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.
Have you ever tried to capture the fullness of a memory? That little puppy rooting around your lap or the new kitten softly asleep in the knowledge of your protection? The warmth of family and friends as you giggled your way through childhood? The bittersweet remembrances of young love and the accompanying rush of music that once filled your ears? As life unfolds, we are given many gifts and presented with many challenges, each in their time and each contributing to the abundance of our life stories and the chapters they encircle.
There is a particularly important chapter in each of our lives that can be a place of great joy and sharing, of accomplishments that reach far beyond ourselves and of growth for all who partake. It's our local ACB chapter and it offers the bounty of what we give and the promise of what we can be.
For some, our ACB chapters are a place to share life experiences and to grow in friendship and appreciation for one another. What better place to be than with friends who will share the joke, help bear the pain and always look forward to seeing us again.
For some, our ACB chapters offer a place to dream of a better life for all. Here our chapters can become powerful engines of change in our local communities. They can foster the installation of accessible pedestrian signaling, educate a cab company or restaurant about the needs of people who are blind, or even print letters in the local newspaper on issues of concern. Our chapters can do a million good things -- from the ideas and dreams of local ACB members, and all it takes is the willingness to join hands in what is truly a shared labor of love.
Is there a chapter missing in your life or in that of folks you know? The story of ACB is not built on the great deeds of a few, but rather through the everyday glory of every member! Come and add the wisdom of your life experiences, the warmth of your heart and the support of your hands to ACB, and let's make that local chapter all it can be in a story that lives and shines for all who dare to write it.
In July of 2001, several thousand members of the American Council of the Blind will converge on the city of Des Moines to hold its FIVE STAR CONVENTION. The dates for this annual event are June 30 through July 7.
This semester, we will learn some specific and some general information about the capital of Iowa. Let's get started on our lesson for today.
The rich and fertile land in the central part of Iowa was first occupied by the Sauk and Fox Indian Tribes. In 1843, the federal government established a fort at the confluence of the Des Moines and Raccoon Rivers. Two years later, the area around the fort was opened to white settlers, and in 1851, the area was incorporated as the town of Fort Des Moines.
In 1857, the name was changed to Des Moines, and the state capital was moved from Iowa City to Des Moines. It is uncertain how the name "Des Moines" was derived. It may have been the original name the Indians gave the river, or it could have come from the French words "de moyen" (meaning "the middle") because of the site's position midway between the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers.
Des Moines has grown rapidly in the 20th century and become a center of commercial, financial and political activity. Employment opportunities in manufacturing include farm machinery, tires, and printing. Food production, processing and distribution add to the area's economy. Des Moines is the third largest insurance center in the world behind London, England and Hartford, Connecticut. Higher education opportunities include Drake University, University of Osteopathic Medicine and Health Sciences, and Grandview College.
The arts are a thriving aspect of life in Des Moines, and are the province of the Des Moines Art Center, the Science Center of Iowa, the Des Moines Community Playhouse, the Des Moines Civic Center for live Broadway shows, the Des Moines Botanical Center, and the Des Moines Symphony Orchestra. Each June, Des Moines hosts an Arts Festival, where artists from around the country can display their works. This event is held on two of the bridges that span the Des Moines River.
The Iowa State Capitol Complex is located in a park-like setting on a hill which looks over the city. Its 23-carat gold leaf dome which is refurbished about every 30 years is the focal point of the complex.
Attractions include the State Capitol, Terrace Hill (the Governor's Mansion), Living History Farms (spanning 300 years of progress), Salisbury House (a reproduction of the King's House in Salisbury, England), the Des Moines Botanical Center and the Iowa State Historical Museum.
Since the ACB national convention will be held in the downtown area, I would like to point out that many of the buildings are over 100 years old and stand side by side with the modern glass and steel structures. Among the buildings on the National Register of Historical Places are the Fort Des Moines, Savery and Kirkwood Hotels which are three of the five hotels that make up the FIVE STAR CONVENTION.
The Des Moines area boasts a variety of entertaining and fun attractions. Some of those are Adventureland Amusement Park; White Water University Water Park; Iowa Cubs Baseball; and Prairie Meadows Race Track (horses) and Casino (slots).
Before class ends today, I would like to take this opportunity to invite each of you to visit Des Moines next July to confirm the above information because there most likely will be a test.
Award Winner in Shenandoah Valley
The Virginia Association of the Blind-Shenandoah Valley recently presented its 1999-2000 Nelson Malbone Award to Louise Byrd of Roanoke, in appreciation for all her work, dedication and support of the Virginia Association. Her contributions to the local chapter have included work as a charter member in recruitment, fund raising, education, transportation and member support.
The Nelson Malbone Award was established to honor the founder of the Virginia Association of the Blind, Nelson Malbone, and to honor recipients who exhibit the same kind of dedication to blindness issues. To learn more about the Virginia Association of the Blind in Roanoke, contact Kenneth Lovern at (540) 342-8080 or via e-mail, [email protected]
Start with the Children
Over and over it is said that the difficulties some adults have when dealing with blind people stem from ignorance and misplaced attitudes. With this in mind, "Second Sight," a support group for visually impaired people in Conroe, Texas, is developing a program for elementary school children to teach them what they should know when they meet people who are blind. The group hopes that the children will learn lessons that will serve them well in the future and take their changed attitudes and increased information home to their parents.
While the group has received some information from a few sources on this subject, it hopes that others have addressed this matter and would be willing to share their information with group members. If you would like to help, please contact Mrs. Dene McEaddy, 403 Billie Bess Lane, Conroe, TX 77301; or e-mail her at [email protected] In your subject line, write "Dene."
ACB State Conventions
Here is a list of the ACB affiliate conventions that are coming up, along with the contact person's name and telephone number. Make your reservations early!
Oct. 5-8: Alaska Independent Blind; Lynne Koral, (907) 563-2525
Oct. 6 -7: North Carolina Council of the Blind; Wayne Yelton, (336) 562-2026
Oct. 6: ACB of Maryland; Al Pietrolungo, (410) 529-9475
Oct. 6 -7: South Dakota Association of the Blind; Dawn Flewwellin, (605) 229-4129
Oct. 12 - 15: Missouri Council of the Blind; Edna Freeman, (314) 832-7172
Nov. 4: D.C. Council of the Blind; Oral Miller, (202) 363-8334
Nov. 10 -11: Washington Council of the Blind; Berl Colley, (360) 438-0072
Nov. 10-11: Kentucky Council of the Blind; Eugene Willis, (502) 895-4598
Nov. 18: Delaware Council of the Blind & Visually Impaired; Suzanne Howell, (302) 764-2900
The U.S. Department of Transportation's Office of Inspector General is seeking public input on how airlines are accommodating the needs of air travelers with disabilities and special needs.
The Department's Office of Inspector General has been given specific legal authority under the Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act for the 21st Century (Public Law 106- 181) to review airline customer service. Each air carrier that provides scheduled passenger air transportation and is a member of the Air Transport Association has developed individual Customer Service Plans for matters such as canceled or delayed flights, on-time baggage delivery, ticket refunds, and accommodating the needs of air travelers with special needs or disabilities. The Inspector General is evaluating how each air carrier is meeting its commitments and recently issued an interim report available for review on the Inspector General's web site at http://www.oig.dot.gov. The Inspector General will issue a final report later this year.
In addition to comments pertaining to the treatment of passengers with disabilities or special needs, the Inspector General is still seeking input from the flying public on airlines' practices of overbooking flights, providing consumers access to lowest airfares, and long delays on board aircraft.
Electronic forms are now available on the Inspector General's web site. Hard copies may be obtained by fax or mail by calling toll-free (800) 884-9190, or from the Washington, D.C. area, (202) 366-2373. People who have airline-related service issues or complaints other than those being reviewed by the Inspector General may obtain information on contacting the Department's Aviation Consumer Protection Division at http://www.dot.gov/airconsumer.
The voting members of the National Educational and Legal Defense Services for the Blind (NELDS) held their annual meeting on July 2, in Louisville, Ky.
Jewel McGinnis, a founding member and long-time treasurer, requested to be allowed to give up her membership on the board because of health concerns.
Members of the board are Allen (Sandy) Sanderson (Alaska), president; Chris Gray (Calif.), vice president; Donna Seliger (Iowa), secretary; Ralph Sanders (Md.), treasurer; Margarine Beaman (Texas); Paul Edwards (Fla.); Charles Hodge (Va.); Kae Pohe (Nev.); Carla Ruschival (Ky.); and Jeff Thom (Calif.).
The board worked on revising its bylaws and membership requirements in an effort to expand its membership.
NELDS voted to continue its financial support of the Randolph-Sheppard Vendors of America (RSVA) in their lawsuit to protect the priority against the National Industries for the Severely Handicapped's (NISH) continued legal challenge.
Paul Edwards, president of the American Council of the Blind, encouraged the board to undertake more service programs as part of its educational mandate.
Membership forms are available from Ralph Sanders, treasurer at (410) 962-0470, or by sending your name, address and membership fee of $1 or more to Ralph Sanders, 12 E. Henrietta St., Baltimore, MD 21230.
The editorial staff reserves the right to edit letters for content, style and space available. Opinions expressed are those of the authors, not those of the American Council of the Blind, its staff or elected officials. "The Braille Forum" cannot be responsible for the opinions expressed herein. We will not print letters unless you sign your name and give us your address. Thank you!
Never in my life have I been so thankful for friendship such as my wife and I experienced during the national ACB convention in Louisville, Ky., this past July. When the phone call came advising us that my father had taken a turn for the worse, I don't know what we would have done without all the help that everyone offered to assist us in readying ourselves to return home. I wish to thank the ACB chapters and members, the volunteers and everyone who took over and helped us pack, cancel our remaining convention plans, make reservations home, and see that we got to the airport in time for our flight. The love offering taken up for us at such a traumatic time showed us exactly what true friends mean at a time of this magnitude. We were fortunate to arrive home in time to spend the last few hours of his life with my father. He died early Friday morning, July 7th. Thank you for your generosity, thoughtfulness, help and especially your prayers.
Sincerely, Olen "Buddy" Hoggle, Tuscaloosa, Ala.
Letters About Travel
Train Travel Travails
I'm writing to respond to your "President's Message" in the July issue of "The Braille Forum." I have some comments to make about our own travel horrors. As for airlines, I've received fairly good assistance from the airline staff the few times I have flown, but our recent trips on Amtrak were a different story.
