The ACB Braille Forum, July 2015

Downloadable versions available here.

The ACB Braille Forum
Vol. LIV July 2015 No. 1
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.
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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.
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© 2015 American Council of the Blind
Melanie Brunson, Executive Director
Sharon Lovering, Editor
2200 Wilson Blvd., Suite 650, Arlington, VA 22201

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The ACB Braille Forum, July 2015 Downloads

President’s Message: Go Team: ACB and Baseball, by Kim Charlson

It has been six years since Major League Baseball (MLB) and the American Council of the Blind announced their collaboration for expanded accessibility, along with attorneys Lainey Feingold and Linda Dardarian. The MLB web site,, specific team web sites, and MLB’s mobile apps now meet the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). MLB’s accessibility initiative started with advocacy by blind baseball fans who wanted access. I know many people who are blind who are avid baseball fans – even me – when I can root for my beloved Red Sox!
I have my own “At Bat” account from the App Store and it was pretty easy to set up. I can listen to the Red Sox broadcasts anytime on my iPhone, when I am traveling or away from my home stereo.
Initially, I thought that I would take an interest in the Red Sox because Brian liked them so much, and it would give us something to share. Well, I caught the bug, and now I’m a much more avid fan – telling Brian what time the game starts, or who has the better batting average.  
This has all come about for me because of advocacy with MLB – who is demonstrating an ongoing commitment to access by making sure that as they improve and upgrade their web site and the apps to access At Bat for radio or MLB TV, they are serious about making sure that they still work with assistive technology. 
At the Bay State Council of the Blind convention in 2014, I was able to have my picture taken with the World Series trophy. It was super fun, and the 2013 winning Red Sox season seems very far away nowadays … but I still persevere, as all of us do, who are baseball fans – or advocates.
I have the great honor of being the captain of the ACB team – the work we all do to make things better for others who are blind can’t be done by one or two people. It takes a dedicated team to make change happen. Whether you work on the local chapter, state or national level, there are always issues that need to be addressed and people who need our assistance.
Thanks to all of you who work hard to make things better for all people who are blind — I am very proud to have you all as part of the ACB team! Keep up the great work!

FCC Issues Rules to Improve Access to Emergency Information, by Melanie Brunson

One of the key provisions of the Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 (CVAA) which ACB was instrumental in crafting gave the Federal Communications Commission a mandate to improve access to emergency alerts that are broadcast in visual form only by television stations.  The CVAA provided that broadcasters be required to make such emergency information available in an audible format as well as the traditional crawl that is often scrolled across the viewer’s TV screen.  Advocates from ACB and other blindness organizations pushed for this requirement because the current practice of accompanying emergency alerts with only a tone as an indication that viewers who can’t see the “crawl” should go to another source for information about what it might contain is woefully inadequate.  The time required for viewers to find an alternate source of information might be better used to take required precautions.  Plus, technology already exists that can make emergency alert information available in an audible format at the same time that a broadcaster makes the information available visually, thus saving precious time – and lives.
Since the CVAA became law, the FCC has sought and received a great deal of public input regarding how best to implement these requirements, and on May 21, they issued their final rule.  This rule will require that any time an emergency alert is issued by a broadcaster in visual format, two things will happen in order to give people with visual impairments access to the same information.  First, the visual crawls will be preceded by three short tones. This is supposed to serve as an alert to let those who can’t see their screen know that they should activate their SAP channel.  The emergency information that is being displayed visually will then be broadcast audibly on the SAP channel.  Any foreign-language programming or audio description that was being broadcast over the SAP channel at the time will be interrupted to allow for the spoken word broadcast of the emergency information.
In addition, the rule issued by the FCC requires that equipment manufacturers take steps to provide easier access to the SAP channel for people with visual impairments. Specifically, manufacturers are urged to provide access to this channel through pressing a single button, instead of the menus that currently make use of this channel so difficult for many of us.
The requirement for improved access to emergency information applies not only to programs broadcast over televisions, but also to programs streamed over the Internet and received by consumers using tablets, smart phones, computers, and other portable devices.  If the stream includes a visual emergency alert, the information contained in that alert must be made available in a non-visual format.  These requirements will be phased in over the next few months.  We estimate that this phase in should be complete by the end of December 2015.
As we obtain more information about how this rule will be implemented by both broadcasters and equipment manufacturers, we will let you know.  In the meantime, if you have any questions about this rule, please feel free to contact the ACB Arlington office.

Staying Connected in Dallas, by Janet Dickelman

Many of you will be reading this article as you are packing for the Lone Star State. For those of you who are still thinking about attending the convention, it isn’t too late! Don’t miss out on the outstanding general sessions, informative seminars and programming, the fabulous tours and the excitement of the exhibit hall!  You can still book a room at the Sheraton, the home of the 54th annual conference and convention. Reservation details are shown at the end of this article.
Conference and convention dates are July 3rd through 11th. Read on for information for convention attendees and for those of you who will be staying connected from home.
For those of you who are still thinking about attending the convention, on-site registration is just $25. If you are in the Dallas area and plan to come for just one day, you can purchase a one-day pass for $5.

Staying in Touch from Home

For those of you who will be unable to attend this year, there are many ways to be a part of the excitement!

