The Braille Forum, July 2000

Braille Forum
Vol. XXXIX July 2000 No. 1
Published By
The American Council of the Blind
Paul Edwards, President
Charles H. Crawford, Executive Director
Penny Reeder, Editor
Sharon Lovering, Editorial Assistant
National Office:
1155 15th St. N.W.
Suite 1004
Washington, DC 20005
(202) 467-5081
Fax: (202) 467-5085
Web Site:
Paul Edwards' voice pager: (888) 895-8553

THE BRAILLE FORUM is available in braille, large print, half- speed four-track cassette tape and computer disk. Subscription requests, address changes, and items intended for publication should be sent to: Penny Reeder, THE BRAILLE FORUM, 1155 15th St. N.W., Suite 1004, Washington, DC 20005. Submission deadlines are the first of the month.

Those much-needed contributions, which are tax-deductible, can be sent to Patricia Beattie at the same address. If you wish to remember a relative or friend by sharing in the council's continuing work, the national office has printed cards available to acknowledge contributions made by loved ones in memory of deceased people.

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For the latest in legislative and governmental news, call the "Washington Connection" toll-free at (800) 424-8666, 6 p.m. to midnight Eastern time Monday through Friday.

Copyright 2000
American Council of the Blind


President's Message: Travelin' Man, by Paul Edwards
The Stick Joins the Carrot on the Bus, by Ken Stewart
Emerging Trends in Accessible Pedestrian Signal Technologies, by Daveed Mandell and Sheila Killian
The Experience of a Lifetime, by Jo Taliaferro
A Morning Conversation, by Charles H. Crawford
Medicare Appeal Victory: A National First!, by Larry Harper
Where in the World? Is the Now Well-Known City That Was Named Vindobona in the Year 15 B.C.?, by Oral O. Miller
The Charm and Power of the Universal Language, by Janiece Petersen
A Letter from the Braille Institute
Letters to the Editor
'Here and There' Writer Retires Her Pen
Here and There, by Elizabeth M. Lennon
The Online Bible, Version 8.10, by Charles Lott
News Notes from the National Office
Slamming Windows Dot Com, by Billie Jean Keith
High Tech Swap Shop

From the Editor: Some Thoughts About Travel

Proclaim the month of July "Spirit of ADA Month!" This month, the Americans with Disabilities Act celebrates its 10th anniversary.

by Paul Edwards

It's 1 o'clock in the morning. The Fort Lauderdale Airport is eerily quiet. There is the sound of a distant vacuum cleaner and, far, far away, there is the sound of receding footsteps. As usual I have waited politely and am the last person off the plane which is hours late. As I materialize out of the jetway, the agent of the airline which I will mercifully not name asks, "Is somebody meeting you here?"

Since there are miles and miles that I must go before I sleep, I restrain myself from the flip response that springs unbidden to my lips, "Do you see anyone, Sir?" Instead I am patient. I indicate that I have requested assistance to get me to a place where I can arrange transportation home. I indicate that I will understand if it takes a few minutes. I am polite. I am meek and mild. I am well-behaved.

The agent says, "I'm the only one here! What do you expect me to do, grow extra hands, clone myself? You people always think that all you have to do is snap your fingers and everybody will bend over backwards to help you! You just shouldn't travel alone. In fact, you shouldn't travel at all if you can't get around."

Well, that did it! I grabbed the handle of my single carry-on, and took off. I flat out didn't need to hear this kind of garbage from somebody whom I felt I had treated appropriately. So "me and my suitcase" walked off into the moonset, hotly pursued by an irate agent.

"Where do you think you're going? Watch out!" (There's a helpful phrase, by the way!) "You can't just walk off. I'm responsible for you. I could lose my job. Wait! Stop! Please..."

You get the picture. So long as we are docile and dependent, it's OK to abuse us! If we show a shred of competence or initiative, we are stepping out of character, and endangering stereotypes, and maybe even jobs as well. Without belaboring the point, the agent apologized to the point of nausea and stayed with me till transportation was arranged, something I would never have expected him to do. During our somewhat lengthy time together, I was treated to a long diatribe on the shortcomings of "you people." In his case, "you people" included the lame, the blind, the obese, the rude, the impatient and all children. Perhaps we should amend the ADA so it includes all his categories. We could win some elections.

This paragon of American tolerance was an extreme case; however, I would be lying to you if I didn't admit that travel is stressful. It isn't just a question of getting from point A to point B. It's a question of negotiating the human mine fields you must pass through along the way. I now ask where the gate is every time I get to the area and also make sure I know where the counter is. I have very nearly missed planes because I have been forgotten. When gate changes happen, do not assume that you will be remembered. Naps are not allowed. They are too dangerous.

Once on the plane, there is a law that says that my seatmate cannot fit into his or her seat. He or she immediately declares war for possession of the arm rest. This skirmish is, by the way, often very subtle. I begin with an advantage because when my seatmate arrives, I have possession. That is soon dissipated, however, because my arm is deemed not to exist and its arm gradually occupies more and more of the armrest territory until my peaceable little arm is routed and forced to flee the field ignominiously.

I always ask for the window seat so I don't have to get up every time the occupant of the window seat needs to get up and move around the cabin. I engage in ongoing warfare over vents. Seatmates often think that I am deaf as well as blind so they can turn mine off when they get too cold and I won't notice. I just turn it back on which tends to create more than one kind of chill.

Flight attendants come in two main flavors. One flavor tries to pretend I don't exist. This sometimes extends to pretending I am sleeping or invisible when serving drinks or snacks and always excludes me from information I normally like to have such as where the nearest exit is. The second flavor of flight attendant is the one who abides by the letter of the law. This flavor begins by shouting so the poor blind man can hear OK. The magic braille book is brandished, proffered and accepted. Even though I have read it a thousand times by now, and even though it contains no information which is otherwise not provided during the briefing, I take it. It is easier to do that than to be informed that federal regulations require me to read it. I created quite a stir once by asking the flight attendant if she had read it and was aware of how useless it was. An extreme member of the aggressively solicitous flavor of flight attendant chided me for not reading the whole book. Apparently she had nothing better to do than to stand in fascinated awe as the blind man perused the sacred document. I was only allowed to hand back the book when I assured her that I did not understand German or Portuguese and would therefore not be able to benefit from the wisdom to be found buried in those versions of the document. I assured her that I had read the English, French and Spanish versions and she was temporarily mollified. This flavor of flight attendant is apt to serve you a glass of beverage and not give you the can. She is also likely to open your peanuts before spilling them on your lap and frequently will open every container on your lunch tray whether you want to use it or not.

Lest I be misunderstood, let me say categorically here that I could not travel without the help of others and that I truly do appreciate all of those folks who have lent me a hand along the way. Let me also say that I am often pleasantly surprised by the kindness and appropriateness of much of the help. Let me add, too, that I have always made it where I was going and I would not have done that without assistance.

I should also be sure to say that I am treated the way I am partly because of other people with disabilities who do not behave appropriately. They demand too much, never say thank you and expect to be accorded royal treatment as a right bestowed by their disability. I have shuddered as the patience of even the most saintly flight attendant is tried by people, only some of whom are disabled, who treat attendants like servants rather than professionals.

I know that many of you who are reading this message now have just returned from the convention and probably have your own horror stories to tell. In a very real sense, the travel community is like our society. It is a microcosm of our larger America. Many have a lot to learn and we have a lot to teach. When all is said and done, we get there. That's a tribute to the travel industry and to us! When you are packing for your next trip, the only item you must not forget is your sense of humor. Without that, the stress will get to you and you may well feel compelled to hijack the plane!

by Ken Stewart

The task of achieving compliance with the federal mandate for announcements of public transit bus stops is a monstrously difficult one, not only for consumer activists but for transit officials themselves. As I reported in "The Carrot Takes a Bus Ride" ("The Braille Forum," July 1998), I have been generally supportive of New York City transit officials' valiant attention to that goal. They have put more than 100 "checkers" on their routes to ride buses anonymously and record the announcement performance of the bus operators. Bus depots with good statistics are rewarded the "carrot" with cash toward amenities at the depots to benefit the deserving employee teams.

At a quarterly meeting of the ADA Compliance Coordinating Committee for New York City Transit, I expressed my continuing appreciation of management's dedicated efforts to achieve satisfactory compliance, and I commended their approach. However, this was not the first quarterly meeting to hear me accentuating the positive. I decided it was time to ratchet up the pressure, so I added another dimension to my spiel:

"The riding public," I said, "needs to have evidence that there is something being done about the worst offenders too."

I gave notice at the session that I would be expecting reports on disciplinary statistics too at the next quarterly gathering of the ADA Committee.

Sure enough, at our meeting three months later, the most recent as I write this, the director of bus department customer relations approached me with some numbers even before the group was called to order. He reported that two drivers had been suspended from work for violating the requirement to announce major stops and junction points, and he reported a substantial increase in the number of bus drivers who have been directed to receive re- training because of less egregious violations of the regulation.

At the same time, the customer relations director ushered me across the room to meet the company's employee relations director. I believe that was his way of reminding me of the reality that employee discipline is not the unilateral province of management alone. The introduction also made the reality of an attentive riding public a more tangible concept to this employee relations man as well as his union.

Several weeks ago as I trundled down Ninth Avenue on Manhattan's M-11 bus, I noted there were no stop announcements. I began composing a scolding script to deliver to the driver as I departed at my stop -- planning that my words would include an attempt to get his badge number, so I could report him more efficiently. (I knew from past experiences the driver would likely be unwilling to identify himself, and I would be forced to get the large vehicle number painted on the outside of the bus.) But before the time came for me to unleash my tongue-lashing, I began to notice how friendly the driver was to his boarding customers, and how he made extra effort for them, "curbing" the bus and "kneeling" it for folks with limited agility. I modified my strategy from angry confrontation to pleasant recognition of his considerate impulses. I concluded by making a suggestion that announcing stops would be one more way to show consideration for his riders. He responded favorably to me.

In my discussions with transit managers, I have found that, by and large, they regard announcement-compliant behavior as a very tough nut to crack. The customer relations director associates the problem with the longevity of "old habits." I am inclined to identify a more basic problem, a problem illustrated by the contrast between the compliance level among subway conductors and bus operators. I contend that a person who applies for work as a conductor understands the essence of the work to be providing service to riders -- for example, dispensing information. I would expect, in contrast, that the typical applicant for a bus driving job is pursuing a career mainly focused on the safe and efficient manipulation of a huge piece of machinery.

Many transit officials view new technology as the only reasonable long- term solution to non-compliance with bus announcements. I personally have been skeptical of that silver bullet, partly because I think that a high-tech gadget is only as good as the human being who remembers to activate it and maintain it in functioning condition. I am reminded of the many times I confronted a particular New York City bus driver for not making stop announcements. His excuse was, "The mike's not working."

