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.
National Industries for the Blind (NIB) and the National Association for the Employment of People Who Are Blind (NAEPB) recently recognized John Matchette, a managing director at Accenture Federal Services, with the NIB Customer Appreciation Award for his personal and professional interest in creating and supporting jobs for people who are blind.
Secretariat Award Winner
Donald C. Fletcher, M.D., medical director of Envision, Inc.'s Vision Rehabilitation Clinic, has been awarded the Secretariat Award, one of the highest honors bestowed by the American Academy of Ophthalmology, in recognition of his lifetime of helping others learn techniques to live with low vision and contributing to international low vision missions, education and programs. The Secretariat Award recognizes ophthalmologists for special contributions to the AAO and ophthalmology. Nominees are seen as having provided service and effort above and beyond that of other volunteers, contributing through outstanding organizational, management and/or administrative activities.
The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) recently announced the 2014 winners of the Migel Medals, the highest honor in the blindness field. They are James Kesteloot and Oral Miller. They will receive the awards at a ceremony at the AFB Leadership Conference in Brooklyn on March 1.
The AFB Migel Medal was established in 1937 by the late M.C. Migel, AFB's first chairman, to honor professionals and volunteers whose dedication and achievements improve the lives of people who are blind or visually impaired.
James M. Kesteloot has had a distinguished career in the blindness field. He served over 40 years with The Chicago Lighthouse for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired and was the president and executive director from 1996 until his retirement in 2009. He was appointed by Illinois governors Thompson and Edgar to the Blind Services Planning Council and by Chicago's mayor, Richard M. Daley, to the Mayor's Task Force on Employment of People with Disabilities.
Kesteloot developed the placement program at the Lighthouse. Over the years, he had a hand in starting and improving other programs within the Lighthouse. President Obama appointed him to serve on the Committee for Purchase from People Who Are Blind or Severely Disabled (now known as the United States AbilityOne Commission) in 2010. He also served on the executive committee of the board of National Industries for the Blind, as president of the Central Lions Club, and as a member of the United Way of Chicago Council. He is currently a member of the American Foundation for the Blind's board of trustees.
Oral Miller has dedicated his life to significantly improving the lives of people who are blind or visually impaired, having first become a founding member of the American Blind Lawyers Association and serving there as treasurer, director, and president at various times. This activity eventually led him to the American Council of the Blind, where he served as president from 1978 to 1981, and as a member of the board of directors for many years.
Miller has also been a leader in the U.S. Association of Blind Athletes. His efforts have extended beyond the United States to the international level through the International Blind Sports Association, as well as the World Blind Union, which has enabled him to interact with leaders in the blindness field from many countries.
Miller's extensive background in law and government service has enabled him to work successfully in representing the interests of people who are blind or visually impaired, especially in the fields of employment, education, and accessibility.
Safeway Web Accessibility
Safeway recently announced a comprehensive initiative to make its online grocery shopping web site more accessible and usable for Safeway shoppers with visual impairments. The site enhancements are the result of collaboration between Safeway and several visually impaired customers.
Safeway has adopted the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) version 2.0 level AA as its accessibility standard and has already made significant enhancements to its online shopping web site. For more information, visit www.safeway.com.
Shadows in the Dark offers a wide variety of braille greeting cards, including Valentine's Day and Saint Patrick's Day cards. All cards can be personalized. The company also offers many different types of braille playing cards.
For more information, visit www.shadowsinthedark.com/ or https://www.shadowsinthedark.com/Store/. Or write to Shadows in the Dark, 22627 Mathis Rd., San Antonio, TX 78264, or phone (210) 376-0017.
Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday ...
National Braille Press recently released "Thursday Morning Quotations," which includes 52 new selections, one per week for a full year. This edition features luminaries like Oscar Wilde, Rumi, Warren Buffett, J.K. Rowling, Mae West, Emily Dickinson, and more. NBP still has a few copies of the Tuesday and Wednesday quotations books. For more information, visit www.nbp.org/ic/nbp/QUOTES-THURS.html, or call 1-800-548-7323.
The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) has updated its note-taking app for the iOS platform, AccessNote, to version 1.2. AccessNote is a notetaker for Apple's iOS operating system. It uses standard iOS elements so that VoiceOver users can quickly operate the app using Apple's VoiceOver screen reader.