ACB Radio

Stay connected with everything that is going on from the comfort of your home or office. Note: All times shown are Central time.
Be a part of the excitement of opening session, listen to all the speakers and follow ACB business and elections. General sessions begin Sunday evening, July 5, at 7 p.m., and run Monday through Thursday, 8:30 a.m. until noon, and Friday from 8:30 a.m. until 5 p.m.
Also on ACB Radio, hear what the candidates for ACB office have to say as they answer questions at the Candidates’ Forum Thursday, July 9th at 7 p.m. Hear all the great performances from the Friends-in-Art Showcase on Tuesday evening at 8. ACB’s banquet, including the banquet speaker, presentation of awards and announcement of “The ACB Braille Forum” raffle winners, will be held on Friday, July 10 at 7 p.m.
Once again this year, ACB Radio will be broadcasting one afternoon session live. All live broadcasts will be on ACB Radio Mainstream. Other ACB committee sessions will be recorded and broadcast later in the day on ACB Radio Live Event.
No computer? No problem!  You can listen to ACB Radio over the telephone by calling (231) 460-1047. Long-distance charges apply.

Convention Announce E-mail List

To subscribe to the convention announce list, just send a blank e-mail to

Convention Newspaper

Keep up with what’s going on at the convention with “The Lone Star Gazette,” our convention newspaper published Saturday, July 4th through Thursday, July 9th. The newspaper will be posted to the convention announce list.

Social Media

Follow the latest goings-on at the convention on Facebook and Twitter! To follow us on Twitter, go to Or like us on Facebook at

Coming to Dallas

For those who will be in Dallas, be sure to visit the ACB/JPMorgan Chase and Co. Convention Information Desk. At the information desk you will find material in braille, large print and computer downloads. Hotel orientation, local business information, and the convention newspaper are just some of the items that will be waiting for you. All information will be available in large print, braille and downloadable formats.

Hotel Details

Room rates at the Sheraton Dallas are $89 for single through quadruple occupancy, plus applicable state and local taxes (currently 13%) and tourism district fees (2%). For reservations by telephone, call 1-888-627-8191, and be sure to 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

2015 exhibit information: Michael Smitherman, (601) 331-7740,
2015 advertising and sponsorships: Margarine Beaman, (512) 921-1625,
Whether you are in Dallas or staying connected with us from home, I hope you have a wonderful convention experience.  Feel free to contact me any time during the convention. You can either leave a message for me at the Sheraton, or call my cell phone, (651) 428-5059.  I look forward to seeing you in Dallas.

Free Indoor Wayfinding at ACB 2015: What You Need to Know Ahead of Time

Thanks to a donation from Macular Degeneration Support and Macular Degeneration Foundation, there will be audible directional beacons at the Sheraton to assist convention attendees in locating meeting rooms, restrooms and elevators.  Dan Roberts has provided the following information.
If you are planning to use MD Support’s new LowViz Guide at this year’s convention, here is what you need to know to get ready for it.
First, realize that it is accessible only through iDevices at this time. Those include iPhone 4S or later and iPad 4 or later. The application has been designed for iOS for the purposes of this year’s beta testing, and the developers are considering expanding to Android in the future if the demand justifies it.
Second, it is important that you know your Apple Store ID and password in order to download the LowViz Guide. You may download it ahead of time if you wish, but remember, it will operate only in the convention environment. Here is where you can find the free download link, along with more information and step-by-step instructions for using the app:
Finally, with so many people expected to use this audio technology, MD Support highly recommends that you bring earbuds. The app can be quite a chatterbox as it provides directions and information, so let’s be kind to the ears of those around us.
LowViz Guide developer Dan Roberts is excited about the accessibility opportunities the app will provide. “For the first time ever,” he says, “blind and low-vision attendees will actually be on a level playing field with their fully sighted peers. The only difference might be the bigger smiles on their faces!”

Crossroads 2015: The Highway to Success, by Carla Ruschival

Get in the driver’s seat and take the on-ramp to some outstanding leadership training.  It’s time for the third annual Crossroads Leadership Conference, Aug. 21-22, 2015, in Louisville, Ky.
The first two Crossroads conferences were packed with informative and educational sessions, good friends and good food, and lots of hand-outs. Nearly 60 people met at Crossroads 2013, and more than 80 (from nine states and the District of Columbia) attended Crossroads 2014.
Crossroads 2015 is skills-based and hands-on. The conference will include general sessions and small classes targeting specific skills. Group activities in classroom settings will involve writing, speaking, and role play. Create your own roadmap; choose the classes that best fit your needs.
Crossroads will be at the United Crescent Hill Ministries (UCHM), 150 S. State St. in Louisville.  Once a school and now a community center, UCHM offers a large meeting space for meals and general sessions, plus classrooms for small-group training and workshops. Out-of-town guests may stay at the Ramada Downtown North Hotel, 1041 Zorn Ave.; it's just a short distance from UCHM. Room rates are $75 a night plus tax for up to four in a room; a hot breakfast, free wi-fi and use of the outdoor hotel pool are included with your room. Transportation between the hotel and UCHM will be provided by the Kentucky Council of the Blind. Make hotel reservations by calling (502) 897-5101; be sure to let them know that you are attending the Crossroads Conference.
Crossroads is open to all affiliates, local chapters, and individuals who wish to attend. Students and younger members are welcome.
Pre-registration will open in late July. The pre-registration fee will cover general sessions, classes, meals, and materials. Request a pre-registration packet and get more information by calling the Kentucky Council of the Blind at (502) 895-4598 or by e-mailing
Now start planning; be sure to take the right turn and meet us at the Crossroads.

