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@example.com, 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.
Englebretson Receives Bogart Award
On Nov. 13, 2019, the Braille Authority of North America awarded the Darleen Bogart Braille Excellence Award to Dr. Robert Englebretson. Dr. Englebretson is chairman of the Linguistics Department at Rice University in Houston, Texas. He has developed and teaches a course that examines research on braille reading and writing from the perspective of the cognitive sciences. He has written two books, numerous articles, and has co-edited a large research database of conversational English. He is currently collaborating on a major research project designed to explore the knowledge, skills, and strategies teachers of students with visual impairments need in order to effectively teach braille reading and writing. The project is funded by the Institute for Education Sciences (Department of Education).
BANA created its Braille Excellence Award in in honor of Louis Braille’s 200th birthday and renamed it the Darleen Bogart Braille Excellence Award in 2019 in honor of the retirement of one of its founding members. This is only the sixth time that this award, which recognizes people or organizations that have developed or contributed to a code, have developed code materials or software that supports codes, and/or who represent the highest standards of braille production, has been presented.
NBP Poetry Contest, New Books and More
National Braille Press launched its annual poetry contest in October, and the deadline’s coming up fast – Feb. 7th. The theme for this year’s contest is freedom. Freedom to be you, freedom in the world, fighting for freedom, let your creativity run free (pun intended)! Entries must be original poems, 125 words or less. NBP staff will select the winners in the following age categories: kindergarten through 2nd grade; 3rd through 5th grade; 6th through 8th grade; 9th through 12th grade; and adults. One entry per contestant, please. For more information, or to submit your poem online, visit https://info.nbp.org/3rd-annual-braille-poetry-contest?utm_source=mailchimp&utm_campaign=Poetry_Contest.
Who among us remembers reading the “Little Bear” books by Elsie Holmelund Minarik? “Little Bear’s Friend” is now available in contracted UEB braille for ages 6 and up.
Another new offering is “Hola, Hombre Mosca” by Ted Arnold. It’s a print-and-braille picture book in Spanish, for ages 4 to 8. The book is the Spanish-only edition of Ted Arnold’s book, “Hi, Fly Guy,” about a boy named Buzz and his very smart pet fly.
Newly available are CanDo Braille Labels. These reusable labels (created by Candoable) are shaped like bracelets, and clip onto the outside of a can, bottle or jar for easy identification. The labels are hand washable and sturdy enough to use in the refrigerator, freezer, and ice chests.
There are four different sets, with six labels in each. The vegetable set has two labels each for green beans, corn, and peas. The bean set has two labels each for refried beans, black beans and baked beans. The set for tomato products has two labels each for diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, and tomato paste. And the fruit set has two each for peaches, pineapples, and fruit cocktail. Quantities are limited.
In the technology section, the newest selection is “31 Cool Things You Can Do with your iPhone” by Judy Dixon. It’s available as one braille volume, as well as in BRF, DAISY and Word file formats. The book explores a variety of apps, practical to fun, and a wide variety of activities, from tuning your guitar to counting your steps, measuring an angle, and depositing a check.
For more information, contact NBP, 88 St. Stephen Street, Boston, MA 02115-4302; phone toll-free 1-800-548-7323, or visit https://www.nbp.org/ic/nbp/publications/index.html.
Company Acquisition Empowers Blind Louisianans
The Louisiana Association for the Blind recently acquired Hilburn Printing. The revenue generated from print operations will sustain the association’s programs, providing vision rehabilitation, vocational training, and employment placement for people who are visually impaired.
The organization’s direct labor workforce is made up of 80 percent visually impaired employees who work in their print shop, manufacturing facilities, and AbilityOne Base Supply Centers, located at Barksdale Air Force Base and Fort Polk. As a result of growing this line of business, L.A.B. will be able to grow an economic engine for its clients and Louisiana, contributing to a strong tax base while creating sustainable revenue.
Vario Digital FHD Foldable Desktop Video Magnifier
Eschenbach Optik of America, Inc., recently introduced its new Vario Digital FHD desktop video magnifier that can fold down to 5 inches in height. The device provides magnification from 1.3x to 45x. There are multiple viewing options available, along with the ability to add a movable reading line if desired. The Vario features a 15.6" LCD monitor and provides a full high definition, true color image that is clear even at high magnifications.
The buttons and dials on the device make it easy to operate. And in menu mode, voice output (in 5 language options) is provided when each icon is highlighted so you know exactly which option you are changing. The widescreen format and tilting camera make it easier to read large documents, write underneath and see objects close up. Images can be captured and stored on a removable 8GB SD card and viewed either on the Vario monitor or on a computer monitor.
Gene Therapy May Restore Visual Function
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – By isolating where a key protein required for low light vision is expressed, scientists have shown that gene therapy may restore visual function for people with a form of congenital stationary night blindness. In mice models with genetic mutations similar to humans with night blindness, scientists used adeno-associated viruses to reintroduce the protein into cells in the retina.
The research, led by scientists at the University of Louisville with collaborators from the Medical College of Wisconsin, recently was published by Cell Reports. The next phase of research requires testing on a large animal model with eyes similar to humans.
New Unique Computer Book for Screen Reader Users Available
“Windows Keyboard Power User Guide” is a book intended to help you become a more proficient user of Windows, JAWS and Word. It is available in Word and MP3. To explore the table of contents, or learn more, visit https://www.techforblind.us/.
BANA Launches Podcast Series
The Braille Authority of North America (BANA) recently introduced a new podcast called BANA Braille Bits. The podcasts are designed to keep the braille reading and writing public informed regarding the activities of the Braille Authority of North America, including updates to codes and guidelines. The debut episode provides background that explains what BANA is and how the organization operates. It is available immediately and can be accessed at http://Brailleauthority.libsyn.com, or by searching for BANA Braille Bits with your favorite podcatcher. New episodes will be released and announced periodically.
Braille on Cosmetics Packages
Visionary Cosmetics’ goal is to be a truly all-inclusive brand. The company features braille on its packaging upon request, and also provides manuals that give vivid, detailed descriptions on the different shades offered. In-depth product descriptions are available on the website, www.visionarycosmetics.com. All products are made in a lab and are cruelty-free. The company offers 21 shades of foundations, various lipsticks, eyeshadow palettes, highlighters, blush, concealers, setting sprays, powders, and concealers. Owner Michael Aguilar has glaucoma and works with a team of people to help put this line together. Visionary Cosmetics is a small company, but it’s just getting started. For more information, visit the website, or call Michael Aguilar at (205) 835-3147.