THE BRAILLE FORUM is available in braille, large print, half-
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Subscription requests, address changes, and items intended for
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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.
In "Here and There" (July 2001), there was a reference to talking ATMs in California which stated that there were only five talking automatic teller machines in the state. The brief announcement referred only to the number of Citibank talking ATMs currently available in California. (Overall, there are 612 talking ATMs in California, thanks largely to successful advocacy by the members of CCB and others.) We regret any confusion the item may have caused.
A few months ago I wrote a memorandum to state rehab agency heads in which I reminded them of our principles of consumer cooperation. While the reception by the agency heads was, for the most part, either neutral or positive, both ACB and I drew a fiery response from NFB President Maurer and especially Jim Gashel. Setting aside the fire and brimstone that must have been intended to emotionally juice up the troops -- since it had no intellectual merit or basis beyond what a clearly gullible person might believe -- there was a telling and curious line of argument in their response, published for all the world to read in the June "Braille Monitor," and that argument warrants examination and comment. Here is a definitive quote.
"As to substance, Charlie's statements about balance are really disingenuous -- that is, the only balance with nothing is nothing. I say this because I am unaware of any programs to help blind people that the ACB makes available through collaboration with state agencies or otherwise. However, according to Charlie's law, agencies should refuse to participate in programs offered by the National Federation of the Blind unless participation is also offered in comparable programs of the ACB. The implication is that collaboration with the NFB when the ACB has no program is a violation of Charlie's law.
"To tell it like it is, Charlie's law is just a way for the ACB to claim that it really has positive programs. In fact, collaboration by the ACB in joint efforts of the NFB and state agencies lends legitimacy to the ACB as though it were more than just a silent partner. It doesn't seem to matter if the collaboration is forced and the ACB contributes little or nothing to the effort.
"This would be fancy footwork indeed if Charlie could convince the agency directors that his law is valid. Besides, by asserting Charlie's law, there appears to be no downside for the ACB since, either it is asked to join in the collaboration, contributing nothing, or the NFB will be stopped in its tracks. This is the unspoken part of Charlie's law, and the blind of the state lose out because of it."
With all due respect, Gashel's argument might be more relevant to a trade association than a consumer group. Moreover, his reference to "joint efforts by the NFB and state agencies" raises far more critical questions regarding what constitutes an appropriate use of public dollars and how these public funds can be obligated and spent.
ACB has adopted its principles of consumer cooperation with regard to organizations, to insure that consumer groups have full and balanced access to state rehab agencies because these agencies conduct business of vital interest to our blindness community. Nothing in the principles precludes any consumer organization from holding any event at their own expense and asking the state agency to make the information known. What our principles actually prohibit is the use of public money to endorse or appear to endorse any particular consumer group without affording an equal opportunity to others. This may be a bitter pill for even ACB to swallow, but it is the only fair way to protect consumers from undue influence and to provide us with unbiased information and a range of actual choices. Consistent with these purposes, the principles further protect against bating a consumer to an event advertised for one purpose and then substantially switching to quite another recruitment or propaganda effort. Even in this last context though, there is nothing to prohibit a consumer organization from holding a dance or other neutral activity and letting folks know that there will also be consumer group information available to them.
Gashel's reasoning brings up an even more serious issue than his stated apprehension that our principles might preclude even a seminar. The substantive issue which is raised with regard to such an activity conflicts with our thirteen principles only when the activity conducted in partnership with a state agency actually leads to a financial benefit for any particular group.
When this kind of thing happens, ACB is right to point out that a state agency has a duty to observe ethics laws that require a number of considerations. We are right, as consumers and as an organization which represents the interests of consumers to express our disagreement with a process whereby a public agency provides entree to the decision-making process to a group which in turn routes consumers to a program offered by that particular group. Such a process obviously constitutes unfair business practices for all other service providers, as well as a serious error in judgment by public administrators, which would be exacerbated by the extent that such administrators have any relationship with the group exercising that degree of influence.
We are equally concerned about a process which leads consumers of rehabilitation services to believe that they are going to receive a particular service which turns out to be characterized by controlling conditions and circumstances about which they had no prior knowledge. These conditions can include denying guide dog users the ability to use their dogs, forcing people with low vision to wear sleep shades, conducting mobility training in circumstances which trainees consider to be unsafe, or subjecting consumers to a regimen of single consumer-group propaganda. Under such conditions, consumers have effectively been denied their rights to informed choice.
In both of these examples the pretense of consumerism is used, not to provide balance or informed choice, but rather to gain unfair advantage.
At the heart of consumerism is the idea that we can establish, maintain and improve a greater quality of life for blind people by uniting together in a common agenda and moving forward in our advocacy. ACB has demonstrated this commitment through its attention to voting rights, a safer environment, access to information, non-discrimination in the workplace, support for the Americans with Disabilities Act, as well as intelligent and fair transportation systems, equal access to television programming, increased Social Security benefits, a better program of service to older blind people, an improved rehabilitation law, appropriate and fair treatment on airlines and other transportation conveyances, protection of the rights of blind vending facility operators, access to places of public accommodation, providing for the rights of guide dog users to travel freely to places such as Hawaii, the passage of beneficial laws such as IDEA, the enforcement of civil rights, making sure that assistive technology works and that the people training us to use that technology have the knowledge to do so, and more. No, not all of these are products or services accomplished jointly with state agencies and neither have they made any money for ACB, but they are the results of our promise to consumers, to advance an agenda that will help people who are blind and visually impaired to achieve the quality of life they want and deserve. We have worked with state agencies, the Federation and others to move these advocacy items. There is no pretense here. We simply exist to benefit blind people and while we may not get rich doing it, it remains one of our major reasons for being and is the basis of our principles of consumer cooperation.
The American Council of the Blind principles of consumer cooperation shine more brightly today because they promise all consumers equal access to a public system of rehabilitation that enjoys the trust of taxpayers and consumers alike. The only threat to any other organization is to those who would not keep the promise of what a consumer organization really is.
This is not Charlie's law, it is simply the right of every blind person to have fair and balanced access to a system that has been created to serve all of us.
Paul Edwards opened the pre-convention board meeting held in Des Moines, Iowa by welcoming all board members and guests. The adoption of the minutes of the January 2001 mid-year board meeting was deferred until the "Unfinished Business " section in order for Sandy Sanderson to formulate wording he wanted included with regard to NAC.
President Edwards stated that his report would be brief since he would be covering many of its elements in his presidential address before the full convention on July 1. Reporting on ACB's international activities within the North American/Caribbean Region of the World Blind Union, he told the board that he and Brian Charlson had represented ACB at the March 2001 regional meeting held in Granada in conjunction with a special leadership skills training for blind women from the Caribbean. Jill Tobin, chair of ACB's women's concerns committee, actively participated in these sessions. This seminar provided ACB with an excellent opportunity to build bridges with the leaders of the region and with the leadership of the WBU.
Edwards also reported on another presentation he made in May 2001 in Ontario, Canada at the provincial meeting of the Canadian Council of the Blind. In addition to appearing on their program twice, Edwards was able to share many of the core values of ACB with CCB members, and he worked with the CCB leadership on strengthening their commitment to consumer advocacy.
In June, Edwards participated in a cross-disability roundtable meeting in Ohio on a variety of key issues of concern to all people with disabilities. Some of the issues discussed included video description, the Sutton nomination to the Supreme Court, and voting access. Edwards reported that ACB was recognized at this meeting as the only organization within the disability movement with a clear position on what advocates need to do to minimize the impact of the Garrett decision.
Edwards responded to criticism of ACB which had appeared in the pages of "The Braille Monitor" by telling the board that he believed the strength of ACB as an organization lies in its successes, not what names others call us in print.
"ACB's strength," Edwards said, "rests in what we do and the victories we achieve."
The report of the executive director, Charles Crawford, focused on policy, budget, administrative, convention and other internal operational issues. Crawford commended all of those ACB affiliates who have made financial contributions over the past several months.
"Those contributions made it possible for ACB to continue its important work and to ensure that all the issues of 'The Braille Forum' will continue to arrive in members' mailboxes," Crawford said.
In the legislative and regulatory arena, Crawford reported that ACB is active on the fast-moving issue of access to the election process. ACB was the sole blindness organization to be invited by the National Association of Secretaries of State to share concerns on accessible voting and other related issues for people who are blind.
