The ACB E-Forum, December 2015

The ACB E-Forum
Volume LIV December 2015 No. 6
 
Published by
the American Council of the Blind
 
Be A Part of ACB
 
The American Council of the Blind (TM) is a membership organization made up of more than 70 state and special-interest affiliates.  To join, contact the national office at 1-800-424-8666.
 
Contribute to Our Work
 
Those much-needed contributions, which are tax-deductible, can be sent to Attn: Treasurer, ACB, 6300 Shingle Creek Pkwy., Suite 195, Brooklyn Center, MN 55430.  If you wish to remember a relative or friend, the national office has printed cards available for this purpose.  Consider including a gift to ACB in your Last Will and Testament.  If your wishes are complex, call the national office.
 
To make a contribution to ACB by the Combined Federal Campaign, use this number: 11155.
 
Check in with ACB
 
For the latest in legislative and governmental news, call the “Washington Connection” 24/7 at 1-800-424-8666, or read it online.
 
Listen to ACB Reports by downloading the MP3 file from www.acb.org, or call (605) 475-8154 and choose option 3. Tune in to ACB Radio at www.acbradio.org or by calling (605) 475-8130.
 
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
Eric Bridges, 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.
 
Check out ACB Radio Mainstream to keep abreast of happenings in the blind community.
 
For news you can use, check out the new ACB Radio News and Information Service at acbradio.org.

The ACB E-Forum, December 2015 downloads

Humana Now Offers Talking Prescription Labels for Its Members with Visual Impairments, by Kim Charlson

The American Council of the Blind has a long history of commitment to the advancement of policies and programs that enhance the independence of people who are blind or visually impaired. Our leadership in the area of accessible prescription label systems is ground-breaking, and our work with Humana will make a true difference to thousands of retirees and Medicare recipients for purchasing more affordable prescriptions via mail order.   
 
Humana, a Louisville, Kentucky-based company, is now offering talking prescription labels, at no cost, to its blind and visually impaired members who fill prescriptions through Humana Pharmacy, Inc. and at its seven PrescribeIT Rx locations in Florida. Humana worked on its accessible prescription initiative with ACB and individual blind members in Nevada, Florida and Georgia. I also want to acknowledge the essential support and assistance ACB received on this effort from attorney Lainey Feingold.
 
Humana is now offering talking labels provided by the ScripAbility prescription accessibility system, a service of En-Vision America.  The talking labels provide people who cannot read standard print a safe and convenient way to access information on prescription labels. Humana members who are blind or have low vision will benefit greatly from this new service. Braille labels are also available through the Humana mail-order pharmacy program.
 
In addition to accessible prescription labels, and to ensure “equality of opportunity for meaningful access to healthcare services and activities,” Humana customers who are blind or visually impaired may request alternative format communications or plan documents (i.e., braille, audio, large print, or screen-reader–accessible PDFs), at no cost, as their standard communication method. To request a specific format for communication of information, send an e-mail message to accessibility@humana.com. A concierge representative from Humana will contact members in response to a request.
 
“One size does not fit all with our blind and visually impaired members. Effective communication, in the chosen format of the member, is extremely important. Braille and talking labels on prescription bottles are two ways that Humana serves its members,” states Dr. Michelle Griffin, PhD, of Humana Language Assistance and Alternative Format Services.
 
Talking and braille labels are not a luxury for blind people. Accessible labels are critical for people with visual impairments to be able to take medication safely and independently. Through this initiative, Humana demonstrates that as a corporation, it cares about its members who are blind and is proud to be a leader in its field.
 
Humana Pharmacy members can request talking or braille labels by contacting the Humana Pharmacy Call Center at 1-800-379-0092.

Linked, Connected and Empowered with ACB Link

Did you ever wish for a way to have ACB at your fingertips? Here it is! And here we are, connected in easier ways than ever before!
 
At the opening session of the 2015 convention, president Kim Charlson announced that ACB would begin development of an iPhone app, now given the name “ACB Link.” From the outset, this project was driven by one objective: to bring members and affiliates closer to both each other and to the leadership of the national organization. With the release of ACB Link, now available in the iTunes App Store, we have taken our first step on that journey.
 
The application is broken up into four tabs appearing at the bottom of the application screen: Home, Affiliates, Radio and About.
 
The Home tab is the area for highlighting events and other time-sensitive items of interest to ACB members and friends. This tab is extremely dynamic and will change as events occur and as developments warrant, such as achievements in our advocacy initiatives.
 
One question that is often heard is: “How can I contact an ACB affiliate?” The Affiliates tab addresses this issue. Contact information for all ACB state and special-interest affiliates can be accessed from this screen.  Upon opening the Affiliates tab, you are presented with a screen containing two buttons: special-interest affiliates and state affiliates. In both cases, the buttons take you to a complete list of affiliates in the given category. Hence, you can simply tap on the state affiliate button for a list of all ACB state affiliates. By tapping the “my location” button, you will be directed to the affiliate closest to your current location. Once an affiliate is selected, you can view the main contact information for that affiliate. Simply tap on e-mail address or phone number links to get in touch with the designated contact person for the selected affiliate.
 
ACB Radio is a critical component of our overall public relations presence, and we have been working very hard this year to bring ACB Radio closer to the membership of the organization. ACB Link provides the ability to stream all seven ACB Radio streams.  All available podcast feeds can also be streamed from within this tab, thereby providing an excellent way to stay connected with ACB activities such as national and affiliate conventions and so much more!
 
The About tab provides basic information about ACB Link and allows you to change some settings within the application.
 
Stay notified about late-breaking advocacy and special announcements from the national office through the use of push notifications within ACB Link. We promise to keep them at a minimum so as not to overwhelm you with unwanted notifications.
 
From our mission to our history and from our advocacy to conventions, we are excited about our new app and know you will be too! Join with us right up to the moment, as we are linked with ACB Link!
 
This is just the beginning for ACB Link. We have many exciting plans for its future development. If you have feedback for the ACB Link development team, please get in touch by e-mailing link@acb.org. This is your app; please help it become all that you want it to be and all that it can be! All suggestions are sincerely encouraged and welcome.
 
To learn more, visit http://link.acb.org.

Scholarship Applications for 2016-2017 School Year Are Now Available!

Start spreading the news! On Dec. 1, 2015, the online application for ACB scholarships goes live!
 
All students who are interested in participating in the 2016-2017 ACB scholarship program can go to www.acb.org and fill out an application.  Each applicant’s information will be carefully evaluated, and a response will be sent to every student who applies.
 
All pertinent information, including eligibility requirements, submission dates and necessary documentation, can be found online. If you are a student, or you know a student who would like to apply, direct them to www.acb.org
 
The amount of scholarship awards ranges from $1,500 to $3,500.  Winners are urged to attend the ACB annual conference and convention to participate in a myriad of exciting and fulfilling activities designed to entertain, encourage and enlighten.
 
For further information, contact Dee Theien at (612) 332-3242, or Michael Garrett, ACB scholarship chairman, at Megarrett4443@sbcglobal.net.

Willing, Able, and Seeking Opportunity: Video Receives Support from Multinational Corporations, by Eric Bridges

Far too often in the media, people who are blind or visually impaired are portrayed in two ways. Either we are shown as heroes who have overcome seemingly insurmountable barriers, or characterized as helpless victims who have been taken advantage of by scam artists and thieves.  There seems to be very little middle ground in coverage. Do we lead regular lives? Of course, but the extremes appear to receive the lion’s share of coverage. Additionally, when the subject of employment is raised within the community, the tenor of the discussion often becomes emotional.  Expressions of frustration and anxiety regarding the ongoing challenges that people who are blind or visually impaired continue to experience when seeking employment are quite prevalent. Many of these emotions may come from the misperceptions by employers and some in the general public regarding the capabilities of people who are blind.
 
In an effort to show a more complete depiction of who we are as a community, ACB embarked on a project. “BlindAbility: Willing, Able, and Seeking Opportunity” was created to highlight the abilities of blind individuals. This video can be used as an educational tool for hiring managers, HR professionals, or the general public.
 
