Consider AAVL

If you are looking for a great combination of fun and interesting information, then mark your convention registration forms for all events of AAVL.

On Monday afternoon, join us for a great lunch and a speaker that will have you holding your sides with laughter. On Tuesday, you'll have a chance to visit another meeting, or go see the vendors. On Wednesday, however, we will be telling you all about scams and identity theft; someone from the attorney general's office will be speaking.

Most of ACB knows about our Wednesday afternoon musical wine and cheese and raffle. There are cash prizes, and who couldn't use cash in Vegas? On Thursday we offer our audience participation roundtable discussion. This year's topic is "The Things I Have Lost and Gained Due to Vision or Hearing Loss."

We will also have a short business meeting on Thursday afternoon. We would like you to join us and share your feelings and experiences. Remember: when you think convention, think AAVL. For any questions about our affiliate, please call president Nola McKinney at (870) 356-5344.

Join BITS in Innovating for the Future
by Robert Rogers

Blind Information Technology Specialists (BITS) is preparing to put on a really great program at the 2005 ACB convention in Las Vegas. We hope you will plan to register for, and attend, our program events on Sunday through Wednesday.

On Sunday morning, with our program starting at 10:00, we will have Freedom Scientific, GW Micro, Humanware, and Sendero, with their features of accessibility for the blind, vying with each other to attempt to prove to us that their products have better features and accessibility for blind users. That afternoon, we will again have our vendor showcase where vendors leave the boisterous confusion of the exhibit floor and join you in comparative comfort in a quiet meeting room to give abbreviated presentations with Q & A.

Monday night, we have our mixer starting at 9. On Tuesday afternoon, at 12:30, we have our luncheon with our speaker from Sendero talking about the latest developments in GPS wayfinding.

Immediately after our luncheon (about 2 p.m.) we will hold our annual meeting. Remember, this is an election year! We also have to vote on amendments to our constitution and bylaws. These are important since they can change the definition of our membership from that of being an exclusive bunch of high-tech data processing professionals to an organization of good people who use computers and technology, people who are also eager to help others, all of us together using technology to cope with our needs as visually impaired people.

On Wednesday afternoon at 1:30, a representative from Microsoft will discuss the company's products and accessibility thereto. A question-and- answer session will follow. The afternoon ends with another session for computer software users led by several of our own BITS experts.

If you plan to come to our luncheon on Tuesday to hear about GPS for the blind, be sure to register in advance. Seating is limited.

To learn more about BITS and its activities, including the convention program, visit If you are interested in joining or re- joining BITS, you may do so online by filling out the convenient online membership application, and even paying dues at that time through Paypal. Dues information and the name and address of our treasurer are posted there. We'll see you in Vegas.

BRL Steps Ahead
by Winifred Downing

Recognizing that changes must be made in braille, BRL steps forward with explanations and a solution. The changes are necessary to resolve the contradictions and ambiguities existing in the codes we use now; offer signs like plus, minus, and equals signs for the literary code; develop ways in which all the variety now offered in textbooks especially for schoolchildren can be incorporated in the braille text; and accommodate the needs of people involved with technology.

To accomplish these purposes, BRL offers, at 2:15 on July 5, a workshop in the Nemeth Universal Braille System (NUBS), an alternative to the Unified English Braille Code (UEBC) to which many blind people have objected. NUBS preserves all the contractions and the spacing practices we now use; provides a single code so that users can progress as far as their need requires; is much more concise than the UEBC, thus necessitating far fewer characters for the fingers to identify; and is easy for the blind person to write. Every participant will be given a booklet to examine and keep.

In addition to this innovative workshop, the BRL program features a description by the Jenny Beck Chapter of the Braille Revival League, which has its own office and embossing equipment to serve the blind of Pennsylvania in countless ways; an explanation of braille use by a technical writer, given by ACB president Christopher Gray; a forum concerning the Braille Authority of North America led by Kim Charlson, and the Wednesday afternoon joint program with LUA centering on books, library practices, and the ACB narrator of the year. Do join us on July 5 and 6 for a stimulating experience!

SASI to Hold Informative Sessions

SASI is planning two programs this year. One will be held on Saturday, July 2 from 3 to 5 p.m. It is called "Meet Your SSP." Lori Scharff will introduce the session and introduce each SASI individual to his or her support service provider. The second session, "Ways to Communicate with SASI" featuring Rich McGann from Pittsburgh, will be held Tuesday afternoon, July 5 from 1 to 5. Gail Ploman, Randy and Jamie Pope will give an update on the program. Mississippi State University will also give an update on the research and rehabilitation project.

