THE BRAILLE FORUM is available in braille, large print, half- speed four-track cassette tape and computer disk. Subscription requests, address changes, and items intended for publication should be sent to: Nolan Crabb, THE BRAILLE FORUM, 1155 15th St. N.W., Suite 720, Washington, DC 20005. Submission deadlines are the first of the month.
Those much-needed contributions, which are tax-deductible, can be sent to Patricia Beattie at the same address. If you wish to remember a relative or friend by sharing in the council's continuing work, the national office has printed cards available to acknowledge contributions made by loved ones in memory of deceased people.
Anyone wishing to remember the American Council of the Blind in his/her Last Will and Testament may do so by including a special paragraph for that purpose. If your wishes are complex, you may contact the ACB National Office.
For the latest in legislative and governmental news, call the "Washington Connection" toll-free at (800) 424-8666, 6 p.m. to midnight Eastern time Monday through Friday.
I am sitting on an airplane at a little before 7 in the morning getting ready to fly to Washington, D.C. and I decided that this might be a good time to work on my message for the March "Braille Forum."
I want to talk about how we think of ourselves and how others think of us. I was led to this message by looking at a publicity brochure that is to be used with legislators and other public officials. It was prepared with the advice of people expert in what makes legislators take notice. A panel of people knowledgeable about services for the blind (some of whom are blind) actively participated in its preparation as well. The brochure may be a fine document and it will probably do exactly what it's supposed to do. But, try as I might, there were parts of the brochure I just didn't like. I thought that some of the images of blind people it contained evoked pity rather than creating understanding. I saw the brochure as drastically limiting how others would perceive people who are blind. And then I paused and asked myself who this brochure is for. And that's where the rest of this message emerged.
When we go to legislators to ask for money we must be concerned about how they perceive us. But if legislators see us as independent, capable, self-fulfilled people, are they likely to give us much money? How do we want them to see us? Surely ACB is all about trying to help blind people become exactly the kind of person that the legislators would be unlikely to fund! We want blind people to feel good about themselves and to optimize their sense of independence! On the other hand, the perceptions that the general public have of blind people are far different!
Blind people "live in a world of darkness." They can't hear well, often don't dress well and, without guide dogs, human or canine, to take care of them, they would be lost. Blind people are seen through eyes that focus on what the sighted person imagines he or she would be like if vision suddenly disappeared. It's easy to ridicule this perception of who we are. After all, we aren't like that, right? Is this misperception of blind people just the misguided nightmare of the chronically uninformed or is there more to it?
To what extent are we guilty of extremism in the picture we choose to paint? Is our vision of blind people inaccurate, too? I think perhaps it is. We, quite rightly, want to see ourselves and our fellow blind people as positively as we can! We want to be seen, to paraphrase the U.S. Army commercial, as being "all that we can be." We spend so much of our lives trying to overcome the misperceptions with which we have to live every day that we tend to see ourselves through a mirror that may well be distorted. Normal, like beauty, is in the eyes of the beholder! Our notion of blind people and who we are is refracted through a prism of experiences and attitudes that is very different from the one that sighted people use. We see ourselves through eyes that have seen hundreds of successful blind people and that have grown up, sometimes, in a culture where blindness is normal and people who can see are the outsiders. It's a culture with its own set of core values and sacred cows. In the blindness culture, for instance, "totals" are better and "partials" are useful, but somewhat inferior, flawed blind people. We tolerate the misperceptions of sighted people as something they can't help. Many of our campaigns of public education focus on the need to obliterate the misperceptions of sighted people about blindness and blind people.
If there was such a person as an objective observer, how would he or she see blind people? I suspect the picture would not match either our sighted friends' image or our own view! I also suspect we would find to our horror that more of the picture that sighted people have of blind people would survive than we might like to believe. Those of us who have become members of consumer organizations are, to a very great extent, in the vanguard of blind people. We have embraced philosophical systems that demand that we see ourselves in a positive and productive way. If we are unfulfilled it's because we still have to persuade society to share our vision and let us take our rightful place in the world. How do blind people who are not members of either consumer organization see themselves? Is their notion of who we are different from ours? How do they see us as members of consumer organizations? Why have they chosen not to become members of either group?
If national statistics are right, the consumer organizations can count as members no more than 15 percent of the blind people in this country. Why is this? When we are trying to decide who we are, we must also remember that the blind population is changing. Statistics say more of the children who are born blind are multiply disabled. Fewer and fewer blind children are attending schools for the blind, which is where many of us acquired our "culture." Well over 50 percent of the blind people in the United States are over the age of 60 and the vast majority of them could see just fine until quite late in life and shared the perceptions of who blind people are that the rest of society cherishes.
So. Who are we? Are we right to espouse our notion of who we are? Are the majority of blind people who we are? I think we may need to recognize that what we may perceive as demeaning and inappropriate may be perfectly acceptable to many people who are blind. I think we must also recognize that if we want to sell the need of blind people to have services and programs we may need to allow the picture of blind people that we sell to legislators to be less than the picture we might like it to be.
I also believe that we may be guilty of seeing other blind people as we see ourselves! We may well attribute attitudes and capabilities to them that they don't have. One of the hardest tasks for any consumer organization is to try to decide whether it truly does speak for the population it purports to represent. If we are honestly going to try to do that, we need to know a lot more about who we are and who blind people are and what the differences between those two notions are. We also need to be careful about dismissing the notions society has of who we are. Certainly part of society's picture of who we are is based on the generalizations that literature, the media, history and myth have all combined to create. But, whether we like it or not, the way society perceives us is based, at least in part, on observed reality. Blind people sometimes do not travel well. Some, if not many, blind people are very dependent on others! A lot of blind people are comfortable seeing themselves as society sees them and, though we might not like it, that is their right!
Well, it's 8 o'clock and I am somewhere over the Carolinas and I have said about all that I am going to say about this subject. I think that the core value of the American Council of the Blind might well be that we accept other blind people as who they are so I don't think we need to change very much! But I do think that we may need to recognize that blind people may well be very different from who we think we are. That is both a humbling notion for me and one that will cause me to be a little more careful about generalizing based on who I am.
Finally, I think this message has raised far more questions than it has answered and perhaps, even now, after this little journey through perceptions, the question may still be open! So, who are we? You tell me!
When thinking about issues that are important to blind people it is tempting but dangerous to believe that an issue will stay settled forever once victory has been attained in a skirmish. To the contrary, issues continue to come back up and for that reason much time and attention must be devoted to the unglamorous but absolutely essential task of monitoring issues and "putting out fires" that break out in the future in some very unexpected areas. For example, recently a bill was introduced in Congress to reorganize the postal service þ perhaps a worthy objective þ but that same bill (H.R. 22) does not necessarily provide for funding of the revenue foregone that is the basis for the free matter mailing privilege for braille and other material. Likewise, within recent weeks the National Council on Disability, a small federal advisory agency with which ACB has traditionally had good relations, announced generally that it intends to recommend amendments to the Rehabilitation Act that would, in substance, abolish specialized agencies and services for the blind. Since even the transmission of such a recommendation to Congress or the Department of Education would be an incredibly ill-advised and divisive move, ACB and almost all other organizations in the field of blindness have been in serious communication with NCOD urging the cancellation of such a plan and the opening of discussions with the blindness field on this critical issue. Prior to the initial decision to make this recommendation NCOD had no meaningful contact with the blindness field and made an incredible error in judgment concerning the importance of this subject to the field of blindness. Since high-level communication continues on this issue and since very important political and legal steps are being considered, dependent upon future developments, we urge you to stay up to date by regularly calling the Washington Connection at (800) 424-8666. Social Security
During recent weeks ACB's Director of Governmental Affairs Julie Carroll participated actively in the consumer-oriented Return To Work Conference sponsored by the National Council on Disability. While the overall purpose of the conference was to obtain consumer input regarding the impact of Social Security and other laws on the return to work by disabled people, it was necessary for Julie to devote much of her time (and successfully, at that) to defending the substantial gainful activity level applicable to recipients of Social Security Disability Insurance due to blindness. Some attendees were interested in setting that figure at a flat level such as $500 or $600 monthly for all disabled people. ACB's Director of Advocacy Mark Richert encountered the same philosophy while taking part in a task force meeting which dealt primarily with the impact of welfare law changes on disabled children in the SSI program.
