by Susan Lichtenfels

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

To submit items for this column, send a message to [email protected], or call ACB at 1-800-424-8666 and leave a message in mailbox 26. Please remember that postal regulations prohibit us from including advertisements, and that we need information two months ahead of actual publication dates.


National Braille Press has added to its collection of Braille and PortaBooks. "Blog On! Reading and Writing Blogs with a Screen Reader" by Anna Dresner covers finding the blogs that interest you, reading them, keeping up with them, and creating and writing a blog of your own. "Slow Cooker Meals" by Betty Crocker includes 56 recipes for soups, meats, one-dish meals, and even a dessert. "Word for Windows Quick and Easy for Word XP and Word 2003" adapted by Sharon Monthei is a basic, step-by-step tutorial for the latest versions of Word that instructs how to create, save, and print documents, format text, and revise work. In "A Family of Poems: My Favorite Poetry for Children," Caroline Kennedy passes on her own family's tradition of creating a scrapbook of poems chosen by the children in lieu of gifts to their mother and grandparents. "Dinosaurs, Dinosaurs" by Byron Barton is a braille-and-print board book that describes dinosaurs by size and physical features, and includes six plastic miniature replicas so kids can check out the features for themselves. For the complete contents and descriptions of these books, visit, or call 1-888-965-8965.


Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport is the first in the world to use a state-of-the-art paging system that is accessible to everyone with a disability. Visitors now send and receive messages at Paging Assistance Locations or PALs. The names of those being paged are both announced through speakers inside the terminal and displayed on monitors throughout the airport. Messages may be sent in a variety of ways, including a touch screen, a braille-enhanced keyboard, a telephone handset or headset, or an EZ access device for those with limited hand mobility. And the instructions are available in English, Spanish or German.


Ever wish your prescription medication bottle could tell you the directions for taking the medicine inside? Wish no more! Rex, the Talking Bottle, verbally identifies bottle contents through the simple push of a button and allows you to hear information about your medication. To get one, contact MedivoxRx Technologies, Inc., at 1-866-RX-TALKS (798-2557), or write the company at 5001 Baum Blvd., Suite 770, Pittsburgh, PA 15213.


The Labels for Literacy program is designed to place braille on more mainstream products in order to increase the usage and understanding of braille. The program will also increase access to brand and product information for blind and visually impaired consumers. It produces sheets of self-stick labels that identify common brands and products in large print and braille. To sign up for these free labels, fill out the form at


The Virginia M. Woolf Foundation provides people who are visually impaired with access to all types of publications by increasing the size of the type used to 18, 28 and 48-point. Publications can be viewed on a computer screen, read with speech synthesizers, or printed using the free Adobe Reader. The collection includes more than 80 U.S. Supreme Court opinions, miscellaneous government publications, and extensive classic literature. Visit for the complete selection and to purchase. For more information, call (310) 379-8321 or e-mail [email protected].


We want any descriptive videos in good shape to add to our lending library collection. We offer 175 movies for a one-time $25 gift (in the United States only). Call Bob Langford at (214) 340-6328 during business hours Central time.


Samsung, the Korean electronic giant, recently won gold honors at the Industrial Design Excellence Awards for its braille mobile phone. The Touch Messenger allows visually impaired users to send and receive braille text messages. Users will be able to use two braille keypads on the phone to send messages, while a braille display screen on the lower part of the phone will allow them to read incoming messages. To learn more about the Touch Messenger, visit 3_0000268454.


"Connections" is an e-newsletter that provides world-wide classifieds for the blind. Whether you provide a product or service, or want to buy, sell, or trade an item, "Connections" may be able to help. You can place your first 50-word ad for free. Future ads of 50 words are $5; 250-word articles are $20. Ads run for one month and reach more than 500 subscribers. Contact Megan Green with your ad copy at Connections, 1410 Westfall Place, Stayton, OR 97383 or call (503) 767-3786. To subscribe to this free e-newsletter, send a blank message to [email protected].


Books Aloud, Inc. provides a free audio book library service for people of all ages who are unable to read printed books on their own due to a visual, physical, or learning disability. Books Aloud records on regular two-track tapes and offers a few CDs. The collection includes almost 6,000 titles in various categories. The "Touch & Sound" program provides children's books in a kit containing a print-and-braille book that accompanies the audio book. Service is provided in the U.S. and Canada. Client application and verification of disability forms are required to begin service; these are available online at or by calling (408) 808-2613.


AdaptiveWare offers a wide range of products at reasonable prices. One such example is a Pentium-based PC with flat panel display, all-in-one device, screen reader and OCR software for only $1,595. You can contact AdaptiveWare to build a system for you by calling (615) 884-8904 or e- mailing [email protected].


Would you like a computer, but just can't afford it? There are computers available for $100 from Bob Langford. Your computer will come with Pentium III (or faster), 128 megs of RAM, Windows 98 (second edition), a demonstration copy of Window-Eyes, speakers, a 56K modem, sound card and a CD-ROM drive. It also includes a step-by-step audio tutorial (six cassettes) on Windows 98 and Window-Eyes, and a 40-page tutorial in large print for Windows 98 for those who can use a mouse, as well as a mini- tutorial on keyboarding. This offer is good in the United States and Canada only. Call Bob Langford at (214) 340-6328 during business hours Central time to get started on your computer journey!


The U.S. Department of Energy is currently working on the Artificial Retina Project. This collaborative, multi-institutional effort's goal is to develop an implantable microelectronic retinal device that restores useful vision to people blinded by retinal diseases such as retinitis pigmentosa and age-related macular degeneration. The basic concept for the retinal prosthesis is to bypass the photoreceptor (light-receiving) cells destroyed by retinal disease and transmit light signals directly to the brain.

Three retinal prosthetic devices are now in testing or development. A first model was implanted in six patients, who are now able to distinguish light from dark and localize large objects. A second, more compact device containing more electrodes (for greater visual resolution) is currently undergoing pre-clinical studies and awaits approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for human trials. A third, far less invasive and higher-resolution model is under development. The ultimate goal is to provide vision that enables facial recognition and large-print reading vision, using materials that will last for a lifetime.

None of the devices are yet available to the public. For information about eligibility for future studies, call Second Sight Medical Products, Inc. at (818) 833-5092. For more information on the project, see the web site ( To subscribe to the free newsletter, visit the web site or call (865) 574-0597.


The Perkins Institute offers a variety of blindness products including publications, talking books, braille writers, and braille literacy. The Light Touch Brailler reduces the key force needed by 40 percent for longer, faster use. Also available is the MuVo Mix 512-megabyte device that allows users to transfer downloadable audio book files from the Perkins Library's Unabridged Project, featuring audio book files from Overdrive. To request an electronic product catalog, contact [email protected].


The authors of the Chicken Soup for the Soul book series are seeking stories to be included in a new book tentatively titled "Chicken Soup for the Special Needs Community: 101 Heartwarming, Helpful, Healing Stories That Offer Inspiration and Promise Surrounding the Lives of Special Needs Individuals." Through these stories, readers will learn how others facing similar challenges surmounted the many obstacles they had. You have an opportunity to contribute to this new series by sharing stories of personal experiences that demonstrate your strength, insights, knowledge and wisdom. For more details on the specific story topics needed, or to submit your tale, send an e-mail message to [email protected] or visit


Clay Publishing operates a travel agency that specializes in helping people with disabilities, including the visually impaired. The company offers a fund-raiser that gives 30 percent of its travel commission back to the visually impaired. For more information, visit or call 1-888-846-6286.

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