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.
New York Alumni Reunion
The Alumni Association of the New York Institute for Special Education (formerly the New York Institute for the Education of the Blind), in Bronx, N.Y. will hold its annual reunion June 24-26, 2011 on the campus. The school provides lodging for free. For the weekend's activities and four meals (Saturday breakfast, lunch, and dinner and Sunday continental breakfast) the cost is $55, or participate only on Saturday for just $45 (includes meals and activities). This fee includes the $10 annual alumni membership dues. Saturday activities will include a morning assembly and presentation by Dr. Bernadette Kappen, a hymn sing, the annual business meeting, bowling, bingo, swimming, and the Saturday evening wine and cheese social. This year the school celebrates its 180th year. If you wish to attend or would like more information, contact Frank Casey via e-mail, [email protected], or by phone at (518) 462-9487. For more details, visit www.nyise.org and look under the alumni link.
RFB&D Award Winners
For more than 50 years, RFB&D has honored high-performing college seniors who are blind or visually impaired with the Mary P. Oenslager Scholastic Achievement Awards (SAA). Winners receive a $6,000 cash award. They are selected based on academic excellence, extraordinary leadership, and service to others. Congratulations to this year's winners, Daniel Standage of Tucson, Ariz. and Sharon Burniston of Maplewood, N.J.
Free Children's Braille Books
Seedlings, the non-profit provider of braille books for children, is currently taking requests for its 2011 Book Angel Program. Children who are visually impaired in the U.S. and Canada can receive two free braille books from the selection of 1,100 Seedlings books. Book Angel orders will be filled when the child's name is selected, and as time and materials allow. To register for this opportunity, visit www.seedlings.org/special.php and click on "Book Angel Program." A registration form is included in the 2011 Seedlings catalog.
Children's Books in Braille
Beulah Reimer Legacy (BRL) has children's story books in braille available. Some of its most popular offerings include Clifford, Corduroy, Curious George, Disney Princesses, Dora the Explorer, and the Berenstain Bears. BRL places clear plastic strips with the braille words overtop of the printed text, allowing both sighted and blind readers to enjoy the books. For more information, or a copy of the catalog, call (515) 282-0049; e-mail [email protected]; or visit www.beulahreimerlegacy.com.
Sand and Thistles
ACB member Jack D. Wilkinson takes a trip down memory lane in his book, "Sand and Thistles." In it, he travels to Midlove, Kan., in the 1930s. In this small town, 10-year-old Johnny and his best buddies - Tommy, Tubby, and Rabbit - find joy in simple pleasures. Like many boys their age, they love to play pranks, and their many mischievous antics keep them on the run from those who are always out to get them. But times are tough, and Johnny's father is forced to sell his business and prepare to move the family to Arkansas. With just a short time left, Johnny must learn to treasure each moment and discover the meaning of true friendship. Along the journey, he'll find some unexpected friends and new challenges before heading out on a new adventure. Join Johnny and his friends as they spend one glorious year among the sand and thistles. This book is available from Amazon.com in print and for the Kindle reader.
Service Dog Anthology Available
"Two Plus Four Equals One: Celebrating the Partnership of People with Disabilities and Their Assistance Dogs!" is an anthology of stories about individuals with a variety of disabilities who rely on service dogs to aid them in everyday life. Kathy Nimmer, an award-winning writer, teacher, and motivational speaker who is blind, has written and edited this collection of 100 true stories and poems to educate and inspire others. The book is available in standard print, on audio CDs, as a Word file or a PDF document. To learn more, visit www.servicedogstories.com.
New Guide for the iPhone
"Getting Started with the iPhone" is a basic guide for people who are blind. Written by Anna Dresner and Dean Martineau, the guide covers: purchasing an iPhone and getting it ready to use; configuring the basic settings; navigating the touch screen and keyboard; exploring the various apps included; and learning how to find and purchase new apps. In the appendices, readers learn the gestures used to activate functions, answers to frequently asked questions, and resources for additional information. The complete table of contents is available at www.nbp.org/ic/nbp/IPHONE.html. The book is available in braille, eBraille, ASCII text/Word, and DAISY formats. For more information, call 1-800-548-7323, e-mail [email protected]; or visit www.nbp.org.