Facebook Accessibility for Users with Visual Impairments: What Facebook Wants You to Know, by Bill Holton

Reprinted with permission from “AccessWorld,” vol. 16 no. 4, April 2015.
Facebook is an excellent way to keep in touch with friends and family. For users of computer and mobile access technologies, however, at times, there can be challenges. The company continuously evolves its products, which can introduce changes to screen-reader flow. So, in order to help readers more fully enjoy their Facebook experience, we are excited to offer the following information.
Thanks to consumer feedback, and working with several organizations, including the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB), Facebook has taken accessibility to a whole new level. In July of 2011, the company formed the Facebook Accessibility Team to improve its support of accessibility across products. Recently, AccessWorld spoke with team founder Jeff Wieland and accessibility engineer Ramya Sethuraman, who offered us a top-10 list of things they’d like readers to know about Facebook’s accessibility program and products.

Facebook Offers Extensive Keyboard Navigation

For computer users who do not use a mouse, including most screen-reader users, the main Facebook web site makes extensive use of headings, landmarks, and lists, which can be easily navigated with your screen-reader navigation keys. Additionally, the main Facebook web site also offers an extensive roster of Access and Shortcut keys to help you navigate the site and quickly perform actions, such as liking, searching, and sharing.

Access Keys

 “Access keys let you jump quickly from page to page [within Facebook] with a single key combination and without having to tab down to or search for the appropriate control,” says Wieland.

Key combinations vary by browser and/or system:

  • Chrome for PC users combine the ALT key with the access keys listed below.
  • IE users combine the ALT key with the access keys listed below, completing each command by pressing the Enter key.
  • Firefox for PC users press Shift + ALT in combination with the access keys listed below.
  • Mac users press Control + Option in combination with the command keys below.

Facebook Access Keys 

  • Home: 1
  • Timeline: 2
  • Friends: 3
  • Inbox: 4
  • Notifications: 5
  • Settings: 6
  • Activity Log: 7
  • About: 8
  • Terms: 9
  • Help: 0

Shortcut Keys

Much the same way as most screen readers offer single-key navigation shortcuts to help you quickly find your way around a web page, Facebook offers a number of single-key commands to perform various actions. Many of these shortcut keys conflict with browser keys, however, so for now, at least, you will have to either use your screen reader pass-through command, or turn off enhanced browser navigation (Forms Mode in JAWS, Focus Mode in NVDA, and Browser Mode in Window-Eyes).
“If you happen to be in an edit box, or on some other pop-up control, you may have to tab away or close the dialogue before using the shortcuts,” says Wieland.

Facebook News Feed Shortcuts 

  • Scroll forward through News Feed stories: j
  • Scroll backward through News Feed stories: k
  • See more of the selected story: Enter/Return
  • Post a new status: p
  • Like or unlike the selected story: l
  • Comment on the selected story: c
  • Share the selected story: s
  • Open an attachment from the selected story: o
  • Search: /
  • Search chat contacts: q
  • Open a list of these keyboard shortcuts while in News Feed: ?

Facebook Messenger Shortcuts  

  • Search conversations: CTRL + g
  • Show/hide keyboard shortcuts: CTRL + q
  • Archive/unarchive conversation: CTRL + Delete
  • Mark as spam: CTRL + j
  • Start a new message: CTRL + m
  • Go to Inbox: CTRL + i
  • Go to Other: CTRL + u

Facebook Is Making Photos and Videos More Accessible

“We’re still rolling out the Dynamic Alt Text Generator to more products that will improve the accessibility of both photos and videos,” says Wieland. “We gather all the metadata a user supplies and combine it to generate a caption that tells a more complete story about that.” This Facebook Design video shows voicing for photos and videos before and after Dynamic Alt Text captioning:

Check out the Mobile Apps for Facebook

Facebook offers a mobile site, but Wieland encourages iOS and Android screen-reader users to try the native apps for these operating systems. “We’ve put a lot of work into improving the accessibility of the Facebook and Facebook Messenger native apps, and in some cases we can build accessibility experiences in these applications we simply can't easily replicate on the web (like use of gestures),” he says.
When you have finished reading a timeline entry using the iOS app, for example, you can now perform a two-finger double-tap to summon a VoiceOver menu, which includes options to like the post, comment, turn on notifications, or indicate “I don’t want to see this” (which will hide the story). The two-finger scrub gesture also now works to close any pop-up or dialogue screen. The Facebook Messenger iOS app also now includes an action item on the rotor. Perform a one-finger swipe up to delete a message thread, mute a conversation, archive a conversation and more.

It's Easy to Contact Facebook

 “Facebook offers several ways to get in touch with the Accessibility Team, and we love getting your feedback,” states Wieland. Users can like the Facebook Access for People with Disabilities page ( to stay up to date on accessibility work and improvements, visit the Facebook Accessibility Help Center (, and follow the Facebook Accessibility Team (@fbaccess) on Twitter. The Accessibility Help Center offers an accessibility bug report contact form where you can report accessibility issues.