It is always encouraging to hear that as corporate giants merge they do not forget about the concerns of disabled people. "Braille Forum" editor Nolan Crabb will publish in a future article his observations regarding a press conference conducted recently by Bell Atlantic Telecommunications and NYNEX Telecommunications during which they pledged themselves to the concept of universal design. Bell Atlantic and NYNEX are the regional Bell companies that provide traditional telephone and related services to the populous Middle Atlantic and northeastern states. Toward Better Bus Stop Announcements
Within the past few days ACB and its team of trainers concluded the Cleveland phase of transit operator training authorized by the Project Action grant referred to in a previous article. The trainers as well as members of the ACB of Ohio who took part in the project were extremely pleased with the conduct of the program there and were very optimistic concerning its overall success. They realize, of course, that continued compliance with the ADA requirements concerning the calling of important stops must be continually monitored by knowledgeable consumers. In view of the success of this project we are seeking a grant which will, if approved, focus on the training and empowerment of parents of visually impaired children who should be able to use public transportation facilities.
Within the past few days it was our pleasure in the ACB national office to greet Dr. Amir Majid of the United Kingdom and to discuss with him the comparative aspects of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the recently enacted Disabilities Discrimination Act in the United Kingdom. Although the agenda for the upcoming ACB national legislative seminar, being held in conjunction with the "Tell It To Washington!" legislative seminar of the American Foundation for the Blind, has already been confirmed, we are looking into the possibility of scheduling a separate lecture and discussion by Dr. Majid as an additional feature during that conference.
It is my pleasure to welcome Ms. Holly Fults to the ACB national office staff as ACB's Coordinator of Affiliate and Membership Services. Before joining the ACB staff Ms. Fults, a graduate of Evansville University, was employed by National Industries for the Blind and a national title insurance firm. We are confident that her friendly personality, high energy level, experience and flexibility will enable her to perform her duties and meet the members of ACB in an outstanding manner.
When was the last time you heard the name of an organization that was so similar to the name of another organization with which you were already very familiar that you almost concluded the two organizations were the same or at least related? Several weeks ago, Nevada Council of the Blind President Dave Krause called the ACB national office to verify that ACB was not connected in any way with an organization then soliciting funds in Nevada under the name of the American Blind Children's Council. I readily verified that there was no connection whatsoever and, following further discussion, told Dave I would check with California authorities inasmuch as the charity claimed to be headquartered there. I checked with the state of California and a few days later received the expected notice that it knew nothing about an organization known as the American Blind Children's Council. Not long thereafter I received a call from an alert Indianapolis citizen asking if there was a connection between ACB and the mysterious American Blind Children's Council and informing me that he had received a rude telephone solicitation from a person raising funds for that organization. That alert citizen from Indianapolis had also noted the name of the solicitor and his telephone number. When I called the solicitor he informed me that the charity in question was located in Las Vegas, that he did not have its address otherwise, that he had its tax exemption number and that he had its toll-free telephone number. And what do you think I found out when I called that number? A recorded message said only, "You have reached the Charity Services Information Line. Please leave your name and number with the area code at the tone and a representative will get back to you as soon as possible." Both "Braille Forum" editor Nolan Crabb and I left just our names and our home telephone numbers with a request to be called back, but would it surprise you to learn that neither of us ever received a call back?
The plot thickened a few days ago when I received a telephone inquiry from a reporter with "The Columbian," a Vancouver, Wash., newspaper which describes itself as "Southern Washington's largest daily newspaper." I explained to him that the American Blind Children's Council is not connected in any way with ACB and that we had previously received inquiries and/or complaints about that organization. A few days later I received a copy of the article which the reporter wrote after conducting additional investigation. I am reprinting pertinent parts of that article below and the reprint will be followed by excerpts from the poorly designed, poorly spelled and poorly produced brochure used by the American Blind Children's Council. Here is the article, which appeared in "The Columbian" on Feb. 12:
Officials eye validity of charity
Organizations for blind leery of 'Children's Council'
by John Branton, Columbian staff writer
When a man called Betty Mesa and asked for a donation for blind children, she wondered if his group was legitimate.
Now the Clark County Sheriff's Office and state attorney general's office are wondering, too.
And officials from seven organizations that assist blind people say they've never heard of the group, which calls itself the American Blind Children's Council, sponsored by Shiloh International Ministries.
"They're not related to us in any way," said Oral Miller, executive director of the American Council of the Blind in Washington, D.C. "Their name is so close to ours there's real confusion. Do I question whether they are legitimate? I certainly do."
The group's photocopied flier, left with a Clark County resident last week, lists no address and no telephone number. It does list what it says is a federal tax identification number.
Dave Horn, an assistant attorney general in Seattle, said he recently has received questions about the group from Vancouver residents who've been asked to contribute.
"We are aware there is such a group soliciting and we're checking it out," Horn said Tuesday.
The group's telephone soliciting in Clark County surfaced Feb. 4, when a man called Mesa at her Salmon Creek home and asked for a donation. She tentatively agreed. The caller said he'd send a volunteer to pick up her check.
In the meantime, Mesa called several organizations for the blind and learned the group was unfamiliar to them. Some officials said other people have called to ask about the group recently.
When a middle-aged blonde woman showed up at Mesa's home, Mesa declined to contribute, saying she'd been unable to verify the group's authenticity.
"She said she didn't know anything about the charity itself, she just volunteers her time to pick up donations," Mesa said.
The woman drove off in a red pickup with Alaska plates. Mesa notified the Sheriff's Office.
Sheriff's Sgt. Jack Foyt said he's contacted the Internal Revenue Service, which is doing an investigation.
A spokeswoman for the secretary of state's charitable solicitations division in Olympia said the group is not registered with the state under either name. Groups that solicit are required to register, but registration is optional for religious groups.
A woman in Clinton, Wash., north of Seattle, who had a charitable group registered with the state under the name Shiloh, said the group has no connection with hers.
"I have not heard of them," said Dean Stenehjem, superintendent of the Washington State School for the Blind in Vancouver. "I'm always leery of groups that solicit like this."
In its flier, the group says: "We provide the preschool blind child with special toys that lock in place so the child cannot be hurt. ..."
"I wouldn't even know what they mean by locking toys," Stenehjem said.
Officials and volunteers from the following legitimate organizations also said they were unfamiliar with the group: Washington State Services for the Blind in Vancouver; Washington Council of the Blind in Seattle; National Federation of the Blind in both Washington and Oregon; Vision Northwest in Portland; and the Talking Book and Braille Library in Seattle.
To Report: If you receive a call from the American Blind Children's Council, please contact Sgt. Jack Foyt, (360) 699-2211, ext. 4692.
As for the fund-raising brochure used by the organization in question, it did not contain an address or telephone number, but it did contain a few spelling and typographical errors while saying, in part: "The American Blind Children Council is an organization that is dedicated to helping blind children grow up and become adults dependent upon themselves. We provide the pre-school blind child with special toys that lock in place so the child can not be hurt. These toys are specifically designed to develope the child's motor and sensory skills. We also provide cassette players and storybook tapes with stories like The Bible, The Lion King, Old MacDonald's Farm, etc., with the hope that when our blind children go to school they can be on an equal level with sighted children. ... Remember, these children are blind not by choice but because of an accident or by birth defect. They do not want to be blind; they have no choice. So, HELP US HELP."
We do not yet know for certain whether the American Blind Children's Council is a legitimate charity, although its own fund- raising brochure, fund raisers and recorded telephone messages (never a live person) create the impression it has something to hide while at the same time tugging at the heartstrings of the public by describing the needs of blind children. The fact that its name has been identified with that of the American Council of the Blind is serious and we are taking appropriate steps to correct that situation. We are asking any readers of "The Braille Forum" who acquire additional information on this organization to let us know so we may pass it on to the appropriate authorities.
HOUSTON It's going to cost a bit more to attend the ACB convention here this summer. That's just one of many tough decisions the ACB board of directors made while passing a balanced budget in excess of $1 million as part of the mid-year board meeting held here last month.
The budget calls for an increase from $10 to $15 in the pre- registration administrative fee charged to those who register for convention events. The non-refundable fee for on-site registration will climb from $15 to $20 for the 1997 convention.