Penny Reeder reported that "The Braille Forum" list continues to grow. She told board members that subscriptions for those reading the computer disk edition have risen by one-third and subscriptions for the e-mail version have more than doubled over the past two years. With regard to the ACB web site, Reeder thanked Earlene Hughes for her efforts which resulted in getting the ACB convention pre-registration form online, as well as scholarship applications. There is now a search engine that enables people to search throughout the web site in order to locate specific information.
Kim Charlson gave a brief report from the board of publications. She announced that Winifred Downing would be the ex officio board representative from the board of publications beginning at the post-convention board meeting and concluding with the pre-convention board meeting in 2002.
LeRoy Saunders presented two bid proposals to the board for the 2003 ACB convention. The two locations under consideration were Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Memphis, Tennessee. Room rates for both locations were $85 per night. Representatives of each city's convention and visitors bureau and the ACB affiliate outlined the perceived advantages of each proposal. The board voted to accept the bid from Pittsburgh for 2003.
ACB treasurer Pat Beattie provided the board with her report. On a very favorable note, bequests to ACB were up significantly. Due to these revenues, the budget committee recommended that $175,000 be restored to the reserve fund. The budget committee also recommended that the previously followed policy of board reimbursement be reinstated, and that the funding for the September board meeting be fully restored. An additional $2,000 was added to the World Blind Union dues line item to cover ACB's full 2001 dues and delegate costs. Finally, $12,000 was set aside for ACB's legal efforts on the video description case. These recommendations were approved.
As chair of the American Council of the Blind Enterprises and Services board, Pat Beattie gave that report as well. She stated that a new thrift store has been opened in Kansas City. She also announced that the ACBES board has a new member, Arnold Simons from the Washington, DC area. Consultant Michael Keoghan has been doing some statistical analysis for ACBES and this has proven to be beneficial to overall operation.
Debbie Grubb presented a brief report from the membership committee. At the mid-year board meeting, the recommendations from the resource development committee relating to increasing individual per capita dues and raising the dues ceiling for affiliates were forwarded to the membership committee for study and recommendations. The committee recommended the following: 1) Per capita dues for affiliate organization members should be increased from $3 to $5 in the year 2003; and 2) In 2002, the dues cap for affiliate organizations should be raised by 200 (members) per capita dues each year until the number of per capita dues reflected in the cap exceeds the number of members in the largest affiliate organization. At that time, the dues cap would be eliminated. These recommendations require changes to Bylaw 3 of the ACB Constitution.
The board voted to consider the two recommendations separately. A motion was made to accept recommendation 1 as submitted by the membership committee for implementation in 2003, and to refer this issue to the ACB constitution and bylaws committee for the drafting of an appropriate amendment for consideration by the membership.
A motion was made to refer the membership committee's second recommendation with regard to affiliate caps to the constitution and bylaws committee without recommendation from the board. A motion was made to table this issue to a time certain in order for further study to occur. The motion passed.
Sanford Alexander gave a report from the National Accreditation Council Committee. He stated that the American Foundation for the Blind Study is not proceeding in the manner ACB had thought. NAC has had a change in its executive director and the committee needs to establish a relationship with the new director and re-examine a number of issues.
Jerry Annunzio discussed the issue of whether ACB should change its current logo. This might allow for the development of an ACB product store whereby logo items, such as caps, T-shirts, pens and the like could be sold. A committee was established to bring three recommendations forward with regard to the selection of a new logo for ACB.
Returning to the adoption of the minutes, Sandy Sanderson stated that the midyear 2001 board meeting minutes needed to include a reference to NAC and the $4 million that the NFB received from the federal government. Sanderson then deferred to Oral Miller for the amendment. A friendly amendment was added to state that: ACB members were not aware of the federal appropriation legislation to direct funds to the NFB until such legislation passed. The minutes were passed as amended.
Under new business, Mitch Pomerantz brought forth the issue of criteria for convention site selection. Other issues besides room rates should be considered in the equation including airfare, ground transportation costs, availability of restaurants, etc. These issues should all factor into where ACB meets. Pomerantz proposed that an ad hoc committee be appointed to deal with these issues. The convention committee was asked to examine this proposal and return to the board with recommendations for expanding site selection criteria.
Appreciation was expressed for Paul Edwards' leadership of both the board of directors and ACB in general during his tenure as president.
After no further business, the 2001 pre-convention ACB board meeting was adjourned.
President Christopher Gray called the meeting to order at 2:45 on July 7, welcoming officers and board members and introducing guests. The agenda was approved following Mitch Pomerantz's recommendation for discussion of establishment of a task force on employment issues and Oral Miller's reminder to hear the report of the committee concerned with ACB product endorsements. Committee Appointments
In keeping with his first priority for his administration, President Gray appointed Sandy Sanderson as head of the resource and development committee (fund-raising). Ralph Sanders will serve on that committee, and other members will be appointed. Pam Shaw is the new chair of the membership committee which will concentrate on preparing a membership report by the September meeting, establishing procedures for re-chartering chapters which have become inactive, and developing a questionnaire for chapter and affiliate presidents to evaluate and organize their membership strategies.
The chair of the board of publications is Kathleen Megivern, and the appointed board member is Adrian de Blaey. The BOP will look into the possibility of a second ACB magazine, this one slanted toward fund-raising and encouraging bequests. Convention Report
LeRoy Saunders reported that the members of the convention committee had worked well together and that their plans had proceeded fairly well. The number of people with special needs, like those who have difficulty with anything more than minimal walking, brings ever greater responsibilities in convention planning. Increased consideration must be given to accommodate the need for more break-out rooms and to deal with ever higher room rates. ACB Endorsements
Oral Miller and Charlie Crawford reported on the benefits and problems of endorsements of products by ACB. This matter had not arisen for consideration in the past but has been initiated with the advent of talking ATMs. To merit our endorsement, an item must be of benefit to blind persons and within the mission to which ACB is committed. It is not beyond expectation that ACB would receive some monetary reward for endorsements, but that approach can bring its own set of problems if, for example, a product which we endorsed were to be subject to public inquiry. Careful analysis must be given to both the positive and negative consequences of endorsements. The report will be distributed and further considered at the September board meeting. Elections
The members of the budget committee elected were Ardis Bazyn, Brian Charlson, and Sandy Sanderson. The executive committee, consisting of two officers, two board members, and the ACB president, was elected. Members include Paul Edwards, Steve Speicher, Mitch Pomerantz, and Oral Miller. Responding to a discussion of voting procedures and the permissibility of voting by the president, a committee composed of Ed Bradley, Brian Charlson, and Donna Seliger will consider these issues and report to the September meeting. Prioritizing Resolutions
Sanford Alexander explained the thinking used in classifying the resolutions adopted by the convention with respect to the action to be taken. Those classified under the number 1 require action immediately because they are time-sensitive. Some are of transitory significance like expressions of gratitude and appreciation to the hotels, volunteers, and the like, while others, though requiring immediate attention, have continuing importance. Resolutions in classification 2 concern significant matters that are not particularly time sensitive, like program suggestions for next year, and concerns of ongoing interest, like disability and age discrimination. Resolutions classified in the third group may reflect action that is already in progress or require continuing support. The resolutions are still being checked for accuracy; this preliminary report indicates that 15 of the resolutions were classified as 1's, 9 as 2's, and 5 or 6 as 3's. Task Force on Voting Rights
One resolution calls for the appointment of a task force consisting of one person from environmental access, one from information access, three people appointed by the president, three members to be chosen from among the board of directors, the director of advocacy services and governmental affairs, and a chair to be elected by the board. The purpose of this task force is to ensure that blind and visually impaired persons are represented in the measures taken to establish fairness and accessibility in the election process. A deadline of 45 days has been set for the work to be done because things are happening very quickly in Congress and in the states, and some states have already decided upon the voting procedures and machines they will employ. It is hoped that ACB leaders already on the national task force working on the same subject will be included on this task force. Logo Committee
At the pre-convention board meeting, Cynthia Towers was appointed as chair with Penny Reeder, Kim Charlson, Jerry Annunzio, and Sharon Lovering as members. A discussion occurred regarding the negative aspects of changing the logo, for it is an expensive process since it concerns all the forms, brochures, and stationery ACB uses and similar items used by many of the affiliates. The ACBES trucks also bear the ACB logo. Perhaps the change can be phased in gradually as supplies need to be replenished.
