THE
Braille Forum
Volume XXXIX May 2001 No. 11
Published By
The American Council of the Blind
THE AMERICAN COUNCIL OF THE BLIND STRIVES TO INCREASE THE INDEPENDENCE, SECURITY, EQUALITY OF OPPORTUNITY, AND QUALITY OF LIFE FOR ALL BLIND AND VISUALLY IMPAIRED PEOPLE.
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: http://www.acb.org
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,
or via e-mail.
E-mail the Editor of the Braille Forum
Submission deadlines are the first of the month.

Those much-needed contributions, which are tax-deductible, can be sent to Patricia Beattie at the same address. If you wish to remember a relative or friend by sharing in the council's continuing work, the national office has printed cards available to acknowledge contributions made by loved ones in memory of deceased people.

Anyone wishing to remember the American Council of the Blind in his/her Last Will and Testament may do so by including a special paragraph for that purpose. If your wishes are complex, you may contact the ACB National Office.

For the latest in legislative and governmental news, call the "Washington Connection" toll-free at (800) 424-8666, 6 p.m. to midnight Eastern time Monday through Friday. The Washington Connection is also posted and updated on the ACB web site at http://www.acb.org.

Copyright 2001
American Council of the Blind

TABLE OF CONTENTS

The Camel's Back, by Charles H. Crawford
Video Description: Facts and Future
Lessons to Learn about TV and Video Description and What Blind People Really Want: An Editorial, by Penny Reeder
President's Message: Who Speaks for People Who Are Blind?, by Paul Edwards
Board of Publications Hosts Internet Candidates' Page, by Penny Reeder
Fleet Boston to Install 1,420 Talking ATMs
Pre-Convention Overnight Tour Recalls Simpler times
Doing Des Moines on Your Own, by Donna Seliger
Affiliate News
Letters to the Editor
International Associations Seek Your Advocacy to Change Britain's Quarantine Requirements
Adventures of a Blind Business Traveler, by Larry Johnson
A Day in High School, by Maya Roseman
Andy Chappell, the Lion-Hearted, by Adam Ruschival
Here and There, by Billie Jean Keith
High Tech Swap Shop
Acknowledgements

ALERT

We have received a number of calls alerting us that people have sent money to purchase items from Brandon or Ty Eastwood and have never received the goods they paid for. If you are such a person, send a complaint to [email protected], or pick up a complaint form at your local post office and fill it out.


THE CAMEL'S BACK
by Charles H. Crawford

It was evening. I had decided to go upstairs and check my electronic mail before slipping off to a good rest for the night. Then I saw it. Could it be true? Had I already gone to sleep and dreamed this?

The message was short and to the point. The National Association of Broadcasters, joined by the National Cable Television Association and the Motion Picture Association of America had filed a legal action to overturn the FCC rule for video description. Then I read further. So too had the National Federation of the Blind.

At first I could not believe it. Sure, we had thought the entertainment industry might pull such a thing, but the Federation? Why? Who would have made such a decision to not only attack the FCC rule, but all the rest of us blind folks who stand to benefit from video description once the rule takes effect? There were a number of responses that ACB could have chosen, but there was only really one answer that cried out; the time had come to fight.

First and foremost, the battle to preserve the FCC rule had to be joined. ACB conferred with its partners who have supported video description and set up the necessary legal response to the court actions. Then we put out a press release in which we condemned the entertainment industry for their greed and the Federation for their complicity. Next we issued a fact sheet on video description and distributed it to a wide range of interests. Then we wrote a letter to the sponsors of television shows and to the moral leaders of our nation asking them to support us as we deliver a message to the entertainment industry telling them that video description is both needed and wanted by blind people, and demanding that they withdraw their legal complaints. Even as this is being written, more strategies and implementation plans are being developed.

But what about the NFB? Should ACB ignore their assault on the community of blind people? Have they gone too far, and what does all this mean?

The answers are as troubling as the questions. The issue is that the Federation claims to be a group of consumers speaking for the blind, and yet it deliberately and overtly filed a legal complaint seeking to rescind a right that our community had fought so long to win. This is serious business and goes to the core value of consumerism; our legitimacy is drawn from our work to secure and protect rights and our adversaries are those who attempt to take them away.

The Federation must now face its own members and attempt to convince them of the merits of its own position. This will not be an easy task because there is no compelling reason for them to do what they did. They will have to convince their members that their attempt to take away the rights of blind people to access information available through video description was the right thing to do. They will not be able to use the argument that they object to governmental imposition of rules since that has nothing to do with blindness. They will not be able to argue that news is a greater priority over entertainment since that amounts to "it's my ball and I am taking it home." They won't be able to get their members all riled up over what impression sighted people will have since sighted people well understand that visual information must be conveyed some other way to blind folks and video description is a good way to do it. In short, there will be no strong booming voice of righteous indignation, but rather only the shrill and abandoned ring of an empty and shameful bell. Should ACB care? Should we do anything about this?

ACB has long stood for a moderate and reasoned approach to building a better quality of life for our members and the blind in general. This has usually meant our refraining from comment on the internal operations of other organizations. Now we are forced to break that rule because of the outright and unwarranted attack from the Federation against the interests of the very same community they claim to represent.

The straw that broke the camel's back came early in the evening. It's now up to the membership of the Federation to do what they must with their own organization. Let us hope that they do what they have to do, and that we will be able to see a trustworthy and responsible Federation tomorrow.


VIDEO DESCRIPTION: FACTS AND FUTURE

What is video description?

Video description is the use of narration during natural pauses in dialogue to let a person who is unable to see the screen know what is happening. For example, if one is watching a drama, and music plays while a "bad guy" leaves an envelope in an obvious hiding place and then continues on to a meeting of the National Security Council, a visually impaired viewer would have no way to know what had just happened in the story. He or she would lose a major part of the plot. If video description was available, however, a narrator would describe the villainous activity, and a visually impaired viewer would be at the same level of understanding about who did what as his or her sighted peers who understood the actions because of what they saw on the screen.

Where is video description used or available?

Public television has been providing increasing amounts of video description since the mid-1980s. In addition, Turner Classic Movies has a regular Sunday evening presentation of time-honored movies that are video described. Other examples include some movies produced with a video description track, which are available in select movie theaters, or later on videotape for purchase or for borrowing from special needs libraries across the country. Does the narration interfere with the ability of others to enjoy the movie or TV programming?

On television, the narration comes over a secondary audio programming channel which is normally off unless switched on for persons who want to hear it. In movie theaters, a visually impaired person can use a special radio receiver with earphones to listen to the narration.

Is this available on all television presentations and movies?

The Federal Communications Commission has recently required that the major networks and cable channels present at least four hours of described programming per week, beginning in April of 2002. Video described movies are gradually becoming more available, as studios such as Sony, Buena Vista, Universal Paramount, and Miramax take a leadership role.

Is there a problem?

Yes. The National Association of Broadcasters, joined by the National Cable TV Association and the Motion Picture Association of America, have brought a legal action to challenge the right of the FCC to require video description on television. This litigation is aided by a second law suit from the National Federation of the Blind which also challenges the FCC rule.

Why are these people fighting the FCC and video description?

The National Association of Broadcasters and the two other trade associations are not known to be supportive of change and have thus far offered arguments such as; (1) There is insufficient market to justify the minor expenses of video description; (2) the FCC went beyond its authority; and (3) describing artistic works compels speech and hence violates the Constitution. In addition and sadly, the National Federation of the Blind has also entered a suit arguing among other things that the FCC was arbitrary and capricious in its promulgation of the rule.

Are there supporters of the service?

The American Council of the Blind has been working for more than 15 years to make video description available, with the rationale that the technique affords blind people the same access to information on television that other, sighted viewers take for granted. Other groups and advocates for the blind such as the American Foundation for the Blind, the Blinded Veterans Association, the Metropolitan Washington Ear, The National Center for Accessible Media, and Narrative Television Network, have also supported the service for much the same reason. The FCC order came only after the industry basically ignored our collective efforts for those 15 years.

What are the chances that video description will survive the court challenge?

While there are strong and convincing legal arguments which we believe will be successfully made in defense of the FCC action, the industry must also hear from the court of public opinion.

How does this affect me?

Consider yourself and your family. If anyone were to lose vision and reach a point where they need to have television and movie events described, would this not be best accomplished by a professional service that accompanies television programs and other video offerings? There is not always someone else around to describe what is happening visually. Especially at movie theaters, the rest of the audience neither wants nor needs to hear someone describing the visual actions on the screen. Also consider that vision loss is a common occurrence with aging and video description is a way to guarantee that those who encounter vision loss will not be left out of the ability to enjoy television and movies in much the same way they always did.

What can I do about this?

You can contact your local television stations and tell their general managers that you don't think they should have the National Association of Broadcasters fight video description. You can call the owners of your local movie theaters and let them know you think they should have the video description equipment, which goes for about $2,000, in their theaters, and that they should let the Motion Picture Association know they should drop their objections to this important service. You can write to your local newspaper and let the rest of your community know about this service and how it is threatened by industry associations that have shown negative interest in doing it even though they know its value. You can go on the web and send e- mail to the industry associations and your Congressional representatives and senators to let them know about your support of video description. You can write to those who present commercials on television and suggest to them that they should be telling broadcasters that they expect this service to be included with the programs they sponsor. You can ask your churches, social clubs and fraternal organizations such as Lions Clubs to communicate to the broadcasters and movie producers as well.

Who should I contact about description for television?

You can contact:
The National Association of Broadcasters
1771 N Street NW
Washington, DC 20036
phone (202) 429-5300
fax (202) 775-3520
e-mail: [email protected]

National Cable Television Association
1724 Massachusetts Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20036
(202) 775-3629
Fax (202) 775-1055
e-mail: [email protected]

Jack Valenti, President and CEO
Motion Picture Association of America
1600 Eye Street NW
Washington, DC 20006
(202) 293-1966
Fax (202) 293-1299
Web site: WWW.MPAA.org

(California address of MPAA)
Motion Picture Association of America
15503 Ventura Blvd.
Encino, CA 91436
(818) 995-6600

Regarding access to movie theaters, contact:
John Fithian, President
National Association of Theater Owners
4605 Lankershim Blvd. Suite 340
North Hollywood, CA 91602
(818) 506-1778
Fax (818) 506-0269
E-mail: [email protected]
Web site: WWW.Hollywood.com/NATO
(Note: You can talk with the MPAA about theater access as well.)

Where can I get ongoing information about this issue?

You can visit the web site of the American Council of the Blind at www.acb.org or call us at (202) 467-5081 to get the latest information.

Will all of this work?

Yes, but we need your help.


LESSONS TO LEARN ABOUT TV AND VIDEO DESCRIPTION
AND WHAT BLIND PEOPLE REALLY WANT: AN EDITORIAL
by Penny Reeder

The Federation does not get it. Apparently they believe that blind people are somehow removed from the ranks of ordinary Americans who come home from long workdays and crash on their couches in front of their television sets. Video description, they say, is not important, blind people, they say, don't need it and don't want it; it's too costly, they say; and even though members of the American Council of the Blind joined a large coalition of organizations including the American Foundation for the Blind and the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AER) in more than 15 years of lobbying and advocacy efforts to achieve a modicum of video description in prime-time television broadcasts, the Federation will save us from ourselves and sue the Federal Communications Commission to stop requirements for a mere four hours of video description in prime-time and children's programming a week.

