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: Penny Reeder, THE BRAILLE FORUM, 1155 15th St. N.W., Suite 1004, 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.
All photos in this issue copyright 1999 by Ken Nichols.
It has probably not escaped the attention of anyone that the politicians running for president have repeatedly made it clear that they will not be bought off by special interest groups and they will make sure that there is campaign finance reform during their term. It's almost as if they have a four-year schedule to roll out, dust off, and play the same tape over and over again. What does this mean to ACB and why should we care? Clearly ACB has not been one of those interest groups that has anywhere near enough money to contribute anything to anybody. So from the perspective of soft money to political parties or contributions to individuals, the whole issue seems somewhat irrelevant to us. Think again. If we are not giving the politicians the money they need to fuel their campaigns, then who is? When they receive those important contributions either directly or through their parties, then who do they thank and how do they do it? Within the last two weeks alone there was a report from a public interest group that showed a connection between all the politicians seeking the presidency and some money sources. In one case it is alleged that the quantity of natural resources available to a company supporting one of the people running for president increased threefold overnight. Coincidence or contrivance? Again, what does all this mean to us? At the campaign contribution level, there are those people and companies who would be just as happy if our agenda were not successful as it relates to them having to do things they would rather not do. Environmental changes might prove negative to their bottom lines. Additional responsibilities would cost them money. So calling in political favors without ever making it public would be in their interests. Why then have we been as successful as we have been? There are at least two considerations that we must remember. The first is the absolute power of reasoned and correct advocacy, and the second is the number of votes we can influence. There is no question that articulating a position which is only fair attracts support even from politicians who know the position might not make all their campaign finance supporters happy. Moreover, a publicity campaign can reach critical numbers of voters who would see non-support of the cause by a politician as unacceptable. Oversimplified as this may be, we are left with an interesting question of soft money and hard choices. Politicians must both find the resources to run campaigns and yet make sure that they don't sell their souls in the process and of course make even more sure that they can get enough votes to be elected. Bad enough that they have to go through this process, but they have to do it every two years in the House of Representatives, every four years for the presidency and every six years for the Senate. Small wonder, therefore, that the issue keeps coming up. For our part, we need to understand what politicians have to face as they go through their careers and make sure our positions are well grounded and articulated along with keeping the public educated to the value of supporting our interests. We will continue to succeed as long as we stay faithful to our basic values and goals, and remember to keep in mind that soft money fuels a lot of campaigns, but many politicians have made the sometimes hard choices to stand with us in the knowledge that they are really doing the right thing.
Q: I've been hearing about the legislative seminar that is scheduled for March. But I'm really not sure what it is. Can you tell me what to expect? A: ACB has been sponsoring a legislative seminar for our members for about six years now. The seminar is a two-day event, during which we inform our members about the most pressing legislative issues of the day and offer training in advocacy skills that participants can put to good use when they visit their senators and representatives at the conclusion of the seminar. Q: Who contacts the senators and congresspersons? Is there a lot of logistical planning involved? A: The people who are coming to the seminar contact their representatives and senators before they come. Each participant is expected to make his or her own appointments with legislators. ACB prepares members for their meetings by helping them to get up to speed on the most important legislative and advocacy issues, and by giving them pointers about the best ways to present our issues. Q: So I guess this isn't an event for timid souls, or for people who aren't especially well-informed about blindness issues? A: Not so. This is an event for anyone who thinks it's important to speak up on behalf of blind people and the issues that are important to us. Congressmen and women, and senators, and their staff members thrive on interaction with the folks back home. These people aren't interested in speaking to the polished and programmed inside-the-Beltway types they can hear from anytime they turn on their TV sets. Senators and Congresspersons and their legislative aides like to hear our stories in real- life terms they can relate to! And we need to explain to our representatives what matters to us, and why. We hold the seminar, every year, to help average citizens learn how to describe the issues that are important to us in articulate and well-informed ways. We will translate all the jargon, and help our members to frame the issues that they care about in terms we can all understand. On the first afternoon, we will distribute a position paper, which will describe, in some detail, each of the legislative issues we hope our members will be presenting to their representatives on the hill. Since the Capitol Hill visits aren't scheduled until Monday morning (or even later in some cases), participants will have a lot of time to read the position paper and to study the issues in some detail. Q: So what happens at this seminar? A: Our affiliates all send representatives. When the representatives arrive, they will come, from the various airports in the area, to the Doubletree Park Terrace Hotel, which is located at 1515 Rhode Island Ave. NW. The seminar will begin at 1 p.m. on Saturday, March 18. We will spend that first afternoon talking about advocacy, and practicing the skills of advocacy. We hope to have some hands-on training going on. And we're determined to make this event feel relevant and practical! Participants will learn the skills which will make their meetings with senators and congresspersons effective. And our members will be able to take these same skills back home with them, to teach others in their ACB affiliates, and to use in solving local problems and working with others in their communities to make their lives better. Q: It sounds like Saturday will be a pretty intense day. Are there events planned for Saturday night? A: There are no formal meetings planned. But, you know the kind of people we are in ACB. We all enjoy getting together, getting reacquainted with old friends and meeting new people. We are working with Chelsea's, which is the club in Georgetown where the Capitol Steps perform, to see if they can offer seminar participants a package that includes dinner and the Capitol Steps' show. We're still ironing out the details, but as of right now, it looks like the package won't cost individuals more than $60. It should be a great evening -- good food and great entertainment, shared with old friends and new. Of course, attendance at the Capitol Steps' show is purely up to each individual member. D.C. is a city where no one has much trouble finding ways to while away the time. Q: What happens on Sunday? A: Sunday is the day when we get down to the "nitty gritty," and help our members sort out the details of the issues we're focusing on. ACB President Paul Edwards and Executive Director Charlie Crawford will each make presentations, as will members of the ACB Advocacy Committee, and staff members from the national office. We are making final arrangements for other speakers as well, but since we're still finalizing these plans, I am reluctant to name specific names or make promises. By the end of the day, all of the seminar participants will have a firm grasp of essential issues. We will all understand what's important, what we want, what to say, and how to say it! We will wrap up Sunday with the annual banquet, where good food and camaraderie will help us to relax, and where our speakers will rev us all up for the meetings which are scheduled to take place on the Hill on Monday. Q: Logistically, how do the planned events of Monday actually take place? A: We will provide bus transportation from the hotel to Capitol Hill. Once we're all there, we will gather in a "muster room" staffed by members of the ACB national office staff, as well as volunteers, who will act as sighted guides and way- finders. Then, we will all go to meet with our individual representatives, according to the appointments we have arranged in advance. All of us will go forth -- armed with the knowledge we've learned on Saturday and Sunday, as well as printed fact- sheets to distribute to our braille-impaired representatives and their staffs. At the conclusion of the morning, we will come back together to compare notes, fill out fact sheets which can provide detailed information about our meetings, so that ACB can follow up where appropriate, and to share a boxed lunch, and make plans to see one another again at the convention in Louisville. Q: Do you know yet what issues this year's legislative seminar will be focusing on? A: We have some ideas, but we won't start writing the actual position papers and compiling the fact sheets until we're closer to the event. Some of our issues are carry-over issues from last fall, since this is the second year of the Congressional session. Bills that were introduced last year still have a chance to be brought to the floor, or resurrected by advocates like ourselves in meaningful ways. One such bill is the one which was introduced last year by Rep. Capuano. The legislation would authorize Medicare funding to cover rehabilitation teaching and orientation and mobility training for older adults who become visually impaired. Access to information is always a hot issue -- and a significant problem -- for our members. So are pedestrian safety, access to transportation, and the issue of Social Security linkage. There's always more than enough to talk about and learn about. In some ways, prioritizing issues is the hardest part of planning the seminar. Q: How much does it cost to participate? And who pays for what? A: Each affiliate can send two representatives, whose hotel accommodations will be paid for by ACB. Everyone who comes should register. The registration fee of $50 will entitle each registrant to continental breakfasts on Sunday and Monday, to lunch on Monday, and to the Sunday-evening banquet. Participants are responsible for their own air fare, and for ground transportation to and from airports. Of course, we encourage anyone who is able to come to participate in the seminar and help ACB to be seen as a strong and united presence on the Hill. Our financial situation, however, permits us to cover hotel expenses for only two members of any given affiliate. Now That I Know What to Expect ... This mid-winter event sounds like a great way for members of ACB to become educated about important matters and to learn legislative and advocacy skills that can make a real difference - - in what happens on Capitol Hill during the coming months and the give-and-take of this election year, and in our states and local communities, where the events which impact our daily lives are often debated and decided. As a member of the National Capital Area Chapter of the ACB of Maryland, I plan to attend all the seminar events, and to schedule meetings with my congressperson, Rep. Connie Morella, and with Maryland's Sen. Paul Sarbanes and Sen. Barbara Mikulski. As editor of "The Braille Forum," I plan to cover the events to inform those of you who won't be able to attend. And as a new member of the national office, I look forward to meeting all of you, my fellow advocates-in-training, and members of the informed, committed and involved American Council of the Blind.
