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On April 15, 2000 the board of directors of National Industries for the Blind (NIB) adopted the following position: "National Industries for the Blind endorses, promotes, and encourages the payment of at least the federal minimum wage for all employees whose only disability is blindness in a manner that will not jeopardize employment opportunities."
On the same date, the General Council of Industries for the Blind (GCIB) refused to endorse this position, when it tabled, indefinitely, adoption of a position paper which stated in part, "The General Council of Industries for the Blind endorses the payment of the federal minimum wage to all legally blind employees whose earnings capacity is not impaired by additional disabling conditions."
This action -- or more specifically, lack thereof -- may have disastrous consequences for all the blind workers in the NIB/GCIB system, and threaten the existence of the Javits-Wagner-O'Day Act (JWOD).
For those of you who may not be familiar with the industries for the blind structure in America, I want to explain that NIB is a legally recognized non-profit entity which helps industries for the blind programs to get contracts for work under JWOD. GCIB is the council representing the various blind industries throughout America. To simplify even further, NIB is like the franchiser, and GCIB represents all the individual franchisees.
When I attended the GCIB meeting where the minimum wage issue was tabled, I was there representing my employer, Envision, whose president and CEO, Linda Merrill, had expressed this position on the question of minimum wages for blind-only employees, "Envision is in support of paying people, with blindness only, the minimum wage."
Merrill had also noted, however, that GCIB member agencies are regulated in matters of wages by the Fair Labor Standards Act, and not by NIB or GCIB. Therefore, under current law, NIB or GCIB cannot legally compel affiliates or members to comply with whatever position either organization takes.
Nonetheless, I will acknowledge my personal bias: I was at the meeting with directions from my superior to vote favorably on the GCIB minimum wage issue. I was pleased to be doing so because my employer's position on the matter happens to match my own view -- as well as that of a number of other national blindness advocacy organizations.
The American Council of the Blind (ACB) has been on record on the minimum wage issue since passing the 1986 Resolution 86-04, which states in part, "This organization urges that all individuals who do not have a documented secondary physical, mental or emotional disability should receive at least the statutory minimum wage." Resolution 89-23 further documents this as ACB's position.
The National Federation of the Blind (NFB) has introduced legislation which would attempt to codify in law what is essentially the ACB position. This legislation, however, is poorly drafted and needs some clean-up amendments in order to achieve its intent.
Although the newly adopted NIB position, as well as the GCIB position statement which was tabled, and the ACB resolutions, Merrill's statement of the Envision position, and the intent of the NFB-sponsored legislation all come down on essentially the same side of the sub-minimum wage issue, I am not providing this analysis with the intent of providing any further interpretation of the ACB resolutions on the subject. Nor am I writing to clarify the position which my employer has stated so succinctly. Needless to say, NFB has not authorized me to speak for them, nor am I part of the NIB board. The analysis I provide herein is strictly my own. I write because I want to share with the GCIB and others my perception of the ramifications of GCIB's refusal to embrace a policy which has been endorsed by so many other individuals and organizations.
First of all, I need to set the stage for what GCIB did. The position paper under consideration had been written by a committee of GCIB members, and adopted by GCIB's Executive Committee on a close vote. It was a controversial issue, and much political wrangling and deal-making had taken place prior to the discussion and vote. At the time of the vote, an amendment was placed on the floor by a member who had actually spoken against the proposal.
This amendment would have expanded and strengthened the proposal to say that all blind people should receive the federal minimum wage -- with no comment being made on possible exceptions for people whose earnings capacity is impaired by disabling conditions in addition to blindness. Before this amendment could be voted upon, and after limited discussion of the amendment, a motion to table the main motion and proposed amendment was made, took precedence, and the entire subject of the position paper was tabled, non-time specific.
Although there is no way to prove it, I believe the votes were present on the GCIB floor to adopt the originally proposed position paper, and bring GCIB into line with the stated position of other organizations. The vote would have been very close. I believe that the strengthening amendment was a clever ploy to confuse the issues and insure that the motion to table would pass.
My readers may wonder what could possibly be wrong with the strengthening amendment. On the surface, it sounds like a good idea. Why should other disabilities aside from blindness be allowed to potentially restrict one's eligibility to earn minimum wage if blindness no longer causes such restrictions? The answer lies in the very severe nature of the kinds of multiple disabilities which sometimes accompany blindness.
In recent years, many large institutions which formerly provided residential care to multiply disabled people have been dramatically downsized, and some have closed. This situation has resulted in the need for day placements for many severely disabled people. These individuals are sometimes not toilet trained and often have no functional use of language whatsoever. A number of NIB-affiliated GCIB members are establishing programming so they can accommodate placements of this growing subset of the blindness population. This is commendable. Blind multiply disabled individuals are usually the last to come out of institutional settings, and when placed in generic agencies serving the severely disabled, such individuals often receive inadequate programming which can result in profound isolation because generic programs generally do not know how to deal with the involvement of blindness as a part of the overall multiple disability lexicon.
Because of their collective experience in working with people who are blind and their understanding of the ramifications of visual impairments, the NIB/GCIB entities probably represent the best chance for success in improving the quality of life for this population, but they cannot afford to do so if they must call the day activities they administer for their multiply disabled blind consumers "work" and pay minimum wage for them.
There were GCIB members at the meeting who maintained that it would be discriminatory to suggest that blindness alone should not prevent blind people from earning minimum wage while maintaining that the presence of other disabilities may, in fact, be justification enough for paying less than a minimum wage. William Thompson, president of GCIB, was one member who expressed this view. In a conversation with this observer after the vote, Thompson said, "This was very difficult. Many of my closest friends and people whom I hold in high respect were on the other side of this issue. I believe, however, very sincerely, that if we say that all blind only people should have minimum wage but that it is not required for blind people with other disabilities, we are discriminating against other disabilities. Other disability organizations would ridicule us a great deal, and with good reason."
I, on the other hand, counter that factual statements do not, in themselves, discriminate. It is a fact that some other disabilities or combinations of disabilities do indeed prevent a person from working at competitive levels.
Yet, long experience has taught us that with the right technology, rehabilitation engineering, and training in the skills of blindness, blind people need not be less than competitive. What GCIB has done through its tabling action is to state that because some multiply disabled blind people cannot earn minimum wage, other blind only people should be legally held to the same sub-minimum restrictions.
There was no need for GCIB to take this posture. A recent NIB study revealed that fewer than 200 blind only individuals are working for sub-minimum wage in NIB/GCIB facilities throughout the country. The economic impact of embracing minimum wage standards for blind only employees would, therefore, have been negligible.
The NFB legislation on minimum wage will probably not be adopted in its current form. It will, however, generate lots of notice and probably generate Congressional hearings. The resulting high profile of the issue increases the likelihood that some advocacy organization will attempt to open up the JWOD Act to Congressional scrutiny. Should this happen, there will be considerable risks for industries programs. JWOD could certainly stand strengthening in the areas of acquisition of contracts for products, procurement priorities, and enforcement; it would be wonderful if such things could be added to the act, but there is also a strong segment within the independent living movement which has widely advocated doing away with JWOD as we know it. These groups propose to simply replace JWOD by giving more perks, contracts, and tax breaks to private industry to encourage employment of all disabled people, and to use former JWOD administrative monies to give more job coaching and supported employment funds to centers for independent living.
There is also a lobbying group of small business advocates who are advocating for the repeal of JWOD altogether. These entities also claim that they would be glad to employ more disabled people if JWOD were to go away, but they really do not advocate replacing JWOD with anything specific. If either of these scenarios occurs, the result could be the loss of 5,000 to 6,000 good jobs held by blind Americans.
By avoiding the sub-minimum wage issue with its irresponsible tabling action, GCIB may have gravely endangered employment programs for blind Americans. It has forfeited what could have been a fully participatory seat at the table as other blindness advocacy groups wrangle over the best means to achieve the goal of minimum wage for all blind only employees in America. GCIB has taken this great risk over fewer than 200 employees nationwide who are not being provided with minimum wage.
If GCIB acts promptly, there may still be time for it to remove its position paper from the table and codify it as the group's official position. This needs to happen, however, by no later than GCIB's next regular business meeting, which will take place in October.
On Wednesday, April 26, Charlie Crawford sent out a celebratory message on the ACB Listserv. Under the subject heading, "Big win for RSVA, ACB and others," Crawford wrote: "I don't have the details yet, but just heard that the judge in the NISH case has ruled in favor of our position that vendors do have the priority in mess hall operations on military bases. This is a major victory!
In the paragraphs below, I will summarize the major issues which this case has dealt with and share the details of the judge's opinion, which unequivocally upholds the priority for licensed blind vendors to operate cafeterias on military bases. Late in October 1999, National Industries for the Severely Disabled (NISH) and one of its associated non-profit agencies, Goodwill Industries of Richmond, Va., brought suit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia against the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of the Army. The thrust of the lawsuit was to enjoin the federal defendants from competing under open bidding conditions the renewal contract to operate the mess hall facility at Fort Lee, Va. The plaintiffs argued in their initial pleadings that the Randolph-Sheppard Act priority in favor of licensed blind vendors does not apply to such mess hall contracts, that the state licensing agencies under the Randolph-Sheppard Act are therefore not proper bidders for such contracts, and that the Fort Lee mess hall renewal contract should have been placed on the procurement list pursuant to the Javits-Wagner-O'Day (JWOD) Act for award to NISH and Goodwill Industries of Richmond under that act. On April 26, District Judge Gerald Bruce Lee of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia disagreed with the plaintiff's contentions and upheld the Randolph-Sheppard priority in mess hall cafeterias.
When NISH brought suit late in 1999, the American Council of the Blind and its special-interest affiliate, the Randolph-Sheppard Vendors of America (RSVA), and the National Education and Legal Defense Service for the Blind and Visually Impaired (NELDS) filed motions to intervene as of right in the NISH lawsuit as parties defendant intervenors. Subsequent to the actions of ACB and its legal allies, four other entities also filed petitions with the court to intervene as parties defendant intervenors. In late January of this year, the district court granted the petitions for intervention of all seven parties defendant intervenors. This development was, in and of itself, a major victory for ACB and its allies.
