Braille Forum
Volume XXXIX March 2001 No. 9
Published By
The American Council of the Blind
Paul Edwards, President
Charles H. Crawford, Executive Director
Penny Reeder, Editor
Sharon Lovering, Editorial Assistant
National Office:
1155 15th St. N.W.
Suite 1004
Washington, DC 20005
(202) 467-5081
Fax: (202) 467-5085
Web Site:
Paul Edwards' voice pager: (888) 895-8553

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.

Copyright 2001
American Council of the Blind


President's Message: You Can Take a Horse to Water, by Paul Edwards
Realistic Statue Depicting FDR in Wheelchair Dedicated by Clinton, by Charles S.P. Hodge
No More Flags for Disabled GRE Test-Takers, Says ETS; More Research Needed, Says the College Board, by Penny Reeder
Future Think? Not as Far Away as We Might Have Thought!, by Charles H. Crawford
Cooking on Auto-Pilot, by Kelly Pierce
The BrailleNote: Computing for the Blind on the Go, by Andy Baracco
Connect OutLoud, by David Goldfield
Pill Bottles "Talk" to Elderly, by Lauran Neergaard
Researchers Locate Gene for Type of Blindness
One Man's Story: Samuel M. Genensky, by Samuel M. Genensky
Affiliate News
In Memoriam: James P. Riley
The Word Is Independence, by Jerry Annunzio
Need Cash? Enter ACB's Drawing to Win $10,000 and Support ACB's Scholarship Program at the Same Time, by Penny Reeder
Glory-ous Travels, by Penny Reeder
Here and There, by Billie Jean Keith
High Tech Swap Shop

by Paul Edwards

The year was 1976. I was 30 years old and, after lots of soul-searching and a trip to Miami the year before, I had made up my mind to relocate to the United States from Trinidad where I was a successful secondary school teacher. The reasons for this decision are beyond the scope of this message. It was not an easy decision for me to make. I knew who I was and where I fit in, and didn't fit in, in Trinidad. I had friends and a pretty good job that I did well. I was about to make a very difficult move with a wife and three small children to a country that I hadn't been living in since 1953. To say that I was frightened and uncertain and ambivalent is a huge understatement.

The only reason I felt I could make this move was the impression I had received from a meeting I had the year before with the guy I assumed would be my counselor with the Division of Blind Services in Miami. He had said that the agency was there to help me and that a man with my skills and ability would have no trouble finding a good job. More than that, he made me feel successful and promised to bridge the gap for me in what, for me, would be a new country.

So, right around Independence Day of the bicentenary, a family of five arrived in Miami, apprehensive but hopeful. My first call when I arrived was to my expected counselor at DBS. Well, he had left and, after much discussion, I was given to a counselor who I was assured was just as good. I will not share his name because, if I were a member of his family, I wouldn't want someone like me to share his name. He was every client's nightmare. I can honestly say that in the nine months I dealt with him, the only thing he did was to create more hurdles. First, of course, none of the promises of assistance with moving or with finding a job happened. Instead, he assured me that I needed training before he would even consider helping me. I could not be trained locally. I had to go to the rehab center that was 400 miles away and leave my family alone. No, they would not allow me to come home for weekends. No, they would not provide financial assistance for me. No, he did not even tell me that I could qualify for SSI. Instead he assured me that the psychological examination and my experience outside the United States clearly demonstrated that I was an inferior, under- prepared, fairly incompetent blind person.

So, as I prepared to go where I really didn't want to be, I was petrified. Here I was coming from an underdeveloped country to the greatest country in the world where I had dared to believe that I could compete with blind people who had access to training from the time they were tiny and who would make my paltry capacities as a blind person seem insignificant and irrelevant. Once I got to the rehab center I found that I was not as backward as the counselor made me feel and, about halfway through my time there, I was running the vending stand and helping with braille and scaring some of the administration out of their minds. I thought that it might be helpful for people to have the perspective of somebody who had not grown up in this country and who could look at the process through different eyes. So, since I had lots of spare time, I prepared a report that included suggestions about how some things might change. By then, there were some students who thought I was pretty weird, too. I would spend hours during the evening practicing my cane technique. I asked that I be given more advanced mobility training than they seemed willing to offer. I asked about careers and about learning more skills. I was a thirsty sponge wanting to be saturated with knowledge that Trinidad or Jamaica, the places where I had lived since I was 13, could not provide.

The longer I was at the rehab center, the more disillusioned I became. Students were doing as little as they could get away with and complained about having to do that much. Teachers were settling for far less than people could do and were setting goals that were minimal and praised students who managed to get even partway to those. Far from being hopelessly behind my blind peers at the center, I was, in many ways, ahead of them. And, more important, I was motivated while the vast majority of those at the center were not.

I suppose if I had things to do over again, I might have done them differently. But I was young, or at least younger. And I had been made to feel like I was inferior. Most egregious of all, though, people had the opportunity to become excellent and they were rejecting training that many in Trinidad or Jamaica would have almost given their lives to get. There was something frighteningly, heartbreakingly wrong with this picture. What could account for the indifference of blind people about their own training? What could justify training where diminishing expectations combined with abysmal indifference to produce graduates who were unfit for the real world?

A quarter of a century later, I still don't have all the answers. I think I have some ideas but, even now, I cannot credit the complicity of blind people and those who train them in setting standards that demand less than the best from teacher and student alike. I know that part of the problem lies with parents who expect too little from their children. A part of it relates to the isolation that mainstreaming creates and the lack of self- esteem that seems endemic to a system that makes disability synonomous with inferiority. Part of it has to do with the fact that too many successful blind people don't feel they owe anything to those who come after and therefore aren't available as role models. Part of it is due to the low salaries that are paid in our field and to training programs that for far too long focused on process rather than outcomes. And a great part of it is due to the fact that we blind people simply do not expect enough of ourselves or our peers. We buy into the notions of ourselves that the system propagates. One of the things that the American Council of the Blind is all about is helping to change our notion of who we are and to build up our expectations of ourselves.

In places in this message I have been critical of the rehab center. I should say clearly and unequivocally that the center was among the better centers in the country. I should also say that I learned a great deal there and that I owe a great deal to those who put up with me.

Oh, by the way, I got my own job right after leaving the center with the Division of Blind Services itself. I became a rehab teacher right in Daytona Beach. Once I found that I was going to be working there, I got my case transferred up to Daytona and denied the closure to the idiot who had not been my counselor but my nemesis in Miami. I am happy to report that he didn't last long at DBS and I heard an unconfirmed rumor later that he went to jail. I think I was unlucky in my counselor. Thousands of blind people have been well served by dedicated counselors. But there is still a lot of work to be done if rehabilitation is to truly do what it was created to accomplish. Most agencies are still not very successful at placement. Far too many blind people go back to the rehab trough again and again. It is easy to point fingers at the system. I think that most of you know that I think we must go much further. We must overhaul that system root and branch. We must somehow create an expectation of excellence for blind people. We must demand that more is done to enable all blind people to become proud of who they are and self- actualizing participants in their own rehabilitation rather than automatons who do as little as they can.

Technology as well as new notions of what rehabilitation is all about ought to make things better. It begins with blind people, though. And perhaps it ends there. Rehab allows people back to the trough and offers them a chance to drink again and again. Do we make it too easy for blind people to decide they don't like a job? Where is it written, by the way, that anyone must like his or her job? Are we devoting too much of our rehabilitation efforts to people who choose failure? I got very little out of rehab and many of the most successful blind people tell the same story. Perhaps the bottom line is that we should set expectations about rehabilitation that demand much from counselors but demand as much from blind people. Most written plans focus on what the agency will do without requiring enough from the blind people for whom the plans are being written. Yes, I know that plans are supposed to be written in collaboration with the blind people they are meant to help, but, too often, they still are not.

Rehabilitation is not at all an easy issue. But it is a crucial one. I truly believe that I was successful because I spent much of my youth outside of the system that managed to stifle so many of us. There are new notions of placement abroad in the land now and, unless our whole community can work to build a much better system, the word rehabilitation may become as archaic as the word handicapped. I call on every member of ACB and every worker in every state agency for the blind to recognize that the time for change is now. We must build a new rehab paradigm or see someone else build it for us! The extinction of vocational rehabilitation will be as calamitous for us as the asteroid was for dinosaurs. I include every rehab worker with us, because we are all a part of a community whose intentions are good but whose results are significantly less than stellar. And the road that leads only to the workforce destination is paved with good intentions! They will not be enough. Only fundamental reform will suffice. Let us all find the courage and capacity to make it happen. The blind people of the future deserve all that we can do!

by Charles S. P. Hodge

On Wednesday morning, January 10, 2001, at a gathering of disabled people and other political notables, President Bill Clinton dedicated the statue which portrays President Franklin D. Roosevelt in a wheelchair, as a permanent addition to the FDR Memorial in Washington, DC. Outgoing Secretary of Labor Alexis Herman opened the dedicatory ceremony by reviewing and lauding the Clinton-Gore Administration's record of accomplishments for people with disabilities. The next speaker was Michael Deland, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the National Organization on Disability (NOD), and a severely disabled person himself. Deland reviewed the history of the battle to obtain a statue which would depict President Roosevelt realistically, in a wheelchair, and thanked many individuals for their efforts to make this new addition to the FDR Memorial become a reality. In particular, Deland paid tribute to Jim Dickson of NOD who was instrumental in obtaining approval from Congress for the addition to the memorial. Deland also thanked Peter Kovler, the heir to the Jim Beam distilling fortune, and Gordon Gund, who happens to be blind, and is an investment financier from Princeton, NJ, for their generous financial contributions to the Rendezvous with Destiny campaign, which raised private funds to pay for the statue.

The third speaker was Anne Roosevelt, granddaughter of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, who told the gathering that the new addition to the memorial depicts her grandfather as he actually lived. She thanked the many members of the Roosevelt family who had stepped forward to support the new addition to the memorial and to make the project become a reality.

President Clinton acknowledged a number of disabled people who were present, including Justin Dart, whose steadfast efforts to see this project through had helped to make the presence of the statue a reality. Clinton pointed out the bronze plaque placed just behind the statue which spells out in print and in braille Eleanor Roosevelt's often quoted remarks about her husband's disability: i.e., that FDR's constant struggle to overcome his disability had made him a stronger, more mature leader.

FDR's daily struggles to overcome the limitations of his disability in fact allowed his spirit of freedom to soar, Clinton said.

