The ACB E-Forum, August 2015

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The ACB E-Forum
Volume LIV August 2015 No. 2
 
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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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.
 
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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 has a new and improved web site; come see for yourself at www.acbradio.org.
 
Blind show hosts offer a plethora of musical genres at www.acbradio.org/interactive.

The ACB E-Forum, August 2015 downloads

President’s Message: Comcast: An Industry Leader in Accessibility, by Kim Charlson

I don’t often highlight the activities of a specific manufacturer or service provider, but in the case of Comcast, I felt compelled to make an exception.
 
In 2014, Comcast took a major step toward corporate accessibility with the opening of the Comcast Accessibility Support Center for customers with disabilities. The specially trained staff in the Accessibility Support Center know about accessibility issues relating to Comcast, and they also understand and are familiar with assistive technology, audio description and Voice Guidance, to assist customers having problems.
 
To reach the Accessibility Support Center, call 1-855-270-0379 or e-mail accessibility@comcast.com. Agents are available from 7 a.m. to 12 a.m. (Eastern time), seven days a week.
 
In addition to the center, Comcast has led the industry by being the first cable provider to launch Voice Guidance, an interface providing spoken navigation to the program guide and the cable features such as recording or On Demand.
 
In March, I was honored to submit a nomination to the Federal Communications Commission on behalf of the American Council of the Blind, for Comcast’s Talking Guide feature on the X1 Operating System for the Chairman’s Awards for Advancement in Accessibility (“Chairman’s AAA”) in the “miscellaneous” category. I felt that Comcast’s Talking Guide feature deserved consideration for the Chairman’s AAA Award because it has opened up a new world of options for blind and visually impaired customers to watch and experience television.
 
Comcast’s Talking Guide feature “speaks” what’s on the television screen as the viewer navigates the “Guide,” “Saved,” “On Demand,” and “Settings” sections of the X1 user interface. It includes details like individual program descriptions and ratings from Common Sense Media and Rotten Tomatoes that help viewers decide what to watch from their entire channel lineup.  The Talking Guide also allows customers who are blind or visually impaired to independently access settings to enable or disable the Secondary Audio Program (“SAP”) to access content with audio description.  It provides the ability to schedule and play DVR recordings and access the more than 50,000 movies and TV programs currently available in Comcast’s video-on-demand library. The Talking Guide is easily activated by double-tapping the “A” button on any X1 remote control.
 
Comcast debuted the Talking Guide feature in a public trial in several markets in July 2014, and officially launched the feature on Dec. 18, 2014.
 
The Talking Guide is currently available to all of Comcast’s X1 customers. Comcast is the first video provider to provide a voice-enabled television user interface. It has revolutionized how blind and visually impaired customers interact with their set-top boxes, making it easier to navigate menus and thus expanding their television viewing options. The Talking Guide also breaks down barriers to allow blind and visually impaired customers to experience American culture and participate in society. As I told “The Boston Globe” in November 2014, “TV is more than just a box with a picture in it. … It’s our culture and our society, and people spend a lot of time talking to each other about what they watched on TV last night. It’s important to be part of that conversation.” 
 
Here’s a sampling of what members of ACB have been saying about Voice Guidance:

  • “The talking guide encourages independence and self-sufficiency; it’s a real game-changer for anyone who is blind and loves TV.”
  • “[The Talking Guide] represents a major advance in ease-of-use of DVRs.”
  • “[The Talking Guide] grants near full usability to vision impaired and blind television watchers to the vast world of cable television content.”
  • “It’s absolutely wonderful to do everything a sighted person can do with their cable TV.”
  • “It is great to be able to look through all of that on-demand content that was useless to us before.”

I am very pleased to report that Comcast did win the award, and was recognized by the FCC and Chairman Wheeler on June 3rd in Washington, D.C. at the M-Enabling Summit.
 
The most significant factor and the most relevant quote from members states, “Comcast is setting a high bar for the rest of the television field to follow.” This statement is absolutely true. ACB is watching and waiting for the other cable providers to step out and offer a service that provides the same level of accessibility to the television viewing experience as Comcast has provided for customers who are blind. Other providers need to get moving, engage ACB and our members in the testing process for access. We don’t want to be told about a system when it’s ready to launch; we want to be consulted and provide important feedback during the testing and evaluation phase. We want each and every system being proposed to work for customers who are blind of whatever cable provider they use. We will be there … ready to help, ready to provide valuable feedback, and we want to hear from cable companies now, not six months from now. We have expectations of access and we will definitely be watching to ensure that accessibility will be there for people who are blind, who right now may not be fortunate enough to be in a Comcast service area, or who have contracts with another provider. We have waited long enough! Access is a reality for television and we are ready to have it now!

An Academic Challenge, by Mark B. Lasser

On Saturday, May 16th, a gathering of thousands of people came together for an annual rite of spring, the graduation of the class of 2015.  What made this year special for me was that I walked the graduation processional with my white cane.  Not only did I receive my master of science in accounting, I led the College of Business at the University of Colorado-Denver’s grads as the outstanding student in the graduate program. 
 
The university deserves credit for welcomingly receiving my request for braille programs for both my guests and me.  It was only 10 months earlier that I had thought this was an impossible achievement.  I have since learned that pretty much nothing is impossible for blind people given enough desire and grit. 
 
I lost my eyesight less than a year ago to a rare condition called non-arteritic anterior ischemic optic neuropathy (NAION), the result of which was a loss of about 95% of vision and complete loss of any ability to read or use a computer.  I was within 6 credits of finishing my degree and was preparing to take the rigorous CPA examination.  The condition I had caused me to lose my sight progressively over only about a week.  I was devastated, depressed, and thought life as I knew it was over.  The first month was just horrible.  I couldn’t cook, write, access my music, update Facebook or even tell what time it was without asking others for help. 
 
Through the help of my wife and friends, I started to find ways of connecting to the world and learning how to connect to a semblance of normalcy. As I didn’t even know that phones could be made accessible, my wife bought me a talking watch and eventually an iPhone and iPad, and proceeded to download every app with the word “blind” in it or reviewed on any blindness-related forum.  I was not even aware of screen readers at the time, so she researched resources for me.  I love living in Colorado, but as many readers likely know, our DVR has some issues, and I was told it might take 12 to 18 months just to get a case open.  People who know me do not characterize me as a particularly patient person.  That time frame was not going to work for me.  I had things to do – such as finishing my degree and finding a job. 
 
