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 [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.
Hadley Welcomes New President
After 10 years with Chuck Young at the helm, Hadley welcomed Julie Tye as its new president. Her first day was June 1st.
Julie’s leadership experience in running an organization with a comparable number of students enrolled to Hadley, and the fact that she oversaw the development and implementation of a similarly sized distance education program, elevated her above the other candidates. Her extensive fundraising experience also weighed heavily in the board’s decision.
Julie was not seeking a job change when she first learned of Hadley’s available presidential position. However, it was Hadley’s stellar reputation, coupled with the fit of the position description, which led her to apply.
“Hadley’s brand promise of ‘Educating — For Life’ is extremely energizing, and playing a role in delivering on that promise will be so personally fulfilling,” Julie said.
Enable Savings Plan Launched
Nebraska State Treasurer Don Stenberg and First National Bank of Omaha recently informed us that the Enable Savings Plan will launch nationwide on June 30.
The Enable Savings Plan provides individuals with disabilities an affordable, simple, and straightforward opportunity for financial independence. Account owners can save for their future in tax-free savings accounts and pay for everyday expenses. The plan will be available to individuals with disabilities living in any state in the United States.
The Enable Savings Plan will provide a range of comprehensive options for families to save. Key features include:
- Risk-based growth, moderate and conservative allocation investment options;
- An FDIC-insured bank savings option; and
- A checking account option, with debit card capability coming in fall 2016.
The Nebraska ABLE Act was approved by the legislature and signed into law on May 28, 2015, following action by the U.S. Congress. In December 2014, Congress enacted Section 529A of the Internal Revenue Code, allowing for a tax-favored savings program for eligible individuals with disabilities to be used to pay qualified disability-related expenses. The act was called the Achieving a Better Life Experience Act, or ABLE.
Under the Enable program, earnings in the accounts will not be subject to state or federal taxes as long as used for qualified disability-related expenses. Federal benefits will not be jeopardized if assets in a beneficiary's account remain at $100,000 or less.
To learn more about the Enable Savings Plan, visit EnableSavings.com or treasurer.nebraska.gov, and read the Enable Savings Plan blog.
Touch of Genius Prize
Have you developed an innovative, accessible product, such as professional or educational software or apps, gaming software, apps that promote tactile and braille learning, or braille or tactile-related hardware? If so, consider applying for the Louis Braille Touch of Genius Prize for Innovation!
How, you ask? You can do it a couple of different ways: download the application from www.touchofgeniusprize.org, or send a request to [email protected]. Questions may be directed to Ximena Ojopi at (617) 266-6160, ext. 412. E-mail applications to [email protected].
Your application should include package should include the application, a brief summary (600 words or less), an outcome realization document (10 pages or less), two recommendations (mailed by authors to National Braille Press), and a prototype or supporting materials (optional). Applications including a prototype will receive stronger consideration. If you are selected as a finalist, a prototype or video presentation will be requested. Mail your prototype to: Touch of Genius Prize for Innovation, National Braille Press, 88 Saint Stephen St., Boston, MA 02115.
All materials submitted must be in an accessible format. Include usage and return instructions with your prototype if applicable. The adjudication committee will not review any applications that are not accessible and do not contain all of the above materials. All materials must be received at National Braille Press by Jan. 9, 2017.
Envision Awards $10K Prize, Presents Atwell Award
Envision has awarded a $10K grant to Ava Bittner, O.D., Ph.D., FAAO (Dipl.), to study the efficacy of videoconferencing as a means to supply low-vision rehabilitation to individuals in remote locations. Dr. Bittner’s proposal, “Feasibility of Telerehabilitation for Low Vision,” was the result of a research proposal development seminar held during the 2015 Envision Conference in Denver, and was selected from multiple entries submitted for Envision’s inaugural Research Proposal Competition.
This year’s recipient of the Envision-Atwell Award for research in low vision went to Micaela Gobeille, a second-year student at the New England College of Optometry in Boston. She was recognized for her research abstract, “Clinically Meaningful Outcomes of Low-Vision Rehabilitation Provided by a Mobile Clinic,” which summarized data she collected for her master’s research project, during which she measured the outcomes of low-vision rehabilitation delivered on the New England Eye On-Sight Mobile Clinic. She was the eighth recipient of the annual award. The award is bestowed upon an Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) presenter who is currently a student, post-doctoral researcher or junior faculty member with less than five years since earning their last professional degree.
SWIFT 4.0 is no longer a beta test product. It is a free product to enhance your copy of Word and DBT 11.3 SR1. To use it, you need to have DBT11.3 SR1 and a copy of Microsoft Word 2007 and up. (A later update may support Word 2003.)
What is SWIFT? It is an application which works within your copy of Word. Using SWIFT, you can send the current document (or a highlighted portion of a document) to the Duxbury Braille Translator without having to manually start DBT and use the file open dialogue to load the document. You can also make multiple, non-contiguous selections in Word and only open those in DBT. It can send the current Word document, translated by DBT, directly to the braille embosser, or to an ink printer, too.
For more information, visit www.DuxburySystems.com, or call (978) 692-3000.