On December 1, 1999 ACB Radio went on the net and, ever since then, it has been beaming information of special interest to people who are blind all over the world via the Internet. While it would be nice to think of our members spending all of their time listening to ACB Radio, ours is one of literally thousands of "radio stations" on the Internet. And, in addition to live streaming, as "broadcasting" is called, there are areas where you can find files of audio that you can listen to as well. I have been listening to such files and radio stations for the past two years or so and, in that time, the fidelity and stability of audio signals over the Internet have both improved immensely. I want to use my message this month to talk with you about this mind-boggling new technology, ACB Radio and what all of us in ACB hope to accomplish with it. Since I want more of you to use this new system, I want to spend a few minutes talking about the kinds of hardware and software you need to listen to the Internet. Obviously you need a modem. This is the device that lets your computer talk to other computers using the phone lines. If you are really fortunate you may have a faster form of connection such as cable or ASDL but, for most of us, in the year 2000, modems are what we use. Next you will need a browser such as Microsoft Internet Explorer or Netscape Navigator. These programs use your modem and enable you to issue commands to get around on the Internet. Of course, you need a service provider, a company which you call up with your modem to get access to the Internet. You must also have a sound card and speakers attached to your computer. Finally -- and most crucially -- you need one or more audio file readers. There are several of these around and, unfortunately, there is not a single audio program that will allow you to access all of the programming on the Internet. Most of us who are audiophiles have settled upon at least three programs that we use. Two of the three programs are free and many of you with new computers and new web browsers probably have at least one loaded onto your computer already. Microsoft has produced what is called Windows Media Player which comes packaged with recent versions of Windows. Many radio stations use this platform to broadcast on the Internet. The second, and perhaps the most widely used program, is called Real Audio. Versions of it are available free but there are real advantages to spending the $30 to acquire a full-featured version of what is now Real Audio 7. The third program is called winamp and is free. Each of these programs has advantages. I will not presume to try to list them here. The good thing is that each of them recognizes the kind of file they are looking for and loads automatically once you choose a stream. They do not conflict with each other either, for the most part, so it is perfectly OK to have all three sitting on your computer at the same time. One quick word of warning. Each of these programs will try to persuade you to make it the default audio program. You should answer no to this question or you will find it harder to get to winamp. As with most areas of Windows, there are several ways of getting to audio content on the Internet. Each radio station has an address on the web, and you can get to that station by typing the address. There are also huge collections of radio stations that operate under the auspices of large companies such as broadcast.com or broadcastmusic.com. You can go to these sites and find a whole host of radio stations. It is beyond the scope of this article to spend much time on how to find most stations but I do want you to know how to get to ACB Radio and how to get connected to it. Again there are two ways. You can go directly to the ACB Radio web site by opening the site at http://www.acbradio.org, or you can get to the same place by opening ACB's web page at http://www.acb.org and then clicking on ACB on the radio. Once you get to the ACB Radio site you have some options. You can download the free winamp player, which is one way of listening to ACB Radio, or you can go directly to the link which says, "Listen to ACB Radio"; this will take you to another page where you can choose to listen either with winamp or with Real Audio 7 or higher. When you go to the ACB Radio page you will actually hear an ACB radio jingle and once you get to ACB Radio you will hear a broad range of programming that we hope will be even broader as time goes on. Before telling you about the content of ACB Radio and what our expectations are for its future, I want to tell you a little about how ACB Radio came to be. Several of us had read messages on the ACB list about an Internet radio station operated by a guy in New Zealand named Jonathan Mosen. When we listened to the station we were struck by several things. First, the whole operation seemed immensely professional. There were jingles, station breaks, live programs, old-time radio, music and a general air of competence that led Chris Gray, Brian Charlson and me to approach the board last September for authority to look into what it would take to start a station of our own. We agreed that, since there was no money in the budget, ACB Radio would start only if we could raise some money ourselves. Luckily for ACB, Florida met right after our board meeting and I was able to persuade that state to allocate $3,000 to the venture. Chris and Brian also raised funds but I do not know how much or from where. Our next task was to find somebody with the expertise to run such an operation, and that looked to be a very difficult task. Then, during my trip to New Zealand, I got to know this Jonathan Mosen person better -- partly because I stayed with him and his charming wife and two and a third children. For reasons well beyond the scope of this article, Jonathan felt he needed to resign from the position he had held and presto, I was able to persuade him to run ACB Radio for us. He was an obvious choice since he had already done it with MBS-FM and, once I had cleared things with all the appropriate folks back in the states, we were ready to run. My account makes it sound as though everything simply fell into place -- and to some extent that is true. Nevertheless, it is a tribute to Jonathan's stamina and ability that he was prepared to accept an on-air date of December first which -- by the time the final arrangements had been made -- was only three weeks away. The date was met and ACB Radio has grown from strength to strength ever since. As we envision ACB Radio it ought to be a place where blind people all over the world can go to get information about things they are interested in knowing more about. It also ought to be a place where blind people can demonstrate their creativity by preparing programs that we will then stream to the world. ACB is already broadcasting three absolutely new programs produced by people who are blind, and we are making arrangements to broadcast many more. We hope to persuade people from all over the world to provide us with programming. In addition, we hope that we can formalize arrangements with national organizations of blind people in various countries to make materials available for broadcast on ACB Radio. We broadcast a live, Internet call-in program on Saturdays at 5 p.m. Eastern time which usually features an interview with one or more people, on a topic or issue of importance to people who are blind. Listeners can either use a regular phone to call into the show, or they can call using a special program with their computer called Buddy Phone. That program is also available for free download from our ACB Radio site. Perhaps the coolest thing about broadcasting on the Internet is that you can use your computer to create programming. For well under $100 you can purchase the equipment and software you need to become a program creator. ACB is hoping that several of our members who want to become producers will want to become involved in this activity. We are, in fact, planning to have an all-day training program for would-be broadcasters the day before our convention starts in Louisville this summer. It is our hope that we will not only be able to increase program content this way but that we will also be able to tap into the production capabilities of our members! We are also hoping that radio reading services will like what we do well enough to think about carrying ACB Radio part of the week on their stations. I hope that this article has excited you about the potential of ACB Radio to revolutionize the way we disseminate information. One of the really neat things about ACB Radio is that you can listen to it while doing other things with your computer as long as you have a separate synthesizer and sound card. We hope that many of you will make a habit of having ACB Radio on whenever your computer is running. We hope that within the next year, when a blind person wants to get the latest information on issues pertaining to blindness, he or she will automatically tune into ACB Radio on the Internet. Most blind people learn best by listening and ACB Radio will not only be the place to find information but also the place where the talents of blind musicians can be showcased. We are already encouraging blind people who have made CD's to send them to ACB Radio. We will play your music and will announce who you are and how people can get in touch with you. If you are having problems getting yourself up and running, send an e-mail to Jonathan through our ACB Radio site. I know he will try to help. Maybe chapters could meet somewhere where a computer can be tuned in to ACB Radio so that more members will have a chance to see what we are doing. By the way, when we are not broadcasting blindness stuff, we are broadcasting old-time radio. As our station break says, ACB Radio is truly "out of sight!"