Spreading the Accessibility Message to Other Facebook Employees

 In October of 2014, the Accessibility Team launched an installation at Facebook Menlo Park, Calif. headquarters called the Empathy Lab. The lab is designed to showcase the different and various methods that people use to interact with Facebook and broaden the company’s understanding of how to build products that are both usable to those with limited bandwidth and accessible to screen-reader users.
“We’re hoping to give Facebook employees an idea of what it’s like to use Facebook with magnification or a screen reader. We do this with a collection of laptops and mobile devices which can only be used with a keyboard or using screen readers or on slow network connections,” says Ramya Sethuraman. “The installation has become so popular, we’re looking to expand it to other campuses so more members of the Facebook team can experience it.”

The Facebook Team Is Constantly Improving the Accessible Facebook Experience

 Below Wieland outlines just a few of Facebook’s recent accessibility enhancements.

  • You now have the ability to control font size in the iOS Messenger app.
  • New VoiceOver gestures were added to help people more easily access the Delete, Mute, and More actions within iOS Messenger.
  • New access keys were added to the mobile site.
  • A “Skip to News Feed” link was added to Facebook for people using just the keyboard and screen readers to easily jump to the News Feed stories.
  • We now support multilingual caption files for Facebook Videos so you can provide subtitles for all of your video content.

Facebook Will Keep You Updated

Every month the team posts a comprehensive review of the key accessibility changes and enhancements. You can find the February 2015 update at The 2014 year in review is available at
“Follow our Facebook page so you don’t miss any future updates,” Wieland suggests. The URL is

Facebook Wants Your Help

 Facebook has a dedicated User Experience Research team that runs many different kinds of studies, including in-house usability studies and phone interviews with people who use their products.
“Our last round of accessibility usability testing focused on TalkBack with Facebook for Android,” relates Wieland.
If you would like to be considered for participation in future studies and getting paid for your feedback, send an e-mail to the accessibility research team,

Accessibility Beyond Facebook

“The Facebook Accessibility Team is passionate about making accessibility more mainstream, and one of our top priorities is to introduce accessibility to new audiences,” says Sethuraman. “For instance, last year we spoke at Stanford University to introduce students to writing accessible code. We also gave a talk on web accessibility basics at the Grace Hopper Conference.”
In addition, the Facebook Accessibility team actively consults and collaborates with various disability organizations. Notes Wieland, “Last year we sponsored and spoke at the American Foundation for the Blind's Leadership Conference. We also sponsored the American Council of the Blind’s summer conference in Las Vegas. We recently joined the American Association of People with Disabilities Tech Forum and are excited about collaborating with industry leaders on a range of accessibility related initiatives.”
For Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD), Facebook hosted companies from the Bay Area for a round of lightning talks on accessibility implementations. Guests included the co-founders of GAAD, Jennison Asuncion and Joe Devon.

Facebook Is Hiring!

“We recently grew our dedicated accessibility engineering team, and we are still hiring,” says Wieland. “We are actively looking for an accessibility specialist.” You can read more about the position on Facebook’s careers page.

Miles to Go Before We Rest, by Larry Johnson

(Editor’s Note: Larry Johnson is a motivational speaker and author. Contact him at or visit his web site at
Sunday, July 26 is the 25th anniversary of the ADA, the Americans with Disabilities Act. But who are they, these Americans with disabilities? Are they the people who work at Goodwill? At the Lighthouse? Those who live in group homes? Those who ride paratransit? Yes, they are all of these, plus perhaps someone in your family, a friend, a neighbor, a co-worker. 
Twenty percent of Americans have some type of disability. That’s 1 in 5. Some disabilities are quite visible, like mine (I use a white cane to get around), or like my friend Jim, who is in a wheelchair. Others are not so obvious, like high blood pressure, diabetes, a thyroid condition, hepatitis, cancer, or a history of depression, anxiety attacks or other mental illness. A disability is a condition which limits one or more of our major life activities.
Perhaps right now you are “temporarily” able-bodied. But what about your parents, or grandparents or uncles, aunts, cousins, or children? Why do I ask this question? Because I want you to realize that when we talk about Americans with disabilities, we’re not talking about some special separate group out there. We’re talking about us – all of us, everyone. Because, like it or not, one day you’re going to have a disability. It could happen as the result of an accident or illness. But if not, very definitely it will happen as you grow older; your physical body begins to deteriorate – your hearing, your vision, your mobility, your mind.
So, since you know it’s inevitable for you, and your loved ones, that one day you will acquire a disability, what are you doing to prepare for it? Think about what you might need if suddenly you can’t see so well, hear so well, or move around as well as you used to – in your home, in your neighborhood, downtown in a store or restaurant? What could be done that might make it easier for you or your grandpa? Better sidewalks. Better public transportation. More ramped entrances to buildings. Large print or braille menus in restaurants. More movie theaters with closed-captioned and audio-described films. And if you still want and are able to work? More employers willing to hire people with disabilities.
That’s what the ADA is all about. It’s about creating a more accessible, more friendly environment for all of us. It’s about including everyone in our community. It’s about valuing the unique talents and accomplishments of every individual and blending them together in a rich mosaic of limitless possibilities. The ADA offers us a marvelous opportunity to care for and care about one another.
ADA is a dream yet to be achieved. There remain miles to go before we rest. So, in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the ADA, let me ask you to plan for your future by helping to change our present environment to make it easier, friendlier and safer for all of us who are part of this community, whether we have disabilities or not. And that’s how I see it.