The Federation is wrong. We blind people are, in fact, just like everyone else -- except that everyone else can see what's happening on their TV screens and we can't. Does that mean that we are content to ignore what everyone else in America is watching on their TVs? Do we want to spare our visually impaired preschoolers from the educational and entertainment benefits of "Arthur" or "Wishbone" or "The Rugrats?" Do we want to avoid water-cooler conversations about the season finale on "Friends," or "E.R.," or "The Sopranos?" Of course not.

The Federation's decision to join the greedy television, cable and motion picture associations in their attempts to stop the requirements for video described programming on television is disgraceful! We urge all of you who care about participating in the regular day-to-day activities that everyone else in our culture takes for granted to tell your friends and acquaintances in the National Federation of the Blind to get a life and get with the program! It is right that the television networks provide closed captioning for people who cannot hear the conversations that occur during programming on television. It is also right that video description be made available to people who cannot see what's happening on the screen.

Perhaps it's a good thing that the misguided leaders of the Federation have so publicly shown their true colors. Who will now be able to look to the NFB as a credible source of information about who blind people are or what blind people need or want? How can they really represent the blind and visually impaired people in this country, as they so loudly and frequently proclaim they do, if they actively seek to prevent our participation in one of the few activities that seems to unite us -- Americans with all our many diversities -- as a culture? Their members should rise up in rebellion and explain to their leaders that they are out of touch with what blind people want and what blind people need.

We at "The Braille Forum" have had enough! Enough of people who tell the country and the world that it's not important to have a tactile warning at the edge of subway platforms! Enough of an organization whose members attempt to dissuade traffic engineers from doing the right and intelligent thing at actuated street corners by installing accessible pedestrian signals! Enough of NFB-controlled rehabilitation centers that require low- vision trainees to wear sleep shades and to keep their guide dogs in upstairs rooms while they deny the usefulness of residual vision and lie to themselves and other people about their low vision! Enough is enough! Video description may not be as important as the safety of travelers on subway platforms, or the ability of blind and visually impaired people to know, along with sighted pedestrians, when it's safe to begin their street crossings, or rehabilitation that acknowledges a person's actual needs and capabilities. But, the National Federation of the Blind's decision to bring a law suit to undo a regulation which has made people who are blind finally feel included in the mainstream of society is the final straw, the one that finally makes us angry enough to say to the Federation and to the people they claim to represent, enough is enough!

We all have friends and acquaintances in the Federation. We all have friends and acquaintances who have decided for one reason or another not to affiliate with either organization. Let us encourage all who are blind to tell the leadership of the NFB, as well as the broadcasting industry associations, that described video is no less important than all the other accommodations we rely upon to work, to learn, to be as included in the mainstream of American society and culture as everyone else. We will not allow the Federation to misrepresent either who we are or what we want and what we expect in the way of environmental accommodation. You in the Federation should think twice the next time you claim to speak for the blind consumers in America -- because you are out of touch with those blind consumers, and we can speak very effectively for ourselves.


PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE:
WHO SPEAKS FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE BLIND?
by Paul Edwards

I am on my way to work on a Monday morning and, as usual, my message is late. With articles elsewhere in this issue you will find lots of information about our current disagreements with the National Federation of the Blind. I was sorely tempted to add an editorial of my own on this subject and, in a way, I am about to do just that. But I am hopeful that this message will, instead, transcend the current dispute and speak to broader issues.

I have found myself thinking a lot about leadership lately. Part of the reason for this is that the decision to directly confront the Federation on this issue is not an easy one for me to take. Many of you know that I believe firmly that the blindness community is just too small to allow dissension to deflect attention away from the real, pervasive disadvantages that every blind person faces in our society. I have probably spent more effort than some members of ACB may regard as prudent on building a positive relationship with the NFB and its leadership. I would not change my actions if I could and, even now, I remain convinced that ACB has an obligation to people who are blind to continue to seek accommodation with Dr. Maurer and the Federation. That capacity to cooperate, though, must not be allowed to limit ACB's efforts to articulate the policies adopted by our membership or to keep us from speaking for the many hundreds of thousands of blind people who have not chosen to join either national consumer organization.

It is this issue that I want to spend a little time discussing with you this month. Whether we admit it or not, both organizations of the blind claim to represent a constituency that is much larger than their memberships. Both groups attempt to articulate what we believe to be the interests of a broader population than those who have paid their membership dues and joined us. I take this responsibility very seriously but will freely admit that the exercise is flawed, presumptuous and imperfect. It is flawed because I am first and foremost required to abide by the policies adopted by ACB. Shocking though it may be to some, these policies may not altogether reflect the interests of the majority of people who are blind. Since I have no way of polling this population, all I can do is try to extrapolate their views from what I hear and see around me. I can also, of course, make the assumption that the democratic process of ACB and the open debate that surrounds each issue means our decisions reflect some approximation of views that others in the blindness community accept as representative. This, of course, is presumptuous because ACB members are very likely not analogous to the whole community of people who are blind. It is probable that the larger blindness community is poorer, more likely not to be working and less independent than our "average" member is. The process is imperfect because any microcosm of people who seek to articulate the views of a larger constituency are inevitably using a value system which is subjective and perhaps alien to the larger group they claim to represent.

When members of Congress claim to represent the American people and claim to know what they want and to speak for them, they are clearly, at the very least, exaggerating. What they are often doing is using the cloak of inclusiveness to promote an ideology that has nothing to do with what the majority are likely to want.

There is another parallel between the larger democracy and blindness consumer organizations. In many elections in this country the majority do not vote. Consumer organizations of blind people represent 10 percent of the blindness community at most and no more than 10 percent of those members are at conventions when decisions are being made. Some would argue that my obsession about speaking for the larger community of blind people and their views accords that community an importance it doesnžt deserve. After all, they choose not to vote or to be part of either consumer organization. Their disenfranchisement is a choice they make. There is certainly truth in that but it is also true that, once elected to office, one must also represent interests that transcend those of the people who voted.

I could spend a whole book discussing this issue. I have barely scratched the surface and am certainly guilty of oversimplifying a very complex matter. I suppose that I must also admit that the arguments that follow are based on my notion of what is right. You will be glad to know that I do not propose to explore the basis of my particular value system here. You who voted elected me. You who are members didn't tell those who voted not to elect me. Those who are not members of ACB didn't choose to join just to defeat me. So here I am and you're stuck with me and my particular morality for another two months.

I take my responsibility very seriously and I believe that ACB takes its responsibility seriously as well. You see, just as I have a value system that informs how I see my way forward, ACB has one too. I have to do my best to understand and articulate that value system. I believe that ACB believes that we have a responsibility to broaden the range of services and choices available to people who are blind. This translates into a generalization that, all other things being equal, blind people must have available to them the broadest range of options we can encourage. Beyond that, ACB believes that society has an obligation to spend resources and effort to assure that the needs of blind people are met.

While it is presumptuous for me to speak for the National Federation of the Blind, it would seem that their view of what blind people want and need is substantially different from ours. They seem to suggest that blindness service delivery systems have an obligation to assure that the training and competence of blind people is sufficient to enable people who are blind to survive whether society is inclusive or not. I think they would argue as well that it is more important that we persuade the larger society of our collective competence than it is to ask that society to provide an infrastructure that encourages our participation.

So, my friends, we are back to where we started. Who speaks for the blind? Is it the NFB with their expectation of blind people that is so different from ours? I believe not. Over half of the blind people in our society are over the age of 55. Well under 10 percent of the resources that go to training are allocated to that older population. Only a tiny proportion of the legally blind are totals. Many of those who are losing their vision struggle with whether they choose to see themselves as blind. Given these realities, the expectation that is at the heart of the Federation's notion of what blind people must be and do seems to me unrealistic. Obviously we must work to improve training and services but ACB argues that we need to accept blind people where they are and need to make society accountable for the services that are provided. Beyond that we must be certain that our organization is open at all levels to input from those who, for whatever reason, choose not to join.

There is also one final viewpoint to consider. Perhaps neither consumer organization speaks for blind people. I have certainly suggested that the larger blind population is extremely heterogeneous. Do we do a good job of representing those with multiple disabilities? How well do we do in speaking for those who are deaf-blind? Are we sufficiently in touch with blind people from diverse racial and ethnic minorities within our society?

When all is said and done, though, I believe we do better to try to generalize our beliefs. We must recognize that this is an awesome responsibility and we should not take it lightly. Ideally we should seek ways to broaden the input we receive. I know that I believe that ACB has positively impacted the lives of blind people whether they are members or not. We have done this by valuing them and encouraging each blind person to value his or her own abilities. Beyond that we have demanded that society make traffic signals, television, curbs and subway platforms, and employment more accessible. These are examples that have one thing in common. They place responsibility on society and on blind people to work together to make things better. When we speak for blind people, we insist that society listen too. That is as it should be. Blind people are citizens and people first. We are diverse and have different needs. ACB may not speak for all blind people but we stand for the rights of all blind people to be who they are and to be recognized and included in our communities.


BOARD OF PUBLICATIONS HOSTS INTERNET CANDIDATES' PAGE
by Penny Reeder

At their mid-year meeting, the ACB board of directors approved an online candidates' forum to take place on the ACB web site, http://www.acb.org, during the two weeks preceding ACB's national convention.

"This page will actually be a venue for ACB declared candidates to introduce themselves and allow our members to begin to get an idea of who wants to run for which positions and how the candidates feel about a variety of specific issues," said Kim Charlson, chair of the BOP. "It will work as a read-only web page where all candidates who wish to announce and who wish to participate will be asked to respond to the same five questions. We envision the online candidates' page as a place where people who want to run for office can allow the ACB membership to get to know them. The online candidates' page will allow ACB chapters and affiliates to have more information at their disposal before they send delegates to the national convention. It seems to us that the Internet and ACB's web site in particular afford us a unique opportunity to expand our ACB democracy. It's an innovation, an experiment, if you will, and we're very excited about the possibilities such a forum can open up to people who want to run for office and for our members who will choose the first group of ACB officers in this new century."

How Will It Work?

The BOP has selected five questions which they believe will allow people who want to run for ACB offices to introduce themselves and allow voters to get to know them. The questions are:

1. What office do you seek, and what do you believe your qualifications are for filling that post?

2. What do you believe the relationship should be between ACB's national leaders and ACB affiliates?

3. What should ACB do to expand our resources with respect to finances, members, and leadership?

4. What other strategies can ACB use to make our advocacy efforts work more effectively?

5. What do you personally identify as the three major issues which are important to people who are blind as we enter the 21st century?

