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Submission deadlines are the first of the month.
Those much-needed contributions, which are tax-deductible, can be sent to Ardis Bazyn at the above mailing address. If you wish to remember a relative or friend by sharing in the council's continuing work, the national office makes printed cards available to acknowledge contributions made by loved ones in memory of deceased friends or relatives.
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, contact the ACB National Office.
For the latest in legislative and governmental news, call the "Washington Connection" toll-free at (800) 424-8666, 5 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.
The Talking Rx, listed in "Here and There" in July, does not involve a computer chip embedded in a label. It is a prescription bottle holder that can record a 60-second message telling what the medication is, what it's for, and what dose to take when. It is available from Vision Dynamics, (203) 271-1944; Independent Living Aids, (800) 537-2118; and Speak to me!, (800) 248-9965. Vision Dynamics sells it for $24.95.*****
The hot sun, the rustling corn, some of the best beef and finest hospitality this country has to offer have now been left behind as we return home from the 40th annual ACB convention in Des Moines, Iowa. Take a moment with me and consider this picture of ACB: 40 tumultuous, growth-filled, democratic years, filled with festivity and much hard work for an expanding, strengthening organization. From a handful of so-called "rabble-rousing dissidents," to the largest, most democratic and representative organization of blind people ever known in the Western hemisphere, ACB celebrates this year a major milestone in the history of people who are blind: its 40th birthday. Heralded in Des Moines by singing DECtalks, a rousing banquet, stimulating elections, and the sharing of knowledge and ideas, we emerge from Des Moines strong and proud of who and what we are!
I come to you at the close of the Des Moines convention as ACB's ninth president. It is a humbling experience to accept the trust of the organization and take up the responsibilities that accompany the potentials and possibilities of leadership. Being human, I am sure my service to ACB in this role will not be without the occasional glitch or mistake. Please bring your patience and understanding as well as your constructive ideas and assessments to me and all the members of ACB's leadership in the months and years to come. I assure you that winning an election doesn't carry with it a special gift of clairvoyance or sudden understanding of the whole membership of the organization. I must rely on each of you to help with these things. I want you to feel empowered and encouraged to contribute your ideas, your energy and your commitment in whatever way feels right to you in furthering ACB's growth and activities.
In addition, it is important to point out as we embark on this 41st year, that we must not lose sight of the many accomplishments and contributions of those who helped us get to the place we are today. Without the leadership of Paul Edwards, Brian Charlson and so many others brought by their example into the leadership of ACB, we would not be today the strong, proactive organization that we are known to be by Congress, the federal sector more generally, and decision-makers in areas related to blind people and issues surrounding blindness in the United States and abroad. I am quite confident that we can rely on these and other former officers of the organization and all ACB members who have been active in the past to continue the excellent work and commitment they have brought to our organization.
As announced at the end of the 2001 convention, two new members have been appointed to the ACB board of publications. Kathleen Megivern is the new chairperson of the board of publications. Kathy is well-known to ACB members and friends, and certainly to readers of "The Braille Forum." She will be joined by Adrian De Blaey of Milwaukee, Wis. who is also a longtime ACB member.
In addition, I have moved quickly to appoint Sandy Sanderson chairman of the ACB resource development committee and Pamela Shaw as chairperson of the ACB membership committee. A more exhaustive list will be forthcoming both in these pages and from our staff in the national office.
As we leave behind the wonderfully democratic process of our elections and decision-making by the membership, let us be sure to come away with the sense of family and comradeship that permeates to the very core of what ACB is and will continue to be. We come together to share and accomplish common goals and to further collective ideals in support of one another and for all blind people. If we are true to these ideals and stay focused on shared goals, there is nothing we in ACB cannot accomplish in the next 10, 40, or 50 years. Let us step now onto that pathway of accomplishment as a common force for positive change in all those areas affecting us as blind Americans.*****
In the last 18 months, many blind people from over 60 countries have discovered ACB Radio, and now make regular visits to our site. However, there are still many people with Internet access who have yet to hear about ACB Radio. We now have a tool designed to reach those people, and if you like what we're doing on ACB Radio, you can play your part by spreading the word.
We've just completed the production of an ACB Radio promotional CD. This CD runs for just under 40 minutes. It describes ACB Radio, plays you samples of all our four streams, and explains just how easy it is to tune in. It also discusses how people can encourage their local radio information service to take up our offer of carrying ACB Radio programming free of charge, so that those who don't have Internet access can hear our programming.
There are a number of ways in which you can hear this CD. First, it is available for listening on line, as a low bandwidth mono stream suitable for modem users, and a high bandwidth stereo stream for those with DSL, cable, or other high speed connections. Even if you're an ACB Radio veteran, you may want to take a listen to the stream. ACB Radio is now such a large site that there may be programs and features that you didn't even know we have.
Another on-line version we offer is a 51 megabyte zip file. In this zip file are 7 MP3 files encoded at 192 KBPS stereo. These files are suitable for burning onto an audio CD, using software like Easy CD Creator. We encourage you to make copies of this CD, play it at computer clubs or consumer group chapter meetings, and give it away to your friends.
These on-line versions of our CD can be found at http://www.acbradio.org and then choose the link near the top of the page that says "listen to our promotional CD or read an Introduction to ACB Radio."
We hope that you enjoy this new promotional resource and that you'll use it to help us spread the word. The positive endorsements of our listeners have enabled ACB Radio to continue to grow, so thank you.*****
There is no question that the American Council of the Blind has achieved many social justice goals for blind people, even with the meager resources we have. Now we have found a way to raise money for ACB-Radio with no real burden to those wanting to help out!
We are partnering with Easy Access USA which is a national local dial-up Internet service provider and they will give ACB $4 per month per subscriber to their service. You get two e-mail accounts, local dial-up for 56kb modems, Internet newsgroups and you can run your MSN or AOL messengers as well!
ACB has decided to dedicate all our revenues from this fund raising opportunity to support ACB-Radio. In this way, we can insure the continued growth and vitality of our Internet radio streams and the learning and enjoyment our many listeners want.
Please take the time to go to the Easy Access web site at http://www.easyaccessusa.net and check to see if there is a local access number you can use. Then you can sign up for the service and support ACB's radio streams as well! The service costs only $19.95 per month and you'll be helping out the American Council of the Blind and our radio programs every month of every year!
When you visit the site, we suggest that you check to see if there is an access number in your area which you can search for right there on the web site. If there is, then you can use the sign-up link to get going. You will be given a choice of whether to use the form with the java script or to go to a text form; we suggest you hit enter on the text link. Then use your screen reader, MSAA or other access mechanisms to go through the screen and fill out the edit boxes. Of course with MSAA you have to hit enter on the edit box you want to fill out and then fill it out and go back to MSAA to read what they want in the next box. Once you have filled out the form and read through the terms of agreement, then you can sign up online!
If you want to skip going to the web site altogether, then call their toll-free ACB sign-up number at 1-866-835-7872. This accommodation will help speed sign-ups for those who would rather do it by phone.
There is only 56 KB dial-up capacity at this point. Once the company gets the resources to do DSL, then they are looking at going in that direction as well. Like ACB, they are growing and this partnership will be beneficial to us as an advocacy organization and to them as a company that wants to give back to the community through helping charitable groups.
Please sign up and pass this message along to all your friends and family so we can really start to grow the support for ACB Radio we know is out there. It truly is an easy way to support ACB, and the radio stations we all love.
We are not rich, but we have done much with the little we have. We are blind people together in our membership of the American Council of the Blind. Please sign up and designate ACB as your preferred "charity" today!*****
In a week when news about Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act seemed to be popping up on every corner, in every media outlet and company board room, I planned to write about 508 and the optimistic expectations we, as people who are blind, have for its impact on our lives. Because of the market-share that the regulations of 508 represent, we may find that our fax machines talk to us, that printers which communicate with the screen- readers on our PCs are cheap enough for us to buy, that those text-to-speech cell phones make their way into our pockets and backpacks. The possibilities are exciting, and the law, the regs, which ACB folks like Debbie Cook, Pat Beattie, and Julie Carroll had a hand in crafting, the media hype and the actual implementation are cause for some celebration and certainly worth a story or two in the pages of žThe Braille Forum.ž
So, as I planned this August issue while attending 508-related press events and speaking with reporters about its meaning and its impact, and I thought about what we would include among our articles and columns, 508 was on my mind. Then folks started sending me copies of the article in the June "Monitor." What is this, I asked myself, as I read through the invective, the unveiled threats, and the vitriol of people who seem to be throwing one whale of a tantrum. I guess, after 40-plus years, the NFB has finally realized that ACB is a real organization that actually represents a significant segment of the people who are blind in this country, and that we're not going away. So, it seems, they're throwing tantrums, stamping their collective feet, calling us names, and pretending that, just because they wish it was so, we don't really matter.
The leaders of the NFB have, finally it seems, discovered they can't always have their way, they aren't the only fish in the sea, and -- yes -- ACB is a real organization of blind people who will neither be silent nor complacent as an organization of rehab service providers which purports to represent the interests of consumers who are blind throws a seemingly endless series of temper tantrums, uses all the tactics of a playground bully, and attempts to distract its members and the readers of its publications from the issues that really do matter to blind people.
Mr. Maurer, Mr. Gashel, Ms. Pierce, readers of the Monitor, and people who are blind and visually impaired, and people who care about people who are blind and visually impaired, now hear this! ACB will not be deterred from representing the true needs of people who are blind because the Federation calls us names or pretends we are too insignificant to care about. We believe in the spirit and the promise that are the foundation of vocational rehabilitation in this country. We believe in freedom of choice for blind consumers, and we believe that the agencies that provide rehabilitation services to people who are blind have an obligation to tell their consumers all the facts and allow them to make meaningful choices about their training and their future. There are no "Charlie's Laws," but our 13 Principles of Consumer Cooperation are real, fair, and accepted principles of good rehabilitation practice, and those principles continue to be accepted by our members and advocates for blind people across this country and, in fact, the world. Calling the principles "Charlie's Laws," and attempting to diminish their value and the truthful way they reflect the best interests of blind people won't make the principles go away, and neither name-calling nor derision will eliminate these principles of good rehabilitation practice or deter us from making sure that they become the guidelines of every vocational rehabilitation agency that serves people who are blind and visually impaired in this country.
ACB is, in fact, a democracy. Gashel sneered that we call ourselves a confederacy, and that is true. We are a confederacy of people with a range of perspectives, and there is room in our confederacy, and in the pages of our magazine, for all kinds of perspectives and opinions. We do not threaten our members with excommunication if they venture to disagree with our president, members of our board, or our executive director, and we are proud of that fact, and proud of who we are. That is why the American Council of the Blind is the consumer organization of record, with local chapters and state and special interest affiliates where government, industry, agencies, educators, and families come to learn how to include people who are blind in the mainstream of society, and where just plain blind folks come to learn, to find acceptance, and to solve the problems that lack of sight creates.
