edited 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.


As a way to help raise awareness of the visually impaired and to build a bridge between the sighted and visually impaired, Braille Brands has introduced the Blind Awareness Ribbon. This patented white ribbon features raised black dots representing the braille code. On the right side of the ribbon are the letters “BRL” (which means Braille). Their vision is that this ribbon will become the recognized symbol of the visually impaired, much as the pink ribbon creates awareness of breast cancer. The ribbons are available for $4.99 each on For wholesale pricing or more information, call (732) 297-2200 or e-mail [email protected].


If you are a visually impaired adult who would like to spend a week skiing or learning to ski, you will want to attend the 35th annual Ski for Light International week, Jan. 31-Feb. 7, 2010. Nearly 300 skiers and guides will converge for a week of recreational skiing, fun, friendship and fellowship. Visually impaired skiers are matched with sighted guides and ski together for the week, while working on developing skills and techniques of cross-country skiing.

Overnight accommodations will be at the Marriott Hotel & Conference Center in downtown Provo, Utah, with skiing at the Soldier Hollow cross-country ski area, a venue of the 2002 Olympics. For additional information and to register, contact the VIP Coordinator, Renee Abernathy, at (704) 263-1314 or [email protected]. Or contact Lynda Boose at (906) 370-7541 or [email protected]. Applications may be obtained online at


The Jewish Guild for the Blind's National Tele-Support Network provides free, weekly telephone support groups facilitated by social workers and psychologists for families of blind, visually impaired or multi-disabled children and teens. The Guild is non-sectarian. This service may be especially useful for families in small towns or rural areas where it's hard to find other families experiencing the same challenges. The support groups currently being offered include: Parent Support Group organized according to the child's eye condition; Father's Support Group; and Support Group for Teens. You can register for any of the groups or get more information by calling 1-800-915-0306 or visiting


"Everyday Activities to Promote Visual Efficiency: A Handbook for Working with Young Children with Visual Impairments," by Ellen Trief and Rona Shaw, offers guiding principles for early intervention with very young children who are visually impaired and who may also have additional disabilities. This resource also provides simple activities that can be incorporated easily by families and service providers into the everyday routines of a baby or child to facilitate early visual development and use of functional vision. It is available in print and ASCII files on CD-ROM for $45.95 from the American Foundation for the Blind. For more information, visit


Congratulations to the winners of Serotek's summer technology drawing. The runner-up and winner of a year of access to the SA Mobile Network is Arthur Letim of the Philippines. The grand prize winner of the Lenovo IdeaPad S10 netbook is Hazel Darvell of Buckinghamshire, UK.


HumanWare recently released its Orator software for BlackBerry Smartphones. This screen reader application enables visually impaired users to access and operate BlackBerry Smartphones. The Orator works with the new QWERTY BlackBerry smartphones, including the Tour 9630. For additional information, visit


ABISee now offers the Eye-Pal SOLO, a simple and self-contained device that instantly reads from any book or printed material. Newspapers, books, magazines or other documents are placed face up on the Eye-Pal SOLO, and the device reads them aloud. It requires no computer skills or sighted assistance, and can also output magnified text to a screen. You can learn more about this product at


A team of electrical and computer engineering students at the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, Ind., has created a prototype beeping basketball for the blind. The students devised a simple beeping mechanism housed within a Spalding Infusion basketball. The beeps help a person who is blind locate and maneuver the ball. The basketball’s sound device utilizes a microcontroller, amplifier, dynamic cone speaker, hearing aid batteries and a custom electronic circuit board, all enclosed in an aluminum tube, matching the size and weight of the self-inflating pump originally designed to be inserted into the ball. Another sound emitter is enclosed in a plastic box; it attaches to a backboard with Velcro, so that players know where to shoot. The team hopes that this prototype will see mass distribution.


