by Sue Lichtenfels

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

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


The newly redesigned $5 bill entered circulation on March 13. Have you received one yet? The bill has two new watermarks, plus a security thread, and a large, purple number five in the lower right-hand corner on the back of the bill. Watch for them in your change!


AFB is currently accepting applications for its 2008 scholarship program. Numerous scholarships are available for students majoring in a variety of fields. For the application, descriptions of each scholarship, and a list of the necessary supporting documents, visit All applications and accompanying documentation are due March 31, 2008. For additional information, contact the AFB Information Center at (212) 502-7661 or 1-800-232-5463.


In celebration of 150 years of building independence for people who are blind and visually impaired, the American Printing House for the Blind is conducting an essay contest. APH invites blind and visually impaired children, adults, and the professionals who serve them, to describe how APH products have made an impact on their lives. The deadline for entry is April 1, 2008. The entry form, including the official topic, number of words, and all guidelines for preparing and submitting an essay, is posted on the APH web site at For print or braille copies of the entry form, contact Becky Snider at 1-800-223-1839 or [email protected].


The VSA Arts Playwright Discovery Program invites middle- and high- school students to examine the ways in which disability affects their lives and the lives of others, and to express their views through the art of playwriting. Playwrights may write from their own experience or about an experience in the life of another person or fictional character. Young playwrights with and without disabilities are encouraged to submit a script. Entries may be the work of an individual student or a collaboration by a group or class of students. The winning play will be professionally produced at the JFK Center for the Performing Arts. The winner receives $2,000 and a trip to Washington, D.C., to see his/her play performed. Authors must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents of the U.S. and be students in grades 6 to 12. Complete program guidelines and application materials are available at Deadline for entries is April 11, 2008.


The Eye Care Center at the Southern California College of Optometry seeks participants for Shared Visions 2008-2009, the fourth annual juried art exhibit by artists who are blind or legally blind. Works selected will be exhibited in the Eye Care Center for a period of one year. The deadline for entries is May 14, 2008. To obtain an application, visit For more information, contact Rebecca Kammer at (714) 449-7473 or [email protected].


The Alumni Association of the New York State School for the Blind will hold its annual reunion at the Holiday Inn in Batavia, N.Y., June 6-8, 2008. Rooms will be available on Thursday, June 5, and an extra excursion on Sunday afternoon may be run if there is sufficient interest. Room rates are $70 per night for regular rooms, and $90 per night for suites. If you make your reservations before May 1, you will not have to pay taxes. A grant of $200 is available to one person who has never attended the reunion, or who has not attended in many years, and who has economic need. Grant applications are due by April 1, 2008. For more information about activities and meals, phone Tim Hendel at (256) 650-5212. To pay your dues or make other payments, phone Sukosh Fearon at (315) 363-4460.


The American Bar Association Commission on Mental and Physical Disability Law is now accepting nominations for the eighth annual Paul G. Hearne Award for Disability Rights. Each year, the award is presented to an individual or an organization that has performed exemplary service in furthering the rights, dignity, and access to justice for people with disabilities. The 2007 award went to Laura Cooper Fenimore, a private practitioner who specializes in long-term planning and insurance matters for people with chronic illnesses. The next recipient will be honored at the 2008 ABA annual meeting in New York City in early August. Starbucks, the sponsor of the Hearne Award, will give the recipient a $1,000 honorarium and pay for the recipient's travel expenses to New York. Further information about the award, selection criteria, and an online nomination form can be found at Nominations must be received either electronically or postmarked by April 1, 2008. For additional information, or a hard copy of the form, contact William Phelan at [email protected] or (202) 662-1576.


The Gospel Association for the Blind will host the 2008 Siloam Camp for Blind Teenagers and Adults May 17-24, 2008 at the Golden Cross Ranch in New Caney, Tex. The cost for the week of camp is $200, which includes lodging, meals, and activities. Activities will include: a shopping trip to Wal-Mart; experiencing various animals from the Houston Zoo; two talent nights; swimming; horseback riding; games; Christian videos; a road trip; a hayride and campfire; and more. The theme for the 2008 camp is "How's Your Prayer Life?" A $25 non-refundable registration fee is required of all campers to receive the camp application and medical form. Make money orders or checks payable to the Gospel Association for the Blind, and send it along with a 3 x 5 index card containing your name, address, phone number, cell phone number and e-mail to: The Gospel Association for the Blind, PO Box 1162, Bunnell, FL 32110. First-time campers stay the week for free except for the $25 registration fee. Applications and medical forms are due by April 18, 2008. For more information, call 1-866-251-5165, mailbox 7128#; visit, or e-mail [email protected].