Walking a Mile in Heels Leads to Community Involvement, by Lenny McHugh

(Editor’s Note: You can read more of Lenny’s work at
On April 23, 2015, nearly 100 men walked a mile in high heels to raise funds for the Sexual Assault Resource and Counseling Center, and yes, I was one of them. The walk was called “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes,” and it was designed to bring awareness to the problem of sexual assault.
It is estimated that nationally only 30 percent of all sexual assault cases are reported. Although it is primarily children and women who are victims, many men are also assaulted.
I have been the highest fund-raiser in all of the three walks I’ve done for SARCC, and hoped to be again this year. I requested donations from many friends and some businesses. On Sunday, April 12, I attended two church services wearing shorts, nylons, yellow peep-toe pumps, a T-shirt that reads “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” and my hat that reads “Blind People Feel Better.”  Toga, my guide dog, had a “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” sign on her harness and a yellow bow that matched my shoes. She also wore a beaded necklace that complemented her yellow bow.
I always try to add some humor in my presentations. It helps to keep interest. I mentioned that during one of the summer services, Pastor Jim made a funny comment about yellow shoes. I told everyone that there is absolutely nothing wrong with wearing yellow peep-toe pumps, especially for a good cause. I then described my shoes. They are peep-toe with a bow, two-and-a-quarter-inch heels, and have rhinestones placed in a pattern around the shoe and on the bow. I also was wearing a yellow ribbon ankle bracelet with rhinestones. Now, I do not believe that any woman wearing peep-toe pumps would be seen without her toenails painted. So my wife painted my toenails with a bright red and a silver sparkle overlay.  I kicked off one of the shoes so they could see Karen’s artwork. Again, there was a lot of laughter and a comment or two about my legs and how nice my foot is shaped. This really had the women laughing.

I then followed that with a few statements that describe me in a nutshell. And they are as follows: Any day that I can make someone laugh is a great day! Any day that I can help someone is a great day! Any day that I can both make someone laugh and also help someone is a perfect day! Today is a perfect day for me!
I then went into the seriousness of sexual assaults and how SARCC helps victims and their families. I briefly told the story about the woman who is my motivation. About 20 years or so ago, she was raped in her home during a break-in while her youngsters were present.
I had to end on a high note. I stated that over the years, while getting ready to go out, I always wondered why it took so long for my wife to get dressed. I told them that I finally understood and could describe it in one word, “pantyhose.” I waited until the laughter stopped before telling them that I had to have my wife help me get those stupid things on.  My pastor asked if I was really wearing pantyhose. I told him yes and he asked me not to prove it. I was wearing shorts to flaunt my legs and ankles.
Before going back to my seat, Pastor Jim asked if anyone had any questions for me. It was a little touching that one woman who attended our service for the first time spoke up. She went on to say that she might not be here if she hadn’t gotten away from her ex-husband, because he abused her. I am sure it took a lot of courage for her to speak up. I wonder what she thought when I walked up front wearing those yellow shoes with all the rhinestone bling.
It is so funny to hear the women complain that my legs are nicer than theirs. The woman who was assaulted in her home says, “I do not care, Lenny; from the knees down you are all woman.”
Anyway, it was really worth going to the church services. I collected almost $400 for SARCC.
On Monday, my nails were still painted and friends at the local hospital’s cardiac rehab and balance therapy were trying to help. So I got a pair of my wife’s knee-high stockings. When we arrived at the hospital, I changed shoes before walking into the cardiac rehab center. You should have heard the laughter! While there, I asked them to call one of the supervisors I knew. When she came in, she started laughing again. Then I asked if they knew anyone who would join in the walk. The supervisor tried to talk some hospital employees into joining in the walk. They all agreed that it is a wonderful program.
I exceeded my goal of $2,212 – this year I collected a respectable $2,300. So for the four walks in which I participated, I have collected over $6,000 for SARCC.
During the actual walk, I have a big problem with Toga. Since the walk is like a parade, Toga knows that we belong on the sidewalk. I have a hard time keeping her walking straight in the middle of the roadway. She insists that we need to be over on the sidewalk, and she takes every opportunity to get me off the street to where she feels safe. This year a few people walked next to me to help keep us in the middle of the roadway.
After the walk, we all met for some awards and some non-alcoholic drinks and food. I was given some recognition for collecting over $6,000 for the four walks in which I participated. There was also a special recognition certificate for me being the oldest guy in the walk. I just turned 68 and I still do not know what I want to do when I grow up.
What was especially nice was that Kelly Choate, a reporter from WBRE/WYOU-TV, came down for the walk and to interview me. They took pictures of Toga, my shoes and my hat that reads “Blind People Feel Better.” The reporter asked many questions on why I felt that the walk was so important. She also asked about Toga. The interview was great; it focused on my abilities, not disabilities. You can see and hear the interview at
I do hope that this story encourages others with disabilities to become involved in their communities. You will always get more out of it than you put into it.  And please, if you suspect that someone is being sexually abused, report it.

