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.
If you would like to receive "The Braille Forum" via e-mail instead of via U.S. mail, here's what you need to do. Send an e- mail message to [email protected] Leave the subject line blank. In the body of the message, type the words (without quotes) "subscribe brailleforum-L." Then send the message. To unsubscribe, follow the steps above, substituting the word "unsubscribe" and leaving off the rest of the line. If you need to change e-mail addresses, send an unsubscribe message using your old e-mail address, then follow with a subscribe message using your new e-mail address.
(Editor's Note: The following words are based on the speech which ACB President Paul Edwards delivered to assembled affiliate presidents and representatives at ACB's annual mid-year meeting in Louisville, Ky.)
Ladies and gentlemen, I have come to look forward to these mid-year reports, which encourage me to pause in the middle of the year and reflect upon what we have accomplished since the last national convention, and also to share with you some of the concerns that have emerged since last July. The Issue of Minimum Wage for Blind Workers
First, I want to describe some of the events that have occurred around minimum wage, and also some of the dilemmas that place ACB in some interesting situations.
Last fall, the National Federation of the Blind began to propose legislation at the national level to require all industries programs that employ people who are blind to assure that anyone who had no other disability except blindness should receive no less than the minimum wage.
Now, those of you who follow our resolutions will know that that viewpoint corresponds essentially to the position that ACB has also taken. So, one of the more interesting things that that action did for us was to lead us to a place where we agreed absolutely with the Federation's suggestion.
Well, in December, Jim Gibbons, who heads National Industries for the Blind, called together the blindness community. The leadership of ACB and NFB were there. Many NIB industries were there, and the General Council of Industries for the Blind had representatives at the meeting. The objective was to figure out a way to assure that the blindness community could take action as a whole. We all wanted to assure that whatever policy we developed would not only protect the rights of blind folks to get the minimum wage, but also give the industries enough time -- especially in light of some of GSA's recent actions -- to develop and implement viable programs which could also pay workers at least the minimum wage.
At that meeting, ACB took the position that, if the blindness community as a whole were prepared to stand together, then we would be comfortable giving National Industries for the Blind an opportunity to try to build consensus within its own industries. Furthermore, we stated that we thought that, in the long run, the interests of the blindness community would be better served by allowing that to happen.
We said very clearly, however, that if an organization within the blindness community chose not to join with us, all bets were off.
I don't think that it will surprise any of you when I say that the National Federation of the Blind chose not to participate in the consensus-building effort that that meeting attempted to forge.
ACB supports minimum wage for blind folks. ACB also supports the building of a strong industry program. We support NIB because, compared with most rehabilitation agencies, NIB agencies and the NIB itself are taking innovative and effective approaches to the rehabilitation of people who are blind which may exist long after rehab itself has gone away.
I want to suggest to you that the role that ACB tries to play is often not merely the role that we can play, and that we're allowed to play. We took a position of support for the Federation's position with regard to minimum wage for folks who are blind. We did this because our resolution said that we should.
Subsequently, we also took the position that, if we are really going to open this Pandora's box, we ought to open it all the way, and take a look at minimum wage across the board. The Blindness Community and ACB's Position in It
The general point that I want to make, and that I want to leave you with here, is that the blindness community as a whole still remains small and still remains fragmented. The ACB's place in that blindness community is becoming more and more important.
The ACB has participated at a leadership level in meetings with regard to separate agencies. We will probably, if we ever get to the place where they're ready to hold the next range of meetings -- actually be hosting meetings on that subject.
However, here again, what we have found is, whereas everyone in the blindness community seems intent upon building consensus, there is one organization within the blindness community that seems more intent on going in its own direction, regardless of what the rest of us believe, and that organization is the National Federation of the Blind.
I say to the National Federation of the Blind, and I say to the blindness community as a whole, we are too small to be divided. We should, and must, stand together when we can.
But, I also say to the National Federation of the Blind and to the blindness community: If our community means anything as a concept, then the blindness community must stand up against organizations that consistently refuse to build consensus. Celebrating Victories
I want to spend just a few minutes talking about the National Council of State Agencies for the Blind. It is important to celebrate the victories that we achieve, and we need to recognize the degree to which the American Council of the Blind has assumed a leadership role in fostering both the separate agency notions of tomorrow, as well as the kinds of attitudes that consumers will have toward their state agencies.
While you will remember that the National Council of State Agencies for the Blind was initially somewhat recalcitrant in becoming involved with us with regard to the Randolph-Sheppard issue, I am pleased to tell you that that organization has now held an initial conference with us and has committed to actually sponsor a major conference that will happen later this year to try to build the Randolph-Sheppard program into the strong program it can be.
That exercise, ladies and gentlemen, is an absolute result of the work that RSVA and the ACB did. We started it. We finished it.
One of the things that I get to do every two years or so is pull together committees for the American Council of the Blind. This year, I got the officers involved in that activity, and while there were certainly some glitches in that system, our committee lists are now out.
I think these committee lists are representative of our efforts, as an organization, to try to broaden the range of leadership opportunities that are available to our members. Seventeen of the members of committees this year have never served on an ACB committee before. I think that's exciting.
Our ACB committees are formed with members from 35 states, which is pretty broad geographically. Also, each member of our ACB board of directors, including our officers, has been limited to serving on a single committee. So, our intent is to create and to build new leadership, and assure that new people have the opportunity to come up in the national arena. I think this is exciting, and I think it's what ACB needs to be all about.
The American Council of the Blind has completed the last phase of its reorganization, and we have created a new position of financial officer for both the American Council of the Blind and the American Council of the Blind Enterprises and Services. I am pleased to tell all of you that the person who is assuming this new and exalted position is Jim Olsen.
The reorganization is going to enable us to do something else that is exciting: The American Council of the Blind Enterprises and Services is now going to go out and hire a smart, effective, competent, capable, go-getter executive director, who is going to make ACBES immensely rich, which will then make ACB immensely rich!
I Will Not Remain Silent
Now, sadly, I must turn to a subject which has come up in virtually every mid-year and convention report which I have given to this organization since my presidency commenced. If you look back at all of my reports, you will find that a recurrent theme has been my very real concern about increasingly obnoxious attitudes of the general public and of some disabled people, toward disability itself, and, to a greater degree toward blindness, and services for people who are blind. It seems that my whole presidency has been spent trying to justify what I ought not to have to justify. That is, the fact that blind people should, and do, have the right to receive appropriate services, delivered by well-trained individuals, and that those blind people also have the right to choose the kinds of services that they receive, and should not be told by other people the kinds of services they ought to have.
This year is probably a year where, if anything, I am more concerned than I ever have been. In an increasing number of states since my presidency started, the issue of separate services has become an issue for debate. The degree to which small government is shrinking the willingness of states to provide specialized services for people who are blind is an indication to me of one of two things: Either we in the blindness community are still not doing a good enough job of getting the word out, or, alternatively, this is a much larger issue than we initially gave it credit for being. In fact, I think the answer is the latter.
I'd like to suggest a couple of reasons why I believe that's true, and also suggest to you a few concerns that are new.
Last July, there was a gentleman at our convention who was, it seemed to me and some others, crying wolf in the wilderness. This gentleman's name is Charlie Hodge. Last July, Charlie Hodge suggested that we needed to be concerned about the kind of decisions that he felt were going to emerge from the court system with regard to the ADA. He proposed resolutions, which ended up being sent to our lawyers' affiliate for them to look at and make recommendations and send back to us. In fact, Charlie Hodge has certainly been proven more right than I was. While the ADA is still there, it is being challenged more and more, by state governments, by local governments, by national organizations, and by the media.
We need to be concerned over the degree to which the Americans with Disabilities Act is being threatened. We also need to be concerned about the response that the disability community is making to this threat.
I think it's extremely important for all of us to recognize that the Americans with Disabilities Act is important as a symbol. I don't respond often to the question about what the Americans with Disabilities Act has done for people who are blind, because for me that isn't the issue. The issue is, ought there to be a law which protects the civil rights of people who are disabled? And, if the answer to that question is yes, then, since the ADA is the only civil rights law that protects the rights of disabled people, albeit not very well, and albeit not very much, we had best protect that law!
It is not enough, however, to simply protect the law. We must actually begin, I believe, to be more assertive about our needs as people with disabilities.
One thing that has happened over the past several years is that the disability community has retreated into a zone of complacency. If you talk with a number of the leaders of the national disability community about the distortion that happens in the media, about the whittling away of the ADA by congresses and by states, their response tends to be: "Well, we know you're right. But, let's be quiet and careful -- because, if we get too noisy and quarrelsome, they'll take away what we have now."
Ladies and gentlemen, I don't accept that argument.
I can't accept the notion that I can be quiet in a society where 70 percent of people who are blind are unemployed, while the unemployment rate for the general population is 4 percent.
I can't accept the idea that I should be silent about the discrimination that occurs for people with disabilities when the income for people with disabilities is half the income for people without them.
I also will not be silent, ladies and gentlemen, because I'm not convinced that the folks who claim that the best attack is passivity are right. The truth, it seems to me, is that the media and Congress and state governments are able to do with disability what they are doing because disabled people have been silent. It is time for us to stand up and be counted.
The ADA nearly didn't pass. What made the ADA pass were huge truckloads of letters sent by people with disabilities, detailing the kinds of discrimination that made it impossible for them to survive or to be integrated appropriately into the society.
Ten years after the ADA's passage, is that kind of discrimination much less? I think the answer to the question is no.
Have people who are severely disabled benefitted substantially from the protections of the Americans with Disabilities Act? One way to find an answer to this question is to ask if the employment level for people with disabilities has changed significantly. The answer is no.
Are people with disabilities more integrated into society? Are there more people with disabilities, for instance, holding management jobs within the private sector? Are there more people with disabilities holding management jobs in state governments? Are there more of us people with disabilities who are actively involved as effective participants within the political process - - e.g., in state legislatures, or at the national level, in Congress? The answer to those questions is no, no, no, no.
