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.
Passing of a Pioneer
It is with a deep sense of personal and professional loss and sadness that I report here the passing of Dr. Abraham Nemeth. Abe was without a doubt the single greatest contributor to braille in the United States and perhaps the world in the past hundred years. His contributions to the brailling of science and mathematics are unmatched anywhere in the world.
I have known Abe since 1981 and throughout these years have had the pleasure and privilege of working with him on many projects. His sharp wit, concern for the needs of students, and commitment to providing the best possible braille for its readers never wavered. He remained actively involve in perfecting the Nemeth Uniform Braille System until days before his passing on Sept. 30 at age 94.
Nemeth was an active participant in the formation of the Alliance for Braille Literacy and worked tirelessly on the Nemeth Uniform Braille System. Hopefully, these legacies will ultimately lead to improvements and a modernization of our braille system. Those of us committed to these projects will continue to work on them in honor of Dr. Nemeth and, even more importantly, for the betterment of blind students and adult learners who wish to excel in the fields of science and mathematics (STEM).
– Chris Gray
New England Blind/VI Ski Festival
Another ski season is just around the corner. Time to make plans for the 3rd annual
New England Blind/VI Ski Festival! The 2014 festival will be held at Sugarloaf Mountain in beautiful Carrabassett Valley, Maine Feb. 9-13, 2014.
Eric Weihenmayer, the first blind person to climb Mt. Everest, will be joining us this year as our guest speaker. We welcome you to join us at Sugarloaf to hear him tell of his many amazing adventures!
Randy Pierce from 2020Vision Quest is returning once again to kick off the opening reception on Sunday evening. Eric and Randy will be with us all week.
We are planning a busy week of activities, including skiing, tubing, and snow cat rides. New this year will be cross-country skiing!
For more information, visit www.nevifest.org, contact Bruce Albiston at (207) 576-6621 or [email protected], or Liz Peacock at (207) 824-2440 or [email protected].
ZoomText 10.1.1 Released
Ai Squared recently released the first upgrade for ZoomText 10.1 for Windows 8. It now supports 17 international languages, includes a few features like Desktop Finder and View Mode, and supports Windows 8. If you already own version 10.1, then this is a free update for you. If you've got ZoomText set to download updates automatically, you're good to go – the next time you launch ZoomText it will install the update for you. Otherwise, just go to the Help menu and choose "Check for Program Updates."
For more information, call us at 1-800-859-0270 or (802) 362-3612 option 2, or visit www.aisquared.com.
Reading Kindle Books on Your iOS Device
National Braille Press recently released "Reading Kindle Books on Your iOS Device: A Quick Reference Guide" by Janet Ingber and the Kindle for iOS Team. It is available in braille, e-braille, Word, and DAISY formats.
In the first section, Using VoiceOver with the Accessible Amazon iOS Kindle (reprinted with permission of AccessWorld), author Janet Ingber gives step-by-step instructions for installing the Kindle app and purchasing, downloading, and reading content. The second section lists and describes the special gestures used in the Kindle Library and the Kindle Reader interface.
For more information, visit www.nbp.org/ic/nbp/KINDLE.html or call 1-800-548-7323.
A Laugh a Day ...
Looking for just the right gift for a friend or loved one? "A Laugh a Day Keeps the Blues Away" is a collection of true humorous and embarrassing stories written by people who are blind, have low vision and are deaf-blind. Some of these stories will definitely put a smile on your face. You may even recognize some of the names of the storytellers! It is available in large print, braille, and on audio CD. For more information, contact Rita Kersh, [email protected], or write her at PO Box 2216, Bedford, IN 47421.
Tell Me's New Number
Tell Me's new number is (408) 752-8052. Long-distance charges apply.
National Braille Press recently honored Karen Keninger, director of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, with the Hands On! Award. The Hands On! Award is given annually to an individual who has made and continues to make a difference in the world of braille literacy and whose accomplishments have helped blind children and adults succeed in their own lives.
Jay Hooley, chairman, president and CEO of State Street Corporation, received the President's Award at the annual "A Million Laughs for Literacy" gala on Nov. 1st at the Westin Boston Waterfront Hotel. The President's Award honors individuals who have shown longstanding support for National Braille Press and its mission to promote literacy for blind children through outreach programs and to provide access to information by producing information in braille for blind children and adults.
