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.
Are you blind or visually impaired? Would you like to learn how to play chess? Visit www.AmericanBlindChess.org, or subscribe to our list group by sending a message to [email protected]. We are a very cordial group of blind or visually impaired chess enthusiasts who enjoy playing tournaments or just friendly games with those of their own strength and knowledge of this wonderful sport of chess, using e-mail messages or computer voice communication programs or even over the telephone!
To join, or for more information about how to enroll in a beginning chess course through the Hadley School for the Blind and receive your free accessible chess set, contact Alan Dicey, president of the U.S. Braille Chess Association, via e-mail, [email protected].
Learning Ally Subscriptions
Due to federal funding cuts, Learning Ally (RFB&D) now charges a $99 annual membership fee to individuals wanting to borrow from its extensive collection of audio textbooks and literature. However, the service will provide free annual membership to individuals who can demonstrate severe financial hardship. For more information, visit www.LearningAlly.org/feewaiver.
Children's Book Tackles Bullying
"Just Like You" is a new children's book about acceptance and inclusion that was written by Robert Kroupa, a Chicago entrepreneur, inventor and civic activist. In this story children learn about Henry, a deaf field mouse, and his best friend Boris, a spider with a bad leg. They live in the Piney Forest with the other animals who tease them because they don't act, walk or talk like the others. After repeated attempts to fit in, a discouraged Boris and Henry are forced to stay by themselves. When fire threatens their forest homes, Boris and Henry rally to help their fellow critters and teach readers about character and honor. The book is available through the Just Like You Foundation at www.justlikeyoufoundation.org.
Book About Visually Impaired Musher
Hope Marston is the author of a middle-reader book which has received favorable responses from people in the visually impaired community. "Eye on the Iditarod: Aisling's Quest" tells the story of Aisling Shepherd, who was born legally blind and competes in sled dog races with the hope of one day mushing in the Iditarod. Aisling is now 14 and is mushing in the adult pro division. More details about the book are available at www.HopeIrvinMarston.com.
Accessible Books Needed
The African Library Project seeks donations of braille books for a Swaziland primary school serving children who are blind. English books within reading levels preschool through eighth grade are needed. Contact [email protected] for the shipping address.
Guild Hires New COO
The Jewish Guild for the Blind has brought on Philip P. Rosenthal, MBA, as its new chief operating officer. Rosenthal has more than 30 years of administrative experience in the healthcare field. He has previously worked to develop nationally recognized programs in the areas of sports medicine, ophthalmology, cardiovascular care, and orthopedics.
Ultra Cane Redesigned
The UltraCane is an enhanced version of a white cane which emits ultrasonic waves from its handle. When the waves pick up an obstacle at the user's shoulder or head height, this is conveyed through two vibrating buttons on the cane's handle. Based on the direction and frequency of the vibration, the user can identify his/her proximity to the obstacle and navigate around it. The newest version of the UltraCane features 50 enhancements over the original model. The company is looking for sales distribution opportunities in the U.S. and is offering a free training program on the cane's use for professionals serving people who are blind. More about this device and training opportunities can be found at www.ultracane.com.
Brailling Signs Song
The Hadley School for the Blind has recently released a fun song about braille. "Brailling Signs Is Cool To Do" was written by Hadley instructor Linn Sorge and former ambassador to the school, Becky Williams. Musicians Anne Hills, David Roth and Chip Kramer recorded the song. To hear it, visit www.hadley.edu/braillesong. If you would like to receive an MP3 of the song or a one-track CD of it, send e-mail to [email protected] with "Braille Signs" in the subject line.
Braille Awards & Signs
Rick Hume is a blind entrepreneur who owns an awards recognition company in Kalamazoo, Mich. The R.L. Hume Awards Company sells promotional items, engravable gifts for all occasions, trophies and award plaques. The store can customize award plaques and ADA building signs with braille. The selection of braillable items can be reviewed at www.award-1.com/Awards/Plaques/BraillePlqs.shtml. For more information, call the store at (269) 344-2307.