Have the leaders of the Federation veered too far away from what blind people really need and want? Are they unable or unwilling to take a look at the real world and real blind people and realize that their positions are screening people out and threatening their safety?
Say what you will, Mr. Maurer, Mr. Gashel, Ms. Pierce. Jump up and down, stomp your feet, call us names, and pretend that you are the only people who matter. But, blind people, and that includes lots of your members, and even more of the folks who are leaving your organization and coming into ours, blind people know that access to the built environment is crucial to our inclusion in the society that that environment supports. Blind people know that it's better to know what's going on on television than to wonder or pretend. Blind people know that consumers of rehabilitation services need all the facts, all the information, and all the options available to them. Blind people know that there are all kinds of ways to get around and no one way is the right or only way for every blind traveler. (Yes, there are members of ACB who use those long white canes with the Federation seal of approval embossed on them to travel from place to place, and there are folks in ACB who use guide dogs to go from here to there -- and we welcome everyone with every mobility aid and we don't attempt to make one mode seem superior to another.)
The June "Monitor" has momentarily succeeded in distracting me from the course of action I had originally planned to take. I just could not resist the impulse to respond to their invective and their innuendo. There will be time and future pages to discuss Section 508, and voting rights bills that will finally allow blind people to have access to accessible and secret ballots. The subject of video description on television, no matter how much Gashel and Maurer and others in the NFB leadership might wish it to, will not go away, and "The Braille Forum" will continue to cover ACB's actions on that important front. When we hear that rehab agencies are pointing their consumers toward the Federation and not bothering to mention that the ACB has another opinion, a divergent viewpoint, a different kind of chapter, and a magazine that does more than tout one organizational philosophy, you had better believe that ACB will be at that agency's door, reminding them of the 13 Principles of Consumer Cooperation which offer just as much protection to the NFB as they do to the Council.
I have been momentarily deterred from my original plans for the August "Braille Forum," because like a responsible adult, I feel compelled to tell the writers of "The Braille Monitor" to go to their rooms and think about the disgraceful way they have behaved. There is no war; saying it's so will not make it so. The founders of ACB were right all those years ago to point out the mistakes which NFB's leaders were making, and ACB was right to become a confederacy of people who welcome a variety of viewpoints and a range of skills, abilities and opinions. When we know we are right, when we know that we do speak for people who are blind, rest assured that we will be speaking out and taking the actions that need to be taken. When you're ready to engage again in civil discourse, to put aside the tactics of the playground bully and behave like responsible adults, then we will be ready to listen to your opinions, to reach consensus where consensus is possible, and to get on with tackling the issues that are really important to people who are blind.*****
(Editor's Note: Former ACB President, Paul Edwards, sent out this communication to agencies, the NFB, and interested blind people everywhere during his last month in office. Edwards' and Charlie Crawford's communications speak for themselves. We urge the Federation and their spokespersons to listen.)
As President of the American Council of the Blind, I feel compelled to respond to an article that appeared in the June issue of "The Braille Monitor." I am disheartened that the National Federation of the Blind chose not to include two other documents which are relevant to this issue. When Dr. Maurer and Mr. Gashel sent their diatribes to the agency list, ACB responded. Below you will find the message we sent. I think the message speaks for itself and needs little additional comment from me. However, I want to make five points which I believe it is imperative that all interested parties understand.
1. The American Council of the Blind has a long-standing record of promoting change that has significantly improved the lives of blind people. Much of our work has been done in collaboration with the whole blindness community including the National Federation of the Blind. This is as it should be. When we have taken positions that were different from those taken by the Federation, we have done so without resorting to attacks on the Federation or any of its members.
2. The American Council of the Blind values diversity and we have no interest in seeing the Federation diminished. We certainly do not "hate" nor are we interested in "killing them off."
3. The American Council of the Blind has made a conscious decision not to provide services such as rehabilitation training. We have eschewed this direction so that we could legitimately speak as a consumer organization capable of independently evaluating service delivery.
4. The American Council of the Blind is a democratic organization which delegates power to its board of directors and president between conventions and which has hired Charles Crawford as its executive director. We are proud of his work and are fortunate to have him work for us. His record as Commissioner for the Blind in Massachusetts speaks for itself as does his record of advocacy for blind people since he began his employment with us.
5. The American Council of the Blind categorically believes that the blindness community is too small to survive unscathed if we are perceived as fighting among ourselves. We value many initiatives undertaken by the National Federation of the Blind but reserve the right to speak out when our position is different from theirs.
Now I hope you will read the message that we sent to rehabilitation directors. The reader must judge who is at war.
You will be pleased to know that this will be a short document. I am appending a memorandum from our executive director, Charlie Crawford. I sincerely hope that this will be the end of this thread.
I feel impelled to make just a few comments. First, and most important, ACB remains committed unequivocally to cooperation with all elements of the blindness community. We believe that it is essential that, wherever possible, those who are blind and those who serve them must present a united front to the many external threats to separate services. I am convinced that there will be considerable difficulty with the next reauthorization effort for the Rehab Act and it will behoove all of us to be prepared to work hard to be sure we are all on the same page when that time comes.
The Thirteen Principles that were attached to Charlie (Crawford)'s original message should be easy for every state to adopt. I was pleased to note that the NFB expressed no opposition to these in their response. Hopefully, then, we will see these widely adopted by agencies and the Rehab Councils with whom they work.
Much of the rest of James Gashel's memorandum is hard for me to respond to since it consists mostly of rhetoric and innuendo which I will continue to eschew. In the six years I have been president of ACB I have sought to work closely with the NFB and continue to seek ways we can cooperate. I would refer those interested to my February "President's Message" (in "The Braille Forum"). There I outline my position and ACB's attitude toward Newsline. In essence, that message welcomes the involvement of the federal government in funding information access to people who are blind and commends the Federation for a service that has been extremely valuable to people who are blind in this country.
ACB has not opposed Newsline, ever. We have suggested that, if public funds are being used, state agencies or the federal government should explore all available options and then choose the one that seems best. The same principle applies to the NFB's efforts to raise funds for their center. We do not have the right to question how another organization raises money. Our Maryland affiliate has questioned whether appropriating $6 million to the National Center is the most appropriate use of public dollars. ACB has not expressed an opinion on the Maryland issue but I have told Dr. Maurer, privately and publicly, that I reserve ACB's right to engage in a debate about how public funds are used.
We in ACB believe that funds need to be spent on pedestrian safety, information access, making the built environment more accessible to people who are blind and on programs for older people who are blind. These are our priorities and we believe that we have every right to ask local, state and federal legislators to commit dollars to these areas of expenditure.
ACB is not interested in engaging in unproductive diatribes against any organization. We respect and value the work being done by the National Federation of the Blind and continue to work closely with Dr. Maurer whenever we can. We will continue to do that. I urge all of us to work together to make things better for blind people. That is what it is all about and that is what all of us are mandated to do. This is almost certainly the last message I will send to you as president of ACB since my term will be over in July. I would like to take this opportunity of thanking all of you for your kindness to me during my presidency. I have had a chance to get to know many of you and have been given a chance to share my views with many of you at conferences. I have learned much from you and hope I have been able to make you think more about how to deliver services to people who are blind. Thank you and farewell!
To: All blindness agency heads
From: Charles H. Crawford - Executive Director - ACB
Date: May 10, 2001
Re: Short clarification
I'm sending you this to underscore that my recent memo relative to the ACB 13 principles of consumer cooperation only sought to remind state directors of our expectations with respect to appropriate balance with regard to the interaction of the state agency and the interests of blindness organizations.
Offering examples of where concerns have been raised was an attempt to assist agencies in reviewing their current operations and to provide opportunities for situations to not become areas of conflict.
I would hope that directors continue to view this effort within the positive frame from which it comes, and that we insure that true and productive partnerships continue to grow from the valuable perspectives that a balanced approach to rehabilitation always have as a result. For this reason, I have chosen to let the response from the Federation be judged for what it is worth. I will only say that personalizing depictions such as "Charlie's law" and hostile ramblings on irrelevant fanciful perceptions do nothing to enhance communication or positive results.
Again, I want to affirm that ACB's interests here are only to create opportunities for consumers of all organizations and to not allow dialogue to sink to the level of the embarrassment that is represented in the response of Mr. Maurer and Mr. Gashel.*****
(Reprinted with permission from NAPVI "Awareness," spring 2001.)
December 1978 "Now, children, who wants to play the innkeeper?" boomed the principal, as copies of the Christmas play were passed out to the eager throng of third, fourth and fifth graders. This impromptu play was the surprise grand finale of our school's Christmas program, and no one had known about it. I bit my lip and held back the tears that were threatening to burst forth. As three sleek printed pages were thrust into my hands, the tears hardened into bitter fury. I wanted to squeeze those printed pages into a ball and hurl them at the principal! Wasn't I one of the top readers, scoring above my peers on tests and academic performance? Wasn't I in all the top reading groups, spelling bee championships and essay contests? Yet the words on the pages before me left me no choice but to stand mute and non- participating. They meant as much to me as the Japanese characters etched on the backs of Sony radios mean to most Americans. Why had they done this to me? My teachers knew that if I had my assignments ahead of time, I could, and always did, take them to the resource teacher who would translate them into braille. But that took time, and this was a surprise!
"I'll tell you the lines so you can raise your hand and be the innkeeper," whispered a little girl beside me. "No, she can be one of the sheep, then she won't have to read any lines," offered another well-meaning child. Yes, I could listen, but I couldn't really participate; couldn't really lose myself in the flow of lines, the rhythm of a script, the musical ebbs and flows of a well-loved story. How could they understand?
And then, like magic, a pair of high-heeled shoes came click- clacking down the aisle beside me and a hurried pair of hands slid a sheaf of brailled pages into my lap. "Here is your script. I'm sorry I'm late," said my angelic resource teacher and then hurried off. My heart bounced with joy, and my fingers flew across the pages to locate the character list and the beginning of the script. Once again, I was just one of the kids at a public elementary school who now had the chance to be more than a sheep.
