Here and There

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 E-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.
Lego Set Descriptions
Matthew Shifrin, a blind high-school student, and a sighted friend have created descriptions of how to assemble various LEGO sets so that blind children can put them together. Sets that are currently available are (set numbers are in parentheses):

For more information, visit, or e-mail
Accessible Technology Section Added to
The Department of Justice has launched a new Accessible Technology section on to assist covered entities and people with disabilities to understand how the ADA applies to certain technologies, such as web sites, electronic book readers, online courses, and point-of-sale devices.  Covered entities have longstanding obligations to make their programs, goods, services, and activities accessible — including those they provide online or via other technology. The new web pages compile the department’s technical assistance and guidance about accessible technology, as well as information about DOJ’s accessible technology enforcement efforts, regulation development, and other federal accessible technology resources and initiatives, all in one location.
To learn more, visit or call the toll-free ADA Information Line at 1-800-514-0301 or 1-800-514-0383 (TTY).
SSI Recipients to Get Slight Increase in 2017
The Social Security Administration recently announced that, in 2017, Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for more than 65 million Americans will increase 0.3 percent.
Under SSDI, the Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) level goes up to $1,950 a month for blind individuals, $1,170 for non-blind workers. The Trial Work Period (TWP) amount goes up to $840 per month.
The 0.3 percent cost-of-living adjustment will begin in January 2017.  Increased payments to more than 8 million SSI beneficiaries will begin on Dec. 30, 2016. 
Some other adjustments that take effect in January of each year are based on the increase in average wages.  Based on that increase, the maximum amount of earnings subject to the Social Security tax (taxable maximum) will increase to $127,200.
Behind Our Eyes Celebrates 10th Anniversary
Do you enjoy hearing writers read their own creative work? Download Behind Our Eyes Tenth Anniversary Audio Celebration. New and familiar names and voices entertain and track the journey of this successful organization of writers with disabilities. Visit and click the Special Announcement link. For a CD copy, make a $7 donation through the PayPal button on that page. For other ordering options, call (773) 572-7744. New members always welcome.
The Selective Doctor Closes
As of Oct. 31, 2016, The Selective Doctor has closed. The company thanks all of its customers for their trust in repairing their braillers.
EEOC Issues New Resource Document
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has issued a new resource document that addresses the rights of employees with disabilities who seek leave as a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The document is entitled Employer-Provided Leave and the Americans with Disabilities Act.
This resource is intended to help educate employers and employees about workplace leave under the ADA to prevent discriminatory denials of leave from occurring. It responds to common questions employers and employees have raised about leave requests that concern an employee’s disability. It also provides numerous examples that illustrate existing legal requirements and obligations for both employees and employers.
For more information, or to read it online, visit
Arizona Student Takes 2nd in Braille Challenge
Joey Parra, a 12-year-old from Tucson, Ariz., took home second place national victory at the 2016 Braille Challenge® in the Sophomore division (grades 5-6). When Parra isn’t triumphing at braille competitions, he enjoys watching “The Walking Dead,” playing video games, and swimming. He attends the Arizona School for the Blind.
Nationwide Invitation
Ojocion Ingram invites phone calls from independent blind and visually impaired people who are working and happy with the amenities available in the city they work in, such as transit, books, equipment, food, rent, friends, safety, legal aid, etc. Which city is it? First names only if desired; ages 18 or older only. Contact her at (415) 846-2027 and leave your name and number.
First Artificial Pancreas
Medtronic Plc will bring to market the world’s first artificial pancreas, after U.S. regulators cleared the device for diabetics to automatically monitor blood sugar and supply insulin, replicating what a healthy version of the organ does on its own.
The Food and Drug Administration cleared the product, called MiniMed 670G, for patients with Type 1 diabetes who are at least 14 years old. It will let some diabetics turn over part of their daily routine of fingerprick tests and insulin injections to an automatic system. Along with lessening the burden of a condition that requires constant attention, it also offers hope that better blood sugar control at inconvenient times, such as at night, will ultimately improve long-term health.
The device will be on the market in spring 2017. For more information, contact Medtronic at 1-800-646-4633.
