Here and There edited by Sharon Strzalkowski

The announcement of products and services in this column does not represent an endorsement by the American Council of the Blind, its officers, or staff. Listings are free of charge for the benefit of our readers.  "The ACB Braille Forum" cannot be held responsible for the reliability of the products and services mentioned.  To submit items for this column, send a message to, or phone the national office at 1-800-424-8666, and leave a message in Sharon Lovering's mailbox.  Information must be received at least two months ahead of publication date.

Conference on Low Vision

The 11th International Conference on Low Vision will be held in Melbourne, Australia, March 31-April 3, 2014. Leading professionals from around the world will guide the development of a first-class scientific program, exploring all aspects of the conference theme: advancing research, upgrading practice and improving participation. The conference is now accepting abstracts for presentation; apply at Abstracts must be in by Aug. 31.
Melbourne City is putting together an exciting social program to ensure you get the most out of your visit. Pre- and post-conference tours around Victoria and other parts of Australia will also be available. To register, visit

Call for Nominations

The American Foundation for the Blind seeks nominees for the 2014 Migel Medals. The Migel Medal was established in 1937 by the late M.C. Migel, the first chairperson of AFB, to honor professionals and volunteers whose dedication and achievements have significantly improved the lives of people who are blind or visually impaired.
Professional Award nominees should be those whose career work significantly impacts services to people with vision loss on a national level. Prospective candidates include, but are not limited to, professionals with specific training and expertise in education, rehabilitation, assistive technology, vision rehabilitation, personnel preparation, administration, or related fields. They may work in the public or private sector and their work should span several years.
Lay/Volunteer Award nominees may be volunteers or professionals not employed within the blindness and visual impairment field whose efforts have supported or extended service to people with vision loss. Professionals from these disciplines may include, but are not limited to, those who develop assistive technology equipment and software, health care devices, and improved medical services.
Nominations are due by Oct. 4, 2013, and should be e-mailed to Scott Truax,  Nominators should send a one-page description of the nominee and his/her accomplishments, or fill out the online nomination form at You must also submit two letters of support with the nomination.

Braille Menus

Tijuana Flats recently added braille menus to its 93 restaurant locations in an effort to better serve the needs of the blind community. Established in 1995 in Winter Park, Fla., Tijuana Flats is a fast-casual Tex-Mex dining experience featuring fresh, made-to-order food. The restaurant has locations in Florida, Indiana, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Virginia. For more information about Tijuana Flats, including menu and locations, visit

Envision Announces Award

Envision recently presented the 2013 American Optometric Association (AOA) Vision Rehabilitation Section Distinguished Service Award to Mark Lucas, executive director of the United States Association of Blind Athletes.
Mark Lucas has worked with people who are blind and visually impaired for more than 25 years. He first began working with children and youth who are blind and visually impaired as the director of recreation for the Foundation for the Junior Blind in Los Angeles. In 1993, Lucas and his family relocated to Colorado Springs, Colo. to serve as the assistant executive director for USABA; he became the executive director in 2001. He is responsible for program development, staff and volunteer recruitment, finance and serves as the national spokesperson to organizations and associations, including the U.S. Olympic Committee and other national and international federations. Mark is a board member for the Vision Serve Alliance, and is a member of Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired. For more information about USABA, visit

Stem Cell Research

Corneal blindness affects roughly 8 million people worldwide, and traditional treatments and surgical interventions have seen little long-term success. With a new vision for stem cell corneal transplantation, and a $1.25 million grant from the National Eye Institute, Cedars-Sinai co-investigators Alexander V. Ljubimov, PhD, FARVO, and Clive Svendsen, PhD, hope to treat previously untreatable patients suffering with corneal blindness. Their research deals with collecting human eye cells, reprogramming them to a stem-cell state, then using them to create a corneal cell for transplantation. If it's successful, it may pave the way for human trials in the future.

New Consulting Service

Christine Szostak, a visually impaired woman, has started a consulting service regarding vision loss. She has a lot of information and resources to offer to others who are visually impaired, their families, friends, teachers and colleagues who have questions, are looking for advice, or who need suggestions regarding adapting to vision loss. For more information, visit

Braille Advent Calendar

Kampmann GmbH of Germany offers a Braille Advent Calendar. This year's calendar features a festively decorated Christmas tree standing in a valley surrounded by fir trees. The moon in the night sky and the glowing candles on the tree spread the Christmas mood. The doors on the calendar are white and easy to distinguish from the night sky. And the doors have braille numbers on them, too. To get yours, send your request in by Sept. 30.  Send to: Kampmann GmbH International, Carl-Severing-Str. 60 – 62a, D-33649 Bielefeld, Germany. Or send e-mail to, or visit

Never Too Early to Think about the Holidays

Handmade, loom-knitted Santa Claus hats, sizes infant to adult. $10 each.  Many other handmade items are available, too. Call Henry Osborne Jr. at (203) 874-9206 or (203) 308-9175 (cell) for more information.