September 1994 So many intervening years and yet the scene felt strikingly familiar. With pounding heart and a lump of nervous anticipation gnawing at my stomach, I slipped into the first seat I detected as empty. It was the first class, the first day of law school. "Have I made all the necessary preparations?" I kept asking myself. I'd written all the letters ahead of time, determined and ordered the taped textbooks, spoken with all the professors, printed out my syllabi in braille and taken notes on the week's first assignment. A hush fell over the assembled students as the professor commenced his introductory comments. He was abruptly interrupted by a pounding on the door. "Is there a Scott Garrett in this room?" boomed an indignant sounding voice. "Oh," a startled student not far from me gasped. "Y-yes, I'm him." "Scott Garrett? You are served. Here is your summons." A flutter of paper signaled the transaction. For a startled moment, the class must have wondered whether or not this was real. We soon understood it was part of the first day's regimen. "Class, I'll be passing out copies of the summons, a packet of material describing the charges against Mr. Garrett, and some supplementary notes to help you as you investigate the incident," the professor explained. This impromptu session would involve the class reviewing the new material and developing an attorney- client interview.
As a chunk of printed pages slid into my hands, I felt that sinking, frustrated feeling that made me want to bite my lip and squeeze back the same tears that had once plagued the heart of a third-grader in a Christmas play. Different scene, but was it not the same scenario? Hadn't I prepared for the semester with due diligence? "I can read it to you quickly," said a woman beside me. Again, the ebb and flow of ideas, facts and issues would only be partly complete if I had to hold all that information in my mind. Just as it had all those years ago, the frustration melted rapidly into bitter fury. Why hadn't I been warned about this obvious need to get those materials in braille? My first day of law school and I was already going to feel at a disadvantage, watching that comprehension gap stretch between me and my classmates. My medium of communication and information input had been downgraded to a secondary source.
"Give this to her," I heard the professor's voice at the far end of the row. Passed from hand to hand, a thick sheaf of brailled pages came sliding down the table to me. My mouth fell open. I'd talked to this very professor last week, and he hadn't handed me a computer diskette to print out containing this unexpected material. Where had it come from? "Well, is it acceptable? I don't know braille, you know. I just went into your computer lab and followed the instructions on using the braille printer. So, is it OK?" He stood there, waiting for my nod of approval. Still open-mouthed, I nodded, hardly looking at it.
Since fourth grade, I'd been taught to typewrite most of my assignments so my sighted teachers could read them. It was hammered into my young mind that if I wanted something in braille, I would have to plan ahead: ask for printed assignments a week before they were due, then deliver them to the resource teacher or call requests in to the National Library Service. It took time and forethought. Now, here was a law school professor -- one of those individuals often accused of foisting demi-god status over students -- taking up the task of making my world accessible. "Mr. Garrett, on what date did you purchase the boat in question?" I confidently intoned. Once again, I was just another first-year law student participating in a routine classroom exercise.
For such an avid advocate of braille, so voracious a reader of anything I can get my hands on, what a remarkable notion that the beginning of my relationship with braille was paved with bumps. The slow loss of vision during my fourth and fifth years of life caused the reversal of the original plan to teach me to read large print. Yearning to read the printed words that my sighted friends were learning, I decided to pretend that I could see. I memorized nursery rhymes and fairy tales, held printed books in front of my face and recited lines from memory. Many adults were fooled. But there was a problem. I was dying to delve back into the fantasyscape of books and stories, to lose myself in literature. The only way to do that was to let my fingers feed me the images and ideas. Well, if I hid the braille so that no one could see it, then, maybe, I would allow myself to read it. I hid books inside my desk and stuck my hands in between the pages, hoping no one would notice, while keeping the printed textbook open on my desk. This was slow and laborious, and I was getting frustrated.
By second grade, the book came out of the desk and lay closed on my lap while I snuck my hand in to read. By third grade, the book was fully opened across my lap, and the shame was gone. For the sighted classmates, the novelty of the way I read had long since worn off, and they asked no more questions. In fact, so vigorously had my love of reading developed since kindergarten, that once, in first grade, I decided that all other school subjects were useless and that I would be happy reading books all day. So one day for about two hours, I crawled into the small bookshelf that housed the few brailled volumes my public school resource room contained and hid from the teacher and read books.
As the years wore on, the quantity of texts available in braille decreased, and I began to rely on taped books and my friends or my mother as readers. By my first two years of college, often the only braille I ever got to read was that which I reproduced myself, based on notes from taped books or rough drafts and papers, which I then completed via typewriter.
My undergraduate college experiences were filled with amusing anecdotes about how an elite academic environment is ill-equipped and often insensitive to the communication potential of a medium like braille. I was told by a college dean during the fall of my sophomore year, "I've heard that braille was going out of style, so we've ordered your statistics textbooks on tape." I asked him whether he'd ever attempted to balance his checkbook by having it read to him and then dictating his responses. Better yet, could he mentally visualize the size and scale of the supply and demand curve, the regression lines and the pie charts upon which my answers to statistics problem sets were to be based?
Once an exam proctor, while reading me a microeconomics exam, confessed that she had no idea what some of the mathematical symbols were. I exhorted her to fetch the registrar for consultation. "Well, I'll just describe the symbols to you, and you can figure out what they are." I patiently explained that printed math symbols mean little to me. "If you've gotten this far in college, I should think you would know what these math symbols are," she fumed, before I lost patience and crashed out of the room to fetch the registrar myself.
My experiences with Japanese were much more rewarding. As the professors knew little or nothing about the Japanese braille system, I invented my own phonetic braille system and copied and memorized my lessons while they were read to me. Later, while living in Japan, I would memorize the 52-character Japanese braille system.
It was during my sophomore year in college that I had my first opportunity to visit a braille library ž the Perkins Library in Watertown, Mass. "So this is a braille library?" I gushed in wide-eyed wonder at the room filled with shelves of bulky tactile volumes. Like someone from the tropics experiencing their first snowfall, there was a choked feeling in my throat as I wandered up one aisle, down the next. At first, all I could do was stroke the massive bindings protruding from the shelves. Flashbacks of wandering the public school library, stroking the shiny jackets of printed books engulfed my mind. I used to pull those shiny- jacketed volumes out just to hold them, feel their weight, and imagine that, one day, they would all magically convert into the bulky-bound volumes that would allow my fingers to guide me into the mystery worlds nestled within their pages. Now, here was the world of magic, knowledge, and information that had eluded me. I tore piles of books off shelves and let them spill around me with avalanche-like furor. I didn't even want to read them. I just wanted to feel their presence.
When the world of technology opened itself up to me in law school, I had two new items of joy and wonder: a braille printer and an electronic braille display. The head-rattling banter of synthetic speech converted miraculously into an interactive channel of direct communication through these two devices. As in that childlike frenzied panic of joy I'd felt at the Perkins Library, I pumped all of my computer diskettes into the computer and printed everything out. As a writer, I'd been producing articles and stories for years. Now, I could read my own writing, feel its meter and rhythm, disagree with or smile at the images that seemed fresh and different now that my mind was taking them up directly through the "eyes" at my fingertips. I printed out everything I could get my hands on, just to žseež its shape. Finally, someone in the technology lab suggested that I was "killing too many trees."
In law school, it is customary to spend time together outlining the material from the courses, in preparation for the final examination. Since all of my textbooks were on tape, I spent hours listening to and taking copious notes from these tapes; notes that I then attempted to weave into coherent outlines. Marveling at the conciseness and precision with which everyone else in my study group could concoct their outlines, I spent six months feeling like a sub-performer in this game of strategic one-upmanship. Why were these students all so clever and concise with their outlines? Why did their outlines seem so similar and perfect?
One day, I requested that part of a textbook chapter be scanned for me so that I could print out a case analysis in braille. I was shocked to discover that within the printed text was the form and structure for the outlines that I'd assumed were prepared from my classmates' own creative initiative. There, within the structure of topic headings, sub-topic titles, and sub-sub-topics were the shapes and structures that had eluded me as I'd laboriously prepared homemade outlines based on voluminous pages of notes. Had it all been that simple? Why, they'd just copied their outline structures out of the book, then fleshed them out with whatever they thought essential. It hit me hard then that the unavailability of most materials in braille denied me not only information, but time, efficiency, and the ability to work on an equal and competitive level.
Statistically speaking, the braille-reading blind population is very small. Many persons prefer other forms of alternative communication. Without braille, I would never know the shapes and color scheme of a favorite poem, the sharp punctuation of thoughtful analysis within a research paper, or the magical dreamscape of a romance novel. Whether I am leisurely examining the contents or frantically cramming facts and figures for an exam, braille provides a channel for the whispering flow of ideas.
November 1999 The best moment of my braille-reading life came just two weeks ago, however. On our first anniversary, my husband placed a vase of flowers in my arms. Unthinking, I gave him the card to read. "What does it say?" "Read it yourself," responded my sighted husband, who had talked to a blind friend of his and painstakingly copied each key combination as it was dictated to him. The simple words "I love you" seemed so beautiful, filled with his thoughtful realization that the ability to read them myself would mean so much to me and embody the essence of who I aspire to be.*****
(Editor's Note: This article, written while Rhoades was a college student, was submitted to us for publication coincidentally on the same day we received an article about a textbook publisher who announced its intention to make books available in a digital format. We hope that Rhoades' article encourages other textbook publishers to follow the example of Pearson Education, and we look forward to hearing more from other blind students who have ideas worth pursuing.)
America has been called the land of opportunity. Along with millions of my generation I believe that, for those willing to put forth the effort, prosperity is inevitable. Thanks to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, blind people like me are promised inclusion in the hiring pool if we can meet "legitimate skill, experience, education, or other requirements of an employment position." Like the second in a pair of bookends, the ADA completes the initiative begun by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) of 1975, which recognizes that "education and employment go hand in hand." Acting on that promise, nearly two-thirds of visually impaired people enroll in post-secondary education; it is a group including about 300,000 individuals who, like me, are blind in both eyes. Currently in my senior year of college, I have been occupying the space between the bookends for 10 years.
At the age of 16, when I became blind, I had to drop out of school to learn how to go to school. I was introduced to the complex technologies that would help me adapt to an educational setting with my disability. I learned that a talking book could occupy 17 cassettes, that the braille labels could be worn down, making it difficult for me to know what order the cassettes should be in, that tapes may not have been rewound before I got them, and that cuing the tape to a specific sentence or paragraph would be nearly impossible. My most essential adaptive skill was designing my life around the time requirements of study.
The average cost of a four-year degree at my university is around $35,000. Over and above that, I had to invest upwards of $30,000 to equip and learn to use a personal high-tech lab. My computer, notetaker, scanner, voice synthesizer, and three specialized software programs exist for one purpose: to make textbook information accessible. Set up the equipment in my dedicated home office space, add training, bring in a human editor who can read the book to fix the errors made by my scanner, and I am ready to begin studying my textbook -- just like my sighted classmates. With our can-do attitude Americans have solved another problem. I am assumed to be able to operate as efficiently as anyone else.
