The ACB E-Forum, August 2016

The ACB E-Forum
Volume LV August 2016 No. 2
Published by
the American Council of the Blind
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© 2016 American Council of the Blind
Eric Bridges, Executive Director
Sharon Lovering, Editor
1703 N. Beauregard St., Suite 420, Alexandria, VA 22311

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President’s Message: ACB Recognizes Apple for Bringing Accessibility to the Blind Community Right Out of the Box, by Kim Charlson

I’m not generally compelled to write about the activities of a specific manufacturer or service provider, but in the case of Apple, I decided to make an exception.
Technology plays a powerful role in helping individuals to be more productive, creative and independent. With innovative assistive technologies built right in, Apple products are powerful and affordable assistive devices. The Apple ecosystem of accessible devices has played a pivotal role in supporting users who are blind or have low vision to achieve educational, professional, and personal goals.
Apple has built accessibility tools that open up the world of information to the visually impaired. With advances in voice recognition and screen-reading software and Apple’s dedicated effort to create a screen navigation system for blind and low-vision people, Apple has brought access to the mainstream and done it without charging for it. Few people who are blind or visually impaired can say that they haven’t been impacted by or taken advantage of either VoiceOver or Zoom on the iOS platform.
Apple CEO Tim Cook takes our issue personally. He addressed the company’s accessibility mission in a 2013 speech at Auburn University, his alma mater. People with disabilities “are frequently left in the shadows of technological advancements that are a source of empowerment and attainment for others,” he said. “Apple engineers push back against this unacceptable reality.”
Sarah Herrlinger, a 13-year veteran of Apple and the senior manager of Apple Global Accessibility, stated, “We believe everyone who wants to use Apple technology should be able to do so and in the way that works best for them. We work hard to build our hardware, software and services with accessibility integrated throughout.”
After three years as a senior product marketing manager in Apple’s Consumer Applications Division, Sarah joined Apple’s Education team as the manager of Special Education and Global Accessibility efforts. In this role, Sarah collaborated with government and special education leaders, worked with Apple product teams to ensure that products continued to meet the needs of diverse learners, and worked to promote Apple’s accessibility message at the national and international levels.
Sarah stresses, “We build accessibility into the core of our products. ... Instead of asking, ‘Why would you make a camera accessible to the blind?,’ Apple asked, ‘How can we do it?’”
At Apple, accessibility is championed as a basic human right and influences all Apple platforms. Sarah continues to play a key role in Apple’s long-range commitment to accessibility.
Because of this corporate and individual commitment to accessibility, ACB decided to recognize both the corporation and the lead change agent within the company for access, Sarah Herrlinger, with the Robert S. Bray Award. It is my belief that both Apple, Inc. and Sarah Herrlinger deserved special recognition from ACB. The award was presented on July 4 in Minneapolis at our convention. The date was very fitting to recognize an individual and a corporation that have delivered true independence to thousands of people who are blind around the world!