New Trustees and More for NBP
National Braille Press has five new trustees: Joe Abely, Ian Cross, Mark Sadecki, Barbara Salisbury and Paul Schroeder. NBP has also named Jennifer Bose and Kara Peters as new members of the corporation, and Chris Cavallerano and Matt Sullivan as returning trustees.
Joe Abely is former president of the Carroll Center for the Blind and has held leadership positions in the areas of finance, consumer marketing, global branding and distribution, and nonprofits. Ian Cross is director of the Center for Marketing Technology and a professor in marketing at Bentley University. Mark Sadecki is a technology program manager for accessibility at EdX and has over 16 years of experience in web accessibility and user interface design and development.  Barbara Salisbury is CEO of MAB Community Services since 2006. Paul Schroeder is vice president of government relations for the American Foundation for the Blind and is a braille reader and senior contributing editor for “AccessWorld.”
NBP has appointed Kesel Wilson as its new editor and programs manager.  In this role, she will co-manage existing braille literacy programs such as the Great Expectations and ReadBooks! programs, oversee the development of new publications by NBP, and manage the popular “Syndicated Columnists Weekly” and “Our Special” magazines.
Envision, Wichita State Partnership
Envision has formed a partnership between the Envision Research Institute (ERI) and Wichita State University’s Regional Institute on Aging (RIA) that will increase resources for both organizations and promote greater professional and academic interest in low vision rehabilitation.  As part of the collaboration, Dr. Laura Walker has been appointed as an adjunct research scientist at the RIA. She will serve as a guest lecturer for WSU courses and act in an advisory role for Ph.D. candidates. RIA will provide access to online and physical libraries, institutional review boards and ethics training to facilitate ERI research activities.
Seeking Tape Correspondence
Rose Ann Durkee, a sighted lady, is looking for tape correspondence. Contact her at 238 Maple St., Apt. G4, Agawam, MA 01001; phone (413) 789-0696. She does not have unlimited long distance, so be sure to leave your name and address in a message in order for her to get back in touch with you.
American Thermoform Acquires Braillo Norway
American Thermoform Corporation recently acquired Braillo Norway, a producer of braille embossers. Braillo braille printers are relied upon by governments and educational institutions in over 60 countries around the world. Combined, ATC and Braillo bring over 90 years of experience and expertise in braille production. 
Choice Magazine Listening
For more than 50 years, Choice Magazine Listening has been sharing its special selections of literature free of charge with people who have visual impairments or physical disabilities. 
Editors choose short stories, poems, interviews and articles, which are then recorded by professional narrators.  CML compiles the recordings into 12-hour anthologies, which it sends four times a year.
Listeners are treated to writing on a variety of topics – nature, sports, humor, food, fiction, travel, history, the arts – anything goes, just so long as the writing is the finest to be found in America.  CML editors select writing from “National Geographic,” “Smithsonian,” “Sports Illustrated,” “The New Yorker,” “Scientific American,” “Harper’s,” “Time” and many more magazines.
Would you like to hear “Choice Magazine Listening” for yourself?  It is free of charge to anyone who is blind or visually impaired.  Call 1-888-724-6423 for more information.
Blind Alive
Descriptive exercise routines are now available from BlindAlive! Current offerings include cardio, weights, BootCamp, stability ball, yoga, Pilates, and a set of gentle workouts for beginners. Descriptions are provided within the exercise routines, and supplementary audio and text descriptions are also available. Workouts can either be downloaded to your computer or purchased on CD, thumb drive, or SD card. For more information, visit, send e-mail to, or phone (570) 212-9979.
An Agile Dinosaur, a Story Lover, and More
Now available from National Braille Press is “Brontorina,” a children’s book by James Howe. Who – or what – is Brontorina? She is an enthusiastic and agile dinosaur who wants to be a ballerina. She arrives at the doorstep of Madame Lucille’s Dance Academy for Girls and Boys exclaiming, “I want to dance!” Madame Lucille and her students discover that if they step outside the box, they can find solutions to some of the biggest problems imaginable. The book is available in contracted UEB for ages 4 and up.