The annual presentation of awards recognizing outstanding dedication, distinguished service, and achievement by and/or for blind and visually impaired people has become an eagerly anticipated event at American Council of the Blind national conventions. These awards present truly exciting opportunities for us to make sure that the heroes and heroines in our lives receive the recognition they deserve! How unfortunate it is that we all too often wait until someone is no longer alive to recognize their achievements and contributions. Isn't it much more gratifying to salute those who have contributed positively to our lives while they are among us! Without you, the process simply doesn't work. But with your help and your very easily crafted and submitted letters of nomination, our awards can do much to uplift and change lives -- for gratitude truly motivates people to stay involved and active. There's no better way to show your gratitude and encourage those who have made a difference to continue doing so than by nominating them for one of ACB's prestigious awards. The Awards Committee is currently seeking nominations for the year 2000 awards. Please send your letters of nomination directly to the ACB National Office, 1155 15th St. NW, Suite 1004, Washington, DC 20005. Nominations are due by April 15, 2000. For your information, criteria for the several ACB awards are: The Robert S. Bray Award, which was established in 1975 in memory of the late chief of what is now the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, is presented periodically in recognition of outstanding work in extending library services or access to published materials, or improving communications devices or techniques. The Durward K. McDaniel Ambassador Award recipient is selected each year from among blind candidates who, through their lives, associations, and activities, have demonstrated their integration into and their interaction with the life of the community. It is not necessary that the candidate be a member of or active in any organizations of the blind, or be engaged in work for the blind. The George Card Award is presented periodically to an outstanding blind person who has contributed significantly to the betterment of blind people in general. This award is not limited by locality or by nature of the contribution. The ACB Distinguished Service Award is given to a sighted individual who has made substantive contributions to the field of blindness. The award will be given as warranted. Remember to send in your nominations by April 15, 2000. Affiliate Awards The awards listed below are for state and special-interest affiliates, not individuals. Criteria are as follows: The ACB Membership Development Award seeks to recognize a state or special-interest affiliate with the highest percentage of membership increase over the previous year. In 2000, the percentage of increase of membership will be calculated by comparing the membership total reported by the state or special-interest affiliate to the ACB national office as of March 15, 2000, to the affiliate membership total recognized by the 1999 Credentials Committee. Affiliates need to be certain that they get their membership lists and counts in to the national office by March 15. The Creative Outreach Award is available to state and special-interest affiliates to recognize innovative outreach projects or programs. "Outreach" is defined as any activity other than fund-raising, which is designed to acquire or retain members, educate the public about blindness, and about the affiliate. Projects to be considered include but are not limited to: public education, public relations, public service announcements, and web page development. The outreach effort must result in some measurable success. Incidental income derived from a project or program will not disqualify a state or special-interest affiliate from being considered for this award. State affiliates are encouraged to recognize meritorious local chapter outreach efforts; local chapters are not eligible to receive this award. Nominations for this award must be submitted by the president of a state or special-interest affiliate, and must include a description of the project, its goals, and outcomes. Nominations must also be received by April 15, 2000. Copies of video clips, radio spots, newspaper articles, or other appropriate evidence of impact of the outreach project or program should be attached to the letter of nomination. The project or program must originate in, but not necessarily be concluded in, 1999. CAPTION: Alan Beatty, president of ACB Lions, took a break from the hectic pace of the convention session to smile for the camera. Upon his affiliate's winning the ACB Membership Development Award, he said, "Next year we'll double it again!"
History Early in the fall of 1999, the commanding officer at Fort Lee, Va., announced his intention to compete the renewal of his troop feeding contract under open competition procurement rules. Under these open competition bidding rules, the Virginia Department for the Visually Handicapped (VDVH), which is the recognized Virginia state licensing agency under the Randolph-Sheppard Act, could submit a proposal, and if VDVH's proposal were to fall within the competitive range, the troop feeding contract could be expected to be awarded to the VDVH Randolph-Sheppard business enterprise program. Even though VDVH's bid might not necessarily be the lowest bid, VDVH could be expected, because of the Randolph-Sheppard priority, to be awarded the troop-feeding contract. In order to stop the intended issuance of a request for proposals for the Fort Lee troop feeding renewal contract under these open bidding conditions, on October 29, 1999, the National Industries for the Severely Disabled (NISH) and its associated non-profit agency, Goodwill Industries of Richmond, Va., filed a lawsuit in the Alexandria division of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia seeking to enjoin open bidding for the Fort Lee troop feeding renewal contract. The NISH complaint The court complaint contends that the Randolph-Sheppardd Act and its priority in favor of licensed blind vendors is not recognized in the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR), and that therefore the state licensing agency should never be an appropriate bidder for a military troop feeding contract. The court complaint also asserts that the troop feeding renewal contract at Fort Lee, Va., should not be competed for under open bidding conditions, but rather should properly have been set aside under the provisions of the Javits-Wagner-O'Day Act for assignment by NISH to Goodwill Industries of Richmond, Va. The court complaint named the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of the Army as co-defendants. While the General Counsel of the Defense Department had already issued a legal memorandum stating that the Randolph-Sheppard Act and its priority did apply to troop feeding contracts such as that up for renewal at Fort Lee, Va., there were officials within the Army who had disputed this finding, and had taken a position -- similar to that set forth in the NISH court complaint -- that the Randolph-Sheppard state licensing agencies should not be permitted to compete for troop feeding contracts. ACB and others intervene If the NISH complaint were to be sustained in the pending litigation, or even agreed to by the federal defendants as part of a settlement in the case, then the decision would gravely undermine the Randolph-Sheppard Act priority. The Business Enterprise Programs in several states might then be deprived of their very lucrative troop feeding locations. Confronted with these distressing prospects, on December 16, 1999, the American Council of the Blind, the Randolph-Sheppard Vendors of America (RSVA), and the National Educational and Legal Defense Service for the Blind and Visually Impaired (NELDS) made formal written application to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia to intervene in the NISH lawsuit as parties- intervenor-as-of-right, in order to contest the allegations made by NISH and to staunchly protect the vitality of the Randolph-Sheppard Act and its priority favoring licensed blind vendors. Initially, the court set a hearing date of December 30 to evaluate the application to intervene. However, NISH submitted a written opposition to the application for intervention-as-of- right, and ACB and its partners submitted a written reply supporting their application to intervene. The District Court then cancelled the December 30 hearing indicating that it would decide the matter of the requested intervention-as-of-right based upon their review of the written submissions of counsel. Other consumer groups become involved On December 30, 1999, the National Federation of the Blind and the Vending Facilities Vendors Council (VFVC), the elected committee of blind vendors in Virginia, also filed applications to intervene in the NISH lawsuit. I anticipate that NISH will also oppose this latest application to intervene, and that the court will decide this later intervention application on the basis of written submissions of counsel. Meanwhile, the initial federal defendants have not yet filed their responsive pleading in the case. It is very surprising that the VDVH and other Randolph-Sheppard state licensing agencies along with the National Council of State Agencies for the Blind (NCSAB) have thus far decided to sit on the sidelines and let the consumer groups of the blind fight their legal battle for them. They are more conspicuous by their absence among the parties attempting to intervene in the NISH case. The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia has local procedural rules containing very demanding time deadlines, which the local bar refers to as "the rocket docket." The NISH lawsuit and the pending applications for intervention have been assigned to district judge Gerald Bruce Lee. ACB's legal team anticipates that Judge Lee will make a decision on the intervention applications by the end of January 2000. Hopefully, ACB and its partners will be permitted to participate in the NISH lawsuit as full parties defendant. ACB will keep its members and friends informed of developments in the NISH lawsuit as they occur.
Although the first "national championship" blind bowling tournament in the USA was conducted in 1948, the sport is known to have been enjoyed by blind people several decades earlier. Several residential schools for the blind are known to have had bowling lanes as part of their physical education facilities as far back as the 1920s. The push for making the sport available to blind people beyond their student years came in the 1940s and was urged by, among many others, enthusiastic and dedicated leaders and workers such as Roy Ward of Richmond, Va., Leroy Price of Williamsport, Pa., Merritt Clark of Albany, N.Y., the late Holland Horton of Chicago, Ill., and the late Arthur Copeland of Brooklyn, N.Y. For the first 40 years following that initial championship tournament, 10-pin bowling was one of the most popular sports activities enjoyed by blind people in America; by the mid-1980s the Memorial Day weekend national tournament of the American Blind Bowling Association (ABBA) was attracting over 1,500 people from the USA and Canada while serving also as an invaluable organizational training ground for countless leaders in other blindness-related organizations. Some of the reasons for this popularity included the general popularity of bowling and the general availability of bowling lanes, the eventual development and adoption by the ABBA of a standardized guide rail for the use of totally blind and low-vision bowlers, and, very importantly, the adoption and enforcement by the ABBA of rules mandating the placement of totally blind bowlers on teams engaging in competitions sanctioned by the ABBA. International recognition In spite of the popularity of 10-pin bowling among the blind in the USA and Canada, the sport did not, until very recent years, enjoy such popularity in most other countries. Some of the reasons for this situation were the fact that other forms of bowling (such as lawn bowling and nine-pin bowling) were traditional favorites among the general public and the fact that a widely accepted guidance system for totally blind and low- vision bowlers had not been developed or obtained. However, in 1997 the International Blind Sports Association (IBSA) adopted bowling in its various