My wife Stephanie found me some instruction online for iOS devices and a local AT tutor to give me a first orientation with JAWS.  As this was prohibitively expensive, we were fortunate to get additional help through the Colorado Center for the Blind, which is only an hour from my home by public transportation (which, at the time, I had no idea how to use and navigate).   I immersed myself into learning assistive tools and braille with passion and determination.  I was told over and over again to be patient. That only made me more impatient.  I was told to take it slow and that it takes time to accept one’s blindness. Why would anyone presume to know this about another person?  I recognize that this process is different for everyone, but I believe that all blind people should be pushing to learn more, to work more, and to push themselves to the highest level of their potential. 
 
I managed to learn uncontracted braille in about 6 weeks and then learned contracted braille over the next 10 weeks.  I’m still frustratingly slow reading by my own standards, but I’m reasonably fast with a slate and stylus and on a Perkins brailler.  I learned to use the kitchen again thanks to one of the most amazing people I’ve ever met in my life, an affectionately scrappy ex-Philadelphian named Maureen Nietfeld (check out her videos on the YouTube channel Breaking Blind). The most difficult challenge for me was technology.  I was trying to get back to a graduate school level of reading and writing in time to be able to finish my degree.  I won’t lie; initially I did not think I would be able to finish the degree or pass the CPA exam as a blind person.  I was fortunate that the university and the head of my program, Dr. Michael Roberts, were adamant that I would not only finish but also that I could return to being a lecturer at the university, a position I was performing prior to losing my sight.
 
I taught myself basic JAWS through the Freedom Scientific tutorials and the webinars.  I still have a lot to learn, but I was able to figure out enough between my own persistence and through the help of many young blind people who are near experts in assistive tech tools that I decided to finish my degree starting in January of 2015.  I completed my last two courses without being able to read any print, without being able to read letters on a computer screen or in e-mail.  I used a combination of tools including iOS accessibility, VoiceDream Reader, JAWS, braille index cards that I made with an interline braille slate, and learning to give a presentation through shadowing with an earbud in one ear (muchas gracias to the crazy aspiring blind Argentine journalist Francisco Crespo). 
 
I learned many things over the last year that many blind people probably take for granted.  One thing about being newly blind is that I had no preconceptions about how things worked in the blindness community.  I did not know that blind people could use computers as well as they do.  I didn’t know that the unemployment rate for blind people has been in the area of 70% and that not nearly enough is being done to remedy this.  I didn’t know that blind people get graduate degrees, go to law school and are in top professional positions across the world.  I was pleasantly surprised to find out how fun braille is to read and how fascinated people are when you open a braille book or magazine at a local coffee shop.  I learned that there are people who can be jerks to blind people, and that those people are vastly outnumbered by people who are accepting and supportive.  I have also witnessed some unfortunate things that I would like to help change.  There seems to be too much judgment in the blind community as to “right” and “wrong” ways to do things and to think about the world.  Some of this leads to rifts that the sighted world sees as folly.  I have also seen too much tearing down of accomplishments.  I was informed by people that I was an “overachiever” in an accusatory tone, as if this were both a negative and an outrageous behavior that should be mitigated. I have seen entirely too many excuses for blind people not learning and performing to the levels of their sighted peers, and for a lack of manners and social graces.  
 
So my advice to both newly blind people and to anyone who’s been blind their entire life is to push yourself to achieve more than you think you are capable of, to listen with energy to those who are telling you what you can do, and to listen with cynicism to those telling you what is not possible or “not for you.”  Be thin-skinned when it comes to receiving praise and encouragement and toughen up against anyone who detracts from your progress.  I had doubts in myself mostly based on ignorance of what being blind is about.  Once I realized that I could do everything I wanted to do intellectually, it was only a matter of shifting gears and working as hard as possible.  I’m proud of my accomplishments, and keenly aware that I did not manage to get where I am without incredible support.  I think every single one of us has the capability to do more, to be stronger, to have grit and to do amazing things.

Transitioning to College: Nine Essential Tips for Students with Visual Impairments, by Pat Ryan

Students who are blind face unique challenges when preparing for college. Here’s what you need to know to make the process easier.

Reprinted with permission from the “Perkins Vision” blog, June 9, 2015.

(Editor’s Note: Pat Ryan is the supervisor of Outreach Short Courses at Perkins School for the Blind. To read this story online, visit www.perkins.org/stories/blog. To view a webcast version, visit www.perkinselearning.org/videos/webcast/transitioning-high-school-college.)
 
Transitioning from high school to college is both exciting and scary for every student. Having a visual impairment only increases the challenge. Here are some steps to help you pick the college that’s right for you and make the transition easier.

  1. Knowing what services each college offers is key: Every Disability Services office is different. So when considering a college, schedule an appointment to meet with them and review the services they offer. Ask how many students they serve that require accommodations similar to yours. Often a school’s services will be dictated by the population of students they currently have.
  2. Shop your options: Not every college experience is the same, and it’s worth examining some different types of experiences to determine which one is right for you. For some people the traditional residential college setting is appropriate, while for others it might make sense to attend a commuter college or even to take classes online.
  3. Familiarize yourself with the tools you’ll need: Technology has changed the way people engage at college, whether it’s through online courses or live classrooms. It’s very common for teachers to share their syllabus and class assignments online through websites like Blackboard.com, and they will often require that you post your assignments there as well. Make sure that you are familiar with the program most commonly used by your professors, and that whatever adaptive technology you use is able to access it.
  4. Put your resources to work for you: Another big part of college is the campus library. Many of your courses will require that you do research from time to time. Become familiar with the types of materials, especially the accessible materials, your college’s library offers. Do they have electronic and audiobooks?
  5. Own your education: One of the biggest differences between high school and college is the level of responsibility you have to take for your own education. Teachers might not even mention that an assignment is due and will just expect you to have read the syllabus. The same level of diligence is needed in terms of advocating for any accommodations you might need. Typically a school’s Disability Services office will be able to get you what you need, but they will expect you to come in prepared to advocate for those needs.
  6. Building relationships makes life easier: It’s important to develop a positive relationship with your professors and to communicate with them about your needs. They might not be familiar with your disability and will feel more comfortable if they see that you are proactive in trying to fully engage their lessons and materials.
  7. Academics are only part of the story: If you do choose a traditional residential college, remember that a huge part of the college experience has to do with social and extracurricular opportunities. Although many events will be listed online or promoted through social media, you should also be aware of where you can go to access flyers and other print advertisements. Consider joining clubs and attending events. It’s likely that you’ll find groups and clubs for activities you’ve never heard of before. Be adventurous and try new things! Don’t fall into the trap of staying in your room all the time.
  8. Preparing for tomorrow’s problems today: Traveling around a college campus can be difficult. They tend to be much bigger than a high school. Be prepared to ask people around you for help. Develop strategies so that you can do this in a way that is assertive but polite. It also helps to plan ahead, whenever possible. Make sure to find your classrooms before the first day so you can be on time. Also check out the cafeteria menu before you get there so you can get through the line more easily.
  9. Give and take is the key to healthy friendships: Having friends or even a roommate can be a good resource on a college campus. Find out when your friends are going to an event, and learn about different social opportunities from them. And while friends can be a great help, it’s also good to distinguish them from people whose job it is to provide you with assistance. Friendships work best when there is a balanced give-and-take, so think about ways that you can give back. For instance, if someone regularly gives you a ride somewhere, it might be nice to offer them money for gas.