Answer each question with a maximum of 250 words. Submit answers in any accessible, readable media, i.e., in print, or braille, on paper, computer disk (in ASCII text, WordPerfect 5.1, or Microsoft Word formats), or via e-mail. Pasting the text into an e-mail message is preferable to sending attachments, but attachments in ASCII text or Microsoft Word will be accepted. Submissions will not be accepted via telephone, voice-mail, audiocassette, or in handwriting. Note that we will not edit submissions for spelling, grammar, or content. The only change which will occur to submissions is conversion to the HTML code to facilitate online posting. Submit responses to Penny Reeder at this address: American Council of the Blind Candidates' Page, 1155 15th Street NW, Suite 1004, Washington, DC 20005. Responses may be submitted by e-mail, according to the guidelines noted above, to [email protected] Time Lines

Submissions should be mailed, either by postal delivery or electronic mail, so that they reach the ACB national office no later than midnight, Eastern Daylight Time, on May 30, 2001. When we receive a declared candidate's materials, we will check the ACB membership database to ensure that he or she is a member of the organization in good standing. The online candidates' page will be available by June 20, 2001, and will remain online at http://www.acb.org until the morning of July 6. We encourage ACB members who have computer access to share the contents of the candidates' page with members who do not. We anticipate that the page will become the substance for discussion among ACB members at chapter meetings and other venues where blind people get together. Candidates' submissions will be posted on the ACB web site, on the ACB e-mailing lists (i.e., ACB-L, ACB-Announce, and ACB-Leadership). We are investigating the possibility of making each candidates' submissions available on the national office voice-mail system, and Jonathan Mosen, host of ACB Radio, will utilize the contents of the candidates' page as a basis for ACB Radio coverage of the 2001 election.

When official campaigns begin in earnest at the ACB national convention, declared candidates will present at formal and informal state and special interest caucuses. In addition, the board of publications will sponsor a live question-and-answer Candidates' Forum, which will be moderated by Jay Doudna, at 8:30 p.m. on Thursday of convention week. "Our process for electing officers begins at the ACB convention," says Charlie Hodge, a member of the BOP. "Following constitutionally mandated procedures, the nominating committee will meet early in convention week to put forward an approved slate of candidates. In addition, the floor will be open on Friday, election day, as it always is, for nominations of people who may not have decided to announce in advance. We do not anticipate that this online candidates' page will alter the customary course of ACB elections in any way. We do expect the level of excitement about our candidates and the elections in general to build to a higher pitch than usual as the dates for our 40th annual convention draw closer."


FLEET BOSTON TO INSTALL 1,420 TALKING ATMs

BOSTON, Feb. 28, 2001 -- In a major initiative to make banking services more accessible to millions of people who are blind or visually impaired, Fleet and the Boston-based Disability Law Center (DLC) today announced a comprehensive plan to ensure that persons with vision impairments, including the growing number of senior citizens, can more conveniently access banking services at Fleet. The plan includes installation of the first talking ATMs in New York and New England, a program to enhance access to printed materials, and improved Web site accessibility at www.fleet.com.

Marla Runyan, a runner and the first blind athlete to compete on the U.S. Olympic Team, and Rob Walsh, the first U.S. blind skier to win a gold medal in international competition, joined Fleet and other disability advocates in making the announcement at a news conference today at Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown, Mass., the first school for the blind in the United States. Runyan and Walsh met with visually impaired students and staff from the Perkins School, including members of the ski and track & field teams, and spoke about their accomplishments as blind athletes.

More than 16 Fleet talking ATMs are already installed and operating in Massachusetts. The total of talking ATMs, which provide audio instructions over a headset, will increase to more than 150 throughout Massachusetts, New Hampshire and the metropolitan New York area by the end of the year. Over the next two years, Fleet will complete the installation of 1,420 talking ATMs throughout its northeast retail service area, from Maine to Pennsylvania.

Fleet worked closely with representatives of the blindness community, the Disability Law Center, and California disability rights lawyer Lainey Feingold to develop a plan to effectively meet the needs of this important and underserved segment of consumers. "We are very excited that Fleet has so enthusiastically demonstrated its commitment to improving accessibility for blind and visually impaired people, and we applaud their efforts," said Kim Charlson, a representative of the Bay State Council of the Blind, who has been actively involved in the initiative announced today. Other representatives present at the announcement included the National Federation of the Blind of Massachusetts, Sight Loss Services, and numerous individuals with vision impairments.

"With today's announcement, Fleet is taking a leadership role within the banking industry," said Disability Law Center Managing Attorney Stanley J. Eichner. "We hope that other financial institutions follow in Fleet's footsteps." Also working on this matter for the DLC was Jane K. Alper, senior attorney.

"Fleet is vigorously committed to meeting the diverse needs of all our customers and to building accessibility into the fabric of our organization, at virtually every point that we connect with our customers, whether that is at an ATM or branch, in writing or through the Internet," said Robert Hedges, senior vice president and managing director of Retail Distribution at Fleet. "Though our ATMs have Braille instructions, the talking ATMs we are installing will create even greater access for people who cannot easily read information as it is currently presented on our ATMs." Fleet Talking ATMs

Fleet's Talking ATMs will be equipped with universal audio jacks, and the bank will provide listening devices to persons with vision impairments through which they can receive private audio instructions for transactions typically displayed on the ATM screen for cash withdrawals, balance inquiries, transfers and payments and deposits. Fleet is upgrading existing ATMs that have been developed by leading ATM manufacturers NCR Corporation and Diebold Corporation. Both companiesž ATMs will be included in the pilot phase. Both NCR and Diebold are actively involved in the development of ATMs that are voice-guided and/or use other adaptive technologies. To locate the nearest Fleet talking ATM, consumers may call Fleet Customer Service 24 hours a day at 1- 800-841-4000. A complete list of talking ATM locations will later be available on the Fleet Web site. Other components of Fleet's accessibility initiative

Fleet has long been a leader in accommodating the needs of persons with visual impairments, and today's announcement expands that commitment. In addition to installing talking ATMs, Fleet will now provide important financial materials including statements, brochures and other account information in Braille, audiocassette, and large print formats. The bank also is designing and generating each page of its web site (www.fleet.com) to be accessible to persons with disabilities. Web design features will enable computer users who are blind and who use screen reader technology on their computers to access Fleet"s web site.


PRE-CONVENTION OVERNIGHT TOUR RECALLS SIMPLER TIMES

It's time to register for the pre-convention overnight tour to the eastern Iowa colonies of the Amana community. Founded in 1855, the seven villages of Amana will acquaint you with a lifestyle that reflects a spirit of industriousness and caring values which may seem a distant respite from the hustle and bustle of the 21st century.

The pre-convention tour will depart from Des Moines at 8 o'clock sharp on the morning of Friday, June 29th, and return around 5 p.m. on the afternoon of June 30. Professional tour guides will describe the community of Amana and the surrounding countryside, and an ACB representative and ACB-trained volunteers will accompany you on the buses.

An early stop on the tour will be the Community Church Museum, where a local resident will explain the history and highlights of the community's worship services. Other stops will include the communal kitchen, the cooper shop, the broom and basket shop, the woolen mill, the winery with the tasting room and many other attractions. Lunch at the Ox Yoke Inn will feature food served family style that will return you to the tastes of honest, well- prepared meals of a time before packaged foods and preservatives. The Old Creamery Theater will offer more delicious foods at dinner, and a play.

After a comfortable overnight stay and breakfast at the Guest House, the tour of the commune will continue. On the way back to Des Moines there will be a stop at an outlet mall where you can ease back into the life of the 21st century, with lunch on your own and discount shopping.

This overnight tour is a bargain at the pre-registration price of only $178. (If there's still room by the time convention registration opens up, the price will increase to $180.) Call the ACB Minneapolis office to register for the pre-convention overnight tour. The number is (800) 866-3242, and you are encouraged to charge your tour on any of the major credit cards. Space is already filling up, so call today. A trip back in time to the 19th century may be just the respite you have been craving.


DOING DES MOINES ON YOUR OWN
by Donna Seliger

The ACB travel agency this year is Carrano Travel, Inc., 1450 NE 123rd Street, Suite 107, N. Miami, FL 33161. For travel reservations call 1-800-327-3736 ext. 129; local (305) 893-8771 ext. 129. Our travel agent is Donna Balaban. Please note that the shared telephone is answered by the operator as CSM, The Super Show, Medical Business; however, ask for Carrano Travel or Donna.

While you are attending the American Council of the Blind convention in Des Moines this summer, you might consider some fun things to do on your own. In addition to the planned tours I suggest the following activities. The dates for the convention are June 30 through July 7, but you can come early and stay late to take advantage of all that Des Moines has to offer.

Perhaps you have a few hours and you and a few friends want to try your luck at Prairie Meadows Race Track and Casino. You will find over one thousand slot machines as well as live horse racing Thursday through Tuesday. Call for race times. From any "Five Star" hotel, simply call 967-1000, ask for valet parking. Then indicate your hotel and how many people in your party (minimum of four). A van will pick up your group and deliver you back to the hotel later. Since the racetrack is located approximately 20 miles from downtown Des Moines, a tip for the driver is much less expensive than cab fare.

The Science Center of Iowa is located at 4500 Grand Avenue. There are some hands-on activities as well as a planetarium for those interested in our universe. Traveling exhibits as well as permanent ones are available. For information about times and tickets, call 274-4138.

One event which may be of interest to sports fans is the Iowa Barnstormers Arena Football Team. There are two games during convention week. The first is June 30 versus the Norfolk Nighthawks and the second on July 7 versus the Louisville Fire. Call 282-3596 for times and tickets. The games are held at Veterans Memorial Auditorium, which is accessible via the skywalk from the convention complex.

The Des Moines Civic Center will host the 6th Annual Des Moines International Children's Choir Festival on Monday, July 2nd. These choirs come from the United States as well as several foreign countries. For information call 262-5812.

Now for some outdoor fun! During the time the convention is in town, the Iowa Cubs baseball team will be hosting the Colorado Rockies team. Games will run July 4 through July 8 at 7 p.m. Fireworks will follow the game on July 4. Call 243-6111 for ticket information. The Sec Taylor Stadium is just a few blocks south of the Court Avenue District so cab fare will cost around $5.

From June 29 through July 1, the Des Moines Arts Festival will be held in downtown Des Moines. Most of the displays and concessions will be on the Court Avenue and the Walnut and Locust Street Bridges over the Des Moines River. The Festival features 150 top-notch artists from around the country and is ranked as the 10th best arts festival. Call 282-8236 for more information. There is no charge for this event.

One of the best activities is the Downtown Farmers Market held each Saturday morning from 7 a.m. to noon from early May through October. There is a great variety of fresh home grown produce, homemade pies, bread, and pastries, as well as crafts, flowers, clothing, and much more. Take a stroll down Fourth Street from the Kirkwood Hotel to Court Avenue and Court Avenue from 5th to First Street and let your nose do the walking. Fourth Street and Court Avenue are closed to vehicular traffic. Arrive early for best selections come rain or shine.

A very popular event of the summer is the Yankee Doodle Pops Concert (similar to the Boston Pops) held on the west lawn and steps of the State Capitol Building at East 9th and Grand Avenue. This year the concert will be held at 8 p.m. on July 3rd, with a finale of fireworks set to music. There is no charge for this concert. There is no formal seating.

Another musical event is called Nitefall on the River, held at the Simon Estes Amphitheatre on the Des Moines River each Thursday evening during the summer at 7 p.m. This concert series features live local musicians and bands. Call 237-1386 for tickets.


AFFILIATE NEWS

A Hot Topic For July
by Mitch Pomerantz

"Undressing the Emperor, Addressing Our 70 Percent Unemployment Rate" is the theme of the 2001 ACB Government Employees' program being held in conjunction with the American Council of the Blind national convention in Des Moines, Iowa.