Bay Area Digital has become the first U.S. distributor for products sold by the UK’s Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB). Initially they will carry a subset of RNIB products to introduce and demonstrate. The product line will be enhanced in the coming months based on customer feedback and interest. In addition, Bay Area Digital will make available any product requested and ordered by a U.S. resident regardless of whether it is part of the initial general catalog. You can receive a free product catalog or sign up for product demonstrations by visiting


Clarity offers a new product, the i-vu™ digital magnifier. This portable device is designed to help with viewing photographs and reading menus, prescription bottles, books, bills, and more. Key features of this product include: 5x-20x magnification, a 2" LCD screen, and 3-hour battery life with full charge, inverse mode, freeze frame option, and a one-year full warranty. More information is available by calling 1-800-575-1456 or visiting


Good news from Ai Squared. For a limited time only, you can purchase the first generation ZoomText Large-Print Keyboard again. While both generations of keyboard offer 36-point bold font and high resolution colors, the first generation's 16 function keys are labeled in text while the second generation's function keys are labeled with icons. Both versions are available for $99 each or $85 with an upgrade to ZoomText version 9.18. You can order or learn more by calling 1-800-859-0270 or visiting


Eco.kid offers bath and body products that are accessible for children who are blind. Specially formulated for kids 3 to 12 years old, the product line includes shampoos, conditioners, hair styling wax, bubble bath, and lotions -- all containing Braille inscriptions. Eco.kid products are formulated using only the most natural ingredients. Products are available in retail stores at Kelly Green and online at from $16.95 to $31.95.


Freedom Scientific has added a new braille display to its product line. The Focus 40 Blue offers 40 cells of refreshable braille, Bluetooth 2.0 for wireless connectivity up to 30 feet, a Perkins-style braille keyboard, and USB 2.0 support that also charges the unit when connected -- all in a new compact package that is 40 percent smaller than the current Focus 40. The new braille display is priced at $4,495 and includes a two-year warranty. For more information, call 1-800-444-4443 or visit


Now available: Leader Dogs for the Blind's 2009 holiday cards! Inside the card reads, “Warm thoughts and best wishes for a wonderful Holiday Season.” The front photo features Maggie, a future Leader Dog. Cards are sold in boxes of 20 for $20. Cards can be purchased by visiting the virtual gift shop at


Sylvia Clark offers a book she has written based on three years of research for her master’s thesis. “Music Literacy: Its Role In The Education Of The Blind” includes 28 illustrations showing a variety of means by which literary and music materials were presented to the blind in the 19th and earlier 20th centuries, as well as writing instruments used to produce the symbols. The role of the American Printing House for the Blind in producing books and music is discussed. Factors influencing the delay in acceptance of the braille codes in the U.S. are considered. An interview with Dr. Abraham Nemeth discusses the role of braille music in his education in the New York City public schools. The results of surveys involving learning braille music, teaching braille music in institutions, and teaching braille music in the public schools are shared. Music education of the blind in the public school system is discussed, and the influence of technology is considered. It sells for $25 and is available by e-mailing [email protected].


The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) recently announced the election of Christopher J. "Kit" Migel to its national board. He was elected during the June 2009 meeting of the AFB Board of Trustees. Migel, the former Executive Vice President of General Reinsurance, is the grandson of AFB's founder and first chairperson, M.C. Migel.


AbleNet, Inc. is partnering with the International Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication (ISAAC) to offer the first AbleNet -- ISAAC Remarkable Achievements Award. This recognition will be awarded to an AAC professional who has achieved outstanding results by effectively using easy-tech AAC tools for individuals with communication disorders. The award will be presented at the ISAAC 14th International Conference in Barcelona, Spain in July 2010. The winner will be awarded a $2,000 stipend, the honor to be a key speaker at the ISAAC Biennial Conference and receive $500 toward travel to the conference. All ISAAC members or individuals applying for membership are eligible candidates for the award. To apply, a short essay or video in English must be submitted focusing on easy-tech AAC tools used with individuals with communications disorders and describing the impact this has had on the individuals. Additionally, two letters of recommendation explaining why the applicant should receive the award; the applicant's personal background information; and a short curriculum vitae should be included. Application deadline is Feb. 1, 2010. Send applications to: [email protected] or mail them to: AbleNet - ISAAC Remarkable Achievements Award, ISAAC Secretariat, 49 The Donway West, Suite 308, Toronto, ON M3C 3M9, Canada.

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