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 firstname.lastname@example.org, 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.
Ski for Light in Alaska
The 39th annual Ski for Light International week will be held in Anchorage, Alaska from Feb.23-March 2, 2014. Participants will stay in downtown Anchorage at the Hilton Hotel and Conference Center, and ski at nearby Kincaid Park. A highlight of the week will be the ceremonial start of the Iditarod Sled Dog Race on March 1 in downtown Anchorage.
Applications are due Nov. 1, and a partial financial stipend may be requested when completing the application. For more information, visit the web site, www.sfl.org. If you do not have computer access, or need more information, contact the visually impaired participant application coordinator, Lynda Boose, at (906) 370-7541 or via e-mail, LBoose@up.net.
Rothstein to Step Down
Perkins School for the Blind recently announced that its president, Steven M. Rothstein, plans to step down. Rothstein has committed to remaining as president through the end of December, and possibly through the end of the academic year. During his 11-year tenure, he played an important role in advocating and raising awareness of Perkins and its commitment to helping students reach their fullest potential by providing the highest level of education and services for children and adults who are blind, deaf-blind or visually impaired, including those with additional disabilities.
Change in Leadership at GDB
On July 15, Bob Burke was named interim president and CEO of Guide Dogs for the Blind (GDB). Burke replaces Paul Lopez, who has resigned to pursue other opportunities. George Kerscher, who currently serves as GDB's vice chair of the board, will take on the interim role of board chair.
Burke has served on the GDB board since 2008, most recently as board chair. As interim president and CEO, he will work closely with the full board, staff, volunteers, and the alumni association board.
New Commissioner in Massachusetts
Paul Saner was recently named the new commissioner of the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind. Paul, a longtime community leader and advocate for the blind, is a former managing director of BankBoston (now Bank of America) and previously worked as a real estate executive.
After leaving the private sector, Paul used his passion for helping fellow blind residents become fully included in their communities through his work with numerous non-profit and community organizations. He has served as a volunteer vision rehabilitation teacher and is currently vice chairman of the board at the Carroll Center for the Blind in Newton, and as a leader with the Perkins Braille and Talking Book Library in Watertown.
Paul is a co-founder of Boston's Metropolitan Waterworks Museum, and served until recently as its board chair. He was a member of MCB's Rehabilitation Council for seven years, and is also active in his local government, serving as a Town of Brookline meeting member and co-chair of the town's Economic Development Advisory Board. He holds an MBA in finance from the University of Rochester and a bachelor of arts from Trinity College.
Changes at Serotek
Mike Calvo, long-time CEO and co-founder of Serotek, has changed jobs. He is now working with the Accessibility Is a Right (AIR) Foundation, concentrating on taking universal access to developing countries. Michael Fox will be assuming the responsibilities of CEO at Serotek.
Audio-Described Capitol Tour
Visitors to the U.S. Capitol who are blind or visually impaired now have a helpful new resource: an audio-described tour of Exhibition Hall in the Capitol Visitor Center. The tour was developed and produced by the Office of Congressional Accessibility Services (OCAS), and allows visitors who are blind or visually impaired to enjoy the Exhibition Hall exhibits through a self-guided, narrated tour. As exhibit documents are changed and/or rotated in the displays, the tour will be updated as needed.
This new audio-described tour is available on a handheld device, which you can request at the North Information Desk in Emancipation Hall. Visitors can also download the tour on a personal device at www.visitthecapitol.gov/visit/visitors. For more information, call OCAS at (202) 224-4048, or e-mail David_Hauck@SAA.senate.gov.
Tired of Captchas?
There's a campaign on Change.org to get rid of inaccessible visual and audio captchas on the web. The point of the campaign is to raise awareness about how inaccessible captchas exclude people who are blind or visually impaired from participating in a range of web sites. To sign on, visit www.change.org/en-AU/petitions/it-s-time-to-finally-kill-captcha-2.
Summit Outlines Successful Disability Inclusion Strategies
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce recently hosted its second corporate disability summit with the U.S. Business Leadership Network ® (USBLN ®) to highlight inclusion practices related to disability employment. The groups also released a joint report that outlines specific strategies for businesses to recruit and retain individuals with disabilities, creating a diverse workforce, marketplace, and supply chain.
The report, "Leading Practices in Disability Inclusion," highlights strategies that can be used by all businesses to create a more inclusive workplace. It outlines real-life examples that are important in helping businesses realize opportunities provided by disability employment, and the featured companies provide valuable insights on the success in all aspects of their business operating that have resulted from the inclusion of people with disabilities. The report also includes a tool to initiate and enhance disability-friendly corporate practices. To get a copy, visit www.uschamber.com/reports/leading-practices-on-disability-inclusion.
New Design for Pebble HD
Pebble HD has a new design. Its features include a new HD camera with a 4.3" LCD screen; adjustable magnification from 1.25x to 13.5x; large tactile buttons; adjustable brightness; 28 available color select modes; audible feedback; a real-time clock and calendar; a rechargeable battery with up to 3 hours of continuous use; and more. It also includes a carrying case. And you can use it in the folded reading position, the hands-free position, or the writing position. For more information, call 1-888-811-3161.
