October 2010 Braille Forum
slovering at acb.org
Mon Oct 4 18:28:18 GMT 2010
Volume XLIX October 2010 No. 4
the American Council of the Blind
THE AMERICAN COUNCIL OF THE BLIND STRIVES TO INCREASE THE INDEPENDENCE,
SECURITY, EQUALITY OF OPPORTUNITY, AND TO IMPROVE QUALITY OF LIFE FOR ALL
BLIND AND VISUALLY IMPAIRED PEOPLE.
Mitch Pomerantz, President
Melanie Brunson, Executive Director
Sharon Lovering, Editor
2200 Wilson Blvd.
Arlington, VA 22201
fax: (703) 465-5085
Web site: http://www.acb.org
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American Council of the Blind
TABLE OF CONTENTS
President's Report to the National Convention, Part II, by Mitch Pomerantz
Join Us in February for the 2011 Midyear Meetings and Legislative Seminar,
by Melanie Brunson
Clinical Trial Recruitment
Summary of Pre-Convention Board Meeting, by Marcia Dresser
ACB Members Discover Treasures in Phoenix, Part 1, by Sharon Lovering and
Here and There, edited by Sue Lichtenfels
High Tech Swap Shop
Due to an editing error, the web site listed for Guide Dogs for
the Blind in the September "Here and There" column ("Prescription Discounts
for GDB Graduates") was incorrect. The correct web site is
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PRESIDENT'S REPORT TO THE NATIONAL CONVENTION, PART II
by Mitch Pomerantz
Here is the second installment of my report to the membership at
our conference and convention in July.
Transportation, public and otherwise, is another of our
challenges and certainly critical to the kind of lives we lead. Drastic
reductions in funding for public transit and paratransit services have made
getting around extremely problematic in many parts of the country. Some
major cities have all but eliminated non-peak hour bus service and as we
know, paratransit does not operate when fixed-route service stops. So, how
do we get to work, or wherever it is we need to go?
Over the past few years, even stepping out of our front doors
has become a challenge with the advent of hybrid and electric vehicles. As
you know, ACB actively advocated for passage of H.R. 734 and S. 841, the
Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act. This legislation would require the
transportation secretary to conduct a study to establish standards for
minimum sound information necessary to be conveyed to blind and visually
impaired pedestrians by hybrid vehicles. While both bills were attracting
significant numbers of co-sponsors, their futures were still unclear.
Enter Toyota and the national uproar over the safety of its
automobiles. H.R. 5381 and S. 3302 -- the Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 2010
-- were introduced in May and June, respectively, and the language contained
in 734 and 841 was amended into those bills. They were approved by their
committees of origin and are expected to pass the House and Senate shortly.
As there are some minor differences between the two versions (although not
in the hybrid vehicle language), they will likely need to be reconciled in
conference committee. Nonetheless, ACB and all blind people should have
something to celebrate by the time Congress recesses later this year.
Access to information is a broad category and one which
increasingly affects every aspect of our lives. It is also the area in
which ACB has seemingly been the most active since our last convention. It
is ironic that as more of us gain access to computers and the Internet, we
seem to encounter greater obstacles to accessing that wonderful medium of
communications, education and just plain fun. It's that old dance: two
steps forward and one and a half steps back! But, we are making progress.
For starters, ACB has worked with Lainey Feingold and Linda
Dardarian for over 15 years to gain access to web sites and to assure
privacy in conducting transactions at tens of thousands of businesses around
the country. By using a strategy they developed known as "structured
negotiations" to achieve enhanced access to goods and services for blind and
visually impaired people, Lainey and Linda have made the lives of each and
every one of us that much better. As they will be speaking about their
successes on Tuesday morning, I'll say no more except to ask you to give
them a big ACB hand for their efforts on our behalf.
In October, the judge in ACB's suit against the Social Security
Administration rendered a favorable decision, one which requires SSA to
provide blind and visually impaired recipients and representative payees
letters and other written information in braille and/or on CD.
Subsequently, although not mandated by the judge, Social Security has
indicated its willingness to provide such information in large print and
audiocassette as well. ACB owes a huge "thank you" to our executive
director, Melanie Brunson, along with Arlene Mayerson, lead attorney for
DREDF, the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, for their efforts
on ACB's behalf. We've won a tremendous victory, of which we may all be
extremely proud. Wednesday through Friday of this week, an attorney from
DREDF will be here to assist those of you who have yet to sign up to receive
accessible information from SSA.
The long-awaited Treasury Department report -- compiled by the
consultant some of you met with at the 2008 national convention in
Louisville -- was released last August (note: 2009). In May, the Bureau of
Engraving and Printing issued its Notice of Proposed Rule-Making based on
Treasury's report. ACB has serious concerns about both the report and the
NPRM and with the assistance of our attorney, Jeffrey Lovitky, we are
preparing comments on the latter document.
As I indicated in my report last year, ACB joined with
approximately 30 other organizations in the Reading Rights Coalition to
press Amazon -- manufacturer of the Kindle E-Book Reader -- to market a
fully accessible device, and the Authors Guild -- which directed Amazon to
turn off the text-to-speech feature for a significant number of its e-book
selections -- to reconsider its directive. With the Kindle's menus
inaccessible and the text-to-speech feature disabled for most books, the ACB
board of directors felt that it was critical for us to become involved with
this coalition effort. And in June of 2009, ACB joined with the NFB to
challenge Arizona State University and, indirectly, a number of other
universities which chose to use the inaccessible Kindle in several of their
classes. I'll say no more about these activities as immediately following
this report, we have a very special guest: Daniel Goldstein, the attorney
for the Reading Rights Coalition, who will update us on its activities.
Another significant legislative initiative involves our work to
pass H.R. 3101, the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act.
This bill does a number of things to make cell phones, on-screen menus and
emergency notices and movies more accessible. Recently a similar piece of
legislation, S. 3304, was introduced in the Senate. While not as strong as
the House bill, it seems to have legs as they say and last month, a hearing
on 3304 was held. As was the case in 2008, ACB member and Iraq War veteran
Jesse Acosta testified on our behalf. Once again, thank you, Jesse. It is
our understanding that there is an excellent chance that S. 3304 will be
passed, perhaps as soon as July 26th, the 20th anniversary of the passage of
ACB continues to be actively involved on the international scene
as a member of the World Blind Union. Over the past several months our
energies have been focused on advocating for the free exchange of braille
materials through our participation in the World Intellectual Property
Organization. Both Melanie and Eric Bridges have attended meetings in
Geneva, Switzerland to advocate for support of a treaty which would
guarantee open access to copyrighted material across international borders.