Ups and Downs, by Deon Lyons

(Editor’s Note: You can find Deon Lyons’ blog at https://dplyons.wordpress.com/author/dplion/.)
 
Hello, all you amazing people! How are you all doing? Great, I hope! I haven’t posted anything for a while, so I figured I would just pop in to say hi, and let you know that I’m doing OK.
 
I started my online college course a couple weeks ago, and for the most part, it’s going well. I did run into some difficulty learning the Blackboard program that is necessary to take online courses, and is also necessary to take most of the on-campus courses as well. This program is accessible for the most part, but is quite cumbersome to navigate. Fact is, it is very difficult, even for us blind billy goats. After some intense tutoring sessions with Nicholas at Kennebec Valley Community College’s TRiO, I am making headway and have been able to get into the necessities so that I can get the work done. It’s huge to finally feel comfortable in doing so, but I also realize that I have a long way to go. The class runs for 7 weeks and we’re just heading into week 3.
 
I am taking Intro to Sociology; my wife believes I’ll definitely get an A in the class. As skeptical as I usually am, I’m taking nothing for granted and holding nothing back.
 
Thank you all for your support of this blog site; I hope you keep coming back. I’ll try to keep writing when I can. It’s funny how much growth my writing has seen these past five years, and it’s amazing as I look ahead and dream where the next five will take me, take this blog, and although I’ve got a long way to go yet, I have come a long way.
 
You all rock big time, you know?
 
I’ve discovered some really good new music these past few weeks. I’ve eaten a lot of chocolate, worn down the tip of my mobility cane a bit, went to the drive-in theater, eaten a little more chocolate, listened to a few shows, a few movies, discovered a couple more music artists, tried my hand at mowing the lawn, wondered why I ever tried my hand at mowing the lawn, counted my toes, recounted my toes, prayed that I still had all seven of my toes, and then prayed for more chocolate.
 
That’s it. Nothing more, nothing less, just me and you and a dog named Boo. Oh yeah, there’s also a little promise that I’ll keep adding to this blog when I get a chance.
 
I’ve had my ups and downs the past few months. I’ve added a few new friends, lost a couple of really good old friends, made a few mistakes, realized a couple of things, forgot a few more and all the while I’m just trying to make it to the pillow every night. I miss all the things that I used to do and give thanks for the things that I do. I will always remember those eyes of blue and try to live up to the gaze of my family.
 
OK, I admit it. I’m getting carried away. I hope you all have a great time doing whatever it is that you do.

Do You Have a Pulse? If Not, You Will Want One After Reading This, by Scott Davert

Ever since the last significant drop in my hearing, I’ve found it more and more challenging to rely on said hearing to carry out such tasks as using a screen reader, knowing when water is boiling, and waking up in the morning. As many of the adaptations made for the blind are addressed through the use of hearing, and many of the adaptations made for the deaf are done through vision, this complicates matters for someone who wants to maintain their independence through the use of technology. For the deaf and hard of hearing, there are alarm systems like those made by Sonic Alert and many others. For the purposes of waking up, there are a few options on the market. One solution is to leave my iPhone under my pillow and hope that the vibration feature will do the trick. Whether it actually does depends on how heavily I sleep and whether the phone shifts while under my pillow during the night. Not only that, but before the days of the Do Not Disturb feature in iOS, I had to leave my phone in airplane mode, or risk getting those drunk texts from friends, which aren’t so amusing at 3 a.m. when you have to work the next day.
 
Along those lines, there is a product on the market which seeks to address this issue and also notify you of incoming texts, alarms, and calls on your smartphone. The DreamZon LightOn is a signaler originally designed for the deaf which sends out a flashing light to alert the individual that their phone is vibrating when it is set on the top of the device. There is an add-on which allows for a bed shaker to be plugged in, which can also act as a signaler when put in a pocket. One drawback to this system is that it is often set off by a loud noise that vibrates the room you are in. Loud car stereos, thunderstorms, neighbors walking heavily in an apartment above yours, and slamming of doors are just some examples. There is also no way for someone who is blind to adjust the sensitivity for how intense of a vibration will set the unit off. This device also runs on batteries, another thing that someone who is visually impaired cannot independently check the status of because it is displayed by lights. If the device weren’t prone to going off on its own, this would not be a large concern, but because of the aforementioned sensitivity issue, it certainly can be. There are other solutions that have various issues, such as the Helen Vibrating Alarm Clock, the Reizen Braille Quartz Alarm Clock with Vibrating Option, and the Amplicom Talking Digital Alarm Clock with Vibrator, just to name a few. These are the options I looked at and dismissed for various reasons. However, I’ve now found a product I like and that seems reliable: the TCL Pulse.

What Is It?

The TCL Pulse is a piece of hardware that is very small and connects to your iDevice through Bluetooth. At the time of writing, this app and device only work on Apple’s line of products, and are not compatible with Android or other smartphones.
 
The Pulse is squarish, with rounded corners. It measures 2.8 x 2.8 x 0.8 inches, and weighs in at 5 ounces, making it great for traveling. The Pulse has 3 buttons on the top side. From left to right they are a button with bumps on it, which is the pair button; a small concaved button to reset the entire unit; and a small smooth button on the right which turns off the alarm. On the top of the unit, there is a snooze button. This device is controlled through its own iOS app, and can serve as either an alarm or timer. The type and frequency of the alarms are wide in range. You can have soft noise with a strong vibration, loud noises with no vibration, and every other combination you could want. You can also set alarms to go off every day of the week, each weekday, only once, or any combination in between.

How Does It Work?