In Memoriam: Winifred Downing, by Frank Welte

Reprinted with permission from “The Blind Californian,” Summer 2016.
Winifred Downing passed away peacefully on the morning of April 2, 2016. She was a leader in the blind community for many years, and she has been a mentor and an inspiration to many of us. As a teacher she transmitted her knowledge of and love for braille to her students. She was a tireless advocate for braille.
I first made Win’s acquaintance on a shuttle bus ride during a convention of the American Council of the Blind in 1991 or 1992. I had numerous opportunities to interact with Winifred during the following two decades of our mutual involvement with the California Council of the Blind. On April 11, I shared in a moving and joyful funeral service with perhaps 200 family members and friends in her parish church in San Francisco, where she was a beloved member.
As I now fill the position of president of the San Francisco Chapter of CCB where she led and served for many years, I hope I can continue to preserve her legacy of advocacy, caring, leading and teaching into the future.
You can read her love-filled, life-filled obituary, originally published in “The San Francisco Chronicle” at
The following is a sampling of the many tributes for Winifred shared in the days immediately preceding and following her passing.
“Winifred taught me about advocacy, just by her example.  I wish her a peaceful passing.  She has been so frail for so long.  I hope our chapter or the LightHouse will do something in her memory.   She is surrounded by her very loving family.  She is in my thoughts.  What an amazing life she has had and all the love she gave and was given.”
— Beth Berenson, San Francisco chapter and GDUC
“Thank you all for sharing your warm thoughts. I have compiled them and emailed them to Winifred’s daughter, Eileen.  I know it will be of comfort as it was of comfort to me. Charlie [Dorris] and I spent some time with Winifred and her eldest daughter, who is a nurse, today.  Winifred was asleep our entire visit and her breathing was labored but she looked at peace. Her daughter told us that Winifred said …, ‘My children and grandchildren are well, I have lived a good life and ready to go.’ She is going as she wanted, with her mind intact and at home. I thanked Winifred for being an inspiration to me and to many students, and for making a significant difference in my life. It is my hope she heard me. I’ve told her before, but she didn’t seem to ever believe me, but at least the family now knows what difference she has made.”
— Ellie Lee, Teacher of the Visually Impaired and Orientation and Mobility Instructor, San Francisco Unified School District; San Francisco chapter
“Winifred Downing, one of the true giants of the California Council of the Blind and the American Council of the Blind, passed away peacefully at 3:45 this morning. Advocate, mentor, leader, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother, and so much more are words that barely scratch the surface when it comes to Win. She worked so incredibly hard to improve the lives of persons who are blind or have low vision. She also cared deeply about her family, and the ACB and CCB families, and showed it with her love for so many of us.”
— Jeff Thom, ACB first vice president and California Council of the Blind president
“She will be missed indeed. I truly will miss our chats that she and I have had throughout the years. May the Lord be with the family during this difficult time.”
— Sylvia Lopez, Fresno chapter
“This is truly a sad day for CCB and ACB with such a loss. She wouldn’t want us to mourn. Let’s all show our respect and pitch in just a little more to keep the CCB and ACB as the great organizations she helped them to become. RIP Win.”
— Sharlene Ornelas, director elect, CCB board; San Diego chapter and GDUC
“I first met Winifred when I joined the blindness movement in 1974 as a young person just learning about advocacy. I was in the same chapter as Winifred, who was one of my strongest mentors for several years, teaching me why it was so important to advocate, how to calmly present topics of importance pertaining to blindness to others, and most important, the reason to continue always fighting for braille.
On the home front, Winifred was extremely talented in her activities in her homemaker responsibilities, and was a great mom.
Winifred was also a super teacher as she worked for Hadley and had so much energy with everything she did. We must not forget that Winifred was also involved on the CCB resolutions committee for a long period of time.
I will personally miss Winifred so much and will always recall our times together and our many conversations. Best to Winifred’s family with deepest sympathy. She is once again at peace as she was while working on all the projects she put herself into at 100 percent without ever taking away from her family.”
— Ken Metz, president, Greater Los Angeles chapter; president, Guide Dog Users of California
“The San Francisco Chapter has suffered a great loss with the passing of Winifred. I will miss her tremendously. Among her other talents, she was a great mentor to many people. On a personal note, Win was very encouraging and supportive of all my activities with the San Francisco Chapter and the CCB. She was especially proud of me when I was hired with the City and County of San Francisco. I will never forget all the conversations that I had with Win. Words cannot express the loss that I am feeling right now. My condolences go out to her family. Rest in peace, Winifred.”
— Peter Pardini, California Council of the Blind treasurer; San Francisco chapter
“We have been notified that our chapter member, Winifred Downing, passed away this morning at 3:45 a.m. It is our understanding that she died peacefully at her home in the company of her family. Thank goodness she died peacefully. We will miss you awfully, Winifred. You were an inspiration for me throughout much of my life. I am grateful to have known and learned from you!”
— Daveed Mandell, secretary, San Francisco chapter
“Win was a tremendous person, and if all of us could be as dedicated to the CCB as she was, we would go a long way. Win was a mentor when I had my son. She told me my son was losing too much weight as an infant, and she was right! If it weren’t for Win, my son might not be here today. This world is a much better place because of Win’s presence in it. She touched many people; she supported many people, and she was a role model for many of us. Win, RIP.”
— Margie Donovan, CCB Capitol chapter and GDUC
“Throughout all of the years in which I have known Winifred Downing as a colleague, she has been unceasingly a strong advocate of, and full supporter for promoting and advancing braille literacy in the blindness community, not only here in San Francisco, but also in California and nationwide. I have a lot of respect for the work which she did as a teacher of learning how to use the Optacon, as well as reading and writing braille. She did her best to educate and reinforce that blind children and adults learn how to become literate in reading and writing braille. I have to say: she did indeed love her Library for the Blind and Visually Impaired in San Francisco, and beyond. Winifred, please rest in peace where there is no sunset, or dawning. I extend my condolences to Winifred’s family in this most difficult time of her passing.”
— Jim Blacksten, San Francisco chapter
“My most sincere condolences to the friends and families of Winifred. The few interactions I’ve had with her have always been very pleasant. I have always enjoyed reading her submissions in ‘The Blind Californian.’ She will definitely be missed.”
— Guillermo Robles
“Win and I knew each other pretty well; when I announced I was going to run for president, she calls me up (I’m on my way home from work) and she says, ‘Are you really sure you can do this? You don’t suffer fools gladly.’ And I said, ‘Well, I guess the fools will just have to get used to me!’ When I asked Win to become editor of the BC, she said, ‘Oh, no, I don’t know anything about technology; I can’t do that.’ I think it took two or three conversations for me to convince her. One thing that Win and I had in common: we were sticklers for editing. Win never tolerated grammatical or spelling errors or poor sentence structure: anything. The BC, with all due respects to former and current editors, Win was the best we ever had. She’ll be missed.”
— Mitch Pomerantz, former president, ACB and CCB
“Win made me laugh so hard. She was not one for swearing; her strongest swearing would be she hated something ‘with a purple passion!’ She was such a special person. I miss her.”
— Leslie Thom, Capitol chapter
Obbie Schoeman shared that his late wife Connie and Win used to share braille books, mailing them back and forth.
“In resolutions committee, Win’s attention to detail was something I loved. We’re definitely kindred spirits in that way. You know how it is in resolutions when you’re wordsmithing and someone says, ‘No, it should be must,’ and someone else says, ‘No, it should be shall.’ ‘No, no, it should be may!’ Win would say, ‘Just make a decision! Be quiet, we’ve got to do this. I’m so tired.’ She put up with us but she was just an awesome force!”
— Donna Pomerantz, immediate past president, CCB
“I was elected president of BRLC in the spring of 2010. Win was the editor of our newsletter ‘The Braille Writer.’ When I wrote my first presidential statement, she was so patient with her corrections. I wasn’t the most grammatical heavyweight around, but she knew I was trying to do my best. Once my article came out, I was congratulated so warmly. It was so good to have her on my side and to have such complete support.”
— Steve Fort, CCB director; president, Bay View chapter
“I was on the resolutions committee with Winifred and I thoroughly enjoyed her contributions to the committee. I remember one time about 2:00 in the morning, Winifred was still there. I’m thinking, ‘I want to go back to my room! But I’m not going to let this woman leave after me!’ I know she will be missed by many. My wish would be to have met her sooner.”
— Robert Wendt, director, CCB; Greater Long Beach chapter
“When I became chair of the resolutions committee, she did so much to help me understand the process of editing a resolution. I’ve got to say the quality of meetings definitely went downhill when Win resigned.”
— Gabe Griffith, vice president elect, CCB; Contra Costa Chapter
“Her voice reminded me of Angela Lansbury as Jessica on ‘Murder, She Wrote!’ I remember her talking about how the earthquake damaged her house. She was one of the cutest, sweetest, wonderful women in my life.”
— Christy Crespin, chair, CCB scholarship committee; Inland Empire chapter
“I believe that Win had a beautiful and genuine soul. I got to know her when she was the editor of ‘The Blind Californian.’ She was very committed and dedicated to producing a quality magazine for the organization. I was writing the Career Connections column. I’d submit an article, and I’d wait for her call. And she’d call me and say ‘Cathy, we have a few things to talk about.’ I learned a lot from her, and I’m very appreciative of knowing Win. May she rest in peace.”
— Catherine Schmitt Whitaker, publications committee member
“I met Winifred rather late in her life. I moved to San Francisco in 2005, and I decided to go to the San Francisco chapter because I had read Win’s name in ‘The Braille Forum.’ I was warmly welcomed by Win and quickly recruited for something she started, The Good Neighbor Fund, which evolved into the grant we have now, The Student Education Access Grant. Eighteen months later she got me elected president of the chapter. She took me to CCB, got me on the nominations and resolutions committees, and when I ran for the board, she gave my nomination speech. So I feel truly mentored by her.
On a personal level, Winifred was a staunch liberal Catholic, in the very best sense of the word. She would say a naughty thing now and then. One of my favorites: ‘That Bill Clinton! I don’t care how many women he slept with, he still was a good president!’ I will be attending her funeral on Monday. Her family has hired a bus to transport many of us from the church to the site of the reception; that’s how much they care about our community. I love you so much, Winifred. Rest in peace.”
— Linda Porelle, chair, publications committee; president, BRL of California; San Francisco chapter