ACB Radio is alive and well under the able leadership of its
managing director, Larry Turnbull. It reaches hundreds of listeners weekly
with ACB's positive message about blindness and blind people, and I
encourage those of you with access to the Internet to give it a listen, if
you've not done so already.
Part III will appear in the November issue.
ACB President Mitch Pomerantz presents his report to the annual
conference and convention at the Phoenix Downtown Sheraton. He stands behind
a lectern on the stage in front of the room; behind him is a banner reading
"American Council of the Blind."
JOIN US IN FEBRUARY FOR THE 2011 MIDYEAR MEETINGS AND LEGISLATIVE SEMINAR
by Melanie Brunson
You may find it hard to believe, but 2011 will be here sooner
than you think. In February of that new year, ACB will once again be
holding a series of important meetings, and everyone who is interested in
ACB and its legislative agenda should begin making plans to attend at least
one of these meetings.
When? Friday, Feb. 25 through Tuesday, March 1, 2011. The
midyear meeting of the ACB board of directors will be held on Friday, Feb.
25. Following the board meeting, there will be a meeting of affiliate
presidents or their representatives. This will begin on Saturday, Feb. 26
and conclude around noon on Sunday, Feb. 27. The legislative seminar will
begin on Sunday afternoon, Feb. 27 and conclude on Tuesday, March 1 with
visits to Congressional offices.
Where? The location will once again be the Holiday Inn National
Airport, in Arlington, Va. - the same hotel we used last year. Room rates
are $119 per night plus tax, for both single and double rooms. This rate
will be available beginning Feb. 24 and runs through March 2. It is not too
early to make your hotel reservations. Rooms can be reserved by calling
either 1-800-holiday, or by calling the hotel directly, at (703) 684-7200.
When you call, be certain to mention that you are part of the American
Council of the Blind so the hotel will know to give you our room rate.
There are three airports that can be used to get to the hotel,
including Washington-Reagan National, Dulles, and Baltimore (BWI). There is
a free shuttle that runs between the hotel and Washington-Reagan Airport.
Additional details about registration and programs for these
meetings will be made available as they are worked out, but we wanted to
allow everyone plenty of time to begin making plans to join us for these
meetings. ACB is beginning its 50th year as a leading advocate for people
who are blind, and we are hopeful that many of you will help us set our
agenda for this historic year and beyond. There will also be a new Congress
in session. Your assistance is essential if we are to succeed in getting
them to understand and move ACB's legislative agenda forward.
Please make plans to join us. Reserve your room at the hotel
early so you don't forget. Then, stay tuned for more exciting details about
what will be on the agendas for each event. See you in February!
CLINICAL TRIAL RECRUITMENT
Are you blind with no light perception? Do you have problems
sleeping at night or trouble with daytime sleepiness? A local doctor is
conducting research to evaluate a new investigational treatment for insomnia
and daytime sleepiness in totally blind individuals.
You may qualify if:
* you are between 18 and 75 years of age
* you are blind with no light perception
* you have trouble sleeping at night or experience daytime sleepiness
Qualified participants will receive study medication and
study-related medical evaluation at no cost.
If you want to participate, call 1-888-389-7033 between 9 a.m.
and 5 p.m. Eastern Monday through Friday.
SUMMARY OF PRE-CONVENTION BOARD MEETING
by Marcia Dresser
The ACB board of directors held its pre-convention board meeting
on Saturday, July 10 at the Downtown Sheraton Hotel in Phoenix, Ariz. All
board members were present except Cammie Vloedman, who was unable to attend
the convention because of work responsibilities.
President Mitch Pomerantz convened the meeting at 11:15 a.m.
Mountain time. David Trott moved to adopt the meeting agenda as
distributed, and Marlaina Lieberg seconded; the motion carried unanimously.
Trott moved and Billie Jean Keith seconded a motion to accept the minutes of
the June teleconference; this motion also passed unanimously.
In his president's report, Pomerantz said that two USC students
interviewed six blind and visually impaired high school students for a film
they are making called "Do You Dream in Color?" He hopes that we can screen
the film at the 2011 convention if it is produced. After attending the 20th
anniversary celebration for the Americans with Disabilities Act in
Washington, D.C., on July 26, he and Melanie Brunson will head to
Minneapolis to visit the ACB office there. In closing, Pomerantz thanked
the five members completing terms on the board for their service. (Ray
Campbell and Jeff Thom are eligible for a second term. Carla Ruschival and
Patrick Sheehan are rotating off the board after completing two terms.
Vloedman is not eligible for a second term because she moved to Virginia,
where Keith resides.) Campbell moved to accept the president's report, and
Lieberg seconded the motion, which carried unanimously.
Brunson began her executive director's report by stating that
Patricia Castillo and Dena Wilson wished to convey that they enjoyed their
time at ACB and appreciated the opportunity to work with and get to know ACB
members and staff. She will be recruiting for Castillo's position shortly.
The Social Security Administration has expanded the types of formats
available for accessible statements because so many people asked for large
print. The World Intellectual Property Organization is attempting to craft
a treaty to allow accessible files to be shared internationally. The World
Blind Union proposed the treaty, and ACB is taking a lead role in attempting
to get it passed. Brunson said it was very moving to meet people in Geneva
and hear their stories of how desperately they need reading material.
Regarding legislation, Eric Bridges thinks that H.R. 734 and its
companion bill S. 741, the Motor Vehicle Safety Act, should both pass by the
end of July. ACB's language is in both bills. The resolution thanking
Apple for the iPhone has been shared with an Apple executive. The vehicle
donation legislation, H.R. 571, is intended to relax IRS laws that were
tightened six or seven years ago because people were taking advantage of a
loophole. It has been referred to the House Ways and Means Committee.