Board member Chris Gray expressed his opposition to the increase, as did John Horst, a member of the board and the convention coordinator. Horst reminded board members that the increase was the second such hike in as many years. He called for the rate increase to be postponed until 1998. The board defeated an amendment that would have allowed the increase to occur this year, but then would have denied future increases until 2000. The measure was hotly debated, and the final roll call vote ended in a tie. After some thought, ACB President Paul Edwards sided with the budget committee and broke the tie in favor of the increase. He cited administrative cost increases in recent years. Those who approved the increase did so with the feeling that it would bring the ACB administrative fee more in line with actual costs.
In other budget action, the board approved a proposal from the board of publications which returns "The Braille Forum" to a monthly publishing schedule. The magazine had been published 11 times a year since 1995. The budget technically only allows for 11 issues in 1997, but immediate past president LeRoy Saunders reminded the group that budget adjustments are generally made in July. "I feel certain that we'll have the revenue to do this. We'll be able to publish 12 issues this year without question," he affirmed.
The board approved a budget committee recommendation which would increase the organization's reserves by $100,000.
Oral O. Miller, the Council's executive director, said his 1997 budget allows for some significant increases in service to ACB members while holding the line on costs. "We've seen some cost reduction in the production costs for 'The Braille Forum,'" he explained, "and we've found ways to keep telephone expenses down." At the same time, Miller hailed 1997 as the first year in many years in which ACB had a fully staffed national office.
Prior to passage of the budget, the board voted to authorize ACB leaders to accelerate the Council's efforts to enhance access to software for blind and visually impaired computer users. "It would be highly inaccurate and inappropriate for us to go on record as saying we've done nothing. In fact, we've done a great deal," Edwards said. "We're at a point where we must do more and we must work consistently to solve these problems."
Edwards pointed out that ACB had signed a letter which was delivered to officials at the U.S. Department of Education, decrying the use of Lotus Notes by the department, and particularly by the Rehabilitation Services Administration. Lotus Notes is a software package which does not work with any speech or braille display currently in use. The letter called for an end to the use of Lotus Notes until IBM produces a version that works with current speech or braille display software.
Edwards vowed that the Council will boost its ongoing efforts in the area of software accessibility.
The board heard from a variety of committee chairs who provided updates on their various committee activities. The group also listened to a proposal from Mike Gravitt, president of the National Alliance of Blind Students, which called for greater board involvement with state organizations to encourage and foster the establishment of NABS affiliates at the state level. Gravitt also called for the establishment of a fund that would allow NABS representatives to travel to state conventions to host workshops with state affiliate leaders and others on how to increase student involvement in state activities. He also called for the creation of a full-time staff person to work with the student affiliate.
(Editor's Note: The following is a transcript of a speech delivered by ACB President Paul Edwards at the conclusion of the 1997 mid-year affiliate presidents meeting in Houston.)
"It isn't my intention to make a detailed or lengthy report to you, but it is my intent to try to give you a flavor of the way things have gone for me as president and the way things are going, in my opinion, for the American Council of the Blind right now. I think that it's important that we make these kinds of comments to you, because I think there are some things that directly affect what's happening in your states that I'd like you to be aware of and that I'd like you to have a sense of so that you can react appropriately as presidents of state affiliates, and of course, as presidents of special-interest affiliates.
"Last summer when I spoke to the American Council of the Blind and reported on the current situation, I indicated that I was disheartened by the fact that people with disabilities were fighting among themselves. One of the things that I pointed to last summer as a heartening sign was that I felt as though we had worked out a system where organizations of and for the blind were able to cooperate effectively together, and that while other disability groups might be sniping at us, the reality was that for blind people there was a good deal of unanimity about what we wanted to accomplish for people who are blind. In the last eight months, the unanimity among blindness organizations both of and for the blind has diminished since then. It's not my belief that it's any longer possible to say, with any degree of certainty of being correct, that over the next several months, all organizations of and for blind people will work together in a unified way.
"There are two organizations in particular where the American Council of the Blind has found itself somewhat at odds. One of these organizations is the National Council of State Agencies for the Blind and the other is an organization that many of you know something about called the National Federation of the Blind. In the case of both of these organizations, there is a concern about a stance that the American Council of the Blind as well as other organizations including the American Foundation for the Blind and National Industries for the Blind have taken. That stance, put simply, is that we believe there is more to be gained by coalitioning, both at the national level and at the state level; that not to coalition constitutes isolationism and represents an inappropriate way to conduct our business.
"Our decision to coalition has led other organizations to describe us as 'untrustworthy,' has led them to express an opinion that so long as we as organizations choose to coalesce with other cross-disability groups who are making proposals that they don't like, they're not willing to actively work with us to develop the kind of long-range strategies that are needed to ensure that the needs of blind people are met in rehabilitation reauthorization.
"I say to you as president of the American Council of the Blind clearly and unequivocally that I'm not prepared to give up coalitions. I believe firmly and categorically that the only way we can protect the rights of blind people is by melding those rights with an ongoing civil rights movement or the broad spectrum of people with disabilities.
"More significantly, I believe that the moment we climb behind barricades and take a position of defense, the more likely we are to be isolated, blocked in, and locked into a corner. As your president, I will not allow that to happen to the blind people of the United States.
"In various states, there have been some interesting developments over the last year. Some of those developments put at risk specialized services to blind and visually impaired people. The American Council of the Blind has taken a leadership role over the last year in working in coalition with some of the organizations of blind and for blind people in this country to put together specific coalitions. Those of you who attended our board meeting would have heard much more about these coalitions. But in particular, coalitions are now in operation in Georgia, they're beginning to operate in Arkansas, and will operate in Illinois. The intent of these coalitions is to encourage as many organizations as we can involve, of and for blind people, to work together in a unified way to protect the rights of blind people to separate and specialized services. Those of you who read my January 'Braille Forum' message will know that it is my position, and the position of the American Council of the Blind, taken by resolution, by board action, and by long history, that separate and specialized services for blind and visually impaired people constitutes a sine qua non for appropriate services to blind and visually impaired people. Any step backward from that position is a retreat that I am not prepared to make, nor should any of us.
"I think we need to recognize that there is significant opposition to the position we've taken, just as there was two years ago. And I believe absolutely that we're going to need to be as strong and vociferous this year as we were in years past. I also believe, however, that our efforts at coalition with other organizations have led to a clear and unequivocal lessening of the opposition from other disabilities to our need for separate disability-specific services for blind people. In fact, our work in the Coalition of Citizens with Disabilities has led that national cross-disability organization to adopt a plank in their platform for reauthorization of the Rehabilitation Act that clearly favors disability-specific services. When we're able to do this by coalition, I will not step back from coalitions!
"Following my January message, I received an e-mail message from Robert Michaels who is one of the leaders from NCIL. NCIL is the National Council on Independent Living. In that note, Bob Michaels indicated that he felt that my message in January was well-reasoned and sensible and asked how we could cooperate on rehab reauthorization. Ladies and gentlemen, for me, that's a victory. The significance of that victory is that five or six months prior to that, we weren't talking with those folks, and we had very little in common; and, the fact that we were able to get to the place where the hand of NCIL has reached out to us for cooperation is, I believe, a sign that coalition works.
"Three other major points that I'd like to make, and then I'll respond to any questions that you have. First of these points relates to a development that I'd like to spend a little time discussing, because it's not something that we've included a lot of information about in any of our publications; and, I need to say that part of the reason that we haven't is because I've been reticent to include a lot of information about this issue.
"In many states, we are beginning to see the emergence of a specific method for providing blind people with access to newspapers. This method involves subscribing to, at fairly high expense, a national system for newspaper retrieval that is sponsored, and indeed entirely run by, the National Federation of the Blind. This approach to newspapers, by itself, is a fairly good system. I make no comment in favor or in opposition to the National Federation of the Blind's system. I make three comments, however, that I think we need to bear in mind. My first concern is that last May, in a letter that went out to state agency directors and others, Fred Schroeder, who is the commissioner of the Rehabilitation Services Administration, indicated that, first, this was a good system; and, second, that federal rehabilitation dollars could be used to subsidize this system. Obviously, I have no opposition to using federal dollars to subsidize access to information for blind people, nor does the American Council of the Blind. However, we do believe that to specifically mention only one approach constitutes inappropriate action by a commissioner of the Rehabilitation Services Administration.
