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.


In April, AFB presented six awards to individuals and organizations for their impact in the blind and visually impaired community. The 2008 Migel Professional Award went to Lou Alonso for her work as a leader in deaf-blind education. LeRoy Saunders won the 2008 Migel Lay Volunteer Award for his commitment to expanding employment opportunities for people who are blind. A 2008 Access Award went to Code Factory for making cell phones, smart phones, and PDAs accessible to people with vision loss through Mobile Speak and Mobile Magnifier, screen-reading and screen magnification software. Another Access Award went to Serotek for giving people access to screen reading software from any computer at any time through System Access To Go. The final Access Award went to Lainey Feingold and Linda Dardarian for pioneering a legal advocacy method that emphasizes collaboration among the disability community, technology providers, businesses, and lawyers. Through their structured negotiations process, the city of San Francisco agreed to install pedestrian signals designed to guide blind and visually impaired pedestrians at more than 80 intersections citywide. Their negotiations work also resulted in creating more than 20 accessibility settlements with corporations, including Bank of America, Safeway, and Radio Shack. The 2008 recipient of the Gallagher Award was Anita Aaron, who served for 17 years as executive director of the San Francisco LightHouse.


Friday the 13th brings dread to some people, and those affected by this fear usually behave very cautiously. Well, this need not be the case with the 58th biennial alumni reunion at the Ohio State School for the Blind. This event will run Friday, June 13 through Sunday, June 15. The cost is $60, which covers two nights' lodging, six meals and $10 dues. This reunion will be the last time that we can experience the campus in its current state. Deadline for registering is May 23. For questions, call Paul Dressell at (513) 481-7662 or e-mail [email protected].


The American Foundation for the Blind recently announced that Gil Johnson, senior adviser, critical issues, will retire on June 13, 2008, after more than 40 years of working to identify and address critical national issues affecting employment and rehabilitation of people with vision loss.


National Braille Press is now accepting applications for the 2008 Louis Braille Touch of Genius Prize for Innovation. The prize will be awarded to an individual or group of individuals who contribute to innovation in the field of tactile literacy for blind people. It can be granted for a new educational method; a new tactile literacy product; or a new technological advance. In any of these areas, the innovation must demonstrate some aspect of tactile literacy. The winner receives $20,000. Deadline for applications is June 15, 2008. For more information about the Touch of Genius Prize and previous winners, visit For questions, contact Stephanie King at (617) 266-6160 ext. 47 or [email protected].


An American Kennel Club (AKC) ACE Award is a national honor, given to only five dogs each year who have performed an exemplary act or series of acts, whether large or seemingly small, that have significantly benefitted a community or individual. One award is given in the following five categories: law enforcement, search and rescue, therapy, service, and exemplary companion dog. Each of the five honorees receives a cash award of $1,000, an engraved sterling silver collar medallion and an all-expenses-paid trip for dog and owner to Long Beach, Calif., to be honored at the seventh annual AKC/Eukanuba National Championship in December 2008. Nominations are due by June 30, 2008. For more information about the AKC ACE awards, to download a nomination form, or to view last year's honorees, visit


Candle in the Window, a small national non-profit organization with the aim of building both individual skills and a sense of community among people with visual impairments, will hold its 21st annual conference entitled "Family Matters: The Roles of Blindness in Family Life." Discussion topics will include: what family influences continue to shape our approach to blindness; what factors (culture, the "blindness system," etc.) influenced our families' attitude toward blindness, and how did they respond; what differences, if any, exist between family relationships of those who grew up while blind compared to those who became blind later in life; and how to negotiate dependence-independence issues in current family relationships. The conference will run from Sept. 10 -14 at Wooded Glen, a retreat center located in Henryville, Ind., just outside of Louisville, Ky. Cost: $475 for two to a room; $455 for three to a room; and $405 for four to a room. There is a $40 discount if you pre-pay a $35 NON-REFUNDABLE deposit by August 1; limited scholarships and payment plans available. For additional information, contact Becky Barnes at (914) 243-2210 or [email protected]. You may also contact Donna Pomerantz at (626) 844-4388 or [email protected].


"A Pocketful of Sound" was written to help individuals decide which of the audio player gadgets is best for them. Author Anna Dresner describes and compares many of the most accessible players, including the Zen Stone; iPods; players running Rockbox; the Olympus DS-30, DS-40, and DS-50; the Victor Reader Stream; the Icon; and many others. She uses the same checklist for each product to compare their features. She includes detailed descriptions, basic instructions for use, and tips for power users. Also included are brief sections on the media-playing capabilities of notetakers and cell phones, information about how players organize music, links to tutorials and other resources, and sources for downloading music and books. To read the table of contents, visit The book is available in Braille and PortaBook for $14. Send orders to National Braille Press, 88 St. Stephen Street, Boston, MA 02115-4302 or call toll-free 1-800-548-7323.