Both my boyfriend and I are blind, and I have a guide dog. We went to visit his parents in California in March of this year. We spent three days on a train from Staunton, Va. to Bakersfield, CA, with transfers in Chicago and Los Angeles.
The crew on our excursion via motor coach from Bakersfield to San Bernardino treated my guide dog like a stuffed animal --"with no bodily functions whatsoever." (Those were the exact words I used in my letter of complaint to Amtrak headquarters.) They let him off to relieve himself only after I had to repeatedly ask.
On our trip back from California, we were put in the "handicapped" car, and practically forgotten. When meals were being served, the intercom system in our car didn't work, and no one came down to ask if anyone wanted anything. When I complained about this to someone who answered Amtrak's toll-free number, I was told that I should have done some checking on my own. How do you do that when they don't respond if you push the button to call a car attendant, and no one shows up for any other reason? If we'd known what to do and when to do it, we wouldn't have tried to depend on them in the first place.
Our train coming into Los Angeles was late, and we had to catch a bus from there to Bakersfield. People on that bus had to be in Bakersfield at a certain time to catch another train, so we could not wait for our luggage to be taken off the train. A staff member told us that our luggage could be retrieved from the train and shipped on the next bus to Bakersfield, but he needed our baggage claim tickets. When we went to pick up our luggage the next morning, we were informed that my boyfriend's luggage had been stolen in Los Angeles, so we were given a claim form to fill out and return. This we did, but we only received the check to replace his luggage (lost in March) a few weeks ago.
We filled out this first claim paper in Bakersfield, and we were given a copy. We waited, and when nothing happened, we called. Neither Amtrak headquarters nor the Bakersfield Station had our claim paper on file, so we sent them our copy, after making another copy for our records. Again we waited, and nothing happened. The manager of our apartment complex graciously allowed us to use his fax machine to send another copy, because again they said they didn't have it on record. We were given the name of Sarah Ulis at the Amtrak main office, and she informed us that we needed our baggage claim tickets and our ticket stubs. I explained that our baggage claim tickets had been taken away from us by a staff member at the Los Angeles station (whose name we were never given) and that I didn't have the ticket stubs. Fortunately, because my father had purchased the tickets on his credit card, we could get Amtrak a copy of that statement, if requested. Ms. Ulis pointedly told us that they made an exception for us by sending us the amount that we had estimated for the worth of my boyfriend's luggage, even though we didn't have the required papers.
Regarding the treatment of my dog, I mentioned this to Ms. Ulis, and we were informed that this complaint was being reviewed, but unless I can find a way to find out, I may never know if it had any effect.
Coming home, we went from Bakersfield to San Bernardino by motor coach. When my boyfriend's parents put us on the bus, his father asked the driver if he could help us retrieve our luggage from under the bus and help us get to where we needed to go inside the station once we got there. His exact reply was, "This is not Greyhound. If they're blind and need help traveling, they should not be traveling alone."
Fortunately my boyfriend's father was able to get people on the bus who were also getting on our train to help us. I was shocked. To think that Amtrak passengers had to help us when the employees were the ones getting paid to do that! When I complained about such poor service, I was told that the motor coach was handled by a contracted company -- not through Amtrak itself -- but that my complaint would be noted and reported to the proper company. Afterward, we heard that every person on that bus made a complaint about the way that driver treated us, and that he eventually got fired, but I'll probably never know the accuracy of this report.
I had had nothing but good experiences with Amtrak before this trip, but I'd never traveled such a great distance with them prior to March. I was very disappointed, and I am discouraged to think that, as someone without a credit card and without the means to fly where I need to go, I have no choice but to resort to dealing with this kind of poor service and unresponsive treatment. I just wish I could get some closure as to what really happened with my complaints, and whether it did any good to go to the effort to complain. The money for the lost luggage really isn't the issue any longer; I just don't want another disabled person with a service animal (or even without one) to have to go through what we did, just because they don't have the money to pay for a full-service sleeper car, or to fly there and have it all over in five or six hours.
Thank you for a very wonderfully written "President"s Message" and thank you for the inspiration and insurance that there is someone out there I can talk to. I'd be more than willing to listen to someone's suggestions, if anyone has any ... Thank you for your time and effort, and I always look forward to all of the interesting, informative and inspiring news that I know I will always find in the pages of "The Braille Forum."
-- Julie Roberts, Woodstock, Va.
Travel Opportunities for All
In reference to the article in the July 2000 "Braille Forum" by Jo Taliaferro entitled "The Experience of a Lifetime:" I want to share how this story has made me think about so many blind folks who are trying to get around in this world. I've always been able to quickly learn my environment. I have good hearing in both ears. I am not a potential victim of rape. I live in a very pedestrian-friendly community. I live in a community with excellent public transportation and a very generous specialized transportation service for people with disabilities. Getting around is relatively stress-free for me.
Ms. Taliaferro is presenting the plight of many, many folks for whom leaving their homes is a nightmare. Her story should make us mindful that, in spite of how hard we word to make the environment more usable for those of us who move about it with frequency, we need to think of ways to help those blind folks and other "true" shut-ins to experience the life that many of us enjoy and take for granted. Let's face it. Some folks will never have the skills or confidence to travel entirely independently. Nonetheless, they deserve to have their needs met to the same degree as the rest of us.
-- Raymond "Bud" Keith, Arlington, Va.
Random comments on "The Braille Forum"
A couple of items in the Forum two months ago stirred my old Royal manual typewriter into writing mode. How should we react when employees on airlines or buses, or at hotels, don't meet our special needs in a courteous, appropriate way? I recall once I gave a stewardess a bad time over possession of my cane, but it embarrassed my wife and I probably would not do it the same way again because the problem is more complex than the individual who happens to irritate us.
Even if ALL public employees are put through a training program to meet the needs of the blind, deaf, paralyzed, aged, and illiterate, some will get it and some will not, and all of them will forget some of what they have learned. I shudder to think how much I've forgotten about CPR since I had that crash course. (Fortunately they are changing those procedures so now I can shrug and let people die because I'm not up to speed on current techniques.)
On another topic, job turnover is another fact that plagues employers. By the time they have gotten everybody trained, 10 to 30 percent will move on to higher-paying jobs, hoping to catch up with the wealthy computer whiz kids, so now there is more training to be done.
And there is the matter of costs, which most of us don't have to think about. If an employee spends 15 minutes with me, that represents money, and we assume the company will pass this along in higher fares or rates for everybody else. An alternate solution would be for them to send the bill to the federal government, but I doubt that either Bush or Gore would approve.
If all this sounds as though I have taken three notes out of George W's notebook and gone bonkers on compassion, I might point out that Ken Jernigan, a year before he died, made a speech in which he urged the blind to be courteous and kind to the sighted. That does not mean we should never protest or complain, but let's direct our complaints to the appropriate source.
Instead of scolding bus drivers for not calling stops, I hope we can soon get automated calling systems, though it will require a sizable investment at first. Also, if global positioning satellites could be gotten down to pocket size that would help me, and could have helped Jo Taliaferro in her miserable adventure in the snow.
I was going to complain about the need for some kind of tactile warning on ramps for wheelchairs to keep us from wandering out into the middle of the street, but I understand that Charlie Crawford and others are already at work on this.
Finally, how many folks read the Forum in braille? Is there a better name for it? And why don't you run a column for other stupid or provocative questions like that? Years ago, "American" magazine had a column called "Why Don't They ..." So, already, enough.
-- Walt Stromer, Mount Vernon, Iowa
Bill Lewis responds
In reply to the August 2000 "Braille Forum" letters column, I thank Lucia Marett from New York, N.Y. for her natural skepticism about my August 1999 article, "Professions and Vocations Held or Studied by Blind People in Kansas and across America."
As I read the long list of 167 jobs in vocations and professions, performed by real, live, warm-blooded human beings, listed in the Careers and Technology Information Bank of AFB, I, too, wondered, "How do they do that?"
As I studied the material carefully, I reasoned that the jobs, vocations, and professions listed are being performed by blind individuals, plus those legally blind persons who can still read print and recognize people and landmarks at a distance. For example, there is a legally blind clinical psychiatrist here in Wichita. On the other hand, in that list there were many who are totally blind. Take the oceanographer, for example. He is totally blind and a nationally recognized expert on shellfish. I saw a PBS TV special a couple of years ago about him. It was impressive.
I have to guess, though, that the astronomer is legally blind, as would likely be for people in some of the other unusual classifications, such as owner of women's clothing store. However, you just can't tell nowadays.
In any case, I am amazed at human ingenuity, when people can perform in such richly varied areas where visually impaired people would not ordinarily be expected to perform. That is why I added the little bit at the end of the article about the little engine who said, "Yes, I can; yes, I can." "How do they do that?" That's what is amazing about people with disabilities; you just can't predict what they will do next.
I have to make an assumption here, though, that you will find very few of those CTIB people who are not upbeat, bright, energetic, congenial, and able to adapt by figuring out ways of doing things, despite visual limitations and unexpected prejudice. I realize that many others have not been so fortunate. Also, bad luck can hit us and end a long-time career. I had to change job settings six times and job descriptions 14 times in my long career.
As Lucia observed, prejudice exists regardless of one's life circumstances. With my white cane in hand, I can walk out of my bank, where I carry a healthy line of credit, and walk across the street to a restaurant, and have the waitress ask my companion what I want to order. Yep, life is full of opportunities to educate people about blindness, whether we like it or not.
As Lucia Marett pointed out, workshop employment is not a career. She's right. It is a job, not what most people would consider a career. If Lucia thinks the article was a bit long, I agree, but it took a lot of space to cover 167 different job classifications, totaling over 2,000 people.
If anyone wants more information about those real people categorized in that article and wishes to contact any of them directly, CTIB searches are happily conducted free of charge for blind and visually impaired job seekers and rehabilitation professionals assisting clients. Job-seekers, researchers and others interested in using the CTIB database may contact the AFB National Technology Center at (212) 502-7642, fax: (212) 502- 7773, e-mail: [email protected]
-- Bill Lewis, Wichita, Kan.
Responding to Bud Keith's September 2000 Letter to the Editor:
(This letter, which was posted to the ACB List, was received via e-mail. To e-mail letters to the editor of "The Braille Forum," address your mail to [email protected])
I read with interest the letter to the editor sent by Bud Keith to "The Braille Forum." I agree with some of his remarks and have questions about others.