On Friday, March 17, the court heard oral arguments of counsel for all parties in the lawsuit regarding the cross motions for summary judgment, which had by that time been filed by all parties.
On Tuesday, April 25, Judge Lee issued his opinion in NISH et al v. Cohen et al. The court spent the first half of its opinion discussing in fairly complex detail the standard of review which a federal trial court should apply to a situation such as the one in the instant case where the court is confronted by cross motions for summary judgment. The court then laid out in some detail the various provisions of federal law and regulations which the parties had cited to him as being precedent setting or controlling as to the legal questions before the court.
While admitting that the judicial precedents were sparse on the issue before the court, Judge Lee, nevertheless, finds that the plain language of the 1974 amendments to the Randolph-Sheppard Act expanded the scope of that act's priority in favor of licensed blind vendors to apply the priority to cafeterias operated on federal property. The court then reads the implementing regulations, which were promulgated by the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) of the U.S. Department of Education, and which specifically state the definition of covered cafeterias as including and encompassing mess halls on military installations.
The court points out that, while Congress had provided some special provisions with respect to the sharing of vending machine income in the 1974 amendments, no such limiting language had been included in the section regarding cafeterias. Thus, the court believes that the plain language of the act and the implementing regulations should be given their clear and usual meaning -- i.e., that the Randolph-Sheppard vendors clearly have the mandated priority with respect to mess hall cafeterias.
The court then turns to answer certain statutory arguments raised by plaintiffs. NISH and Goodwill Industries of Richmond had argued that the Competition in Contracting Act of 1994 provides that only laws which specifically exempt themselves from the provisions of that law should be deemed to be exceptions from the provisions of that law, and, since the Randolph-Sheppard Act does not specifically state that it is an exception to the Competition in Contracting Act, that act should take precedence over the Randolph-Sheppard Act. In response, the court points out that the 1974 amendments to the Randolph-Sheppard Act were enacted 20 years before the Competition in Contracting Act, and that therefore the Randolph-Sheppard Act could not possibly have specifically exempted itself from this particular law, passed 20 years later. Second, and most crucially, the court points out that the savings clause of the Competition in Contracting Act itself states that other provisions authorized by law may be a valid exception to that act. The court then rules that the 1974 amendments to the Randolph-Sheppard Act constitute another provision, so authorized by the law, which is exempted from the Competition in Contracting Act.
Similarly, the court answers the argument that since the Randolph-Sheppard Act is not specifically mentioned in the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR), then the Randolph-Sheppard Act should not be applied to such procurement activity as the mess hall renewal contract at Fort Lee. Once again, the court refers to the savings clause within the FAR which speaks in terms of other provisions of law, and the court holds that the Randolph-Sheppard Act falls within this savings clause and that the Randolph-Sheppard priority, therefore, may be applied to mess hall contracts such as that at Fort Lee.
In this somewhat complex and technical opinion, Judge Lee has painstakingly analyzed and applied the relevant statutes and regulations, and in his decision, he has granted to licensed blind vendors and their state licensing agencies a major legal victory. ACB, RSVA and NELDS are to be commended for their prompt and fearless action in jumping to the defense of the Randolph-Sheppard Act and its priority in the context of mess hall contracts on military bases.
At the writing of this article, we expect that the losing plaintiffs may well appeal the ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Richmond, Va. But, for now, we should all herald and celebrate this outstanding litigation victory.
I should probably begin this message with an apology. I am very sorry that I am devoting so much space to an issue that does not seem relevant to many of our members. I am doing it because I truly do believe that technology is such a pervasive imperative in our society today. Without it, all blind people will fall further and further behind. With it, our potential for leveling the information playing field becomes much greater.
Last month we took a kind of scatter-shot look at many of the problems we must be concerned with that don't relate directly to the technologies themselves. One of the questions that we raised but did not discuss concerns what kind of qualifications a person who works as an access technology trainer should have.
Earlier this year, I attended a conference sponsored by Mississippi State University's Rehabilitation Research Training Center that tried to grapple with this very question. While that conference itself will eventually produce a report, I feel safe in reporting to you now some elements about which I think there was general agreement. Some of the conclusions may surprise you. They did me.
There appeared to be consensus about the fact that trainers need to be more qualified than they are. There also appeared to be a general recognition that our system is discouraging competent access technology trainers by offering relatively low pay to people in these positions, and by failing to develop appropriate expectations for such trainers. It is the intent of the conference to publish a document that will summarize the findings of the diverse group of folks who attended the meeting. I for one look forward to seeing that document, because I hope it will provide us with a starting point to deal with an extremely complex and crucial issue.
Perhaps I can provide many of you with a flavor of the conference by raising some of the questions with which the group grappled. How should an access technology trainer be qualified? Clearly, the only relevant certification that any of us were aware of comes from RESNA (the Rehabilitation Engineering Society of North America). There was agreement that this standard is not very useful. More important, those of us who had any knowledge of access technology training programs concurred that the needs of blind people are barely considered by most programs that concentrate on the special requirements of other disability groups. Shall we ask universities that now have training programs for rehabilitation teachers or vision teachers to develop specific majors in blindness access technology? Should we look at distance learning as an option? There was a general feeling that we needed to be very careful about going the route of placing too much value on someone's having a certification in access technology. This was partly due to a feeling among many of us that certification has not always served to identify the most capable or gifted practitioners in other blindness professions. There was a real fear that many of the best trainers would be excluded if a strict certification standard were adopted.
On the other hand, there was equal concern that we must not accept or tolerate inferior trainers, many of whom are out there. Some way must be developed to help administrators who hire trainers to define criteria for what they are looking for in a trainer.
If a person purports to be a trainer in speech/screen-reading technology, is it enough for that person to know only one screen reading program? If a person plans to teach braille displays, is it OK that he or she knows how to train on only one brand of braille displays? What kind of general computer knowledge should a trainer have? Should he or she be able to train in Windows and on such packages as Microsoft Word or Excel? What do these packages have to do with access technology? What are the qualities that are most important in an access technology trainer? Is knowledge as important as the ability to communicate well? How much of a role should the access technology trainer play in assessing a person's suitability for work in or with technology?
I hope it is clear that the questions surrounding access technology were far easier to raise than they were to answer. The fact that the conference occurred at all is, in itself, a step in the right direction. We cannot stop there, though. Somehow we, the blind people of the world, must demand an active role in assuring that those who train us to use technology are as competent as we can make them. We cannot just concentrate on training for adults who are looking for work either. I ran across a term the other day that describes people who were born into a society where computers are taken for granted. This group is now being called the digital generation. Unless we change things, blind children will remain digitally as well as visually challenged. More than half of the blind people in this country are over the age of 55. Access technology offers solutions that are just as vital to them as is rehabilitation teaching. Very few communities have programs that encourage older blind people to learn to use computers, or that even make certain that older people losing vision understand what they can gain by becoming digital.
We have to be certain that we don't stop at training just a few people who can work in private agencies or state agencies. Members of the general public who cannot afford computers can go to their local library or adult education center and learn. Somehow we must assure that blind people can do this too. Colleges and universities must also be capable of integrating blind people into their classes. We must not allow access technology to become a part of the disabled student services ghetto. The American Council of the Blind is all about encouraging the fullest possible participation of blind people in programs available to the rest of the community. We must not allow community apathy to keep blind people from learning to use computers. Is the ADA in jeopardy partly because those people who have the most right to benefit from it are not demanding what they have a right to expect?
(Editor's Note: When we saw a copy of this letter in our e- mail, we decided to print a slightly edited version in "The Braille Forum" to extend our own congratulations to the hard- working members of ACB of Nebraska and to share the good news with our readers. Thank you, Sanford, for allowing us to share this story with everyone in ACB.)
Mr. Jim Jirak, President
ACB of Nebraska
3512 S. 44th Ave.
Omaha, NE 68105
The members of Kansas Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired congratulate you and the many blind and visually impaired advocates in Nebraska who sustained the effort to create a Commission for the Blind until it became a reality. This is a great day not only for Nebraska's blind and visually impaired population but for the entire blindness community across the United States.
In states with separate commissions -- which Nebraska joins - - the efficacy of this structure is reasserted. In states such as Kansas, struggling to have similar legislation enacted, we draw renewed hope and dedication to stay the course. For the few states that are not fortunate enough to have a Commission for the Blind and are not even attempting to have one created, your success exerts the right amount of pressure to move in this direction. For all of us, the fact that your legislation could be enacted at a time when the common wisdom would speak against such a possibility serves to quiet our critics and detractors, demonstrating the truth that the odds can be overcome when the endeavor is meritorious.
Again, congratulations to Nebraska! Sincerely yours, Sanford J. Alexander, III President & Chairman of the Board
The 39th annual ACB national and affiliates convention is just weeks away! From that first moment on Saturday, July 1, when our host affiliate, the Kentucky Council of the Blind, presents us with the keys to Derbytown until that last convention-related event seven days later when you bid friends old and new farewell, you will be swept up in a whirlwind of exciting choices to make, people to meet and know, products to examine, games to learn and play, parties to attend, meals to share and enjoy, and information to gather and absorb!
When you arrive in Louisville, you will find that the Galt House is a convenient hotel that presents a myriad of exciting choices of its own. There are a gym and a pool, an English pub, a River Grill, gift shops, a beauty salon, a top-of-the-town restaurant (which, we hear, offers an astounding number of different kinds of bourbon -- in addition to delicious dining fare), nicely appointed rooms and suites. The Galt House is right on the Ohio River. Some of you may be able to hear the sounds of riverboats and the music from a riverside calliope from your windows. Conventioneers will be staying in both the east and west towers. Most convention-related activities will be held on the second floor of the east tower (with a few exceptions on the third floor). The towers are straight across the street from each other, and you can easily travel from east to west or vice versa by using a connecting elevated walkway, or by going outside and crossing the street. There's a registration desk in the lobby of each of the Galt House Towers. Specific directions for finding your way around the hotel will be included in your program, which you will receive in the format of your choice when you arrive at the convention. The program will also contain instructions for locating guide-dog relief areas and lists of hotel amenities and convention offices. Even before you board your plane for Kentucky, you will be able to look through this program and get an idea about all the sights and sounds which await you in Kentucky by visiting the convention link on the ACB web site (http://www.acb.org). Of course, there will be ACB staff persons, members of the convention committee, hotel personnel, and a host of volunteers, all there to help us find our way around and offer assistance when needed.