international forms as official sports to be promoted pending the adoption of uniform rules to be applied internationally. Whether a sport is adopted by IBSA for recognition and sanctioning for purposes of international competition is not based on the total number of people engaging in that sport (such as the large number in the USA and Canada) but rather the number of different countries engaging in it on an organized basis. Since there were no international rules governing bowling by blind athletes at that time, it was recognized by several interested nations that it would be productive to conduct competitions and conferences to try out the various rules and to develop recommendations for consideration by IBSA in its rule-making process. Although interest in such an event was immediate in the USA, two small nations on opposite sides of the globe, Finland and Singapore, were the first to schedule such events, both in 1997. Because of my long-standing interest in 10-pin bowling as a past president and life member of the ABBA and the winner of several national championships over the years, I was invited to both events. Unfortunately, I was not able to attend the event in Singapore due to prior professional commitments, but it was my good fortune to be able to attend the outstanding event held in Finland. At this point I can almost hear the readers of this article asking why there was a need for playing rules for a sport that had already been in existence for hundreds of years. After all, isnžt the object of the game to roll a large ball down a smooth lane and to knock down as many milk-bottle-shaped pins as possible? Yes, that is the basic objective, but, as far as visually impaired bowlers are concerned, consideration must be given to such factors as differing levels of performance due to differences in visual acuity, the extent to which totally blind bowlers can compete successfully with the greatest degree of independence, the need for a guidance system to give such independence, the need for an equalizing handicap system of some sort to make it possible for lower average bowlers to compete with higher average bowlers, and the importance of requiring teams to include totally blind or low-vision bowlers rather than recruiting only legally blind bowlers requiring few if any accommodations. In the USA over the decades, the prevailing policy has been to follow the bowling rules used by the American Bowling Congress or other generally recognized sanctioning authorities, deviating only to the slight extent necessary to accommodate totally blind or very low vision bowlers. The philosophy of the very well run bowling competition and rules conference held in Finland in late 1997 followed universally accepted bowling rules to the maximum possible extent and gave each of the six nations present an opportunity to describe the bowling programs in their countries and to discuss any variations therefrom. Each bowler was placed in one of three visual categories based on his/her visual acuity -- those who were totally blind were in class B1; those who could see no better than 20/600 were in class B2; and those who could see no better than 20/200 were in class B3. These are the standard visual classifications used by IBSA in all sanctioned sports where visual classification is required, whereas bowling in the USA has been governed by a system of self-certification in which each bowler classifies himself/herself as essentially totally blind (not having enough vision to be of assistance in bowling) or as partially sighted (legally blind but having enough vision to be of assistance in bowling). However, there was no uniform system of guidance for the few totally blind bowlers who took part. Guide rails The guidance system which each of those bowlers used consisted of a very short hand rail, perhaps 18 inches long at most, which stood approximately three feet high and, when not in use, was folded back into a case approximately the size of a medium-sized fishing tackle box. The box also served as the base for the rail when it was in use. The totally blind bowlers who used such rails positioned themselves and then rolled their balls from either a stationary position or after taking a single step. Although those bowlers were members of teams which also included class B2 and/or class B3 members, the B1 bowlers bowled on a lane by themselves on the assumption that the short rail would interfere with and distract the bowlers with usable vision. So, how do these practices differ from those in the USA and Canada? First, over the years the ABBA has encouraged the development and production of a lightweight tubular metal guide rail, approximately three feet high and 12 to 15 feet long, which is held in place when in use alongside the bowling approach by bases weighted down by four 10-pin bowling balls and which, when snapped apart, can be stored in a small canvas bag. Because this rail is in line with the channels or "gutters" and is alongside the area where the bowler walks while preparing to roll his/her ball, it is left standing in place throughout the bowling session and it enables the bowlers needing it to bowl on the same lanes with their partially sighted or fully sighted teammates. Its length gives the bowlers needing it the full range of options ranging from a standard three-, four- or five-step moving approach to delivering from a stationary position. Most blind bowlers in the USA and Canada who use a guide rail take the standard moving approach. Guide rails that are used in the national championship tournaments in the USA and Canada are similar to the portable rails described earlier but are attached to the floor in uniform locations at the beginning of the tournament and are left in place until its conclusion. Since I have always used the multi-step approach, at the competition in Finland I opted not to use the very short rail but to position myself as well as I could in relation to the bowling ball return mechanism. As an experienced blind bowler I had used that guidance technique a few times in the past when a standard American guide rail was not available, but, in Finland as at other times, I did not bowl as well as I generally do while using a guide rail. Overseas competitions and conferences A giant step toward introducing 10-pin bowling to the blind of the world and toward the adoption of uniform rules was taken during the summer of 1999 when the Independent Society of the Blind of Singapore hosted the Asian Invitational Blind Bowling Tournament and Rules Conference, which attracted participants from Japan, Thailand, Malaysia, Burma, Australia, the USA and, of course, Singapore. It was my pleasure to accept the gracious and generous invitation of the Independent Society of the Blind, the consumer organization of the blind in that nation, to speak at the conference, take part in the rules discussions, participate in the competition and demonstrate the use of the American-style bowling guide rail which I had taken with me (after a conscientious employee of United Airlines had been convinced that it was not a dangerous item). During a practice bowling session I ascertained that no standard guidance system was being used by the totally blind and very low vision bowlers in that the systems that were being used involved a considerable amount of sighted assistance or the use of tape affixed to the bowling approach. The new bowlers in particular were especially interested in trying out the guide rail and before the competition ended two days later their bowling had improved significantly. The Sports Chairman and other officials of the Independent Society of the Blind saw the value of the guide rail as a means of encouraging totally blind and very low vision people to take up bowling and, in order to give further encouragement and following a quick call back to the USA to the owner of the rail, I presented it to the Independent Society with our best wishes. The general sessions and the rules conference were very well run and very thorough, resulting in a set of clear recommendations to IBSA designed to expand sports opportunities for blind and visually impaired people. The thrust of some of the recommendations was that competition should be structured so as to encourage totally blind and very low vision persons in particular to participate. In view of the popularity of 10-pin bowling in the USA and Canada, it is my hope that it will be possible for some of the very enthusiastic leaders from nations such as Singapore to observe the large bowling tournaments in the USA and perhaps participate as guest competitors. Most recently, England! The most recent giant step forward took place during November 1999 when the British Blind Sports Association, with the sponsorship of Bass Brewing Ltd., conducted the Bass Visually Impaired International 10-Pin Bowling Tournament and Rules Conference in Birmingham, England. Bowlers and team administrators from eight countries took part in the three-day- long event, which featured both net and handicap competition in the singles, doubles and four-person team events. The U.S. Association for Blind Athletes requested that the American Blind Bowling Association select two members of the team to represent the USA; ABBA selected Harry Cordellos of San Francisco, Calif., and Marie Van Liere of Newport News, Va. USABA itself selected McKinley Young of Washington, D.C. and Tim Finan of Silver Spring, Md. McKinley "Mack" Young served as the team leader and his wife, Shirley Young, served as the team pin-spotter and administrative aide. Mack took two American-style guide rails along for his and Harry's use. Participants from some of the other nations who had never seen an American bowling guide rail before described them initially as appearing rather cumbersome and ungainly, and a way in which the first competitive event was conducted, contrary to Mack's advice, seemed to reinforce that description. More specifically, Mack Young was scheduled to bowl on the same lane with totally blind bowlers using the very short guide rail described earlier in this article. That meant, as hilarious as it may sound now, that the American guide rail was put in place each time before Mack bowled and then moved out of the way so the short rail could be put in place for the use of the other bowlers and this process was repeated 30 times during that set of games. (Shirley Young as the team administrator and her counterpart from Finland were exceptionally busy during those games.) Although the American bowlers were not selected for the team primarily on the basis of their bowling prowess and although many of their competitors were selected primarily because of their bowling ability, Mack, who is totally blind, and Tim Finan, who is a class B3 bowler, shocked the other doubles teams, most of whom did not have totally blind members, by winning the doubles event, with Harry and Marie not far behind in third place. In the singles event, Mack finished first and Harry finished second among the totally blind men; in the singles event, Marie finished second in her category and first in all-events (her combined score for the entire tournament). Yes, by the time the competition ended, many of the bowlers from the other countries were looking at the American guide rails, watching the Americans bowl, and discussing ways in which the rails could be modified. The recommendations which were approved by the rules conference recognized, if somewhat reluctantly, that, if the sport is truly to be made accessible to any blind person who is interested, it must mandate, even if not immediately, that totally blind bowlers must be included in competition and that they be allowed to use equipment that enhances their capabilities while also increasing their independence. What now? So what happens now? Recommendations from the various rules conferences along with input from knowledgeable technical committee members will be considered by IBSA, which will then issue rules to govern competition receiving international sanctioning. It is going to be an uphill effort to obtain adoption of rules that will strongly encourage or require the creation of opportunities for totally blind and low vision athletes to join their legally blind and fully sighted friends in the enjoyment of 10-pin bowling as an invigorating, sociable and beneficial activity. Perhaps someone someday will develop a better guidance or reference system than that "ungainly" guide rail, but, so far it is clearly the best!
