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 [email protected], 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.
** Seeking Hall of Fame Nominees
Nominations are currently being accepted for the next class of inductees into the Hall of Fame for Leaders and Legends of the Blindness Field. Nominations are due by March 31, 2011 at www.aph.org/hall_fame/nominate.html. Profiles of current Hall of Fame inductees are available at www.aph.org/hall_fame/index.html. Address questions to Jim Deremeik, Chair, Hall of Fame Governing Board, [email protected], or Bob Brasher, Curator, Hall of Fame, [email protected].
** Scholarships Available
The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) administers a scholarship program for deserving students. Each year individuals who are legally blind can apply for these scholarships to help fund their college education. For more information, contact AFB's Information Center at 1-800-232-5463, e-mail [email protected], or visit our web site, www.afb.org/scholarships.asp. The application deadline is April 30, 2011.
** Legendary NLS Reader Passes
Many readers will fondly remember Terry Hayes Sales, a legendary talking book narrator with the National Library Service. Sales recorded more than 900 books over more than 60 years as a reader for the American Printing House for the Blind. Her recordings included three narrations of "Little Women" and many of the Nancy Drew books. Sales died on Nov. 29, 2010 from Alzheimer's disease. In December 1988, she was inducted into the American Foundation for the Blind's Talking Book Hall of Fame as a charter member. Sales also funded the launch of Audio Description at The Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts in 1991 in memory of her husband.
** Lifelong Advocate Honored
Congratulations to Patrick Sheehan for receiving the Richard W. Heddinger Accessible Transportation Award for his steadfast advocacy efforts in the Washington, D.C. area. Sheehan was honored by Metro's Department of Access Services and the Accessibility Advisory Committee (AAC) at a ceremony on Jan. 10, 2011. Sheehan has served on the AAC for 20 years, 18 as its chair. Sheehan's successful advocacy efforts have included: overseeing ADA wheelchair accessibility on all Metro buses; the addition of safety features in the Metrorail system such as the placement of bumpy domes near the platform edge, the installation of barriers between rail cars, guaranteed elevator access and better station lighting; and established the Metro Access Subcommittee to address service concerns for the area's paratransit system. Sheehan has served as president of the ACB of Maryland and was active in the efforts that resulted in the favorable federal decision mandating audible traffic signals at intersections across the country.
** Windows to the World
"Windows to the World" is what Lee Hansen calls his one-man operation of restoring used computers and donating them to people who are blind. He removes unnecessary programs and any remaining personal information, then installs JAWS and makes an audio CD containing basic operating instructions.
Hansen delivers donated, adapted computers to needy recipients. He has several computers ready to give to people who are blind and in need, and who would otherwise be unable to afford them. He is also in the process of working with a local "big box" tech store to use donated computers to start a class where these units would be restored and made ready for delivery.
Hansen is seeking funds for shipping them to others; he estimates the cost to ship each computer is about $30. He challenges ACB members and friends to donate just $1 to further this work. To donate computers, arrange for a delivery or to become a sponsor, contact Lee Hansen at (909) 717-1959 or e-mail him, [email protected].
** New Player Accommodates Mac Users
RFB&D, in partnership with GH LLC, has developed a software solution to provide both Mac and Windows users with access to its entire collection of digital books. Registered RFB&D users can download the ReadHear software player from www.rfbd.org/readhear. The web site also includes a product demonstration, technical specifications, and frequently asked questions. The player will be licensed to individual members for free on an annual basis.
** Pacific Disability Conference
The 27th annual Pacific Rim International Conference on Disabilities will be held April 18-19, 2011 at the Hawaii Convention Center in Honolulu. This year’s theme is "Humanity: Advancing Inclusion, Equality and Diversity." The conference will draw over 1,000 attendees with 15 featured topics and 30 keynote speakers. For more information about the conference, call (808) 956-7539 or visit www.pacrim.hawaii.edu.
** New International Leader Named
The Perkins School for the Blind recently appointed Dr. W. Aubrey Webson as its new Director of Perkins International. He will lead the strategic and operational efforts to expand Perkins' work in over 65 countries. With his previous work on blindness efforts in the Caribbean and Africa, Webson brings extensive international experience to the position. For more information about Perkins' extensive international services, visit www.perkins.org.
