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.


Do you want to have a weekend getaway in early spring, yet enjoy one last blast of fun in the snow? You may want to join Sierra Regional Ski for Light (SRSFL) at Tahoe-Donner in the high Sierras for cross-country skiing and/or snow-shoeing, March 13-15, 2010. Novices and veterans are welcome. For details on this three-day event, as well as for information on SRSFL's one-day adventures, visit, or call Cindy Quintana at (510) 483-2948.


National Braille Press now has available “Noah’s Ark,” a three-piece set that tells the story of the man and his menagerie of animals. The set includes: a print/braille book by five-time Caldecott Award-winner Jerry Pinkney that tells the story of Noah; 12 tactile pictures by tactile artist Ann Cunningham; and a booklet called "Fun Facts About Noah's Ark" that tells you things about turtles, penguins, giraffes, elephants, and dragonflies you never knew! The set retails for $28. For more information, call 1-800-548-7323 or visit


Do you need a gift that will keep on giving? "Dialogue" is now offering an annual subscription for $20 for new subscribers. For more information, call Blindskills, Inc. at 1-800-860-4224, or write to: Blindskills, Inc., P.O. Box 5181, Salem, OR 97304-0181. "Dialogue" is available in large print, braille, four-track cassette and e-mail. Call for a free sample in a format of your choice.


Sweet Tooth offers a variety of braille chocolate items for sale. Candy bar greetings include Happy Birthday, Love You, Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Thank You, and Have A Nice Day. Also available are chocolate guide dogs with the braille saying of Best Friend or customized with a dog's name, chocolate watches with braille, and chocolate lollipops and clusters. For more information, contact Judy Davis directly at (585) 544-1853 or [email protected].


The PenFriend audio labeler is a pocket-sized device that records information using self-adhesive labels as audio tags. When the pen is held over the label, the recorded message plays. You can use it to label food items, film and music collections, household objects, letters, and other paperwork. It can also be used as a digital notetaker to record shopping lists or leave audio messages. The pen has up to 70 hours of recording time (1 GB of memory) and the ability to download MP3 files, including books and music if desired. The standard kit includes 127 labels in a mix of sizes and shapes, built-in speaker, USB cable, neck lanyard and two AAA batteries. The PenFriend is available from RNIB at and Independent Living Aids at


ZoomText Express offers a slight boost of screen magnification (up to 2x) for computer users with low vision or to help avoid eye strain. The software has adjustable mouse pointer and text cursor as well as a variety of screen tints to reduce glare and sharpen contrast. It works on all laptop and desktop computers running Windows XP or Vista. Domestic copies of ZoomText Express are $49.99 for an electronic download or $59.99 for a boxed product (plus shipping). For more information, contact Ai Squared at 1-800-859-0270, e-mail [email protected], or visit


Seedlings has recently added several new books to its braille book selection —now offering 1,000 titles. These books range from print-braille-&-picture books for toddlers and preschoolers like "Clifford's Animal Sounds" and "Curious George at the Zoo" to two-volume novels for teens and tweens (Newbery Honor Book "Elijah of Buxton" for example). And there are many great books in between (some "Magic Tree House" books and "Black Lagoon Adventures," among others). And in honor of the President, they have added a biography of Barack Obama, and one about Michelle Obama. To view a list of all the new books, go to To browse the entire Seedlings catalog, visit To get a copy of the 2010 catalog, call 1-800-777-8552 or e-mail [email protected].


Bookshare's accessible online library for people with print disabilities has developed even more partnerships with textbook publishers. The University of Chicago Press, the University of California Press and New York University Press have all agreed to provide Bookshare with digital book files that will contribute thousands of new scholarly works to the Bookshare collection. Books from Nobel Prize winning authors and academic texts in the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences and disability studies will expand the choices available for students in higher education and readers of distinguished authors.


In addition to downloadable ASCII and braille book files, ReadHowYouWant offers over 2,000 titles from its Classics Library in DAISY 2.02 and NISO/2005 formats, as well as synthesized audio MP3 books. Contemporary, bestselling titles are also available. Over 60 publishers have partnered with ReadHowYouWant to release their titles in accessible editions at or close to the time that the standard edition is released. Contemporary titles retail for $9.99 in downloadable braille files and $12.99 for DAISY and synthesized audio MP3 files. More than 100 new titles are added each month. To receive announcements about new titles in all formats, and get reviews of hot titles, sign up for the Registered Reader program at


All editions of Playback Magazine and Playback Underground are now available as MP3 files for free non-commercial download. You can hear great voices from the past, including Ed Walker, Joybubbles, Peter Scialli, Mel Cohen, and others. The computer and technology age will unfold before your very ears. Over 385 hours of material is included in this collection. This collection is also available on CD. Playback Magazine on 16 CDs retails for $25, while Playback along with Playback Underground on 26 CDs goes for $39. For more information, visit or call (773) 572-7899.


AdaptiveWare offers assistive technology for people who are blind or visually impaired. The Victor Reader Stream with a 2-gig SD card retails for $325. Screen-reading software for cell phones retails for $285. A netbook PC with System Access screen reading software retails for $549. To learn more about these products or other technology solutions, contact AdaptiveWare at 1-800-470-7482 or via e-mail, [email protected].


Enabling Devices recently released a Portable Communicator for the Visually Impaired. This device uses high-intensity LEDs to illuminate its icons. It is battery-operated and compact. It features auditory cuing, switch access, four scanning modes, and can record for up to 10 minutes. You can choose the number of fields you want to use, from two to eight. It requires 4 AA and 2 D batteries. For more information, contact Enabling Devices at 1-800-832-8697, or visit


Choice Magazine Listening is available for free digital download from the National Library Service. Produced six times a year, each issue contains unabridged works from quality publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian, Sports Illustrated, and the New Yorker. The articles, short stories, poetry and interviews are selected from more than 100 magazines and other periodicals. The selections are read by professional voice talent. Choice Magazine Listening is available free of charge for anyone with a print handicap through download or 4-track cassette. For more information, visit or call 1-888-724-6423. To download from NLS, go to


AbleNet, Inc. is partnering with Talk To Me Technologies, LLC, the developer of Pogo Boards, to provide both a free version of the software as well as an online subscription version of the world's first, all-in-one, full-featured, online, symbol-based communication boards creator. Within the free version, users can create unique communications boards, curriculum or behavior support activities by accessing thousands of AbleNet symbols or millions of Google images. Users can select from templates that have been created to correspond with AbleNet's assistive technology devices as well as their content and curriculum for use in the classroom and the broader community. The user can also upgrade to the subscription version, allowing them to create their own symbol-based materials and store, share and exchange them online. For more information, visit


The Hadley School for the Blind now offers a high school program, an accredited distance education program resulting in a high school diploma. Students 14 or older can enroll for free and will receive all course materials in their preferred accessible format. Students can choose to graduate from their hometown high school by applying credits toward existing coursework or receive their diploma directly from Hadley. Those opting for a Hadley diploma rather than one from their local school district are invited to an annual commencement ceremony in June in Winnetka, Ill., where Hadley is headquartered. Homeschoolers can also supplement their educational program with courses from Hadley. For more information, call 1-800-323-4238 or visit


The Talking Voice Magazine for the Blind now has its own e-mail address. If you have questions about the magazine, send an e-mail message to [email protected].

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