Although it has 150 bipartisan co-sponsors, it will probably not go anywhere
this year. The ACB resolution on health care directed the staff to make
Congress aware of the specific needs of blind and visually impaired people
and that these be put into any health care legislation; unfortunately, this
did not happen. Bridges will continue to bring these issues to Congress.
H.R. 3101, the Twenty-first Century Communications and Video Accessibility
Act, and its Senate companion bill, S. 3304, have gained momentum since the
members of Congress finally realize the importance of this issue. The goal
is to get this legislation passed in conjunction with the 20th anniversary
of the signing of the ADA, hopefully with FCC authority and provisions for
the deaf-blind intact.
Sharon Lovering reported that circulation of the Braille Forum
is down in all formats except e-mail, which is up 7.6 percent. The braille
edition is the highest braille circulation magazine in the U.S.
Following a short break, the meeting resumed at 1 p.m., when the
board entertained bids from Columbus, Ohio, and Las Vegas, Nevada, to host
the 2013 and 2014 national conventions. Following these telephone
presentations, Trott moved that the 2013 convention be held in Columbus, and
that a decision on 2014 be deferred until Ruschival checks out a last-minute
bid from Atlanta. The motion was seconded by Marsha Farrow and passed
unanimously. The board will meet via conference call in mid-August to make
a decision on the site of the 2014 convention.
Berl Colley reported that he, Lieberg, and Ardis Bazyn had a
very productive visit to Idaho in May. A one-day seminar will be held this
fall, and monthly conference calls will be organized. Hopefully, a core
group of folks from Idaho, including potential officers, will attend the
2011 convention. Gray moved that the report be accepted, and Campbell
seconded; the motion carried.
Next, a lengthy discussion ensued concerning ACB life
memberships. Lane Waters has been able to recoup quite a bit of the
outstanding money from installment payments. Billie Jean Keith made the
following motion: Persons will be installed as life members of the American
Council of the Blind when full payment is received. Those who voted for the
motion were Dillon, Lieberg, Godino, Campbell, Farrow, Garrett, Keith,
Ruschival, and Sheehan; those opposed were Charlson, Gray, Colley, Thom, and
Trott. Campbell will explain this new policy in an article he will write
for "The Braille Forum."
Larry Turnbull, director of ACB Radio, reported that Mainstream
now has a much better sound quality, especially during live shows. He is
working on getting Treasure Trove back in house. Since he took over as
director, he has added eight new broadcasters. Programs broadcast from
IAAIS include Sports Illustrated, Oprah, Audio Book Review, and some content
for kids; these have been very positively received. ACB Radio streamed the
60th anniversary celebration of Enchanted Hills Camp in California, which
had 60 listeners, and the performance of the Ohio School for the Blind
marching band at the Rose Bowl Parade, which had 45 listeners. Lieberg
moved to accept Turnbull's report and Thom seconded; the motion carried.
Brunson and Charlson reported that the new handbook for the
board of directors should be ready shortly after convention. Organizations
that fund strategic planning will be researched. Trott moved acceptance of
this report and Lieberg seconded; the motion carried.
Michael Garrett announced that, unfortunately, there is no
funding for the proposed youth seminar, which was to be held in 2011. He
and his committee will continue to seek funding with the goal of holding
this event in 2012. Lieberg moved acceptance of this report, and Trott
seconded; the motion carried.
The board of directors commended Carla Ruschival for fantastic
convention planning. Margarine Beaman raised over $75,000 for this
Following a short discussion of the board of directors e-mail
list, the meeting adjourned at 5 p.m. Mountain time.
ACB MEMBERS DISCOVER TREASURES IN PHOENIX, PART 1
by Sharon Lovering and Jenine Stanley
The theme of this year's convention was "Discover the Treasures
of ACB," and those who attended found many treasures, from the tours
(including one to the Grand Canyon) to the auction, from general sessions to
the banquet, and in the many special-interest affiliate events.
"Ladies and gentlemen, I call the 49th annual convention of the
American Council of the Blind to order!" said Mitch Pomerantz. He thanked
Rod Ellickson of Peoria, Ariz., for providing the pre-session entertainment.
"Welcome to everyone who is with us this evening, and welcome to those of
you listening on ACB Radio, the voice of the blind around the world!"
Following the invocation, the presentation of colors, the Pledge
of Allegiance and the national anthem, Marchelle Franklin, deputy chief of
staff for the mayor's office, welcomed attendees to Phoenix. "Good evening
to everyone," Franklin said. "On behalf of city of Phoenix mayor Phil
Gordon, our eight Phoenix city council members, our 17,000 Phoenix city
employees, and the 1.7 million residents that call Phoenix home, we welcome
you to our city." She read a proclamation from the mayor and the city
council stating that July 10-17 was American Council of the Blind Week.
Ron Brooks, president of the Arizona Council of the Blind, said,
"We welcome you to Phoenix, and we welcome you to the great state of
Arizona." He thanked Barbara McDonald and the local host committee for all
Following Brooks' greeting, ACB president Mitch Pomerantz gave
his report. (For the full text of Pomerantz's report, see the September,
October, and November issues.)
From the president's report, the convention moved on to the
topic of e-books and the Reading Rights Coalition with Daniel Goldstein, a
partner of Brown, Goldstein and Levy. "The last time I was in Phoenix, I was
defending Mitch's deposition and Marc Maurer's deposition back to back in
the suit we had filed against Arizona State University over the Kindle,"
He told his listeners that over the last 12 years he has focused
on access to digital information. "In February of 2009 . the NFB, the ACB
and 30 other organizations involving print disabilities got together in the
Reading Rights Coalition." Why? "The inability. to access this huge
storehouse of intellectual property that the rest of the world is coming to
have at the touch of a fingertip, that's what you call a severe handicap,
and that's why these groups got together: to combat it," he said.
George Kerscher invented the e-book in 1988 as an accessibility
device, Goldstein said, "and then we waited . for the mainstream technology
world to see it as a mainstream device." In November 2007 the first Kindle
came out, and it was an immediate hit. In February 2008, Kerscher,
Goldstein and several others went to visit the Kindle team to talk about
access. "As George eloquently put it . 'If you make the text talk, you will
make lots and lots of money because a businessman who's uploaded the stuff
he needs for his meeting on the Kindle doesn't finish on the plane, hops in
his rental car and what does he do? He switches over to the text to speech
to finish listening to what he needs for his meeting.'"
