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 [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.
Reduction in Paper Social Security Statements
Due to serious budget constraints, the Social Security Administration is suspending mailings of paper Social Security statements to workers under the age of 60. SSA will continue mailing statements to those 60 and over who do not have a my Social Security online account and are not receiving Social Security benefits. For more information, visit https://blog.ssa.gov/finding-value-and-my-social-security-in-light-of-budget-cuts/.
Service Animal Eye Exams
The 10th Annual ACVO/StokesRx National Service Animal Eye Exam Event will take place in veterinary clinics from May 1-31, 2017. To qualify, service animals must be active working animals that were certified by a formal training program or organization, or are currently enrolled in a formal training program. Owners/agents for the animal(s) must FIRST register the animal via an online registration form at www.ACVOeyeexam.org. Registration ends April 30th. Once registered, the owner will receive a registration number and will be allowed access to a list of participating ophthalmologists. Then they may contact a specialist to schedule an appointment during the month of May. Times may vary depending on the facility and are filled on a first-come, first-served basis, so be sure to register and make appointments early.
Governor Morehead School Reunion
The Governor Morehead School Alumni Association Inc. will hold its 9th annual reunion Aug. 4-6 at the Homewood Suites by Hilton Raleigh Crabtree Valley in Raleigh, N.C. Room rates are $99 per night plus tax for kings or $119 per night plus tax for doubles. These rates include a hot buffet breakfast.
Registration fees are $65 for members and $75 for non-members. After July 14, there will be an additional $10 fee for registration; room rates will revert to the hotel’s going rate.
The reunion committee has planned a ‘70s themed weekend which will include games, a talent show, a ‘70s best dressed contest, and a ‘70s dance contest. Other activities are still in the works.
You do not have to be an alumnus of the Governor Morehead School to attend; all interested people are welcome to join us. Come prepared to participate in our ‘70s weekend activities. If you have questions, or need an information packet, contact Patricia Coley-Duncan via phone at (919) 469-4853 or George Littlejohn via phone at (816) 825-0303 or via e-mail at [email protected].
New Dry Eye Drug to Begin Human Trials
University of Virginia Health System researchers have developed a potential therapeutic treatment for dry eye. Human testing was set to start in March. The drug, Lacripep™, is a topical eye drop that aims to eliminate inflammatory triggers by restoring the natural basal tearing mechanism and health of cells in contact with tears. This includes restoration of the nerves on the cornea of the eye, which signal the brain to produce more tears. It also stabilizes the tear film that in dry eye is very unstable.
The small-scale clinical trial, for patients with Sjogren’s syndrome dry eye, began in March at 25 clinical sites nationwide.
New Savings Guide for People with Disabilities
CouponChief.com has recently released a new guide, “Retail Savings Guide for People with Disabilities,” which provides a detailed walkthrough of discounts and special offers for individuals with disabilities. This guide offers a lot of information on the different discount programs available. Check it out at https://www.couponchief.com/guides/savings_guide_for_those_with_disability.
Nature for All Launches Website
Nature for All recently launched its website, www.naturefortheblind.com. The site provides information on 165 braille trails and sensory gardens located in 28 countries, plus other opportunities for the visually impaired such as educational programs and outdoor sports.
It also provides information on the history of braille trails, the importance of connecting those with disabilities to the outdoors, links to other outdoor resources for the blind and visually impaired, and educational opportunities and programs. Educational resources on the website include links to schools for the visually impaired, as well as summer camps, education programs and other informational links. Sports highlighted on the site include golf, horseback riding, beep baseball, bowling, skiing, wind surfing, and many others.
For more information on Nature for All, send a message to [email protected], or call (770) 940-1124. Or visit https://www.facebook.com/naturefortheblind/.
A camp vacation for blind and visually impaired adults will take place Aug. 6-12 at the Lions Camp Pride in New Durham, N.H. New Durham is just 2 hours from Boston in the scenic lakes region of New Hampshire. Ground transportation will be offered from downtown Boston and Boston’s Logan Airport. The Association of Blind Citizens will be kicking off its inaugural vacation opportunity for blind and visually impaired adults.