Federal Grant Funds Blindness Employment Research
The Center on Blindness & Low Vision at Mississippi State University has been awarded a five-year, $4.25 million grant from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research to increase competitive opportunities and outcomes for blind or visually impaired individuals in the job market. The grant includes six research projects that will identify and evaluate current employment practices and outcomes; design and field-test innovative interventions to improve outcomes; assess and make recommendations for updating and improving aspects of a long-standing federal business entrepreneur program; and perform usability studies and consumer/user evaluation of accessibility of office equipment to the blind or visually impaired. For more information about this grant, visit www.blind.msstate.edu.
Bierley, maker of electronic magnifiers, has released its newest hand-held portable aids, the Maggie-Pro and Maggie-MD. Measuring approximately 2 x 3.5 x .5 inches and weighing 2.5 ounces, both are small enough to carry in a purse, wallet, or pocket. Other features include brightness control, true color images, 3 1/2-hour battery life, two bright LED lights, zoom, freeze frame, and 4x to 11x magnification. The MD version includes the option for white text on a black background to reduce glare for those with macular degeneration. For more information about the Maggie line of magnifiers, visit www.bierley.comor call 1-800-985-0535.
Clarity recently introduced the Lynx portable magnifier. It provides enlargement for both near and distant images. Individuals can glide the mouse camera across a surface to read printed words or use the main unit's camera to view pictures, objects, or images at a distance. The unit weighs 8 lbs., gives a 10" view, and has three hours of battery time. Users can adjust the brightness, background color and magnification. For more information, contact Clarity at 1-800-575-1456 or visit www.clarityusa.com.
Sharpen your Screen-Reader Skills
The Hadley School for the Blind has launched three new online courses designed to assist individuals who are blind or visually impaired to become more proficient with their computers in school and work environments. "Screen Readers: Listening Skills" trains users to listen to and comprehend a screen reader while at the same time talking with a potential customer or client on the phone. "Screen Readers: Web Browsing" offers tips and techniques for navigating the most accessible and inaccessible web sites. "Screen Readers: Formatting Word Documents" gives instruction in editing text, adjusting fonts, using headings, bullets and much more while using a screen reader with Word 2007. Each course includes two lessons. For more information, or to register, contact Hadley at 1-800-526-9909 or e-mail [email protected].
Flight Simulator for the Blind
Three-D Velocity is a combat flight simulation game designed for blind and visually impaired gamers. The player relies strictly on directional sound cues to maneuver the plane. Players can fly missions, battle in dog fights with other jets, take off, and even land on an aircraft carrier. The game can be downloaded from www.bpcprograms.com.
Bookshare App for Apple Devices
Read2Go is a new accessible e-book application designed for Bookshare users who prefer to use their iPod touch, iPhone, or iPad to access its extensive collection. With this app, individual users and schools supporting students can search, download, and read Bookshare books and periodicals and manage their books in a bookshelf. The software allows for setting user preferences including font size, text colors, background colors, text-to-speech on/off mode, and varying rate. Read2Go supports all levels of DAISY navigation that are included in the structure of a book. This new application is available in the iTunes App store. For access to Bookshare books on these devices, qualified individuals will need a Bookshare membership.
Free Document Converter
RoboBraille is a free online service that converts electronic documents into either audio or braille files. Users upload the file to the RoboBraille web site and the accessible file is delivered to their e-mail inbox. The service can convert 20 different file types, including PDF files that were scanned in as images. Upgrades to the RoboBraille site in the last year have included support for additional languages and a more user-friendly web interface. To convert a document, or provide feedback on the service, visit www.robobraille.org.
Rhapsody Music Service now Accessible
RhapsodyBlind is a JAWS for Windows script that enables screen reader users to download music from Rhapsody, the music subscription service. Rhapsody gives subscribers access to more than 10 million songs for a monthly fee. Now subscribers who are visually impaired can use this free script to make the service accessible. Subscribers to Rhapsody can listen to unlimited music, create customized playlists, and search through favorite artists. It includes music channels, as well as the ability to burn music onto CD or transfer music to an approved MP3 player. The program also incorporates a music library to listen to and search through a personal collection. The JAWS script is available for free download at www.RhapsodyBlind.com. Subscriptions to the Rhapsody service can be made through www.rhapsody.com.
Seeking Migraine Sufferers
Do you suffer from migraines with piercing pain? Do they last for hours? Ojocion has developed her own home remedy that gets her up and out in 40 minutes 95 percent of the time. If you would like to try it, she'll give you tips from her book in exchange for a 25- to 50-word statement of your results. Contact her at (415) 846-2027 and leave your name and telephone number. Please speak slowly and clearly.