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.
It is a little after four in the morning and I am getting ready to head up to Orlando to do a presentation about getting students with disabilities from school to work. I am leaving at six in the morning and will arrive home later tonight around 10 o'clock.
I have become an expert on airports over the past year and a half and they are not, as a class of place, very pleasant. There seems to be something about airports that brings out the worst in people. I remember several occasions on my travels when people flat cut into the line in front of me without even so much as a "do you mind." (Of course, "do you mind" is one of those phrases that is used to fill space which has no meaning. I once said, "Yes, I do mind, quite a lot actually," and the person was so shocked that somebody had assumed it had meaning that he didn't do what I minded him doing.) Anyway, that is an aside so I will get back to the subject of this message, do you mind?
I have been to state affiliate conventions all over the country and have been able to see what individual affiliates are up to. I was entertained royally everywhere I went, and I continue to have a huge respect for all the leaders of state and local affiliates who keep organizations together with their will power, their effort and their dogged determination to succeed.
When we are tempted to think of the American Council of the Blind as an elitist organization, we need to spend more time at state affiliate conventions. People who will likely never get to the national convention are there. They have an enthusiasm and a commitment which we must admire and that is at the very core of our movement. So one of the purposes of my message this month is to say thank you to all the members of state affiliates who work to make the lives of blind people in their states better.
Another purpose of this message is to let you know about a remarkable report. As part of our five-year plan, the American Council of the Blind has been looking at affiliate rights and responsibilities. Under the able direction of ACB Second Vice- President Steve Speicher, a committee was formed which was chaired extremely well by Diane Bowers of Oklahoma. That committee submitted a draft report that was presented to the ACB board of directors just after the mid-year meeting. I will be talking about some of its findings at the presidents' meeting in Houston this summer and I will be inviting some of the affiliate presidents to join ACB at its fall board meeting where we will hold a day-long retreat to discuss some of the implications of this report. At the very heart of what the council is all about is how our national organization interacts with state and special-interest affiliates. If we can find ways to strengthen communication and the bonds among these groups, our organization will become stronger and we will be able to do more for blind people all over the country and around the world.
I am energized every time I get to go to state meetings and each time I make presentations to special-interest affiliates because it is at the state and local levels that the rubber meets the road. You who are reading this message are the soldiers of the American Council of the Blind. You who are out there in the trenches trying to make things happen are the real heroes. I, as your president, salute you and promise to work to provide you with more tools to combat the ignorance and indifference that are the enemies of progress.
You who never come to national conventions are the people I want to thank the most. I only get to meet you at state affiliate conventions and to hear about your concerns in private talks between meetings. I appreciate you, though, all of you. You are what is keeping the American Council alive and well and I want all of you to recognize just how valuable each of you is to us. I hope I will never lose sight of who you are and how important you are. You are the folks who keep my feet on the ground and help me to know every time I meet you that what we are doing is worth doing. You are what gives me the strength to continue. So, I guess, the best way to end this message is just to say keep up the good work! We need you!
More On The NCD Saga
At the time last month's issue of "The Braille Forum" went to press, the American Council of the Blind and the other organizations in the blindness field had not yet received a copy of the proposal which the National Council on Disability (NCD) intended to make for amendment of the Rehabilitation Act so as to terminate the administration of separate federal grants for state rehabilitation programs serving only visually disabled people and to change the program for services to elderly blind people by adding other disabilities to that program. Up to that date ACB acting both on its own initiative and in conjunction with other blindness organizations had attempted for several months to obtain more specific information concerning the planned recommendation. Less than two days before NCD's budget request was to be considered by Congress and while ACB and the other blindness organizations were communicating their concern to Congress we finally received a copy of the proposal. During the appropriation hearing and in response to specific questions from a knowledgeable and concerned committee member from Kentucky, the chairperson of NCD admitted, among other things, that organizations in the field of blindness had not been contacted about the proposal, that no blindness organization agreed with the proposal and that the blind witnesses who had testified at hearings around the country regarding the Rehabilitation Act had generally supported the continuation of separate agencies and specialized services for blind people. Prior to the above- mentioned hearing, which took place on Thursday, March 20, ACB had requested an opportunity for the ACB president to speak to the membership of NCD at that organization's quarterly meeting, scheduled to take place in Albuquerque, N.M., on March 23 and 24. The ACB president, having been given 15 minutes on the agenda on Monday the 24th, hastily traveled to Albuquerque, met informally with the chairperson of NCD on Sunday the 23rd and presented a statement to the full Council on Monday the 24th. A representative of the American Foundation for the Blind also presented testimony to the Council on that day. Subsequently NCD adopted a resolution to ask Congress to request the General Accounting Office to conduct a study of separate agencies and specialized services for the blind, but insisted on moving forward with its recommendation to dilute the program providing services for the elderly blind by adding other disabilities to it. Since then there has been a considerable amount of information on this subject disseminated by NCD via the Internet. As announced on the Washington Connection, ACB has prepared an audiocassette containing the principal correspondence from ACB referred to above and the testimony of the ACB president. Anyone wishing a copy of this cassette, which has already been sent to ACB affiliate presidents and other interested parties, may obtain one by contacting the ACB national office.
Part of the effectiveness of ACB as a consumer organization taking part in advocacy activities is its ability to monitor the enormous variety of endless activities which may not merit separate headlines but are extremely important in the planning and implementation of services and programs. For example, in recent weeks ACB's Director of Advocacy Services has participated actively in meetings conducted by the Department of Justice and relating to that department's ADA enforcement activities. Likewise, he has monitored and provided input into meetings conducted by the Social Security Administration regarding the implications of changes in the welfare laws on disabled adults and children. Another staff member represented ACB, pursuant to the thrust of ACB national convention resolution 96-01, objecting further to the design of the soon-to-be-opened Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial, which does not show clearly that President Roosevelt was a person with a disability.
It was our pleasure in the ACB national office recently to meet with Ms. Faith Macheng, the newly appointed National Librarian for the Blind for the nation of Botswana. We were pleased to learn that, although her nation currently lacks the financial resources to establish a comprehensive library service program, there is great interest in the teaching of braille and its value as an essential tool in the arsenal of blind job applicants.
If you have not already made your plans to attend the 1997 ACB national convention in response to the informative articles published over the past several months by ACB National Convention Coordinator John Horst, do so now! Two of the "must-do activities" at this year's convention will be the Thursday afternoon advocacy workshop focusing on individual rights under the ADA and the Friday afternoon legislative workshop focusing on, among other things, timely legislative initiatives and more effective ways of influencing decision-makers. Also, we have just been informed that this year's video-described movie, as provided and described by the Descriptive Video Service of WGBH in Boston, will be "Apollo 13," a true-to-life account of the hair-raising dangers encountered by the astronauts who returned safely to Earth on Apollo 13 following its accident in space. What an appropriate movie to be shown during a national convention being held in Houston, the home of the Johnson Space Center!
(Editor's Note: This article includes the full text of testimony delivered by ACB President Paul Edwards at a public hearing in Albuquerque, N.M.)
I would like to begin by expressing my appreciation to the Council for giving me the opportunity to speak to you today. I would also like to express my appreciation to Marca Bristo and Bonnie O'Day for spending some time with me yesterday. I think that our discussions were useful and that the exchange of views that occurred was valuable to both the blindness community and the National Council on Disability. I am speaking as a blind person, President of the American Council of the Blind and as an advocate of coalitioning and cooperation. The decision you take today is an important one. It seems to me that it will profoundly shape the future of the disability movement. You must decide whether you choose to take a position that is opposed by an overwhelming proportion of a consumer group. Every organization of and for blind people believes in the efficacy of separate state agencies for the blind. Every organization of blind people who have spoken out on the matter believes that the independent living program for older blind people is valuable and necessary. The most important question you must answer is whether the National Council on Disability chooses to take a position that is so widely opposed by people who are blind.
I understand that you have long stood for integration and inclusion of people with disabilities and that some of you believe that a separate service delivery system is duplicative. However, an equally crucial cornerstone of what I believe the disability movement stands for is consumer choice. There may be some consumers who are blind who do not believe in separate agencies. However, your own recommendations document states that those blind people who appeared at the hearings last year "generally testified" in favor of separate agencies. Should the National Council on Disability take a position that is at odds with the views of all organizations that represent blind people and at odds with the testimony at the hearings? I, for one, hope you will not.