I, too, get a little annoyed when I see umpteen million messages [in my in-box] from the same person and especially on the same topic. But that's what the delete key is for, and I use it liberally. I appreciate the officers and board members who do subscribe to the ACB list, but like Mr. Keith, I wonder why others aren't, unless they simply don't have a computer. I subscribed to this list because I am a board member at the state level. Maybe [my position] doesn't carry with it the prestige which [accompanies positions] at the national level, but I always like to be well-informed about blindness and ACB issues. There may not be every national officer and board member here, but let's not forget the importance of the membership at large and those who serve on the state or chapter levels [who do actively participate on the list].
The part [of Mr. Keith's letter] which talks about national officers' and board members' behavior and appearance is very confusing to me. If Mr. Keith sees this as a problem, shouldn't he quietly try to rectify the situation rather than writing about this in the Forum? I don't know very much about the appearance of our leaders, and I certainly haven't observed anything in the way of behavior which is repulsive or inappropriate. But if there is a problem like this, does it really do a lot of good to write about it in the Forum? It certainly has me confused.
I don't want to offer a cop-out for unkempt appearances at conventions, but I've heard that our leaders are up early and late trying to prepare for the next part of the convention. Could [these late nights] contribute to an unkempt appearance? Also, like all of us, these folks are human! We make the mistake of putting blind leaders on a pedestal sometimes. From what I've seen of NFB, many leaders' flaws are overlooked, and I'd hate to see us go in that direction. However, if Mr. Keith is concerned about our leaders' appearance and behavior, wouldn't it be more productive for him to bring it to their attention quietly? Are they going to know whom or what he's talking about by these vague references in a very public letter? Just some points to ponder.
-- Rebecca Kragnes, Minneapolis, Minn.
In recent months while reading the messages that come across on ACB's listserv, I have been somewhat astonished to learn that there are some people in ACB who may actually believe that the leadership of this organization is involved in an alleged conspiracy to keep rank and file members from having an impact on the organization. I have seen occasional messages that imply that we who are leaders in the organization discourage input from members and don't listen to suggestions. I have heard that ACB is governed by a clique of people who are doing what they want for their own reasons and who are acting against the best interests of blind people.
My first reaction to all these accusations was, frankly, hurt and anger. I devote a fair amount of time to ACB and have very few tangible compensations. For example, I get no salary and, even though I am reimbursed for most of the costs of my travel, there are always expenses I don't recover. This is not a complaint but I do want people to know that I pay for the privilege of being your leader. I think that most of those who get elected to the board end up in a similar situation. I am not suggesting that changes should be made. I am just explaining why I felt more than a little chagrined when I read e-mail messages that implied that I could be getting rich off ACB, or that ACB's leaders really don't care about the rights of our members.
Of course, I realize that it's easier for some people to complain than to think positively. I am also aware of the "e- mail phenomenon," which leads some to type the first thoughts that come into their heads -- and think about them later! ACB-L is a very small sampling of our membership, and the people likely to complain the most may not be at all representative of the attitudes of the majority of our members, or even the majority of participants on the list (who may respond to messages they anticipate as negative by simply deleting them without reading a word).
Nevertheless, reading those messages on the ACB-List day in and day out has motivated me to climb atop my soapbox in this message, and talk about how things really are in ACB, the checks and balances which govern our operations, and the ways our members -- any members --can make a difference! The ACB Balance of Power
Obviously, there are some intangible benefits of being president. For me, those have to do with being able to use my talents to move ACB in directions that I, in consultation with the board and the membership, believe are appropriate. Some of those directions are initiatives for which I am responsible. In that sense, then, I suppose I am using what power I have to forward my agenda. But that is why ACB members elected me. That's the mandate I have been given.
In actuality, I really don't have much power. If I want to be elected to another term of office, I have to do what the convention tells me to do. If I want to work efficiently between conventions, I have to be sure that the board knows what I am doing and approves of it. If I must make a major decision between board meetings, I am well advised to consult with the elected executive committee of the board.
Furthermore, the executive committee must report any action it has taken to the board within 10 days of such actions, and there are provisions in our constitution to allow a special meeting of the board which can be called by five unhappy board members.
Someone on the ACB list said that none of these constitutional checks and balances really applied because I don't have to run again so I can just ignore everybody and do exactly what I want. I hope that the constitutional safeguards which I have outlined in the preceding paragraphs indicate that I understand completely that I can't do that! In addition, I also suggest that, since I am about to leave office, I would have very little to gain by trying to manipulate the system.
Besides the constitutional limitations on the power of the president, there are other constraints that would make it very difficult for me or anybody else to operate without restraint. First, where there are policies in place that are adopted by the convention, whether I like them or not, they must guide my actions. If I were to ignore these explicitly stated policies, I would be immediately required to ask the executive committee or the board to join me in my heresy. Believe me, though there are a couple of instances where I have gone outside policy guidelines, each time I wanted all the company I could get and needed strong arguments to convince anyone that change was necessary.
A second limitation on the power of the president is the transition toward a stronger national office. This is written into our five-year plan and is at the heart of our efforts to strengthen ACB's national presence. Since more and more of our activities are being centered in the national office, it's much harder for the president to act independently than it may have been a couple of decades ago.
Having said all of this, I hope that many of you will understand just how hard it is for the president to act on any personal agenda. I should perhaps point out that there are real disadvantages to the degree of democracy which is built into our organizational structure. Other organizations, for example, can take action far more quickly than we can and can alter a stance far more easily than can we. This has on a few occasions placed us at a disadvantage, but, again, I am not advocating for change. I am merely suggesting that a government with as many checks and balances as ours is much more likely to do less than more. We can certainly plan and implement policies -- and we do! However, you must plan well in advance if you want ACB to go in a new direction and lots of people have to agree that it's a good idea. As the president, then, I have to decide what I want and work within the constraints that the constitution and explicitly stated practice of the organization create. Change by Resolution
I think that 10 of the resolutions passed at our convention last July and 11 passed in 1999 dealt specifically with making internal change. We also passed six or seven constitutional changes at each convention. While I do not object to change's being mandated by resolution, I question whether this process is the best route for us to use. There are three reasons why I feel this way.
First of all, as I perceive it, a resolution is intended to be a formalized statement of a problem which contains a proposed solution or solutions, which is disseminated to help entities outside of ACB understand how we as an organization feel. Clearly there is nothing to prevent us from using resolutions to tell certain segments of ACB how we feel but there are other ways to do that.
Second, taking the resolutions route tends to subvert the governing of ACB. If we have a constitution and bylaws that set up processes to make change happen, and we use resolutions to circumvent these processes, we are making government very difficult for those who must implement the resolutions that are passed.
Third, I question whether it's appropriate to publicly wash what may come across as "dirty laundry" in front of the whole world (and that's who can look at our resolutions!). If there was no other way to make things happen in ACB, there might be some purpose for using resolutions this way. However, there are lots of ways to create the kind of organization our members think we should have without taking this approach. The Road Best Traveled
If you have questions about processes, procedures, or the separation of powers within ACB, you can look at the ACB constitution on our web site at http://www.acb.org. In addition, you can obtain a copy of the ACB constitution and bylaws, in the format of your choice, by calling the national office at (202) 467-5081.
Within the next couple of months, I will be publishing a list of all the current ACB committees and their chairs in "The Braille Forum" so that everyone will have a list of people to contact. The various committees have a constitutional mandate to work on specific areas of ACB business. Any member can contact a committee chair and talk about ideas for change. Also, all committee meetings, with the exception of the nominating committee, are open. Any member can attend these meetings and be heard.
By the way, board meetings are also open. As the chair of board meetings, I typically allow people from the audience to speak. Of course, I must give board members the first opportunity to take the floor, but I do not believe there has ever been a board meeting where I refused to recognize somebody from the audience who asked to be heard. Your board members are your representatives. You elected them and you have a right to talk with them. Feel free to ask board members to take ideas you present to them into account, and if they don't, ask why -- during caucuses or from the floor at a convention.
"The Braille Forum" itself is another outlet for new ideas. If you write an article, there is a good chance that it will be published. If it isn't, contact the board of publications or the editor and ask why.
Each year, we hold a meeting at our national convention to explore possibilities for change. This year the meeting that dealt with the future of ACB was held on Monday night and was quite well attended. This is another venue where you can raise issues and suggest changes.
One final point while I'm standing on my soapbox -- I do not believe it is helpful to raise a negative issue unless you are willing to consider ways to make it better. This isn't my organization or the leadership's organization. ACB doesn't belong to any one person or group. It is everybody's responsibility to make it the best organization it can be. Talk to leaders or other members before you raise an issue and try to develop not only strategies for raising the issue publicly, but also some ideas about how ACB can work to tackle it. You won't always get what you want! (I as president certainly don't!) But if you take some of the paths I have suggested here, you will be a part of creating the new ACB, and, if you are not careful, you might also become a part of the leadership yourself.
Now it's up to you. Will you prove me right by using your ACB government to make things happen?
As for me, I'm climbing down off my soapbox, turning off my computer for a while, and thinking about all the positive changes we have made together in our organization, about all my friends and colleagues who are always there for me and for one another, and about all the ways we can make our country and the world a place where people who are blind are included, and are welcomed.
I have decided after listening to over a year of political strategizing and posturing that I want a pony! Yes, a tiny equine specimen is what I really want from my presidential candidate this year. Why a pony you ask? Well, it might fulfill some of my transportation needs, and more than that, I've always wanted one.
What explains this cynical attitude toward the 2000 presidential race? By the time you read this, hopefully at least one of the debates will have passed. Each of the candidates will have made at least three more gaffs and hundreds of speeches. In those speeches, each candidate has promised various fragmented sectors of the American populous everything. I figure a pony is not too far from a real possibility as an incentive for attracting my vote.
Going into this presidential campaign, I was energized. My politics defined as pretty squarely moderate Republican, I looked forward to getting involved in a campaign. As time progressed though, I found no candidate whose values matched mine -- even marginally! The grinding primary season took away any hope of anything new emerging from this race. Now, here we are, forced to choose between people whose plans and values I still do not fully understand. Absurdity seems perfectly fitting at this point, don't you think?
