THE BRAILLE FORUM is available in braille, large print, half- speed four-track cassette tape and computer disk. Subscription requests, address changes, and items intended for publication should be sent to: Penny Reeder, THE BRAILLE FORUM, 1155 15th St. N.W., Suite 1004, Washington, DC 20005. Submission deadlines are the first of the month.
Those much-needed contributions, which are tax-deductible, can be sent to Patricia Beattie at the same address. If you wish to remember a relative or friend by sharing in the council's continuing work, the national office has printed cards available to acknowledge contributions made by loved ones in memory of deceased people.
Anyone wishing to remember the American Council of the Blind in his/her Last Will and Testament may do so by including a special paragraph for that purpose. If your wishes are complex, you may contact the ACB National Office.
For the latest in legislative and governmental news, call the "Washington Connection" toll-free at (800) 424-8666, 6 p.m. to midnight Eastern time Monday through Friday.
The National Eye Institute phone number listed in "Here and There" (July 2000) was incorrect. The correct number for the National Eye Institute is (301) 496-5248.
Many people in the American Council of the Blind know that I have historically voted as a Democrat. I have sought never to allow my political persuasion to color the way I have led this organization. In that tradition, I have decided that it is now time for us in ACB to speak to every person seeking elective office in this country. I believe that what I say will speak for both the Democrats and Republicans among us. People with disabilities must be heard once and for all by those who seek political office. Our message must be clear, explicit and uncompromising. Whether we are speaking to judges, city commissioners, town selectmen, state representatives, Congressional candidates, or those who seek the presidency, our message is the same. I hope that all of you can use what follows to frame how you deal with candidates. I believe that everything I will say is based either on positions this organization has taken or on general principles that are core values of the disability rights movement.
We are obliged to take politics seriously because our issues are, for the most part, being marginalized by both major political parties. We must say to those seeking office that we will no longer tolerate vague generalizations of good will. It is time for us to ask for specifics and to castigate those who have not kept their promises. Unless we become involved and actively seek to place our issues on everyone's political agenda, we will not be heard and our needs will not be met. Anyway, for better or for worse, here is my attempt at communicating with the future office-holders of this nation.
I am one of 54 million people with disabilities. We are the largest minority in the United States. We are the poorest minority in the United States. We are a minority whose unemployment rate is 70 percent. We are a minority whose children are dropping out of school at twice the rate of non-disabled people. And, in case you didn't get it, we are a minority!
When you speak of minorities you usually do not include us. We affirm that our status as a minority arises from the fact that we suffer from insidious, systematic and unrelenting discrimination. Ten years after the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act neither the dropout rate nor employment have been much affected. The promise of the 1990s has been replaced by the perils of the 21st century. Both the news media and politicians have attacked the only civil rights law that protects us. What specific steps will you take to protect the rights that the ADA affirms and to move beyond protection to assure that people with disabilities can fully participate in our society?
The 21st century will be known as the century of information. Technology is less affordable and less accessible to people with disabilities. What steps will you take to mandate that your community, state or the nation assures that people with disabilities are not excluded from the immense benefits of information technology?
Funding for programs and services for people with disabilities has remained inadequate. In many communities per capita expenditure on disability-specific programs has fallen. What will you do to guarantee that funds are channeled into programs that begin to redress the inequity that makes people with disabilities the most under-employed and poorest minority?
The Social Security system continues to create disincentives to return to work. The per capita income of people with disabilities is well below the poverty level. What will you do to make community, state and federal funds available to provide for the equipment and work incentives that will enable people with disabilities to return to work? What specific Social Security reforms will you sponsor?
Not one state got good marks from the Department of Education for their implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. The percentage of blind children who graduate able to read braille continues to fall and far too many disabled children are being encouraged to work toward meaningless and limiting special diplomas rather than seeking regular high school graduation. Dropout rates for students with disabilities are significantly higher. What specific steps will you take to assure that real educational opportunities and true individual educational programming emerge for students with disabilities?
While the unemployment rate for the nation, as a whole, is below 5 percent, the unemployment rate for people with disabilities remains at near 70 percent. At least a substantial portion of this unemployment is the result of systematic discrimination. What specific steps will you take to assure that the discrimination that limits employment for people with disabilities will be vigorously opposed?
While other Americans can and do make choices about their futures, people with disabilities are often treated in custodial ways and have very limited choices. What will you do to broaden the ability of each American with a disability to choose where he or she works, what community activities he or she chooses to participate in, and where he or she chooses to live?
No matter what steps our country takes to make jobs and our communities more available to people with disabilities, these efforts will be worthless if we do not develop a public transportation infrastructure that enables people with disabilities to travel freely. What will you do to assure that communities, states and the nation create public fixed-route and paratransit systems that are truly available to people with disabilities?
There is clear and unequivocal evidence that demonstrates that services delivered to blind people by separate, self- contained service delivery models with their own budgets and consumer governance are far more successful than models where services are delivered to all disability groups at once. What specific steps will you take to create and protect separate services for people who are blind?
More than half of the blind people in the United States are over 55 years of age. Less than 10 percent of the funds spent on serving blind people aid this population. Describe the particular actions you will take to redress this imbalance and provide appropriate services to older people who are blind.
Hundreds of people who are blind die or are seriously injured because our nation is becoming increasingly less safe for pedestrians. What will you do in your community, state or in the nation to create more accessible pedestrian signalized street crossings, tactile warnings at dangerous street crossings and a more pedestrian-friendly environment?
Both major political parties, cities, states, and the federal government receive very little input from people with disabilities. Describe the steps you have taken and will take to assure that the opinions of people with disabilities are regularly sought. What will you do to broaden access to government for people who are disabled?
People with disabilities often cannot exercise their right to vote in privacy because very little effort has been made to make ballots accessible, and many polling places are inaccessible. Describe the steps you would take to assure that people with disabilities can exercise their right to cast a ballot independently at an accessible polling place.
I hope that you as a candidate recognize that these questions are just a few of the many that could have been asked. People with disabilities are the minority with least appeal and with the most serious agenda. Systematic exclusion, whether intended or not, is real and endemic to our society. No candidate who is not prepared to publicly recognize the serious problems faced by people with disabilities deserves to be elected. We are not a special-interest group crying out for privilege! We are a minority group demanding our rights as American citizens. We do not ask for your support. We demand your action. Persuade us that you are serious about giving the 20 percent of Americans we are a fair chance to be treated equally! This is our challenge. How do you respond?
Well, folks, that's my letter. You may have other issues that you want to highlight. You may not like some of my language. Change it! The real point here is that candidates must be made to speak out on disability issues. Ask candidates to come to your meetings or to respond in writing. Tell them you want to hear them incorporating your issues into their campaigns. If you can or will, offer to help with the campaign of the candidate in whom you believe. I hope that every state and local affiliate will send a letter such as this one out to every candidate seeking political office. I hope, too, that you will vote based on the responses you receive or the silence that speaks louder than any response does. Each of you has the power to affect political change. Shame on you if you choose not to exercise your power and your concern at the ballot box this November!
July 26, 2000, marked the 10th anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). During the month of July, in particular, anniversary celebrations seemed to be taking place every day, everywhere, and at all hours of the day and night!! Advocates, legislators, policy-makers, businesspersons, people with disabilities, and just regular Joes all had something to say about the culmination of the first post-ADA decade.
Never being the kind of people to turn down an opportunity to celebrate, or to advocate, ACB was there -- at nearly every ADA celebratory event, including:
* Briefings presented by people with disabilities to Capitol Hill staffpersons and legislators, detailing positive changes the act has made in attitudes and opportunities for many;
* Displays of cutting-edge technology which holds out promises of inclusion and opportunity for people who must find ways around the restrictions imposed by their disabilities;
* Conversations with the vice president about what people with disabilities expect the executive branch of government to do to fully implement the ADA, execute its mandates, and lead by example;
* Speeches by the President, the First Lady, Senators Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Hatch (R-Utah), whose leadership guided the act through the political shoals of the legislative process, former Attorney General Richard Thornburgh and others in the Bush administration, and Liz Savage from the Department of Justice, and others in the Clinton administration, all of whom have developed and implemented the policies and procedures that attempt to make the guarantees of the law a reality;
* Oversight hearings by the Access Board, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and the National Organization on Disability, where progress was marked, deficiencies were noted, and promises were made;
* The historic Federal Communications Commission hearing during which commissioners approved a number of telecommunications-related mandates -- including, most significantly for ACB, the requirement for major television networks to broadcast video descriptions of 50 hours per quarter of prime-time programming, accessible through the Secondary Audio Programming channel, beginning in 2002;
* Local celebrations as the ADA torch was carried from one city to another by people with disabilities, including many people who are blind;
* A glittering gala, sponsored by the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF), the National Council on Independent Living (NCIL), and others.
There were speeches and stories, songs and ceremonies. Emotions ran high, as many realized how far we have come, and, at the same time, recognized the necessity to rededicate ourselves to stronger advocacy, heightened commitment, and the hard work that continues to need to be done if the civil rights guarantees of the Americans with Disabilities Act are to be realized in meaningful ways by every American with a disability.
Capturing the sentiments of every event were the words of Justin Dart, who is the patron saint of the disability rights movement. Dart spoke movingly at the first ADA briefing ACB staffpersons attended, at the Hart Senate Office Building, on July 20. At every subsequent 10th anniversary event, his words were read, and celebrated.
I include them here because they are the subtext of every ADA celebratory event, because they express so well my own personal sentiments, and because they are a fitting tribute to the millions of Americans who struggle every day to achieve the self- actualization promised by the Americans with Disabilities Act. This is a time for celebration -- because, no matter how far we still have to go, the Americans with Disabilities Act is, in fact, a real law, with real teeth, and real promise. This is a time to be wary -- as the Supreme Court takes up yet another challenge to the civil rights law. And this is a time for re- dedication to the principles of equality and justice for all. "Colleagues in justice, I love you.
Happy Independence Day! Congratulations!
Thanks to you, we celebrate the passage of the world's first civil rights law for people with disabilities.
Thanks to your passionate advocacy every day for 10 years, we can proudly say that, compared to civil rights laws of the past, ADA has been successful.
To the critics who complain that ADA has not achieved total justice in 10 years, I say what about the Bill of Rights and the Ten Commandments? Have they achieved total justice? Is there something wrong with them?
