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.

Hermansky-Pudlak Conference

The 21st Annual Hermansky-Pudlak Syndrome Network Conference will be held March 7-9, 2014 in Uniondale, N.Y.  Conference programming includes a mix of fun, fellowship and entertainment, scientific presentations and educational opportunities for patients, families, researchers, physicians and other professionals.
 
Some of this year's sessions include: HPS 101 for those newly diagnosed; self-defense techniques for the visually impaired; breakout discussion groups for adults with HPS, young adults with HPS, parents of those with HPS and spouses, partners, family and friends of those with HPS; dating and HPS; G I Wish I Felt Better – a session for those living with the digestive complications of HPS; and other topics.
 
For the first time, a few selected sessions will be available via webcast for those who cannot attend in person. Visit www.hpsnetwork.org or the HPS Facebook page, www.facebook.com/hpsnetwork, for information about times, available sessions and how to log in.  For updated conference information, visit www.hpsnetwork.org/en/events/2014-03-07/21st-annual-hps-conference.

Tasimelteon Gets FDA Approval

On Jan. 31, the Food and Drug Administration approved Vanda Pharmaceuticals Inc.'s HETLIOZ™ (tasimelteon) 20-milligram capsules for the treatment of Non-24-Hour Sleep-Wake Disorder (Non-24).  HETLIOZ is the first FDA-approved medication for Non-24.  Vanda anticipates making HETLIOZ commercially available in the second quarter of 2014.

NASA Seeks Interns

NASA has internships for high school students and for rising college freshmen through doctoral students in STEM fields. Applicants must be U.S. citizens, with a minimum GPA of 2.8 for college and 3.0 for high school. High-school students must be at least 16 at the time the internship begins.
 
Students can still apply for summer 2014! The deadline for submitting applications is March 14, 2014.  To apply, register for an account and look for internships anytime at the One Stop Shopping Initiative (OSSI): NASA Internships, Fellowships, and Scholarships (NIFS) at http://intern.nasa.gov/.  Students who are selected for summer internships will receive an offer letter by e-mail. They will then have five days to accept or reject the offer through their OSSI: NIFS account. The offer will automatically expire after five days if no action is taken.
 
Opportunities are located at NASA centers and field installations all over the country: Ames Research Center, Moffett Federal Airfield, Mountain View, Calif.; Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards Air Force Base, Los Angeles County, Calif.; Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, Ohio; Goddard Institute for Space Studies, New York, N.Y.; Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.; Independent Verification and Validation Facility, Fairmont, W.Va.; Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.; Johnson Space Center, Houston, Tex.; Kennedy Space Center, Merritt Island, Fla.; Langley Research Center, Hampton, Va.; Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala.; Michoud Assembly Facility, New Orleans, La.; NASA Headquarters, Washington, D.C.; NASA Shared Services Center at Stennis Space Center, Miss.; Stennis Space Center, near Bay St. Louis, Miss.; Wallops Flight Facility, Wallops Island, Va.; White Sands Complex, Las Cruces, N.M.; and White Sands Test Facility, Las Cruces, N.M.
 
For more information, or if you need assistance, contact Kenneth A. Silberman, Esq., at (301) 286-9281, or via e-mail, kenneth.a.silberman@nasa.gov.

Class Action Settlement

Have you shopped at Trader Joe's recently, or in the last several years?  Are you blind, visually impaired, deaf, hard of hearing, or do you use a wheelchair or a scooter? The proposed settlement pertains to people with physical or sensory disabilities who have shopped at Trader Joe's from June 22, 2009 (and through July 9, 2018) and been denied services on the basis of their disability. Consumers fitting this description may be eligible to receive a portion of the proposed class action settlement. For more information about this lawsuit and proposed settlement, and to find out if you or people you know are qualified claimants, please use the following contact: Perez et al. v. Trader Joe's Company, c/o Simpluris Inc., PO Box 26170, Santa Ana, CA 92799; phone 1-888-836-1697; or visit www.CATJAccessSettlement.com.

Research Advancements in Diabetes-Induced Blindness

Investigators at the Cedars-Sinai Regenerative Medicine Institute in Los Angeles have identified new molecular abnormalities in the diabetic cornea that could contribute to eye problems in affected patients. With this new knowledge, investigators aim to accelerate the process of healing and repair in damaged corneas to ultimately reverse the effects of diabetes-induced eye complications.
 
Investigators identified gene expression regulators, microRNAs, in normal and diabetic human corneas. They then successfully confirmed that several of these regulators were expressed differently in the diabetic corneas. These differently expressed microRNAs may contribute to stem cell and epithelial (tissue cell) abnormalities in diabetic corneas. Researchers are working on the manipulation of these microRNAs by gene therapy to normalize these corneas.

GW Micro, Microsoft Collaboration

GW Micro and Microsoft have partnered to make Window-Eyes available to users of Microsoft Office at no cost. Eligible customers, using Microsoft Office 2010 or higher, will be able to download a full version of Window-Eyes at www.WindowEyesForOffice.com. The program is available in more than 15 languages.  The web site provides download instructions and additional information.

New Mystery Series Features Blind Psychiatrist

Author Lynne Raimondo has written a couple of mysteries featuring a blind psychiatrist.  Her first book, "Dante's Wood," introduces Chicago psychiatrist Mark Angelotti, still reeling from a late-onset genetic disorder which left him blind. He returns to work and becomes involved a client's murder investigation. The book is available on Bookshare, https://www.bookshare.org/search?keyword=dante%27s+wood&search=Search.
 
In the second book, "Dante's Poison," due out in May, Angelotti is an expert witness in a landmark case that could discredit a large pharmaceutical company. Meanwhile, he is also a part of a drug trial that holds the hope of restoring his eyesight. It, too, will be available through Bookshare.

Tactile Graphics Committee Honored

The international committee that developed the landmark publication "Guidelines and Standards for Tactile Graphics, 2010" recently received the Braille Excellence Award from the Braille Authority of North America (BANA). CBA-BANA Joint Tactile Graphics Committee, which was co-sponsored by the Canadian Braille Authority (CBA) and BANA, received the award on Dec. 5 in Providence, R.I., in a showcase session at the 2013 Getting in Touch with Literacy Conference.
 
The volunteer members of this collaborative CBA-BANA ad hoc committee donated their time and talents for nearly a decade, meeting by phone almost weekly year round. Together, they defined, refined, and established in writing a comprehensive, user-friendly set of research-based guidelines and standards for the design and production of tactile graphics for braille users.  The committee members are: Lucia Hasty, Colorado; John McConnell, New Brunswick, Canada; Janet Milbury, Nova Scotia, Canada; Irene Miller, Alberta, Canada; Allison O'Day, Minnesota; Aquinas Pather, Ontario, Canada; and Diane Spence, Texas.