling people to see each other as partners in life, and to work together to rewrite our future as a global society.  The hub of this movement is our blog, planethope.tumblr.com. We are looking for those interested to write for us. Contact us at heroesofplanetearth@gmail.com.

Brailler Repair

Are your brailler keys sluggish or sticking? Does it need a tune-up? Bring your brailler back to life! The Selective Doctor, Inc. specializes in the repair of Perkins braillers. Send your brailler to The Selective Doctor, Inc., PO Box 571, Manchester, MD 21102 via U.S. mail. The company accepts free matter shipping. Be sure to insure your brailler; the company recommends you insure it for $400.  If you need more information, call the company at (410) 668-1143 or e-mail braillerrepair@yahoo.com.  Or you may check the web site, www.selectivedoctor.com.

High Tech Swap Shop

For Sale:

Braille Note mPower with qwerty keyboard, 32-cell refreshable braille display and Keysoft version 8.0. The unit has never been used; it’s still in its original shipping box with all manuals and accessories.  Asking $200 or best offer.  JAWS for Windows Professional version 16, still in its original box with all braille labels, including the serial number and registration numbers.  Asking $600 or best offer. If interested , contact Tony Sohl via e-mail, tonysohl@samobile.net.

Free to Good Home:

Webster’s Student Dictionary in excellent condition. 34 braille volumes. If interested, contact Maria Snow at (352) 688-8687.

Wanted:

I am looking for either an iPhone 4s or an iPhone 5. It must be a Verizon phone. Can pay $100. Contact Tonya Smith at (734) 430-1992, or write her at 1632 Paree St., Newport, MI 48166.

UEB, by Nancy Scott

We gave it no thought
til, suddenly, it was to be
adopted in a year.
Some acronym people decided.
Notices appeared in magazines.
In January 2016,
how we read and write would change.
 
There are reasons, of course —
easier for new users to learn
and simpler for computers to translate.
We can have a free book of new rules.
We will need it.
We read it and decide
we will not be able
to write this new code.
 
“Reduce” begins with “red”
and “communication” starts and ends differently.
“Comfortable” feels odd.
“To” and “by” are two letters connected to nothing.
Parentheses have “gh” and “ar” in them.
The decimal point better conforms to print.
 
It can be read, except
that we keep looking back at words
that have never been written this way.
“Table” can't have a number sign
and “fever” is now “ever” with an “f” in front of it.
We might say “really”
but writing it will take five cells.
 
We can see underlining and bolding
and what an em-dash actually is,
not to mention other dashes we never understood.
Capitals and plurals with apostrophes
will be punctuated more clearly.
E-mail addresses and websites
will be easier to read.
 
We laugh at the future.
We will love old books.
And twenty-five years from now,
the nine-year-olds will pick up a volume
transcribed in 2015 and complain,
“Oh no.
Old people braille.”
— Nancy Scott

ACB Officers, ACB Board and Board of Publications

ACB Officers

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

ACB Board of Directors

Berl Colley, Lacey, WA (final term, 2016)
Sara Conrad, Stevensville, MI (1st term, 2016)
Katie Frederick, Columbus, OH (1st term, 2018)
Michael Garrett, Missouri City, TX (final term, 2016)
George Holliday, Philadelphia, PA (final term, 2018)
John McCann, Falls Church, VA (1st term, 2016)
Allan Peterson, Horace, ND (final term, 2018)
Patrick Sheehan, Silver Spring, MD (1st term, 2018)
Dan Spoone, Orlando, FL (1st term, 2016)
David Trott, Talladega, AL (1st term, 2018)
Ex Officio: Denise Colley, Lacey, WA

ACB Board of Publications

Denise Colley, Chairman, Lacey, WA (1st term, 2015)
Ron Brooks, Phoenix, AZ (1st term, 2015)
Tom Mitchell, Salt Lake City, UT (1st term, 2016)
Doug Powell, Falls Church, VA (1st term, 2016)
Judy Wilkinson, San Leandro, CA (1st term, 2016)
Ex Officios: Nolan Crabb, Hilliard, OH
Bob Hachey, Waltham, MA
Berl Colley, Lacey, WA

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 www.acb.org.
 
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.
 
Subscribe to the podcast versions from your 2nd generation Victor Reader Stream or from www.acb.org/bf/.