People with disabilities cannot afford to be divided in these days of shrinking budgets when the attitudes of policy-makers and legislators seem less open to the needs of people with disabilities. There are many areas where we can profitably and effectively work together to build more coherent, consumer-driven programs to serve people with disabilities. The blindness community has stood shoulder to shoulder with other disabled people all through the history of the disability movement.
Not only does your recommendation document indicate that blind people do not wish to see separate agencies go away, your background paper prepared by Ms. O'Day itself asserts that the data is inconclusive. She would have you believe that the data tends to preponderate in favor of specialized service delivery rather than on the side of separate agencies. I categorically believe that the data demonstrates that separate agencies do a better job. I am more concerned that these two recommendations fly in the face of what the consumers want!
Are services to blind people any more duplicative than other service delivery models such as those for people with developmental disabilities or people who are mentally ill or people with spinal cord injury? Here, too, there are a range of publicly and privately funded programs that are separately administered. Why are blind people being singled out for your scrutiny?
Blind consumers believe the service delivery system that is in place now is the most effective one. You do not have compelling evidence to support your contention that this is not true! You must weigh whether the principles of integration and inclusion are more important than the right of people to make their own choices about how they shall be served. I believe that blind people have the right to determine what kind of service delivery is best for them. Is it any different when doctors or counselors make decisions for people than when other disabled people make decisions for blind people? Isn't the disability movement about empowering individuals and individual disability groups to make their own informed decisions? Isn't this principle at the very heart of the Rehabilitation Act as amended in 1992? The American Council of the Blind believes that this decision constitutes a huge step backward away from self- determination and consumer choice and we would urge you not to make it.
Some of you may believe that separate agency status is an artifact of history, something that was necessary in the '40s and '50s but is not necessary now. In Illinois, right now, today, a comprehensive service delivery system for blind people is being dismembered one small piece at a time and the positions that are to serve blind people are being filled by people who have no experience and no expertise in dealing with people who are blind.
As a consumer and as president of a consumer organization, I do not support separate agencies because I have been bought by the system or because I am opposed to inclusion or integration. I support separate agency status because I believe it is the only way to preserve the range of specialized services that blind people must have if they are to be rehabilitated. Order of selection will not be enough to protect effective service delivery for blind people. Some have argued that generic service delivery systems can be and sometimes are effective if specialized case loads are built in but more and more states with generic models are having their commitment to specialized case loads lessened or eroded. This has been true in Illinois, Georgia, Kentucky and, potentially at least, in Nevada. 26 states, a majority, now have separate agencies. We believe they should exist in all 50 states. As pressures mount at the state level to limit services, generic service delivery systems are likely not to be strong enough to maintain the orientation and mobility services and specialized training services in access technology and independent living that blind people must have if they are to succeed.
At the core of this issue, though, is my absolute conviction that blind people have said what they want and have a right to have the service delivery they choose. Over the last several months, many organizations of and for the blind have met with National Council on Disability staff and have unanimously opposed these recommendations. We have provided documentation that clearly shows our unequivocal commitment to separate agencies. Does the opinion of the whole blindness community mean nothing?
Let me now turn to your second recommendation. The Independent Living for Older Blind program in Title 7 Chapter 2 generated under ten million dollars in the current budget. It is inadequate to meet the overwhelming needs of the 50 percent of blind people who begin to lose their vision after the age of 55 and who, for the most part, do not qualify for rehabilitation services. Blind people have unique needs that can be met through relatively inexpensive training programs. When they have access to this training, they can avoid being institutionalized or being isolated at home.
Other older people with disabilities unquestionably have unmet needs. There may even be a need for funding programs that would make dollars available to serve older people with other disabilities! We cannot and do not support the consolidation of our older blind programs into a larger, cross-disability program. The program was set up to begin with because there were specialized needs that were not being met by currently functioning programs for older Americans. The thousands of older blind people who have already benefited from this program only received services because a separate and specialized program was created by Congress. We cannot afford to see that program eroded. We do not help each other when we seek to take funds away from one disability group simply to serve a philosophical principle like integration.
Many of your other Rehabilitation Act reauthorization recommendations constitute areas where we may well be able to work with you. Let us build on the cooperation we have already established. The National Council on Disability took positions on detectable warnings and on the issue of the graphical user interface that we deeply appreciate. We have worked strenuously at the national, state and local levels to support positions espoused by the whole disability movement. I believe that the progress of disabled people can best be assured by cooperating whenever we can to forward the interests of all of us! You must decide whether you choose to take a decision that will aid those outside the disability movement who would divide and conquer!
Let me digress from my prepared remarks for a moment! Last Thursday this issue was raised as part of the budget hearing for NCOD. It's a measure of just how important this issue is to us that we felt we had no choice but to discuss your position and our response there! Whatever the realities are, it was our perception that we had tried for several months to negotiate and were either put off or ignored, as we saw it! We only received your recommendation and Bonnie's paper last Tuesday! I hope that we will be able to work closely with the Council in the future and believe we have much more in common than areas of difference. Thank you for listening and I think there are a few minutes for questions. Follow-up to testimony
After hearing my testimony, there was an opportunity for questions. Following that, a motion was made that a recommendation be adopted in principle which would be finalized later in terms of wording. Essentially, the recommendation called on the General Accounting Office to conduct a study of state programs for the blind using various service delivery models to determine which seemed most effective. This recommendation was made to replace the original proposal that would have urged the federal Rehabilitation Services Administration to amend the Rehabilitation Act so as to take away states' rights to create a separate blindness agency with a separate administration and state plan.
This motion was passed with one abstention and the rest of the Council voting for it. The second proposal with regard to the Older Blind funding issue was proposed in an essentially unchanged form and was adopted unanimously by the Council.
(Editor's Note: Charles Crawford is the commissioner of the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind.)
As President of the National Council of State Agencies for the Blind (NCSAB), let me make clear at the very start of this letter that I have great respect for your president, Paul Edwards, and have found him to be a man of unsurpassed intelligence and honor with a genuine thirst for advancing the interests of our blindness community. Even though what I am about to write may be seen as in substantial disagreement with Paul, let there be no mistake that I am proud to call him a friend and a leader in our community and I believe the American Council of the Blind is fortunate to have such a tireless captain at its helm.
In the March edition of "The Braille Forum," President Edwards commented upon the concerns that NCSAB and the National Federation of the Blind share with respect to the participation of blindness organizations in various coalitions. While I will not speak for the federation, since they clearly will speak for themselves, let me offer you an alternate view of what was reported. I am confident that our common desire for the advancement of blind people and our mutual good faith reasoning will help in the final decisions of ACB in the matter.
Probably the most serious assertion in Edwards' commentary with respect to NCSAB is that we and the NFB were not cooperating with ACB and other organizations of the blind with regard to reauthorization of the Rehabilitation Act. Edwards said, "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."
At the risk of being accused of oversimplification and I will expand later, I will try to frame the question in its most basic and real terms. Let's say that your family, analogous to the blindness community, has a problem it needs to resolve. There is a dangerous intersection that requires a traffic light for you to cross the street safely. A couple of your family members decide to enlist the help of the neighborhood association, likened to a cross-disability coalition, in the hopes of getting to a solution. The association is sympathetic to your issue, but it is far from their priority. In short, your need is more unique than the larger issues of the neighborhood and while it is of major concern to you, the neighbors want more street lighting, wheelchair ramps, accessible buses, and other improvements of concern to a larger mix of people first. This requires you to recognize that the real work to get the traffic light will have to be done by your own family and so you create strategies to accomplish the task. Then you find out that one or more of your family members who joined the neighborhood association has been sharing internal strategic family discussions with the members of the neighborhood association, whose agenda is clearly different from yours. Now how much trust can you have in the neighborhood association or coalition which has relegated your issue to a subordinate priority? More importantly, what would your comfort level be with those members of the family who perhaps even innocently shared information internal to the family and its strategy? Surely you would not stop relating to the neighbors or turn your back on your own family, but I doubt seriously that you would approach the situation in the same way in the future. Coalitions are not inherently evil and they can do much good when they either share an absolute agreement with your position or you are joining them for the greater social good. This is far different from the facts as they existed with regard to NCSAB's serious objections to ACB's participation in the Consortium of Citizens with Disabilities and that of the other blindness groups' brief association with the National Council on Independent Living.
