Braille Forum
Volume XLI March 2003 No. 7
Published By
The American Council of the Blind
Christopher Gray, President
Charles H. Crawford, Executive Director
Penny Reeder, Editor
Sharon Lovering, Editorial Assistant
National Office:
1155 15th St. NW
Suite 1004
Washington, DC 20005
(202) 467-5081
Fax: (202) 467-5085
Web Site:

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

The American Council of the Blind is a membership organization made up of more than 70 state and special-interest affiliates. To join, visit the ACB web site and fill out the application form, or contact the national office at the number listed above.

Those much-needed contributions, which are tax-deductible, can be sent to Ardis Bazyn at the above mailing address. If you wish to remember a relative or friend by sharing in the council's continuing work, the national office makes printed cards available to acknowledge contributions made by loved ones in memory of deceased friends or relatives.

Anyone wishing to remember the American Council of the Blind in his/her Last Will and Testament may do so by including a special paragraph for that purpose. If your wishes are complex, contact the ACB National Office.

To make a contribution to ACB via the Combined Federal Campaign, use this number: 2802.

For the latest in legislative and governmental news, call the "Washington Connection" toll-free at (800) 424-8666, 5 p.m. to midnight Eastern time, or visit the Washington Connection online.

Copyright 2002
American Council of the Blind


President's Message: Money and Politics: 2003 Takes Shape, by Christopher Gray
When You Ask, "Where's the Beef," Do They Only Talk About Pork?, by Charles H. Crawford
Summary of ACB Board of Directors Conference Calls, by Charles S.P. Hodge
ACB 2003 Summer Internship Opportunity, by Terry Pacheco
Announcing Vision Quest 2003: A Self-Discovery Conference for Young Blind Women
Affiliate News
A New Apartment Option, by Kathy Brockman
Video Description Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow: You Can Affect the Future, by Jim Stovall
Desert Living by the Numbers, by George Covington
Tips for Travelers to Texas: Understanding the Language
Letters to the Editor
You Can't Afford to Stay Home!, by Jon Deden
Explore the Possibilities: An Approach to Transition, by Kimberly Avila
Being Me and Staying Substance-Free, by Trinette Barnes
The Importance of Early Detection, by Dorothy Casabianca
Here and There, by Sharon Lovering
High Tech Swap Shop
High Flight, by John Gillespie Magee Jr.


The telephone number given for the Alachua County Council of the Blind ("White Cane Safety Awareness T-shirts," "Here and There," October 2002) was incorrect. The correct number is (800) 454-2860.

Due to an editing error, the web site address for J-Squared Access Solutions' referral program was incorrect. The correct address is We regret the error.

by Christopher Gray

Some years ago I was talking with a friend of mine who is a member of the Tamil race. We were discussing the Tamil Tigers and their bid for power in Sri Lanka. Having read of their heroism and determination, I was eager to learn about their situation from somebody who might have some first-hand knowledge and perspective. When I asked my friend for his perspective on the situation, he gave me a very simple and direct answer. "In struggles such as these, 99 percent of what happens is just about politics and money. It's about the power these things engender." Though disappointed in his answer, I have often remembered his cut-to-the-chase outlook over the years, and very often, it has seemed to be painfully true.

As things shape up for 2003, the two major factors with which we must contend this year seem to be money and politics. In financial terms, ACB is coming off what may be the most painful year of reductions in our thrift store income stream. Our national economy is changing, and the thrift store business is changing along with it. Major enhancements and innovations were required to stimulate our stores, and these investments negatively affected ACB's 2002 income stream. This leaves us in 2003 with less income to run our organization, and also with the need to bolster ourselves from losses experienced in 2002, not a great place to be, but something we can certainly manage.

I say this with a relatively high degree of confidence. My confidence comes in large part from the support we are now receiving from ACB members and affiliates. You have truly stepped forward and responded to the needs of the organization. Our first attempts at creating a group of major donors have realized some notable successes. General contributions from members are greatly appreciated, and more and more members are participating in the Monthly Monetary Support Program.

By far the largest contributions for 2003 have come from ACB affiliate organizations. At the beginning of 2003, ACB received a $5,000 contribution from the Hawaii Association of the Blind. In a letter accompanying their check, Hawaii President Warren Toyama raised a challenge to all other affiliates of ACB to match or exceed the Hawaii grant. As I write this message a few days before our scheduled Presidents' Meeting, this challenge is scheduled to be announced at those mid-year meetings. I fervently hope our affiliates will accept Hawaii's challenge.

Not long after we received this generous gift from Hawaii, the Washington Council of the Blind sent a very positive and welcome shock-wave through ACB by contributing $25,000 toward ACB operations in 2003. What words can adequately express the appreciation of this organization as a whole for such a generous gift? We can only say "thank you" to the leadership and membership of WCB for this funding and continue to earn the respect of those who made this happen.

Finally, I am told to expect additional contributions at ACB's mid-year meeting. ACB is certainly grateful for the efforts on behalf of the organization extended by so many of you out there.

So much for the money, now what about the politics? You can learn the up-to-the-minute details on this at the ACB legislative seminar in March of this year. It appears right now that ACB is going to have an overflowing plate of legislative assignments in 2003. Rehab reauthorization is a big task by itself, and, as of right now, we believe that the reauthorization will be combined with the even larger Workforce Incentive Act which could be a very complicating factor in our efforts to improve rehabilitation services for blind Americans.

IDEA reauthorization still appears to be on track. Much advance work has been done for ACB's legislative advocacy, but keeping track of events and promoting the ideals expressed in the documents prepared by our IDEA Task Force represent a demanding challenge for ACB staff and members.

Another major legislative thrust is the Transportation Equity Act. Along with determining and appropriating adequate funding for all aspects of federally mandated transportation programs, availability of formula versus specific grant funding for disability-related items will be a hot topic during this session of Congress.

As if this weren't enough, Medicare reform looms large on the horizon. Covered in this legislative category are important matters related to certification and how blind people will be assisted. Who will provide services for blind people: generalists in the fields of eye care, occupational therapists, or others? Should Medicare cover our assistive technology? What kinds of medical procedures will be made available: Visudyne therapy for people with certain forms of macular degeneration?

Finally, we must seek appropriations for the Help America Vote Act. While funding was authorized last year, it has yet to be appropriated by Congress. Adequate funding is critical to support your grass-roots efforts in local communities to gain accessible voting rights.

ACB must prioritize and work on all of these issues, and probably others which we may not yet even know about. Much information will be available to you on these topics at our upcoming legislative seminar, March 23-25 in Washington, DC. I hope to see many of you there and work with you on promoting these key ACB legislative initiatives and issues. Contact your affiliate leaders and the ACB national office for information about attending these critical, informational meetings.

Thank you all for your help and support as we move forward together in strength and solidarity of purpose.

by Charles H. Crawford

So what are you hearing from your governor's office this week? Oh yeah, it's that pesky state budget deficit again. Seems like the good years of the nineties have been replaced with round after round of dire budget predictions, and anyone who wants anything from the state is told in no uncertain terms, "You gotta be out of your mind! ... In these tight budget times ... This is not the year to ask for that ... " And on and on, as they usher us out the door!

Wait, what was that they said? "A billion or two in deficit out of ..." How many billions in state spending? Come to think of it, there are a whole lot more dollars in spending than there are in deficit. Where are those dollars going? Who's getting the benefit from that spending, and why? If you are being told that asking for an accessible pedestrian signal, voting machine or other important item is somehow taking food out of the mouths of babies or denying kids an education, or just not a priority in these days of tight budgets and deficit spending, then read on.

One thing that every state affiliate can do is to get a giant cup of coffee and start plowing through the state budget. Are there important things being supported with your tax money? Yes. Are there other spending lines oriented toward interest groups who represent things we all care about, like arts programs, or bringing wireless connectivity to rural areas? Sure. Now hold on a moment, what is this? Roads that go nowhere, consultants advising consultants, research projects into the history of the state bird, agencies hiring the guy or gal who lost the last election, new computer and software systems replacing the ones they bought two years ago, and statues honoring the mayor's dog? Piggies in the blanket? Pork? Yep. And just how did all that pork get in there and survive?

Buried deep in the details of virtually every state budget, you will find millions if not tens or even hundreds of millions in spending that may have dubious value or that benefits only a few folks in someone's district. Looking carefully at your state budget to uncover this kind of spending is very different from fighting over the crumbs or questioning the need for valuable state services; it is asserting your rights and responsibilities to know just where your public money is going and why. Moreover, it is finding out if your state is being responsive to your needs or simply prioritizing spending for stuff of little value while telling you there just ain't no money anywhere.

This kind of approach to meeting our needs brings to mind the words of an old Harry Chapin song, "With our old folks eating dog food and our children eating paint, while the pirates steal the flag and sell us sermons on restraint."

There are many things you have a right to expect from government. One is that you have access to information about what state government spends and why. Another is that state government must spend resources wisely without waste. Still another is that you count as much as anyone else, and, if government spends money to provide for traffic and pedestrian safety, then our needs in these very same areas are no less important than those of anyone else. If public money supports voting, then we vote too. If public money supports public meetings and document distribution, then we are members of the public too, and we deserve equal, accessible access to those documents as well.

What's my point? Special no more. Our needs and rights as members of the public are not to be honored as a matter of charity. We are not the population that the state will get around to when and if there's a budget surplus. It's our money, our lives, and our interests that have been held hostage to the chronic half accusation that there is no money to meet our special needs --when our needs are no more special than those of anyone else.

The stark reality is that we have been relegated to a category called "special" only because politicians always serve the common denominator and if we allow them to marginalize us, then they will be more than happy to accommodate our complacency. So get to your chapter and affiliate meetings, do the research into local and state spending and let's decide our priorities or the politicians will simply decide them for us.

