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.
** Employment Training for Disabled
The Statler Center offers employment training in the areas of customer service/contact center and hospitality for people who are blind, visually impaired, or physically disabled. Its 10-week program includes instruction in using Microsoft Office with assistive technology as well as personal job search assistance. Training takes place at the Buffalo, N.Y. campus and is open to individuals around the world. The next session begins Jan. 18, with applications being accepted immediately. For information about getting into this or a future session, contact Jeff Pease at (716) 888-4526 or [email protected].
** NASA Stem Internships
NASA offers an extensive internship program for students with disabilities who are pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering, and math. Applications for its 10-week summer internship program are being accepted until Feb. 1, 2012. Interested students should register for an account and look for internships anytime at the One-Stop Shopping Initiative (OSSI): Student On-Line Application for Recruiting interns, fellows and scholars (SOLAR) at http://intern.nasa.gov. Students must at least be accepted as freshmen at an accredited college or university at the time of the internship. Students must be 18 or over and have at least a 2.8 GPA to apply. Internships are available at all NASA sites around the country, but placement is highly competitive. For additional details or assistance applying, contact Kenneth Silberman, Esq. at (301) 286-9281 or [email protected].
** Science Sense Tours
The American Museum of Natural History offers Science Sense Tours for visitors who are blind or visually impaired. Specially trained tour guides highlight specific themes and exhibition halls, engaging participants through extensive verbal descriptions and touchable objects. On Feb. 11 at 10 a.m., join the guides on a paleontological adventure through the Koch Dinosaur Wing. On March 14 at 2:30 p.m., you can tour the museum's spectacular animal dioramas and enjoy a discussion of adaptations, extinction, and evolution. On April 22 at 10 a.m., you can explore the Scales of the Universe, a 400-foot-long walkway that hugs the glass curtain wall along the Rose Center for Earth and Space, that introduces visitors to the relative sizes of galaxies, stars, planets, and atoms through text panels, interactive terminals, and models. Science Sense Tours are free with museum admission, although reservations are required because space is limited. For more information, or for reservations, call (212) 313-7565 or e-mail [email protected].
** Brainport Study Seeks Participants
The Envision Vision Rehabilitation Center (EVRC) in Wichita, Kan. has been chosen as one of the seven expanded sites for clinical trial research study to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of the BrainPort vision device. This technology consists of a head-mounted camera which sends visual images to a processor that in turn outputs the image as a stimulation pattern on the user's tongue. The 12-month study will allow participants to use the system at home once they have completed the initial clinical screening and training. Eligible subjects must have been medically diagnosed as blind or visually impaired for at least six months but whose blindness is not the result of cortical injury, such as a traumatic brain injury or stroke. Individuals must be 18 to 79 years old and have completed rehabilitation (such as orientation and mobility training with a white cane or guide dog). Previous use of the BrainPort vision device, pregnancy, regular tobacco use and allergies to nickel or steel exclude participation in this study. Participants should be able to easily commute to and from downtown Wichita for the initial training and four quarterly visits. For additional information, visit http://vision.wicab.com/index.php and contact Shannon Riley, Research & Analytics Associate, at (316) 440-1528.
** Online Diabetes Education
The Carroll Center for the Blind is now offering two web-based interactive courses focusing on diabetes and vision impairment through its distance learning service at www.carroll.org/online-courses. "Diabetes and Visual Impairment: A New View for Professionals" was designed for healthcare, vision and other professionals looking to improve knowledge and related skills of both diabetes and vision impairment. Participants who successfully complete the course will earn 30 CEs. "Diabetes and Visual Impairment: A New View for Patients and Families" is more personalized and is broken into shorter segments. The lessons provide information to supplement that given by physicians and other healthcare professionals to individuals but is not meant to be a prescription to meet individual needs. The curriculum for both courses was developed by Margaret E. Cleary, RN, MS, CVRT®, who has over 30 years of experience as a rehabilitation nurse, diabetes educator and certified vision therapist at the Carroll Center. For more information about these new online courses, or to register, call Brian Charlson at (617) 969-6200 ext. 224 or email [email protected].
** 2012 Tours for Visually Impaired
Mind's Eye Travel offers specialized travel packages for people with low or no vision. Some of the services they provide to clients include: assistance with immigration documents, baggage tags, braille deck plans, scheduling shore excursions, front-row seating for shows, trip cancellation insurance, airline reservations, boarding passes, embarkation and disembarkation, orientation and mobility, and more. The 2012 Mind's Eye trip schedule includes three tours.
Elegant Elbe, Viking River Cruise: April 21-30, 2012. Includes Prague, Czech Republic to Berlin, Germany. Discover the natural beauty of former East Germany's dramatic landscape on an Elbe River cruise. Your journey is book-ended by one night in Prague and one night in Berlin (superior first-class Hilton). You will sail aboard the fully refurbished Viking Schumann.
British Isles & Paris: May 26- June 7, 2012. Includes cruise on the Caribbean Princess round trip from London, England. This is the perfect way to visit northern Europe. Unpack once and enjoy England, Scotland, Ireland and France.
Boston & Midcoast Maine: Sept. 1-6, 2012. Includes 2 nights at the Omni Parker House, located in the heart of Boston and steps from the Boston Gardens and Common and 3 nights at The Lord Camden Inn. Boutique hotel located in downtown Camden surrounded by shops, restaurants, park and harbor. The trip includes deluxe accommodations, full breakfast each morning, luxury dinner cruise, 2 dinners in Camden and numerous organized tours.