After the dedication, I went up and inspected both the statue depicting FDR in his wheelchair and the bronze plaque on the wall behind it. I found that the braille on the plaque is jumbo braille and is only grade one braille. Yet the spacing between dots and cells is proportional, and this jumbo braille, unlike other braille at the memorial, is legible and quite readable. In addition, I found that the lines which form the engraved print letters above the jumbo braille characters are deep and wide enough to make the print letters readable for a blind or visually impaired person (although they do not conform to the Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards {UFAS} for raised letters proposed by the Access Board for inclusion in the Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines {ADAAG}).

The dedication of the new addition to the FDR Memorial was capped off with a gala reception and buffet luncheon sponsored by NOD in the main reading room at the Library of Congress, Thomas Jefferson Building, which featured remarks by Senator Max Cleland of Georgia and newly elected Congressman Jim Langevin of Rhode Island, both of whom are disabled members of Congress. The event was a fitting and celebratory conclusion to the entire day's proceedings.

by Penny Reeder

In a major victory for disability rights groups, the Educational Testing Service announced that, beginning in October of this year, the company will stop flagging the test scores of students who, because of their disabilities, have been allocated extra time. The policy will apply to the four tests over which the ETS has control, including the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT), the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), and the Praxis, which evaluates teachers' academic skills, subject knowledge, and classroom performance. According to Tom Ewing, a spokesperson for the Educational Testing Service in Princeton, NJ, the company agreed to alter its long-standing practice of identifying students who had received extra time as a testing accommodation as a result of the settlement agreement reached in a bias lawsuit brought by a California man whose results were flagged after he received extra time on the GRE.

Ewing said that the ETS, which administers a number of tests, reached the settlement agreement only for the four specific tests over which it has control. Consortia of law schools and medical schools control the LSAT and MCAT admissions tests. The advanced placement tests, as well as the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) and the PSAT are owned and controlled by the College Board, and although the settlement agreement does not apply to flagging of scores on those particular tests, a "blue ribbon" panel is being convened to examine and make recommendations regarding the College Board's flagging policy.

Gretchen Rigol, Vice President for Higher Education at the College Board, explained that the company is in the process of recruiting members of a panel to investigate and make recommendations on the policy of flagging the scores of disabled students. She said that she expected to be contacting Charles Crawford, Executive Director of ACB, within the next couple of weeks to discuss ACB's participation on the panel. The panel's report is expected to be available in March of 2002, Rigol said.

Visually impaired students often request a range of testing accommodations, including braille, large print, readers and scribes, and according to ETS spokesperson Ewing, the policy change has no relevance to these accommodations.

"We haven't flagged for other types of accommodations since 1985," Ewing said. "Nor does the College Board flag for any testing accommodations other than extra time."

On the other hand, Rigol said of the College Board tests, "As a practical matter, any student who needs the accommodation of braille, large print, a reader or scribe will need to spend more time completing a test." She also stated that she could not predict whether the College Board would cease flagging the scores of students who require more time than their non-disabled peers to complete her company's standardized tests.

"Educators have believed that results cannot be considered comparable if testing conditions are not standardized for all test-takers," Rigol said. "We need more research to determine if that belief is, in fact, valid."

Rigol stressed that, if a student with a disability has been taking tests with identified accommodations throughout his or her school career, then it would be a mistake not to request the same accommodations on a college-admissions test. "A kind of mythology has grown up about all standardized tests," she continued. "Whether or not a person gets into a certain school is based more on sheer numbers than anything else. We do not believe that flagging the scores of disabled test-takers has any real impact on whether or not a person is accepted by a particular school. We do acknowledge the need to conduct more research into the whole subject of testing accommodations on standardized tests, and that's why we're convening the panel." Computer-Based Tests Can Be Especially Problematic for Blind Students

Ewing said that the Educational Testing Service has recently been approached by blindness organizations who are interested in securing accommodations which are specifically applicable to computer-based tests. The Graduate Record Exam is one such test.

According to Melanie Brunson, Director of Advocacy and Governmental Relations for ACB, the American Council of the Blind is working closely with the National Alliance of Blind Students (NABS) to get a better idea of what ETS policies actually are for determining how to handle visually impaired students' requests for testing accommodations.

"In response to ACB Resolution 2000-45, which was passed by the 2000 ACB national convention," Brunson said, "we are attempting to learn how ETS actually determines whether a student qualifies to receive testing accommodations, and what the ramifications of those accommodations may be. This settlement agreement has dealt with the issue of flagging the scores of disabled students, and that's an important step in the right direction. We hope to get a dialogue going to address these other issues within the next few weeks." ETS■ Ewing said, "We are willing to do whatever it takes, including paying for readers, making ZoomText available, increasing the size of fonts or changing background and foreground colors. We will completely clear out a computer center if that's what a blind test-taker needs to concentrate."

NABS has compiled a list of suggestions, according to April Shinholster, a graduate student at Western Michigan University who is president of the blind-students alliance. Shinholster said that the organization believes the way to resolve the issues surrounding standardized tests is to have a cooperative relationship with the companies who control and administer them.

NABS members say their concerns include the excessive time it can take a visually impaired student, using braille or readers and scribes, to complete standardized tests.

Jeremy Johansen, treasurer of NABS, and a senior at the University of California at Santa Barbara, who recently took the Graduate Record Exam using a braille copy of the test and the assistance of a reader, says, "While non-disabled students [typically] take 30 minutes to an hour to finish an ETS computerized exam, it can take visually impaired students as long as seven hours to complete the paper version.■ Johansen has stated that the computer-based accommodation which ETS offered him was virtually useless. "The only software they provide is ZoomText, and that has no speech output," he explains.

NABS believes that students should be able to use a device that converts digital data to a braille display, which is especially useful for reading comprehension or verbal analogy questions. In addition, GRE scores compiled and reported on paper often take several weeks to reach colleges, while those completed on the computer can reach colleges within hours. This kind of discrepancy can put visually impaired students at a great disadvantage if they want to attend a college with only a few slots for incoming students.

Current test-preparation materials are not very helpful to blind students, says Johansen. "A lot of strategies in printed manuals don't totally apply to working with the reader," he explains.

Furthermore, according to Johansen and others, it is difficult to find out exactly what accommodations may be available, and the ETS is not exactly responsive to requests for information from disabled students. Johansen applied to take the GRE in October of 2000, but did not receive any responsive communication from the Educational Testing Service until January of 2001.

Both April Shinholster and Melanie Brunson are optimistic that the ETS will welcome the involvement of blind students and their advocates as solutions to these and other problems are sought. In conversations with spokespersons at ETS and the College Board, I found a similar attitude.

"The Educational Testing Service," Tom Ewing said, "welcomes the advice and specific suggestions of people who are blind. We want to do essentially whatever a student needs to succeed."

by Charles H. Crawford

Remember that pseudo-psychological game where a person says a word and a second player is supposed to say aloud the first thing that comes to mind? Let's go.

"Microsoft!" Quick. What is the first thought that comes to your mind? All those 1950s and ■60s science fiction movies, right? Yeah, the ones where the computers take over the world? Me too! While mere mention of the company's name can cause such a flight of fancy, it can also astound and inspire. I was reminded of that recently. The thought of Microsoft gave rise to the following musing, or more accurately, prediction of reality.

Did you know that we are just a few short years away from computers that are smarter than their creators? It's true. The processing and memory capacity of computing will exceed that of the human brain as early as 2007! Outside all the science fiction scenarios we might conjure up for the future, there are some very interesting and practical applications of technology that, I believe, will be commonplace well before 2010. Would you be interested in taking a tour of a typical day in, say, 2008? Ready? Let's go.

There's just nothing like sleeping in a temperature- controlled environment that suits our needs perfectly, I always say. Well, after experiencing the luxury of a really good rest, we are likely to wake up to a pre-set Internet radio station that we will have pre-selected from about 20,000 selections. If that is not quite enough to get us out of bed, then our coffee makers will have brewed the pot 15 minutes in advance of our awakening and our home computer will have transferred all the overnight news, filtered according to our individual tastes and preferences, to our electronic pocket reader, to accompany our first cup of java -- like the print newspapers of days gone by.

A warm shower and then on to the closet to choose today's apparel. Hmmm, what selections would our electronic personal assistance device suggest today? Of course, nothing that we would not have already instructed the device to keep within our own preferences. Perhaps a second cup of the nectar of the gods and off to the bus...

Right there at the ready is our personal assistance device scanning the environment for information of interest to us. Ah! There it is. The bus stop and after letting us know that little tidbit of information, our device continues to scan for any approaching buses and can even tell us how far away the next one is and when it might arrive. Here it comes and we are told far enough in advance to wave it down.

Once on the bus, we flash our debit or declining balance card to deduct the fare as our device checks traffic information and lets us know how much time we can anticipate waiting until we arrive at our destination. About one or two stops before ours, we hear the device telling us to get ready so we sleepyheads don't end up in New York City and we have enough time to get our stuff all together. Depending upon the level of information we have selected from our device, we could have chosen to end the trip to investigate something our personal assistant was describing to us en route, or, if we had asked the assistant to refrain from describing the environment we were riding through, we will have had the chance to catch a few more zs.

Again our walk to work or shopping is informed as we pass stores, office buildings, parking garages and the like. Arriving at our destination, we enter the building where our device reads locations of elevators and other points of interest. We follow the signs and arrive at our first engagement.

As we leave for a break or another appointment, we check our device for cellular calls, electronic mail, looking in on the kids, or simply tuning in our favorite music or news. If our plans include any complicated travel for the day, our device communicates with our computer and makes arrangements for airlines or trains or whatever we may need. All this in accordance with our pre-selected preferences.

Well, the journey home is just as easy as going out in the morning was. Perhaps a stop at the grocery if we did not already arrange delivery or maybe a quick pick-up at a store where we made an earlier purchase through an interactive communication with the store's computer.

Getting across streets, equipped with accessible pedestrian signaling, is a breeze. Even if the crossing between us and the store is particularly difficult, we will be aided by the in-board computers in all the vehicles traveling on the street. These computers, which are monitoring other traffic and checking for the presence of pedestrians, can even slow or stop vehicles, overriding the drivers' wants, when safety flags are raised in response to information received by a kind of radar.

So looks like a great day has been spent and we won't even get into the evening entertainment or educational or social activities that will of course be appropriately described or assisted by our friendly little personal assistance device!

No, this scenario is not far-fetched. All these technologies exist today and are rapidly approaching convergence and integration. The only thing left on the horizon is the automated car that will receive GPS instructions from satellites and take us wherever we choose. That technology is evolving and may take a couple of decades to deploy, but it really is coming!