When it's the people's business to be done, it's our business to remind ourselves that we are the people.

by Charles S.P. Hodge

(Editor's Note: The ACB board of directors has convened three separate conference calls to discuss the complex issues surrounding the organization's 2003 budget. Summaries of the first two calls are provided below. A third call has been scheduled for Tuesday, February 11, just a few days before we plan to go to press with the March "Braille Forum." A summary of the third call will appear in the April issue, along with a summary of the mid-year board meeting.) January 16, 2003

A telephone conference call meeting of the ACB board of directors to consider 2003 ACB budget matters was called to order on Thursday evening, January 16, 2003, at 8 p.m. (Eastern time) by first vice president Steve Speicher. At the outset, the board was informed of the accident that had befallen ACB President Chris Gray on the previous evening where Gray had badly fractured a thigh bone when he fell between two cars of a Muni train in San Francisco. President Gray underwent emergency reconstructive surgery on his broken leg on January 16, and will be confronting a lengthy period of physical therapy and recuperation from his injuries. The secretary's roll call found all members present except for Gray and board members Alan Beatty and Ed Bradley. In addition, ACB executive director Charlie Crawford and chief financial officer Jim Olsen were also in attendance as staff members.

In his capacity as presiding officer, Steve Speicher indicated his planned approach for this meeting. He stated his intention to allow Brian Charlson reporting on behalf of the budget committee to outline the process which that committee had used to develop the draft budget document, and to describe the various assumptions used by the budget committee in arriving at its various recommendations to the board. The idea was to familiarize the board with the draft budget document and what is contained within it, and to answer relevant questions from board members. In the unexpected absence of President Gray, the presiding officer indicated his intention to defer making firm decisions on budgetary matters except for those decisions which had to be decided during this meeting because of pressing time constraints.

With these understandings in mind, Speicher called on Brian Charlson to begin his report on behalf of the budget committee. Charlson began by describing the process which the budget committee had used to develop recommendations. Charlson said that two last-minute matters had come to the attention of the budget committee very recently, and therefore had not been taken into consideration or accounted for in the draft budget document. The first circumstance resulted from a meeting held just the evening before by the board of directors of the American Council of the Blind Enterprises and Services (ACBES) at which the decision had been made that ACBES would be unable to meet its previously given commitment for financial support of ACB for the 2003 budget year, and that ACBES was consequently revising downward its recommended budgetary support level for ACB from $600,000 to $500,000. Charlson then asked Oral Miller to report to the board regarding this last-minute $100,000 reduction in ACBES' financial support. Miller reported upon the factors which led the ACBES board to make this very difficult and regrettable decision. Miller indicated that the ACBES board intended to review this matter further in July, and if additional funds were available at that time, ACBES intended to increase its financial support to ACB beyond the present $500,000 level of commitment. Charlson then indicated that this last-minute information would clearly complicate the ACB budget committee's endeavors.

The second late-breaking matter which had come to the budget committee's attention only within the past few days were new recommendations from the ACB history committee involving further financial obligations to Jim and Marjorie Megivern regarding completion of the ACB history project. Charlson called upon Charlie Hodge to report to the board regarding the history committee's recommendations. Hodge informed the board that the history committee during its last telephone conference call meeting on Sunday, January 12, had voted in favor of recommending to the budget committee and the ACB board additional payments to Jim and Marjorie Megivern totaling $9,000. This recommendation is composed of two separate and distinct components; the first, a final payment in the amount of $3,000 to close out and finally resolve all claims under the initial contract between ACB and the Megiverns, and the second, a payment in the amount of $6,000 to compensate the Megiverns for their continuing work above and beyond their obligations under their initial contract with ACB to work on, refine and present the final manuscript for the ACB history to our new publisher. Charlson indicated that the budget committee would take the history committee's latest recommendations under advisement.

Charlson then began the arduous task of going through the notes at the front of the draft budget document one by one. The first item of contention was the recommendation that members of the ACB board of publications (BOP) not receive reimbursement from ACB for transportation, hotel room or meal expenses incurred to attend a BOP meeting scheduled during the mid-year meeting weekend in Pittsburgh, Pa. Despite an impassioned plea from ex- officio member Hodge, the board voted by voice vote to approve this budget committee recommendation. After this vote, Hodge informed the board that even in light of that decision, the BOP membership had voted to hold a face-to-face meeting in Pittsburgh. Hodge pointed to such selfless dedication on the part of BOP members as being worthy of note and appreciation by all ACB members.

Several board members raised concerns regarding recommendations for possible salary increases or additional work hours for both employees and contractors reflected in the budget committee's recommendations, especially in light of the reduced revenue coming from ACBES. The board, however, did not take any formal action on these matters at this time.

The next matter under discussion was the budget committee's recommendation permitting the ACB executive director broad discretion in deciding which staff employees would be eligible for travel expense reimbursements to attend the mid-year ACB meetings to be held in Pittsburgh in mid-February. Crawford clarified that it was his intention that only he, Penny Reeder and Terry Pacheco attend the mid-year meetings since Melanie Brunson had been present at the board's September 2002 meeting in Minneapolis.

The next major issue with which the board came to grips involved the budget committee's recommendation that ACB continue to offer reimbursement for one hotel room for two nights and up to two banquet tickets per affiliate for the ACB legislative seminar to be held in Washington, D.C., in late March 2003. The reimbursement allocation would amount to $14,000. In light of the news mentioned earlier from the ACBES board, several board members expressed misgivings about the size of the subsidy obligation embodied in this recommendation. Yet, other board members said that affiliates should have been informed well in advance of what they could or could not expect in terms of subsidies or reimbursements from ACB in order to make educated plans regarding their attendance at the legislative seminar. It was also argued that if ACB were to reduce its subsidy level for the legislative seminar, fewer affiliates would send representatives to the seminar which in turn might well lead to additional hotel expenses which ACB could be obliged to pay. The board then voted nine to two with one abstention in a roll call vote to adopt a motion approving the budget committee's recommendation regarding reimbursement to affiliates who send members to the legislative seminar. Those voting in the affirmative were Jerry Annunzio, Ardis Bazyn, Brian Charlson, Dawn Christensen, Paul Edwards, Mitch Pomerantz, Donna Seliger, Pat Sheehan and M.J. Schmitt. Those voting in the negative were Oral Miller and Carla Ruschival. Billie Jean Keith abstained, and as presiding officer, Steve Speicher did not vote on this motion.

The board then turned to the recommendation that ACB board members receive transportation reimbursement, but only hotel room and meal expense reimbursement for one night and day respectively for their attendance at the mid-year ACB board meeting to be held in Pittsburgh in mid-February. After some discussion, the board voted to approve the committee's recommendation. The board next focused its attention on a recommendation involving the possible elimination of a staff position in the national office. On motion duly made and seconded, the board voted to go into executive session to discuss this sensitive personnel matter. At this juncture, Olsen left the meeting, but Steve Speicher with the concurrence of the board requested that Crawford remain for the executive session.

When the board returned to open session from executive session, Speicher reported for the record that during the executive session, the board had adopted a motion referring this matter back to the budget committee and requested that committee to consult further with Crawford during the next two weeks with an eye to bringing back to the board more consistent recommendations with respect to the recommendation regarding eliminating an ACB staff position, as well as several of the other earlier discussed budget committee recommendations. The board then adopted a motion instructing the budget committee to add a separate budget note to its report containing its recommendation regarding the 50 percent allocation of any potential performance bonus to be paid to the chief financial officer in 2003 which might be charged against ACB's budget revenues.

Finally, the board deliberated upon the date and time for its next meeting. Steve Speicher expressed the fervent hope that Gray would be able to recuperate sufficiently to be in attendance at and preside over the board's next meeting. After some considerable discussion, the board tentatively set its next meeting to be by telephone conference call on Friday evening, January 31, at 8 p.m. (Eastern time). On motion duly made, seconded and approved by voice vote, the board meeting adjourned about 10:30 p.m. (Eastern time). February 2, 2003

A telephone conference call meeting of the ACB board of directors was called to order by President Chris Gray at 8 p.m. (Eastern time) on Sunday evening, February 2. Gray thanked board members for their many messages of concern and caring which he had received since his accident, and he thanked first vice president Steve Speicher for presiding under very difficult and unexpected circumstances in his absence and carrying on with ACB's essential business during the board's telephone conference call meeting of January 16.

Secretary Donna Seliger then called the roll, and all board members were present. In addition, executive director Charlie Crawford and chief financial officer Jim Olsen were also present as staff members.

Since President Gray had been absent during the board's last conference call meeting, he thought it necessary to once again review one by one the budget committee's both initial and revised assumptions and recommendations contained in that committee's initial and revised budget notes even though this process would entail reviewing territory which the board had already considered. The board then began that process, and President Gray and budget committee chairman Charlson noted that many of the budget committee's initial recommendations had been consolidated and/or folded into some of the committee's revised later budget notes. For example, the budget committee had in the interim between the January 16 board meeting and this meeting revisited its earlier recommendations concerning renewing the contracts of ACB Radio manager Jonathan Mosen and ACB web master Earlene Hughes, and the committee's revised recommendations were now contained in one of the revised, new budget notes.

Then, the board adopted by voice vote a motion to approve the budget committee's recommendation authorizing $1,000 to cover travel expenses of the ACB convention coordinator to visit locations other than already approved convention sites.

Gray announced that he had persuaded board member Jerry Annunzio to accept an appointment to chair the resource development committee. The board also adopted by voice vote a motion authorizing up to $1,000 for the chairman of the resource development committee to incur expenses in attempting to develop new sources of revenues for ACB.

The board then adopted a motion by voice vote authorizing transportation, hotel room and meal reimbursements for the executive director, the "Braille Forum" editor and the coordinator of membership and affiliate services to attend the midyear meetings at Pittsburgh in mid-February 2003. The board also adopted a motion by voice vote approving the budget committee's recommendation in favor of authorizing the expenditure of $6,000 in professional fees to Dodge Fielding for organizing and putting on certain events designed to further ACB's fund-raising efforts.

Then the board initially agreed to the budget committee's recommendation to withdraw its earlier recommendation of a $9,000 budget item for ACB loans and grants to affiliates. However, the board was concerned that its action would have the effect of completely zeroing out ACB's efforts to support worthwhile novel or creative activities of ACB affiliates. Therefore, the board adopted a motion to reconsider its earlier approval of the withdrawal of this budget item. Finally, the board adopted by voice vote an amended motion authorizing up to $5,000 for such loans and/or grants to affiliates which met the criteria contained in the guidelines previously adopted by the ACB board of directors.