"More than that, we strongly believe that the Rehabilitation Services Administration ought to have focused clearly and unequivocally on the need for consumers of all kinds in a state to make decisions about the kind of access towards news that would be available to them. In addition, it's our firm belief that to make this kind of recommendation without fully consulting radio reading service operators in the United States of America constitutes a flagrant denial of their right to be included in decision taking about information access where they are experts. It isn't my recommendation to any state affiliate to take specific action; it is my recommendation to every state affiliate where this becomes an issue to be certain that you ask your state director of the division of blind services or whatever entity is making this proposal that a broad spectrum of options for providing access to information be evaluated before one dime is allocated to the National Federation system.
"More than that, it is absolutely essential, in my opinion, that safeguards are built into whatever system is adopted by any state that assures that what is being transmitted is information, not propaganda! Contracts should be let in states that specifically stipulate the newspapers that will be included. Any other information should be gained in some other way. If states are not prepared to enter into contracts that stipulate that information shall only come from copyrighted newspapers and from copyrighted newspapers circulated to the general public primarily and not only to blind people, then I believe that the American Council of the Blind ought to oppose the letting of those contracts.
"Second issue that I'd like to talk with you about for just a moment is the American Council of the Blind's financial situation. I think it's accurate to say that over the last couple of years, the American Council of the Blind has made substantial progress. And in fact, those of you who attended the board meeting will know that in the American Council of the Blind's reserves, we currently have $400,000; and, in the American Council of the Blind's budget this year, we contemplate spending almost $1,200,000 as a budget. But I don't wish anyone to make the mistake of believing that that makes us wealthy. The reality is that other organizations of and for blind people have budgets that are much larger than ours. The reality is also that there are many things that we cannot do at the national level because of insufficient funds. This is the first year that the American Council of the Blind has begun its year with a full staff that I can remember. Retaining that full staff will be difficult because the rates that we pay to our staff are probably not competitive with other rates within the Washington, D.C. area; nor are they competitive necessarily with the requirements in terms of hard work that we expect our folks to meet. I think it's significant to say to all of you who are affiliate presidents that while it may appear that we're in the black and that we're doing fine, the reality is that at the national level, our need for your support hasn't lessened one bit. I'm going to be trying to propose, through the creation of a development committee authorized by our constitution last summer, some fund-raising approaches that I hope you as state affiliate leaders will get behind and support. We cannot be as effective as we need to be opposing those entities who would stifle the rights of blind people without sufficient funds. Those funds can only be provided by the kinds of fund-raising that we operate with. We've moved in a very appropriate direction in that up until this year, our dependence on our thrift stores was virtually absolute, covering as much as 85 to 90 percent of the funds that we raise. I'm very proud, and believe we need to share the pride, that this year only 65 percent of our funds come from thrift stores. In my opinion, that constitutes a clear and unequivocal step in the right direction, but we haven't gone far enough. We need to diversify our sources of funds, and we need your help to assure long-term survival.
"I would like it if each state affiliate would consider doing one fundraiser a year at least that would provide funds directly to the national office for its work. If you can do that, it will significantly increase and upgrade our capacity to provide the kinds of quality services that I think we're providing now.
"The final issue that I want to talk about is a personal one. I want to talk with you about the degree to which it's an honor for me to represent the American Council of the Blind as your president. It's involved making some very hard choices in terms of living any other life than the American Council of the Blind and work. I think that what I tried to do as president of the American Council of the Blind is to be open, not only to suggestions, but to communications from anyone. I hope that all of you will recognize and perceive that my role as president is to try to act as a conduit for your ideas so that the essence of the American Council of the Blind's ability to democratically represent the needs of people who are blind in this country will be strengthened and forwarded. My phone is always open to you; I have an e-mail address that I'm perfectly willing to respond to, and I hope that all of you will feel free to communicate with me whenever you need to and whenever you want to. It's an honor to serve you as president; but more importantly, it's an honor for me to have the ability to try as best I can to represent your opinions. Thanks."
ACB President Paul Edwards smiles as he enthusiastically delivers his report in Tulsa. (This photo copyright 1996 by Jon B. Petersen.)
Affiliate presidents and their representatives gathered in Houston February 16 and 17 to sharpen their communications skills and communicate with one another. This year's affiliate presidents meeting was held at the Adam's Mark Hotel, the site for the 1997 ACB convention.
ACB President Paul Edwards conducted the meetings. He opened the first session by asking those in attendance to announce the title of a book they were reading at the time as part of their introductions.
Edwards kicked off the meeting by discussing the value of body language. He urged his listeners to gain a greater awareness of the communications components sighted people rely on. "One of the things that I think is true for many of us who are blind or visually impaired," Edwards said, "is the way we learn to communicate sometimes lacks many of the things that sighted people take for granted in terms of communication."
He pointed to studies that indicate that nonverbal communication comprises 70 percent of the communication process. He warned against the kind of habits that lead sighted people to believe blind listeners aren't interested in what's being said. He said contrary to what some blind people may believe, spots on clothes or mismatched clothes and shoes are extremely noticeable and can speak much more loudly than the content of any verbal communication.
He reminded his listeners that verbal communication still matters, and it can be even more effective when it's appropriately targeted. Communication, he said, has been the most difficult part of his job as president of ACB. "It isn't that I'm not willing to communicate," he explained, "it's that I don't know how to find the time. I've made some of the mistakes I've talked to you about just now. I communicate just once or with one person and believe that's sufficient. Good and bad communication are what I think makes the difference between how well an affiliate or special-interest group operates."
Following Edwards' opening remarks, ACB First Vice President Brian Charlson talked about communication among affiliate officers and board members. He cautioned against what he called surprise communication. "Communication that comes as a surprise is never welcome. When you say at a board meeting, to a person who had no idea you were going to ask them, 'By the way, did you do such and such?' You've not helped the mission of your organization. Surprise is not welcome in a public forum."
He suggested talking to presenters before the meeting to ensure they are aware of their pending presentation. "Also remember that when you communicate with someone in a public session such as one of your meetings, you may be talking to one person in the room, but you're communicating with every person in the room. So while you're saying something to one person in the room, everyone else is hearing the same message and putting a whole different spin on it."
He described a luncheon he attended where former Republican vice-presidential hopeful Jack Kemp spoke. During the silence of a question-and-answer session, Charlson asked Kemp what level of regulation would be acceptable in implementing the Telecommunications Act to ensure that blind people would have the opportunity to appropriately access increasingly graphical digital information. "Who was I communicating with?" Charlson asked. "Did I really expect to get Jack Kemp to actually answer that kind of a question? In that room, there were the presidents, vice presidents, the personnel directors, of some of the largest and most influential technology companies in Massachusetts. Every word I said to Jack Kemp was meant for someone else." He closed his remarks by reminding his listeners that harsh words spoken in public cannot be retracted.
ACB Treasurer Patricia Beattie next focused on communication between officers of an affiliate and its members. Many in the audience listed some of the objections they've received regarding their affiliate newsletter or other publication. They listed such problems as the length of the publication, its lack of timeliness, its poor appearance, and its relative inaccessibility.
She pointed to efforts by the National Capital Area Chapter of the ACB of Maryland which uses a voice mail system provided by the local telephone company which allows one message to be broadcast to all members.
Affiliate leaders urged others to stick to newsletter deadlines, calling in advance to remind contributors if necessary. She pointed out that affiliates communicate and enhance their message even when they select convention sites. She warned against what she called "inside communication" such as acronyms and jargon that others wouldn't understand.
"Another way we leave people out and leave them behind and don't have that effective communication with them is when we use alphabet soup." She urged her audience to speak up during the meeting whenever they heard acronyms and references to names they didn't understand. They took her extremely literally throughout the remainder of the meetings.
Jenine Stanley, president of Guide Dog Users, Inc., suggested one way to break through the acronym and esoteric name barrier is to urge new board members and others to call her upon conclusion of a conference call or other board meeting to ask about those esoteric references. Tom Tobin, president of the American Council of the Blind of Ohio, suggested providing new board members and other officers with a cassette which detailed the group's recent history and explains some of the alphabet soup used in the meetings.