Years ago, around the 1984 campaign, I heard a news story that mentioned that many of the presidential candidates of that year would not be able to get through an interview for CEO of a business, or even be hired by that or other businesses. Recently, I saw a companion article in the Minneapolis Tribune that mentioned that presidents and CEO candidates have different strengths and weaknesses, so neither could fill the other's job. With people putting their hats in the ring for the 2000 presidential campaign already, and all the media revelations of candidates' foibles, indiscretions etc., that always seem to come up during an election year, I wanted to put together a list of qualifications for president. These may be very hard for people to live up to, but we seem to get very upset when new revelations of candidates' foibles appear in the media; we want our candidates to be God-like. Below is this satirical list of qualifications. See if you think any candidate can fill these shoes that we, the American public, want filled by the presidential candidates. Or maybe you have some qualifications yourself. No Financial Improprieties: A candidate should be honest in business or governmental dealings. They should be very successful in making money, etc. Sexual Purity/Morality: This means, if married, should be faithful to spouse forever with no affairs. If single, complete celibacy. No affairs to come back to haunt you later. Military Service: Candidate should have served in a branch of the military. It seems as though members of the military would not respect a person as commander in chief if he had never served in the military. They would not know what it was like. On the other hand, could we be overlooking fine candidates who did not have the opportunity to serve? Whatever! No Family Skeletons in the Closet: This is self-explanatory. Business Experience: If government is like a business, candidate would be equipped to deal with its many facets. Governmental Experience: What better experience could a candidate have than working in many different areas of government before becoming president? No Governmental Experience: The outsider is the best. Remember, long-term experience may corrupt. Be A Compromiser: In this qualification, a candidate could pull all factions together and make fair policy. Strong-willed and Focused, Ruthless: A candidate should enter the presidency with one idea how to do things, and push acceptance of that idea. The candidate otherwise would be considered a weakling. Sobriety: The best presidential candidate should not drink alcoholic beverages, smoke tobacco products, or take any recreational drugs of any kind. We know that these are immoral and cause problems for a God-like president, even though most of America does not live that way. Remember, Bill Clinton did not inhale. Charismatic: A candidate should be good at public speaking. What he says is more important than what he thinks. This is one reason Reagan won the presidency twice. He won the debates. The same is true for George Bush. President Clinton has also charmed the public in his speeches as well. On the other hand, Mondale and Dukakis did not come across well enough in their debates and speeches. So they were perceived as weak and lost their respective elections. Intelligence: Obviously, the candidate should demonstrate intelligence so he or she can make the right decisions and formulate correct policy to steer the ship of state. Athletic Prowess: The president should be skilled in all athletic activities. Witness Ford's, Bush's and Clinton's golf game at the Bob Hope Desert Classic. Also remember that Kennedy played touch football with the Kennedy clan during family gatherings. No Athletic Prowess Necessary: It really does not matter how good an athlete the presidential candidate is. It should only matter how well the president does in his job, the one we elected him to do. Be Perfect: If the candidate were to fill successfully all of the above qualifications, that person would be able to please everybody and anger no one, or, as they say, walk on water. Thus, the candidate would be perfect and/or God-like. Is there any of the announced or yet to be announced candidates who could fill the bill? Judge for yourself. It will be interesting to see.
(Editor's Note: What follows is a compilation of information from ACB Executive Director Charlie Crawford's weekly submissions to ACB-L, the organization's Internet mailing listserv. These weekly e-mail notices are intended to be informal brief summaries of weekly activities in the ACB National Office. We include them here for the benefit of those who do not currently have access to ACB's Internet mailing list. If you would like to view these notes on a weekly basis, visit the ACB web page, http://www.acb.org. Scroll down to "News Notes" and select it. You will then be at the page where "News Notes" is housed. You may choose the current issue or whichever back issue you would like to read. Please let us know your opinion of "News Notes.") *For the week, month, year, century, and millennium ending December 31, 1999 Ameritech 1, Braille 0 In a disappointing decision by a public utilities administrative law judge in Michigan, it was held that braille bills are not as valid as print ones in a case involving an ACB member and Ameritech. ACB has been watching developments and participating in the case for some months and now plans to convene our advocacy services committee to discuss next steps. While the decision is a disappointment, the proceeding was at a relatively low level, the Public Utilities Commission has not as yet adopted or accepted the ruling and there are avenues to reverse the decision, it is entirely possible that Michigan may become ground zero for the reliability of alternate media and what its value will become in the future. Court proceedings in vending case may be over soon The National Industries for the Severely Handicapped has moved for summary judgment in its complaint against the Department of Defense at around the same time that ACB, RSVA and NELDS had filed to intervene as defendants in the case. The court seems to have diverted from standard practice and may soon make a ruling without a hearing on the intervention motion. It remains to be seen how the judge will rule, but our legal team is optimistic that we may be victorious soon. Year 2000 bug hits talking checkbook While the initial testing showed no problems with the talking checkbook that runs in the DOS window in Windows, we discovered a flaw in the placement of the century command to the program modules. We will need to fix it on Monday since the latest program files to be compiled are at the office. People using the talking checkbook should wait until next week for a new release with the bug fixed. Happy birthday to News Notes! This is the 52nd issue of "News Notes" which completes a year of publication! We hope it has been a valuable service to ACB members and interested folks. We look to even a bigger year of success ahead, and you'll be reading all about it in "News Notes." First ACB draft comments for video description done! ACB Executive Director Charlie Crawford finished the first draft of our comments to the Federal Communications Commission in the matter of proposed FCC rules relative to video description. These comments are out for review to certain ACB officials and will be modified as appropriate and shared with folks to allow individual comments to be sent as well. The due date for submission is January 24, 2000 and our organizational comments will be out in sufficient time to give members a chance to read and submit their own. *For the week ending January 7, 2000 ACB issues letter of demand to online shopping service After repeated attempts by ACB to work with the online shopping service GreaterGood.com to bring about a fully accessible and usable web site, ACB has concluded there can be no progress unless the organization takes strong and clear action. Consistent with the organizational value of working within systems, ACB has tried to educate and assist the GreaterGood web site in understanding the accessibility issues. Despite these repeated attempts to move GreaterGood from a marginally accessible web site to one that the average blind person can use without substantial difficulties, our efforts have been essentially ignored. There comes a point in any negotiation where either cooperative gains are to be made, or continuation without fundamental change only results in the deterioration of principle and discrediting of the effort. ACB has therefore sent a certified letter to GreaterGood.com in which the organization demands that the online service bring its web site into compliance with the World Wide Web Consortia guidelines for accessible web sites. ACB has further advised the shopping site that failure on their part to perform within 90 days will result in the cancellation of any and all agreements between ACB and GreaterGood.com, the removal of ACB from the list of charities at GreaterGood.com, the remittance of all financial receipts to ACB, and a complaint entered on behalf of our membership to the United States Department of Justice for failure to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. In a related story, ACB has invited NFB to join with us in demanding the needed changes at GreaterGood.com. While they have declined our offer for the moment, we are hopeful that they will continue to review their position and join with us in affirming accessibility as a baseline expectation of web sites. More on the GreaterGood story will be forthcoming as events unfold. Computer-free access to World Wide Web shown at ACB ACB Executive Director Charlie Crawford and "Braille Forum" Editor Penny Reeder observed a fascinating demonstration of access to the World Wide Web without the use of a computer. A company called Every Path has been developing high quality synthetic voice links for business people to the Internet through a common telephone. Penny is writing an article on this promising technology; make sure you check out upcoming issues of "The Braille Forum" for the scoop. ACB mid-year presidents' meeting announced The national office sent out an announcement and agenda to its affiliates yesterday on what appears to be a great mid-year meeting coming up. The agenda is packed with great presentations on new and old tools to help our affiliates and the national organization to grow and meet the increasing challenges to our blindness community. Check out reports to follow in "The Braille Forum." National office gears up for ACB Radio The success of ACB Radio on the Internet has led the national office to make plans to soundproof an office for production of programming to be used on ACB Radio and distributed to radio reading services as well. These programs will not duplicate the already superb ACB Reports programs done by Laura Oftedahl, but will take on new directions of information and entertainment for blind people in general. It's a bit early to discuss all that will be involved with ACB Radio, but there will be lots of exciting developments coming down the audio stream as time progresses. ACB to assist national service corp on blindness issues Affiliate Services Coordinator Terry Pacheco and Executive Director Charlie Crawford along with Donna Smith-Whitty and Ken Frasse will go to New Mexico later this month to help the cross section of government-sponsored social action volunteer programs learn how to recruit and use volunteers with disabilities to be of service to the nation. This exciting opportunity blends the national office perspective with those of affiliates at the state level in helping to put blind folks in a position of giving service to others. The training will occur with many disability groups who will also be assisting in the education of these national service programs. ACB to join in large meeting on minimum wage at Congress ACB has accepted an offer to work with a larger group in the discussion of minimum wage issues for the full range of supported employment programs and industrial workshops under various formulas around the country. While our baseline interest is in industrial programs and blind workers, ACB is best positioned to protect our issues from being buried under others by making sure folks understand where the issues are different. In a related matter, ACB has been monitoring the General Services Administration issue with enforcement of blind priority purchasing and we note with optimism that there have been discussions between the National Industries for the Blind and the Office of Vice President Gore on the topic. ACB is pleased to have been a major party in bringing attention to the issue and we will continue to watch the situation and intervene as appropriate.
