Here and There 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 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.

NASA Internships

NASA is looking to increase the number of students with disabilities pursuing science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) careers through its internship programs. Students can apply for summer internships now! The deadline for submitting applications is March 15, 2013. Apply early -- the best opportunities are likely to be filled early.
Register for an account and look for internships at the One Stop Shopping Initiative (OSSI): NASA Internships, Fellowships, and Scholarships (NIFS) at  Summer 2013 internships run for 10 weeks for college students, and six to eight weeks for high school students, from early/late June through early/mid-August. College students receive a stipend of $6,000 and high school students $1,800. As an intern, you are responsible for your own housing. NASA internships for college students are also offered during spring, fall and year-long sessions.
Applicants must be U.S. citizens, with a minimum GPA of 2.8 for college and 3.0 for high school; however, applicants must understand that the competition for internships is keen. High school students must be at least 16 years old at the time the internship begins.
Students who are selected for summer internships will receive an offer letter by e-mail after Feb. 1. 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.
If you need more information, or help with applying, contact Kenneth A. Silberman via phone at (301) 286-9281, or e-mail

Rocking the Cradle

The National Council on Disability recently released a report entitled "Rocking the Cradle: Ensuring the Rights of Parents with Disabilities and Their Children," a study providing an overview of factors supporting and obstructing Americans with all kinds of disabilities from exercising their right to begin and maintain their families.  The study's key findings include: estimates indicate 6.1 million children in the U.S. have parents with disabilities – nearly 1 in 10, almost 10 percent of the population; parents with disabilities are the only community of Americans who must struggle to retain custody of their children; extremely high removal rates and loss of parental rights for parents with sensory or physical disabilities; parents with disabilities are more likely to lose custody of their children after divorce; prospective parents with disabilities have more difficulty when it comes to accessing reproductive health care such as assisted reproductive technologies; and prospective parents with disabilities face significant barriers to adopting children. To view the full report, go to

BANA Adopts Unified English Braille (UEB)

On Nov. 2, 2012, the Braille Authority of North America (BANA) adopted Unified English Braille (UEB). The motion specifies that UEB will eventually replace the current English Braille American Edition and that the U.S. will retain the Nemeth Code for Mathematics and Science Notation.
The transition to UEB will not be immediate; it will follow a carefully crafted timeline. Implementation plans will be formulated with the input and participation of stakeholders from the consumer, education, rehabilitation, transcription, and production communities.
UEB is based on the current literary braille code and was developed with input from many people, primarily braille readers, who worked to achieve an optimal balance among many key factors. Those factors include keeping the general-purpose literary code as its base, allowing the addition of new symbols, providing flexibility for change as print changes, reducing the complexity of rules, and allowing greater accuracy in back translation. Letters and numbers will stay the same as they are in the current literary code. There will be some changes to punctuation, but most will remain the same. Some rules for the use of contractions will change. Nine contractions will be eliminated, and some contractions will be used more often. More information about these changes is available on the BANA web site,

Pacific Rim International Conference

Don't miss the 29th annual Pacific Rim Conference on Disability and Diversity, 2013: Being in Community, April 29-30, 2013 at the Hawaii Convention Center in Honolulu. Formerly called the Pacific Rim International Conference on Disabilities, Pacrim is one of the world's top-rated international educational offerings. We are looking for your creative ideas to build the just, sustainable and inclusive future we all want! We have many topic areas relevant to educators and researchers including Teach to Reach, Indigenous and Native Hawaiian Education, Post-Secondary Education and much more.  To learn more, visit, e-mail or call us at (808) 956-7539.

Former Editor Honored

Former "Braille Forum" editor Nolan Crabb received the American Council of the Blind of Ohio's Ambassador Award at the ACBO convention on Oct. 27. "It came as a great surprise -- I had no idea this would happen. It's one of those things that you get but you always felt you could've done more or worked harder, so it's a humbling thing to be recognized in that way," Crabb said.  He hopes to continue to work with people on the Ohio State campus to ensure that anyone with any type of disability can have an equal shot at the very best they can achieve.

NAPVI Joins Guild

The National Association for Parents of Children with Visual Impairments (NAPVI) recently joined Jewish Guild Healthcare as one of its subsidiaries. According to Susan LaVenture, NAPVI's executive director, NAPVI will continue to retain its identity.