Beattie also stressed the value of toll-free telephone numbers which allow affiliate members to communicate with the leadership and the general public to communicate with the affiliate.
ACB Executive Director Oral Miller urged affiliate leaders to keep the ACB national office updated on affiliate activities. He urged leaders to let the office know about activities or problems within their state that could be important nationally. "Letting us know that you have initiated a new fund-raising campaign that's likely to generate a lot of inquiries and telephone responses is extremely helpful to us."
He reminded attendees that ACB often gets calls about fund- raising problems or questions even though the state affiliate is the one conducting the fund-raising event. The Council's toll-free number is listed nationally, and that number is often the one interested residents of a state will call to ask about a particular fund-raising activity or to inquire further about the state affiliate's legitimacy. The matter is further complicated, he said, when local chapters have fund-raising events separate from those of the state affiliate. "We need to know if you're engaged in fund-raising, and we need to know who the contact person is in the event of complaints."
He said the national office can provide position papers and other material to state affiliate leaders who may have problems they think are unique to their state. "Often, these issues or similar ones have arisen somewhere else. If we know that, we can steer you in the direction of added information that would be of value to you."
He said the national organization needs information regarding presidential elections in state and special-interest affiliates. "This applies also to your editors if you have a publication, and to your legislative contacts."
He urged affiliate leaders to be more prompt with responses to surveys and questions from the national office as well. "If we had gone strictly by the information we had received prior to this conference, we would have prepared enough braille and print material for 25 people. ... There are 75 people in this room as of an hour ago. We didn't get too many calls in response to the request we made to let us know how many people were coming to this meeting so we could be appropriately prepared."
He encouraged state leaders to send copies of press releases and other things of value on a statewide basis.
Section two of the meetings began with a report from Kim Charlson, a membership committee member, on a survey that committee recently completed regarding why people drop their membership in ACB. The membership committee first sought to identify a solid cross section of former ACB members. Individuals from nearly every state and special-interest affiliates were contacted. Charlson reviewed with her audience the actual survey instrument the committee designed. She said none of the 86 people called so far were deceased. "Some people were very adamant that they never belonged to the organization," she recalled. "Close to 40 percent of the people we've contacted as of this point still believed that they are members of the affiliate of the American Council of the Blind. That tells me that something isn't working somewhere." Charlson said more complete data will be available later in the year.
The group shifted its focus from membership retention issues to communicating with existing members through the affiliate newsletter. Carol McCarl, chair of ACB's board of publications, talked about the importance of the newsletter, the value of its content, and important changes made in the copyright law which gives publications in alternative media greater access to reprint material from print-only sources.
She urged her listeners to go light on the commentary about the weather and focus on personalities. "Not only is your content vital, but your timeliness is also. Bring the personalities into an event. People want to know stories about people."
She said focusing on regional as well as statewide events can add value to the newsletter as well. "You might consider putting in a 'did you know' column about ACB," she suggested. She said editors should be mindful of who ultimately reads the publication. She cautioned against running stories that detail the affiliate's dirty laundry or that graphically present every facet of an affiliate problem. "Some people send these newsletters to legislators," she said. "If you're having problems paying your bills or whatever, you don't want to tell the legislators about that."
She said appearance not only includes the look and feel of the newsletter, but the grammar and spelling as well.
Finally, she talked about the September 16, 1996 signing by President Clinton of amendments to the copyright law which broaden the rights of those who publish in alternative media to use printed material without paying user fees and the like.
Nolan Crabb, editor of "The Braille Forum," discussed the importance of reducing production costs for a newsletter. "Learn about how your product is printed!" he said. "What kind of paper are they using? You can make a huge, huge difference by simply changing the type of paper your printing company uses for your newsletter."
He also encouraged editors to look at the type of ink being used, the size of the newsletter in inches, not pages, and how the material will be prepared for printing. "You can do a great deal with a laser printer and some relatively low-cost word processing software that has some desktop publishing components. Also, if your cover doesn't change, you can save money in some circumstances by having large numbers of your cover produced and stored by the printer."
Mark Richert, ACB's Director of Advocacy Services, moderated a panel of affiliate leaders who have been active in the area of advocacy. Richert reminded his audience that seven independently generated letters to a U.S. senator are sufficient to get that senator's attention on an issue, according to a recent study. "That means for small affiliates, the show is far from over," he said. According to Richert, having a single permanent location for an affiliate enhances that affiliate's chances of being kept informed regardless of which party is in power or who is elected to various state and federal offices.
He presented an advocacy strategy he called ISBEM. "I" stands for Identify the real issue; "S" is for a Shared outcome þ attempt to show how individuals on both sides of an issue will benefit from your outcome. "B" stands for Brainstorm solutions; "E" means Evaluate the solutions; and "M" refers to Making a plan. "It's very important to close the sale on these things."
Panelist Deborah Grubb, president of the ACB of Maryland, urged fellow advocates to join and actively work in coalitions with other disability groups where possible. She urged blind representatives to take the difficult jobs þ to become secretaries of various advisory boards and coalition groups. By so doing, those individuals can be members of executive committees and other groups that help spearhead policy development.
Tom Tobin from Ohio was the second panelist. He urged affiliate presidents and board members to require that at least one person from every major section of the state be on a legislative committee which could then serve to help draft those seven or more letters needed to get the legislator's attention.
Edwards closed the second session by describing the group activities that would occur in the evening small-group sessions. Affiliate leaders could choose to write a membership recruitment letter, write a letter to a state legislator explaining why money is needed to provide services to blind people, write a resolution opposing the swallowing up of services to blind people into an umbrella agency, prepare a position paper which would be distributed to Congress regarding the importance of braille, and write a press release announcing that the ACB national convention would be held in a given state.
Session two closed with brief presentations from Mike Gravitt, president of the National Alliance of Blind Students, who urged state affiliate leaders to find ways to involve students more fully in their organization, and Mark Richert, who briefly described his work at ACB in the area of advocacy.
The February 17 session began with descriptions of the various group activities that had occurred the night before. The letters, position papers, resolution, and press release that had been created by the various groups were read and discussed. Following that discussion, the group heard a legislative update from Julie Carroll, ACB's Director of Governmental Affairs. Among other areas of concern, Carroll warned listeners to keep a legislative eye on H.R. 22, a bill which would reform the postal service and would remove the authorization for appropriations for free matter mailing. "It doesn't mean that there wouldn't ever be free matter," she explained. "It means basically it would be left up to the postal service to figure out how it's going to set its rate so it would pay for free matter if it chose to. Obviously, we're going to oppose that."
She said some in Congress are prepared to open the Randolph- Sheppard Act which provides blind vendors the authority to do business on federal property, so that other disability groups would be allowed to claim priority under the law as well.
The meeting closed as Paul Edwards presented his mid-year report to affiliate presidents. (See "Where We Are and Where We're Going: A Mid-year Report" in this issue.)
There is no limit to optimism in contemplating the 1997 convention of the American Council of the Blind. Houston, the largest city in Texas and the fourth largest in the United States, has much to offer. Especially unique is its rich cultural diversity. More than 90 languages can be heard. Folks wearing sombreros and kimonos mingle with those adorned in jeans, boots and cowboy hats. Houstonians can feast on refried beans, jambalaya, or egg rolls on any given day. Many of those with Hispanic, African, Asian, Greek, and Cajun heritages seek to preserve the traditions and cultures of their native lands.
As you are reading this issue of "The Braille Forum," remember that there will be less than four months till convention time. All reservations and arrangements for meetings and activities should be close to completion. By this time, program chairs of special- interest groups and committees should have advised the national office of their meeting room, meal and reception needs. The details of your program must be provided no later than March 31. Please be prompt so that the mailing of the pre-registration packets and the printing of the convention program will not be delayed. If you are planning an exhibit or boutique you will need to complete special forms for this purpose. They are available from the ACB national office. Please call (800) 424-8666 or (202) 467-5081.