The Things I Do Today, Part 3: Listening to the World, by Paul Edwards

In some ways this segment is the hardest to write because of all the change that has happened and because so many words are used loosely these days. There is also the problem that there are now myriad devices that allow us to access Internet radio. There are several different approaches to how one acquires stations. What began as very much an amateur exercise has now mushroomed. Virtually every broadcast station in this country and huge numbers around the world now are available on the Internet. And then there are special stations designed for people who are blind and operated by people who are blind. And then there is my lack of knowledge. There are others who can provide much more technical explanations of what’s involved. Luckily for us, these explanations are not nearly as important to plain ordinary listeners like us as they used to be.
I was an early adopter of Internet radio. This was partly because I have been an inveterate radio freak from the time I was a child. I was a huge shortwave listener all through my childhood and spent many nights prowling the AM band for distant stations. I lived outside the United States from the age of seven ‘til I was 32, which meant that I had to use shortwave and distant AM just to keep in touch with American sports, which has always been a passion. My experience also taught me there was much to love with radio from Australia, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Canada and other broadcasts in English from Switzerland, Germany, Moscow and the Netherlands. There are lots of readers of the Forum who were just like me. Radio was our substitute for newspapers that we couldn’t get or read, and it was our way of connecting with a world that was big and a little scary.
I was also an early adopter because, after some investigation, I found out that Internet radio was a way for ACB to build for itself a new place in the world. If one had a good computer, it only took $500 or $600 to become a full-fledged, card-carrying Internet radio broadcaster. I did that for several years and hope to do it again if I ever get my computer resurrected from the dead!
Listening to early Internet radio was a little like listening to shortwave radio. At the start, bandwidth at home was low and sometimes bandwidth from the broadcasters was low too! Essentially, this meant that you sometimes spent as much time listening to silence as you did to content. Either your machine or the broadcaster’s was having trouble. It was also hard to know what was out there. There were lists but, since stations came and went with alarming frequency, you never quite knew if a favorite would disappear. And then there was the fact that people changed the identification your computer needed to find their station. As time went on, home bandwidth got better and computers became more powerful. That allowed listening to be far more enjoyable, and also allowed stations to increase their sampling rate so that stereo and higher quality signals became the order of the day.
So, here’s my first attempt to explain Internet radio at its simplest. Every entity that is “broadcasting” puts its signals out onto the Internet using a series of numbers to tell other computers where the stream can be found. We don’t need to know much about these numbers, thankfully. As the Internet evolved, folks decided it would be good to allow those of us who were trying to access stations to save a tiny file that contained that number which we could name with the name of the station or something. As time wore on, there came to be three file extensions that were widely used. These were PLS, ASX and M3U. So, it was suddenly possible for us to save our favorites so we could get to them easily. It also became possible for kind and wonderful people to begin to create web sites that allow people to look at what’s out there and either listen directly or save the associated file to their own computer.
One of these was created by a blind guy who was also an Internet radio broadcaster. His name is Bill Sparks, and his site is  Another web site that is useful and accessible is called Mike’s Radio World. I don’t know who Mike is, but his web site address is Both these sites have several thousand radio stations from around the world, and I think both would agree they don’t have nearly all the stations that are out there.
I am getting old now and the years blend into one another. So, I am not going to try to provide a history of Internet radio, though it would be fun to read one. What I will say is that the approach I have described is becoming outmoded. Some of the early devices like the Book Port Plus and HIMS notetakers allowed one to access Internet radio using individual stations that you could add to the folder on your device that stored radio stations. More recently, higher level approaches have come to predominate. The second generation Victor Reader Stream, the iPhone and the new HIMS Blaze EZ and ET all use files where all the stations stored are aggregated into a single file, or that is what appears to be happening.
The last five years have seen a huge change in Internet radio. Devices like Apple TV, specialized Internet radio receivers and smartphones have revolutionized the availability of a rather arcane medium to the general public. Software like iTunes and AOL and others have also made Internet radio available. Programs for blind people like SAMNet have done the same. In addition, even though the principle is the same, a number of entities that call themselves “radio” really are something quite different. Entities like Pandora, Amazon Prime and, most recently, Apple Music allow you to name an artist, and their software will pick music by that artist and others who play music that is similar that they think you will like. I have heard these entities referred to as music aggregators. That name is fine with me as long as it’s clear that they aren’t what I am talking about when I refer to Internet radio.
One article is not enough to do what I want to do with this subject. The next article will deal with the iPhone. I want to talk about three apps. The last Internet radio article will talk about what stations I listen to and will provide some tips on searching.