In February 2009 the Kindle 2 came out, "and the Authors Guild
and the Association of American Publishers went ape and said, 'You've got to
turn off this text to speech; we didn't license it, we haven't agreed to it,
and we're not going along with it.' And Amazon called up and said, 'Well,
OK, we messed up, because if we'd done it right, then we could say we did it
for the blind and they couldn't scream at us. But we didn't, because we
didn't make the menus talk. But if text to speech is turned off, you guys
are really in bad shape, so you have to come to our defense.' You can
imagine the two words I wanted to say." The audience howled with laughter.
By March 2010, the coalition, the Authors Guild and the
Association of American Publishers had agreed on a joint statement, "the
gist of which is that whenever a book is available in other than print, that
version of the book must be accessible," he said. Two weeks ago the
Departments of Justice and Education released a letter to all colleges and
universities informing them that "the use of inaccessible e-book-reading
devices is a violation of the law, and they must not do it."
"We're not done, and I'm not going to leave this battle until we
do," Goldstein stated. "I look forward to the day - the not too distant day
-- when every person in this room can get the same book at the same time and
the same price as everyone else."
Following Goldstein's report, Pomerantz introduced Carol
Ewing-Ragsdale, who presented this year's two first-timers, Kenneth Semien
Sr. of Texas and Tony Ferrita of North Carolina. Pomerantz then presented
this year's new life members. They are: Randy Herndon of Memphis, Tenn.;
Thelma Crumpler, Raleigh, N.C.; Jane Ferrita, Burlington, N.C.; Filo Tu,
Honolulu, Hawaii; Don Thomson, Waipahu, Hawaii; Kathy Casey, Albany, N.Y.;
Mike Godino, Malverne, N.Y.; Mildred Jackson, Norfolk, Va.; and Christopher
Bell, Roseville, Minn.
The evening wrapped up with the first credentials report and the
roll call of affiliates.
Conventioneers were up bright and early for the first morning
session of convention. Margarine Beaman talked briefly about sponsors,
including Wells Fargo Bank, GW Micro, Adobe Systems, and Maxi-Aids.
Business began with some corrections to the delegate list; the final
credentials report; and the adoption of the convention standing rules and
the program. John Huffman, acting chair of the constitution and bylaws
committee, gave the first readings of several proposed amendments.
First vice president Kim Charlson presided over the remainder of
the session. She introduced Cindy Van Winkle, chair of the awards committee,
and Paul Edwards, chair of the board of publications, to present various
Van Winkle thanked the awards committee members for all their
hard work. She presented the Affiliate Growth Award to the South Dakota
Association of the Blind, which had an 81.8 percent increase in their
membership this year. Accepting the award was Keith Bundy, who said, "We
had struggled a few years with membership numbers, and we have seen this
increase, and we're going to be talking a little more about it on Thursday
at the membership meeting."
Edwards thanked the BOP members for all their work. "We have
three awards to give away this morning, and each of them is a little bit
different," he said. He presented the Vernon Henley Media Award to the ACB
of Texas for the creation of a Texas-specific public service video promoting
white cane safety throughout the state.
Edwards next talked about Hollis Liggett and the award that's
named after him. "The ability to speak freely is at the heart of what we in
ACB represent," he stated. "So it is our pleasure to present the Hollis
Liggett Award to a publication that is produced by an affiliate that meets
extremely high standards of quality." And the winner is June Horst and the
Pennsylvania Council of the Blind.
"I am speechless!" June Horst said. "I took on this job 17
years ago when it was a four-page newsletter. It now is anywhere from 80 to
90 pages. . Thank you, board of publications!"
The final BOP award was the Ned E. Freeman Award. "There were
five or six articles, any of which could have won," Edwards stated. "The one
that in fact did win is an article that . all of us on the board of
publications thought was extremely well written, contained an immense amount
of good information for our folks, and essentially was an article about
employment." This year the award went to Lisa Brooks for her article titled
"How Forgiveness Got Me A Job."
"Ron, you dirty dog!" Lisa Brooks said. (She hadn't known about
the award, but her husband did.) "It's a privilege to be up here and such an
honor that an experience that happened to me could turn into something that
hopefully could help someone else."
The convention next turned its focus to discovering some of
Arizona's treasures with help from from Alice Duckworth, outreach
coordinator of the Arizona Capitol Museum in Phoenix. "I work for one of the
treasures of Arizona," she stated. "You start talking about things like
gold, silver, diamonds, peridot, turquoise . you get off on that and people
think that that's the real treasure. Unh-unh. Treasure is people, and
people mean stories."
Following a few stories, Charlson introduced Kerryann Ifill,
deputy president of the Senate in Barbados and secretary of the Caribbean
Council for the Blind (CCB). "It is indeed a privilege, an honor, it's a
thrill to be here," she said. "I told somebody last week that coming to the
ACB conference was like going to Disney World for a blind person."
Ifill described her country as having "coral white sands .
turquoise waters . [and] warmed by year-round sunshine." Its population is
270,000; 13,142 of those are individuals with disabilities. Throughout all
the Caribbean islands, the blindness population is 1 percent, low vision at
3 percent. Major causes of blindness include cataracts, childhood
blindness, diabetic retinopathy, and glaucoma.
CCB runs a number of programs and initiatives, including
development of a degree program at the University of Guyana, eyeglass
distribution, and information technology training. The Barbados Association
for the Blind and Deaf (BABD) is the oldest of three organizations involved
in blindness activities. It was established in 1957; it hosts the sheltered
workshop and runs the rehabilitation program. Workers cane chairs and make
mops and brooms; some are enrolled in the new information technology
program, learning how to do basic keyboarding and work with basic computer
programs. The association also has "some somewhat antiquated notions about
blindness," she said. "Up until about four years ago, the office of
president could not be held by a blind person." That has changed; the
organization now has its second blind president.
BABD has set up a bus pass program. Regular riders pay $1.50 to
take the bus anywhere in Barbados; if you're over 65, you ride for free.