I join you in celebrating ADA. But as we celebrate we are mindful that we have taken only the first steps in a long journey to justice. As we celebrate, ADA is under attack. Democracy is under attack.
The world is watching America. The world is watching ADA. The world will follow what we do. Failure is unthinkable.
The coming elections will decide our fate for decades. Get into politics as if your lives depended on it. They do. And the lives of hundreds of millions in future generations.
Let us reconsecrate ourselves to the revolutions of 1776, 1964 and 1990.
Let us rise above politics as usual. Let us join together, Republicans, Democrats, Americans. Let us embrace each other in reverence for individual human life. Let us unite in action to keep the sacred pledge -- liberty and justice for all.
Let us unite to fight as we have never fought before.
Colleagues, I'm the luckiest man in the world because I'm in the best movement in the world with the best people in the world, you. The beauty of working with you keeps me alive.
I love you so much. I am with you always.
Solidarity! Together, we shall overcome."
-- Justin Dart, July 26, 2000
On July 21, the Federal Communications Commission, in an historic three-to-two vote, approved a plan to require broadcasters to adopt technology which will allow blind people to follow the action on their television screens by listening to narration interspersed between lines of dialogue and broadcast over the Secondary Audio Programming (SAP) channel on stereo television sets and VCRs. The rules will require that network-affiliated broadcasters in the top 25 television markets use the secondary channel for roughly four hours per week, either as prime-time or children's programming, beginning in the spring of 2002. Cable systems and satellite operators with 50,000 or more subscribers will be required to provide the service for their most popular networks.
Live news shows, sporting events -- which often include play-by-play descriptions -- and talk shows are exempt from the rules, because the action they contain is generally described in naturally occurring dialogue. The plan is limited to analog broadcasters, but may be applied to emerging digital broadcasters later. The commission intends to gather information and experience with this technology to help evaluate the possibility of expanding and improving the scope of the program. The rules will cover local emergency information that is part of a newscast, or that interrupts regularly scheduled programming, and when emergency information scrolls across the screen, an audible tone will be required to alert people that important information has been provided. This emergency policy will take effect 60 days after the rules are published in the Federal Register.
On the Friday morning of the crucial hearing, ACB members and others who have actively advocated for video description for television programming filled the hearing room at the Federal Communications Commission. The vote on video description was the last item on the commissioners' agenda. As descriptive video came up for discussion and the crucial vote, Richard Rueda, ACB's summer intern from California who was sitting next to me, whispered, "The moment of truth!"
The vote, which some in the blindness community had optimistically characterized earlier in the morning as "in the bag," was in fact, a nail-biter, as two of the five commissioners noted in their pre-vote remarks that they could not vote for a video description mandate because they did not believe the FCC had been given a Congressional mandate in this area. When Commissioner Ness cast the deciding affirmative vote, supporters of video description for television heaved a collective sigh of relief, and began to contemplate a celebration! FCC Chairman William E. Kennard said in summary remarks which demonstrated his empathy with people who cannot see, and his essential understanding of the issues involved, "This is important to allow everyone to participate in the television experience." Post-Hearing Interviews and Celebrations
Immediately after the hearing, I asked Scott Marshall, who had compiled much of the statistical information which demonstrated the need and desire for video description when he worked for the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) as a Vice President for Governmental Relations, if he had been surprised by the two dissenting votes.
"Well," Marshall said, "I think the commissioners stated some of the concerns that they had heard from the industry about the jurisdiction on this issue, and I think that's what they were reflecting."
I asked Paul Schroeder, who is now Vice President for Governmental Affairs at AFB, and Alan Dinsmore, AFB's Senior Governmental Relations Representative, if they anticipate a challenge to the FCC ruling. Both expressed cautious optimism, and noted that when Section 255 of the Telecommunications Act was enacted, there was concern about a possible court challenge from the affected industries. "That didn't happen," said Dinsmore. "The industry had clearly expressed a lot of concern, but the challenge didn't happen."
Dr. Margaret Pfanstiehl, President of the Metropolitan Washington Ear, a radio and dial-in reading service for the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, had been working toward achieving the goal of audio-described television programming for nearly 15 years. I asked her how she was feeling.
"Well, what can I say," she answered, "other than that it's such a very happy day for all the low vision and blind Americans who have been frustrated over the lack of access. Help is on the way!"
Charlie Crawford told the mainstream media, "Blind people will now have the opportunity not only to enjoy programming, but to engage sighted friends and neighbors in conversations about programs in a way we have never been able to do before: as full participants in the experience and as equals in the conversation."
Sighs of relief gave way to celebratory toasts, as ACB staff members gathered in the conference room at the national office to exchange stories, share snacks, and toast the victory at the FCC with sparkling cider -- before moving on to wage new battles and take up other causes, which will, we have every confidence, lead to a day of independence and meaningful opportunity for blind people everywhere.
(Editor's Note: Janice Sloan was a summer intern at the ACB national office. Her first ongoing project was to track the progress of the Spirit of ADA torch relay. She did this by way of the Internet, and as an observer at the torch relay event at the FDR Memorial. We appreciate all of Ms. Sloan's hard work and enthusiasm.) The Relay
To commemorate the 10th anniversary of the enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act, a torch relay, organized by the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), was held in 25 cities throughout the country. The relay began in Houston, TX on June 11, and ended in New York City on August 7. Primary sponsors of the torch relay were Volkswagen of America, Inc., and its luxury division, Audi.
Many blind and visually impaired people were able to participate in this event. The list of participants includes:
From Texas: Michael Garrett, Wayne Lake, Barbara Shavers, Diane Domingue, Kathy Blackburn, Audley Blackburn, Ed Guerra, Richard Villa, Bill Washburn, Cash Clarke, and Dwayne Cunningham;
From California: Lori Mendelson, Lori Gray, Carole J. Bradley, Chris Worthington, and Anita Baldwin;
From Colorado: Anita Cameron;
From Wisconsin: Richard Pomo and several members of RSVA;
From Tennessee: Judy Neal, Kevin Lofton;
From Mississippi: Karen Brown, Donna Smith-Whitty, Mike Smitherman, Janice Gable;
From Alabama: Gayle Crume, Al Efford, Timothy Emmons, K. Hutton, J. Michael Jones, Don Sims, William Bowman, Shawn Thorn, Cassie DeBray;
From Florida: Judy Ramirez;
From Georgia: Danny Yates, Kevin Roberts;
From South Carolina: Students from the School for the Blind;
From Virginia: Samantha Schmucker;
From Kansas: Joann Donnell;
From Michigan: Sharonda White;
From Montana: Students from the School for the Blind;
From Maryland: Students from the School for the Blind; and
From New York: Members of RSVA.
A huge thank you goes out to all of you who supported, organized, and participated in the relay. The event was a great success. The Torch Arrives at FDR Memorial
On July 25, 2000, ACB staff member Krista Dubroff and summer interns Janice Sloan and Richard Rueda attended the torch relay at the FDR Memorial. The ACB contingent arrived just in time for the passing of the torch. Afterwards, four torch-bearers were allowed to speak about their disabilities and accomplishments.
First, Brooke Ellison described how she was hit by a car just two months after the passage of ADA. She is now paralyzed from the neck down. She did not let this get in her way: she finished high school and is now going on to get her undergraduate degree from Harvard.
Dotum Marcello spoke of the obstacles he faced as a blind person living in Nigeria. His family managed to save enough money to bring him to the United States, so he could attend college. He said that he feels he is a role model for others, around the world, and that he enjoys making a positive difference for other people with disabilities.
Despite the fact that Elizabeth, the next speaker, has been deaf since her birth, her speech is absolutely clear and understandable. She spoke about her experiences with self- advocacy: she was able to secure closed-captioning at Disney World, and interpreters in her school district.
Matthew Cavadon, the final speaker, captivated the audience as soon as he wheeled on stage. Cavadon, who is 11 years old, has never known life without the ADA, but he has encountered his own share of obstacles. He helped to found and is now on the executive board of Boundless Playgrounds, a play area for all children -- especially those with disabilities -- that provides a play space with accessible equipment. He explained how, as a little child, he always felt left out at the playground when he couldn't run and play with his friends. His dream is for all children to be able to play together, and not have to keep in mind whether someone has a disability.
He designed Jonathan's Dream, which is a set of swinging boats. Cavadon said, "This idea came from the fact that I love boats and swings, and my friends love boats and swings, so why not put them together?"
Cavadon's ultimate goal is to become president of Boundless Playgrounds.
Other speakers including Andrew J. Imparato from AAPD, spoke briefly, and the ceremonies concluded with the most exciting treat of all. Peter Yarrow from Peter, Paul, and Mary came out on stage! Yarrow spoke about a friend who had died from polio, and the many lessons his friend taught him. Then, he said he was going to sing a song he co-wrote for a friend's daughter who is disabled. Then he sang a song called "Don't Laugh at Me." The whole audience, including those of us from ACB who have "been there" and felt "that way," was moved to tears.
On that note of empathy and solidarity, the torch relay concluded its stay at the FDR Memorial, and began making its way to the next stop.
Earlier this year, the Supreme Court had accepted for review two ADA cases which, taken together, raised a constitutional challenge to both Titles I and II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Both of the cases (one from Florida and the other from Arkansas), however, settled out of court, and the two cases were subsequently removed from the high court's docket. Unfortunately, however, on April 17, the Supreme Court accepted two separate cases from Alabama which were consolidated for Supreme Court review and which once again raise the issue of whether Congress has gone beyond its proper authority (under Section Five of the 14th Amendment), by subjecting entities of state and local government to private party lawsuits in the federal courts under both Titles I and II of the ADA, in derogation of the states' immunity under the 11th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. These consolidated cases are under the case name of University of Alabama et al v. Garrett et al.
The first of the two consolidated appeals involves a woman who, because of diagnosed breast cancer, was absent from her job at the University of Alabama while she went through about four months of chemotherapy to treat her illness. When she returned to work following the chemotherapy, she was involuntarily demoted and transferred to another job with less remuneration and diminished professional responsibilities and status.
The second case involves a long-time employee of the Alabama Department of Youth Services who was plagued with chronic asthma. After several unscheduled absences from work, the state agency dismissed the plaintiff.
In both cases, the state of Alabama was successful in having the plaintiffs' ADA lawsuits dismissed at the trial court level on 11th Amendment grounds, but in both cases, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, in Atlanta, Georgia, reversed the decisions of the trial courts and held that both Titles I and II of the ADA were constitutional.