The 1997 ACB convention runs from Saturday, July 5 to Saturday, July 12. Hotel rates at the Adam's Mark, where all convention activities will occur, are $49 per night (plus tax) for single and double and $59 (plus tax) for triple and quad. Call (800) 436-2326 or (713) 978-7400. The first overflow hotel is the Marriott West Side; call (713) 558-8338. Reservation cut-off date is June 15. Rates are the same as at the Adam's Mark. The second overflow hotel is the Red Roof Inn that offers rates of $46 per night (plus tax) for single through quad. Call (713) 785-9909. This rate includes a free continental breakfast. This hotel does not have a restaurant, but one is located next door, open 24 hours. The Adam's Mark is providing shuttle service between hotels.
The overnight tour Friday and Saturday, July 4 and 5, will be to San Antonio. It will include a tour of the Alamo, a Spanish mission, and the famous river boat ride. Also, several hours will be spent at Six Flags Fiesta, Texas. This is the newest of Six Flags' theme parks. It offers exciting shows in addition to great rides and water park fun. Watch future issues of "The Braille Forum" for more information on the shows and for the cost of this tour.
Get ready for a great convention in 1997!
ACB conventions wouldn't be complete without our exhibitors. (These photos copyright 1995 by Ken Nichols.)
Mike Godino and Sylvia Ebert display various types of candy, a teddy bear, and assorted stained glass ornaments, at the ACB of New York-Long Island chapter boutique.
Lucy Daniels, Don Graham and Effie Graham display ivory jewelry and T-shirts at the Alaska Independent Blind boutique.
GW Micro's Dan Weirich displays computers equipped with speech output devices at the GW Micro booth.
Judy Patton and Kathy Gallagher display photos of job opportunities through National Industries for the Blind. Also available at the booth is information on jobs and internships.
In September 1994 the American Council of the Blind board of directors established the Durward McDaniel Membership Development and Retention Fund. The fund was created in honor of ACB's first national representative and key leader.
The first expenditure of funds sponsored two first-time attendees to the 1996 convention, and the program is being continued this year for the convention in Houston, Texas. If you have never attended a national ACB convention in the past and want to make a difference in your state, special-interest and/or national organization, now is a wonderful opportunity to do so!
In this contest, a winner will be chosen from each side of the Mississippi River. As the fund grows through gifts (as well as accrual of interest) it is hoped that more people can be chosen as well as other programs sponsored.
In order to apply for this contest, you must do three things. First, submit a letter of application to the American Council of the Blind national office stating the major reasons for which you would like to be considered. The length and format of your letter has not been prescribed but is left to your good judgment.
Second, a letter in your behalf must be submitted by the president or president's designated representative for your state or special-interest affiliate. This letter should give the selection committee some additional sense of your accomplishments and involvement in activities related to the work of ACB and its affiliate members.
Finally, you must be sure that all materials sent on your behalf and by you are submitted no later than May 5, 1997. A postmark of May 5 will be accepted; however, you are strongly encouraged to have your materials to the office by that date.
National conventions represent wonderful opportunities for learning, networking and new comradeship. Don't miss this chance to find out firsthand what a convention is really like! It can be the opportunity of a lifetime, and the McDaniel Fund can provide it to you simply because of your best efforts and contributions to this movement. The committee looks forward with anticipation to receiving, reviewing and selecting your application for the 1997 national convention in Houston, Texas.
Send contest entry materials to ACB First Timers Contest, 1155 15th St. NW, Suite 720, Washington, D.C. 20005.
Guide Dog Users Inc. is seeking nominations for its two service awards. In 1993, GDUI decided to honor three persons who had given exemplary service to the organization and the cause of the guide dog/blind person team over the past 20 years. Marcia Moffitt and Catherine Gleitz were honored with the Moffitt/Gleitz Award while Ethel Bender received the honor in her name.
The GDUI board has established criteria for the Moffitt/Gleitz and Ethel Bender awards as follows:
The Moffitt/Gleitz Award: This award is to be presented to a guide dog handler who has given outstanding service to organizations of and for guide dog handlers, and the cause of promoting the positive role of the guide dog and blind person in society. The nominee must have been active in guide dog-related organizations, such as training providers, local or national groups of the blind or Lions or other service-related organizations which promote the use of guide dogs, for at least five years. The nominee must have demonstrated service through projects, community education, publicity and/or fund raising. Applicants need not be current members of GDUI but must demonstrate service on a broad scale to the guide dog movement. The nominee must currently be working with a guide dog or be awaiting or completing training with a guide dog.
The Ethel Bender Award: This award is given to someone who is not a guide dog handler but who has given service to the guide dog movement. The recipient of this award may be a volunteer, trainer, administrator or other blind person (not a guide dog user) who has demonstrated through continued actions his/her promotion of guide dogs and blind people. The nominee must not be currently working with, awaiting or completing training with a guide dog. The nominee must have been active in guide dog-related organizations, such as training providers, local or national groups of the blind or Lions or other service-related organizations which promote the use of guide dogs, for at least five years. The nominee must have demonstrated service through projects, community education, publicity and/or fund raising.
All nominations should include: name of nominee, address, telephone numbers (specify home or work), number of years in service to guide dog teams, current dog's name and school from which guide dog was obtained (if appropriate), and list any organization memberships and/or offices held by the nominee. Please include a brief (75 words or less) essay on why you feel this person should receive the Moffitt/Gleitz or the Ethel Bender Award. Include letters of recommendation, publicity items such as newspaper articles, etc., where appropriate.
Previous award winners include: 1993 þ Moffitt/Gleitz Award: Marcia Moffitt (posthumously) and Catherine Gleitz; Ethel Bender Award: Ethel Bender; 1995 þ Ethel Bender Award: Lukas Franck.
Chairing the 1997 Awards Committee is GDUI "Pawtracks" Editor Kim Charlson, Watertown, Mass., along with committee members Paul Mimms, Kansas City, Mo., and Kae Madera, Portland, Ore. Please send your nominations in no later than May 15, 1997. Mail them to Kim Charlson, Chair, GDUI Awards Committee, 57 Grandview Ave., Watertown, MA 02172-1634. If you have additional questions about the awards, contact Kim at (617) 926-9198 or e-mail [email protected]
Fred Krepela, 89, of Salem, Ore., died Tuesday, February 18.
He was born in Chicago and moved to Salem in 1913, graduating from Salem High School in 1925. He purchased The Ink Spot print shop in 1940 and operated it until 1975. He was a member and officer of the Oregon Council of the Blind and the American Council of the Blind since 1953 and chaired the national convention in 1972. He was appointed to the Oregon Commission for the Blind twice. He was a member of the Salem Masonic Lodge since 1934 and was a 32nd-degree member. He had been heavily involved in amateur radio since 1954 and belonged to the Oregon Wildlife Association and the Salem City Club. He enjoyed international traveling and collecting antique phonographs with 78 rpm records. His wife, Lucile, died in 1973.
Survivors include his sister, Georgia Ulmer of Salem; and companion, Emily Hall of Salem.
Private inurnment is in Mt. Crest Abbey Mausoleum. Contributions should be sent to the Oregon Council of the Blind, 4730 Auburn Rd. NE, Salem, OR 97301.
At the mid-year meeting of ACB's Board of Publications, the five-member body announced the implementation of a three-tier fee structure which will be charged for ads. Organizations and individuals wishing to have ads in the convention daily newspaper and telephone announcement service will contribute to the cost of production via the following fee structure.
For-profit businesses will pay $100 for an ad for five days or $35 per day.
Non-profit organizations and ACB affiliates will pay $25 for a 100-word ad which will run for five days or $10 per day.
Individuals will pay $15 for the entire five-day run of the paper/telephone system or $5 per day.
These fees will entitle the advertiser to announce his/her product in both the daily paper (available in print and braille) and on the telephone announcement service. The 1997 convention will feature newspapers between Sunday and Thursday.
Carol McCarl reads from "The Braille Forum" at the Tulsa convention. (This photos copyright 1996 by Jon B. Petersen.)
At its fall 1996 convention, the California Council of the Blind established an awards program similar to that of ACB. The program includes a Hall of Fame, established in recognition of those who have made significant contributions and sustained effort toward the realization of CCB's goals; the Community Service Award, to be given each year to a blind or visually impaired person who, through his/her associations and activities, has demonstrated his/her integration into and interaction with the life of the community; the CCB Distinguished Service Award, to be given to an outstanding blind or visually impaired person who has contributed significantly to the betterment of blind people in general; the Legislator of the Year Award, to be given periodically to a California state or federal legislator who has introduced and successfully brought about enactment of legislation on behalf of blind or visually impaired people; the Certificate of Merit, to be given to any individual who provides outstanding volunteer service to CCB, its chapters or affiliates. Recipients of these awards may be nominated by any member, chapter or affiliate.