Association members receive bus passes that cover the fares. Barbados also
has a blind cricket team going. She called the regional cricket tournament
"one of the best representations of the blindness community working with
mainstream society, because cricket is such a binding reality across the
"Blindness is a challenge," she concluded. "Being blind is not
what we do; being blind is who we are. Therefore, we have to find the best
ways to not only live with it but to teach the world around us how to adapt
to suit our needs." She quipped that if anyone wanted to find her, she'd be
checking out the exhibit hall.
After the break, the convention heard from Kathy Martinez,
assistant secretary, Office of Disability Employment Policy. Martinez
complimented Hilda Solis, secretary of the Department of Labor. "She [has]
truly got our issues, she has our back, and when she says 'good jobs for
everybody,' she means everybody, including those of us with disabilities."
Martinez mentioned meeting with Melanie Brunson and Eric Bridges
about possible collaboration between ODEP and ACB. "We're still not doing
enough together in my opinion," she said. "There's still a lot we could be
doing, and a lot of it has to do with improving accessibility of technology
in the government. We at Labor realize that we have to set an example for
the rest of the government, and really try to make our processes as
accessible as possible."
She told her listeners about an upcoming notice of proposed
rule-making. "In it there are a number of questions that we would like for
groups to respond to," she said. "In particular I would recommend that you
focus on the questions around information and communication technology.
Because we have to get contractors to understand that everything is being
automated, including applications online, and many of those processes are
inaccessible for us. . This is a real critical rule that we need you to
She stressed the importance of technology. "The tremendous
advance of technology, both in the workplace and in our homes, has become in
many ways the great equalizer and in other ways the great unequalizer for
folks with disabilities who are job-seekers or who wish to move ahead in
their professions," she said.
Following Martinez's presentation, Charlson introduced the panel
on specialized rehabilitation services for the blind. Ed House, manager of
Arizona Services for the Blind, Visually Impaired and Deaf, introduced the
panelists: Michael Gandy, director of the Office of Vocational
Rehabilitation for the Blind in Mississippi; Pat Cannon, director of the
Michigan Commission for the Blind; Linda Mock, administrator of the Oregon
Commission for the Blind; and Greg Trapp, executive director of the New
Mexico Commission for the Blind.
Gandy spoke first. Mississippi's services for the blind began
in 1920, became a separate commission in 1928, and a separate state agency
in 1975. In 1991, blindness rehabilitation joined general vocational
rehabilitation. "Our consumer groups . pressed our executive director to
work with our state personnel board to create what we are now, which is
basically an agency within an agency."
One thing that has helped with communication between consumers
and the state agency, Gandy said, is that he has joined both consumer
groups. "It's hard, even when you disagree on issues, to be mad at somebody
when you've shared a pizza with them or sat next to them at a business
meeting," he said.
Speaking of pizza, the newest innovation in Mississippi's
Randolph-Sheppard program has been partnerships with fast-food chains. For
many years, vendors operated a grill in the University of Mississippi
Medical Center. The vendors there recently partnered with Subway, "and that
has made a tremendous difference." He encouraged his listeners to try
working with "name-brand partners" in their locations.
Pat Cannon talked about what's going on in Michigan, including
the funds the state has received from the federal government for
rehabilitation programs. He mentioned several things that Michigan is doing
with those funds. "One of the things that we have noticed with our clients
over the past several years . is . they still have enormous difficulty
getting their first job," he said. "As we talk to employers, they say,
'We'd like to give this person a chance, but they've never held a job
before.'" Michigan has created an internship program to give experience to
those who are nearly job-ready.
The next panelist was Linda Mock. Oregon has had a separate
agency for the blind since about 1920. "In the '70s the structure of our
commission board was changed to become a consumer-controlled agency," she
said. The board's seven members are appointed by the governor and approved
by the commission, and always include an ACB representative; a majority are
In May 2009, the Oregon governor announced that "he would be
eliminating a number of boards and commissions in order to streamline and
save money, and on that list was the Oregon Commission for the Blind," she
said. Mock got a call from somebody listening to the speech online,
informing her of this development. She got several more calls about it
before attending a meeting with the governor's representative. "When I met
with the policy adviser . she said, 'Have you heard the news?' and I said,
Mock and her staff wrote and sent out an action alert. "The
response to me was really overwhelming," she said. "People wrote letters; I
got copied on a lot of those letters, which were very moving testimonials .
of the impact of the services that blind individuals had received from our
agency and the difference that it made in their lives." People were
visiting the governor's office and the legislature, pleading the Oregon
Commission's case. "Within a couple weeks I was getting calls from the
legislative committee saying, 'OK, why don't you call off all these people?'
. I said, 'Well, I can't really call off anybody until you've made your
decision, because the decision does rest with you. . You have to understand
that the blind community is passionate about this in our state . '" Oregon
got a happy ending - full funding for the commission for the blind.
Greg Trapp discussed the situation in New Mexico. "You've heard
this morning many of the functions and programs and services that we provide
. these are significantly at stake during these times of economic crisis and
state budget deficits," he said. Several years ago there was an effort to
consolidate his state's commission for the blind. ACB and NFB joined forces
and appeared at a meeting of the governor's commission on disability. "It
was that presence, that forceful voice, that kept my agency from being
consolidated," he stated. However, given the current financial situation,
he expects there to be another effort to consolidate state agencies. He
asked ACB and its New Mexico chapter for their support and advocacy.
Trapp talked about quiet cars, the danger they present, and how
to mitigate risks to pedestrians, cyclists and others. One recommendation
from the New Mexico quiet car task force is that all new and used hybrid
cars be sold with a warning tag and a waiver that the buyer would have to
sign, informing him of the risks of these quiet cars. The task force also
recommends a similar procedure for those renting hybrid cars.
House wrapped up the discussion by stressing the importance of
ACB members staying informed, involved, and advocating for the services they
want. Following a brief question-and-answer session, Oral Miller talked
about the Recreation Zone and activities that would be going on there,
including rowing and water aerobics. The session wrapped up with
Convention business began with the nominating committee report
given by Judi Cannon. John Huffman gave first readings of proposed
amendments. Eric Bridges ended the convention business with a call to action
on pending legislation that would be heard before the Senate on July 15.