Then the board turned its attention to an item which it had approved at its January 16 meeting regarding payment of expenses for ACB representatives to attend state affiliate conventions. After much discussion highlighting numerous reservations and concerns regarding this matter, the board voted to refer the subject matter of this budget note to a special ad hoc committee to be appointed by the president to develop policy recommendations on these issues for board consideration and eventual adoption or approval. This committee, consisting of board members and representatives from state affiliates, should be appointed almost immediately with an eye toward holding meetings during the upcoming midyear meetings in Pittsburgh. President Gray indicated that this committee would hopefully be in a position to submit its recommendations to the board shortly after the midyear meetings in Pittsburgh, and that he would then intend to have the board vote on such an ad hoc committee report by the end of February.

Next, the board turned to another item which had been approved and presumably settled at its January 16 meeting, i.e., the level and amount of ACB subsidy or reimbursements for affiliates to send representatives to the legislative seminar. Jerry Annunzio moved that the board's prior action on this matter be reconsidered. After considerable discussion, this motion to reconsider was approved on a roll call vote of nine in favor and six opposed. Those voting in the affirmative were: Jerry Annunzio, Alan Beatty, Ed Bradley, Billie Jean Keith, Oral Miller, Carla Ruschival, M.J. Schmitt, Donna Seliger and Steve Speicher. Those voting in the negative were: Ardis Bazyn, Brian Charlson, Dawn Christensen, Paul Edwards, Mitch Pomerantz and Pat Sheehan. Oral Miller then moved that ACB provide a flat $100 subsidy per affiliate to help defray expenses of each affiliate sending representatives to the ACB legislative seminar. While this motion was duly seconded, Mitch Pomerantz moved to amend the Miller motion to provide each affiliate sending delegates to the legislative seminar with an ACB subsidy of $300, and this proposed amendment was also duly seconded. Pomerantz was then asked by Steve Speicher if he would deem as friendly an amendment to the effect that the $300 subsidy per affiliate was intended to carry out the message previously sent to affiliates of covering two nights lodging for one hotel room per affiliate for the legislative seminar, and Pomerantz and his seconder agreed to this friendly amendment. On a roll call vote of eight in favor to seven opposed, the board voted to approve the Miller motion as amended by the Pomerantz amendment as further amended by the accepted friendly amendment. Those voting in the affirmative were: Ardis Bazyn, Ed Bradley, Brian Charlson, Dawn Christensen, Paul Edwards, Mitch Pomerantz, Carla Ruschival and M.J. Schmitt. Those voting in the negative were: Jerry Annunzio, Alan Beatty, Billie Jean Keith, Oral Miller, Donna Seliger, Pat Sheehan and Steve Speicher. In order to avoid any confusion, Paul Edwards moved and the board approved by a voice vote the motion that ACB would reimburse each affiliate sending representatives to the 2003 legislative seminar for two nights lodging for one hotel room per affiliate. The main motion containing all approved amendments was then adopted by the board by a voice vote.

Next, as a cost-saving measure, the board adopted a motion cancelling the banquet ordinarily held in conjunction with the legislative seminar. Some board members indicated that since the legislative seminar banquet would not be held this year, the normal registration fee for the legislative seminar should be reduced to reflect the lessened cost to ACB for running the seminar. After some discussion on this point, the board adopted a motion authorizing the ACB executive director to establish a registration fee which would cover all incidental costs to ACB for putting on the legislative seminar beyond the hotel lodging subsidies for affiliates approved earlier.

President Gray then briefly described a revenue-sharing business proposal from California Canes which had recently been submitted to ACB. California Canes proposes developing a line of both straight and folding canes which will glow in the dark and will have the newly adopted ACB logo emblazoned on each cane. ACB and California Canes would then enter into an exclusive marketing and promotional agreement to market the glowing ACB-logo line of canes and to split the profits on the sales derived from this exclusive marketing campaign. On motion duly made and seconded, the ACB board voted to authorize the president to pursue this proposal and to sign such an agreement. Gray indicated that the newly developed line of ACB-logo, California Canes could well be marketed and sold through the online ACB store.

After considerable discussion, the board agreed by consensus to hold another telephone conference call meeting in order to complete the task of going completely through the budget committee's recommendations prior to the board's regularly scheduled midyear meeting in Pittsburgh. The February 2 telephone conference call meeting of the ACB board of directors adjourned at 10:15 p.m. (Eastern time).

by Terry Pacheco

The American Council of the Blind announces its 2003 internship program, which has been developed to afford a meaningful work experience to a blind post-secondary student. The paid internship will be for a maximum period of 10 weeks and will also include, if necessary, a reasonable housing and transportation allowance. Duties will include activities associated with providing public information and education, membership assistance, communications, legislative monitoring and assistance with publications.

If you would like to be considered for this internship opportunity in the ACB national office, please submit a letter of application by April 1, 2003 to: Charles Crawford, Executive Director, American Council of the Blind, 1155 15th Street NW, Suite 1004, Washington, D.C. 20005.

Along with your letter, send documentation concerning the school you attend or plan to attend, as well as information about your major field of study, vocational or professional objective, prior educational and employment history, skills (e.g., braille reading and writing, computer competency, low vision aids), extracurricular and civic activities. Your letter should also include a paragraph explaining why you would like to spend a summer in Washington, D.C., and the benefits you expect to receive from the internship.


Who's invited? Young women who are blind or visually impaired, ages 15-25

Where? Brock University, St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada. The university is about half an hour from Niagara Falls, 45 minutes from Buffalo, 1-1/2 hours from Toronto.

When will it be? August15-18, 2003

How much will it cost? $220 U.S., $300 Canadian (transportation not included)

If you are a young woman who wants to learn more about self-advocacy, strategies to promote independence, networking with other young blind women, blind and visually impaired role models and mentors, challenging adventures and activities, new skills in activities of daily living, personal development, and independent travel, and career choices and exploration, then come spend a rewarding weekend with other blind and visually impaired women to investigate all these topics and more.

For more information, contact Jill Tobin via e-mail, [email protected], or call her at (216) 905-4674.


Come to New Mexico, the Land of Enchantment!

The ACB of New Mexico invites you to attend our third annual convention. The convention will take place on Friday, May 9 and Saturday, May 10, at the Best Western Inn Suites in Albuquerque. Room rates are $56 per night for up to four people or $66 per night for a two-room suite. To reserve a room, contact the hotel at (505) 244-7022. For more information about the convention, contact David Armijo, affiliate president, at (505) 437-9295 or Ron Brooks, convention coordinator, at (505) 268-1485 or send e- mail to [email protected]. Come spend a weekend with one of ACB's newest affiliates and enjoy the warmth and charm of the Land of Enchantment.

NABT Offers Help to Attend Convention

The National Association of Blind Teachers will award $200 to enable a teacher or student studying to be a teacher to attend this year's convention. Think of this as a couple of nights of free lodging or a wild spending spree in the exhibit hall. If you would like to be considered for the award, send your name, phone number, and the name of the institution where you teach or are studying, along with a brief explanation of the reasons why you think you deserve the award in the medium of your preference, by April 1 to John Buckley, 7700 Gleason Dr., Apt. 33N, Knoxville, TN 37919 or e-mail [email protected].

Friends-in-Art Listserv

If you are interested in joining the Friends-in-Art listserv, send a blank message to [email protected].

by Kathy Brockman, President
Badger Association of the Blind and Visually Impaired, Inc.

(Editor's Note: I have a young friend named Adam. Adam is a reader of "The Braille Forum," and he and I have been talking, via e-mail and ACB's toll-free number, from time to time for about two and a half years. Adam has experienced more ups and downs in his young life than many people his age. During our occasional conversations, we have celebrated many of his happy times and mourned some of the sad ones together. I am always happy to hear from Adam.

A few weeks ago, Adam called to share some especially good news. He has found the perfect living arrangement, he told me. In a few months when he has completed the course work for his high school equivalency certification, Adam will leave the group residence where he has been living this year and move to his very own apartment in Milwaukee. The apartment building is a brand-new residence planned and brought to fruition by the Badger Association of the Blind. I realized while Adam was describing the new apartment building that, coincidentally, Kathy Brockman had called me only a few weeks earlier to describe the project and the building and to ask about submitting this article. Here is the story of the new apartment complex of which the Badger Association is so justifiably proud. We are so pleased to be able to share this good news with readers of "The Braille Forum." We wish all the residents of this new apartment building, so carefully and lovingly planned to meet their needs as people who are blind and visually impaired, many years of happiness in their new homes.

I look forward to hearing from Adam again in early summer, as he makes the move to Milwaukee, and a new chapter of independence in his life. Congratulations to the Badger Association of the Blind for this latest achievement in meeting the needs of blind and visually impaired people, and to all the new tenants in the apartment complex.)

Located in Milwaukee, Wis., the Badger Association was founded in 1919. In addition to various housing programs, over the last 70-plus years we have undertaken many other activities, including providing rehabilitation services, operating a low vision clinic, hosting recreation activities and classes, recruiting volunteers, and running a store to sell adaptive equipment for blind and visually impaired people. We also provide information and referral services for the community.

Since 1924 the Badger Association has provided housing for blind and visually impaired people. Our housing options have changed over the years. In the beginning, we purchased an old mansion which accommodated from six to eight people in each of its sleeping rooms. Then in 1969 a new building was completed with 64 private dormitory-size rooms. People who lived there shared one bathroom for every two residents. Initially, that housing option was very successful, but in the last 15 years, the number of people who wanted to live in that residence decreased. In the new century, people weren't content to live in a single small room; everybody wanted more personal space.

Several years ago, as it became obvious to many that our association couldn't indefinitely continue to subsidize increasingly expensive housing, our board and staff began to explore new housing options. We discovered that we could obtain special tax credit funding from the state of Wisconsin. In addition, a mortgage and some association funds would be used to finance the remainder of the project.

Early in 2001 we began the planning process for a new 58-unit apartment building in our current space, which is located at the top of a hill. There wasn't a huge amount of space but there was enough room for a nice L-shaped building. There are four floors plus a ground floor that accommodates a dining room, storage lockers and parking for 17 cars. The building includes 30 one- bedroom and 28 two-bedroom units.