A recent ride around Anchorage on a local transit bus with automated stop announcements has warmed me up a bit. During the two-hour loop, which by the way was quite a sightseeing bargain at the 10-cent handicapped fare, there was a loud and clear voice at every stop. Presumably the announcements were properly linked to each location either by driver activation, infrared triggering at each bus stop, or by pre-programming. Of course, as a first- time Alaska visitor I was in no position to evaluate their appropriateness to sites.

Just a few days ago I had occasion to use the local bus system in Westchester County twice. On the second leg of my trip I experienced for the first time external speaker announcements of the bus route. That technology also seemed quite effective. The automated voice pronounced both the route number and the destination, "Number Six to Yonkers." It was repeated after a pause. The first announcement came as the door opened to receive passengers, the second just before the door closed again. During the entirety of my bus trip, I could hear the announcements from the external speaker, and I could confirm both the loudness and the complete coverage of all stops.

There is also technology on the horizon which will feature announcements from a speaker at each bus stop which will be activated by and simultaneously identify each approaching bus.

All these devices now give me encouragement but I am still a believer in vigorous advocacy for compliance from the humans behind the wheel while we eagerly await technological salvation. Rewarding good driver behavior with both incentives from management and expressions of gratitude directly from appreciative riders is fine. Discipline for the violators of regulations must figure in the equation too. The carrot and the stick make good travel companions.

by Daveed Mandell and Sheila Killian

People with disabilities often maintain that the amount of energy and concentration they must expend just trying to function in a largely inaccessible world is significantly greater for them than for people who do not rely on such access enhancements as ramps, curb cuts, tactile platform edge detection and accessible pedestrian signals. We have often heard disabled people remark that they feel as physically and emotionally exhausted by noon as most able-bodied people do by day's end. Let us consider how a blind or visually impaired pedestrian assesses a typical intersection. He or she must first approach that street crossing, and determine such basic information as the shape and location of both the curb and the crosswalk; the direction to face when crossing; whether there is a traffic light; the type of signal installed; whether it is necessary to push a button to activate the walk sign; and where the light pole is located. This process can be quite stressful, especially in unfamiliar areas. Just one mistake can result in serious injury or even death. Once we manage to figure out when and how to cross a specific street, we must then navigate safely across that intersection.

Can accessible pedestrian signals help blind and visually impaired people to make safe decisions as they travel across the busy streets in their environments?

Traffic lights convey important information to sighted pedestrians. For the most part, it does not matter whether one is familiar with a particular area or not, for, upon arriving at an intersection, a sighted pedestrian can identify the street on which he or she is walking, the street that intersects it, the direction of travel and when it is safe to cross. It is easy to discern traffic movement and additional landmarks, such as angled streets, median strips, islands and turning lanes. Accessible pedestrian signals should be as easy to use for blind and visually impaired pedestrians as traffic lights are for people who rely on their vision for orientation and mobility. The information which these devices convey should be clear, precise and quickly perceptible, requiring relatively little effort, even when a visually impaired pedestrian does not know the area in question.

Blind and visually impaired people are not the only ones who benefit from accessible pedestrian signals. Other populations -- including young children, senior citizens, people with cognitive impairments, and individuals who become distracted by multiple visual stimuli -- often depend on audible and/or tactile cues to cross the street. Drawbacks of Current Accessible Pedestrian Signals

In one form or another, audible traffic signals have been around since the mid-1970s. During the past three decades, you may have encountered bells, buzzers, cuckoos or chirps, each indicating whether a WALK sign was on, at various intersections. Although many people have found these devices to be helpful, these signals of yesteryear have some very significant shortcomings.

The older systems -- which are still widely used -- were originally considered the latest and greatest technology. For the first time, blind and visually impaired pedestrians knew, without having to guess, exactly when the walk sign was illuminated, thus allowing them the maximum amount of time to cross the street.

There are, however, several serious problems with this type of signal. For one thing, the speakers from which the sounds emanate are placed high up on light poles, and can be pointed in ambiguous directions. Frequently, they point away from, or are even perpendicular to, the streets they are supposed to describe. In addition, echoes from the "bird" sounds can bounce off nearby buildings, which can make it difficult to determine their origin and location -- and, therefore, which intersection they refer to. Furthermore, the recent trend of incorporating three or more distinct sounds in some signals at complex intersections is particularly distracting. This practice certainly does not conform to the U.S. Access Board's interim guidelines for accessible pedestrian signals. The Access Board, as well as the two major consumer organizations of the blind, have found that a cacophonous blend of beeps, chirps, cuckoos, clicks and other sounds only serves to confuse, rather than assist. They make it difficult to listen to traffic patterns, and tend to become intermingled with other sounds in the environment. Promising Technology Breakthrough

Exciting new and effective technologies for accessible pedestrian signals are now being developed. They convey much more information than the signals which were on the cutting edge three decades ago. The old technology does not provide essential information, like street names and direction of travel. Hundreds of blind people who attended the 1999 ACB national convention in Los Angeles crossed West Century Boulevard near the Westin Hotel at least once. In so doing, they doubtless discovered that modern accessible pedestrian signals, such as those manufactured by Polara Engineering of Fullerton, CA, employ several modalities to convey relevant information -- information which cannot be conveyed by the old-fashioned beeping, chirping exclusively audible technology.

As you approach a Polara signal, you hear short, unobtrusive locator beeps -- one every second -- that direct you to a speaker and pushbutton, mounted approximately four feet above the ground on a traffic light pole. You must press the pushbutton to activate the signal. A quick press activates an audible walk sign indicator, which can take the form of most any sound desired. In its standard form, the signal is programmed to give a verbal walk message, e.g., "Walk sign is on to cross Broadway."

It is possible to press and hold the signal's pushbutton for four seconds to hear a more detailed message (which can last up to 16 seconds), announcing whatever additional information might be necessary to inform blind and visually impaired pedestrians about the layout of the intersection. You might hear, for example, information about the direction of travel, or the names of the intersecting streets. In addition to the verbal cues and locator tones, the Polara signal is equipped with a unique pulsating tactile arrow, on which can be embossed an optional braille and raised print direction-of-travel indicator, such as an "N" for north. The arrow pulsates in conjunction with the walk sign. It also points in the direction you must face to cross the street. Quickly pressing and releasing the pushbutton activates the pulsating arrow. Alternatively, the signal can be programmed to pulsate the arrow automatically whenever the walk sign is on.

Several other features make the Polara signal particularly useful to people who cannot rely on their vision as a safe indicator for negotiating intersections. Its face plate can be labeled with braille and raised print information, such as street names, or brief directions for negotiating complex intersections, island and/or turning lane shapes and arrangements. Its verbal and written messages can be tailored to the requirements of specific intersections. The volume of both the already relatively quiet locator beeps and voice messages can be adjusted separately to conform to the ambient traffic noise so as not to disturb the general public. Because the speaker and pushbutton are located in one unit on the light pole, the Polara signal accurately indicates the line of direction required to cross the street safely.

To summarize, the Polara accessible pedestrian signal conveys information about the layout of specific intersections quickly, quietly and clearly, and requires relatively little effort to learn. The signal is available to pedestrians 24 hours a day, without disturbing the general public. While familiarity with a specific area helps everyone, that need not be a requirement for a visually impaired pedestrian who merely wants to cross an unfamiliar street.

Simply put, we all -- sighted and not -- must pay attention to traffic patters and remain alert as we approach street crossings. Advances in audible pedestrian signals, such as those described above, can afford blind and visually impaired travelers -- who can use their senses of hearing and touch - - nearly as much information as sighted travelers gain from watching traffic lights, looking for an illuminated walk sign and examining an intersection visually.

Now, traffic signals can be truly equally accessible to, and usable by, all pedestrians.

(Editor's Note: To learn more about accessible pedestrian signals, consult the newly updated Pedestrian Safety Handbook, available for free download from the ACB web site,, and soon, in a variety of accessible formats, from the national office.)

by Jo Taliaferro

(Editor's Note: Reverend Taliaferro's adventures, which she described first in her postings to the ACB e-mail listserv, began when she left the home of a friend after a routine visit late one afternoon toward the end of February. We asked Jo for permission to publish her story in "The Braille Forum" because her experiences are ones that so many of us can relate to. You will also find this article in the latest edition of the pedestrian safety handbook, now available for download at the ACB web site,

Recently, I had an experience with my incredible guide dog and our local transit authority which I'll never forget. My adventure began when I was escorted by my friend, a cane user, to a very busy street. My friend explained that I was standing on the northeast corner of the intersection. I understood that I should cross to the southwest corner and face west, where I could catch my bus going north.

Yes, there was a traffic light, but I took my time, making sure it was safe to navigate the first part of the confusing and unfamiliar crossing. As I was gaining my bearings, a woman grabbed me and tried to force me bodily into the street. The harder I tried to convince her that I preferred to manage on my own for the safety of my dog and myself, the more she aggressively interfered.

"Come on, come on, it's safe," she said, as I heard cars turning in front of me! I could feel the fear and anger rising in me and wanted to scream bloody murder at this outrage! I knew that my dog was distressed, and traffic was all around me.

I dropped the harness, praising Whitley as I gritted my teeth. Horns honked; my friend, witnessing my struggle from the curb where I had been minutes before, tried to demand that she let go of me but the woman was absolutely deaf to our pleas. When we got to the east side of the intersection and I still had one more crossing to make, I pulled free of the woman and made a supreme effort to do some educating. But the woman had vanished.

I choked back tears. I had been in partnerships with dogs for 25 years so why this? My heart was in my throat as Whitley and I walked across a quieter street to the bus stop sign, which was not identifiable by bench, shelter or change in sidewalk texture. I regained some composure, hugged my dog, thankful that I could expect the next leg of our journey to be uneventful.

I climbed aboard the bus, told the driver where to let me off and he proceeded to tell me where I should sit! I went instead to a forward-facing seat deeming that to be safer for the dog and more convenient for other passengers. No stops were called and the driver claimed that his enunciator system was not working! Apparently his mouth was not fully engaged either and I had the impertinence to wonder about his eyesight as well.

I did manage to reach the stop I had requested thanks to alert passengers. The driver said in answer to my query about a traffic light, "Yeah, you're OK to cross here."

Knowing I was on the same extremely busy street I had been so unceremoniously dragged across before, I asked for assistance getting lined up with the light in order to make my crossing. The driver refused to get out of his seat and I stepped from the bus to the sound of one more cacophony of whizzing traffic and turning vehicles. I was standing on grass and unable to find a safe place to cross the street.