During last year's debate on H.R. 1617, CCD may have taken a position officially not in conflict with that of blind people, but certain members were vocal in the U.S. House of Representatives with agendas quite at odds with our community. In addition, we were given to understand that negative references to blindness agencies were fashionable and were left unchallenged at times by folks who were supposed to be working with us.
There is also the matter of the National Council on Independent Living. An organization who has as recently as a few weeks ago made it clear that in its view, separate agencies for blind folks are underfunded and the blind would be better off by being placed in integrated service models.
Despite all of the above, NCSAB does not blanketly oppose coalitions and clearly honors the right of any organization to ally with whomever they feel is appropriate. We hope blindness organizations will ask certain questions on a continuing basis. First, are the goals and underlying values of the coalition in concert with the blindness community? The answer must be something better than political distortions such as "we support separate services" which is another way of saying it's OK when they are provided by an agency responsible for all disabilities. Secondly, we need to know that what we are getting from the coalition is worth the investment of time, energy, and credibility of our name. Remember that the good name of the organization will be used by the coalition to endorse whatever its agenda is.
More critically, we must resist allowing our community to sink into obscurity as just another disability group. Already there are those who say that Congress will not pay attention to single groups, but only wants to hear what the "community" has to say. This is obviously not true, but could well become the case if we allow ourselves to be seen as only important when we have the support of other groups.
Especially with respect to the events of last year, the largest fatal flaw with coalitions is that they often try to get consensus through compromise so that you trade something off every time a decision is reached. This is not a problem when the issue is abstract from the central issues of blind folks, but can be devastating to the cause if your name starts being used as in favor of a particular course of action which could seriously jeopardize your core issues.
Finally let me speak to the issue of isolationism mentioned by Edwards in his commentary. I think it fair to say his point was that our community would become isolationist or be viewed as such if we fail to join coalitions. Nobody is suggesting that we shut out the rest of the world and live in isolation. What is important, however, is that we be a community that clearly has a sense of itself and not allow the common ground of coalitions to become the quicksand into which we sink. Much like the admonition of George Washington that we not allow ourselves to become entangled in foreign concerns, we must guard against relying upon coalitions to either advance our interests or define our community. This is a dangerous trend which has already been used against blind folks by the more radical branch of the independent living movement, as if we have no right to our own self-determination unless it is defined in the "cross-disability" environment.
Your president is a wise and dedicated man. Nothing of what has been said here should be interpreted as a negative commentary on his leadership or wisdom. He has articulated a view which is not altogether different from that of the NCSAB, and I am confident that our organizations will continue to productively work together. The questions of when it is appropriate to be in a non-blindness coalition and what the extent of the role of the organization might be will be answered over time. Much more will be written, said and done before those answers are clear, but be assured that NCSAB will remain a partner for the long haul.
When you receive this issue of "The Braille Forum," it will be four to six weeks to convention time. By now you should have received the convention packet which describes many activities. Please complete the pre-registration form promptly, indicating your choices. Register early and enhance your chances of getting into activities that have limited space. Please indicate if you are a wheelchair user or if you have serious ambulatory limitations.
You can request a cassette version of the pre-registration packet by calling the ACB national office to request it, (800) 424-8666, between 2:30 and 5:30 p.m. Eastern weekdays. Remember, the cassette version is for reading purposes only. You must officially register by completing the print form. Pre- registration forms must be received in the Minneapolis office no later than June 22.
The 1997 convention of the American Council of the Blind begins Saturday, July 5, and concludes Saturday, July 12. The location is Houston, Texas, at the Adam's Mark Hotel. The overflow hotels are the Marriott West Side and the Red Roof Inn. Shuttles will operate between hotels beginning Friday morning, July 4, and continuing through Saturday, July 12, at 1 p.m. All convention activities will be at the Adam's Mark. You will find detailed description of the Adam's Mark and a brief description of the overflow hotels in the convention program. In the braille program, this description will follow the calendar of events.
Convention rates for the Adam's Mark, which is now full, and the Marriott West Side are $49 (plus tax) per night for single and double occupancy, and $59 (plus tax) for triple and quad. For the Red Roof Inn, rates are $46 (plus tax) single and double, and $48 (plus tax) triple and quad. Telephone numbers: Adam's Mark, (800) 436-2326 or (713) 978-7400; Marriott West Side, (713) 558-8338; and the Red Roof Inn, (713) 785-9909. The cut-off date for reservations at these hotels is June 15.
Please note: There has been a change in the transportation company that will provide van service to and from the two airports. We have negotiated an agreement with the Hatchwell Travel Service to provide transportation for $20 per round trip rather than the $38 by Airport Express as previously indicated. If you want the cheaper rate, you must call Hatchwell Travel Service at (800) 897-8750 by June 20, 1997. Ask for Iris Welch and indicate your time of arrival at either Intercontinental or Hobby airport. This service will operate only from Thursday, July 3 to Sunday, July 6 and on the return to the airports Thursday, July 10 through Saturday, July 12. After you make a reservation, you must then forward a check or money order in the amount of $20 to Hatchwell Travel, 2650 Fountainview #204, Houston, TX 77057. Credit cards will not be accepted. Vans will pick up outside the baggage area. Should there be a lengthy delay in the Hatchwell van pickup, or should your arrival or departure dates be other than those indicated above, the Airport Express vans are still available at the $38 round-trip rate.
In the pre-registration listing and in the convention program this year, watch for challenging discussion groups and seminars planned by ACB special-interest affiliates and committees. The plenary sessions will include a variety of speakers and subjects, including a talking book narrator and a panel dealing with voting rights accessibility. As ACB begins to intersperse top-quality programming with important convention business in order to keep the interest level high throughout the convention, just think how exciting it will be to hear world-famous talking book narrator Ray Foushee from the American Printing House talk about his experiences. To bring the program even closer to home, think about your own experiences while listening in fascination to the remarks of the experts making up a panel dealing with the important subject of voting rights accessibility for blind and visually impaired citizens. For a well-informed but extremely candid discussion of the recent decision by the National Council on Disability to recommend, in substance, the merging of rehabilitation services for the blind with all other rehabilitation services, you will not want to miss a word during the point and counterpoint remarks of NCD chairperson Marca Bristo and Charles Crawford, president of the National Council of State Agencies for the Blind. Be sure to read the "Report of the Executive Director" for additional information concerning other featured speakers on the plenary program. The exhibits, which will open Saturday, July 5 at 1 p.m., will be open daily through Wednesday, July 9.
The ACB of Texas and the Houston chapter invite you to have some fun at the Welcome to Houston party Saturday evening, July 5 at 8 p.m. at the Adam's Mark. This will be a great time to greet your friends and make new acquaintances. The hospitality room will be open Friday evening, July 4, and each evening Sunday through Thursday from 9 p.m. until midnight. Entertainment, some snacks and a cash bar will be available.
This year there are again tours every day beginning with the fabulous overnight tour to San Antonio. Don't miss the great shows, great food and fun at Fiesta Texas, the Spanish mission narrated tour, the visit to the Alamo, and the boat ride on the famous San Antonio River. The tour departs from the side entrance of the Adam's Mark promptly at 7:30 a.m. See the April "Braille Forum" for cost details.
Additional tours scheduled Saturday, July 5, include a narrated motor coach tour of the Houston area, including lunch and several stops at historical sites (tour repeated Sunday). Also available Sunday afternoon is a trip to the famous Astrodome to see a major league baseball game. The Houston Astros are playing the Cincinnati Reds.
On Monday, it's a trip to Galveston Island for a narrated tour of the Moody Tropical Gardens, all inside an air-conditioned structure. These famous gardens include plants, flowers and trees from around the world. Also on this same tour you will visit the railroad museum and learn the history of railroading in the area. A part of the museum includes antique passenger train cars that are not accessible. For your trip to the Houston space center you will need to choose between Tuesday or Thursday afternoons and be certain the times do not conflict with other tours. This also will be a narrated tour with demonstrations of space suits and equipment, some of which can be touched. Groups will be divided into smaller segments for better viewing.