Oh, and there will be a vendor demo of some equipment and devices used by SASI people. Please make time to attend our interesting programs this year. See you in Las Vegas.

Diabetes Seminar to Talk about Carbs

ACB Diabetics in Action, the newest special-interest affiliate, will host the annual diabetes seminar on Saturday, July 9 at 9:30 a.m. The topic this year is "All You Want to Know About Carbs and Are Afraid to Ask."

ACBDA will also be selling raffle tickets at $2 each or three for $5. First prize is $100; second prize, $75; and third prize, $50.

Lucky Dogs
by Sheila Styron

Believe it or not, the ACB convention is once again upon us, featuring five days of Guide Dog Users, Incorporated (GDUI) activities taking place from Sunday, July 3 through Thursday, July 7 at the Riviera Hotel, and that's why we're all lucky dogs. All winning numbers, I mean necessary contact info, will be revealed at the end of this article. GDUI will be featuring less programming Monday through Wednesday but offering you more on Thursday than we have in the past. The winning combination here is designed to alleviate convention stress for both human and canine partners alike, which should prove to be a win-win situation for everyone.

GDUI will once again be offering two opportunities to orient yourself to the convention hotel and surrounding area with your favorite guide dog instructors on Sunday afternoon from noon to 2 and 5 to 7 p.m. Maybe we'll auction off the most popular trainers to raise funds for GDUI. Don't forget to ask them to show you how to find the casino and GDUI suite!

If you order dog food in advance, the GDUI Suite is where you will pick it up Sunday afternoon from noon to 4 p.m. and where you will want to hang out with other guide dog handlers, purchase GDUI products or just kick back and relax Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. If you experience any guide dog-related problems while at convention, you may want to contact GDUI's empathizers, who will also be based in the suite. The affiliate roundup meeting will take place Sunday afternoon from 2:15 to 3:45 p.m., at which time GDUI affiliate representatives will be credentialed for voting. So don't miss that meeting if you are a delegate for your GDUI affiliate. The GDUI board meeting is scheduled from 4 to 6 p.m. Sunday.

Monday through Thursday morning at 7 a.m., with a promise to be back in time for general session, GDUI's breakfast club will provide opportunities to walk a short distance before the Las Vegas sun is out in full force. Opening ceremonies will take place Monday afternoon at 1:30, followed by an illuminating presentation at 2:15 by International Guide Dog Federation assessors Michele Pouliot and Terry Barrett, who will recount their adventures visiting guide dog schools in places like New Zealand and South Korea. From 3:30 to 5 p.m., guide dog school presentations will be tailored to your specific needs, as GDUI takes a chance on a revised format where after brief school updates, individuals can interact with school reps one on one. Whether you just want to visit with old friends or are finally getting around to considering training with a guide dog, program reps will answer your questions and tell you everything you ever wanted to know about training with a guide dog.

Monday evening from 8 to 10, GDUI will hold its reception celebrating Lucky Dogs, and you could end up being a very lucky dog indeed, with a valuable chunk of GDUI's door prize treasure trove going to Lucky Dog attendees.

GDUI is proud to offer free microchipping Tuesday and Wednesday mornings starting at 10 a.m. in the GDUI Suite courtesy of Avid. At 12:30 on Tuesday, there will be an owner/trainer panel discussion which will explore training options from training a guide dog from scratch to how we as handlers can shape our dogs' behaviors after graduating from guide dog school. At 1:30 p.m., Becky Barnes from Guiding Eyes for the Blind will provide strategies for resolving advocacy conflicts especially designed to assist visually impaired individuals in their communities. At the GDUI business meeting which follows at 2:45, four GDUI board members will be elected.

Wednesday from 12:30 to 2 p.m., GDUI's keynote luncheon speaker will be Dr. Jane Brackman, who I like to refer to as the world's leading dogologist. Dr. Brackman will discuss some of the mysteries still perplexing scientists about Canis Familiaris such as the oddities that occur as wolves change to dogs, the eccentricities of canine biology, and the curious relationship between form and function in dog breeds.