Second vice president Brenda Dillon presided over the remainder
of the session. She introduced Lainey Feingold to discuss the partnership
with ACB on structured negotiation. Feingold's theme was "Structured
Negotiation Depends On Me." Talking ATMs, accessible pedestrian signals and
point-of-sale devices are just a few of the successes achieved by ACB and
Feingold's firm over the past 16 years of cooperation.
The newest initiative is access to confidential health care
information. ACB is working with the American Cancer Society on access to
its information. Access to prescription information is also ongoing. Other
efforts under way include access to audio description at all movie theaters
and access to airline kiosks and web sites. Feingold reminded everyone that
structured negotiation is a collaborative effort unless the companies fail
to work with us. Then her firm and ACB are prepared to take legal action.
She encouraged everyone to contact her about access to information in any
context. People can also request e-mail updates at her web site,
Gems of education sparkled next as scholarship committee chair
Patty Slaby introduced the 2010 ACB scholarship recipients.
Sandy Sommers, Ohio
Carlos Vaeza, Maine
Brooke Jostad, Texas
David Black, California
Lisa Johnson, Minnesota
Rose Martin, Pennsylvania
Carry Joanis, New York
Laura Glowacki, Illinois
Casey Burkhardt, Pennsylvania
Mona Minkara, Florida
Spencer Stewart, Massachusetts
Michael Byington, Kansas
Reba Landry, Pennsylvania
Sara Conrad, Michigan
Marion Badie, Georgia
Benjamin Manning, Massachusetts
Sara Minkara, Massachusetts
Cathy Schmitt Whitaker presented the scholarships awarded by the
Council of Citizens with Low Vision International (CCLVI). This year's
recipients were Tiffany Swoish of Michigan; Mindy Cook of Ohio; and Yvonne
Garris of Pennsylvania.
Following the scholarship presentations, conventioneers heard
from Sam Bagenstos, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Civil
Rights, U.S. Department of Justice. 2010 marks the 20th anniversary of the
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and Bagenstos talked about the past
20 years of civil rights history. He noted that his department must win back
the trust of people in the civil rights field, and that he is encouraged to
have an energetic staff of both career and new employees ready to enforce
Bagenstos stated that one of his main areas of focus is access
to technology for people with disabilities. The Amazon Kindle case is
significant in that it clearly states that universities will not be able to
use inaccessible technology. If such technology as the Kindle is made
accessible, it can provide equal access to information in real time for all
students, but especially those with visual impairments. Access to testing is
another important area on which the Civil Rights Division is working.
Goods and services provided over the Internet are also covered
by the ADA. Bagenstos has testified before Congress that DOJ is firmly
committed to this fact and that typically, only small changes need be made
in web sites to make them fully accessible.
DOJ is also planning more rule-making and enforcement of video
description for all movie theaters. Public transportation access issues have
been addressed, particularly in a recent case in Jackson, Miss. Access to
businesses for people using service animals continues to be an issue, and
Bagenstos assured us that his office is aggressively pursuing these cases.
He noted that they are working hard to have the updated regulations to the
ADA approved by the anniversary.
The Department of Justice has done a good job over the past 20
years of offering technical assistance to businesses and state and local
governments on the ADA. They will continue to offer this assistance.
Bagenstos noted that if such entities refuse to comply, he and his division
are fully prepared to take legal action and seek extensive remedies. He
needs our help to learn about emerging issues. People may contact him via
e-mail, samuel.bagenstos at usdoj.gov. DOJ representatives are also available
Monday through Friday on the ADA Hotline, 1-800-514-0103.
Showing us the many facets of the National Library Service were
director Frank Kurt Cylke and foreign language librarian David
Fernandez-Barrial. 200,000 Digital Talking Book players are now in the hands
of library patrons around the country. There are approximately 20,000
digital titles now on the BARD web site, with 2,000 titles added per year.
Approximately 19,000 of the 22,000 cassette titles will be converted to the
digital format. Finally, work will take place on the long-playing records to
give access to the complete collection.
Fernandez-Barrial explained his job at NLS in acquiring audio
and braille material in languages other than English. He noted that NLS has
re-established a flow of Spanish titles into the digital collection.
Maintaining a balance of interests within these titles can be difficult. The
top five languages in the NLS collection are: Spanish, 2,290 audio, 798
braille; French, 682 audio, 465 braille; Ukrainian, 931 total; German, 822
total; and Russian, 555 total. The foreign language collections of NLS
contain nearly 9,500 titles in 65 languages.
In a foreign language preference survey of participating
libraries, 3 percent of patrons show interest in foreign language titles.
Emerging languages of interest include Chinese, Vietnamese, Cambodian,
Laotian and indigenous languages.
Spain's ONCE has granted NLS permission to make its five-volume
"The Blind in History" available to patrons. Fernandez-Barrial is very
excited about this seminal work being part of the collection. Work is
ongoing to secure rights for English translation. Exchange of other foreign
language materials such as serials in Arabic and children's literature in
Chinese will be available. Some braille publications are also being
converted to digital format to share, along with web braille files, with
other libraries around the world.
Fernandez-Barrial has taken part in international discussions of
copyright law as it relates to special materials. His view for the future
includes a Spanish portal for the web site and information on the NLS main
pages in a variety of foreign languages about its programs. He encouraged
anyone with questions to contact him via e-mail at dafe at loc.gov or via phone
at (202) 707-0611.
The morning session ended with a look at ACB's Audio Description
Project (ADP) from Joel Snyder, the project's director. During the project's
second annual conference, attendees reviewed the final national guidelines
for audio description and discussed a certification process for describers.
Eleven countries were represented at this year's conference. Other
highlights included a presentation on how blind people can be involved in
the audio description process from production to review. Awards to be
presented this year include the Margaret Pfanstiehl Memorial Achievement
Award for Research and Development and the Barry Levine Memorial Award for
Career Achievement. Winners of the Young Described Film Critic Award will
also be honored.
The United Nations worked with ADP to describe a film about
employment for people with disabilities. Snyder announced that ADP is also
working with Art Education for the Blind of New York on an audio-described
tour of the White House. Efforts continue to pass H.R. 3101 and S. 3304 to
provide mandated audio description on broadcast television. ACB is also
applying for several grants from the Department of Education for audio
description of educational programming. These grants, totaled, could provide
$1 million per year for the next five years to produce such programming.
