by Sue Lichtenfels
The announcement of products and services in this column is not an endorsement by the American Council of the Blind, its staff, or elected officials. Products and services are listed free of charge for the benefit of our readers. "The Braille Forum" cannot be held responsible for the reliability of products and services mentioned.
To submit items for this column, send a message to [email protected], or call ACB at 1-800-424-8666 and leave a message in mailbox 26. Please remember that postal regulations prohibit us from including advertisements, and that we need information two months ahead of actual publication dates.
BOSTON MARATHON FINISHERS
The following blind and visually impaired athletes finished the Boston Marathon: Kurt Fiene, Adrian Broca, James Salley, Ivonne Mosquera, Jeffery Benelli, Steven Wood, Erich Manser, Richard Miles, Jennifer Herring, Richard Hunter, Kenneth Clark, Ivan Castro, Alexander Mueller, John Kusku, Charles Plaskon, and Vic Vereshack.
DEVELOPMENTAL CYCLING CAMP
The U.S. Association of Blind Athletes (USABA) is co-sponsoring the U.S. Developmental Cycling Camp for Riders with Disabilities at the U.S. Olympic Training Center, Sept. 23-28 in Colorado Springs, Colo. Blind and visually impaired cyclists over age 16 and their sighted partners, who ride tandem bikes, are encouraged to attend. A special invitation is being extended to military servicemen and women who have encountered disabilities from Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom who want to learn to race. Riders attending camp will be on their bikes up to two times per day participating in skill drills, practicing safe riding techniques and competing in race simulations. There will also be evening lectures. The hope is that the camp will open new opportunities for sports and recreation to people with physical disabilities. Food, housing and ground transportation to and from the airport will be provided. Athletes will be responsible for their travel arrangements and a nominal camp fee. Riders are asked to bring their own bikes and gear to the camp. Tandem riders are encouraged to bring their own pilots (riding partners), but if needed, USABA will help find partners. For more information, or to request an application, contact Pam Fernandes at [email protected] or call (781) 449-9563, or visit www.usaba.org.
FILING FOR STIMULUS PAYMENT
People with disabilities are among those who have until Oct. 15, 2008 to file a 2007 form in order to receive the federal tax rebate. Allsup, which represents people nationwide for SSDI benefits, provides additional information on filing for the rebate and tax-related questions for people with disabilities at www.allsup.com. People with no tax filing requirement, but with at least $3,000 in qualifying income, should file a Form 1040A. Qualifying income includes earned income, non-taxable combat pay and certain Social Security, Veterans Affairs and railroad retirement payments. For more information, visit www.irs.gov.
Q&A GUIDES FROM EEOC
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recently issued two question-and-answer guides providing technical assistance for employers and veterans on workplace issues affecting veterans with service-connected disabilities. The new guide for employers explains how protections for veterans with service-connected disabilities differ under the ADA and the Uniformed Services Employment and Re-employment Act. The second guide, aimed at veterans with service-connected disabilities, answers questions they may have about protections they are entitled to when they seek to return to their former jobs or look for their first, or new, civilian jobs. Both documents are available at www.eeoc.gov.
DIGITAL TV CONVERSION
At midnight on Feb. 17, 2009, all full-power television stations in the United States will stop broadcasting in analog and switch to digital broadcasting. Congress created the TV Converter Box Coupon Program for households wishing to keep using their analog TV sets after this date. The program allows U.S. households to obtain up to two coupons, each worth $40, that can be applied toward the cost of eligible converter boxes. A TV connected to cable, satellite or other pay TV service does not require a converter box. To learn how to get DTV converter boxes and coupons, visit www.dtv2009.gov or call 1-888-388-2009 or 1-877-530-2634 (TTY).
VIDEO DESCRIPTION AND CONVERTER BOXES
WGBH's Media Access Group has tested two of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration/NTIA-certified coupon eligible converter boxes and has determined that you can receive and hear video description from a broadcast digital TV signal that includes it. The two boxes tested were the Insignia from Best Buy and the Digital Stream from Radio Shack. Both boxes have CC and SAP (or audio) buttons on the remote controls that allow you to access the various caption signals and alternate audio channels without having to go through inaccessible set-up menus.
AUDIO COMIC BOOK
RFB&D has released its first audio comic book, Stan Lee's "Who Wants to Be A Superhero?", published by Dark Horse Comics. Lee, the world-famous co-creator of Spider-Man (TM), Iron Man (TM), X-Men (TM), Fantastic Four (TM) and The Incredible Hulk (TM), among others, penned the comic book, which features the superhero "Feedback." The Feedback character, created by Matthew Atherton and his wife Sarah Blevins, was the winner of Sci-Fi Channel's season one hit show, "Who Wants to Be a Superhero?" Atherton, an RFB&D volunteer, together with Lee, helped record the audio book at RFB&D's Hollywood recording studio. Atherton then enhanced the recording with sound effects and original music, written by Jon Mattox of Bright Orange Studios, located in Los Angeles. The audio comic book will be available indefinitely to RFB&D members on CD. And, by special arrangement with Dark Horse Comics, visitors to RFB&D's web site (www.rfbd.org) can, for a limited time, listen to "Who Wants to Be a Superhero?" For more information, call RFB&D at 1-866-RFBD-585.