Timed to Perfection, by Ryan Lucas

Track back to last July, when close ties half a world apart led to interrelated moments of joy. The United States Women’s National Goalball Team had just celebrated a gold medal performance at the 2014 International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) Goalball World Championships in Espoo, Finland. Undismayed after three losses in its first four games, the squad rallied to secure its fifth consecutive medal at worlds and first gold medal at the event since 2002, thereby qualifying for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
Goalball is a Paralympic sport played by athletes who are blind and visually impaired. Developed after World War I as a way to keep blinded veterans physically active, it has become the premiere team game for blind athletes. Played competitively by men and women around the world, it is a very fast-paced, physically challenging, strategic and exciting game.
All the while, far beyond the shores of Scandinavia, across the vast span of the North Atlantic Ocean, almost to the western edge of the continental U.S., Lisa Czechowski cradled another sort of victory of a lifetime: as her teammates grasped their golden hardware more than 5,500 miles away, she reveled in the brand-new beauty of her first child, Jay.
“It was difficult but yet not difficult,” Czechowski said of missing the world goalball championships to stay in Tucson, Ariz., where she and her husband, Jacob, an assistant coach on the team, reside. “After [the] London [2012 Paralympic Games] I knew I wanted to have a child, and I just felt at the time that worlds happened, we also had this incredible blessing.  Plus my teammates were able to take care of business, so that was really nice.”
Jay was born on July 2, and the team won the tournament on July 5. Between giving birth and resting, Czechowski also embraced her temporary role as a fan, a position she gave up soon thereafter to tweak out the kinks in her game and return to competition form.
“Their performance just really accelerated and peaked at the right time in Finland,” she said of her teammates, who defeated Russia in the championship match. “I obviously wasn’t there, but I caught all the games via the Internet, and it was pretty awesome to watch.”

Making a Necessary Sacrifice

For many Paralympic and Olympic athletes, time at the elite level is like a slice of light visible in a narrow window. For the Sochi 2014 Olympic Games, for instance, the average age of Team USA participants was 26 years old.
But Czechowski, 35, who aims to compete in her fifth Paralympic Games in 2016 — having also served as a goalball alternate in 1996, as well as having won a silver medal in the women’s discus at the Sydney 2000 Games — the view through the glass face of biology’s timepiece also contributed to her and her husband’s decision to start a family.
“We had to kind of work with nature as well all along with that,” she said. “After London we knew that we wanted to start a family, and even though it didn’t happen in 2013, nature allowed it to happen in 2014. We wanted to be patient and take advantage of the time. I had full confidence that our team would do well in Finland. They played their best, and I was obviously very excited when they won.”
Within weeks of Jay’s birth, Czechowski had shaped her game back into the mold of an elite athlete.
“I started to ease my way back into it within two months of having him — simple lifting and things like that,” she said. “Now I’ve been able to amp things up and increase weight with the lifting and run harder and faster. I have a lot of good support from Jake and the coaching staff, and that’s what helps everything come to together.”
“She actually worked with our team trainer on a training program throughout her pregnancy and got back full training as soon as she was allowed,” U.S. Women’s National Goalball Team Coach Ken Armbruster said. “At recent camps her offense is close to top of her game, while she’s still catching up with defense and conditioning, which will come in time.”
As a whole, the squad’s dynamics didn’t shift during Czechowski’s leave. One of the team’s longtime veterans, her influence is cemented within the roster.
“I believe everyone supported her decision, and the timing worked out well,” Armbruster said. “In addition to being teammates, Asya [Miller] and Jen [Armbruster] are close friends of Lisa and offered continued encouragement throughout her pregnancy and after Jay was born.  [Lisa’s] the ultimate teammate, always having a positive attitude and providing support to the team in whatever is asked of her.”
Now, much like her teammates, Czechowski’s on-the-court efforts are focused on Rio. While the squad’s seventh-place finish during the London 2012 Paralympic Games proved disappointing, the roster is still replete with the pieces from the medal-winning performances — gold at the Beijing 2008 Paralympics, silver at the Athens 2004 Paralympics — of the recent past.
“There isn’t a whole lot that we’ll do differently; honestly, we played well in London, and things just didn’t work out,” Czechowski said. “We’ll keep the same determination and workout regimens.  It’s hard to say what we’ll do differently just because of the way the cards fell for us in London. Determination for us will definitely play the biggest factor.”
Defensive work and strategies will also shape the team’s training in the coming months.
“Our goals at competitions are always to work on defense first and have the offense develop, and that won’t change,” Czechowski said. “That’s the phrase that coach usually uses: ‘Defense first, and the offense will be there.’ Team-wise, that’s what always we’re doing, and I think individually everyone has their own plan that they’re working on, too, like workouts and getting stronger for competition and things like that.”