We're planning two tours on Wednesday in addition to the evening feature. Something different this year is a Wednesday morning visit to the Sam Houston horse-racing track. You can walk on the track, talk to the vet, meet the jockeys, visit the winner's circle and learn about the care, grooming and training of race horses. Buses will depart at 7:30 a.m. and return by 11 a.m. Tour includes a pancake breakfast.
Wednesday afternoon it's the Museum of Natural Science, a narrated tour with hands-on activities. Thursday, in addition to the space center, it's the greyhound dog track. The group will be together in its own area where food will be served and there will be help with betting. People taking this tour will need to visit the space center on Tuesday.
Friday is the day to visit agencies for the blind in Houston. Taping for the Blind operates the radio reading service, does taping for blind people and provides descriptive narration for public events. The Lighthouse for the Blind/University of Houston provides rehabilitation services, vocational training and employment, recreational services and more. There will be one tour to both agencies. You will return in time to get ready for the convention banquet. Also on Friday FIA plans a tour to the fine arts museum. Saturday evening, July 12, there will again be a dinner theater tour at the Great Caruso, located within walking distance of the Adam's Mark.
The Wednesday evening feature away from the hotel will be a dinner cruise on the Galveston Bay and Gulf of Mexico with a served dinner and entertainment on the ship. Be certain to check the June "Braille Forum" and your pre-convention packet for more information on tours, including times of departure and cost.
We hope you are ready for a great convention in 1997.CAPTIONS
Sue Ammeter shakes David Krause's hand and congratulates him on winning the Durward K. McDaniel Ambassador Award in 1996. Come to the convention and find out who this year's winner is! (All photos copyright 1996 by Jon B. Petersen.)
Kimberly Shain, one of the 1996 scholarship winners, jokes with the audience as she expresses genuine appreciation for her scholarship.
Jasper Nzedu, a law student, gives ACB members a big grin and thanks for awarding him a scholarship.
Forget your coat; we've got your hat; leave your doldrums on the doorstep! Just direct your feet to the happenin' Friends-in- Art suite. Seriously, you can buy the FIA hat you'll need in Houston, so you don't have to pack one with the dog food and poetry. And hats will be in order in Houston. Not even a ten- gallon one could hold all the knowledge, networking and "neat stuff" to be shared at this year's ACB convention, but here's our share of the mix so you can pick and choose early.
Saturday: Exhibits and Board Meeting
Our table this year will feature recordings by FIA musicians, books by FIA authors and Showcases and other events captured on cassette. Our "MIDI for Beginners" will also be available on tape for purchase. All artists with sale items at the booth donate time to staff the booth during the convention.
The board meeting begins when exhibits close, 7 p.m. We have the incentive of attending later social events to keep us moving quickly through our agenda.
Sunday: Mixer, sign up for Showcase, Chorus Rehearsal
The mixer heralds the reconnection of appreciators and purveyors of creativity and discovery of new acquaintances whose talents complement. But it's even more.
Three steps are necessary for those who wish to participate in the Showcase of the Performing Arts. Step 1: Come to the mixer to schedule your slot in the rehearsal/audition held on Monday afternoon. Come ready with at least two well- practiced selections, in case one is a duplicate of another's choice. Also, let us know if you work with a pre-recorded tape or track, need an accompanist, or have brought print music for a sighted note-for-note accompanist. (We do not ask sight-reading accompanists to transpose.) Including opening remarks, no performance should exceed five minutes.
The mixer is also a great time to join or rejoin FIA; the first opportunity of several, but a good time to handle that detail.
The chorus rehearsal is in the suite at 6 p.m., right after the mixer. Multimedia presentations of parts will be mailed to reliable singers well ahead of the convention. Rehearsals will be primarily for cuing, ensemble, assigning solos and staging. Gordon Kent is our arranger/director. Since we have only two rehearsals þ the second Monday at 10 p.m. þ attendance at both is crucial.
Monday: Concurrent MIDI's, Rehearsal/Audition, Prose/Poetry Reading and Chorus Rehearsal
VIDPI and FIA have a recognized interest when we talk about digital music. This year, we team with VIDPI for a Beginners' Workshop and a Practitioners' Roundtable, both at 1:30 p.m. Janiece Petersen, a traditional musician who has taken the plunge into MIDI production, shares "How to Get Going, and Getting Results."
Mike Mandel and Gordon Kent co-host the roundtable, which focuses on screen reader access þ the positives and pitfalls of various software packages. There will be hands-on exploration at the workshop. MIDI mornings in the suite will give additional hands-on time. International issues around "designed accessibility" of hardware and software will also be a focus.
Step 2 for the Showcase: The Rehearsal/Audition from 3 to 6 p.m. is designed to work with three acts every 15 minutes. Those performers will have, we hope, received their time slots at the Sunday sign-up. The mood and tempo of each act will determine the order and pacing of the show.
The Prose/Poetry Reading at 9 p.m. brings fellow creators together to focus on each reader's personal expression. Since this reading is recorded, your pre-reading of material adds to your communication of ideas. Advise the moderator if you take exception to being recorded. Dan Simpson, host, is attuned to such concerns.
Chorus rehearsal at 10 p.m. The chorus is a marvelous add-on that causes all kinds of challenges. You only do it because. If you want to read poetry, ask to be on early. We will arrange the standing order, etc., at Monday's rehearsal, so you must be there.
Tuesday: Luncheon/Business Meeting, Arts Docent in Suite, Showcase of the Performing Arts
Our Tuesday luncheon traditionally involves a roll call for networking, an outstanding speaker and a business meeting with elections. As the price reflects, the repast may sustain Showcase participants who do not eat before the show.
Our speaker is Brevard College's distinguished professor Harvey Miller, first prize winner in the Prague International Contest for Blind Composers.
Two board positions are up for election this year. Both incumbents may serve again, but all elections are opportunities for others to run as well. Roger Petersen is chair of the nominating committee. Your votes will also be important as we consider amendments to our constitution.
Art with Docent in the Suite will be held at 3:30 p.m. The suite provides a secure environment for displaying your creations. In addition, we have been promised pieces from the APH collection. Pieces will be labeled. Someone will be on hand to answer questions. All artists are responsible for setup and takedown.
The Big Step 3. The Showcase will be a sparkling blend of humorous and serious, classical and popular, original and exacting performances. Artists tried and true and talents new to us will be intermingled. We look forward to hearing poetry and well-spun yarns, songs in various languages and instruments from dulcimers to synthesizers. Last year, we had audio description for several acts. Our recording gets more high tech each year, and we're sure of having a "best of" CD of this and previous performances later in the year.
Wednesday Writers' Workshop and a Round-and-Harmony Sing
Dr. Judith Dixon, Consumer Relations Officer at NLS, will lead off the writers' program, presenting a bibliography of NLS books of assistance to writers. John Dashney, internationally known author and storyteller, will conduct a workshop on "Writing for Performance." After telling a couple of stories by way of example, John will share some ideas on how to write or adapt material for oral delivery. (I keep hearing folks on the airwaves who could probably benefit from this presentation.)
Round-and-harmony sing? Yes. Just try it with us in the suite from 5 to 6 p.m. Bring a round to teach or a song that begs for harmonizing. And plan to sing the rounds and songs others bring.
Thursday Workshop on Stage Presence and Getting-to-Know-You Ideas Exchange Michael Byington, registered drama therapist, will lead a workshop he has named "Looking Visual, Looking Unique: What Sells in Stage Presence." We'll also have an audio describer at the ready. This workshop will be held in the suite.
Ideas Exchange. Stop by the suite sometime Thursday evening. It's our form of suggestion box. But we also want to know of your arts interests, time and talents you can lend to our efforts, or which choral part you sing. We need many skills and lots of people to spread the work among. Can you run a DAT machine or other equipment? Are you good at taking pictures? Would you like to help with our database? Of course, I can't list everything. Come be a Friend-in-Art.
Friday Tour, Houston's Museum of Fine Arts
This tour was designed in response to FIA's request. It will include selected objects for touching and described pieces and paintings in various galleries. There will be enough time for browsing in the gift shop as well. Getting to and from places in Houston adds considerable length to tours. Eat lunch beforehand, or bring a non-messy snack, so we will leave the bus as we found it.