Where's the hitch? Well, all of these technologies will have multiple uses in our society. So making sure that we get accessibility built into them as they are developed and come into use is our challenge. ACB will certainly be at the table as these things move forward!

Oh, one last thing. Sorry, but there are no little green men -- or women -- with this package!

by Kelly Pierce

(Editor's Note: Kelly Pierce is a co-founder of Digit-Eyes: the Chicago Blind Computer User Network. We are happy that he spent a recent Sunday afternoon at the home show at which this appliance was demonstrated, and that he chose to share his impressions of the microwave oven with members of VICUG-L, the Visually Impaired Computer User Group List, and with readers of "The Braille Forum.")

On Sunday, January 14, I visited the International Housewares Show at McCormick Place here in Chicago where I live. I wanted to check out the new microwave oven that automatically cooks food according to the directions listed on a package. The oven cooks the food to precision after the end user enters a code that is listed on the package. I learned about the oven from an announcement sent to various blindness mailing lists. When I contacted the company, I found that the oven would be demonstrated right in my own backyard in a few days. Being a geek, I could not resist taking the trip down to the huge convention center complex to find out more. After strolling past indoor rivers, fountains that sprayed water three stories into the air, a string quartet, space organizers, hundreds of coffee makers, and cutlery sets, I found the booth of LG Electronics on the far side of a building that is across Lakeshore Drive.

LG Electronics produces several home appliances. They are the folks that brought us the Internet refrigerator. Yes, indeed, there was an Internet refrigerator on display. There is a flat panel display on the front door with a microphone and speakers. Currently, the refrigerator is only sold overseas and costs about $10,000. It will likely be rolled out in the United States next year. LG Electronics also had a washing machine hooked up to the Internet. It seemed that the manufacturer was ready for the Internet long before the Internet had come up to the expectations demanded by such a device or the imagination of the typical user of a refrigerator!

On the other side of the large corner booth was the demonstration and display of the True Cook Plus oven. The oven is like most microwaves: a rectangular plastic box with a panel of buttons on the right side. For this microwave oven, the controls are on a flat touch panel. The different choices are spaced far enough apart so that labeling them in braille would not present a problem. Jay Leventhal of the American Foundation for the Blind dropped by the booth to say that he could help create a braille plate to go on top of the panel for users who might not have the necessary sighted assistance or braille labeling equipment. Here's How It Works

Food products that we buy from a conventional supermarket will contain a sticker near the corner of the package with a numeric code written in 24-point type and in braille. The codes on packages which were being displayed at the booth were generally two or three digits in length but can be as many as nine digits. The food manufacturer chooses the code and the number of digits, according to Bob Thompson, a partner in a business called Microwave Science. The end user simply enters the number and the oven instantly starts cooking the food at the temperature and length of time called for in the directions. The oven can also work as a regular microwave with the end user entering the cooking time and cooking temperature.

The oven is a stand-alone solution never needing to be connected to an outside source for data. Net geeks might be confused by the initials of the True Cook Plus microwave. It does not need to be connected to the Internet or use TCP/IP transmission standards. Instead, the oven is programmed with the 10 million possible permutations that could be used to cook food in a microwave. The cooking instructions are fed into the appliance manufacturer's database and a number is generated. The food manufacturer can accept that number or work with the appliance company to create one that is shorter or easier to remember.

If you are intrigued by the potential of this solution, stay tuned for the next generation of this product. I am told that the oven will contain a sensor that automatically reads the code on the product when the food is placed in the oven. It starts cooking when the oven door is closed or after a start button is pressed. The final design hasn't been worked out yet. Both kinds of ovens (the current and future generations) could aid blind people by eliminating the need to copy or mark down cooking instructions in an alternate format, and the next generation might aid people with other kinds of disabilities as well -- since it will eliminate the need to follow an instruction set altogether. For people who are blind, the currently available appliance appears to be an effective tool for making life easier and the task of preparing food much more efficient.

Of course, I only experienced a demonstration of the product, rather than an opportunity to spend a few days testing it, which would make a more comprehensive review possible. I look forward to learning more about the oven and hearing from blind end users about their experiences with the product. The future is now and today is the start of an era where knowledge and information are built into the products we buy.

To find out more about the True Cook Plus microwave oven, go to the product's web site at You may contact Bob Thompson of Microwave Science at (770) 967-1234, or e-mail him, [email protected]

by Andy Baracco

I attend several conferences during the course of a year, and my favorite has always been the Conference on Technology and Persons with Disabilities, which is held during the third week of March in Los Angeles, and is sponsored by the California State University, Northridge. It is nicknamed the CSUN conference. At the 2000 CSUN conference, the buzz was about the BrailleNote, the new personal digital assistant with both speech and Braille output, manufactured by Pulse Data International of New Zealand, and marketed in the U.S. by Humanware Inc. of Loomis, Calif.

Pulse Data has a long track record of producing excellent speech-oriented devices, including the Keynote Gold line of speech synthesizers, as well as the Keynote Companion line of speech-oriented notetakers. The BrailleNote is their first entry into the realm of portable computing devices that offers both speech and Braille output. The two major attributes that make this particular device stand out are its ability to run under the Microsoft Windows CE operating system -- allowing it to work seamlessly with computers running Windows -- and its ability to send and receive e-mail using Windows-based Internet connections.

Because of the ever-present mob at the Humanware table, I was able to handle the BrailleNote only briefly during the CSUN conference, but my chance to work with the device for a longer period of time came a few months later at the ACB national convention in Louisville. At the convention, Humanware and Pulse Data held a number of 90-minute workshops where small groups of people could put the unit through its paces. I eagerly signed up for a session as soon as I arrived at the convention. I have been a braille reader for many years, but had allowed my braille skills to lapse somewhat in favor of using synthesized speech. Because of this, my spelling skills had eroded to the point where I felt that I needed a way to see words written out letter by letter. I was looking for a portable device, and when I became aware that there was a notetaker with braille display and clear speech, offering the bonus capabilities of interfacing with my other computers and e-mail, I just had to investigate it more closely.

The first thing that you notice about the BrailleNote is its compact size. It measures 6 by 10 by 2 inches, and weighs about 2.5 pounds. It comes in 18- or 32-cell flavors. A standard case is used, and the braille display is simply a pop-out module. Therefore, you can save money by buying the 18-cell version and then upgrading to the 32-cell module when your circumstances allow.

The BrailleNote has standard jacks for headphones, AC adapter, and telephone line cord. It has standard parallel and serial ports, an infrared port, and a type II PCMCIA card slot, to which you can attach devices such as a high speed modem, and mass storage systems such as memory cards and the LS-120 Superdisk drive, which can work with regular 1.44 MB floppy disks, or 120 MB Superdisks.

On the front side of the unit as it faces you are four large keys, referred to as thumb keys. These keys allow you to scroll the braille display back and forth, and to exit and enter menus. On the top of the unit are the braille display and braille keyboard. Above each cell on the braille display is a cursor routing button. In any application where there is a cursor, pressing one of these buttons will take the cursor to the location you have selected. The keyboard is a Perkins style keyboard except that there are eight keys, four on each side of the space bar. The unit can operate in either six- or eight-dot braille modes. If you have ever used a Braille ■n Speak or Braille Lite, you are used to the idea of entering system or program commands by pressing the space bar in conjunction with other keys. This "chording" system is used in the BrailleNote, but when the unit is in six-dot mode, the dots 7 and 8 keys function as backspace and enter keys respectively, and can also be used in conjunction with other keys to enter commands.

When you start using the BrailleNote, the first things that become apparent are the clear Keynote speech, and the crisp and bright quality of the braille dots on the display. I have found that, for my touch, the braille on other braille displays is quite mushy, and doesn't really feel like braille. However, the braille produced by the BrailleNote feels just like a freshly embossed braille book.

The BrailleNote uses a suite of programs called Keysoft. This is a group of related programs, analogous to the Microsoft Office suite. The Keysoft suite contains a fairly sophisticated word processor, which can handle tasks like cut and paste, search and replace, indents, different justifications, style sheets, and spell checking. Documents can be exported in Microsoft Word format, and even attached to e-mail messages, allowing you to exchange reports, manuscripts, etc., with sighted co-workers or fellow students. There are also a planner and appointment reminder, an address and phone list, a clock and scientific calculator, and an e-mail program that conforms to the industry standard Post Office Protocol. E-mail can be sent and received with the built-in modem, or with a modem attached to the serial port, or PCMCIA slot. The device is capable of printing in braille or text formats.

The BrailleNote also features a book reading program that can read files in several formats including plain text, word processor, or even the Library of Congress Web Braille books. A recent announcement from Microsoft and Pulse Data indicates that the BrailleNote will also accommodate any digitized materials which are accessible via Microsoft Reader. The unit can be used as a speech synthesizer or braille display for another computer, and these functions are supported by both JAWS for Windows and Window-Eyes.

The BrailleNote uses a series of menus and commands that are standard to all of the Keysoft programs. The menu system makes it easy for new users to start computing right away. As a user's confidence grows, he or she can begin to use the commands which offer faster access to programs and functions.

After 90 minutes at the ACB convention seminar, we had already learned to write documents with the word processor, do some calculations, set the clock, make an entry in the address and phone list, and to write an e-mail message. By the end of the convention, Humanware had my credit card number and an order for a BrailleNote. My Impressions as a User

Because of the unexpectedly high initial demand for the BrailleNote, I had to wait until September to receive mine. Needless to say, I was ecstatic when it arrived. Included in the box with the BrailleNote was a soft carrying case, AC adapter, phone cord for the modem, a serial cable with software that allows one to swap files with another computer, and the LS-120 Superdisk drive with PCMCIA card. Only the disk drive was optional equipment. The BrailleNote also comes with a Getting Started tutorial on cassette. This tape gave me enough information to begin to use the unit immediately, and to access the user's manual, which is in the device, and can be read either with speech or the braille display. Because I was not used to a braille input device and did not know any computer braille, I found the process of learning the command structure to be somewhat daunting, but the on-line user's manual and the braille reference card (which was included) helped me to get past the rough spots. I currently use the BrailleNote to take notes at business meetings, and to prepare and read the legislative reports that I present monthly at my CCB chapter meetings. I love the ability to manage my e-mail when I travel, using the same Internet service provider that I use at home.