ACB's candidates are invited to address GDUI members from 2:15 to 3:15, after our luncheon at the GDUI caucus, and continuing with its winning strategy, GDUI invites you to Take A Hike to the Fashion Show Mall with canes or canine guides Wednesday evening, from 7 to approximately 9, when the Vegas sun is no longer a contender.

Thursday afternoon from 2 to 3, Judy Dixon, Consumer Relations Officer at the National Library Service for the Blind, will discuss taking a chance on training with a guide dog for the first time after age 50. You won't want to miss Judy's presentation if you're one of those individuals who has been considering working with a guide dog but just hasn't been able to work up the courage to do it. Finally, Thursday evening from 8 to 9, we will wrap up GDUI's activities by getting down on the floor with our dogs with Carla Campbell, renowned canine and equine body worker, as she guides us through the best Vegas petting session imaginable with our dogs. Carla will be available for individual dog massage sessions Monday through Thursday morning in the GDUI Suite.

Since it wouldn't be fair to show all GDUI's winning convention programming cards before you actually arrive in Las Vegas, I will now don my poker face and leave you with the contact info you'll need to make all those lucky Las Vegas plans. GDUI hopes to see as many of you lucky dogs as possible in Las Vegas this summer.

The Riviera Hotel phone number is (702) 734-5110. Room rates for single and double occupancy, $77 per night (plus tax). Guide dog handlers might want to ask for rooms in the Monaco tower to be closer to the better relief area.

Emergency vet care: Emergency Vet Center, (702) 457-8050

Non-emergency vet care: Ark Animal Clinic, (702) 648-8583

To order dog food, call James Almon at Bone Appetit, (702) 644-3644. Call with credit card orders by June 23 and absolutely no later than June 28. The store can provide all brands and in smaller bag sizes. It specializes in more natural foods including: Solid Gold, Natural Balance, Nutro Ultra, Canidae, Royal Canine Pinnacle and Eagle Pack. There is a bakery which prepares a wide variety of delicious and natural dog treats, too.

IVIE In Las Vegas: A Sure Bet For A Great Program
by Carla Hayes

When making plans for the events you will attend at the ACB national convention in Las Vegas, be sure to leave plenty of time for IVIE's exciting activities. In case you don't know, IVIE stands for Independent Visually Impaired Enterprisers. We are an ACB affiliate comprised of blind and visually impaired business owners in a variety of fields. As usual, Monday will be IVIE Day during convention week. We will start bright and early with our annual breakfast and business meeting from 7 to 8:30 a.m. After enjoying a sumptuous breakfast and fellowship with friends, participate in a lively business meeting in which you will have the opportunity to elect new officers and plan for IVIE's future.

Our program will take place on Monday afternoon. We will begin with a motivating seminar from 1:30 to 3 p.m. titled, "The Best Made Plans Of Mice, Men and Business Owners: How to Plan For Success in Business and in Life." Our presenter will be IVIE's own William Benjamin, proprietor of the Piano Boutique in Tallahassee, Fla. and author of the book "Metamorphosis." This program will be followed by the Entrepreneurs' Round Table which will take place from 3 to 4:30 p.m. During this informal gathering, blind and visually impaired business owners will have the opportunity to meet and discuss their challenges, problems and successes and exchange ideas and tips. Would-be business owners are also welcome to come.

This year, IVIE will not hold a business expo. Instead, there will be an IVIE booth in the exhibit hall during regular exhibit hours. At this booth, blind and visually impaired business owners will showcase their products and services and answer questions about what they do. If you are a business owner, you can purchase time at the booth. The rates will be $10 an hour for IVIE members and $15 an hour for non-members. Time at the booth will be scheduled in advance and will be first come, first served. To schedule booth time and arrange for payment, please call me at (724) 941- 8184 as soon as possible. When you are in the exhibit hall, be sure to stop by the IVIE booth often because different businesses will be there at different times.

I would also like to take this opportunity to remind you that the time to pay your IVIE dues is now. Our calendar year runs from July 1 through June 30. If you would like to renew your membership, or join, annual dues are $15. Your check should be made payable to IVIE. Please send your name, address, phone number, e-mail address and the name of your business (if you have one), along with your check, to our membership chairperson, Sila Miller, 2201 Limerick Drive, Tallahassee, FL 32309.

If you have any questions about the convention, the IVIE booth or IVIE in general, please feel free to call me at (724) 941-8184. Hope to see you in Las Vegas!

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