That Commercial Was for What?!, by Yvonne B. Garris

I was watching television last night and, once again, several commercials were aired that I have no idea what they were selling. This has been a pet peeve of mine for quite some time, and I would like to know if anyone else feels the same way. I am legally blind, so I do not see what is on the television, but I can generally follow along.  However, when it comes to commercials, there are some that are just music and some where the dialogue does nothing to describe the product.
Here is what I want the advertisers to know. Just because a person may be visually impaired does not mean they do not shop, dine out, go to movies and do everything else a sighted person would do. According to the American Foundation for the Blind, 20.6 million American adults age 18 and older reported experiencing vision loss. This large number warrants advertising companies produce commercials that everyone can understand. Visually impaired people should be valued no less than our sighted counterparts. I challenge advertisers to close their eyes and listen to their commercials.  After hearing your ad, do you know what the commercial is for?  If not, please change the commercial.
One commercial that drove me crazy repeatedly mentioned the brand name but not the product.  The brand name, let’s call it Aura (not the real name), gave me no hint as to what was for sale. I had to wait until a sighted person told me what they were promoting.  Imagine my surprise in learning it was a food product.  I ask you, what does “aura” have to do with food?  This commercial had an adverse effect on me.  Instead of wanting to buy the product, I actually do not want to buy it because it made no effort to convince me and it left me frustrated, repeatedly.
There are several examples of good commercials.  Restaurants generally have good commercials with descriptions of their food that make my mouth water. Now if you were in advertising, this should be music to your ears.  When I want to go out to eat, what will I think about? Yes, those mouth-watering commercials.  Auto companies also make good commercials. I have a good idea what kind of car gets the best gas mileage and has the best financing.
There is another category of commercials that seems to be good but fails to deliver. These are the ones that make the product sound so good I’m ready to pull out my wallet and buy, buy, buy. Then what happens? They say call the number on your screen or enter the code you see on the screen to get a discount. That’s where they lose my money — I can’t see the number or the discount code.
I want to challenge all advertisers to make your commercials clear to all consumers, not just those gifted with sight. Companies are losing business because one segment of the population cannot decipher what you are trying to promote.