Snyder encouraged people to visit the new web site,
http://www.acb.org/adp, which features a list of all known audio-described
movies on DVD. His e-mail address is jsnyder at acb.org, and phone is (202)
Watch for part 2 of this article in the November issue!
All photos in this issue copyright 2010 by Starlight Photo.
Dan Goldstein tells the convention about the formation of the Reading Rights
June Horst accepts the Hollis K. Liggett Braille Free Press Award. "I'm
speechless!" she says. To her right is Paul Edwards, chairman of the board
Kerryann Ifill describes Barbados' white sand beaches, turquoise waters, and
Kathy Martinez talks about the progress the government has made in making
things accessible for blind people, and discusses possible collaboration
The scholarship winners and committee members pause for a picture. Top row,
left to right: Lisa Johnson, Michael Garrett, Rebecca Bridges, Patty Slaby,
Sandy Sommers, Sara Conrad, Reba Landry, Richard Rueda, Michael Gravitt, Don
Koors, Mitch Pomerantz. Bottom row, left to right: Rose Martin, Michael
Byington, Carry Joanis, Cathy Schmitt Whitaker, Marion Badie, Brooke Jostad,
Laura Glowacki, Mona Minkara.
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 at 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.
** SKI FOR LIGHT WEEK ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS
You are invited to attend the 36th annual Ski for Light
International Week! It is open to blind and visually impaired recreational
cross-country skiers, beginner to advanced. Sighted instructors/guides will
help you learn the skills and techniques. It will be held Jan. 30-Feb. 6,
2011 in the Rocky Mountains at Snow Mountain Ranch in Granby, Colo. Rooms
can accommodate from one to four people. Packages start at $500 per person.
Prices include all meals, round-trip transportation between the Denver
airport and the resort, and trail fees. Skis, boots, and poles will be
provided free to first-time participants. Partial stipends based on
financial need are available for first timers. The application deadline is
Nov. 1, 2010. Visit the SFL web site, www.sfl.org, to learn more and to
submit your application. For more information, contact Bob Hartt at
<mailto:harttb11 at comcast.net> harttb11 at comcast.net or (703) 845-3436 or
Lynda Boose at lboose at up.net or (906) 370-7541.
** CALL FOR FELLOWSHIP APPLICATIONS
The National Leadership Consortium in Sensory Disabilities
(NLCSD) is now accepting fellowship applications from individuals pursuing a
doctoral degree in the sensory impairment field. The program begins in the
fall of 2011, but applications are due by Dec. 31, 2010. Applicants must be
pursuing their doctoral work either in the deaf-blind, deaf/hard of hearing,
or blind/visually impaired programs at one of the consortium's 25 member
universities. The application and additional information are available at
** SOLUTION FOR HADLEY STUDENTS
Hadley offers a new Assignment Submission Line for its
students who do not have computer access or who cannot write their
assignments. Students can call an 800 number and record their work onto the
instructor's mailbox. For more information, visit www.hadley.edu.
** NEW STYLE BACKPACK
The backTpack is an ergonomically designed bag for school and
travel. Unlike a regular backpack with all the weight on the back, the
backTpack is actually two shoulder bags that join across the back. While
still allowing the hands to be free, the weight is more evenly distributed
to aid balance and posture. The design allows immediate access to the
contents even when seated. The backTpack is endorsed by the American
Physical Therapy Association. Each standard side bag measures 13 x 13 x 3
and contains various pockets. For more information, contact Marilyn M. von
Foerster at (503) 365-7554 or visit <http://www.backtpack.com/>
** UPDATE ON SERVICE DOG EYE EXAMS
This past May ACVO/Merial sponsored the National Service Dog
Exam Event. A record-breaking number of service dogs received free eye exams
by veterinary ophthalmologists. Due to the overwhelmingly positive response,
plans are already in the works for next year. Additional information about
this project is available at www.acvoeyeexam.org.
** RESOURCE FOR TANDEM BIKING
The U.S. Blind Tandem Bikers Connection offers a web site
where tandem riders who are blind (stokers) can find sighted tandem pilots
in their area. When you visit
<http://www.bicyclingblind.org/> www.bicyclingblind.org, you must create a
free profile in order to begin the search. Stokers need not have their own
bike to get started. The site also includes links to blind tandem clubs
around the country, listings of tandem events, and news about blind
bicyclists. For additional information, contact
<mailto:christine at bicyclingblind.org> christine at bicyclingblind.org;
<mailto:rockthebike at usfamily.net> rockthebike at usfamily.net; or call (512)
** TENNIS INSTRUCTION FOR THE BLIND
Tennis Unlimited offers a method to aid tennis instructors in
teaching the game to people who are blind or visually impaired. The web site
shows instructors how to teach various racket swings and court movements
using verbal feedback. For a game, there is no ball and no opposing player.
The instructor calls out instructions to the visually impaired player as if
they were playing each point for real. Players get an exercise workout just
like a regular game. To learn more about this new activity, visit
<http://www.tennisunlimited.org/> www.tennisunlimited.org or call (845)
** NEW STAFF AT OSERS
In August the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative
Services (OSERS) hired two disability leaders in high-ranking positions.
Sue Swenson, with extensive experience in family support, inclusion, and
transition, now serves as OSERS Deputy Assistant Secretary. Melody Musgrove,
who has a long history in special education and program evaluation, is the
new Director of the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP).
** PEBBLE PORTABLE MAGNIFIER
Enhanced Vision has released Pebble 4.3, an updated version
of its handheld portable magnifier. The device includes a 4.3-inch LCD
screen, 2x-10x magnification, 28 viewing options for optimal contrast,
freeze frame capability, built-in light source, foldable handle, and over
two hours of battery life. The Pebble comes with reusable batteries,
carrying case, and 2-year warranty. For more information, visit
<http://www.enhancedvision.com/> www.enhancedvision.com or call
** NEW WEB-BASED KURZWEIL SOFTWARE
Kurzweil Educational Systems has recently released Kurzweil
3000 Version 12 for Windows Web License Edition. This edition includes all
the features of Version 12 but with the ability to access the software from
any Internet-connected computer. The additional features include web-based
file storage for access whenever needed and personalized account profiles
that save individualized user settings. The basic Kurzweil 3000 Version 12
for Windows is also available in stand-alone and network editions, with a
USB version to be released this fall. To learn more about Kurzweil
products, visit www.kurzweiledu.com.