When the existing logo, an oval with a circle resembling an eye and the letters ACB across the top, was described, the sentiment was that a change must be made. The committee to further investigate this matter is chaired now by Jerry Annunzio with Ardis Bazyn, Kathleen Megivern, and Mitch Pomerantz as members. Sharon Lovering's opinions, as well as those of "The Braille Forum" editor, will also be considered. It was acknowledged that judgment concerning an appropriate logo necessarily requires visual discrimination. A motion was passed requiring the logo committee to review the financial impact of a new logo if the change is endorsed by the board. Decision on Working Committees
While some new committee assignments have already been made and others will follow, in the meantime, committees which have been working on matters of ongoing interest and importance to ACB will go forward and turn over their work or join with new members in completing it. Next Board Meeting
The fall board meeting will be held on September 22 in Albuquerque to encourage the fledgling New Mexico affiliate. A planning committee will be established to make appropriate arrangements, and information concerning the meeting will be posted on the ACB leadership list so that persons living nearby can plan to attend. Unemployment Roundtable
As a consequence of the Government Employees' sponsorship on July 5 of a Roundtable "Exploring the Reasons for Our 70 percent Unemployment Rate", Mitch Pomerantz suggested some ongoing mechanism to consider matters like the impact of public attitudes, advancing blind and visually impaired persons as role models, and problems in transitioning from school and training programs to work. Ten people on Thursday, and others subsequently, requested involvement in such a project. These are individuals who do not ordinarily participate in ACB committees and who could be valuable additions to the work of the organization. In the proposed three years of operation, the project could sponsor workshops under the guidance of ACB Government Employees. At the end of that time, a review would be conducted to evaluate the process. A motion was passed to establish such a task force. By the September meeting, Pomerantz will develop a mission statement for this employment issues task force.
The mid-year board meeting will occur in February, over the Presidents' Day weekend.
Affiliate presidents and many other ACB members have highlighted the need for communication between ACB's leadership and the general membership of the organization. I have the distinct impression that you want to know more than has sometimes been printed in "The Braille Forum" about specific ACB business and that you want an exposure to discussions of general topics of interest to our movement. With this in mind, this month's President's Message will focus on ACB business, upcoming activities, and committee appointments.
One of the larger jobs for ACB's officers to undertake is to keep the committee structure of ACB vital and functioning. Our bylaws mandate a large number of standing committees. In addition, we have other committees that help the organization carry out its work and realize its mission as prescribed by you each year at convention. Each committee can request a budget to perform its work, and each committee must have a mission statement detailing what it hopes to do in the next year or meaningful period of time related to its particular job.
To assist committees in their work, each has an ACB officer who is specifically dedicated to helping them achieve their goals and manage their budget. In addition, each committee has a staff liaison within ACB's national office.
I am posting below a list of officer coordinators and their committees. This list is furnished so that you know where to go when you want to provide input to a committee or volunteer for a committee assignment.
Chris Gray: Advocacy Services; Convention Program; Executive; Internet; task forces as required.
Steve Speicher: Constitution and bylaws; Credentials; Future of ACB; National Alliance of Blind Students; Nominating; Scholarships.
M.J. Schmitt: History; Information Access; McDaniel; Membership.
Donna Seliger: Convention Selection; Convention Coordination; Mississippi Project; Public Relations; Resolutions; Sight and Sound.
Ardis Bazyn: Awards; Environmental Access; Multicultural Affairs; Women's Concerns.
On Thursday of the 2001 national convention, the ACB Government Employees affiliate held an employment seminar. Out of that seminar came a request to the ACB board to create an employment task force. Mitch Pomerantz made the motion at the post-convention board meeting to implement this request; the motion was adopted. Here are the appointed members to that task force. Because this group is of a more long-standing nature than some task forces, their full contact information and make-up will appear on the standard ACB committee list when released in the fall.
Mitch Pomerantz: ADA Compliance Officer, Los Angeles City Department on Disability (public sector)
Peter Altschul: Diversity Coordinator, Reuters (private sector)
Paulette Bartelt: Independent Living Coordinator, Independence First (agency)
Denise Colley: Project Coordinator, NW Disability and Business Technical Assistance Center (agency)
Darian Hartman: Assistant Employment Specialist, IAMCARES (agency)
M.J. Schmitt: (retired from the private sector)
Samantha Schmucker: Personnel Management Specialist, U.S. Department of Agriculture (public sector and recent college graduate)
Naomi Soule: District Supervisor, Rehabilitation Services for the Blind, State of Missouri (public sector)
Donna Smith: ADA Information Coordinator, Coalition of Citizens with Disabilities (agency)
Another task force that has been created has to do with how ACB addresses the concerns of guide dog users who attend the national convention. As our numbers grow, and as more blind people use guide dogs, problems arise that may require ACB to manage more specifically how guide dog issues are addressed. To help us with this, a task force has been set up with the help of Guide Dog Users, Inc. Its members are Debbie Grubb, Chair; Ginger Bennett; Margie Donovan, and Sheila Styron. These are all active GDUI members, extremely knowledgeable about ACB convention matters, and Debbie Grubb serves on the ACB board as well as president of GDUI.
The charge to the guide dog task force is to draft a set of recommendations for consideration by the ACB convention committee, budget committee, and board of directors with regard to all issues surrounding guide dog relief areas. Proposals are to be at the policy and operational levels, giving the task force the broadest scope possible for their work. In addition, a position description is to be proposed for the guide dog representative to the ACB convention coordination committee. The task force is being asked, if possible, to have a report prepared for distribution to the ACB board of directors at the September meeting.
The ACB board of directors will be holding its fall meeting on September 22-23, 2001 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. All meetings will be held at the Holiday Inn Mountain View. We are pleased also to be participants in a membership development program on Friday, September 21 with our growing New Mexico affiliate. Their president, David Armijo, is working with the ACB board and the membership committee to develop a program that is sure to assist all those who are blind in New Mexico.
As you can see, ACB's committee and task force structure is coming together for the next two years. Our committee structure, which allows us to tackle specific issues and to call on the talents of our members in a very meaningful way is part of what makes this organization truly democratic and representative. In a separate letter of information that is being mailed to affiliate presidents, I am asking them to identify three to five key members from their states for consideration on standing and other committees of ACB. If you're interested, let your affiliate presidents know of your wishes.
Howdy folks!!! We greet you from the great state of Texas. We eagerly await your trip to Houston next summer for the 2002 ACB national convention. As you may already know, the convention will be held from Saturday, June 29 through Saturday, July 6, in the Adam's Mark Hotel, which is located at 2900 Briarpark Drive (at Westheimer Road) in West Houston.
The Adam's Mark is a big hotel with 600 rooms, which can be reserved for $65 per night plus tax for single and double, $75 per night plus tax for triple and quad. You can call, toll free, for reservations at 1-800-444-ADAM (2326) or visit them on the world wide web at: http://www.adamsmark.com/houston/index.htm. Alternatively, you can call the hotel directly at (713) 978-7400 or fax them at (713) 735-2727.
The Hilton Hotel diagonally across the street from the Adam's Mark is the overflow hotel. Room rates at the Hilton are the same. The phone number is (713) 974-1000.
Exhibits, most meetings, and other functions of the convention will take place at the Adam's Mark. However, since meeting space is limited, some activities may take place at the Hilton. The walking distance between the hotels is about a block and a half, and shuttles will operate between the two hotels.
We'll be giving you more details about all the wonderful entertainments and accommodations that Houston has to offer as well as specifics concerning the 2002 convention in all the upcoming issues of "The Braille Forum," so dig that denim out of your closet and shine up your boots and spurs, because the folks in ACBT can hardly wait for you to arrive!
The California Transcribers and Educators of the Visually Handicapped (CTEVH) held its annual conference on April 26-28, 2001 in San Francisco.
What follows is what I prepared to say when I participated in panel discussions concerning the Unified Braille Code (UBC). We were limited to a 15-minute presentation.
I have been a CTEVH member since 1958. I have been intimately associated with the Unified Braille Code project (UBC) ever since its inception in 1991. That code has two clearly defined aspects: its literary aspect and its technical aspect. But examples of the code as it has emerged have been nearly exclusively limited to the literary aspect of that code.