For more information, call (207) 542-4438 or visit www.mindseyetravel.com.
** Cruise Opportunities
Dave Kronk from Travel One is organizing two upcoming cruises. The first sails to the southern Caribbean from April 2-10, 2012. The ports of call include: Grand Turk, La Romana (Dominican Republic), Aruba and Curaçao. The second is a 10-night cruise from Rome to Greece and Egypt from April 17-27, 2013. Stops include: Katakolon, Athens (Piraeus), Ephesus (Izmir), and Alexandria. Book by Jan. 15, 2012 to receive a $100 discount. For reservations, call Dave Kronk at (618) 409-0143 or e-mail [email protected].
** Blind Sailor Honored
Congratulations to Matthew Chao for receiving U.S. Sailing's 2011 Gay S. Lynn Memorial Trophy. Chao is a six-time U.S. Blind Sailing National Champion. In 1997 he won the silver medal in the Blind Sailing World Championships and captured the bronze in the same event in 2006. Against sighted sailors, Chao has won the Sail for Hope Regatta multiple times and the 2001 Hinman Masters as a crew in team racing. Chao began his long sailing career in 1979 through the Carroll Center for the Blind in Boston.
** Getting Teens Fit
The USABA-WellPoint Foundation National Fitness Challenge program is a year-long program that is reaching out to more than 700 blind or visually impaired teenagers to increase their physical fitness levels and help them begin living a healthy and active lifestyle. Eighteen agencies from across the country are participating in the program by sponsoring a youth team. Funds from the WellPoint Foundation are used to provide talking pedometers, T-shirts, prizes, and fitness and nutrition coaches. To learn more about this effort, visit www.usaba.org.
** Hadley's Blind Vets Initiative
The Hadley School recently received a $300,000 donation from Goldman Sachs to launch a new Blinded Veterans Initiative. There will be more than 100 courses available to these veterans, with a focus on business and entrepreneurship, technology, independent living skills, adjustment to blindness and braille literacy. Hadley will also help the veterans better understand the complexity of their benefits, including disability compensation, pension, medical care benefits and survivor benefits. Hadley will actively be recruiting blinded veterans to enroll in its programs from across the country.
** Thank You, Pioneers!
This past November, the Pioneers, formerly the Telephone Pioneers of America, celebrated its 100th anniversary as a volunteer organization. As part of the celebration, the National Library Service recognized the organization for more than 50 years of service to its cooperating libraries. Since the 1960s the Pioneers have repaired more than 3.6 million talking book machines. Today, more than 1,000 Pioneers continue as volunteers at NLS sites around the country. For more information, visit www.telecompioneers.org.
** New Spanish SSA Site
The Social Security Administration has launched a web site especially for people who speak and/or read Spanish. At www.segurosocial.gov, users can apply for retirement benefits, get estimates of future benefits, apply for Medicare and prescription programs, and learn about other SSA services - all completely in Spanish.
** Accessible Pharmacy Accessories
The VoiceRx talking pill bottle is now available at participating pharmacies in North Carolina, with more states to follow. There is no fee for the talking bottle - patrons pay only the standard prescription fee. VoiceRx is offering a special promotion for first-time customers of their Prodigy (R) diabetes supplies. They will include a free seven-day pill organizer, with both script and braille markings, and an audio CD titled "How to Live Well with Blindness and Diabetes." For more information, call VoiceRx at 1-877-319-6418.
** World-Wide Electronic Book Pilot Project
A new United Nations pilot project called TIGAR (Trusted Intermediary Global Accessible Resources) will explore the viability of a license-based worldwide exchange of copyrighted books in formats accessible for people who are blind, visually impaired or have other print disabilities. Participating publishers are authorizing world-wide non-profits and libraries to use provided electronic files to create alternative formats of their books. The goal is the creation of a virtual global collection that can be made accessible easily and cost effectively. For more information, visit www.visionip.org/portal/en/.
** Perkins Shelf Project
The Perkins Braille and Talking Book Library recently launched the nation's first SHELF Project (Shared Electronic Files). This service will allow eligible users to download digital files of books recorded locally at the library's Watertown, Mass. studios and play them on a variety of digital book players. Individuals who are unable to read standard print may qualify for this new service. Visit www.perkinslibrary.org.
** Telephone Support Group
The Jewish Guild for the Blind's Children's Vision Health Initiative, in partnership with the CHARGE Syndrome Foundation, recently started a nationwide telephone support group for parents of children who have that condition. The group's facilitator is Sheri Stanger; her 18-year-old daughter, Megan, has CHARGE Syndrome. CHARGE Syndrome is a genetic disorder occurring once in every 10,000 births, and is characterized by multiple physical, sensory and behavioral anomalies. The acronym stands for the cluster of features common to many children with the condition: Coloboma of the eye, Heart defects, Atresia of the choanae (a narrowing or blockage of the nasal airway by tissue), Retardation of growth, Genital and/or urinary abnormalities, and Ear abnormalities. It is the leading genetic cause of deaf-blindness at birth in the United States. For more information, contact Dan Callahan, director of the Children's Vision Health Initiative, at (212) 769-7815.