I knew that, if I walked north, I would reach yet another crossing with only a stop sign. Had there been a pedestrian light there, I could easily have walked the mile to my house.

I concluded that the corner was so rounded that I wouldn't be able to line up properly to make a safe crossing. Gathering my reserves of courage and the harness handle of the best dog in the whole world, I turned to walk south keeping my traffic on my right so I could slog through the mud and slush along the busy thoroughfare in search of a human being, a sidewalk, anything which would serve as a landmark to guide us. We found only more brambles, melting snowbanks and a large dose of weariness.

Not wanting to project more stress on Whitley, and knowing there must be a traffic light ahead, I praised her, reassured her, saying, "Good girl! We're almost there! We can do this!"

I'm a pastor by profession and I'm not supposed to lie, but the truth was, I had no idea when we would come to rest and be able to head back north toward home.

On we sloshed. I knew there was another traffic light ahead but just as before, there was nothing to assist me to make a safe journey to a familiar street. It was so close and yet so far!

We traveled onward, feeling fatigued and worried. It was getting later and later. Whit guided me around brambles, mud holes, gnarled trees and eventually to a strip of pavement! We had unwittingly rounded another very wide curve and were now walking east! It was only afterward that I understood why there were no people and why I had to be so careful to keep my parallel traffic on my right! We had passed a cemetery and a golf course, so it was no wonder I wasn't feeling up to par because we were in a desperately grave situation! I hoped that my sense of humor would see me through till I could sob with mixed emotions in my own bathtub!

Hearing cars moving a little more slowly, and sensing we were near civilization, I prayed for the smell of a McDonald's, the sound of a door, the stamina to keep on keeping on. My cell phone had died long before -- probably back at the cemetery -- so I relied on Whitley's good judgment and survival instincts.

We were rewarded by a friendly voice asking if we needed help. I requested assistance in crossing a street but once on the other side, nothing felt right! The gentleman assisting us asked what he could do so I told him I wanted to call a cab. I was trying not to let my stress show but it was obvious that I had little energy left. I was a 62-inch, mud-spattered ragamuffin and I knew Whitley was grimy and soggy.

The stranger, vacationing in my town and not familiar with the area, offered us a ride. I hesitated. Who was he? Where would he take us if we got in his car? I wanted to get home, not even more lost, frightened, raped or killed.

I asked some questions, got his driver's license number, realized that he was a dog lover and made the decision to take him up on his willingness to get us home. He helped me into his car and I gave him directions to my house while he described landmarks and supplied street names. When we reached my house, I offered to pay him and he refused. I then directed him back the way he had come and waited outside my front door until he had gone. Then, a very muddy dog and a bespattered woman headed for the basement where I saw to Whitley's needs, groomed her and gave her a meal fit for a queen, raw carrots and treats included. As for me, I threw my sopping clothes on the basement floor, jumped into my birthday suit and headed for a bubble bath and soapy tears of relief, gratitude, love for a well-educated dog and life itself! Addendum

Jo Taliaferro has written to the president of the board of directors of her local transit authority offering to help educate bus drivers, office staff, scheduling coordinators and the general public concerning safe travel for people who are blind or visually impaired. In her role as advocate, she has called both the city office of traffic engineering and the state of Michigan transportation safety engineers to request audible traffic signals where street crossings are life-threatening for a pedestrian who is blind or visually impaired.

The city office indicated, in response to her request, that audible signals are placed where great numbers of people would be crossing a street, not just one or two people. Neither office seemed to have a clue about how to solve the problem. Such a request had never been made before, according to the offices of traffic safety, and putting up accessible signals would be very costly. One traffic technician said, "No one is really concerned about pedestrian safety any more."

Jo wishes to express her gratitude to all who provide competent mobility instruction and believes her dog and her training school deserve praise beyond words!

Below are some safety tips for blind travelers, from one who has been there.

1. Carry a cell phone when traveling and make sure the battery is charged!

2. Follow your instincts if you accept help from a stranger.

3. Try not to project your own fear onto your dog so the dog can do the job it was trained to do.

4. Remember that consistency and lots of work with a dog in familiar places become assets when you are lost.

5. Following a terrifying experience, it is crucial for you and your dog to pull yourselves up by the harness handle and take a walk so as not to become paralyzed by the fear and stress of a traumatic situation.

6. Be an advocate for pedestrian safety for all people as well as accessible public transportation.

by Charles H. Crawford

On a recent pleasingly cool morning, I had the window open partway to listen to the quiet respite of it all. Suddenly the stillness was broken by two caws from a crow, answered by another crow nearby. Then their conversation was over -- no more sounds, just quiet.

I wondered to myself just what they had said to each other. Did they understand anything from their exchange or was it just some sort of automatic response system to notify one another that each was around? Maybe I was indulging in the superior human position of assuming I knew what they were doing when in fact I had not the least idea. Of course it did not matter much to them, but I could not stop musing about how the exchange either meant nothing at all, or was in fact something of importance to the crows. I would never really know.

Have you ever left a conversation with the feeling that there really was no conversation at all? You know, those "how ya doing?" and "pretty good, and you?" kinds of conversations. Or maybe you participated in one of those exchanges of opinions where neither side did much more than repeat its own position?

How often in our advocacy do we simply lecture another person on how right we are? What do they learn? What have we learned? Like two crows in the morning silence, have we really communicated or simply made noises too familiar to lead to any kind of pursuant effort?

We must make an effort to turn our advocacy conversations into meaningful exchanges, for if our conversations are perceived as little more than caw-caw- cawing into the silence, we will have a hard time making the kind of difference we want to make.

by Larry Harper

(Excerpted from "Vision Enhancement.")

In the spring of 1999, I wrote a review for the journal "Vision Enhancement" of a talking scanner called VERA (Very Easy Reading Appliance) sold by Arkenstone.

Happily, I can report that in the fall of 1999 a Medicare administrative law judge ordered my HMO to provide me a VERA as treatment for my blindness.

Most consumers with vision loss are aware that requesting Medicare coverage for an assistive technology (AT) device is a long-term project. Consequently, I want to share my success which marks the first time a vision- related AT device has been judged to be both durable medical equipment and a prosthetic device.

For those who may want to pursue a similar effort, a calendar of events for my Medicare appeal is detailed below. However, it is important for everyone to understand that I am sure I would not have won my appeal without the free legal representation provided to me by the Oregon Advocacy Center.

To read the full text of my Medicare appeal victory, go to Calendar of Events

11/24/1998: Submitted request letter and VERA brochure to my Kaiser Permanente physician.

11/24/1998: Physician forwarded my VERA request to the Kaiser Durable Medical Equipment (DME) Department.

11/27/1998: Kaiser DME Department denied my request.

12/2/1998: Submitted appeal to Kaiser DME Denial Department.

1/21/1999: Kaiser Member Relations Department denied my appeal and forwarded my appeal to the Medicare Center for Health Dispute Resolution (CHDR).

2/9/1999: CHDR denied my appeal.

3/9/1999: Submitted request for Medicare administrative law judge (ALJ) appeal hearing.

4/2/1999: Received CHDR notification that ALJ appeal hearing was to be scheduled.

4/20/1999: Submitted request for legal representation to Oregon Advocacy Center.

5/5/1999: Received phone notification from Oregon Advocacy Center that they would accept my case.

8/31/1999: Medicare ALJ appeal hearing (Harper vs. Kaiser).

9/30/1999: Fully favorable decision issued on appeal hearing (Harper vs. Kaiser).

11/2/1999: CHDR sent compliance period notification to Kaiser Permanente.

12/29/1999: Received phone notification from Kaiser DME Department that VERA would be ordered.

1/2/2000: CHDR compliance period ended.

1/11/2000: VERA purchase order from Kaiser received by Arkenstone.

1/28/2000: VERA delivered to Larry Harper by United Parcel Service.

Late 2000: Follow-up article about installation and use of VERA.

For referral to your region's agency which provides free legal services for disabled consumers, contact the National Association of Protection and Advocacy Systems, Inc., 900 Second St. NE, Suite 211, Washington, DC 20002; phone (202) 408-9514; fax (202) 408-9520;

by Oral O. Miller

(Reprinted with permission from "Dialogue," Winter 2000.)

The Romans named an existing village, Vindobona, when they built a fortress there while expanding their empire northeastward and down the Danube River. Over the centuries, the town grew larger and became a center of government. In the 13th century, the famous Stephansdom (St. Stephens Cathedral) was erected where its 450-foot-high steeple and massive Stephansplatz (plaza) served as the center of the city, which was still protected by a ring of fortification.

In 1533 the Hapsburg royal family built the Hofburg Palace, which served as its seat of government and one of the most influential political centers in that part of the world for the next 375 years. It was in the Hofburg Palace that the Napoleonic Europe ended when Prince Metternich presided over the Congress that implemented the surrender and final banishment of Napoleon.

Near this city is an area referred to as the Wienerwald, a once heavily forested area which served as the royal hunting grounds. It became famous approximately 200 years ago after the composition of a waltz by a famous and talented resident of the city. It was through this city in the 1680s that the taste for drinking coffee was introduced to the western world when an invading army from the Turkish Ottoman Empire was repulsed. During its retreat, it left behind a supply of dark brown beans from which they had been making a delicious, hot, stimulating beverage. Approximately 100 years later during the last-attempted invasion by the Turkish Ottoman Empire, it was the sound of the Turkish Army bugles outside the walls of the city that inspired one of its residents, a composer who spent the last 10 and most productive years of his life there, to write his famous "Turkish March." You know by now that I am referring to Vienna, Austria, and Vienna Woods and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Not until the beginning of 1999 did I have an opportunity to enjoy and savor the beauty, history and culture of this world-famous city.

When I retired from my position as executive director of the American Council of the Blind, my wife and I were presented with a trip to Vienna and Salzburg, Austria, in appreciation for our service to the members of the organization. As we made our plans to visit Vienna and Salzburg during the New Year's concert season, our friends, Dr. and Mrs. Otis Stephens of Knoxville, Tenn., agreed to join us; we had enjoyed traveling together previously and we knew, for example, that Dr. Stephens is perhaps as much a history buff as I am.

Exciting thoughts of the things we would see, do and consume made the approximately 10-hour flight from Washington, D.C. to Vienna rush by. Within a few hours after our arrival and settlement in a small, traditional Viennese hotel, we were reconnoitering the neighborhood, which was located in the academic quarter near the university. One of our first lucky finds was a nearby traditional Viennese restaurant. During the next week, we enjoyed countless delicious meals featuring such delights as Wiener schnitzel (breaded veal) and irresistible pastries called apfelstrudel and sacher tortes, along with that wonderful Viennese coffee.