The Talking Books Librarian blog at is a blog about talking books and other great free resources for blind or visually impaired people. You can find out what's happening in the world of libraries and talking books! The blog also includes information and resources of importance to educators and older adults, as well as those with disabilities, or those working with people who have disabilities.


The National Association for Parents of Children with Visual Impairments (NAPVI) has partnered with AFB to launch a resource web site for parents of children who are visually impaired. offers message boards and useful information on a variety of topics, including technology, education, independent living skills, transitioning, and more. Visitors can also find resources based on their child's age. The site includes event listings and a database of service providers around the country. To learn more, visit


Roger Schaf of R Schaf Toys makes wooden toys, games, puzzles and some novelty gifts. Many of the games are accessible for the blind. To learn about these products, visit, or contact him at (502) 367-9857.


HumanWare unveiled two new products at the 2008 CSUN conference: a new talking GPS for people who are blind and a communicator for people who are deaf-blind. The Trekker Breeze was designed for use when traveling in familiar surroundings and provides talking GPS directions that help users know where they are and where they are going. Users can record routes as they walk them with sighted assistance. Routes can then be previewed and activated for future use. As they walk by, users receive audible information such as street names, intersections and reference landmarks. The DeafBlind Communicator (DBC) provides three types of communication for deaf-blind users: face-to-face, TTY, and SMS texting. The DBC consists of two separate components that deaf-blind users can easily carry wherever they go. These two components communicate wirelessly with each other using Bluetooth. For more details on these products, visit


The Reading Scanner is a hand-held or hands-free scanner with a built-in microprocessor, memory, voice synthesizer, and speaker which scans and reads printed pages. The device is capable of scanning the words on a page and displaying the text on an LCD display panel and/or audibly pronouncing the words through flush mounted speakers. It alerts the user when he/she has reached the end of a page. For more information, call (843) 237-5915.


Access News is a service provided by the Sacramento Society for the Blind in conjunction with the Braille and Talking Book Library. Callers can find information and resources by dialing one easy number: 1-800-665-4667. Browse national weekly and monthly publications, enjoy our growing entertainment sections, and hold your important business meetings with colleagues all over the country. Sign-up is free and easy. For more information, or to sign up, contact Joseph Hamilton at (916) 732-4010.


Long-time ACB lawyer Lainey Feingold now has a web site at Lainey has posted all the agreements she and her colleagues, including Linda Dardarian, have negotiated about talking ATMs, accessible web sites, accessible pedestrian signals, braille and other formats, and point-of-sale devices. Structured negotiation, a collaborative advocacy and dispute resolution process, was used to reach those agreements. To read more about ACB's role in structured negotiations, or more than two dozen settlement agreements, visit today.


Cambridge Leadership Associates now offers "Leadership on the Line: Staying Alive Through the Dangers of Leading," a top-selling business book written by Ron Heifetz and Marty Linsky, in braille. This is a personal survival guide for individuals seeking to lead. The writers profess that leading is risky and dangerous work. Exercising leadership is dangerous because you risk making yourself vulnerable, whether you are supporting unpopular initiatives, promoting provocative new ideas, questioning the gap between values and behavior of your colleagues, or asking family and friends to face up to unpleasant realities. The 224-page book costs $29.95 and is available through


There's a new web site out that's screen-reader-friendly, and mainly a blind and visually impaired community, for ages 13 and older. You can play games or talk to people using an instant messenger system. Visit to learn more.


Adrijana Prokopenko is a teacher of English working in a school for the blind in Macedonia. She would welcome any books, magazines, games or other items that are designed to help teachers and students of English. She would also like any blindness items that are in good condition, such as white canes or anything that is unwanted but that others can use. Before sending, contact her in braille, tape or via e-mail. Contact Adrijana Prokopenko, bul. Jane Sandanski, 43 5 / 6, 1000 - Skopje, Macedonia; e-mail [email protected].


According to Larry Johnson, you can melt away the stress and tension which build up in your body each day in just 15 minutes by listening to and following this scientifically proven, guided relaxation exercise that he has recorded. The CD features three acoustic mood settings: track 1, mountain stream; track 2, celestial sounds; and track 3, ocean surf. You can buy one for $12, or two for $20. Mail checks to Larry Johnson, 10863 Lake Path Drive, San Antonio, TX 78217.


Prior to losing his sight to retinitis pigmentosa, John Lewis was a wildlife artist. He recently launched a web-based business selling his prints. The site includes detailed descriptions of the paintings. To learn more, visit

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