At press time, the video has been viewed over 2,100 times. What is even more impressive is the list of corporations that have shown or agreed to utilize our video with their employees. Sprint, IBM, and JPMorgan Chase showed the BlindAbility video during ADA celebrations at their headquarters in July. Microsoft has incorporated the video in its HR toolkit for internal use. Both JPMorgan Chase and IBM have made the video available to their employees inside the company intranet and have blogged about its import. During October, JPMC also played the video in a loop in the lobby of their headquarters in New York City for two weeks.
 
Would your affiliate, company, school, organization or agency be interested in showing or viewing our video? If so, let us know! E-mail ebridges@acb.org.  To watch the video, go to www.acb.org/BlindAbility, then choose whether you want the described version or the closed-captioned version.
 
— Eric Bridges

Happy Holidays from the Convention Committee, by Janet Dickelman

As 2015 draws to a close, the convention committee wishes to thank you for your participation in the 2015 convention, whether it was in person or via ACB Radio. We look forward to the 55th ACB conference and convention next July in Minnesota.
 
Convention dates are July 1st through 9th. The site of the 2016 convention is the Hyatt Regency Minneapolis.  Those of you who were able to attend the 2007 convention remember all the restaurants in close proximity to the Hyatt and the ease of getting around the hotel.
 
We are beginning to plan numerous fun and educational tours; affiliates and committees are starting to discuss programming; and the program committee will be meeting to discuss the agenda for our general sessions.
 
There will be much more information to come. In the meantime, we wish you a very Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, super solstice or a joyous Kwanzaa.  We hope that part of your happy and healthy new year includes a trip to Minneapolis in July.
 
Stay Connected
 
Once again this year, the convention announcement list will be filled with information about the convention. Subscribe to the list today by sending a blank e-mail to acbconvention-subscribe@acblists.org. If you’ve been on the list in the past, you need not subscribe again.
 
Don’t have e-mail? No problem! Convention updates will also be featured on ACB Radio and by telephone through Audio Now at (605) 475-8130.
 
Hotel Details
 
Room rates at the Hyatt Regency Minneapolis are $89 single or double. There is an additional $10 per night charge per person for up to four people in a room. Applicable state and local taxes are currently 13.4%.  For reservations by telephone, call Central Reservations at 1-888-421-1442, and be sure to mention you are attending the ACB convention in order to obtain our room rate. To make reservations online, visit www.acb.org and follow the 2016 convention link.
 
Convention Contacts
 
2016 exhibit information: Michael Smitherman, (601) 331-7740, amduo@bellsouth.net
2016 advertising and sponsorships: Margarine Beaman, (512) 921-1625, oleo50@hotmail.com
 
For any other convention-related questions, please contact Janet Dickelman, convention chair, at (651) 428-5059, or via e-mail, janet.dickelman@gmail.com.

Bid It! Buy It! Holiday Auction and Mini Mall, by Carla Ruschival

ACB’s got you covered when it comes to holiday shopping and gift-giving this season. Get in on the fun and bid and buy at the fourth annual ACB Radio Holiday Auction; find gifts and stocking stuffers for everyone on your list at the ACB Mini Mall.
 
Holiday Auction
 
The ACB Radio Holiday Auction is packed with incredible items that are guaranteed to create bidding frenzies. Techies will love the Apple TV, the Chromecast, the solar backpack, the Bluetooth speakers and headset. Get cooking with grills, a single-serving Keurig and more.  Snap up Thomas Kincaid and San Francisco Music Company music boxes, an original Shirley Temple doll, a fabulous old-time radio collection, and a numbered Karl-Anthony Towns autographed basketball. Select a topaz necklace and bracelet from Brazil, a delicate 24-kt. gold-covered aspen leaf pendant suspended from a satin cord, a diamond-dusted rose gold and silver bracelet, or handcrafted beaded necklaces that are sure to please. Your guide dog will love the large carry-all with dog toys and treats inside, and Santa will visit when you hang our handcrafted stockings for yourself and your doggie friend. Feast on holiday treats such as incredible chocolates, maple fudge, homemade cookies and brownies and so much more.
 
There isn’t space to list all of the amazing items in this year’s Holiday Auction. Check out the auction preview page at www.acb.org/preview1215 for descriptions and photos of all our great items.
 
Michael McCarty and Carla Ruschival will once again be your on-air hosts; Larry Turnbull and Jim Fenn will be in the studios, working behind the scenes to keep us on the air; and Patti Cox and Paula Wiese will be taking your calls and registering your bids.
 
Two telephone numbers and multiple telephone lines will allow us to quickly take your bids. To bid on an item, listen for it to be announced on the air. Call 1-877-904-1080 or (502) 571-1080 to place your bid. If you receive a busy signal, hang up and try again. Please note that there are more local lines available, so you may wish to use the 502 number for bidding.
 
Find more auction details and rules at www.acb.org/auction1215. Then tune us in on www.acbradio.org or by calling (605) 475-8130 from any telephone on Sunday, Dec. 6, from 7 to 11 p.m. Eastern (4 to 8 p.m. Pacific), and join in the fun!
 
ACB Mini Mall
 
Mix and match our wreath, Santa’s sleigh, Merry Christmas, and old-time village holiday designs on T-shirts, sweatshirts, mugs, steins, duffels and totes, lunch bags, pillows, and more.  Or select a 16GB ACB thumb drive, an ACB jacket in either red, royal, navy or black, or even a new aluminum or graphite cane.
 
Stocking Stuffers: Put an ACB luggage tag in every stocking this year; it’s a white airplane with either red, blue, black or green wings and the ACB logo on the side. Share beautiful porcelain ornaments or a highly polished aluminum snowflake ornament with an interesting edge that has tactile appeal.
 
New Products: Were you in Dallas at the Thursday morning general session, or listening on ACB Radio, as Chen Guangcheng held us spellbound with his account of his life in China?  Known as “the blind Chinese dissident,” Chen was imprisoned because he advocated for the rights of blind people in China. The story of his escape, and how he found his way to the American Embassy and then to the United States, was incredible. Copies of his book, “The Barefoot Lawyer: A Blind Man’s Fight for Justice and Freedom in China,” are now in the Mini Mall (print only). A specially edited CD of his talk at the ACB Dallas convention is also available. Purchase the book and CD separately or as a package.
 
Can’t decide what to buy for your friends or yourself? Mini Mall gift certificates are now available; purchase them either online or by phone. Gift certificates may only be redeemed by phone at this time.
 
Visit the Mini Mall online at http://mall.acb.org, or find us in the new ACB Link iPhone app.  You can also give us a call at 1-877-630-7190 during regular business hours.

In Memoriam: “Bob Allen” Prahin, by Vicky Prahin

Robert “Bob Allen” Prahin died Aug. 29 in hospice care. He was 75.
 
Bob was born in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1940. He lost his vision to congenital glaucoma, but his parents sent him to public school instead of to the Ohio State School for the Blind in Columbus. He began taking piano lessons at the age of 6 and ultimately made music his profession. He earned his bachelor of music degree from Capital University in Columbus, with a focus on composition. He had already acquired a following in local establishments by the time he graduated, and he continued to build that rapidly during the next decade. He formed the Bob Allen Trio, which played six nights a week for more than 20 years at the Christopher Inn. They went on to play for another 25 years in hotels and restaurants around central Ohio, took part in the annual Jazz & Rib Fest, and performed with several orchestras in the ‘80s. Bob’s first album, “The Naked Piano,” illustrates his versatility on the keyboard, with such melodies as “Promises, Promises” and “Yesterday.” He is renowned for his adept combining of jazz and classical. The trio produced half a dozen albums over the years, some of which are still available on vinyl or CD.
 
Bob received his extra class license in amateur radio in his early teens and was well known as W8DIL until illness caused his license to lapse. He learned to build his own equipment, soldering tiny chips onto circuit boards and creating many of the items he used for work and pleasure. In his 50s he took up woodworking, purchasing a radial arm saw and learning to make bookends, bookcases, and other things, scaring family and friends with the possibility of adding a finger to some project — which he never did. In the last five years, he lost both legs and much of his hearing, but those who lived and worked with him remember his enthusiasm and perseverance, in spite of new disabilities.
 