The Totebag. Did you forget your Braille 'n Speak adapter last year, or was it your batteries? Put those heavy things in the bottom with the dog supplies. Pack your pre-recorded tape for performance, your print music for a sighted accompanist and your original writings þ perhaps in a ziplock bag. Bring along something that charges your own batteries þ candy, peanuts, etc. þ to fight that inevitable energy ebb. Maybe vitamins, too. Those throat lozenges, your checkbook or credit card and a sweater for when the air conditioning overworks are musts. And you can get your hat from FIA.
Since I began doing more traveling, I have had some eventful experiences. These were not always positive, but I have learned some valuable lessons. Because some situations were embarrassing as well as possibly dangerous, I thought it might be helpful to pass on these tips as we approach convention time.
1. Remember the color and type of suitcases you bring. It may be helpful to have a colorful piece of yarn or sticker to help you or any assisting person easily identify your luggage. Even if you carry your luggage, a van or taxi driver will want to store it. I use two different sets of luggage. When I first bought the second set, I forgot what color they were. I had to ask the driver of the van to allow me to feel it to see if it was the correct one. Needless to say, after that embarrassment, I remember to ask someone before I leave home now.
2. Ask about gate numbers even if you have asked for assistance because they occasionally make mistakes. I was brought to the wrong gate three times one day and eventually missed the correct flight. Some assisting traveler aides may not listen to you anyway, but you might be able to get them to look at the monitor again if your information is different from theirs.
3. Take along a book or magazine to read while waiting. If you travel much, you will find that buses and planes are often delayed. I feel much less impatient if I have something to do while I'm waiting.
4. Listen for gate changes or other announcements. When taking a bus, check out any message telling about a bus going in your direction because they will not always mention all small towns on that route. I would have missed my bus once if I had not asked if there was another bus going in the same direction. Gate changes will be announced in the gate area, but they may forget to tell you. (Don't always assume they will remember to walk you to another gate when they are busy.)
5. Try to have a written itinerary that you can read just in case you need to know flight numbers. You may need to check times of departure and you may not always find someone who knows how to read plane tickets. I understand they are not clear to read if you are not familiar with the codes and formatting. It does help if you get to know airline abbreviations so you can help interpret what someone is reading to you. One time when traveling, I told the assistant I was going to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and he brought me to the wrong gate. This worked out OK since it was just an earlier flight and they had enough room.
6. Bring a snack along, especially if you have a health problem that requires you to eat on time. Bus stations do not always have a place to eat, and airlines often serve only peanuts and a drink, especially on shorter flights. Also, your layover may be shorter than you anticipated and may not allow you enough time to pick up something at the airport.
7. Keep some ones in your pocket for tipping. It is safer and quicker than rummaging in your wallet or purse each time you are getting assistance. Airports are notorious for luggage snatchers and/or pickpockets.
8. Don't hesitate to be up front with people if you feel uncertain about someone who is helping you. I had a traveler's aide in the Chicago airport who offered to walk me to the Airport Hilton, which is accessed by walking through a tunnel between the two buildings. When I checked in at the desk at the hotel, he offered to take my luggage to my room when the clerk asked me if I wanted a bellhop. I didn't want to be rude since he had taken the time to walk me over. I said I thought it would be OK. Well, when I got to my room, he tried to make some advances and force his way into my room. I should have just told the clerk that I would prefer a bellhop and not have worried about hurting his feelings.
9. When you are flying through airports, particularly Chicago, the traveler's aides will often try to put you in a special services room. Unless you would prefer this, don't hesitate to be firm in telling them where you would really like to wait. Several blind people have found that for some reason, the traveler's assistants don't like leaving them in a bar. Just make sure you know where the appropriate gate is or ask for assistance to the correct gate far enough in advance.
10. Traveler's aides will usually bring a wheelchair when meeting and assisting any disabled person, even if you are not in need of one. Many will not insist you ride in it unless you would like to. If they try to insist, I always just give they my carry-on bag to put in it.
11. Give a bus driver a reminder of your stop, especially if you are on a long trip. Most drivers are good about mentioning each town but there are some who don't. It is helpful if you sit close to the front so they see you. That in itself reminds many drivers of your request.
12. Have a copy of the exact address of the place you are going. When an airport shuttle or taxi comes, the driver may not always understand English well. He might not know where a specific hotel is, especially if there are several with the same name such as Courtyard Marriott. I was taken to the wrong hotel once because the addresses were similar and the driver and I misunderstood each other. When he repeated the street, I thought he said the correct one. I was able to get an airport shuttle back to the correct one, but if I had shown him the address instead of telling him, the mistake would have been avoided.
I hope on your next trip you will find these suggestions helpful. Happy traveling.
Beginning with the careful placement of natural pigment on cave walls during the prehistoric era, humankind has tried to convey information to those who could not be present when the "speaker" was delivering the message. Whatever the reason for those early attempts to "mass-communicate," communicate they did.
Thousands of years later, humankind found that the spoken word could be placed onto a fixed surface of stone, clay or bark, in a set of symbols whose meaning could be taught to others. The message could then be clearly passed down through the generations. Messages could be sent without the danger of the courier forgetting a part of the message; reliable tallies could be kept of a nation's wealth; and accurate histories made so that the deeds of heroes would not be forgotten.
The ability to mass-produce the written word through the invention of the printing press facilitated the dissemination of information, and made it possible for revolutionary ideas to find their way into the hands and hearts of those not in power. Many points of view could be written and read.
With the advent of radio and television, the written word had to share the limelight with a medium that did not require the receiver to be able to read the printed word. The cost of access to broadcasting facilities continued to mean that only those who had personal wealth or access to those with it could get their message out.
The marriage of the printed word with electronic word processing inevitably led to the advent of electronic desktop publishing. This medium allowed those with only a little cash and know-how to bring their thoughts and ideas to the masses.
As demonstrated by the preceding examples, the overall history of communication is not made up of a single thread, but of many threads twisted together into a strong rope of interlocking ideas and issues. The cave painting was subject to individual interpretation, with the painter's message possibly not being truly understood by the viewer. The writer may mean one thing by his/her choice of words, while the reader comes to an entirely different conclusion. Both the painter and the writer require that the intended receiver of the message be "educated" in the use of the medium being employed. The viewer of the painting must understand the use of the pictorial metaphor, the reader must not only know how to read, but what the words mean to the writer. The medium of the message has, from time to time, become the message itself.
The current favorite of electronic publishing is the World Wide Web. With this medium, individuals can pull together words, sounds and pictures to convey thoughts and ideas. They can place their "page" on the Internet for all to see, hear and understand, but does the message really get to be accessed by "all" who would want to partake?
It should not come as a surprise to most readers of "The Braille Forum" that we, as people who are blind or visually impaired and users of adaptive technology, are experiencing difficulties in accessing the graphical user interface. We all know of the problems that blind computer users have had in using Windows. We have heard of the successes and failures of those who are working to bring us full accessibility to this method of information access. You may have believed that things were improving, albeit slower than we would like. While we have been focusing on access to Windows environments, we may have been forgetting that access to information is not comprised of a single thread. The same twisted rope that makes up the history of communication applies to access to information by blind and visually impaired people as well.
The World Wide Web is not only growing in size, but in importance in the electronic global village. Children are being taught with web pages, health care is being managed on the Web, and bank accounts are being balanced in cyberspace, just to name a few examples. Your television, your transit system, your office and your community are all becoming a part of the World Wide Web.
The American Library Association has been advocating for low cost Internet access in public libraries so that those who cannot afford to own a computer with a connection to the Internet can be guaranteed equal access to information. President Clinton has made bringing the Internet into every classroom a priority of his second term so that children can have the benefits of a truly global education. The passage of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 includes language that strives to guarantee access to the Internet for people who are blind and visually impaired. None of these efforts will bring about any guarantees without public support and action.
We as the people being directly affected by the accessibility of the Web need to see to it that we can access the medium and the message. There are many ways that a Web page can be designed; some of them easily accessed with adaptive technology and others that defy access by any means currently available. We need to see to it that those publishing on the Web know the difference between the two types and that they embrace the concept of universal design that will keep the information door open to blind and visually impaired users.