Ladies and gentlemen, what do we have to lose by suggesting to the rest of society that, as disabled people, we are tired of it, and we're not going to take it any more!
It is absolutely crucial to recognize that we are not alone. It isn't only people with disabilities who are being threatened by the new attitudes in our society. It's also people of different ethnic and racial backgrounds, it's also everyone who is poor, everyone who is under-educated. The philosophy that is rampant in our country at the moment is bound and determined to create a multi-tiered, multi-class society where we will categorically have the haves and the have-nots, and where the have-nots will probably never be able to climb out of the trough the society is throwing them into.
It is up to us whether people with disabilities choose to stay in this trough or demand that we be allowed to climb out. And, I think it's absolutely crucial -- and as President of ACB I intend to take this position from now on -- that I will no longer stand by and allow people to slander persons with disabilities with inaccurate half-truths.
Our executive director will verify that, about a month ago, I called him, absolutely livid about a document that had just been published by the Congress. This particular document had been compiled for use by a Congressional committee that was exploring the degree to which the Americans with Disabilities Act applies to the Internet. Whereas there were a number of facts within this document which were accurate, taken as a whole, the document created an atmosphere of fear, created a belief that disabled people were being unfair, and tried at the end to suggest that, were we to make the Internet accessible to people with disabilities, virtually every small web site would have to go out of business. The document was filled with exactly the same kinds of arguments which had been used, 10 years before, by the chambers of commerce and other detractors of disability rights, i.e., that a civil rights law for people with disabilities would make all small businesses go out of business and that all the poorest little businesses would no longer be able to function if the Congress passed this vicious law against American business.
The Congressional document also put forth the ludicrous argument that making the Internet accessible would be a violation of the First Amendment rights of all of the people who are operating Internet sites, because, essentially, in order to make their sites accessible, the argument went, they'd be told what to say, and their freedom of speech would, therefore, be curtailed. What balderdash!
Yet, that kind of argument is effective for a bunch of Americans, who -- if they're persuaded that the flag is at risk, that the Constitution is the issue -- will support elements of policy that they know, deep-down, are inappropriate and wrong.
Ladies and gentlemen, we have to say, to the people who publish these half-truths, "Stop it!"
Maybe it's time that we say to newspapers -- and often very capable and competent newspapers, like "The Washington Post" and "The New York Times" -- "If you're going to publish articles that talk about what you consider to be inappropriate suits under the ADA, publish the results as well." And, if newspapers won't do this, then we need to begin to launch a campaign of our own. ACB Can Do It!
It's been a pleasure over the last four and a half years -- most days -- to serve as president of the American Council of the Blind. Though I have reported lots of what may be considered negative things in my report this time, I'd also like to share with you my pleasure at the ongoing opportunity that the American Council of the Blind affords me to get to know grass-roots people who are blind from all over the country. I get an opportunity to build a sense within myself of the strength of this organization, by observing regular people doing important things in each local chapter, in each state. Each of us is a part of a huge tapestry. In a very real sense, the American Council of the Blind is the American quilt. We are different, we are varied. Some of us are larger, some of us are smaller, some of us do more, some of us do less, but the whole that we create, ladies and gentlemen, is a consumer organization of people who are blind that has already, in the 40 years it has existed, made a tremendous difference in the lives of blind people, and that is now poised, as we are getting ready to begin the new century, to become the organization that will be the most responsible for creating the future that blind people in our society will have.
In the new millennium, civil rights means the right to stand up and state that you want to discriminate ž not with a hood over your head ž but with legal papers in hand.
Indeed, in this new millennium, our states and municipalities are asking for court approval as they give new meaning to the old phrase: "You can't sue city hall!"
First, I want to set the legal stage and then turn to my more
fundamental concerns about what these activities really say about what progress has not been made over the past 50 years. Legalizing Bigotry
Two recent cases, which purport to be concerned about preserving the sovereign rights of state governments to be protected from lawsuits, epitomize a contempt for the principles of fairness expressed in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Florida Department of Corrections v. Dickson is an employment discrimination case under Title I of the ADA involving the failure of Florida to promote an individual with a heart condition. Alsbrook v. City of Maumelle is a suit brought by a visually impaired person against an Arkansas city for monetary damages under ADA Title II. The Supreme Court agreed to hear these cases during the current 1999-2000 session. As I was preparing this article, however, both cases were settled -- on the very eve of their hearing before the United States Supreme Court -- perhaps because the politicians in the states which brought the suits began to think twice, in this year of election, about such blatant attempts at sanctioned discrimination.
Nonetheless, in both these cases, as in several others which preceded them and still others which are making their way through the lower courts, questions are being raised about whether a state/local government can be sued under the law if the state or local government entity has not agreed to be sued by waiving its sovereign immunity. This concept of sovereign immunity stems way back in jurisprudence to the notion of not suing the king. Now the states are attempting to apply this concept to mean that states/local governments must give consent to their being sued. Congress, they claim, cannot do it for them when they give litigants the opportunity to sue state and local entities for violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The clear trend in recent years has been to limit the ability of citizens to sue states and local governments. Earlier this 1999-2000 term the Supreme Court held in Kimel v. Florida Board of Regents that states could not be sued under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). Last year the Supreme Court in Alden v. Maine held that states could not be sued for minimum wage violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act. These cases followed the court's 1996 decision in Seminole Tribe of Florida v. Florida, in which the court held a state which had not waived sovereign immunity could not be sued in federal court even on an issue involving a federal question.
Legal niceties and foundations of the two ADA cases, Dickson and Alsbrook, could be dissected ad nauseam by people far more qualified than I. But to me there is really one critical basic question in all these cases: Why are we even having this debate?
If the Supreme Court ever holds in some future case that states cannot be sued under ADAžs Titles I and II, it strikes me that we will have gone full circle on civil rights in the past half century. If you go around in a complete circle, what have you accomplished? A Brief History of Civil Rights Laws
Fifty years ago there were no civil rights laws for people with disabilities except for some "White Cane" laws which, as a practical matter, gave lip service, hortatory language and unenforceable rights to people who are visually impaired.
In the 1950s and 1960s, then-majority leader and later President Lyndon B. Johnson and senator and later President John F. Kennedy had to combat "states' rights" arguments raised in opposition to the Civil Rights Act of 1956 as well as the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964. Claiming "states' rights" was a polite way of telling the federal government to keep out, leave the issue to the states. Enactment of these two major laws was heatedly fought in extended congressional debate and followed many demonstrations and horror stories, even some public beatings and private incidents of horror courtesy of, among others, the hooded Ku Klux Klan.
In 1973, the Rehabilitation Act came along, complete with the mandate in Section 504 which required that if you received federal funding, you could not discriminate against people with disabilities in program, service or activity. States turned to the federal bureaucrats and said, in essence, "Why not apply that to you, too, if you really care and want to be fair?" Miracle of miracles, Congress agreed and the Rehabilitation Act was amended in 1978 to apply the non-discrimination mandate across the board to the federal executive agencies.
What also happened after the 1973 Rehabilitation Act was that states and local governments amended their own civil rights laws (which had been adopted after the 1964 federal law) to include people with physical handicaps. (Nowadays, we would choose to use a more sensitive word, like "disabilities.")
In fairness it must be noted that, during the 1980s, some states, like Maryland and the District of Columbia, were generally ahead of the federal government in recognizing people who were HIV-positive or had AIDS as covered by the anti- discrimination law. Also, state laws, by being amendments to general civil rights laws, often banned discrimination in places where the public gathered, such as restaurants, hotels, recreation areas and other commercial facilities -- even when the Rehabilitation Act would not apply because there was no federal funding involved.
Then, the great phoenix, the Americans with Disabilities Act, rose in 1990 with mandates not to discriminate in employment, state and local government, public accommodations/commercial facilities and telecommunications.
Now 10 years later the ADA, like other civil rights laws, is under serious attack. Let's look at what is happening. States and local governments are saying in their legal briefs to the Supreme Court that the law does not apply to them. Let their own (state and local) laws apply, they plead. To me this legalese is just a more high-fallutin' way of saying "states' rights" or more bluntly, do unto others (such as the private sector) but not unto me.
Pardon me if I missed something. But I do not believe the state and local laws have the same impact as the national imprimatur and consciousness-raising of the ADA.
Having been fortunate enough to be on the White House lawn when ADA was signed on July 26, 1990, I could not help but feel the sea change of people with disabilities being empowered. Yes, more has been done by the private sector -- some businesses have been putting in ramps, and many are marketing toward people with disabilities. No one doubts there has been progress in the public sector, too.
Does anyone doubt that there is more to be done in both the state/local government area as well as the private sector?
Yet here come the state and local governments strenuously arguing that ADA's Titles I and II do not apply to them, in effect trying to dam up the progress that has been made. If state and local governments really did not want to discriminate against their disabled citizens, then they would not be making these arguments. The practical bottom line of their legal papers is to turn a morally unacceptable act of bigotry into an act that is legally sanctioned. That is not acceptable to me.
What the states are brazenly doing under cover of legal brief is the same as what others did under the white cloak of terror and protestations of states' rights. Only now it is all out in the open -- sadly like too many other aspects of bigotry and hatred. Out in the Open
In fact, bigotry is so out in the open that Chris Core's popular drive-time talk show on Washington, DC's WMAL radio held an extended discussion one recent afternoon about what to do when someone makes a totally offensive, bigoted remark.
In a well-publicized incident earlier this year, a baseball player, John Rocker, made outrageously offensive remarks against virtually all minority groups, including people who have AIDS or are HIV-positive. What were the consequences of his bigotry and intolerance? He got suspended for two weeks and may earn more in one baseball season than the Department of Justice will collect in civil penalties under the ADA during the same period of time.