Bob was active in the early years of ACB-Ohio and in the ‘90s began attending national conventions, during which he performed in the Showcase as a soloist and accompanist. He has served on the board of directors of the Columbus chapter of ACBO for the last several years.
 
Bob leaves his widow Marilyn “Mickey”; his son Aaron; two daughters, Marsi and Crystal; and four stepchildren, who accepted him without reservation as a father figure. His legacy includes his music and the memory of a gentle, non-judgmental man.

In Memoriam: Marcia Nigro Dresser, by Marlaina Lieberg

On Sept. 26, 2015, around 9:30 a.m. Eastern time, the world lost a wonderful woman and heaven gained a sparkling angel.  Marcia Nigro Dresser was born on Oct. 15, 1950.  She dedicated her life to helping others, and never met a person she did not like.
 
I first met Marcia when she came into the resource room for blind students at the Emerson School in Malden, Mass.  Marcia was a tiny, bouncy little kid, and allowed me to immediately adopt her as my newest friend.  I remember putting tiny Marcia into the teacher’s rolling chair and whisking her around the room, while she clapped her hands and made joyful laughing sounds.
 
As little girls, we had great imaginations!  So, we were astronauts, doctors, housewives, actresses and more.  Our love of baseball and music would often direct us to make up fun songs about the Red Sox, and harmonize together in the taxicab going to or from school each day.  We spent nearly every weekend together for six years while we attended the same school, and remained close after we left and went to different schools for junior high and high school.
 
Marcia grew to become active in her church, her town, and of course the American Council of the Blind.  Her service to ACB included serving on the board of publications, serving as president of the American Association of Blind Teachers, and serving as president of the Bay State Council of the Blind.  These are just a few of the ways she gave of her time and her heart.
 
Marcia loved her husband, Steve Dresser, very much.  She often referred to him as “Partner” when speaking to or about him.  Marcia and Steve married in 1997, and together, they started a brailling service, as well as assisting Bay State Council with many projects, including BSCB’s “Council Connections” program.  They lived in Connecticut for several years, and were invaluable to the Connecticut ACB affiliate, which they helped grow.
 
Marcia believed in blind people, and throughout her career as a teacher of visually impaired and blind students, she instilled belief of self in all her students.  I remember many conversations over our friendship of 60 years when she would proudly share successes her kids had.  I’d tell her that she was so important to those successes, and she’d quickly correct me, telling me the kids were fabulous.
 
Marcia had two guide dogs, Brina and Buttons.  She loved her dogs dearly.  Along with the love of her two guide dogs, Marcia loved cats.  I can’t remember a time in her adult life when she did not have a kitty to cuddle and love.
 
Marcia was a person who, once you met her, you never forgot.  I love you, Marcia, and I will never forget who you were and how you cared.  Rest in peace, my sweet friend.

Readers’ Memories of Marcia Dresser

My heart has truly broken today to learn of the passing of Marcia! She was one of the kindest, most thoughtful, caring people I ever had the pleasure to know. She always thought of others, and was one of the most dedicated and determined advocates, a true professional and mentor for hundreds of children who are blind, and cared so much about making the world a better place for all blind people. She loved ACB and was so generous with her time and money ... if an affiliate needed someone to buy a raffle ticket, she was there. If you needed someone to work on a committee or task force, Marcia would be there. She cared about everyone, loved her church, was involved in Democratic Town Committee activities, and served as president of the Bay State Council of the Blind, as well as the American Association of Blind Teachers. I’m probably missing several organizations and offices she held, because she did so much! She was truly an angel while she was with us all and now she will be leading the angels, laughing, singing, and organizing them to do their good works. Everyone who had the pleasure of having Marcia touch their lives is sad today ... I am just glad she isn’t suffering and in pain any longer. She was a fighter to the end, and wasn’t ready to leave all of us behind, but we will never forget her wonderful spirit and loving soul.
 
Steve, our hearts are filled with condolences and wishes for you ... we are thinking of you, and of course, if there is anything we can do to assist you in any way, let me know! 
 
Marcia, rest in peace — we will always love you!
 
— Kim Charlson
 
Donna and I learned of Marcia’s passing this morning on Rick and Deb Lewis’ oldies show. While not unexpected, losing friends is always a shock.
 
I met Marcia in the late ‘80s when she was here in L.A. for a conference and ended up at a reunion held for former attendees of the Foundation for the Junior Blind (now the Junior Blind of America). While we didn’t communicate on a regular basis, we always managed to get together at ACB conventions.
 
We were fortunate to spend time with Marcia and Steve at a pair of activities which were two of her final wishes to attend: last year’s cruise to and from the Hawaiian Islands and this year’s ACB national conference and convention. At the time of our cruise, Marcia was feeling better, although she needed to rest frequently. Our final day in the Islands, Marcia, Donna and I spent a wonderful half-day on Kanapali Beach, enjoying the water, the weather, and drinks with little umbrellas in them.
 
We had dinner one night at the convention and Marcia told us that she had insisted on attending so that she could say goodbye to all her ACB friends. She did.
 
What do you say about a kind and gentle friend who believed so strongly in the need to advocate on behalf of blind and vision impaired adults and children? It is doubly difficult to lose someone who is a contemporary, age-wise, although it’s something we all need to reconcile ourselves to at some point.
 
Our sincere condolences to Steve and to all of Marcia’s scores of friends in ACB. Rest well, Marcia.
 
— Mitch and Donna Pomerantz
 
It is hard to know what to say about a friend who one has known since almost 30 years ago. When I first met her, I was struck by her good sense, cheerfulness and curiosity. In all the years since she has remained a good friend always willing to listen, a soul interested in everything and a person who cared deeply about people who are blind and how they are treated. She was interested in libraries, teaching techniques, braille and people. She served in leadership positions but was trying her best to juggle her illness and her responsibility.
 
I had a chance to hug Marcia at convention and told her how much I cared about her. Words are empty, though. I want to remember the person who always demanded her hug and who was always willing to spend quality time talking about things we both liked. We both liked folk music and spent a wonderful evening at a Janis Ian concert. We got to spend quality time with Janis and I got to spend a weekend with Steve and Marcia and their kitty.
 
Marcia will be missed, and I know that Steve will find it hard to adjust to not having her around. I first got to know both of them at a leadership meeting in Connecticut where we all spent lots of quality time deciding how best to grow an affiliate and about relationships.
 
I love you, Marcia. I want my hug!
 
— Paul Edwards
 
Marcia was a wonderful person, for all the reasons everyone has stated. But let’s not forget her cats! We had great conversations about cats, because we both were feline fans. I will miss those warm, wonderful cat stories she loved to tell.
 
— Carla Ruschival
 
I, too, am saddened to hear this news. When I first joined the BOP, Marcia went out of her way to make me feel welcome, and when I moved into my new role as chair, she was always there with helpful advice and support.  We had some wonderful conversations, and I will greatly miss her knowledge and support.
 
We reach out to you, Steve, in your time of loss and sadness. As a part of the ACB family, please accept this virtual hug from all of us.
 
— Denise Colley
 
I had the honor and privilege of serving with Marcia on the BOP for five years. I also had the privilege of sharing the same profession. We had lots of fun conversations about educating students with visual impairments. Steve, I don’t know when you’ll read these messages, but I was always so struck by the sweet abiding love that the two of you shared for each other.  It was beautiful to watch.  I loved Marcia very much.  I was so honored because when one of us would call the other, she would always say “hey my sister” and then we’d continue on with our conversations. 
 
So, Marcia, “my sister,” we promise to take care of Steve while he’s still here. If we could see you now, we know that you’re walking streets of gold and are no longer in pain. You were a blessing to us all.
 
— Judy Jackson
 
I didn’t have e-mail access last weekend and was extremely saddened upon my return to read of Marcia’s passing. I wasn’t at all surprised to read all the wonderful things written about her; she was truly a kind and caring person. She’d never met my husband or son, but always asked about Terry and Kevin as if she knew them well. Her love of cats has already been mentioned. We mourned the death of each other’s cats, and she loved my Seeing Eye dog Isabel and always wanted to hear stories about our pet dog Chaos.
 
