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.
Statement to the Community Regarding Structured Negotiations with Lyft
Advocates for people with disabilities have entered into structured negotiations with Lyft, Inc. to ensure that disabled riders with service animals are ensured access to transportation services offered by Lyft drivers. These collaborative efforts are under way between Lyft, Inc. (Lyft), Disability Rights Advocates (DRA), Rosen, Bien, Galvan & Grunfeld (RBGG), and TRE Legal – attorneys for several blind people who have raised concerns regarding access for service animal users.
DRA, RBGG, and TRE Legal contacted Lyft to present these concerns after certain community members reported difficulties obtaining rides from drivers on the Lyft platform. Lyft currently has a policy that drivers on their platform accept riders with service animals, but Lyft agreed to work with these advocates to ensure that disabled individuals are not denied rides or provided a lesser quality of service because they use service animals.
The parties are hopeful that they can agree on specific new initiatives to improve access to transportation available through the Lyft platform for all riders with disabilities who use service animals.
For more information, please contact Michael Nunez, [email protected], Rosen Bien Galvan & Grunfeld LLP, 50 Fremont St., 19th Floor, San Francisco, CA 94105; phone (415) 433-6830.
Kalamazoo Museum Offers Helen Keller Exhibit
Are you visiting Kalamazoo, Mich., this fall? If so, you may want to check out the traveling exhibit “Child in a Strange Country: Helen Keller and the History of Education for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired” at the Kalamazoo Valley Museum (KVM). The exhibit, on loan from the APH Museum, will be on display through Jan. 10, 2016. The KVM is located at 230 N. Rose St., Kalamazoo, MI 49007; admission is free.
“Child in a Strange Country” explores four primary subjects: reading, science, math, and geography. The exhibit is designed to be fully accessible, and each section includes a sit-down touch table with interactive games and activities.
In the Reading and Writing area, guests can try writing braille using a slate and stylus or using the braille writer.
The Scientific Study panels include a tactile model of the human eye, a relief picture of the eye, and natural specimens that can be explored by touch. It also includes an APH Light Box, which was invented for low-vision students. It helps develop awareness of light, color, and visual discrimination.
In the Mathematics area, guests can use an abacus to add and subtract; form geometric shapes with stationary pins and rubber bands; and use a talking scientific calculator.
Love geography? Check out the textured relief maps, relief globe, a Talking Tablet, and a modern geography puzzle in the Geography section.
WVU Seeks Director of Center for Excellence in Disabilities
West Virginia University (WVU) is seeking an energetic and visionary leader who possesses strong academic credentials and leadership ability in the field of disabilities to serve as director of the WVU Center for Excellence in Disabilities (CED). The leader we seek will be capable of building on an existing infrastructure of statewide service delivery and optimize the clinical, research and education potential of CED to advocate, build capacity, and change systems for people with disabilities in West Virginia.
The director serves as the principal investigator of the federal grant which established and funds the CED, as well as government and private funded projects. The director should have significant experience in the field of disabilities for a minimum of 10 years. He/she is expected to provide academic and research leadership for the CED and academic partners across the university, and should be eligible for a WVU faculty appointment in the appropriate department at the rank of associate or full professor. The applicant should have a doctoral degree in a disability-related field, such as medicine, education, special education, disability, or human services. Doctorates in other fields that are related to intellectual and developmental disabilities, or have been applied to the field of disability in some way, will be considered. Applicants with master’s degrees will be considered if they otherwise meet all other credentials outlined as well as more than 10 years of experience in the disability field.
Qualified applicants will have demonstrated cultural competence, expertise, leadership and commitment in the field of developmental disabilities and have demonstrable ability in proposal development and grant writing, as well as in the administration and management of federal and state grants and contracts. It is expected the qualified applicant will demonstrate the ability to leverage both public and private funds, including philanthropic and corporate sources. He/she should have knowledge of federal, state and local policies, practices, and systems as they relate to disability, including the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act of 2000. It is highly desired that qualified applicants have strong ability to lead and conduct interdisciplinary research and training activities. It is essential that the qualified applicant show that he/she has the potential for leadership and vision in carrying out the mission of the CED and WVU in addressing the needs of individuals with disabilities of all cultures in the state of West Virginia.
The director provides leadership to the university and state in developing and implementing best practices in education, employment, independent living and support services for persons with disabilities across multiple cultural backgrounds. He or she is responsible for all aspects of program and policy development, human resources, financial and leadership functions within the CED. This person is responsible for developing and maintaining relationships with a wide variety of stakeholders at the local, state and national levels. He/she will serve as a member of the Health Sciences Executive Committee and is expected to develop and maintain collaborations with interdisciplinary faculty across departments, schools and programs within the Health Sciences Center and across the university. The ability to develop partnerships with clinical services of the WVU Medicine system in order to enhance comprehensive service delivery for individuals with disabilities is expected.