The state of Alabama then sought Supreme Court review of the consolidated cases. The cases have been briefed over this summer, and oral arguments will be heard by the high court upon its return from summer recess, probably in late October or November. The cases will then be decided by the high court, with an opinion being anticipated about late March or April of 2001.
Stay tuned for further developments in this ADA legal melodrama. ACB will have a role to play in this ongoing saga, and we will keep you updated about developments as they occur, through the pages of "The Braille Forum," and the Washington Connection, online and via phone.
An Editor's Note: Further Developments As "The Braille Forum" went to press, Melanie Brunson, ACB Director of Government Relations and Advocacy, posted the following information on ACB e-mail lists:
On August 8, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit handed down a decision in Lavia v. Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, in which they held Congress lacked the power to abrogate the states' 11th Amendment immunity when it enacted the ADA.
One quote that was forwarded to me earlier today is indicative (of their thinking): "While at times, states may have faltered in their efforts to eliminate discrimination against the disabled in employment, the broad sweep of the ADA is out of proportion to the discrimination to be remedied."
The report which I received indicates that the opinion emphasizes that Congressional investigations have failed to prove significant state violations of the 14th Amendment rights of disabled people.
Brunson also noted ACB's active involvement in defending the ADA in the Garrett case. The brief we signed onto in the Garrett case, she said, deals with the first of these contentions. It argues that, contrary to the claims being put forth by state petitioners, the state action prohibited by the ADA is also prohibited by the 14th Amendment of the Constitution itself. The "sweep" of the ADA is not as "broad" or "excessive" as the states contend. If this case is making the same argument that Alabama et al did in Garrett, the concept of "broad" is interpreted as being "in excess of" what would be prohibited by the Constitution. The brief argues that this is a wholly incorrect view of the law.
Dear Braille Forum Readers:
I am writing to apologize for the recent error that Potomac Talking Books made regarding the July 2000 issue of the ACB "Braille Forum" where we sent 175 of your members cassettes containing another client's program. This was a serious error. I have personally investigated it, and have directed the responsible managers to take immediate measures in outgoing quality control that will ensure that such an error never again occurs. I have furthermore directed that a copy of the Braille Forum be given to me each month, so that I will be personally assured that your programs are going out correctly.
ACB has been a good and longtime client, and it has been a privilege to work with you. But in this case we did not serve you well. I apologize for the inconvenience we have caused, not only to the affected 175 ACB members but also to ACB's board of directors and its administrative staff. The staff of Potomac Talking Book Services takes this matter with utmost seriousness. We owe ACB excellence, and I am determined we shall provide it.
President, Potomac Talking Book Services
(Editor's Note: Charlie Crawford was so impressed by Lisa Mauldin's posting to the ACB e-mail listserv, reprinted below, that he asked us to publish Lisa's wonderful story in lieu of his usual Executive Director's Report.)
There are times in the world of accessibility advocacy when you feel as though you are actually accomplishing something, and somehow, somewhere the message is actually getting through. But then, there are other times when access victories seem to be one step forward, two steps back, and every now and then, long past midnight, when I am tired and have gotten none of my goals for a day accomplished, and things in my personal life aren't exactly how I would like them, and another job opportunity has slipped away ... filled by another applicant, I wonder in my heart of hearts if it is all worthwhile.
It is easy at times for us to become discouraged when we read messages such as the one about Judge Esterbrook's expressed opinion that a blind professor is logically inferior to a sighted one, or the message about the Gap's unbelievable disregard for our rights to accessibility to the web. But then, just when things are at their darkest, someone lights a candle, and although the flame dances and flickers with the fragility of a candle in the wind, the illumination of that one solitary source of light shines with a hope for the future, and the encouragement that results is just what I needed to go on. I'd like to tell you a story of one such candle in the wind that the post man delivered today.
But first some background: On June 7, I received an e-mail from Citibank offering me a $100 bonus if I signed up for an account with their CitiFI (Citibank Financial Interactive) service.
At the time, I was in search of a viable and accessible on-line bill payment option, so I figured "why not...after all $100 is $100." So, I clicked on the link provided in the e-mail. Little did I realize the journey of frustration which was about to confront me, a journey which would last for more than two months, and if I don't cool off shortly, the matter is apt to last much, much longer.
Upon entering the CitiFI web site, I was presented with the option that read "Click here if you are using a screen reader." Since this is not the norm for private sector web sites, I was more than a little impressed, and happily clicked the link. When I selected "Open New Account" I was presented with a toll-free number to call, where I was assured that my application would be taken over the phone. So, I called.
A very pleasant woman took my information and informed me that I would receive a packet of information via UPS, and my signature would be required to complete the application process. In a few days, her predictive information proved to be correct, as the UPS man delivered the paperwork, and I set about signing the appropriate papers to finalize the process.
Some weeks later, however, my paperwork was returned to me with my check, and I was informed that they were missing two elements of information from the application. This was the first point at which I began to get annoyed. The two pieces of information they were missing concerned questions for which I had provided answers during my phone application process. My annoyance was heightened when a friend informed me that had I not selected the screen reader link, I would have been able to apply on-line. Now, I was angry.
I provided the "missing" information -- again -- and attached a letter informing Citibank that I am blind, and because the information behind the screen reader link was inferior to their normal account processing link, they had succeeded in making the application process more inaccessible for me as a blind person than for a sighted on-line applicant. I also informed them that this was the second voluminous packet of print paperwork they had sent me, and I requested that all future contact with me be handled either by phone or via e-mail. (I had previously asked about Braille statements and had been told that none were available.) I told them that if my request was ignored, I would be forced to file a complaint with the Department of Justice for violation of the ADA.
Well, would you believe that in today's mail, I received my application paperwork -- returned again along with my check -- along with a letter explaining that they were no longer accepting applications for CitiFI. I was then presented with a couple of options.
"No longer accepting applications?" I wailed to the empty room. My "application" had been "accepted" by phone more than six weeks ago. So I called the toll-free customer service number. The conclusion of that conversation resulted in two truths: I am not a CitiFI customer, and they certainly did not provide service.
I've never had so much trouble giving a bank my money in my life!
Slamming down the phone in total outrage by now, I reached for the next item on the mail pile, and I was instantly brought up short by what I found.
It seems that Morgan, a little fifth grade girl from my church, had woven me two potholders. Morgan is one of my "buddies" who always comes up and hugs me to say "Hello, Miss Lisa." I have known Morgan since she was in second grade, and I always make a point to talk with her each Sunday...find out how school is going...just give her a few minutes of undivided attention. I also try and remember her with a little something at Christmas time and on her birthday, and she is one of about four or five of my "little buddies" although she is probably my favorite.
While the potholders are gift enough in and of themselves, the item which I pulled from the envelope next literally brought tears to my eyes.
The note which Morgan had sent with the pot holders was provided in print, but then a second sheet was included...a sheet of cardstock paper.
The enclosed cardstock sheet was covered with raised dots, which, Morgan's mother told me, Morgan had punched out individually on the paper. It seems that Morgan had discovered a font called "Braille" on her word processor, and she printed her note in this font and then set about punching out the dots...one by one. While it is true that there is not a single legible word on the page, the victory comes not in the execution, but rather in the principle.
What does this have to do with accessibility? To my mind...everything.
While it remains to be seen if the international conglomerate of Citibank will ever get the point, Morgan's note makes it crystal clear that Morgan understands the need for alternative formats for someone who is blind. While the execution of her understanding could use some improvement, the most difficult part of the task has already been accomplished...her attitude. Because Morgan chose to recognize that not everyone in her world is the same and with diversity comes different needs, she realized that it was going to require some creative and forward thinking to ensure that her blind friend from church would be able to read her note.
While I realize that Morgan's efforts don't mean much for universal access, one day a quiet little fifth grader will grow up, and if the blind community of tomorrow is fortunate, she just might be a federal judge, a Citibank executive, or a web developer for the Gap. For now, she is my personal candle in the wind whose light has provided all the encouragement I need to know that it is all worthwhile.
To the Braille Forum Editor:
The article in the June Braille Forum by Charlie Crawford, "Expanding Our ACB Democracy," evoked feelings of frustration that have bothered me for years. I have attended 19 ACB national conventions since 1976. I have also had the opportunity to know many leaders and would-be leaders and the workings of our national office. I'm impressed and appreciative at the amount of hard work that gets accomplished under the most difficult of circumstances and lack of guidance.
I am a firm believer in the democratic principles of ACB, but am fed up with some of the current practices. For years I have been distressed by the behavior of some folks during the general sessions of the convention. I've also been less than proud of some of our elected and appointed leaders. I strongly believe that there needs to be significant change in the ACB election process. Lately I and some of my friends have been totally turned off by the conduct of many who subscribe to the ACB-L Internet list. Please let me share the reasons for my feelings.
Effective democracy depends on more than just allowing folks to say whatever they wish whenever they wish, and as many times as they wish. Where there is limited time for a large number of people, democracy depends on folks making clear and thoughtful presentations and then allowing for others to do the same. Democracy does not work well when folks with new or differing opinions are shouted down. If some folks with strong voices and ardent opinions are allowed through repetition to bully more tentative folks, democracy will not work. When votes are taken by only a relative few and without thorough knowledge, then those votes are defective. Let me ask your readers to answer these questions. How can blind convention voters become aware of the comparative neatness and cleanliness of potential leaders? Conversely, how can we be informed of candidates who are unkempt with food-stained clothing and offensive hygiene, or those who dress inappropriately? How can voters become aware of those folks who have been given leadership responsibilities and who have procrastinated and done next to nothing? I know from my own experience that we have had and continue to elect leaders who fit these descriptions.
ACB-L should be an open forum for ideas and opinions. However, with a potential subscriber list of thousands, it must be managed much as a convention. I and others are not interested in spending hours each day deleting the same messages from the same few people who seem to have nothing better to do with their lives. How many times can one person be allowed to whine and whimper while saying the same thing, forcing all who subscribe to waste time listening and then deleting his/her message? The list should be for all voices to be heard once and maybe twice. Silencing a pest who disrupts the effectiveness of the list is not an infringement on freedom of speech. If others believe as I do that the national convention and ACB-L mailing list need to be made more attractive for busy and active folks who would like to participate, then how can they be better managed? We could probably get some interesting suggestions for improvement if all ACB officers and board members took an oath to read all ACB-L messages each day. A quick look at the 205 e-mail addresses on ACB-L suggests only two officers, four board members, two BOP members, and two ACB office staff are currently subscribed. If ACB is ever to achieve its potential as a representative democratic organization for blind and visually impaired people, there must be an opportunity for thousands to speak and be heard, and there must be a reasonable expectation that ACB leadership will be able to listen. ACB must grow in membership and do so exponentially. If there are several million people in this nation who are blind or visually impaired, what can we do to become a forum for more than just a few hundred?