Founder of an organization which has given sight to hundreds of thousands of people in poor countries (Reprinted with permission from the Daily Telegraph, December 4, 1999.) Sir John Wilson, who has died aged 80, founded the Royal Commonwealth Society for the Blind, now known as Sight Savers International, an organization which has given the gift of sight to hundreds of thousands of people in developing countries. Wilson, who had himself been blinded in a school laboratory accident when he was 12, became involved in the problems of blindness in developing countries in 1946, when he took part in a government-sponsored tour of Africa and the Middle East. On his return, in a report to the Colonial Office, he proposed the formation of a society to act as a vehicle for raising funds for traveling clinics, schools and training centers for the blind throughout the empire. As director of the Royal Commonwealth Society for the Blind (originally founded in 1950 as the British Empire Society for the Blind), Wilson traveled 50,000 miles a year in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas, forming organizations for the blind in some 30 commonwealth countries and initiating programs for the prevention of blindness. In 1950 during a tour of West Africa, he and his wife Jean lived for a time in a mud hut in an area of northern Ghana known as the "Country of the Blind." There, a disease known as ocular onchocerciasis, caused by the bite of the buffalo gnat which breeds in the river Volta, caused blindness in one out of every 10 people. Wilson coined the name "river blindness" for the disease and set about establishing the world's first blindness prevention program; this has been so successful that in the seven countries affected, new cases of the disease are rare. During the 1960s, after touring the Indian subcontinent, Wilson devised a network of village "eye camps," where ophthalmic surgeons could undertake cataract operations, treating several thousand people at a time. Today the Society performs around 200,000 cataract operations a year. At his instigation, the World Health Organization established an International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness to tackle blindness in more than 30 million people around the world. Wilson was appointed president of the agency in 1974, a position he held until his retirement in 1982. John Foster Wilson was born in Nottingham on January 20, 1919, the son of a Methodist minister. He went to school in Scarborough and then, following the accident which caused his blindness, at Worcester College for the Blind. From there he won a scholarship to St. Catherinežs College, Oxford, where he read law and social administration and rowed in his college eight. After graduating in 1941 with a double First, he declined the offer of an academic appointment, instead becoming Assistant Secretary of the Royal National Institute for the Blind, with responsibilities for rehabilitation, employment and international relations. Wilson's energies were not confined to the needs of the blind. In November 1981, he initiated an international seminar to consider ways of reducing the number of people suffering from avoidable disabilities of all kinds, estimated at one in 10 of the world's population. He retired as president of the Royal Commonwealth Society for the Blind in 1982, and the next year launched Impact, an international initiative, established under the auspices of the UN Development Program, for the prevention of disability throughout the world. Despite two hip operations, Wilson and his wife Jean continued to travel the world, establishing Impact foundations as far afield as India, Nepal, Bangladesh and the Philippines. In India the Lifeline Express hospital train has treated 150,000 people in seven years. This year Impact launched the Jibon Tari, a floating hospital dispensing medical care among the 33 million Bangladeshis living in the Ganges delta. Wilson was also instrumental in establishing nutrition programs aimed at reducing disabilities such as goiter and mental handicap caused by dietary deficiencies. He remained energetic and good-humored throughout his life and refused to regard his own blindness as a tragedy. Earlier this year, in an address to mark the 50th anniversary of the foundation of the Royal Commonwealth Society for the Blind, he quoted a passage from St. Paul's Letter to the Romans: "All things work together for good to them that love God." The same passage had formed the text for a sermon delivered by his father three days after the accident in which John Wilson was blinded. Wilson wrote or edited several books on blindness and disability, among them "Ghana's Handicapped Citizens" (1961), "Traveling Blind" (1963), and "World Blindness and Its Prevention" (1980). He was much in demand as a speaker at conferences; and he received many honors, including the Helen Keller International Award (1970), the World Humanity Award (1978), the Royal Society of Medicinežs Richard T. Hewitt Award (1991), and the Albert Schweitzer International Prize (1993). John Wilson was appointed OBE in 1955, CBE in 1965 and was knighted in 1975. He married, in 1944, Jean McDermid, who in 1967 became deputy director of the Royal Commonwealth Society for the Blind under her husband. She accompanied him on nearly all his journeys. They had two daughters.
Stanley Doran's name is familiar nationwide because of his lifelong dedication to making the world a better place for blind and visually impaired people. Because Stanley had lost most of his vision by his early teens, he knew, personally, about the challenges and prejudices faced by us every day. Stanley had ideas for making some things a little better, and when Stanley had an idea, he worried at it until it became a reality. Stanley Doran started making a better life for people who are blind when he was in his early 20s. He combined his love of animals with his desire for independence to start the dog-guide school which became Pilot Dogs of Columbus, Ohio. There, he pioneered such practices as teaching dogs to use escalators and training children, some as young as nine, to travel with guide dogs. For many years he and his wife Fontnae operated Pilot Dogs of Columbus, Ohio, from their home, with Stanley training dog-person teams, and Fontnae keeping track of everyone, including their own children, Demetra and Ronald, and cooking and cleaning for what became hundreds of people and dogs. When his work at Pilot Dogs came to an end, Stanley took a look around for something else to do. That endeavor was the Central Ohio Radio Reading Service (CORRS), which was one of the first such services to be organized to provide news, entertainment, and word of community events to those who cannot read the daily papers, magazines, or community calendars. With two friends, Stanley got CORRS up and running in 1975. The radio reading service was so successful that many other communities quickly picked up the concept. There are now radio reading services across the United States. During all of this, Stanley was in constant contact with people around the country by tape, sharing the milestones and achievements of his growing family, playing chess by mail, giving advice to others with ideas. These personal communications gradually evolved into an informal production via which many people could share experiences, ask for suggestions, and make friends; over time this production became the "Newsreel," a taped magazine featuring the actual voices, songs, and demonstrations of gadgets, aids, toys, and practical odds and ends of the participants. I first became acquainted with the Doran family shortly after I moved to Columbus more than 20 years ago. For several years I volunteered to help get the "Newsreel" mailed out, read mail, and, eventually, to package for mailing the products sold by Doran Enterprises. Stanley became my friend and mentor, introducing me to people and ideas, always ready with advice, a new pun, or, on occasion, criticism, which, though given bluntly, was on the mark and never offered without a solid suggestion for improvement. When the "Newsreel" was incorporated in 1986, the office moved to a downtown location in Columbus, where a small staff continued putting out regular monthly issues and special editions which focused on areas of particular interest to recipients. Stanley invited me to serve as office secretary and on the board of directors. I accepted these invitations gladly. Over the next couple of years, as the office took shape and the "Newsreel" continued to go out regularly, I often took my daughter Crystal, then a toddler, with me to the office. She napped on a quilt in the storeroom, rode on Stanley's shoulders through the streets of the city at lunch time, played with his grandchildren, and got into occasional mischief. Stanley retired from the directorship in 1997, but he remained active, dropping in to help out, attend board meetings, and enjoy social events. Stanley, who had been active in the NFB for many years, joined the Columbus chapter of the American Council of the Blind of Ohio in the late 1980s. He was actively involved in the local chapter and never missed a state or national convention if he could help it. His interest in gadgets, his fascination with people, and his curiosity about the world around him made him a well-known figure at all of these gatherings. Stanley Doran wasn't shy. Those of us who worked with Stanley won't deny that he could sometimes seem opinionated and abrasive, but he was one of the most honest, upright, and caring people I have ever known. He was always willing to help others. He never let go of that little boy inside himself; he enjoyed jokes, riddles, and puns, and he loved to play with toys and gadgets. If something flashed lights, made noise, or did anything unusual, he had to try it. He especially liked anything which involved audio-recording. He tape-recorded interviews, meetings, sounds on the street, and -- one of his favorites -- birdsongs. He will be greatly missed here, but Stanley Doran will live on for as long as there is a "Newsreel," for as long as there is a radio reading service somewhere, for as long as there is a person working with a guide dog.