When a student vandalized a menorah at a local college here, he wound up with community service, not jail time.
Most egregious were the hate killings, which occurred last year, of a gay student in Wyoming and a black man in Texas.
State and local governments need to think about the big picture. What message do the leaders of these governmental bodies send to society by making these arguments in the Supreme Court? They are openly advocating for the right not to be subject to a law which prohibits discrimination. The new weapon of choice for today's bigot is a legal brief, not a billy club. States are seeking to go back to the past when there were no civil rights laws for people with disabilities for them to answer to. Does anyone really believe that there will be less discrimination against people with disabilities if ADA is found unconstitutional in its application to state and local governments? Will the private sector be more or less voluntarily compliant with ADA if it sees ADA being held unconstitutional (even if the precise legal application is different)?
States and local governments need to realize the catalytic impact, not only the legal issues, of these cases. If ADA's Titles I and II are found unconstitutional as applied to state and local governments, we will take one giant leap backward and will reinforce the already too prevalent bigotry in today's society.
LBJ and JFK must be spinning in their graves. Frankly, Scarlett, not enough people give a damn!
One of the privileges of being ACB's executive director that I appreciate most is having an opportunity to visit with thousands of our members while I travel around the country on ACB business. There are always great people to meet and experiences to share. On my latest trip, I met up with a number of sighted travelers who helped me to understand just how close we all are to each other as human beings. I realized once again that blindness presents no impediment to human community, for blindness presents no barriers to the human spirit. Here's what happened.
First, I sat next to a woman from the midwest who told me how her father had been interned in a detention camp in the United States because he was of Japanese descent. As she continued her story, she explained that she hadn't found out until she was 30 years old about her entire half family on the west coast about whom nobody had ever spoken. As we talked, she unraveled a life story that had given her great joy and pain and how she was trying to reconcile all the things that had happened. When that leg of the trip was over and she went off for a connecting flight, I could not help but think how good a person she was and how grateful I am to ACB for having had all the experiences I have had that allowed me to connect with her in a way that really helped.
Later on the way home, I met a man who was traveling with his sons. They were going off to the wilderness of New Mexico to re- create the journey of his grandfather, who had staked a claim to four gold mines before New Mexico had even become a state. While I wished him and his sons well in their great adventure and shared their hope of finding gold, we all acknowledged that the gold of a family history re-lived was the most enriching treasure of all. The utter joy and anticipation in their voices was proof positive of the truly once-in-a-lifetime experience they were excited to share.
Last, among other folks I had the pleasure of meeting on this trip, there was the woman who was about to celebrate her 50th wedding anniversary. She told me about her children and the places their family had been. She also shared her sad story about a son who had passed away after sight loss. He had not adjusted to blindness, she said, as well as I must have. She said he had taken an experimental treatment that had not worked. I knew what she meant and shared the space she needed to let it be. At the end of that leg of the trip, the would-be family gold miners and the woman and her husband whose son had passed away all bid me farewell as friends who had shared a short but meaningful time together. It struck me how many lives we just fly over on those planes and though we travel many paths, we are so closely knit as people.
I write this because all of us in ACB can give back to our larger community because we have had the opportunities to share so much with each other. Yes, our strengthening together is a well from which refreshing waters flow for each other and for a world so much in need of our shared wisdom. In the end, is it not our willingness to build futures together in ACB that is the foundation of building real integration in our society?
Thank you, ACB, for having a philosophy that reaches out from our organizational strength to build a better world for everyone, and thanks to all of you for giving me the chance to represent such a fine way of viewing America, whether on the ground or 30,000 feet up in the air.
During the week of the ACB convention (July 1-8, 2000), many exciting tours will be offered. We encourage you to pre- register, so that you will be assured of getting the specific tours that interest you.
For information about the pre-convention tours, look back at your March "Braille Forum" at the article, "After the Winds of Winter, Kentucky Blooms." Below, find information about tours which will be taking place during convention week. Please note that, because we are still in the process of confirming final arrangements, minor adjustments in schedules may still take place. But, for right now, here are our plans:
Louisville City Tours: Saturday and Sunday, July 1 and 2
A guide will ride with you on the comfortable, air- conditioned motor coach to provide a detailed narrative as you travel through the historic neighborhoods of Louisville. You may feel as though you are traveling through time, as you jaunt from the historic West Main Street to the downtown area with its contemporary architecture. The guide will explain how this frontier fort on the river moved from a small outpost to a sleek, modern city. There will be a brief shopping opportunity at the Kentucky Derby Museum Gift Shop, located adjacent to legendary Churchill Downs. After you have traveled through the city, you can relax and enjoy a delightful lunch on the banks of the Ohio River at Captain's Quarters Restaurant.
Locust Grove: Thursday, July 6
Experience the story of George Rogers Clark and the beginning of Louisville. Clark's final home was an 18th century plantation set on 55 acres of rolling hills east of Louisville. This plantation was visited by three presidents, and was the stopping point for the Lewis and Clark Expedition before they returned to Washington to report their findings. Special programs will offer visitors a first-hand experience of the plantation and the items produced there.
The Belle of Louisville Riverboat Cruise: Wednesday, July 5
Step back in time aboard the historic Belle of Louisville, our nation's oldest operating river steamboat. As you board you will be entertained by the Belle's old time calliope. With a mighty whistle blast, your voyage will leave the dock at 8 p.m. and return you to modern civilization at 11 p.m. During the cruise, you can listen to the band, walk around the boat, dance or just relax and enjoy the sounds of the river and the gentle movement of this old sternwheeler.
Frankfort, the State Capitol History Center: Monday, July 3
The city of Frankfort, Kentucky, is only an hour away from Louisville. The capitol building, which is modeled after our national capitol, sits next to one of the nation's most impressive governor's mansions. A fresh new History Center houses artifacts that you may touch as you listen to audio descriptions. Under the "Domes of Silence," Kentucky's most famous historical person, Daniel Boone, rests in peace at the top of the cliffs overlooking the Kentucky River Valley as he requested.
American Printing House for the Blind: July 2 through 7
Take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to explore the American Printing House for the Blind and the Kentucky School for the Blind, both of which will be open for ACB conventioneers! There will be three areas to visit: the museum, the studio and the production area. In the museum, you will learn about the reading and writing systems which existed before braille. You will be able to touch systems that you may have never even known existed. And of course, there is a famous section about Helen Keller.
In the studio, you may hear -- and be only inches away from - - some of your favorite readers as they record yet another book for your enjoyment.
In the production area, you will smell the ink as the large- print books are being printed. At another point you will feel the vibrations of the presses as they punch out thousands of braille pages. And in a few more steps you will hear the whirring of the tape duplicating machines as they make hundreds of copies of this year's most widely read books on tape. Tour groups will be limited to 45 members, so each person will be able to have a real hands-on experience. Be sure to check out your registration forms for specific departure times for APH tours.
Lions Eye Foundation: Thursday, July 6
Tours of the Lions Eye Foundation are still in the planning phase. We anticipate two opportunities, toward the end of convention week, for you to tour this intriguing research facility, which is funded by the Lions International. Come see the work being done for good eye health and learn about possible sight restoration procedures.
Louisville Slugger Museum: Wednesday, July 5 and Friday, July 7
Have you ever seen a baseball bat 120 feet long and 9 feet in diameter? Yes, that Louisville Slugger really exists at 800 West Main, along with a baseball glove that is 10 feet long, 9 feet wide, 4 feet tall and weighs 15 tons! All these and many more amazing icons of baseball are out in the open where you can touch them. In the case of the glove, you can climb onto it or even crawl inside it if you like.
How would you like to hold a baseball bat that Babe Ruth actually swung? Yes, you can do that and much more. This tour will fill your senses with thrills and excitement every step of the way.
At the beginning of the tour, you may order a personalized bat. Depending on the model you select, you may be able to pick up your bat at the end of the tour, or it may be shipped to your home.
You will hear about baseball's greatest hits and hitters and hold some of the bats they used. There are life-size models of some of the greatest pitchers, hitters, catchers and players, and they can be touched.
Beyond the museum is the plant where you can take a guided tour and learn how a tree is turned into a baseball bat whose next stop could be a major league ball game. At the end of the tour you will receive a free 17-inch Louisville Slugger mini bat as your souvenir.
The Derby Dinner Theater: Saturday, July 8
The Derby Dinner Theater will be the site for a wonderful evening of food and entertainment. You may select your food from the buffet line or make your selections from a menu of buffet items and ask a volunteer to serve you.
Because the theater is in the round, you will never be more than two or three rows away from the action. The Sunshine Boys will be playing on the night of your visit.
Legally blind artists who reside in the USA may enter a maximum of two original, ready-to-display works of art in any of the following media: painting, drawing, printmaking, collage, or sculpture. Participants will cast ballots to select the best of show. Artists may enter up to two works of art in the above categories not to exceed two entries. Each entry should be labeled with the artist's name and title of the work, and labeled to indicate orientation. All works of art must be ready to hang or display-ready.
Send your letter of intent to enter to Elsie Monthei, 1304 39th St., Des Moines, IA 50311, or call her at (515) 277-0442. Letters of intent must be received by May 2. Information about your work should include media, size, title, and dimensions. We need to make braille labels, so a short description which can be transcribed into braille should be included. Delivery and Return of Art Work
If you plan to attend the national convention, you can bring your work with you. You must pick up your work and pack it yourself for return home.
If you intend to submit a mailed entry, the return Federal Express fee should be included to return your work to you. Don't forget to also include the cost of insuring those items which you want us to mail back to you.
Your works should be insured and shipped to: Elsie Monthei, The Galt House, 140 N. Fourth Street, Louisville, KY 40202, or hand delivered to her at the Galt House. The shipping deadline is June 30; hand delivery, July 2.
All entrants will be charged an entry fee of $10 to cover the display costs. Entry fees will not be returned if an artist does not display his/her artwork.