** NEW PROGRAMS AT JEWISH GUILD
The Jewish Guild for the Blind's National Tele-Support
Network now has a new support group for parents of children who are both
autistic and visually impaired. It aims to help parents navigate a system
where advice and resources are not easy to find. The group is sponsored in
part by the Reader's Digest Partners for Sight Foundation. For information
about the telephone support groups, contact Dan Callahan at (212) 769-7815.
In May, Guild students participated in Touch Graphics, Inc.'s
research and development trials of the WiiCane. The WiiCane is a system for
promoting proper use of the white cane in orientation and mobility among
young children. It is based on Wii video game hardware; a Wii remote is
mounted to a white cane, and the camera on the device tracks the position of
lights along an overhead strip. It connects to a computer via Bluetooth
radio and sends audio and vibratory feedback to the student's headphones and
to the motor in the Wii remote. Some students showed marked improvement
after just three sessions.
** NEW WINDOWS TUTORIAL
National Braille Press now has available "Windows 7 and Vista
Explained: A Guide for Blind and Partially Sighted Users," by Dr. Sarah
Morley Wilkins and Steve Griffiths. This is a step-by-step guide on the
newest Microsoft systems. It starts with the basics and guides users through
topics such as file management, troubleshooting, and using the Internet. The
book is available to users in the U.S. and Canada only. Formats include
hard-copy braille (5 volumes), electronic braille, audio CD, large print,
and multimedia CD. The CD includes an e-braille file to print one hard copy,
an HTML-formatted document, and a DAISY audio file including DAISY player.
Each format costs $45. Also available are tactile or large print computer
screen layouts for $28. For more information, call 1-800-548-7323 or visit
HIGH TECH SWAP SHOP
** FOR SALE: Optelec Clearview CCTV with black-and-white and
color, 17" monitor. Barely used. Comes with manual and set-up guide.
Asking $350. Contact Linda Williams at (812) 849-2106.
** FOR SALE: Recently refurbished Perkins brailler. Comes with
dust cover. Asking $300 and will ship via free matter for the blind. Call
Bobby Reed at (724) 438-0124 or e-mail him, breed49 at hotmail.com.
** FOR SALE: ALVA BC640 with Audio Feature Pack. Two-year
warranty as of June 2010. Asking $5,000. Call Jean at (518) 452-1237 for
** FOR SALE: PAC Mate BX with 20-cell braille display. It has
all the features and accessories one would need for a convenient pocket PC.
Asking $2,999 plus shipping. Contact Judith Lung via e-mail,
judithhin at gmail.com.
** FOR SALE: Kurzweil NFB Reader. Asking $300 or will trade for
an iPhone. Contact Joe at (803) 238-7498, or e-mail him, jdunham4 at sc.rr.com.
** FOR SALE: PAC Mate Omni. Comes with everything; still in
original box. Asking $2,000. Contact Desmond Delgadillo at (562) 652-3415.
** FOR SALE: PAC Mate laptop computer, in excellent condition.
Price negotiable. Call Lucia at (646) 486-1649 between 7 and 10:30 p.m.
** FOR SALE: Enclosure for a Romeo braille embosser; comes with
fan and power cord. Asking $400 or best offer. Contact Andrea Giudice at
dawgmawm at gmail.com or (860) 719-8612.
** FOR SALE: Onyx 17 Deskset portable video magnifier by Freedom
Scientific. Offers: distance, document, self views. Comes with rolling cart,
all documentation and cords. Asking $1,500. Trekker Breeze talking GPS in
excellent condition, with 1 more year on the warranty. Asking $600. Contact
laurao at tsoft.com.
** WANTED: Slau Halatyn is looking to purchase a high-quality
5-string banjo, either open back or resonator, American-made preferred.
Please contact him either via e-mail at slau at mindspring.com or by phone at
** WANTED: Double-Talk LT external synthesizer in excellent
physical, cosmetic and working condition. Contact Don Risavy Jr. via e-mail
at djrisavyjr at cox.net or via phone at (850) 457-8131 (home) or (850)
** WANTED: Easy-to-use multi-track tape recorder (like Fostek)
that can be used to record music. Contact Walter Chavira at (661) 343-4828
or e-mail him, walterchavira at earthlink.net.
** WANTED: Seeking donation of Victor Reader Wave that already
has a book key to play RFB&D CDs. Also seeking electric braille writer and
paper in good condition. Contact Isaac Grunden, 140 Santa Clara Circle,
Hemet, CA 92543; phone (951) 260-6545 or (951) 765-1122.
** WANTED: JAWS software. Contact Douglas Bacon at (517)
** WANTED: Donation of Perkins brailler for school in Ecuador.
Contact Zully Alvarado at (773) 447-8500, or send e-mail to
Info at CausesforChange.org.
1115 CORDOVA ST. #402
PASADENA, CA 91106
FIRST VICE PRESIDENT
57 GRANDVIEW AVE.
WATERTOWN, MA 02472
SECOND VICE PRESIDENT
313 OVERRIDGE COVE
HERMITAGE, TN 37076
632 S. 189TH ST.
BURIEN, WA 98148
104 TILROSE AVE.
MALVERNE, NY 11565-2024
IMMEDIATE PAST PRESIDENT
94 RAMONA AVE.
SAN FRANCISCO, CA 94103
ACB BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Ray Campbell, Glen Ellyn, IL
Berl Colley, Lacey, WA
Janet Dickelman, St. Paul, MN
Marsha Farrow, Summerville, GA
Michael Garrett, Missouri City, TX
George Holliday, Philadelphia, PA
Billie Jean Keith, Arlington, VA
Allan Peterson, Horace, ND
Jeff Thom, Sacramento, CA
David Trott, Talladega, AL
Ex Officio: Jenine Stanley, Columbus, OH
BOARD OF PUBLICATIONS
Paul Edwards, Chairman, Miami, FL
Marcia Dresser, Reading, MA
Judy Jackson, San Antonio, TX
Jenine Stanley, Columbus, OH
Ken Stewart, Warwick, NY
Ex Officio: Ron Milliman, Bowling Green, KY
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