-- Bud Keith, grateful recipient of the George Card Award,
When Marla Runyan earned a place on the U.S. Olympic team during the finals of the U.S. Track and Field Championships in Sacramento, Calif., in July 2000, she captured the attention of the mainstream media and attained a goal which many blind athletes who preceded her had attempted to achieve -- representing the United States in the Olympic Games. As far back as the early 1930s a legally blind swimmer ■ the late Arthur Copeland, then a student at Temple University and a graduate of the Overbrook School for the Blind -- missed qualifying for the U.S. Olympic Team by only fractions of a second. Since then outstanding blind athletes including heavyweight judo fighter Kevin Szott and Paralympic world record holding swimmer Trischa Zorn, have come oh so close to winning berths, while competing in mainstreamed competition, on the U.S. Olympic teams. Their efforts and athletic careers were encouraged and supported by coaches and other officials connected with mainstream sports organizations, in addition to disabled sports organizations, such as the U.S. Association of Blind Athletes (USABA).
The talent and potential of legally blind runner Marla Runyan of Camarillo, CA, were recognized early. Many of her coaches and officials crossed their fingers and held their collective breath as reports started circulating in early 1999 about the enormous progress that Marla, then 30 years old and a teacher of deaf- blind children, had made while transitioning from a Paralympic champion athlete to a bona fide contender in the 1,500-meter run. Her college track coach from San Diego State University, from which she had graduated in 1991, and the USABA coaches were already familiar with her enormous talent; she had demonstrated it to the world in 1992 by winning four gold medals at the Paralympics in Barcelona and then by winning the grueling heptathlon at the 1996 Paralympics in Atlanta while setting various national track and field records for blind athletes during the intervening years. As has been widely reported by the national and international media in recent weeks, she earned a place on the U.S. Olympic team during the finals of the U.S. Track and Field Championships in Sacramento by breaking away from the pack in the last few hundred meters, overtaking the sprinting athlete in the position ahead of her, fighting off a desperate charge by that runner in the last few dozen meters and barely crossing the line ahead of that runner.
Marla Runyan, who now lives and trains in Eugene, Ore., is a legally blind woman with a visual acuity of 20/400 and very limited central vision. As a fully sighted child in southern California she participated in gymnastics and soccer, but around age 8 she started having visual difficulties. After various and frightening misdiagnoses, she was diagnosed with Stargardt■s disease, which was gradually destroying her central visual field while greatly reducing the acuity of her remaining peripheral vision. In spite of her visual loss Runyan was determined to maintain her straight-A average -- by holding her books virtually at nose level and by using enlarged copies of school materials painstakingly prepared by her mother. Eventually she entered into a school program for children with visual impairments.
By the time she was 14, Runyan could no longer see the soccer ball, so she turned to track and field sports. At Camarillo High School, she set the school record in the high jump although she could only see the bar when she was almost on top of it. Her father said that her achievements in athletics gave her satisfying stature and recognition among her peers. She herself said, "I loved to play sports because I felt I could be more like everybody else and actually I felt I could be even better than everybody else!"
At San Diego State University, Runyan discovered the value of taking advantage of aids and services such as audio tapes and volunteer readers. At the same time, she decided that she wanted to compete in more than the high jump and the sprints. Her parents were initially dismayed when she informed them that she intended to become a heptathlete and to compete in the seven events making up the heptathlon -- the 100-meter hurdles, the high jump, the shot put, the 200-meter dash, the long jump, the javelin throw and the 800-meter run.
Her track coach at San Diego State trained her to be a hurdler -- at the relatively high price of black-and-blue shins. He explains, "She was amazed when she found out all the other girls could see the hurdles from the start line!"
Runyan gradually mastered the hurdles by learning to count the steps between hurdles and became an excellent heptathlete, winning the gold medal in that event in the 1996 Paralympics and setting the heptathlon 800-meter record during the 1996 U.S. Olympic Trials, finishing tenth overall against the best sighted female heptathletes in the USA.
Because of her outstanding performance in the heptathlon's 800-meter run and what she considered to be a disappointing finish in the heptathlon Olympic trials in 1996, Runyan decided to concentrate on middle-distance running. She moved to Eugene, Ore., which was considered by many to be the running capital of the United States, and there met and came under the coaching direction of Mike Manley, who was a former marathoner and Olympic steeplechase competitor.
Manley has explained that he trains Runyan like any other world-class athlete, but with a few minor differences -- such as announcing himself when he approaches and no longer sending her on cross-country runs by herself. After one such cross-country trek she came back battered by branches and debris that had lined the trail, well after the other runners.
While taking part in the World Track and Field Championships in Seville, Spain, last year, Runyan went out for a jog by herself along the Guadalupe River, but during the return she was unable to read the street signs or identify her hotel off in the distance. She also had difficulty seeing such potential hazards as slightly raised manhole covers, parking meters and speeding cyclists who seemed to pop up from nowhere.
Runyan says she feels most empowered and secure while running around an oval track in a competitive race. While in Seville, she said, "If I was suddenly cured or my vision was normal, I don't think I would be running any faster. I think life would be easier, but I don't think I would be running any faster."
While running, Runyan cannot identify the faces of her competitors, so she memorizes identifying factors such as the colors they are wearing or clearly visible features like ponytails.
Sports analysts who have observed her in various races have speculated that she may tend to avoid running "in the middle of the pack," in the midst of flying feet and elbows because of her impaired vision; as a result, so the speculation goes, she is sometimes forced to the outside of the track and required to run that extra distance. However, Marla formulates her own strategy for each race and attempts to run accordingly. For example, at the recent indoor national track and field championships she started fast and led the field from start to finish. She likes to pace herself so the leaders do not get so far ahead as to be out of her sight and she said that in one race she paced herself according to the position information that was being updated over the public address system in the stadium.
Over the past year Runyan has received increasing attention from the national and international media as she has improved in almost every event in which she has competed. Over the years, she has sustained a few running injuries and, in fact, prior to the recent race at which she won her spot on the Olympic team she was unable to do her full warm-up routine because of a knee injury which as late as a week before the race had been expected to keep her from competing at all.
Although Marla Runyan has been training at an elite level and competing in world-class races for the past 18 months, she has recognized that her performance may serve as an inspiration for other visually impaired people and help educate the general public about the capabilities of legally blind people. To these ends she has, subject to training and racing limitations, made herself available to organizations interested in publicizing her achievements and goals.
Through her tenacity, hard work, ambition and determination, Marla Runyan has "raised the bar" by which blind and visually impaired people will be compared. It is obvious that not all blind or visually impaired people will have the opportunity or will be able to accomplish in their fields what she has accomplished as an athlete, but her accomplishments to date underscore the level to which disabled people may rise in their selected areas. We recognize that Marla will be competing against the very best athletes in the world who will give no quarter on the running track and we wish her the best of all possible good fortune.
As a way of continuing the lifelong advocacy efforts of the late Eunice K. Fiorito to improve the well-being of blind and visually impaired people, Mrs. Fiorito's family has announced the establishment of a program that will (as long as funds are available) give a low-vision reading aid identified as the Max Digital Magnifier to deserving agencies, libraries, schools or other organizations which serve visually impaired people in their communities. During her lifetime Eunice Fiorito worked tirelessly to publicize and implement opportunities for blind and other disabled people to guarantee their rights as fully participating citizens. Before her death in late 1999 she held major positions in, among many other organizations, the American Coalition of Citizens with Disabilities, American Council of the Blind and Disabled Persons International. (See the memorial article about Eunice Fiorito in the January 2000 issue of "The Braille Forum.")
The Max Digital Magnifier, which is produced by Enhanced Vision Systems of California, is a handheld camera, approximately the size of a computer mouse, which displays text on a TV set and can magnify print from 16 to 28 times on a 20-inch screen. The manufacturer lists its features as variable contrast (black on white or white on black), capability of magnifying print on any surface (curved or flat), variable magnification, distortion-free images, portability and capability of being used easily by either right or left hand as it slides or rolls across the page being read.
Service agencies, libraries, schools or other organizations wishing to obtain the Max Digital Magnifier should submit a request by hard copy letter to Mr. James Fiorito, 205 Yoakum Pkwy. #1226, Alexandria, VA 22304-3800. The letter must include the following information: 1) name, complete address and telephone number of applicant organization; 2) name and title of principal contact person; 3) brief summary of history, mission and programs of applicant organization; 4) number of blind or low-vision people served during a typical year; 5) a brief statement as to how the Max Digital Magnifier would be used to benefit the greatest number of people possible; 6) the federal tax exemption number of the applicant organization with a copy of its tax exemption notice or, if applicant is a governmental entity, a statement identifying the department or division of which it is a part.
Applicants that are approved to receive a Max Digital Magnifier will receive the unit directly from the factory.
Do you want to discuss the issues that are important to you as a visually impaired person with others who are ACB members? It's easy to join the ACB discussion listserv. Just send an e- mail message to [email protected] Leave the subject line blank. In the body of the message, write the words (without quotes) "subscribe ACB-L." Then send the message.
Members of the Georgia Council of the Blind were saddened to learn of the death of John Brockington on September 24, 1999. John, who was one of GCB's most dedicated members, was diagnosed with cancer of the liver several months before his death.
John Bailey Brockington was born in Waverly, Ga. on February 29, 1944. He was educated at an elementary school in his home county, at the Georgia Academy for the Blind in Macon, and at a high school in Woodbine, Ga. Soon after finishing school, John trained to work as a vendor in the Georgia Co-op program, and became a member of the Georgia chapter of the Randolph-Sheppard Vendors of America.
In 1969 John joined the Georgia Federation of the Blind (now the Georgia Council of the Blind). His local chapter memberships included Macon, Atlanta, and the South Metro Council, of which he was a charter member. John served as president of the South Metro Council, first vice president of the state organization, and member of several state and national committees. The loss of his residual vision in the late 1970s did not deter him from displaying his kindness and generosity in giving assistance to other blind people. He was often prevailed upon for blindness- related information or for arranging transportation to meetings and other events. During the 1987 GCB convention held in St. Marys, John negotiated with local officials concerning the placement of braille signs along the nature trail on Cumberland Island.