You will have the opportunity to try a host of activities such as horseback riding, swimming, arts and crafts, visits to local tourist attractions, a hayride, and much more! Spaces are filling fast. For more information, visit www.blindcitizens.org or e-mail John Oliveira at [email protected], or call ABC’s office at (781) 961-1023. The application deadline is June 1.
Candle in the Window
Candle in the Window will hold its retreat Sept. 27-Oct. 1 at the Wooded Glen Retreat Center in Henryville, Ind. This year’s topic is “How do you DO That? Teaching each other skills we’ve always wanted to learn.”
Anyone who would like to teach something is invited to get together with those who would like to learn. Skills could range from things like How to Ask for Help, to What the Heck do I do with this iPhone, to perhaps how to whittle.
The retreat fee includes round-trip transportation from the Louisville (Ky.) Airport to the retreat center, all meals and your room per person is as follows: double occupancy, $550; single, $705.
Due to space constraints, the retreat is limited to 20 participants, so make your reservations early. A $40 deposit (non-refundable) will reserve your spot. All registration fees must be paid in full by Sept. 8th.
Payment through PayPal should be sent to [email protected]. If you’re paying by check, send it to: Carlos Taylor, 925 S. Luick Ave., Muncie, IN 47302. Make check payable to Candle In the Window.
For more information, contact Kathy Szinnyey at [email protected] or by phone at (502) 759-1288 or, or Patrick Votta at [email protected] or via phone, (718) 797-2475.
Treats for Guide Dogs
What do craft beer making and guide dogs have in common? Dog treats!
The maker of beer grain biscuits, Hungry Hound Beerscuits, LLC, Inc. began baking barley-based dog treats after discovering the spent grain used in making beer could be a low-cost and healthy key ingredient in the treats.
And now, Hungry Hound is supporting Guide Dog Users of the Empire State. The company is donating 40 percent of its online sales to GDUES. The fundraiser is called the Kaiser Campaign, named after the retired guide dog who loves Beerscuits.
For more information about GDUES, visit www.gdues.org. To learn more about Hungry Hound Beerscuits, LLC, visit www.beergraintreats.com/.
Now Available from National Braille Press
The eighth Harry Potter book, “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” is now available in braille (3 volumes) or BRF. Based on a new story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, and John Tiffany, this play is the first official Harry Potter story to be presented on stage. Harry Potter is now an employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children. While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn that sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.
Also available is “Bread and Jam for Frances” by Russell and Lillian Hoban. This is an I Can Read Level 2 book, available in contracted braille (UEB) for ages 4 to 8. Frances is a picky eater – all she eats is bread and jam. Find out whether her mother is able to get her to eat anything else by the end of this book.
And now, NBP is publishing “National Geographic Kids” in braille! For more information, visit www.nbp.org.
Over in the technology section, you’ll find “Computers You Can Talk To: Siri, Alexa, Google Now, and Cortana,” by Anna Dresner. It’s available in braille (1 volume), BRF, Word, text, or DAISY. Most of you are probably familiar with Apple’s digital voice assistant Siri. But what do you know about Amazon’s Alexa, Google Now, or Microsoft’s Cortana? With all these options, you may be wondering what talking assistants can do, and which one might be right for you. Maybe you have one or more of these assistants and want to know how to use them more efficiently. The book is an overview, giving you an idea of what sorts of things you can expect from each assistant.
For more information on any book, contact NBP, 88 St. Stephen Street, Boston, MA 02115-4302, or call toll-free 1-800-548-7323. Or look online, www.nbp.org/ic/nbp/publications/index.html.
Most of us have heard of MeTV, with the older shows like M*A*S*H, The Brady Bunch, CHiPS, Columbo, and many others. But what’s TellMe TV?