When a Web Master, the person in charge of a web page, begins to design a page, he/she makes a number of stylistic choices. Will the page be "frame" based, allowing a grid-like format? Will all pictures include "Alt Tags" which provide captions to the pictures for those who cannot see, who do not have access to the graphical image, or who choose not to take the time to download them onto their computer screens? When sound clips are used, will a text version of the segment be provided for those who cannot hear or who do not have the necessary equipment to play them? Each of these situations either expands or limits the possible audience of a page.
Projects such as those at the Trace Center in Madison, Wis.; WGBH's National Center for Accessible Media in Boston, Mass.; and the Center for Applied Special Technology in Peabody, Mass., are all working to define what makes a Web page accessible. These projects, either individually or collectively, cannot guarantee that a blind or visually impaired person will be able to access a particular page on the World Wide Web, but your efforts can!
The American Council of the Blind and other organizations of and for the blind are asking you to join with us by taking direct action. When you are browsing the World Wide Web, send us the name and URL (uniform resource locator) of any web page that you find particularly easy to use. Let us know what browser you are using, such as Internet Explorer, Netscape, or Lynx, and what speech, large print or braille technology you are using on your computer. In addition, let us know about web sites that are difficult or inaccessible to you. By return e-mail, we will provide you with documents and strategies that you can use to educate Web Masters when you find a Web page that is not easily accessed.
Send your e-mail messages to [email protected] with the words "Project Web Access" as the subject line. Remember to give the entire URL for a web page such as http://www.acb.org in your message. We will get back to you with additional information.
This project is only the first stage of what we expect to be several direct actions that ACB will be asking you to take part in over the next few months. You may have ideas of your own on how ACB can bring these issues to the attention of those with the power to improve our access to the information age. If you do, please share them with us.
As we work together to guarantee our future in the information age, remember that untangling the Web is at least in part the responsibility of those of us who use it. ACB's commitment to making the Web as enabling as possible for all people who are blind and visually impaired is strong, and we need your assistance to accomplish this goal.
Elaine Smith, an Oregonian who uses a guide dog, has settled her lawsuit with the Kim Hong Restaurant. The case grew out of a situation that occurred on Sunday, October 6, 1996, when Smith and her dog, Darwin, entered the Portland restaurant after church to have lunch. The manager informed her that he would not permit animals in the restaurant. Smith showed him a copy of the Oregon statute which requires guide dogs to be given special consideration when accompanying their blind handlers. But the manager was adamant; he stated that he did not want to read the law and would not abide by it in any event.
The Portland-based law firm of DuBoff & Ross represented Smith. Shortly after the suit was filed, the restaurant capitulated. The restaurant paid her an undisclosed amount plus her attorneys' fees, and agreed that it would never discriminate against guide dog users and that it would abide by the law. An order requiring this compliance will be entered in Multnomah County Circuit Court.
ACBRA will hold its annual meeting at the ACB national convention on Thursday, July 10, 1997, from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. At that time, there will be election of officers and we will vote on acceptance of the latest revision of the ACBRA constitution.
In addition, you will have plenty of time to meet other hams, swap stories, and discuss any problems you might be having with new technology. If you have QSL cards, bring a few with you for exchanging. As soon as you know whether you can attend, send me a note or QSL card. That would help us in our planning.
Don't let your lack of a ham license stop you from enjoying one of the most varied and exciting hobbies anywhere. Many have written to inquire where to get tapes for study for ham licensing. At present, I can recommend two sources for teaching tapes for exam and code preparation: W5YI and the Gordon West tapes: (800) 669-9594. Tape sets range from $9.95 for the novice class to $19.95 for the extra class. These tapes are valid until July when the test question pool will change. Updates will probably be available after July for the new questions. Courage Handi-Hams (612) 520-0512 or (612) 520-0515. Tapes are $1 per tape with sets ranging from $4 to $17. Handi-Hams charges a required $10 annual membership fee. This is necessary to certify visual or reading disability.
You have the phone numbers. Make the big call for information and open the door to a world of communication. Contact Robert Rogers (K8CO), (513) 762-4022; e-mail [email protected], or write to the following address: 1121 Morado Dr., Cincinnati, OH 45238.
VIDPI has invited Chuck Opperman from Microsoft to speak on its convention program on Sunday, July 6, from 11 a.m. until noon. The program title is "Microsoft Accessibility." Opperman will be talking about Microsoft Active Accessibility, Active Accessibility for Java and Microsoft Office 97 along with giving away CDs for everyone along with other "goodies." If you're interested, mark your calendars and be there.
The Capital District chapter of the ACB of New York recently provided funds for a blind teenager to attend the Adirondack Experience, a program held at Lake Placid that includes a high ropes course, hiking and rappelling, camping, canoeing, swimming, suspension ladder climbing, and more. For more information, contact Pat Miller at the North Country Association for the Visually Impaired, North Elba Town Hall, P.O. Box 1338, Lake Placid, N.Y. 12946, or John Marshall at the St. Francis Academy, 50 Riverside Dr., Lake Placid, N.Y. 12946.
(Editor's Note: The authors are active members of the California Council of the Blind. Both have held or currently hold positions on various national committees of the American Council of the Blind.)
At one time or another, all of us have wished we could know who was calling before we picked up the phone. For sighted telephone users, this option has been available in many parts of the country for several years. Sighted phone users need only look at the display in the box installed between their telephone jack and the telephone itself to know the number, and in many cases, the name of the individual making the call. Those of us who are unable to see the small displays have only dreamed about such options þ until now. Caller ID is a service which is available in California and many areas throughout the nation. It works by detecting coded data sent through the phone line from the calling exchange to the exchange where you are. Of course, besides having the service from the phone company which brings the coded information to you, you need the equipment to decode and display this information.
As it came time for Caller ID to come to California, the marketing group of Pacific Bell's Deaf and Disabled Services advocated for accessible Caller ID equipment for blind and visually impaired customers. By the time Caller ID service was introduced to the California market in July 1996, the marketing group's advocacy had resulted in the availability of a talking caller ID receiving device which would tell you not only the number calling now, but also numbers which had called while you were not present. Sighted users receive this information from a visual display.
Pacific Bell Deaf and Disabled Services can refer you to the source for this unit. However, Pac Bell has no plans to market it or to advertise its availability. In the past, we have often learned that something has been made available in accessible form þ like the L.L. Bean catalog on cassette þ only to discover upon inquiry that it had been discontinued for lack of requests. How can you request something you don't know about? This article is our attempt to see that such a thing doesn't happen in this case. About the Equipment:
The Pacific Bell unit is not an answering machine or anything but a caller ID box, measuring approximately 7 by 6 by 2 inches. It not only speaks the incoming number, but allows you to review numbers, dates, and times of up to 90 previous calls which have created at least one ring on your telephone line. You can also program up to nine "tags" for frequently received numbers such as "Mom calling" or "Grandpa Bob." Its digitized voice is very clear. Installation involves simply plugging the device into the phone cord from the wall jack and plugging the phone into it. You should put a nine-volt battery (not included) into the device to protect it from memory loss in case of power failure.
Pacific Bell customers may order the Aastra 8090 Caller ID box that speaks the numbers by calling Deaf and Disabled Services at (800) 772-3140 so customer service representatives can transfer you to Innotrac, the distributor. This transfer gives you a $10 discount on the price of the equipment. If you are not a Pac Bell customer you can call Innotrac direct (toll-free) at (888) 755-2355. The unit is $99.95 plus shipping. A five-month installment plan is also available at no extra charge.
We are well-acquainted with our unit and are learning information we never had access to before. We hope you enjoy yours too!
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.
The National Lekotek Center is seeking a Director of Programs. Lekotek provides model programs and outreach to children with disabilities and their families nationwide. The director of programs is responsible for the design, development, implementation and evaluation of all the center's programs. Other duties include overseeing affiliate sites and serving on the management team. For details, call (847) 328-0001; fax your resume and cover letter to (847) 328-5514.
The 1997 National Church Conference of the Blind will meet in Denver, Colo., July 27-31. There will be music, Bible studies, seminars and tours. For more information, call (303) 789-7441 or write NCCB, P.O. Box 163, Denver, CO 80201.
