by Sue Lichtenfels

The announcement of products and services in this column does not represent an endorsement by the American Council of the Blind, its officers, or staff. Listings are free of charge for the benefit of our readers. The Braille Forum cannot be held responsible for the reliability of the products and services mentioned. To submit items for this column, send a message to [email protected], or phone the national office at 1-800-424-8666, and leave a message in mailbox 26. Information must be received at least two months ahead of publication date.


AFB is now accepting nominations for its 2009 Access Awards which honor individuals, corporations, and organizations that are eliminating or substantially reducing inequities faced by people who are blind or visually impaired. The awards will be presented on March 5, during the 2009 Josephine L. Taylor Leadership Institute at the Washington Marriott Hotel in Washington, DC. Nominations should illustrate an exceptional and innovative effort that has improved the lives of people who are blind or visually impaired by enhancing access to information, the environment, technology, education, or employment, including making mainstream products and services accessible. The effort should be one that has a national impact or can be a model for replication on a national level. Send letters of nomination and supporting documentation to Darren Burton via e-mail at [email protected] or postal mail to: Darren Burton, AFB, 2009 Access Awards Committee, 949 Third Ave., Huntington, WV 25701. Nomination materials must be received no later than Sept. 26, 2008. For additional information on the Access Awards, visit


disABLEDperson Inc. will be holding their fall 2008 nationally based scholarship competition for disabled college students beginning Aug. 6, 2008 and ending Oct. 10, 2008 for the sum of $750. Applicants must be U.S. citizens with a disability who are enrolled full-time in a two- or four-year college. The first step is to visit and complete the application. Then, you will need to write a 1,000-word or less essay. Visit for the essay topic and complete rules.


The Braille Revival League of Alabama offers the 2008 NCAA College Football Guide covering 120 division 1-A teams and most division 1-AA teams in braille. Also included will be the results of the 2007-2008 bowls, the AP top 25 final polls, the 2008-2009 bowl schedule and much more. Checks covering the $10 cost should be made out to Allen H. Gillis and sent to him at 302 Schaeffel Rd., Cullman, AL 35055. For more information, contact him at (256) 734-4047 or [email protected].


Beginning this fall, Northcentral Technical College in Wausau, Wis. will be offering an Internet-based certificate program in access technology for the blind. Certifications will be available in magnification, speech output, and braille. For more information, contact Joe Mielczarek at (715) 803-1087.


The AFB has recently launched the Rx Label Enable Campaign to help bring about policy changes in medication labeling standards. As part of the campaign, AFB teamed up with the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists Foundation (ASCP) to develop the "Guidelines for Prescription Labeling and Consumer Medication Information for Persons with Vision Loss." The guidelines provide pharmacists and pharmacies with specific format recommendations for making important medication information accessible to patients with vision loss, and will serve as a resource for people with vision loss and blindness-related organizations. They also contain suggestions for making information accessible to people for whom larger print is not useful, general information on assistive technology, resources, and services that pharmacists and pharmacies can share with their blind and visually impaired customers. For people who have trouble reading their medication labels, and pharmacists who want to provide better customer service, information on the Rx Label Enable campaign and the full set of prescription labeling recommendations can be found at AFB also seeks feedback from blind and visually impaired individuals regarding their prescription medication experiences that can aid the campaign's efforts.


The annual joint training conference of the Association of Southeastern Rehabilitation Teachers (ASERT) and the Mid-America Conference of Rehabilitation Teachers (MACRT) will be held Nov. 13-15, 2008 at the Sheraton Birmingham Hotel, 2101 Richard Arrington Jr. Blvd. N., Birmingham, AL 35203. Their phone is (205) 324-5000. Early registration (by Oct. 3) is $130; after Oct. 3 will be $160. For more details, call Lenore Dillon at (256) 549-7790 or Sue Schulgin at (205) 290-4447.