The UBC proponents are eager to point out with pride that one can hardly tell the difference between what has been written in the UBC and what has been written in standard Grade 2 braille. Their point seems to be: Don't be afraid; UBC is not that bad! A very natural question that arises, at least in my mind, is "If there is so little difference, why bother to change? Why commit hundreds of thousands of dollars, perhaps millions, and why plan such an elaborate and comprehensive retraining program to institute a change that is hardly noticeable?" The answer, of course, lies in the technical aspect of the UBC, which bears no relation to the braille codes with which we are familiar in this country, and very little of which has been shown to us.
The technical part of the UBC is based on the use of upper numbers. In general, numbers in a literary context are widely separated and are not, for the most part, associated with adjacent letters. Therefore, upper numbers with their associated number signs in a literary context are easily tolerated. But in mathematics, numbers and letters are generally crowded together. This entails such frequent use of the number sign and also the letter sign that the resulting transcription is hardly tolerable since these braille signs constitute a constant interruption to the smooth flow of the notation in which they are embedded. I have pointed this out in the several papers that I have written regarding the UBC; many of you have seen some of those papers.
One of the examples I used to make this point was a multiplication example that might be encountered in an eighth- or ninth-grade elementary algebra course. This example is set out in five lines of braille. In the UBC implementation, this example requires 27 number signs and 18 letter signs. Since there are 6 plus signs and 4 minus signs in this example, each of which is a two-cell symbol beginning with dot 5, there are also ten dot-5 prefixes in addition to the 27 number signs and 18 letter signs. It is important to point out that this example will not fit across a standard 40-cell braille line even when it begins at the left margin. The five braille lines in this example contain 130 braille characters. The 55 braille characters for the number signs, the letter signs, and the dot-5 prefixes constitute 42 percent of the total braille characters in this example.
On the other hand, this same multiplication problem, if presented in the Nemeth Code, contains no number signs, no letter signs and no dot-5 prefixes. It easily fits across a braille line with a two-cell indentation, as is customary for such problems, and can be further indented to accommodate an identifying number if need be.
Despite my repeated requests, no one championing the UBC has shown me how to fit the UBC example on a standard 40-cell braille line. The use of upper numbers makes the UBC massive beyond reason.
The craftsmen of the UBC have turned a deaf ear to all the protests aimed at them concerning the mischief that upper numbers create. All the reasons they adduce concerning the advantages of upper numbers with a fervor that borders on paranoia are nothing but rationalizations. I believe that the real reason for espousing the use of upper numbers is entirely political. The proponents know that they could not possibly enlist the participation of our overseas colleagues if they did not advocate upper numbers. Braille As You Like It Ad Hoc Consortium Proposes a Different Universal Braille System (UBS)
Unable to persuade the project committee to budge from its entrenched position, a group of us formed an e-mail listserv which we call "braille_zylx." (I devised the "zylx" part; it is bad Grade 2 braille for "as you like it.") Our goal on this list is to produce a counter-code based on dropped numbers. This counter-code will be a near clone of the Nemeth Code. I have already posted several chapters on the list. We have close to 100 subscribers on this list; and the code, which we call the "Universal Braille System" (UBS), is being developed with the advice of this group.
Everyone is welcome to join the "As You Like It" listserv. To subscribe, send a blank e-mail message to: [email protected] Leave the subject field of your message blank. In the body of the message write the following: "Subscribe braille-zylx." That's all there is to it.
One of the archives that I have prepared is called "A UBC Anthology." It is a collection of all the papers and letters regarding the UBC, including e-mail messages, that have come to my attention since the inception of the project to about January 2000. It fills about a ream of paper in print. Although it is too voluminous to permit individual distribution, I have made it available for inspection by anyone who cares to read it.
Another document that I have prepared is a transcription into braille of the first chapter of a freshman calculus book. First, I transcribed the chapter into the Nemeth Code; then I converted the Nemeth Code version into the Unified Braille Code; and finally, I converted that into our Universal Braille System. Page after page, the two versions appear side by side in simulated braille; the UBC version on the left-hand page and the UBS version on the right. Each pair of facing pages begins and ends with the same word or notational element for purposes of comparison. The Nemeth Code version filled 87 braille pages. This was expanded in the UBC version to 97 braille pages, an increase of about 11.5 percent. Accompanying all this is a photocopy of the printed text from which the original transcription was made. Figures were omitted, although references to them were retained.
I have also prepared a statistical table comparing four important features in both codes. For each version, these features are: the number of number signs per page, the number of letter signs per page, the number of punctuation indicators per page, and the number of braille lines per page. It is of interest to note that, in the entire braille volume, there are 155 punctuation indicators in the UBS version. Compare that with the 55 number signs, letter signs, and dot-5 prefixes concentrated on just five braille lines in UBC notation. All of this material is available for your inspection, either in the volume described above or in an interpoint version which takes up less shelf space. There is no privileged information in any of these documents, and they may be freely copied and disseminated. Technical Aspects of the UBC Cause Confusion, Misalignments, Inconsistencies, Difficulties Representing Superscripts
Apart from numbers and letters, the core symbols in mainstream mathematics are the signs for plus, minus, equals, fraction line, and two parentheses. Although I have no statistical evidence, my long experience tells me that these six signs collectively constitute more than 90 percent of mainstream mathematical notation, apart from numbers and letters. However, all the operation signs in the UBC mimic those in the Braille Authority of the United Kingdom (BAUK) math code (the code used in England) except that the prefix has been changed. They are all two-cell symbols.
This adds to the massiveness of the notation that the UBC creates.
By contrast, the UBS generates no letter signs, very few number signs, and the six symbols to which I have alluded above are all one-cell symbols.
In the UBC, the use of upper numbers can cause misalignment. A number like 1234 requires one number sign and no letter signs; it occupies 5 cells. On the other hand, a number like 2a3b requires two number signs and two letter signs and occupies 8 cells. Regarded as 4-digit hexadecimal numbers, these cannot, in their raw form, be aligned for addition.
To circumvent this problem, UBC has devised an "alignment mode" in which the unfamiliar dot-6 or French number system is used. (Coincidentally, the 63 symbols in the alignment mode are a 100 percent clone of the British computer braille code.) Consequently, this "Unified Braille Code," which was ostensibly devised to simplify and to eliminate multiple representations, now contains two number systems.
Some alignment problems entail floating-point numbers in which superscripts are required. However, the UBC alignment mode makes no provision for representing a superscript.
In UBC, enclosure symbols are also sometimes required. But alignment mode makes no provision for these enclosure symbols either. It has been proposed that symbols that do not participate in a current mathematical expression be "deputized" to serve as a superscript symbol or an enclosure symbol for the duration of the current example.
In the absence of any guidelines for selecting suitable candidates to be deputized, each transcriber will make his or her own choice about which particular symbol to "deputize." So much for uniformity. It is unclear by what incantation a chicken can be turned into a fish. In addition, a transcriber's note requiring at least two lines of braille for identifying to the reader what symbols have been chosen, plus a skipped line above and another below this transcriber's note would add four braille lines to the transcription. This clumsy solution occupies the low end of the "elegance" spectrum.
Some proponents of the UBC claim that hexadecimal alignment is incredibly rare. We are told not to throw out a whole code on that account. Hexadecimal computations are not as rare as one might think. Every introductory textbook in computer science has a chapter on hexadecimal arithmetic. And programmers who work in assembly language must continually address calculations involving hexadecimal arithmetic. Saying that something is incredibly rare is a form of denial. Blind people are not exempt from dealing with rare situations; when they occur they must be dealt with, and blind people need the tools to deal with them.
Representing numbers with two symbols which involves utilizing a separate number symbol, can lead to other subtle unintended consequences. Consider the word "34-cent" as in a thirty-four-cent stamp. The first character is the number sign which initiates both numeric mode and Grade-1 mode. The next two characters are then correctly interpreted as the digits 3 and 4. Then comes the hyphen. This causes numeric mode to be turned off, but Grade-1 mode remains in effect. As a result, the next three characters are interpreted as "c subscript t," rather than as "cent." To avoid this, a Grade-1 terminator must be inserted either before or after the hyphen. This terminator is a two-cell symbol formed by dots 5-6, 3. Now the last three characters can be read as "cent." It takes a two-cell Grade-1 terminator to permit the "en" contraction which -- after all of this -- saves just one cell! Whenever a word is composed of a number and a word, for example in an expression like "3-dimensional," where the number and the word are joined by a hyphen, we have the same situation.