To keep in step with my classmates, I work at my studies 10 hours almost every day, seven days a week, and attend summer school every summer -- it takes me that long to reformat textbook content. The thrill of my college career came the one and only time I took a course whose textbook came on CD-ROM! I could cue instantly to the information. I could "read" the text as efficiently as a sighted student. Imagine if all 300 students in Professor Happenstance's Psych 101 course each had to set up a desktop publishing shop before they could begin to read tonight's assignment and, after that, spend 5 hours to read 50 pages for the next class. If I am typical, it takes a blind person three times as many hours to complete college, in effect enough time to earn three college degrees.
The extra time it takes a blind student to process textbook information is time taken from other opportunities for professional development. When I finish my degree, can I hope to be the most qualified applicant available for a vacancy in my field of study? If time is money, I figure my delayed entrance into the workforce will cost me about $75,000. Multiplied by all 300,000 of us blind college students, that's a loss in productivity of $21 billion to the nation.
The lofty goals of IDEA and ADA, along with the financial investment employers have made to provide access, have unleashed an unprecedented response among disabled individuals. According to IDEA'97, twice as many of today's 20-year-olds with disabilities are working, and three times that number are enrolled in college, as compared to their predecessors. Federal monies are proposed to provide upwards of $10 million annually to train faculty and administrators to educate disabled students. This massive effort to help me and my peers move toward the goal of employment through education could be even more effective if the time problem could be solved for blind students. I have a proposal for a simple solution.
In 1932, the new technology of the recording industry created the first major breakthrough in access for the blind. The American Foundation for the Blind invented Talking Books to give the visually impaired an alternative to Braille for reading. Congress, in turn, provided by law for free mailing of Talking Books, thus opening the literary world to the blind. As time went by, textbook publishers joined the effort, providing newly published texts to Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic for voice transcription on cassettes. Today, blind students are expected to use recorded textbooks. However, certain fundamental problems exist with textbooks on cassettes: not all texts are recorded; when recorded, the most recent edition may not be available; when available, the text often takes longer than an academic term to arrive; when used for academic study and research, taped textbooks are frightfully inefficient. A better technology is literally at our fingertips: digital.
In the digital age, authors create their manuscripts on computers. The publishing process involves the transmission of digital text directly to computer-run printing presses. Every textbook exists in digital form before it is bound between the covers of a book.
My proposal is this: Congress should pass a law requiring textbook publishers to make textbooks available to blind students on CD-ROM. It is fair to assume that publishers would have legitimate copyright concerns, but I am confident that the law would address such issues in a way similar to the standards that Talking Books and Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic have in place. For example, to qualify for their services, the user must submit documentation of the visual impairment.
If not for the opportunities given to me by America, I might be sitting on the porch listening to the world go by. Instead, I am striving for the promise held out to me that I can succeed through hard work and education, in the belief that "education and lifelong learning are stepping stones for everyone." My goal is to make myself into that "most qualified applicant." What I am proposing is a simple, cost-effective way of leveling the playing field.*****
Pearson Education announced recently that it would create digital versions of about 100 of its top-selling college textbooks for the fall of 2001.
Pearson's push into digital textbooks is significant both for its size and its limits. By pledging to create 100 e-textbooks, Pearson, the world's leading education publisher, would be adding significantly to the overall availability of such texts on the market. Jim Behnke, senior vice president and director of Pearson Education's central media group, estimates that such electronic books now number in the hundreds.
The books, to be developed by the MetaText division of Colorado- based NetLibrary, will include features allowing users to electronically highlight passages, annotate sections in margin notes, and attach links to Web sites. But at the same time, the company has decided not to spend money on extensive enhancements to the content. For example, while the MetaText platform would allow a digital animation of a chemistry experiment, Pearson won't be incorporating such features into its textbooks.
Behnke said the company was still wary of investing too heavily in an untested product line. "There's not tremendous evidence that sales are taking off," he said. McGraw-Hill, which began selling digital versions of 20 of its college textbooks this spring -- in collaboration with a New York company called WizeUp Digital Textbooks -- is expected to announce a further foray into the field shortly. Pearson said it would integrate the digital textbooks into the private-label, online course-management system that it has developed with the course-management company Blackboard.
MetaText also has the rights to sell the textbooks to users who do not use the Blackboard product. Behnke said he expected that those digital textbooks would be less expensive than their hard- copy counterparts. He also said most of the books to be converted would be those for courses in the humanities, social sciences, and business.*****
If you are a high school student or an adult contemplating the idea of attending college, you may be interested in reading a handbook which has recently been made available by the Blind Students of California (BSC). The BSC, with the help of many supportive volunteers, recently published "A Guide to A Successful College Experience." This guidebook references many helpful resources and offers insight into achieving success in college life. It outlines some basics of the process. The areas covered are: college choices, admissions process, financial aid solutions, individual needs, disabled student services, readers and drivers, applicable laws, and guide dogs on campus.
The guidebook can be downloaded from the recently established BSC Internet web page. Please visit: http://www.geocities.com/bscteam/BSC.html.
The guidebook is also available free of charge to members in alternate formats. Please e-mail [email protected] for more information.
California's blind students offer a number of services to other blind students across the country.
Their web page, which can also be accessed through the ACB and California Council of the Blind web sites, provides information about a range of resources from scholarships and financial aid to rehabilitation services. A list of on-line forums and discussion lists can also be accessed from the web site. The Blind Students of California (BSC) currently hosts an e-mail listserv that links visually impaired students statewide to one another. The list also contains BSC event announcements, facilitates discussions on how to obtain equipment, and provides updates on current disability related legislation. To join our online community group please subscribe by sending a blank e-mail message to [email protected]*****
Once again, VIDPI had a fantastic program at the ACB national convention. Seminars on technology took place on Sunday and Monday. On Tuesday, Janina Sajka from the Washington office of the American Foundation for the Blind spoke at the luncheon.
VIDPI held its annual business meeting on Tuesday, July 3, 2001 at 2 p.m. At that time, the constitution and the bylaws were amended. Most significant was an amendment to the constitution to admit, to full membership, sighted persons who are interested in furthering the goals and objectives of VIDPI. Previously, this was not permitted. Members felt that this change was long overdue.
At the annual business meeting, a new slate of officers was elected, some new and some old. They are as follows: Robert Rogers as president, Frank Welte as vice president, Earlene Hughes as secretary, Linda Byers as treasurer, Mary Abramson as membership secretary, and Ray Campbell as board member.
VIDPI is looking forward to a good year concluding with a good program in Houston in 2002.
Well, it was nice to return from the ACB convention and find out my local Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) station will be receiving tactile warning strips.
Our Long Island chapter of ACB has been battling the LIRR for two years. The LIRR has stated that it does not need to install tactile warning strips until it rebuilds (i.e., pours new concrete). The railroad has complied with the regulations stating that "key stations" need to have warning strips.
As the railroad's capital improvement project progressed, new stairs were put in. Consequently, the Long Island chapter investigated the fact that the path to a key area was altered by the new stairways. On July 9, we were informed that the Baldwin station will be receiving tactile warning strips in October. ACB Long Island has also received the support of the Permanent Citizens Advisory Council. We have written a letter to the Long Island Rail Road, Metro North and the New York City Transit Authority to urge all three properties to install warning strips as part of capital improvement projects. After all, they are receiving federal funding for these projects. All of this just goes to illustrate that we need to keep an eye out for capital improvement projects.
Thanks to the generosity of ACB members attending the convention in Des Moines, the NOVA Chapter of the Old Dominion state affiliate raised more than $10,000 for the ACB national scholarship program. Individuals, local chapters and affiliate groups purchased the $100 tickets. The winners were announced during the reception prior to the ACB banquet. Prizes included $200 won by the ACB of Maryland, $300 won by Yvonne Schnitzler, $500 won by co-ticket holders M.J. Schmitt and Jean Mann. The first prize of $10,000 went to Karen Eisenstadt of New York. Congratulations, Karen! Every dollar beyond the prize money went to the ACB scholarship program. Our sincere thanks to all participants, and to several energetic ladies from Northern Virginia and the ACB of Maryland. The committee included Barbara Hayes, Laurinda Lacey, Patricia Beattie, Julie Carroll, Billie Jean Keith, Terry Pacheco and Susan Crawford. The committee is delighted that its efforts were successful, and hopes to try another project next year. Watch for it!*****
(Editor's Note: Pam Shaw is the chairperson of the ACB membership committee.)
"I've got something I'd like to share with you," began newly elected ACB President Chris Gray as he introduced the topic of the September board meeting. "Let's do something creative with this meeting." After some discussion, it was decided to hold the meeting in Albuquerque, N.M., the state of the newest affiliate of ACB, the ACB of New Mexico. "It will be a great opportunity to meet our new members, and let them see their leadership in action," said Gray.
When he heard about the board's plan, Ron Brooks, an active member of ACB who recently moved to New Mexico and is in the process of founding a chapter in Albuquerque, suggested that the new chapter hold a meeting to coincide with the ACB board meeting. Before long, the idea had mushroomed into an even more exciting plan: David Armijo announced that the ACB of New Mexico might hold its first annual state convention to coincide with the board meeting as well. Quick thinking and action on the part of Brooks and others in New Mexico has resulted in what is bound to be a unique exchange of ideas and information between members of the New Mexico affiliate and the board of directors of ACB.
A committee has been established to work on this project. Plans are that the weekend will begin with a leadership development seminar on Friday, September 21. The seminar will be followed by an evening of socializing and merry-making where ACB members and friends will get to know each other better. On Saturday morning, the New Mexico state convention will begin with President Gray and others participating in the opening festivities. The ACB board will adjourn in order to conduct its business while the convention continues. Both groups will meet for lunch, then they will continue with separate activities in the afternoon. The board meeting is expected to conclude on Sunday morning, the 23rd of September.
Although program content has not been finalized, it is clear that this will be a memorable event for all involved. "We are looking forward to having the board of directors of ACB visit our state," said ACB of New Mexico president David Armijo. "This will be a great opportunity to publicize who we are and what we do. Input by ACB officers, directors and staff will be greatly appreciated."*****
(Reprinted from "The Washington Post," Sunday, July 1, 2001.)
"You must be so excited! It's great what blind people can do!" said the woman standing next to me at Starbucks a couple of weeks ago. I groaned inwardly as I folded my white cane and sat down with my coffee. Erik Weihenmayer had just become the first blind man to climb Mount Everest, putting him on the "Today" show and the cover of Time magazine. The sighted folks were inspired again, and I knew what was coming. "So," she continued, "when are you going to climb Mount Everest?"
If this encounter had been unique, I would have laughed and shrugged off the woman's misplaced admiration and silly question. But anyone who's disabled can tell you that the experience is all too common. One of us bursts onto the cultural radar screen as a superhero, and all of us are expected to perform amazing feats.