She loved technology (but nothing without buttons)! She introduced me to the Haven, and was thrilled when, after a brief hiatus with the iPhone, I returned to our beloved Haven.
 
During the 2010 convention, at my first caucus, Marcia and I were seated next to each other. She took my hand and noticed it was cold and shaking. I told her I was nervous. She held my hand the entire time. I’m certain her strength and confidence helped me go on to be elected to ACB’s board.
 
When she called me just prior to the end of registration for the 2015 convention and told me she wanted to come to Dallas to say good-bye to everyone, knowing how ill she was, I couldn’t imagine how she’d manage. With the help of Steve and her dear friend Janice she was able to be in Dallas, attend a Rangers game, visit Southfork Ranch, and have quality time with her many friends. I feel so fortunate to have been one of those friends. Just sitting with Marcia for an hour was truly a gift!
 
The reason I was away from e-mail was my son was married on Saturday, unbeknownst to me just a few hours after Marcia passed away.  I believe he and his new wife will be blessed by their special wedding angel. I’m sure she was watching over them as they took their vows. I love you, Marcia; thank you for being such an amazing friend.
 
— Janet Dickelman
 
I am overwhelmed with grief upon receiving this news! Marcia and I have been friends for years.  We worked together in AABT and IVIE, and she, Steve and I were great DX-ing buddies. We also shared a love of science fiction. We shared each other’s trials and triumphs, advice and encouragement and so much more! She helped me to decide which notetaker to get and spent several hours showing me all the ins and outs of using the BrailleNote Apex at the 2011 ACB convention in Sparks, Nev. She was truly a great and very patient teacher! Now, every time I use my Apex, I will think of her and feel her near me. It was so hard to say “goodbye” to her this year at the convention, but I am so glad that she and I were able to spend some quality time together. Why is there so much cancer in this world? Why does it take so many of our family members and friends that we love so dearly? The only comfort that I can take now is that she is in heaven, where there is no more cancer and suffering. I truly believe that the best way that we can honor Marcia is to follow her example as a dedicated, generous and hard-working member of ACB and by being a good friend to all.
 
— Carla Hayes
 
Marcia Dresser was a special angel who will be sorely missed. Let me count the ways:
 
1. Marcia lived and breathed ACB. She was a life member whose passion for the mission of ACB always burned bright. She served on the BOP, many times on the credentials committee, and lent a willing hand behind the scenes to help things run smoothly during ACB conventions. Marcia gave generously to ACB, both personally and in terms of resources.
 
2. Affiliates: Marcia was a leader of a number of affiliates including Bay State Council, the Connecticut Council and the teachers’ special-interest affiliate. As president of BSCB, Marcia was instrumental in the formation of two BSCB affiliates, the student chapter and the North Shore chapter.
 
3. Students and Young People: Marcia was a teacher of the visually impaired (TVI) for many years. There was always a special place in her heart for students, both her own and students generally. I recall many instances where Marcia took the time to get to know student members of ACB. She was an advocate for all and a mentor to many.
 
5. Last, but certainly not least, I will miss Marcia as a personal friend. We both grew up in Reading, Mass. and went to the same junior high and high school. I remember the first time I entered Parker Junior High School. When I was introduced to the principal, he told me about the positive impression left on him and others at Parker by Marcia. I remember hoping that I would be able to match Marcia’s effort.
 
Strangely enough, Marcia and I did not meet until we were both adults. Over the years, we became very good friends. Marcia and her husband Steve were especially kind to Donna and I during some very trying economic times. They offered both support and a listening ear. Marcia was one of the kindest souls I’ve had the pleasure to know. Marcia, I will think of you often, during ACB and BSCB events, upon the first pitch of a Red Sox game or upon enjoying a sinful chocolate dessert.
 
Marcia, today I am both sad and happy. Sad that you’re gone, but happy that you’re no longer in pain.
 
— Bob Hachey
 
Marcia Dresser was a friend of mine since the early 1970s. She was not blustery and assertive, but she was indomitable and a force of kindness and love to be reckoned with. We spent our time together speaking and sharing about things that mattered to all of us in humankind and she always listened to, and cared about, all the people with whom she would speak. 
 
I join with so many who will miss Marcia, and I know that God has brought one of his favorite people home. May she rest in his grace forever. I loved you, Marcia, very much as a friend and even as my mentor, and I am so glad that I got the chance to be with you and our friends two weeks ago. 
 
Rest in peace, my faithful friend. May you enjoy all the rewards of heaven that you so richly deserve and have earned with your love of life and all of us who knew you. The tears in this goodbye are more than matched by the joy of having had you as a friend for so many years.
 
— Charlie Crawford
 
This is such heartbreaking news, even with knowing she was so ill. Marcia was one of my first friends and mentors in the blindness community. She had such a heart for young people and inspired me to do my best in all I do. She was full of love and grace for others. Marcia will be dearly missed by all.
 
— Sara Conrad

Passings

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

Ben Manley Jr.

Ben Manley Jr., 60, of Shambley, Ga., died July 27, 2015. He had been in the hospital with a blood clot in one of his legs and appeared to be doing better. According to his wife, Amy Schwab, he was about to be released when he suffered a massive heart attack. He was a 1973 graduate of the Georgia Academy for the Blind. At press time, plans for a memorial service in Atlanta were still in the works. Contact the Neptune Society, (404) 351- 3526, for information.

Robin Charlene Walker

Feb. 12, 1956 – Aug. 7, 2015
Robin Walker, 59, of Stone Mountain, Ga., passed away Aug. 7, 2015. Robin had recently retired from the IRS office in Atlanta after 30 years of service.  She was a pleasant, happy, sweet woman with a pleasant personality. Because of her limited eyesight, she was a braille reader who enjoyed doing her own yard work. She was a graduate of the Georgia Academy for the Blind, and attended her first alumni meeting this year. She really enjoyed catching up with other GAB graduates. Meals at Joy’s Country Cooking were among her favorites. A memorial service was held Aug. 15 at Gregory B. Levett and Sons Funeral Homes and Crematory-South Dekalb Chapel in Decatur, Ga.

Johnny Lafayette Wilson

Johnny Lafayette Wilson, 82, passed away July 15, 2015, due to complications from a stroke. He was born in Gainesville, Ga., and attended the Georgia Academy of the Blind, Georgia State University, and Atlanta Law School. He is a longtime piano technician, food service entrepreneur, and advocate for the blind. He loved visiting family and friends, woodworking, and reading tales of the Old West. He is survived by his wife, Winona, of 43 years; son and daughter-in-law, John and Mireille Wilson of Valencia, Calif.; daughter and son-in-law, Stephanie and Chris Barrios of Stephens City, Va.; and grandchildren, Kayleigh, Connor, and Carys Barrios; sister and brother-in-law, Juanita and Melvin Boyd of Gainesville, Ga.; brother and sister-in-law, Tom and Dixie Wilson of Lawrenceville, Ga.; sister, Dianne Cross of Cleveland, Ga. and numerous nephews and nieces. He was a joyful friend to all. No services are planned.

A Letter from the ACB President

Dear Members and Friends,
 
During this special time of year, I want to extend my personal thanks to each and every one of you for your membership and commitment to the American Council of the Blind.  Each of you are important to ACB’s success and, as president, I appreciate the time, talent, and energy you have given to our critical work over the past year. If you have supported ACB financially, I thank you for your past generosity. If you are able to do so, I would appreciate any additional financial assistance you can provide. It is only through the support of people like you that our work can continue and flourish.
 
Let me highlight a few of this year’s achievements that your support helped to make possible.
 
In our continuing and vigilant pursuit of fully accessible prescription labeling, ACB has most recently worked with Humana, another leading health and well-being company, to assist them in the development of their own accessible prescription initiative. As of Sept. 30, Humana will offer free talking prescription labels to blind and visually impaired members who fill prescriptions through Humana Pharmacies. Members may also request alternative format communications (braille, audio, large print, and screen-reader-accessible PDFs) as their standard format for receiving important member information.
 