Review of applications will begin immediately and continue until the position is filled. To inquire about the position, contact search committee chair Dr. MaryBeth Mandich, PT, PhD, at [email protected]. To apply for this position, please send electronically a CV with a cover letter addressing how you meet the qualifications put forth in this advertisement and contact information for three professional references to [email protected].
BVA Names Brunson to Government Relations Post
Blinded Veterans Association executive director Al Avina has announced the appointment of Melanie Brunson as the organization’s director of government relations. In her new role, Brunson will serve as BVA’s primary legislative liaison between blinded veterans nationally and the U.S. Congress. She will prepare legislative testimony, correspond with elected representatives and senators, direct the association’s research on legislative issues affecting blinded veterans, and represent BVA in advocating for blinded veterans at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) central office. She will also participate in legislative policy development and analysis at BVA national conventions.
Oates Is New VP of Perkins Solutions
Bill Oates has been named Vice President of Perkins Solutions, the assistive technology and consulting division of Perkins School for the Blind based in Watertown, Mass. Oates comes to Perkins from Massachusetts state government, where he served as the Commonwealth’s Chief Information Officer (CIO).
In his new leadership role at Perkins, Oates will focus on the growth and evolution of Perkins Solutions by pursuing new opportunities for its literacy products – including the flagship Perkins Brailler™ and SMART Brailler® – as well as assistive technologies and solutions designed to help organizations make their digital resources and physical spaces more accessible. He will also take a lead role in the new Perkins Innovation Advisory Group, partnering with industry leaders to seek out the best advances in mobile and information technology, robotics, sensory devices and developments in neuroscience.
AFB CEO to Retire
The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) recently announced that its president and CEO, Carl R. Augusto, will retire in the spring of 2016 after 25 years of service to AFB. Augusto, a longtime champion of people with disabilities and a pre-eminent leader in the field of blindness, joined the organization in 1991. Under his leadership, AFB has made significant strides in leveling the playing field for people with vision loss, especially in the areas of public policy, education, technology, aging and employment.
Augusto has led AFB’s move into the digital era. He significantly bolstered its technology program and created and expanded the organization’s award-winning web programs and services, increasing access to AFB’s information and services. He oversaw the establishment and growth of AFB TECH, the Technology and Employment Center at Huntington (West Virginia), and the AFB Center on Vision Loss in Dallas. In addition, he has strengthened AFB’s leadership role and spearheaded efforts to help AFB attain greater financial stability by professionalizing its fundraising program and exercising rigorous fiscal discipline.
Augusto plans to remain at AFB until his successor is in place to ensure a smooth transition.
Reducing Medication Costs for Seniors
The American Seniors Association (ASA) recently announced an alliance with Rx Claims Savings, LLC that will provide savings on more than 60,000 prescription medications to many of its members.
ASA, through RxCS, is offering a program where all members who enter into ASA’s Rx Medication Savings Plan will receive a thorough medication consultation. This service provides a free personalized medication cost analysis of current costs on all prescription medications. For those who qualify, ASA will find pharmaceutical manufacturer Patient Assistance Programs (PAPs) to determine patient eligibility and to complete all necessary enrollment and administrative duties. There are no eligibility guidelines for the ASA Medication Savings Plan.
For more information about the ASA Rx Medication Savings Plan, go to www.ASAMedPlan.com.
BARD Mobile Update
The BARD Mobile app for iOS devices, version 1.1, is now available at the App Store. This updated version of the app includes the following features:
- Built-in sleep timer
- New setting that keeps device from sleeping while download is in progress
- Add to wish list directly from details screen
- Enhanced braille search function
- Improved VoiceOver hints and labels
- New braille shortcut key
- Improved Magic Tap response
- Works with iOS 9
The BARD Mobile app enables NLS patrons to download audio and braille books, magazines, and music scores directly to their iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch, provided they have a BARD account. A refreshable braille display is required to read downloaded braille materials. The user guide is available in the Help section of the app and online in HTML format at https://nlsbard.loc.gov/apidocs/BARDMobile.userguide.iOS.1.1.html.
For more information, contact your talking book library.
Introduction to Braille, UEB Edition
The Hadley School for the Blind has a new course available: Introduction to Braille, UEB Edition, course ID IBR-113, IBR-123.
Want to read braille visually? The introductory course provides the tools for those interested in learning to read and write braille so they can communicate with family members who use braille. It presents the fundamentals of the braille code, including the letters of the alphabet, numbers, and punctuation. The goal is to enable you to read and write uncontracted Unified English Braille (UEB). The course is available in print and online, and includes nine lessons.