WIN A DIGITAL MAKEOVER
Serotek is seeking individuals to complete its online survey and enroll to win a complete digital lifestyle makeover. The winner gets a digital makeover worth more than $2,000, which includes: ASUS 8G 2 pound Netbook PC, a complete Serotek SAS package, a Victor Reader Stream audio book player, a Zen Stone MP3 player, and 1 copy of any Mobile Speak screen reader courtesy of Code Factory. The winner will be drawn on Sept. 7 on ACB Radio's Marlaina program at www.acbradio.com. The winner must be at home to win. Serotek is also offering a free Zen Stone to the first 100 people to sign up for its four-year software service package, for only $24.95 per month, in addition to System Access Mobile for two computers and a memory stick; a four-year membership to the System Access Mobile Network, and Neo Speech. For more information, visit Serotek on the web at www.serotek.com and click the Summer Sizzle link.
NEW BRAILLE EMBOSSERS
ViewPlus Technologies has begun shipping its Tiger Elite & Premier Braille Embossers. Features of the new embossers include: high-speed braille along with Tiger super-high-resolution graphics; automatic double-sided embossing; production-strength hardware made for running long hours, and compact desktop size. For pricing or additional information, visit www.viewplus.com, or call (541) 754-4002.
Take-n-Slide (TM) helps you monitor your medication's daily doses up to 4 times a day. Just attach the self-stick dosage strip to your prescription, vitamin or daily supplement bottle of any size and align all "indicator slides" to the left. Then, take your medication and move one indicator slide to the right. Just remember not to place dosage strip over important instructions. For more information, or to order the dosage strips, call (678) 494-2992 or visit www.take-n-slide.com.
SPUNGIN TO RETIRE
AFB has announced that Dr. Susan J. Spungin, Vice President, International Programs and Special Projects, will retire on Dec. 31, 2008, after 44 years of distinguished work on the education and rehabilitation of blind people in the national and international arenas. Dr. Spungin joined AFB in 1972 as a national specialist in education. In this capacity, she identified nationwide issues affecting blind, deaf-blind, and severely visually impaired children and youth, and worked in partnership with schools, agencies, state departments of education, universities, the federal government, and other organizations to resolve those issues. In addition to her education work, she was instrumental in shaping AFB's research and policy work, and its national programs in the areas of early childhood development, aging, employment, rehabilitation teaching, low vision, orientation and mobility, career education, and more.
When your Perkins brailler starts to get sluggish or won't backspace, Alan Ackley wants to make it right. He has reconditioned more than 5,000 braillers from individuals, schools and agencies in every state in the country. He was trained at Howe Press on the campus of Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown, Mass. He maintains a complete inventory of factory parts and assures prompt turnaround and reasonable charges. For more information, call Alan at (515) 288-3931 or visit www.braillerman.com.
CAPTIONMAX RECEIVES AWARD
The National Center for Technology Innovation (NCTI) announced its Technology in the Works 2008 award recipients. The competition recognizes outstanding innovative teams of researchers and vendors who will examine the impact of assistive technologies for students with special needs. One of these prestigious awards was to the joint proposal submitted by CaptionMax and the National Center for Supported eText (NCSeT) for Making Video Content Accessible to All: Exploring the Benefits of Enhanced Captioning and Expanded Audio Description for All Students. Research findings will be announced on Nov. 19, 2008, at the kickoff of NCTI's Technology Innovators Conference being held in Washington, DC.
The Royal National Institute for the Blind offers several publications for free. They include: Guidelines for the Design of Accessible Information and Communication Technology Systems; Ambient Intelligence: Paving the Way - - How Integrated Services Can Deliver a More Inclusive Society; Access-Ability: Making Technology More Usable by People with Disabilities; Equal Measures: Closing the Accessibility Gap; Making Life Easier: How New Telecommunication Services Could Benefit People with Disabilities; Accessibility for Visitors Who are Blind or Partially Sighted: How Technology Can Help; and Accessibility of Information and Communication Technology Systems: Involving People with Disabilities in the Standardization Process. To request a print copy of any publication, send your name and postal mailing address to Dr. John Gill via e-mail, [email protected].
OLDER AMERICANS GUIDE
Grey House Publishing recently released the seventh edition of its Older Americans Information Directory. It answers questions currently on the minds of all Americans, such as how to find and pay for needed support services, how to deal with health issues, how to be effective self- advocates, and much more. This edition also includes a glossary of health and medical terms and a glossary of legal terms. It costs $165, and is available in softcover. To get a sneak peek inside, visit www.greyhouse.com and look at the Older Americans Information Directory's online database, or call 1-800-562-2139 extension 118 for more information.
TOURS AT JEWISH MUSEUM
New art exhibits are now on display at New York's Jewish Museum, 1109 5th Ave., New York, NY 10128. "Action/Abstraction: Pollock, de Kooning, and American Art, 1940-1976" is on display now, and runs through Sept. 21. "Chagall and the Artists of the Russian Jewish Theater, 1919-1949" runs from Nov. 9, 2008 through March 22, 2009. "Dead Sea Scrolls" runs from Sept. 21, 2008 through Jan. 4, 2009. Call (212) 423-3225 to schedule a tour. If you're making group tour reservations, please call at least one month in advance of your tour date. Tours can be tailored to meet the needs of visitors who are deaf or hard of hearing, blind or partially sighted, or have developmental disabilities. Call the number mentioned above, or e-mail [email protected] with any questions about access programs and services.