The first 10 inductees of the CCB Hall of Fame are: Dr. Newell Perry, Dr. Jacobus tenBroek, Robert Campbell, Perry Sundquist, Ernest Crowley, Anthony Mannino, George Fogarty, Dorothy Glass, Juliet Esterly and Dr. Isabel Grant. From now on, up to five people will be inducted into the Hall of Fame at each spring convention.
The Publications Award is an award which is to be given to the person who has prepared the best article of the year appearing in the "Blind Californian" or newspapers or periodicals. This decision will be made by the Publications Committee.
In other action, CCB members elected new officers. They are: Cathie Skivers, president (the first woman to be voted into the post in CCB's 62 years); John Lopez, first vice president; Jeff Thom, second vice president; David Parker, treasurer; Kenneth Frasse, secretary; and board members Pat LaFrance, Charles Naberete, Brian Hall and Jerry Glass.
Convention speakers included Sue Lainee on sky diving, Stuart Wittenstein, superintendent of the California School for the Blind, and Jill Ferris, Talking Book narrator.
Also, "The Blind Californian" sponsored a contest to determine the chapter that sold the most donation books and the single individual who did so, with a $25 prize for the winner. The Greater Los Angeles chapter sold the most books, 75; its member, Obbie Schoeman, was the individual winner, with 35 books to his credit.
The Bay State Council of the Blind will hold its annual convention April 26-27 at the Newton Holiday Inn. To reserve a hotel room, call the Holiday Inn at (617) 969-5300. For more information, call (617) 926-9198.
The ACB Radio Amateurs will hold its annual meeting at the ACB national convention. Several officers are involved in other convention activities, so the meeting will be held later in the week; the date and time will be publicized as soon as they are available. By holding the meeting later in the week, it is hoped that more hams can attend. Current officers are: Robert Rogers, K8CO, president; Mike Duke, K5XU, vice president; Nolan Crabb, AA3GO, secretary-treasurer; Steve Dresser, WA1RTB, board member; and John Glass, NU6P, board member. If you have ideas or issues relating to ham radio, bring them and yourself and we can talk about them. Contact Robert Rogers at (513) 921-3186 (home), (513) 762-4022 (work), [email protected], or 1121 Morado Dr., Cincinnati, OH 45238. Be sure to include your call sign, e-mail and/or QSL card in any correspondence.
The announcement of new products and services in this column should not be considered an endorsement of those products and services by the American Council of the Blind, its staff or elected officials. Products and services are listed free of charge for the benefit of our readers. "The Braille Forum" cannot be responsible for the reliability of products or services mentioned.
On March 8, the American Foundation for the Blind presented its 1997 Access Awards. The winners are: AirTouch Cellular, for its ongoing national ad campaign that helps create new images of people with disabilities by using blind actor Rick Boggs in TV and radio ads; The Metropolitan Transportation Authority of New York, for its efforts to enhance accessibility of the New York metropolitan transit system and for heightening disability awareness among its staff; NationsBank, for an innovative loan program that makes it easier for visually impaired people to purchase assistive technology; and Michelle and Jim Stone, parents of a multiply disabled child in New York, for their advocacy efforts on behalf of all children with disabilities.
In February, the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped released the first production version of CD- BLND, a CD-ROM catalog of library holdings completed through December 1996. It includes the entire catalog of braille and recorded books produced by NLS, as well as about 250,000 records of special-format materials from more than two dozen libraries throughout the world. It is searchable by title, author, subject, keyword, and more. A subscription is available through the Superintendent of Documents, P.O. Box 371954, Pittsburgh, PA 15250- 7954; phone (202) 512-1800. Ask for stock number 730-011-00000-8. The price for a year's subscription is $92 a year in the United States, $115 outside the U.S.
The Mississippi State University Rehabilitation Research and Training Center is seeking a research director. This is a full- time professional position. Candidates should have: earned a doctorate in rehabilitation counseling or a closely related field from an accredited college or university (CRC preferred); five years experience in conducting applied rehabilitation research and/or in grants management activities, with a minimum of two years experience in applied rehabilitation research; demonstrated success in securing research grants; expertise in computerized statistical packages, spreadsheet packages, and other research techniques; and must be able to coordinate and direct research activities of the RRTC. Salary is negotiable, depending upon training and experience. Applications will be accepted until position is filled. Send letter of application, resume, three letters of reference and transcripts to John Maxson, Chair, Screening Committee, RRTC on Blindness and Low Vision, P.O. Drawer 6189, Mississippi State, MS 39762. Questions regarding the position can also be sent to [email protected] or call (601) 325-2001.
The American Foundation for the Blind's National Braille Literacy Mentor Project is a resource that provides information and one-on-one support for teachers of braille and teachers who have blind or visually impaired students in their classes. The project's backbone is the Teacher/Mentor Network, consisting of hundreds of teachers nationwide who have volunteered to serve as mentors to fellow teachers who are encountering problems with or have concerns about teaching braille. Partnerships are established based on areas of concern and, where possible, geographic location. In addition, braille teachers can find solutions to specific problems by requesting a "Strategies of Success" that draws on the expertise of braille users who have volunteered their services to provide answers to these problems. Once teachers become participants in the project, they are put on the "DOTS for Braille Literacy" newsletter mailing list. "DOTS for Braille Literacy" is a quarterly publication containing current information on products, resources and issues of interest to teachers. It is available in print, braille, on disk, or on the Internet at http://www.afb.org/afb. There's also an Internet list, brl-help; it's open to those who want to ask specific questions about braille instruction, to respond to requests for information, and to share strategies that have worked in teaching braille. For more information, contact the AFB National Braille Literacy Mentor Project, 100 Peachtree St., Suite 620, Atlanta, GA 30303; phone (404) 525-2303, fax (404) 659-6957, or e-mail [email protected]
CheckMate Plus is offering free of charge, through Robert Langford, a DOS-based, voice-friendly, easy-to-use double-entry bookkeeping system that has a quick and easy amortization table that will compute the answers to mortgage and loan questions, according to an announcement from the company. It has full documentation and works on IBM-compatibles only. Contact Robert Langford, 11330 Quail Run, Dallas, TX 75238; phone (214) 340-6328, fax (214) 340-0870, or e-mail [email protected]
Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic recently announced its scholarship winners. Recipients of the Mary P. Oenslager Scholastic Achievement Awards are Michelle Goodin, University of California-Santa Cruz; Michelle Macalalad, State University of New York; and Tonia Valletta, College of William and Mary. The winners of the Marion Huber Learning Through Listening Awards are: Eleanor Berch-Heyman, Hampshire College; Caitlin Callahan, Mount Holyoke College; and Todd DuMond, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
According to a press release from the manufacturer, a new cane tip is now available which is less inclined to get stuck in sidewalk cracks. Known as the OOK Rolling Cane Tip, it is a one- inch ball with no axles that enables you to roll the tip in any direction. It comes with a limited warranty. For more information, call OOK Inventing Research and Development toll-free at (888) 200-0212, or visit the company's web site at http://www.hrzdata.com/ook.
Need information on toys for children with disabilities? The Lekotek Toy Resource Helpline can help. Call (800) 366-7529 between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Central time.
TMS Computers Inc.'s Robin Cleveland can help secure adaptive technology for blind and visually impaired people, such as JAWS, Zoomtext, DECtalk, and more. TMS stands behind its work. For more information, contact her at (800) 768-1168, or write her at TMS Computers Inc., 165 W. Main St., Lavonia, GA 30553. Hours are 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Eastern Monday through Friday.
Point to Point is a data bank made for people who like to write and receive letters in braille. It has 133 members from nine countries, who exchange letters in Portuguese, Spanish and English. To participate, send your name, address, date of birth, profession, area(s) of interest, and the sort of person with whom you'd like to exchange mail, to Silvia Valentini, Ponto a Ponto, Caixa Postal 70538, CEP 05015-990, Sao Paulo, Brazil.