The editorial staff reserves the right to edit letters for content, style and space available. Opinions expressed are those of the authors, not those of the American Council of the Blind, its staff or elected officials. "The Braille Forum" cannot be responsible for the opinions expressed herein. If you would like your letter printed, please sign your name and give us your address. We cannot print letters without knowing who wrote them. Advantageously Blind, part 2 In a letter to the editor a few months ago, I took rather strong exception to Carla Hayes' assertion that there are advantages to being blind. I have had second thoughts on the subject. My knee-jerk reaction was perhaps precipitous. As a matter of fact, I have thought of quite a few advantages myself. For example, you drop a postage stamp on your kitchen floor. A sighted person would spot it easily and retrieve it even before it hits the floor. There is nothing for it for you but to get down on all fours and search. By the time you locate the stamp you have not only dusted the entire kitchen floor, you have also located two sticky spots where you dropped some blueberries some time ago. I think that could be considered an advantage. A sighted person can carry everything he needs in the way of writing equipment in a coat pocket. You have to carry a braille writer. The fact that a braille writer weighs many pounds can constitute an advantage. In these days of heightened awareness about fitness, carrying a braille writer for any distance can provide healthful aerobic exercise; a clear advantage, wouldn't you agree? A sighted person passing through a railroad or bus terminal will remain lonely and anonymous. We who are blind, in an unfamiliar labyrinthine place, must seek assistance and thereby make the acquaintance of people who will gladly discuss with you how you became blind, how long you have been afflicted, are you married, do you have any children, and if not why not, and much, much more, even offer some advice. Isn't that an advantage? Personal correspondence is disposed of easily and expeditiously by a person with sight. It is called privacy. No matter how many technical marvels you may accumulate you will always be left with handwritten or peculiar print matter which no machine will read. Not to worry; no matter where you live there will be some kind soul who will be willing to read your personal mail to you. You will then have someone to share your family's triumphs and catastrophes with you and with his or her friends and family. That could be an advantage, couldn't it? If you are blind, trying to locate an address on a tree-lined country lane could take some time. That time could be put to good use by inhaling plenty of good fresh air. How is that an advantage? A sighted person will drive his car right up to the address and be indoors, breathing stuffy air again in a trice. A middle-aged sighted person, rummaging through a box of old photographs, will come across a picture of his college graduation class. In this photo, he is slim, erect, bright-eyed and smooth- faced. It is a shock to then look in a mirror and realize the terrible toll the years have taken. This can never happen to a blind person. A definite advantage, I think you'll agree! I don't think I need to go any further. I'm sure that you who are reading this, if you really concentrate, you can think of some advantages which have not occurred to me. Even some sighted people agree that there are advantages in being blind. Hasn't someone with normal sight ever said to you, "You are lucky you can't see; there is so much ugliness in the world these days!"? Only a curmudgeon would fail to recognize that advantage! -- Tom D'Agostino, New York, N.Y. Regarding "The Folks Who Run Away" I found the "President's Message: The Folks Who Run Away" (October 1999) very interesting. While I agree that instruction such as orientation and mobility and possibly other independence skills should be covered under Medicare, I have some questions about who should be covered or where the line should be drawn. Being blind since birth, my opinion will probably differ from many and be disagreed with, and maybe it's a lack of understanding on my part, but I feel that if one can read a computer screen without a screen reader, click a mouse, read items such as remote control and a can of food, and just carry a cane and not use it or not use his/her guide dog properly, that this person isn't really blind. Should these people really be taking advantage of technology training for example when they may not even use the equipment? Should these individuals attend guide dog schools to be given guides who will most likely just be heeled on leash and legalized pets? Perhaps technology, guide dogs and O&M instruction should be reserved for people who are really in need of these things, i.e. a totally blind person or someone with truly limited vision who cannot read the remote control or food items and will legitimately use technology, canes and guide dogs. For this other group of people, perhaps they should be made aware that should they lose enough vision, they can qualify for services, but until then they probably don't really need them. Finally, perhaps the diagnosis of visual problems should be changed to include a small walk with someone or looking at different types of print such as a computer screen to more accurately determine what a visual difficulty really might be or if that person might just have night blindness. If this is the case, they should be given limited travel techniques and a cane for nighttime travel. In whatever way it's determined, though, skills such as training in orientation should definitely be covered under Medicare because these are life skills, used daily, and if people knew they might be more financially stable, the shortage of instructors in this field might not exist. I have met many people who would make incredible instructors in this field but who would most likely never choose it due to pay limitations. That's very sad. Everyone has the right to know how to travel confidently and safely wherever he or she may choose to go; for sighted people orientation's not an issue, so why should it be for us? Excellent instruction and teachers should be the norm, not the question. A blind person should not need to relocate either across town or to another state and be concerned about when learning the new environment can begin. This should begin and be able to begin immediately. If more sighted people saw more blind people out in the world, they might see us as more like them and some of the ignorance might decrease over time. A blind person going about activities is just one more person living a life, and nothing to marvel at or see as amazing, because it isnžt. -- Tina Birenbaum, Tempe, Ariz.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: WE RECEIVED THIS PROVOCATIVE ARTICLE VIA E- MAIL! WE ARE CURIOUS: WHAT DO YOU LOW-VISION READERS THINK ABOUT HARPER'S SUGGESTION?) While it's true, in terms of legibility, that size isn't all that matters, for many low-vision readers, capital letters are easier to see. In fact, with any point-size text, the lowercase letters are only about two-thirds the height of the uppercase letters. This means in a 14-point document the lowercase letters are less than 10-point. Plus, lowercase letters comprise over 90 percent of the content of standard documents. In addition, uppercase letters are well-formed in comparison to lowercase letters. And only uppercase letters are used in the familiar Snellen eye test chart for that very reason -- i.e., big "E" instead of little "e." The bottom line is all-caps text offers greater legibility for low-vision readers by standing tall! In this case, size matters!
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. PRIMARIES Are you interested in helping select your party's candidate for president? Go to the primaries, listed alphabetically below. Alabama: GOP and Democratic primaries: June 6 Alaska: GOP and Democratic caucuses: March 25 Arizona: GOP primary: February 22; Democratic, March 11 (tentative) Arkansas: GOP and Democratic primaries: May 23 California: GOP and Democratic primaries: March 7 Colorado: GOP and Democratic primaries: March 10 Connecticut: GOP and Democratic primaries: March 7 Delaware: GOP caucus: February 15; Democratic primary, February 12 Florida: GOP and Democratic primaries: March 14 Georgia: GOP and Democratic primaries: March 7 Hawaii: GOP caucuses: February 1-7; Democratic, March 7 Idaho: GOP primary: May 23; Democratic caucus, March 7 Illinois: GOP and Democratic primaries: March 21 Indiana: GOP and Democratic primaries: May 2 Iowa: GOP and Democratic caucuses were held January 24, 2000. Kansas: GOP and Democratic primaries: April 4 Kentucky: GOP and Democratic primaries: May 23 Louisiana: GOP caucuses were held January 15, 2000. GOP and Democratic primaries will be held March 14. Maine: GOP and Democratic primaries will be held March 7. Maryland: GOP and Democratic primaries will be held March 7. Massachusetts: GOP and Democratic primaries will be held March 7. Michigan: GOP primary will be held February 22; Democratic caucus, March 11. Minnesota: GOP and Democratic caucuses will be held March 7. Mississippi: GOP and Democratic primaries will be held March 14. Missouri: GOP and Democratic primaries will be held March 7. Montana: GOP and Democratic primaries will be held June 6. Nebraska: GOP and Democratic primaries will be held May 9. Nevada: GOP caucuses, May 25; Democratic caucuses, March 12. New Hampshire: GOP and Democratic primaries, February 1. New Jersey: GOP and Democratic primaries, June 6. New Mexico: GOP and Democratic primaries, June 6. New York: GOP and Democratic primaries, March 7. North Carolina: GOP and Democratic primaries, May 2. North Dakota: GOP caucuses, February 29; Democratic, March 7. Ohio: GOP and Democratic primaries, March 7. Oklahoma: GOP and Democratic primaries, March 14. Oregon: GOP and Democratic primaries, May 16. Pennsylvania: GOP and Democratic primaries, April 25. Rhode Island: GOP and Democratic primaries, March 7. South Carolina: GOP primary, February 19; Democratic caucuses, March 7. South Dakota: GOP and Democratic primaries, June 6 Tennessee: GOP and Democratic primaries, March 14. Texas: GOP and Democratic primaries, March 14. Utah: GOP and Democratic primaries, March 10. Vermont: GOP and Democratic primaries, March 7. Virginia: GOP caucuses, February 9, district conventions, May 12-June 13; Democratic, April 15 or 17, district conventions May 13-17. Washington: GOP and Democratic primaries, February 29; GOP caucuses, March 7; Democratic caucuses, March 7. West Virginia: GOP and Democratic primaries, May 9. Wisconsin: GOP and Democratic primaries, April 4. Wyoming: GOP and Democratic primaries, March 10. HELP WITH DISSERTATION John J. Frank, a Ph.D. student with a visual impairment, would like to interview adults with visual impairments concerning their requests (successful or not) for any kind of print access accommodation made over the past few years. This includes requests for braille, large print, audio cassette, digital formatting or readers, or barrier removal for access to printed material. These