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.

Blind and Visually Impaired Veterans’ Family Retreat

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

Town Appointed

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

New Books from National Braille Press

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

HelpMeSee Wins Five Recognitions

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

Envision Presents Awards, Receives Grant

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