AccessNote version 1.2 includes many bug fixes and several enhancements. The "find" function has been completely redesigned to be more streamlined, and by popular request, it is now possible to import BRF files without changing the extension.
To learn about all the changes and enhancements in AccessNote version 1.2, visit www.afb.org/info/living-with-vision-loss/using-technology/download-afb%2.... AccessNote can be found in the Apple App Store.
Odin Mobile to Improve Access
Odin Mobile will improve access to Android (TM) for people who are blind with Nexus 4 from Google (TM). Nexus 4 is an ideal device for people who are blind because it quickly receives updates to the Android operating system, bringing its users the latest in Android accessibility.
Purchasers of the device will receive a unique instructional package that will include a one-on-one tutorial on how to use the accessibility features of Android. Tutorials will be provided over the phone by experts who are blind. The package will also include the ability to call Odin Mobile experts and receive support for a period of one month after purchase of the device. During this period, experts will assist with a host of issues, such as recommending accessible applications, as well as helping customers perform particular tasks.
For more information, visit www.odinmobile.com.
New Crossword App
Four Down is a crossword app for iPhone and iPad that uses VoiceOver to make it fully accessible to blind and visually impaired users. With VoiceOver enabled, you can easily navigate around the crossword grid and the clues. As you do so, Four Down reads the clues aloud, telling you the clue itself, how many letters the answer has, and describing any letters in the answer that are already known. It may say, "Eight down. Male duck. 5 letters. D, three blanks, E." When you're ready to answer a clue, you double-tap and use the keyboard to enter the answer.
You can also use VoiceOver to find out how you're doing by checking individual letters, a whole answer, or the entire puzzle. Four Down will announce whether it found any mistakes and, if so, it will describe their locations on the grid so that you can easily find and correct them. If you get stuck, Four Down can lend a helping hand by filling in an individual letter or a whole answer.
There are 24 puzzles included in the app, and they're divided into four categories: all puzzles, new puzzles, puzzles in progress, and completed puzzles.
Four Down is available at the App Store, https://apps.apple.com/app/id655212651.
"Just suppose," said Ted "Dr. Seuss" Geisel, "there was a little kid who didn't speak words but only weird sounds?" Thus Gerald McBoing Boing was born, brought to life by United Productions of America as an animated cartoon. This story went on to win an Academy Award in 1951, and was briefly made available as a book at the time of the movie's release. And now it's back!
"Gerald McBoing Boing" by Dr. Seuss is now available from National Braille Press as a print-and-braille children's book, as well as a contracted braille book, for those ages 5 to 10.
For more information, contact NBP at 88 St. Stephen Street, Boston, MA 02115-4302, or call toll-free, 1-800-548-7323. Or visit the web site, www.nbp.org/ic/nbp/publications/index.html.
Blind Adult Camping Session
The 2014 Blind Adult Christian Camping Session will take place May 17-24 at the Golden Cross Ranch in New Caney, Tex. The theme for the week is "Prudent Answers for Perplexing Questions." Activities include a daily morning Bible study, good preaching through the week, swimming, two hayrides, homemade ice cream, horseback riding, zipline, a shopping trip, campfire, great food and fellowship and much more! First-time campers can come free. The cost for the week is $260. For more information, call the Gospel Association for the Blind at (386) 586-5885 or toll-free 1-866-251-5165; enter mailbox 7128 and leave your contact information. Or visit the web site, www.circleministries.com.
Lighthouse Center for Vision Loss
Vision loss or blindness can be tough … but don't let it stop you! Would you like to receive training in your own home via Skype? Or do you want to come to a residential training program that is small, friendly and tailored to your distinct needs? Or do you want an instructor to travel to your home or workplace in northern Michigan, Wisconsin or Minnesota?
The Lighthouse Center for Vision Loss is a comprehensive training facility located in Duluth, Minn. — less than 3 hours north of the Twin Cities. It features state-of-the-art technology instruction; student apartments located on the glorious Duluth Lakewalk; and recreational programming that has included self-defense training, tandem biking and more. To learn more, call (218) 624-4828 or send an e-mail message to [email protected].