For a product in its first release, the BrailleNote performs remarkably well. The only problems that I have noticed are with the performance of the built-in modem, and the e-mail program. The modem is said to be rated at 33.6 KPS, but it seems to function much more slowly than that. Also, if speech is enabled while mail is downloading, the quality of the speech is noticeably degraded. It is also not possible to reply to a message that is sent to you as a reply. Pulse Data and Humanware are presently beta testing an upgrade to the Keysoft suite and after this testing, the upgrade will be distributed free of charge to all BrailleNote owners. I have been assured that this upgrade will fix the problems, and it will most likely be available by the time you read this article. I am very happy with my BrailleNote. With all of the things that we as blind people must carry around with us, it is really refreshing to find a device that is so small and lightweight that packs so much computing power.

For more information about the BrailleNote, contact Humanware Inc. at (800) 722-3393.

by David Goldfield

As some of you may have heard, Henter-Joyce, now a division of Freedom Scientific, recently released a new program which they are calling Connect OutLoud. This program is a screen reader which is designed, primarily, to provide access to the Internet to blind users who need a speech or Braille solution for screen output. From what their Web site says, it sounded to me like a stripped-down version of JFW, the JAWS for Windows screen reader, but since the suggested list price is only $249 I was quite intrigued and decided to download a demo for myself and give it a test spin. My overall impression is that Connect OutLoud is, in fact, a stripped-down JFW but that doesn't make it a bad program. In fact, I like it.

The program is only about nine megabytes and, therefore, one can download it from the web site in not much time, even with a 56K dial-up modem. The installation program is quite similar to the JFW installer; the Eloquence engine comes up talking and prompts you through either an automatic or custom install. Being the computer geek that I am, and being paranoid about software which wants to take over my system without telling me what it's doing, I chose the custom installation option so that I could see, or hear, what the program was going to do to my system. It actually did no damage and the installation was trauma-free, allowing me to choose the names of folders and program groups to store the software. The installation ended and the fun began as Connect OutLoud loaded up.

The first thing that happened was a request from the software to enter my 16-digit authorization code. Whereas JFW uses a hidden authorization key to make the program work as a registered copy, Connect OutLoud doesn't use such a system, which some may feel is a step in the right direction. What the program *does* require is an authorization code. I'm sure most of you have installed a program like Office or even Windows itself and you remember having to enter a huge code such as j4Y2qXXrZ12 ... well, if you purchased the Connect OutLoud software you will have to enter a code to get the program running as a non-demonstration, registered version. According to the product information on the web site, the code will be made available in braille for visually impaired users. Since I did not purchase this software, I was able to select the option which said "run as a demo" and the program happily accepted this, and ran in demo mode.

What are the restrictions of demo mode, you ask? The demo will work for 24 hours. Initially, I was understandably concerned about this as I thought that I would be able to use the software for only one day and then I'd be forced to download another demo for continued use. Fortunately, I was wrong in my assumption. What you get are 24 hours of actual use of the software. This means you could use it for an hour a day for 24 days, six hours a day for four days ... I'm lousy at math but you get the idea. Basically, it should be enough time for someone to evaluate it and make a determination as to whether the program is worth the magnetic coding it's printed on.

After telling the program to run in demo mode, I was presented with the ever-popular, always annoying registration screen, asking for such things as my name, address, phone number, blood type and DNA information. Well, I'm being a bit dramatic; sue me. I discovered that you can't ignore fields such as the phone number; if you want this program registered to Freedom Scientific you must enter information in probably every field. Fortunately, there's a lovely cancel button which I pushed to make the registration screen go away.

Now I can actually talk about the program itself. Yes, it is, as I assumed, a stripped-down version of the popular JFW software. Because I've been using JFW since version 1.0 was released in 1995, the learning curve wasn't steep. The reading commands are the same, although there is no JAWS cursor or PC cursor to activate.

This program is a bit more than just an Internet access package. You are allowed to access and read the desktop, the start menu, applications in the control panel, My Computer, Windows Explorer, many applications in the Accessories folder (including Dial-up Networking) as well as Outlook Express, RealPlayer and Windows Media Player. The program is obviously set to work with all of these applications. If you try to enter a program other than the ones it's set to work with, such as Microsoft Word, Connect OutLoud gives a warning, descending tone and you hear no speech. At all. I think that, for new users, a verbal warning from Eloquence would be nice. It could say something like "Connect OutLoud will not work with this program. Please press the alt/F-4 key combination to exit this program."

If you do use a program which Connect OutLoud is permitted to work with, you'll get access similar to what you would get with JFW. For example, "INSERT-T" reads the title bar, although there are no verbosity controls.

There are also no script, frame, dictionary or configuration managers available.

Connect OutLoud reads and navigates web sites just like JFW; after all, it is, more or less, JFW. The lack of verbosity controls is a problem on some web sites, however. Connect OutLoud is set to ignore all graphical links which do not include text labels. Now this is quite nice for new or inexperienced users who might be intimidated by hearing a link with a weird-sounding name, but what if you need or want that information? Sorry, you can't get it, as far as I can tell. This means that any web site where the standard practice is to provide links without text labels won't be very usable with this program, whereas JFW users have the option to hear such links. The "INSERT-F7" command does exist in this program, so you can conveniently put the links in a list box. In addition, you can use forms mode to enter information when you're performing a search or entering credit card information for online purchases.

Since Connect OutLoud works with Outlook Express you can also have access to e-mail and newsgroups. Outlook Express's e-mail client is actually quite nice. Although I personally am not fond of the news reader, it works and it's usable.

"FS-Editor" (formerly called "HJ-Pad") is included, which allows users of Connect OutLoud to perform word processing and includes a spell-checking capability. I haven't tried it, but if it's like "HJ-pad," which comes with JFW, then it's not a bad little word processor.

I'm not sure how good of a deal this will be for users who just need a talking Internet program, considering that IBM's Home Page Reader sells for $149 and I hear it's pretty good. However, Connect OutLoud does include access to e-mail, newsgroups, the control panel, Dial-up Networking (for setting up that dial-up connection in the first place) and allows users to do word processing with FS Editor, which will also save files in Word 6.0 format. The $249 price tag does not seem too steep, considering what you get. JFW users really have no need to purchase this program and it would be kind of a waste if they did, considering that JFW does everything this program does.

A feature I especially like in Connect OutLoud is its tutor, which gives information about shortcut keys as one navigates through menus. For example, if you're pointing to an option which says, "FILE," the tutor will say something like, "press ENTER to open the menu," and you can even set the tutor to announce the corresponding shortcut key for each menu item. The tutor voice, by default, is the Eloquence voice called Shelly, and I found the voice itself so annoying I changed it to Rocko before my 24 hours of demonstration had ended!

One other complaint that I have is that currently purchasers of Connect OutLoud aren't offered a discount if they want to upgrade later to JFW. Tsk, tsk, is all I have to say. Can't the folks at Freedom Scientific give Connect OutLoud users a few hundred dollars off the price of JFW if they want to upgrade? I know Freedom Scientific is now a huge conglomerate, but can't they at least give customers the impression that they care about their business?

Overall, I like the program a lot and I think it might be a nice alternative for folks who just need basic access to Windows and who want to just read e-mail and Web surf.

(Editor's Note: You may contact David Goldfield at his e- mail address: [email protected] or via his web site at For more information about Connect OutLoud, visit the web site at, or contact Bryan Carver at (800) 444-4443, or via his e-mail, [email protected])

by Lauran Neergaard

(Editor's Note -- Lauran Neergaard covers health and medical issues for The Associated Press in Washington.)

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The man squints at his medication, but his dimming vision can't make out even whether he picked up the Coumadin or Celebrex. So he aims a gadget the size of a deck of cards at the bottle, and a computerized voice begins reading his prescription instructions. Call them talking drugs: If pilot testing goes well at two Chicago hospitals, blind and elderly Americans could soon begin buying prescriptions with "smart labels" that read aloud the potentially lifesaving fine print. Millions of Americans have eyesight so bad they can't read newspaper type, and thus struggle with medication bottles that put the drug's name, dosage and important safety warnings in even smaller print. It's a problem that's only going to worsen as the aging population booms.

Inability to read pill bottles can lead to very dangerous mistakes: taking the wrong pill at the wrong time; or the wrong dose; or missing the warning not to drink alcohol or take various over-the-counter drugs with the prescription. Or even when to call a doctor about side effects. Enter ScripTalk. Beam a small voice synthesizer at a prescription bottle with a special computer chip embedded into the label. The wireless technology translates the printed label into speech, literally reading aloud the pill instructions.

Manufacturer En-Vision America Inc. of Normal, Ill., hopes to begin selling ScripTalk this summer. First, vision-impaired veterans at Chicago's Hines Veterans Administration Hospital are pilot-testing the gadget to learn how helpful it truly is - and nearby Rush Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center soon begins a separate study to see if ScripTalk could reduce medication errors. "When you're vision-impaired ... it's very difficult to find the necessary information" to use a drug properly, explains Rush pharmacist Bruce Gaynes.

"Our major goal, and what these systems would allow, is greater independence," adds Jerry Schutter, chief of blind rehabilitation services at Hines. Hines so far has taught a dozen veterans to use ScripTalk at home. Some "are very happy with it," Schutter said. Others, usually the very elderly, still prefer family members to read their pill bottles to them. The pilot test isn't over yet, but will help determine if ScripTalk provides enough benefit for the VA to offer it once sales begin.

ScripTalk isn't the only such attempt: Hines also has a handful of veterans testing New York-based Asko Corp.'s Aloud, where pharmacists record drug labels into listening devices for patients. ScripTalk, in contrast, harnesses wireless technology to let computers synthesize the talking label automatically. Rush's planned 300-patient study, which also will investigate low-tech solutions such as larger-print drug labels, will examine whether ScripTalk reduces medication errors, thus saving money as well as preventing injury. That study could help insurers and pharmacists decide whether to pay for the device.

ScripTalk won't be cheap, Schutter cautions. En-Vision would send participating drugstores blank, microchip-embedded ■smart labels.■ Each drugstore would have to buy a special $1,000 printer that encodes the microchip to read each label once it's printed. Patients would buy a battery-operated ScripTalk reader, for about $250, that works on any smart-labeled pill bottle. A talking label initially should add $1 to each prescription, a price that would drop as more were sold, En-Vision says. At Hines, pharmacists had to write special software so the ScripTalk printer could read the VA's patient prescription records, a link retail pharmacies may have to figure out, too. But En-Vision, which has begun pitching ScripTalk to drugstore chains and insurers, says don't forget one big benefit: Not every drugstore will sell talking prescriptions, so those that do could gain instant loyal clientele among the millions of vision-impaired patients. Not to mention the technology could be modified to help people who can't read prescription labels for other reasons, such as illiteracy or language barriers.

(Reprinted from Reuters.)