Prizes, sales and pick-up
The art exhibition will be held on July 4. An artistsž reception will be held that evening. The winners will be notified that day, and awards will be given.
All reasonable care will be given to objects in the exhibition. Friends In Art will insure works accepted at the marked sales price or included insured value. Coverage is for the time the works are on exhibit. Insurance does not cover the object in transit, or works unclaimed after the convention. Works not claimed or picked up by July 6 will be treated as gifts to Friends In Art.
Sales are encouraged. No commission will be charged by Friends In Art. Friends In Art will not act as agent. All sales must be negotiated by participants. Agreement
Submission of an entry to this exhibition shall constitute agreement with all conditions in this application. Friends In Art reserves the right to reproduce works for publicity purposes.
Note: Works not ready for exhibition or display ready can be withheld from the exhibit. The names of show participants may be published in "The Braille Forum."
ENTRY REGISTRATION FORM
CITY ___________________________ STATE___________ ZIP___________
PHONE HOME_________________ WORK_________________________
__________________ ASKING PRICE _______________ NOT FOR SALE
2: ARTIST ____________________________________________________
STREET ADDRESS ____________________________________________
CITY __________________________ STATE ____________ ZIP__________
PHONE HOME_________________ WORK_________________________
_____________________ ASKING PRICE _______________ NOT FOR SALE
Return this form by May 2 to Elsie Monthei, 1304 39th St., Des Moines, IA 50311.
(Editor's Note: This is a second article in a four-part series about one person's experience of retiring one faithful guide dog and learning to love another. Look for the next installment in Sarah's story later this summer.)
I was very tired as I boarded the plane in Indianapolis on September 25, 1999. I had not slept well the night before. I had been packing instead of sleeping. Now I was just hoping for a smooth, uneventful flight to Newark. Maybe I could catch a few winks while we were in the air.
Once the flight took off, I got what I had hoped for. I slept so deeply that I didn't even realize we had landed until I heard the engine become quiet and the captain turn off the "Fasten Seat Belt" sign.
In Newark, I expected to be met by a driver who would take me directly to the Seeing Eye in Morristown, N.J. I waited about half an hour before he located me, and the uncertainty caused quite a bit of anxiety. When he located me, he told me that he was also meeting another student. I was glad to have company on the way to the Seeing Eye.
Many things had changed since my previous trip to the school, the most noticeable of which for me was the fact that this time, each student had his or her own room. I wasn't sure whether I would like this arrangement or not. In the end, I decided that it was a positive change. After all, I could usually find someone to talk to in one of the lounges.
The other major change was that dogs were now given to us on Monday instead of Sunday. Several of us complained about this, and the students at my table tried to convince our instructor to bring us our dogs early. Of course, our pleas didn't work. We were given an opportunity to practice obedience with some dogs -- not our own -- on Sunday afternoon, and this appeased most of us. However, one student stated emphatically at Sunday dinner, "You know I won't be able to sleep tonight!"
Monday finally came, and we all went to our rooms after lunch to wait. I was in the middle of reminiscing about my first meeting with Elli when my instructor knocked quietly on my door. I opened it excitedly, and there she stood with my dog -- just far enough away that I would have to follow them down to the lounge for the meeting. I did this anxiously, and Dori, my new black Labrador retriever, responded to me with much licking and tail-wagging. My instructor commented that she had never seen Dori "this animated."
I had already determined in my mind that this training was going to be different in several ways from my training with Elli. I had learned a lot from mistakes I had made with Elli, and I intended to keep those lessons in mind. The first thing I wanted to do was to ensure the best possible bond between myself and this new dog. It started with our first contact.
Interacting with Dori was not always easy. I had much less energy than I had had when I trained with Elli and was also in poor health. I had to unlearn some bad habits. I also found that Dori required a different style of interaction than Elli had. I struggled a great deal with this during the first few days and realized that I was having difficulty emotionally with correcting her because of certain regrets I had about the ways in which I had handled Elli.
I understood the reality of this when Lucas Franck, who had trained me with Elli, asked me how I was enjoying Dori. "She's awesome," I said, "but I feel guilty saying that."
"Why?" he asked. "Elli's awesome, too. Elli's old and awesome. Dori's young and awesome. You're young and awesome, and you need a dog who's young and awesome. God designed this so you could enjoy more than one dog. So if you feel guilty, you talk to God."
He was right. Elli was a wonderful girl. Elli is a wonderful girl. And so is Dori. But if I allowed my guilt about things that happened incorrectly or didn't happen at all with Elli to control my relationship with Dori, we would be getting off to a very bad start.
From that moment on, I was at peace with my decision to retire Elli and learned to communicate my expectations to Dori in the ways which were appropriate for her temperament. Much of our training after that went very smoothly.
We had been told that we would have a fire drill on Friday at 5 p.m. Each of us had been shown where the various fire exits were in the building. We were all prepared for the drill. We were not prepared for the fire alarm to sound at midnight on Tuesday night. I was still awake, writing in my journal. I hurried downstairs and outside with Dori. I was amazed at my ability to maintain my composure, but I lost my bearings in the stairwell, which had a number of places where I had to turn.
The alarm was a false alarm. However, we all stood outside for some 30 minutes until the firemen came to investigate. We were told that they were required to come anytime there was an alarm. Some of us laughed and joked about the incident. Others grumbled about the loss of sleep and the rain.
I had just climbed into bed and was drifting off to sleep when the alarm sounded again. Tired and annoyed, I made the trip back outside with Dori and all my classmates for another 30-minute wait in the rain. I didn't laugh this time, and neither did many of my classmates.
There were three more alarms during the next two days. It was finally discovered that some of the fire-detection sensors were malfunctioning. Needless to say, we did not have the scheduled fire drill on Friday.
Days in training were long, beginning at 5:30 and ending with an 8:00 trip outside for the dogs' benefit before we had some free time. I enjoyed my time there, just as I had the last time I was in Morristown. I spent quite a bit of my free time using the Technology Center to learn about Windows and to correspond with friends via e-mail. I sent frequent reports about my experiences to my parents, friends, and other family members. When I was not in the Tech Center, I napped, read, or spent time talking and playing games with my classmates. I also took occasional walks on the leisure path with classmates; alone; and once even with Rachel, my former classmate, who had come to visit with her guide, who was still working at 10 years of age.
Having visitors while I was in class was a new experience for me. During my training with Elli, I had come from Texas, and most of my friends lived in Texas. While in training I had been introduced to telecommunications for the first time, and since then I had become active on the Internet. One of the ways I had put my interest in the Internet to good use was to start an e- mail-based discussion list for parents of blind and visually impaired children. One of the families from the list visited me while I was in class. I enjoyed having some contact with žthe real world.ž Life at the Seeing Eye is not very natural. Beds are made for us. Meals are cooked for us. Schedules are planned and very strictly adhered to. I found that sitting with my visitors helped to remind me that I was preparing for re-entry into a life that I often felt I had left far away when I came to training.
The day of departure finally arrived. Thursday, October 14, was a bittersweet day for me. My instructor took me to the airport that morning. As we walked through the airport, she commented that Dori looked "classy, even though she doesn't know where she's going." I was proud.
We checked in and sat down to wait for the plane to arrive. My instructor asked if she might say goodbye to Dori. I didn't mind this at all. I knew that there was still a special bond between them, evidenced by Dori's tendency to become distracted whenever the instructor was passing us in the hallway.
My instructor knelt down beside Dori and began talking affectionately to her. "I want you to be a good girl," she said. Then she used what had become Dori's nicknames when she was disobedient. "Don't be Doris or Dorothy. Just Dori, all the time." I smiled to myself. It was almost as if she was giving Dori instructions for life.
The plane arrived, and I left my instructor standing at the gate. I was now in "the real world," on my way home.
When it comes to the battle over enforcement of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Central Maryland Council of the Blind in Baltimore, Md. takes no prisoners. CMCB is the Greater Baltimore chapter of the American Council of the Blind, and this group of about 70 members has been actively engaged in several interesting ADA compliance battles within the past two years.
One of these issues, a traffic circle known as the Towson Roundabout, became a chapter project in the fall of 1997 after CMCB member Phil Guntner filed a complaint with the United States Department of Justice alleging that the construction of this traffic circle in a highly congested urban environment created serious safety and diminished access problems for blind, disabled and elderly pedestrians. In this project, traffic signals had been removed so that traffic could continuously move through the roundabout. The Maryland State Highway Administration argued that blind pedestrians could cross these busy streets at designated crossings simply by holding out their canes and stepping off the curb. Parker F. Williams, Director of the State Highway Administration, expressed the view his agency had made it safer for blind pedestrians. In his view, all we had to do was hold out a cane or step off the curb with our guide dogs, and drivers in all lanes would stop to allow us to cross the street.
The membership of the chapter recognized the inherent foolishness of the state's position, and in November 1997 voted to support Phil's complaint by filing a second complaint on behalf of the chapter. We argued that blind pedestrians had a safe method for crossing these busy streets by crossing at intersections where the flow of moving vehicles was controlled by traffic signals. Now, federal dollars were being used to make these intersections less accessible by not only removing these traffic signals but creating a barrier of continuously moving traffic which made it impossible for blind pedestrians to safely move across the streets. We argued it was the equivalent of having an environment which contained curb cuts and then removing the curb cuts. Under this argument, we contended that the federal dollars were being used to make the neighborhood less accessible and much more dangerous, and this decision violated the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Unfortunately, the matter was referred to the Federal Highway Administration to conduct an investigation. Chapter leaders suggested that asking federal highway administrators to investigate a civil rights complaint filed by blind pedestrians was the equivalent of asking the fox to guard the chicken coop. Our doubts regarding the objectivity of the Federal Highway Administration proved to be accurate. In 25 words or less, that decision suggested that the implementing regulations dealt with such matters as curb cuts, etc. Therefore, the Maryland State Highway Administration's actions did not violate any regulations. The decision failed to address our diminished access or safety concerns at all.