Life beyond Goalball

After Rio, Czechowski and her husband will decide the course of their future, although she believes her playing days will end.
“We’ll probably want to expand our family at some point,” she said. “That’s pretty much it for after Rio.”
Regardless of her direction, people who know Czechowski well allude to her as a paragon of success in all aspects of her life.
While the roots of her passion run deep in the field of sports — she also competed at the collegiate level as a track and field thrower, then honed that talent all the way to the Paralympic medal stand in Sydney, adding to her rarity as a multitalented athlete — she’s accomplished in many areas.
“I’m sure when she retires from playing she’ll stay involved in sport in some form, maybe even return to field events, but no doubt family will remain top priority,” Armbruster said. “It takes a special person to commit and being successful at being both an elite athlete and a working mother, and Lisa is that type of person.”
Beyond goalball, Czechowski said she also plans to continue her work in the non-profit sector. She and Jacob both work at the Southern Arizona Association for the Visually Impaired in Tucson, a situation that enhances the couple’s growth.
“It’s really an amazing opportunity,” Czechowski said of having her husband so immersed in the everyday details of her life, dating back to when they met in July 2004 at a United States Association of Blind Athletes (USABA) sports camp in Colorado Springs, Colo. “We get to work together on so many levels — competitively, in our marriage, as parents together, in our work together.
“We’re very close because of it; he’s able to give me a ton of support and coaching, and he’s helped me become a better player and a better athlete. We have a very loving relationship because of it.”
And, no matter what happens in Rio, Czechowski and her husband are grateful for their sports achievements together — with goalball in particular.
“I’m very happy about it,” she said of her athletic career. “I really enjoy team sports, and I enjoy playing and competing with the team that we had and still have. I just love team sports, and I’m so happy to have had the opportunities that I’ve had.
“I learned a lot from being a multisport athlete. I loved being a field athlete, and I learned a ton there, but it was great to transition to goalball and keep focus on one sport because it was truly difficult to provide adequate training and attention to two sports. Just focusing on goalball was a smart decision. I just really enjoy the coaches and competing with the ladies on the team.”
In the end, that Czechowski picked goalball over track and field — a move that required a year of overtures from coaches in her New Jersey hometown, as she had constructed an initial wall of resistance to the sport — is a testament to her adaptability and talent. As she enters the probable last stage of her competitive career, she recommends that all athletes with visual impairments should at least try goalball.
“I’m very thankful that my coaches were so persistent in recruiting me to goalball,” she said. “If I gave advice to any athletes who are visually impaired, it would be that they should give goalball a shot. I’ve had such amazing experiences and met so many wonderful people through the sport. Goalball can just open so many opportunities for young athletes, and I’m very grateful for how the game has had such a huge impact on me and helped me achieve so many great things.”
Last July, as her squad celebrated a gold medal half a world away, Czechowski’s life-defining moment of a different kind reiterated how she and her teammates can accomplish anything —both on and off the court.

Affiliate News

South Dakota Convention in Pierre
The South Dakota Association of the Blind will hold its annual convention Sept. 25-27 at the Governor’s Inn in Pierre, S.D. To reserve a room, call the motel at (605) 224-4200 before Aug. 25th.
Featured speakers include William and Tracey Hawkins of Missouri. Tracey will demonstrate a variety of safety devices; William will discuss financial information for the organization, as well as possible fund-raising ideas.
And yes, for those who have asked, we will be holding a raffle this year! The prize will be $500. Want to get a few tickets? Call Steve Hart at (605) 332-6059, or Seth Sims at (605) 339-9512.
For more information about SDAB’s convention, contact Dawn Brush at or (605) 229-4129, or Amy Chappelle at (605) 224-6801.


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.

Walter Spillum

Jan. 12, 1928 - April 28, 2015
Walter Spillum, founder of Hibikinokai (the Echo Society), passed away April 28 at the age of 87 in Tokyo, Japan.
Since 1998, Walter’s guiding hand and vision created and nurtured Hibikinokai (the Echo Society) as a non-profit dedicated to teaching the English language and computer skills to the disabled, elderly and general public for improved communication. He worked tirelessly to promote inclusion of the disabled and elderly in society, and to further independent living, transportation for people in wheelchairs, and the inclusion of the blind and others with disabilities.
Walter was active in the operations of Hibikinokai up until March 15 when he fell ill and was taken to the hospital. Walter is irreplaceable, yet it is his wish that Hibikinokai continue, for everybody.
Walter is survived by his brother, Jack Spillum.
Hibikinokai held a memorial service on May 3 to celebrate Walter’s life.

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.

New Technology May Improve Detection and Treatment

Research published recently in the “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences” (PNAS) demonstrates that technology invented by researchers at Oregon Health & Science University's Casey Eye Institute can improve the clinical management of the leading causes of blindness. Optical coherence tomography (OCT) angiography could largely replace current dye-based angiography in the management of these diseases.
OHSU researchers found that OCT angiography has considerable advantages over conventional techniques for the diagnosis and management of macular degeneration, diabetic eye disease and glaucoma, the leading causes of blindness in the United States. The OCT angiography used in the study is a non-invasive three-dimensional alternative to conventional angiography. It does not require injections and allows clinicians to measure vascular density and blood flow in vessels in a quantitative manner.