As president of GCB from 1994-98, John served as delegate to the American Council of the Blind convention. As national delegate, he attended all nominating committee and affiliate presidents meetings, and was always present to announce the delegate vote for GCB during the roll call. John served as convention coordinator for eight years, as treasurer of the Georgia Academy for the Blind Alumni Association, as vice chairperson of the Advisory Council of the Georgia Sensory Rehabilitation Center, as member of a steering committee to work with the Division of Rehabilitation Services to restore specialized counseling to the blind population, and as torch bearer for the Paralympics as it passed through Macon. He was also a member of the Macon Mayor's Commission for Disability Issues, where he served as chairperson of the Environmental Barriers Committee.
John received the George Card Award for volunteerism from ACB in 1995. He received the prestigious Walter R. McDonald Award for outstanding community service to blind people from GCB in 1993.
John Brockington will always be sorely missed by GCB members.
As I write this, the nation is boisterously celebrating the Fourth of July with food, fun, and fireworks. In my mind, this is the right time to celebrate those whose lives have stood for independence. One such individual is Johnson Bradshaw.
Born June 28, 1917, Johnson grew up in an era when today's technology was at best a futuristic dream. However, he was quick to find his place in the working world as a vending stand manager, a job he began in 1937, the same year he graduated from the Tennessee School for the Blind. He did his bookkeeping on a type slate and kept records with a slate and stylus. In 1944 Johnson Bradshaw married Katherine Gibbs, and the two of them worked side by side for 37 years co-managing the business. The workplace helped Johnson develop his talents for talking to people, making them feel at ease, and finding out what they really wanted. He made friends easily with his winning personality and sense of humor. These skills, coupled with his keen interest in politics, led him to run for and win a seat in the Tennessee state legislature in 1945. The political contacts he made, as well as the valuable experience with the strategies and machinations of state government, laid a firm foundation for the role Johnson played in the leadership of the organized blind in Tennessee.
For example, Johnson served as the first president of the Tennessee Association of the Blind in 1946, and later also served as president of the Tennessee Council of the Blind, the ACB■s Tennessee affiliate. In addition to having served as state president, Johnson has served on every committee connected with the council. He was an authority on the constitution and bylaws, as well as a qualified parliamentarian. But his wealth of knowledge didn't close his mind to progress. Johnson knew the value of fresh ideas, and was always there to encourage and offer guidance to new members both young and old.
He once said, "When the time comes for me to step aside, I want to be sure that the organization's in good hands."
TSB superintendent Ralph Brewer remembers Johnson Bradshaw's leadership capability with fondness and respect. "When I was president of the TSB Alumni in the '70s," he recalls, "I relied heavily on Johnson for help with procedural questions. Any time he wasn't re-elected to the board, I appointed him because of his knowledge and expertise."
Johnson's political savvy reached beyond ACB to benefit blind people at large. In the late '70s, the commissioner of Tennessee Business Enterprises (TBE) attempted to raise the vendors' monthly fees. Johnson, because of his unique position as a former legislator, was allowed to address the legislature on this crucial matter. His persuasive rhetoric led to the defeat of the commissioner's proposal. On another occasion, a coalition represented by Ralph Brewer, Lev Williams (president of the Tennessee Federation) and Johnson (TCB president) got a bill passed that gave parents the option of enrolling their blind children directly at TSB rather than having to go through their local school systems.
Johnson was very involved on behalf of educating blind children in Tennessee. He worked for two years as a field representative for the Tennessee School for the Blind, going into the mountains and other remote areas to convince parents of blind children that independence begins with education.
He was also a strong proponent of braille and fought to preserve it in the face of increasing reliance on technology. "A blind person needs to be able to read and write for himself whether the power is on or not," he used to say emphatically. "I take my slate with me everywhere I go, even to the bathroom."
Keenly aware that his sighted peers formed their impressions of all blind people by watching him, Johnson was very careful about his appearance. Both he and Katherine always dressed to the nines, and conducted themselves with poise and grace.
Johnson Bradshaw died March 2, 2000. He is survived by Katherine, his wife of 56 years. He will be sorely missed by friends across the country. May his life of dedication and service to others inspire all of us to move forward with dignity, wisdom, and purpose. Now that he has "stepped aside," let's fulfill his wish that "the organization's in good hands."
(Editor's Note: This is the third installment in Sarah Blake's continuing saga of retiring one guide dog and learning to work with another. Sarah will wrap up her account of an eventful year in a final "Braille Forum" installment in early winter.)
Because I realized that Dori was not a seasoned traveler like Elli, and I knew that she had probably never been on a plane before, I felt nervous as I struggled to move her efficiently into the row of seats and convince her to lie down under the seat in front of me. I was certain I was making a scene and holding up traffic. I supposed I would figure out how to communicate the essential information to Dori soon enough -- and I would forget that flying had ever been a problem.
Dori turned out to be great at flying, even if she was a bit nervous. I petted her and tried to give her some reassurance as we took off. Soon she was asleep -- and so was I.
Landing was quite an experience for both of us. Dori jumped up the moment we hit the ground, and I found my lap full of trembling dog. I didn't correct her for her fear, and I chose not to struggle to return her to a more appropriate position. Only time would tell whether I had made the right choice or whether I had interpreted her behavior correctly, as a sign of fear. At the moment, I figured I had plenty of things to worry about without adding a stressful attempt to cram a resistant dog under the seat for the last two minutes of the ride.
My mother was waiting for me in the terminal. Her first impression of Dori was of her "regal demeanor!" This "regal look" turned out to be something many people would notice and comment upon.
I was tempted to allow Dori to work at the airport. She was so eager, and I was so proud! But she was new, and the airport was crowded. I reluctantly followed the school's instructions about not working her in the airport. Mom guided me out to the car, and we drove home.
At home, Mom put a leash on Elli and brought her out into the front yard. Elli didn't seem the least bit concerned about Dori's presence. She was, however, very preoccupied with mine. I thought she would never stop panting and wagging her tail! I had missed her, and for just a moment I felt as if I had done something terrible, bringing Dori home to do her job. I decided that perhaps I would feel better after a while and waited for Elli to settle down and get used to my being home again.
Elli and Dori got along wonderfully! They enjoyed evening walks together with Elli following another family member on a leash. Elli wasn't very interested in playing any more, but she and Dori soon learned to share my attention.
Besides Elli, I also had two cats at home. It took Dori some time to learn not to chase them, and she never quite overcame the temptation to eat cat food. After a short time, the cats also became accustomed to Dori's presence and were no longer hostile.
Dori's behavior while not working was discouraging at first. She had boundless energy and used it for retrieving anything made of plastic or paper and then destroying whatever she had retrieved. I was frustrated many times by her tendency to investigate countertops and snitch food items lying on them.
I learned very quickly that the reprimands which had been so effective for disciplining Elli were merely reinforcements for Dori. Eventually, I came to realize that I needed to at least pretend I was enjoying Dori's little games so that, for example, she would bring me a retrieved object and release it. It took me several months to train myself to put my understanding of her behavior and her personality to this kind of effective use!
At the time of our homecoming, my biggest problem was, not with Dori, but with finding appropriate places to walk on a regular basis. I live in a small town, where most areas do not have sidewalks and are not traveled by very many pedestrians. Furthermore, I had experienced recent changes in my vision which made me feel uncomfortable about venturing out without knowing routes well in advance. In addition, my part of town had no bus access.
These factors and a belief that Dori's off-leash behavior would improve if I lived in my own home rather than in my parents' house, which was not "dog-proofed," led me to begin looking for an apartment of my own. Before long, I found one, and we moved in at the end of January, just three months after our return from the Seeing Eye.
We began the adjustment process all over again. Dori took several weeks to reach the level of off-leash time that she had painstakingly earned at my parents' home. However, the move turned out to be a very positive step for both of us -- and I continued to learn more about Dori's needs and how to work with her idiosyncracies as time went on.
Elli stayed behind when I moved. The retirement was final now, and I learned to be content just visiting her when I visited my parents. She was establishing her reign over all the other pets in the house -- my two cats and my sister's beagle -- and she was happy.
Good morning, class. Today we are going to study the state of Iowa. As you know, the 40th annual ACB convention will be held in Iowa, so we need to know something about the geography and history of that state.
Iowa is relatively flat with a few rolling hills and several rivers. It is surrounded by four states: Illinois on the east separated by the Mississippi River; Missouri on the south; Nebraska on the west with the Missouri River dividing the two states and Minnesota to the north. The state is well-known for its corn, cows and pigs. Also grown here are soy beans and wheat.
As part of the Louisiana Territory, the land which is now Iowa was sold to the United States in 1803. Then in 1846 Iowa became a state; at the time, the capital was Iowa City, but the capital was later moved to Des Moines.
In 1851 the last bit of land belonging to the Indians was given up to the state. Today, the most famous Indian reservation, purchased from the state in 1857 by the Meskwaki Indians, is located in east central Iowa.
Each August, a state fair is held in Des Moines. The state fair tradition has been alive in Iowa since 1854 when the first fair was held in the southern part of the state. Ours is one of the country's largest state fairs and draws guests from around the world.
You may be interested to know that the University of Iowa was established in 1847 and opened its doors in 1855 to 124 students. The following year the Iowa Agricultural College opened and is now known as Iowa State University.
The Iowa College for the Blind (Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School) opened for students in 1854 and is using its original main building to this day. It is located in the north central town of Vinton.
Iowa's first train robbery occurred when Frank and Jesse James held up a train for $3,000.
Many famous people have called Iowa home -- including President Herbert Hoover, John Wayne, Andy Williams, Betty White, and ACB's new board member, Jerry Annunzio.
Crops and cattle aren't our only sources of income. Iowa has the third largest number of insurance companies in the world. Amana appliances, Maytag appliances, Winnebago motor homes and Pella windows are manufactured here as well.
Before our class ends, I want to tell you a bit about the people who live and work here. They are from every corner of the world. It was reported that in the Des Moines school district last year students spoke at least 57 different languages. The people are hospitable and trusting for the most part.
Our next lesson will be on the city of Des Moines, the site of next summer's ACB convention.