This apparent defeat may yet be turned into a significant victory. Just a few weeks after the shortsighted decision issued by the Federal Highway Administration, the United States Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board decided to establish a committee to evaluate whether there is a need to make new regulations designed to protect the access needs of disabled pedestrians who are not in wheelchairs. ACB has a representative on that committee, so we are eagerly awaiting further developments.
In anticipation that there will be some positive regulations stemming from the work of this committee, former American Council of the Blind of Maryland president Gary Legates sent a letter to Governor Glendening in Annapolis asking him to declare a moratorium on the construction of new traffic circles in Maryland.
On a second ADA compliance issue, the chapter has been pressuring the Maryland Mass Transit Administration to comply with the ADA by making stop announcements on its fixed route service. This effort has been expanded to include paratransit issues, because on June 29, 1999, Ronald Freeland, Administrator of MTA, announced that beginning on July 1, all paratransit applicants and all re-certification customers would be required to take a functional test to measure ambulatory skills and cognitive ability. If blind paratransit applicants were to pass these tests, then MTA would deny their eligibility to receive paratransit services. Freeland was prepared to take this action even though a survey conducted by CMCB demonstrated that only about 15 percent of fixed route bus operators were complying with the stop announcement program.
The chapter responded in a decisive manner once again. On August 30, 1999, we filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Transportation over the stop announcement issue and the new paratransit certification policy. The stop announcement issue is fairly clear. Bus operators are not making required announcements on a consistent basis, so MTA is violating federal law. The paratransit issue is clear also. The accessibility standard to be applied to blind customers is not whether we have sufficient ambulatory skills or cognitive abilities to use the bus system. One of the accessibility standards which applies to blind customers is whether the bus operator is providing us with information which is sufficient to make it possible for blind travelers to use the system (the stop announcements required by the ADA). If stop announcements are not being made, then we are eligible for paratransit service. Currently the investigation has been assigned to the Civil Rights Office in the Federal Transit Administration.
In a related development, the National Association for Accessible Transportation has filed a suit again the Maryland Mass Transit Administration regarding their failure to call out bus stops. Stay tuned for further developments.
This active chapter has also been working with Baltimore city and Maryland state election officials to make it possible for more blind voters to vote without assistance. We are making substantial progress in Baltimore, and with each election, more voters in Baltimore are using the new voting machines there without assistance.
The chapter has been helping the national office with a Department of Justice complaint over the refusal by Maryland State Highway Administration officials to install accessible pedestrian signals at various intersections throughout the state. We are complaining as loudly as we can about a decision by the State of Maryland to challenge the constitutionality of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. These projects are in the early stages, however.
You can understand why the chapter is proud of its effort to change the world with ACB. Undoubtedly, this effort will continue under the leadership of newly elected president Joann Kucik and vice president Gene Spurrier. CMCB is making a real difference in the lives of blind people living in the city by the Chesapeake Bay.
At the American Council of the Blind national convention held in Los Angeles last July, those assembled took a giant step forward when the Alliance on Aging and Vision Loss became an affiliate. There was recognition that baby boomers are sending a message that progress involves valuing maturity and skills which are perfected through active utilization over time. As an affiliate, AAVL can make a significant difference in our lives, whether as paid workers or as retired individuals who make commitments to humanitarian causes by having the voice of an affiliate.
You are invited to join AAVL. The affiliate welcomes all adults over the age of 18, sighted, blind, visually impaired, able-bodied or disabled. The workshops which are being planned want and need your opinions and suggestions. Therefore, joy is having a structured forum that is responsive to change. Come let your light shine through!
(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 ending February 25, 2000
ACB board gives thumbs up on budget and other proposals
In an action-filled agenda the ACB board of directors approved the yearly budget, voted to admit a new affiliate to the family, and to migrate the ACB web site and its subparts to We Media's facilities. After a careful explanation of the budget parameters and elements, the board voted to accept the nearly $1.4 million budget. The document calls for continued growth of ACBES and its thrift store operations that account for an important portion of Council revenues. Even as expansion of the thrift store operations was taking place, the budget moved to diversify revenues and lessen dependency on any particular source. In addition, the budget called for an expansion in the number of pages in "The Braille Forum" due to the increased readership of the magazine and even a 13th issue devoted to coverage of the national convention.
The board accepted the well articulated and presented application of Blind Friends of Lesbians and Gays to become an affiliate of the organization. Noteworthy in their presentation was the fact that blind gays and lesbians only make up about two- tenths of one percent of the gay and lesbian community while gays and lesbians may make up as much as 10 percent of the blind community. With the odds very much imbalanced in the gay and lesbian community for appropriate representation, the BFLAG group is as much in need of having an organized voice as ACB itself is, with respect to the general society.
The board further acted to preserve and grow the ACB presence on the Internet through a decision to accept the offer of We Media to host and assist us with our web efforts. We Media is a large, well-funded web site that is an electronic version of the upscale We Magazine that has done so well in the publishing world. ACB will retain its identity and ability to control web content while We Media gains another aspect of the disability community in its attempt to accurately represent an electronic disability village.
Among other decisions, the ACB board also voted to endorse the report of the Affiliate Rights and Responsibilities committee to articulate and define the mutual expectations of the national organization and our many affiliates toward each other. The document will now be distributed to affiliate presidents for their review.
Keep reading "The Braille Forum" for a more complete report on this last board meeting that took on many decisions with a sense of responsibility that was only matched by their strong commitment to the best interest of ACB.
Legislative seminar overflows with registrations!
Looks like another banner year for the ACB legislative seminar! Already we have passed the anticipated block of rooms we had reserved and have expanded to accommodate as many ACB folks as we can. Currently the overflow looks to be the capacity for the meeting space and we will seriously have to consider a larger hotel and meeting space for next year.
The issues to be covered in the seminar have not fully been chosen as yet. This is due to the fact that we must select those issues most likely to be impacted upon by the group at the time they will be in Washington. Likely candidates for action are Social Security linkage, Medicare coverage of low vision and blind services, the voting rights bill and other discrete actions needed on air carrier transportation rights and other issues.
The speakers will include people who are directly on the front lines of the action and we can guarantee all comers that we've got a power-packed weekend of work and fun ahead. Thanks to Terry Pacheco and Melanie Brunson for the teamwork that has gone into putting this coming seminar together.
DC blind kids at risk
Can inclusion in the public schools turn out to be exclusion from education? The answer to that might well be yes in the schools of the District of Columbia.
Last Wednesday the District of Columbia Council of the Blind along with the NFB groups in Washington met with other interested parties at the ACB national office to take a closer look at the effective elimination of a vision program in the DC schools. This situation has been brewing for some time and now blind advocates need to take it on if we are not to lose another generation of blind kids to neglect. More to come as the meetings progress.
* For the week ending March 3, 2000
Blind left behind on tech objection as House passes HR5
Before a hearing room filled with blind people, the House Ways and Means Committee was denied the opportunity to vote on re-linking the blind to elders in a bill to remove earnings limits for the elderly in their receipt of Social Security benefits. After attempts to amend the legislation came from both a Republican and a Democratic member of the committee, E. Clay Shaw of Florida killed the effort by claiming the attempt to include the blind was not germane to the bill.
Blind advocates suspect that this parliamentary point of order was contrived to defeat their efforts and to let those against our interests off the hook. Advocates further speculate that the votes were there to pass the amendment had it ever been allowed to come up for consideration.
Chairman E. Clay Shaw of the Social Security Committee announced that there would be hearings on March 23 to look at the SSDI implications of substantial gainful activity for all disabilities. This move was denounced by one Ways and Means Committee member as a kind of distracting move to offer false hope that there would be any changes. Blind advocates are reviewing our options with respect to this announcement.
In a related story, ACB has lodged its strong objections to representations made by certain persons who inappropriately used their positions within the Consortium of Citizens with Disabilities to forward their negative views about passing the blindness amendment. These ACB objections have resulted in an appropriate response from CCD. ACB is now working with the other members of CCD to insure that no recurrence of negative representations happen as the action now moves to the Senate.
Medicare legislation makes agenda for ACB action
As the legislative seminar approaches in two weeks, ACB has begun to crystalize the issues for action. A proposal in the House of Representatives to include services for low vision and blind beneficiaries of Medicare will be on the agenda as ACB works to build support for the measure.
The proposal offers a real revitalization of funding support for services such as low vision evaluations and follow-ups, mobility instruction, and home teaching. The bill as it is currently composed will not receive a negative score from the Congressional Budget Office which would almost guarantee failure if the costs were higher. For this reason, various pieces of equipment were not proposed to be covered in the bill. Some attempts are under way to include equipment, but other efforts at the administrative level in the Health Care Finance Administration are showing promise at getting equipment covered under existing authorities. The benefit to this dual strategy is to get both equipment and services without having the proposed legislation fail on the basis of costs.
New technology to read prescription bottles seen at ACB
Executive Director Charlie Crawford had a fascinating view of a new technology to read the information on prescription labels. Rather than current efforts to somehow mark a label and perhaps provide written information on a separate paper, this new approach allows the pharmacist to generate a "smart label" that can be fit right over a part of the regular printed label. The consumer can then simply pass the bottle in front of a small electronic reader that will then speak what is on the label.
Already, there are software developments at the level of those companies that write the software to drive pharmacy printers to incorporate smart label features. The maker of this technology will be showing a prototype of it at our convention this summer and this low-cost solution could well take off as the way to go.
ACB sends legal letter of demand on office phone system
Those who have called our national office over the past couple of months will most likely recall that they may have been thinking the connection was by way of Venus. Increasing noise problems on a number of our lines without proper remedy from the seller of the system have caused us to demand specific performance of contractual obligations. We realize the inconvenience caused to callers and we are taking the necessary actions to get the problems behind us.