A Most Unusual Encounter, by Karen Bailey

Today my new friend Roger came to see me as we had planned.  Since I read the book, “The Once and Future King” by T.H. White, I have been fascinated with falconry. But I have had few chances to ask anyone about this 4,000-year-old sport. Little has changed over those 4,000 years in methods and practice. The sport is practiced by licensed falconers all over the United States.
Then one day a while back I read the book “H is for Hawk” and again my interest was piqued. The book is about a lady who is getting over her father’s death and she needs something to do, so she decides to train her own hawk. But there are technical discussions in that book which now apply to my situation. I contacted a wildlife rehabilitation center here in Indiana to inquire if there were any falconers I could meet. The center passed along one gentleman’s e-mail address, and I wrote to him, explaining my fascination with raptors and where this began.
I also kept track of birds in a conservation area on Cape Cod when I lived there. With the sounds of all the birds there, I was able to surmise that we had some raptors in the woods. I heard a red-tailed hawk, and every year I heard great horned owls that came to nest in November and March. So I waited, and sure enough, the gentleman, Roger by name, had replied to me. Roger and I have discussed differences between dog and bird training.
Finally he told me he was thinking of visiting me to show me his birds. One is Knuckles, a red-tailed hawk, and the other is Onyx, his falcon.  I was thrilled since I hadn’t seen or held any birds for a long time. I was actually able to see some birds when I was younger; they came to our feeders. I’d also felt some in the pet store that were hand-fed. With the decrease in my vision in later years, I was unable to watch them fly outside any more, so I wanted to touch them. I held an African gray parrot and a cockatoo back in the ‘90s.
This is a very unusual visitation since the public is not allowed to touch the birds, neither at falconry conventions nor anywhere else. The guidelines are even stricter than with guide dogs. So this was a real privilege. Roger and his daughter Lauren came to visit me and Zelda (my guide dog). While Roger held his red-tailed hawk, I tied Zelda upstairs, sure she would react to a live bird in her living room.
Roger has a type of box that acts like a hood to restrict the bird’s vision while they were driving in his car and when they first came into the house. I said carefully, “I don’t know just how to handle this. Maybe you should guide my hands.” So he did. I was excited, but he said that I should go slowly. I did, and very gently felt this wonderful hawk’s feathers.
He got Knuckles from a rehabilitation center, and is teaching her how to hunt again after she was rehabbed from West Nile virus and a concussion. So far Knuckles has done well with its training. Roger explained that he isn’t sure whether Knuckles is female or male; only blood tests could tell the difference. Some birds you can tell since the female is a duller color, but not here. He thinks this bird might be female since it is smaller; but the hawk isn’t full-grown yet. The bird will be molting in spring. Right now the hawk is a basic brown in color. After it molts, the beautiful red tail will come out.
I slowly reached out, with Roger guiding my hands. The birds are wild creatures and can only be tamed to a certain extent. How wonderful to have this opportunity to touch such a beautiful wild creature! The wings of this bird are so soft they feel like silk under your hands, and you can’t stop touching. But too much touching upsets the hawk. So I touched in little spurts. I was able to touch all except her head, since she might bite. She is about two feet long, and her wings when spread are about four feet across. I startled her; when she spread those enormous wings so quickly, it startled me at first. At the same time, I was enthralled and amazed. I did briefly touch her tail which is long and sort of rounded off at the end. It too is very soft to the touch.
When the wings were in place, I could feel their outlines as I touched her. Roger let me touch her talons too. There are four on each foot.  Eventually her eyes will go from a golden color to red. The talons are very deadly; it’s how they catch their food. The inside first talon or claw is longer than the other two front talons. There is one back talon on each foot, which is how they kill their prey; it’s huge! It is long and thick. Roger showed me just how pointy all her claws were. I felt her lovely rounded breast too. I patted her back gently.  Then she raised her wings and flapped so hard it was like a fan cooling me off.
Then Roger showed me his glove. She had both her front legs on the top of his thick glove. This is the glove they are trained to aim for when coming back to their person. The next thing I noticed was the jingling of bells. These are attached to this thing called a pair of jesses. Jesses are two ankle rings that are attached to the hawk’s legs. From there are leather pieces that Roger holds in his fingers while the glove is on his hand. This keeps the hawk in place where he has her. Then when he flies her, he lets go of the jesses so that she can hunt. The bells are to help him with location. The little falcon he has is different. The falcon will go distances away so there isn’t any need for bells on her. She wears a tracking device instead.
Since Onyx, too, is very wild, it took hours for Roger’s friend to fit her with the tracking device. She wasn’t very cooperative.  However, the hawk may only go 200 feet away so she may be tracked with bells on her legs. The falcon is another story. She was outside when we took Knuckles back to the car. He took out Onyx, who is a bad biter, as many falcons are, so I couldn’t touch her, but Roger described her to me. She is black with a little white and a very orange breast. Her grandparents are from Peru. So really she does best in states like Arizona. He said our cold weather was a bit much for her right now.
And I found out one thing: she talks to Roger constantly. She sure is vocal, and she lets him know what she doesn’t like. So I got to hear her little voice. She is actually a tiny breed not more than a foot long. She was so much smaller than the big red-tailed hawk.
This is one of the most memorable visits I have ever received. They were here an hour, and I will never forget those soft, silky feathers of the beautiful hawk! Next spring after Knuckles has learned how to hunt for herself, Roger will make sure she knows how to get her food, then she will be released to be a wild creature once more.