Much of the exploring of the inner city of Vienna on comfortably cold days we did on foot, so we could stop to ask questions, read signs and savor the moment. For example, soon after visiting the cathedral while strolling down a narrow, cobblestone street, we unexpectedly saw Figarohaus, in which Mozart's apartment had been located and which now houses the Mozart Museum. Three steep flights of outdoor steps later, we basked in beautiful Mozart music conveyed to us over the best-sounding wireless headphones I have ever heard.

Another time we took a riding tour of the ancient inner city in a horse- drawn carriage of the type that had been crisscrossing Vienna for 300 years. Another time we visited a museum featuring the development of clocks and other time-keeping devices.

One day was devoted to a tour to the Vienna Woods where we visited, among other things, a former gypsum mine that had been converted by the Germans during World War II to the bomb-proof factory in which the jet airplane was invented and first produced. The narrow, steep tunnel which led several hundred yards down into the mine, which was under a mountain, was scarcely five feet high in some places before going down 84 steps to what had been the large open area housing the factory. The naturally occurring water which had always accumulated in the open area that had been pumped out during its use as a factory had been allowed to return to form a completely underground lake. Visitors are given lecture tours on electric-powered boats equipped with lights for seeing the walls, ceiling and other features.

Another tour took us to the magnificent Schonbrunn Palace, the residential palace of the Hapsburg Dynasty which contained 1,500 rooms staffed by more than 1,000 servants.

Because the New Year's Day concert by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra was booked several years in advance, we did not have the opportunity to hear it in person. We did attend a concert in Salzburg a few days later.

A day-long visit to Budapest, Hungary, a three-hour bus ride, down the Danube River, revealed the difficulties that famous city had experienced over almost 60 years combined of Nazi occupation and Russian Communist domination. Our English-speaking guide for the day, a sprightly, 78-year-old widowed government retiree, emphasized the economic necessity for her to work as a guide because of the meager retirement pension she was receiving.

The fact that the Vienna School for the Blind was closed for Christmas and New Year's holidays did not prevent my long-time friend, Dr. Franz Haslinger, director of the school, from showing us that beautiful, stately institution, which combined both antique beauty with modern convenience. One feature which caught everyone's attention was the school's museum, which housed many pre-braille writing devices, tactile maps, braille writing instruments and an authentic Rembrandt painting relating to blindness. We were inspired when we learned that while the school was closed and being used for other purposes by the Germans during World War II, the teachers and staff had, at great personal risk, hidden many of the valuable exhibits and displays at many places throughout the countryside.

The Viennese people to whom we spoke urged us to celebrate the coming of the New Year by observing the fireworks at the Stephansplatz. Traffic for several blocks around the plaza was blocked off to vehicular traffic so the refreshing walk gave us a taste of what was coming cheering, noisemakers of every type and firecrackers. Yes, firecrackers thrown almost helter-skelter on the ground and in the air by teenagers and other celebrants. As we neared the Stephansplatz, Dr. Stephens and I compared the noise to what Gettysburg must have sounded like during the Civil War battle there. We pushed our way through the masses congregated on the plaza until we decided that the noise was too deafening and there was an uncomfortable risk of being hit by fragments and heat from the omnipresent firecrackers and "cherry bombs," so we forced our way out of the plaza down a street to the protection and relative quiet of a caf�. Yes, all of the fireworks were provided by the celebrants, not fired by professionals, and, indeed, we did feel fine fragments from, see flashes from, feel the heat from, and smelled the burning powder from countless firecrackers before getting to the caf�.

The three-hour train ride to Salzburg through the beautiful Tyrolean Alps brought back memories of visits I had made to Innsbruck in the 1980s as the leader of the U.S. Disabled Ski Team. A true highlight of the visit to Salzburg, the birthplace of Mozart, was an evening concert described as "Eine Kleine Nacht Musik" played on authentic, old instruments of that region. One instrument, the hackbrett, was an instrument whose strings were struck by small hammers to generate a sound somewhere between that of a hammered dulcimer of Appalachian America and a Hungarian cymbalo or cymbalum.

Another of the featured instruments was a large, accordion-like instrument, which I believe was referred to as a harmonium a term which in the USA usually refers to an old-fashioned parlor organ. Many Mozart pieces were played and the name of Mozart appears in countless places in the Salzburg area, whose natural beauty and Alpine culture have been captured in many famous movies, such as "The Sound of Music."

Our collective interest in history could not be satisfied without visiting nearby Berchtesgaden, Germany, and the Nazi government facilities that had been relocated to that area for purposes of security and to be near the famous "Adler Horst" or "Eagle's Nest" mountaintop home of Adolph Hitler. Near the end of World War II the Allies finally located the hidden offices and other facilities and damaged them very severely with bombs. The "Eagle's Nest" residence itself was essentially embedded in the side of the mountain and could be reached only by an elevator traveling through a shaft in the rock or by an exceptionally steep, narrow and dangerous road. The Nazi government facilities that were not destroyed by British bombers have been removed by the German government, which keeps the steep, narrow road closed most of the year for safety reasons.

We have not yet made plans to revisit Vienna or Salzburg, but we would obviously enjoy every minute of another visit because we barely scratched the surface in seeing and doing things of interest and enjoyment.

by Janiece Petersen

In late 1998, I was fortunate to be able to travel with a People-to- People International expedition to South Africa, and Victoria Falls in the country of Zimbabwe. When I received an invitation to participate in the two- week excursion which planned to tour various facilities for people who are blind in these African countries, I jumped at the chance -- and then stepped back! Looking at the financial investment (even though it would be tax- deductible) certainly gave me pause! Then came the opportunity to apply to ACB for a grant set aside for someone who would be a responsible delegate. I wrote my letter, explaining that I am a teacher of children who are visually impaired, a lover of knowledge and adventure, and a member of ACB. I sent my first installment to hold my reservation, held my breath, and waited! I held onto my hopes and planned well in advance, but the good news still came as a wonderful surprise: It was a time to celebrate, read up, and explore resources. Art: A Window to Cultural Understanding

Many facets of the journey are interesting stories for future telling. One of my personal high points was what I discovered about art. Each culture has its unique forms, manners and materials even colors. Art awakens us to how many ways there are to express that which is most beautiful and personal in our surroundings and lives.

In an essay on art, Maya Angelou says, "I believe that art encourages us to stand erect and stretch upward toward the higher ground. ... Without the presence and energy of art in our lives, we are capable of engaging in heartless activities without remorse and cruelties with a clear conscience."

In many schools and facilities that we visited, the bulletin boards and displays overflowed with flowers and art created by the children. Except for the most impoverished schools, each campus had a garden which provided opportunities to explore, and generate art from models in nature. South Africa's vivid colors, especially oranges and purples, were everywhere in abundance.

There were many crafts in the schools and training facilities, including basketry, wood working, weaving with yarn, knitting and chair caning. Although I considered these creations to be crafts rather than examples of fine art, since they were basically repetitive, and the students were not asked to be original, still, they were reflections of cultural energy and values. Several facilities had actual sales room outlets for these items and made significant money in local markets. Mask-making not included in the curriculum

The making of masks as well as wood and stone sculpture figure prominently in African art. Therefore, it was a surprise to discover that these art forms were not taught in the facilities that we visited. I was able to examine everything from simple soapstone sculpture and wood carvings to elaborate stone creations in the marketplaces of South Africa and Zimbabwe. These intrigued me so much that a few small treasures did find their way into my luggage. Ah -- The Music!

Although the music in many of the South African restaurants and hotels was all too standard and commercial, the music I discovered in Zimbabwe took my breath away! In Victoria Falls, we were serenaded on two consecutive nights by mixed a capella groups, and we even got to contribute our voices to "Wimoweh." But it was in the schools where the music had many stories to tell.

The first school on our itinerary was called Prinzof, and was for younger children. There, we were treated to a performance by the junior choir, made up of children ranging from eight to 12. One youth with a young professional voice like Stevie Wonder's sang his solo and then put his arm around a younger singer who shared the melody on the next chorus. This group sang in Zulu, Afrikaans and English. The "Train Song," not in a language we knew, was fun because we could tell, without being told, that it was about a train. When the children sang "Wimoweh," they also danced, some barefoot, some with shoes. As one shoe came in contact with a bare toe, the second dancer adjusted to avoid more pain, and another youngster or two joined in with drums. The children's enjoyment and enthusiasm radiated from their entire beings faces, voices, and movements. They were truly at home with their art.

The next day, we were in a rural school called Sibonile. Although the school was already bursting at the seams with visually impaired children, sighted students from a nearby school which had been condemned had been assigned to the auditorium/cafeteria. With the sun-heated asphalt of the playground as their performance space, they sang to an audience standing on a porch. I held my microphone as far out over the railing as my arm would extend. My recording caught their three-part harmonies some less than traditional and rhythms that still elude my American counting, although the group was completely in sync. They sang in Zulu and Xhosa. The chorus combined the gentle voices of young children and the more mature voices of a few older students whose education had started later than six to seven, when they were able to take advantage of an opportunity for learning at Sibonile School. These singers conveyed an earnest quality and tightly knit teamwork in the overlapping call-and-response style. Not as playful in mood, this music conveyed the strong emotions of the singers, their pride in their school, and the power that their combined voices generated.

In a third school called Pioneer, the senior choir had made a CD, which each of us received as a gift. Sadly, I must tell you that, since our return, the music director has moved on and will not be replaced because of funding priorities. Now no choir exists, and our CD captures an artistic expression that does not still exist at the school.

We met an eighth grader at this school whose name was Jeanise (spelled a bit differently from my name, but pronounced the same way); she told me that what she liked most was playing the piano and singing. She and another young girl sang a duet for us which they planned to perform later in recital. The brief a capella song was a true blend and involved poise, musicianship and a charming pride in their talent. We could hear the sounds of piano instruction, as the notes of a lesson in progress wafted through open windows during our walk through the flower-planted campus.

In the final school we visited, we heard the preschoolers from an adjoining room. There was the child who kept the rhythm after the music had stopped and another singing to herself as we came in. In the music teacher's studio were three children. The chief drummer's multiple disabilities were evidenced by his gait, his desk work, food handling, and other daily living skills. But when he played the drums, he was completely natural and very able. Another smaller boy insisted on manipulating the bass drum pedals with his hands, while a third youngster played full-blown two-handed chords on a synthesizer not programmed chords, but accurate harmonies from four to eight voices at a time. And they all sang -- I'm not sure what else, but I know they did go into "Wimoweh."

Later, another staff person led a group playing steel drums, while the music teacher led a group of drums and brass players in the courtyard. Oh yes, the kindergartners have a special teacher who engages them in precise, rhythmic body movements, as well as free-form personal expression. Along the way, while some children were on tea break, we saw a piano, and I played a little of a children's song I had written. The children's faces showed their wonder at who was playing, and then they just started clapping and moving to the beat. I must also mention that this is the only school that has Cakewalk or any other music program on a computer; but they need a speech program to make it accessible to their students.