First, you need to insert the 3 AAA batteries that came with the unit. This process is very straightforward. After inserting the batteries, put the battery door cover back on, and go download the iOS app. Not only is this how you will control the PCL Pulse, but it’s also how you will pair it to your iDevice. Once the app is installed, you will then press and hold the pairing button for 5 seconds. You will feel a vibration and, if you can hear well enough, a beep. This means the PCL Pulse is in “discoverable mode.” When the app is launched, find the “pair new device” button in the app, and double tap or press a cursor routing button to begin the search process. The phone will find your device, and you can select it accordingly.

How Applicable Is The App?

Though there are a couple of buttons without names, it’s straightforward to me what they mean. Some of the labels for VoiceOver are a bit verbose, but I was able to clearly understand what those buttons did. However, for those using smaller braille displays, I can see this being less efficient. Setting an alarm, editing alarms, setting timers, and all other functions are usable for VoiceOver users who have some degree of experience using standard commands or gestures.

One of the challenges of some of the iDevice-specific solutions of this sort in the past has been that they tend to come unpaired from the iDevice. The version of the Lark UP system I tried that had a wristband that would vibrate is an example of this. However, with the TCL Pulse, once the alarm has been set through the app, you no longer have to be in range of your iDevice. So if your iDevice is plugged in somewhere else, as long as the alarm was set to go off at a designated time, it will do so, assuming that the batteries do not die. Speaking of battery life, while finding that status has been a problem with all of the other products mentioned in this post, it’s not one with the TCL Pulse. You can check it with the app. To do this, from the app’s main screen, find the paired device you would like to check out. Then select it, and flick to the right once, or do the equivalent of this on your device, to land on the “ToolBarBatteryOutline” button. Select this, then flick right twice, and it will give you your battery level with VoiceOver and/or braille.

Conclusion

After having the TCL Pulse for nearly two weeks, I’ve found it to be both the most reliable and most cost-effective way to wake up as someone who is deaf-blind. At $40 on Amazon, this works better than devices that cost three times more, and is more portable than any other solution I’ve found to date. My only criticisms of this product are the fact that the manual is not available as an accessible PDF file, and that some of the VoiceOver buttons are a bit wordy. With some relabeling of buttons, and making the PDF version of the manual accessible, the company could make the product even better.

Product Evaluations and Guides: Dolphin Guide from Dolphin Computer Access: A Suite of Access Programs That Simplify Computer Use, by Jamie Pauls

Reprinted with permission from “AccessWorld,” vol. 16 no. 6, June 2015.
 
Every person who is blind or visually impaired and reading AccessWorld would probably be more than willing to attest to the importance of technology in their daily lives. An accessible computer plays a prominent role in reading books, dealing with mail, managing finances, and completing job-related projects. Advancements in mobile technology from the smartphone to the Apple Watch have only increased the power and freedom of the blind and low-vision community. It's not uncommon to find people who are blind comparing notes on how many screen readers are installed on their systems, or lamenting the fact that 800 words per minute is just not quite fast enough to skim through all the documentation that needs to be read in one day.
 
But what about those who, through motor or neurological impairment, find it difficult to quickly navigate a computer keyboard or remember a large number of screen-reader commands? What options are available to the newly blinded veteran who is in the process of adjusting to significant injury, or the senior citizen who finds herself quickly losing her vision with no prior computing experience to rely on at all? In this article, we will take a look at Dolphin Guide, hereafter referred to simply as Guide, a screen reading solution from Dolphin Computer Access that seeks to meet the needs of those who might find traditional mainstream and access technology to be difficult to master.

What Is Guide?

More than just a screen reader, Guide is a suite of applications intended to help users with visual impairments who are brand new to computers, or who are unable to complete complex, multi-step tasks. The application strives to meet the needs of someone who has never touched a computer, while providing the flexibility for that person to improve his computing skills in order to move on to fairly advanced computing tasks such as managing files, taking care of finances, and engaging in leisure activities such as making Skype calls and enjoying movies and music. While providing as much flexibility as possible, the developers of Guide have been careful to break all tasks down into simplified steps, and to provide clear, consistent feedback about what is happening on the computer screen at all times. When evaluating Guide, it is important to remember that the software has been developed for three types of users:

  1. Someone who has no prior computing experience whatsoever;
  2. Someone with a motor impairment who would find it difficult to carry out a series of keystrokes; and
  3. Someone with a neurological impairment who would have difficulty remembering keystrokes and/or multistep actions.

How Guide Presents Information

Guide presents all tasks as numbered menu items. At the main menu, for example, you will hear instructions such as “Press 1 for E-mail; Press 2 to write a letter or document …” It is possible to access these menus using the arrow keys or by directly typing the appropriate number on the keyboard. There are nine items on the main menu, with submenus under the main items, so all choices are easily available via direct number access.

Installing Guide

I installed the 30-day demonstration of Guide, available from the Dolphin web site. As is typical of most programs, there is a simple install along with the option to customize the installation if you’re comfortable with that kind of thing. I chose the simple installation option and followed the prompts with no difficulty. Guide provided a recurring “please wait” message as files were being installed. NVDA was running during the Guide install, so I had the benefit of NVDA’s progress beeps as well as Guide’s prompts. I instructed Guide not to load at start-up. Guide loaded with Nuance’s familiar Vocalizer Tom voice after I rebooted my computer following initial installation, but did not load on subsequent reboots, which was my preference. Guide can be started at any time with CTRL + Shift + G. The program can be shut down by pressing the ESC key until a menu is reached which allows the user to either shut down Guide and leave the computer running, or shut down the software and turn off the computer. A chime and message announce the launch and exit of Guide.

Using E-mail with Guide

It is almost impossible to think about using a computer without considering e-mail. Guide handles e-mail in a straightforward manner that also allows for some flexibility. A Gmail account is recommended, although other providers may work as well. It is possible to use a wizard — which will provide step-by-step assistance — to set up e-mail, or customize settings as needed. Guide announces the number of the message that is being downloaded, and reads the entire message on request. The F8 key starts document reading if Guide’s automatic reading has been interrupted, and F9 stops reading. Standard arrow key navigation and text selection is possible, but Guide provides an interesting alternative to traditional document navigation. The F4 key moves back one word at a time in the document, while F5 moves forward one word at a time. The F3 key moves back a sentence at a time while F6 moves forward through the document by sentence. This key placement allows for an identifiable gap between the backward navigation keys and the forward navigation keys. The F1 key can be pressed at any time when using Guide for help. If the user doesn’t remember how to work with a message, F1 will provide a comprehensive set of commands for working with messages.
 