In 2014, we reported that ACB added telephone access for all 6 streams of programming of ACB Radio, dedicated to the blindness community and produced by people who are blind and visually impaired. Listenership soared as a result, and continues to grow each month. With convention season well under way, our members can keep current with state and national activities. For example, simultaneous streaming allowed coverage of both the Illinois and California state conventions in early October. So, ACB continues to do even more to keep you connected and informed!
 
Scholarship awards for 2015 increased in number and size. At ACB’s annual national convention in July, we awarded 19 scholarships ranging from $1,000 to $3,500 to post-secondary students who are legally blind and met GPA and other specific requirements. Thanks to continued generous support by several individual donors, award amounts again saw an increase, helping to keep up with the rising cost of a college education.
 
Our continued advisory role with the Bureau of Engraving and Printing concerning fully accessible currency realized a major success this past June. The Treasury Department announced that the redesigned $10 note, scheduled for release in 2020, will feature raised elements to help distinguish it from other bills.
 
Regarding employment, ACB created and released a video, “BlindAbility: Willing, Able, and Seeking Opportunity,” which highlights the skills and abilities of blind individuals. It can be used as an educational tool for hiring managers, HR professionals, and others interested in diversifying their work force. The video is available with audio description and closed captioning and can be found at www.acb.org/blindability.
 
Our work continues daily, and is performed by tens of thousands of members, the majority of whom are volunteers. Their activities help ACB live its mission: to increase the independence, security, equality of opportunity, and improved quality of life for all blind and visually impaired people.
 
These important accomplishments in 2015 represent only a few of the achievements we have all worked hard to see to fruition. With your financial support, we will continue to build on these successes. Please help us continue our efforts with a gift today, at whatever level you can manage.  Remember, no contribution is too small — every dollar we receive will make a difference. Thank you in advance for your generosity.
 
Sincerely,
Kim Charlson, President
 
P.S. There are several ways for you to donate this year:

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

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

A Great Time in the Lone Star State, by the ACB Auction Committee

If you weren’t able to attend the Lone Star Loot Auction at the ACB conference and convention, you missed a real Texas blow-out. Bargains were the order of the day; from food to collectibles, from jewelry to vacation packages. The most important thing, however, was that the event raised over $19,000 for the American Council of the Blind.
 
We thank all of you who participated in this year’s auction. We couldn’t have done it without the generosity of many companies, ACB affiliates, and individuals. Many thanks to our guest describer and auctioneer, president Kim Charlson and Brian Charlson, to ACB staff for their tireless assistance, and, of course, to the hard-working volunteers, including spotters and describers. Finally, we appreciate all of you who purchased items at the auction to support our great organization.
 
It really does take a village, as they say, and that’s just what happened at the Lone Star Loot Auction.

Highlights of the 2015 ACB Membership Seminar, compiled by Ardis Bazyn

The theme of the 2015 ACB membership seminar was “How to use your convention as a tool for membership.” Notes in this article came from the summer panel members and from participants on the membership focus call in August. The first panel topic was “Best Practices for Successful Conventions.” Speakers were: Peggy Garrett, ACB of Texas; Allan Peterson, North Dakota Association of the Blind; and Donna Seliger, Iowa Council of the United Blind. How do you get the best hotel contract and negotiate fees? Site accessibility was deemed most important by many participants. The size of the facility, getting several bids for comparison shopping, getting contract specifics, and making sure all agreed-upon accommodations were written — either in the contract or in follow-up e-mail, not just verbally, were highlighted suggestions. The more hotels that meet the needs of your members, the easier it is to get decent rates. In arranging for the best guide dog experience, participants recommended that you have a plan written in the contract.
 
Offering a good variety of programs for all age groups isn’t easy but necessary. Suggestions included holding sessions on technology, transportation, animals, authors, and the history of the area where the conference is being held. If the committee ran out of ideas, its members could ask the chapter members for additional suggestions.
 
What committees do you have for planning your conference? Most had several committees or committee members, including local members, which assisted in various aspects of the conference. The conference coordinator needs to share all the relevant information with other committee members in case of emergency. More than one member can fix issues or concerns of those attending or from the hotel. Members with unique skills are important: keeping experienced members on the committee is necessary, but also being open-minded to new committee members so you get new ideas is essential. Ask members with varied interests to participate in the planning.
 
When conventions have more than one meeting area or venue, whether it is a picnic or outside activity or a convention center, it will likely take more volunteers to assist those attending, and may require transportation to move folks from one venue to another. If a restaurant isn’t on the hotel premises, more planning may be necessary to facilitate food events and meals in general.
 
The second panel discussed “Building attendance through outreach and communication.” Panel members were: Dan Sippl, Randolph-Sheppard Vendors of America; George Holliday, Pennsylvania Council of the Blind; and Brian Charlson, Library Users of America.
 
How do you promote your conference? For state conferences, you can ask if your NLS library will send letters to their recipients about your conference. You may have to provide the letters, envelopes, and funding for the labels. Not all libraries will have the capacity to facilitate your request. You can also send your information to your newsletter editor to print in the calendar of events, as well as to the local newspaper and online calendars of events. (Be sure to check your local newspaper’s policy for accepting events and get it in before the deadline.) Social media may help you get the word out, especially to younger blind people. You can ask special-interest affiliate members in your state to share information about your state conference. Your state affiliate should also reciprocate by sharing information about special-interest affiliate offerings, i.e., conference calls, special functions, and summer conferences during the national convention.
 
Do you use both print and online communication? Most affiliates use both types and as many sources as they find. How do you reach visually impaired people who haven’t previously attended your conference? Orientation centers, rehabilitation counselors, and senior centers all are good resources to check. Have blind people speak to them or drop off large print or braille materials about your conference. Also, you should send information to e-mail lists and ask members to spread the word to others they know.
 
Have you used TV or radio to announce your conference? Many radio shows interview people on a wide variety of topics, and many sessions of interest might attract one of the show hosts. If you have a TV personality or best-selling author attending, you might get an interview as well. Have you attended other events in your community to publicize your conference? If your members approach groups in your community, you might get additional publicity. Newly blinded individuals might be involved in local service or community groups.
 
How do you find exhibitors and sponsors? Many companies selling specialty products for visually impaired would be interested. You can also go to local businesses where you purchase goods; they may be willing to donate gift cards or be sponsors. Check Google for information on company representatives near the conference facility. Also contact national companies and tell them about the advertising option in your program or newsletter.
 
The ACB Affiliate Growth Award winners were recognized at the membership seminar. The affiliate with the largest growth by the highest percentage was the Blind Information Technology Specialists; the award for the highest number of new members was Guide Dog Users, Inc. To listen to the audio recording of the membership seminar, visit http://acbradio.org/acbconvention2015 and scroll down to Thursday, July 9, then select “download the 2015 membership seminar.”  If you have questions for the membership committee, contact Ardis Bazyn via e-mail, abazyn@bazyncommunications.com. The next membership focus call will be held on Jan. 25th, 2016.

And the Winner Is …, by Mike Godino

After convention this year in Dallas, the ACB MMS committee had one last drawing to complete: choosing the grand prize winner of the Victor Stream. Throughout the year the MMS committee comes to you at the national conference and convention, your local affiliate conventions and from the pages of “The ACB Braille Forum” requesting your participation in the program. For your participation, we provide you with various gifts for our appreciation while offering you the opportunity to win the grand prize. Unfortunately, there is only one grand prize winner for this year’s Victor Stream, and she is Mary Ann Grignon from Cape Coral, Fla.
 
Similar to previous drawings, we awaited the entry of all the data so that we were sure all the eligible contestants had an equal opportunity to be the lucky winner. When we were sure the data entry was complete, the winner was selected using a random number generator program. The selection technique was used to ensure total fairness and objectivity for all who participated in the 2015 MMS campaign. The program assigned each contributor a number, then it selected the winning number 19: Mary Ann Grignon. Please join me in congratulating Mary Ann and thanking her for being a part of this wonderful program.
 
During the 2014-2015 campaign year, MMS program contributions increased by more than $500 per month. This is an annual increase of more than $6,000. We are extremely pleased with everyone’s participation. We continue to make slow but steady progress. I sincerely thank all of you who have made this progress possible and look forward to your continued participation and support in the future.
 