What To Expect
Here's a quick overview. On Sunday night, the convention will open officially, and you will be able to hear from ACB President Paul Edwards; Executive Director Charlie Crawford, and our keynote speaker, Dr. Frederic K. Schroeder, who is Commissioner of the Rehabilitation Services Administration in the U.S. Department of Education. After the official gathering, you can wind down and make connections with old friends at the CCLVI Cyber Swing and the NELDS folk festival. Then get ready for a week that offers access to information -- provided by speakers, vendors, and networks of your friends who can share experiences and offer advice; a seminar on starting and growing your own business; a workshop on making the special-education laws work for you and your children; Americans with Disabilities Act clinics; tours that include the American Printing House, the famous distilleries of Kentucky bourbon, and an art gallery filled with the works of visually impaired artists; and opportunities for fun in the Recreation Zone and Accessible Computer Game Room! Don't Delay!
June 9th is the last day to guarantee your room rate of $65 (plus tax) at the Galt House Hotel. The nationwide toll-free number you should call is (800) 626-1814. You have probably already received your Conventionscope and pre-registration package in the mail. This year, an exciting alternative to completing the traditional printed pre- registration form is a link to online registration at http://www.acb.org.
Please return your completed electronic or large-print forms by June 16 to assure your participation at all the activities you want to attend. If you need additional pre-registration forms, or an informational copy of the package on disk or cassette, please call the ACB national office at (202) 467-5081, or (between 2 and 5 p.m.) at (800) 424-8666.
This year, you may want to help defray some of our convention costs by becoming a gold or silver ACB convention sponsor. Details about these possibilities are included in the Conventionscope.
July 1 is just around the corner! We know it's hard to narrow down your choices with so many exciting options on our convention menus, and only a maximum of 24 hours in each convention day! But we also know that, whichever choices you make, the 39th national ACB convention will be an event you won't want to miss!
As Kentucky 2000 draws closer and our members fill out their registration forms, book trains and planes and make plans for reunions with friends and involvement in a myriad of affiliate- sponsored activities, we look forward to an event which speaks eloquently of democratic principles translated into actions and policies which will guide our organizational decision-making and advocacy for the coming years. We can tell already that Kentucky 2000 will attract an even larger than usual percentage of our members, and so we anticipate a higher caliber of decision- making because of this broadened participation. Convention attendance and active participation by our membership are especially important in an organization that looks to the convention and our resolutions as guides to our actions. What better place to look than where our people gather to discuss the status of our community and make judgments about what issues we should articulate and engage? For all that we do to insure democratic decision making, is there something missing? If so, then what is it, and how can we deal with the challenge?
Despite the fact that our members are well-represented by affiliates at the convention, there are inherent flaws in our particular representative democracy that we must address creatively. One problem may be that the issues which make their way into the language of resolutions may not always be a mirror image of the specific issues with which state affiliates have concerned themselves during the last year. This situation may leave affiliates struggling to try and figure out what the people back home would think.
We cannot ignore the fact that many folks do not attend the convention because they simply cannot afford to go. Can our members who are not able to be present when decisions are voted upon really achieve a feeling of ownership with regard to these decisions if they have been unable to speak their minds or cast their votes?
Fortunately, there are at least three ways in which ACB can increase the participation of folks who cannot attend the convention. First, we can all set aside time at chapter meetings and state conventions to discuss the resolutions which we want to present to the national forum for discussion and adoption. Further, individual members of ACB have the constitutionally mandated ability to write and submit proposed resolutions to the resolutions committee chair. Finally, we can all make use of the Internet to promote ideas and achieve consensus in advance of the introduction of ideas as resolutions.
All of us in ACB are, therefore, challenged to make sure that we nurture and come to rely upon all the ways our members can impact the democratic process of decision-making beyond the confines of the national convention. We must share information with leaders in chapters and state affiliates so that they will be empowered to discuss issues with their members in meaningful ways and help average members to judge their individual input essential to the overall decision-making process. We must inform and remind all our members about the ways their ideas for resolutions can be presented to the resolutions committee. We must make our Internet resources easy for our members to use to discuss topics and weigh alternatives. These are critical steps which we must all take to ensure that every ACB voice can be heard.
The essence of ACB democracy is our mutual respect for one another, and our shared appreciation for the processes which allow us to really hear one another and be heard. Our conversations with one another are the seeds which grow to become the national policy of ACB.
Let us be sure to continue to grow our democracy as we grow ourselves. Let us use our meetings and our communications tools to advance our community and let us show the world what one organization can do when it hears the voices of its members, harmonizes its ideas and creates a symphony that is the expression of its people.
Often on the mailing list I moderate for families of children who are blind and visually impaired, parents ask where they can go to network with other families of visually impaired children and meet blind adults. I feel pangs of disappointment as the responses flow in from members of the NFB's Parents of Blind Children. A few list members -- including me -- may mention the National Association of Parents of the Visually Impaired (NAPVI), which is associated with the ACB. However, I have to admit that the NFB does a much better job than the ACB does in terms of supporting parents and their blind children.
The bias that results concerns me. Although I am very much in favor of all of us in the blindness community working together on behalf of blind children and their families whenever possible, and, for the most part, I fully support the active involvement of the Parents of Blind Children, I also recognize that the two blind consumer organizations exist because of certain significant differences of philosophy and attitude. These differences are not justification for ACB's much lower profile with respect to visually impaired children and their families. By ignoring the issue of parents' needs and simply referring families to NAPVI, we are doing a great disservice to the parents, the children, and, in fact, to the American Council of the Blind.
When I was about nine years old, my parents sought out the only blind adult known to them. He was a college student who attended our church. They wanted to ask him questions. I, too, wanted to ask him questions! At the time, as a mainstreamed student in a public elementary school, I knew no other children whose vision was as limited as my own, who, like me, envisioned a future that could contain college.
Finally, I had a chance to meet that blind college student. I remember that day like it was yesterday. At a church supper, my mom took me to his table. He greeted me briefly, but then he turned his head back to his food, and my mother took me back to our table.
Later, my mom told me that he had said, if my family allowed me to live only in the world of blindness, I would never be prepared for life in the sighted world. My mother explained that, apparently, he did not know -- or care -- that I was not acquainted with any other blind people and that I spent my days feeling separate and alone in classes with only sighted students.
My family continued to plod along, doing the best they could to teach me about life and provide me with the resources I needed. About six years later, my family and I discovered the excellent outreach and support activities sponsored by the Texas Commission for the Blind and the Houston Lighthouse. Many of those activities were designed to allow blind and visually impaired teenagers to network with each other and with blind adults. Other activities were structured to facilitate networking opportunities for parents. The most important thing about all these events was that they allowed me and my family to finally get to know blind adults. Most of those adults happened to be members of the ACB of Texas. Their dedication and willingness to reach out and spend time with me and my family made a lasting impression on all of us. I knew about the NFB back then, but I gravitated toward the organization whose members had shown a non-judgmental interest in me as a person, who had given of themselves to learn who I was and to share their accumulated wisdom.
We all have the ability to influence our local communities in this way. The need of parents is a twofold one. They need to meet other parents of children who are blind and visually impaired, and they need to meet blind adults. In today's push for empowerment, the families of young blind children are hungry for support and contact with each other and with blind adults. The NFB is there and waiting to meet these needs. By the time many children are old enough to become members of the ACB, their families have already been involved with the NFB for many years. Is it any wonder that so few young visually impaired people are joining the American Council of the Blind?
We in the ACB need to find ways to get more involved with families of young children. We need to involve them in our local meetings and support them as they work to raise their blind children. Our involvement with families of young blind children will benefit parents and children by exposing them to mentors. When we listen to their concerns, we can help families procure the very best services for their children, and we can help parents to understand that a diagnosis of visual impairment is not a sentence to second-class citizenship. Our caring outreach and involvement will also benefit us as an organization, for, as we welcome a group of young children who can grow up to be strong leaders in the American Council of the Blind, we will be extending our own ACB family and investing wisely in our shared future.
GDUI Seeks to Develop Minority Outreach Committee
Have you ever had an encounter with someone about your dog guide and sensed that his/her fear, hesitation or hostility were related to a negative stereotype? Are you a member of a racial or religious minority group which seems not to share your attitudes about blindness or dog guides? At the ACB convention, you may be able to help bridge some gaps that divide us all.
Guide Dog Users, Inc. (GDUI) will hold an informal gathering of people from minority groups who use dog guides. The purpose of this meeting is to develop a Minority Outreach Committee for GDUI to assist in education about cultural diversity within our membership and the general public and minority groups. In this first discussion, we want to identify potential committee members and simply get a feel for the types of issues that concern people in racial and religious minorities, as well as dog guide handlers who interact with members of these minority groups.
The discussion is scheduled for Tuesday, July 4 from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in the GDUI suite. For more information, contact Jenine Stanley at (614) 766-5524 or Jane Sheehan at the GDUI national office, (888) 858-1008.
Idaho convention elects new officers
The American Council of the Blind of Idaho held a one-day convention in Idaho Falls on May 6 to elect officers and establish programs for the year. The new president is Travis Beck, who is a vendor in the Idaho Falls area, and an enthusiastic supporter of chapter development and membership growth. The Idaho chapter has made a serious commitment to build four chapters in Boise, Twin Falls, St. Anthony's and Coeur d'Alene. We encourage anyone who knows visually impaired people in these four cities and wishes to share their names and telephone numbers with ACB of Idaho to contact Travis Beck at (208) 524-4459 or e-mail him at [email protected]
Deaf-Blind Concerns Committee
It's a new millennium, with new regulations, new styles, new ways and -- hopefully -- new attitudes. This year, the Deaf- Blind Concerns Committee will host three interesting and invigorating gatherings during the week of the ACB national convention.