Bullying of the Blind Intolerable, by Larry P. Johnson

Reprinted from “The San Antonio Express-News,” Aug. 29, 2015.
(Editor’s Note: Larry P. Johnson is a motivational speaker and author. Contact him at or visit his web site at
Forty-three percent of blind or visually impaired children are bullied at school by their peers, according to a recent report by Blind Children UK, a leading non-profit organization based in Reading, England. Many people cannot conceive of the idea that a blind or visually impaired child would be the victim of bullying. Actually, children with glasses are traditionally the first individuals to be marked by bullies.
The University of Bristol conducted a 2005 study that showed children with glasses are bullied 35 to 40 percent more than children without glasses. Bullies see those with any amount of visual impairment to be weak and, therefore, a prime target for their aggression.
The Blind Children UK research also revealed that almost half of parents of sighted children admitted that they do not feel comfortable inviting a blind or visually impaired child to their home without a parent or guardian. They said they would not invite the blind child because they would worry that the child might hurt himself or herself, because they didn’t know enough about the blind child’s special needs or because they were concerned that the blind child wouldn’t be able to navigate around their homes. The researchers suggested that this discomfort of sighted parents toward children with visual impairment can be transmitted to their own sighted children and may contribute to the social isolation of visually impaired children. According to the National Association for Parents of Children with Visual Impairments, a child with visual impairments faces unique challenges trying to keep pace with his/her sighted peers. Add bullying and social exclusion to the mix, and you have a problem that can be overwhelming for the blind student.
Molly Burke, a blind 14-year-old Canadian girl, tells her story. “One day in May my teachers at school assigned several classmates (formerly my closest friends) to help me get to the lunchroom. When it was time for lunch, they told me that they weren’t hungry. Instead of leading me to the cafeteria, they took me outside. I was on crutches because of breaking my foot two weeks earlier from falling down a flight of stairs. I was hungry, but it wasn’t up to me. I figured, ‘Well, at least I’m hanging out with friends.’ It was sunny and warm, and I started to sweat in my heavy school uniform as I struggled to keep up on my crutches. First the girls led me down the hill I’d tobogganed on every winter, then across the field where my brother and I used to play soccer on. When I felt roots underfoot, I knew we had entered the woods at the edge of the field. By then, I was hot and out of breath. I sat down under the trees with my crutches beside me. One of the girls grabbed them. Laughing, my friends ran deeper into the woods. I heard a loud crack. The girls had broken my crutches against a tree. I heard the sound of their laughter fade as they ran back to class, leaving me alone and helpless on the ground.”
Since children with special needs often occupy a lower social standing among their peers, they lack a support system, which the bully recognizes. Bullying may go unreported because children with disabilities often struggle with self-esteem issues. They may fail to report the abuse due to their feelings of intimidation, humiliation or embarrassment. It’s important to speak with your child about bullying. Tell your child in no uncertain terms that bullying should never be tolerated and that there is no shame attached to reporting it. And that’s how I see it.

Affiliate News

Midwest Leadership Conference Postponed

The 2016 Midwest Leadership Conference and Young Professionals Seminar, originally scheduled for Aug. 5-7 in Omaha, Neb., has been postponed until August 2017.  A number of issues have come up recently to make it impractical to hold the seminar this year as originally planned.  The 2017 conference will take place in Omaha, Neb. Thanks to all who had committed to attend and make presentations at the 2016 conference, as well as those who offered financial support.

Top Dog 2017

Top Dog 2017 will be held Jan. 12-15, 2017 at the Holiday Inn and Suites across from Universal Orlando. Room rates are $89 per night plus tax.  Prices for other hotel accommodation options will be available in the registration announcement.
Registration will be open by late August or early September.  We will provide a comprehensive program description at that time as well as specific instructions to register for both Top Dog and hotel rooms.
Our program is going to be exciting, educational and enjoyable. During the event, you will have an opportunity to participate in a CPR course for your guides, take part in our traditional blessing of the guide dogs, hear from a renowned veterinarian about canine allergies and their treatment, hear about the latest in way-finding technologies and experience using them with your dogs by appointment during the event, receive updates from guide dog schools, and learn from experts about the current status of coming to terms with the issues of service dog fraud in the public arena and air travel with our guides. 
The exhibit hall will have a wide variety of useful products.  Come, learn and explore, and check out various devices.
For more information, contact Debbie Grubb, Top Dog coordinator, at (941) 281-2728 or (941) 228-6296, or e-mail

Here and There, edited by Sharon Strzalkowski

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 ACB 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, 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.

Gone Fishin’

Are you blind or low vision? Are you interested in anything related to fishing, from catching to cooking? You are invited to join our Vision Masters' Fishing Association (VMFA) email list. This is an open list where we discuss everything associated with fish and fishing, from fishing techniques and fishing gear to cooking fish and everything in between. We fish for all kinds of fish, both freshwater and saltwater, and if you don’t fish, but just enjoy cooking and eating fish, we would like to hear about what kinds of fish and seafood you most enjoy eating and cooking.
You can subscribe by sending an e-mail to with “subscribe” in the subject field, or by visiting the VMFA list page at

NBP Recognizes Volunteers

National Braille Press honored its volunteers and employees who have served for over 20 years at its recent annual meeting. This year’s Volunteer Award Winners were IBM and the Middleton family.
IBM is a leader in supporting accessibility in the workplace. Employees have donated time and money to support braille literacy since 2011. IBM hosted a “Because Braille Matters” luncheon in Austin, Texas and volunteered at the Baltimore luncheon. IBM has also put together print/braille books for the Children’s Braille Book Club.
The Middleton family – Joyce, Marty, Michael and Katherine – of Bridgewater, Mass., has volunteered with the NBP since 2011. They are members of the Bridgewater Lions Club.

Helen Keller Achievement Award

On June 16th, the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) recognized Comcast for breakthroughs in making its technology and programming accessible to people with vision loss by honoring it with a Helen Keller Achievement Award. The company made history in 2015 when it launched the industry’s first voice-guided TV interface — the X1 talking guide — which allows customers with a visual disability to operate settings and explore programming independently. Comcast made headlines again later that year with its video-described broadcast of NBC’s “The Wiz Live!”— the first live entertainment program to be aired with video description.
Comcast also makes available braille or large-print billing statements, large-button remotes, and an Accessibility Support Center that can be contacted seven days a week (7 a.m. to midnight) by phone, chat, or e-mail.
Accepting the award for Comcast were AFB Trustee Tom Wlodkowski, who is Vice President of Accessibility for Comcast Cable, and Shanice Williams, the young star who played Dorothy in “The Wiz Live!”