The U.S. AbilityOne Commission recently named its 2013 award winners. Col. Roger H. Westermeyer, deputy director of Air Force Materiel Command at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, received the E.R. "Dick" Alley Career Achievement Award; he was instrumental in directing basewide maintenance and custodial contracts to the AbilityOne program. Dennis Steiner, president and CEO of the Susquehanna Association for the Blind and Vision Impaired, received the Chairperson's Award for Leadership; he has created employment opportunities for nearly 30 years. Dennis A. Hass, director of business operations-operational contracting division at the Los Angeles Air Force Base, received the Outstanding Contributions Award. John Miller, CEO of Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Wisconsin, received the Office of the Executive Director's Enduring Leadership Award. Dr. Carol E. Lowman, deputy to the commanding general at the Department of the Army Contracting Command, Army Materiel Command, U.S. Department of the Army, received the Office of the Executive Director's Enduring Leadership Award.
National Industries for the Blind also named its federal award winners. Shay Assad received the Spirit of Independence Award. Capt. Mark R. Pimpo was honored with the Navy Supply Corps Sword. And Gary Shute was the recipient of the Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support Award.
I-MerSee Launches Social Media Network
I-MerSee recently launched a social media network for the visually impaired and 50 and over communities. It integrates assistive technologies, including text-to-speech, speech-to-text, and screen magnification, and allows users to interact with colleagues, family, and friends on various social media platforms, as well as acting as a stand-alone social network that offers users access to information, events and activities of interest.
To connect users to Facebook, I-MerSee's platform synchs with Facebook's interface, auto-populating Facebook information into I-MerSee's platform instantly, allowing seamless integration and navigation of the Facebook network. Once synched, users can log into I-MerSee directly to use Facebook and chat with friends, upload photos and preview friends and family photos and news through the platform's integrated assistive technology features.
For more information, or to sign up, visit www.i-mersee.com.
drchrono Compatible with iOS7
Drchrono, an electronic health record application, recently released its iOS7-compatible app. It has three new features: Airdrop, which allows providers to share documents to any other iOS-enabled device; Parallax, which recognizes your usage patterns and pre-loads your patient files; and Background Loading, which lets your login screen move with your iPad. For more information on this app, go to www.securenetgate9.com/clicks.php?coid=9857272&cid=8254&url=26660.
Mobile Safety Application
We all know how useful cell phones can be. A new mobile safety application from React Mobile turns a cell phone into an SOS device with the touch of a button, alerting a pre-selected list of emergency contacts via SMS/text, e-mail, Facebook, Twitter and 911 in case of emergency.
React uses several features, including GPS tracking that transmits a user's last known location. The app's new "Follow Me" feature allows users to have pre-selected contacts follow their route in real time until they reach their destination safely. Ideal for runners, families and students, this allows designated users the security of alerting friends when they feel a danger may exist.
This app is free, and available in iTunes. The "Follow Me" feature is available as an in-app purchase for free, and is currently available for many Android devices, with additional releases anticipated later this year. For more information about React, visit www.reactmobile.com or watch the demo at www.vimeo.com/6190678.
Seedlings' 2014 Catalog
Seedlings recently released its 2014 catalog. It includes 50 new book titles and a new braille puzzle.
The new-book list includes everything from "Animal Noises" (a print-braille-and-picture book for toddlers) to "Hunger Games Book 2: Catching Fire" (a 500+ page braille fiction book for teens and young adults). It also features a chunky shapes puzzle with braille through which children can learn their shapes by reading the names of the shapes that are printed on the board in print and in braille. The uncontracted braille is laser-cut into the wood.
For more information, visit www.seedlings.org/ and click on the "What's New" section!
To receive a print copy of the 2014 catalog, send your name and address to [email protected] or call 1-800-777-8552. You can also download the text file version from the web site.
Finally, Seedlings' Book Angel Program is open to visually impaired children who live in the U.S. and Canada. Through this program each child can receive 2 free Seedlings books each year (you list 4 books from our catalog and we will send 2 of them). If you haven't registered yet, please visit Seedlings' web site and click on "Book Angel Program."
Behind Our Eyes
"Behind Our Eyes: A Second Look" is the latest anthology by a collection of 65 writers with disabilities, including Donna Grahmann of Texas. Topics range from humorous to tragic, cats and rabbits to guide dogs and even a guide horse. The book is available in paperback and Kindle formats on Amazon.com, ISBN 978-1490304472. You may also find it in Nook format at Barnes & Noble. To learn more, visit www.behindoureyes.org and www.magnetsandladders.org.