APH, Dollywood Partner

APH and the Dollywood Foundation have formed a partnership to expand Dolly Parton's Imagination Library so that they can provide young blind and visually impaired children from birth to kindergarten age with accessible books.  For the past year, audio titles have been available as a download from the APH web site; now, each year, five titles will also be available in braille.  The books for 2012 were: "Old Bear and His Cub" (by Olivier Dunrea), "A Mud Pie for Mother" (by Scott Beck), "My Lucky Day" (by Keiko Kasza), "Read to Tiger" (by S.J. Fore), and "Llama Llama Misses Mama" (by Anna Dewdney).  For this year, 200 copies of each of the five titles are available free to blind and visually impaired children.  Applications for the books will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis.  Parents and legal guardians of visually impaired children from birth to kindergarten age can apply and enroll a child in the program by visiting or calling (502) 899-2361.

Braille Awards & Signs

Rick Hume is a blind entrepreneur who owns an awards recognition company in Kalamazoo, Mich. The R.L. Hume Award Company sells promotional items, engravable gifts for all occasions, trophies and award plaques. The store can customize award plaques and ADA building signs with braille. The selection of braillable items can be reviewed at, or enter their new site name For more information, call the store at (269) 344-2307.

New Book Available

A biography of Samuel G. Howe, "The Manliest Man: Samuel G. Howe and the Contours of Nineteenth-Century American Reform" by James W. Trent, is now available. The book explores Howe's life through private letters as well as personal and public documents.  It is available in print from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and will be available this winter as an electronic publication from BookShare.

Keller Archives Online

Have you ever wondered just how Anne Sullivan worked with Helen Keller?  Wonder no more.  The 1880s-era correspondence between Sullivan, Keller and Michael Anagnos at the Perkins School for the Blind is now available online thanks to collaboration between Perkins and the American Antiquarian Society, and a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.  Check it out at

Mobile Speak Version 5.8

Code Factory recently released Mobile Speak version 5.8. It has more than 100 new features, improvements and fixes so that users can make the best use of both the latest touch devices and traditional phones with keypads. It is offered as a free upgrade for users of Mobile Speak v4.0 and above.  It includes support for WhatsApp, Symbian Belle FP1 accessibility, and much more.  You can download Mobile Speak 5.8 now at  New users can try it for free for 30 days. Only the Acapela Russian Alyona and Galop TTS installation packages have changed since v5.7.

Handheld Magnifier

Aumed recently released Image, a multi-use handheld magnifier.  It magnifies from 4.3x to 14x, has a folding grip handle, 5 color modes, 4.3" high-contrast LCD screen, TV out function, freeze frame, anti-blur technology, and only weighs 8 ounces.  For more information, contact the company: Aumed Inc., 131 Glenn Way, Unit 5, San Carlos, CA 94070, or call toll-free, 1-855-622-9071.  Or send an e-mail message to

Pebble Mini

Enhanced Vision recently released the Pebble-mini, a lightweight, handheld electronic magnifier.  It has adjustable magnification, from 2x to 10x; large, easy-to-use controls; weighs less than 4 ounces; rechargeable batteries; 28 viewing modes; a hands-free reading stand; and a protective pouch and neck strap. 
The company also released the DaVinci, an all-in-one high-definition CCTV with text-to-speech (OCR) and 3 camera viewing positions: near, far, and everything in between. Features include: reads aloud with Nuance Registered software; high resolution HD LCD for crystal clear pictures and vibrant colors; 28 adjustable viewing modes; and adjustable magnification from 2.4x to 77x.
For more information, call 1-888-811-3161 or visit

New Mice

Bierley has introduced the MonoMouse-Zoom, which provides variable magnification (14x-55x on a 20" TV), has freeze frame capability, and more.  Installation is easy; just plug it into a TV's video input plug and go! 
The company has also introduced the ColorMouse-USB-MD.  It, too, connects via cable to your computer's USB port.  It can magnify from 3x to 100x, and works with Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7.
For more information on either mouse, contact Bierley at 1-800-985-0535 or visit

Brailler Repairs

Leonard Kokel's Certified Brailler Service provides general service, minor and major repair on Perkins braillers.  He also has reconditioned braillers for sale.  For information, contact him at (541) 888-0846 or e-mail