CLEVELAND (Jan. 2) -- Researchers said Tuesday they have identified a gene linked to the most common cause of blindness and predicted the discovery will help in the search for a drug treatment.

The gene, called ELOVL4, was found to be the cause of Stargardt's macular degeneration, an early onset form of the disease that robs more people of their sight than any other cause.

"This important finding uncovers a new pathway in macular degeneration and will allow us to create an animal model to test potential drug therapies for both Stargardt's macular degeneration and age-related macular degeneration," Kang Zhang of the Cole Eye Institute and the Cleveland Clinic said in a statement. Zhang's report on the discovery was published in the January issue of the journal "Nature Genetics."

Macular degeneration, which tends to run in families, creates fuzzy vision, or shadowy areas and blind spots in the center of vision. Most cases occur because of the aging and thinning of macular tissues, part of the light-sensitive retina at the back of the eye, or because of pigment deposits in the area. With 90 percent of the cases, called dry age-related macular degeneration, new blood vessels grow beneath the retina and leak blood and fluid, causing retinal cells to die and creating the blind spots.

Stargardt's macular degeneration is similar to the dry form of the disease, Zhang said, and the gene discovery will help scientists clarify its development.

Though there is no known treatment to restore vision lost to the disease, many researchers believe nutrition plays a role. Elderly patients at risk are sometimes urged to take zinc supplements and increase their intake of antioxidants such as vitamins A, C and E.

by Samuel M. Genensky, Ph.D.

(Editor's Note: The following story of Samuel M. Genensky's life was submitted by Richard A. Rueda, a member of the National Alliance of Blind Students {NABS}, the California Council of the Blind {CCB}, and ACB's summer 2000 intern. We agree with Richard that this is a very inspiring narrative, and thank him for bringing Genensky's story of courage and determination to our attention.)

My story begins in the Saint Luke's Hospital in New Bedford, Mass. on July 26, 1927. That was the day of my birth, and that was the day on which silver nitrate was put into both of my eyes in compliance with the then existing requirement by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to carry out this procedure on every child born in the commonwealth in order to prevent the possible passage of syphilis from mother to child. In my case, unfortunately, the silver nitrate put into my eyes had not been diluted, and, as a result both of my eyes were badly burned. The procedures followed in the hospital after this accident also left much to be desired.

In the fourth month of my life I was taken to Boston to be seen by the man who even then was regarded as the father of American ophthalmology, Frederick H. Verhoeff. Dr. Verhoeff performed partial iridectomies on both of my eyes to prevent additional loss of vision due to glaucoma. The result of all this history was that I was left with no vision whatsoever in my left eye and a best-corrected visual acuity in my right eye of 20/1000.

My formal education began in the first of two sight-saving classrooms in New Bedford's Sylvia Ann Howland School. That classroom catered to partially sighted students, some of whom were also legally blind, and covered grades one through four. The other sight-saving classroom covered grades five through eight. Fortunately for me and my classmates, our teachers were not obsessed with saving sight. They permitted each of us to perform in class using everything that we had going for us including our remaining eyesight. In these classrooms we were taught to read ink-printed material, to write with a pen or pencil, to do arithmetic, to acquire a good knowledge of geography and to learn some history. I participated in the sight-saving classes during the period 1933-1940, and in those days the only visual aids available to us were simple eyeglasses in wire frames, large print books with dark bold type and pieces of chalk that were about 1.5 to 2.0 inches in diameter and about 4.0 inches long which we used to write on large slate chalkboards. The large print books and the oversized chalk were helpful to me, but corrective eyeglasses were of no value to me whatsoever.

I completed the eight-year program at the Howland School in seven years, and at the end of the seventh year my mother and I went to see the superintendent of schools in New Bedford, Mr. Keith. I asked Mr. Keith for permission to attend New Bedford High School, and he told my mother and me that he felt that it would be better if I were to go to the Perkins Institution for the Blind in Watertown, Mass. So in the fall of 1940, my parents drove me up to Watertown and thus began my year at Perkins.

Perkins is a very beautiful school housed on a piece of land that rolls down to the bank of the historic Charles River. There I was taught braille and typing and I continued my academic studies. I learned braille rather rapidly, acquiring a full knowledge of grade one and grade two in a matter of a few months. This delighted my teachers, but when they observed that I continued to read ink-printed material and to write with a pen or pencil with my nose in the book I was reading or down on the paper upon which I was writing, they were mystified. One of my teachers even said to me, "Why don't you act like a well-behaved blind child?" to which I replied, "Because I am not blind."

Little did I know at the time how profound this response was, because, via it, I placed myself in the camp of the sighted and not in the camp of the blind. I now became determined that I would make it in life using everything that I had going for me including my none too impressive residual vision.

In the spring of the year that I was at Perkins, my mother went again to see the superintendent of schools in New Bedford, but when she got there, she found out that Mr. Keith was no longer there and that she was to meet with the acting superintendent of schools. She met with him, and told him that I was not happy at Perkins and that I would like to have permission to attend New Bedford High School. After hearing her request, the gentleman told her that if I wanted to do this, he would be happy to allow me to do so. My mother was delighted and expressed her thanks. The gentleman then said, "My name is Sadler and my sister Irene Sadler taught your son in grades one through four. Since she feels that your son can succeed in our high school, far be it from me to disagree with her."

So, in the fall of 1941, I entered New Bedford High School. There I spent four exciting and satisfying years. During the first year and a quarter, I had no visual aids available to me. Hence, when my teachers wrote on the large slate chalkboards, I could not see what they wrote. I was aware that my classmates viewed the chalkboards and copied from them or took notes on what was written on them. In the fall of my sophomore year, for what reason I don't remember, I brought my father's World War I binoculars to school, and in my geometry class I used them to look at the chalkboard. Much to my amazement and delight, with them I saw the triangles and circles, letters and numbers that my geometry teacher, Mr. Felton, had written on the board. After class Mr. Felton came to me and asked me how the binoculars had worked. When I told him what I had seen with them, he encouraged me to bring them to class every day and to bring them to all of my other classes. Shortly after this great eye-opening event, my mother and I drove up to Hanover, N.H. and I was seen at the Dartmouth Eye Institute. While there I met Dr. Kenneth Ogel, who, upon hearing about my success with binoculars, suggested that I put a +3.00, +3.50 or a +4.00 diopter lens over the left objective lens (i.e. the large lens on the left side of the binoculars) in order to turn the binoculars into a giant bifocal system that would allow me to look (with my right eye) at the chalkboard with the right optical system of the binoculars and look down the left optical system of the binoculars (again using my right eye) at the paper on my desk in order to copy down or take notes on what I had seen on the chalkboard.

I used this giant bifocal optical system throughout my remaining years at high school, throughout my undergraduate and graduate years at college and when employed as a mathematician at the U.S. Bureau of Standards from 1951-1954 and later at the Rand Corporation in Santa Monica, Calif.

It is interesting to note that about three months after I began using the augmented binoculars in high school, my grades in my academic subjects rose from three B's and one C to three A's and one B. No, I had not grown a new neurological network in my head, but I now had a means to see much more than I could prior to using the binoculars.

In the fall of 1945 I entered Brown University in Providence, R.I., and in the late spring of 1949, I graduated from Brown, magna cum laude, with a bachelor of science degree in physics.

While at Brown I asked for only one concession because of my very limited eyesight. I asked that I be allowed to take my final examinations in a room determined by me and the college to be acceptable, that had good lighting, and that was equipped with a chair and desk or table that were of heights that would permit me to work comfortably. I made it clear that I wanted no extra time and I expected to take my examinations at the same time as my classmates. Such a room was found for me in the oldest building on the campus, University Hall 1770. It may also be of interest to know that I did all of my own reading and note taking. It wasn't always easy, but it sure was satisfying.

In the fall of 1950 I entered Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass. and in the late spring of 1951 I was granted a master of arts degree in mathematics from that university. From Harvard I went to work for the U.S. Bureau of Standards in Washington, DC as a mathematician in the Fire Protection Section of the Building Technology Division. While at the bureau and in the spring of 1952 I was encouraged to learn to program for the third oldest digital computer in America, Standards Eastern Automatic Computer (SEAC). It may turn out that I was the first legally blind programmer in America.

After leaving the bureau in August 1954, I returned to Brown University and for the next four years worked on earning a Ph.D. in applied mathematics.

In the fall of 1956 our nation was concerned with the fact that the Soviet Union had put up a satellite before us, and the U.S. was determined that it would compete successfully with that nation. This led to a frantic search for engineers, physicists, mathematicians, and chemists, and our government and our private industry were, as it were, hiring these people by the cubic foot. Even so, it turned out that obtaining employment in one of these professions was all too frequently an unavailable opportunity for severely visually impaired persons. I know of this fact from personal experience.

However, the picture was not entirely dismal. I recall discussing the problem with one of my professors, Gordon Newell, and telling him of my negative experience in dealing with Standard Oil of California. He told me not to be discouraged and to continue looking.

Unbeknownst to me, one of my other professors was in the room and listening to our conversation. That professor, William Prager, met me the following day, and told me that a friend of his, named John Williams, would be in town soon and it would be to my advantage to meet with him. I thanked Professor Prager for this information, and when Mr. Williams came to Brown, I met with him. It turned out that he was the head of the mathematics department at the Rand Corporation in Santa Monica and that he was looking for young Ph.D.'s in mathematics for his department. He handed me an application and told me to look it over. I noted that the fifth question on the application was, "Do you have a handicapping condition?".

I asked Mr. Williams what I should do with that question. He totally ignored me and went on speaking. Somewhat later when we had gotten to know each other better, I again asked him what I should do with the question. This time he said, "Oh! Please walk over to that window."

I felt that this was a strange answer, but I complied. He then asked me to return to my chair and went on talking. Somewhat later I said, "John, you have a great organization, and if you were to ask me to join your department I would seriously consider doing so, but I still really want you to tell me what to do with question 5."

He then said, "Sam, if I hire you to be a member of my department, I won't hire you because you don't see very well, I won't hire you because you went to Brown, but I will hire you because I perceive that you have something between your ears and because I feel that you have something to contribute to what Rand is trying to do to assist the U.S. Air Force and the Atomic Energy Commission." That was a terrific answer, and every qualified disabled person should receive an answer like it when he/she seeks employment.

I was hired by Rand and I became a member of the senior staff of its mathematics department in the summer of 1958. While at Rand I not only did mathematics, but I also became involved in other problem areas of interest to the company. It was while working in one of these problem areas and while slumped over an inclined drawing board in an attempt to write that I received a visit from my colleague, Paul Baran. Paul observed what I was doing and said, "There has to be a better way for you to read and write."