Bookshare Titles Available in UEB
Bookshare’s English titles are now available in UEB. Members can select from a huge variety of leisure, career, and educational books and read them in UEB on compatible reading tools.
Bookshare’s UEB titles are also an important resource for braille instructors. Teachers can help students learn how to read with the new braille code using a wide selection of fun and engaging titles for readers of every age and interest. Bookshare is committed to supporting the transition to UEB and hopes members will take full advantage of the breadth of its collection.
For members who wish to continue to read in the previous braille code, Bookshare will continue to provide books in English Braille American Edition. In addition, non-English books will continue to be available in their existing formats.
Are you ready to get started with UEB on Bookshare? Visit www.bookshare.org/cms/node/814 for more information.
Accessible App Information
Have you ever wondered just how accessible some iPhone apps are? Check out www.applevis.com/. Bloggers for the site test new apps and let users know if they are compatible with VoiceOver. The list of apps developed for blind and low-vision users is available at www.applevis.com/apps/ios-apps-for-blind-and-vision-impaired. It also offers tips on getting started with your new Macintosh, iOS device, or Apple Watch.
Interested in Individualized Businesses
I would be interested in hearing from those who are in businesses besides crafts, businesses which are non-computer-related. I do not have a computer. I’d love to hear what people do in business and in their work situations as employees. I’d also love to hear from people with retinopathy of prematurity, as that is what caused my blindness. Please contact Rev. Adelaide Wink in braille, 59 S. Lee St., Beverly Hills, FL 34465-3640, or phone (352) 746-3087 and leave a message with your name and telephone number including area code.
New Book by Alice Crespo
Alice Crespo has published a new book called “Never Be Discouraged: With God All Things Are Possible.” It is available as a paperback book and in audio format on a flash drive. If you’re interested in a paper copy, visit http://bookstore.inspiringvoices.com/Products/SKU-000662165/Never-Be-Dis.... If you’d like it on a flash drive, contact Alice at [email protected]or via phone, (917) 696-8115.
New Book by Blind Author
How would you feel if you were dragged to an alternate Earth, blinded, held captive, and determined to be responsible for a disaster that threatens a world? This is what happens when Dr. Malcolm Renbourn, a young history teacher, walks into an ordinary bank on an ordinary day. Suddenly, he feels excruciating pain, and unexpectedly, he loses his sight and discovers he has been drawn against his will to a slave-holding country on a parallel earth. He doesn’t understand a single word of what he hears, but he soon comprehends that he is the focal point in the quest to end a plague that kills three out of four male babies their first year.
Branded state property, he must escape, but where can a blind man in a strange world dominated by desperate scientists run? And in a world where polygamy is the norm, how can Renbourn adapt into becoming the husband of five independent wives who never expected to be the mothers of a generation a planet hopes carry the genes that will change everything? And that’s just part of the story.
“The Blind Alien: The Beta Earth Chronicles, Book One” by Wesley Britton is available in e-book format, and will soon be available for Nook devices. You can request a copy from BearManor Media at www.bearmanormedia.com/the-blind-alien-the-beta-earth-chronicles-book-on..., or from Amazon at www.amazon.com/dp/B015BX2CII.
For more information, visit Britton’s web site, www.drwesleybritton.com.
Coffee House Press Makes Books Accessible
Coffee House Press has converted more than 80 of its titles for use with screen readers, thanks to a grant administered by VSA Minnesota. Among the titles converted are “Prelude to Bruise” by Saeed Jones, winner of the 2015 Stonewall Book Award/Barbara Gittings Literature Award and a finalist for the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award, as well as “Dark. Sweet.” by Linda Hogan, which offers readers the sweep of Hogan’s work — environmental and spiritual concerns, her Chickasaw heritage — in spare, elemental, visionary language. For more information, contact the company at (612) 338-0125.
New from National Braille Press
“School for the Blind” and “The Way Love Comes to Me” are books of poetry by identical twins Daniel and David Simpson. Their poems speak about their adventures attending a school for the blind, and capture intimate and humorous experiences of love and life. Poems contain adult, frank language. Both books are combined into one volume, available in UEB braille or BRF.
“Amazing Mazes” by Tactile Vision Graphics, Inc. contains 16 tactile mazes. These are a great way to talk about movement, getting lost, and finding your way back again. Mazes progress from easy to difficult.
“Bunny and Bee: Animal Friends” by Sam Williams is also new. It’s a print-braille board book in contracted UEB for babies through preschoolers. Join Bunny and Bee as they walk through the woods and meet a menagerie of adorable new friends.
Also new in the children’s department is “Iggy Peck, Architect.” It’s available in contracted UEB braille for ages 4 to 10. Iggy loves to build things; his teacher, Miss Greer, isn’t interested in architecture and forbids Iggy from expressing himself. And wait ‘til you hear how the story ends! We won’t spoil it for you; visit www.nbp.org/ic/nbp/BC1604-IGGY.html for more information.
For more information, contact National Braille Press, 88 St. Stephen St., Boston, MA 02115-4302; phone 1-800-548-7323; or look online at www.nbp.org/ic/nbp/publications/index.html.