Envision Celebrates 10th Anniversary
Envision's Rehabilitation Center recently celebrated its 10th anniversary. The center was established in 2003 to enhance the independence and enrich the quality of life of people who are blind or low vision through the delivery of research-based vision rehabilitation. Licensed and certified specialists at the clinic work directly with individuals and their families, providing comprehensive, state-of-the-art vision services. From basic training, which introduces many of the devices and resources that can help those who are visually impaired remain as independent as possible, to mobility training which helps them navigate their most frequently occupied settings and the routes between them, to situational tips and training that help them carry out everyday tasks such as grocery shopping and cooking, to occupational training that helps better prepare them to be more self-reliant and productive members of society, the Envision Vision Rehabilitation Center strives to help those with vision loss and impairment build the confidence and skills they need to enjoy fuller, more independent lives. For more information, visit www.envisionus.com.
BANA Affirms UEBC Implementation Date
The Braille Authority of North America (BANA), at its November meeting in Louisville, Ky., affirmed Jan. 4, 2016, as the date by which the United States will implement the general use of Unified English Braille (UEB). This action was based on a year of dialogue and planning that included the UEB Transition Forum, held on Oct. 16. The forum, which involved 48 delegates representing 31 organizations from the braille community, was structured to help organizations craft the steps and timetable through which the United States will make an effective transition to Unified English Braille.
BANA recognizes that the implementation of UEB will require major adjustments to the infrastructures that produce, deliver, and teach braille, as well as time and strategies for braille users to become familiar with changes in the code. BANA continues to work with leaders throughout the field to build a carefully designed timeline and coordinated plan. Detailed timelines are under development by individual organizations, and transition efforts are now being initiated. BANA stands ready to collaborate with the braille community as it builds and adapts the infrastructure necessary for a smooth transition to UEB.
Inaugural Whitener Family Scholarship Awarded
James Deom, Salus University class of 2014, is the recipient of the university's inaugural John Whitener Family Scholarship, to be awarded annually to an outstanding optometry student or optometrist who is completing a master of public health (MPH) degree at the Elkins Park-based university.
The $2,000 scholarship was established by former adjunct faculty member and member of the advisory board that created the MPH program at Salus, John C. Whitener, OD, MPH, in memory of his parents.
Picture Book about Guide Dogs
Have you ever been out and about with your children or grandchildren and run across someone with a guide dog? Did the kids ask questions about the dog? "Guide Doggie: Learn How Guide Dogs Help the Blind in This Picture Book" is a new picture book that can answer their questions. It is available in large print at Amazon.com. For more information, visit www.danielsaynuk.com/guidedoggielearb.html.
Are you going to Philadelphia? Do you plan to take the family to the zoo? Check out the Hamilton Family Children's Zoo & Faris Family Education Center at the Philadelphia Zoo. KidZooU, which opened in April 2013, was designed with the future in mind. The zoo calls it a wildlife academy, and there are several features that make it worth a visit.
Indoors, guests marvel at a world teeming with coral reef fish, colorful parakeets, desert ants and other extraordinary animals. The indoor education center serves as a wildlife academy focusing on the theme "Saving Energy to Save Wildlife." The education center features conservation stations and interactive exhibits. The outdoor portion of KidZooU includes a barnyard and stables where kids can pet and brush sheep; a 400-foot trail for rare goats to roam; and a goat bridge. While the goats scale their own super-size tower in the barnyard, children can climb a parallel structure and mimic their behavior.
Working with area special-needs community partners, including the Overbrook School for the Blind, the Center for Autism Research at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, and the Pennsylvania School for the Deaf, the Philadelphia Zoo ensured that KidZooU is accessible to everyone. Zoo staff and volunteers have received training on assisting families with special needs. KidZooU's signage identifies animals such as ducks, pigeons, chickens, horses, goats and sheep in braille. KidZooU also features quiet spaces. Programming, at KidZooU and elsewhere in the zoo, provides the opportunity to touch animals and feel what keepers feel — such as touching the skin of a rhino or the shell of a giant tortoise.
The Philadelphia Zoo is located at 34th Street and Girard Avenue in Philadelphia's Fairmount Park. For more information, visit www.philadelphiazoo.org.
Pen Pal Magazine
Adrijana Prokopenko is starting an electronic magazine for people who would like to become or find new pen pals. If you would like to receive it regularly or would like to submit a pen pal ad for yourself, send a message to [email protected]. Include your name, age, location, hobbies and interests, and the kind of pen pal you are looking for.