Tactile Caliper

Students, are you taking geometry this fall? Teachers, do you need a tool to help your blind students with geometry?  Check out the Tactile Caliper at National Braille Press. Created and produced by Squirrel Devices, the Tactile Caliper improves access to geometry and other STEM subjects. It looks like a traditional caliper. Whole inches are embossed in braille across the top of the ruler, while fractions are dynamically displayed in braille on a sliding jaw – as you move the jaw, the braille refreshes to the nearest 16th of an inch.
For more information, contact National Braille Press, 88 St. Stephen Street, Boston, MA 02115-4302; phone toll-free 1-800-548-7323, or (617) 266-6160; or visit

New Tactile Print-and-Braille Books

Seedlings Braille Books for Children is offering 5 new tactile print-and-braille books from DK Braille. Choose from: “Shapes,” “Counting,” “Animals,” “On the Move,” and “It Can’t Be True!” All titles in uncontracted braille and UEB. For more information, visit
Back in stock are the ever-popular SENSEsational Alphabet books. The book incorporates visual stimuli, movement, touch, smell and sound. Feel the different textures of the horse and lizard, smell the distinctive aromas of apples and roses, move the hands of the watch, pull the zipper, and much more! For a preview, visit
For more information, call 1-800-777-8552, or visit

Lyrics Guru Trivia Game

Al Jones Corporation, developer of the Lyrics Guru platform, announced the launch of its playing card version of the song lyrics trivia game, Lyrics Guru. In this game, the winner is the first person to collect eight cards, one of each music genre.
Want to learn more? Visit the Lyrics Guru web site at It uses the APHont (TM) typeface, eight color barrier-free suits, embossed indicators and large 22-, 24- and 36-point text.

New Category on Apple’s Online Store

People with disabilities can now find equipment to suit their needs under the newly launched “Accessibility” section in Apple’s online store. Products found under this new category include accessories for Mac, iPad and iPhone devices specially designed for the needs of people with vision, physical or learning impairments.
Apple is also providing a personal pickup option for the new specialty items for customers who live within the vicinity of an Apple Store.
One of the items featured is the HumanWare Brailliant BI 32 Braille Display. This accessory allows people with vision impairments to navigate through OS X or iOS using a lightweight braille keyboard that connects to Apple devices through Bluetooth.
Another new product is the Skoog 2.0 Tactile Musical Interface for the iPad, which features multi-purpose buttons arranged on a five-sided cube. This accessory is designed to promote “expressive music making” through the help of responsive sounds made by tapping, twisting or squeezing the Skoog cube.
And that’s not all! Visit to see the variety of products available.

New from National Braille Press

Now available from National Braille Press is the B2G! What is it? It’s a portable, Android-based refreshable braille computer with optional smart phone, designed specifically for blind people. The B2G allows you to add or remove apps, and to tailor your device the way that you want. It has an 8-dot braille keyboard, space bar, navigation pad, forward and back buttons, as well as a 20-cell refreshable braille display. The user interface includes many of the command sets used by traditional braille notetakers, as well as some new ones.
New in books is “Everything You Need to Know to Use the Mac with El Capitan and VoiceOver” by Janet Ingber. It’s available in braille, BRF, Word, text file, or DAISY. It explains how to use VoiceOver, learn the keyboard layout, choose preferences, navigate text, surf the web, and use many of the standard applications that come with the Mac, such as Apple Mail, Safari, iTunes, and TextEdit. It covers different models of MacBook and iMac.
Also available is “Anyone Can Play: Accessible Games for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch.” It’s available in braille (1 vol.), BRF, Word, DAISY, or ePub.
If you enjoy traveling, you may want to read “Out and About: Our Favorite iOS Travel Apps,” by Judy Dixon and Doug Wakefield. It’s available in braille, as well as BRF, Word, or DAISY.
Looking to eat healthy? Take a look at “121 Good Eating Tips.” Everyone can use reliable advice on how to develop and maintain good eating habits. The advice in this special report has been compiled by the staff of scientists and nutritionists at Their goal: to help you develop and maintain good eating habits – day in and day out. You’ll learn which are the best basic foods to eat; how to prepare dips, soups, and tasty side dishes; quick tips for easy main courses, healthy snacks and desserts; and simple ways to eat healthier. Also included in the book are shopping advice and safe food-handling pointers.
Over in the children’s section, kids are cheering for “The Day the Crayons Came Home” by Drew Dawalt. It’s available in contracted UEB, for ages 4 and up. Duncan faces a new group of crayons asking to be rescued and returned to the crayon box. Every color has its own story; maroon was lost beneath the sofa cushions and then broke in two after Dad sat on him, turquoise got stuck to one of Duncan’s socks after going through the dryer, and pea green ran away. We won’t spoil the rest of the story for you; check it out at
For more information, contact National Braille Press, 88 St. Stephen Street, Boston, MA 02115-4302; phone toll-free 1-800-548-7323, or (617) 266-6160; or visit

Orbis Flying Eye Hospital

Orbis, the international charity that fights blindness around the world, recently unveiled its new Flying Eye Hospital. More than six years in the making, the third-generation Flying Eye Hospital is the world’s only mobile ophthalmic teaching hospital on board an aircraft.
The flying hospital features 3D technology and live broadcast capabilities. It is equipped with everything the Orbis medical team needs to provide hands-on training to local eye care professionals and convey the knowledge to save and restore sight for patients in their own countries. The plane also includes a 46-seat classroom, state-of-the-art AV/IT room, patient care and laser treatment room, operating room, sterilization room and a pre-and post-operative care room

