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.

Annual Winter Ski Festival Application Open

USABA and Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sport (VASS) are now accepting applications for the 8th Annual Winter Ski Festival to be held in Pico, Vt., Feb. 6-9, 2015. Cost to attend is $220; funding is available for qualified veterans. For more information, or to apply, contact Katie Keating at kkeating@usaba.org or (719) 866-3222. Applications are due Jan. 6, 2015.

Breckenridge Winter Ski Camp

In partnership with Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center (BOEC) and sponsored by Anthem Life, USABA is now accepting applications for the 4th Annual Winter Ski Camp in Breckenridge, Colo., March 4-8, 2015. Funding is available for qualified veterans. For more information, or to register, contact Katie Keating at kkeating@usaba.org or (719) 866-3222. Applications are due Jan. 28, 2015.

Seeking Piano Tuners

Buddy Gray Music is the largest blind-owned and operated piano tuning service in the United States, and Buddy is looking to hire additional tuners to handle the workload and expansion. The company serves customers in over 13 states with a combined staff of 14 personnel for logistics, moving, shop, and tuning services.
 
All transportation provided for blind tuners by company drivers; no hassles, no buses, no taxicabs. We personally see that you get to your destination safely and our drivers serve as your assistants in make sure that you have all you need to perform the job. Company drivers are trained to assist in churches, civic centers, homes, etc. If you are a tuner and like to tune, there are 3 ingredients needed for this job: the ability to tune, a tuning kit, and a great work ethic.
 
Tuscaloosa, Ala. is a modern city with a population of 175,000 people. The area includes a hospital, the University of Alabama, Mercedes Benz Manufacturing Plant, BF Goodrich, and great real-estate opportunities. Don't worry about moving hassles - if you can get to Tuscaloosa, our moving crew can move you in with care and efficiency.
 
For more information and to apply, call Buddy at (205) 799-1056.

NASA Seeks Summer Interns

NASA is looking to increase the number of students with disabilities pursuing science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) careers through our internship programs. Disability means both physical and mental disabilities. Apply now for summer 2015 internships. The deadline for submitting applications is March 1, 2015; we will begin extending offers to students as early as Jan. 15, 2015. Apply early to increase your chances of being selected.  The best opportunities fill up fast! You can register for an account anytime at the One Stop Shopping Initiative (OSSI): NASA Internships, Fellowships, and Scholarships (NIFS) at http://intern.nasa.gov/.
 
Summer 2015 internships run for 10 weeks for college students and six weeks for high-school students. All student interns get paid. Last summer at Goddard, college students received a stipend of $6,000 and high-school students $2,100. NASA internships for college and high-school students are also offered during spring, fall and year-long sessions through the OSSI web site.
 
NASA has internships for high-school students and for rising freshmen through doctoral students in STEM fields. Applicants must be U.S. citizens, with a minimum GPA of 3.0 for college and 3.0 for high school. High-school students must be at least 16 years old at the time the internship begins.
 
Internships are available at all NASA centers nationwide. As an intern, you are responsible for your own housing. You may submit a completed application regardless of whether you apply to an opportunity. However, applying to opportunities has the advantage of allowing applicants to be considered by mentors who work in disciplines of interest and at a particular center. Not applying to an opportunity means that prospective interns will be hoping that a mentor happens to read their applications rather than directing their applications to mentors in fields and at centers of interest. You may apply to as many as 15 opportunities.
 
Students who are selected for summer internships will receive an offer letter by e-mail sometime after Jan. 15, 2015. They will then have five days to either accept or reject the offer through their OSSI: NIFS account. The offer will automatically expire after five days if no action is taken.
 
For help with applying, contact Kenneth A. Silberman, Esq., at (301) 286-9281, or via e-mail, kenneth.a.silberman@nasa.gov.

National Church Conference of the Blind

The National Church Conference of the Blind will hold its 2015 annual Bible conference Aug. 8-14 at the Best Western Plus Hotel, 6820 S. Cedar Rd., Lansing, MI. For reservations, call 1-866-257-6990, or call the hotel direct at (517) 694-8123. Room rates are $88.50 plus tax per night. You may have up to four people in a room. For questions about the conference, contact Pauline Ohadi, membership secretary, at (405) 330-1331, or visit the web site, http://www.thenccb.com. We hope to see you there!

FCC Report Released

The FCC has released its second biennial report to Congress on the implementation of the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act. This report, in plain text format, is available at http://transition.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_Business/2014/db1008/DA-1....

FEMA Award Winners

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recently announced the winners of the 2014 FEMA Individual and Community Preparedness Awards, recognizing the outstanding efforts of individuals, programs and organizations throughout the country working to prepare their communities for emergencies. This year’s honorees developed and implemented innovative tools, programs and resources, which provided opportunities for a wide variety of stakeholders to make their communities better prepared and more resilient. Some examples include:

  • The Mississippi State University Extension Service launched the Mississippi Youth Preparedness Initiative (MyPI), a grassroots effort to train and educate approximately 3,500 teens annually about emergency preparedness.  Participating youth also completed service projects to prepare families in their communities for disaster.
  • The Delaware State Citizen Corps Council, Partnerships in Assistive Technologies, and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s Office of Preparedness and Emergency Management supported the development of smartphone apps to enhance communications between professional responders and people with disabilities and others with access and functional needs.
  • The Smyrna Emergency Management Agency in Georgia became the nation’s first municipality to participate in America’s PrepareAthon!, conducting a community-wide tornado drill involving 200 businesses.
  • The New York City Office of Emergency Management’s Ready New York for Seniors Program conducted approximately 200 presentations to more than 8,000 older Americans living in the city.