Another reason I am lobbying for a pony is that I don't fit into any of the groups I see the candidates posing for photos with. I don't see them courting the blindness vote. Yes, I said the blindness vote, not the disability vote. Since when has Al Gore or George Bush made headlines with his position on Social Security linkage, descriptive video or plans to better fund and staff the civil rights offices at the Department of Justice or Federal Transit Administration? Both candidates might have alluded to these topics, but CNN certainly wasn't around to cover these stories. Not being particularly tuned into the "disability media," I missed any specialized messages that may have been targeted at the disabled segment of the population.
Now, maybe, just maybe, I have failed to see just how anomalous I really am. Is there a focus group or demographic I do fit into? I'm female. That's good. I'm self-employed. That's also good (unless you talk to the folks at the Social Security Administration). I am a college student. That would only be good if I were under 21 and living with my parents. As is, I'm a graduate student who is way older than 21. I am married, another good thing, but we have no children for whom to receive tax breaks. I am disabled, but currently am not receiving any federal benefits. (See self-employment, above.)
I would be a voting block of one. Hmm, I wonder if the candidates would entertain me by giving speeches just for me? Am I sounding a little too cynical? In this age of sound bites, minute-to-minute polling and public opinion which turns on a hairstyle, mispronounced word or gesture, it becomes very easy to feel like that lonely pedestrian standing at the actuated intersection with no idea what the traffic light is doing and no accessible pedestrian signal. What about me?
Why would I share my frustrations with "Braille Forum" readers? I'd wager many of you out there feel the same way I do. Nevertheless, my rallying cry is that feeling this way is no excuse not to vote. People with disabilities are grossly under- represented in voting statistics. Huge efforts have been made in some localities to provide a mechanism for accessing a private ballot. If you're lucky enough to have this kind of access, take full advantage of it. When the private ballot is not available, make use of those absentee ballots. Listen to the debates to help you make up your minds. I'd like to see the candidates' spin doctors try to fool a good blind listener when it comes to rhetoric.
Whoever wins in November will doubtless be hearing from ACB and its membership whether in the White House or on Capitol Hill. Don't let the cynics get you down. Your vote is your one undeniable power as a United States citizen, the thing that transcends blindness and demographics. After all, maybe, just maybe, one of the candidates will come through with that pony.
(Reprinted from the New York Times' Long Island Journal, Sunday, July 23, 2000.)
(Editor's Note: Celeste Lopes is a member of the American Blind Lawyers Association and Guide Dog Users, Inc.)
Celeste Lopes sang out as she galloped around the outdoor arena astride her chestnut show horse, Trocaire, whom she affectionately calls Pumpkin.
"One, two, one, two, that's my baby," she said, weaving her way between fences at the Red Barn in Old Brookville. Then, certain of her path, she pulled gently on the reins and slowed the horse to a trot. "Come on, it's playtime, c'mon, baby boy," she said. Trocaire jumped, sailing smoothly over a low-slung cross rail and, a few strides later, over a straight rail. Though Lopes could not see the maneuver, it felt right. Pleased, she rewarded her horse with a peppermint.
For an experienced equestrian, it wasn't a particularly difficult jump. But Lopes is blind. Despite this, Lopes has been riding horses for 30 of her 42 years. Though she wears a walkie- talkie to keep in touch with her instructor as she canters about, she has learned to feel when she is at each ladder in the ring. She jumps and competes in dressage events at horse shows.
"I love riding," Lopes said. "I really do. Riding is the thing that keeps me grounded or centered. Riding is very freeing. It gives me a chance to move in a way I normally can't move, to go cantering around that ring."
Blindness, Lopes said, is just a characteristic, like being blond or brunette. It's an inconvenience, but not a disability to stop her from pursuing her favorite sports or achieving her dreams.
"People come to you with certain preconceived notions that if you are blind, you can't possibly do the job," she said. "I was always brought up to achieve my best and I do my best when I hit society's stereotypes. I guess what inspires me is to show people that the societal stereotypes are totally wrong."
Heading back to the barn, Lopes cooled Trocaire down. She unsaddled and groomed him and cleaned the tack herself, though full-service boarding is available at the barn. Then she sliced up an apple and carrots for his treat.
"I really spoil him something terribly, but he takes good care of me," she said. She rides three times a week.
Ms. Lopes lost her vision to two hereditary diseases, retinitis pigmentosa, a degenerative disease that affects peripheral and night vision, and macular degeneration, causing loss of central vision and color. By age 3, she was blind.
As a child, Lopes frequently rode bareback at the former Mrs. D's Riding Academy in Melville (now a subdivision called Equine Estates), unafraid to jump the stone walls that she knew were there but couldn't see blocking her path. As an adult, she has skied downhill in Vermont and out west and ventured to Norway five times to ski cross-country, accompanied by a friend from college, Robin Thomas, who indicates the twists and uphill inclines.
On a camping and kayaking trip in Alaska a few years ago, Thomas, an Episcopal minister, described the icebergs and cliffs as they paddled past, but Lopes could hear the bald eagle as it skimmed the water in pursuit of a fish and the sound of a whale breaching was unmistakable. And it was easy to imagine the bear family that hovered not far from their campsite. Lopes was almost thankful not to be able to see the bear tracks the next morning.
But overcoming the odds is just a part of daily life for Lopes. When she heads off on her hour-and-45-minute train and subway commute each morning from Plainview to Brooklyn, where she is the deputy bureau chief of the civil rights division in the District Attorney's office, Lopes has her two-year-old black Labrador retriever in tow. The guide dog, whose name she won't tell so strangers won't distract him, helps her maneuver the mile-and-a-quarter walk from the subway station to her office. While she works, he relaxes on his red-cushioned bed under a window, chewing on a bone and bounding to her side when she dashes down the hall to use the copier.
At the office, Lopes investigates crimes that occur out of hate or intolerance, committed because of gender, race or religion, along with white-collar crime and immigration fraud. She supervises younger, less experienced district attorneys. But she also fetches her own coffee, types her own memos and reads her own e-mails, using a regular keyboard -- not a Braille one -- and a computer that translates text into talk. To wade through piles of paperwork, she scans documents into a computer.
"At the beginning of my career," she said, "there was probably a preconceived notion that I wasn't as good an attorney, that I wouldn't be carrying a full caseload, that I wouldn't be pulling my weight, that I'd be getting out of some things. That is no longer an issue." She muses that someday she would like to be a judge.
Lopes is also president of the Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind, a national organization based in Smithtown, where a recently acquired warehouse is being converted into an indoor training kennel for 260 Labrador and golden retrievers. The residence hall on the eight-acre campus is being expanded and renovated, with private rooms for 17 students and a computer lab with adaptive technology.
Lopes is on the national board of directors of Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic in Princeton, N.J., an audiotape education library, and is chairwoman of its national advisory council. The guide dog, Lopes said, is her constant companion, except when skiing or horseback riding, enabling her to walk fast and travel in new and different areas.
"I hate to come across looking as if I'm bumbling or insecure or groping," she said. "So for me, one of my challenges is to always look like I'm totally in control of the situation -- even when I'm not -- to always look very self-assured and confident and knowing where I am going, just because I don't like the stereotypical image of a blind person. My attitude about life is, you only pass this way but once. You might as well make the best of it. Play hard, work hard and have a good time doing both."
I was wearing my dark glasses when the paratransit van deposited me at the interurban bus stop on the village's main street, but my white cane was folded up inside my backpack. Immediately upon my arrival, the only other person at the bus shelter directed a question to me.
"Excuse me, sir. Would you watch my stuff while I go and get a soda?"
My pleasantly consensual response included a caveat related to my impaired vision. He trotted off, probably not even fully absorbing the cautionary coda, and I was left to muse about his compliment. I was not particularly complimented that he considered me a member of that class of people we sometimes refer to as "the temporarily abled." The real compliment was that he appraised me as an upstanding citizen with the honesty and reliability to carry out his assignment faithfully.
Then, pursuing my duties conscientiously, I squinted toward where I believed my inanimate charges resided. I noticed that a third person had arrived at the bus shelter and was sitting in proximity to the prized luggage "stuff." Moments later she suspiciously rose again and tottered off. I saw what was surely a widow's hump and a full head of white hair on her tiny frame. Certainly not the stereotypical thief profile. I further concluded that her wobbly gate was the result of quite advanced age, not from the burden of a bulging Gucci shoulder bag or two.
The first words from the stuff's owner upon his return established conclusively that both he and I had been good judges of character. He thanked me.
(Editor's Note: Dr. Penny Rosenblum is a researcher and faculty member at the University of Arizona.)
If you find yourself in a high school hallway between classes you're bound to catch many snippets of conversations, "What did you do when he said that?," "Are you going to the game?," "That test was hard!," and "Two more weeks till I have my driver's license and I'll be a free woman!"
The later comment, which can be best characterized as "car talk," permeates the conversation of today's youth as they approach the magical age in their state for driving. When I was a teen growing up in New Jersey the age was 17. As a teen with low vision, as the day grew closer and closer I became more depressed. Since I couldn't see well, the realization that I wasn't going to be making the trek down to the motor vehicle department on my 17th birthday made me feel "left out." I was among the youngest in my class and many of the kids I knew had been driving for months; some owned cars, most were saving for cars, and all equated their driver's license with freedom. That was a tough time for me; and even though I am a very independent, non-driving, visually impaired woman in her mid 30s I still struggle with the issues of "independence" in a society where for many the key to this is a motor vehicle.
When I was growing up in New Jersey I received itinerant services from a teacher of the visually impaired and periodically O&M services. I don't remember anyone working with me on learning the skills of being a non-driver, for example, how to hire a driver, plan an efficient route for a driver, develop a transportation budget, or how to exchange services (e.g., tutoring, babysitting) for a ride. The O&M instruction I received was focused on making sure I had the skills to be a safe traveler (e.g., crossing lighted intersections, taking public transportation). Though safe and efficient O&M skills are an important part of being a non-driver, there are many more skills one must learn.
When I went off to college, many people on campus didn't have a car and so it wasn't that big of a deal that I didn't drive. My bike was among many others locked in front of the dorm. I walked with friends to many stores and restaurants that surrounded the campus. In my senior year it was time for me to student teach and for the first time in my adult life I was in a true transportation dilemma; riding my bike, walking, or getting a ride from a friend wasn't going to get me to my student teaching site 30 miles away every morning at 7:30 a.m. and home again at 3:30. I knew no one who was student teaching in that school. As I cried on the phone to my folks, my mother suggested I call the professor and ask for help. I thought this was the most humiliating idea I had heard, but with little choice I found myself in his office the next day. In a short time he was able to produce the names and numbers of two other student teachers in my school and four people student teaching in the junior high just down the street. After some phone calling that evening I found myself with two rides to school, something that came in handy when the main carpool person got the flu. This experience was one of many I had as I made the transition into the world of work; there were a lot of lessons for me to learn about being a successful and independent non-driver.