Black Hills State University is hosting a visually impaired people's retreat from July 24 through August 2. The program may include classes on various history and government topics, music, art and theater, Native American crafts and culture, as well as trips to the Black Hills, Devil's Tower, Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse Mountain, Bear Butte and Deadwood, as well as occasional concerts or pow-wows and rodeos. For more information, contact Ms. Verla Fish, Director, Continuing Education, Black Hills State University, Spearfish, SD 57799-9508; phone (605) 642-6407, fax (605) 642-6031, or e-mail [email protected]
The 10th World Conference of the International Council for Education of People with Visual Impairment will convene in Sao Paulo, Brazil, August 3-9, 1997. The theme is "Stepping Forward Together: Families and Professionals as Partners in Achieving Education for All." For registration materials, contact Ivone Costa, Coordinator, ICEVI 10th World Conference, c/o Laramara, Rua Conselheiro Brotero, 338-Barra Funda, 01154-000 Sao Paulo, Brazil.
The 1997 Seoul International Conference on Disability will be held September 24-29 at the Hotel Lotte in Seoul, Korea. Also included will be the Asia & Pacific Regional Conference of Rehabilitation International. This conference marks the midpoint of the decade of disabled people (1993-2002). For more information, write to the Korean Society for Rehabilitation of Persons with Disabilities, Boramae Park, 400, Shindaebang 2 Dong, Dongjak-gu, 156-012, Seoul, Korea.
The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped will hold a meeting in September 1997 to address concerns of blind and physically handicapped individuals. Participants will evaluate library services while looking toward the reading needs of the future. Further details will be available later in 1997.
This fall, National Public Radio will broadcast a documentary series called "Beyond Affliction." It's the history of America's disability community. During the week the series airs, five hours of "Talk of the Nation" will be devoted to the series; the first two hours will be hosted by John Hockenberry, author of "Moving Violations." Also during the week, "All Things Considered" and "Morning Edition" will run special stories created with the series. More information will be available closer to air time.
If you are a blind engineer, mathematician or scientist, you may be interested in the Technical Braille Center that is being established. It will produce highly technical materials in braille or in a special file format. Mathematics will be done in Nemeth code. Tactile graphics will be included where practical. Books will be available to anyone at prices dependent upon the cost of production. To secure funding to get the center started, information is needed on how many people might use it and the kinds of technical materials that are needed most. Contact John J. Boyer at Computers to Help People, Inc., 825 E. Johnson St., Madison, WI 53703; phone (608) 257-5917, or e-mail him at [email protected]
Guitar by Ear is a new guitar course for the visually impaired. It's all on cassette. It was created by Bill Brown, who has been teaching guitar for more than 25 years. It costs $34.95, which includes shipping and access to a tuning hotline (in case students need help tuning their guitars). To order it, send a check for $34.95 to Bill Brown, 704 Habersham Rd., Valdosta, GA 31602. For more information, contact him at (912) 249-0628.
"Atlas of the Middle East" is a collection of tactile maps of that region. It covers 17 countries from Egypt in the west, Turkey in the north, Iran in the east, Yemen in the south, and all countries large and small in between. The countries are arranged alphabetically; each country is introduced by a page of facts in braille, followed by key information and a full-page map (and in some cases, two maps) showing major cities, physical features and points of interest. Both the maps and the facts are adapted from "The World Today Series: The Middle East and South Asia," 1996, by Malcolm B. Russell. Five introductory maps provide an overall view of the Middle East. These maps show the location of the Middle East in the Eastern hemisphere, boundaries of the 17 countries, elevation, climate and location of oil fields. Some experience with tactile graphics is recommended. The atlas costs $20 including shipping; allow four to six weeks for delivery. Order it from the Princeton Braillists, 28-B Portsmouth St., Whiting, NJ 08759; phone (908) 350-3708.
Telesensory recently released ScreenPower for Windows 95, which allows braille-display users to work in graphic environments and surf the Internet with braille. It includes complete tactile and audio access as well as integrated braille and speech access so users can decide which information is spoken and which is shown in braille. It also offers two access modes: "overview mode," which provides an overview of the visual layout of the screen and the ability to read by character, word, line or entire window; and "explore mode," which allows access to all Windows levels and eliminates the need for memorizing and guessing, according to the company. For more information, call Telesensory at (800) 286-8484.
NASA Johnson Space Center Learning Technologies Project has developed an information retrieval tool called Iliad that blind people can use to search the Internet. The text version is e-mail based and can be used with DOS screen readers. To receive instructions, send e-mail to [email protected] with the subject line reading "start iliad" (no quotes); Iliad will send you instructions. Or you can visit the Web page at http://www.jsc.nasa.gov/stb/iliad.html.
"Exchange Lists for Meal Planning," published by the American Diabetes Association and the American Dietetic Association, is available in braille. It contains the exchange lists, nutrition guidance, tips for selecting appropriate foods, a glossary and an index. The braille edition is 82 pages and costs $10. Contact the Louis Braille Center at the address below.
Also available are "A Child's Garden of Verses" by Robert Louis Stevenson, $10; "Winnie the Pooh," $15; "The House at Pooh Corner," $18, and "When We Were Very Young," $10, all by A.A. Milne. Ask for a free catalog in braille or print by contacting the Louis Braille Center, 320 Dayton St., Suite 125, Edmonds, WA 98020-3590; phone (206) 776-4042, or e-mail [email protected]
Version 11 of the World Series Baseball Game and Information System is now available. It is a computer game for IBM- compatibles. The user is the "manager" in the game, and has many offensive and defensive strategic options available. This version comes with 160 teams, including the 1996 pennant winners and all- star teams. There are two baseball games and 10 information programs. Baseball action during the game is described in the words of many of the famous radio and TV announcers. It costs $15 for new users and $5 for updates for old users. Send your check made payable to Harry Hollingsworth, 692 S. Sheraton Dr., Akron, OH 44319 or call (330) 644-2421.
The store at the Massachusetts Association for the Blind currently offers a talking tape recorder modified from an Aiwa Walkman. It allows the user to listen to AM/FM radio, NLS- formatted tapes and standard two-track tapes. It weighs 8.2 ounces and measures 4 3/4" x 3 1/2" x 1 1/4". It costs $155; add $7.50 for shipping and handling (Massachusetts residents add $7.75 for sales tax). For more details, or to order, call (617) 732-0246, or write the MAB Store, 200 Ivy St., Brookline, MA 02146, or visit the store's web site at http://www.tiac.net/users/mablind.
Marty Waters, a graduate student preparing his doctoral dissertation, is looking for 37 brain-injured blind people who read braille. He is attempting to develop a neuropsychological test to detect brain damage among the blind. The test takes less than 15 minutes to administer. If you can help, please call Marty at (209) 642-6823.
Ferguson Enterprises has many new products in stock, including computers set up and ready to ship with your choice of screen reader on it: ASAP and ASAW, JAWS and/or JFW, outSPOKEN for Windows, Vocal-Eyes and/or Window-Eyes, or TinyTalk. The company offers such screen magnification programs as Magic, Magic lite, LP- DOS and LP-DOS Deluxe, Zoomtext, and Zoomtext Deluxe. Any of these can be installed on your computer and fully tested before shipping. The company also has replacement parts for computer repairs.
Also, if you want to turn your computer into a reading machine, Ferguson has An Open Book Unbound software and scanners to do that. If you're looking for computer games, Ferguson has Any Night Football, Baseball, Classic Text Adventure Masterpieces, Fox and Hounds, Guess the Capitals, Mobius Mountain, Monopoly, Shooting Range, Tenpin Bowling and more. For more information, contact Ferguson Enterprises, 104 Anderson Ave., Manchester, S.D. 57353- 5702; phone (605) 546-2366; e-mail [email protected]; or web site http://www.fergusonenterprises.com.
ISIS/Transaction Publishers offers a wide variety of books in large print. To request a free copy of the 1997 catalog, call (888) 999-6778. The catalog is available in regular print and large print; please specify which version you would like.
Mobility International USA recently published the third edition of "A World of Options: A Guide to International Exchange, Community Service and Travel for Persons with Disabilities." Included in the book are such topics as: rights of disabled people to participate in international opportunities; educational exchange programs and community service projects; organizations concerned with the education of students with disabilities and international perspectives on disability; financial aid and fund-raising; information about transportation, hotels, camping, etc.; and personal experience stories. The book is available in perfect bound or spiral bound, as well as alternative formats. To order, send check or money order in U.S. dollars to Mobility International USA, P.O. Box 10767, Eugene, OR 97440. The cost is $30 for individuals; $40 for organizations. Add $5 for shipping and handling on U.S. orders, $10 for international orders.