TellMe TV is the world’s first fully described video on-demand service. All of the TV programs, movies and documentaries include audio description. And it’s compatible with assistive technology, too. The Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) has been supporting this initiative and has now decided to become an investor to advance TellMe TV’s success.
Try it for yourself at www.tellmetv.com.
New Resource on Deaf-Blindness
“Walk in My Shoes,” edited by Charlotte J. DeWitt, is an extraordinary collection of more than two dozen true life stories written by writers who have Usher syndrome. The stories present compelling views and insights to life with deafness and blindness from Usher syndrome.
This book is a project of the Usher Syndrome Coalition, and is available on Createspace at https://www.createspace.com or on Amazon at
“Walk in My Shoes” is also available as a Kindle book through Amazon:
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01MSXMO5X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1481393776&sr=8-1&keywords=walk+in+my+shoes%2C+charlotte+dewitt. Proceeds will go to the Usher Syndrome Coalition for providing scholarships to Usher syndrome conferences and for supporting research for cures for the various forms of Usher syndrome.
seeBoost Wearable Device
Electro-optical medical device manufacturer Evergaze LLC recently entered into a five-year agreement with the Dallas Lighthouse for the Blind to distribute Evergaze’s products to its affiliated network of nonprofit organizations nationally. This agreement includes the sale, distribution and customer support for the new seeBoost® miniature wearable device. This device is designed to assist people experiencing vision loss, including loss of vision due to age-related and juvenile macular degeneration (AMD, Stargardt disease), retinitis pigmentosa and diabetic retinopathy. Dallas Lighthouse began offering seeBoost in January.
Envision Eli’s New Mobile App
Envision ELI, LLC now has a free mobile app available. It was designed to assist those with visual impairments in identifying objects. How does it do that? It uses a set of adhesive labels that the user can put on anything. Then, using the app, the person records a voice message that will be played anytime the user points the mobile device to the label. Labels can be re-recorded anytime.
The mobile app is available in the Apple and Google Stores. Visit https://apps.apple.com/us/app/envision-eli/id1169600450?ls=1 or https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=envision.eli. The ELI Label Pack™ contains 100 unique and special QR coded adhesive labels. Each label is associated with the unique language of the user.
For more information, send a message to [email protected].
New Apps in the EDA Family
The EDA PLAY team recently introduced two new apps for training of vision and fine motor skills. They were tailor-made for children with visual impairments and multiple disorders, developed under the supervision of low vision specialists and early intervention experts.
Features of the EDA PLAY apps:
· illustrations in comprehensible shapes
· bold colors, sufficient size of pictures
· contrast between the background and the illustration
· tasks at various levels of difficulty: tasks ranging from simple watching the action and simple touching on a screen to eye hand coordination
· for iPad devices
The TOBY app is available for free at http://edaplay.com/eda-play-toby/. EDA PLAY PAULI may be found at http://edaplay.com/eda-play-pauli/ and the EDA PLAY ELIS app is available at http://edaplay.com/eda-play-elis/. Apps are also available at the iTunes store.
Perkins Welcomes New Chief Development Officer
David Whalen is the first chief development officer at Perkins School for the Blind. He will oversee fundraising efforts and work to develop new funding opportunities that will allow Perkins to expand its mission. Whalen has 25 years of experience in nonprofit development, including stints at Partners in Health, the New England Aquarium and the Union of Concerned Scientists.
Weekly Infusion Podcast
Michelle Poe produces a podcast called “Weekly Infusion,” hosted by Dr. Drew Pinsky. A recent guest was Mike May, who was blinded at age three and had his vision restored at 43. To hear his story, visit https://drdrew.com/2017/weekly-infusion-mike-may/.
Soundcloud Audio Book Samples
Charlotte Kyle has a SoundCloud page with samples of her recorded audiobooks. One book listed on the site is “Palindrome 656.” You can listen at https://soundcloud.com/infinit8ti. Books are available on iTunes, Audible and Amazon.com.