Some of you are probably deducing the same concepts that I re-discovered during my travels in South Africa and Zimbabwe -- about the timeless and indisputable importance of art and music, and how all our lives are made the richer when they are encouraged. In the schools we visited, the children took their education seriously, but their participation in music and other arts brought special rewards and a sense of accomplishment to many. Science can verify some affinities between the development of a "musical ear" and loss of vision, but one only needs to be present to view the art and hear the music, to recognize a special kind of fulfillment for people who are visually impaired which is transmitted through the arts, and which knows no cultural boundaries.


Dear "Forum" Readers,

Thank you all so much for your patience in struggling to read your super- jinxed May issue.

Everything that could go wrong did go wrong, with a few extra problems thrown in; not the least of which was our press operator, Neal Tomokiyo, having a heart attack, followed by quadruple bypass surgery, with his new back-up pressman having been on the job for only one week.

The good news is that Neal is recovered and back at work. We are looking forward to our production running smoothly again at the high quality to which we are all accustomed.

Dale Gasteiger, Director, Braille Institute Press, Los Angeles, Calif.


The editorial staff reserves the right to edit letters for content, style and space available. Opinions expressed are those of the authors, not those of the American Council of the Blind, its staff or elected officials. "The Braille Forum" cannot be responsible for the opinions expressed herein. We will not print letters unless you sign your name and give us your address. Regarding "SDAB Leads the Way ..."

I read with a great deal of interest the article in "The Braille Forum" concerning "SDAB Leads the Way in Preserving Separate State Agency for the Blind in South Dakota."

My late husband, Howard H. Hanson, was the director of the department for 25 years. Under his leadership, South Dakota was in the top 10 of rehabilitation and job placement of blind people per 100,000 population in the United States. Hanson was very concerned about keeping that department separate from other rehabilitation agencies. His reasoning was that it is easier to rehabilitate other people than blind people. Rehabilitation agencies work on numbers. Counselors in rehabilitation agencies are asked to produce. The more people going into work situations, the better the statistics. It is more difficult to rehabilitate and place those with blindness than others with different disabilities.

Let us be honest; most people have not had occasion or opportunity to be acquainted with someone who is blind. When someone meets a blind person, they frequently do not quite know how to act. Howard and I saw it many times.

-- Phyllis Hanson Tolstedt, Little Rock, Ark.

Regarding the NFB

As a reader of "The Braille Forum" for over 30 years, it is distressing to note that NFB's hostile antics continue to irritate.

The May 2000 issue of your fine publication includes the following summary of President Paul Edwards' report during the midyear board meeting: "Edwards began by describing his concern about chronic fragmentation within the blindness community, and the continued inability of that community and its leaders to deal effectively with certain predictable and obstructive actions by the National Federation of the Blind. 'When the NFB repeatedly makes consensus development impossible to achieve, at some point, leaders in our community will have to convey to them ... that such continuing conduct is simply inappropriate and is injuring the best interest of all blind people,' Edwards said."

The damage NFB inflicts covers the entire blindness landscape, including public policy formation, the health of specialized agencies and schools, the commitment of professional workers, and public perceptions and attitudes. It leaves the field poorly equipped to face the challenges of the day.

Almost 20 years ago, after the NFB had conducted a relentless campaign to "control or destroy" the National Accreditation Council for Agencies Serving the Blind and Visually Handicapped (NAC), many leaders in the field declared that the opposition of NFB's national leadership to standards and accreditation was injurious to the best interests of blind and visually impaired people nationwide.

The stage was finally set to isolate NFB's leadership, to condemn its unethical fundraising practices and its undemocratic governance, and to expose it to public scrutiny and contempt. But then, as now, it proved impossible to overcome the chronic fragmentation among the responsible leadership elements. Several well-intentioned leaders opted for appeasement rather than confrontation, futilely attempting to negotiate with the NFB leadership. As a result, the coalition dissolved and NAC was left exposed and vulnerable.

At the end of the last century, the western coalition finally succeeded in "winning" the Cold War against godless communism. Is it too much to hope that the battle against the destructive NFB leadership can be won in this new century?

-- Richard W. Bleecker, Jersey City, N.J.

Regarding All-Caps

I am writing in reference to "A Case for All-Caps" (February 2000). I am legally blind due to macular degeneration. It is my opinion that material printed in all-caps is not easier to read.

While it seems rather obviously true that a person with low vision can see capital letters more easily than lower-case letters of the same point size, when words are formed of ALL-CAPS, they are not easier to read. ALL- CAPS format destroys the "shapes" of words, shapes that have become so familiar over an entire lifetime of reading. Also, ALL-CAPS is more difficult to see and read simply because 99 percent of what we normally read is not printed in that format.

Both size and shape are important factors when we consider single letters as opposed to words formed of several letters. For example, it seems to me that, if all sizes of characters remain fixed, the Snellen eye test chart would become more difficult to read if all of the single letters were replaced by words. I believe I recognize "E" more easily than a word, like "EYES."

As a final thought, I recently received a letter written in ALL-CAPS, and found it rather difficult to read on my CCTV. Also, if my memory serves me right, "Hoosier Highlights," the quarterly newsletter of the Special Service Division of the Indiana State Library, used ALL-CAPS for a while, then returned to standard print.

Thank you for the opportunity to express my opinion.

-- Verne R. Sanford, Valparaiso, Ind.

You smartly asked in the February issue what other low-vision readers thought about Larry Harper's "Case for All-Caps."

At your prompting I have now queried other partially sighted print readers, and every one of them agrees with me that a mix of upper- and lower- case characters is more legible than the all-caps approach espoused by Harper. Published research confirms our judgment too, and the finding is easily demonstrated. Examples are instructive. Just envision two place names with the same number of letters and the same size both in height and length. When displayed in all-caps, their shapes are virtually identical too. Alas, when presented in mixed case, their shapes are distinctively different. The place names are Hummingbird Lane and Hensonscove Road. A low-vision reader might need to distinguish between these two names with a magnifying glass pressed against a bus timetable, squinting up at a rail station's train board, or aiming a handheld telescope at a street sign. After the initial capital "H", the subsequent silhouette becomes significantly different thanks to the configuring positions of particular lower-case characters which "act up" like the "b" and "d" or dangle down like the "g." Comparison of two-letter prepositions which occur frequently in text yields additional evidence. "By," "at" and "in" have distinctively different shapes only in lower case. In all-caps they present very similar geometry. Further, I trust Mr. Harper will acknowledge, "by" gets taller in lower case than in caps.

-- Ken Stewart, Warwick, N.Y.

For all my anti-uppercase fans,

Did you all know that when you finger-spell in the palm of a deaf-blind person's hand, you should always use all-caps?

-- Larry Harper, Milwaukie, Ore.


(Editor's Note: On June 5, we received the following letter from long- time contributor Elizabeth Lennon. We join our many readers in wishing Ms. Lennon well, and in expressing our gratitude for her many years of dedicated service to ACB and to "The Braille Forum.") Dear Ms. Reeder:

After these many years of writing the "Here and There" column for "The Braille Forum," I have decided that it is time for me to retire from that responsibility. Now that I am retired, I spend more time out of town and so often it is a real chore to find the time to get the column done. Also, after these many years (I began during Mary Ballard's editorship), I am somewhat burned out.

I would like to terminate my submission of the column as soon as possible, but no later than August 1. I have enjoyed doing this and have appreciated all the positive comments from so many people, but there is a time to change and I feel this is it.

Sincerely yours,
Elizabeth M. Lennon
1400 N. Drake Rd. #218
Kalamazoo, MI 49006

by Elizabeth M. Lennon

The announcement of new products and services in this column should not be considered an endorsement of those products and services 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 responsible for the reliability of products or services mentioned.

Please note that this is Elizabeth Lennon's last "Here and There" column. For more information, see the article "'Here and There' Writer Retires Her Pen" elsewhere in this issue.

People who go to federal court to appeal a denial of Social Security disability benefits may raise issues they did not pursue during earlier appeals, according to a recent ruling from the Supreme Court. This ruling reverses a federal appeals court decision that said courts could not hear some of the arguments raised in an appeal by Juatassa Sims of Mississippi. In her appeal to the Supreme Court, she had argued that requiring people to raise all issues during an administrative appeal conflicted with the nature of such proceedings, where many people are not represented by lawyers; the Supreme Court agreed. For more information on this case, visit and click on Fifth Circuit.

HumanWare gave visitors at the CSUN Assistive Technology Conference a preview of its newest device: BrailleNote. This is a notetaker for the blind with an operating system built on Windows CE that will allow blind users to send and receive e-mail attachments that can be opened in Microsoft Word then converted into text, digital voice or braille. It is a little bigger than a palmtop computer and has a specially designed keyboard along the sides and at the bottom. The first three keys on each side contain the braille alphabet; other keys direct where the dots should be placed, or act as cursors. BrailleNote has an 18- or 32-cell braille display screen along the bottom of the unit that allows the user to read any material entered into it, including e-mail attachments. It also has an internal modem as well as infrared, serial and parallel ports. For more information, call HumanWare at (800) 722-3393, visit or send e-mail to [email protected].

All blind and legally blind people living in and around Lowell, Mass., are invited to join the LAB Retrievers, New England's only organized beep baseball team. Beep baseball is an adapted form of baseball. It is played using a beeping ball and audible bases. Practices began May 3 at Ryan Field in Lowell, and will be held Wednesdays at 7 p.m. and Sundays at 8 p.m. May through September 2000. Contact the Lowell Association for the Blind at (978) 454-5704 or Dana Bernor at (978) 251-1142.

Braille International of Stuart, Fla., needs a braille proofreader. This is a full-time position with full benefits. Relocation costs are negotiable. You must be a fluent braille reader; NLS certification is desirable, but training on the job is available. Salary depends on your experience and qualifications, but the minimum starting salary (uncertified) is $7.50 an hour. Send your resume and cover letter to Braille International Inc., 3290 SE Slater St., Stuart, FL 34997; phone (800) 336-3142 or fax (561) 286-8909.

VISION Community Services, a division of the Massachusetts Association for the Blind, recently published the 17th edition of its popular resource list. More than 100 items, many of which are free of charge, are listed. Many items are available in a variety of formats including print, large print, braille and cassette. Categories include eye diseases and conditions, consumer organizations, electronic reading and computer aids, financial resources, Massachusetts agencies/services, recreation resources, resources for parents and children, and a wide variety of general brochures. The VCS Resource List is available free in large print, cassette, or disk, in single copies, upon request. Order it from: VISION Community Services, 23A Elm St., Watertown, MA 02472, or phone (617) 923-2790 and leave a message including your name, address and format preference.