You will no doubt be told that such situations can be remedied by changing or adding a few rules. Remember, young children will have to cope with all these UBC idiosyncracies. Upper numbers have already been given so many booster shots and have been so bandaged up that they are on life support. It is time to pull the plug.
Some people may tell you that switching to lower numbers is too radical a departure from English Braille Grade 2. On the contrary, such a switch would be a non-event. Braille users are already doing so privately both in reading and writing. Lower numbers have long since become a de facto numbering system, and no one would be inconvenienced by the switch.
Some maintain that a general-purpose code like the UBC cannot be as efficient as a subject-specific code. The UBS proves otherwise. That code preserves the current literary braille code far more than does the UBC. The UBS does not abolish sequencing and it does not eliminate any contractions as does the UBC, and it is extremely efficient. Any seasoned transcriber will tell you that, if lower numbers were used everywhere, he or she could transcribe anything from Chaucer to quantum mechanics, or from Hamlet to nuclear physics using the Nemeth Code or its near clone, the UBS.
There are many other problems with the UBC that I cannot present in the limited space which "The Braille Forum" can allocate to the topic. There are basic problems with fractions and there are basic problems with level indicators. With regard to the UBC, my identity as the creator of the Nemeth Code is a handicap. Regardless of the logic of my position, there will always be people who will dismiss it on the perception that I am defending personal turf. So it is up to you to assess the true weight of the logic behind my position.
Where is the UBC constituency? The proponents that I know of can be counted on the fingers of one hand. No one else has made a supporting public statement either verbally or in writing to my knowledge. At the 1995 ICEB London Conference, no one submitted a paper in support of the UBC in spite of the fact that UBC was the principal topic of discussion at that conference.
I harbor no enmity to anyone. I consider the people who support the UBC my friends and colleagues. It is their code, not its sponsors that I oppose. I am ready and willing to contribute whatever abilities I have to the formulation of a uniform braille code; but that code cannot be based on upper numbers, given all the difficulties with them that I have set before you above.
Shall we stand by and agonize over the broken spirits of one young blind child after another who finds it impossible to cope with this UBC in any meaningful way?
Many presidents, the most recent being Bill Clinton, have repeatedly admonished the Congress that if certain bills come to their desks, they will veto them. We, the readers, writers, and transcribers of braille, must admonish BANA that if this UBC comes to us after adoption, we will ignore it. We are organized in many organizations, to make the blind children for whom we work our beneficiaries, not our victims. I urge all who care about braille, about literacy, about the future of children who are blind and visually impaired, to make clear to BANA at this time that we reject the UBC. For More Information
Should you wish to contact me on this subject, here is my identifying information: Abraham Nemeth, 24111 Civic Center Drive, Apt. 409, Southfield, MI 48034; e-mail [email protected]
To subscribe to the Braille-As-You-Like-It listserv, simply send a message to [email protected], following the instructions above. Final Thoughts
Editor's Note: We are honored that Dr. Nemeth chose to share his thoughts with readers of "The Braille Forum," and I am especially indebted to Winifred Downing, who so graciously shared the original article with me and made many helpful editorial suggestions.
As one who considers myself a "survivor" of college-level calculus, and as a person who has been reading braille for fewer than 10 years, I found many of the concepts included in the article above to be challenging to say the least. Yet I felt it important to include many of these very communicative examples, and I hope that I have done Dr. Nemeth's original content no disservice.
For an interesting look at the origins of the Nemeth Braille Code for Mathematics and Science, and the history of the Unified Braille Code and the Unified English Braille Code Projects, I recommend the recently published "Braille Into the Next Millennium," available in print, braille and on audiocassette from the National Library Service. In addition, see "Where Shall We Go with the Unified Braille Code?" by Christopher Gray in the July "Braille Forum."
At its 40th annual convention in July 2001, the American Council of the Blind adopted the following resolution: RESOLUTION 01-27:
WHEREAS, the adoption of a Unified English Braille Code (UEBC) has tremendous potential for creating the availability of standard English Braille which can be freely shared among all English-speaking nations; and
WHEREAS, the International Council on English Braille (ICEB) has proposed to adopt such a code during the current quadrennium; and
WHEREAS, premature adoption of the UEBC would result in the failure to provide adequate opportunity for Braille users in North America to examine, comment upon, and verify the capacity of the code to express advanced technical material in a comprehensible manner;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the American Council of the Blind in convention assembled this 7th day of July, 2001 at the Polk County Convention Center in Des Moines, Iowa, that this organization vigorously oppose the adoption of the Unified English Braille Code if proposed for adoption at the 2003 quadrennial meeting of the ICEB;
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization strongly urge that the ICEB postpone a final decision concerning adoption of the UEBC until its 2007 quadrennial meeting;
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization not endorse the UEBC until satisfied that wide-ranging input has been received, considered, and evaluated from consumers in North America;
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the ACB urge the board of the ICEB to consider papers prepared by Abraham Nemeth and Christopher Gray, and review the proposals of the Universal Braille System (UBS), before making a decision on a unified code.
(Editor's Note: William Jolley serves as Secretary General of the DAISY Consortium. The article below is based on a paper he prepared for presentation at the ACB national convention in Des Moines. We are honored to afford him the time and space to expand his brief convention remarks on the future of the book.)
I am delighted to have this opportunity to share information with you about the evolution of digital talking books, and in particular the DAISY standard. As Secretary General of the DAISY Consortium I am proud to be a member of the management team of the international organization in the blindness field which demonstrates so well a commitment and level of cooperation aimed toward improving the situation of blind people throughout the world. We have a big job to do, since there are many complexities and mainstream developments are occurring so rapidly; but we are tackling our tasks with teamwork and tenacity. Furthermore, we are not thinking of the digital talking book in isolation: we are looking for synergies with the production of Braille, large print and eText; we are committed to the accessibility of multimedia documents; and we want to integrate the DAISY standard with mainstream developments. What Is the DAISY Standard: History and Background
The DAISY Consortium was formed in May 1996 as the worldwide collaboration of talking-book libraries to develop the international standards and implementation strategies for the production, exchange and use of the next generation of digital talking-books. Although our acronym, "DAISY," still denotes the "Digital Audio-based Information System," I predict that in a couple of years it will be taken to refer to the "Digital Accessible Information System," because of the effects of convergence in production techniques.
There are four staff members of the DAISY Consortium. They bring an international approach and multi-disciplinary backgrounds. William Jolley is the full-time Secretary General from Australia; George Kerscher is the International Projects Manager, seconded for 50 percent of his time from Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic (RFB&D); Lynn Leith is the Training & Technical Support Coordinator, seconded for 50 percent of her time from the CNIB Library for the Blind in Canada; and Markus Gylling is Technical Developments Coordinator, seconded for 50 percent of his time from the Swedish Library of Talking Books and Braille. There are 12 full members of the DAISY Consortium, and more than 30 associate members and 10 friends. Full and associate members are non-profit organizations, typically national talking-book libraries or national consortia of such libraries. Friends are for-profit organizations including software developers and production or playback product manufacturers.
Full members pay a joining fee of $35,000 and an annual fee of $25,000. The full member from the United States is RFB&D. Associate members pay an annual fee of $2,500. The eight associate members from the United States are: American Foundation for the Blind (AFB), American Printing House for the Blind (APH), Benetech, Communication Center of Minnesota State Services for the Blind, Hadley School for the Blind, Talking Tapes/Textbooks on Tape, Clearinghouse for Specialized Media & Technology (California branch) and the Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST). Friends pay an annual fee of $2,500 as a minimum. Some donate a higher amount. The five friends from the United States are: Brilliance Audio, isSound Corporation, Microboards Technology, Microsoft Corporation and Telex Communications.
The first DAISY standard was proprietary, originating in Sweden. The idea was to use digital recording and introduce some document structuring that would allow easy navigation by the user. The concept was unveiled in 1994 and its adoption steadily gathered momentum. In 1997 the DAISY Consortium decided to adopt open standards based on file formats then being developed for the Internet. The DAISY 2.0 standard was released in 1998, and the 2.02 recommendation was approved in February 2001. We hope that DAISY 3.0 will be released early in 2002. The DAISY standards are based on XML which denotes Extensible Markup Language and SMIL which denotes Synchronized Multimedia Integration Language. XML is used for text markup, and SMIL is used for text and audio synchronization.