Kentucky 2000 taking shape in a big way
Woo, there are big plans for Louisville this summer! Education, entertainment, skills training, social opportunities, training on legal issues, exposure to new technologies, tours, sports and much, much more are now being put together for your benefit. So start making those plans today and be on the lookout for the pre-registration forms that will be arriving in just a couple of short months!
These notices are meant as informal brief summaries of activities in the national office. They do not represent official positions of the American Council of the Blind, its staff or elected officials.
On Monday, February 21, B.H. Newman suffered a heart attack and a few hours later had a stroke in his brain stem. He never regained consciousness and he died on Monday, February 28 at the age of 72. The death of this man, unfortunately, is not unique. Fortunately for all of us, his life was and the fruit of that life will live on every Tennessee morning when a vendor opens his/her place of business, when a newly blind individual keeps that first appointment with a rehab counselor who works in the division's Unit for the Blind, when the newspaper is read with that first cup of coffee by picking up the phone and when life's possibilities take their place on the wings of hope.
B.H. Newman was a true Southern gentleman with that mix of charm, blarney and rock solid friendliness that all who knew him were warmed and enriched by. When I came to Nashville, B.H. immediately introduced himself to me and gave to me the precious gift of his friendship. Almost the first words out of his mouth were, "Debbie, I want to take you up to the Legislative Plaza and introduce you around. I'm glad you're here."
Although B.H. was not feeling particularly well, he made plans to attend this year's ACB legislative seminar. Carol, his wife, worried about his going; but she knew that this sort of event held a supreme place in her husband's heart and mind.
Charlie Hodge, a member of ACB's board of publications and a leader of long standing in the organization, said of him, "I have known B.H. for many years through our meetings and mutual legislative interests at ACB national conventions and legislative seminars. B.H. was a former blind vending stand operator who had an abiding interest in the Randolph-Sheppard Act and program. B.H. regularly stalked the halls of the Tennessee legislature in Nashville. Dogged and indefatigable are the adjectives to describe B.H.'s advocacy style. He was like the pit bulldog who once gets something in its teeth and just won't give up or relinquish it until the task at hand is accomplished. No matter what the issue, B.H. never gave up and his boundless determination was usually rewarded with a successful conclusion to his advocacy efforts on behalf of blind Tennesseeans. He will be greatly missed."
Terry Smith, Director of Blind Services in Tennessee, paid this tribute to him.
"B.H. Newman was the best known blind person in the Tennessee legislature. Whenever I was lobbying for a particular bill, I was always asked, 'How does B. H. feel about this issue?' B.H. was always able to get crucial legislation introduced and resolutions passed. One such resolution established a separate program unit for the blind within the department and gave the director of the program the responsibility of supervising field counselors working with individuals who are blind. B.H. worked to procure funding for the newspaper reading service, and funding to bring descriptive video to Tennessee Public Television. B.H. Newman enriched the lives of blind people in Tennessee."
Penny Pennington, past president of the Tennessee Council of the Blind, told me that B.H. worked tirelessly to keep the teaching of braille in the curriculum at the Tennessee School for the Blind. She explained that in 1996, when Coca-Cola attempted to take over the state college campus vending machines, B.H. used his advocacy skills and convinced the right people to protect the integrity of the Randolph-Sheppard Act. Tennessee vendors honored him with their Tennessee Business Enterprise Award.
ACB President Paul Edwards said of him, "B.H. was a wonderful man who gave far more than he ever asked and I will miss him. Many of us will feel lessened without that bear of a voice roaring with enthusiasm and without that hand always out to help and always up to volunteer."
Carol Newman has requested that anyone who wishes to remember B.H. do so via a donation to the American Council of the Blind. And so those of us who are left to carry on must be ever mindful of the life of B.H. Newman and his commitment to the cause to which he dedicated that life.
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. We will not print letters unless you sign your name and give us your address.
Regarding "All Caps"
I realize that no two people are alike. Although I have not taken a formal survey at our technology center, many people have made the comment to me that viewing things in all-caps is difficult for them. -- Mary Secora, Show-Me Tech/Services for Independent Living, Columbia, Mo.
I conducted an informal survey today in a class where 17 adults with low vision were learning to use their vision to read. I gave them each a sample written in all caps and another sample written in upper- and lower-case letters. I asked them to indicate which they preferred, all-caps or the more traditional upper and lower case. Every single one of them preferred the mix of upper and lower case. I thought you might like to know some of the reasons they gave.
1. The spacing between letters and words is too close together [in all caps].
2. I cannot even tell where sentences end and begin [in all caps].
3. I am used to reading print with both upper and lower-case letters and that's what I can see better.
4. Well, this print is too thin in some places and too fat in others.
5. When it's all the same height, it's too hard to tell the letters apart. I can't even tell where the words end and begin.
My own opinion is that reading all caps for a low-vision person is like making someone who is a good braille reader -- someone who reads at least 100 words a minute -- read everything in grade one braille. I have low vision and print is my medium, but even I am slowed down when I am required to read in grade one braille instead of grade two.
It is also my opinion that size is the least important factor in readability of print. If print is too small for me to see clearly with my standard prescription lenses, I put on my reading glasses. If it is still too small, I can use my +24D halogen illuminated stand magnifier. If it is still too small, I can use a CCTV. There are all kinds of ways I can get around size. What neither I nor any other low vision person can control are font style, color/contrast, and ink and paper quality. All of these factors are much more important than size. I sincerely hope that no one in this organization, or any other for that matter, launches a campaign to get everything printed in all- caps. Not only would that make it extremely difficult for MOST low-vision people to read (note my survey results) but it would also evade the much more serious issues in readability, and give some government or private agency a great cop-out to use poor ink, poor paper and a terrible font and do nothing about improving because, after all, it IS written in all-caps!
Finally, I believe Mr. Harper must be a braille reader. But then, I would like to see him put braille in all upper-case letters. So much for "enough", "to", "in", "into", "by", "was", "were", and the prefixes "be" and "con", not to mention a few punctuation marks! -- Janis Stanger, Salt Lake City, Utah
I agree with Larry Harper. All caps is easier to read. -- Bertha N. Reynolds, St. Augustine, Fla.
Jessica Lorenz, a 21-year-old San Francisco State University student, was one of 13 participants in Mobility International USA (MIUSA)'s three-week International Exchange Program to Costa Rica in the summer of 1999. During her last days in Costa Rica, Jessica wrote an article about her first international experience. She shared the following with her fellow participants with and without disabilities:
"The MIUSA motto is an appropriate way to sum up the trip -- 'Challenge Yourself and Change the World' TM -- we pushed the envelope as they say, and I don't know about anyone else, but I learned that my maximum capacity is a lot greater than I ever knew. We learned so much and were positively changed. I know none of us will ever be the same."
Jessica is blind and is enrolled in Californiažs Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) program working toward a multi-subject teaching credential with the goal of becoming an adapted physical education teacher. In California, getting hired as a teacher often requires Spanish language skills, so Jessica is also working toward a minor in Spanish. When Jessica suggested the international exchange program as part of her vocational training, her VR counselor agreed that it would be an added asset to her educational endeavors by increasing her Spanish skills and disability knowledge, both of which would ultimately make her more employable as a teacher. Jessica was fortunate to have a VR counselor who understood the connection between this international experience and Jessicažs future employability.
The fact is, however, that international exchange participation often leads to an advantage in securing employment -- whether one has a disability or not. That is why Lynnae Ruttledge, Assistant Administrator for Planning and Policy with Oregon Vocational Rehabilitation Division, feels it is vital for young adults with disabilities to include international experience as part of their preparations to enter the increasingly global U.S. job market. "Even with the ADA, people with disabilities in this country still are not always considered equally for positions of employment. Job applicants with disabilities who have international experience bring that much more to the table to support their qualifications for jobs."
If an employer who is apprehensive about whether an applicant with a disability can meet the demands of the job learns that the individual successfully studied in Brazil for a year, those worries may just disappear. The ability to be successful in an academic or structured international program implies the person has a certain ability to be flexible, culturally aware, creative and motivated, to say the least. And, if individuals have high employment expectations for themselves, international experiences may be just what they need to lift them to the next level, closer to reaching those goals.
Including Lynnae Ruttledge, many successful individuals with disabilities employed in influential positions have had international experience. A few of the many are: Judy Heumann, Assistant Secretary in the U.S. Department of Educationžs Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Service; journalist John Hockenberry; Heather Harker, Kellogg Fellow and masteržs student in the public administration program at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University; Rich Spittler, Director of Bay Area Outdoor Recreation Program; and Jan Garret, executive director at the Berkeley Center for Independent Living.
Based on 19 years of international and disability experience, Mobility International USA has compiled a list of some of the benefits of participating in an international program such as studying, volunteering, researching, working or interning abroad, all of which add to an individual's employability: Experience learning how to function in a new environment
A more open and accepting attitude towards cultural and diversity issues
An increased skill level and/or investment in developing second language skills
An increased interest in active community and global involvement
The development of leadership skills
An increase in self-confidence
An increase in independent-thinking skills
Greater understanding of oneself
An increased sense of self-direction
Improved general job skills (interpersonal skills, flexibility, adaptability)
The opportunity to learn other cultural and world view perspectives
The opportunity to achieve a goal, a sense of accomplishment
If a person with a disability is pursuing a career in which international experience is vital, there are some options to consider for funding. Additional funding information is available free from the National Clearinghouse on Disability and Exchange (see the Resource section at the end of this article). Vocational Rehabilitation Funding
"There is no federal regulation that prohibits the funding of an international program as part of an individual's vocational rehabilitation plan," reports Mary Davis, Rehabilitation Program Specialist at the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) of the U.S. Department of Education. "Each state has flexibility in the nature and scope of what activities they cover, but cost alone can never be the only reason to deny a particular program." But, she adds, "There does need to be a clear link between the international activity and the individualžs vocational objective." It also should be clear that the experience is not available through participation in a domestic program. If a VR counselor agrees that the experience would be valuable and the VR department is supportive, it should be written into the vocational plan. Also, if VR has approved funding for adaptive equipment or an assistant such as a note-taker to meet the vocational goal, it may be possible to use those funds to provide the same service while abroad. Mary recommends that individuals should discuss international program participation with their VR counselors if they feel it would increase their employability as some states may have state level VR policies that apply.