Life Coaching Available

Have you been thinking of making positive life changes with tangible results? Are you seeking clarity in defining and implementing personal, professional or spiritual goals? Have you been struggling with broken relationships that you sincerely long to repair? Are there hidden gifts, talents or passions that you’d like to discover within yourself and share with the world?
If you’ve answered yes to some or all of these soul-searching questions, then you have come to the right place — LightSource Coaching! We offer life coaching, specializing in personal development, relationship coaching, and spiritual growth.
Coaching can be short- or long-term; the usual frequency of sessions is 2-4 times a month for 3-6 months. Sessions typically last from 1-2 hours, according to clients’ needs, availability and budget. If you are interested in working with a certified life coach, contact Kathleen Prime at

Brailler Repairs

The Selective Doctor, Inc. specializes in the repair of Perkins braillers. Repairs are $65 for labor, plus the cost of parts. You can send your brailler via U.S. mail to The Selective Doctor, Inc., P.O. Box 571, Manchester, MD 21102. The company accepts free matter shipping. For more information, call (410) 668-1143, e-mail, or visit

New Facebook Groups

Adrijana Prokopenko has created a Facebook group for blind pen pals. It currently has 1,200 members from all over the world. To join, look for blind penpals on Facebook.
She has also created a Facebook group for those who wish to help blind people get used or donated blindness items for free, and another group for international travelers who are blind to discuss past and present travel experiences. If you would like to support them in getting the items they need, or are in need of some, search for “give and get blind items” on Facebook, or e-mail her at To join the international travelers group, search for “blind international travelers” on Facebook and click the “join” button when the page comes up.  If you have further questions, e-mail her at the address above.

Branco Broadcast

Branco Broadcast is a weekly conference call that features a special guest each week. Would you like to join the call? Contact Bob Branco,, and he will add you to the list. It is usually held either on Monday evenings at 7 p.m. Eastern, or Tuesdays at 3 p.m. Eastern. 

So far there have been more than 25 shows, with guests having covered topics such as high technology, online dating, teaching, job coaching, writing, recording, network marketing, the employment rate of the blind, and how to get a guide dog.  If you’re interested in being a featured guest, please include that information in your e-mail message.

High Tech Swap Shop

For Sale:
BrailleNote mPOWER. Comes with leather case, power cord, games, and an Internet card. Asking $500. Intel Reader and the station to hold it. Asking $300 or best offer. Talking calculator. Asking $50. Braille writer, asking $200. If interested, send a message to Maryann Sears,
For Sale:
Toshiba Windows 7 laptop in good condition. Has new battery. Asking $200 (negotiable). Call Anne at (631) 476-1222.
For Sale:
HP laptop computer. Has Windows 8.1 and the latest JAWS software. I will pay for the license transfer fee. Asking $800 or best offer. Contact Kristy Marshall at (504) 906-5765, or e-mail her,
Used Open Book 9.0. Contact Bob Groff Jr. at (501) 589-7577.

ACB Officers, ACB Board and Board of Publications

ACB Officers

Kim Charlson (2nd term, 2017)
57 Grandview Ave.
Watertown, MA 02472
First Vice President
Jeff Thom (2nd term, 2017)
7414 Mooncrest Way
Sacramento, CA 95831-4046
Second Vice President
John McCann (1st term, 2017)
8761 E. Placita Bolivar
Tucson, AZ 85715-5650
Ray Campbell (2nd term, 2017)
460 Raintree Ct. #3K
Glen Ellyn, IL 60137
Carla Ruschival (3rd term, 2017)
148 Vernon Ave.
Louisville, KY 40206
Immediate Past President
Mitch Pomerantz
1115 Cordova St. #402
Pasadena, CA 91106

ACB Board of Directors

Jeff Bishop, Tucson, AZ (partial term, 2016)
Berl Colley, Lacey, WA (final term, 2016)
Sara Conrad, Stevensville, MI (1st term, 2016)
Katie Frederick, Worthington, OH (1st term, 2018)
Michael Garrett, Missouri City, TX (final term, 2016)
George Holliday, Philadelphia, PA (final term, 2018)
Allan Peterson, Horace, ND (final term, 2018)
Patrick Sheehan, Silver Spring, MD (1st term, 2018)
Dan Spoone, Orlando, FL (1st term, 2016)
David Trott, Talladega, AL (1st term, 2018)
Ex Officio: Doug Powell, Falls Church, VA

ACB Board of Publications

Denise Colley, Chairman, Lacey, WA (2nd term, 2017)
Ron Brooks, Phoenix, AZ (2nd term, 2017)
Tom Mitchell, Salt Lake City, UT (1st term, 2016)
Doug Powell, Falls Church, VA (1st term, 2016)
Judy Wilkinson, San Leandro, CA (1st term, 2016)
Ex Officios: Katie Frederick, Worthington, OH
Bob Hachey, Waltham, MA
Berl Colley, Lacey, WA
Carla Ruschival, Louisville, KY

Accessing Your ACB Braille and E-Forums

The ACB E-Forum may be accessed by e-mail, on the ACB web site, via download from the web page (in Word, plain text, or braille-ready file), or by phone at (605) 475-8154. To subscribe to the e-mail version, visit the ACB e-mail lists page at
The ACB Braille Forum is available by mail in braille, large print, half-speed four-track cassette tape, data CD, and via e-mail. It is also available to read or download from ACB’s web page, and by phone, (605) 475-8154.
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