It's hard to say which stereotype is more annoying: the disabled as helpless victims or as superheroes. It's certainly no fun to be an object of pity. At least half a dozen times in the past few years, well-meaning but annoying people have thrown coins next to my plate when I've been eating at a restaurant. On the other hand, it's just as bad to be held up as some kind of motivational guru. I wish I had a nickel for every time someone has said that I must be so much more "insightful" than a sighted person.
Like most people, disabled and non-disabled alike, I'm neither victim nor star. I work as a freelance writer, shop, take care of family responsibilities and visit friends. But you wouldn't recognize me from the stereotypes in the media.
On one side, there are the ubiquitous telethons, as well as movies from "Wait Until Dark," in which a blind Audrey Hepburn is terrorized, to "Jennifer 8," where a blind Uma Thurman is stalked.
On the other, there are the icons that some of us who are disabled have come to derisively call "supercrips." (No disrespect intended. After all, we're talking among ourselves.) And they set quite a standard. All of my life, people have assumed that I should be able to sing -- and possibly play the piano -- like Ray Charles, even though I am tone-deaf. When I was growing up, my grandmother told me that if I couldn't find a husband, I could "become another Helen Keller." Get serious. Keller, deaf and blind from the age of 18 months, was a writer, a feminist, a 1904 Radcliffe College graduate, an outspoken opponent of racism as well as an outstanding advocate for the blind. Would you have the intelligence and stamina to do all that? Why would you think I would? Sorry to disillusion you.
Supercrips are everywhere in the media. The person with no use of her arms who paints masterpieces with her feet, the guy with Tourette's syndrome who becomes a radio announcer, Stephen Hawking explaining the universe from his wheelchair. And, of course, that blind mountain climber.
But realistic stories about people like me don't often make it into print or onto TV. As Joseph P. Shapiro wrote in "No Pity: People with Disabilities Forging a New Civil Rights Movement": "While prodigious achievement is praiseworthy. . . it does not reflect the . . . reality of most disabled people, who struggle constantly with smaller challenges, such as finding a bus with a wheelchair lift to go downtown, or fighting beliefs that people with disabilities cannot work, be educated or enjoy life as well as anyone else."
I belong to a disabled women's support group that meets monthly. Over pizza, we discuss what's going on in our lives. One woman just bought her first condo ("handicapped-accessible") and is deep into mortgage rates and maintenance fees. A paraplegic describes balancing her career with being a wife and the mother of an 8-year-old. A baby boomer whose speech and gait are impaired is getting her daughter ready for college while ironing out her tense relationship with her own mom. Those are the everyday challenges we have to surmount. They're not Everests. They're just tougher than they might be if we weren't disabled.
George Covington, a lawyer and journalism teacher who is legally blind, served as the special assistant for disability affairs and a press assistant during the first Bush administration. When I asked him about this subject last week, Covington said, "Often disabled people tell me that they want to work in the White House like I did. I tell them: You can. You just have to go to journalism school, go to law school, be able to work with the media and politicians and, no problem -- you'll get a top White House job."
The supercrip stereotype exacerbates the already difficult challenges that people with disabilities face. If we hear enough such stories we may feel defeated by the comparison. And trying to live up to the image can be just as damaging.
Hugh Gregory Gallagher of Cabin John contracted polio in 1952 when he was 19. Gallagher went on to study at Oxford University, then worked as an aide to Senator Bob Bartlett of Alaska during the 1960s -- successfully making his way in both environments when neither was wheelchair-accessible. Gallagher, author of "Black Bird Fly Away: Disabled in an Able Bodied World," told me: "For years, I tried to work harder than any able-bodied person would. My drive to become a superhero exacted a terrible price. I paid no attention to my emotions. I became an automaton."
Don't get me wrong -- I like to read news reports on disabled people, at least when they're about issues -- health insurance, discrimination, education -- that concern me and my peers. Just keep us in some kind of real context. Occasionally, show us not as main characters but as background characters -- like a story about a Metro delay or the Smithsonian Folklife Festival that includes, but doesn't necessarily feature, the folks with white canes and wheelchairs stuck on the subway or sitting in the audience. And on TV and in movies, give us some roles as regular characters -- like Marlee Matlin's deaf political consultant on "The West Wing." There's been progress on this front in the last few years; I'd like to see more.
And I'd like to see stories about some of the people who really are heroes to those of us with disabilities. Like those who found a sudden demand for their previously unwanted services during World War II, and rose to the challenge. While able-bodied men were away fighting, disabled people worked in factories and offices and served as volunteers. Reporting for a 1995 article, I talked to Norma Krajczar of Morehead City, N.C. As a visually impaired teenager in Massachusetts, Norma was a volunteer aircraft warden; the thought was that her sensitive hearing would give her an advantage over sighted wardens in listening for enemy planes. And I learned that Akron, Ohio, became known as the "crossroads of the deaf" because of all the deaf people who came to work in tire factories converted to defense plants -- making more money than they had ever been able to before. Yet, even with all the reporting that's been done recently about the Greatest Generation, you don't hear much about those folks.
Eyesight aside, I'm never going to climb Mount Everest. I'm a lover of creature comforts who freaks if the AC breaks down for 15 minutes. And as I told that woman at Starbucks, I'm terrified of heights.
I don't mean to be a grouch; I know she was trying to be nice. But next time she wants to strike up a conversation, maybe she could try something she'd say to an able-bodied person. Like, "The O's are tanking again." Or, "Just what's in a frappuccino, anyway?" I'd even settle for, "Hot enough for you?"
Now, these are things I know about.*****
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.
Regarding the June "President's Message"
Anyone who wishes to criticize a president of an organization had better be willing to praise him or her when it is deserved. Thus, although I am not shy about expressing myself when I have disagreed with our president, I want to indicate how moved I was by the June "President's Message" in the Forum. For my money, the most important thing about a person is not necessarily his or her achievements, but his/her feelings for others. I think this message shows a depth of feeling in our president that makes me proud to be an ACB member. Paul deserves a great deal of credit for the sentiments contained in that message.
Regarding a previous letter to the editor and "Newsline"
I'm writing in response to Mark Miller's letter regarding the president's message in the February "Braille Forum." In his response, Miller accuses President Edwards of advocating that everyone go out and buy a computer. This response is an example of how too many hear but don't listen and read but don't pay attention. I would like to invite Miller to read the message again, pay attention to what he is reading and think about it. If he does this, he is very likely to come to a different conclusion. He will discover that President Edwards is questioning why the $4 million allocation is going to just one source of news delivery, and whether that news delivery source is the best when there are so many options. If he pays attention to the message I think he will discover that the computer is mentioned only once. The president talks about how the computer allows him to access information. The whole point of the message is that there are many options that we can choose from. When I read the message I came away thinking about how I loved options and how glad I was to have them. Read the message again, Mr. Miller, and you just might come to the same conclusion.
It profoundly disturbed me to read Paul Edwards' article, "Of News and Lines," in the February 2001 issue of "The Braille Forum." He denigrates Newsline while admitting he has never tried it.
I love Newsline. My father was a journalist and he instilled in me a great love of news and sports. I used to look forward to his reading the paper to me every day. Since his death I have felt deprived, even bereft, at the loss of my newspaper.
Then came Newsline. I can now get all the sports statistics and local news I want. I can also read the New York Times and discuss it intelligently with my college professor friends. These are only a few of the benefits I receive from Newsline.
Now to my point of concern: Edwards proposes several alternatives to Newsline which he believes would be better. Every one of these options requires the Internet. One of the good things about Newsline is that one does not need a computer to use it. There are many middle-aged and older blind people who through no fault of their own do not have computers at home. The ones who do are usually employed or in school. My husband and I are retired and went through vocational rehabilitation before advanced technology became available. There are many people like us who lack the financial resources, if not the aptitude, to purchase expensive equipment for ourselves.
Please don't lobby to have our telephone Newsline service replaced with something accessible only on the Internet. The American Council of the Blind professes to be a democracy. Democracy should mean that information, like liberty and justice, should be for all.
I was glad to see Norma Krajczar's letter about glaucoma in the November 2000 issue. My parents were informed about the possibility of my developing glaucoma secondary to retinopathy of prematurity when I was a child, and they always took any complaint about eye pain very seriously. What they didn't know about was the fact that there are several forms of glaucoma, some of which do not cause pain. During my teen years my trips to the eye doctor became infrequent. My parents assumed that as long as I was having no symptoms I was fine.
I wasn't fine. I was losing vision so gradually that I didn't know it until I was 19 years old. Previous episodes of temporary total blindness had been diagnosed as ocular migraines. When the gray fog returned that year, I at first assumed I was experiencing another of these migraines. When the fog didn't go away, I returned to the doctor for an exam under anesthesia, which was the only way to get an accurate measurement of my intraocular pressure because of my severe nystagmus. Although I had no pain, my pressure was 42. A normal measurement is under 21.
After treatment with eye drops and surgery, my pressure was brought down to an acceptable range. However, I had already sustained permanent damage to my optic nerve which prevented me from perceiving contrast clearly. Not only did this cause me to lose the ability to read print with magnification (something which I cherished for small tasks when braille was not available), but it also caused changes in my methods of orienting myself and navigating in the environment because some of the visual cues I used were no longer available to me.
I second Ms. Krajczar's comments about the importance of regular examinations. Beyond that, I wish to emphasize the importance of taking prescribed medication regularly, even when one feels fine. After my surgery in 1992, I was prescribed medication which worked well for keeping the pressure down. In 1994 I was prescribed a contact lens for the eye with some vision, and this made a world of difference in my ability to locate certain types of landmarks when traveling. However, I became lazy in taking my medication. The optometrist who had prescribed the lens warned me several times about seeing the glaucoma specialist and getting my medication adjusted because my pressure was creeping up slowly. I ignored these warnings until I began to experience that same fog again. The pressure had risen to 30, and I needed a cornea transplant. Apparently, the prolonged period of high pressure had caused my cornea to become cloudy. The first transplant failed, and I have recently had a second one in order to preserve the vision I have left.
I wish it had not taken the vision loss to make me understand the importance of regular exams and taking medication correctly. Eye care is a very important issue, even and especially for those of us who are blind or visually impaired.
Regarding "Lessons to Learn"
I'm glad we are finally waking up and saying that NFB can no longer make the claim that they speak for all blind people.
For example, how can they say that blind people are normal and then ignore our needs as a group? After all, we blind folks are normal. And normal people have needs. Just because we want audio description doesn't mean that we are demanding a special accommodation. Anyone with a rational thinking mind can see that.