Vision 2025 is here

 Embarking on its 80th anniversary of being a key piece of the nation’s fabric, Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, recently released Vision 2025. The vision will serve as a “North Star” to guide Social Security and show how the agency will accomplish and deliver three key priorities: superior customer experience, exceptional employees, and an innovative organization over the next decade and beyond.
Vision 2025 reflects Social Security’s full commitment — now and in the future — to offering customers choices in how they do business with the agency. This commitment includes sustaining a field office structure that provides face-to-face service and is responsive to members of the public who need or prefer face-to-face service.
For more information, visit the Social Security Vision 2025 interactive web site at

College Resources for Students with Disabilities

 According to the National Center for Education Statistics, over 700,000 college students — or 3.5% — have some type of disability. While students with disabilities may face unique challenges, they're entitled to the same quality of education as any other student. now has available a college resource guide to help students with various disabilities learn about their legal rights, where to find assistance on campus, and provides an extensive list of web sites, apps and software resources designed for specific needs. To check out “College Resources for Students with Disabilities,” visit

Knit & Crochet Guidelines

 The Braille Authority of North America (BANA) now has available “Guidelines for Transcribing Knit and Crochet Patterns.”  To view it, visit, look for “Codebooks and Guidelines,” then select “Crafts and Hobbies.” The knit and crochet guidelines will be the first publication mentioned.
These guidelines are also available in accessible PDF and in BRF formats for downloading. If you need a hard-copy braille version of the guidelines, send an e-mail message to or call (617) 972-7248.

Golf, Anyone?

 Blind and visually impaired individuals can participate and compete in the worldwide game of golf. How? The coach provides the eyes to determine distance and direction, and the blind or visually impaired golfer produces the swing. Our motto is “you don’t have to see it to tee it.”
The United States Blind Golf Association was formed in 1953. Since then it has improved the lives of blind and visually impaired golfers by rekindling their competitive spirit and breaking down barriers to a fulfilling life.
USBGA membership is open to golfers having corrected vision in both eyes of less than 20/200. There are three vision categories, less than 20/200 to total blindness.
The USBGA sponsors and conducts golf clinics for blind or visually impaired youth and adults throughout the year and across the United States. These clinics are not just for producing future golfers, but to show them that they can accomplish things they never believed possible and then to apply that principle to enrich their lives. It has also held national blind golf championship tournaments since 1946. USBGA membership is the exclusive gateway to international competition through the IBGA, International Blind Golf Association. This association consists of 16 countries and hosts a World Championship every other year and numerous open tournaments every year.
To learn more about USBGA, visit, or e-mail

Jersey for Sale

 Monty Cassellius is selling his Milwaukee Brewers jersey. It’s a Ryan Braun 4XL in excellent condition. Asking $75 or best offer; includes shipping. Contact Monty Cassellius at 315 Illinois St., Eau Claire, WI 54703; phone (715) 579-9182; e-mail; or on Facebook at

New App to Help Eliminate Blindness 

 HelpMeSee, a global campaign to eliminate cataract blindness, has successfully tested a pre-release version of its GIS-GPS app for community mobilization. The mobile app, currently for use on Android devices, will allow community health workers to better locate patients, map the incidence of cataract blindness, and connect patients to partner specialists who can provide care.
The system can define the geographic market for each clinic location and maintain epidemiologic information on the prevalence of cataract blindness. It will also integrate with the campaign’s surgical reporting system to monitor patients and validate successful outcomes.
HelpMeSee’s campaign team worked in close collaboration with community-level surgical teams and village-level health workers to test the app in rural India. Health workers found it to be much faster than the systems currently in place, which are largely paper-based. They can now gather essential patient information and location details, including specific GPS coordinates and altitude data, and transmit them to the hospital remotely.
Once identified, patients are connected to nearby health facilities where they can receive Manual Small Incision Cataract Surgery (MSICS) to remove cataracts and implant a new, artificial lens in their eye. The app will also facilitate patient care through follow-up tracking, allowing community workers to locate patients weeks after surgery to check their health and surgical outcome.

High Tech Swap Shop

For Sale:

Color identifier. Comes with print and cassette directions. Asking $35 or best offer, including shipping. Cobolt speech master four-track cassette player. Asking $50 or best offer, including shipping. If interested in either item, contact Monty Cassellius at (715) 579-9182, or via e-mail,

For Sale:

Victor Stream, new, still in original packaging. Asking $350. Contact Hamid via e-mail,

For Sale:

Blazie Engineering BTL-2000 20-cell braille display with speech. Hardly used; works well. Open to any offer or exchange. Also has a 45 RPM single of “Hey Jude” by the Beatles as it came out originally. Contact Ken Buxton at (647) 438-1000 or (416) 900-6231.

For Sale:

HandiCassette II player/recorder in its original carrying case, with power adapter included. It works great and can play both 2- and 4-track cassette tapes. Braille Blazer embosser and a box of tractor-feed paper. To make an offer on either item, e-mail James at or call him at (410) 925-0707 after 5 p.m. Central time.

For Sale:

PAC Mate refreshable 20-cell braille display. In perfect working order. Asking $700 or best offer. Perkins brailler, in fair condition.  Asking $150 or best offer. Contact Shawn Cox at (585) 919-4177 or e-mail him,


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) 625-6008, or write her at 1632 Paree St., Newport, MI 48166.

ACB Officers, ACB Board and Board of Publications

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, Worthington, 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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