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 Braille Forum" cannot be held responsible for the reliability of the products and services mentioned.  To submit items for this column, send a message to, or phone the national office at 1-800-424-8666, and leave a message in Sharon Lovering's mailbox.  Information must be received at least two months ahead of publication date.


At its fall 2012 meeting, which will be held Nov. 2-4, the Braille Authority of North America will take a vote that will set the course for the future of braille codes in the United States. Under consideration is the adoption of Unified English Braille while maintaining the Nemeth Code for technical materials.  Detailed information about the background of the code issues can be found in the article "Evolution of Braille: Can the Past Help Plan the Future?" Links to this article are available on the BANA home page at Print and braille copies of this article are available upon request. To get a print or braille copy, send an e-mail containing your name and mailing address, as well as which format you'd like, to

Science Sense Tours

The American Museum of Natural History offers a variety of Science Sense Tours for visitors who are blind or partially sighted.  This fall's offerings include the following.

Sunday, Nov. 11, 10 a.m.: Vertebrate Origins.  Explore the story of the burgeoning of vertebrates through the oceans and onto land in the Hall of Vertebrate Origins. 

Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2:30 p.m.: Primitive and Advanced Mammals.  Examine the fossil mammal specimens that illustrate the story of vertebrate evolution in the Hall of Primitive Mammals and the Hall of Advanced Mammals. 

Science Sense tours are available to individuals or groups. Space is limited and advance registration is required. Programs may be subject to change.  For more information, or to register for a tour, please call (212) 313-7565 or e-mail

Hadley Courses in Entrepreneurship

In September 2011, The Hadley School for the Blind announced the launch of The Forsythe Center for Entrepreneurship (FCE).  Hadley recently introduced five new "modules" for its entrepreneurship center: FCE 290-Using PowerPoint 2010; FCE 280-Networking with LinkedIn; FCE 220-Networking Skills; FCE 210-Obtaining Financing; and FCE 180-Federal Government Benefits.

In addition to the new modules, the FCE has introduced three new tools — the FCE Discussion Group, Minding Your Own Business (MYOB) and the Business Directory. The Discussion Group is a conventional e-mail list, where members can discuss any aspects of starting and running a business by posting questions or responses.

For more information on the FCE, or to enroll, visit


Registration is now open for the Southeast Regional Top Dog workshop, Jan. 11-13, 2013, in Savannah, Ga.  Georgia Guide Dog Users, DixieLand Guide Dog Users and Guide Dog Users of Florida welcome guide dog handlers, puppy raisers and many dogs and puppies from the southeast and around the country to the Holiday Inn Express Hotel and Suites Gateway Conference Center, 17 Gateway Blvd. E., Savannah, Ga., for three days of workshops, exhibits, fine Southern food and hospitality, an optional city tour, and more!  Room rates are $89 per night plus tax.  To reserve your room, call (912) 925-2700, and mention group code GGD (Good Good Dog); the reservation deadline is Dec. 11, 2012. The event is also listed under the name of Georgia Guide Dog Users. Highlights of the workshop include: a veterinarian speaking on the basics, ears, teeth and flea prevention; an optional Red Cross certification course in canine first aid; a panel discussion on advocacy issues for guide dog handlers; and much more. Online registration is available at, or by phone and through the mail. Contact Sally Benjamin at (850) 588-9070.  Or send e-mail to Be sure to register by Dec. 11!


Choice Magazine Listening, a free, nationwide service that provides current, outstanding magazine writing on audio, is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. Four times a year, professional editors select 12 hours of unabridged articles, short stories, and poetry from such publications as The New Yorker, National Geographic, Sports Illustrated, Time, New York Times, and many others.  Today the editors at CML read more than 100 publications, searching for memorable writing to bring to their subscribers throughout the country.

Choice Magazine Listening ( is recorded on formats compatible with the National Library Service's digital talking-book players. To subscribe, or for more information, call 1-888-724-6423 or send e-mail to


Jay Doudna, class of 1967, and Mary J. Smith, class of 1952, were this year's recipients of the Overbrook School for the Blind's Distinguished Alumni Awards.  Doudna was recognized for "his impressive and extensive history in the field of work for the blind."  He created radio reading services in Lancaster and Philadelphia; served two terms as president of the Pennsylvania Council of the Blind; and for a time worked full-time at Overbrook.  Smith's nomination noted that, after graduation, she got a job with the American Casualty Company, eventually obtained a better-paying job with the Berks County branch of the state welfare department, and after graduation, became a rehabilitation counselor with the Berks County Association for the Blind.