On Monday, July 3, we offer a tour of the McDowell Rehabilitation Center in Louisville. The tour will include a dinner, a social gathering and a chance to exchange names, e-mail addresses and enjoy conversations. If there's any time left over, we will try to host a rap session before returning to the hotel.
On Wednesday, July 5, there will be a joint meeting with the Alliance on Aging and Vision Loss which will include a presentation by Martha Bagley. She has worked for many years with people who are elderly or deaf-blind. There will be a panel presentation by three active ACB members which will cover several issues and include time for questions and answers. If you are visually impaired and have had difficulty hearing lately, come to this meeting.
On Thursday, July 6, Janis Friend from the McDowell Center will present a seminar on employment and people with deaf- blindness. Got questions? We'll try to provide the answers!
The committee plans to address the issue of transportation during at least one of these sessions. There may be additional gatherings during the week, so check the convention newspaper every day. If you will need to use an assistive listening device for any of our scheduled sessions, please mark that information on your pre-registration form so that we will have enough devices to distribute. If you have any suggestions, questions, opinions or gripes, call Patty Sarchi at (207) 947-5550 or e-mail her at [email protected]
NAPVI Invites Parents to Attend IDEA Training Workshop
The National Association for Parents of Children with Visual Impairments (NAPVI) invites parents to attend a unique workshop and presentation on the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) on Wednesday, July 5th from 1:30-4:30 p.m. The workshop will highlight specific information related to the education of children who are blind or visually impaired. NAPVI is offering registration scholarships for parents who attend; the scholarships are made possible by a grant from the Delta Gamma Foundation's Service for Sight. Child care will also be provided. Pre-registration by June 9th is required to secure child care and scholarships. Call the NAPVI national office at (800) 562-6265. Families are also invited to join NAPVI's hospitality reception from 5-7 p.m. immediately following the educational parent meeting.
After sitting all day in convention sessions, special- interest seminars and board meetings, how often have you longed for just enough of a change of pace to stretch your tired muscles a little and get your mind off resolutions and bylaws amendments? Indeed, I have -- more times than you would ever guess! Wouldn't it be wonderful if late every afternoon during the national convention you could experience a little change of pace and at the same time find out about a new recreational activity, try a new non-strenuous sport and/or test your hand at one of the latest coordination and reaction challenging toys like Bop-It? You will have an opportunity to do those things and more in the "Recreation Zone" during the coming ACB national convention in Louisville!
This year, don your comfortable clothing, loosen your tie or do whatever you like to get comfortable and join your friends in the Recreation Zone, which will be open from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. every afternoon. And what kinds of recreational activities will you be able to watch, learn about and try out?
One afternoon will feature instruction, demonstration, and participation -- as much or as little as you want -- in a variety of aerobic activities. No, they will not be strenuous and the instructors will not tease you if you are not quite as limber as some of your friends.
Another afternoon will feature an old, very popular and growing sport among blind and visually impaired participants ū throwing darts, but with a difference, at a talking dart board! The experienced and enthusiastic dartsters will be present to show you the equipment and the technique, summarize the rules for competition (if you are interested) and perhaps tell you where you can meet with other dartsters for additional instruction and practice at other times during convention week.
Another afternoon will give you the chance to learn about -- and try out, if you want -- one of the most popular and exciting sports developed by blind people, and enjoyed by blind and sighted people alike, namely, goalball. This fascinating and invigorating game, which can be played recreationally or very competitively, blindfolds all the players to level the playing field. During a goalball demonstration a few years ago, I saw the governor of Colorado, dressed in a business suit, rolling and scrambling on the floor of the gymnasium in his zeal to field the ball and fire it back toward the other team. Come to the goalball demonstrations just to see who might be rolling around on the floor, firing the ball back and forth in a similar competitive frenzy, at the ACB national convention!
If you are interested in the latest computer games, or neuro-kinetic challenges like Bop-It, you will find time and space allocated on your convention schedule for those activities. No, these activities will not be going on continuously throughout the week because of the unbelievably busy schedule that characterizes the national convention, so be sure to check the convention program and the daily schedule of activities to find out when and where the diversions of your choice are taking place.
In that process, however, don't overlook the truly unique intellectual sporting event that will take place the last few days of national convention week: the 2000 U.S. Chess Championship for the Blind! Do you recall the enormous amount of international attention that was given a number of years ago to the chess competition between a young, talented American named Bobby Fisher and a very experienced and cagey Russian veteran named Boris Spasky? Well, as an attendee at the 2000 ACB National Convention, you may have an opportunity to see a similar match as the United States Braille Chess Association (USBCA) conducts its national championship under the ACB convention organizational umbrella beginning on Friday, July 7 and ending on Sunday, July 9. This event will attract some of the best blind chess players in the country and we believe it will attract an enormous amount of media attention. In addition, one session in the Recreation Zone will be devoted to introducing attendees to the game of chess and explaining how the tournament will be conducted. In consulting with officials of the USBCA regarding the event I learned, for example, that during tournament competition each player has a board before him or her; previously I had believed, mistakenly, that both players played on the same board, thus generating an interminable amount of tactual examination and re-examination of the figures and possible moves.
In order to compete in the championship, players must be members of the U.S. Braille Chess Association as well as an international organization. Anyone who would like to take part in the event but does not already belong to the USBCA and the other organization may pay the appropriate membership fees to the USBCA before the beginning of the championship. Sports Fanatics' Luncheon
Veteran ACB national conventioners have surely noticed that over the years the event that was originally identified as the baseball fanatics luncheon has been renamed the Sports Fanatics' Luncheon in order to reach a wider audience and introduce attendees to some of the outstanding blind and visually impaired athletes of the world. That event this year will feature Trischa Zorn, a world champion blind swimmer who is the most decorated disabled athlete in the world. Zorn, who grew up in southern California and was encouraged to excel by the late Dr. Charles Buell, attended the University of Nebraska on an athletic scholarship which required and enabled her to compete in an exceptionally high level of mainstream competition. She is now in training at the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, where she is preparing to represent the USA in the Paralympics in Sydney, Australia this fall. There is not space in this article to list all the international championships she has won and the number of international and world records she holds. Though her training schedule will not allow her to be in Louisville very long, we hope that she will be able to drop by the Recreation Zone on Monday afternoon.
As for the second sports figure who will share the luncheon spotlight with Trischa Zorn, the coordinator of the event has informed me that he is working hard to get Paul Hornung, a Louisville native who became famous a number of years ago as a member of the Green Bay Packers professional football team.
As you can tell, we are very excited about the range of recreational opportunities which we can make available to our convention attendees this year. Whether you are a dyed-in-the- wool sports fanatic or a tentative neophyte just wanting to learn what kinds of recreational activities may be accessible to you as a visually impaired person, the ACB national convention is just your ticket!
The New Vision Enterprises Foundation for the Blind, a Louisville-based non-profit organization which funds innovative employment programs for people who are blind, invites all ACB convention attendees to a reception at the New Vision Art Gallery on Thursday, July 6, from 5 to 8 p.m. Along with gourmet food and delicious wine, the reception will feature Patrick Hughes, the 10-year-old internationally recognized concert pianist. Born without eyes, the Louisville native has stunned thousands with his amazing musical gifts.
A small fee of $5 ($7 at the door) will be charged to those who attend, with all proceeds benefitting Friends in Art. Bus transportation to the gallery reception will be provided from the Galt House at 5:45 p.m., 6:30 p.m., and 7:15 p.m.
The New Vision Art Gallery, which is scheduled to open a month before the convention comes to Louisville, is the nation's first permanent gallery to feature the work of artists who are blind and visually impaired. In addition to showcasing works of art, the gallery's staff will help artists to place their pieces at other art galleries across the country.
"This gallery is about so much more than art," explains New Vision Enterprises, Inc., CEO Bob Jarboe. "It's about re-harvesting an old idea to build new bridges for inclusion and education. With the way we plan on running it, and the opportunities for artists we hope to create, it's a brand new twist on an old idea. We hope all the ACB convention attendees will join us for our gallery reception."
For more information about the New Vision Gallery, or the ACB members' reception, call Amy Marlatt, New Vision Foundation for the Blind Liaison, at (502) 893-0211.
(Reprinted from "Quilt World," March 2000.)
Have you ever heard of a quilt meant to be experienced and appreciated by touch as well as sight? That is exactly the purpose of a 75-block quilt that was displayed for the first time at the national convention of the American Council of the Blind in 1998 when they met in Orlando.
The blocks represent nearly every state in the union, as well as several special-interest affiliate organizations, including the American Blind Lawyers Association, Guide Dog Users, Inc., and others.
The quilt was the original idea of Brenda Trevino of Nashville, Tenn. The quilt represents all the components of the different affiliates in the American Council of the Blind. Trevino envisioned it as a fund-raiser involving the various affiliates of the council. For instance, a raffle selling tickets for $1 each is held at each annual convention, and the winning affiliate wins the quilt for one year.
For 1998, the winner was the Missouri affiliate. They won the right to display the quilt at special events, schools and fairs, and in their affiliate offices until the next convention. Then the quilt would be raffled off again, moving from affiliate to affiliate. The purpose of these public displays is to raise the public's awareness and understanding of the abilities of blind people and causes around the country.
Each block in the quilt has a different design. Some of the patterns were created by blind or visually impaired individuals. The actual sewing was usually done by sighted assistants. About half of the designs were conceived and made by Tennie Dietsch, who lives in Kentucky, but is a member of the Tennessee Council of the Blind. She also pieced the quilt together.
In a taped interview, Dietsch recalls that she at first tried to discourage Trevino's idea of a quilt for display. However, Dietsch eventually agreed to supervise the mailing of requests to the 75 affiliates to determine whether they would be interested in submitting a block if the muslin was supplied. The Nashville chapter was pleased to find that most of the affiliates were interested, and provided representative blocks or suggested designs for blocks.
Packets of high-grade unbleached muslin were distributed to the affiliates to keep the blocks uniform. The designs representing each group were appliqued, painted or embroidered on the muslin. Muslin was chosen over a white background because white would show the wear and dirt from the constant touching. From time to time, the surface may have to be cleaned.