I told him that I agreed and asked if he would join me in trying to find that better way. He said that he would and together with other Rand colleagues and professional friends at Aerospace Corporation and the Polaroid Corporation, we succeeded in designing and building the first practical and user-friendly closed circuit TV (CCTV) system for the partially sighted. We showed that prototype system at the 1968 annual meeting of the American Academy of Optometry, which was held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif. Via an article written by George A.W. Bohem, entitled "Sam Genensky's Marvelous Seeing Machine" that appeared in the January 1971 issue of "Reader's Digest," the world learned of our work.

I received thousands of letters as a result of this article and hundreds of people came to the Rand Corporation to see and try our prototype device. From those people I learned that I was not alone in recognizing that partially sighted people were receiving services that were at best suitable for the totally blind or were receiving no help at all. I concluded that neither of these alternatives was satisfactory, and that a third alternative was needed. I therefore began working on that alternative and came up with the design of a center that would provide partially sighted people with a set of services that were designed to meet their special needs and that would encourage them to use all of their sensory capabilities including their residual eyesight to remain or become an integral part of the overall society.

I received an opportunity to turn this thinking into concrete reality in 1975, when the medical staff of the Santa Monica Hospital in Santa Monica, Calif., invited me to create such a center at the hospital and to bring my own money to do so. I moved with two of my colleagues to the hospital in the fall of 1976, and with their help and the help of colleagues back at the Rand Corporation, obtained funds from the federal government in the fall of 1977 to create and operate a Center for the Partially Sighted. This center began providing services in the spring of 1978 and went on its own as a non-profit, tax exempt, public benefit California charitable corporation in April 1983. The center has served more than 14,000 individuals since it came into existence.

Remembering my years at the Rand Corporation I recall with a smile on my face the many times I walked down the hall in search of a restroom. Now in those days the room doors of Rand were unpainted and blonde in color and the doors that led into restrooms had, at eye level, blonde plastic signs that were about three inches long and one and one-half inches high, into which were cut the word "men" or "women" as appropriate. To read these signs, I was obliged to bring my right eye to within an inch of them. All too frequently when I did this, the sign said "women;" a woman would open the restroom door and I would explain that I could not see well and had to get very close to the sign on the door to determine whether the door led into a men's or ladies' restroom. Sometimes I think the lady believed me and sometimes I think she thought I was some kind of weirdo. The problem came to a head when the friendly guards in the lobby said to me good-humoredly, "Sam, we hear that you are smelling restroom doors." That did it, and as a result I came up with a scheme for marking restroom doors and restroom entrances that is now used in all new and renovated public buildings in California. So the next time you see or feel a triangular or circular restroom sign in a public building in California, think of me; I am the character who had them placed there so that you and I could find the appropriate restroom without being embarrassed.

While I found my years at the Rand Corporation to be very exciting and stimulating, I can honestly say that the years that I spent developing CCTV systems, creating and running the Center for the Partially Sighted, and creating the signage that allows us to find the appropriate restroom in a public building have been the most enjoyable and satisfying years of my professional life.


New GDUI Affiliate in Texas Holds its First Meeting
From Pam and Winnie deep in the heart of Texas. Our first Texas GDUI conference was a smashing success. We had planned for somewhere around 60 participants, but over 90 people attended.

This simply testifies to the need for such an organization in the Lone Star State. Reps from The Seeing Eye, Guide Dogs for the Blind, Guiding Eyes for the Blind, Southeastern, Upstate New York, a part of Pilot, Leader Dogs, and Southwestern Guide Dogs from Texas were present. We exchanged a lot of high quality information. Thanks to those who participated, especially those who traveled to Austin from out of town.

State Conventions in April
6-8: ACB of Colorado; for more information, call Rod Chard at (303) 730-1353, or the administrative office at (888) 775-2221 (Colorado only).

6-8: Mississippi Council, Jackson; contact Rita Taylor at (601) 957-8305 or (888) 346-5622 (Mississippi only).

6-8: Alabama Council of the Blind, Pickwick Hotel, 1023 20th St. South, Birmingham; for more information, call Van Fulghum at (256) 362-4358.

6-8: Badger Association of the Blind; for more information, contact Kathy Brockman at the Badger Association, (414) 258-9200 or (877) 258-9200.

19-22: California Council of the Blind spring convention, Sacramento Arden West Hilton Hotel, 2200 Harvard Street, Sacramento; for more information, call (510) 537-7877.

20-22: ACB of Nebraska, Lincoln Airport Inn; for more information, call (402) 553-8456 or (888) 218-8061 (Nebraska only).

by the Long Island Chapter of the American Council of the Blind of New York

When the members of the Long Island chapter of ACBNY returned from the state convention which they had just hosted, they received a great shock. Jim Riley, a long-time chapter member who had originally planned to attend the convention, had died very suddenly at the age of 48.

Jim lived in Brooklyn, N.Y. He traveled every day to Manhattan where he worked for a major bank as a computer programmer, a job that he had held since the late 1970s. Jim was very knowledgeable about computers and in his spare time would often help his friends if they were having computer problems.

Jim had other interests too. He enjoyed collecting old-time radio programs which he listened to on his Walkman while riding the subway to and from work. He also liked country-western music and his favorite TV program was "Buffy, The Vampire Slayer."

Every year, Jim used a part of his vacation to attend the ACB national convention. He was also treasurer of his local chapter for several years.

During the last few years, Jim's life had become complicated by increasing problems with his vision. Jim went through several eye operations including cataract surgery and a cornea transplant which involved the new procedure of using stem cells to help decrease the possibility of rejection. Jim faced these situations very bravely, including the disappointment when his vision did not improve as much as he or the doctors had expected.

Although he was kind of shy, Jim enjoyed making people laugh. He was always coming up with jokes and puns and an occasional prank to amuse everyone.

Jim is survived by his mother and brother. We will all miss him.

by Jerry Annunzio

As I toured the Iowa Department for the Blind (IDB) I asked our guide, Jeanie Miller, who is a student there, "In one word, what does IDB do for the people who get training here?" Her answer was "independence."

"You learn to be independent," Miller went on. "The freedom to be independent at your job, in your community and in your own home, that's the central theme at IDB."

The American Council of the Blind's national convention, which will be held in Des Moines, Iowa from June 30 through July 7, will offer eight tours to the Iowa Department for the Blind. The IDB has many interesting stories to hear and lessons to learn. The vocational rehabilitation program which is administered and conducted at IDB is designed to help people who are blind achieve self-support. The independent living rehab program, which focuses on older blind people and on people who have multiple disabilities, helps consumers to live more independently in their homes and to function within their communities.

The IDB also administers Iowa's Business Enterprises Program, which allows people who are blind to become self-sufficient, independent, tax-paying citizens through the Randolph-Sheppard Vending Program.

IDB houses the state library services for the blind. These services include providing books and magazines in braille, large print, and recorded formats as well as descriptive videotapes. There are reference and reading rooms available at the Department Library.

Be sure to stop by the wood shop and the aids and devices store at IDB before you end your tour. You will see how IDB helps people who are blind and visually impaired obtain access to jobs and opportunities ,and full participation as citizens in whatever roles they may choose. And that's independence!

by Penny Reeder

Do you know anyone who would enjoy winning $10,000? Could your local ACB chapter, or the school who trained you and your guide dog, or the organization that provides readers or computer training to you and other visually impaired people in your community, or your church, your library, or your friends, family members, or even you, yourself, use a little infusion of cash? Say, an extra $200, $300, $500, or $10,000? ACB will hold a drawing for these amounts during the reception just prior to the annual ACB banquet on Friday evening of convention week. Tickets cost $100, and since a maximum of only 300 tickets will be sold, your chances of winning one of the four prizes (including the big enchilada of $10,000) are pretty darned good! You do not have to be present at the drawing to win, and if the fates are smiling in your direction, you could win as much as $11,000 -- since we'll be putting even the tickets of fourth ($200), third ($300), and second-place winners ($500) back into the hat for the big drawing. Up to five individuals can combine resources to purchase a single hundred-dollar ticket, so for an investment of a mere $20, you can be benefitting a worthwhile cause (sending deserving visually impaired students off to post-secondary training opportunities) while taking advantage of the chance to win a substantial sum of money!

Tickets for the drawing which will benefit the ACB scholarship program are expected to go on sale at ACB's legislative seminar at the end of February. The Northern Virginia chapter of the Old Dominion Council of the Blind came up with this creative fund-raising idea. Our hats are off to NOVA, who, along with the ACB national office are administering this drawing. To obtain tickets for purchase or sale, contact Terry Pacheco, Membership and Affiliate Services Coordinator, in the ACB national office. Terry can be reached at (202) 467-5081, or toll-free between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. at (800) 424-8666. You may also contact her by electronic mail, [email protected]

Don't delay! Order your tickets for purchase or sale today! Next year's scholarship winners will thank you, and so will your friends and family, when they, or you, bring home a big prize!

by Penny Reeder

As many of you know by now, I spent much of January learning to work with my new Fidelco guide dog, Glory. Just 23 months old, Glory, who is a beautiful little "gray" German shepherd, has spent the last several weeks adjusting to a sometimes chaotic household, often "peopled" by a very patient husband, four children, their various friends coming and going, a decidedly reclusive kitty -- and a new human partner who had never even held a dog's harness before her arrival!

Our first week of training with Fidelco's very excellent, (fortunately for us) very laid back trainer, David Darr, was so overwhelming, there were times when I wondered if it had been a mistake to choose in-home/in-community training! Although my voice-mail message at the ACB office optimistically indicated that I would be "in and out," implying that I would stay on top of items like completing the February ■Braille Forum,■ the fact was that by the end of every day, I was exhausted and motivated only by a need to keep all that I had learned in my head, and a desire for rest and relaxation! With Sharon's help and adaptability (we worked via e-mail and phone off and on during periods of time when I was not actively training), over three days, with occasional breaks during which I attempted to quiet a barking puppy, open the door for a terrified yellow cat, or an exuberant crowd of 10-year-olds, or a bemused mailman who has "seen and heard it all," we managed to get that February Forum out only five days beyond our usual self-imposed publication deadline.