Also available is “Amazing Grace,” a children’s book by Mary Hoffman. Grace is a girl who loves stories she reads, hears, and makes up. Grace’s love of storytelling and acting inspired NBP to create lots of activities and projects: dramatic play and improv games, tongue twisters — and much more — all adapted especially for blind kids. Check out the free activities online at
As an accompaniment to “Amazing Grace,” NBP has interviewed ACB member George Ashiotis, a blind actor, for “Tips for a Blind Actor.” Read his story at
Looking for last-minute gifts? If there’s a preschooler in your family, “DK Braille: Shapes” helps children learn, find, and remember their shapes through die-cut shapes, embossed images, high-contrast colors, and braille and large print. You can feel the difference between a circle and triangle as the rhyming story guides readers through the pages.
Is there a “Peanuts” fan in the house? Take a look at the 2017 Peanuts “Happiness Is ...” calendar. Each month features a “happiness is” quote and drawing to illustrate the many ways that happiness can express itself. This wall calendar is 12” x12” (hanging on the wall it’s 12” wide and 24” tall). The braille is included on clear plastic labels that go right over the print pages. It also comes with a sheet of 120 full-color stickers to mark birthdays, appointments, and other important days.
Over in the technology section is “Get Started with Android!” by JJ Meddaugh and Ana Garza of AT Guys. Learn how to use Android with the accessibility feature TalkBack, from first time set-up to basic gestures, modified standard gestures, voice actions, installing and using apps, and much more. If you are new to Android or thinking of going Google, this book will guide you. It’s available in braille (3 volumes), BRF, Word, Text, ePub, or DAISY.
And if you’re a fan of quotations, check out “Sunday Morning Quotations.” It’s available as a spiral-bound braille booklet, containing 52 quotes to enjoy all year long, from such people as Mister Rogers, Muhammad Ali, Sam Adams and Judy Garland. Also available are booklets with Thursday, Friday and Saturday quotations.
Newly available from NBP are two books on braille, “Just Enough to Know Better: A UEB Braille Primer” and “A Braille Spelling Dictionary for Beginning Writers.” “Just Enough to Know Better,” by Eileen Curran, is a one-volume book with exercises in braille, designed for parents, grandparents, and others who want to know enough braille to help the blind child(ren) in their life learn to read. It’s a self-paced workbook that teaches you just enough braille to know better.
“A Braille Spelling Dictionary for Beginning Writers” is also one volume. It contains 1,400 elementary-level words, enabling blind school-age children to look up the spelling of words independently. Both the contracted and uncontracted braille versions of each word are given in UEB. It also includes the words in large print, so sighted and blind children and teachers or parents can use it together.
For more information, contact National Braille Press, 88 Saint Stephen St., Boston, MA 02115-4302; call toll-free, 1-800-548-7323; or visit
Poetry Book by ACB Member
Recently published is “Upwelling: Poetry” by Ann Chiappetta, an ACB member from New Rochelle, N.Y. In this collection of 23 of her short, highly accessible poems from several decades, Ann explores an enormous range of emotions and topics. Travel with her as she moves from illness, death, loss, and grief to renewed hope, security, and serenity. It is available in e-book and print from Amazon, Smashwords, and other online sellers. For more information, visit To read more of her writing, go to
Lainey Feingold’s New Book
“Structured Negotiation: A Winning Alternative to Lawsuits” is now available for purchase from the American Bar Association in print and accessible digital format.  The book is for lawyers, advocates, corporate, government, and accessibility champions, and clients frustrated with the conflict, procedures, stress, and run-away costs that typically accompany a filed case.
“Structured Negotiation” is a nuts and bolts guide to resolving claims without lawsuits in the collaborative and cost-effective method that my clients, colleagues and I have used for two decades. The book is full of stories about the people in the blind community and the accessible technology and information issues we have worked on in this dispute resolution process.
To get your copy, go to Use code LFLEGAL10 for a 10% discount off the purchase price.  For print-disabled readers, the book is available on Bookshare at
Party Zone Podcast Moves
Are you a fan of the Party Zone podcasts? The show has moved to