In a series of letters which appeared in "The Braille Forum" over several months, issues were raised concerning why -- more than 10 years after passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act -- the unemployment rate for blind and visually impaired people of working age remains in excess of 70 percent. While we frequently discuss this issue among ourselves (often with a cold one in hand at a professional conference or convention "happy hour"), doing so in the context of an ACB special interest affiliate program may be a first-time event.

In ACBGE's keynote presentation, a panel of concerned blind people will explore the reasons for this phenomenon and attempt to answer the question: Is the unacceptably high rate of unemployment a matter of personal responsibility, public perception, or some combination of both? Are there other contributing factors (e.g., over-reliance on an outmoded rehabilitation system, inadequate education and/or training) which cause us to be the largest unemployed minority in the country? Today, do most working blind people find jobs in government service rather than the corporate world?

This thought-provoking session will take place Thursday afternoon, July 5, following ACBGE's annual business meeting and luncheon. There will also be an update on implementing Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act.

Registration for the program costs $7 in advance, $10 at the door. Be sure to include this exciting, provocative presentation among your convention plans. Sign up early to ensure your seat!

Raffle For ACB Quilt

Nearly all of the ACB affiliates are represented in the ACB quilt designed and crafted by the Tennessee Council of the Blind. Again this year at the ACB 40th Convention in Des Moines, the right to display the quilt for whichever affiliate the winner chooses will be the grand prize in a raffle to raise money for ACB, TCB and the affiliate whose member holds the winning ticket. In addition, the winner will receive a fine talking watch. Raffle tickets cost $1 apiece, and will be sold in the exhibits hall and on the convention floor. The quilt will be on display in the exhibits hall until Wednesday of convention week, and thereafter on the convention floor until the winning ticket is drawn at the banquet.

Colorado Addresses the Issues of Visual Impairment and Life-Long
Learning in a Day of Seminars and Camaraderie

The Colorado Council of the Blind held its annual convention in Colorado Springs during the first weekend of April. More than 60 presenters discussed the various ways we cope with blindness and visual impairment throughout our lives. There were seminars for family members, discussions with ophthalmologists and educators, practical advice on transitioning from one stage of life to another, finding jobs, and self-defense. After a day of sharing and learning, a banquet which featured a murder mystery with a wild west theme was the perfect way to unwind. On Sunday, the convention tackled the serious issues surrounding an NFB- sponsored commission bill, and elections.

GDUI Heads North to Des Moines
by Sanford Alexander

Guide Dog Users, Inc. will hold its 2001 meeting in conjunction with the 40th annual convention of the American Council of the Blind at the Polk County Convention Center, Des Moines, Iowa. All GDUI functions will take place beginning Sunday, July 1, and will conclude on Wednesday, July 4. The convention center will be the site of the GDUI office and of many events and meetings. In addition, several meetings will be held at the Marriott Hotel. Check your convention program to make sure you catch any scheduling changes.

The GDUI office, Room 148 located on the lower level of the center, will be the venue for GDUI products, the place where dog handlers can meet and where the empathizers will provide peer support. The office will also be the location for the single food delivery on Sunday afternoon. When ordering food, please keep in mind that the five hotels are some distance from the center and that you will need to make arrangements to get your delivery to your own location. Watch the GDUI web site for ordering details.

We will enjoy a more moderate climate than we have in the past several years, with average temperatures reaching into the 80s for highs and the 50s for lows. Drinking water in Des Moines is quite acceptable and you need not bring bottled water unless your dog has problems with water changes.

T-touch therapy may be especially helpful with dogs experiencing stress, fear of loud noises (including thunderstorms and fireworks), arthritis, hip dysplasia, lack of self- confidence, and/or grief. T-touch practitioner Julie Rubey will be available by appointment only for individual sessions to teach T-touch techniques. Her prices are $20 per half hour or $40 for a full hour. She will schedule appointments for Sunday and Monday, July 1 and 2 and Tuesday, July 3, if need exists. Julie can be contacted via e-mail at [email protected] or by telephone at (712) 623-2724.

Barking dogs should never be left alone to disturb hotel guests while their owners enjoy a stress-free evening without harness in hand. The hotels will address the owners of dogs who bark excessively as they would address other hotel guests that are a nuisance. If you must leave your dog in your room alone, consider a tie-down or crate to ensure that hotel staff do not enter a room containing a loose dog.

Dog relief areas will be located at each of the hotels as well as two at the convention center. GDUI will have pick-up bags available but be sure to bring plenty of your own just in case. Cleaning up after your dog is a MUST! Assistance will be available to train individuals in cleaning up if need be. It is our responsibility to assure a well-kept relief area. As stated in the ADA, hotels are required to reasonably accommodate us by providing a guide dog relief area; however, they have no obligation to maintain it. You may designate a tip for the guide dog relief fund on the pre-registration form. Remember, however, this contribution is merely a tip for hotel staff who have assisted in maintaining the relief area. It is not payment for someone else to clean up after your dog.

If your dog has an accident indoors and you need assistance in cleaning it up, exercise responsible dog handling by staying near it while asking someone to find help for you. Also, remember that we will be doing a great deal of indoor walking with no curb side or emergency relief areas along the way.

The program this year will offer several segments that may be of particular interest to guide dog users and those interested in what is happening in the access world. We have invited Janet Burleson, director of the Guide Horse Foundation, to participate in a discussion of her program during our luncheon. Many people have had their curiosity piqued with recent attention given to this project as well as to reports about other exotic animals that have been involved in incidents such as the flying pig and the therapy boa. Also, concerns have been raised over potential dangers to access rights created by incidents involving dogs trained to provide protection to their human partners. We will be able to learn more about the training of service dogs and to see how this differs from guide dog training. We will also have a unique opportunity to meet with a group of puppy raisers and a few puppies in training, to learn more about the wonderful service these dedicated people provide to all of us.

In addition to the annual report from the guide dog schools, we will have a panel that will discuss the summit meeting GDUI sponsored in January at which representatives from the International Association of Assistance Dog Partners (IAADP), the Assistance Dog International (ADI) and the Council of United States Dog Guide Schools (CUSDGS) joined GDUI to develop reform language for ADA regulations. We will hear about this meeting and about what happened at the meeting with the Department of Justice at which the summit product was presented.

Make your plans now to be part of this exciting and informative GDUI meeting. See you in Des Moines!


LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

The editorial staff reserves the right to edit letters for content, style and space available. Opinions expressed are those of the authors, not those of the American Council of the Blind, its staff or elected officials. "The Braille Forum" is not responsible for the opinions expressed herein. We will not print letters unless you sign your name and give us your address.

Eye Contact and Pedestrian Safety

(Editor's Note: We found this provocative letter on an e- mail list. Debbie agreed with us that her letter belongs in this column for every ACB member to see and ponder.) [end of note]

A couple of days ago, I happened upon a radio interview with an individual who had been injured in an intersection while riding his bicycle. Although I missed most of the details of the misadventure, this one sentence made me doubly aware that ACB is definitely on the right path in terms of intersection access. The man said, "The mistake I made that caused the crash was that I did not make eye contact with the driver."

Now we have intersections that because of their configuration are often difficult to identify via tactile clues and whose traffic control patterns are ever changing and whose traffic control devices are inaccessible to us. Because of the changes in traffic control planning, there is now added to this mix the necessity of making eye contact with drivers not only in roundabouts but in all intersections.

What we are doing (in terms of advocating for accessible pedestrian signals) is right, and it in no way marks us as second class blind people. What sighted person is ever looked down upon because he or she checks out the walk/don't walk signs before making a crossing? Is there a sighted person who is accused of depending too much on these signs and, as a result, not using his/her other skills to make a determination as to when it is safe to cross the street?

Without access to this country's streets and highways, every aspect of our lives is negatively impacted. The NFB understood this years ago when they took the lead in getting white cane laws passed all over this country. Our access to America's streets and highways is guaranteed by law; it is a legal right. The ability to drive a vehicle is a privilege for which a license is required, a privilege that can be revoked but, sadly often is not, when that privilege is abused. It is indeed ironic that the privilege of driving in this country is regarded as a right and the right of access to Americažs streets and highways for all its citizens is regarded as a privilege.

-- Debbie C. Grubb, Bradenton, Fla.

Another Response to Marett Letters

This is in response to Lucia Marett's letter on blindness issues. I noticed that the previously published responses explained the facts but they didn't explain the "whys." Yes, there are successfully employed blind people, such as engineers and scientists. But how did they get there? The main reason is that they were at the right place at the right time. If you're not at the right place at the right time, all of the hard work, studying, and even wishful thinking will mean absolutely nothing! This is the way things usually work out -- even though they won't tell you that during rehabilitation.

Another problem is that one group says you can do it all while another says you can do nothing. I once went through a program that stated I could do it all. (At least the implications were there even if it wasn't stated directly.) That type of training could make you believe that you could do things that you really can't do. That is much, much worse than believing that you can do nothing. Having unrealistic expectations is worse than having none at all.

The training I received helped convince me that I could be a police dispatcher, even though I had never seen a computer in my life at that time. I was naive enough to go for an interview for a dispatching job. Did I get the job? I didn't understand it at the time, but I certainly do now. At that time (I was young), I thought I was being discriminated against because I was blind. I didn't get the job because I wasn't qualified, not because I was blind. I didn't understand that then, but I certainly do now. What a difference a few years can make!

-- Charles Biebl, Baltimore, Md.

Re: Dori by Sarah Blake

I am writing to thank Sarah Blake for her articles which have appeared during the last year about her guide dog Dori. Also I wish to thank Penny Reeder for her article about Glory that was in the March 2001 edition. I found the articles most interesting and educational.

Currently I use a white cane. This aid helps me to go most places. Someday I plan to get a dog. These types of stories are just what I have been looking for. I would like to see more articles in the Forum about the blind and their experiences and what they come in contact with on a daily basis. I think it would not only help me, but others who may be going through the same thing.

Keep up the good work there at the ACB.

-- J.L. Blackwell, Chester, S.C.


INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATIONS SEEK YOUR ADVOCACY TO CHANGE BRITAIN'S
QUARANTINE REQUIREMENTS

Travel Tips

Dover, England (AP): British customs officials didn't just let Frodo Baggins walk right into the country -- the 5-year-old black pug had to have a passport.

Frodo made history when he arrived on a ferry from France and was allowed into Britain, the first animal to come in under a new program that gives pets passports. The pilot project is aimed at replacing a 100-year-old law requiring pets to be quarantined for six months upon their arrival in Britain.

As of February 2000, dogs and cats from 22 European countries were eligible for a passport, as were guide dogs from Australia and New Zealand. If successful, the program will be extended to pets from the United States, Canada and the Caribbean in 2001, a spokesman for the agricultural ministry said.

Under the program, Frodo was allowed to board the ferry late Sunday in Calais, France, after customs officials confirmed his identity and rabies-free status. Helen de Borchgrave, his owner, carried documents including blood test results and proof that Frodo had been treated for ticks and tapeworms 48 hours before departure.

When the project is fully operational, it is expected to aid the transit of some 300,000 pets every year. Animals who fail the test will be required to go into quarantine.