Each block is separated from the others by rickrack, which can readily be felt by blind or visually impaired people. Another unusual feature is that words are embroidered, and the braille equivalent is also embroidered on some squares. The details in each muslin square are in bright reds, yellows, blues and greens.
Most affiliates used an identifying symbol or an outline of their state with their affiliate location marked. For instance, Nashville has a guitar; an affiliate with a guide dog symbol has fake fur attached; several squares represent people using white canes for mobility; others have a state flower, state seal or a dominant crop, such as potatoes for the state of Idaho and bee hives for Utah that can be seen and felt. In the center of the quilt is an embroidered copy of a song written by Dave and Brenda Trevino.
The blocks were assembled and sewn together by Dietsch. She is a former visually impaired person whose vision was restored with laser surgery. This enables her to understand the best means of completing the quilt so that it may be examined by touch and at the same time have a pleasing, colorful and attractive visual effect.
A Dacron batting was used. The border is navy prairie points on three sides, with one end having a casing for a slip rod. The quilt is approximately 60 inches by 72 inches and covers the top of a double bed. It is usually displayed on a table to facilitate examination by touch.
Tennie Dietsch is keeping a scrapbook that contains pictures of the quilt in each place it is displayed, any newspaper or magazine articles, and awards that the quilt wins. Eventually, the scrapbook will be on permanent display in ACBūs Washington, D.C. office, along with the quilt. CAPTIONS Ken Emmons, former Missouri Council president, shows the ACB quilt to state representative Bill Boucher. Brenda and Dave Trevino introduce the ACB Song, embroidered in the middle of the ACB quilt, while on stage at the front of the ballroom. Dave cues the audio tape as he stands at the lectern while Paul Edwards listens to the song.
As a fully paid-up ACB life member myself, one of the biggest thrills I get each year at the ACB national convention is witnessing presentations of new ACB life membership plaques. There are two ways to become a life member of ACB: One can step forward oneself to become a life member, or one can be honored by an affiliate or local chapter with an ACB life membership. The growing circle of ACB life members genuinely wants more of you to join our ranks.
Individuals and contributing affiliates and local chapters can play a significant role in assisting ACB in meeting its ever expanding list of new challenges and needed programs and activities by purchasing life memberships in our organization. As a new life member, you will have the satisfaction of seeing many of ACB's dreams become reality! In addition, each new life member and a guest of his/her choice will be invited to a special reception, which will be held in the president's suite at the ACB national convention in Louisville.
I want to take this opportunity to encourage affiliates and local chapters to seriously consider honoring one of your own -- who may have given your organization sustained years of devoted service -- by bestowing upon that individual member an ACB life membership. Such an honored member will be able to bask in a very special and warming light when his/her life membership is presented on the floor of the ACB national convention.
Now, to be sure, covering the $1,000 ACB life membership dues is a substantial financial commitment, but this heavy load can be mitigated since it can be paid off in up to five annual installments of $200 apiece. That's right, an investment of barely more than 50 cents a day can enable an individual to become an ACB life member under an installment payment plan. What a deal!
If you or your affiliate or chapter are interested in becoming an ACB life member, or bestowing such a membership on a deserving person, please contact ACB's new Chief Financial Officer, Jim Olsen, at (800) 866-3242.
I hope to see at least a dozen new life membership plaques awarded during the ACB national convention in Louisville.
This year, as always, there will be trained volunteers to assist conventioneers in getting around the hotel. GDUI will also offer volunteer assistance in the relief areas and with guide dog related issues. We take this opportunity to publicly thank all who work so tirelessly to find and train these community supporters of ACB.
Despite our gratitude for our volunteers' tireless efforts to assist us, however, many years of experience have demonstrated that various convention-related circumstances can test the patience of even the most dedicated volunteers -- and the most courteous and well-meaning conventioneers. When I am faced with the prospect of writing about difficult issues or potentially trying circumstances, I often turn to my personal literary hero, Dr. Seuss, who has been my mentor as I composed the following poetic advice:
A Volunteer Coordinatorūs Lament It happens every summer 'round the first week in July (Which is really quite a bummer 'cause it's a hectic time to fly). People travel far, though, from the corners of the nation, Just to count themselves included in this special population. They come by plane and bus and cab with excellent intention. Each year they keep on coming to the ACB convention. There is much to do both day and night and new faces to meet. There are meetings here and sessions there and food you cannot beat. The elevators clog and jam with people busy talking. Seats in meeting rooms are full while microphones are squawking. Into all this chaos, the conventioneers arrive. They look about quite dazedly, as if only half alive. The senses blur, the ears do ring, with all the ambient voices. A person could get lost in here, overwhelmed by all the choices. Get lost they do and there's no doubt, it's ever so frustrating. But little do the people know what confusion they're creating. Never fear, we've thought of everything to make this show run smooth. The problem is quite simple, people don't know where to move. A while back someone figured out just how to solve these woes. Provide folks with some volunteers to tell them where to go. The call goes out now every year, in the city where we stay. People come to help all week, or only for one day. They come to provide service, they want to show they care. Some of them are quite nervous, while others want to share. ACB works with volunteers throughout the day and night. GDUI has even more, to help things go just right. If you aren't in the mood to talk, just let them know this quick. We explain in training not to pry unless someone is sick. The great thing about ACB and GDUI too, Is that people do things differently and some hold different views. When training all our volunteers we try so hard to tell, That they will hear so much advice and see so much as well. All we ask is that they do their best to see you on your way. They try so hard to pass this test, while learning more each day. Each year a team coordinates this vast important throng. But, each year -- count on it -- some little thing goes wrong. This year instead of lecturing, (an idea we may explore!) Your friendly organizers do, instead, solemnly implore: When you're bound up with tight schedules, at the short end of your rope This little rhyme do remember, before you give up hope. "Please, do not yell at volunteers. Don't swear at them, don't box their ears. They've gone through special training, just to help us out. So do not be impatient. Do not mess about." Our advice may sound a bit too harsh, but listen to us close: Each year we see the stress and strain as people grow morose. With so much here to see and do, so many meetings long, By the third day of convention, few of us can stay strong. The volunteers can walk with you and point out meeting rooms. They're here to help you navigate when traffic congestion looms. For dog guide types volunteers help out when "park time" rolls around. They can point out relief spots and where baggies can be found. We understand that schedules can run tight and tempers short. We just ask you to remember, to sharpness don't resort. If a volunteer does something that you really can't abide, Come speak with us and we will help, good intentions we will guide. Most of us are kind and appreciate all assistance. We cannot fathom in our minds those who show resistance. Yet throughout each convention we all find something annoying. All the people and their canes, the dogs are not enjoying. Itūs rushing here and rushing there; appointments we must keep! All of this plus parties too, on very little sleep. So it's no wonder now and then that some of us get snappy. But please do spare our volunteers. Please try to leave them happy. We know that almost everyone works hard to stay polite, Policing one another when someone's not acting right. This year just keep it in your mind how other people feel Through patience you may well just find new friendships and appeal. CAPTION Volunteers help keep the ACB convention running. Shown here are three volunteers, including one guy answering the telephone at the volunteer desk, a lady named Lou, and John Patterson, who also helps in the ACB Press Room.
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 "SDAB Leads the Way ..."
As co-president of the South Dakota Association of the Blind (SDAB), I am writing in response to the article entitled "SDAB Leads the Way in Preserving Separate State Agencies for the Blind in South Dakota."
The original intent of the article written by Charlie Hodge, a current and highly regarded member of the SDAB, was to inform the ACB membership that by working together, the SDAB and the National Federation of the Blind of South Dakota (NFBSD) saved our state agency for the blind from being combined with the general rehabilitation agency. We do apologize for any offensive grammatical errors, but there are no "half truths" as we see it.
In the response by John Jones, Secretary of the South Dakota Division of Human Services, printed in the May issue of this magazine, I take issue with his comment that "the state leadership of both of these blind organizations flatly refused to meet with us." As president of SDAB, I did decline the meeting because the administration of the South Dakota Services to the Blind and Visually Impaired had already been invited to attend and meet with us at our upcoming state convention in Brookings in early September. I've attended every SDAB convention since 1972, and this was the first time that a representative from the administration of SBVI did not participate at our convention. The reason given for non-attendance was "a heavy workload."
At this time, I publicly invited Patty Warkenthien and other SBVI staff members to attend the upcoming SDAB convention, which will be held in Sioux Falls October 6-8, 2000.
I did agree with Warkenthien that we need to put the past behind us in order to work toward a brighter future for all South Dakotans with disabilities. However, for her to perform her duties in the capacity of director of SBVI, I urge her to spend a significant amount of time familiarizing herself with the "skills of blindness" at the Rehabilitation Center for the Blind in Sioux Falls. This will help her perform her job duties in a more empathetic, effective manner. Last November, via phone conference, Patty assured me and other SDAB members that this was her intent, but as of this writing, this has not occurred.
In closing, let us put this issue to rest and move forward to serve the blind and visually impaired citizens of South Dakota.
-- Dawn Flewwellin, Aberdeen, S.D.
Charlie Hodge responds:
... I have read both Secretary Jones' and Mr. Grimm's letters to "The Braille Forum" editor, and I have the following response. First, I believe it is worth noting that Secretary Jones ... does not quarrel with the basic truth and accuracy of the chronology of events regarding his consolidation proposal set forth in my original article. Now, it is true that he does carp around the edges -- by, for example, pointing out that he not only had business experience, but also had served as an employee of the South Dakota Department of Health before arriving at his current position. Yet, Secretary Jones does not claim that his prior state government service with the Department of Health in any way qualified him through relevant experience in dealing with the specialized problems of the blind in particular or the disabled in general.
Clearly, my article struck a nerve with Secretary Jones. Why? Well, because the truth often stings or hurts, and I believe that Secretary Jones cannot and should not be proud of his conduct during this unhappy and unfortunate affair.