The Alumni Association of the Western Pennsylvania School for Blind Children will hold its biennial convention the weekend of August 4-6 on the school campus. The cost for the entire weekend, including dues, is $56. If you only want to attend the banquet, it costs $26. Come join us! The registration deadline is July 15. To learn more, or make your reservations, contact Louise Flannigan at 1348 Beverly Rd., Port Vue, PA 15133, or call her at (412) 672-7405.

The National Museum of American History,, opened an exhibit entitled "The Disability Rights Movement" on July 6. This exhibit examines the history of grass roots activism by people with disabilities, their friends and families to secure the civil rights guaranteed to all Americans. It consists of four showcases, and aims for maximum accessibility. Web-based kiosks will provide visitors with alternative formats to experience the exhibits. These kiosks are prototypes for versions that will eventually be available to museums and other cultural institutions. For more information, call (202) 357-2700 (voice) or (202) 357-1729 (TDD).

The Jordy Low Vision System is a multipurpose aid that may be worn to watch TV or a movie, view a church service or wedding, or monitor grandchildren playing. It has a 44-degree field of view, weighs less than 10 ounces, is full color with auto focus magnification, a range of magnification from 1 to 24 times, magnified TV viewing, battery or electric operation, and is portable. It can also be used as a CCTV with a stand. For more information about the system, e- mail [email protected], visit the web site,, or call (765) 348-2020.

The Library of Congress is celebrating its bicentennial this year. To celebrate, the U.S. Mint is issuing two commemorative coins, including the nation's first bimetallic commemorative (made of gold and platinum). The $1 silver coin features the Torch of Learning and an open book on the front, and the dome of the Jefferson building on the back. The front of the $10 bimetallic coin features Roman goddess of wisdom Minerva's hand on the Torch of Learning with the Jefferson building dome in the background; the back features the library's seal. The silver coin costs $32; the bimetallic coin, $425. A percentage of the revenues from the coins will be returned to the library for educational outreach efforts and other activities. To purchase the coins, call toll-free (800) 872- 6468, or visit To view images of the coins and find information about other bicentennial activities, visit

It's that time of year again! HANDI-HAMS Minnesota Radio Workshop will be held at Camp Courage North, deep in the pines of northern Minnesota's beautiful lake country. Come for a week of ham radio fun and upgrade your license with one of our classes. Camp dates are Monday, August 28 through Monday, September 4. Classes are: beginner, code, general, extra, operating skills, and beginning blind computing with JAWS for Windows. All food, lodging and normal care for the week will be provided, as well as transportation from the Bemidji Airport (if necessary). Camp fees are $195 for the week. And this year, you can bring a new camper for no extra charge. The new camper must join HANDI-HAMS and be otherwise qualified to attend camp. For more information, or an application, contact HANDI-HAMS at (763) 520-0515, or e-mail [email protected]. You may also visit the web site, Applications must be filled out and returned immediately; transportation and medical forms must be filled out and returned by July 28. Return all forms to Courage Handi-Ham Headquarters, 3915 Golden Valley Rd., Golden Valley, MN 55422.

The University of Arkansas-Little Rock Department of Counseling, Adult and Rehabilitation Education has a limited number of graduate student stipends that pay full tuition and a monthly living allowance starting this fall for students interested in master's degrees in orientation and mobility and/or rehabilitation teaching for blind and visually impaired people. The 42-hour master's degree program can be completed on a full-time basis in 13-14 months and does not require GRE scores for entrance, nor theses or comprehensive examinations for exit. While they are teaching degrees, they do not require students to have teaching backgrounds as a means of eligibility. If you're interested, call Dr. Bill Jacobson at (501) 569-8505 or e-mail him at [email protected], or call Dr. Patricia Smith at (501) 569-3169 or e-mail her at [email protected].

George Salpietro, senior vice president of Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation, has been named the foundation's executive director by Charles H. Kaman, chairman of the board. This promotion makes Salpietro the first guide dog user to be an executive director of a guide dog organization in the United States. In this position, he will oversee all programs, administration, development and marketing departments, and have full responsibility for the management and coordination of the organization's operations, finances, staff and their activities.

Have you ever said to yourself or to a friend that you wish there were a cheap screen magnifier? Yes, there is! ZoomPower for Windows 95/98 is a $25 shareware magnifier. With help from the Screen Magnifiers Homepage, Dave Eisler redesigned the magnifier utility that comes with ZoomTools to create a new utility to help visually impaired people. ZoomPower provides a large magnified view; almost the entire screen can be magnified, as well as the mouse cursor itself. To move the view, move the mouse or use your keyboard. If you need greater contrast, ZoomPower is compatible with Microsoft's Alternative Mouse pointers. To download a free 30-day trial version, visit

The Robert Wood Johnson Community Health Leadership Program is looking for outstanding individuals. Each year, the program honors 10 people for their work in creating or enhancing health care programs serving communities whose needs have been ignored and unmet. Each leader receives $100,000, which includes a $5,000 personal stipend and $95,000 for program enhancement over a three-year period. CHLP seeks out individuals who have the leadership skills to overcome complex obstacles and find creative ways to bring health care services to their communities, who have between five and 15 years of community health work experience. Do you know someone who would qualify for such an award? Write to the Community Health Leadership Program, 30 Winter St., Suite 920, Boston, MA 02108 and ask for a brochure and a letter of intent form. You may also phone (617) 426-9772, or visit the web site,

Have you ever wished you could pick up your phone and dial an audio magazine? You can now! The USA Connection for the Blind has news, helpful information, interviews, book reviews, described movie reviews, hiking and biking, guide dogs, inspiration and religion, your poems and short stories, and recorded voices of other blind individuals from across the United States. All you need to call the Connection is an ordinary touch-tone phone. Dial (918) 627- 8867 and listen. Or you may dial, listen and leave your comments and suggestions. You may send your comments or submissions via e-mail, [email protected], or via fax, (918) 627-8867. There are no printed or brailled versions of this audio magazine available.

The Foundation for Blind Children has started publishing research and practice materials written by staff members on various topics. To date, the following titles have appeared: "Independent Life Skills Trays" by Denise Bishop; "Emergent Literacy for Young Blind Children" by Suzi Newbold; "COBRA: Braille Access to Computers with a Print Compatible Code" by Imke and Inge Durre; and "A New Approach to the Transition Process" by Jennifer Montoya. All books are available for $10 each from FBC Publications, Foundation for Blind Children, 1235 E. Harmont Dr., Phoenix, AZ 85020; phone (602) 331-1470, or e-mail idurre@the-

The newest version of the World Series Baseball Game and Information System is now available. It comes with 269 teams, including all the pennant winners, all-star teams, Japanese and Negro league teams, a history of baseball, information on who's in the Hall of Fame, all baseball records, and a 1,000- question quiz. You can play this game on an IBM-compatible computer with a screen reader and speech synthesizer. It costs $15 for new users, $5 for the annual update. Send your check to Harry Hollingsworth, 692 S. Sheraton Dr., Akron, OH 44319, or phone (330) 644-2421, or e-mail [email protected].

Kingdom Tapes & Electronics has many tapes available, including "How to Deal with the Loss of a Loved One/How to Help Someone Who Is Grieving" ($6.97 plus $1.97 shipping); "The Gospel of John" ($7.97 plus $1.97 shipping); "Parables for Children" ($12.95 plus $1.97 shipping); "Become the Leader God Wants You to Be!" ($6.97 plus $1.97 shipping); "Learn How to Give Away a Cassette & Change Someone's Life" ($6.97 plus $1.97 shipping); and the New Testament of the Bible on cassette ($47 plus $3.50 shipping). To order, call toll-free (800) 788-1122.

There is a new international audio poetry web site available, It is the creation of Charlie Rossiter, an Oak Park, Ill. poet, and Bill DuPree, webmaster. It has links to poetry sites in Australia, Canada, Ireland and the United Kingdom. Poets on the page include Eddie Two Rivers, Jayne Fenton Keane of Australia, Jimmy Santiago Baca of New Mexico, and Maria Mazziotti Gillan, director of Passaic County Community College's Poetry Center. A technical support page on the site provides directions for acquiring the necessary software, free for the downloading. Those with Windows 98 or 2000 are ready to go.

Multimedia clips are becoming more and more popular on Web sites and CD- ROMs, but most are not accessible to blind, visually impaired, deaf or hard-of- hearing users. But there is a solution out there, thanks to the work of the National Center for Accessible Media. It's called the Media Access Generator (MAGpie), and it is a software application that allows web authors to add captions to three commonly used multimedia formats: Apple's QuickTime, the World Wide Web Consortium's Synchronized Multimedia Integration Language and Microsoft's Synchronized Accessible Media Interchange. MAGpie can also integrate audio descriptions into SMIL presentations. For more complete details on downloading MAGpie, visit NCAM's web site,

Alchemy Music's web site has moved to Pop by and visit! Its owner now goes by the stage name of Juliet Nightingale.

Full Life Products now has Voice Mate available. Voice Mate is the third generation of Parrot's organizer, which recognizes your voice and speaks information back to you. It uses digital data storage to provide a talking organizer with a wide range of features; phone book; voice note pad; appointment book; talking alarm clock and calculator, and much more. For more information, call (800) 400-1540 or visit

TASH and Music from the Heart recently released a new CD, "See How Far We've Come." It is a retrospective on the last 25 years of progress in the disability rights movement. This CD is a collection of spoken word and musical selections, and includes the words of Justin Dart as well as the songs and poetry of Jeff Moyer. CDs and cassettes are available through TASH; call (410) 828-8274 extension 108, or e-mail Jaime Cherry at [email protected].

Jack Gordon of California has devised a method of learning braille called Cell Mates. The braille cell is divided into sound patterns and musical syllables. This makes it possible to study the braille code by correspondence, tape and a Macintosh computer with speech capabilities. This method is compiled in a 10-page booklet with 257 items in all. For more information, contact Jack Gordon, 6 Via Espiritu, Rancho Santa Margarita, CA 92688; phone (949) 459-2972; or e-mail [email protected].

Want a chance to feed the hungry? Visit and select the "donate free food" button. Somewhere in the world a hungry person gets a meal to eat at no cost to you. The food is paid for by corporate sponsors. You're only allowed one click per day.

Simon Margolis, vice president of National Seating and Mobility, was recently elected president of the Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America (RESNA). His term as president-elect begins in August 2000; he will take on the responsibility of president in August 2002.