While Guide’s e-mail client might not appeal to the power user who reads hundreds of messages per day, the beginning or more novice user who simply wishes to communicate with friends and family will find it more than adequate. It is possible to act on several messages at once by selecting them with the spacebar. They can be deleted, moved to folders for later action, and pretty much anything else one would expect.

Working with Documents in Guide

If e-mail is important to every computer user, working with documents has to tie for first place. Whether it’s writing a letter, making a grocery list, or blogging, we all spend quite a bit of time using our word processor of choice. Guide covers the bases where this is concerned as well. Guide provides a letter-writing wizard that will make sure the document is properly formatted. If you’ve already entered addresses into Guide’s address book, it is simple to fill in all of the pertinent information for the recipient of the letter from there, or the address can be typed manually. Once the letter has been written, Guide will assist with printing the letter as well as addressing and printing an envelope. While working with documents, a press of the ESC key shows all the actions that can be performed on the document. If more information is needed, the F1 key brings up help.
 
A dictionary, thesaurus, and spell checker are also available, along with a friendly duck quack sound to let you know that a misspelled word has been detected. Finally, Guide provides ascending and descending tones as one moves through a document with the up and down arrow keys. The lower the tone, the farther down you are in the document. It is possible to select text and apply formatting such as bold, italics, underlining, etc. In short, I found document creation to be quite satisfactory with Guide.

Surfing the Web with Guide

Using a computer without being connected to the Internet is hard to imagine these days. The Internet continues to expand and provide an enormous amount of information from trivia to the latest world news. Guide provides its own web browser that can be operated in text-only mode, or as a more traditional browser showing both text and images on a web page. I chose to use the more traditional mode, and found the browser to be quite usable. By default, Guide loads a homepage that provides a description of how to surf the web with Guide. In addition to entering a URL from the address bar, you can search the web from there as well. Additionally, you can perform commands from the address bar such as typing the word “close” to exit the browser, and “links” to show a list of links on a webpage. Guide’s browser is optimized for those who will surf the web using the arrow keys, although other keys such as the tab key and the letter H to move from heading to heading are also available. I found that while I was able to move between headings on a web page with the letter H, Guide did not announce heading levels as most screen readers do.
 
I did not browse the web extensively with Guide, but I was able to navigate the Fox News site with no issues. This site is rather large, with a lot of links on the front page. Guide loaded the page quickly and performed all tasks as I would have expected.

Scanning and Reading Documents with Guide

Guide offers a full-featured scanning and reading solution for those who want to read a good paperback novel or check the day's mail. As with everything else I explored using the program, I found Guide’s step-by-step instructions for scanning and reading documents to be straightforward and easy to understand. Using Guide, it is possible to scan and read a single page, scan pages for later reading, and scan multiple pages while reading previously scanned material. Guide handles the reading of PDF files as well.

Reading Books and News Articles with Guide

Although a scanner is still a very useful tool in the blind computer user’s arsenal, there is no question that online publications have made reading books, news headlines, and magazine articles much easier for our community. There are a variety of options available to the Guide user. I browsed Bookshare with Guide, downloading a book and reading articles from a local newspaper. It is possible to move from section to section in an article with Guide, or to simply read from the beginning. I found Guide’s search functions and its handling of downloaded books to be quite speedy and easy to work with.

Accessing Music, Movies, and Podcasts with Guide

As important as it is to be productive with our computers, it is nice to be able to enjoy leisure activities as well. Guide facilitates the playing of music in digital format or from a CD. It is possible to rip CDs to your computer for later listening as well. One area where Guide stood out from the crowd for me was when I played a DVD of the Michael Jackson documentary “This Is It.” When I played the DVD on my Mac, there was a lot of information on the DVD that was difficult to wade through in order to get to the actual program. Guide was able to skip all of those unwanted extras and jump straight to the beginning of the program. It is also possible to move through a DVD by chapter or title. Guide’s Help function even told me that DVD chapters are often divided into five- or 10-minute increments, something of which I was not previously aware.
 
In addition to listening to music and movies, it is possible to subscribe to podcasts with Guide. Several podcasts are available by default, including CNN Hourly News and Reuters Top News. Guide provides feedback as podcasts download, and the media player is very simple to operate. Finally, Guide provides several Internet radio stations to round out the audio entertainment experience.

Other Guide Features

Guide’s address book was mentioned earlier in this article, but it is worth stating that adding addresses is quite easy to do. The only thing that I found a bit disconcerting was the fact that there are four lines for address details simply labeled as “line 1, line 2, line 3, and line 4.” I was expecting labels such as city, state, and zip code. This is probably due to the fact that I live in the United States and tend to think in those terms. Not all users are from the U.S. and addresses are handled differently in other countries.
 
Guide’s finance management options are very basic, taking a “money in and money out” approach. It is possible to view a summary of financial transactions within a range of dates as well. A calculator is also available from within Guide, and works as expected.
 
A basic appointment scheduler comes with Guide. I set an appointment and was given the option to be reminded five minutes beforehand if I desired. There was no chime, but only a verbal confirmation.
 
For the user with low vision, it is possible to scan handwritten text. It is also possible to make color or black-and-white photocopies of documents with Guide.
 
Very basic Skype functionality exists from within Guide, but it is not possible to view a list of contacts. It is, however, possible to enter a Skype username or dial a phone number if you have Skype credit.
 
There are several games included with Guide, including an anagram game and Hangman. Also, a typing tutor allows for improving your keyboarding skills. It is estimated that it takes between 12 and 20 hours to work through all the provided lessons.
 
No two people use their computers in exactly the same way, and Guide allows various settings to be changed including various low-vision options and voice rate, pitch, etc.

Overall Impressions of Dolphin Guide

Guide contains an array of programs and utilities for someone who is not an experienced computer user or who, for various reasons, may not be able to complete complex computing tasks. Guide provides simple, step-by-step instructions for completing projects in a safe, uncluttered environment.
 
I found that Guide did not sacrifice functionality for simplicity. Users of the product should be able to learn and gain confidence while completing tasks from the most basic keyboarding to more advanced actions such as creating folders, moving files, and working with multiple e-mail messages at once. Along with Guide’s aforementioned help facilities, remote assistance is possible if needed. Also, a user manual can be downloaded from the Dolphin website.
 