As chair of the MMS committee, I also want to recognize the efforts of the members of our outstanding committee: Dan Spoone, Ray Campbell, Kathy Brockman, Kenny Maddox, George Holliday, and Carla Ruschival.
 
An important factor that affects the success of our convention campaign is the location and staffing of our MMS table. This year our table was located inside the ACB exhibit area, right next to the ACB Mini Mall, which was an excellent spot. Thanks to the members of the MMS program committee and the people who assisted them in staffing the table during the convention. This includes: Kathy Brockman and her husband, Pat; Lori Scharff; Dan and Leslie Spoone; and George Holliday. We also thank Lane Waters, Nancy Becker and the rest of our wonderful staff in our Minnesota office for their extraordinary assistance throughout the entire year and during the convention.
 
Once again, the campaign was very successful at bringing lots of new participants into the MMS program. We greatly appreciate everyone who contributes to the program. All contributions are important and they all add up to helping ACB and its affiliates.
 
If you want to become a participant in this excellent program, or wish to increase your contribution, please contact the Minnesota office, 1-800-866-3242, or contact me at (516) 887-1336. You can also go online; the form is available at www.acb.org/node/28#main-content.
 
Again, congratulations to Mary Ann Grignon for winning the Victor Stream. Now, who will be the winner for 2016? In order to win, you have to participate. So sign up and be a new contributor, or increase your current contribution. You might already be the next big winner!

Blind Hunting?!, by Tom Lealos

As a partially or totally blind person, have you ever wanted to hunt for and ultimately harvest an elk, deer, or antelope?  I had, and until recently I didn’t think I’d be able to get it done.  Let me explain.
 
After several successful deer hunts in northern Utah while going to college, I always wanted to go elk hunting some day, as elk and deer are both very plentiful in the intermountain west. While pursuing my career as a forest engineer in northern California, I started to lose my sight, and eventually became legally blind from uveitis. My dream of going elk hunting got put on the back burner until I retired and moved to northwest Wyoming. This corner of the state, known as the Big Horn Basin, features the majestic Rocky Mountains, large ranches, irrigated farmland, and is the home of Yellowstone National Park and Buffalo Bill Cody. In short, it’s God’s country.
 
Here, I befriended a local hunting outfitter. I cut firewood for him in hunting camps for many years. My dream of elk hunting was getting closer to becoming a reality, except that my vision was slowly deteriorating. My dream was so close but yet so far away. Over the years, though, I eventually became friends with the founder of the Wyoming Disabled Hunters. Now, with new technology and many very helpful volunteers, I will be able to fulfill my long-time dream this fall.
 
The technology I referred to above is a very specialized electronic viewing device called NiteSite. It consists of a small camera and monitor which attach to a rifle scope, allowing a “companion hunter” standing behind me to be my eyes while I’m holding and aiming the rifle.  He will direct me with tap signals or possibly shooting ear muffs with radio capabilities which will allow us to whisper back and forth to each other until it’s time to pull the trigger. If we hit our target, he’ll also help me field dress the animal. I’m anxiously awaiting our hunting trip to the mountains.
 
From time to time I have heard of organizations across the country like the Wyoming Disabled Hunters, which assist people with disabilities with their hunting adventures. They guide you through the state permitting process, provide specialized equipment such as electric, all-terrain tracked wheelchairs, permanent and portable hunting blinds, and, of course, technologies like the NiteSite device. They also provide transportation, as needed, and make the necessary arrangements with the private land owners who make their land available for these types of specialized hunts. 
 
The Wyoming Disabled Hunters are hosting 36 disabled hunters this season, and I’m sure there are many, many more similar hunts taking place with other like organizations around the country as I write this. If you have a desire to enjoy hunting in the great outdoors, don’t hesitate to reach out to one of these organizations.
 
 Since I live in Wyoming, I have acquainted our Wyoming Council of the Blind affiliate with the Wyoming Disabled Hunters, and I look forward to a future of mutual support between the two organizations. I encourage other ACB affiliate groups to look into this sort of relationship for their members who may be hunting enthusiasts. As I’m just a little partial in this regard, I’ll take this opportunity to encourage you to go to www.wyomingdisabledhunters.org for detailed information on the best hunting the West has to offer. I’m sure that a search will reveal other similar available web sites.   
 
I look forward to reporting in the future how good my big, juicy elk steak tastes.

Affiliate and Committee News

Multicultural Affairs Committee Holds Focus Call

The Multicultural Affairs Committee (MCAC) will hold its first focus call in January. The topic is “Is There A Blind Culture?” This subject has been discussed and debated many times, and always generates some lively conversations. 
 
The call is scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016 at 8 p.m. Eastern/5 p.m. Pacific. The number to call is (712) 432-3066 and use code 840878. Please join us and share your thoughts and ideas on the topic. We look forward to hearing you then!

ACB Students Form Legislative Committee

In recognition of a growing desire to get involved in legislation, the American Council of Blind Students has formed a legislative committee to focus on legal issues that affect blind students and their access to an equal education. We will be holding monthly calls on the second Sunday of each month, in which we will discuss how to get involved in the annual legislative seminar, how to advocate on behalf of blind students in local and state issues, and methods of self-advocacy. We will also be taking a look at the current ACBS constitution and making revisions to ensure it is up to date with our initiatives and standards. To join our calls, dial (641) 715-3580, and enter passcode 371487 followed by the pound sign, on the second Sunday of the month at 8 p.m. Eastern unless otherwise noted. If you are interested in joining, or have any questions, contact Sarah Wiles at secretary@acbstudents.net.
 
Are you looking for other ways to get involved with ACBS? Our convention planning and fundraising committee is hard at work planning our programming for Minneapolis. Contact Minh Ha at secondvicepresident@acbstudents.net to learn more. In addition, our membership committee is exploring new ways in which to increase the ACBS membership, and brainstorming interesting topics for the monthly all-affiliate calls. For more information, contact Tiffany Jolliff at president@acbstudents.net. To learn more about our projects and initiatives and how to get involved, visit www.acbstudents.net.

GDUI to Hold Spring Auction Via Radio

Guide Dog Users, Inc. will hold an auction from 7 to 9 p.m. Eastern (4-6 p.m. Pacific) on Sunday, April 3, 2016, via ACB Radio. Thanks to Larry Turnbull and other ACB personnel for giving us guidance along the way.
 
Now, it is up to us to bring in items for the auction, with a minimum value of $50. Although we welcome new items for our prizes, we are providing them at the auction “as is.”  Please send all prizes with descriptions, with the exception of food items, to Robert Acosta, 20734C Devonshire St., Chatsworth, CA 91311; phone (818) 998-0044; e-mail boacosta@pacbell.net.
 
Our first item has already been promised by our president, Penny Reeder. Yes, Penny’s kitchen will be shipping five dozen delicious cookies to the lucky winner. The cookies will be oatmeal with raisins, walnuts and chocolate chips! Another item comes from the C. Crane Company. It is a pocket radio with a carrying strap, allowing you to go outside to hear the radio while barbecuing, for example.
 
The deadline for the receipt of prizes is Feb. 15, 2016. We plan to list the prizes, with the descriptions and the donors’ names, on the GDUI web site, www.guidedogusersinc.org
 
At the time of the auction, credit cards will be the only acceptable form of payment.  A reasonable shipping cost will be added to your winning bid.
 
The purpose for this auction is to provide the funding for our voting process in GDUI. Yes, we provide universal voting for all of our members. To my knowledge, we are the only ACB affiliate which does this. Let democracy prevail, and please support our radio auction with great items and strong bids.
 
Disclaimer: Guide Dog Users, Inc., shall be held harmless for any prizes which do not function as stated in the descriptions. However, we will do what we can to encourage a fair relationship between the winning bidder and the prize donor.

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.

Statement to the Community Regarding Structured Negotiations with Lyft

Advocates for people with disabilities have entered into structured negotiations with Lyft, Inc. to ensure that disabled riders with service animals are ensured access to transportation services offered by Lyft drivers. These collaborative efforts are under way between Lyft, Inc. (Lyft), Disability Rights Advocates (DRA), Rosen, Bien, Galvan & Grunfeld (RBGG), and TRE Legal – attorneys for several blind people who have raised concerns regarding access for service animal users.   
 