Dr. Anne Corn, who is a professor at Peabody College of Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., and I have both had experiences as people with low vision. Though Dr. Corn is now a bioptic driver (she is licensed to drive a car as long as she wears prescription lenses that contain miniature telescopes) as a teen and into her adult years she was a non-driver. We both have worked with school-age children with visual impairments and with university students, some of whom are visually impaired. It is our experience that the vast majority of teens and young adults with visual impairments are not adequately prepared to be non-drivers in today's society.
We have developed a curriculum called Finding Wheels: A curriculum for non-drivers with visual impairments for gaining control of transportation needs. The curriculum is designed for kids in middle school and high school who have visual impairments (or other disabilities) and who would benefit from exploring what their options are as non-drivers. Finding Wheels is very flexible in how it can be used; parents, teachers, or O&M specialists can use it with teens in either a home, school, or summer program setting. A teen can move through the curriculum individually or in a group. Not every teen will need to explore all 10 of the units. Each individual's needs and interests will determine what parts of Finding Wheels are appropriate.
Finding Wheels is divided into four sections. In the first, users meet four travelers, some of whom are more successful than others. Next, teens explore who they are as travelers (e.g., rites of passage, knowing about their own visual impairment as it relates to travel). In the third section teens are introduced to the variety of transportation methods (e.g., walking, public transportation, paratransit, drivers). The last section focuses on how to be an independent non-driver (e.g., budgeting, planning, what to do when a ride is late). Throughout Finding Wheels there are suggested activities for teens to do in order to learn about themselves and local resources. One popular activity is for teens to interview adult non-drivers. A teacher who has used the curriculum with her high school students commented about the interviews, "It is good that they hear from people who have actual experiences in planning and using resources to meet their transportation needs."
In our field testing of Finding Wheels we had parents of children who attended public school and residential schools use the curriculum as did teachers and O&M specialists in a variety of settings. One parent whose 16-year-old daughter is blind and who used the curriculum with several other students in an after- school class shared, "I think Finding Wheels is a wonderful class. At first I thought, 'How much does she need to learn about this subject? Would it be a waste of her time at the end of an exhausting school day?' I am very glad that we made the class a priority. It made me realize that we needed to understand Samantha's feelings about never being able to drive. This allowed us to process it as a family."
If you are interested in ordering Finding Wheels you can do so from Pro-Ed (800-897-3202), 8700 Shoal Creek Blvd., Austin, TX 78757, or by visiting their web site at http://www.proedinc.com. Finding Wheels costs $34 plus $3.40 for shipping and handling.
(Editor's Note: ACB member Michael Bayus is the music director of St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Spring Hill, Fla., and the sub-dean of the local chapter of the American Guild of Organists.)
Recently a colleague gave me a set of homemade compact discs of some rather dubious performances, but of very professional quality. That got my wife and I thinking about looking into ways in which I might be able to produce professional quality recordings of my own.
The very next weekend we went to our local audio store to look at CD recorders, both stand-alone and computer driven. We discovered that in order to make decent field recordings we would not only need the recorder but a mixer for the microphones (the decks don't come with mike inputs), floor stands and good quality microphones.
Next to the display shelves of CDR's was another display case of some very small gadgets. "What are these?" I asked the salesman. "Those are minidisc recorders," he said. "What are minidiscs?" I asked.
Well, in a nutshell, minidiscs were invented by Sony and first came on the scene in 1993. The intent was to replace the analog cassette with something small and compact with the same benefits as the cassette and the most popular features of the CD, such as direct track access and random play. The disks themselves are about 2 inches in diameter and are contained in a squarish caddie like a floppy disk for a computer. One inserts the disk, caddie and all, into a recorder unit that measures about 3 inches by 3 and a half inches and about one inch thick. All the portables I've seen have stereo mike inputs, a combination analog and optical digital input, and a headphone jack like a Walkman.
In fact, when Sony invented the minidisc, the company had intended for it to replace the cassette Walkman. But recording companies never produced pre-recorded minidiscs in mass volume.
Here was the perfect solution. A gizmo that was 3 by 3 and a half by 1 inch instead of the usual rack size component 17 by 14 by 3 inches thick It had stereo microphone inputs and was purported to make CD quality recordings. We bought one. We got it home and made a few test recordings on my home organ and found it to be everything it was cracked up to be.
I have since made field recordings of a recital that I gave and a Sunday morning church service. The recordings are discreet stereo and are broadcast quality.
Here is how it works. Although a minidisc can only hold about one-fourth the data a CD can (about 140 megs), by using a compression scheme invented by Sony called ATRAC (adaptive transform acoustical coating) a minidisc can hold up to 74 minutes of stereo sound, and 148 minutes of mono. This is because inaudible sounds are deleted from the digital sample. In other words, sounds that are too soft, too high or too low to be heard are eliminated. You won't be able to tell the difference between a CD and an MD but maybe your dog can.
It occurs to me that the blind people of the United States could really make this thing work. In other words, if blind people went to audio-video stores, as I did, and bought these recorders, maybe more will be made of the format. Here is something in the major consumer market that can really be a boon to the blind.
Are you going to college? Take your minidisc recorder to class. It is small enough to keep in a pocket, purse or backpack and can store enough data to record a whole class and then some. Make up your favorite music mixes by putting together tracks from your favorite CDs. Have you got a band? Here is a great way to make demos.
Oh! The one feature that I forgot to mention is the one Sony thought would be a major selling point. You can write track names and song titles to the disk. Those of us without sight need a sighted friend to help with this task, but all in all the machines are easy for blind people to use.
One last word. If you listen to alternative community radio, you are probably hearing minidiscs all day. Stations like WMNF in Tampa, FL, and WRAS in Atlanta, GA, are using minidiscs to produce high quality programs using various sources like CDs, cassettes and LPs and putting them all together making up a good mix of music. There are several different manufacturers of minidisc recorders: Sony (the inventor), Phillips, Aiwa, RCA, Sharp, JVC and Kenwood. All have mike inputs, combination analog and digital line inputs, and headphone outputs like a Walkman. There are features exclusive to individual brands.
ACB members unite! Pick a day and go to your local Best Buy, Circuit City or wherever fine audio products are sold and buy a minidisc recorder and plenty of disks to record. You will be glad you did.
(Editor's Note: Bashir A. Masoodi is a special education consultant for the Gary, Indiana Community School Corporation. He has experience in education, rehabilitation, camp administration, and coordinating leisure-time, recreation and other services for people who are blind.)
Booth Newton Tarkington is the famous author of "The Gentleman from Indiana" and numerous plays, books and articles. A graduate of Purdue and Princeton universities, Tarkington thought that all good citizens had a duty to run for public office and serve their state and country. He was elected to the Indiana House of Representatives on the Republican ticket in 1902. We who are blind may find his activities on behalf of people who were blind particularly interesting and instructive.
Tarkington was admired for his honesty and his outspoken sincerity. He was respected highly by his fellow legislators. "Indianapolis News" gave him high marks for personal integrity and thought that this 33-year-old legislator was bound for higher places.
On Feb. 18, 1903, Booth Tarkington introduced House Bill 382 in the Indiana general assembly. The bill provided training for indigent blind men as broom makers at the Indiana Industrial Home for Men. It further provided that the State Board of Charity would pay $4 per week to the home to train and maintain about 20 blind men, at a total annual cost of $2,080.
Tarkington explained that many blind men had approached the home for training so that they could learn a trade and stay out of the poor house, which would cost taxpayers money. The bill was strongly supported by Helen Keller and many others interested in bettering the life of blind people. It passed the Indiana House of Representatives by a vote of 70-7 and the Indiana Senate by a vote of 26-11.
During the debate on the bill, Tarkington discovered that a local politician known for his pragmatism and reputation for high conscience was working very hard to defeat the measure. When Tarkington asked this legislator for his reason for opposing the bill, the legislator told him that if the bill became law it would be bad for humanity, as it would make blind men prosperous, thus enabling them to marry blind women and produce blind children. Even though Tarkington was exasperated by this logic, he told a friend that he was impressed by this politician's sincerity. Only then did Tarkington learn the real reason behind this legislator's forceful opposition: The legislator, his friend explained, owned a broom factory.
On March 10, 1903, Governor Winfield Turbin vetoed the bill, maintaining that although it would be unnatural for anyone to oppose the improvement of afflicted people, such a law would be held as a precedent for establishment of innumerable institutions for similar people, thus imposing a burden on the taxpaying public.
Tarkington blasted the governor's veto during the spring vacation. He said, "Is it not the helpless who should be helped to stay out of the poor house [if we really want them to help themselves]?"
Too late, Tarkington realized that, rather than introducing the bill in the House himself, he ought to have had one of the governor's supporters introduce it, with his strong support.
There had been bad feelings between the governor and Tarkington almost from the beginning of his legislative term, dating from the time that Tarkington had opposed the governor's appointment of his cronies to the Indiana Reformatory at Jeffersonville. Thereafter, the governor and his supporters actively opposed Tarkington. He served only one term in the legislature, after which he entered the acting and literary career for which he was recognized by President Teddy Roosevelt, and the entire country.
Booth Tarkington's experience can be a guide for local, state and federal legislative efforts during our time. The politics have not changed much in a century, though; one can still use wise strategies to achieve a goal.
I write this in response to and in support of Mary Irving's comments and concerns as expressed in the "From Your Perspective" column of the August 2000 issue of "The Braille Forum." In order to achieve positive employment outcomes for blind and visually impaired consumers in this time of unparalleled economic prosperity, state vocational rehabilitation agencies must modify and improve their traditional approaches to assisting people who are blind and visually impaired.