Affordable Access Solutions
ViewPlus® Technologies recently introduced the new EmBraille®. The EmBraille is a lightweight desktop embosser that can do single-sheet as well as tractor-feed braille printing. It embosses 25 characters per second, and has a USB connection for ease of use. It can handle paper between 3" and 10" wide.
ViewPlus is also the U.S. distributor for the Voiceye® technology. What does Voiceye do? It's a barcode-reading application that will give users access to a variety of print documents, from medication labels to work documents and more. Download the free Voiceye® app from the App Store or Google Play, and then scan the code using your Android, iPhone or iPad. The text contained in the code is then available on your device, and you can choose your method of access: voice, large print/high contrast, braille, or translated language. The scanned information is retained in the device history for easy access later, and can be shared through e-mail, Facebook or Twitter.
For more information, visit www.viewplus.com or www.voiceyeus.com, or call 1-866-836-2184.
Upgrade for ZoomText
Ai Squared recently released ZoomText 10.1 for Windows 8. It offers full support for Windows 8. It's compatible with Office 2013 and Internet Explorer 10. Touch-screen support is also available. It's now available electronically, and will be available to ship in a few weeks. Visit www.aisquared.com for more information, or call 1-800-859-0270.
Maps of Kansas
The Princeton Braillists recently released "Maps of Kansas," a single volume with 11 maps, including an overview of the state followed by individual maps of cities, rivers, counties, highways, farm and mineral products, and yearly precipitation. A more detailed map shows the vicinity of Kansas City. For more information, visit Mysite.verizon.net/resvqbxe/princetonbraillists, or write to The Princeton Braillists, 76 Leabrook Ln., Princeton, NJ 08540; or phone (609) 924-5207.
World Braille Usage Version 3
The world's most important and comprehensive braille reference book, "World Braille Usage," has been updated for the first time in 23 years – and now includes more braille codes for indigenous languages from every corner of the globe. The new edition includes braille codes for 133 languages. It was released at the Braille Summit held at Perkins in Watertown, Mass., in June.
For this edition, a special effort was made to collect braille codes for indigenous and mother-tongue languages, which will allow more children who are blind to learn braille in the language they speak at home and in their communities. The book includes native languages such as Ndebele from Zimbabwe and Khmer from Cambodia. Also new for this edition are braille codes for eight of the most commonly used tribal languages in South Africa, several Latin American indigenous languages, plus Inupiaq (from Alaska) and Hawaiian from the United States.
To get a free downloadable PDF copy, visit www.perkins.org/worldbrailleusage. An electronic braille version is in the works.
Perkins Brailler Repair
John Harden has started his own brailler repair business, Quality Brailler Repair LLC. For the last eight years, he has done all the brailler repair work at the braille and talking book library in Florida. For more information, contact John Harden by phone at (386) 238-5871 or by e-mail, email@example.com.
A Spiffy Giant and a Tiny Turtle
National Braille Press now has "The Spiffiest Giant in Town" by Julia Donaldson available as both a print/braille children's book and in contracted braille. It's for ages 5 and up. The book tells a tale about George, who goes from being a scruffy giant to the best-dressed giant, to being kind and generous to others.
NBP also has "One Tiny Turtle" available. It takes you on a journey into the world of the loggerhead turtle. Chock-full of illustrations, the book tells the story of a female loggerhead turtle swimming for 30 years and thousands of miles searching for food. Then one summer night, she reaches a beach to lay her eggs – the same beach where she was born.
For more information on either selection, contact National Braille Press, 88 Saint Stephen St., Boston, MA 02115-4302, or call 1-800-548-7323. Or visit www.nbp.org/ic/nbp/publications/index.html.
The Louis Braille Memorial Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped in Bangladesh seeks donations of gently used books and magazines, including religious material in braille, large print, or regular print; white canes; braille embossers; computers; writing guides; talking watches; braille watches; and Perkins braillers. The library welcomes the donation of braille paper as well as educational materials and equipment. Send all items free matter for the blind to Plot #11/1, Road #06, Block #E, Mirpur-12, Dhaka-1216, Bangladesh. For more information, contact the library by e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org.
FIDS Seeks Materials
The Fima Institute for Disabled Society (FIDS) is seeking materials for its blind, deaf-blind, visually impaired and physically disabled clients. If you have any kind of literature, whether books, general-interest magazines or journals, religious books or magazines, they would be helpful. Staff is looking for braille, print, and large-print materials to help clients gain knowledge and comprehension of the English language. FIDS is also seeking braille paper, a braille printer, braille slates and styli, Perkins braille writers, a braille translation program, a braille copier (such as a Thermoform machine), talking watches, talking calculators, white canes of various sizes, a computer, audio player-recorders, video players and recorders, DVD player-recorders, a projector, and eyeglasses. If you have any of these items to spare, send via free matter to: M. Milon, Secretary and Chief Librarian, Fima Institute for Disabled Society, 12, E 5/6, Mirpur, Dhaka 1216, Bangladesh.