The Lighthouse Inc.'s video "See for Yourself" about vision impairment and older adults recently received the Freddie Award of the International Health and Medical Film Competition of the American Medical Association's Education and Research Foundation. It received the award in the geriatrics category. The video also won the Silver Award of the National Mature Media Awards Program in 1995 and 1996 and the Gold Award of the National Health Information Awards Program in 1995.
Mobility International USA has several summer exchange programs available. To apply, contact Melissa Mueller or Mary Ann Curulla at (541) 343-1284, fax (541) 343-6812 or e-mail [email protected] Applications are available in alternate formats and will be accepted until the programs are full.
Dr. Peter Scialli has recently published a tutorial tape for blind computer users called "Windows 95, Removing the Screen." He demonstrates throughout the tape with his own speech synthesizer to show listeners the ease with which they can still operate a computer. The tutorial is available from ShrinkWrap Computer Products for $40. Contact the company at (800) 377-0774 or via the internet at [email protected]
The board of directors of INTRUST Bank recently announced the promotion of Steve Bauer, a member of the ACB Radio Amateurs, to operations officer with the responsibility for administering the voice/data communication network for all INTRUST locations in Kansas and Oklahoma. Bauer began his career with the bank in 1977 as a collector in the card center and editor of the employee newsletter. He is currently president of the Information Access Association and has been a member of the Kansas Association of the Blind and Visually Impaired for many years.
Highbrook Lodge Camp, owned and operated by the Cleveland Sight Center, recently announced its summer 1997 schedule. Camp will open on June 17 and close on August 18. Sessions are arranged according to age, ability and interests of the campers. Some of the programs and activities offered are: swimming, boating, arts and crafts, music, choral and group singing, hikes, beep baseball, volleyball, bowling, shuffleboard, horseback riding, hay rides, campfires, social and square dancing, plays and poetry recitals, fishing, overnights and outdoor living, independent living skills, presentations on current topics and issues, and field trips to local places of interest. There are also seminars and workshops for parents, as well as individualized personal adjustment training for campers who need it. Admission is open to campers throughout the United States on a fee basis. Scholarships are available on a financial need basis. For more information, contact Mr. Bashir A. Masoodi, Director, or Jackie Crayton, Registrar, Highbrook Lodge Camp of Cleveland Sight Center, 1909 E. 101st St., P.O. Box 1988, Cleveland, OH 44106-8696, or phone (219) 791-8118 extension 227.
LJB Enterprises, a newly formed company, offers a talking watch. Use it as a talking alarm clock or appointment reminder, or set it to announce time on an hourly basis. For a limited time, ACB members can buy individual watches at the discounted price of $19.95. Send your check or money order for $19.95 to L.J.B. Enterprises, 605 Whalom Ln., Schaumburg, IL 60173. For more information, call (847) 882-8834.
Are you a blind or visually impaired psychologist or psychology student? Have you had difficulty finding scholarly and clinical materials in accessible formats? There is a nationwide network forming to work toward full access of the field's printed materials. For more information, contact Scott Feldman at 2655 Colfax Ave. S, Apt. 302, Minneapolis, MN 55408; phone (612) 374- 5608, or e-mail [email protected]; or contact Robert DeYoung at 1335 W. Carmen #2B, Chicago, IL 60640, phone (773) 878- 9853.
Access America & Abroad is a travel agency specializing in the needs of the blind and visually impaired as well as the physically disabled. The company offers brochures and itineraries in accessible formats as well as tours specially designed for the visually impaired (including sighted guides). The first tour will take place in Maine in late summer. This trip will include whitewater rafting, horseback riding, hiking, a trip to the beach, and much more. There are also plans being made to take similar trips to Hawaii, Disney, and a Caribbean cruise. The agency serves nondisabled travelers as well. Contact (888) 302-2237 or (412) 344-6767; e-mail [email protected] or http://www.nauticom.net/www/access.
Blind and visually impaired people can participate in horseback riding, canoeing, hiking, and making new friends at Sports for Health, to be held from July 27 to August 3. For more information, contact Fred Quick, applications coordinator, at (718) 379-0246 evenings between 6 and 9 p.m. Eastern.
Many Jewish people have had great difficulty in learning Gamora, Tenach, Mishnayos and Rashi because the print was far too small for them to read. One solution is to use a personal computer with a CD-ROM drive and read from the Judaic Classics Library of Davka or another company. The reader can then print a section after changing the font size to meet his needs. For help doing this, or in supplying printouts, contact Avrohom Schwartzberg, 5658 Phillips Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15217, or phone (412) 422-9090. If demand warrants, the supply of printouts could be expanded.
Harry Martin, author of "What Blind People Wish Sighted People Knew About Blindness," has written another book entitled "The Blind Body Politic." You can get a sneak preview, one-hour cassette interview featuring Martin, in which he explains why he wrote this new book. Martin will read excerpts from the book on the tape. Send $5 to Harry Martin, 2314 River Park Cir. #2111, Orlando, FL 32817-4828.
J & K Trophies has braille award plaques and gift items for blind people. For more information, call the company at (810) 473- 7871, or fax (810) 473-7879.
The ninth International Therapeutic Riding Congress will be held July 14-20, 1997, in Denver, Colo. The congress provides an opportunity for professionals from around the world to share advances that have been made in therapeutic horseback riding activities for people with disabilities. For more information, contact NARHA, P.O. Box 33150, Denver, CO 80233; phone (800) 369- 7433.
FOR SALE: Two Perkins braillers. Asking $200 each. One Perkins brailler carrying case, $45. Contact Vanessa Anderson at P.O. Box 3314, Kent, WA 98032, or phone (206) 941-1398.
FOR SALE: Aladdin CCTV. Asking $1,500 or best offer. Call Harry at (202) 387-8173.
FOR SALE: DECTalk PC and Window Bridge 95 þ packaged together, $1,250. Will separate: DECTalk PC $1,000 or best offer; Window Bridge 95 $350 or best offer. Package is 6 months old. Call Rod Patik at (303) 370-0049 between 8:30 a.m. and 9 p.m. Mountain time, or e-mail [email protected]
FOR SALE: Aladdin CCTV. In good condition. Used very little. Make an offer. Contact Perry Turner at work at (281) 474-6497 daytime, (281) 471-5991 evenings.
FOR SALE: TeleSensory VersaPoint braille embosser, 20 characters per second. Good condition, manual included. Comes with quietizer. Price: $1,500 (negotiable). Call Steve Dresser, (860) 521-8903 after 5 p.m. Eastern time or on weekends.
FOR SALE: MagniCam, all attachments, manuals, and case. In excellent condition. Asking $450. Call Wilbur Shortridge at (317) 291-8968.
FOR SALE: Kurzweil Reader. In good condition. Comes with all manuals. Asking $2,000. Contact Hilda Graham at 1805 Divine St. #1603, Columbia, SC 29201, or phone her at (803) 254-0963.
FOR SALE: External Accent Discover. Includes all necessary cables. In good condition. Asking $250. Braille 'n Speak 640, 1993 revision, with all necessary cables and manuals, and a disk drive. Asking $900. Artic Business Vision version 3.08, with Synphonix 215 card and Sonic 2 module. Asking $450 or best offer. Call Richard Benham Monday-Friday between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. at (703) 697-6113; all other times, call him at (703) 451-5372.
FOR SALE: Perkins braille writer with dust cover and carrying case. Asking $500. Contact K. Walls at (281) 344-9325.
Sue Ammeter, Seattle, WA
Ardis Bazyn, Cedar Rapids, IA
John Buckley, Knoxville, TN
Dawn Christensen, Holland, OH
Christopher Gray, San Jose, CA
John Horst, Wilkes-Barre, PA
Kristal Platt, Omaha, NE
M.J. Schmitt, Forest Park, IL
Pamela Shaw, Philadelphia, PA
Richard Villa, Irving, TX
Carol McCarl, Chairperson, Salem, OR
Kim Charlson, Watertown, MA
Thomas Mitchell, North Salt Lake City, UT
Mitch Pomerantz, Los Angeles, CA
Jay Doudna, Lancaster, PA
Ex Officio: Laura Oftedahl, Watertown, MA
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