Pet passports purchased in France cost $46.

(Editor's Note: The information below was excerpted from several postings which have made the rounds on various e-mail listservs. We believe this issue is an important one to address, and so are publishing this appeal to inform all guide-dog users in the U. S. and to encourage their involvement and advocacy on this matter.)

Passports for Pets Seeks Your Involvement To Guide Dog and Service Dog Owners, Service Dog Organizations, and Organizations and Groups Representing People with Disabilities:

I am an American service dog user (I have a Hearing Dog for the Deaf named Shona). I am one of the North American directors of a British advocacy group called "Passports For Pets" that has been lobbying to change the quarantine rules that have until recently barred all dogs and cats, including service dogs, from entering or re-entering the United Kingdom without a six-month quarantine. At this time, if you are an American or Canadian service dog user who wishes to go to the United Kingdom, or a British service dog user who wishes to go to America or Canada and then return to the United Kingdom, you cannot do so without leaving your dog in a quarantine facility for six months. I believe that this regulation is unfair and infringes on the right of people with disabilities to travel freely and safely.

I am writing because we need your help. "Passports For Pets" has been successful in lobbying the U.K. government to allow dogs and cats into the U.K. from Europe, so we are hopeful that the British government will be willing to extend this to North America at some time in the future. However, for this to happen, the British, American, and Canadian governments need to hear from people and organizations that support this effort.

If you are a British, American or Canadian service dog user, you can help by e-mailing the Minister of Agriculture in the United Kingdom, and by e-mailing or writing your local Congresspeople or MP's. If you are a member of, or work for, an organization that represents people with disabilities, you can also help by asking your organization to write. Some useful e- mail addresses are listed in the letter that I have included below.

While the Passports For Pets scheme is directed at all dogs and cats, i.e. pets as well as service dogs, the government needs to understand that people with disabilities and their service dogs will benefit from an extension of the "Passports" scheme to North America. Thank you so much for any support that you can offer. Please feel free to contact me if you have further questions or ideas.

Sincerely,
Megan A. Jones (e-mail: [email protected])
Passports for Pets -- California Director
North American Association

International Association of Assistance Dog Partners
Appeals to Dog Users

Dear friends:

The International Association of Assistance Dog Partners (IAADP) sympathizes with the efforts of a lobbying organization, Passports for Pets USA. That organization is asking Britain to grant pets from North America the same exemption from the six- month quarantine kennel stay which Britain granted to pets from Europe last year in a pilot scheme that will end in April.

Megan, the deaf-blind woman who addressed the IAADP conference asking for letters of support for Passports for Pets USA, told me she tried living without her assistance dog. She had the opportunity to do exciting work in the deaf-blind community in Britain. However, it wasn't long before she had to give up and return to the USA. Being forced by the quarantine rules to live without her assistance dog proved to be much too difficult.

While Britain will probably extend the "passport for pets" alternative (e.g. vaccination, microchipping, antibody titre testing) for pets in Europe indefinitely due to treaty requirements for membership in the European Economic Union, I'm pessimistic about a sudden change of heart toward dogs from North America.

There is a slight but definite increase in the risk of rabies if North American dogs are admitted, according to their scientists. That fact already has some Brits howling that it is too much of a risk.

IAADP is therefore proposing the assistance dog community adopt a "fallback position" and ask the British authorities to consider a pilot scheme for disabled people partnered with assistance dogs from North America.

This may be viewed as a politically attractive compromise by Britain. This time in their history seems to us to be our best chance at receiving a favorable concession.

I believe the mathematical projections which concern this population of dogs will reveal the increased chance of bringing rabies to the U.K. to be so small as to be statistically insignificant for this population of dogs that have passed the required antibody titre testing. That was the result when this kind of mathematical analysis was done for Hawaii in connection with the idea of admitting assistance dog teams from the USA to Hawaii.

Please join us in writing the British government and their press if you support IAADP's position. A list of the relevant e- mail addresses will follow the IAADP letter below. (Note: we carefully say nothing negative about the Passports for Pets USA petition in our letter, and in fact ask the British government to support it, but if they decide against it, THEN as a fallback position, we ask that the Rt. Hon. Nick Brown MP propose a pilot scheme for assistance dog teams from North America.)

We suggest you identify yourself as a partner or trainer and/or by a title if applicable. You can append a copy of our letter, if you don't want to go into detail. Personal letters giving one or more reasons why you support this change in the quarantine rules are much better, we're told, than a form type letter, so if you can take 15 minutes to write one by e-mail, it would be much appreciated.

This is a human rights issue, not an agricultural livestock issue. I hope we can make them see that. Hoping for your support,

Joan Froling,
International Association of Assistance Dog Partners (IAADP)

The Sample Letter

Ms. Joan Froling, Chairperson
P.O. Box 1326
Sterling Hts., MI 48311, USA

Dear Rt. Hon. Nick Brown, MP:

I'd appreciate a moment of your time. I'm writing on behalf of more than a thousand disabled members in my capacity as Chairperson of the International Association of Assistance Dog Partners. Many of them live in North America. Some live in Britain. Some live in Europe or as far away as Japan. They all dream of the day when they can travel freely between countries with their assistance dogs. Until that happens, they remain shut out of employment opportunities, academic opportunities, conferences or trade shows, family gatherings and tourist travel.

This spring, your quarantine "pilot scheme" will be reviewed. It is my understanding that a decision will be made on whether or not to permit dogs from North America to travel to and from England, like the dogs from Europe have been legally permitted to do in the last year.

Instead of isolating our assistance dogs for six months in a quarantine kennel as your present policy requires, changing the rules would allow disabled people from Britain and North America to substitute the sensible, humane protocol of vaccination, microchipping, antibody titre testing and meeting all other health certificate requirements, so we could bring our highly trained canine assistants with us and continue to rely on their help during our stay.

IAADP respectfully and with tremendous hope asks for your support of this humanitarian measure as it is so crucial to our quality of life.

Perhaps it really isn't possible to grasp how much these highly trained dogs mean to us until you lose your own sight or hearing or mobility. Taking away a service dog from someone like myself for the duration of a visit to England is no different than taking away my wheelchair, as far as the depressing and serious impact it would have on my ability to function adequately. It makes having a disability twice as isolating and difficult to cope with.

If your colleagues are not prepared to admit pet dogs from North America, as requested by the organization Passports for Pets, and other groups, would they please consider starting a pilot scheme for disabled individuals from North America who work with assistance dogs?

I believe Assistance Dogs of the U.K., Assistance Dogs International and other highly respected organizations, like the U.S. Council of Dog Guide Schools, would be willing to work together with your government if given the opportunity to ensure the success of such a program. IAADP would cooperate in every way possible.

I pray that before the end of 2001, I will be able to publicize the wonderful news that Great Britain has decided on humanitarian grounds to give assistance dog teams from North America the opportunity to visit Britain without going through a six-month quarantine kennel stay. Also that your own disabled citizens with assistance dogs will now be given the opportunity to consider jobs, academic scholarships and invitations to family gatherings in Canada or the USA, as well as in Europe, while retaining the right to bring their dogs with them without quarantine upon returning home.

I'm asking that Britain take a leadership role on this matter. If you remove this enormous barrier to disabled people having a normal life in the world community, I believe other countries will follow suit.

Thank you for considering our petition.

Most sincerely,
Joan Froling
IAADP Chairperson
Phone: (810)826-3938
Web site: http://www.iaadp.org
E-mail: [email protected]

Contact Information For Your Personal Letters Send Your Letter to: [email protected] Then copy your letter, using the "CC" field in your e-mail, to: [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; and [email protected]


ADVENTURES OF A BLIND BUSINESS TRAVELER
by Larry Johnson
(Reprinted from "Catholic Digest," August 2000.)

The door of the plane closed. "Welcome aboard Southwest Airlines Flight 155 with service to Dallas Love Field."

"Oh no!" I jumped up out of my seat. "I'm going to Houston!"

"Well, sir, if that's where you want to go," the flight attendant said, "you're on the wrong plane."

The well-meaning passenger service agent, so eager to be of assistance, had put me on the wrong plane. With the help of the flight attendant, I scrambled off the Dallas flight and hurried to the correct aircraft.

I love to travel -- by car, by train, or by air. In most cases, I travel alone. Because I am blind, this often means relying on others for information and assistance. It also means careful planning, patience, and a good sense of humor are crucial.

Even with 20 years of experience in business travel, things donžt always go smoothly. On one trip, with just eight minutes to departure, I was racing through the terminal, my hand on the skycap's elbow. Rushing through security, I got to the gate with just three minutes to spare. After catching my breath and checking in, I turned to pick up my carry-on bag. Turning quickly to the gate agent, I asked, "Do you see where the skycap left my bag?"

"He wasn't carrying one when he brought you to the gate," she replied.

"It must be back at the security checkpoint," I said. "I've got to get it. Hold the plane!"

While she protested, I began making my way back up the long hallway. Another passenger, overhearing the situation, offered to assist me. I readily agreed, taking her elbow. "Let's run," I implored.

Seeing us coming, a security officer came to meet us, my bag in hand. "I wondered if you would be coming back for this," he chided.

Offering a hasty thank-you, we turned and raced back to the gate -- just in time to board the plane before the doors closed.

Usually, I prefer to arrive early and preboard. I'll pick a window seat if I want to sleep, an aisle seat if I want coffee. My technique for receiving a cup of coffee or glass of juice is to open one hand palm up and have the second hand open at a right angle to the other. As soon as I feel the cup or glass touch my palm, I close my other hand around it.

One interesting thing I've noticed about flight attendants is that male attendants will touch my shoulder when addressing me, while female attendants generally touch my hand. I haven't quite figured out the implications of all this, but I don't mind.

Striking up a conversation with your seat partner can prove quite interesting and sometimes very helpful. Once, on a flight to Amarillo, I made the acquaintance of a gentleman who not only helped me off the plane but drove me to my hotel.

But you can encounter some rather strange folks, too. At the airport in Houston while waiting for a flight, a woman actually tried to pick me up. She offered to be my companion on future trips. She said she was looking for a mature and intelligent companion. It didn't matter to her that I was married. Her name was Charlotte, and when the flight attendant brought our glasses of Sprite, she proposed a singing toast, "Getting to Know You." As the plane landed and she struggled to get her bag from the overhead compartment, I slipped quickly ahead and left the plane.

I always try to pick hotels with an airport shuttle and on- site restaurant. It's more convenient than having to leave the hotel and find a restaurant, especially for breakfast.

For security reasons, many hotels now use plastic key cards. These are a problem for blind people, because they feel the same front and back, top and bottom. I instruct the desk clerk to place a small piece of tape on the bottom front edge so that I can easily tell which end to insert into the door slot.

After registering, I always ask the bellhop to provide me with a quick orientation of the lobby, directions on where the restaurant, pool, hot tub, and gift shop are located. When we get to the room, I ask for his or her help in learning to use the TV and thermostat.

I make a point of carrying $1 bills so I can tip skycaps and bellhops readily.