For example, our state agency for the blind in Texas boasts that it has one of the best reputations in the country for placing blind and visually impaired persons in jobs. Yet translating their record into real numbers reveals that less than 5 percent of Texas consumers who are served under its VR program (less than 600 persons a year) are successfully placed in competitive employment. We are currently experiencing here in Texas, and in the nation, one of the lowest unemployment rates in over a generation. Yet blind and visually impaired individuals simply are not sharing in this employment boom. National studies indicate that among working age adults in the U.S. who are totally blind or have severe visual impairments, 74 percent are not employed. Clearly more needs to be done. Methods and approaches typically used by state VR agencies for the blind need to be reviewed, modified and improved. The same old, same old traditional bureaucratic way of doing things has to change. VR executive staff need to take a fresh approach. They need to become more creative, innovative, pro-active and solution-oriented in order to meet the challenge of persistent, chronic, high unemployment among visually impaired Americans.
Here are just a few possible suggestions:
1. Establish internship programs for visually impaired individuals to give them opportunities to gain experience and to practice and develop relevant on-the-job skills.
2. Contract with private, local employment placement specialists -- not just lighthouses -- to assist with job training and placement of qualified visually impaired applicants.
3. Work closely with the state workforce commissions to make their services and job listing information more accessible to visually impaired people and train both state VR staff and consumers in accessing and using these services and information.
4. Liaison with the various independent living centers which provide employment placement services within their respective states to ensure that visually impaired consumers are benefitting from those services as well as the disabled populations traditionally served by such centers.
5. Work with the Social Security Administration and the state department of human services to provide informational programs to SSI and SSDI recipients on the advantages and procedures involved in their transitioning from the welfare rolls to the status of gainful employment.
6. Set up toll-free 800 job information line services to operate during evening and weekend hours to provide consumers with names and contact information for state agencies which have immediate job openings.
Finally, states might do well to mirror the initiative launched by President Clinton, through his Executive Order, to establish a federal task force on unemployment of adults with disabilities. He has charged every federal agency to review and evaluate its programs and make recommendations to the task force on how each respective program could be modified or changed to eliminate barriers to employment for persons with disabilities. Something of a similar nature, established within each state, could be tremendously beneficial.
Here, within Texas, according to our state agency's own statistical estimates, there are well over half a million Texans classified as blind or visually impaired. More than half of these citizens are in the age range of 13 to 64. Admittedly, that's a lot of people to serve. And with the growing fiscal constraints at both the federal and state levels, the challenge is even greater. It is time that executive staff at state agencies for the blind around the country stop patting themselves on the back for the "great job" they have done. Instead, they need to face up to the reality and magnitude of the problem of unemployment among blind and visually impaired individuals and become prepared to offer some new ideas and initiatives.
On June 2, 2000, Ysidro Urena died in a Sacramento nursing facility after fighting a long illness that impaired his mobility and his speech, but never his mind and spirit. I am sure that those of you who knew Cid will agree with me that it would be hard to find a more tenacious advocate for the rights of blind and visually impaired people.
Cid was born on May 15, 1929, in Etiwanda, Calif. He attended the California School for the Blind, and many have reported on his daring feats of misbehavior, which are the stuff of which legends are made. In 1950, after attending junior college, Cid became an x-ray technician for University of California Cowell Hospital in Berkeley. He thoroughly enjoyed working in that field, but automation and other factors required him to make a career change after almost 15 years.
Thus, in 1963, Cid obtained employment with the California Industries for the Blind (CIB), a sheltered workshop facility. During his years as an x-ray technician, Cid had managed to find plenty of time to fight for the betterment of people who were blind and visually impaired. However, his advocacy efforts began in earnest right from the start of his association with CIB. During his first day on the job he was elected union steward, and eventually became the union president. In this capacity, Cid fought tirelessly in the legislature to obtain minimum wages for his co-workers. By the time he left this position in 1969, not only had minimum wages been secured, but health insurance and other benefits were also obtained.
In 1969, Cid began a career as a vending facility operator, first in northern California and then in southern California. He worked as a vendor for approximately 10 years, and during this time he not only fought successfully for a number of changes in California's vending facility program, but also lobbied the state legislature on a number of issues for the California Council of the Blind.
In 1978, Cid moved to Seattle where he ran the Client Assistance Program for that area. The fondness with which so many Washingtonians speak of Cid and his efforts are an indication of the high degree of excellence with which he performed this job. In 1984, Cid returned to California in order to serve as the legislative advocate for the California Council of the Blind. He served in this capacity until the end of the 1998 legislative session.
Cid achieved his legislative accomplishments in a truly inimitable style. He never pretended to be an oustanding writer or even to be the foremost expert on many of the issues with which he dealt. On the other hand, he was quick to grasp the essence of any problem he was attempting to solve, and he had an uncanny ability, not only to make people understand his point of view, but to enable them to empathize with us in solving the problems we face on a daily basis. His flamboyance as a lobbyist is illustrated by an event that occurred during the early 1970s. At a state legislative hearing in which the topic under discussion was the wages authorized by the state to CIB workers, Cid waved a hotpad in the air that was produced at CIB as he proceeded to blast the bureaucrats for permitting inadequate wages to be paid to the producers of such fine products.
Perhaps his greatest strength was his personal warmth. He knew the value of getting to know everyone from the most important legislator to those in the secretarial pool, and he cultivated these acquaintances through his sincere love for people.
Cid enjoyed a number of leisure pursuits with the same fervor that he put into his advocacy efforts. He loved a wide variety of music, from classical to mariachi bands to traditional jazz. He was a tremendous sport fan, and even during his long illness he kept close track of his beloved UCLA Bruins. Cid was also fond of the outdoors. My wife and I will never forget the day that Cid and I ferociously paddled our two rafts, which were tied together, straight toward a rather large waterfall which would have easily capsized our boats.
Cid is survived by two brothers, Manuel and Frank, two sisters, Lupe and Hortencia, and a son, Frank Peter. Those of us privileged to have known Cid's love for life and his compassion for those whom he perceived to be less fortunate than he, will sorely miss him. His life can, however, be an inspiration to all of us.
(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 September 1, 2000 and slightly beyond
Software to make your web site accessible? Maybe.
ACB is actively involved with a company that is working on a software solution to diagnosing and fixing web sites to make them accessible. Will it work? Is it worth it? These and other questions will need to be answered before we can actively support this and other options.
RSVA and ACB shine in New Orleans!
It was a great week for RSVA and ACB in New Orleans as an RSA meeting to advance the vending program convened and conducted business important to all vendors in the nation. All participants including RSA, the National Council of State Agencies for the Blind, NFB and their Merchants group contributed to the products of the meeting and ACB is proud to have been represented by Terry Pacheco who helped keep the ball rolling in the right direction. Congrats are also in order for RSVA for having had the foresight to develop and circulate a document that set a vision for the future of vending with real action steps.
The focus will now turn to the November meeting of the state agencies and you can bet ACB and our RSVA folks will be a part of the solution!
Active ACB representatives move ped safety agenda!
Last Wednesday evening in Silver Spring, Md., an impressive group of ACB activists met with county officials and members of the Maryland Federation to discuss the kinds of pedestrian signaling that will be needed in the Silver Spring redevelopment initiative. The meeting went well and all ACB members can be proud of this group for their clear and articulate presentations throughout the meeting!
The upshot is that there will be two ped signals put into the downtown area for testing and all will come back together for future discussions of what works and how to expand the usage of accessible signals.
ACB and fund-raisers rewrite scripts
ACB Executive Director and Assistant Cynthia Lovering held a conference with our telemarketing fund-raisers to review and insure that the scripts they use are appropriate and on target. The testing of the new scripts will occur this week and ACB will be monitoring the calls to insure that our message is properly conveyed.
ACB year 2000 resolutions go to print
Life has been pretty good for printers and braillers who work with ACB. Our resolutions from the convention are being printed and brailled for distribution and should be available within a week or two. Our pedestrian safety handbook is being printed and should be in this week. Braille copies of the handbook will be authorized to be printed at some point this week and we anticipate them back at the office within a few weeks. Tapes and diskettes will also be available in the near future.
The resolutions will be sent to every affiliate and the ped safety handbook has a stack of requests already waiting to be filled.
For the week ending September 8, 2000
Terry off to view 5 stars in Iowa!
Upon her return from New Orleans where Terry Pacheco participated in what appears to have been a highly successful conference on the future of the national vending program, she stopped in the office for a day, took a few breaths and then got on a plane to Iowa! Yes, it's that time to start looking at the ACB convention site for the year 2001. So Terry and a group from our convention committee have been spending a few days in Des Moines to check out the facilities and start planning for what promises to be a five-star convention, combining all the resources of five hotels and a convention center to boot! You can bet our Iowa Council is all set to work with us in putting on another superb convention come next July!
Melanie Brunson tells Social Security where we stand!
There are some proposed rules out there at Social Security impacting upon SSI and SSDI where if a person is judged to have known of an obligation and did not comply, then deduction in payments could result. This has to do with other programs under Social Security, but a person receiving SSI or SSDI benefits while applying for the other programs could be adversely impacted upon. Melanie and Krista from our governmental affairs division will be able to fill folks in on the details, but the bottom line for ACB as conveyed to the Social Security Administration is that we will not accept liabilities to blind folks when the information we need to comply with programmatic requirements is not provided in alternative media.
Civil rights and the Internet?
ACB Executive Director Charlie Crawford participated in a fascinating conference on civil rights and the Internet which was conducted by the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights. ACB made sure that the civil rights community understood that our interests in accessibility to the Internet is as important as issues such as the digital divide, privacy interests in non- disclosure of personal information, and electronic red-lining of poor and rural communities.
The importance of the conference was that the many groups dedicated to preserving civil rights will now keep accessibility in the mix of concerns when advocating or litigating on behalf of protected groups such as people who are blind.
Penny Reeder helps keep special education special
"Braille Forum" editor Penny Reeder took two days this week to participate in strategic planning to determine special education programming priorities. ACB knows that if anyone can protect blind kids, then Penny is our choice!
Tennessee Council tops in Tupelo!
The ACB affiliates convention season is off and running with the Tennessee Council meeting in Tupelo, Miss. This edition of "News Notes" is being written from the convention site and there is no question that if all ACB affiliate conventions are anything like this one this year, then the world better be ready for us!
Congratulations are surely in order for Hattie Bond of Tennessee and all the great members who have made this convention a true rendering of hard work, good times, and a celebration of our ACB spirit!
ACB to launch ped safety bulletin campaign
As the first batch of pedestrian safety handbooks is being sent out from the national office to waiting lists of people, ACB has written a one-page bulletin that fits on ACB stationery and will be circulated to affiliates in what promises to be an inexpensive but highly effective way to get the word out!