I would like to have received a bit more feedback when installing Guide, such as the percentage of the installation completed and possibly what components of the program were being installed. I would also like to have heard a chime of some sort when my appointment reminder came due. If the developers of Guide were able to provide a simple interface for Facebook, I believe that would be a real benefit to Guide users, but I realize this ball may be in Facebook’s court and not in the hands of the Guide development team. Finally, a basic Twitter client would also be beneficial to Guide users.
 
Overall, I was impressed with Guide’s consistent interface and attention to detail in every area. I would definitely recommend this product for anyone who needs assistance with basic computing skills, and who may not become a “power user” for any of the reasons mentioned previously in this article.

Product Information

Dolphin Guide from Dolphin Computer Access
Price: $795
Phone: 1-866-797-5921
E-mail: info@dolphinusa.com

Notice to the Older Blind: It’s Time We Took Control of Our Future, by Carl Jarvis

Even as our national organization continues to work toward normalization of the blind into the mainstream, our members are aging.  And with age comes another box for us to be placed in.  We are now seen as not only blind, but old.  Old carries with it a great number of misconceptions.
 
In many ways, we treat our elderly population the same as we treat our very young.  We put their lives in the hands of untrained and underpaid amateurs.  It is past time that our national organization turn its efforts toward bringing the older blind out of the Dark Ages and into the light.
 
Here is an editorial I wrote last March for the WCB Newsline.
 
Editorial: Where Have All The Caregivers Gone?
 
After 20 years out in the field, serving older blind and low-vision folks, and becoming closely acquainted with many age-related needs for which our program is not equipped to be of assistance, I can honestly say that the number-one service provided to the elderly is lip service.
 
Not only are the caregivers woefully underpaid, there are not nearly enough to provide the level of service needed. In addition, there is not nearly the number of supervisors overseeing the quality of services provided.
 
There is not enough room to do more than give a couple of examples, but they represent a serious lack in our care for our seniors.
 
Several years back, we visited an elderly woman who was a double amputee, as well as being visually impaired. She met us at the door on a scooter. She later told us that the artificial limbs rubbed and caused sores that did not heal well. As we entered the living room, we noticed a woman seated in a recliner, watching TV while eating a sandwich. We just figured this was a relative or friend. “This is my caregiver,” she said, introducing the woman by name. We spent nearly two hours doing our initial intake, and the woman never stirred from her seat. The home was not so clean and tidy that there was no work to be done.
 
On our second visit the caregiver was not present. We asked what sort of things the woman was supposed to do to help. “She’s supposed to clean and prepare meals in advance, so all I have to do is to heat them up.”  So we wondered out loud if she was satisfied with a helper who sat around all day. “I don’t dare complain. She takes me shopping, but she’s not supposed to do that. If I lose her, I’d have a hard time getting groceries.”
 
In another home, the poor client was being ordered about by her helper. “You need to call the supervisor and have this woman removed from your home. Can’t you get someone else?” She shook her head. “This is the third caregiver I’ve had assigned to me this year. They tell me, if I’m so fussy, maybe I can just get along with no one.” This woman needed assistance every day, but she had someone only four hours, three days a week. And they were cutting that time in half.
 
As we age and become more child-like, heartless predators move in on us, eager to help us out, out of our life’s savings. Why is it that when we talk about keeping our nation safe from terror, we don’t include our elderly citizens? How does building drones or bullets keep Grandma from having her bank account raided, or Grandpa from being bullied by some angry, underpaid orderly?
 
We ship billions of our dollars around the world in the belief we are promoting peace and democracy. Since the only people I see benefiting from such generosity are the billionaires, why don’t we let them fend for themselves for a few years, while we spend those dollars helping our own people? Just a thought.

How to Get More Members Actively Participating in Your Affiliate, compiled by Ardis Bazyn

The latest membership focus call was on the topic of how to get members actively participating in your affiliate. What is active participation? Active members are those who volunteer to assist, either by becoming an officer or board member or who will serve on committees. Many members are busy with their jobs, other activities with family and friends, and/or their church. Participants shared the following ideas.

  • Ask for volunteers for special projects
  • Hold conference calls focusing on topics such as employment, access technology, book club, membership
  • Post events and calls to e-mail list and ask them to be forwarded
  • Hold presidents’ calls to share info
  • Ask affiliate board members to visit chapters
  • Share affiliate/chapter newsletters and announce phone numbers
  • Add first-timer question to convention registration form
  • Have mentor guidelines
  • Find visitors at convention or meetings and contact them
  • Introduce visitors to others, invite them to meet and greet
  • Form new chapter for those who want meetings during the week
  • Have free dues for those in college or between the ages of 18 and 26
  • Ask new members about skill levels and ask them to assist with various projects
  • Ask students to assist with Facebook and Twitter
  • Have meetings in places that are accessible by mass transit
  • Organize beep baseball team and hold games with local police/sheriff/fire department teams
  • Sell products and disperse pamphlets at events
  • Invite members to other events: MLB baseball game, bowling outing, historical places
  • Partner with other organizations to hold awareness events
  • Participate in city council and county events
  • Create community awards: access, trendsetter, best business, state or county representatives, honor society for seniors, volunteering for disability groups, etc. 
  • Get interviews on radio and TV
  • Visit senior center and invite seniors to volunteer
  • Invite county to show voting systems at meeting or rehab center in area
  • Visit with other groups: Girl Scouts for braille decoding, police station to show awareness, have obstacle area to show others, iPad and iPhone classes
  • Supply brochures for ophthalmologists’ offices
  • Ask members for speaker recommendations
  • Join other organizations for the blind for White Cane Safety Day and walk-a-thons.

Please contact the ACB membership Committee if you have suggestions for future focus calls or would like any previous call notes or hand-outs. Our next focus call will be Monday, Aug. 31 at 5:30 p.m. Pacific/8:30 p.m. Eastern time. The call-in number is (712) 775-7000 and passcode is 640009.

Cruises for People Who Don’t Like Cruises, by Sue Bramhall

(Editor’s Note: Sue Bramhall is the owner of Mind’s Eye Travel.)
 
We’re just home after back-to-back river excursions through Europe — down the Rhine from Amsterdam to Basel, Switzerland, and then the Danube River from Passau, Germany, to Budapest in Hungary. These were our first experiences with Viking River Cruises, and they were so positive and enjoyable that I just have to tell you about them. Even our guide dogs were enthused!
 
First, Viking’s spacious new long ships could almost have been designed for us. With fewer than 200 passengers, everything happens on just three decks, which are easily reached by wide, well-marked staircases or an elevator, and oversize glass doors that open and close automatically. Stability is never a concern either, as these ships are on calm rivers. The staterooms are well laid out, with large flat-screen TVs and fixtures that would suit a good hotel. In the dining room and the lounges, the food was simply superb.
 