Is your brailler getting a little sluggish? Alan Ackley can fix it. He was trained at Howe Press and uses only factory parts. He has restored more than 1,500 braillers. Turnaround is quick, charges are reasonable, and all work is guaranteed. For more information, call him at (515) 288-3931, e-mail him at [email protected], or ship your brailler to Ackley Appliance Service, 627 E. 5th St., Des Moines, IA 50309.
The Lighthouse Inc. of New York City recently published a new series titled "Aging & Vision," a five-volume set that provides a compilation of resources for working with older visually impaired adults. It includes findings of the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research's study on the effectiveness of the older blind independent living program; a directory of programs and services for older adults; "The VisualEyes Curriculum and Workbook"; and "Creative Solutions to Program Needs," which reviews 400 programs serving older adults. It also has available "The Functional Vision Screening Questionnaire" in English, Spanish, Italian, German, French, Polish and Chinese and VisualEyes Simulators, which are cardboard eyeframes with plastic lenses demonstrating specific eye conditions such as peripheral loss or low contrast. For more information, contact The Lighthouse at (800) 334-5497.
"Speak To Me!" products has several new items in its spring/summer catalog, including a talking thermometer, voice 8000 caller ID, a musical angel boy with lamb that plays "What a Friend We Have in Jesus," a lighthouse clock, musical angels with instruments, Geo Safari talking globe, a talking insultilator (a machine that lets you program wacky and zany insults), a laughing rock, and many more. Also in the catalog is a preview of holiday items for early bird shoppers. For more information, or a catalog, contact the company at 17913 108th Ave. SE, Suite 155, Renton, WA 98055, or phone (800) 248-9965. Please specify whether you want a print, tape, or disk copy of the catalog.
Arkenstone Inc. recently released version 3 of An Open Book Unbound. Some new features are: background scanning (letting the user read one page while scanning another); a streamlined interface with a simplified beginner level; adjustable visual settings for dyslexic and low vision users; and the ability to use the browser to read almost any text or document file. It also includes the latest Caere Optical Character Recognition engine (including Language Analyst) for more accurate scans. The software is priced at $995; upgrades are priced on a sliding scale based on when the original software was purchased. Those interested in upgrades should contact their local dealer for more information; or contact Arkenstone at (800) 444-4443, or via the Internet at [email protected] or check the web site at http://www.arkenstone.org.
The National Education Legal Defense Service for the Blind was formed in 1988 to assist blind people in situations in which their rights are being violated. Recently NELDS was instrumental in lending a hand to some blind vendors in Alaska whose rights clearly had been violated.
Members of the Alaska Independent Blind learned that the Randolph-Sheppard Act was being applied incorrectly. Simply put, the act gives a blind person priority to operate a vending facility on state property.
The Alaska Division of Vocational Rehabilitation issued a vending stand operating license to an ineligible person. When Sandy Sanderson, president of the Alaska Independent Blind, confronted the division, acting director Stan Ridgeway laughed in his face. Ridgeway's unwillingness to take Sanderson seriously meant Assistant Attorney General Craig Black had to be notified. Unfortunately, he too thought this a comical situation.
Sanderson, chair of NELDS, sought the legal opinions of NELDS board members who were attorneys. They suggested NELDS hire an Alaskan attorney. Randall Farleigh was selected.
Farleigh of Farleigh and Shamburek wrote two letters to the division to investigate "a recent licensing award to [a] non-blind vending facility manager of a small business enterprise at the Alaska National Guard Armory at Fort Richardson, Alaska, notwithstanding a blind applicant had requested certification and licensing for the facility." Farleigh wanted clarification on whether the blind applicant was properly certified, and whether the "first priority" for blind people was being applied. The response the division gave was written by Stan Ridgeway. He stated that both blind people and those with other disabilities can be licensed to operate vending facilities on state property. "First priority" must be considered when selecting the proper person for a given facility. The letter states in part: "... the meaning of 'first priority' is not readily apparent from reading the statute. The division has raised this issue with the Attorney General's office, and has received advice on how to provide this 'first priority.'"
Ridgeway stated that if a blind person and a disabled person sought the same facility, and were equally qualified, and were both properly certified, the blind person would get the priority. Only if the blind applicant declined would the facility be offered to the person with another disability. A blind former licensee would receive priority over a current disabled licensee.
Ridgeway also stated that there was a "full-scale rewrite" of its regulations, so that future regulations will account for priority given to blind vending facility managers.
Farleigh mentioned in his reply that Alaska Independent Blind would like to comment on and participate in any regulations the division would come up with to clarify the priority given to blind vending facility managers. He said that AIB would like to receive copies of any regulations so that it could fully participate in the public comment process period. If vending manager positions become open, AIB would like to be notified of such openings so that it could notify blind people about those openings. Farleigh also asked that his firm receive any future regulations regarding the Business Enterprise Program.
This kind of advocacy is what NELDS is involved in. No money from NELDS was expended only some technical support. To contact NELDS, call (800) 249-1414.
FOR SALE: Used Vantage 14-inch CCTV and Optelec 20-inch color Spectrum CCTV. Call Tom at (941) 349-5755.
FOR SALE: Telesensory Super Vista. New, complete, full two- year warranty. Asking $1,500 plus $10 shipping. Call (770) 534- 1463.
FOR SALE: Arkenstone reader, hotcard, with software and HP scanner, $500. If you need a computer, ask about the 386 at a reasonable price. Call Stan Lewis at (510) 778-7446.
FOR SALE: Braille Blazer. $800 or best offer. Contact Michael Todd at (717) 849-8214 or e-mail him at [email protected]
FOR SALE: Telesensory Versicolor CCTV. Includes manual. In excellent condition. Asking $1,500 or best offer. Call (516) 593- 9568 or (516) 887-5703 and ask for Carol Feuerstein.
WANTED TO BUY: A used regular electric typewriter in good working order. Can pay in the $50 range. Used CCTV in good working order; can pay about $100. Contact Patrice Means-Marlow at (301) 975-0171.
WANTED TO BUY: A used CCTV that has better than 20 percent magnification. Call Joseph Kamensky at (717) 693-1648.
WANTED TO BUY: A braille Baptist hymnal, with or without the notes. Contact Melissa Stafford in braille only at 5403 Penwood Dr., Raleigh, N.C. 27606.
If you think a doggie bag is something you get at a restaurant after a meal you can't finish, think again. Guide Dog Users, Inc.'s board of directors will have bags on hand at the three ACB convention hotels to help dog users attending the convention in Houston clean up after their dogs.
After reviewing the potential relief areas at the three hotels for the 1997 ACB convention, the following recommendations are being made. At the Adam's Mark, the relief area and placement of the trash can that were designated for the mid-year meeting are ideal for the summer; however, a few modifications will need to be made. There are square wooden poles with reflectors approximately four feet apart bordering the grass. Please be aware of these. The Marriott has an L-shaped grass plot adjacent to the garage. To get to the relief area at the Red Roof Inn, exit the back door, turn left and follow the building line to the end. There is a grass area on the right and a parking area on the left.
The plastic doggie (cleanup) bags will be available at the registration desks of the three hotels. Please remember that the dirtier and smellier a relief area, the more likely it is that dogs will not eliminate there, and the potential for accidents indoors will be increased.
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
20330 NE 20TH CT.
MIAMI, FL 33179
FIRST VICE PRESIDENT
57 GRANDVIEW AVE.
WATERTOWN, MA 02172
SECOND VICE PRESIDENT
825 M ST., SUITE 216
LINCOLN, NE 68508
556 N. 80TH ST.
SEATTLE, WA 98103
CRYSTAL TOWERS #206 NORTH
1600 S. EADS ST.
ARLINGTON, VA 22202
IMMEDIATE PAST PRESIDENT
2118 NW 21st St.
Oklahoma City, OK 73107
CONTRIBUTING EDITOR ELIZABETH M. LENNON, Kalamazoo, MI