Mary Warren, MS, OTR/L, SCLV, FAOTA, Associate Professor of Occupational Therapy and Director of the Graduate Certificate in Low Vision Rehabilitation at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), has been selected by a panel of her peers to receive Envision's "Excellence in Education" Award for 2012.

The Envision "Excellence in Education" is a distinguished peer award, and is presented to the individual(s) or organization that has demonstrated outstanding research outcome, program, career or effort in low vision research with national or international impact for people who are blind or low vision.


Qiutang Li, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences and the Kentucky Lions Eye Center at the University of Louisville, has received the Ernest & Elizabeth Althouse Scholar Award in the amount of $75,000 from Research to Prevent Blindness (RPB) to support research into the causes, treatment and prevention of blinding diseases. The award is part of RPB's Special Scholar Program to support outstanding young scientists who conduct research of significance and promise.

Li's research focuses on the genes that regulate epithelial cells in the cornea, those cells that are found on the surface of the cornea, and the genetic signaling that occurs in corneal epithelium development and wound healing.


Olga Overbury, Ph.D., associate professor in the school of optometry at the University of Montreal, and in the department of ophthalmology at McGill University, is the winner of the 2012 Envision Award in Low Vision Research.  This award is presented each year to a mid-career senior investigator in low vision and vision rehabilitation research.  Overbury's research interests lie in the area of acute as well as chronic visual impairment and its sensory, perceptual and psychosocial impact. The goal of her research is to gain a better understanding of the perceptual abilities of individuals with vision loss in order to better tailor rehabilitation training to their unique needs. 


The second annual New England Blind and Visually Impaired Alpine Ski Festival Week will be held at Sugarloaf Mountain Resort in Carrabasset Valley, Maine, Feb. 10-14, 2013.  This national event is designed to create a unique social, recreational and educational experience for skiers of all levels. Skiers will have the opportunity to develop their skiing abilities with their own guides or qualified festival volunteers. Skills enhancement will also be available for guides from certified PSIA adaptive and experienced clinicians. Visit our web site for additional information at  Also be sure to check out NEVI's Facebook page, If you have questions, call Scott Anderson at (603) 469-3668.


National Braille Press has just released a new braille board book called "Llama Llama Wakey-Wake" for ages baby to 3 years old.  Llama Llama models his morning routine for toddlers under the watchful guidance of Mama Llama.

NBP has also released "Chrysanthemum" for ages 4 and up.  Chrysanthemum loved her name. And then she started school. "I'm named after my grandmother," says Victoria. "You're named after a flower." Chrysanthemum wilts. Victoria starts a mean-spirited game of tormenting Chrysanthemum. Then the students meet the music teacher, Mrs. Delphinium Twinkle. And suddenly, Chrysanthemum blossoms.

For the budding chef in your house, check out "Stir It Up!"  This book was created especially for young blind children to get started in the kitchen. It's available as a print-and-braille book, with adaptive cooking techniques on the left page, and simple instructions on the right-hand page.

Also available are "A Visitor for Bear," for ages 2 and up; "Twenty-one iPhone Apps We Can't Live Without"; and many others.  For more information on any of these books, call toll-free 1-800-548-7323, or visit


Seedlings has just released its 2013 catalog, and it is chock full of books for a variety of ages.  For the youngest ones, there's a print-braille-and-picture book called "Llama Llama Hoppity Hop"; for older kids, there's the braille version of "The Hunger Games (Book 1)."  To get your copy of the catalog, call Seedlings toll-free at 1-800-777-8552, or view it online,


Perkins Products recently unveiled the Perkins SMART Brailler.  It provides audio and visual feedback coupled with hard-copy output so that everyone can learn braille together -- students, teachers, parents, and adults losing their vision. The new product enables a student to learn braille independently, even when a trained teacher of braille is not in the room. The audio and on-screen feedback are available in English, and a range of other languages via Acapela text-to-speech software. It was developed by Perkins Products in conjunction with the American Printing House for the Blind.  For more information, visit or e-mail


Many thousands of people who are both deaf and blind may soon be able to benefit from a new program, thanks to the National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program. Mandated by the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act, the Federal Communications Commission established this new program to provide support for the local distribution of a wide array of accessible communications technology. 

The FCC is also funding a national outreach campaign to educate the public about this new program. The iCanConnect campaign will be conducted jointly by Perkins School for the Blind, Watertown, Mass., the Helen Keller National Center in New York City, N.Y., and FableVision of Boston, Mass.  The campaign will ensure that everyone knows about the free communications technology and training that is now available to low-income individuals with combined hearing and vision loss.