After we had secured the financial arrangements that allowed us to proceed, we hired architects and other professionals to start working on the actual construction plans. We were able to obtain low-income vouchers from the city of Milwaukee to help residents pay the rent. Since many blind and visually impaired people have limited funds, 51 of the 58 units are eligible for subsidies. At about the same time we hired a consultant to review all of our programs. We conducted several focus groups where members, current residents, participants in our recreation program and others in the community shared their ideas about what blind and visually impaired people would find helpful in an apartment building. While every suggestion and preference could not be included, a number of ideas were incorporated in our design. For example, cement of different textures and colors helps people with orientation. The two apartment buildings are very close together, with only about 15 feet separating them. Some planners were surprised to find that participants in the focus groups did not favor a fountain as an orientation device, but there is a bird in the lobby, and his chirping, along with changes in floor coverings to demarcate specific areas, helps residents with orientation.

As with any project, there were a number of delays in getting started. Once all of the necessary permits, etc. were obtained the actual construction began in October 2001. We were really sweating it out since Wisconsin winters can be a little rough. Thankfully, the winter of 2001-02 was relatively mild. A number of us took pictures throughout the process so we have a photographic record of the construction process from start to finish.

Naturally our members wanted to see the building as it was being constructed. This was quite tricky in the early stages, but we did it. ACB President Chris Gray even took a tour when he was here in April 2002 for our convention. Even in the early phases, tours enabled people to "visualize" how much space they would have -- even before walls were actually built.

As the work progressed, the excitement grew. Everyday it was easier and easier to see that a real building was under construction -- rather than just a pile of lumber! It was tricky getting in there since construction sites can be messy. Once, when I was on a tour there with one of our congressmen I took a small tumble while I was exiting the building. Luckily the only thing hurt was my pride; even my white blazer was fine!

Many of our residents had never lived alone or done any cooking; their meals were included in their rent. During the summer we had a rehabilitation teacher intern work with the residents to identify their needs. Models of the stove, refrigerator and microwave were available so they could learn to operate them. Of course, these appliances are labeled with braille and tactile markings in each apartment. Additional instructions and training were provided for residents as needed.

In September each staff person was assigned to a resident to provide assistance during the moving process. This included helping with change of address notifications, packing, the moving process, unpacking, getting groceries, orienting residents to their new building, and providing any other necessary assistance. The staff and a number of volunteers worked on this project, going well beyond the call of duty.

Construction was far enough along so that residents could move in the last week of September. There were a number of blind and visually impaired people from the community who were not members of the Badger Association who decided to move into the residence as well. One member told me the big moving day was like having everyone move into a college dorm with the accompanying chaos and excitement. Naturally, there were a number of small projects that needed to be completed in the building, and some unforeseen problems were also identified. As with any new building, these are being addressed as quickly as possible.

Early in the summer an appeal had been sent out to our members and donors asking for contributions to help our new residents to furnish their apartments. There was a great response both with funds and household items and furniture which we held in storage until after the move. Many of the residents needed furniture for a living room, kitchen and all the various necessities for cooking in their own kitchens. Many people had limited incomes and would have found it impossible to purchase all these items themselves.

A week after the big moving day, we set out all the items that had been donated and invited residents to come and choose the items they needed. Many of our new tenants do not have families who could help them get this kind of start, and all appreciated the opportunity to begin life in their new apartments with many of the basic necessities being provided. A number of visual elements were incorporated into the apartment building. Color schemes and placement have been utilized to allow a person with limited vision to maximize the use of remaining vision. For example, the carpeted hallways have a border of high contrast color. In the kitchen a three-inch dark green border is used which distinguishes the countertop from the floor as a person looks down.

Standard white or tan outlet covers were replaced with black covers and all outlets are raised two feet above the floor to bring them closer to one's field of vision and assist with mobility. All overhanging kitchen cabinets have built-in lighting to facilitate recognition of items placed on countertops -- without causing excessive glare. Dark-colored couches/chairs and black walnut wood furniture, all built by a carpenter who is blind, are utilized in the lobby and dining room to maximize contrast between furniture and flooring. Indirect lighting and glare reduction are utilized. Apartments have twice the lighting of ordinary units and dimmer switches replace standard light switches to create maximum and optimal lighting without glare. Wall sconces replace all standard recessed ceiling fluorescent lights in public areas such as the hallway. Each stairway landing has a distinct color to assist in identifying one floor from another. Additional lighting has been added to exterior walkways and the building facade to assist with safe travel at night and provide added security.

Changes in tactual surfaces enhance mobility and facilitate identification of various design elements. Raised dots/lines and braille are utilized throughout the building to convey information. Kitchen appliances are marked with fluorescent/raised-line markings. All microwaves have dial rather than digital controls. Heating and air conditioning controls have tactual markings. All the stoves have control panels in front so people don't have to reach over hot burners to find control knobs.

Holes cut into the center of cutting boards allow cooks to collect trash with a can placed underneath or to anchor a bowl used for food preparation. Braille, large print labels and magnets in the shape of food, for example, peas, beans, etc., can be placed on canned goods to help people who cannot read standard labels to identify their contents.

The lobby floor provides high tactual contrast with hard tile flooring along typical walking pathways and soft carpet flooring for sitting areas. There are tactual brick imprints along the edges of exterior sidewalks to help with orientation. Braille and tactual large-print signage are utilized throughout. Stair railings have rings at the end so travelers know they are near a landing. Hallways are lined with orientation rails, which lead to a recessed opening at each apartment doorway. People can utilize these openings to assist in orienting themselves and others to specific apartments, for example, the fourth opening on the left is my apartment.

Each floor has an art theme to help residents know what floor they're on when they get off the talking elevator. There is a quilt theme, audible art, and distinctive sculptures on different floors. All handles in the building are easy-to-operate levers, rather than doorknobs. Dining room tables are square and parallel to walls to assist people in identifying walls, counters or doorways. Some other features include: ice makers in the freezers to eliminate having to get an ice tray from the sink to the freezer. Enhanced security includes cameras to monitor all public areas.

Apartments have electronic deadbolt key entrances and exterior doors utilize electronic access cards. Sliding closet doors are hung from the ceiling rather than gliding on the floor to keep items from disappearing into the tracks. Each apartment entrance door is equipped with a two-foot by one-foot shelf so that people have a place to put groceries or purses while they're opening their front doors.

Mailboxes are supersized since braille periodicals, such as "The Braille Forum," and books are often much larger than standard print. There are extra towel bars in the bathrooms. Doorways all over the building are large enough to accommodate wheelchairs and half of the units have wheel-in showers to allow older people to age in place. Since blind and visually impaired people are more reliant on sound, all interior walls have extra soundproofing insulation. Floors have two layers of plywood and extra carpet padding, windows are upgraded, and hallway floors are built with six inches of concrete to lessen traffic noise.

The fire alarms are equipped with undulating alarm noise rather than a steady noise to give moments of silence that assist with orientation, hazard identification and oral assistance from others. A "dog relief area" and washroom with raised bathtub will assist people with guide dogs and/or pets. The courtyard includes many scented plants to add an extra dimension of enjoyment for people who are blind and visually impaired. A large-screen television with surround sound is a focal point of the lounge. The front entrance is equipped with a braille and large-print directory.

Residents can avail themselves of additional services, including volunteers who can provide transportation to medical appointments or shopping errands. In addition, a volunteer staff reads residents' mail aloud, five days a week. The director of home operations assists with personal business including pharmacy delivery. A van is used for trips to the grocery store, where volunteer shopping assistance is provided.

Residents are enjoying the opportunities to interact with each other and take part in association programs. Now they don't have to be concerned about transportation to and from these activities. Many other organizations use our address as a shuttle pick-up and drop-off point, so residents have a variety of options to choose among for recreation, socialization, and getting out and about.

This project was a dramatic departure from the kinds of housing and other services the Badger Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired had offered in the past. It took some of our residents a little time to get used to the new ideas and the dramatic changes, but it's been worth the effort and the adjustment, and we're glad our new building is such a success.


Going Up ... A construction worker stands on scaffolding, working on the new apartment building, with concrete dust flying around him. Other workers on the scaffolding lay bricks in rows to make the outer walls.

Inside one of the new apartments are a number of visible adaptations: black electrical outlets and window trim, and brighter lighting.

by Jim Stovall, President, Narrative Television Network

Although the field of video description -- the process of making TV, movies, or any other visual media accessible -- is relatively new, it does have an eventful past which may be helpful as we try to gaze into an uncertain future.

If you are planning to attend the ACB annual national convention this coming July in Pittsburgh, you will have an opportunity to affect the future of video description by participating on the Narrative Television Network's Consumer Panel on Sunday, July 6. Participation on this panel will involve reviewing scenes from described movies and TV shows via videotape in your home prior to the convention, and then attending a one-hour session at the convention to provide us with your feedback. Call (800) 801-8184 for more information about how you can participate on our consumer panel and affect the future of described video on television and elsewhere.

My involvement in the field of video description officially began in 1988. Although I have written a dozen books, a weekly newspaper column, made hundreds of speeches at arena events around the country, and had other business involvements, for the last 15 years, whenever anyone has asked me to name my profession I have proudly stated, "I am president of the Narrative Television Network (NTN)."

I have been asked by everyone from "The Wall Street Journal" and "Forbes" to CNN and "Good Morning America," how this all got started. As a blind person myself, I hasten to say that the idea is as old as a blind person with a sighted friend or loved one who is describing the visual aspects of any situation. So to that extent, we have all played a role in the development of formal description.

As someone who has devoted a great deal of my professional life to this effort, I must give credit to several deserving people and groups. Without the tireless efforts in developing a system of describing that was pioneered by Dr. Margaret Pfanstiehl, founder and CEO of the Metropolitan Washington Ear radio reading service in Silver Spring, Md., we would not be where we are today. Dr. Pfanstiehl has been at the forefront of the ongoing efforts to create governmental regulations establishing a mandate for accessibility.

All of the wonderful people at WGBH in Boston's Descriptive Video Services have blazed the trail and overcome many technical barriers that make our current industry possible. In addition, the current level of video description and the growth we are hoping for would not be possible without the ongoing support and funding from the U.S. Department of Education.

I would be remiss if I did not take this opportunity to applaud my own team at NTN. They have created more accessible TV and movie programming for network television and home video than anyone in the field of description.