DRA, RBGG, and TRE Legal contacted Lyft to present these concerns after certain community members reported difficulties obtaining rides from drivers on the Lyft platform.  Lyft currently has a policy that drivers on their platform accept riders with service animals, but Lyft agreed to work with these advocates to ensure that disabled individuals are not denied rides or provided a lesser quality of service because they use service animals.
 
The parties are hopeful that they can agree on specific new initiatives to improve access to transportation available through the Lyft platform for all riders with disabilities who use service animals.
 
For more information, please contact Michael Nunez, mnunez@rbgg.com, Rosen Bien Galvan & Grunfeld LLP, 50 Fremont St., 19th Floor, San Francisco, CA 94105; phone (415) 433-6830.

Kalamazoo Museum Offers Helen Keller Exhibit

Are you visiting Kalamazoo, Mich., this fall? If so, you may want to check out the traveling exhibit “Child in a Strange Country: Helen Keller and the History of Education for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired” at the Kalamazoo Valley Museum (KVM). The exhibit, on loan from the APH Museum, will be on display through Jan. 10, 2016. The KVM is located at 230 N. Rose St., Kalamazoo, MI 49007; admission is free.
 
“Child in a Strange Country” explores four primary subjects: reading, science, math, and geography. The exhibit is designed to be fully accessible, and each section includes a sit-down touch table with interactive games and activities.
 
In the Reading and Writing area, guests can try writing braille using a slate and stylus or using the braille writer.
 
The Scientific Study panels include a tactile model of the human eye, a relief picture of the eye, and natural specimens that can be explored by touch. It also includes an APH Light Box, which was invented for low-vision students. It helps develop awareness of light, color, and visual discrimination.

In the Mathematics area, guests can use an abacus to add and subtract; form geometric shapes with stationary pins and rubber bands; and use a talking scientific calculator.
 
Love geography? Check out the textured relief maps, relief globe, a Talking Tablet, and a modern geography puzzle in the Geography section.

WVU Seeks Director of Center for Excellence in Disabilities

West Virginia University (WVU) is seeking an energetic and visionary leader who possesses strong academic credentials and leadership ability in the field of disabilities to serve as director of the WVU Center for Excellence in Disabilities (CED). The leader we seek will be capable of building on an existing infrastructure of statewide service delivery and optimize the clinical, research and education potential of CED to advocate, build capacity, and change systems for people with disabilities in West Virginia.
 
The director serves as the principal investigator of the federal grant which established and funds the CED, as well as government and private funded projects. The director should have significant experience in the field of disabilities for a minimum of 10 years. He/she is expected to provide academic and research leadership for the CED and academic partners across the university, and should be eligible for a WVU faculty appointment in the appropriate department at the rank of associate or full professor. The applicant should have a doctoral degree in a disability-related field, such as medicine, education, special education, disability, or human services. Doctorates in other fields that are related to intellectual and developmental disabilities, or have been applied to the field of disability in some way, will be considered. Applicants with master’s degrees will be considered if they otherwise meet all other credentials outlined as well as more than 10 years of experience in the disability field.
 
Qualified applicants will have demonstrated cultural competence, expertise, leadership and commitment in the field of developmental disabilities and have demonstrable ability in proposal development and grant writing, as well as in the administration and management of federal and state grants and contracts. It is expected the qualified applicant will demonstrate the ability to leverage both public and private funds, including philanthropic and corporate sources. He/she should have knowledge of federal, state and local policies, practices, and systems as they relate to disability, including the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act of 2000. It is highly desired that qualified applicants have strong ability to lead and conduct interdisciplinary research and training activities. It is essential that the qualified applicant show that he/she has the potential for leadership and vision in carrying out the mission of the CED and WVU in addressing the needs of individuals with disabilities of all cultures in the state of West Virginia.
 
The director provides leadership to the university and state in developing and implementing best practices in education, employment, independent living and support services for persons with disabilities across multiple cultural backgrounds. He or she is responsible for all aspects of program and policy development, human resources, financial and leadership functions within the CED. This person is responsible for developing and maintaining relationships with a wide variety of stakeholders at the local, state and national levels. He/she will serve as a member of the Health Sciences Executive Committee and is expected to develop and maintain collaborations with interdisciplinary faculty across departments, schools and programs within the Health Sciences Center and across the university. The ability to develop partnerships with clinical services of the WVU Medicine system in order to enhance comprehensive service delivery for individuals with disabilities is expected.
 
Review of applications will begin immediately and continue until the position is filled. To inquire about the position, contact search committee chair Dr. MaryBeth Mandich, PT, PhD, at mmandich@hsc.wvu.edu. To apply for this position, please send electronically a CV with a cover letter addressing how you meet the qualifications put forth in this advertisement and contact information for three professional references to cbsmith@hsc.wvu.edu.

BVA Names Brunson to Government Relations Post

Blinded Veterans Association executive director Al Avina has announced the appointment of Melanie Brunson as the organization’s director of government relations. In her new role, Brunson will serve as BVA’s primary legislative liaison between blinded veterans nationally and the U.S. Congress. She will prepare legislative testimony, correspond with elected representatives and senators, direct the association’s research on legislative issues affecting blinded veterans, and represent BVA in advocating for blinded veterans at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) central office. She will also participate in legislative policy development and analysis at BVA national conventions.

Oates Is New VP of Perkins Solutions

Bill Oates has been named Vice President of Perkins Solutions, the assistive technology and consulting division of Perkins School for the Blind based in Watertown, Mass. Oates comes to Perkins from Massachusetts state government, where he served as the Commonwealth’s Chief Information Officer (CIO).
 
In his new leadership role at Perkins, Oates will focus on the growth and evolution of Perkins Solutions by pursuing new opportunities for its literacy products – including the flagship Perkins Brailler™ and SMART Brailler® – as well as assistive technologies and solutions designed to help organizations make their digital resources and physical spaces more accessible. He will also take a lead role in the new Perkins Innovation Advisory Group, partnering with industry leaders to seek out the best advances in mobile and information technology, robotics, sensory devices and developments in neuroscience.

AFB CEO to Retire

The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) recently announced that its president and CEO, Carl R. Augusto, will retire in the spring of 2016 after 25 years of service to AFB. Augusto, a longtime champion of people with disabilities and a pre-eminent leader in the field of blindness, joined the organization in 1991. Under his leadership, AFB has made significant strides in leveling the playing field for people with vision loss, especially in the areas of public policy, education, technology, aging and employment.

Augusto has led AFB’s move into the digital era. He significantly bolstered its technology program and created and expanded the organization’s award-winning web programs and services, increasing access to AFB’s information and services. He oversaw the establishment and growth of AFB TECH, the Technology and Employment Center at Huntington (West Virginia), and the AFB Center on Vision Loss in Dallas. In addition, he has strengthened AFB’s leadership role and spearheaded efforts to help AFB attain greater financial stability by professionalizing its fundraising program and exercising rigorous fiscal discipline.
 
Augusto plans to remain at AFB until his successor is in place to ensure a smooth transition.

Reducing Medication Costs for Seniors

The American Seniors Association (ASA) recently announced an alliance with Rx Claims Savings, LLC that will provide savings on more than 60,000 prescription medications to many of its members.
 
ASA, through RxCS, is offering a program where all members who enter into ASA’s Rx Medication Savings Plan will receive a thorough medication consultation. This service provides a free personalized medication cost analysis of current costs on all prescription medications. For those who qualify, ASA will find pharmaceutical manufacturer Patient Assistance Programs (PAPs) to determine patient eligibility and to complete all necessary enrollment and administrative duties. There are no eligibility guidelines for the ASA Medication Savings Plan.
 
For more information about the ASA Rx Medication Savings Plan, go to www.ASAMedPlan.com.