This year’s winners of FEMA’s Individual and Community Preparedness Awards are:

  • Outstanding State Citizen Corps Council Initiatives: Delaware State Citizen Corps Council
  • Outstanding Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Initiatives: MOCERT1 (Southwestern Missouri Regional CERT)
  • Outstanding Local Citizen Corps Council Initiatives: Albany (N.Y.) County Citizen Corps
  • Outstanding Achievement in Youth Preparedness: The Mississippi Youth Preparedness Initiative (MyPI)
  • Community Preparedness Heroes: Lieutenant Brian K. Rand (Mass.) and the Coalition for the Upper South Platte (CUSP) (Colo.)
  • Awareness to Action: Do 1 Thing (Mich.)
  • Technological Innovation: Partnerships in Assistive Technologies (PATHs, Inc.) (W.Va.)
  • Survivor Empowerment and Integration: Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Office of Preparedness and Emergency Management (Mass.)
  • Fourth Annual Recipients of the John D. Solomon Whole Community Preparedness Award: Smyrna Emergency Management Agency (Ga.) and New York City Office of Emergency Management: Ready New York for Seniors (N.Y.)

For more information, visit www.ready.gov/citizen-corps/citizen-corps-awards

MRC Honors Pat Wang

At its special 25th Anniversary Celebration, the Medicare Rights Center honored Pat Wang, CEO of Healthfirst, for her visionary leadership. Special tribute was also paid to three of Medicare’s most stalwart champions: The Honorable John D. Rockefeller IV, The Honorable John D. Dingell, and The Honorable Henry A. Waxman. All three received the Medicare Rights Center’s newly commissioned Hero of Medicare Award.

New Children’s Books

National Braille Press now has available “Bat Loves the Night” by Nicola Davies. It is available in contracted braille with an audio CD, and includes one tactile drawing of a pipistrelle bat. This book is geared for ages 5 to 9.  It describes a day – and night – in the life of a bat. For more information, visit www.nbp.org/ic/nbp/BC1409-BAT.html.
 
Also available is “Dragons Love Tacos.” It is the first book in NBP’s Great Expectations series, and tells what happens when you throw a taco party, invite a bunch of dragons, and they get into some spicy salsa. Available as a print-and-contracted-braille book for ages 3 to 5, it includes a couple of fun challenges (such as racing dragons over braille), music (“Dragons Love Tacos”), and instructions for how to make a 3-D dragon. For more information, visit www.nbp.org/ic/nbp/BC1410-TACOS.html.
 
To check out more of National Braille Press’ books, visit www.nbp.org/ic/nbp/publications/index.html, or call 1-800-548-7323.

Hungry Fingers

Hungry Fingers Tactile Puzzle Set includes a print/braille book, wooden magnetic puzzle, and magnetic board. Created by Hungry Fingers (a one-man company out of Poland), this tactile storybook and accompanying puzzle teach blind children how to construct a tactile image progressively. As the story unfolds, a character emerges, one body piece at a time, giving the child a chance to follow the sequence until the whole "mystery character" is formed.
 
The book does not have a title. That's because the child is unaware of what is being formed until the very end of the story. Only then is the child asked to give the teddy bear a name – which then becomes the new title of the book. (Shhh – don’t tell your child!)
 
After the concept of "drawing a bear" is understood, each child can construct his or her own teddy bear using the puzzle pieces. The tactile drawings in the book match the sturdy wooden, magnetic puzzle pieces, encouraging kids to make the connection between the drawing and the real puzzle piece.
 
Supply is limited! For more information, visit www.nbp.org/ic/nbp/HUNGRY.html or call 1-800-548-7323.

UEB Reader

The Braille Authority of North America (BANA) recently released “The UEB Reader,” a resource designed to introduce braille readers to Unified English Braille (UEB). This introductory hard-copy braille booklet incorporates into one document several key resources found on the BANA web site. “The UEB Reader” is available free of charge upon request.
 
The UEB Reader includes content from BANA’s publication, “Overview of Changes from Current Literary Braille to UEB,” plus several example documents transcribed in UEB for readers to use as practice. This resource was compiled to help current braille readers become more familiar with UEB and to assist braille readers, transcribers, teachers, and families as they make the transition to UEB.
 
To receive a free braille copy of “The UEB Reader,” contact Kim Charlson at kim.charlson@perkins.org with your name and address for mailing purposes. Requests for “The UEB Reader” may also be left on the UEB Information Line, (617) 972-7248; be sure to include your name, address, and phone number when leaving a message.

Perkins SMART Brailler® Now Available Through APH

The Perkins SMART Brailler® is now available for purchase through the American Printing House for the Blind (APH), making it easier than ever for educators to access state-of-the-art braille learning technology.

The Perkins SMART Brailler was developed in partnership with APH and introduced in 2012. The mechanical brailler incorporates high-tech elements. A built-in screen display and speaker provide instant visual and audio feedback, allowing students who are blind to work alongside sighted friends and classmates on in-class or homework assignments, and leisure activities. The APH version of the Perkins SMART Brailler also includes built-in supplementary exercises for APH’s early braille literacy program, “Building on Patterns: Kindergarten,” at no additional cost.

For more information, call APH at 1-800-223-1839 or visit www.aph.org.