Jessica worked closely with her VR counselor to get approval to use VR funds to participate in an international exchange program. "When my VR counselor and I wrote up my educational/vocational plan in February 1999, I was in the process of applying for the MIUSA exchange program. I told her that I was planning to [apply] and asked if that would be something that the department would support. My counselor said yes, and it was written into my plan. She and I kept in phone contact while all of the funding issues were being resolved. She never stopped encouraging me the entire time. When I was contacted by MIUSA [about my selection for the program], my VR counselor said that the department would sponsor me, and she faxed confirmation of such to MIUSA."
Mary Davis of the RSA and Jessica's counselor both shared that individuals who feel an international experience is crucial to their future employability and yet are denied the opportunity to gain that experience as part of their vocational rehabilitation plan should use their right to appeal through the Client Assistance Program. If an individual can present a strong case that the experience would make him or her more employable, it should be supported.
Supplemental Security Income Provision
If a person with a disability receives Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits and has the opportunity to participate in an international exchange program, they should apply to have their benefits continue while they are abroad. There is a little- used SSI provision that allows for the continuation of benefits while participating in an overseas educational program. Even though the requirements to qualify are rigid, this provision makes it possible for people with disabilities, who financially need to continue their SSI benefits, to gain the international experience to increase their employability.
Another option available to SSI beneficiaries to pro- actively plan for international exchange is through the SSI work incentives program. An individual with a disability receiving SSI benefits can work with his/her VR counselor to apply for a PASS (Plan for Achieving Self-Support). Through a PASS, an individual can set aside income and/or resources that will be used to achieve a career goal. If international experience is approved by the VR counselor as necessary to meet an individual's career goal, income can be set aside to be used to cover some of the expenses related to participating in the program. For example, Sam has the approved career goal of becoming a German language interpreter. VR may approve the funding to cover his tuition and books to study in Germany for a semester and a PASS plan would allow him to set aside income from his part-time job to purchase the airline ticket.
Regarding health insurance, Medicaid and Medicare are not usually transferable overseas. Private health insurance may expect an individual to pay for expenses abroad and then turn in claim forms to be reimbursed when he or she returns to the United States. Individuals should check with their international exchange organization and health insurance provider to find out about coverage abroad. If additional insurance is needed, one should inquire about coverage for pre-existing conditions.
The Social Security Administration feels it is important for people with disabilities to get the experience they need to be employed. It is critical that people with disabilities recognize the importance of international experience and, when possible, include it as part of their preparations for employment. Mobility International USA and the National Clearinghouse on Disability and Exchange offer free information and resources related to the numerous international exchange options available to people with disabilities.
Editor's Note: Mobility International is currently looking for individuals to apply for this year's international exchange programs. One program, "Global Options for Women with Disabilities in Leadership and Employment," is for women ages 18 to 25 from around the United States. It is a two-week international exchange program scheduled for July 2000 in Eugene, Ore. American delegates will join women from other world regions in an international cross-disability exchange of issues, ideas and strategies to improve opportunities for leadership and employment and to develop cross-cultural support networks. The Presidential Task Force on Employment of Adults with Disabilities is a major sponsor of this program.
Another program is called "US/Costa Rica: Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Disability." It is open to U.S. citizens ages 18 to 24. This exchange program is also two weeks during the summer. Its goals are to explore disability issues, strengthen cross-cultural ties and expand leadership skills. Activities include sessions on a variety of disability-related topics, participating in cultural events, visiting schools to learn about the countryžs educational system for disabled students, and learning about the culture and traditions by living with local families.
All activities in both programs are designed to ensure equal participation. Sign language interpretation and materials in alternate formats will be provided. Other accessibility arrangements will be negotiated to ensure full participation. Partial scholarships are available for both programs. For more information, or to apply for either of these programs, contact Mobility International USA, National Clearinghouse on Disability and Exchange, PO Box 10767, Eugene, OR 97440; phone (541) 343- 1284 (voice/TTY); fax (541) 343-6812; e-mail [email protected], or visit the web site, http://www.miusa.org.
The Social Security Administration (1999) "The Social Security Handbook." www.ssa.gov The Study Group, Inc. (1998) "Meeting the Needs of Youth with Disabilities: Handbook on Supplemental Security Income Work Incentives and Transition Students." The National Transition Network, Institute on Community Integration, University of Minnesota.
Lorenz, Jessica (1999) Tribute to MIUSA, "Over the Rainbow," Mobility International USA.
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.
NEW TEEN E-ZINE
Disability Central is launching a new disabled teen e-zine, and seeks teens with disabilities who are looking for jobs as writers, editors, marketing and advertising staff. Jobs available are: science and technology writer; art director; deputy editor; disability news writer; marketing and public relations; adaptive equipment writer department; advice columnist/relationship author; entertainment writer; e-zine editor; Internet writer and columnist; recreation writer/columnist; young men's interests writer; young women's interests writer; advertising sales specialist; and education and career columnist/writer. For more information, visit http://www.disabilitycentral.com. If you are interested in applying for any of the positions, e-mail [email protected]
Itžs time for the United States Census 2000. The census is a questionnaire that is sent to every residence in the United States. By completing it, you help insure that your community and your needs are not forgotten. The information collected in the census is used to distribute millions of dollars for schools, hospitals, community centers, health care, child care, and facilities for sick or disabled people. It probably arrived at your home during March.
The Census Bureau uses two different forms: the D-1 short form, that comes in an envelope about the size of a half sheet of paper, and contains a cover letter, a return envelope and a large piece of paper folded in thirds; and the D-2 long form, which comes in a larger envelope, with a questionnaire booklet and a large return envelope. If you need help completing it, either have a relative, friend or neighbor assist you or call toll-free (800) 471-9424. To use the web to complete the questionnaire, go to http://www.2000.census.gov and be sure to have your ID code from the census form label available.
The President's Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities is offering scholarships. Two competitions are open to candidates with disabilities seeking financial aid for undergraduate study at a four-year college or university. Nike will sponsor one $2,500 scholarship for an individual majoring in sports or recreation management, sports marketing, sports medicine or sports/recreation retail. Nordstrom, Inc. will sponsor five $2,000 scholarships for individuals majoring in business. The application deadline for these competitions is May 11.
The third competition is open to women with disabilities seeking financial assistance for graduate study. The ELA Foundation will sponsor one or two $2,000 scholarships for individuals who seek to change the face of disability on the planet in their life work. The deadline for this competition is May 25.
To be eligible for these scholarships, applicants must be United States citizens. Awards are contingent upon acceptance to, or continuation in, accredited colleges and universities in the United States. For more information, visit the web site, http://www.pcepd.gov and select the scholarships link.
The Fulbright Scholars Program's annual competition opened March 1 for lecturing and research grants in 130 countries. There are opportunities for college and university faculty and administrators, professionals from the business community and government, artists, journalists, lawyers, independent scholars and many others. Grants are available to faculty and administrators from two-year, four-year and graduate institutions. Fulbright awards vary from two months to an academic year or longer. Some 80 percent of the awards are for lecturing.
Application deadlines for 2001-2002 grants are: May 1, 2000, for Fulbright distinguished chair awards in Europe, Canada and Russia; August 1, 2000, for Fulbright lecturing and research grants worldwide; and November 1, 2000, for spring/summer seminars in Germany, Korea and Japan for international education and academic administrators as well as for the summer German studies seminar.
For more information, contact the Council for International Exchange of Scholars, 3007 Tilden St. NW, Suite 5L, Washington, DC 20008-3009; phone (202) 686-7877; e-mail [email protected] Or you may check the web site, http://www.cies.org.
Independent Recreation for the Disabled holds events monthly for people in the New York City area. The organization is also looking for volunteers to do fund-raising and typing. If you have questions, or would like more information, call (718) 545-1529, e- mail [email protected] or write on tape, in braille or large print to Alice Crespo, IRD, 28-53 45th St., first floor, Astoria, NY 11103.
Attention all Connecticut parents! The Connecticut General Assembly will vote on a braille literacy and education act in the spring. The more parent support it gets, the more likely the bill is to pass. Call Chris Kuell at (203) 730-8884, or e-mail [email protected] for more information and to learn how you can help.
Margaret R. Pfanstiehl was honored by the New Jersey Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired in February for being "a trailblazer in the inception of audio description." She is the founder and president of the Metropolitan Washington Ear. Pfanstiehl and her husband Cody developed the technique of audio description for stage productions at Arena Stage. In 1988 the Pfanstiehls trained describers at the Paper Mill Playhouse in Milburn, N.J. Those describers trained more people to describe plays at the George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick, N.J. The two theaters were also honored at the ceremony for their contributions "to the evolution and enhancement of the quality of life for people with vision loss," according to Jamie Hilton, the commission's executive director.
Freedom Vision has a new, portable CCTV camera available. Itžs called Prisma, and it costs $895. It weighs two pounds and is able to collapse itself to two inches high. It has discrete white LED lighting, so there is no glare or blinding reflections, and connects to any standard TV monitor via the RCA video-in connection. For more information about this or other Freedom Vision products, call (800) 961-1334, or visit the web site, http://www.freedomvision.net.