... I would respectfully suggest to Secretary Jones that we go on to hopefully rebuild some bonds of respect and trust and attempt to best serve the blind consumers of South Dakota. Secretary Jones' letter does, however, contain one absolute and utter falsehood which must be corrected for the record. Secretary Jones contends that the leadership of SDAB refused to meet with him in the summer of 1999 after the face-to-face meeting with Governor Janklow set forth in my article. Nothing could in actuality be further from the truth. Dawn Flewwellin, the co-president of SDAB, indicated that in light of the state government's determination to press forward with submission of its state rehabilitation plan amendments including the consolidation proposal, there was little to discuss with Secretary Jones. Flewwellin, however, invited both Director Grady Kickul and Secretary Jones to attend the annual convention of SDAB to be held in mid-September in Brookings. It was Secretary Jones and his lieutenant Grady Kickul who pleaded last- minute work schedule conflicts in refusing to attend SDAB's 1999 state convention to continue a constructive dialogue. In reality, therefore, it was Secretary Jones and other officials of state government who chose not to meet with the membership of SDAB.
Finally, Secretary Jones would have you believe that I am some ill-informed, outside intermeddling muckraker who is sticking his nose, without invitation, into matters peculiarly within the blindness community of South Dakota. He implies strongly that my article is irresponsible, not trustworthy, and should not be given any credence by those who really were involved in these events or really know the complete story.
First of all, while residing in Arlington, Va., I am a current and long-time dues paying member of SDAB. As a former ACB national officer and board of directors member, I have many friends among the blind community in South Dakota with whom I converse on a regular and ongoing basis. In fact, as a member of SDAB, I was kept fully informed as to developments, and I was asked for policy input and for strategy brainstorming advice by the SDAB officers at several points during the playing out of the consolidation proposal saga in South Dakota. I was and am not the ill-informed, irresponsible, intermeddling outsider depicted by Secretary Jones ...
With respect to Grimm's letter to "The Braille Forum" editor, I would only point out that Grimm is a sighted employee of the general vocational rehabilitation division of the South Dakota Department of Human Services which would have been enlarged and enhanced in importance under Secretary Jones' consolidation proposal. Just perhaps this fact explains his support of the consolidation proposal and his outrage at my article detailing how that proposal was defeated.
In closing, I hope that a separate and distinct administrative unit for the provision of rehabilitation services has been preserved within South Dakota state government through the hard work of SDAB members and others in the organized blind movement in South Dakota, and that we can turn our attention toward the future in building better and stronger programs for the blind of South Dakota. I hope to attend the 2000 SDAB state convention to be held in early October in Sioux Falls. I hope that Secretary Jones and other responsible officials within South Dakota state government will also, unlike last year, attend this important meeting to continue the process of building a constructive dialogue between blind consumers and responsible officials within South Dakota state government. I plan to be there, and I challenge Secretary Jones to show up as well.
-- Charles S.P. Hodge, Arlington, Va.
I am concerned about Sarah Blake's April 2000 "Braille Forum" article about The Seeing Eye. Her comment about the schedule during class is misleading, and could very well leave a reader with the idea the school is very institutionalized. The article makes it sound like the schedule is there for no apparent reason. This could not be further from the truth.
Everything in The Seeing Eye's curriculum is carefully designed to facilitate bonding with the dog. Yes, the fact that there may be as many as 24 graduates in a class does require structure, but there is much information which needs to be communicated during a 28-day period to ensure that people go home to function safely on the streets.
Thank you for your attention to my concerns.
-- Audley Blackburn, Austin, Texas
Mail-Call, which allows ACB members to access their e-mail with their telephones and contribute to the coffers of ACB at the same time, is a bargain for everyone! Jerry Foss, President of Image-it, Inc., which markets the dial-in e-mail service and contributes a percentage of sales revenues to ACB, recently sent us the following interesting cost analyses. Cost of Accessing E-Mail with Your Computer
In order to send and receive e-mail with a computer, you will need: a computer; a modem, which carries on the electronic conversation between you and the Internet; and an Internet Service Provider (ISP), which facilitates the digital connection.
A computer, equipped with modem, will probably cost you a minimum of $1,000. (This figure may not begin to cover the cost of assistive technology which allows visually impaired computer users to access information on their screens, but Jerry didn't have cost information for that kind of hardware and software readily available.) If we assume that the life span of a computer is five years before you will need to buy another one, or upgrade the current system, monthly cost for the computer comes out to $16.66 per month over a five-year period.
The average monthly cost for the services of an Internet service provider is $20.
Therefore, for regular e-mail, your monthly cost will total $36.66. What About Mail-Call?
To access your e-mail with Mail-Call, all you need is a telephone. Chances are you already have such a device in your home, and you consider paying for local phone service one of those routine costs of daily living!
Jerry has found that his clients use their Mail-Call connection an average of 40-50 minutes per month. At a cost of 30 cents a minute for the Mail-Call service, they spend only $12 to $15 each month. This is less than half the cost of regular computer-based e-mail. In fact, $36.66 would buy over 123 minutes of Mail-Call service per month.
"Mail-Call e-mail service is not only a lot less expensive than computer-based e-mail," Jerry says. "It is also far more convenient. Because Mail-Call e-mail service works everywhere with a telephone, you don't have to carry your computer around with you just to get your e-mail. ... Mail-Call is the original developer of the e-mail-by-telephone technology, and the only company that makes regular monthly donations to the blind community. Also, unlike some other similar services now coming to market, Mail-Call will not share, or SELL, your e-mail address to telemarketing groups, or force you to hear unwanted advertisements in order to collect your mail. And finally, Mail-Call allows you to call their live customer service staff, to answer your questions 7 days a week."
Fifty-six ACB members are registered with Mail-Call at the present time. ACB benefits every time a registered member uses the service to access his or her e-mail. The more often you use the service, the more ACB will benefit -- so if you haven't already done so, register with Mail-Call today; if you are already registered, get into the e-mail habit with Mail-Call!
For more information about Mail-Call, contact Jerry Foss, President, Image-it, Inc., at (913) 269-8436. For specific information about how to sign up with the service and use it to access your e-mail, look back at your December 1999 "Braille Forum."
(From "Bob Levey's Washington," "The Washington Post," March 23, 2000.)
John O'Master, of Beltsville, Md., is one of my most observant readers. But even he couldn't believe his eyes.
John was riding the Metro into town to have lunch with his daughter. At one stop, a man got on "with a beautiful, big, Lab guide dog." The dog guided the man to a vacant seat facing John.
Obviously, the man was blind. But that didn't prevent him from removing a magazine from his backpack. John was startled to see that it bore a "familiar bunny logo."
Yes, sports fans, the man proceeded to read the current issue of "Playboy" in braille.
A proper sort, John was a bit worried that the blind man might try to "read" "Playboy's" always-revealing pictures in public. The man "ran his fingers across the bumps on the totally blank pages," John reports. Whether he was reading an article or ogling a curvaceous cutie, John couldn't tell.
A little research reveals that the braille "Playboy" does not offer breasts or buttocks. It restricts itself to words.
The braille version of Hugh Hefner's signature mag is not published by Playboy Enterprises. It's published by the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, a division of the Library of Congress.
NLS has published a braille "Playboy" since 1970. Frank Cylke, the director, said the publication has 500 regular readers.
NLS publishes 40 other magazines in braille, including "National Geographic," "Boys' Life," "Atlantic Monthly," "Ladies' Home Journal," "Ebony," "Consumer Reports," "U.S. News and World Report" and "Rolling Stone," Frank said. The agency distributed 24 million books and magazines last year, making it the largest such service for the blind in the world, Frank said.
Spending public money for saucy reading has long irritated conservative politicians. In 1985, funding for the braille "Playboy" was cut off by Rep. Chalmers Wylie (R-Ohio). He argued that spending $103,000 in taxpayers' money for a magazine that was "seen" by fewer than 1,000 people was irresponsible.
The decision was appealed to U.S. District Court here in Washington. Judge Thomas Hogan overruled the decision of Congress on First Amendment grounds. Funding for the braille "Playboy" has not been disturbed since.
By the way, John and readers, NLS also provides "talking book" editions of "Playboy." I've read a few pieces in "Playboy" over the years. I guarantee you that hearing them read aloud would spice up any Metro trip, any day.
(Reprinted from "The Anniston Star," November 26, 1999.)
Herman L. "Doc" Lowery, who practiced physical therapy in Anniston, Ala. for more than 40 years, died Nov. 24, 1999 at National Health Care Center. He was 78.
Born in Butler County, Lowery was one of five children born to Rev. S.F. Lowery and Ella M. Lowery. At the age of 17, he was blinded in an accident.
He was well known in the Anniston area, having moved there in 1946 to establish his professional practice after graduating from the Alabama School for the Blind in Talladega and the American Physiotherapy Institute Inc. in Anderson, Ind. In 1949, he married Eulene East from Delta. Together they began providing toys for the children at the Alabama School for the Blind at Christmas time. The Lowerys continued to enlarge the holiday gift-giving to the blind children in Talladega. Many of Loweryūs patients have given donations in support of his work with blind children. The White Cane drive donations in Anniston have provided funds for the children for many years.
Among his many contributions in helping others, Lowery established a benefit fund in 1957 at the Alabama Industries for the Blind that served as a cooperative loan and benefit fund network for the blind workers until 1987.
In 1960, Lowery and some blind friends in Anniston established the Anniston Chapter of the Blind, an organization to provide support for blind children enrolled in the Alabama School for the Blind. He held all offices over the years and the chapter met in his office and home each month for more than 25 years.
Lowery was also active in McCoy United Methodist Church, where he served as the chairman of the board during the time of the church move from Moore Avenue to its present location on Brighton Avenue.
Survivors include his wife, Eulene East Lowery, of Anniston; a sister, Jean Campbell, of Gastonia, N.C.; a brother, Rev. Sam F. Lowery, of Pennington. He was preceded in death by two brothers, George Lowery and C.F. Lowery.
The family requests no flowers, but suggests that memorials be made to the Anniston Council of the Blind or McCoy United Methodist Church.
It is with a profound sense of loss that I write, as president of the World Blind Union, to inform you that William Gallagher recently passed away. Bill was an honorary life member of the World Blind Union and the first regional president of the North America/Caribbean Region.