In essence a DAISY book is a set of digital files that includes: one or more digital audio files containing a human narration of part or all of the source text; a marked-up file containing some or all of the text (strictly speaking, this marked-up text file is optional); a synchronization file to relate markings in the text file with time points in the audio file; and a navigation control file which enables the user to move smoothly within and between files while synchronization between text and audio is maintained.
For a library book the text file might only contain the table of contents, whereas for a student's textbook or a reference book the full text might be included.
Several approaches to playback have been developed. Software is becoming available which will play a DAISY book on a PC, where the files may be stored on the hard disk or on a CD. We anticipate that free or inexpensive playback software will be available by the fourth quarter of 2001. Two companies, Plextor from Japan and VisuAide from Canada, have developed CD players that will play both standard music CDs and DAISY-compliant CDs. Whereas a standard music CD has a maximum playing time of 74 minutes, a DAISY CD might play for more than 25 hours depending on how the digital audio files are encoded -- MP3 compression, etc. A Shared Vision of Information Access for All
Our vision is that all published information will be available to people with print disabilities, at the same time and at no greater cost, in an accessible, feature-rich, navigable format. An important element of our vision is that the utility of documents will be maximized. It is not good enough to receive an unstructured eText document or poorly formatted Braille document; we envisage a world in which the documents we read as blind people are clearly presented and convenient to use. It is the power and flexibility of the digital environment that can give us a choice among accessible formats and easy navigation around complex documents.
Accordingly, the DAISY Consortium is developing the international standard and implementation strategies for the production, exchange and use of the next generation of Digital Talking Books in both developed and developing countries, with special attention to integration with mainstream technology to ensure access to information for people with print disabilities. Five Goals
Broadly speaking, we have defined five major goals which will guide the work of the DAISY Consortium over the next few years. These are:
(1) To create and promote the worldwide standard for navigation and structuring of digital talking-books;
(2) To foster the establishment and development of digital talking-book library services in both developed and developing countries;
(3) To maximize the accessibility and utility of electronic books and multimedia documents for people with print disabilities;
(4) To secure the recognition and adoption of the DAISY standard for navigable multimedia documents among mainstream product developers and book publishers; and
(5) To foster the establishment and development of a global talking-book library, which transcends geographic boundaries and linguistic differences, and which embraces cultural diversity. What the DAISY Standard Means
The first goal is the creation and promotion of the DAISY standard. Currently there is no other standard for digital talking books, and the standard which allows a blind person to navigate through an audio document, like a sighted person navigates through a printed book, is the DAISY standard. It allows the user to move quickly between sections and subsections, to go to specific pages and index references, and may even allow text searches in full text and audio books. We highly commend the work led by Michael Moodie from NLS under the auspices of NISO to extend the DAISY standard in developing a North American digital talking book standard. We are pleased that the NISO Committee has included representatives of the DAISY Consortium, paving the way for a single worldwide digital talking book standard by early 2002. Converting from Analog to Digital Formats Is Complex
We are fully aware that the transition for library services, both for adults and for students, from the analog to the digital environment is complex. Organizations have significant investments in human resources, book stock and playback equipment in the analog environment, and these need to be transferred to the digital environment. This is much easier and less expensive for some organizations than for others. Our concern is not just organizations in the industrialized world, but also for the creation or development of digital library services in developing countries. A Standard for Digital Formats Makes Even Mainstream Books and Materials Accessible
Clearly, if mainstream electronic books and multi-media documents are accessible and readily usable by people with print disabilities, then the onus on service agencies to produce accessible documents is reduced. The work of both the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) within the World Wide Web Consortium and of the Open eBook Forum is critically important in this context. Integrating the DAISY Standard with Mainstream Products
We fully expect that mainstream devices such as MP3 players will be able to play DAISY books; and that commercial audio book publishers will adopt the DAISY standard to make their products conveniently navigable for their readers. A Global Digital Talking Book Library Is an Important Goal
This goal may be deemed to be relatively unimportant in the United States, because you have such a rich source of talking books through organizations led by the National Library Service for leisure reading and Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic for textbooks. However, the ideal of being able to access a talking book recorded in another country, without delay and with a minimum of red tape, is cherished by many blind people and their talking book libraries throughout the world. In my country of Australia, for example, English speakers want to read more books recorded in North America and the United Kingdom. Many of our immigrants, who revert to their native language for talking books as they grow older, want to read books in languages such as Italian, Greek, Russian, Polish, Hungarian, Spanish, Arabic or Chinese. Needless to say, the main barrier faced by proponents of a global library is not technical; it is the plethora of uncoordinated national copyright laws and the absence of a sensible and workable international framework for the free exchange of braille and talking books. DAISY Implementation Today
Implementation of digital talking books is most advanced in Japan. 10,000 talking-books have been converted from analog to digital and 100 copies of 3,000 of these have been distributed to talking-book libraries. Sweden has switched to the DAISY standard for talking-book production and national distribution has commenced. Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic has commenced the rollout of DAISY books for its 90,000 student users, which should be complete by the middle of 2002. The RNIB in London plans to launch its digital talking book service in the second quarter of 2002. CNIB in Canada has started the production of DAISY books and is gearing up for conversion of its talking book library service from analog to digital over the next few years. NLS Plans to Begin Conversion to Digital Talking Books In Five Years
The National Library Service is planning for a change-over from analog to digital in the next five years. Its contracted talking-book producers have commenced digital production, and NLS has led the work under the auspices of NISO to develop a North American digital talking book standard. It is this standard which we hope will become the DAISY 3.0 Standard. NLS is hoping to bypass CD as the distribution media, moving to a purpose-built player using flash memory cards with a capacity of 250 megabytes. These are commonly used in digital cameras, and although they still require a 50-fold decrease in price to become economically viable, their price has already reduced by a factor of 100 since 1992.
The Draft DAISY/NISO Standard provides for seven document classes on the basis of their relative audio and text content. The producer would select the class for a particular document based on factors including: production cost; the document's topic and structure, for example, whether it is a novel or a cookbook; and user needs, which might vary according to, for example, whether a book were a textbook or a library selection. The most feature-rich document class is full text with markup, full audio narration and synchronization between audio and text. Mainstream Developments in the Publishing Arena
The fundamental mainstream development concerns electronic books and the creation of Open eBook Specifications. The Open eBook Forum (OeBF) was formed in January 2000 out of the Open eBook Initiative which had started at the first World eBook Conference in October 1998. The Open eBook Initiative brought together a number of large software and hardware companies to consider the development of standards for electronic books, including Microsoft, Adobe and IBM. The early eBook Readers were developed by several companies working independently, and there were no common standards to facilitate interoperability or access. Fortunately the Open eBook Initiative quickly settled on the open file formats of the Internet and was also willing to take accessibility issues fully into account.
The purpose of the Open eBook Forum is to create and maintain standards and promote the successful adoption of electronic books. It is an association of hardware and software companies, publishers and users of electronic books and related organizations whose goals are to establish common specifications for electronic book systems, applications and products. These various interests have come together with the common aim of benefitting creators of content, makers of reading systems and consumers. Harmonizing the Work of Both Groups
Last year, there were a number of developments which are expected to harmonize the work of the Open eBook Forum and the DAISY Consortium. As a result, structured electronic documents are likely to receive widespread acceptance in the mainstream and to underpin a high level of accessibility for people with print disabilities.
In May George Kerscher, then the Project Manager of the DAISY Consortium, was elected as the inaugural Chair of the Open eBook Forum. This demonstrated the extent to which accessibility is being taken seriously in the development of eBook standards. In July Microsoft joined the DAISY Consortium as a friend, providing expertise in support of the consortium's ongoing work. In November Pulse Data International announced that it has established a relationship with Microsoft to provide access to eBooks through the Microsoft eBook Reader for blind people using the BrailleNote. This is another very important development which promises to greatly increase information access for people who are blind. DRM Wrappers Still Prevent Access to Many E-Books
Regrettably, eBook-reader software and the eBooks themselves remain inaccessible to people using synthetic speech or Braille. This is despite the fact that XML is the markup language for Open eBooks. How can this be so? Simply it is the Digital Rights Management (DRM) regimes that are currently used. A screen reader or braille display needs to have direct access to the text, to say it or display it for the blind user, but extracting the document text from its DRM wrapper makes the text vulnerable to piracy and unlawful distribution. The Open eBook Forum is well aware of the importance of access and of the existence of access barriers, and intensive work is taking place to solve this problem. DAISY/Open-E-Book Conversions on the Horizon
Work has commenced to achieve DAISY/OeB convergence. In particular: accessibility goals within the Open eBook Forum have been agreed upon; and an accessibility special interest group has been established within the OeBF under the leadership of Janina Sajka from the AFB.