Meanwhile, Glory and I were learning to travel down sidewalks and the more prevalent cul de sacs and bike paths in our suburban neighborhood, how to stop at curbs, execute right, left, and "right around" turns, how to climb over the snow banks that still blocked occasional street corners. On Friday, we took our first subway ride downtown, and made the four-and-a-half block walk to the office. We practiced that trip on Saturday and Sunday, and by Monday, Glory and I were making the trip and even stopping for morning coffee on our own! We learned the relatively complicated route I take each month to meetings of the Montgomery County, Md., Taxicab Advisory Committee, and on Tuesday evening, Glory and I made the trek solo. Glory sat under the table while Lee Barnes, local taxicab mogul, explained to the assembled committee that he really has no way to make his drivers comply with the law that requires them to transport visually impaired passengers with their guide dogs, and I, in turn, suggested that enforcement via fine or revocation of a license might go a long way toward getting the point across! (I thought that a corroborative growl coming from my canine companion might add an appropriate punctuation mark to my remarks, but being the well-mannered young lady that she is, Glory allowed me to make the point unassisted!)

By the end of our second week together I knew that my decision to choose Fidelco's in-community training had been exactly the right choice. The training regimen not only allowed us to learn all the routes I routinely travel and practice over and over again on escalators, subway trains and Metro platforms, but it also enabled me to tuck in my 10-year-old every night, keep up with the comings and goings in the lives of my high- school-age children, do an occasional load of laundry, and even make dinner from time to time! By January 29th, when we took our last subway ride with David, Glory was able to separate from her Fidelco friend with barely a second glance, I felt that I was traveling with the best sighted guide of my life, and we were ready to take on the world! Good thing, because before we had time to catch our collective breath, that's exactly what we were doing! The Pooch at the Press Conference

After having attended a meeting during our first week of training, where a representative from Hart InterCivic demonstrated the completely accessible E-Slate voting system to the Montgomery County Board of Elections, who are anxious to avoid our state's becoming the next example of under, over, or uncounted votes, I was eager to attend the press conference which accompanied the introduction of the McConnell-Torricelli bill, S.218, which seeks to establish an Election Administration Commission to study federal, state, and local voting procedures and election administration and to provide matching federal funds for modernizing election procedures and systems.

On Tuesday, January 30, Glory and Krista Dubroff, legislative assistant in our national ACB office, and I bounded into the Hart Senate Office Building. We zipped through the metal detector, and Glory and I followed Krista and other members of the press to the third-floor conference room, where all seats were taken and there was standing room only.

Standing at the back of the room, I couldn't figure out how to hold a guide dog's leash and simultaneously take notes with a Braille 'n Speak (but I know that I'll either get the hang of it or come up with an alternate solution before long). Krista left us to go pick up literature from the 14 vendors of voting systems and equipment which were stationed around the periphery of the room. While she was gone, Glory inched me up a few feet at a time until we were standing at the front of all the standees.

Then, I felt her tugging at the leash. "No!" I whispered, snapping the leash back. Still, she kept inching forward, her body wiggling with barely suppressed excitement.

The next sound I heard was the thumping of a big dog's tail! It was Jim Dickson's huge black lab, returning Glory's friendly greeting! Dickson had directed the National Organization on Disability's Vote 2000 campaign, and was lucky enough to get a seat! When we met him and his big friendly dog a few days later, Glory greeted them both like old chums.

Not one of the senators or representatives who spoke in support of the bill they were co-sponsoring mentioned voting access for people who are visually impaired, and although my raised hand waved steadily in the air, no one called on me to ask a relevant question. So, the press conference was not itself as successful an experience as I might have hoped. Nonetheless, it was a revelation for me: with Glory, I can walk anywhere, quickly and competently; sighted help is indeed helpful, but the difference a guide dog makes in my ability to mobilize is remarkable! Meetings, meetings, meetings

This puppy is going to be a very well-informed citizen, I believe! (Or, alternatively, she may become the best-rested puppy in the DC metropolitan area!) In just 17 days, we have been to a meeting of the mother/daughter book club that my daughter Molly and I belong to, an IEP periodic review at elementary school, that taxicab advisory meeting, a gathering of the Legislative Working Group which took place at the headquarters of NIB in Alexandria, Va., that E-Slate demo in Rockville, Md., all-day meetings and a reception in Annapolis, where ACB of Maryland unveiled its model pedestrian safety bill, to the mall where we shopped for a birthday present for my soon- to-be eight-year-old niece, out to dinner, and a meeting of George W. Bush and about 200 members of the disability community at the White House! We have ridden in taxicabs, vans, ride-on buses, city buses, Metrorail's red and blue line trains. I travel more quickly down sidewalks and across streets than I ever imagined possible; it's amazing how quickly I gained confidence in Glory's ability to guide me smoothly and efficiently around obstacles and people, up and down curbs and steps, inside and outside and all over the city!

In Annapolis, after sitting still for about three hours straight, I concluded that Glory might need a little break (I certainly did!). I woke her up from her snooze underneath my chair, and she sleepily guided me out of the meeting room, then through the building, outside, down the steps (There was no railing, or at least, I couldn't find one, so she stopped patiently at every step; she already knows how worried I am about falling down steps). We sauntered down the block and found a little plot of grass. She took advantage of the respite, and then we sauntered back up the street again -- right to the building we had left, up the stairs, through the hallway, back to the meeting room, and (this is the best part of all!) right back to our seat in the front row! We didn't need anyone to accomplish any part of this little excursion! This ability to go where I want to go, when I want to go there, and then to find my way back again is a whole new dimension of freedom and independence! Meeting and Greeting at the White House!

On Thursday, February 1, President George W. Bush announced his "Freedom Initiative," which, he says, is the centerpiece of his administration's disability policy, a set of initiatives which are designed to give people with disabilities essential tools to participate fully in their communities. During a White House reception which preceded Bush's policy announcement, I got to shake the hand of Justin Dart, whom I had long wanted to meet and thank for all he has done for people with disabilities. In addition, I shook hands with President Bush, talked with his wife, Laura, about White House dogs, and met other representatives of the disabled community and supporters of the administration. Glory was happy because Charlie Crawford and executive doggie Ruthie were also traveling with us (Krista too!), and because she got a glimpse of the Bush's springer spaniel darting from the residence to the White House lawn.

I haven't had a chance to investigate the particulars of the Bush administration's proposed package, but I don't need to investigate the advantages of traveling with a guide dog through crowded situations or important federal buildings: this degree of independence is something that continues to astonish me nearly every minute of every day!

Today, Glory is snoozing under my desk as I write this account and attempt to deal with 778 accumulated e-mail messages. Next week, we'll go to another press conference about another bill which proposes to reform the system by which we Americans choose our elected representatives and executives. The legislative seminar is coming up in Arlington, Va., with a side trip to the Kennedy Center for a performance of "Shear Madness." Then, there are meetings for Chapter Two service providers for older people who are visually impaired, more discussions of the Solutions Forum which seeks to make textbooks available to visually impaired children in accessible formats, the Josephine L. Taylor Leadership Institute seminars and receptions -- and then on to Des Moines for the five-star ACB national convention!

Glory, get your beauty sleep. Your adventures have only begun!

by Billie Jean Keith

The announcement of new products and services in this column should not be considered an endorsement 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 and services mentioned.

To submit an item for "Here and There," send an e-mail message to [email protected] You may call the ACB toll-free number (800) 424-8666, and leave a message at extension 26. Please bear in mind that we need information two months ahead of actual publication dates.

The Massachusetts Commission for the Blind now offers a Technology Help Desk for consumers. This service is available from 8:45 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. To use this service, call (617) 626-7617. The help desk currently supports speech, screen magnification, braille, OCR and notetakers deployed by the Commission's Adaptive Technology for the Blind Program. If you have questions, contact Joe Lazzaro at (617) 626-7575.

"Disability Information at Your Fingertips" is a guide to toll-free telephone numbers and on-line resources for and about people with disabilities. This guide has quadrupled in size since its first publication in 1994. It lists the toll-free phone numbers and web addresses for more than 500 national non-profit organizations and government agencies. There are numbers for telecommunications devices for the deaf, and numbers for bilingual services. Single copies cost $10 and must be prepaid. To order, or for more information, contact Disability Resources, Inc., 4 Glatter Ln., Centereach, NY 11720-1032, or phone (631) 585-0290.

CPR Technology is offering a talking numeric pager that displays the number and has both vibration and audio alert tones. The pager can repeat any message stored in its memory, read the message number and time received, has a built-in talking clock and other features. Users must purchase paging services for the device to be operational. For more information, contact CPR Technology, phone (877) 277-5237, visit the web site,, or by mail from CPR Technology, 640 Dean St., Brooklyn, NY 11238.

Veterans should know about an important prescription drug benefit available from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). A 30-day supply of prescription medications costs only $2 through the VA. Disabled or low-income veterans can receive medications at no cost. To be eligible for this benefit, a veteran must have been honorably discharged from military service, must enroll with the VA, and must be seen by a VA physician. The VA may charge for a doctor visit, but your insurance may cover this charge. Veterans who are disabled or have a low income can visit doctors at no cost. If you would like to find out more about this and other health benefits through the VA, call toll-free (877) 222-8387.

If you are a veteran with a visual impairment, call the Blinded Veterans Association. Your vision loss does not have to be service connected to receive free services from the BVA. Call toll-free (800) 669-7079, or (202) 371-8880.

If you are 15 years old or older, and wish to join a list called Broadcast Conversations, read on. This list was formed to discuss issues for aspiring broadcasters who are blind, and covers topics such as accessible broadcast equipment and searching for work in the broadcast industry. If interested, send a message to Kevin Wassmer at [email protected], or call him at (801) 568-9940.

Before he left office, President Clinton announced the CPB/WGBH National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM) has been awarded a $1.8 million grant from the Department of Education's Learning Anywhere Anytime Program to establish a partnership with industry to make on-line learning resources accessible to people with disabilities. According to the press release, the SALT (Standards for Accessible Learning Technologies) Partnership is a four-year initiative to develop and promote open access specifications and effective models to enable people with disabilities to have equal access to the growing wealth of on-line learning resources. Initial partners include Blackboard, Inc., Educational Testing Service (ETS), Microsoft Corporation, Pearson Education, Sun Microsystems, PeopleSoft, Saba Software, and the United Kingdom's Open University.

For more information, contact Mary Watkins/Media Access Group at WGBH, phone (617) 300-3700, TTY (617) 300-2459, or e-mail [email protected] You may also visit the web site,

A United Kingdom-based computer expert with a visual impairment has written several manuals and tutorials emphasizing keyboard use for more effective computer access for people with visual impairments.