When we are together in Melbourne and reach the point on the agenda for tributes to the loss of several outstanding members among our leadership, I will include Bill in my brief remarks. I pause to take this opportunity to salute Bill's career and his leadership in the World Blind Union. However, my relationship with Bill was far more than that because he was truly a good friend and close colleague.
A great deal of credit is rightfully attributed to Dr. Kenneth Jernigan for his leadership and work for the blind throughout the world and particularly in the United States. Bill's contribution, dramatically different in many ways, brought an important dimension to the harmony that evolved among the leaders of work for the blind within our region. Bill was a thoughtful, gentle individual but had the courage and tenacity of his views and convictions.
Bill spent almost 40 years in the blindness field, beginning his career in 1954 at the Catholic Guild for All the Blind in Boston. In 1961, he left the Catholic Guild to help establish a rehabilitation program at the Greater Pittsburgh Guild for the Blind, and a year later became director of the guild. In 1965 he accepted the position of director of rehabilitation services at the New York Lighthouse.
Bill joined the AFB staff in 1972 as director of program planning and was named associate director for advocacy in 1978, managing field services, publications and information services, governmental relations and public relations, and coordinating all conferences, workshops and training sessions. Two years later he was appointed executive director. He retired from that post in 1990, and was awarded AFBūs highest honor, the Migel Medal, in 1991. He was also honored with the Ambrose M. Shotwell Award in 1992, one of the two highest awards presented by the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired.
Bill Gallagher's contributions to AFB and the field of blindness and low vision were immeasurable. To enable AFB staff and board to stay informed of the needs of the field, he spearheaded the establishment of national advisory committees comprised of nationally recognized leaders in education, rehabilitation and aging. He also worked tirelessly to help improve standards and procedures for accreditation of specialized schools and agencies offering services to blind or visually impaired people.
I last visited with Bill in his summer home in Massachusetts at least five years ago. In spite of his illness, he always cherished work for the blind and the future for all of us involved in the field of blindness, whether consumer, service provider or advocate. He had a firm belief in the work of the World Blind Union and some of you may recall that the CNIB and the American Foundation for the Blind hosted the executive meeting in New York City in 1986.
Many years ago Bill gave me a T-shirt from Webster, Mass. Inscribed across the bottom was a very long and impossible to pronounce sentence in the native language of a local American Indian tribe. When translated, the legend expressed by the sentence was to the effect of "You fish on your side and Iūll fish on my side." Perhaps the quality I admired the most about Bill Gallagher was his ability to fish on both sides.
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.
DONATE YOUR GUIDE RAILS
Good used bowling guide rails needed for use overseas! Several organizations overseas are interested in starting 10-pin bowling programs for the blind, but they do not have and are having great difficulty obtaining portable guide rails of the type that have been used in the USA for many years. Unfortunately, there is no longer a dependable producer of such rails in this country and the American Blind Bowling Association has sold the few it had on hand. Anyone who is willing to donate a rail in usable condition should send it to the U.S. Association for Blind Athletes, c/o 4708 46th St. NW, Washington, DC 20016. Anyone wanting additional information should call Oral Miller at (800) 424-8666, voice mailbox 25.
Candle in the Window, a small national non-profit organization, will hold its 14th annual conference August 9-13, 2000 at the Kavanaugh Life Enrichment Center outside of Louisville, Ky. The conference this year is entitled "The Souls of Blind Folk: Integrating Spirituality into the Fabric of Our Lives." Topics to be explored are: experiences which led each participant to join their respective faith traditions; activities that center us spiritually; and development of strategies to build more harmonious relationships with each of our faith communities. There will be provocative presentations and discussions, time for swimming, hiking, eating, singing, quiet reflection and hanging out. Two lodging options are available: a dorm-type setting with three or four people to a room, and a double-occupancy hotel-type setting. The dorm setting costs $200; the hotel, $295. If a $35 deposit is made by July 1, there is a $15 discount. Limited scholarships are available, as are payment plans. For more information, call Kathy Szinnyey at (502) 895-0866 or e-mail her at [email protected]; or call Peter Altschul at (202) 234-5243, e-mail [email protected]
PITNEY BOWES WINS
Pitney Bowes Inc., a provider of high performance mailing systems, copiers and fax machines, was recently selected to win an "IndustryWeek" Technology of the Year Award for its Universal Access Copier System. The copier integrates traditional print access with speech recognition, braille labeling and touch screen technology. For more information, visit the web site, http://www.pitneybowes.com.
20 ATMs UP
Wells Fargo and the California Council of the Blind announced recently that 20 Wells Fargo Talking ATMs are now up and running in the San Francisco Bay area, Los Angeles and San Diego areas. Through voice instructions, these new ATMs tell blind and visually impaired users how to deposit money, withdraw cash, transfer funds and buy stamps. The ATMs have audio jacks to deliver that information privately.
ATM locations are: 2144 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley; 3452 Castro Valley Blvd., Castro Valley; 585 San Ramon Valley, Danville; 2959 College Ave., Berkeley; 4767 Hopyard Rd., Pleasanton; 1 California St., San Francisco; 1705 N. First St., San Jose; 80 Moraga Way, Orinda; 39265 Paseo Padre Pkwy., Fremont; 464 California St., San Francisco; 6320 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood; 333 S. Grand Ave., Los Angeles; 6245 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles; 1910 W. Main St., Alhambra; 7202 S. Greenleaf Ave., Whittier; 276-A N. El Camino Real, Encinitas; 7714 Girard Ave., La Jolla; 16901 Bernardo Center Dr., San Diego; 245 Santa Helena, Solana Beach; and 401 B St., San Diego.
The Princeton Braillists recently came out with a new tactile product: "Maps of the Bible Lands ū Old Testament." This set of maps is intended for serious students of the Bible or of ancient near-eastern history. Maps are detailed; no descriptive background material is included. Familiarity with the subject material and some tactile experience are recommended. "Maps of the Bible Lands" contains 25 maps and accompanying key pages, plus an index, in two bound volumes totaling 96 pages. It costs $22. Send check or money order (or institutional purchase order) to The Princeton Braillists, 28-B Portsmouth St., Whiting, NJ 08759. Allow four to six weeks for delivery. For more information, call (732) 350-3708.
The House of Seven Gables Settlement Association has many forms of help for disabled tourists. Available are: large print handouts, braille tours, a telecommunications device for the deaf, and a staff trained by the Historic Sites Accessibility Committee that includes members from the Salem Commission on Disabilities. For more information, call (978) 744-0991, or write to: The Settlement Association, 54 Turner St., Salem, MA 01970.
SMELL THE ROSES
Are you passing through Kansas City, Mo. during your vacation travels? Stop and smell the roses. The Kansas City Garden Club has created a fragrance and texture garden, located 75 feet north of the Loose Park Garden Center Building, 5200 Pennsylvania. It includes many varieties of fragrant and/or textured plants to be touched by visitors. The garden also includes braille and print signs for all the plants. Brochures in braille and in large print are available for visitors in the Loose Park Garden Center Building. For more information, call (816) 561-9710.
Planning a vacation? Captain Cook's Travel & Cruise is a new travel agency specializing in travel for the visually impaired. It is owned and operated by visually impaired people. The company has three cruises planned this year: Alaska, Aug. 19; Canada and New England fall foliage cruise, Oct. 20, and southern Caribbean, Dec. 13. Both the October and December cruises provide great chances for holiday shopping while having a great time with a group of visually impaired participants. Cruises are based on a minimum of at least 16 people. Are you interested? Call toll-free (888) 564- 8501, or e-mail [email protected]
If tours are more your thing, the company has several to choose from this year, including the Oregon Shakespeare Festival; Rose Festival and Oregon Tour; walks in Nepal and trips to South Africa and Ethiopia. For more information, call the number above, or contact Rick at the e-mail address above. Cruise and tour information can be provided in large print, on cassette tape or on computer disk.
Also, the company has a newsletter, "Cruises & Vacations by Touch." It was created exclusively for visually impaired and reading impaired clients. It is available on tape, CD-ROM, 3.5- inch computer disk and in large print. Call (541) 552-9388, or e- mail Rick at the address listed above.
ROCKS & ROPES
Challenge Aspen is offering "The Wilderness Experience," a rock climbing and ropes course for people with disabilities. Participants must be able to climb alone. The course will be held August 4-7 in the Rocky Mountains. Lead climbers are Erik Weihenmayer and Tom Perkins. Other activities offered include fishing, tandem cycling and white water rafting. The total cost for participants is $350 per person; guides/buddies, $150 per person. Registration is limited to 10 participants; the deadline is July 4. Full payment must be received by July 4.
Lodging is available at the Silvertree Hotel, located on the slopes in Snowmass Village. The hotel is offering a discounted rate of $75 per night, based on double occupancy. For reservations, call the Silvertree at (800) 525-9402 and indicate that you are with Challenge Aspen. If you need help finding a roommate, contact the Challenge Aspen office at (970) 923-0578.
The Merle E. Frampton Scholarship is available to any North American student who has been accepted into a university program recognized by AERBVI as meeting standards for training teachers of the blind and visually impaired. Applicants must be formally accepted into a program and intend to become a teacher of the blind and visually impaired. The scholarship will not fund rehabilitation teachers or orientation and mobility specialists as stand-alone certifications, although if a dual program is being pursued (vision teacher plus), the scholarship will fund such programs. Funds may only be used for payment of tuition costs and will be made directly to the university. Request applications from [email protected] or by calling (360) 696-6321 extension 140. Applications must be received by July 15.
NEW AT NLS
The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped recently added more than 38,000 bibliographic records from the Royal National Institute for the Blind of the United Kingdom into its Union Catalog of braille and audio reading materials for blind and physically handicapped readers. The catalog now holds more than 340,000 bibliographic records representing special material collections in the United States, Ireland, Canada, the United Kingdom and New Zealand.
Also, the Library of Congress has moved one step closer to being able to produce digital talking books for users of its National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. It recently installed a digital recording facility. This new studio follows installation of a digital duplication system at the libraryūs facility in Cincinnati in 1999. The experimental digital audio mastering equipment is called a Digidesign Pro Tools 24, and operates on a personal computer.