** Accessible Dusseldorf
The city of Düsseldorf, Germany is striving to become a barrier-free location for visitors with disabilities. The most recent effort has been the creation of a 3-D tactile replica of the Old Town historical section. The bronze model includes the most significant buildings, statues, and other attractions, as well as relevant details such as subway stops, restrooms, and tourist information booths. Labels and inscriptions appear in both braille and raised print. Other accessibility features of Düsseldorf include tours designed specifically for people with physical disabilities and a new city guide and web site titled "Düsseldorf Barrier-Free." To access this information in English, visit www.duesseldorf-tourismus.de/en.
** Accessible Cruise Packages
Mind's Eye Travel specializes in tours for people who are blind or visually impaired. In addition to making all travel and excursion arrangements, Mind's Eye provides sighted guide assistance for the group. In most cases one sighted guide assists 5 or 6 independent visually impaired travelers. A new personal sighted guide service, which is available for an additional fee, will partner one sighted guide to every one or two travelers. Mind's Eye Travel is offering two trips in 2011 and making plans for 2012. Their Hawaiian cruise aboard the Sapphire Princess sails March 26 through April 9, 2011 and includes stops in Oahu, Maui, the Big Island, Kauai, Ensenada and eight days at sea. Plans are also in the works for the Elegant Elbe, a Viking River Cruise that travels from Berlin, Germany to Prague, Czech Republic on April 21-30, 2012. For additional details about pricing, shore excursions and more, visit www.mindseyetravel.com; e-mail [email protected]; or call (207) 542-4438.
** Lighthouse Enhances Employment
The Austin Lighthouse for the Blind offers employment opportunities for people who are blind. The organization recently implemented a new technology in its skincare products department. The addition of three OHAUS Checkweighing scales, with audible weight notification, color-coded LED display and tare features, has enabled visually impaired employees to fill pouches and containers with lotion hand soap with minimum supervision.
** Same Company, New Name
Ferguson Technologies, formerly Ferguson Enterprises, continues to offer its SCANACAN barcode reading software, Olympus recorders, MobileSpeak software and many other items for sale. The web site is now www.fergusontechnologiesinc.net or www.scanacan.com. Ferguson Technologies also offers an announce-only e-mail newsletter list. To subscribe, send a blank subject and message to [email protected]. For the newest product catalog, call (605) 854-9280 or visit the web sites.
** Jewish Community Focuses on Special Needs
In October, The Ruderman Family Foundation hosted a global conference to address how the Jewish community can become more inclusive of people with special needs. The conference attracted more than 125 funders and activists who generated ideas for more inclusive programs in the areas of education, camping and youth programs, housing, vocational training, family support and involvement, and engagement with Jewish life. Experts shared strategies for bringing these ideas to fruition through innovative funding approaches, creating spheres of influence in the community at large, and developing collaborative partnerships.
** NLS Downloads Made Easier
AdaptiveVoice now offers CDesk for Media, a software program designed to simplify the download process from the NLS BARD web site. Users can locate and download their chosen book in three easy steps. 1) Enter the book title or author. 2) Choose from the results list. 3) Press ALT + G to start the download process. The CDesk for Media software will log into BARD, find the desired books or media, and download it to a digital player such as a Victor Reader Stream. This software is available from www.cdeskforbooks.com.
** Talking MP3 Players
Accessible Electronics offers a line of talking digital MP3 players. Operations are driven by fully speaking menus. In addition to internal memory up to 8 GB, these players include an FM tuner and audio recorder. Memory cards, speakers, carrying cases, and other accessories are also available. For more information, visit www.talkingmp3players.com or call (727) 498-0121.
** New Social Security Site
The Social Security Administration has revamped its web site to make it more informative and user-friendly. Visit the new site at www.socialsecurity.gov.
** Grant to help train teachers
Florida State University has recently been awarded a $1.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to address Florida's shortage of teachers who are trained to work with students who are visually impaired. The four-year grant will enable FSU to evaluate, improve, and expand its current visual disabilities program. Recruitment of students, especially from Florida's community colleges, will be a focus of the grant. For more information about the FSU vision teacher program, visit www.careersinblindness.com.