How can the NFB criticize sighted people for judging all blind people by one standard when they do it themselves? I echo what you said in your editorial. Enough is enough! We are not subnormal, not supernormal, but normal people with normal needs and sometimes we have to use alternative techniques to have those needs met. Thank you for speaking out.
Do we need to change the name of the magazine?
After listening to the various speeches at the convention and hearing the discussions and debates over resolutions, one idea came to mind. It seems that ACB wants to be able to get more people involved in the organization and reading "The Braille Forum."
This may be a radical idea, but maybe it is time to consider making a minor change in the name of "The Braille Forum." As this excellent publication is now offered in several formats, with braille being just one of them, maybe the word "braille" should be dropped from the name. A name such as "The ACB Forum" would not sound so limiting. This way, we keep the word "forum" which holds on to the great history of the organization and add "ACB" which broadens the scope of the publication to the casual reader.
I know that the board of publications would probably have to debate such a change and then the board of directors and who knows who else.
How many people see the name "The Braille Forum" and don't get past that to realize it is the publication of the American Council of the Blind, not a publication about braille?
On Monday, April 16, the U.S. Supreme Court announced that it had accepted for review two additional cases raising issues under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. The first case is Toyota Manufacturing Company of Kentucky v. Williams in which, after the federal trial court had granted summary judgment to the employer, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit had reversed that judgment holding that the plaintiff/appellant who was suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome could properly be viewed as a qualified individual with a disability under Title I of the ADA. In addition, the court held that even though the plaintiff/appellant's carpal tunnel syndrome kept her from performing only some of the essential functions of her job, her impairing condition did substantially limit her major life activity of working and thus did fall within the ADA's definition of a disability. The defendant/appellee employer has sought and gained review in the Supreme Court raising the issues of whether an impairing condition which admittedly prohibits the plaintiff from performing only some of the essential functions of her job can properly be held to be a disability within the definition of that term contained in the ADA, and whether an individual who is experiencing carpal tunnel syndrome can properly be held to be a qualified individual with a disability under the ADA. The petitioning employer argues that carpal tunnel syndrome only partially limits the plaintiff in performing her work, and therefore cannot be properly said to substantially limit the plaintiff's major life activity of working.
The second case, U.S. Airways Inc. v. Barnet, comes to the Supreme Court from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. That court had reversed a trial court judgment for the employer and had revived the plaintiff's Title I ADA claim that the airline had failed to reasonably accommodate his back injury by reassigning him to light duty work in the mail room. In petitioning for and gaining review in the Supreme Court, the airline argued that the accommodation sought by the plaintiff, reassignment to light duty in its mail room, would require it to override its collectively bargained contractual seniority system, and that to do so cannot be required of it under the ADA since such an action would constitute an undue burden. This issue of whether the reasonable accommodation of reassignment to another job under Title I of the ADA can or cannot be an exception to or take precedence over an employer's collectively bargained seniority system is one of the most important issues to thus far reach the Supreme Court under Title I of the ADA. In light of the adverse decisions rendered by the Supreme Court in cases like the Garrett and Sutton cases, we must watch for the outcome of these two ADA employment discrimination cases with much trepidation. We can only hope that the high court will halt its trend of unduly, narrowly and restrictively interpreting the provisions of the ADA. The Williams and Barnet cases will be briefed over the summer, argued early in the high court's new term this fall, and decided in the spring of 2002.*****
When people ask me what I do, I tell them: I am researching my Ph.D. After a short pause to take in the fact that someone who is blind has made it to the status of a postgraduate, they ask me what my area of research is. My answer depends on who is asking the question. If it is another academic then I give a relatively technical answer; if it is someone who might be described as "mixed company," for example, a vicar, my granny, etc., I say "relationships." However, I offer up my favorite answer only when I think I can get away with it: reminded of a character in the Woody Allen film "Sleeper," if I think I can surprise without shocking too much, I answer "sex."
It's a true description too, to an extent. Not sex meaning "count the number of legs and divide by two," but the subtler aspects. I want to know what attracts one person to another.
No, I don't want to know for personal reasons, honest. It is purely for academic reasons.
I am conducting my research from a perspective called evolutionary psychology, which has become very popular within psychological circles. Basically evolutionary psychologists believe that we have not only inherited our height, hair color and so on from our evolutionary ancestors, but our behaviors have also evolved over hundreds of thousands of years. If your great, great, great, etc. grandparents behaved in particular ways that increased their survival ability and allowed them to leave more descendants, it is likely that you still behave in similar ways. One of the areas that many people, including me, are investigating is mate selection. In particular, I wonder what makes someone attractive to someone else.
What is it that makes you stop and think about a particular person, "I want to spend the rest of my life with him/her," or what makes such a person stand out for you in a crowd? There are many theories about what makes someone more physically attractive or more desirable than someone else. Some say that physical attractiveness is to do with the symmetry of one's facial features, others that it is the ratio of one's waist measurement to hip measurement. Some investigations have shown there are gender differences in what people identify as preferred characteristics in a "perfect partner." It is said that women look for wealthy men who are willing and able to provide for the family, men look for women who are young, beautiful (whatever that means) and fertile (please do not complain to me, I am only reporting what others have found!).
I am interested in what happens when you meet a person that causes you to make up your mind to pursue that person as a potential partner. What is it about that person that makes you want to be more than a friend? There is a point when your attitude toward a potential partner changes -- from friendship or interest to wanting to go beyond friendship. And I thought it might be interesting to look at the differences between visually impaired and sighted people.
So I first started by repeating a large-scale study with some visually impaired students and some sighted undergraduates, to see if there were any differences either between the two groups or between the groups and the previous results. I have now also interviewed older visually impaired people about their experiences in finding partners. The results from the first stage of my research have been collected and are being analyzed, and the interviews are still going on. Now I have come to the next part of my thesis. I have a short questionnaire which will hopefully help me to understand the changes that happen at the beginning and during a relationship. Now I need people to answer the questions on my survey. It won't take long to fill in and is completely anonymous. So please volunteer and contact me at the addresses below. The only criteria for your participation are that you should be older than 18, have been severely visually impaired for some time and were visually impaired before you met your partner. If you have access to e-mail you can contact me at [email protected] and I will send you a copy of the questionnaire as soon as I can by return e-mail. If you prefer to use the postal system, send me a letter telling me your return address and preferred format (Braille, tape or electronic version) to: R.P. Trelfa, c/o Department of Psychology, University of Durham, South Road, Durham, United Kingdom.
I will then send you a copy of the questionnaire in your preferred format. When I have analyzed all the data I will report on them here. Readers of "The Braille Forum" will be the "second persons" to know about my findings -- after my supervisor!
Thanks to the ACB and "The Braille Forum" in advance.*****
(Reprinted from "The Cincinnati Inquirer," Sunday, May 13, 2001.)
It isn't often that I wish to live anywhere but Cincinnati. An experience last month in Los Angeles and news last week in Columbus and Chicago triggered twinges of wistfulness, however. The cause of this is nothing more exotic than an automated teller machine.
At an ordinary Bank of America ATM in Los Angeles, I plugged in the earphone from my purse, and listened to a friendly voice welcoming me to the machine. After a brief verbal orientation to keypad layout and other points on the face of the machine, I inserted my card, entered my PIN, and proceeded with an independent withdrawal of my own money for the first time. Verbalizing the prompts on the screen, the "talking ATM" asked the usual questions. Withdraw from savings or checking? If checking, press "Key X" which is located in the top right corner of the keypad. After pressing keys, my choices were confirmed in my ear as they are on the screen, and so it went, until the friendly voice told me where to remove my cash, my receipt, my card, and the transaction was completed. The voice also informed me that, because I am not a Bank of America customer, my account would be charged $1.50. For the first time, I didn't care. Like 12 million other Americans unable to read the ATM screen, my only solution to using them has been to memorize the sequences of one particular machine or to trust others -- sometimes total strangers -- to read the screen prompts for me.
Yes, there is braille on thousands of machines around the country, but braille is static information, providing none of the direct feedback that directs a bank customer through a transaction. Placing braille labels on ATM machines was a good faith effort on the part of the banking industry a decade ago to comply with the law, requiring that at least one machine at each location have information rendering it usable by people with impaired vision.
Due to the effort of two California-based civil rights lawyers, Lainey Feingold and Linda Dardarian, along with the California Council of the Blind and other blind advocates in a growing number of cities, voice-equipped ATMs have been appearing since 1999. The first machine to talk in the U.S. was installed by the San Francisco City Credit Union in San Francisco's City Hall in October 1999. Since then, Wells Fargo, Citibank, Fleet of Boston and, most recently, Bank One have installed about 400 voice- equipped ATMs with commitments to install thousands more over the next five years.
Most recently and closest to home, Bank One unveiled 15 talking ATMs in Columbus and another 15 in Chicago April 25. All agreements to date have been collaborative between banks and customers, facilitated by the attorneys but without adversarial litigation. The intent, in other words, is generally to do the right thing.
Diebold Inc., one of the leading manufacturers of ATMs, forged an agreement last November with the National Federation of the Blind to research the most cost-effective way of producing ATMs with speech. Meanwhile, the numbers of installations are growing in several cities. For those of us in the Tristate who are unable to use the traditional ATM, the only solution is to grab the opportunity whenever we're in Columbus, Chicago, or nearly any city in California, Florida, or Massachusetts. I predict that no one will mind paying that $1.50 surcharge for equal access.*****
(Reprinted from "The Minneapolis Star-Tribune," May 19, 2001.)
The spirit of Diane Karen Ziegler departed this Earth on May 17, 2001. Mrs. Ziegler was the founder and executive director of the Association for Blind Living and Education and Out of Sight Club, first of a kind peer interaction groups for blind children or adults. An international speaker and activist in the field of blindness, Ziegler was also a church youth counselor, one recipient of the Jaycees' Ten Outstanding Young Minnesotans award in 1982, involved in the 11 Who Care awards program, a national speaker with the Lions Clubs, and the U.S. representative for Ski for Light in Norway. She received many other awards and commendations, and she was a faithful Christian wife. Her mother Marjorie Ackerson preceded her. Ziegler is survived by her husband Robert, her father Bernard Ackerson, her sister Joyce Guzzo, and her brother Dean Ackerson. Many helpful aunts, uncles, and cousins survive.
Memorials may be directed to First Baptist Church of Minneapolis.*****
The announcement of products and services in this column is not an endorsement by the American Council of the Blind, its staff, or elected officials. Products and services are listed free of charge for the benefit of our readers. "The Braille Forum" cannot be responsible for the reliability of products and services mentioned.
To submit an item for "Here and There," send an e-mail message to
Or you may call the ACB toll-free number, (800) 424-8666, and leave a message in mailbox 26. Please bear in mind that we need information two months ahead of actual publication dates.