Affiliates and friends of ACB will receive copies of the bulletin that they can send to their local decision-makers in order to provide support for the installation of accessible pedestrian signaling in cities and towns across our nation. The walk sign is on, so stay tuned to hear more about this and other exciting strategic operations that will bring us that much closer to the ultimate success we all seek in making our streets and neighborhoods pedestrian friendly once again.
"News Notes from the National Office" is a compilation of the highlights of events from previous weeks. It does not cover all business or fully address all the aspects of each event covered. ACB suggests subscribing to "The Braille Forum" and ACB-Announce along with monitoring the Washington Connection for more substantial information!
The announcement of new products and services in this column should not be considered an endorsement of those products and services by the American Council of the Blind, its staff or elected officials. Products and services are listed free of charge for the benefit of our readers. "The Braille Forum" cannot be responsible for the reliability of products or services mentioned.
The National Library Service has recalled all C-2 Talking Book players due to a potential shock and/or fire hazard. If you have a C-2 player, please unplug it immediately and return it to your local NLS branch library. You will be sent a replacement machine as soon as possible. Can't tell what model you have? The model number is located on a small metal plate on the bottom of the player.
The Solutions Marketing Group wants to hear from people with disabilities about their vacations. Tell the company what you liked most about the hotel, airline, resort or theme park that has provided consistently good customer service that met your needs and/or exceeded your expectations. Responses will be posted on the Solutions Marketing Group bulletin board, http://www.disability- marketing.com/bulletin/.
DVS MOVIES ON SCREEN
In June and July, the movie "The Patriot" was released with captioning and descriptive narration. Keep your eyes open for these movies: "The Hollow Man, "The Sixth Day," "Charlie's Angels," "102 Dalmatians," "Cast Away" and "Finding Forrester." All will have captioning and descriptive narration. For more information, check the WGBH web site, http://www.wgbh.org/access or http://www.mopix.org.
NOW ON ACB RADIO ...
"Whole Note: The Blind Musician Magazine" show is now airing on ACB Radio's mainstream link. It is hosted by Jeremy Hartley, a blind musician working professionally for the last 15 years. It covers various aspects of making music, including braille music resources and related topics, music-related technology used successfully by blind musicians, profiles and interviews with blind musicians, and much more. To hear it, point your web browser to http://www.acbradio.org and select the mainstream link. It runs for an hour, and is repeated every three hours over the next 24- hour cycle.
To learn more about the show and its goals, contact Jeremy at [email protected] and place the words "whole note" in the subject line.
Have you had trouble with any of your Arkenstone, Henter-Joyce or Blazie products and had difficulty finding the correct number to call for help? For Blazie technical support, call (561) 223-6443. For Henter-Joyce and Arkenstone technical support, call (727) 803- 8600. And if you're looking to buy a product from the combined group, call (800) 444-4443. Send your Blazie and Arkenstone repairs to Blazie, Division of Freedom Scientific, 2850 SE Market Pl. #3, Stuart, FL 34997. And don't forget to check the web page, http://www.freedomscientific.com.
The 2001 Northeastern Pennsylvania Regional Ski for Light event will take place during the third week of February in Sherman, Pa., near Binghamton, N.Y. Sighted and visually impaired adults ski together. If you would like to learn to cross-country ski, or already know how and enjoy it, and want to enjoy the outdoors, evening social events, good food and fellowship in a country setting, come on up! For more information, contact Barry or Louise Wood at (201) 868-3336.
Ann Morris Enterprises, Inc. has moved. The new address is 551 Hosner Mountain Rd., Stormville, NY 12582; phone (800) 454- 3175; fax (845) 226-2793, or e-mail [email protected] If you would like to shop Ann Morris online, visit http://www.annmorris.com. The company's 2001 catalog will be available shortly. If you are not already on the mailing list, call or write for a free copy in large print, cassette, disk or e- mail. Braille costs $10. New items include a VCR co-pilot, talking tape measure, talking pedometer, new talking watches, microwave accessories and much more. To subscribe to the announcement e-mail list, send a blank e-mail to annmorris- [email protected]
Jesse Brown, former secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, was recently selected as the Disabled American Veterans Outstanding Disabled Veteran of the Year. Brown is a combat- disabled veteran of the Vietnam War. While serving as a member of the U.S. Marine Corps he was wounded by enemy gunfire in 1965 during a combat patrol near Da Nang.
Do you like opera? Will you be in the Washington, D.C. area in November 2000 or March 2001? Audio-described performances of "Il Trovatore" and "Turandot" will be held at the Washington Opera Nov. 16, 2000 and March 27, 2001 at 8 p.m. For tickets, call the Washington Opera at (202) 295-2495.
If you live in Minnesota, you will also be able to see some described plays. "Dame Edna" will be described on Sunday, Oct. 29 at Intermedia Arts, 2888 Lyndale Ave. S. in Minneapolis; call (612) 927-6438. "Alexander & the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day" will be described on Wednesday, Nov. 1 at 10 a.m. and Friday, Nov. 3 at 7:30 p.m. at the Children's Theatre Company, 2400 3rd Ave. S., Minneapolis; call (612) 874-0400. "The Road to Kyoto" will be described on Saturday, Nov. 11 at 2 p.m. at Bloomington's Nine Mile Creek Theatre (Bloomington Education Center), 8900 Portland Ave. S. "Little Women" will be described on Sunday, Nov. 5 at 2:30 p.m. and Thursday, Nov. 9 at 9:30 a.m. at the Stages Theatre Co., 1111 Main St., Hopkins; call (952) 979-1111. "The Invention of Love" will be described on Saturday, Nov. 11 at 1 p.m. at the Guthrie Lab, 700 N. First St., Minneapolis; call (612) 377- 2224. "City Rhapsody" will be described on Sunday, Nov. 19 at 2 p.m. at the In the Heart of the Beast Puppet & Mask Theatre, 1500 E. Lake St., Minneapolis; call (612) 721-2535. And speaking of beasts, "Beauty and the Beast" will be described at the Orpheum Theatre, 910 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis, on Sunday, Nov. 12; call (612) 989-5151. "Turandot" will be described on Friday, Nov. 17 at 7:30 p.m. at the Ordway Center for Performing Arts, 345 Washington St., Saint Paul; call (612) 333-6669.
A number of new titles have been added to the National Library Service for the Blind's collection. There are pamphlets on Alzheimer's disease, autism, braille reading, articles on braille mathematics, disabilities, education of visually impaired children, electronic publishing, questions and answers about IDEA, museum access, Social Security programs, talking books, and toy guides. Curious? Ask your local branch for more information.
"Disability Life" is the newest entry in the magazine field. It will report on public policy agenda, spotlight individuals who are living creative and unique lives, and reach out to the global disability community. Annual subscriptions for the magazine are $21. To subscribe, or submit articles, cartoons, art, poetry, fiction, essays or reviews, write to Disability Life Magazine, 790 Washington St. #1001, Denver, CO 80203, or phone (800) 321-8708.
NLS is now conducting a pilot test of putting braille magazines onto Web-Braille. These formatted grade 2 braille files will be similar to those for books and can be accessed and used in the same manner. Initially, the pilot will consist of a weekly posting of the braille edition of the New York Times Large Type Weekly and an occasional posting of braille sports schedules. Other magazines will be added over the next few months. A link to the braille magazine pilot test can be found on the Web-Braille site; passwords are required. All current subscribers to Web- Braille can access them immediately. Eligible American citizens and residents interested in signing up for Web-Braille should contact their regional library to obtain a username and password.
ABLE-NET has a variety of Internet services available: DSL, dial-up and ISDN. It offers discounts for people with disabilities and non-profit organizations. Services are available in all 50 states and Canada. Unlimited Internet access and e-mail start at $11.50 a month. To sign up, call toll-free (888) 221-4900, or visit http://www.able-net.net.
NEW FROM RPM
RPM Press recently published a community living training program entitled "Family Life Curriculum." It is designed for use in community-based rehabilitation programs, residential facilities, transitional living programs, mental health agencies, schools, group homes, independent living centers and similar settings. The program will help students and adults with severe disabilities learn human relations and independent living skills that will help them in their homes and other living settings such as group homes. It includes a 185-page instructor's handbook with detailed curriculum, trainee workbooks, dozens of activities, a video, visual prompts, certificates, reproducible handouts and more; it costs $99.95 plus 9 percent shipping and handling.
The company has also released the third edition of its "Job Accommodation Handbook." It includes information on a variety of topics such as: updated information from EEOC on all aspects of job accommodation and related employment issues; updated case law; guidance on employer, employee and job applicants' rights and responsibilities when it comes to job accommodation issues; Internet resources; and much more. The handbook is designed to benefit vocational rehabilitation counselors, case managers, job developers, occupational therapists, supported employment specialists, rehab nurses and other professionals and employers involved in employment activities with individuals with disabilities. It costs $39.95 plus 9 percent shipping and handling.
To order, call toll-free (888) 810-1990, or write to RPM Press, Inc., Dept. NR, PO Box 31483, Tucson, AZ 85751.
Project Ocularis aims to create a complete computing environment and suite of applications that will allow visually impaired people to communicate and work through computers, as well as to install and customize their systems without sighted assistance. This operating system and applications will be free to anyone. Basic applications include a word processor, calendar, calculator, accounting/finance, file manager, Internet browser and e-mail client. Ocularis will be based on the Linux operating system. To learn more, visit http://ocularis.sourceforge.net/.
According to the 2000 NOD/Harris Survey of Americans with Disabilities, there are still gaps in levels of participation between people with disabilities and other Americans in employment, income, education, socializing, religious and political participation, and access to health care and transportation. The survey does, however, show progress for some groups. According to the survey, only 32 percent of disabled people of working age (18- 64) work full- or part-time, compared to 81 percent of the non- disabled population. More than two-thirds of those who are not employed say they would prefer to be working. Among those who say they are able to work despite their disability, 56 percent are working. People with disabilities are almost three times as likely as people without disabilities to live in households with total incomes of $15,000 or less; they are also less likely to be registered to vote. For more information, visit http://www.nod.org, or call (202) 293-5960.
Have you ever wished you could pay for long-distance by the month, not the minute? That service is now available. It costs $57 per month for residential customers, $99 per month for business customers. Call Loyd Drennan at (915) 592-1758 for more information.