Envision has moved! The new address is 2301 S. Water, Wichita, KS 67213-4819; phone (316) 267-2244. The Technologies and Training Center, currently located at the Wichita mall, also moved to 2301 S. Water. The center's new phone number is (316) 425-7121.
The Bartimaeus Bible Conference will be held August 7-11, 2000. The theme this year is "The Practical Effects of Prophetic Events." Pastor Ron Matlock will be the primary Bible teacher, and will explore with participants how the future should influence the spirituality of life. Accommodations are the same as last year: deluxe motel, two to a room, linens provided, meals in a private dining room. The Siden Conference Center cost has increased this year; the conference costs $275 for 11 meals and four nights lodging. A non-refundable check for $25 must accompany all reservations and/or requests for assistance with a campership.
Send your reservation to either Bartimaeus Bible Conference, 404 Larch Ave., South San Francisco, CA 94080-1609 or Christian Services for the Blind, PO Box 26, South Pasadena, CA 91031-0026. For more information, call Grant Metcalf at (650) 589-6890 or Frank Tucker at (626) 799-3935.
SPEAK TO ME!
Speak to Me has several new items in its spring-summer catalog, including the Echo 1 Talking Pager. The pager is lightweight and easy to use; it includes a full-featured numeric display with vibrator and beep tone alert, and will speak any numeric message stored in memory. It requires 1 AAA battery (not included) and costs $89.95. Also featured in the catalog are a talking VCR, voice recognition cordless phone, talking pedometer, talking tape measure, talking calendar/clock and a variety of digital recorders, as well as talking key chains, magnets, stuffed animals and novelty gifts. For more information, or a catalog, call the company at (800) 248-9965, or visit the web site, http://www.speaktomecatalog.com.
Kathleen Prime is an independent contractor with Tivoli Travel of Massapequa, N.Y. She arranges travel for disabled and able- bodied clients, including blind people. Prime can arrange domestic and international trips, including airline tickets, hotel reservations, tour packages, cruises and any other accommodations you may require. If you or your family would like to plan a trip, contact Kathleen Prime at (631) 698-5149, or write her via e-mail at [email protected]
Do you want to keep abreast of the latest developments in the world of access technology, but lack the time or inclination to sift through hundreds of messages on e-mail lists? Do you sometimes delete messages because you aren't willing to read through extraneous headers and ads? If so, Amy Ruell may have the thing for you. She monitors more than 12 e-mail lists and subscribes to several newsletters and magazines that focus on adaptive technology. For an annual fee of $20, you can receive timely information about new products and resources, updates to your adaptive equipment, and speech-friendly programs. You will also be alerted to changes in vendor contact information and publications, and will be informed when new lists become available. To subscribe, send a check for $20 payable to Amy Ruell and mail it to her at 9 Quail Run, Hingham, MA 02043. If you have questions, contact Amy via e-mail at [email protected]
HANDS is a new listserv primarily aimed at blind high school and college students. Its main goal is to let blind students exchange techniques for dealing with student life and allow them to vent their frustrations. To subscribe to HANDS, write an e-mail message to [email protected] Leave the subject line blank. In the body of the message type the words (without quotes) "subscribe hands firstname lastname", where firstname is your first name and lastname is your last name. Then send the message.
The Smithsonian Institution's Arthur M. Sackler Gallery offers free twice-monthly tactile tours of its major summer exhibition, "Music in the Age of Confucius." This exhibit opened April 30 and will run through September 17. It presents a set of 36 rare bells, chimestones, zithers, flutes, drums and pan pipes, representing the largest, best-preserved cache of ancient musical instruments ever discovered. Tour dates are June 10 and 24, July 8 and 22, and August 12 and 26. Tours begin in the lobby area of the Sackler entrance pavilion at 9:30 a.m. Tours are limited to eight people per Saturday; reservations are required. To make a reservation, or for more information, contact Raina Johns at (202) 357-4880 extension 402 or via e-mail, [email protected]
BFI AudioBooks of Stamford, Conn., recently published a biography of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt which also describes the FDR Home and Museum in Hyde Park, N.Y. It consists of five cassettes which describe the displays and tell the story of the lives of Franklin and Eleanor from childhood to their deaths, explain the world they lived in and much of the history they created. The book is titled "Seeing the Franklin D. Roosevelt Home & Museum with Julian Padowicz" and may be followed in the future with such topics as Ellis Island and Gettysburg. The FDR book is available now in bookstores; it costs $24.95. It is also available from the publisher, (800) 260-7717.
The American Foundation for the Blind recently presented its 2000 Helen Keller Achievement Awards. The winners are: Harold McGraw III, chairman, president and CEO of the McGraw-Hill Companies; Kiyoshi Kawakami, president and CEO of Mitsubishi Electronics America, Inc.; and jazz vocalist and pianist Diane Schurr. McGraw received the Helen Keller Achievement Award in Communications for the "Assistive Technology" column written by John M. Williams and published by "BusinessWeek Online." Kawakami received the Helen Keller Achievement Award in Corporate Philanthropy for Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation's founding the AFB Product Evaluation Laboratory Student Internship Project. Schurr received the Helen Keller Personal Achievement Award in recognition of her achievements as a distinguished performing artist and as a role model for people who are blind or visually impaired.
And speaking of Helen Keller, a book of her quotes has recently been published. It is called "To Love This Life: Quotations by Helen Keller"; it has a foreword by former president Jimmy Carter and a preface by Keller Johnson-Thompson, Helen's great-grandniece. It costs $21.95 in print or on tape; order it by calling (800) 232- 3044, or by e-mail at [email protected] Orders must be accompanied by payment (for individuals) or institutional purchase orders, and should be sent to AFB Press, PO Box 1020, Sewickley, PA 15143-1020.
AFB Press also recently released "Vision Loss in an Aging Society: A Multidisciplinary Perspective," edited by John E. Crews and Frank J. Whittington. Its ISBN is 0-89128-307-2, and it costs $27.95 plus $5 shipping and handling. For information, or to order, call AFB Press Customer Service at the number above. Send orders and payment to the address listed above.
TWO NEW TOOLS
The American Printing House for the Blind has two new tools to help students improve their computer skills, Talking Typer and Learn Keys. Talking Typer is a typing and computer keyboard training program for the PC. It shows and speaks a series of letters or words and waits for students to type them. It can be used by individuals and groups, and uses the computer's sound card and screen to instruct, practice and/or play games with typing lessons. Teachers may make modifications to fit their students' needs.
Learn Keys gives students high-quality digitized human speech feedback as they explore the PC keyboard. It works with several versions of Windows and with a variety of keyboard styles. Learn Keys operates in full screen and background modes. When it's in full screen mode, it speaks any single key you press and displays the name of the key on the screen; in background mode, it provides keyboard feedback while other Windows programs are open.
A free demonstration version of these products is available on the APH web site, http://www.aph.org.
APH also has available a program called Math Flash, designed to help elementary students improve their math skills. The program allows students to select their favorite Math Mentor to lead the exercises; the mentor guides the student through problems in addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Teachers can modify the number of problems and the degree of difficulty, insert new problems of their own design into the exercises, and adjust the program to the studentūs level of vision. A free demonstration version of this is available on the web site listed above.
Opus Technologies has signed a braille music publishing agreement with Hal Leonard Corp. of Milwaukee which grants Opus Technologies the rights to publish and sell braille editions of music titles from Hal Leonard's extensive catalog of print music. For its first offering, the company is publishing braille editions of 25 individual sheet music pieces. These consist of piano-vocal- guitar (pvg), easy piano (ep), or piano solo (ps) versions of the following 10 best-selling popular songs: "Forrest Gump Main Title" ep, ps; "Great Balls of Fire" pvg; "Heart and Soul" pvg, ep, ps; "Imagine" pvg, ep, ps; "Memory" pvg, ep, ps; "My Heart Will Go On" pvg, ep, ps; "Tears in Heaven" pvg, ep, ps; "Unchained Melody" pvg, ep; "What a Wonderful World" pvg, ep, ps; and "Yesterday" pvg, ep.
Opus Technologies is selling both the braille and the corresponding print sheet music at the following prices: $9.95 (braille), $3.95 (print), and $12.95 (braille and print). Shipping and handling cost $5 per U.S. order ($10 for Canada). Contact the company at 13333 Thunderhead St., San Diego, CA 92129; phone (858) 538-9401; e-mail [email protected], or visit the web site, http://www.opustec.com.
GW & ADOBE
GW Micro announced recently that it is working with Adobe Systems Inc. to develop compatibility between Window-Eyes and a future release of Adobe Acrobat software. The most likely solution will involve use of Microsoft Access software. Stay tuned for more developments on this in the future.
Henter-Joyce has merged with Blazie Engineering to form Freedom Scientific Inc., a new company dedicated to offering a broad line of assistive technology products for people with sensory impairments and learning disabilities. The company is headed by Richard H. Chandler, founder and former CEO of Sunrise Medical, one of the worldūs major manufacturers of rehabilitation products for the elderly and disabled. Freedom Scientific has been funded with an equity commitment from two leading private equity firms, Patricof & Co. Ventures and Summit Partners, each of which has successfully invested in the past in businesses focused on disability products. Henter-Joyce and Blazie will continue to design, develop and manufacture their respective product lines in separate business development units, but sales, marketing, order entry and administrative functions will be combined at the Freedom Scientific Blind/Low Vision Group, to be located in St. Petersburg, Fla.
FOR SALE: Braille 'n Speak 2000. Like new; rarely used. Has latest software. Asking $850 or best offer. Contact Mary during the evenings (Pacific time) at (925) 798-5653. Serious inquiries only.
FOR SALE: Braille 'n Speak, like new. Comes with all manuals and documentation. Asking $850 or best offer. Contact Jan Carmichael after 6 p.m. at (559) 435-3182.
WANTED: Used CCTV in good working order. Contact Jerry Hamrick at PO Box 213, Valley Head, WV 26294; phone (304) 339- 6489.
WANTED: Braille 'n Speak and Perkins brailler in good condition. Call Ty Bellini at (724) 244-3020.
WANTED: Older Blazie disk drive and an older speech synthesizer. Contact Karen Lewellen at (718) 899-3227 or e-mail her 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