And last, but never least, without Charlie Crawford and the energy of everyone at the American Council of the Blind, we would never have gained the Federal Communications Commission's mandate that is being argued on appeal in the courts today.

At this writing -- early 2003 -- the landmark FCC decision of April 2002 has been overturned, but the decision will be undergoing an appeal in the near future. Meanwhile, at least for now, most of the networks are continuing to provide at least a minimal level of accessible programming. There is not a better source to stay informed on the issue than the one you are reading now, and, if you want to get involved, simply follow the lead of ACB and your own leadership as the struggle continues.

I look forward to meeting a number of you at this year's convention in Pittsburgh and hope that you will help NTN do an even better job of what we do by serving on the advisory panel.

Television, for better or worse, is still the number-one recreational activity in our society. As we all seek to become a part of the mainstream, it is critical that we not be left out of this vital component.

by George Covington

(Editor's Note: George Covington is an attorney, photographer and writer living in Alpine, Texas. Between 1989 and 1993 he was Special Assistant for Disability Policy for the Vice President of the United States. He is the author of PHOTO HERO, A Satire of Photography, available through your local bookstore or on line from or or

"What the heck is a blind guy going to do in the middle of a desert?" a close friend demanded. "You can't see well enough to drive, and they don't have public transportation out there. What are you going to do, get a seeing-eye armadillo?"

With less than five percent vision, I explained, changing the blurry canyons of New York for the blurry canyons of West Texas wasn't much of a stretch.

"If you survive it will only be because you were born with more guts than brains," was my friend's parting shot.

I am not certain of the accuracy of my friend's statement, but I was born legally blind and I have always had more guts than eyesight. It was time to go home to Texas.

After 20 years in Washington, D.C. and two years in Manhattan, I moved to tiny Alpine, in the High Chihuahuan Desert of Far West Texas. Because of comments such as, "Have you lost your mind?" and, "It's a woman, isn't it?" I sent the following letter to more than a hundred friends:

I am now living in beautiful downtown Alpine, Texas. Of course, living anywhere in Alpine is living a few blocks from downtown. Alpine is located in Brewster County, which is roughly the size of Connecticut with a chunk of Rhode Island thrown in, but with a population of only 8,866. A few vital statistics:

1. The population consists of 58% Anglos, 1.6% African Americans, 43% Hispanics, and 1.8% others.

2. Alpine has an elevation of 4,600 feet, is nestled between mountains and mesas, and is high desert country. It has 5,600 people, a small university, 20 art spaces, and a calendar chock full of social and cultural events.

3. The scorpions are the size of skateboards, and the tarantulas are often mistaken for very fuzzy watermelons.

4. And the rattlesnakes are taken for granted.

5. The jackrabbits are carnivorous and can compete with horses at certain rodeos.

6. The women are all highly intelligent and beautiful, and the men all look like they have been kicked in the face by a bucking bronco, and have the intelligence that would mandate.

7. Through my living room window, I can photograph two mountains, a twin peak, and a mesa.

8. We are 150 miles from the nearest airport, but Amtrak and Greyhound serve us well (when they can get past the scorpions, tarantulas, and rabid jackrabbits; the rattlesnakes only go after 18-wheelers).

9. My apartment is adjacent to Sul Ross State University, which has 1,200 students.

10. NYC in my e-mail address no longer stands for New York City but now stands for Navajo, Yucca, and Comanche.

11. Local gourmet food -- road kill. I love it here.

After looking over my list, several of my local friends assure me that rattlesnakes won't go after 18-wheelers when parked mobile homes are such "easy pickins."

To my old Texas friends, who were as startled to see me move back as my East Coast friends were to see me leave, I explained, "Alpine has the best chicken-fried steak, Tex-Mex cooking, and the most beautiful women in Texas." They readily accepted this explanation.

The real reason I moved to Alpine is that the people who live best in Manhattan are the very poor and the very rich. I was headed toward the former; also I was looking for a place where I could write, photograph, and walk from one end of town to another in only a few minutes. While there are six million stories in the Naked City, there are a million stories in Alpine and Brewster County.

Some may think, "How dull!" These are people who have never attended a Cowboy Poetry Gathering, a rattlesnake roundup, a fire ant festival, a chili cooking contest, or an international black-eyed pea cook-off.

I quickly learned that macho is still big in Texas. It can manifest itself in a number of ways:

1. My first day as a resident in Alpine, I was told by an acquaintance that his hat brim was wider than mine.

2. I also discovered that macho is determined by how high you have to step into a pickup (the truck should be big enough so that your chin touches your knee when you try to enter the truck's cab).

3. The importance of the size of the truck's bed cannot be over-stressed; the bed should be proportional to the number of dogs riding in it.

4. The gun rack is real and should contain a large-caliber rifle (.22-caliber is just for wimps).

5. A "real man" will have a belt buckle the size of a pie plate (the local university lets students choose between a senior ring and a large belt buckle).

6. A real macho type will eat a chicken fried steak that covers half the table, a cauldron of chili, then pop down a few jalapeno peppers and claim to have never heard of the term "heartburn."

7. Macho types are seen at the Crystal Bar, not at a salad bar. Salad bars are intended for women and rabbits.

8. Real Machos are not seen during deer hunting season because their full energy is spent trying to kill Bambi through a foggy haze created by consuming a case of beer.

Don't get me wrong, West Texans have a great sense of humor. We have to because of the country we live in. Rain, water, and drought jokes are an important part of daily life. I once asked a local how much rain Alpine received a year and was told, "We get sixteen inches a year, which doesn't sound like much unless you're here the day we get it." My first week in Alpine, parts of the town were under six feet of water because of a sudden mountain rainstorm. Two days later there was no standing water. The first seven months of that year we received almost no rain and record high temperatures. The jokes going around included, "I saw two mesquite trees fighting over a dog" and, "We had to take down the barbed wire fence to get a breeze."

West Texas ranchers are big on private property rights. Right now they are battling the United States Air Force and the German Luftwaffe to prevent low altitude training runs over their ranches (300 feet at 500 miles per hour). In the rugged country around Alpine it is difficult to find your cows on the best of days. And some of these ranchers remember being buzzed by the Germans during World War II. Many ask why the Germans need to train over high desert country when there is no high desert country in Germany. Do they plan to retake North Africa?

There are similarities between my old home in New York City and Alpine:

1. The residents of both cities are not afraid of a guy walking down the street with a white stick, although the people in Alpine thought it was a pool cue.

2. They both live in harsh but beautiful environments.

3. Both are filled with eccentrics.

4. They are both filled with people I've come to love.


(Editor's Note: Thanks to Richard Villa for sharing this dictionary of "Texas Talk" with the ACB Listserv. We think any of you who plan to visit George Covington in Texas's high desert may want to learn these "Texas Terminologies" before you go!)

A test to see if you are REALLY a Texan! If you are a REAL TEXAN:

1. You measure distance in minutes.

2. You've had to switch from heat to air conditioning in the same day.

3. Stores don't have bags; they have sacks.

4. Stores don't have shopping carts; they have buggies.

5. You see a car running in the parking lot at the store with no one in it no matter what time of the year.

6. You use "fix" as a verb. Example: I am fixing to go to the store.

7. All the festivals across the state are named after a fruit, vegetable, flower, or animal.

8. You install security lights on your house and garage and leave both unlocked.

9. You carry jumper cables in your car ... for your OWN car.

10. You know what "cow tipping" and "snipe-hunting" are.

11. You only own four spices: salt, pepper, ketchup, and Tabasco.

12. You think everyone from a bigger city has an accent.

13. You think sexy lingerie is a T-shirt and boxer shorts.

14. The local papers cover national and international news on one page but require 6 pages for football and fishing.

15. You think that the first day of deer season is a national holiday.

16. You know which leaves make good toilet paper.

17. You find 90 degrees F "just a little warm."

18. You know all four seasons: Almost Summer, Summer, Still Summer, and Christmas.

19. You know whether another Texan is from southern, middle, or northern Texas as soon as they open their mouth.

20. There is a Dairy Queen in every town with a population of 500 or more.

21. Going to Wal-Mart is a favorite pastime known as "goin' Wal-Mart'in" or "off to Wally World."

22. You describe the first cool snap (below 70 degrees) as good chili weather.

23. A carbonated soft drink isn't a soda, cola, or pop ... it's a Coke, regardless of brand or flavor.

24. You understand these jokes and forward them to your friends no matter where they live in case they are planning to visit.


The editorial staff reserves the right to edit letters for clarity, 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" is not responsible for the opinions expressed herein. We will not print letters unless you sign your name and give us your address.

ICUB & Guide Dogs

Dear Readers,

In response to the article about ICUB and guide dog handlers in their rehabilitation training center:

If all a public service entity need do is show that people who are blind guide dog handlers can have their needs met elsewhere in comparable settings, we will be excluded from restaurants, schools, libraries, parks, grocery stores, etc. Any grocery store or restaurant can then argue that our needs can be equally met elsewhere, sending us on our way! For the Iowa Council of the United Blind to imply that because this woman was offered comparable services in another organization which does not discriminate against blind guide dog users, her rights of equal access under the law were not denied is not true. The rights of those of us who make the choice to have the assistance of service animals will be set back to square one if this case is allowed to set precedence.

I am very disappointed in the ACB's lack of a backbone! The fact that the entity involved is a blind service organization does not give them the ability to deny blind dog guide handlers their equal access rights under the law.

Respectfully, but Hugely Disappointed,
Shirley Manning, Los Angeles, Calif.

Dear Donna Seliger, John Taylor, and members of ICUB:

I was delighted to read the account of the emergency board meeting in the winter 2003 "Braille Forum." I am a member of the National Federation of the Blind of Kansas as well as the Braille Revival League.

Reading Charles Hodge's account of the conference call was very, very refreshing. Here is precisely why. I have been in the ACB less than a year; and I am extremely disturbed at the extreme liberalism dominating the organization. I do not enjoy saying the following; but from what I have observed from the ACB, the council appears to act as though the blind are supposed to be politically and economically on the left, as well as exhibiting a pity-party, poor-me attitude.