The Access Board is in the process of developing accessibility guidelines for public rights-of-way under the ADA. The guidelines will be based on a report submitted to the board last January by the Public Rights-of-Way Access Advisory Committee. The board created this committee to make recommendations on the content of the guidelines, which will cover access to sidewalks, street crossings, and other related pedestrian facilities.
A subgroup of committee members is working with the board to prepare guidance material focused on alterations in the public right-of-way. This group is arranging a series of meetings in different cities to analyze and recommend improvements to local sites and intersections that will be selected in advance for a good range of issues and opportunities, such as geometric design, orientation and mobility, signaling, and barrier removal. The aim is to gather information for "real world" case studies that will be included in the guide to be developed. The first program, sponsored by the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC), was held July 23-24, 2000, in Atlanta. ARC will provide traffic data, large scale plans, photographs, and other documentation as input for discussion, analysis, and planning. Future programs are under consideration for sites in Boston (September), St. Louis (November), Portland (February), and San Antonio (April). The board welcomes recommendations on other possible sites. For more information, contact the board at (202) 272-5434, ext. 132 (voice), (202) 272-5449 (TTY) or via e-mail at [email protected] board.gov.
"The U.S. Constitution and Declaration of Independence" is back in stock. This 79-page braille booklet is free from National Braille Press and can be downloaded. The braille file is ftp://www.nbp.org/Newbury/nbp/nmcondc.brf.
To order, contact NBP's customer service department toll-free at (800) 548-7323 or e-mail [email protected]
The 2001 NCAA college football schedule is available in braille with 132 division 1-A and some requested division 1-AA teams. Schedules include results of the 2000-2001 bowls, the top 25 teams in the AP final polls, the 2001 pre-season poll, 2001-2002 bowl schedule and much more. Each copy costs $10. Schedules will be available in August 2001, and mailing will be "Free Matter for the Blind." Send orders right away, to receive schedules before the season begins. Please send check to: Allen H. Gillis, 302 Schaeffel Road, Cullman, AL 35055.
The Healthy Vision 2010 web site is now available at http://www.healthyvision2010.org. This site provides information on the vision objectives and resources to help communities, and a forum for people to share ideas. To find out which National Institute of Health/National Eye Institute (NIH/NEI) trials are currently recruiting patients, go to the link: http://www.nei.nih.gov/recruit.htm.
The second International Conference on Parents with Disabilities and Their Families will be held October 11-14, 2001 in Oakland, Calif. Through the Looking Glass, the U.S. National Resource Center for Parents with Disabilities, is the host. A National Task Force on Parents with Disabilities and Their Families will reconvene at the conference. For more information, contact Through the Looking Glass, National Resource Center for Parents with Disabilities, 2198 Sixth St., Suite 100, Berkeley, CA 94710, phone (510) 848-1112 or (800) 644-2666, e-mail [email protected], or visit the web site, http://www.lookingglass.org/conference.
If you have a disability and you're working or looking for a job, take a look at a new ADA guide. This guide, developed by the Social Security Administration, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Department of Justice, explains the rights of people with disabilities who are working or trying to find employment. It provides details about reasonable accommodations, how to request them and what to do if you think your rights under the ADA have been violated. Please download from the web site http://www.ssa.gov/work/workta2.html.
List free classified ads at hookedonthe.net, a web site designed with the blindness community in mind. Anyone may post or respond to ads on the site. Posting and viewing of ads is simple, straightforward and speech friendly. Best of all, it's FREE! The web address is: http://www.hookedonthe.net/classifieds/.
Volunteer braille transcribing is available from Beach Cities Braille Guild, PO Box 712, Huntington Beach, CA 92648, phone (714) 969-7992. The Guild charges schools, agencies and organizations for production costs only; individuals pay less. Contact assignment chair Linda McGovern at the number above, or e-mail her at [email protected]
Sakhr Software, Inc. markets a reading machine system for Arabic-speaking blind and visually impaired computer users. The system is bilingual and enables users to perform many computer tasks. The reading machine is composed of four programs: Paper Reader, Net Reader, Screen Reader and E-mail Reader. For more information, contact Mark Meinke, sales manager, at (703) 883- 0134, or via e-mail, [email protected]
The Power Through Knowledge: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness conference will be held at the Harrisburg Hilton and Towers, October 25-28, 2001. The conference is sponsored by the Pennsylvania Statewide Independent Living Council. For more information, or a registration packet, call the Pennsylvania Statewide Independent Living Council at (717) 236-2400.
The Puzzlemaster, Will Shortz, presents 200 mind-bending challenges from the NPR radio program, "Weekend Edition Sunday." The braille edition (2 volumes), is the same price as print, or $12. To order, send check to National Braille Press, 88 St. Stephen Street, Boston, MA 02115-4302, call toll-free (800) 548-7323, phone (617) 266-6160, ext. 20, or e-mail [email protected]
Blindskills, Inc. offers information about a variety of products and services that enhance the lives of visually impaired citizens. It also offers a quarterly magazine, "Dialogue," written by visually impaired people who tell of their experiences at work, home and in their communities. Reading "Dialogue" is like having a mentor who knows exactly what it's like to live life as a blind person.
The "What's New and Where to Get It" column describes new products, publications, services and computer-related information. If you or someone you know is beginning to lose sight, request a free copy of "Where Do I Go from Here?", a brochure on tape designed to encourage those who are just beginning to adjust to sight loss. There is a companion print brochure for family members. For a sample copy of žDialoguež in braille, large print, cassette or IBM-compatible disk, or a copy of the brochure, phone toll-free (800) 860-4224, address Blindskills Inc., PO Box 5181, Salem, OR 97304-0181, e-mail [email protected], or visit the web site, http://www.blindskills.com.
A symposium for employers will be held October 1, 2001, in Rosslyn, VA (near Washington National and Dulles Airports). This one-day session is hosted by the International Center for Disability Information and features training by staff of the Job Accommodation Network. It covers accommodation issues for a broad range of limitations as well as legal and legislative issues.
For more information, visit the web site, http://conference.icdi.wvu.edu/, e-mail [email protected], phone (304) 293-5313, or fax (304) 293-6661.
The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) has released the 26th edition of the AFB Directory of Services for Blind and Visually Impaired Persons in the United States and Canada. An essential resource, the directory has been completely updated. Available in print and electronic versions, the directory sells for $99. The electronic edition, available on the AFB web site, provides the same comprehensive information as the print edition. For orders and inquiries, call AFB Press (800) 232-3044, or fax (412) 741-0609.
The new toll-free number for California Canes is (866) 489-1973. Or you may contact the company at 25611 Quail Run #125, Dana Point, CA 92629, fax (949) 489-0996. You may also visit the web site, http://www.californiacanes.com.
Games have always been good teachers. They can cloak life's lessons in fun and enjoyment. If you're a computer gamer, Audyssey is the place for you. Audyssey is a free e-mail magazine of computer games accessible to people who are blind. To subscribe, the direct URL is http://www.espsoftworks.com/forms/audyssey_to.asp.
For children who like computer games, a company, MindsEye2, produces games for all ages, including collections of accessible crossword puzzles. To learn more about this company, go to www.mindseye2.com. To order by credit card, call toll-free (888) 892-7878.
The Social Security Administration recently unveiled a new web site, Social Security Online "For Women." The site provides basic Social Security program information on retirement, survivors, disability and Supplemental Security Income benefits pertinent to women. The web site, "For Women," www.ssa.gov/women, provides links to basic information through SSA's official web site -- Social Security Online -- that can be relevant to women at different stages of life. The links are grouped in logical categories to coincide with the various life events affecting women: working women; beneficiary; bride; widow; new mother; divorced spouse and caregiver.
The Louis Braille Center has produced a collection of classical poetry by renowned British and American poets. Selections include "A Shropshire Lad" ($10) by A. E. Housman; "Selected Poems by Emily Dickinson" ($12); "Renascence and Other Poems" ($10) and "Second April" ($10) by Edna St. Vincent Millay; "Songs of Innocence" and "Songs of Experience" by William Blake ($10); "Sonnets from the Portuguese and Other Poems" by Elizabeth Barrett Browning ($12); "Lyric Poems" by Keats ($12); "You Come Too" by Robert Frost ($12); and works of many poets, such as the Bronte sisters, and sonnets by William Shakespeare ($15).
There are other anthologies and the Louis Braille Center welcomes your suggestions of poetry you would like to have in braille. To order, contact the Louis Braille Center, 320 Dayton St., Suite 125, Edmonds, WA 98020-3590; phone (425) 776-4042, or e-mail [email protected] A complete catalog is available in large print, braille or on the web site, www.louisbraillecenter.org.
A sample issue of "Circle of Love" -- a 90-minute monthly Christian publication -- will be sent upon request. Annual subscriptions are $15 for read & return or $20 to keep the magazine. The magazine features Christian poetry, testimonies, music, Christian news and information, games and a monthly sermon. Checks should be made payable to "Circle of Love" and sent to: Circle of Love, 5028 S. Duck Creek Rd., Cleveland, TX 77327-6521.
Also available are sturdy thick signature guides (credit card size) for $1.50 each and sturdy check guides for $4.50, with cut- outs of all places for writing. Please include a self-addressed, stamped envelope with your order and send to Circle of Love at the address above.
Marjorie Arnott has a wide selection of cookbooks, knitting and crochet books she compiled for reasonable prices in braille, large print or computer disk. Knitting and crochet books include instructions for afghans, blankets, sweaters for adults and children, mittens, gloves and hats, toys, etc. Cookbooks include: "Cookies Galore," "Lipton Mix Cookbook," "Mexican dishes," "Vegetarian," "Crockpot," microwave, diabetic, "George Foreman Grill Manual," bread machine, "Ice Cream Summer Delights," and many more.
To receive a braille catalog, please write in braille or print to 1446 N. Coronado St., Chandler, AZ 85224-7824, phone (480) 345-8773, or e-mail [email protected]
The Word Proclaimed provides the daily Catholic Mass Scripture readings professionally recorded on monthly cassette tapes. The recording for each day includes the First Reading (usually Old Testament), a Psalm, a Gospel reading and a brief thought-for- the-day. Subscribers pay $7 per month. Visually impaired may request a reduced rate. Contact: The Word Proclaimed, 9042 Meade Street, Westminster, CO 80031; phone toll-free: 1-888-203-0697; or e-mail [email protected]
Note: The Sunday readings have been available through Xavier Society for the Blind. The Word Proclaimed is the only source for the daily readings.