The ACB national convention will take place from June 30-July 7, 2001, in Des Moines' modern convention center. The lead hotel will be the Marriott, but ACB members will be able to choose from among five hotels. (That's why we're calling the 2001 convention our "Five Star Convention!")
As our semester progresses, you can expect to learn more about Des Moines, and about the convention center, the skywalks, and the various hotels where we will be staying.
Scholarship Honors John Cahall
The Delaware Council of the Blind and Visually Impaired recently awarded the first John Cahall Memorial Scholarship to Kyle Massey of Seaford, Del. Kyle just began his junior year at York College of Pennsylvania and is majoring in English. He hopes to pursue a career in journalism once he completes his degree. In addition to his studies, Kyle writes for the York College Spartan and works as a DJ for the campus radio station.
The Delaware Council established the John Cahall Memorial Scholarship Fund in memory of its past president John Cahall, who passed away in 1998.
"Setting up a scholarship program to help blind and visually impaired Delaware residents was a long-time goal of DCBVI and an important project to John," says Sharon Sutlic. "The council hopes to be able to assist a legally blind Delaware resident pursuing post-secondary education or training each academic year through this fund."
Applications for the scholarship will be available in October 2000. For more information, or an application, call Sharon Sutlic at (302) 655-2111 or mail your request to: Sharon Sutlic, DCBVI Scholarship Committee, 14 Top View Court, Newark, DE 19702. The deadline to return the applications is March 15, 2001.
Thanks to Missouri
The staff of "The Braille Forum" and the Board of Publications wish to express gratitude to the Missouri Council of the Blind for their generous donation of $100 to assist with press activities at the Louisville convention. Contributions like theirs enabled us to send out press releases to the Louisville media, which in turn attracted attention to our convention. We regret that this acknowledgement did not make it into "The Mint Julep Journal."
Illinois Council Convention
The Illinois Council of the Blind will hold its annual state convention October 13-15, 2000 in Alton. The convention hotel is the Days Inn, 1900 Homer Adams Pkwy. For reservations, call (618) 463-0800.
Friday's planned events include an ICB board meeting, a membership lunch, a legislation panel featuring senators Laura K. Donahue and Evelyn Bowles, a trip to the Alton Belle Casino, meetings of the Book Lover's and Old Time Radio groups, and a hospitality suite. Saturday events include updates from the Illinois Bureau of Blind Services and Services for People Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing, and the annual banquet, which will feature Pam Shaw as the speaker.
Nebraskans to Address the Needs of Blind People who Live in Rural Areas
Because of the hard work of Steve Speicher, Robert Doulas and Kristal Platt, ACB of Nebraska has received a grant from the Nebraska Services for the Blind to address the transportation needs of people who are blind, who live in rural areas within the state.
The funding will be used in three pilot projects, one of which will investigate the usefulness of a modified supported transportation program modeled after programs originally developed at the Montana Rural Institute.
Steve Speicher describes the scope of work which the grant will fund as follows: "The basic idea is pretty simple. Transportation always shows up near the top of lists generated by consumer surveys about unmet needs in the disability community. Yet all these consumers live near significant numbers of licensed drivers; and most of those drivers have licensed vehicles; and most of those licensed vehicles have lots of roads to drive on ... So with all these consumers wanting rides, and all these drivers, cars and roads already in place, what is the big problem? With the help of this grant we propose to explore that question and try out some possible bridges between the available resources and the sizable population waiting and eager to use them."
To keep track of the connections which blind Nebraskans are creating between people who need rides and people who may want to offer those rides, consult the American Council of the Blind of Nebraska web page, which can be easily linked to from ACB.org.
Other current projects which ACBN supports include a series of informational workshops on social isolation and the need to belong, and research on group fragmentation resulting from vision loss and age-related factors. In addition, ACBN supports the diabetes management research project conducted by the Nebraska Lions Foundation, which seeks to prevent blindness caused by complications of this disease.
ACBN wishes to acknowledge and express gratitude for the bequest by Bill and Mary Sue Orester, which made support of these projects possible.
Californians Convince Transit Decision-Makers That Pedestrian Safety Is Important!
Peggy Martinez, board member of California Council of the Blind, reports that advocacy by a newly formed group in Humboldt County, Calif., called Pedestrians for Education, Development and Safety (PEDS) has ensured that accessible pedestrian signals will be installed at two intersections (which happen to host the only two traffic signals in the city of Arcata).
"We will now begin work with the City of Eureka to have audible pedestrian signals installed there," says Martinez. "Eureka is the county seat and the largest town in the area."
Martinez says that the victory would not have been possible without the assistance and support of ACB national office, Eugene Lozano, and the Humboldt Senior Resource Center, the local Easter Seals Society, the Northwest Committee on Employment of Persons with Disabilities, the local regional center and the city of Arcata.
The announcement of new products and services in this column should not be considered an endorsement of those products and services by the American Council of the Blind, its staff or elected officials. Products and services are listed free of charge for the benefit of our readers. "The Braille Forum" cannot be responsible for the reliability of products or services mentioned.
The USA Connection for the Blind is an audio magazine accessible by touch-tone telephone. It contains interviews of blind individuals, information about adaptive technology, entertainment, audio book reviews, and much more. There is also a free classified ad section if you want to sell services or merchandise used by people who are blind. All you need to do to join is call (918) 365-5655. There is no subscription fee, just the usual long-distance charges.
Do you have a medical terminology dictionary that you're not using? Would you consider giving it to someone who needs it? Contact Debra at (703) 322-1644 or write to her at 4218 Penner Lane, Fairfax, VA 22033.
The countdown to the Paralympics has begun. We Media will be offering coverage of the Paralympic Games from Sydney this October in a unique broadcast package comprised of CBS Sports, Fox Sports Net, and Pax TV. We Media will be broadcasting the games via the world wide web. Live webcast coverage will run from October 18-29 at http://www.wemedia.com. Fox Sports Net will present half-hour recap programs in the late morning (Eastern time, exact time TBA) on October 18-20 and 23-27 from Sydney, highlighting each day■s competitions. Productions from Pax TV will be feature-oriented half-hours shown at midnight Eastern and Pacific, 11 p.m. Central and Mountain. These features will focus on the athletes who are competing, and will run October 18-29. CBS Sports will present a two-hour special on December 31 taking viewers back to the games and telling the stories of competition, courage and dedication.
Rick Gentile will serve as executive producer for all of We Media■s broadcast and webcast coverage of the games. Gentile is a 10-time Emmy winner who, in addition to many major sports events, produced three Winter Olympic Games for CBS and the network■s coverage of the 1996 Paralympic Games in Atlanta.
Nominations are now being sought for the third annual James H. (Jim) Veale Humanitarian Award, which recognizes the contributions of sighted individuals to the well-being of blind people. The award was established by Veale, a long-time reader of "The Matilda Ziegler Magazine for the Blind," when he suggested to the Ziegler Foundation that recognition should be given to sighted individuals who have been especially helpful to a blind person(s). The first winner of the award was Marjorie Pierce of Raleigh, N.C., in 1998; the 1999 winner was Elizabeth Klein of Joliet, Ill.
Nominations for the year 2000 award should include the candidate's name and address, and describe the ways in which he or she has been especially helpful to a blind person or persons. Names submitted in previous years may be submitted again. People outside the United States are eligible. The deadline for nominations is October 31, 2000. Print or braille nominations should be sent to: Veale Humanitarian Award, c/o Ziegler Magazine, 80 8th Ave., Room 1304, New York, NY 10011. You may also fax your nominations to (212) 633-1601 or e-mail them to [email protected]
Soundaround has a 90-minute interactive cassette program for visually impaired people. It has segments created by the listeners and edited by a blind person; there is also an open forum for discussion of any issue, a people locator and friendship area where long-lost friends can be located and contact established and maintained with those with common interests; and much more. The tape is free and is mailed from the United Kingdom free of charge under international postal agreements. To be included on the mailing list, call 011 44 0800 917 6008 or 011 44 0208 741 3332; visit the web site, http://www.adsuk.com/soundaround; or send e- mail to [email protected]
CPR Technology has a talking numeric pager available. It displays the number and has both vibration and audio alert tones. It can repeat any message stored in its memory, as well as read the message number, time and day received, and so forth. Its built-in audio dialer will dial any number in memory. A talking clock is built right in. It requires one AAA battery (not included) and comes with a one-year warranty. You must purchase paging services for the device to be operational. Paging service is available in all 50 states, Canada, Mexico, South and Central America. Contact CPR Technology, 640 Dean St., Brooklyn, NY 11238; phone toll-free (877) 277-5237, or visit http://www.talkingpager.com.
BABIES & TODDLERS
The U.S. Department of Education recently launched a new web site to help American infants and preschoolers with disabilities and their families. It is located at http://www.fed-icc.org; it provides a variety of information for parents of children with disabilities. Information relates to infants, toddlers and preschoolers, birth through age 5, who receive services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and other federally funded programs such as health care, child care and social services.
Do you need something brailled? The Louisiana Council of the Blind can help! The Louisiana Council charges by sheet of paper, and for entry, editing and formatting. The organization can work with documents on disk in WordPerfect 5.0 for DOS, Corel 8 or MS Word 97. Material can also be scanned for entry, or be entered directly via keyboard. E-mail and faxes are also acceptable; however, because faxes are often inferior in quality, hard copy should be sent whenever possible.
Binding is done with plastic spines for 19-hole paper, and posterboard front and back covers. Infrequently used documents under 25 sheets will be stapled at the top and bottom of the left- hand tractor-feed strip.
Entry, editing and formatting cost $16 per hour. Embossing costs vary according to the size of your order: For 1-3 copies, $ .30/sheet; 4-10, $ .25/sheet; 11-30 copies, $ .22/sheet; and 31 or more, $ .20/sheet. Binding is done at the rate of 50 cents to $2 per copy, depending on the size of the document to be bound and whether labels are needed. For more information, contact the Louisiana Council of the Blind, 1894 Dallas Dr., Baton Rouge, LA 70806; phone (504) 925-1635.