The council seems to complain constantly, rarely to praise. I would like to commend Ron Brooks and the rest of the transportation committee for the transportation survey, which is very good and comprehensive; but I note that this choice appears in one of the questions: "I write letters of complaint." Why? Why? What sort of good image do we portray by constantly complaining? Please understand that this question is rhetorical.

Now to the conference call. Personally, I do believe Stephanie Dohmen should be allowed to be accompanied by her guide dog as a student at the Iowa Department for the Blind; let me emphasize that this is my personal opinion. After all, this is the travel aid which she has chosen, and which she is accustomed to using. Not allowing her dog to accompany her, I believe, is equivalent to saying that only cane travel will be permitted. I hope Stephanie reads this paragraph, and my following paragraphs.

But on the other hand, Allen Harris did make it clear to Stephanie that she could obtain the rehabilitation which she wanted, computer and job training, elsewhere and still remain accompanied by her dog. This is just one of my reasons for not supporting Guide Dog Users, Inc.'s wish that the ACB become a party to their complaint on Stephanie's behalf.

My second reason is that any careful student of American history will know that the Confederate and Union states fought the Civil War based on whether individual states had the right to control their own affairs, or whether states' affairs should be controlled by the federal government. Ever since the federal government won the war, the era of big government has increasingly dominated the United States. This is not progress, but regression.

What is my point? My point is that if the board were to allow ACB to become a party in this case, which it did not, then you in the Hawkeye State would be going down the slippery slope of having a national organization make your decisions for you, rather than making them yourselves. If the board had approved ACB's getting involved, I would support ICUB's disaffiliation.

My third reason focuses on Allen Harris and the Iowa Department themselves. I am extremely pleased that under Allen's leadership, the Iowa program is one of the top state programs in the nation. Unfortunately, we cannot say the same about our bureaucratic program here in Kansas. For the past few years, the state has attempted to dissolve the Division of Services for the Blind, to merge all programs for all so-called "disabilities," as a budget cut. You in Iowa have none of those problems. Stephanie Dohmen should be grateful that she lives in Iowa.

-- Jeff Frye, Overland Park, Kansas

Braille Menus

On January 19, 2003, I had dinner with my father and sister at a local Perkins family restaurant. Our dinner was excellent. Service from our waitress was exceptional; she had a great personality and smiled the whole time.

I am writing for another reason. While I was enjoying my dinner, a blind gentleman came into the restaurant along with two companions, one who had to read everything off the menu so that the blind man could decide what he wanted. I was disgusted that Perkins could not provide this gentleman a braille menu. Your restaurant and many others provide endless accommodations for many other customers, such as a table for a person in a wheelchair. Another way a restaurant accommodates people is by putting tables together for a large group of customers. The lack of a braille menu seems so minute compared to other accommodations often provided by your company, but I found it appalling.

One may question how often a restaurant has blind people to serve. That should not be a question in anyone's mind. On just about every restroom a person enters, there is braille on the sign to differentiate the men's from the women's room. Why not provide the customers with a braille menu? The company would only need to make a couple of copies for each restaurant.

Thank you for your time and consideration. Please provide your blind customers with braille menus.

-- Carrie Sue Johnson, Clarion, Pa.

by Jon Deden

I am a Colorado native and have been blind since birth. I started skiing when I was 10 years old. Looking back, the only thing I might have done differently would have been to lace up my first ski boots a few years earlier.

I still remember my first ride on the chair lift and my first run down the hill. Of course it was only a bunny slope -- but what a wonderful feeling of exhilaration! I knew right then that I had found something very special, and skiing has continued to become more exciting and exhilarating over the years.

When I was 13, winning a regional ski race was a terrific self-esteem builder. Now I am an adult and still some of the most exciting words I hear are, "You are in the middle of the hill and you can go as fast as you want."

I love to challenge myself in every facet of life and especially enjoy challenging myself physically. For me, there is no better way to do this than to ski down an expert ski trail. If I can ski an expert trail, I can do anything in life. I encourage everyone who is blind to try skiing.

Last year I became aware of a ski program called Foresight Ski Guides. This program has been the best program, overall, I have ever been affiliated with. Foresight Ski Guides operates at Vail, Colo., which is probably the number-one ski resort in America. The Foresight ski guides are some of the best I have ever run across in my 31 years of skiing. The way I was treated by everyone in the program was just top notch, and today is your lucky day because Foresight Ski Guides is looking for blind skiers.

Cost? Just an affordable $50 tax-deductible contribution to Foresight Ski Guides will get you five days on the slopes with a lift ticket, a guide, equipment rental and transportation and lodging assistance. All you need to do to get started is contact Mark Davis, founder and president of Foresight Ski Guides, at (303) 860-0972, toll-free (866) 860-0972, fax (303) 894-9383, e- mail [email protected] or online at Don't miss this great opportunity!

by Kimberly Avila, M.A., COMS

College is an exciting time for learning, growing and achieving goals. Virtually everyone who attends college, regardless of age or background, goes through a period of transition during which his or her lifestyle must adjust to accommodate the requirements of higher education. People who are blind or visually impaired must deal with these challenges along with an additional array of transitional issues that can be particularly challenging. In a 1993 study, the American Foundation for the Blind found that students with vision impairments are less likely than their sighted peers to finish college. Could the particularly difficult transitional issues which visually impaired students must cope with be a contributing factor to this disheartening statistical reality? Why are people with vision impairments less likely to finish college than their sighted peers? And what can blind and visually impaired students do to alleviate the added stress that results from coping with their visual impairments?

I am a teacher of visually impaired high school students. I wanted to explore the particular challenges college students with visual impairments encounter so I could assist my students to prepare themselves for college. As a result, I conducted a study during the summer of 2001 surveying 23 adults who are blind and visually impaired who have had at least some college experience and dealt with the challenges of higher education. Participants were asked to provide input on how upcoming college students can prepare themselves for a smooth transition. A continual dialogue has developed with several of the adults who responded to my original survey, which has enabled me to clarify some of the survey results and to expand my knowledge about the difficulties visually impaired students can encounter during the process of transitioning to college.

Correspondence, including the distribution of surveys, was accomplished electronically and at meetings of blindness consumer organizations. Surveys reached all over the United States and beyond, including a rehabilitation program in New Zealand. Participants were quite diverse in age, background, ethnicity and differed in the amount of years they attended college and degrees earned. Some respondents were current college students; others are successful professionals, business owners, homemakers, members of the Peace Corps, graduate students, farmers and current consumers of rehabilitation programs.

The responses to the survey were interesting, yet not surprising. As participants described what areas they could have been better prepared in for a smoother transition, I was reminded of the "Expanded Core Curriculum" Phil Hatlen published years ago. The Expanded Core Curriculum defines areas in which students with vision impairments should receive specific instruction, and includes: compensatory skills, including communication models; visual efficiency skills; social skills; independent living skills; recreation and leisure skills; orientation and mobility training; vocational education; and assessment and training on assistive technology.

Long before I conducted my survey, the Expanded Core Curriculum had been defined and identified as part of the National Agenda. However, according to my study, these areas are still being neglected and students are not getting what they need to prepare them for a smooth transition to college. In the 1998 National Agenda; Report to the Nation by the American Foundation for the Blind, researchers concluded that schools were not allowing adequate time for instruction in and did not have qualified personnel to teach in these areas. Five years after this report was published, these sad circumstances still seem to be very much the norm.

Consistently, respondents identified a need to receive instruction in all of the above-mentioned categories. Moreover, EVERY participant identified an intense need for instruction in the use of adaptive technology in order to be successful and independent in college and beyond. All respondents remarked that training in the use of assistive technology is a heavily neglected area that has been a crucial factor impacting their success in college. Several participants stated that they had to pay a large amount of money and spend an excessive amount of time to learn the technologies while in college, which ultimately affected their academics, work and social lives. Below are just some of the statements made by respondents emphasizing the need for adequate adaptive technology instruction.

"Adaptive technology, this is the bulldozer that levels the playing field." -- Undergraduate student who is also employed

"There is no way ANY college student will make it through school without technology. A blind or visually impaired person must have these skills in order to have a fighting chance in school, and to be independent." -- Undergraduate student

"Technology is needed to set the student at an even playing ground. It is vital in a quality education." -- Information technology consultant

"Technology can, and will, make the difference between some semblance of independence and total dependency. Further survival may come down to the issue of adaptive technology." --Doctoral graduate student

"...OCR's, screen magnifiers, screen readers, good computer skills; I am struggling to learn these skills just to be competitive." -- Business owner and former Peace Corps member

Other areas which the respondents felt were crucial for rehabilitation teachers and educators to focus upon were self- advocacy and social skills, including working with readers and others who routinely provide assistance to disabled students. Several participants remarked that they felt very alone moving to college from high school when they realized they had to rely exclusively on themselves for taking care of their every need.

"We must learn that we cannot totally rely on services which are supposed to assist us, because there are limited resources and service providers. In order to show that we are independent thinkers and able to take care of ourselves, we must learn how to rely on our self-advocacy skills in order to make gains in employment, etc." -- Graduate student

"Confidence, communication, advocacy, working with people, problem solving, knowing what you want and creating a plan to obtain your goal, these are the crucial skills students with vision impairments must have in order to succeed in college." -- College professor

"Social skills go along with fighting the misconceptions and stereotypes some have about blind people. Eye contact should be taught at an early age, and kids should also be taught that 'blindisms,' like eye poking, rocking, etc. are not appropriate. I am not saying that one should try to look sighted; it is just that we need to look our best and present ourselves as confident figures when seeking employment and college admissions." -- Graduate student

"Confidence, Confidence, Confidence." -- Business owner

"Self-advocacy is a very important self confidence and identity builder." -- Rehabilitation teacher

"Knowing how to direct readers around a library, knowing how to communicate with those who do not understand my blindness, coming up with reasonable accommodations with my professors, these are things I really had to work on in college." -- Business owner

When responding to questions related to orientation and mobility and travel, all respondents emphasized how important good cane travel skills were to their independence and success. However, in almost every survey, participants consistently remarked that one of the most challenging aspects of being blind was not being able to drive. Some respondents discussed in depth how difficult it was to attend college on a campus that had several mobility obstacles, such as busy streets which cut through campus and several difficult to follow paths around the school. These physical factors put a barrier between these students and their college education.

