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 Sharon Lovering’s mailbox. Information must be received at least two months ahead of publication date.


VSA Arts and Volkswagen Group America are now accepting entries for Accelerate, a juried exhibition of young emerging artists with disabilities. The program is open to artists ages 16-25 who live in the United States and who have a physical, cognitive, mental, or sensory disability. It must be original work completed within the last three years and after the onset of disability. Eligible media include, but are not limited to, paintings and drawings (oil, watercolor, acrylic, pencil, or charcoal), fine art prints, photography, computer-generated prints, digital art, and time-based media (video, film). Work must have a visual component. Both representational and abstract work are welcomed. Prize awards total $50,000. For entry details, visit Submission deadline is June 19, 2009.


In May 2009, Social Security will distribute a one-time payment of $250 to Social Security and Supplemental Security Income beneficiaries nationwide. The payments are provided under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. A leaflet which discusses distribution of the one-time payment in greater detail is available at


Congratulations to all winners of the AFB 2009 Leadership Awards! The Migel Medal was awarded to Dr. Susan Jay Spungin for her 44-year career in the blindness field. Access Awards were given to: Apple, Inc., for making significant accessibility improvements to the latest versions of the iPod Nano and the iTunes software, and for installing the VoiceOver screen-reading software into all Apple computers; the National Broadcast Reading Service (NBRS) and its divisions -- VoicePrint, AudioVision Canada (AVC), The Accessible Channel (TAC TV) -- for their work to provide print and video media in an accessible format for people who are blind or visually impaired; Diagnostic Devices, Inc., for their Prodigy® Voice, the only blood glucose monitoring system available on the U.S. market with the necessary speech output capabilities to accommodate people with vision loss; and to Mike May and The Sendero Group, for pioneering accessible location information and navigation technologies with tools like Sendero GPS, Sense Nav, and Mobile Geo for cell phones. The Gallagher Award was bestowed on Judy Dixon for being a blind or visually impaired individual who has demonstrated exemplary participation in the workplace and the community, and has served as an outstanding role model to others who have vision loss. The Corinne Kirchner Research Award was granted to Dr. Kay Ferrell, who has spent most of her career working toward strengthening the link between sound research and sensible public policy that meets the most critical needs of people who are blind or visually impaired.


Kudos to Kathy Martinez for being nominated by President Obama to be the Assistant Secretary for Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), Department of Labor. Blind since birth, Martinez is an internationally recognized disability rights leader specializing in employment, asset building, independent living, international development, diversity and gender issues.


Congratulations to Dawn Turco, senior vice president of educational operations for the Hadley School for the Blind, for winning the 2009 Excellence in Rehabilitation Award from the Illinois Chapter of the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AER). The award is given annually for outstanding work and dedication to promote, develop and improve the lives of individuals who are blind or visually impaired. Turco, who has been with Hadley for 15 years, oversees the school’s strategic initiatives, accreditation process and program development, including the design and delivery of approximately 100 distance education courses.


Gary Norman has been inducted into the Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame of Brunswick High School in Brunswick, Ohio.


Hadley offers a new, tuition-free course, “Business Fundamentals,” which explores the main functions and activities of a business. Available in large print, braille, audio, and online, this course presents the concepts needed to understand the core aspects of a successful business. The course consists of eight lessons. Lesson 1 introduces the various types of businesses and the main functions of a business. Lessons 2 through 8 explore in detail the main functions of a business: management, human resources, production and operations, inventory and purchasing, accounting, marketing and sales, and customer service. After each lesson, a case study features various business situations and allows students to apply business concepts to real-life scenarios. Sign up for this course by contacting Student Services at 1-800-526-9909 or via e-mail, [email protected].


The International Institute for Social Entrepreneurs is an educational training center for blind and partially sighted adults who have a desire to foster social change in their communities and throughout the world. Located in Kerala, India, this 11-month training course founded by Braille Without Borders offers full scholarships and transport to qualified, motivated candidates. The course covers business management, communication, project and financial planning, open source computer technology, English, public speaking, and fund-raising, among other subjects. The institute is now accepting applications for the course beginning in January 2010. Applications are due by June 30, 2009. For more information visit or e-mail [email protected].


In honor of the 200th birthday of Louis Braille, the Braille Authority of North America (BANA) has created the Braille Excellence Award. This award will be given to people or organizations that have developed or contributed to a code, have developed code materials, or software that supports codes, and/or who represent the highest standards of braille production. The first award is being given to Dr. Abraham Nemeth for his contributions to making math and science accessible for blind people around the world. He has recently completed work on the Nemeth Uniform Braille System (NUBS), which can render both literary and technical braille. BANA is currently making plans to evaluate this new code. The evaluation time line and consumer input details will be available soon. To view the completed code, or to read documents explaining the code, visit


National Braille Press is sponsoring the Louis Braille Bicentennial Traveling Exhibit. It takes a viewer through the highlights of Louis' life, the braille production process, and why braille remains important today. C. Michael Mellor, author of "Louis Braille: A Touch of Genius," is also speaking at some of the tour locations. Requests for the exhibit were so plentiful that two identical exhibits are traveling at the same time throughout 2009. To find out if it's coming to your area, view the tour schedule at


In celebration of Louis Braille’s 200th birthday, ReadHowYouWant has opened the doors to its online braille and DAISY bookshop at ReadHowYouWant, which began offering a variety of large print book formats (16- to 24-point fonts) last year, is now also offering thousands of best-sellers and literary classics in braille. The company also offers more than 2,000 titles from its classics library in DAISY format.