Information about the new equipment distribution program is now available online at or by phone at 1-800-825-4595. Additional information is available through the FCC at


Kurzweil Educational Systems recently released the Kurzweil 3000 (R) – firefly app for the iPad. This application provides mobile access to digital content and powerful literacy tools to enable individuals with the ability, but not the literacy skills, to achieve their academic and personal goals.  To learn more, go to

Kurzweil also released Kurzweil 1000 (TM) version 13 for Windows.  New features include: support for HoverCam, in addition to ABiSee's Zoom-Ex and Eye-Pal, to provide fast access to print documents; support for reading EPUB documents and the ability to write EPUB documents; support for Microsoft Speech Platform; and an OCR upgrade to ABBYY (R) FineReader (R) 10 and ScanSoft 18. To download, visit


Clarity, the market leader in portable assistive technology for visually impaired and blind individuals, is announcing WinZoom, a plug-and-play screen magnifier and reader. WinZoom also contains several advancements over current screen magnifiers.  It supports 8 different viewing modes; contains several locators which allow the user to know where they are on the page at any time; and has several mouse enhancements. It is compatible with Windows XP, Vista, and Windows 7 (including 64 bit); provides magnification from 1.5x to 36x; offers font smoothing for clear text; has zoom scroll bars; reduces glare; and has a portable USB version as well.  For more information, or a free trial, call 1-800-575-1456 x204 or visit


Have you ever left the house wearing two different colored socks, or that the red dress you thought you were wearing was actually blue?  With the Touch Memo and washable labels, you'll now have complete control of your wardrobe.  You'll leave the house confident that everything matches and you're looking your very best.

With washable labels, simply record all the details you want; the color, pattern or even washing instructions and sew the label onto your clothes or simply fasten with a safety pin.  You'll be able to mix and match all the garments in your wardrobe with ease.  The labels can be used time and time again.  You'll never again be unsure of what you're grabbing from your closet or your dresser.  And best of all, you'll never again be reminded that you're wearing mismatched socks.

For more information on the Touch Memo with washable labels, call VisionCue at 1-888-318-2582.


Enhanced Vision recently introduced DaVinci, an all-in-one HD CCTV with
text-to-speech (OCR) and 3 camera viewing positions – see near, far and everything in between. It contains a Sony HD camera, an auto-focus camera, Nuance software, 24" high-resolution HD LCD for clear pictures, and 28 adjustable viewing modes.

The company also introduced the Merlin Elite, a desktop HD CCTV with text to speech.  It contains a Sony HD auto-focus camera, reads aloud with Nuance software, 24" high-resolution HD LCD for clear pictures, a screen that pivots horizontally and vertically, 28 viewing modes and adjustable magnification from 2.4x to 70x.  For more information on either of these CCTVs, call 1-888-811-3161.


Who doesn't love chocolate?  Sweet Tooth continues to add new items to its list of products.  The company's fudge, gourmet chocolate sauce, signature Chocolate Lab truffles, blueberry and raspberry clusters (in season) are becoming increasingly popular. Clusters of all kinds, molded chocolate, lollipops, coffee mugs with chocolate, braille chocolate bars and guide dogs with braille on them, are available as well.

Braille chocolate bars come with a variety of sayings, including "Thank You," "Have A Nice Day," "Happy Birthday," "Love You," "Merry Christmas" and "Happy Holidays." They weigh 4 1/2 ounces and can be made in milk, dark, white chocolate or sugar-free. The bars can also be made with crisped rice, nuts, peppermint or raisins.  The guide dogs can be personalized with the dog's name or the owner's name, and come complete with a harness done in chocolate. Many molded chocolate items can also be personalized with braille.

By request, Sweet Tooth can put braille or large print labels on candy packages. More information is available online, in regular or large print and braille, as well as via e-mail,, or by phone, (585) 544-1853. Sweet Tooth is also on Facebook and will be connected soon to Twitter.  Or visit the web site,


If you have a visual impairment or dual sensory loss, no matter how mild or severe it may be, I need your stories.  I'm looking for your embarrassing and humorous experiences that have occurred due to your being visually impaired or dual sensory impaired.  Even though the event may not have been funny to you at the time, you were later able to look back and laugh at yourself.

I'd like to have a compilation of stories depicting real people with vision loss who have used humor to overcome uncomfortable situations.  I hope to show others who are newly visually impaired and their family and friends that it's OK to laugh.  I will not include stories with vulgarity or profanity.

Please consider sharing your stories with me.  You do not have to include your full name, but I'd like to include at least your first name, your vision problem, and level of remaining vision.  Send me your stories in one of the following formats: e-mail at, or in braille, audio or typewritten to Rita Kersh, PO Box 2216, Bedford, IN 47421.