In regard to independent living, personal care and home management, respondents shared a variety of perspectives. Some felt that the training they had received from their families or rehabilitation programs in home management was adequate. Others indicated that they had minimal rehabilitation teaching and limited family support, which affected their preparedness to manage their personal lives, finances, home and the like.

"If a young person going off to college does not have a sense of balancing a checkbook and paying bills, disaster could result. I think so many parents do not allow their blind children to handle their own money, but this is something kids must learn." - - College student

"I am glad I had the opportunity to learn how to take care of a home while still living at my parents' home. I could not imagine learning all of that now with everything else going on." --College student

"Families cannot shelter their blind children from the world, hoping it will go away. Kids will grow up, and the best way to help them is to let them help themselves. Parents who do everything for their children are not doing them a favor. Let them have experiences, and let them make mistakes. It will hurt them a lot less if they make a mistake with a small allowance, or a minor cooking mistake under your care, than it will if these mistakes are made for the first time outside of your home, when the consequences could be horrible." -- Teacher

After reading the wide variety of responses, it was evident that some people encounter the most trouble in college because of a lack of instruction in all these areas. Despite the publicity on the importance of including the expanded core curriculum in students' education and the continued findings that pinpoint exactly where discrepancies lie in preparing students for college and employment, thousands of people with vision impairments go to college without the basic tools they need to achieve their goals without undue challenges. Yet, as the national agenda stated, and the results of my survey confirmed, these crucial areas are still being neglected. I wondered why and so began researching why so many students are lacking important skills. I surveyed teachers, service providers, rehabilitation professionals and people with vision impairments to get a more conclusive understanding.

I found that most professionals in rehabilitation and education are aware that their visually impaired students and clients will face challenges in college. Yet, many professionals are simply unaware that many resources already exist to assist visually impaired college-bound students. For example, although the professionals may realize that their students must take the College Board tests, they do not understand the extensive amount of work it will take to get the accommodations in place for the tests.

Students and professionals know that students will receive service from the disabled student services offices on their campuses, but how are those services set up and who is responsible for what? It is known that while on campus, students must attend to their own needs, but how are students to advocate for their needs, work with readers and manage their personal lives while still maintaining academic standing that is required to actually stay in college?

In many cases, it was evident that the challenges these students would face began long before they started their first college class. Participants in the study often remarked that they did not realize they should have investigated the campus and surrounding community even before applying to evaluate the accessibility of the campus. Many respondents indicated that they were in for a rude awakening the first day on campus when they realized the campus was inaccessible to them.

It became clear in my study that students, parents, teachers and rehabilitation professionals need guidelines to teach these skills. As a result, I have begun to develop a special curriculum to prepare high school students to apply to and transition to college. My curriculum, which is entitled with the acronym EXPLORE, outlines the steps a person with a vision impairment may use to facilitate a smooth transition to college and beyond. EXPLORE can be used as an educational curriculum in a school or rehabilitation facility, or by a student alone, or with a parent. It can be adapted for non-traditional-aged students and those wishing to attend a community college program or other non-four- year degree program.

The EXPLORE curriculum has another phase of study ahead. I have begun to implement it with high school students I work with, and I plan to use it with upcoming juniors and seniors. After my students complete some college, I will ask them to respond to a survey about the training effectiveness of the curriculum. It is my hope to distribute a "beta-testing" version of EXPLORE to itinerant teachers, rehabilitation programs and adults with vision impairments to further assess and revise the program.

For more information about the curriculum, its philosophy and materials, please contact me at the following e-mail address: [email protected]. It is useless to lament the disheartening statistics about blind and visually impaired people who cannot "make it" in the academic or post-academic world unless we all work together to develop the strategies that can prepare our visually impaired youth to succeed with an arsenal of skills and self-confidence to rely upon. Let us learn from the students who so willingly shared their experiences and their advice and make the road to transition a smoother one for the students who will follow.

by Trinette Barnes

Alcohol, tobacco, and other drug abuse rates are high among people with disabilities, and there are many reasons why. Most people with disabilities discover that life can be a struggle. If you are disabled, you are much more likely to feel higher levels of isolation and lack of social acceptance. It is more likely you will have difficulty finding and keeping a job. In addition, many disabled people do not have a positive self-identity.

These are issues that I have faced as a visually impaired person myself. However, I have found many ways to cope positively with the overwhelming challenges that come with my disability. For example, I keep busy by joining clubs and organizations, such as the California Poetry Society and church choir. Also, I take classes that interest me and keep my mind and body active. I have hobbies that enable me to express my feelings, such as poetry writing and martial arts. Because of these activities I do not have to turn to alcohol and other drugs for entertainment. In addition, I spend time with friends who don't abuse alcohol, tobacco or other drugs. And I try to deal with the ramifications of my disability by talking to close friends, relatives or counselors about my frustrations and my accomplishments.

The most rewarding way I cope is through my job as a health educator at Community Service Programs-Project Positive Action Towards Health, in Orange County, Calif. I help other people with and without disabilities stay free of alcohol, tobacco, and other drug abuse. The fact that I make a difference in people's lives gives me a sense of accomplishment. Because of my job, I am always meeting people who are involved in a substance-abuse- free lifestyle, which helps me maintain my own substance-free path.

If you struggle with issues of substance abuse, my advice is to find ways to stay alcohol-, drug- and tobacco-free by staying connected to those around you. Don't be afraid to talk about your struggles with friends or the people you trust, and find positive alcohol-, tobacco- and other drug-free activities to occupy your time. These steps can put you on the path to a healthy and happier life.

by Dorothy Casabianca

I am 60 years old. I have been blind since birth, and today, I am a cancer survivor. I was diagnosed with rectal cancer in February 2000. I am sharing my experience with readers of "The Braille Forum" so that you may become more aware of bodily changes that might prompt you to seek medical attention early. Doing so might save your life.

Since the births of my two children, I have suffered occasionally from hemorrhoids. Each time, I treated them, and the problem would go away for a while. Eventually they became quite uncomfortable and occurred more frequently. I would think to myself that I really should see a gastroenterologist.

The pressure became greater, and when I asked a personal friend to check, there was some blood present. I thought that perhaps the pressure and the blood might be coming from an internal hemorrhoid. As we blind people know, this particular symptom is something that, if we could see, would be one of the first signs to alert us that something could be wrong.

In 1996 and 1997 I lost two friends who were in their 40s to colon cancer. One of them was totally blind; the other, visually impaired. This disease shows no age or gender discrimination. In both cases, the cancer was discovered too late. Again I said to myself, "I really should go and have a colonoscopy."

Then I found a doctor with whom I felt very comfortable. During an exam, she found a rather large polyp, so we immediately proceeded with a colonoscopy. Because of the many things I had heard over the years about this test, I was pretty scared. But let me assure you that it is nothing to fear. I was anesthetized and only felt a little discomfort. During the procedure, she took a biopsy of the polyp, which showed that it was malignant, but the good news was that there were no other polyps.

Then I sought an oncology surgeon I could trust to do my surgery. During our first interview I told him that I would be going for a second opinion, and he was more than willing to give me copies of all my medical information. The second opinion concurred with everything the first doctor had told me, so I was very much at peace going into surgery.

A CT scan of my abdomen and pelvis showed no other organ involvement. This was an encouraging sign for me and my family.

I received six weeks of radiation and chemotherapy to shrink the tumor before surgery, making it much easier to remove. Because of its location, I had to have a colostomy. I had heard horror stories about things that happen to colostomy patients. But now I can tell you that after one has been fitted properly and learned how to use it, today's equipment is practically fail- safe.

My surgery took place June 8, 2000. I was in the hospital a little longer than most people, but once I returned home, thanks to the assistance of the Visiting Nurse Service, I made quantum leaps in my recovery. I have joined a support group, United Ostomy Association, and can do all the things that I always did.

I was on chemotherapy for a year after surgery, and finished up in August 2001. The type of medication I was given did not make me nauseous, and I did not lose my hair. Now I am seeing my oncologist once a month for the next year, and my surgeon every three months. If all of my tests keep coming back negative, then I will see them less often. So far, thank God, everything has been A-OK.

My reason for writing this article is to encourage everyone, especially blind and visually impaired people, to consider having regular, complete checkups which include blood work with cancer screening; a sigmoidoscopy, which is an examination of the lower colon; a colonoscopy, an examination of the entire colon; and a urinalysis. If pre-cancerous polyps are found, they can be removed during the colonoscopy. It takes about 10 years for a pre-cancerous polyp to become cancerous. So, if I had listened to my conscience and gone even a few years earlier, maybe I would have caught the polyp before it became so large that a colonoscopy was my only option. I can now admit to myself that the only reason for my procrastination was fear. That fear could have cost me my life.

These tests should definitely be done if there is any cancer in your family. The most important thing is to find a physician that you like, trust and can talk to openly. Be sure to mention that you want to have these tests because a blind person cannot possibly recognize the first, visual signs of cancer.

I realize that I am extremely blessed and am very grateful for each day of good health that I have with my family, my guide dog Clipsey, and friends. It sure does put things in perspective for me, and helps me know and remember what's important. I know that I am not out of the woods yet, but with God's help I will be in another three years. I know that if I didn't have my faith, and couldn't share my feelings, thoughts and concerns with God, then it would have been much more difficult for me to get through this illness.

by Sharon Lovering

The announcement of products and services in this column is not an endorsement by the American Council of the Blind, its staff, or elected officials. Products and services are listed free of charge for the benefit of our readers. "The Braille Forum" cannot be responsible for the reliability of products and services mentioned.

To submit an item for "Here and There," send an e-mail message to [email protected]. You may call the ACB toll-free number, (800) 424-8666, and leave a message in mailbox 22. Please bear in mind that we need information two months ahead of actual publication dates.


Sabriye Tenberken of Germany and Paul Kronenberg of the Netherlands jointly won the Albert Schweitzer Prize for their initiative in starting a schools project for blind children in Tibet.


The American Association of People with Disabilities recently announced the winners of the Henry B. Betts Award: Dick and Ginny Thornburgh, longtime advocates for the rights of people with disabilities. The award was presented at the AAPD Leadership Gala on March 4.