Our shore excursions were flawlessly planned, managed and hosted, with professional local guides and drivers, and the best in-ear sound systems we’ve ever used. Each day we docked right in our destination cities, so we spent less time on buses and more time on the ground. With so few passengers, there’s no huge scrum getting on or off the ships, either.
 
Viking owns most of the docks where its ships tie up, as well as the luxury coaches that ferried us around, so everything was clean, safe and meticulously maintained and operated. Access and mobility were very good, and our day trips were low-impact. Viking even made sure that we could move at our own pace. 
 
Unlike many ocean-cruise operations, Viking includes its shore excursions in the overall price, so there’s no sticker shock at the end of the trip. In a few places the ships offered optional activities at extra cost, but these were special things like bicycle trips and were fairly priced. Overall, the pace of each cruise was perfect — a very comfortable mix of activity and relaxation. 
 
Our fellow passengers were American, British, Canadian and Australian; everyone (the crew, too) spoke English. Many told us that they much preferred this to ocean cruises on enormous ships with thousands of people. Some were re-connecting with their families’ European roots. On the Rhine, two days before his Medicare birthday, my husband found himself in Strasbourg, the lovely French-German city where he was born. (As he told our guide that day, “I come back every 65 years.”) 
 
Finally, three words about Viking service: the very best. Everyone on both our ships, Viking Hlin and Viking Njord — maître d’s and waiters, chefs, bartenders, chambermaids, receptionists, deckhands and officers — was not only highly professional but also extremely helpful and unfailingly considerate of us and our special needs. We can’t wait to go back!
 
And we are going back. Next May, Mind’s Eye will travel with Viking on the River Seine, from the center of Paris up to the beaches of Normandy. If you’re interested in joining us, please let me know. With 63 ships (and counting), Viking now cruises throughout Europe and Asia, with North America coming soon. If Mind’s Eye Travel can assist you in planning one of these wonderful adventures . . . well, that’s what we’re here for. 
 
Want to learn more? Contact Sue at Mind's Eye Travel, sue@mindseyetravel.com; visit the web site, www.mindseyetravel.com or call her at (207) 236-2188 Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Eastern, or at (207) 542-4438.

Affiliate News

Editor’s Note: Would you like to see your affiliate’s convention and other activities listed here? Send the information to info@acb.org! Please remember that we work two months in advance of the date on the magazine cover. Deadlines for the next issues are: for October, Aug. 26th; for November, Sept. 25th.

Philadelphia Chapter Presents Award

The Philadelphia chapter of the Pennsylvania Council of the Blind recently presented the Mae Davidow Community Service Award to the Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped at the Free Library of Philadelphia.  This award was given “in recognition of its outstanding contributions to the quality of life of blind and visually impaired citizens of the Delaware Valley.”

Pennsylvania State Convention in the State Capital

The Pennsylvania Council of the Blind (PCB) will hold its 80th annual convention Oct. 15-18 at the Harrisburg-Hershey Crowne Plaza Hotel in Harrisburg.  The theme of the conference is “Independence: A Collaborative Approach.”  The convention will feature individual presentations and panel discussions.  There will also be an audio darts tournament, a “whodunit” dinner theater-style banquet, and a tour to a brewery.  All are welcome to join us! 
 
Rates at the Harrisburg-Hershey Crowne Plaza Hotel are $89 per night plus tax. Harrisburg is easily accessible by plane, bus or train.  To reserve a room, call (717) 234-5021.  For information, or to register, call or write the PCB office at (717) 920-9999, toll-free 1-877-617-7407, e-mail pcb1@paonline.com. Our goal is to empower, educate and entertain.  Set your sights for Harrisburg in October for a great convention!
 
For the most up-to-date information and online registration, visit www.pcb1.org/state-convention/.

Here and There edited by Sharon Strzalkowski

The announcement of products and services in this column does not represent an endorsement by the American Council of the Blind, its officers, or staff. Listings are free of charge for the benefit of our readers. "The ACB Braille Forum" cannot be held responsible for the reliability of the products and services mentioned. To submit items for this column, send a message to 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.

Blind and Visually Impaired Veterans’ Family Retreat

Project New Hope Inc. is holding a blind and visually impaired veterans’ family retreat Sept. 17-19 at Grotonwood Camp and Conference Center in Groton, Mass.
 
In most cases, veterans were not blind when they deployed. They were blinded in Iraq or Afghanistan, earlier conflicts, or through eye-related conditions. A lot of them are very angry, frustrated, and looking for resources.
 
The retreat’s goals are to help blind and visually impaired veterans regain their independence and to enhance their quality of life, and to help families understand visual impairment and enrich their home environment, so that they can give appropriate and effective support at home.
 
To register, visit www.projectnewhopema.org. Priority will be given to veterans who are attending for the first time. If you have questions, call (774) 243-7859.

Town Appointed

Maria Town was recently appointed to the post of Associate Director in the Office of Public Engagement at the White House. In this position, Town will manage the Office of Public Engagement's disability and federal agency portfolios.
 
Prior to her appointment in the Executive Branch, Town was a policy advisor at the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP). While at ODEP, Maria led or coordinated numerous efforts to improve employment outcomes for youth and young adults with disabilities. She has particular expertise in areas of youth development and leadership and promoting college and career readiness for all youth. In addition to her work within ODEP, throughout her public service Town has made significant contributions to coordinating youth efforts across the federal government.

New Books from National Braille Press

If you’ve ever lost a dog – be it a guide dog or a pet – “Dog Heaven” by Cynthia Rylant is the book for you. It’s now available in print/braille (contracted UEB). The book is for ages 4 and up, and includes one tactile drawing by artist Ann Cunningham. The story paints a comforting picture of dog heaven, with fluffy cloud beds for sleeping, fields to run and play in, lakes full of ducks, and memory trips back to favorite spots and people, among other things. For more information, visit www.nbp.org/ic/nbp/DOGHEAVEN.html.
 
Speaking of pets, there’s a children’s book called “Rotten Ralph” available, too. Written for kids ages 4 to 9, it’s available in contracted UEB. A cheat sheet with new UEB characters is included. Jack Gantos’ book paints a vivid picture of Sarah’s naughty cat Ralph and all the trouble he causes at home – such as riding his bike inside the house and crashing into the dinner table, and blowing bubbles through Sarah’s father’s best pipe. When the family takes him to the circus, he is so naughty that they decide to leave him there. But Sarah misses her “rotten Ralph.” Find out more at www.nbp.org/ic/nbp/BC1505-RALPH.html.
 