The information access revolution for people who are blind or print disabled is well under way. We have access to a wealth of reading materials, as never before; and we have access in a range of formats and styles, as never before. But still, less than five percent of the books printed in English are accessible. The information access victory will be won, following sustained effort and cross-sectoral collaboration on multiple fronts. Convergence of trends and coordinated efforts, including the relative decline of printed matter; strong, yet practical, laws; Benetech's BookShare project; braille production from XML files; accessible Open eBooks; and feature-rich, navigable, digital talking books based on the worldwide DAISY standard, herald a future where we who are blind can read all the books our friends and colleagues are enjoying at the same time and with the same degree of navigability and access as everyone else. I'm getting ready for what's coming, and I hope that you are too.
The ACB of Minnesota will hold its convention Oct. 20-21, 2001 at the Millennium Hotel in downtown Minneapolis. If you're coming to the Closing the Gap conference, you might want to stay an extra day or two for the convention. For more information, call Jim Olsen at (800) 866-3242.
Always thinking ahead, NELDS (National Educational and Legal Defense Services) is selling raffle tickets for use at the 2002 convention in Houston. The first prize is two round trip airfare tickets from your city to Houston. The tickets must cover a Saturday night stay. The second prize is a room at the Adam's Mark for five nights including applicable taxes; and the third prize is two tickets to the ACB banquet which will be held the last Friday of the convention. The cost of each ticket is just $5.
If you want to buy a ticket, feel free to send your money to me, Donna Seliger, at 3912 SE 5th Street, Des Moines, IA 50315. The drawing will occur at the mid-year meetings in Houston. Just think, one $5 ticket could get you to Houston and back!
At this year's convention, a small but enthusiastic group of folks met over lunch to revitalize and reorganize the social service providers affiliate. As things turned out, it made more sense to create an entirely new affiliate, and so ACB's newest special interest affiliate will be ACB Human Service Professionals (ACBHSP), and in its new form, we hope we have expanded the scope of the affiliate to include a variety of professions that can loosely be classified as providing "human services." Represented at our luncheon in Des Moines were teachers, social workers, counselors, psychologists, diversity and ADA coordinators. There are a number of disability service and social service professions which would also fit within this structure.
The focus of our affiliate is to address the issues we face as blind people in these professions. We hope to collaborate with other special interest affiliates such as NABS, NABT and NAPVI to create some good programs for future conventions and to pursue mutual goals.
To learn more about us and to be a part of this new venture, join our listserv by sending a message to [email protected] Leave the subject line blank; in the body of the message type subscribe acbhsp.
You should then receive an automated welcome message with instructions on how to post to the list. If you have any problems subscribing or want to ask more questions, you can contact Donna Smith at: [email protected]
There's a new group in South Carolina: the South Carolina Low Country Chapter of Visually Impaired Veterans of America. This is a group of veterans that wants to help other veterans.
In the Charleston area, 40 percent of the homeless people are veterans. SCLC-VIVA makes hygiene kits for these veterans, as well as refurbishes, upgrades and installs programs into older computers donated by people who longer need them, and trains legally blind veterans to use them.
The group has also taken tours of the Charleston Air Force Base and a C-17 cargo plane, visited the South Carolina Aquarium, enjoyed a Riverdog baseball game or two, and enjoyed a picnic at the Air Force base picnic grounds.
SCLC-VIVA and the ACB of South Carolina will hold a convention Nov. 2-4, 2001 at the Airport Holiday Inn in Charleston. SCLC-VIVA holds monthly meetings over breakfast the second Saturday of the month at Nathan's Deli, Ashley River Road and Sam Rittenberg Boulevard. For more information, write or call Don Kopp, 134 Toura Lane, Charleston, SC 29414; phone (843) 763-0785.
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. Thanks for the Help!
I "met" some pretty special people recently, and want to share this experience with the rest of the world.
I was challenged with getting my web site (http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/mo/) up to the standards of Section 508.
In 1998, Congress amended Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act to require that the federal government's electronic and information technology (EIT) -- including all federal agency web pages -- be accessible to persons with disabilities.
A final rule to develop access standards was published in December 2000. The deadline for getting my site up to "snuff" was June 21, 2001.
Never known to be one to accept change gracefully and without some type of upheaval, I wallowed in a sense of panic for a couple of weeks prior to the deadline of June 21, 2001.
I was fairly comfortable with all of the requirements of Section 508, except for the screen readers used by the blind.
Being true to myself, on June 21, the deadline, I began a concerted effort to assure the web site met the accessibility standard and that our information was available to everyone.
I began exploring ways to achieve my goal. Can you believe someone had to suggest to me, a webmaster, to look on the Internet? True!
Then, my faith in humanity was restored, and I met Sheri Keller, executive director of the Missouri Council of the Blind. Sheri then forwarded my inquiry to Dennis Miller.
Both of these beautiful people are blind, and freely offered their assistance to help me test my web pages as they are updated and posted to the server.
I cannot adequately express my thanks in type.
Thanks, not just for assisting me in my development of accessible web pages, but for making this world a better place by your presence, and for your patience waiting for the rest of "us" to wake up!
off to you both!
The UEBC, and More Braille Contractions?
Wow! You've done it again! Congratulations and kudos to you for both the position taken by ACB in opposing the UEBC and for the very well-written article by Chris Gray (July 2001) on BANA's struggles around UEBC issues.
While we're on the subject of the braille code, it is alive. And as with all living things, it must evolve. Otherwise, it will become just a dead language.
Now, who's with me, for a few more braille contractions (such
as dots 4-5-6 t for "trans")?
Regarding "View from the Top"
I'd first like to commend the staff of the "Forum" for publishing and distributing such a fine publication. I read the magazine from cover to cover each month. (I receive the magazine in braille.)
I would like to comment on an article in the July issue of the "Forum." It was entitled "Does a View from the Top of the World Promise a Better View of Blindness?" by Rebecca Kragnes. I completely agree with all the ideas and feelings expressed in the article. Although Erik Weihenmayer is to be congratulated for his climb to Mount Everest, I also believe that there was too much of an attempt to sensationalize him. People shoved him in my face everywhere I went. I often feel as though people are saying to me, "If people can climb Mount Everest who are blind, then there really aren't any problems in being blind anymore." I am tired and saddened by people who use examples such as Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, and now Erik Weihenmayer in order to make everyone feel better about being blind. I'm sure that many sighted people who compare us to these super achievers wouldn't want to be blind themselves.
It is degrading to compare members of any minority to those individuals in the group who may possess a special talent. While people who possess a special talent and are part of a minority group are to be commended, they don't always have a major impact on the everyday person who may just be struggling to survive. Each of us individually has his or her mountains to climb. The fact that someone in a particular group has succeeded doesn't mean that all problems have come to an end. We may have come a long way, but we still have a long way to go.
We need to respect each other as individuals. Also, we need to understand that everyone doesn't have the same interests, talents or abilities. Everyone shouldn't have to climb a high mountain, perform in show business, or achieve in some other special way in order to be recognized. Also, just because one of us succeeds doesn't mean that the prejudice and discrimination go away automatically.
I'm sure that I have ruffled some feathers, stirred up a
hornet's nest, and even opened a can of worms. I would like for
more people to value and accept each other for even small
accomplishments. (For some people, living alone is a major
accomplishment.) I hope that this letter will be published in a
future issue of "The Braille Forum." Thank you for publishing
such a fine magazine, and for your consideration of this letter.
I remember, the best days of summer were at Rehoboth Beach. There was the sand, and the waves; there was the boardwalk, and the rides. The whip whirled you around with what seemed like incredible speed. There was, and still is, a beautiful old carousel. And the teacups -- they're still my favorite ride, even today. I can usually cajole at least one of my children, although they're big now and they outgrew the teacups eons ago, to ride the teacups with me -- because they love the way we laugh together as the centrifugal force seems to force the logic and the sensibility right out of our brains!