The Association for Retinopathy of Prematurity and Related Diseases (ROPARD) recently announced the availability of a new videotape, "Retinopathy of Prematurity for Parents, Educators and Nurses." This 90-minute tape addresses a variety of topics, including a historical overview of RLF/ROP, the stages, zones and clock hours of ROP, treatment modalities, long-term considerations and research. It is geared for both the non-medical professional and family members, and contains slides that illustrate the stages of ROP, medical procedures used, and explains the more complex and technical aspects of ROP and its treatment. It costs $25 payable by check or credit card (sorry, no purchase orders). Michigan residents must add 6 percent sales tax. For shipping outside the United States, add $5. For more information, write to ROPARD, P.O. Box 250425, Franklin, MI 48025; phone (800) 788-2020, or e-mail [email protected]
If you want to learn how to use a computer, now's your chance. If you're serious about learning and are willing to listen to seven audio cassettes in your talking book machine to learn the basic steps for using a DOS-based 386 or 486 computer, the time is now. There is a $30 charge to cover packing, shipping and replacement parts. Then you can receive a CPU, monitor and keyboard. This will let you write, edit, save and retrieve letters, as well as create files that can save tax information, recipes, and your family history information. Included in the 50 computer programs will be a daily calendar, dictionary, reference material, games, and a bookkeeping and/or checkbook system. It will also have a copy of JAWS for DOS that can be used with a voice synthesizer to read the computer screen. The screen reader program is a gift from Henter-Joyce; however, no technical assistance will be provided. There is an instructional manual included; you will need to purchase your own synthesizer. If you wish to enlarge the words on the monitor, there are programs available from $75 to $600 which will magnify the print from two to 10 times, depending upon price. Contact Bob Langford at (214) 340-6328.
Henter-Joyce and IBM Japan recently announced a joint development effort to produce a Japanese-language version of JAWS for Windows. This development is set to take place at IBM's Accessibility Center in Japan. The product may be released around the end of this year. Stay tuned for further developments!
NEWS FROM AFB
The American Foundation for the Blind recently received the Apollo Award at the American Optometric Association's 103rd Congress in Las Vegas. The Apollo Award is AOA's highest honor, given to recognize distinguished service to the visual welfare of others by a person, group, or organization outside optometry. AFB was recognized for its assistance in expanding the choices and opportunities for thousands of people with visual impairments.
Paul Schroeder, the vice president of AFB's governmental relations unit, was recently named one of Access Living's "20 leaders of the disability rights movement." He received the award at Access Living's 20th Anniversary Celebration at Chicago's Navy Pier on June 19. The 20 leaders so honored have devoted their lives to working toward significant social change. Several of them, including Schroeder, were crucial to the enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
And remember the essay contest announced in this space several months ago regarding a trip to Provence? The three lucky winners of L'Occitane and AFB's essay contest, based on the Helen Keller quote, "The nose is as complex as the eye or the ear, and as well equipped for the acquisition of knowledge," are: Zunaira Wasif, Mahwah, N.J.; Terra Zagone, Edgewood, N.M.; and Jamie Taylor, Maplewood, Minn. All flights and accommodations for the students were funded by L'Occitane.
Also, AFB has remade its humorous instructional video "What Do You Do When You See a Blind Person?", to create a more realistic, modern portrayal of people who are blind or visually impaired. The new version follows the same story line as the original 1971 production: two men, one sighted and one blind, meet on a city street corner. When asked to provide assistance, the character stumbles through with all the trepidation that comes with anyone■s first sighted guide experience. It is available from AFB Press in VHS and PAL formats, as well as with audio description and open captioning. All versions cost $39.95 plus $6 shipping and handling. Call (212) 502-7600.
Speaking of awardees, Gil Johnson, director of the AFB West office in San Francisco, was awarded the John H. McAulay Award by the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired. This award honors "professionals who have contributed outstanding efforts and achievements leading to the placement of people with visual impairments in productive employment." And Frances Mary D'Andrea and Diane P. Wormsley received AER's C. Warren Bledsoe Award for their book "Instructional Strategies for Braille Literacy."
And AFB is also seeking nominations for its 2001 Access Awards. Access Awards honor individuals, corporations and organizations that are eliminating or substantially reducing inequities faced by blind and visually impaired people. Nominations should illustrate an exceptional and innovative effort that has improved the lives of people who are blind or visually impaired by enhancing access to information, the environment, technology, education, or employment, including making mainstream products and services accessible. The effort should be one that has a national impact or can be a model for replication on a national level. A letter of nomination in print, braille, on audio cassette or via e-mail which addresses these criteria should be sent to: AFB 2001 Access Awards Committee, Attn: Jay Leventhal, 11 Penn Plaza, Suite 300, New York, NY 10001; e-mail [email protected] Nominations must be received no later than October 2, 2000.
TALKING TYPING TEACHER
Are you a new computer user just learning how to type? Or are you an experienced computer user who wants to improve your typing ability? I Can See Books now has available a computer program called "Talking Typing Teacher." It is designed to help you learn to type and increase your typing speed. The program has built-in speech, and it guides you through the menus, prompts you to type drills, asks questions and informs you of everything on screen with "Eager Eddie" -- the voice on the program. In many cases, you don't need a sound card. "Talking Typing Teacher" consists of 10 main menu items and 20 sub-menu items, which are arranged with the easiest first and the hardest last. Under each menu, the program presents you with a series of choices designed to take the repetition out of typing. One such choice is "learn the keyboard." It also includes very basic, basic, and harder typing drills; math and spelling menus; and games. The program requires an IBM- compatible 386 or higher, 2.5 megabytes of free hard disk space, MS-DOS 4.0 or higher, and a 16-bit sound card (optional). If you don't have a sound card in your computer and want to know whether TTT's built-in speech will play adequately on your internal PC speaker, call the company at (250) 753-3096. "Talking Typing Teacher" comes with a comprehensive disk and print manual and your choice of either a braille or cassette version of the manual. To order your copy, write to I Can See Books, 88 Captain Morgans Blvd., Nanaimo, British Columbia V9R 6R1, Canada. Each copy costs $49.95 Canadian.
I Can See Books also has released "Delicious Desserts," the company's first cookbook. It includes a variety of dessert recipes ranging from simple drinks such as banana cream drink to complex rolling and cutting operations like animal crackers and Nanaimo bars. It is available in braille and on disk, and costs $13.95 (US), $19.95 (Canadian). To order, contact the number above.
Blind-Novel-Tees is now open! This is a gift shop for the blind and visually impaired featuring T-shirts with attitude. Designs include: "Blind People Feel Better" (black with white lettering), "Braille It All" (black with white lettering), and "Ears Work Eyes Don't" (black with white lettering). All shirts are manufactured by Volunteer Blind Industries. Keychains and other items are also available. Some items are limited; shop now. T-shirts cost $17.95 plus $5 shipping and handling in the United States. Non-US orders contact [email protected] All T- shirts are extra-large. Send your order, along with a check or money order, to: Blind-Novel-Tees, PO Box 460, New Tazewell, TN 37824. Tennessee residents add sales tax. Braille orders welcome. You may also check the company out at http://www.blindnoveltees.homestead.com/blindnovel.html.
HotKey Systems has published Sonic Foundry's Sound Forge manual in braille. Orders began shipping August 7. The manual costs $85; shipping and handling, $20. American Express, MasterCard and Visa are accepted, as are checks and money orders. Contact HotKey Systems, 63-24 Fitchett St., Rego Park, NY 11374; phone (718) 335- 1788, or e-mail [email protected]
SKI FOR LIGHT 2001
The 2001 Ski for Light event will be held in Green Bay, Wis. January 21-28. It is a week-long cross-country skiing event that features a race/rally that includes a five-kilometer and a 10- kilometer course. To receive an application, call Judy Wilkinson at (212) 662-9593 or e-mail her at [email protected] The applications are also available on the web site, http://www.sfl.org. Applications for skiers must be returned by November 1. If you're interested in being a guide, contact Brenda Seeger at (507) 274- 5502 or e-mail her at [email protected] The deadline for guide applications is December 15.
Are you a blind or visually impaired parent raising a teenager? Through the Looking Glass, a national non-profit organization serving parents with disabilities and their families, is seeking help from parents who are blind or visually impaired and their adolescent children (ages 11 to 17) for the purpose of designing a national survey of such families. You would be asked to participate in a brief (15 to 30 minutes) telephone interview. Through the Looking Glass is offering to pay $10 for your time; your teen would also be offered $10 for participating. To find out more about the project, contact Connie Conley-Jung at (800) 644- 2666 extension 130, or e-mail her at [email protected]
BIG WAVES AT PC EXPO
Ai Squared unveiled a new screen magnifier at the PC Expo in New York City. The new software, called BIGSHOT Screen Magnifier, is designed to help the wave of aging baby boomers, seniors and those who suffer from computer eyestrain. It received quite a response at the show.
Bigshot provides magnification levels of one and two, with 20 sizes in that range. It also provides all-color smoothing and uses less space in the system than other methods. It costs $99; a free 30-day trial is already available. For more information, visit http://www.bigshotmagnifier.com. BRAILLE GREETING CARDS
Shadows in the Dark offers a selection of braille pictured greeting cards and poetry cards (poetry by Poetic Expressions). The company offers the following holiday cards: Christmas, Valentine's Day, Easter, St. Patrick's Day, Mother's Day, Father's Day, Mardi Gras, as well as birthday, thank you, congratulations, sympathy, teacher, friendship, anniversary, and get well cards. Regular message cards cost $1.75 each; a set of 10 costs $15; and a set of 20, $25. Braille poetry message cards cost $3 each; a set of 10, $25; and a set of 20, $40. Braille invitations are also available; a set of 10 costs $7.50, a set of 20 costs $12. The gift catalog costs $5. To order, or request a copy of the catalog, contact Shadows in the Dark, 4600 Pine Hill Rd., Shreveport, LA 71107-2716; phone (318) 459-2233, or visit the web site, http://www.shadowsinthedark.com.
The American Foundation for the Blind recently named the winners of its Alexander Scourby Narrator of the Year Awards. In the fiction category, the winner is Graci Ragsdale, a narrator at Insight for the Blind in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. She has recorded a wide variety of books, including fiction, non-fiction, children■s literature, poetry and plays. In the non-fiction category, the winner is James DeLotel, a narrator at the American Printing House for the Blind in Louisville, Ky. He has recorded nearly 350 books in the past 22 years, including "Ben-Hur," "Brave New World" and ■You Can■t Go Home Again." The winner in the classical fiction category is Tom Martin, a narrator at AFB's Talking Books studios since 1970. He has recorded such titles as "Lady Chatterley's Lover," "Kidnapped" and "Silas Marner." And a special lifetime achievement award was presented to Ray Hagen, a narrator at the National Library Services Studios in Washington, D.C. He has narrated more than 400 titles since 1973, and has compiled two dictionaries for narrators, "Say How?: A Pronunciation Guide to Names of Public Figures" and "The ABC Book: Acronyms, Brand Names, and Corporations."