The National Resource Center for Blind Musicians is accepting applications for its seminar for blind college-bound musicians, which will be held July 14-20 at the Overbrook School for the Blind in Philadelphia. Designed for serious braille-reading music students preparing for or already in college (ages average 17-21), the program tailors instruction to each person's need to develop braille music and theory skills, and to learn to use technology to submit music assignments in print notation. Applicants must have already studied some music theory, have had several years of music lessons, and be able to present a polished and pleasing performance. Contact the Resource Center regarding tuition, scholarship criteria, and the application and audition procedure. Deadline for requesting applications is April 12; all application materials must be in the Resource Center office by May 8. Also contact the Resource Center if you are a sighted teacher and would like to gain experience as an intern helping out during the program, or are a parent and would like to bring a younger student for an evaluation. The Resource Center now works with colleges and state agencies to provide phone and online tutoring to students studying music at the college level. For more information, visit; call David Goldstein at (203) 366-3300, ext. 229; or e-mail [email protected].


"Dialogue Magazine" is seeking article submissions for 2008. Topics for articles might include descriptions of workable solutions for operating appliances and other visually oriented devices; experiences with conducting business online; reviews of new or improved accessible software and hardware; explanations of innovative communication strategies utilized by people who are deaf-blind; safety tips for blind and visually impaired travelers; inspirational accounts of educational pursuits such as study abroad, internships and mentoring programs; and stories of blind and deaf-blind people engaged in challenging, intriguing or unusual careers. Other articles of interest include people who are blind or visually impaired involved in adapted sports, fitness programs, and crafts. Articles on topics related to dating, relationships and family; daily living, cooking and household management; and examples of people with vision loss developing a positive attitude, setting goals and planning for the future are also being sought. Writer's guidelines are online at To request the guidelines, column descriptions and a sample issue of the magazine, call 1-800-860-4224 or e-mail [email protected].


The New Freedom Initiative Awards recognize public-private partnerships and programs that have had a positive impact on the employment of people with disabilities through access to assistive technologies, the use of innovative training, and hiring and retention techniques. The honor also recognizes organizations, businesses and individuals that develop comprehensive strategies to enhance the ability of Americans with disabilities to enter and advance within the workforce of the 21st century. Nominations for this award are being accepted through May 30, 2008. Details regarding the nomination process are available at For questions, call (202) 693-7880.


"Touch the Invisible Sky" is a new book sponsored by NASA that uses braille, large type, and tactile diagrams of celestial images observed by the space telescopes Hubble, Chandra, and Spitzer to reveal the cosmos to people who are blind or visually impaired. The tactile diagrams feature raised outlines and textures superimposed on the images themselves to indicate how the objects appear differently according to wavelength viewed in -- for example, radio, infrared, visible, ultra-violet, or x-ray. The text explains what each image shows, and even describes how the different types of telescopes capture the images. NASA is making this book a national resource by distributing copies at no cost to schools for the blind around the U.S., the Library of Congress, several blind technology and training centers, and state libraries that have astronomy collections. NASA has funded two other astronomy-related braille books: "Touch the Universe" and "Touch the Sun."


There's great news for current and new subscribers of "Harvard Business Review" on special format cassette from the MAB Recording Studio. Harvard Business School Publishing is now subsidizing the costs of producing Harvard Business Review on tape for blind and visually impaired people. The price for a one-year subscription is $49. Each of the 10 monthly issues includes two cassettes with 8 hours of material. Additionally, yearly subscriptions to "Cat Fancy" and "Dog Fancy" magazines on tape are available at $84 each for 12 issues. MAB also offers custom recordings of any submitted publications onto special format digital cassette. To discuss any of these offerings, contact Robert Pierson at (617) 972-9117 or [email protected].

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