American Star Travel is offering a 7-night all-inclusive vacation at the Oasis Cancun Resort in Mexico Sept. 5-12, 2009 for blind and visually impaired people. The Oasis complex offers large relaxation areas, one of the biggest swimming pools in Latin America, and tropical gardens. It has 12 restaurants and 8 bars, a 9-hole (par 3) golf course, 2 tennis courts, a multipurpose field, spa and gymnasium. The resort is located in the center of Cancun’s Hotel Zone, over a white sandy beach, very close to shopping centers, bars and restaurants. For more information, or to reserve your spot, call American Star Travel at (508) 815-4327 or visit Rates start at $459 for double occupancy excluding air fare.


Shiloh's Travel specializes in service for people who are visually impaired. The company offers a best price assurance for anyone booking with it. If you book your trip through Shiloh's Travel and later discover that someone else has booked the same trip at a lower fare, through their agency or elsewhere, the agency will refund you the difference. For the specific details, exclusions, and reservations, visit; call 1-888-831-3180, or e-mail [email protected].


HumanWare has released KeySoft 7.5 to address the file compression problem experienced by users of the BrailleNote family of products. For the BrailleNote PK and Classic, the software fixes the error associated with scheduling an appointment, and the failure in some circumstances to retain words added to the spelling dictionary that were corrected for mPOWER users in build 29. For PK users the long-term issue of sometimes losing speech has been identified and corrected. The software update is available at


Optelec has recently unveiled three new products for people with low vision: the FarView, ClearView+ G2, and ClearNote Portable. For product descriptions and pricing, visit


Clarity has recently introduced WinZoom, a plug-and-play screen magnifier and reader. WinZoom also contains several proprietary advancements such as ClearPoint font smoothing, which keeps the crystal clear text quality regardless of the zoom level, and SmartAlign technology, which allows the user to re-align entire paragraphs to fit on the screen with a simple mouse click. For additional information or a free trial, call 1-800-575-1456 or visit


The Digital Publisher, a pay-as-you-go online solution for converting documents into dynamic page-turning publications, has announced an enhanced accessibility package for partially sighted readers. The text-only application allows visually impaired users to use their screen readers and view page-turning publications online. It also ensures that web access tools such as backwards compatibility viewers or Lynx viewers can still be used. The electronic publisher is available globally at


Bookshare and Hachette Book Group have entered into a partnership to provide digital books for Bookshare’s accessible online library for people with print disabilities. This partnership has two components that break new ground in the publishing industry. Hachette has agreed to donate digital files for all 1,700 currently digitized titles, and to refer all customer service requests for accessible books to Bookshare for fulfillment.


Horizons for the Blind currently offers two publications for people who are blind or visually impaired: a product catalog and a magazine. The catalog contains craft supplies and a wide variety of books featuring crafts, recipes, adaptive techniques, blindness adjustment, gardening and general interest. The magazine, entitled “Seeing It Our Way,” is specifically written by the blind, for the blind. In each issue, there are new craft patterns, recipes and much more. Get those creative juices flowing by solving the brain teaser or learning a new word. Keep current on good book reviews and interesting sports information. A one-year subscription costs $30; the catalog is free. Both are offered in braille and large print. You can also place catalog orders online at For information, call (815) 444-8800.


Using computer software and modern speech technology, converts ordinary text e-mails into phone voice messages and delivers them to any phone, anywhere and also provides the user with the capability to dial in and listen to their e-mail. Users do not need to own a computer. Visit for a complete description of the service’s features. Prospective users can sign up for a free 30-day trial or for the $10 monthly package by visiting the web site; e-mailing [email protected]; or calling 1-888-364-5101.


A new web site,, offers a number of forums for people who are partially sighted or visually impaired to discuss relevant topics. The site also includes a calendar to publicize special events and fundraisers around the country.


VIPConduit is an online chat community made up of visually impaired individuals, their friends and families. The group strives to build bridges with the many other cyber-communities like it to make the Internet experience better for everyone. To learn more, visit


InternetSpeech, provider of the Net Echo telephone-based Internet service, has recently made a number of upgrades to the user interface. The main focus has been on e-mail features, listening to address book and bookmark features, and the streaming audio feature. To learn about all 10 improvements, or get more information about the service, visit


Tom Fillyaw would like to help you with your shopping and gift-giving needs throughout the year. Visit his online gift shop at


Edward Child reads and writes grade 3 braille. He seeks conversation from anyone interested in using or learning this skill. He also has interest in pre 1930s braille literature. Contact him via e-mail, [email protected].

HELP FINDING CAREGIVERS is an online resource to help users locate babysitters, nannies, pet sitters, caregivers, housekeepers and tutors in their communities. The site provides access to background check and reference information. There is even a section that will let you find caregivers for individuals with special needs.


The Large Print Ministry offers three CDs free of charge. The Prayers & Psalms for Today CD includes selections from Prayers and Thanksgivings, Prayers for the Sick, Prayers for Use by a Sick Person, Ministration at the Time of Death, and the Book of Psalms from The Book of Common Prayer of 1979 from the Episcopal Church. The Large-Print Book of Common Prayer CD includes the entire 1979 Book of Common Prayer. Sing Praise to Our God, the ministry's newest CD, includes 338 hymns from The 1982 Hymnal of the Episcopal Church. All CDs are MS Word format in 18- to 20-point fonts. To order one CD, please send a self-addressed, stamped 6” x 9” envelope with five first-class stamps attached to Ann Dahlen, 1900 6th Ave., Apt. #513, Rock Island, IL 61201. Donations to help cover costs are appreciated and should be made payable to Ann Dahlen.

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