John Wilson, the author of these manuals, sells them for $18 each, with a special price of $50 for five "From the Keyboard" manuals (excluding the tutorials for Microsoft Word and the Internet). He will be happy to e-mail the table of contents for any manuals and tutorials listed below, to enable the computer user to see the comprehensive scope of his work. Send an e-mail to [email protected] Titles include: "Using Textbridge Pro 9 and Textbridge Millennium From the Keyboard With Speech To Read Print"; "Using Readris Pro 6.0 From the Keyboard With Speech to Read Print"; "Using TypeReader Pro 6.0 From the Keyboard With Speech to Read Print"; "Using Textbridge Pro 98 and Textbridge 98 Classic From the Keyboard With Speech to Read Print"; "Microsoft Word 97 From the Keyboard the Windows Way"; and "Accessing the Internet From the Keyboard."

An ACB member gives high praise about the repair of his 22- year-old Perkins Brailler. According to the endorsement, Mr. Ackley takes the brailler apart, soaks it in a cleaning solvent, then in a lubricant. If you opt to have a full engineering upgrade, any parts that have been improved since the machine's manufacture will be replaced to bring the machine up to current specifications. The basic service charge is $45. The total for the full engineering upgrade was about $100 (including the basic service charge, new parts, and a new factory carton for shipping the brailler). For information, contact Ackley Appliance Service, 4301 Park Avenue #540, Des Moines, IA 50321; phone (515) 288-3931; e-mail [email protected]; web site

Justin Daubenmire, a computer programmer who is blind, has released two free professionally produced programs designed specifically to work with screen readers. The programs will run on Windows 95/98/NT/ME/2000 and are free to anyone. The free programs are a screen reader accessible mp3 player and a screen reader accessible calendar program. Computer users are welcome to download either program at

We know that guide dogs should not be distracted or petted while in harness, but the general public does not know. A guide dog user tried many different signs to dissuade people from petting his dog, and after two years trying various signs, he settled on the international one. The sign boldly states "DO NOT" and shows a hand in a circle with a line drawn across the hand. David and Pat Caldwell now make and sell these signs. Choose either an embroidered sign or one made with permanent paint ironed into the fabric. Both models are bright red and white and are washable. The cost for either sign is $7, which includes packing and postage. Pat Caldwell is a professional seamstress and sews artwork that looks like stained glass. To order, contact David Caldwell, 1925 White St., Nanty Glo, PA 15943, phone (814) 749-8998, or e-mail [email protected]

Have you invented or produced a gadget that is helpful to you as a blind person? For the past two years, the American Printing House for the Blind (APH) has presented awards to people who have suggested or developed the prototype of a product to be manufactured by APH. There are no deadlines or guidelines for submission, since this is not a competition, but an ongoing program because products can take years to develop. The award commemorates the service of Virgil Zickel, plant manager at APH for 27 years.

A list of some past recipients and products may spark ideas. Nancy Rinker designed a lightweight, portable reading easel for visually impaired students; Marcia Gevers designed MasterPlan Calendar, specially designed for low vision needs; and Alex Snow (age 12) devised a binder that helps manage braille paper.

For more information, call Roberta Williams in the public affairs office, (800) 223-1839 or (502) 895-2405, or e-mail [email protected]

Get great recipes by e-mail. This free service will provide many different recipes for any dish you want to prepare. To get a recipe, send an e-mail to [email protected], (note, no hyphen in the word "email"). Write your search term on the subject line, such as "chicken," or "lemon pie." Leave the body of the message blank. When a list of recipes arrives, note the numbers of the recipes you want, then send another message with only one selected recipe number on the subject line. Send separate messages for each recipe choice. In a matter of seconds, you'll have results. Now save them or print them in braille, large print or keep an electronic cookbook of favorite recipes.

The Bloomington chapter of ACBI is selling a music CD as a fundraiser. "Light and Shadow" features 18 American and Russian folk songs performed by ACB member Suzanne Ament. Checks for $15 should be made payable to: ACBI Bloomington Chapter, and addressed to Bloomington Chapter, P.O. Box 1131, Bloomington, IN 47402-1131. For information, e-mail [email protected]

The University of Arkansas-Little Rock (UALR), Department of Counseling, Adult and Rehabilitation Education (CARE) has a limited number of graduate student scholarships that pay full tuition and a monthly stipend to help defray college expenses for students interested in master's degrees in orientation and mobility and/or rehabilitation teaching for people who are blind or visually impaired.

The 42-hour master's degree program can be completed on a full-time basis in 14-18 months and does not require GRE scores for entrance. While these are non-traditional teaching disciplines, they do not require students to have a teaching background for eligibility. Potential candidates should call Dr. Bill Jacobson, O & M program coordinator (501) 569-8505 or e-mail [email protected] For the RT program, call Dr. Patricia Smith (501) 569-3169 or e-mail [email protected]

AFB Talking Books, the audio publishing arm of the American Foundation for the Blind, and Time Warner AudioBooks have joined forces to produce the first audio e-book sampler from a major publisher using NISO/DAISY technology: a brand-new, digitally synchronized audio and text program, compatible with both computers and e-books. This e-book sampler offers unique navigational features, and displays the book's text on screen or in braille, fully synchronized with the narrator's voice. To download the free demonstration of the "I Have a Dream" speech by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., visit AFB's accessible web site,

Huff Services offers an alphabetical yarn list, containing brand name, fiber content, ounces or grams per skein (ball), and how many yards in each skein. "Types of Yarn" in Braille (28 pages) is $10.25, and the cassette version is $5. Contact Kathy Huff, phone (859) 746-0800 during business hours Monday - Friday from 11 AM to 5 PM (Eastern time), or e-mail her at [email protected] Orders must be prepaid to Huff Services, 25 Edward Ave., Florence, KY 41042.

This new list is in the category of Crafts/Knitting. To subscribe, send a blank e-mail message to [email protected]

Philmore Productions provides a service that allows access to the Internet including sending/receiving e-mail, browsing web pages and retrieving Usenet articles via a touch-tone phone. Information is conveyed by a computerized voice or can be sent to a fax machine. You may use your own POP3-compliant mailbox or the company can provide you with an e-mail address. For more information, please visit the web site at, e-mail [email protected], or call toll-free (877) 638-2974.

Braille literacy is a vital concern of advocacy groups of individuals who are blind and service providers. A 600-page anthology of articles entitled "Braille: Into the Next Millennium" underscores the importance of braille literacy. The publication, written by more than two dozen international experts, and edited by Judith Dixon, consumer relations officer for NLS, has been published jointly by the Library of Congress's National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS/BPH) and the Friends of Libraries for Blind and Physically Handicapped Individuals in North America.

NLS readers can order the book in braille and recorded formats. Single print copies are available at no cost from the Reference Section, NLS/BPH, Library of Congress, Washington, DC 20542. For more information, contact Robert Fistick, head of publications and media, phone (202) 707-9279, e-mail [email protected], NLS web site

The BlindKid-Software list has been created to promote discussion of educational software and non-violent computer games for children who are blind. Discussion of non-computer games, toys and educational materials useful for working with children are welcome. To join, send a message to [email protected]


FOR SALE: Aladdin Rainbow CCTV. Cost $2,945 originally; $1,500 or best offer. (Shipping not included.) Contact Donald Garrett, 170 Rosedale Dr., Columbus, MS 39702-3118; phone (662) 245-0581.

FOR SALE: ISDN Diva modem with standard print manuals, cables and software, $100. Regency R1070 10-channel programmable scanner, $50. Contact Elizabeth or Frank via telephone, (850) 574-6252, or e-mail, [email protected]

FOR SALE: Telesensory CCTV. Magnifies up to 60 times. Lightly used. Best offer. Contact Louis Polish at (330) 792-2122, or write to him at 3301 S. Wendover Circle, Youngstown, OH 44511.

FOR SALE: Braille Pad Plus, an Artic notetaker, which can also be used as a speech synthesizer, and WinVision, the Artic screen reader, $300. Willing to trade for something of similar value. Contact Anmol Bhatia, 1100 Henderson St., Box 5597, Arkadelphia, AR 71999; phone (870) 230-6397, or e-mail [email protected]

FOR SALE: Alva Braille Terminal ABT-380 80-cell desktop braille display with manuals and soft case. Rarely used; excellent condition. Asking $7,995 or best offer. Contact Loren Mikola at (425) 705-3394 weekdays, (425) 558-0131 evenings and weekends. Or you may get in touch via e-mail, [email protected] or [email protected]

FOR SALE: King James Bible in braille and on tape. $35 each or best offer. Perkins braille writer, $150 or best offer. Shipping and handling not included in these prices. Contact Joe Turri on tape or by voice pager, (810) 403-2402, or cell phone, (810) 256- 4872. His address is 21098 Wellington, Warren, MI 48089. Credit cards and checks are not accepted.

FOR SALE: Blazie Type 'N Speak with all upgrades, carrying case, AC adapter, 220-volt adapter, PC Disk (PC connection software), all cables for printer, PC and disk drive connection, tutorial tapes, and a new model disk drive with AC adapter. Asking $1,200 or best offer. Contact Edwin E. Staudt III, Center for Productive Worklife, 6 E. Wayne Ave., Aldan, PA 19018; phone (610) 622-1469; or e-mail [email protected]

WANTED: RCA audio receiver with TV. Good condition. Contact Mike Ruddy at (602) 944-5076.

WANTED: Webcor radio with AM, FM and shortwave stereo. Must be in good condition and have a good antenna. Contact Walter Chavira at (661) 833-3663.

WANTED: DOS for Windows 95 and DoubleTalk speech synthesizer software, as well as an Optacon and a Braille 'n Speak. Contact Melody Edwards at (941) 723-1363.

WANTED: September 2000 QST. Will reimburse tape. Contact Colin Blackwood at (781) 585-4803.

WANTED: Old APH four-track cassette player/recorder in good working condition. Call Ray Leonardo at (610) 449-3083.


Sanford Alexander
Wichita, KS
Jerry Annunzio
Kansas City, MO
Alan Beatty
Fort Collins, CO
Ed Bradley
Houston, TX
Dawn Christensen
Holland, OH
Debbie Grubb
Bradenton, FL
Oral Miller
Washington, DC
Mitch Pomerantz
Los Angeles, CA
Sandy Sanderson
Anchorage, AK
M.J. Schmitt
Forest Park, IL


Kim Charlson, Chairperson
Watertown, MA
Jay Doudna
Rosemont, PA
Winifred Downing
San Francisco, CA
Mike Duke
Jackson, MS
Charles Hodge
Arlington, VA
Ex Officio: Laura Oftedahl,
Berkeley, CA


20330 NE 20TH CT.
MIAMI, FL 33179





LeRoy Saunders
4517 NW 25th Place
Oklahoma City, OK 73127-1911

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