CareerMosaic recently announced its partnership with Ability magazine to promote Ability Awareness' JobAccess web site, http://www.jobaccess.org, the first large-scale Internet site dedicated to the employment of people with disabilities. Under the multi-year agreement, Ability magazine will help develop the creative content for the page; CareerMosaic will host and maintain the site and actively promote it as the premiere place on the Internet for people with disabilities and companies looking to hire people from this labor pool.
Disabled Christian Tape Fellowship is a monthly Christian tape magazine. It is a forum for sharing information and asking questions. You can share your favorite (Christian) web sites, libraries, magazines or other resources. Or you may share prayer requests or a testimony. If you would like to try DCTF, write to Disabled Christian Tape Fellowship, 610 B Ave., Vinton, IA 52349, or e-mail your name and address to [email protected]
ALA Editions, the publishing imprint of the American Library Association, is offering the entire text (with HTML coding) of ■Adaptive Technology for the Internet: Making Electronic Resources Available to All■ free on its web site, http://www.ala.org/editions/openstacks.
Capodarco Elettronica Coop. of Rome, together with Enea, has developed a new electronic travel aid for blind and visually impaired people called Walk Assistant. It provides information on the surrounding environment, alerts people to the existence of possible dangers, signals pedestrian crossings, traffic lights■ states, informs people of the services offered within the area covered by the system, bus departure and arrival times, and more. In Rome, the Pantheon-Trevi route is covered, as is a path from the train station to Giardini Margherita, and several others. For more information, e-mail [email protected], or visit http://www.sitespa.it.
Anne L. Corn and L. Penny Rosenblum have written a curriculum for adolescents and young adults with visual impairments who need to learn how to find transportation to life's necessities and events. The curriculum, "Finding Wheels," was developed for use by parents, teachers, and O&M specialists, and is available from Pro Ed for a cost of $34. Call (800) 897-3202, or visit the web site at http://www.proedinc.com.
Have you become a non-driver because of a visual impairment? Have you found ways to maximize your independence as an adult non- driver? Have you felt frustrated with being an adult non-driver? Your input is needed for a research study. If you are 60 or older and have a visual impairment that prevents you from driving, please consider participating in this study.
Dr. L. Penny Rosenblum of the University of Arizona and Dr. Anne Corn of Vanderbilt University's Peabody College want your input about your experiences as a non-driver. They are asking people to complete an in-person or telephone survey which gathers information about you and your experiences. If you wish to participate, contact one of the researchers with your name, address and telephone number, as well as your preferred reading medium; a letter and permission form will be sent to you.
Dr. L. Penny Rosenblum may be reached at the University of Arizona, Department of Special Education, Rehabilitation and School Psychology, PO Box 210069, Tucson, AZ 85721-0069; phone (520) 621- 1223, or via e-mail at [email protected] Dr. Anne Corn may be reached at Peabody College of Vanderbilt University, PO Box 328, Nashville, TN 37203; phone (615) 322-2249, or via e-mail at [email protected]
FOR SALE: Kurzweil Reading Edge version 3.0 with DECTalk version 4.0. In good condition. Asking $600 (including shipping). Contact Debra at (703) 322-1644.
FOR SALE: HP 4P scanner with Open Book 3.0 and Simply Talker screen reader. Asking $450. Call Stan at (925) 778-7446 (that's California).
FOR SALE: DECtalk PC1, asking $600 or best offer. Contact Clark Friedrichs via e-mail at [email protected]
FOR SALE: Text-based games, "The Lost Treasures of Infocom" and 20 multi-level adventure games. Asking $40 (includes shipping). Contact Dan Stabe, 25 Skyline Circle, Sedona, AZ 86351; phone (520) 284-3775, or e-mail [email protected] Call between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Pacific time.
FOR SALE: Braille Lite 40, under warranty through October. Includes disk drive. Best offer. Contact Valorie Stanard at (816) 455-3539 after 6 p.m. weekdays and weekends.
FOR SALE: Perkins braille writer, excellent condition. Best offer. Contact Melody Edwards at (941) 723-1363.
FOR SALE: One PowerBraille 80, manufactured by Telesensory. Three years old, in excellent condition, 81 cells. Asking $6,000 or best offer. Contact Chris Gray at (415) 252-9320 or via e- mail at [email protected]
FOR SALE: Keynote Gold SA speech synthesizer with newest chip. In excellent condition. Asking $800 or best offer. Call (703) 812-9653 or e-mail [email protected]
FOR SALE: Aladdin CCTV, includes two-year warranty. Asking $700 or best offer. Call Christy Hutchinson at (801) 394-5628.
WANTED: Optacon in working condition, donated if possible. Braille 'n Speak classic, donated if possible. Contact Melody Edwards at (941) 723-1363.
WANTED: Used tape players, APH or other LOC-type tape player. Contact Bob Groff, 487 PC Circle, Quitman, AR 72131.
(Editor's Note: The summary of "News Notes" which appears below is included here for the benefit of those who do not currently have access to ACB-L, our Internet mailing list. You can also access "News Notes" as the column appears, or archives of past columns, at the ACB web site. If you would like to view these notes on a weekly basis, visit the ACB web page, http://www.acb.org.)
For the week ending July 21, 2000
* ACB and allies win major victory at FCC!
It's over! We won! Descriptive video service will be a reality for blind people starting around April of 2002. This historic event was confirmed today at the Federal Communications Commission with a 3 to 2 vote to issue the rule. Advocates including ACB, AFB, NCAM, NTN and others hailed the decision with great joy that the day had finally come and relief that those arrayed against descriptive video were not able to overcome the basic civil right of all blind persons to access what sighted Americans take for granted. The two dissenting votes based their opposition on their belief that there was no express Congressional mandate for the FCC to require descriptive video and another commissioner, while voting for the rule, expressed her concern at just how many people would watch it. ACB has been advised by competent legal authorities that the jurisdiction argument should not pose any real threat to the viability of the rule. In addition, ACB takes the position that as a civil right, the number of people who watch it is not the issue, but rather that they have the ability to do so. For example, if less than half of all Americans vote, we are not about to take away their right to exercise that franchise. ACB will study the rule once it is released and work to insure the implementation of its provisions.
* House 3590 goes up the flag pole, but nobody is saluting.
Last week, there was a real threat that the Republican leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives was about to try and get the House rules suspended to move House 3590 that would require an alleged violator of the ADA to receive 90 days notice before a complainant could file a legal action. Just recently, ACB has been advised that this is not likely to happen due to insufficient votes. While we must remain vigilant to insure that House 3590 is history, it appears we have won another victory against those who would assault the rights of disabled people under the ADA.
* ACB participates in numerous ADA anniversary celebrations.
Washington, DC is about to enter a week of celebrations honoring the 10th anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Starting off yesterday with staff attending a briefing on Capitol Hill, staying after the FCC DVS vote for a 10th anniversary party and going into technology expositions at vice President Gore's house, ACB will be represented at a number of events throughout the celebration period.
* ACB communicates concerns to APH on labor dispute.
ACB Executive Director Charlie Crawford sent a letter of organizational concern to both management and labor leaders at the American Printing House for the Blind. The letter clearly set forth the expectation of ACB that labor dispute negotiations should be re-established to arrive at a fair resolution and protect the production and distribution of talking books from APH.
While ACB is not intervening in the labor issues, we must be ready to move quickly in defense of the talking book program should the availability of books become jeopardized as events unfold.
* Potomac Talking Book proves you can't judge a book by its cover.
Well, life certainly has its surprises. 175 Braille Forum readers received their July Forums on tape and happily opened them to sit down for a good read. Imagine their surprise when they heard the words "The Braille Monitor!" It turns out that Potomac was on the last 175 tapes to be sent out and ran out of cassettes of the Forum. So they went back to their production people who only heard the word "blind" in the request and sent along the Monitors that went out under "The Braille Forum" label. ACB has been assured that the right tapes will be sent to replace the Monitors, and we do not anticipate any further errors in putting the right newsletter out under the braille labels.
For the week ending August 4, 2000
* Big steps for pedestrian safety taken
In two unrelated events in Maryland this last week, we have seen the start of commitments to install accessible pedestrian signaling. Both in a large municipality, and in Silver Spring, there is a new recognition of the public safety protections offered by accessible signaling that -- combined with national statistics showing the real dangers of these areas -- have led authorities to endorse the idea of installing the signals. Stay tuned for more good news on ped signaling over the coming weeks and months!
* ACB circulates proposed amending language to VR Act
As a part of our multi-leveled approach to dealing with the proposed regulations from RSA to invalidate a person's right to choose where they work, ACB has written proposed legislative language and identified the necessary Congressional members to move it. It is hoped that outrage from many groups within Washington will cause a change of heart at RSA, but if not, then ACB will be ready with a legislative proposal as an option among many.
* ACB considers dropping Coin Coalition after attack on access to paper bills
We learned last week that certain members of the Coin Coalition enlisted the aid of NFB to kill a potential legislative amendment that would have required tactile markings on bills. While we have found some of the arguments from the Federation to make good sense, ACB finds attempts by certain members of the coalition to avoid consultation with us because of what we suspect they know of our position on accessible currency to be unacceptable, and their use of the Federation by their own admission demonstrates a lack of good faith by those members. While we avoid quoting the language of the alert from the coalition that clearly shows their self-serving use of the Federation, we will make clear to the coalition that ACB will continue to try and find ways of making currency accessible without becoming more of a problem than it is worth.
* ACB thanks Janice and Richard for all their help!
The national office staff gathered on Friday to wish Janice and Richard all the best as they got set to return home from their internships. ACB deeply appreciates their contributions over the last couple of months and it has been a real pleasure to have had such talent with us.
* New telephone software to be installed on August 9!
Will our telephone woes come to an end soon? Well, we will see after August 9, when an upgrade to our current phone system software is installed. Keep your fingers crossed, even though it's hard to dial that way.
"News Notes" is a compilation of notes from preceding weeks and should not be interpreted as a full or exhaustive treatment of the items presented.
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