On Dec. 11, 2002, the board of managers of the Overbrook School for the Blind awarded Rudy Lutter its highest honor, the Julius R. Friedlander Medal. The medal is awarded from time to time for special cause to a person who has served by advancing the work of the school. Rudy serves the school as a member of that board, and he is the first blind person to receive the award. Congratulations!


The American Association of People with Disabilities recently announced the winners of the Paul G. Hearne/AAPD Leadership Awards. They are: Albert Cheong, San Francisco, Calif.; Claudia Gordon, Washington, D.C.; Carrie D. Griffin, Washington, D.C.; Peter Cody Hunt, Pittsburgh, Pa.; and Sarah Louise Triano, Chicago, Ill.


March is National Nutrition Month, which coincides with a nutrition education and information campaign sponsored by the American Dietetic Association, designed to focus attention on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits. For more information, contact the association at (312) 899-4853, or e-mail [email protected].


Braille International recently established a community service grant program. Its goal is to award grants from $500 to $4,000 to programs that will make a permanent difference in the lives of people who are blind and visually impaired through education, rehabilitation and/or employment. To be eligible, you must serve people who are blind and visually impaired, and be tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Applications will be accepted up to 4 p.m. on May 1, 2003. For complete information and an application, visit, or write James Redditt, President, Braille International, Inc., 3290 SE Slater St., Stuart, FL 34997.


The P.E.D. Education Center, Florence, S.C., is seeking a teacher of the visually impaired to serve as an itinerant teacher in the P.E.D. area. Salary is based on education and experience. You will receive state benefits if hired. Florence is 70 miles west of Myrtle Beach and 100 miles north of Charleston. Contact Dr. Thomas E. Truitt, (843) 669-3391 extension 12, or by e-mail: [email protected].


An ACB member in Utah recommends this Internet service called Emsanet. Charges are $9.95 for the first month and $12 per month thereafter, or $99 for a year. Use the code "ACB" to get this lower rate. According to the company, there is assistance 24 hours a day, seven days a week, via automated customer service and toll-free tech support. For more information, phone (877) 367-2638, or e-mail [email protected], or [email protected].


In 1990, Bill Irwin threw a pack on his back, harnessed his guide dog, and set out on foot on a 2,168-mile journey from Georgia to Maine on the Appalachian Trail. His story, recorded in his best-selling book "Blind Courage," reveals the experiences that have molded him into the motivational speaker who captivates audiences nationwide. Irwin will be the guest speaker following the closing buffet banquet at the Wildflower Pilgrimage, 8 p.m. Saturday, April 26, at Mills Auditorium, Gatlinburg, Tenn. For tickets, or more information, call (865) 436-7318 ext. 22, or visit


Kamyar Cyrus Habib, Kirkland, is a senior at Columbia where he majors in English and comparative literature. A Truman Scholar, he also has concentrated in computer science where he designed an apparatus that converts text applications to speech. Cyrus is a black belt karate instructor, a downhill skier, and a published photographer. He is also blind. He is president of an advocacy group for students with disabilities, and has worked for Senators Cantwell and Clinton. He is also vice president of the Iranian students' association at Columbia. He will read for the B.A. in European and Middle Eastern languages at Oxford.


Does your child enjoy a given series so much that he or she would love to read each and every book in it? Or is the whole class at school talking about a new book that's just been released, but your student hasn't had a chance to read it because it's not yet available in braille? Introducing The Braille Bookstore's READ WHAT YOU WANT program! We'll transcribe any popular book for ages 2 to 12 into braille at no additional charge for transcription, i.e., your only cost will be our everyday low braille production price (based on the number of braille pages). For instance, you can order any book in the Magic Tree House or Cam Jansen Adventures Series in braille for just $6.95; any Goosebumps mystery for only $15.95; or any title in the Babysitters Club or Nancy Drew mystery stories collections for $19.95 and $21.95 respectively. And since we can usually get a copy of the print book you want transcribed locally, you won't even have to mail it to us. Now, kids can read just about ANY book they want a week or two after you call us, without costing a small fortune. So give us a ring at 1-800-987-1231 (or send an e-mail to [email protected]) today to get us working on whatever book you want.

One more thing: we already have over a thousand braille titles for all ages available from our online catalog. What's more, we have a gift shop and a "learning braille" category, featuring such popular items as print/braille flash cards, braille magnets, bookmarks, key chains, calendars, playing cards, tactile board games, and gift certificates. On our web site, you can even type in a list of words or names for us to make print/braille flash cards out of -- for just $6.95! You can browse through our online bookstore (and order right on the web site using our screen reader-friendly, completely secure shopping cart) by dropping by:


Do you have access to the Internet? Do you enjoy shopping? Visit The Royal National Institute of the Blind in the United Kingdom has evaluated this online mall and called it excellent. Its owner wants ACB members to check it out and provide feedback on accessibility improvements. If you discover a problem, contact Allen King via e-mail, [email protected], or phone (408) 268-0516. King has offered to donate his first three-month commissions earned from ACB member purchases to ACB; be sure to let him know which stores you buy from and how much you spent.


Audiovision Canada has over 340 described movies on video and audio cassettes, as well as CD. Videos are $25, audio cassettes are $15. Call toll-free (800) 567-6755 ext. 228. PUBLICATION FOR COLLEGE STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES

The U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights has issued a new pamphlet titled "Students with Disabilities: Preparing for Postsecondary Education: Know Your Rights and Responsibilities." This publication provides a comprehensive, plain-English explanation of what students with disabilities can expect in the postsecondary environment.

To order copies of this publication, write to ED Pubs, Education Publications Center, U.S. Department of Education, P.O. Box 1398, Jessup, MD 20794-1398. To fax a request, use (301) 470-1244. Send e-mail requests to [email protected].


At the Macworld Expo, Apple Computer unveiled a new web browser, called Safari. The new browser, which only runs on Mac OS X 10.2 or higher, can read web pages aloud, includes a Google search field, tracks recently visited URLs, and includes a feature to block pop-up ads. Although no one expects Safari to challenge Internet Explorer's dominance of the browser market, Apple's new browser will give existing Apple customers an alternative to Microsoft software.


FOR SALE: Perkins brailler, completely refurbished by Selective Doctor. $400 or best offer, or will trade for something else. Call Robert Lewis at (410) 653-2498.

FOR SALE: Blazie Braille Embosser plus Duxbury Braille Translation software. Asking $1,200 (will consider offers) plus shipping and insurance for the package. I purchased this equipment in late 1999 and it is in excellent condition, having been used less than 10 times and remaining in original packaging for most of the past two years. Please contact Mary at (503) 788- 2714 or e-mail [email protected].

FOR SALE: Perkins brailler, brand new, still in box, $320. Braille 'n Speak, adapter and manual, $200. Contact Gloria at (770) 516-7764, or e-mail her at [email protected].

FOR SALE: 43 double cassette rigid plastic tape mailers with provision for address cards. Asking $50. Two Perkins braille writers. One has small platen knobs, soft cover; one has larger knobs and a hard, hinged cover. Well maintained, in excellent condition. Asking $400 for the one with the soft cover, $450 for the one with the hard cover. Insul-gauges, $5 apiece or $125 for all of them. On one side are raised Arabic numerals, on the other, braille numerals. Two wooden, custom-made boxes with hinged lids which some of the gauges fit into. Contact Robert Ziegler at (763) 537-8000, or e-mail him, [email protected].

FOR SALE: Connect OutLoud 2.0 registered. $100. Complete set of ACB 2002 convention tapes, $30. I'll only accept U.S. mail postal money orders. All items will be shipped via free matter, and insured. Contact J. L. Blackwell, 846 Skyline Dr., Chester, SC 29706; phone (803) 377-7913 between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. Eastern; or e-mail [email protected].

FOR SALE: Clearview classic B/W Tray from HumanWare, Inc.(table top electronic magnifier that connects to the television). Walters Scope Extra Close Focus 6 x 16 Field 9.3 (loop) - like new. And a lighted magnifier that clamps to the table. Contact Becky Schumacher at (301) 738-0011 work, or (301) 762-3114 home.

FOR SALE: Perkins brailler in good working order. Recently cleaned and oiled. Asking $400. Call Paul at (410) 379-2999, or e-mail him, [email protected].

WANTED: JAWS for Windows, version 3.7, as donation. Laptop computer or desktop, prefer laptop, as donation. Braille 'n Speak 640. Handicassette II and talking Franklin Language Master. Contact Melody Edwards at (609) 347-7539.

WANTED: Braille Note. Willing to trade my Braille 'n Speak 640 to receive Braille Note. Contact Anita Everette via e-mail, [email protected], or U.S. mail, 710 St. Andrews Dr., Apt. 18, Wilmington, NC 28412-9611.

by John Gillespie Magee Jr.

(Editor's Note: Like all Americans, we were saddened by the tragic deaths of Columbia's seven astronauts. In memory of and to honor these brave men and women, Kalpana Chawla, William McCool, Ilan Ramon, Rick Husband, Laurel Clark, David Brown, and Michael Anderson, we reprint the following.)

Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings.
Sunward I've climbed and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds -- and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of -- wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence.
Hov'ring there, I've chased the shouting wind along and

Flung my eager craft through footless halls of air
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I've topped the windswept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or even eagle flew.
And, while with silent, lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.


Jerry Annunzio
Kansas City, MO
Alan Beatty
Fort Collins, CO
Ed Bradley
Houston, TX
Brian Charlson
Watertown, MA
Dawn Christensen
Toledo, OH
Billie Jean Keith
Arlington, VA
Oral Miller
Washington, DC
Mitch Pomerantz
Los Angeles, CA
Carla Ruschival
Louisville, KY
Patrick Sheehan
Silver Spring, MD


Charles Hodge, Chairperson
Arlington, VA
Adrian De Blaey
Milwaukee, WI
Winifred Downing
San Francisco, CA
Mike Duke
Jackson, MS
Ken Stewart
Warwick, NY
Ex Officios: Earlene Hughes,
Lafayette, IN
Ralph Sanders,
Baltimore, MD
Jonathan Mosen,
Putiki, Wanganui, New Zealand



825 M ST., SUITE 216


3912 SE 5TH ST

500 S. 3RD ST. #H

Paul Edwards
20330 NE 20th Ct.
Miami, FL 33179

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