BARD Mobile Update

The BARD Mobile app for iOS devices, version 1.1, is now available at the App Store. This updated version of the app includes the following features:

  • Built-in sleep timer
  • New setting that keeps device from sleeping while download is in progress
  • Add to wish list directly from details screen
  • Enhanced braille search function
  • Improved VoiceOver hints and labels
  • New braille shortcut key
  • Improved Magic Tap response
  • Works with iOS 9

The BARD Mobile app enables NLS patrons to download audio and braille books, magazines, and music scores directly to their iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch, provided they have a BARD account. A refreshable braille display is required to read downloaded braille materials. The user guide is available in the Help section of the app and online in HTML format at https://nlsbard.loc.gov/apidocs/BARDMobile.userguide.iOS.1.1.html.
 
For more information, contact your talking book library.

Introduction to Braille, UEB Edition

The Hadley School for the Blind has a new course available: Introduction to Braille, UEB Edition, course ID IBR-113, IBR-123.
 
Want to read braille visually? The introductory course provides the tools for those interested in learning to read and write braille so they can communicate with family members who use braille. It presents the fundamentals of the braille code, including the letters of the alphabet, numbers, and punctuation. The goal is to enable you to read and write uncontracted Unified English Braille (UEB). The course is available in print and online, and includes nine lessons.
 
Interactive programs that simulate the braille writer and the slate and stylus are included in the online course only. These programs are for practice purposes only, and cannot be used to produce braille. For more information, visit www.hadley.edu.

Computer Science Scholarships

Computer Science Online has just updated its guide to finding computer science scholarships.  To view the guide, visit www.computerscienceonline.org/cs-scholarships/.
 
Key elements of the guide include:

  • A comprehensive review of available scholarships, listed by eligible student groups
  • Amounts awarded and deadlines for each scholarship
  • A step-by-step guide to finding and applying for CS scholarships

The guide also includes an extensive Q&A with computer science scholarship expert Jeff Holliday, associate director of scholarships and compliance at Clemson University.

ZoomText 10.1 now supports Windows 10!

Ai Squared recently released ZoomText 10.1 with support for Windows 10! With this release of ZoomText, you can start running in Windows 10 and take advantage of the exciting new Windows desktop, Start menu, Actions Center, and a host of great productivity features, including the new virtual desktop feature called “Task View,” allowing you to spread out your open applications over 4 desktops.  And ZoomText 10.1 supports all of them!
 
ZoomText 10.1 for Windows 10 is available to users of ZoomText 10.1 as a free or low-cost upgrade.  If you purchased your ZoomText 10.1 product after June 1, 2015, or have an active subscription to the ZoomText Enhanced Support Plan (ESP), you are eligible for a free upgrade.  If you are not eligible for the free upgrade, contact the Ai Squared sales team at sales@aisquared.com or (802) 362-3612 option 2. Or you may write the company at: Ai Squared, PO Box 669, Manchester Center, VT 05255.

2015 NBP Holiday Sale & Gifts!

Are you looking for some good books to give as holiday gifts? Check out National Braille Press’ sales list below. If you order three books from it, you’ll get the fourth one free! Don’t need that many? Order two books from the list, and you’ll get the third one for half price. Sale ends Dec. 31, 2015.
 
Books included in the sale are:
The Gift of Nothing
You Are Special
The Tale of Peter Rabbit
If You Find a Rock
And Here’s To You!
Disney’s Frozen
A House Is a House For Me
Put Me in the Zoo
Ed and Ted and Ted’s Dog Fred
Henry and Mudge: The First Book
Rotten Ralph
Basketball
Bat Loves the Night
The Other Way to Listen
Froggy’s Day with Dad
Odd Boy Out
Freedom Summer
Hooway for Wodney Wat
Penny and Her Marble
Castle: How It Works
 
VERY limited quantities for these two: “A Sick Day for Amos McGee” and “The Spiffiest Giant in Town.”
 
For more information, contact National Braille Press, 88 St. Stephen St., Boston, MA 02115-4302; phone 1-800-548-7323, or visit www.nbp.org/ic/nbp/publications/index.html.

Save Your Pennies, Save the Date

Candle in the Window’s next retreat will run from Wednesday, Aug. 10 through Sunday, Aug. 14, 2016. It will be held at the Wooded Glen Retreat Center. The title is “Surviving and Thriving as a Person who is Blind in Your Community.” This could be a very popular topic, so the earlier you register, the better.
 
More details about registration, cost, and location will be wending your way soon. If you have questions, contact either Kathy Szinnyey, joyfulrenegade@gmail.com, phone (502) 759-1288; Patrick Votta, e-mail pvotta@verizon.net, phone (718) 797-2475; or Becky Barnes Davidson, e-mail beckyb1120@gmail.com, phone (914) 393-6613.

Change to Book Angel Project

Seedlings Braille Books for Children invites braille readers and pre-readers from ages 0 to 21 in the United States and Canada to register to receive two free braille books per year. 
 
The Book Angel Program was originally called “Anna’s Book Angel Project” and was named in memory of our director’s 19-year-old daughter, who was killed by a drunk driver in 2001. Each year, blind children who were registered received one free book in Anna’s name, but now they can receive two books per year!
 
Seedlings offers 1,300 titles, from contemporary literature to well-loved classics, and continues to add new titles each year. To order free books for your child or student, fill out the form at www.seedlings.org/bkangel2009.php. This is a continuing program, but registration is required each year to participate, since book choices must be communicated to Seedlings.
 
For more information, contact Seedlings Braille Books for Children, 14151 Farmington Rd., Livonia, MI 48154, or phone 1-800-777-8552.

TSA’s Web Site Upgrades

TSA’s Office of Public Affairs recently launched the new TSA.gov web site.  To view the disability and medical condition information, visit www.tsa.gov/travel/special-procedures.  There you will find a drop-down menu where you can choose a specific disability and/or medical condition and learn about what to expect during screening. You also will find the link for the TSA notification card there. The card can also be viewed at www.tsa.gov/sites/default/files/disability_notification_cards.pdf.
 
To get information about TSA Cares and Passenger Support Specialists (PSS), go to www.tsa.gov/travel/passenger-support. To learn about TSA Pre✓®, visit www.tsa.gov/tsa-precheck. To file a discrimination complaint, go to www.tsa.gov/travel/passenger-support/civil-rights.

High Tech Swap Shop

For Sale:
Brand-new MacBook Pro with 64 gigs of memory, 10” non-retina display, trackpad, charger, the mail application, Mac 10.5 preloaded, VoiceOver already activated, the pages application, the latest version of Safari browser, a built-in microphone and web camera, a Bluetooth headset with built-in wireless microphone, Bluetooth wireless keyboard, extended Applecare technical support for the life of the device and extended 4-year warranty. Asking $2,999.99 for the device plus pre-purchased insurance. Also asking for a security deposit of $999.99, and $999.99 for express delivery. Accepting payment by Bitcoin and cashier’s check only. Contact Alexander Scott Kaiser at 52 Meadowbrook Rd., Brick Township, NJ 08723-7850; Skype number (732) 523-2699; home (732) 202-6795; e-mail Mister.Alexander.Scott.Kaiser@inbox.com; Twitter AScottKaiser90; Skype Mister.Alexander.Scott.Kaiser.
 
For Sale:
BrailleNote Apex with the newest updates, including KeySoft 9.5. Like new; comes in original box. Asking $1,500. Contact Kristy at (504) 906-5765.
 
For Sale:
SARA stand-alone scanning and reading appliance. Rarely used; in excellent condition. Asking $1,500. Contact Carrie Scott at (208) 559-6698, or e-mail csholyhis@cableone.net.
 
For Sale:
PAC Mate 20-cell braille display. Comes with USB cable that will let you use it with a computer. In perfect working order. Asking $700 (negotiable). Contact Shawn Cox at (585) 919-4177, or via e-mail, smcox76@gmail.com.
 
Wanted:
I’m looking for a Milestone 312 MP3 player. Contact Al Lewis at (928) 910-2637, or by e-mail, albbrider@gmail.com.
 
Wanted:
Donation of a braille notetaker to assist me in my studies. Contact Salome Kiagiri via e-mail, salomekiagiri@gmail.com.

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: Doug Powell, Falls Church, VA

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, Columbus, 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 (605) 475-8154. 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, (605) 475-8154.
 
Subscribe to the podcast versions from your 2nd generation Victor Reader Stream or from http://www.acb.org/bf/.