requests may have been made to anyone, such as employers, schools, banks, stores, restaurants, libraries, utility or phone companies, or any government agency. He especially wants to learn about additional efforts that were made if a request was not fulfilled, such as additional discussions or negotiation, or an appeal to another source. To tell your stories, call him, e-mail him or send him a letter. Give your telephone number and the best time to reach you. He will call you back for the interview. Only U.S. residents over age 18 please. You may end the interview any time or decline to answer any questions you donžt want to answer. Your name will not be published. Contact John Frank at (315) 476-1142; e-mail [email protected] or write him c/o Rehabilitation Counseling Department, 259 Huntington Hall, Syracuse, NY 13244-2340. DIRECTORY National Braille Press is working on a directory of computer trainers, to be published in the spring. If you would like to be listed in it, send in your name, address, telephone number, e-mail address (if you have one), and statement discussing your qualifications and the adaptive and mainstream programs you are prepared to teach, to Dean Martineau at [email protected] Please include your rates (a range of rates is fine). If you plan to volunteer your time, include any limits on whom and when you will train. The fee to be listed in the directory is $20, payable to Diane Croft at National Braille Press, 88 St. Stephen St., Boston, MA 02115. If you are volunteering your services, there is no fee. SISTER KENNY The Sister Kenny Institute's 37th annual International Art Show by artists with disabilities will be held April 14 to May 11. But it needs your artwork! Any artist with a disability that causes a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities (such as caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, breathing, learning and working) is eligible. All forms of fine art may be entered and are subject to committee approval. Crafts are not accepted. All work must be original and created within the past five years. Previous submissions to Sister Kenny art shows are not accepted. Artwork is limited to two entries per artist; one must be for sale. If multiple artists from an organization submit art, the submission must include a contact person's name and a master list of the artwork. No more than 25 pieces of art will be accepted from any one organization. Each piece of artwork must be framed and not exceed 36 inches in any direction. All work should be packed in reusable shipping containers. Do NOT use styrofoam peanuts or coins as a packing filler. Shipped works must be framed with Plexiglas; do NOT use real glass, especially for international shipments. Sister Kenny Institute is not responsible for breakage during shipping. Your entry form and biography information must be submitted in English. It must include your name and address; title of artwork(s) and medium(s) used; asking price; and your signature. The hospital auxiliary will retain 25 percent of the selling price of each piece of artwork to help defray show expenses. Exchange rates will be determined at the time of installation. Artwork must be received by March 20, 2000. Space is limited to the first 300 entries. A $500 cash award will be given to the artist's work chosen as "Best of Show." First, second and third place and honorable mention ribbons will be awarded in all categories; winners will receive $100, $75, $50 and $25 respectively. Work will be judged in six categories: graphic (includes printmaking, charcoal, ink, computer design, pastels, colored pencil); photography (black and white and color); watercolor; mixed media; oils and acrylics; and sculpture (includes relief, ceramics, woodcarving, metal, clay and stone). Send your complete information, including a short biography (75 words or less), to: Sister Kenny Institute, Administration, First Floor, Abbott Northwestern Hospital, 800 E. 28th St., Minneapolis, MN 55407-3799. Questions? Call (612) 863-4463. Remember, all artwork must be received no later than March 20. TOWERS PRESS Overbrook School for the Blind recently formed Towers Press. The first book, "Braille Literacy Curriculum" by Diane P. Wormsley, went on sale in January. Towers Press is located on the Overbrook campus, 64th Street and Malvern Avenue, and will publish books and articles related to the work that the school does with children who are blind, low vision, or deaf-blind, many of whom have other handicapping conditions. For more information, visit the web site, http://www.obs.org. FREE BRAILLE BOOKS Goosebumps and Baby Sitters Club books are available in braille every month at no charge through a program sponsored by the American Action Fund for Blind Children and Adults. Blind youngsters, teachers of the blind, schools, and libraries serving the blind are eligible to participate in this program. Submit your request to participate in the free braille children's book series program, along with the student's or participant's name, birth date and parents' names (if student); state whether you are a student, teacher, library or other; and give your address. Send it to: Free Braille Children's Book Series Program, American Action Fund for Blind Children and Adults, 1800 Johnson St., Baltimore, MD 21230. KYFF Keep your food fresh with Tupperware. Twenty percent of the proceeds of all sales to ACB members will be donated by KYFF to ACB, so stock up on Tupperware and help ACB do all the things that are important to you. Contact KYFF at 1000 Kiely Blvd. #13, Santa Clara, CA 95051, or call (408) 296-7648. NEW E-MAIL LIST The braille-books list is a moderated e-mail list to announce the availability of newly brailled leisure reading books produced according to BANA standards for braille readers in the United States. Subscriptions are open to anyone with an interest in the availability of braille leisure reading materials. Only announcements of in-progress or completed books will be approved; no files of books or discussions of books will be sent through this list. It is not a substitute for listing books with Louis or any other index; it is simply a means for speeding up the distribution process. Subscribers are expected to adhere to current copyright laws. The administrators of the braille-books list are not responsible for the quality of the braille. To subscribe, send a blank e-mail to braille-books- [email protected] and follow the instructions in the e-mail you receive. To read previous messages, visit http://www.egroups.com/list/braille-books. WSVH Did you attend the Wisconsin School for the Visually Handicapped, or know someone who attended? The year 2000 is a big year: the school will be 150 years old. To celebrate, the alumni association is holding a grand reunion June 9-11, 2000. The reunion will be held in Janesville, Wis. at the school. If you attended WSVH at any time, even if you did not graduate from the school, you may attend. To receive further information on the reunion, please send your name and address, along with your graduation year (if you graduated from WSVH) or the years between which you attended, to: Kathy Hudziak, 1319 Monterey Lane, Janesville, WI 53546; phone (608) 752-1116, or e-mail [email protected] And if you know people who attended, and have their names and addresses, forward them to Kathy also. ONLINE STORE Project ASSIST's Online Store is now open for business! You may purchase step-by-step tutorials and keyboard guides 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Visit http://www.blind.state.ia.us/assist. You may order a tutorial on cassette, or download a tutorial and keyboard guide. Taped tutorials cost $35, downloaded tutorials cost $25, and keyboard guides cost $5. Of course, you can still order a tutorial by calling (515) 281-1357 or by mailing your order to 524 Fourth St., Des Moines, IA 50309. Available tutorials are: Windows 98 with JAWS for Windows 3.3; Windows 98 with Window-Eyes 3.0; Internet Explorer 5 with JAWS for Windows 3.3; Internet Explorer 5 with Window-Eyes 3.1; Excel 97 with WinVision 5; Word 2000 with JAWS for Windows 3.31; and Word 2000 with Window-Eyes 3.1. Tutorials in the works include Outlook 2000 with JAWS for Windows 3.31; Outlook 2000 with Window-Eyes 3.1; Internet Explorer 5 with JAWS for Windows 3.31, and Outlook Express 5. Questions? Call the number listed above, or e-mail [email protected] DEAF-BLIND CONFERENCE The Australian National Deaf-Blind Conference will be held in Fremantle, West Australia April 7-10, 2000. The venue is the Esplanade Hotel, near the Fremantle waterfront. There are also cheaper accommodations available, including the YMCA. Registration and a welcome cocktail party will be held on Friday, April 7. Alternative activities for those who arrive early on Friday are being explored. A "chat room" will be provided to enable delegates to get together informally. April 8-10 will be conference days, with plenary sessions and workshops. Graham Hicks will be the keynote speaker. Sunday, April 9 will be a social day. Conference languages will be English and Australian sign language. Interpreters other than AUSLAN and tactile two-hand manual will not be provided; international delegates will be expected to provide their own interpreters. For more information, contact the Western Australia Deafblind Association at [email protected], or write the organization at PO Box 14 Maylands, West Australia 6051, Australia.
FOR SALE: Aladdin CCTV manufactured by Telesensory. Asking $1,000. Contact Lottie Martin at (941) 382-8078. FOR SALE: Complete reading machine with Pentium computer, HP scanner and Open Book features. Asking $870 plus shipping. Call Stan at (925) 778-7446. FOR SALE: Braille Blazer by Blazie. Asking $1,000 or best offer. Comes with nearly full box of braille paper, and all cables and manuals. Write to Paul Ajuwon at 3714 W. 143rd St., Apt. 131C, Cleveland, OH 44111, or e-mail him at [email protected] FOR SALE: Alva 380 80-character braille display. All cells work perfectly, but there is a bow in the tape on one of the cursor routing buttons, which does not prevent effective use of the button. Asking $5,200 or best offer. May accept installments or trade for a portable 40-cell display plus cash. Contact Dean Martineau at (425) 335-4894, or e-mail him at [email protected] FOR SALE: Aladdin personal reader in good condition. Magnifies reading material for people with vision impairments. Purchased in 1996 for $1,850; asking $900. Call Renee Santore at (215) 879-1447. WANTED: Interested in locating used but working DP11+ and a 19-inch black-and-white monitor. Please contact Douglas Price at (301) 365-1585. WANTED: Speech plus or large-button calculator in good working condition. Call Wayne Coxey at (360) 705-8206. WANTED: Reel-to-reel tape recorder in good condition. Donated Braille 'n Speak. Call Ty Bellini at (724) 244-3020.
20330 NE 20TH CT.
MIAMI, FL 33179
FIRST VICE PRESIDENT
57 GRANDVIEW AVE.
WATERTOWN, MA 02172
SECOND VICE PRESIDENT
7601 CRITTENDEN ST. #F-2
PHILADELPHIA, PA 19118
556 N. 80TH ST.
SEATTLE, WA 98103
906 N CHAMBLISS ST
ALEXANDRIA VA 22312
IMMEDIATE PAST PRESIDENT
2118 NW 21st St.
Oklahoma City, OK 73107
ELIZABETH M. LENNON, Kalamazoo, MI