Some hotels make it easy for a guy like me to get around. Others are a challenge to memory and navigation skills. To get to my room at North Little Rock's Holiday Inn, I took careful mental notes while being escorted through the lobby and past the dining area, then weaving among tables and chairs, past a bubbling fountain, up two short flights of stone steps (the second resting 10 degrees to the left of the first), then down a long hallway, out through a glass door, along a sidewalk and around a corner. There, at last, we found my room, the second door on the left.

If getting to the lobby from a particular hotel roomžs location is especially difficult or complicated, I now simply call the desk and request assistance. Once, letting my desire for total independence get the better of me, I got lost. It was 6:30 a.m., not a soul around, and I couldn't find the right hallway to the lobby. Finally, in desperation and embarrassment, I knocked on a guest-room door. A gentleman answered. I asked him to please tell me the way to the lobby.

"It's right behind you," he said, more than a little annoyed, and slammed the door. So much for bold independence.

The Americans with Disabilities Act notwithstanding, many hotel rooms are still not labeled in braille or raised numerals. I have used a variety of tricks to label my room, such as placing a rubber band on the doorknob. But it's not always effective: I tried this at a hotel in Washington, D.C., only to return later and discover that some diligent housekeeping employee had removed my rubber band.

In Kansas City, I kidded the bellhop because the braille room number had been affixed to the door upside down. Later that evening, I returned to the hotel, took the elevator up to my floor, and promptly forgot my room number. Embarrassed, I walked along the corridor trying to remember the number. Suddenly I came across one which was upside down. Voila! Their mistake was my salvation.

A visually impaired traveler must be positive, assertive and resourceful. If I am to direct a sighted person, my boss or another colleague, for instance, to drive with me to a meeting site, I try always to have precise visual directions. When getting advance information about the meeting location, Ižll ask about landmarks, the color of the building, and other visual cues.

Since I'm the passenger on these trips, I've found that my sighted companion will usually open my door for me to get in first. As a courtesy, I try in turn to unlock their door before they get around to the other side. This can be quite a challenge, however, since, in case you haven't noticed, there are no standard door locks in cars today. If I can't locate the lock quickly, I'll lean over and open the door with the inside handle -- although door handles are rarely in exactly the same place or of the same shape, either. On one occasion, after trying unsuccessfully to do this for my boss, he opened his door for himself. Finding me stretched out across the seat, he slyly observed, "Lying down on the job, huh, Larry?"

Nevertheless, whether my trips have been long ones or short ones, for me they continue to be adventurous. I have no intention of sitting at home, away from the action, anytime soon.


A DAY IN HIGH SCHOOL
by Maya Roseman

Swarms of students were entering the tall brick building that blustery morning. They traveled in packs through the glass double doors in the front of the six-story structure. That morning, there were clouds of mist floating through the sky like little puffs of warm breath as we stood on the dimly lit sidewalk on Howard Street.

I leaned over and gave a huge bright smile, bearing my pearly whites, next to my cousin, whose smile was bright enough to bring out the morning sun as we posed for the picture my mother was taking. "You guys be careful!" she called as my cousin and I locked arms and entered the Holley Mason Building.

That particular school day was different for me because I had a guest with me, my cousin Leah Williamson. She was overexcited, holding onto me every step of the way with one arm, her cane in the other. Leah had come into town from Denver for my grandparents' 50th wedding anniversary, and because we rarely get to see each other, she came to school with me. Leah had a cane and held onto me tightly for a specific reason: she was blind.

At the age of eight, Leah fell during a soccer game and was taken to Denver's Army Hospital. Upon examination, the doctors found a tumor in her brain that had apparently been there since birth. There was no doubt in anybody's mind that she would have to undergo surgery. I couldn't be there but I remember my grandmother calling with a report almost every afternoon. It saddened me because I could hear the tears welling up in her throat, but I don't think she ever cried. Maybe it was because she felt she had to stay strong for the family. She told us of how the entire family stood around the bed that was embedded in a bright white light and prayed. Leah was shedding tears as she was laid upon the stretcher and wheeled down the long empty corridor toward the operating room.

As a result of the surgery, her sight was gone. I remember my grandmother had told me that Leah had said she was happy. Grandma asked why, and Leah replied, "Because I'm still alive!" Even though I wasn't there, I could tell that there were bright smiles on everybody's faces.

After that event, a new window of opportunities opened for Leah. Her adaptation to being blind and having a disability was absolutely amazing. I do not believe I know too many people who would have been able to change that dramatically. She had to learn to read and use her sense of hearing more often. Leah attends a regular public school in the Denver area and walks through the teenage halls of criticism and turmoil every day. It amazes me that she has held on for so long, so well. But then again it doesn't, because the ability to move on is in the Williamson blood! I think her family was more worried than she was; that is, if she was even worried at all.

The day she came to school with me, I introduced her to everybody. "Hey Jackie," I called out and gave a limp-wristed high-five to a friend of mine. "Hey girl!" she answered, her eyes fixed on Leah. A few more people walked up. "People, this is my cousin Leah, she's from Denver. Leah, that's Jackie, LaToya, Desmond, Brian, Taral, Katie, Tia, Carol, and Stephanie. Also known as Stefelanoy!!" "Maya, you better quit!" Stephanie yelled. "Hey Leah!" they all cried in unison. I thought Leah would be shy, but to my surprise she hollered, "What's happenin'?" Then, being nosy black folks, they started asking questions. It was like that pretty much the whole day.

I remember at lunch everybody was talking about Leah. "Girl, your cousin is so pretty." "She is nice, how is she related to you?" "Her hair is so pretty, is it real?" I just had to laugh. Leah thought it was pretty funny herself and chuckled out loud as everybody gawked all over her. Later she leaned over and asked me, "Do you have these black people here in check or something? It seems to me like you're running them left and right." I simply replied, "I'm just keeping up with the Williamson family tradition." "Oh yeah? What's that?" "Girl, I thought you knew! Williamsons run the show because we're sittin' on top of the world!"

Fourth period was especially funny, because that's when Leah met Ajulu. "Here we go," I thought to myself. Always a question in Ajulu's mind, no doubt about it. She's from Africa and she can question you until the sun comes up! People tend to make fun of her because she's dark; her friends do it only because we know that she won't be offended. "So what exactly do you see?" she asked. Julius, Collin, Taylor and Chris all asked the same question. Being Ajulu's friend, I told Leah, "Hold on, cuz. Let me answer this one."

I replied, "Lemme put it to you this way, Ajulu, what she sees right now," I paused for suspense; the whole class turned around, even Mr. Penrod. "What she sees right now is basically you!!!" The entire class started laughing; half of them were falling out of their chairs. Cheeks were turning red, smiles were showing up, and there was a wild ruckus in room 513. Mr. Penrod calls out, "That was a good one, Maya. Two points for you! Show this group of idiots how you make fun of people!" Ajulu wasn't mad for too long; it usually never lasts. I remember looking over at Leah, and her mouth was stuck open in a wide "O."

Later on that day, in sixth period, we passed Mr. Brown. I introduced him to Leah, and he asked her in a very serious yet confused tone, "Why are your eyes like that?" In a cool and calm voice, Leah replied, "Force of habit, I guess," and whipped out her cane. It was hilarious. Mr. Brown's mouth just dropped down and fell off its hinges. He apologized and just about hit Leah with a million and one questions about how she got that way and what she does for fun. Leah told him that she skied and he almost fell out of his chair. "No way! How? Do you ..." She told him about her instructor and her tandem bike hobby. When she said "tandem bike," all you heard was, "No way!! I tandem bike!" Mr. Brown must have forgotten that he had to teach a class, because he spent the entire period drilling Leah about her leisure time activities.

At the end of the day we stepped out to the curb to meet the family's gold Toyota Camry. We took one last picture with me, Leah, Kat, Tiana and Michelle, said our good-byes, hopped in the car and headed home. When we got to my house, a long white Cadillac pulled up beside the rocky curb to pick up Leah as we said our good-byes and "thanks for coming." When the car pulled off down the sun-lit street, my mom pulled me close and said, "You know, you taught Lewis & Clark High School something. You taught them that just because someone has a disability does not mean that they cannot get around." And as always, Momma was right!


ANDY CHAPPELL, THE LION-HEARTED
by Adam Ruschival

Andrew (Andy) Chappell died Friday, February 23, 2001 from complications which developed during a hospital stay. He was 71 years old, but many of us who knew him thought of him as being younger.

Andy and his family were active with his Presbyterian church. At his funeral, his minister spoke of Andy with personal knowledge. Talking book narrator Mitzi Friedlander read the hymn, "All Things Bright and Beautiful." An excerpt from the recorded format of the March 1980 issue of "Guideposts" magazine was played, describing the founding of this religious publication for the blind. A memorial luncheon followed the service.

Andrew Chappell was born and raised in Orange, N.J. He was a veteran of the Korean War, and was stationed for a time at Fort Knox. In the 1950s and 1960s he worked at WAVE AM 970 radio and WAVE TV channel 3 (Louisville) as a news broadcaster, a weatherman and a "disc jockey" for easy listening music. Andy became a real estate agent in the 1970s, working first with Gibson-Phanaschmidt and then with RE/Max in the 1980s until his death. He was my realtor when I purchased a house in 1988, and he helped several other blind people to buy homes as well.

Then, of course, there was his voice! Andy Chappell recorded talking books at the American Printing House for the Blind for 42 years. During that time he narrated 572 books and many magazines. He may be best known for his recording of "Guideposts" magazine which he narrated for years.

Andy spent much of his non-professional time doing things with and for blind people. He was a volunteer narrator for the Audio Studio for the Reading Impaired, an independent non-profit agency in Anchorage (a suburb of Louisville). As a charter member and past president of the Louisville East Lions Club, Andy really became active with blind people. His Lions Club has several blind members. Through fund-raising and social activities, Andy got to know about many blind people and their connections with the Kentucky School for the Blind, the KSB Alumni Association, the Kentucky Department for the Blind, and the Kentucky Council of the Blind. He had the heart of a lion.

At last year's ACB convention here in Louisville, Andy volunteered much time as a guide. Some of you may have been surprised to hear his voice and realize that your volunteer was a well-known talking book narrator.

Andy had a great sense of humor. While working at WAVE-TV, he once went through the newsroom cutting off the ties of the local TV personalities. One had to go on the air sans tie. On another occasion in those days of live television, revenge was gotten when someone glued a bottle of beer to a table prior to a live commercial where Andy was supposed to take a swig of the brew and proclaim its virtues.

At the annual Lions Club bean soup suppers held at the Kentucky School for the Blind to raise money, Andy would dress up in yellow tights and wear a large yellow box with ribbons around his upper body. He would walk around the cafeteria full of diners as "Mr. Cornbread Man." At the annual Lions yard sale, Andy would put on some of the displayed clothing in unusual ways to get laughs and sales.

Andy used to love to impose his liking for classical music and opera on his neighbors. While washing his car, he would open all the windows and crank up his car radio tuned to the FM opera of the week.

Andy Chappell may be missed on an international level as a wonderful talking book narrator, but his death will also be a loss to those of us who knew him as a friend.


HERE AND THERE
by Billie Jean Keith

The announcement of new products and services in this column cannot 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 held responsible for the reliability of products or services presented herein.

To submit an item for "Here and There," send an e-mail message to
Send E-mail.">
You may call the ACB toll-free number, (800) 424-8666, and leave a message at extension 26. Please be advised that we need information two months ahead of actual publication dates.