"Time" magazine recently began publishing a large print edition. It features 16-point type, and a minimum of 80 percent of the regular content. The paper is matte finished, not glossy, for less glare. A subscription to the large print edition costs $79.97 a year. Write to Time Magazine, Large Edition, PO Box 64436, Tampa, FL 33664-4436, or call (800) 552-3773.
Do you have an old Note Teller, or one that needs upgrading? Brytech Inc. has the newest Note Teller available. It reads both old and new currency from $1 to $100. If your Note Teller already recognizes the new $50 and $100, the upgrade for it to read the $5, $10 and $20 is a quick procedure. Return it to Brytech with $75; the company will perform the upgrade and send it back to you the same day. An older Note Teller will not recognize any of the new bank notes, and needs to be replaced. The replacement costs $300 with the return of your old Note Teller. To return your Note Teller, place it in the original shipping container or other secure packaging with your name, address and telephone number. Enclose a check, money order, or Visa card details for $75 for the upgrade, or $300 for the replacement. (Newer versions can be identified by a serial number starting with 15 or higher.) Add $10 for shipping and handling. Mark the package as follows: Product for the blind returned to manufacturer, Customs #9992.00.00, GST #66. Mail it by U.S. mail to Brytech Inc., 600 Peter Morand Crescent, Ottawa, Ontario K1G 5Z3, Canada. If you have further questions, call (800) 263-4095, or visit the web site, http://www.brytech.com.
El Club Latino Internacional is a new bimonthly interactive cassette magazine in Spanish. Its purpose is to establish a network of friends within the blind Hispanic community, as well as to offer an outlet for those who have an interest in and knowledge of Spanish. If you have musical talent, want to discuss technology, problems of blindness, or if you are searching for love or friendship, send your recorded message to Elena Taylor, 111 Belle Vista Ct., Winston-Salem, NC 27106. Please try to keep your message under 10 minutes. Braille letters in Spanish or English are acceptable; however, recorded messages are preferred.
The Jewish Heritage for the Blind now has the large print "Megilas Esther" available, as well as the braille edition of "Rabbi Shrage Feivel Mendlowitz, zt'l" free of charge for visually impaired people. Mail or fax your request to: Jewish Heritage for the Blind, 1655 E. 24th St., Brooklyn, NY 11229; fax (718) 338- 0653. Supply is limited to one per family.
Dolphin's version 4 software is now available. This upgrade is available across the product line, including Supernova, Hal, LunarPlus and Lunar for Windows 95/98 and Windows NT/2000. It includes a great number of new features, including a new control panel of two Windows property sheets that allows you to select your preferences; context-sensitive help; line view mode; panning; multilingual speech software; choice of braille grade; network access; and much more. If you have purchased version 3.03 software since June 1999, you are eligible for a free upgrade to version 4. Write or e-mail the company, stating when and where you purchased the software, including your mailing address and the software serial number. For purchases made earlier in the year, check out upgrade pricing at http://www.dolphinusa.com/demos/index. For more information, call (650) 348-7401 and ask for Helen or Jane, or e- mail [email protected] Or you may write to Dolphin Computer Access LLC, 100 S. Ellsworth Ave., Fourth Floor, San Mateo, CA 94401.
Top Dot Enterprises has available several up-to-date interactive tutorials, including Windows 98 basics, Top Eudora 4.2 (and earlier), and Top Real Internet Explorer 5.0. These and other tutorials are available in two- and four-track tape formats; four- track tapes cost $19.50 each, two-track tapes cost $27, plus a per- order shipping charge of $5. To order, send a check or money order to Top Dot Enterprises, 8930 11th Pl. SE, Everett, WA 98205. If you wish to order by credit card, call (425) 335-4894.
Top Dot also publishes "Sound Computing," a bimonthly magazine for any blind computer user. It is available on tape and in RealAudio. Subscriptions to the cassette edition also give subscribers access to the RealAudio edition; they cost $24 in North America. RealAudio only subscriptions cost $19. Contact Top Dot at the number or address above.
The Pennsylvania Association for Blind Athletes is hosting the 13th Northeast "Davidow" Games for blind and visually impaired youth and adults June 2-4, 2000 at Cabrini College in Radnor. Along with the games, it will hold a 25th anniversary athlete and volunteer reunion. There will be competitions in swimming, track and field, and goalball, and clinics in judo, wrestling, golf, tandem cycling, soccer and powerlifting. Games are open to all blind and visually impaired people ages 7 to 97 who can function independently or come with a guide (running guides can be provided). Age groups are youth (ages 7 to 14) and adults. Vision classifications are totally blind and partially sighted. All athletes, parents, coaches and volunteers, past and present, are invited to come and celebrate. To request a registration packet, or get more information, call (301) 987-8233, or e-mail [email protected]
Voice Mate is the third generation of Parrot's voice organizer. It uses digital storage and speech recognition technologies to provide a talking organizer with a wide range of features, including phone book, voice note pad, appointment book, talking alarm clock and calculator. The Voice Mate offers 40 minutes of recording time; high voice recognition quality; an earphone; eight levels of volume control; PC link for storing data and updating software via the Internet; a personal identification code to limit access; 10 languages (English, Chinese, Danish, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Spanish, Swedish); reminders; talking calculator with foreign currencies; and much more. It currently retails for $249. The leather case costs $26. For more information, contact Parrot via e-mail at [email protected]; visit the web site, http://www.voice-assistance.com; or call toll- free (888) 936-0001.
The Braille Authority of North America met in late October in Annapolis, Md. New board officers are: Phyllis Campana, chairperson; Eileen Curran, vice chairperson; Frances Mary DžAndrea, secretary; and Susan Reilly, treasurer. BANA accepted the Braille Institute of Los Angeles as a member organization. And, thanks to the generosity of the American Printing House for the Blind, BANA has permanent office space. BANA's new mailing address is P.O. Box 6085, Louisville, KY 40206.
At the November meeting of the International Council on English Braille, the following BANA officers were elected: Betty Niceley, president; Darleen Bogart, vice president; Raeleen Smith, secretary; Kim Charlson, treasurer; Reinette Popplestone, public relations; William Poole, member at large; Jean Obi, member at large; and Bruce Maguire, member at large.
Editor's Note: As this issue went to press, we were saddened to learn of the death of Betty Niceley.
ADA Consulting Inc. specializes in the sale of information that is specially written for blind and visually impaired people who are new to computing. The first title, "Family Fun with Computing," came out in July 1999. It was written for families who have just purchased computers but don't have the extra funds to add a speech package for their visually impaired family member. Included with this book is "Touch Typing the Silent Way."
The second title, "Competitive Computing for the Print Disabled," came out in August. It presents accommodations the print-disabled person might consider as a way of using Windows 95 so they can be competitive in life and employment situations.
"MAP" came out in September. It is a book meant to help you master other application programs that are speech-friendly, including Notepad, calculator, Solitaire, and the Internet. "Tools for Considerable Independence with Computing" came out in October. It starts with tips for reading manuals and help screens, and encourages the use of shortcut keys; it instructs you on how to explore what programs are on your hard drive, CD-ROM, or floppy, and how to figure out what they're supposed to do, and how to make them do it.
All four titles are available as a set, which costs $39.95. Books are available in print, large print, grade two braille, 3.5- inch IBM-compatible floppy disk, or two-track cassette. Single books cost $12.95. Write to: ADA Consulting Inc., P.O. Box 3126, Carson City, NV 89701.
Dancing Dots has moved! The new address is 1754 Quarry Lane, P.O. Box 927, Valley Forge, PA 19482-0927; phone (610) 783-6692, fax (610) 783-6732; e-mail [email protected]; web site http://www.dancingdots.com. One of its products, Goodfeel, automates transcription of braille music. It now supports lyrics. Scanning is optional. There is no page limit. It is compatible with MIDI sequencers, has context-sensitive help, and a free demo. For more information, contact the company at the address, phone number or e-mail address above.
FOR SALE: TSI/Blazie PowerBraille display model PB-80. Comes with all manuals, disks, training tapes and cables. Asking $6,000. Used for only six months. Call John Russo at (949) 498- 0472.
FOR SALE: Open Book Unbound version 3.0 with print and braille manuals, $275. Keynote Gold multimedia speech software synthesizer version 1.11 with print manuals, $75. JAWS for Windows 2.0 with print manuals and braille reference card, $250. The entire package can be purchased for $550, or each item may be purchased separately. If interested, call (888) 362-4563 and leave a message for member 856001; or you may send e-mail to [email protected]
FOR SALE: Mail order canes/tips business. Comes complete with tip molds, inventory, customer base, existing accounts, etc.; everything you need to carry on this 14-year-old business. Willing to teach the how, where, when, etc. needed to make this venture as successful for you as it has been for me. Average time invested weekly is two to four hours. If youžre interested, call Nino Pacini evenings or weekends at (313) 885-7330 or e-mail him at [email protected]
FOR SALE: Reading Edge model 7315-60. Used very little. Asking $2,500. Includes user's guide and padded case. Contact Butch or Marcia Renshaw at (915) 445-2888 during the day, (915) 447-3386 during the evenings; via e-mail at [email protected]; or via U.S. mail at 1510 Katherine, Pecos, TX 79772.
FOR SALE: Voyager CCTV model VR2A with black-and-white 10- inch screen. Excellent condition. Asking $750; price negotiable. If you're interested, please call Barry DeGardner at (763) 786-1372, or e-mail him at [email protected]
WANTED: A talking terminal for credit card transactions. Contact Rick Boggs at (818) 782-7733 or via e-mail at [email protected] Or you may visit his web site, http://www.rickboggs.com.
WANTED: A Spartus Talking Alarm Clock. If anyone has one, or knows where to find one, please contact Judy Duncan at work, (202) 501-1463, or at home, (703) 765-1336.
WANTED: Perkins braille writers. Accepted with or without all parts, working or not. Reasonable prices paid. Call Nino Pacini evenings or weekends at (313) 885-7330 or e-mail him at [email protected]
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