HERE AND THERE edited by Sue Lichtenfels

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 info@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.

SAVE THE DATE!

Organizers with the Georgia Guide Dog Users group are planning the 2013 Top Dog conference for Jan. 11-13, 2013. The Holiday Inn Express Gateway Conference Center, located in Savannah, Ga., will host the weekend's events, which will include workshops, exhibits, and an optional city tour. Got suggestions for the program?  Send an e-mail to 2013topdog@gmail.com. Room rates are $89 plus tax, and include a hot breakfast each day. In addition to the conference weekend, the hotel will offer this special rate three nights prior to and three nights following the conference. To make your reservations, call (912) 925-2700 and use group code GGD or Georgia Guide Dog Users. Conference registration materials are expected to be online in August 2012.

NEW IVONA VOICES AVAILABLE

Serotek now offers six natural-sounding Ivona text-to-speech voices which can be used for reading books, email, and browsing the Internet.  To hear a sample of the six voices, visit http://audio.samobile.net/samples/ivona.m3u.  Serotek users can try each of the voices by visiting the "my account" section in the Serotek software and then pressing Modifier+F, followed by the letter A. The Ivona voices are compatible with System Access, the SAMobile Network, and DocuScan Plus. For more information, contact Serotek by e-mail, info@serotek.com, or by phone, (612) 246-4818.

NEW PORTABLE MAGNIFIER

Pebble-Mini is the newest handheld portable electronic magnifier from Enhanced Vision. Features of this device include: magnification from 2x to 10x; weighs less than 4 ounces; 3-inch high resolution LCD display; 28 viewing modes; freeze image with capability to magnify; image capture with save and recall; upload stored images to PC; and more. For more information, call 1-888-811-3161 or visit www.enhancedvision.com.

NEW ACCESSIBILITY FEATURE ON MANY TAXIS

Creative Mobile Technologies has created new adaptive software which makes the electronic payment systems in all of New York City’s yellow medallion taxicabs accessible for people who are blind or visually impaired. With the swipe of a special card, the disabled passenger can hear audible indicators as the fare tallies during the trip and verbal instructions and announcements when processing payment, whether with a credit card or cash, including the option for tipping the driver. The system can also be activated by the driver upon request without the special card. CMT anticipates the software will soon be installed in more than 4,500 taxis around the country including in Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Anaheim, Detroit, Kansas City, Columbus and Charlotte.  CMT and Lighthouse International will issue blind and visually impaired individuals the special card, compatible with any CMT taxi nationwide.

ACCESSIBLE ART TOURS

The Whitney Museum of American Art, located in New York City, showcases 20th century and contemporary art, with a focus on living artists. The Whitney now offers Verbal Description and Touch Tours for visitors who are visually impaired. The 90-minute tours are held monthly or upon request with three weeks notice. Tours are led by a museum educator trained to provide vivid, detailed description of the works on display. Several works are also available to be experienced through touch. Tours are free, but reservations are required. Contact the Whitney for future tour dates or to be added to its mailing list by e-mailing accessfeedback@whitney.org or by calling (212) 570-7789.

BOOK ABOUT BLIND MUSICIAN 

Connie Hoffman Ellis has written a book about her brother, Rory Hoffman, who is a successful and talented multi-instrumentalist living in Nashville. "Rory's Story" tells about this blind musician's childhood and how he developed his interest in the many musical styles and instruments that he plays. More information about Rory's award-winning career, this book and his music CDs can be found at www.RoryHoffman.com.

MORE ACCESSIBLE MOVIE EXPERIENCES

This past April, Regal Entertainment Group began a nationwide effort to equip all of its digitized movie theatres with Sony Entertainment Access Glasses to enhance the movie experience for people who are hearing impaired or visually impaired. Patrons who are hearing impaired will wear these lightweight glasses, which can be programmed to display the closed captioning through the lenses. This will allow these individuals to view both the movie and the closed captioning at the same time. For patrons who are visually impaired, the glasses will be paired with a headset that will provide the descriptive audio track. The technology installation should be complete by early 2013. For more information about the Sony Entertainment Access Glasses, visit http://pro.sony.com/bbsc/ssr/mkt-digitalcinema/.