The fourth international conference on tactile diagrams, maps and pictures for use by blind and partially sighted children and adults in education, work and daily life will take place at the Jurys Inn in Birmingham, UK Dec. 3-5, 2008. The event brings together the world of design, production, procurement, use and support of tactile graphics (images which are touched rather than looked at). The conference offers pre-conference workshops and excellent networking opportunities and covers all aspects of tactile graphics for use by blind and partially sighted children and adults in education, work and daily life. Presentation topics will include challenges and solutions, applications and good practice, technologies for producing and accessing tactile graphics, perception, training, and tactile graphic literacy. For more information, visit or e-mail [email protected].


John Riccio, a master's student from Ryerson University in Toronto, Ontario is looking at alternative methods of audio description in an attempt to identify which method provides the best understanding and enjoyment for viewers. He is seeking blind and low-vision individuals who are over the age of 18 to take part in this experiment. As a participant, you will watch three episodes of a television show (approximately 22 minutes each), and fill out a survey following each episode. You will also complete pre- and post-study questionnaires about your experience and opinions of video description and your current television viewing habits. This survey will be conducted online, so you will be able to watch these episodes at your convenience. If you are interested in participating in this study, please contact John via e-mail at [email protected].


The Veterans Business Training Center provides online job training and professional placement assistance to combat-wounded and disabled veterans by using the Internet and web-based training technology. The goal is to recruit, train and retain qualified veterans for careers in the Contact Center industry that offer long-term job placement. The course work maximizes the military training veterans received and re-engineers their skills to the information industry -- creating employment opportunities to provide for themselves and their families. Applications for participation in the program are currently being accepted at


Nestled in the Santa Monica Mountains of Malibu, Calif., Camp Bloomfield offers various week-long camp sessions for children and teens who are blind, visually impaired or multi-disabled, and their families. Campers participate in fun and challenging adaptive activities, such as horseback riding, swimming, archery, climbing wall and high ropes course. Celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, Camp Bloomfield has provided tens of thousands of children with a safe and supportive environment to build self-esteem, increase independence and experience the joys of childhood. All sessions are offered free of charge with the exception of a $25 registration fee. For more information, contact Frank Cardenas, Director of Recreation, at (323) 295-4555 extension 261, or visit


Serotek Corp. recently unveiled a new program, Keys for K-12, which allows students who are visually impaired computer access by providing Serotek's System Access Mobile software for text-to-speech screen reading and/or screen magnification at no charge. It provides a free license to carry the capability on a U3-enabled USB thumb drive so students can plug the drive into any computer anywhere and have instant access to all resident Windows-based and Microsoft Office applications such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint. When unplugged, no trace of usage is left behind on the host computer. The license is renewable every year until the student's 18th birthday or graduation from high school. Blind students can complete the online eligibility form at, which includes certification of visual impairment from medical and educational professionals, and follow the simple steps to download the software to a USB drive.


Victor Reader Stream version 2 will now play electronic braille files with its built-in text-to-speech including multiple formats of English braille encoded files, Unified English Braille, and non-English braille formats. Version 2.0 also adds playback of Windows Media Audio (WMA) and rich text format (RTF) files. Further, the bookshelf feature has been extended to enhance the access and playback of all media types with special new features for Audible books, podcast files, and music. For more information, visit


The Braille Authority of North America (BANA) seeks knowledgeable and enthusiastic braille readers, teachers, and transcribers to serve on various committees. BANA has nine technical committees which are charged by its board to develop code (e.g., rules and symbols), revise and update code, review work from other technical committees, and respond to questions from constituents. In addition, there are five ad hoc committees dealing with issues such as publications, crafts and hobbies, and braille signage and labeling. All committees have representatives from both the United States and Canada, and consist of at least one braille reader, one teacher and one transcriber. Most work is done via e-mail. Several committees are currently seeking members. If you are interested in serving on a BANA committee, fill out the form on BANA's web site,, stating your areas of interest and your qualifications (for example, years of braille reading, teaching, or transcribing experience, etc.).

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