Rich DeSteno offers two free computer games for people who are visually impaired. Atlantic City Blackjack is a blackjack game; Destination Mars is a challenging space travel game. Send your request for either or both games by e-mail to [email protected].
New Accessible Apps
Apps4Android has recently released four accessible applications for the Android market. They include: IDEAL Audio-Described Movie Viewer, IDEAL WebMath, IDEAL Accessible YouTube Viewer, and IDEAL Self-Voicing News Reader. The news reader simplifies access to select news web sites and reads articles from these sites using text-to-speech. Currently, the movie viewer enables its users to enjoy audio description on 50 movies that are in the public domain, with additional movies to follow. IDEAL WebMath was designed to make it easier for students with print disabilities to access and use Discovery Education's WebMath, a site that helps students learn how to solve math problems ranging from simple addition to trigonometry and calculus. The IDEAL Accessible YouTube Viewer simplifies the process for locating and viewing popular videos through the use of special-interest channels. Additional information is available at www.Apps4Android.org.
Tactile iPhone Guide
National Braille Press now offers the "iPhone Tactile ScreenShot Quick Reference Guide" which is designed to introduce visually impaired iPhone users to the various screen layouts and functions of some of the most basic apps. Tactile diagrams of the screens show the layout of the status bar, home screen apps, keypad, contacts, calendar, Apps Store, iBooks, and iTunes. The guide also introduces users to the Siri function and many of the gestures used to manipulate the various apps. The guide has braille, large print, and tactile diagrams all in one booklet for $27. This publication is designed to be a supplement to more in-depth iPhone manuals such as "Getting Started with the iPhone" and "Twenty-six Useful Apps for Blind iPhone Users." All three books are available through NBP on its web site at www.nbp.org or by phone at 1-888-965-8965.
New Assistive Technology Resource
About.com has recently established an assistive technology web site to inform and assist people with disabilities. Current hot topics of the site include iPad and iPhone accessibility, the Zoom Twix Magnifier, and Nuance Dragon dictation programs. The site's coordinator, Andrew Leibs, seeks input from individuals who are visually impaired. Success stories, comments, and questions are encouraged. Send e-mail to [email protected]. Readers can also sign up for a weekly assistive technology newsletter. The new site is http://assistivetechnology.about.com.
Perkins Products offers SUDOKU touch, the braille and print edition of the popular number game. The game pack includes a wooden game board with tile storage drawer, 40 print and braille puzzles in levels from easy to advanced, classic grid to hold tiles in place, large and small tiles with large print and braille, and print and braille solutions book. For more information, visit https://support.perkins.org/site/R?i=8qDygpxf88lU2pnVb4_udg.
PlayAbility Toys offers fun solutions for children with all types of disabilities, including visual impairment. The sensory toys include tactile coloring books, a texture puzzle, and the Rib-It-Ball. This ball is designed to provide tactile and auditory feedback. The ribbed design keeps the ball from rolling too far and aids in gripping it. For more information, visit www.playabilitytoys.com or call (520) 547-0921 or toll-free 1-866-204-8863.
Online Community for College Students
The We Connect Now web site is a virtual community designed to bring together college students with disabilities. The site gives students an opportunity to share their voices on a variety of issues. Thus far universities and groups serving people with disabilities from all 50 states and 9 countries have participated in the forum. The site is available at https://weconnectnow.wordpress.com/.
New Blind Ministry
Travis Brown, who was blinded by a gunshot wound to the head while traveling to work one day, has started a ministry called RUN TRAV RUN, which can be found and followed on Facebook. This past year he ran one full marathon and six half-marathons without the assistance of a spotter. Travis has used his runs to raise money for his church in Surprise, Ariz., and to be an inspiration for others. He welcomes your support for future runs and seeks other worthwhile causes for which to run. Contact Travis at (602) 541-1458 or [email protected].
Braille Magazines Needed
Posman Chigamba seeks braille magazines of all types. Please mail to: Posman Chigamba, Box 48, Monkey-Bay, Malawi, Central Africa.