WORD 2000
Now available from BRL, Inc. is a "Verbal View of Word 2000." The tutorial is available in large print, cassette tape, braille, on disk, via e-mail and in standard print. The cassette tape or standard print version costs $75; large print or braille, $85; on disk or via e-mail, $45. Call toll-free (877) 993- 4994. Purchase orders are accepted from businesses and agencies.

The National Eye Health Education Program, sponsored by the National Eye Institute, has a new booklet available titled "What You Should Know about Low Vision." It includes general information about some of the causes of low vision, easy to understand definitions, places to get more information, what to do about low vision, and questions to ask eye care professionals and low vision specialists. To receive a copy, contact the National Eye Institute, 2020 Vision Place, Bethesda, MD 20892-3655; phone (301) 496-5428; e-mail [email protected] or visit the web site,

The Cebu State College of Science and Technology needs your help. Its Special Education Center needs braille and large print reading and writing materials, braillers, slates and styli, talking books and players, and other such materials for the visually impaired. If you have anything you can give, send it to: Cebu State College of Science and Technology, Special Education Center, R. Palma St., Cebu City, Philippines 6000.

The Statler Center for Careers in Hospitality Service provides blind, visually impaired or physically disabled people with training in the field of hospitality service. Instruction includes hotel front desk procedures, reservation services, night auditor operations and hospitality marketing. Computer training is offered using state of the art equipment and industry- specific software. The center offers three 13-week sessions a year, beginning in January, May and September. Classes run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Fridays are workshop days, when students receive personal guidance in a variety of job preparation topics such as resume writing, public speaking and dressing for success. There is no cost to participate in the program. You must have a high school diploma or GED to enter. For the 2000-2001 school year, applicants must reside in New York; for 2001-2002, applicants must be residents of the United States. For more information, call (716) 882-5690, or write to Renee DiFlavio, National Statler Center for Careers in Hospitality Service, 1160 Main St., Buffalo, N.Y. 14209.

"Everybody's Airline Directory" was recently launched on a UK web site, It lists the world's major airlines, with information on their arrangements for disabled passengers. Issues covered include carriage of wheelchairs or guide dogs, ability to provide oxygen, boarding procedures, seating arrangements and the ability to cater for special dietary requirements. It also advises on whether medical clearance is required and whether information on emergency procedures is available in different formats such as braille or large print. Also on the web page is "Everybody's Hotel Directory."

The Used Equipment Clearinghouse matches those selling aids for the blind with buyers. The Lite Letter is sent six times a year in braille and on disk for Braille Lite and Braille 'n Speak users. The National NOW Times is the tabloid published by the National Organization for Women available on cassette. Readers return tapes for the next issue. Contact Barbara Mattson at 519 E. Main St. #8, Spartanburg, SC 29302; phone (864) 585-7323.

A Review by Charles Lott

An updated version of the Online Bible, which was released recently, includes some nice features, most of which are covered in a "What's New" file. The file can be accessed from the application's Help menu. A notable improvement in this update is the inclusion of the original Luther translation in German. Earlier versions of the Bible had offered only a 1912 revision of the original. Several additional changes have been made to eliminate bugs that plagued previous versions.

Although there are still a few bugs remaining, these are either minor inconveniences or restricted to very specialized situations.

For example, one annoying problem that can crop up when installing version 8.10 from the Deluxe CD can occur for users who have unlock codes for locked versions. You will not be able to use these codes until you download the program module, version 8.10.04, from the Online Bible web site. Once you have installed this module, you will be able to apply your unlock codes.

One other problem associated with printing from Arabic translations is dealt with in the "What's New" file, which includes instructions for effective work- arounds.

One minor inconvenience for visually impaired users may be that the introductory screen is not affected by color choices under Options. Therefore, if you're using a black screen, you will need to highlight the entire screen in order to read the contents of this introductory screen. This does not seem to me to be a serious inconvenience, however, since most users will not want to read that particular screen more than once. Furthermore, if you use screen-reading software, the introductory screen can be read easily by both JFW and Window-Eyes.

Overall, this new version carries on the outstanding tradition which has made the Online Bible the best example of Bible software. Moreover, this is the only Bible application I have seen which offers such an abundance of Bible versions, in English and many other languages, along with study aids and tools for Christian education, and also provides automatic interface with JAWS for Windows and Window-Eyes.

I give the Online Bible, Version 8.10, five stars! It is available for $59.99 from


(Editor's Note: The summary of "News Notes" which appears below is included here for the benefit of those who do not currently have access to ACB-L, our Internet mailing list. You can also access "News Notes" as the column appears, or archives of past columns, at the ACB web site. If you would like to view these notes on a weekly basis, visit the ACB web page,

* For the week ending May 26, 2000

ACB comments on Section 508 proposed rules

Thanks to the early work of Debbie Cook from ACB on a committee to draft proposed standards or regulations for implementing Section 508 of the reauthorized Rehabilitation Act, we were able to submit the organizational commentary without suggesting a great many changes. Section 508 regulates the procurement of hardware and software utilized by federal employees with disabilities as well as the accessibility of federal systems and information to citizens with disabilities.

ACB anticipates that the new regulations, which are due out in a couple of months, will dramatically increase the accessibility of federal web sites as well as electronic information booths at malls.

ACB small business brochure ready for printing

Those attending the small business seminar this summer at the ACB convention will receive a small business brochure that is aimed at providing a review of what it takes to think through, begin, maintain and grow your very own small business. The information will contain hints and resources on how other blind folks have been successful and what it takes for you to get on the same track.

Online pre-registration launched

Many ACB members have experienced online pre-registration for the first time this year. Thanks to the fine work of ACB webmaster Earlene Hughes, the pre-registration process is up and running with expected bumps in the road, but looking like a winner for sure!

ACB posts pedestrian safety handbook

The second edition of our pedestrian safety handbook has been posted to the web site where folks can either read or download its contents. We have raised over a third of the money necessary to match a grant from The Seeing Eye, Inc. to go into braille, print, cassette, large print and disk production, which should commence shortly.

ACB to advertise for braille publication bids

National office discussions have led us to determine that it is probably time to re-advertise for braille production business interests to bid on print jobs that will be coming up. ACB anticipates posting the bid announcement to ACB-Announce later in the coming week. This is a way to provide blind-owned brailling companies with an opportunity to produce and for blind people to benefit from the work.

ACB studies ped safety local advocacy options

It is becoming increasingly clear that our efforts to secure a safer pedestrian environment are starting to take hold in many cities and towns. Some municipalities, however, are raising objections that run the gamut from costs to the perceived lack of standards. We simply cannot allow such excuses to become a pattern and we are studying options to see how we might assist affiliates and members to overcome these difficulties. While the ped safety handbook is the main force in this battle, we expect active involvement by the national organization to further the safety and success of our members.

National office phone system finally fixed!

We are pleased to report that our struggle with the people who made our phone system seems to be nearly at an end and the quality of the lines is now back to acceptable levels. We appreciate the patience of folks as we have had to deal with this problem.

Descriptive video and low power FM not forgotten

ACB has been monitoring the FCC issues of getting descriptive video rules and a radio reading service friendly low-power FM environment off the ground. While progress is slow in these areas, we believe our involvement in the process has been effective and we are hopeful for positive results in the not too distant future.

Kentucky 2000 just around the corner and we are ready!

The national office has been hard at work in putting together our pieces of the puzzle for the upcoming ACB convention. Congratulations to all staff for their hard work and dedication to making this year's convention the best ever! We also salute Jim and Bernell and all the folks at ACBES along with Diane for the exhibits and Earlene for the pre-registration. Special thanks to Terry Pacheco and Patricia from our affiliate affairs unit, who have taken the bull by the horns and carried out a fine job of putting things together.

Finally, a special thanks goes to LeRoy Saunders for his keeping all the pistons running and to Carla Ruschival and the Kentucky Council for tremendous work on behalf of all ACB conventioneers who can expect an excellent time ahead in Louisville.

* For the week ending June 2, 2000

Pedestrian safety gets hot

The national office has become involved with four separate pedestrian safety situations wherein blind folks are being denied accessible signals in three cases and celebrating getting them in a fourth. Congratulations are in order for the city mayor and council in Parma Heights, Ohio. Thanks to the ACB of Ohio's great advocacy, the city will be installing six accessible pedestrian signals at actuated intersections with the switch to be thrown this coming weekend. Good job ACBO and a true example that we can get it done with positive persistence and solid advocacy.

The struggle in the other cities has to do with traffic engineers' concerns about the lack of standards for accessible pedestrian signals. These engineers should be reminded that the Americans with Disabilities Act covers public entities under Title II, access is required beyond wheelchair ramps in new or renovated intersections and there are even good arguments to point to existing intersections as well. The engineers might also be reminded that the proposed standards already in the rule-making process at the Federal Highway Administration should be reviewed since they are not likely to undergo any major changes in their outcome. Moreover, engineers can be reminded that the Department of Justice guidelines do not exempt accessibility simply for the lack of standards, and finally there is a requirement in the Americans with Disabilities Act that individuals seeking access do have rights that cannot be overturned simply because others may not agree with their requests. The national office is working with these situations and we will continue to assist until the goal is accomplished.

In other pedestrian safety related news, we are pleased to report that we have raised $10,000 towards our required $14,000 to begin printing the handbook. We remain optimistic that we can initiate the printing contracts before the start of our convention in July.

Over 10,000 stations on your radio?

Yup, you heard right. ACB was pleased to attend the just finished International Association of Audio Information Services (IAAIS) conference in Washington, where we were treated to an amazing presentation on two Internet radio products.

The first, called the Kerbango radio, is not in production yet, but is a table model like your kitchen radio that will get AM, FM and Internet stations. It suffers from an inaccessible scrolling screen of stations for searching the Internet and ACB made it more than clear that we expect that this problem will be fixed for later production of the radio. We were pleased to see that the company representative was open to the idea and we fully expect to be working with the company to see if we can finally get a product accessible from the first radio off the production line! The unit will operate off a regular telephone line or through a broad band connector. We even suspect that as the technology becomes available for transmission of data through the magnetic field around electric wiring, you will simply plug the radio in and off you'll go to whatever listening you want!

You can visit the Kerbango web site at Note that ACB Radio is on their best station list!

The second device is called the Webcaster; it attaches to your computer and will broadcast a low FM signal around your house for your regular radios to pick up. This device works off an accessible remote control that is really pretty cool. It kind of sounds like you are on the starship Enterprise as the computer responds to your commands. While Webcaster is not yet able to pick up ACB-Radio because of file player issues, we expect that will be taken care of in the near future.

A really important note on the Webcaster is that it is a blind-owned company and we congratulate one of our own on such a great enterprise.

In other related news from the conference, the president of National Public Radio spoke and gave a very good and inclusive presentation for radio reading services. ACB looks forward to increased cooperation and product from NPR and the audio information community.