Interactive programs that simulate the braille writer and the slate and stylus are included in the online course only. These programs are for practice purposes only, and cannot be used to produce braille. For more information, visit www.hadley.edu.
Computer Science Scholarships
Computer Science Online has just updated its guide to finding computer science scholarships. To view the guide, visit www.computerscienceonline.org/cs-scholarships/.
Key elements of the guide include:
- A comprehensive review of available scholarships, listed by eligible student groups
- Amounts awarded and deadlines for each scholarship
- A step-by-step guide to finding and applying for CS scholarships
The guide also includes an extensive Q&A with computer science scholarship expert Jeff Holliday, associate director of scholarships and compliance at Clemson University.
ZoomText 10.1 now supports Windows 10!
Ai Squared recently released ZoomText 10.1 with support for Windows 10! With this release of ZoomText, you can start running in Windows 10 and take advantage of the exciting new Windows desktop, Start menu, Actions Center, and a host of great productivity features, including the new virtual desktop feature called “Task View,” allowing you to spread out your open applications over 4 desktops. And ZoomText 10.1 supports all of them!
ZoomText 10.1 for Windows 10 is available to users of ZoomText 10.1 as a free or low-cost upgrade. If you purchased your ZoomText 10.1 product after June 1, 2015, or have an active subscription to the ZoomText Enhanced Support Plan (ESP), you are eligible for a free upgrade. If you are not eligible for the free upgrade, contact the Ai Squared sales team at [email protected] or (802) 362-3612 option 2. Or you may write the company at: Ai Squared, PO Box 669, Manchester Center, VT 05255.
2015 NBP Holiday Sale & Gifts!
Are you looking for some good books to give as holiday gifts? Check out National Braille Press’ sales list below. If you order three books from it, you’ll get the fourth one free! Don’t need that many? Order two books from the list, and you’ll get the third one for half price. Sale ends Dec. 31, 2015.
Books included in the sale are:
The Gift of Nothing
You Are Special
The Tale of Peter Rabbit
If You Find a Rock
And Here’s To You!
A House Is a House For Me
Put Me in the Zoo
Ed and Ted and Ted’s Dog Fred
Henry and Mudge: The First Book
Bat Loves the Night
The Other Way to Listen
Froggy’s Day with Dad
Odd Boy Out
Hooway for Wodney Wat
Penny and Her Marble
Castle: How It Works
VERY limited quantities for these two: “A Sick Day for Amos McGee” and “The Spiffiest Giant in Town.”
For more information, contact National Braille Press, 88 St. Stephen St., Boston, MA 02115-4302; phone 1-800-548-7323, or visit www.nbp.org/ic/nbp/publications/index.html.
Save Your Pennies, Save the Date
Candle in the Window’s next retreat will run from Wednesday, Aug. 10 through Sunday, Aug. 14, 2016. It will be held at the Wooded Glen Retreat Center. The title is “Surviving and Thriving as a Person who is Blind in Your Community.” This could be a very popular topic, so the earlier you register, the better.
More details about registration, cost, and location will be wending your way soon. If you have questions, contact either Kathy Szinnyey, [email protected], phone (502) 759-1288; Patrick Votta, e-mail [email protected], phone (718) 797-2475; or Becky Barnes Davidson, e-mail [email protected], phone (914) 393-6613.
Change to Book Angel Project
Seedlings Braille Books for Children invites braille readers and pre-readers from ages 0 to 21 in the United States and Canada to register to receive two free braille books per year.
The Book Angel Program was originally called “Anna’s Book Angel Project” and was named in memory of our director’s 19-year-old daughter, who was killed by a drunk driver in 2001. Each year, blind children who were registered received one free book in Anna’s name, but now they can receive two books per year!
Seedlings offers 1,300 titles, from contemporary literature to well-loved classics, and continues to add new titles each year. To order free books for your child or student, fill out the form at www.seedlings.org/bkangel2009.php. This is a continuing program, but registration is required each year to participate, since book choices must be communicated to Seedlings.
For more information, contact Seedlings Braille Books for Children, 14151 Farmington Rd., Livonia, MI 48154, or phone 1-800-777-8552.
TSA’s Web Site Upgrades
TSA’s Office of Public Affairs recently launched the new TSA.gov web site. To view the disability and medical condition information, visit www.tsa.gov/travel/special-procedures. There you will find a drop-down menu where you can choose a specific disability and/or medical condition and learn about what to expect during screening. You also will find the link for the TSA notification card there. The card can also be viewed at www.tsa.gov/sites/default/files/disability_notification_cards.pdf.
To get information about TSA Cares and Passenger Support Specialists (PSS), go to www.tsa.gov/travel/passenger-support. To learn about TSA Pre✓®, visit www.tsa.gov/tsa-precheck. To file a discrimination complaint, go to www.tsa.gov/travel/passenger-support/civil-rights.