APOLOGY

Kevin Wassmer contacted "The Braille Forum" to tell us that information we published about a listserv for aspiring broadcasters (March Braille Forum) was not pre-approved by him. We regret any inconvenience the publication of this information caused him.

JOB OPENINGS

Freedom Scientific Inc., an international software developer and high-tech hardware manufacturing company, has immediate need of technical support specialists, inside sales representatives and software engineers. Technical support specialists will work in the company's Stuart, Fla., location, answering calls, evaluating and diagnosing problems, producing documents and prioritizing incoming phone calls and voice messages. They must be fluent in grade 2 braille. Inside sales representatives will work in St. Petersburg, Fla. They will receive, solicit and answer prospective customers' sales inquiries and explain types of services and products. Software engineers will compile code in C++. All jobs require computer literacy and two years of assistive technology experience. Send your resume and salary history in confidence to Human Resources, fax (727) 803-8001, or e-mail [email protected]

TREBEK HOSTS ACCESS AWARDS

The American Foundation for the Blind scored more than a ždaily doublež when they asked Alex Trebek, host of the Jeopardy! game show, to be master of ceremonies at the annual AFB Access Awards held recently in Washington, DC.

Sony Studios' Jeopardy! received an Access Award for making a simple accommodation to enable a participant who is blind to take part in the show. As a result, the contestant, Eddie Timanis, won five straight contests. The accommodation was to provide the listing of Jeopardy! categories in braille and allow him to use a typewriter for the final written question.

Other Access Award recipients included: Cakewalk, for adding hot keys to its popular software to enable music composers or producers who are blind to write, play and record music in an integrated MIDI and audio environment; California Council of the Blind, for its campaign that culminated in major financial institutions committing to the installation of talking ATMs throughout California (CCB's vice president Jeff Thom accepted the award for the affiliate.); FutureForms for its innovative Verbal-eyes program, a tool developed to aid people who are blind or visually impaired to access electronic forms; Dr. Margaret and Cody Pfanstiehl for their tireless and successful advocacy campaign that led to the FCC rule requiring the major television networks to provide a minimum of audio described, prime-time programming; and Sun Microsystems for making accessibility an integrated part of the Java platform.

"The Braille Forum" extends its sincere congratulations to all the winners. Please keep striving to make the visual world more accessible for all of us!

SASI VOLUNTEERS NEEDED

We are conducting a study to find the genes responsible for Usher syndrome (hearing loss and retinitis pigmentosa (vision loss)) in Ashkenazi Jews. If you or a member of your family are an Ashkenazi Jew or of Ashkenazic heritage and have Usher syndrome, or both hearing loss and vision loss that has no other known cause, you and your family member may be eligible to participate.

Participation may be as simple as a phone call and giving blood locally or may involve spending a few hours at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York for vision and hearing tests at no cost to you. There may be no direct benefit to you as a participant other than the possible medical advances and greater understanding of Usher syndrome that may result if causative genes are found.

For more information please call Drs. Ness or Willner at (212) 241-6947, or by mail at: Judith Willner, Department of Human Genetics, Box 1497, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, One Gustave L. Levy Place, New York, NY 10029, or e-mail Dr. Ness at [email protected]

STIPENDS FOR GRADUATE PROGRAM IN REHAB TECHNOLOGY

Stipends of $9,300 and $2,000 are available to 10 students per year for enrollment and completion of the Certificate Program in Assistive and Rehabilitation Technology (CPART). The University at Buffalo is accepting applications for the fall 2001 term.

Graduates with backgrounds in OT, PT, Special Education, SLP, and Engineering are strongly encouraged to apply. The curriculum includes six graduate-level courses that reflect the breadth of practice and research in the AT field, including: Computer Access, Ergonomics and Job Accommodation, Outcome Measurement, Wheeled Mobility and Seating, and Environmental Accommodation. If you are interested, additional information and an application package are available at http://wings.buffalo.edu/ot/cat/cprtdesc.htm.

GRADUATE SCHOLARSHIPS FOR WOMEN WITH DISABILITIES

The ELA Foundation announces its annual scholarship program for women with disabilities who are pursuing a graduate degree at any accredited college or university in the United States. All applications must be received by June 15, 2001. Application procedures and forms can be found on the ELA web site at http://www.ela.org listed under Grants/Scholarships. The scholarships to be awarded in August are two awards of $2,000 each.

EASY TO UNDERSTAND COMPUTER BOOKS

A computer user who is blind recommends a web site that has good books for learning many aspects of computing. Also, there is a listing of books that are accessible under the topic "blind." You may want to check out the listings and newsletter by visiting http://www.knowwareglobal.com/index.htm.

VOICE OF TV RUGRATS CHARACTER IS BLIND ACTRESS

The voice for a new Rugrats character named Kimi is 22-year-old Canadian actress Dionne Quan. Kimi is the cowboy-booted, adventurous toddler in the Rugrats Neighborhood. Kimi owes her warm and giggling voice to Quan, who reads her weekly scripts in braille. Quan was selected over 147 other actors seeking the role. Rugrats producers adjust the microphone to avoid capturing the soft sound of Quan's fingers moving over the script.

TRAVEL SERVICES FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE BLIND

According to a quote from Mark Twain, "Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness." This appears to be the watch word for the Campanian Society, Inc., a travel service that specializes in programs which are designed to meet the unique needs of travelers with low vision or no vision. The Campanian Society strives to provide a rich educational experience unavailable on most vision-oriented trips by offering opportunities for tactile experiences and hands-on encounters. On-site lectures, readings and audio-description combine with music. Travel programs include tours to many beautiful American cities and locations such as Cape Cod, New Orleans, Las Vegas, Key West, New York City, Washington, DC, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Hawaii. European tours have included cities in Italy, and visits to places of interest in Switzerland. For more information, contact The Campanian Society, Inc., Box 167, Oxford, OH 45056; phone (513) 524-4846; fax (513) 523-0276; e-mail [email protected], or visit the web site, http://www.campanian.org.

RAINBOW BEAR TRAVEL

Rainbow Bear Travel and Cruise offers travel services for people who are blind and visually impaired. For more information, e-mail [email protected], or write Rainbow Bear Travel & Cruise, 887 Park St., Ashland, OR 97520-3528; phone (541) 552-9388, or toll-free (888) 564-8510.

LISTSERV FOR BLIND TRAVELERS

This listserv for blind travelers is a welcome resource for sharing travel experiences and making recommendations to other travelers who are visually impaired or blind. Postings to the list center on travel opportunities, discussion of books on travel, local travel information and resources. To join, send a message to [email protected] In the body of the text write: subscribe blind-travel your first name and last name. You will receive a confirmation message to which you reply OK in the text.

TRAVEL AGENT WHO IS BLIND

Travel agent Kathleen Prime (who is blind) specializes in travel arrangements for people who are blind or visually impaired. She also makes travel arrangements for non-disabled travelers. For more information, contact her at Tivoli Travel, Inc., phone (631) 698-5149, or e-mail to [email protected]

THE BRAILLE BOOKSTORE

For more than 10 years, I Can See Books (The Braille Bookstore) has been producing high-quality, low-cost braille and print/braille books for all ages. They're back with a new look and feel. The brand-new on-line shopping cart is a breeze to use while you browse through the list of more than 400 books. Selections include many Dr. Seuss, Madeline and Magic Tree House series; classics such as Anne of Green Gables, Little Women and Heidi. There are mysteries, cookbooks and guide dog books. All selections are available in grade 1 and grade 2 braille! Stop by http://www.braillebookstore.com, or phone (250) 753-3093.

CALLING BLIND GOLFERS

The United States Blind Golf Association's National Championship will be a 36-hole open tournament for United States and international golfers who are blind or visually impaired. Hosted by the Greensboro Adams Farm Lions Club, the tournament will be held at the Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, NC September 17-19, 2001. Hotel, golf and other event expenses will be covered for qualifying golfers and coaches, but not travel fares. For more information, contact USBGA, phone/fax (850) 893-4511, e-mail [email protected], visit the web site, http://www.blindgolf.com, or write USBGA, 3094 Shamrock North, Tallahassee, FL 32308.

SPEAK TO ME NEW SPRING CATALOG

The people at "Speak To Me" want to talk about their new spring catalog full of interesting talking items -- from a Harley-Davidson motorcycle wall clock to a talking pedometer. There are useful gadgets and frivolous novelties. The "Speak To Me" catalog is available in print, cassette, IBM-compatible disk and through e-mail. Send a message to [email protected], write the word catalog on the subject line. To order, call toll-free (800) 248-9965, or write to Speak To Me, 330 SW 43rd St. #154, Renton, WA 98055-4976.

ON-LINE COMMUNITY FOR BLIND: SEEKING PRODUCTS

Are you looking for a vendor for your product or service? If so, the webmaster of www.blindcommunity.com wants to hear from you. The content for people who are blind leans toward the lighter side of life, covering unique products of interest to blind people, entertainment, information on blindness-related sports, etc. Send an e-mail message to [email protected], or visit the web site, http://www.blindcommunity.com.

BRAILLE GREETING CARDS

A company called Shadows in the Dark sells braille picture greeting cards for birthday, anniversary, get well, congratulations, Christmas, thank you, sympathy, Mother's Day, Father's Day, Easter, friendship, Valentine's Day, and Mardi Gras. Custom-created cards and poetry cards can be provided at no extra cost. Cards range in price from $1.75 to $3. You can buy sets of cards, and there are braille cards in French and German. To order, contact Shadows in the Dark, 4600 Pine Hill Rd., Shreveport, LA 71107-2716; phone (318) 459-2233; visit the web site at http://www.shadowsinthedark.com, or e-mail [email protected]

FREE ON-LINE TELEPHONE CALLING LIST

Callingpost is a free service for civic, non-profit and volunteer organizations that allows groups to create an on-line telephone calling list. Users must first set up an account and add the names and numbers of those to be called. When youžre ready to use the service, dial a special toll-free number, leave a message no longer than 30 seconds, and Callingpost will deliver it to your recipient list. You can add any number of contacts to a group, and can manage any number of groups through your account.

A few rules exist: You cannot deliver messages to voice mail accounts or phone numbers requiring extensions. Messages can only be recorded using a phone, not over the Internet. Although the service is free, it is sponsored by businesses that attach five-second ads to each message. To learn more, visit http://www.callingpost.org.

BIBLE-RELATED WEB SITES

If you would like to download a free recorded copy of the Bible in MP3 format, or to purchase a Bible and other related study materials on CD-ROM, these web sites may be of interest: http://www.audiotreasures.com; the King James Bible - http://www.avpublications.com; Bible Gateway/Gospel Communications International - http://www.biblegateway.org; Theophilos Bible Download - http://www.theophilos.sk; and On-line Bible - http://www.onlinebible.com.

NTWH SEEKS STUDENTS

The National Theatre Workshop of the Handicapped at the Crosby School (NTWH-Crosby) in Belfast, Maine is currently accepting applications for its May to September 2001 season. Individuals interested in the programs are encouraged to apply. The diverse student population is drawn locally, nationally, and internationally. There are opportunities available for both day and residential students. Programming includes performing and fine arts workshops, children's programs, outdoor recreation and cultural activities. Workshops will be held at the new totally accessible residential facility. NTWH offers housing and dining for 50, four multi-use studios, a dance studio, 500 seat Main Stage, 100 seat Little Theatre, a darkroom and kiln.