CPR Technology has available a talking pager called the Echo I. It costs $99; paging service is as low as $8.99 per month. It features a full numeric display with both vibration and audio alert tones, and it will speak any of the numeric messages stored in memory, as well as the message number and time and day received. Its built-in auto dialer will dial any number in memory. The pager also has a talking clock built in, and a memory back-up feature with memory lock. It comes with a belt clip and safety chain, and requires one AAA battery (not included). You must purchase paging services to be able to use your pager. Contact the company toll- free at (877) 277-5237.
Khalid Zakaria Ayd, Postal Number 32073, Ezbett Abu Yusef, Shatanouf Ashmoun, Monousya, Egypt, needs your help. He needs the following items to help him finish high school: a braille timer, braille clock, braille writer, typewriter, personal computer, four- track tape recorder, disk player, white cane, reading machine and an Optacon. If you have any of those you can spare, send them to him at the address above.
One of America's best-kept secrets is the charitable medical air transportation system. Its purpose is to ensure that no financially needy patient is denied access to distant specialized evaluation, diagnosis or treatment for lack of funds to pay for long-distance travel. The system provides transportation either via the airlines (for longer trips) or via private aircraft flown by licensed volunteer pilots. Many charities are involved, but the largest and only full service system in the country is Angel Flight America. To access it, call the National Patient Travel Helpline at (800) 296-1217. Internet assistance can be found at http://www.PatientTravel.org.
The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped recently published the fourth edition of its "Instruction Manual for Braille Transcribing." This manual was developed under the leadership of Constance Risjord, literary braille transcriber and former member of the Braille Authority of North America, among many other associations; John Wilkinson, NLS literary braille adviser; and Mary Lou Stark, head of NLS' Braille Development Section. More than 40 transcribers, peer reviewers, computer specialists, educators and editors contributed to the project. If you are interested in enrolling in the braille transcription course, or want more information, call (800) 424- 8567.
Adams Media Corporation has moved its Internet recruiting division, Careercity.com, into a separate corporation in response to its rapid growth and the determination that the company needs its own identity and focus. Career City offers job postings, a host of tips, regional slants, and strategies for individual job seekers. For more information, visit http://www.careercity.com.
Dolphin Computer Access Ltd., which acquired Labyrinten Data AB in December, recently acquired a major licensing agreement with Microsoft. Labyrinten Data, a Dolphin subsidiary, has entered into an arrangement with Microsoft and isSound.com that will enable text-to-audio synchronization of eBooks created for the Microsoft Reader Format. Microsoft Reader is Microsoft's product for reading eBook content, and will have applications in all facets of life, including libraries, education, home entertainment, and much more.
Cathy Anne Murtha, an access technology specialist, is offering on-line training in access technology designed to bring affordable training to the average blind computer user. Courses include 16 weeks of training (three hours per week online via voice chat), a registered version of the 1-Step Audio Publisher, comprehensive reviews of each class and step-by-step instructions of each skill in 1-Step Audio format, a comprehensive textbook which will include lessons on screen readers in an easy-to-follow format (both text and audio), subscriptions to an e-mail list for students to share thoughts, ideas and ask questions, and 24-hour access seven days a week to a classroom so that students can meet and review homework and skills together. For more information, visit http://www.cathyanne.com or call (916) 922-3794.
If you need a scholarship for this training, visit http://www.cathyanne.com/scholarship. Scholarship applications will be considered on a first come, first served basis. The scholarships are provided by the Class Act Scholarship Foundation. If you want to review a course syllabus, go to http://www.cathyanne.com/classes.htm.
Horizons for the Blind has specialized in making cultural, recreational and quality of life experiences more accessible to the blind and visually impaired since 1977. Today Horizons produces a number of booklets in braille and large print that deal with such topics as crafts, kitchen techniques, food preparation, recipes, gardening, and so forth. There is also a magazine available, "Seeing It Our Way." For a catalog, contact Horizons for the Blind, 2 N. Williams St., Crystal Lake, IL 60014; phone (815) 444- 8800, or e-mail [email protected] Please specify braille or large print.
NEWS FROM APH
Eugene Callahan, a former employee of General Electric's Appliance Park, was honored recently at a reception at the American Printing House for the Blind. His donation created an endowment that supports the basic operation of the museum, which will be renamed the Marie and Eugene Callahan Museum. The museum explores the educational history of blind people and the role of APH in this history. Artifacts include tactile books, maps, educational aids, mechanical writers, braille production machinery, phonograph recording equipment and players, photographs and illustrations. Exhibits are accessible to everyone; earphones, braille labels and touchable exhibits for blind visitors are among the museum's many features. The museum is open to the public Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. For more information, call (800) 223- 1839.
APH also recently received an award from "Pensions and Investments" magazine. After starting a new 401K plan through PNC Bank, the printing house received first place in the magazine's annual competition in the category of initial education for a retirement plan with less than 1,000 participants.
NEW WEB SITE
International Disabled Marketing Associates has a new web site, http://www.quixtar.com. This site provides its clients, members and independent business owners access to thousands of products and services. This is a password-protected site. To access it, you will need to provide IDMA's independent business owner number 147815. A free information cassette is available upon request. Write to International Disabled Marketing Associates, 901 Freeport Rd., Creighton, PA 15030; e-mail [email protected]; or phone (724) 226-9855.
We goofed! We made a typo in the address of the school in India that was looking for help. The correct address is: Welfare Center for the Visually Handicapped, c/o R.P. Padhi, Secretary In Political Science, Saepur College, Saepur Raj, QST Saepur, Orissa 767017, India.
Horizon Educational Software recently released TCalc for Windows, a talking scientific calculator program designed for use by blind and visually impaired people. It includes the following features: talk mode, for input and output to be spoken; magnification mode, to increase the print size on the input buttons and display panel; test keys mode, to enable the user to test the specific action of an input key at any time without interrupting a calculation; command keys to speak the displayed value, the last operator entered, and the number of brackets open; large print talking on-screen manual, to provide a simple, effective way for the new user to learn the features and operation of TCalc. To try it, visit http://www.HorizonSoftware.com.au and download a trial pack.
The Hadley School for the Blind offers two foreign language courses free of charge through its distance education program: basic conversational French and basic conversational Spanish. The courses are available on tape, in braille and in large print, and teach phrases that are essential for traveling, meeting people, talking on the phone, shopping, ordering in a restaurant, and much more. For a course catalog and enrollment application, call (800) 323-4238, write to the Hadley School for the Blind, 700 Elm St., Winnetka, IL 60093-0299; or e-mail [email protected] school.org.
A new law passed by Congress at the end of 1999 makes planning for a special needs child or dependent more important than ever, according to Nadine Vogel, the creator of MetLife's Division of Estate Planning for Special Kids (MetDESK). The new law provides for a penalty of up to a 36-month maximum disqualification period for certain transfers by the recipient of Supplemental Security Income or the spouse. It also requires that the assets and income of certain self-settled trusts be counted for SSI eligibility purposes. Children or dependents with special needs should not receive any substantial sums of money directly or in a self-settled trust. MetDESK specialists can help families with their estate planning to ensure that special needs children or dependents receive good care after their parents' or guardians' deaths. For more information about MetDESK, visit http://www.metlife.com/specialneeds/ or call toll-free (877) 638- 3375. To request a free brochure from the company's Life Advice program, "Planning for Your Special Needs Child," call (800) 638- 5433.
Have you ever wanted to look at a map of the British Isles and check out England, Scotland, Ireland or Wales? Well, now you can, thanks to the Princeton Braillists. They have published a new book containing tactile maps of England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. It's called "Maps of the British Isles"; it contains 11 maps showing boundaries, bodies of water, mountains, hills and regions, major cities and towns, and major rivers. There are also maps of each country that show the counties or political regions, and maps that show points of interest in the London area. This book costs $10; shipping will be done by free matter. Send your check or purchase order to The Princeton Braillists, 28-B Portsmouth St., Whiting, NJ 08759. For more information, call (732) 350-3708.
FOR SALE: Language Master 2000, used 1 semester, $250. Talking scientific calculator, $250. Talking One Touch Profile blood glucose meter with synthesizer and test strips, $50. Call Brandon at (785) 232-6598 or (785) 845-7769, or contact him via e-mail at [email protected]
FOR SALE: Blazie portable braille printer. Price negotiable. Contact Courtney Williams at (605) 361-0619, or write him at 5908 W. 58th St., Sioux Falls, SD 57106.
FOR SALE: Complete Toshiba laptop, very high end Pentium 366, 128 meg of RAM, 7 gigabyte hard drive. JAWS speech included, as is Kurzweil 1000 software, lots of extras including carrying case. Asking $1,950 or best offer. Call (703) 812-9653 or e-mail [email protected]
FOR SALE: World Book Encyclopedia in large print. Published in 1964. 30 volumes, hard cover, in excellent condition. Price negotiable. Please contact Gerald Clark on tape, in print or via telephone, 1515 Continental Ct., Port Huron, MI 48060; phone (810) 984-8725. Great for school or family with visually impaired children.
FOR SALE: Kurzweil reading machine. $3,000 or best offer. Call Roger at (501) 756-1025.
FOR SALE: Braille Lite 2000 (18-cell) with July 2000 software revision, two serial cables, two AC adapters, two leather carrying cases, 9-volt battery adapter, PCDisk transfer software, six-volume manual in braille. Service agreement with Freedom Scientific through April 12, 2001 is transferrable. Also: external disk drive compatible with Blazie notetakers, with 1997 software revision, leather carrying case, serial cable, AC adapter, manual on disk and in braille. The disk drive is not under contract, but I have never had trouble with it. Asking $2,500. Contact Jane Sheehan, 14311 Astrodome Dr., Silver Spring, MD 20906-2245; phone (301) 598-2131, or e-mail [email protected]
20330 NE 20TH CT.
MIAMI, FL 33179
FIRST VICE PRESIDENT
57 GRANDVIEW AVE.
WATERTOWN, MA 02172
SECOND VICE PRESIDENT
7601 CRITTENDEN ST. #F-2
PHILADELPHIA, PA 19118
556 N. 80TH ST.
SEATTLE, WA 98103
906 N CHAMBLISS ST
ALEXANDRIA VA 22312
IMMEDIATE PAST PRESIDENT
2118 NW 21st St.
Oklahoma City, OK 73107