If you’ve ever wondered what would happen if the crayons stopped coloring, wonder no more! “The Day the Crayons Quit” is now available in contracted UEB braille with picture descriptions. It tells about a young boy named Duncan, who just wants to color, but when he opens his crayon box, the crayons refuse to cooperate. What can he do to get them to work again?  
 
To bring this book to life for blind kids, NBP has created a crayons song, a crayons game, a crayons recipe – and much more.  Check out the free activities online at www.greatexpectations.pub.
 
Each book includes the print/braille book, a crayon organizer (with crayons!), and two raised line drawings to color. NBP is also offering some tactile coloring books from Tactile Vision – in case the coloring bug bites. For more information on this book, visit www.nbp.org/ic/nbp/BC1504-CRAYONS.html.
 
NBP now has available “A Braille Spelling Dictionary for Beginning Writers” by Gregory Hurray, in one volume. It comes in large print/uncontracted braille/contracted UEB all on the same page, and is perfect for anyone who’s learning braille or the new UEB code. It contains 1,400 elementary-level words, listed alphabetically without definitions. And it’s in print and braille, so sighted and blind children and teachers or parents can use it together. To learn more, visit www.nbp.org/ic/nbp/SPELL-UEB.html.
 
For more information on any of these books, contact National Braille Press, 88 St. Stephen St., Boston, MA 02115-4302, or call 1-800-548-7323.

HelpMeSee Wins Five Recognitions

HelpMeSee, a global campaign to eliminate cataract blindness, was recognized with five separate awards for creative marketing, video and photography from the Hermes Creative Awards. The judges received over 6,000 entries from around the world for this year’s contest.
 
HelpMeSee was selected as a Platinum Winner for a direct-mail piece that highlighted the IOL lens used in MSICS surgery as well as a Gold Winner for a video used to raise awareness about cataract blindness. The company’s award-winning video profiled staff members navigating the streets of New York while wearing a blindfold. They were asked to do activities like shopping, finding the subway or buying a hot dog from a street cart vendor and interviewed on their experiences.

Envision Presents Awards, Receives Grant

Dr. Pamela Jeter, a post-doctoral research fellow at the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md., received the 2015 Envision-Atwell Award for research in low vision. Dr. Jeter’s research abstract, “Yoga Increases the Sensory Contribution to Balance in Visually Impaired Persons at Risk for Falls,” summarized her evaluation of the therapeutic benefits of yoga for individuals who experience balance deficits and psychological distress due to vision loss.
 
Dr. Manfred MacKeben received the Lifetime Achievement Award in Low Vision Research. Dr. MacKeben is a scientist at The Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute in San Francisco. His work focuses on researching facts and developing tools to help with the rehabilitation of people with low vision, especially those with macular vision loss. In presenting the award to Dr. MacKeben, the organization acknowledged his expert work in low vision and eccentric viewing research and macular perimetry tests for assessing binocular visual fields.
 
Both doctors received their awards May 6 during the annual meeting of the Low Vision Research Group in conjunction with the ARVO annual meeting in Denver. Envision University, the educational arm of Envision, offers year-round and annual programs designed to advance and disseminate knowledge in the field of vision rehabilitation.
 
Envision also received a $25K grant from the Lattner Family Foundation, a Delray Beach, Fla.-based organization which supports programs in education, environment, health and social services, arts and humanities, and religion. The grant will support continuing development of the Envision Research Institute (ERI), a facility established to foster investigation of the functional implications of vision loss, methods of optimizing rehabilitation therapies and the use of accessibility technology. Since its official launch in February, the Envision Research Institute has focused on completing construction of its facilities on the third floor of Envision’s downtown Wichita headquarters.

High Tech Swap Shop

For Sale:

Two TripleTalk USB hardware synthesizers, in like-new condition. Both have the original power adapters and USB cables.  Can be powered by internal battery and used with Window-Eyes or JAWS.  Asking $475 for each, or $900 for both as a single package.  Contact Jonathan Milam at milamj@wfu.edu, or (336) 462-4179.

For Sale:

Blazie Engineering VersaPoint Duo interpoint braille embosser. Hardly used. Asking $1,500. Contact John Farnum at (814) 490-0777.

For Sale:

One Money Talks money identifier (batteries included). Asking $90. One set of computer speakers. Asking $20. Two wired and one wireless USB number pads for use with any computer, asking $7 each for the wired and $9 for the wireless. Two USB PC keyboards (one in original box), asking $10 each. One IBM Thinkpad with 128MB RAM and 6GB hard drive, asking $50. One IBM Thinkpad T60 with 80GB hard drive and 2GB RAM running Vinux 4, asking $300. Contact Jeff Rutkowski via phone at (651) 756-8684, or e-mail at jrutkowski7@gmail.com.

For Sale:

Braille Sense U2, in open box; has less than 15 minutes of use. Has a qwerty keyboard with all accessories. Asking $5,995 or best offer. Braille Sense Mini with Perkins-style keyboard, in open box; comes with all accessories. Will throw in USB LCD display. Asking $3,595. Contact Victor Andrews by e-mail, andrews17@verizon.net, or (917) 559-3800.

For Sale:

Desktop computer with Windows 7, Microsoft Office, and JAWS 15. Includes keyboard, mouse and monitor. Asking $125; without monitor, $95. Call Jose Luis at (818) 220-6256.

ACB Officers, ACB Board and Board of Publications

ACB Officers

President
Kim Charlson (2nd term, 2017)
57 Grandview Ave.
Watertown, MA 02472
 
First Vice President
Jeff Thom (2nd term, 2017)
7414 Mooncrest Way
Sacramento, CA 95831-4046
 
Second Vice President
John McCann (1st term, 2017)
8761 E. Placita Bolivar
Tucson, AZ 85715-5650
 
Secretary
Ray Campbell (2nd term, 2017)
460 Raintree Ct. #3K
Glen Ellyn, IL 60137
 
Treasurer
Carla Ruschival (3rd term, 2017)
148 Vernon Ave.
Louisville, KY 40206
 
Immediate Past President
Mitch Pomerantz
1115 Cordova St. #402
Pasadena, CA 91106

ACB Board of Directors

Jeff Bishop, Tucson, AZ (partial term, 2016)
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)
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 (2nd term, 2017)
Ron Brooks, Phoenix, AZ (2nd term, 2017)
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 http://www.acb.org/bf/.