Workshops will be in acting, singing, movement/dance, oral interpretation, play-writing, painting, drawing, pottery and photography. The following are the dates of the workshops open to new students: Children's Perf Session I, 6/19 - 6/28; Introduction To Theatre Session II, 6/22 - 7/3; Children's Performance Session II, 7/10 - 7/19; Children's Performance Session III, 7/24 - 8/2; Chorale Workshop, 8/9 - 8/24; and Fine Arts Session II, 9/25 - 10/12.

Generous scholarship funds are available for qualified students. Scholarships are considered per individual, and are granted according to need. Contact the National Theatre Workshop of the Handicapped, PO Box 1138, 96 Church Street, Belfast, ME 04915; phone (207) 338-6894; fax (207) 338-6075; e-mail [email protected]; or visit the web page, http://www.ntwh.org.

SHOTWELL AWARD WINNER

The Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired presented its 2000 Ambrose M. Shotwell Memorial Award to William J. ("Bill") Ferrell of Florida. The award honors an individual for his/her contributions to the field of rehabilitation of blind and visually impaired people. Bill is a long-time ACB and AER member. Congratulations, Bill!

WHITE CANES

California Canes provides a wide range of white canes, including the lightweight carbon fiber models that are lighter than aluminum canes and stronger than steel, according to a press release from the company. Lite Duty canes for low vision consumers are the newest addition to the company's product line. Check them out by calling California Canes at (949) 489-1973, or faxing the company at (949) 489-0996. The company's address is 25611 Quail Run #123, Dana Point, CA 92629. You may also visit the web site, http://www.californiacanes.com.

VICTOR WINS IN COMPETITION

The recent CSUN conference at Los Angeles March 23 was the venue for a dramatic contest which pitted four digital talking book players against one another: VisuAide's Victor Reader, Plextor's Plextalk, Labyrinten's LP Player, and isSound. The duel, held before an enthusiastic crowd of 70, was organized by the DAISY Consortium. The competition was designed to compare digital talking book players according to the criteria of efficiency, functionality and ease of use. Operated by visually impaired people, each unit was simultaneously put through an array of comparative trials under the watchful eye of three judges, all members of the DAISY Consortium.

After two and a half hours of intense competition, the DAISY Consortium judges awarded victory to VisuAide's Victor Reader, which excelled in the majority of trials: basic features, help functions and positioning, advanced functions such as bookmarks, and even a drop test to determine shock resistance.

GENERATIONS CD

A new CD is now available featuring the Generations chorus of Louisville, Ky. Most of the members of Generations are alumni of the Kentucky School for the Blind. Their latest CD is packed with rousing spirituals, classical religious music, songs from well- known musicals, and more. CD's cost $15, including shipping and handling. For more information, write to: Generations Inc., 3106 Townsend Terrace, Louisville, KY 40241; or call (502)327-0778; e- mail [email protected]

HAS BOOKS TO SELL

Sylvie Kashdan, P.O. Box 17138, Seattle, WA 98107, [email protected], will sell: Hare Krishna cookbook, braille, 2 volumes, $10; "The Joy of Eating Natural Foods," braille, 8 volumes, $30; Complete Greek cookbook, braille, 5 volumes, $30. Postal money orders only. Send your request, along with your name, address, telephone number and money order to her at the address above.


HIGH TECH SWAP SHOP

FOR SALE: Low Vision Enhancement System, hasn't been used for three years. Originally cost $4,400; asking $1,500 or best offer. Contact Marilyn Lind, 5454 SW 19th, Topeka, KS 66604.

FOR SALE: DOS-based computer, monitor, keyboard, printer, scanner with Open Book OCR software, DECTalk synthesizer and Vocal-Eyes screen reader. Asking $500. I also have 486 or newer computers (most of 100 meg or faster) for $50 and a few printers for $25 including free matter shipping. Call Robert Langford at (214) 340-6328.

FOR SALE: DECTalk PC-1 internal speech synthesizer, installation cassette included, $300. Open Book Unbound version 2.0K, comes with braille, print and cassette versions of the user's guide, $75. American Heritage Dictionary, college edition, version 1.1 for DOS, $50. Basic training cassettes and print manuals for JAWS for DOS, version 2.3, $25. Advanced training cassettes for JAWS (for DOS) version 2.3, $35. User's guide and reference manual for JAWS for DOS 3.2, braille, four volumes, $25. CD-ROM Advantage for Blind Users, braille (one volume), $5. DOS 7 reference card in braille, $2. Learning WordPerfect 6.0 Using a Screen Access Program, two braille volumes, $10. inLARGE 2.0 screen magnification program for Mac 7.0 and greater, $25. WordPerfect 5.1 for DOS, including print manual, $50. Training tapes for using WordPerfect 5.1 for DOS with JAWS, $10. WordPerfect for DOS version 6.1, $50. Quick reference braille pamphlet for WordPerfect 6.0 DOS, $2. WordPerfect for DOS magazines on CD-ROM, 87 issues, $20. Money orders only. Contact Robby Barnes, PO Box 17138, Seattle, WA 98107, or via e-mail at [email protected]

FOR SALE: Braille 'n Speak and disk drive. Comes with cases, latest update, and Windisk software. Asking $1,000. Contact David or Rhonda Trott, 1018 East St. S., Talladega, AL 35160; phone (256) 362-5649; or e-mail [email protected]

FOR SALE: Nearly new Brother word processor with 14-inch colored screen and accessories. Make an offer. E-mail me at [email protected]


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Because so many members and friends of the American Council of the Blind responded so generously to our annual fall fund- raiser, "The Braille Forum" will be listing those contributors over the next several months. Contributors' names will be published according to alphabetic listings of the states where they reside, in this and the next three issues of "The Braille Forum."

ACB wishes to thank its many members and friends who gave so generously in response to our fall 2000 letter requesting support for ACB's ongoing programs and services. This partial list of donors reflects only those people who gave us permission to publicly acknowledge their gifts.

ALABAMA

Joseph T. Buck, Huntsville

Dr. & Mrs. S. Hoffman, Birmingham

Mary C. Parr, Gadsden

ALASKA

Deborah Jenkins, Fairbanks

ARIZONA

Gary & Linda Basile, Chandler

Larry Davis, Sun City West

Ben De Paola, Scottsdale

John E. Lane, Mesa

Valerie Lintz, Phoenix

Mr. & Mrs. Robert L. Williams, Phoenix

ARKANSAS

W.C. OžConnor, Marmaduke

Imogene Johnson, Little Rock

Nola & Fred McKinney, Bonnerdale

Dick Seifert, Little Rock

CALIFORNIA

Ardis Bazyn, Burbank

Beatrice Bel, Half Moon Bay

Steve Berlin-Chavez, Albany

Mari Bull, La Verne

Bianca Culbertson, Carmichael

Ann DeLint, Cerrito

Winifred Downing, San Francisco

Cy & Didi Esty, San Jose

John Gasper, Merced

Virginia Gong, Union City

Robin Graff, San Diego

Phil Hallford, San Diego

Marcel Hogervorst, Escondido

Constance Hubbard-Schoeman, La Canada

David Hunter, Redwood City

Lynda Johnson, San Mateo

Jane Kardas, Ukiah

Kevin Kelly, San Diego

Robert Montgomery, Downieville

Jill OžConnell, Carlotta

Douglas Patten, Santa Cruz

Aleck Rafalovich, Ventura

Rex Ransom, El Segundo

Bonnie Reyff, San Francisco

Joanne Ritter, San Rafael

Eleanor Sass, Escondido

Norma Schecter, Huntington Beach

Peter Schustack, San Luis Obispo

Nan M. Scott, Victorville

Lawrence S. Swenson, Penngrove

John V. Timms, Berkeley

Loretta Treas, Sacramento

Victoria Vaughan, Banning

Adam Wimbish, Glendora

COLORADO

June E. Englehorn, Littleton

Eye Center of Northern Colorado, Fort Collins

Roger Harwell, Colorado Springs

Petra Janes, Denver

Alice Johnson, Denver

Howard Lindsay, Longmont

Janet Leonard, Lakewood

William MacDonald, Colorado Springs

CONNECTICUT

Maria Campbell, New London

David Goldstein, Bridgeport

Howard Goldstein, New Haven

Bernard W. Kassett, Tolland

Louise Manginello, Hartford

Ellen M. Telker, Milford

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

Roberta Douglas

Oral O. Miller

Thomas Miller

Freddie Peaco

Janiece Petersen

Sandra Sermons

FLORIDA

Linda Arcache, Boca Raton

William M. Bailey Jr., St. Petersburg

Frank A. Bartola, Winter Park

M.C. Bolin, Port St. Lucie

Kathleen J. Briley, Cocoa

Gladys Burck, West Palm Beach

Bea David, Tampa

Lorraine DeBuisseret, Sarasota

Edgardo P. Donoso, St. Petersburg

Denyse Eddy, Winter Park

Richard W. Giombetti, Pompano Beach

Mr. & Mrs. Bernard Krebs, Plantation

Patricia & James Kracht, Miami

David Lang, Ormond Beach

Fred Lynn, Apopka

Joseph M. Lucasiewicz, Spring Hill

Frank & Judith Mazza, Naples

Inge J. McClure, Ocala

Alice McMullen, Polk City

Richard B. Moore, Orlando

Grace Moulton, Tallahassee

Mary Nicholson, Longwood

Kelly Reynolds, Bradenton

Don and Jan Risavy, Cocoa Beach

Joseph F. Smith Jr., Fort Lauderdale

Edilia Wehbe, St. Petersburg

GEORGIA

Annie Baldwin, Augusta

J.C. Coefield Jr., Warner Robins

Mike Hall, Flowery Branch

Joseph P. Hill, Ellijay

Kym C. Johnson, Atlanta

Philip M. Jones, Lilburn

Thomas H. Ridgeway, Macon

Gale R. Watson, Decatur


ACB BOARD OF DIRECTORS

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

BOARD OF PUBLICATIONS

Kim Charlson, Chairperson
Watertown, MA
Jay Doudna
Rosemont, PA
Winifred Downing
San Francisco, CA
Mike Duke
Jackson, MS
Charles Hodge
Arlington, VA
Ex Officio: Earlene Hughes,
Lafayette, IN

ACB OFFICERS

PRESIDENT
PAUL EDWARDS
20330 NE 20TH CT.
MIAMI, FL 33179

FIRST VICE PRESIDENT
BRIAN CHARLSON
57 GRANDVIEW AVE.
WATERTOWN, MA 02172

SECOND VICE PRESIDENT
PAMELA SHAW
7601 CRITTENDEN ST. #F-2
PHILADELPHIA, PA 19118

SECRETARY
CYNTHIA TOWERS
9422 LINDEN AVE N
SEATTLE, WA 98103

TREASURER
PATRICIA BEATTIE
906 N CHAMBLISS ST
ALEXANDRIA VA 22312

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

CONTRIBUTING EDITOR
Billie Jean Keith, Arlington, VA


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