A couple of cats left in that convention bag!

Sorry guide dogs, we are only speaking figuratively here. ACB has a couple of surprises for members coming to our convention in Louisville. These are access devices which have not been presented to the community before and we think you will be delighted with what you hear! Beyond these neat devices, ACB is pleased to report that our convention week is so packed that you will literally have to make difficult choices around just what to attend and probably have a bit of sleep deprivation when it's all over. Our attendance numbers keep going up and while it may not happen, we do have a real shot of filling every hotel room in the two towers at the Galt House. Currently we are well beyond the original block reserved and we look forward to a truly great convention.

Crawford visits with JWOD head

ACB and the Committee for Purchase from the Blind and Severely Handicapped, as they have been called, met earlier this week to go over our views about the status of industrial facilities for the blind and where we need to be working together.

ACB has been deeply involved in the efforts to insure minimum wage and above for blind workers in these facilities and to insure that if a person chooses to work in a blind facility at or above minimum wage, that their choice be honored by both federal and state governments. To make these goals realistic, ACB understands the need to insure that industrial programs associated with the National Industries for the Blind should be supported in their efforts to grow and expand production and sales, in addition to developing service contracts.

The exchange between Charlie Crawford of ACB and Lee Wilson from the JWOD Committee was friendly, honest and productive. We look forward to a good partnership. With the solid leadership of LeRoy Saunders as a vice chair of the committee, a good executive director in Lee Wilson and the forward looking policies of Jim Gibbons at NIB, it is truly inviting to say stay tuned for more!

*For the week ending June 9, 2000

Pennsylvania puts handbook on path to production

We are pleased to announce that the funds necessary to begin seeking printing and brailling of our pedestrian safety handbook have been raised, with Pennsylvania putting us over the top! Special thanks go out to Florida, Guide Dog Users, Inc., ACB of Texas and the Bay State Council of the Blind for their help in the home stretch.

"News Notes from the National Office" is a compilation of notes from preceding weeks and should not be interpreted as a full or exhaustive treatment of the items presented.

by Billie Jean Keith

To: [email protected]

From: [email protected]

Message: Can you please assist me? I am trying to learn Windows just enough to get by using a screen reader and magnification software. Until now, I relied on DOS, and was a competent DOS user.

From: [email protected]

To: [email protected]

Message: You have been referred to us by and we are happy to assure you that indeed, we can help you to forget DOS because that is what you absolutely must do. You will learn to de-program DOS from your mind and never think of it again. We have a range of programs that will make this possible. For a mere $200 (plus handling and shipping), our deprogramming tutorial "Daed si SOD" is yours. Daed si SOD is guaranteed to make you forget just about everything as you listen. Our exclusive copyright prohibits me from divulging more. Suffice it to say that you will be propelled back to the office glory days where electric typewriters and carbon paper rule. At that time, our colleagues at will be ready to assist you with acquiring the concepts of Windows. We're going to have an exhibit booth at the ACB convention in Louisville this summer, and expect to be providing some training sessions for the VIDPI group.

To: rehabguy@rehabem-over&

From: [email protected]

Message: As recommended, I have contacted some companies about learning Windows. However, I am not totally convinced they can provide the exact training I need to get started. Any other suggestions?

From: rehabguy@rehabem-over&

To: [email protected]

Message: Do we have a current eye examination for you?

To: rehabguy@rehabem-over&

From: [email protected]

Message: Yes, and the status is the same. I'm blind and I'll always be blind. Can you recommend another way to learn Windows?

From: rehabguy@rehabem-over&

To: [email protected]

Message: Just this year, we entered into an intra-agency agreement with the CoolStuff people. Upon signing this agreement CoolStuff set up a model demonstration program to teach all Windows-based applications to our rehab customers. This new training program consists of intensive computer training for six to 12 weeks, depending on the customer's learning pace. If this is what you would like, I will put you on the waiting list for that program. It's a three-hour bus ride, so you'll get to come home weekends if you want to.

From: [email protected]

To: [email protected]

Message: Thank you for your interest in our innovative products. At this time we are beta testing a revolutionary software package, Walking Through Windows. WTW is just one of our stunning new products this year. WTW assumes automatically that you have no idea of what you're doing, or where you are in Windows. With very little training, the user can simply and effectively navigate Windows. And how is this possible? By using all your old DOS commands, WTW instantly will convert those commands into Windows functions. It's as simple as learning to paint by numbers!

From: [email protected]

To: [email protected]

Message: Well, I can look around, but I have no idea what we did with that old typewriter ...


FOR SALE: Toshiba 2000 laptop computer with Keynote Gold speech synthesizer, 3P scanner, external modem and disk drive. Includes WordPerfect 5.1, Procom+ communications software, Windows 95, OutSpoken, and Open Book Ruby edition for scanning. Asking $1,600. If interested, please contact Kathleen Prime at (631) 698-5149, or write to her via e-mail at [email protected].

FOR SALE: DECTalk Express, comes with carrying case, cables, plug-in for charger, and manual. Like new. Best offer. Call William Benjamin at (360) 256-8637.

FOR SALE: Navigator 40 refreshable braille display. In great condition, just back from cleaning and maintenance checkup. Comes with all cables and manuals. Asking $1,000. Contact Hans at (301) 731-5912, or via e-mail at [email protected].

FOR SALE: Alva 80-cell braille display in fine condition, $6,500 or will trade for PowerBraille 65. Navigator 20-cell display in excellent condition, $650. Sounding Board internal speech synthesizer, $250. Index braille printers, hardly used, $1,500. Braille Blazer, used very little, $1,000. The Navigator and the Blazer may be purchased together for $1,500. Thiel high- production braille printer, $7,000. Serious inquiries only. Contact Jill via e-mail at [email protected] or via phone at (215) 487-0347 before 10 p.m. Eastern.

FOR SALE: Xerox Reading Edge reading machine. Used very few hours. Call Butch or Marcia Renshaw at (915) 445-2888 days, (915) 447-3386 evenings, or e- mail [email protected].

FOR SALE: Language Master 2000 and scientific calculator. Prices negotiable. Dragon Naturally Speaking Professional Edition, $550. Call Ty at (785) 232-3198.

FOR SALE: Aladdin black-and-white CCTV. About four years old. Works very well. Comes with all cables and manuals in original packing. Asking $625. Contact Lisa Argyrakis at (847) 548-6719.

FOR SALE: Braille Lite 18, December 1999 edition. All newest upgrades. Includes flash RAM upgrade and leather carrying case. Asking $1,800 or best offer. Call (703) 812-9653 or e-mail [email protected].

FOR SALE: Panasonic Aladdin Genie with Color Vision 20-inch monitor. Magnifies up to 100 times. Asking $2,500 or best offer. Contact Mae Stewart at (304) 267-6200.

FOR SALE: Internal DECtalk PC with external speaker, latest drivers and Vocal-Eyes 3.0. $300 or best offer. Contact Monty Cassellius at (309) 454- 6097, or via e-mail at [email protected].

WANTED: An R1D Optacon to purchase. Contact Winifred Downing, 1587 38th Ave., San Francisco, CA 94122; phone (415) 564-5798, or e-mail her at [email protected].

WANTED: Manuals or tutorials to teach me how to use a Macintosh with Outspoken software. Call Walter Chavira at (661) 833-3663.


As spring turns inevitably to summer, and we on the national office staff pick up our pace to a nearly frenetic cadence to anticipate all the convention-related activities in which we have a hand, and a stake, we in the editorial department have been thinking, wistfully, about summer vacations and dreaming of travel. That is why we have dubbed this our "summer travel issue."

There are stories which may inspire you to investigate travel opportunities of your own. Janiece Petersen's reminiscences of African melodies performed by visually impaired children in Zimbabwe have made me search my public radio dial for the cadences of African music and dig through my CD collection for Paul Simon's "Graceland."

Oral Miller's account of his trip to Vienna has reminded me of all the lessons of history that the continent of Europe still waits to teach me, and made me hungry for jam-filled pastries and cinnamon-y coffee!

Then there are the more practical stories about the mud and the guts and the frustration that the concept of travel so often translates into for those of us who are visually impaired. Even though I am not a guide dog user, I had no trouble identifying in a very personal, heart-palpitating way, with the story Jo Taliaferro tells about her travels with guide dog, Whitley.

And Paul's account of his experiences on planes with cabin attendants who "forget" to offer drinks to people who can't see their cart, and seatmates who take over the arm rest and adjust the air flow in our immediate vicinity to their liking without a second thought about the preferences of their seatmates (shivering under those flimsy airplane blankets or fanning ourselves with the useless magazines from the seat pockets in front of us) was something I could -- and actually have -- written in my head more often than I would like! Airline workers, so harassed and so often in the unenviable position of dispensing nothing but bad news, nevertheless, have an obligation to offer all their patrons consistently high service, and although the gentleman Paul encountered in the wee hours of the morning is admittedly a representative of a minority of attitudinally challenged airport personnel, nearly all of them need to learn the lessons we have to teach.

Amplifying the theme of independent travel, Daveed Mandell and Sheila Killian discuss the potentially positive impact which audible traffic signals may have on all our safety and independence, and Ken Stewart offers some interesting advice on motivating bus drivers to make stop announcements.

I am not so far removed from school (I still have school-age children at home, and I recently graduated from George Washington University myself) that I don't associate July with freedom, vacations, and reading. For your summer reading pleasure, we offer Charles Lott's review of the "Online Bible," and Larry Harper's advice on getting Medicare to pay for a scanning system which can allow you to read nearly anything independently. I hope that you have enjoyed our "Travel Issue" with its logs and advice, its presentations of news and views, and an occasional bit of light entertainment. (Billie Jean, we hope that summer brings you a measure of rest and restoration -- so you can stop "Slamming Windows!")

Penny Reeder


Sanford Alexander
Wichita, KS
Sue Ammeter
Seattle, WA
Ardis Bazyn
Cedar Rapids, IA
Alan Beatty
Fort Collins, CO
John Buckley
Knoxville, TN
Dawn Christensen
Holland, OH
Christopher Gray
San Francisco, CA
Debbie Grubb
Nashville, TN
Sandy Sanderson
Anchorage, AK
M.J. Schmitt
Forest Park, IL


Kim Charlson, Chairperson
Watertown, MA
Jay Doudna
Rosemont, PA
Winifred Downing
San Francisco, CA
Charles Hodge
Arlington, VA
Jenine Stanley
Columbus, OH
Ex Officio: Laura Oftedahl
Watertown, MA


20330 NE 20TH CT.
MIAMI, FL 33179



556 N. 80TH ST.


LeRoy Saunders
2118 NW 21st St.
Oklahoma City, OK 73107


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