Did you ever wish you could have a braille copy of something you found on the Internet? Now you can. For a small fee, well within your budget, I can provide this service for you on a regular basis or just once in a while. Choose the braille you want: grade one, grade two, computer braille code, or a combination. Choose the paper size you want and also whether you would like single- sided or double-sided pages. Please contact Catherine Thomas via e-mail, [email protected]
Clarity Solutions, the leading manufacturer of "Flex Arm" Auto- focus video magnifiers, recently released its improved CLARITY AF FLEX video magnifiers. New features are: push button switches; rounded ergonomic design; and improved quick release on appropriate models. Other features include: auto-focus and manual focus; color, black and white, and inverse modes; desktop and distance viewing (Classmate and Travelmate); magnification up to 60X desktop with a 20" monitor, 24X distance, 90X with TravelViewer Stand; line markers; flexible mounting and battery options; and five different monitor options.
There are three models available. The CLARITY AF FLEX costs $1,695 for black and white, $2,195 for color, which comes with an auto-focus camera with desktop viewing, arm, and XY reading table. The CLARITY AF CLASSMATE costs $2,345 for color, and comes with an auto-focus camera with desktop and distance viewing, arm, XY reading table, and clamp mount. The CLARITY AF TRAVELMATE costs $2,495 for color; it comes with an auto-focus camera with desktop and distance viewing, arm, XY reading table, clamp mount, quick release and TravelViewer stand.
For more information, contact Clarity Solutions toll-free, (800) 575-1456, or e-mail at [email protected] You may also visit the web site at www.clarityaf.com.*****
FOR SALE: Brand-new Window-Eyes. Asking $300 or best offer. Contact Randy Thompson at (601) 956-7906.
FOR SALE: Optelec 20/20 Video Magnification System. Very good condition. Asking $750. Call Jim Fenick at (954) 771-7867.
FOR SALE: Ovac desktop magnifier system, VACC color. Never used. Asking $1,500 or best offer. Contact Chris Williams at (502) 327-1403 days, (502) 454-3246 nights.
FOR SALE: Alva Braille Terminal Model 380, an 80-cell Braille display (plus status cells). Works out-of-the-box with JAWS for Windows. Rarely used, perfect condition. Includes cover, carrying case, and all software/cables/manuals. For more information, please see: http://www.humanware.com/E/E1/E1A.html. Asking $7,995 or best offer. Contact Loren Mikola during the day at (425) 705-3394, or in the evenings at (425) 558-0131. You may also contact him via e-mail at [email protected]
FOR SALE: Braille Lite 18. Has September 20, 2000 update. Comes with cables, charger, cassette manual and some volumes of old Braille manual. Has just received new battery and some new switches. Braille display in good shape. Selling because I acquired a Braille Lite 40. Would like $1,800 but will accept best reasonable offer. Contact Catherine Close via e-mail at [email protected] or via phone, (412) 414-4119 or (412) 818- 4786.
FOR SALE: Dictionary on tape; also New Testament on cassette. Each item contains 12 tapes, and the dictionary cassettes are labeled in Braille for your convenience. Asking $15 for each item or $25 for a package deal. If interested, please contact Kathleen at (631) 698-5149, or by e-mail, [email protected]
FOR SALE: Keynote Gold VC PCMCIA Speech Card; barely used. Requires Type 2 PCMCIA slot, and computer be at least 486 or higher. Comes complete with software and speaker. Speaker has been modified, but is in perfect working condition. Asking $800 or best offer. Window-Eyes 3.1 screen reader complete with manual on cassette and in print. Asking $200. Contact John or Linda at (417) 832-0092 or via e-mail at [email protected]
FOR SALE: Never opened, still in original shrink wrap, Window- Eyes 4.0. Would sell for $400 or best offer. Software was won as door prize and owner uses JAWS. Please contact Billie Jean Keith at (703) 528-4455, or e-mail [email protected]
FOR SALE: BookMaker braille embosser with cabinet and acoustic hood, $5,000 or best offer. BookMaker Express with cabinet and acoustic hood, $8,000 or best offer. 4 x 4 Index with latest software and cabinet, $5,000. 11 by 11 1/2 braille paper, punched, $35. 10 by 9-inch braille paper, not punched, $30. All prices include shipping. Call (718) 335-1788 or e-mail [email protected]
FOR SALE: Copy of Kurzweil 1000 software, version 5. Still in shrink wrap. Includes free upgrade to version 6 when it's released. Asking $600. Contact Sam Joehl at (773) 880-5514 or via e-mail at [email protected]
FOR SALE: Brother Word Processor, like new, in original box with printer, large 14-inch colored monitor-screen with large letters for poor vision, too many extras to list. $100 or best offer. Also have small collection of old military training books dating back to 1913 to sell cheaply. Call (863) 324-2711 or e-mail [email protected]
FOR SALE: I would like to sell a DECtalk Express for $400. Please contact Soniya at [email protected] or call (615) 773-5507 for further information.
WANTED: An up-to-date Accent SA speech synthesizer. Call or e- mail Thomas J. Heinl; phone (651) 489-8609 or e-mail [email protected]*****
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" chose to list those contributors over several months. Contributors' names are, therefore, published according to alphabetic listings of the states where they reside, in May, June, July, and August 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 ACBžs ongoing programs and services. This partial list of donors reflects only those people who gave us permission to publicly acknowledge their gifts.
Earl Engh Sr., Sherwood
Panagiota Bergados, Westerville
Richard Bird, Parma Heights
Earnest L. Breece, Marion
Dawn Christensen, Holland
Flonnie Gates, Kettering
Carolyn M. Hathaway, Canton
Scott Hemmerly, Columbus
Judy Hornsby, Cincinnati
Marilyn J. Huheey, Columbus
F.T. Jenkins, Akron
Richard R. Mettler, Columbus
Marianne Mundy, Cincinnati
Nicole Poston, Canton
George Pyle, Canton
Dan & Valinda Rossi, Lancaster
Jackie Schneider, Cincinnati
Leota & Earl Swann, Cortland
Brian White, Columbus
Kathryn S. Whitehead, Marion
Mrs. Patrick Armstrong, Yukon
Elizabeth Cahalan, Edmond
Maxine K. Lavender, Oklahoma City
LeRoy F. Saunders, Oklahoma City
Raymond & Mary Lou Washburn, Oklahoma City
Margaret & Frank Alvarez, Tigard
Robert and Suzanne Doerge, Corvallis
George Helkey, Corvallis
Vernon Leach, Reedsport
Molly & Iva May Menning, Salem
Margaret Reznicsek, Salem
Patricia A. Worrall, Portland
Rana McMurray Arnold, State College
Richard C. Bechtel, Haverford
Gregory H. Bey, Pittsburgh
Chloe Datto, Jermyn
Sebastian & Theresa Demanop, Havertown
Lester & Kay Groff, Lewistown
Kathleen Huebner, Elkins Park
Cynthia Johnson, Pittsburgh
Mr. & Mrs. Jerold Klevit, Jenkintown
Kit & Bill McDonald, Oil City
Margaret McGraw, Wilkes-Barre
Pearl McMichael, New Brighton
Mr. & Mrs. Richard Nenno, Swarthmore
Mary Jane Nester, Shenandoah
Shirley Nyland, Munhall
Elizabeth R. Pannell, Philadelphia
Pamela Potts, Mount Joy
Mary Ellen Scott, Doylestown
Mary J. Smith, Reading
Bruno J. Wolozyn, Oil City
Karen Bays, Charleston
Patsy Jones, West Columbia
Amy Chappelle, Pierre
Juliette Hyronemus, Worthing
Ted Kneebone, Aberdeen
Cindy Adams, Nashville
John Adams, Nashville
Donald J. Allen, Pigeon Forge
Robert Armstrong, Memphis
Fran Ziglar, Nashville
Margarine G. Beaman, Austin
Jo Cassidy, Cypress
Coastal Bend Area Council of the Blind, Corpus Christi
Joan Cox, San Angelo
Douglas Fussell, Abilene
Barbara German, El Paso
Edward F. Guerra, Austin
Katherine J. Harless, Irving
Ted Howard, Mansfield
Larry Johnson, San Antonio
Mrs. Herbert Kadish, Austin
Bernice Klepac, Houston
Ruth Ann Marsh, Leander
Guy McRoberts, Austin
Elizabeth M. Perrotto, El Paso
Anthony and Jessie Santamaria, Dallas
McCleod Stinnett III, Dallas
C. Richard Wagner III, Amarillo
Anthony R. Zinnante, Stafford
Mary Allen, Provo
Violet P. Brown, South Jordan
Lisha Day, Sandy
G. Fotheringham, Salt Lake City
NaDeen Hackwell, Ogden
Daisy Hales, Ogden
Ernest and Cheryl Heyborne, Cedar City
Clara A. Hill, Ogden
Curtis Marrs, Salt Lake City
Ted B. Petersen, Ephraim
Eugene & Eileen Wood, Salt Lake City
Norman Case, Bethel
Richard Erickson, Burlington
Shirley Hartley, Barre
Joann H. Nichols, Brattleboro
Janet Schmidt, Newport
Eleanor Van Vechten, Montpelier
Jonathan Avila, Vienna
Jeffrey M. Blair, Virginia Beach
Roger Bourdon, Fredericksburg
Alayna L. Curtis, Chesapeake
William F. Gilliland Jr., Fairfax
Teena Hazel, Fishersville
Charles Hodge, Arlington
Theodora K. Ing, Springfield
Arthur B. Jebens, Williamsburg
Tarver Memorial Fund, Richmond
Mabel & Roy Ward, Richmond
John F. Whiteside Jr., Petersburg
Sue Ammeter, Seattle
April Bergsman, Poulsbo
Rhonda Nelson, Auburn
Debra Phillips, Vancouver
Terry P. Waldron, Spokane
Mr. & Mrs. Richard Berres, West Bend
Shirley A. Brey, Sheboygan
Lotte Caponetto, Milwaukee
Dave Chapman, Cambridge
Mrs. M.G. Hintermeyer, Eau Claire
Ellen Kleszczynski, Milwaukee
Donald Lehmann, Kenosha
Noella Meulemans, West Allis
Carolyn M. Neerhof, Oostburg
Charles Smalley, Madison
Julia Vermilyea, Menomonee Falls
Kenneth Aston, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Ogowewo Samson Ayotunde, Nigeria
94 RAMONA AVE.
SAN FRANCISCO, CA 94103
FIRST VICE PRESIDENT
825 M ST., SUITE 216
LINCOLN, NE 68508
SECOND VICE PRESIDENT
1027 DUNLOP AVE
FOREST PARK, IL 60130
3912 SE 5TH ST
DES MOINES, IA 50315
500 S. 3RD ST. #H
BURBANK, CA 91502
IMMEDIATE PAST PRESIDENT
20330 NE 20th Ct.
Miami, FL 33179
Billie Jean Keith, Arlington, VA