FREE LIFE COACHING OFFER

Deon Bradley offers free one-on-one life coaching sessions by phone to members of ACB. Deon is legally blind and feels his personal experiences and professional skills may be able to assist others with limited vision. Examples of what he might discuss with you include: the loss of independence, the difficulty of communicating with others about your situation and needs, or trying to figure out how you can achieve your career and life goals despite this challenge. Additional information about Deon is available at http://www.linkedin.com/pub/deon-bradley/0/a55/5a. He can be reached directly at (704) 604-8244 or BradleyandAssociates1@gmail.com.

NEW NAME FOR CHAIKIN'S COMPANY

Christine Chaikin's company has changed its name to Insightful Publications. The new web site is www.in-sightful.com and the new e-mail address is Christine@in-sightful.com.

REQUEST FOR EQUIPMENT

In the fall of 2010, the Nigerian Association of the Blind, Kano State Chapter, established the first independently run training center for adults who have lost their sight. The school provides free instruction in braille reading and writing, math, orientation and mobility, techniques of daily living, and information and communication technology. A staff of 10 visually impaired instructors and five sighted assistants serve 100 students. Due to the limited budget, the school seeks the donation of blindness aids, including: braille slates and styluses, 44- to 54-inch long collapsible white canes, abacuses, talking calculators, 2-track cassette recorders, 2-track cassette tapes, braille watches, and computers with speech software. Items can be sent to: Nigerian Association of the Blind, Kano State Chapter, PO Box 5426, Kano, Kano State 700001, Nigeria. For questions, contact Ibrahim Umar Abdulkarim by calling 234-802-842-0865 or 234-803-657-1820, or via e-mail, ibrahimua2002@yahoo.com.

ETHIOPIAN SCHOOL NEEDS BRAILLE TEXTBOOKS

Christina Hanley seeks donations of braille textbooks for students ages 3-10. In particular, she would like books geared for math and English as a second language (ESL). The books will be given to the 150 students at the Mekele Blind School located in northern Ethiopia. Because the school only goes to grade 8, and 99 percent of the students do not have accommodations necessary for high school, Christina hopes to provide as much knowledge to them while at the school. Contact Christina at (860) 542-5851. Additional information about the school and its needs are posted at www.mekeleblindschool.org.

DREAMWEAVER CHAT LINE

Climb aboard the Dreamweaver chat line train and make friends from everywhere.  Enjoy great conferences, contests, conversations, technology, dogs, schools, recipes, Bible studies, informational discussions for the blind, games and more.  Leave your cares and worries at the door.  Call Dreamweaver at (712) 432-4807.

TELECONFERENCE OFFERINGS

Casey Harper has started a home-based business called MultiTopic Resourcing, which provides teleconferences on subjects including products and services for individuals with vision loss and their families, career development, basic computer typing, and other skills.  She currently has a book in the copyright stages that addresses these topics. Contact Casey via e-mail to learn more, MultiTopicResourcing@aol.com.

NEW SOCIAL NETWORK SITE

Amin Akbari Azirani is a 17-year-old who has started his own social networking site. Themultilife.com is similar to Facebook or Twitter with two major differences. First, whatever you write and share, regardless of the language, will be translated to the language chosen by the individuals on your friends list. Second, every translated text is read out loud so people who are blind can enjoy the site. Themultilife.com currently has over 5,000 users.

ONLINE SOCIAL NETWORK

Blindspace is a free social network web site for those who are blind or visually impaired. The site includes private messaging, forums, and more. It also offers a telephone-based conference system for those who don't have a computer or Internet access, or who want an alternate way to communicate with others. The network provides 24-hour phone and e-mail support. Register for this service by visiting www.blindspacenetwork.co.cc.

NEW GOOGLE GROUP

Jordan Gallacher has created a Google group discussion list for blind and visually impaired individuals interested in flight simulators. To join this group, send a blank e-mail to blindflightsimmers-subscribe@googlegroups.com.