When I was growing up with my two sisters and my mom and my dad, we lived on a farm on Maryland's Eastern Shore. Farming was hard, sweaty, labor-intensive work. There were 20,000 broiler/fryers in a long low shed called "the chicken house." There were soy beans and corn in the fields, and tomatoes, butter beans, potatoes, summer squash, and the sweetest corn in the garden. All had to be watered, fed, tended. It was truly a family effort, and there were few days off.
Every 12 weeks, my dad would sell the latest "crop" of three-and-a-half pound chickens and prepare the chicken "house" for a new flock of baby chicks. And, some time during those two to three weeks between flocks of chickens, we would take a day off and drive, an hour away, to spend a day at Rehoboth Beach.
We would take a picnic in the big red metal Coca-Cola cooler and stop somewhere between Georgetown, Del., and the beach at a picnic/rest stop along the side of the road. We would unpack and devour my mom's Maryland fried chicken, bread-and-butter sandwiches, sliced tomatoes from the garden, and the best potato salad in the world. Then, back in the car, the excitement would mount as we drew closer and closer to the Atlantic Ocean.
After a little while, I would announce to Mother and dad and my sisters, "We're there! You can smell the salt in the air!"
Once I made a friend while I was playing in the sand. "Do you wanna jump off the boardwalk onto the sand?" she asked. She didn't ask, as my first-grade classmates had, "Why do your eyes move around like that?" or "What's wrong with you, can't you see?"
"Sure," I said. I wondered if I could do it, but she grabbed my hand, we raced up the nearby steps to the boardwalk, about a half a story up, walked to the edge, and jumped off, landing in the warm sand, full of giggles and a confidence I hadn't often experienced!
Then and now, there is no place that I love more than Rehoboth! What could be better than a new friend who accepts you the way you are? What could be better than Dollee's sweet, sticky, caramel popcorn, or real Boardwalk Fries (cooked in hot peanut oil the way the French really do, twice, so that they're crispy on the outside and tender inside) served with salt and vinegar (the way people in England eat their chips)? There's Salt Water Taffee, and the best fried chicken anywhere (except in that Coca-Cola cooler) at Gus and Gus.
There is the neat guy who rents bikes; he'll rent you one or enough for a whole family, and he sold me a tandem bike to surprise my husband on our 25th wedding anniversary.
From those early days of childhood until today when I have children of my own, I haven't thought of anything that would make Rehoboth Beach better. Until today! Today, I learned that something just happened at Rehoboth Beach that will make it even better! Today I learned that the Beach Bus, the one that carries folks all around the town, has become completely accessible to me, because the buses are equipped with Talking Signs!
That means that I could go to the beach by myself. I would know what bus was coming and where it was going, and I could travel through this lovely little town on my own. I could leave teenagers sleeping late at the beach house and go out for espresso on my own. I could leave kids and their dad at the Kite Loft, where the window-shopping is apparently as enjoyable as flying "The Revolution" on the beach, and travel, on the bus, on my own, to meet friends at the Back Porch Cafe for soft-shelled crabs, or the Camel's Hump for falafel, or that tacky bar on the boardwalk where we always order platters full of fried oysters.
Congratulations to DART First State, Delaware's statewide transit system, for taking the initiative to open up their lovely little town to people like me who love the beach as much as we love our independence!
And what of this independence? Is this just a beginning? Now there are 17 accessible buses equipped with Talking Sign transmitters. In addition, the "NextBus" system, which informs people about which bus is expected to arrive next at a particular shelter, where it's going, and how long the wait will be, has been installed in several bus shelters, and that information, which scrolls in real time across an electronic message-board display, can be accessed via a text-to-speech translator which allows for reception of messages on those same Talking Sign receivers.
Tomorrow, will I be able to walk down those Rehoboth streets and know what shops are what? As I pass the T-shirt shop where I bought the sweatshirt with the neon peace symbol so many years ago, will my Talking Sign receiver let me know it's there? Think of the possibilities of walking down those streets and that wonderful boardwalk and knowing where the shops and businesses and amenities one wants to visit actually are! How to Get Your Talking Sign Receiver in Rehoboth Beach
According to Drew McCaskey, a spokesperson for DART First State, there are 25 Talking Sign receivers, which can be signed out by any visually impaired visitor to Rehoboth Beach.
Ward Bond, CEO of Talking Signs, Inc., told me, "You may pick up a receiver at the DART office at Park and Ride behind the Holiday Inn Express where all the buses go and turn it back in when you leave."
McCaskey noted that this is a pilot program. "But," he continued, "we're very excited about it, and we realize its great benefit for visually impaired people."
McCaskey, who is an active member of local Lions Clubs, said that DART First State will be collecting data about the use of the Talking Signs receivers, and that the agency hopes to expand the service, if they find it to be highly utilized, to other transit systems within the state. How Do the Signs Work?
The Talking Sign system acts as a "traveling companion." A compact, hand controlled receiver verbally tells a user the route number and destination of a bus as it approaches a bus stop from up to 100 feet away. It utilizes signals sent by infrared light beams from permanently installed transmitters inside the buses. The receiver decodes the signal and delivers a voice message through its speaker or ear piece to a user.
The electronic message boards, which display the real-time next bus satellite-based rider information about buses which are expected to arrive at the shelters, when they're coming, and where they're going (and whether you have enough time to duck into the Dollee's arcade for a quick video game, or to put your pizza order in at Grotto) are installed at shelters at DART's Park and Ride Lot, at the Ruddertowne stop, and on the boardwalk at Rehoboth Avenue.
The receivers, which are about the size of a standard TV remote control device and are powered by a standard 9-volt battery, can be carried in one's hand or worn on a break-away strap around one's neck. I asked Bond what would happen to a receiver if a user happened to drop it in the sand, or, worse, in the ocean. I was just joking around, but Bond, always the one to consider all the possibilities, answered, "The sand won't hurt. After all, silicon is our basic ingredient. There are no moving parts to get clogged up with sand. If a receiver gets wet and you let it dry out, it will still work. However, salt water will have its effect over time, probably."
For further information about Talking Signs at Rehoboth Beach, Del., visit the Talking Signs web site at http://www.talkingsigns.com, or the DART First State transit agency's web site at http://www.DARTFirstState.com. When I Get to Rehoboth...
After I spend about a day and a half sitting by the ocean's edge, gradually moving my beach chair further back on the sand as waves threaten to engulf my 4-track tape player, and reading an absolutely frivolous book, I'm going to find that Park and Ride facility behind the Holiday Inn Express and sign myself out one of those receivers. Then, I'm going to ride around on the beach bus and check out the scene. And after I indulge in all kinds of beach food, and maybe take a ride on those teacups, I'm going to walk up and down the boardwalk and into all the shops and show the proprietors my Talking Signs receiver. I'll encourage them to buy the transmitters to turn their own printed signs into signs that talk to visually impaired people like me, so that, finally, Rehoboth Beach will be a haven, not only for relaxation and indulgence, but also for freedom, and independence!
Most blind and visually impaired people who remember Glenn Plunkett will recall the no-holds-barred get-to-the-point advocate who forgot more about Social Security than many people ever learn. I will remember Glenn as the man who saved me from certain death on a Washington, D.C. subway platform.
He was a member of what NBC anchor Tom Brokaw called "the greatest generation." Those of us who worked closely with him will recall he was among that generation's great storytellers. He was discharged from the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1947, where he held the rank of major. Many ACB office gatherings and lunch hours were greatly enlivened by his World War II pilot stories. A native of Tupelo, Miss., Glenn always retained a bit of the accent and the no-nonsense quality that characterized any association with him. That southern upbringing also meant that he was easily approachable. His was a refreshing perspective on life, especially in Washington, where being extremely anxious over relatively unimportant things is almost chic. While others fretted and stewed over long-range projects and constantly worried about possible scenarios, Glenn could often leave a meeting and announce to anyone listening, "Ah, who gives a damn. This ain't gonna matter in three weeks or even three days." I marveled at how often he was right.
Glenn wasn't the kind of guy who found contentment in a bottle of pills formulated for the elderly and a rocking chair. While others in his generation retired, Glenn was working tirelessly to improve the lives of blind and visually impaired people. From 1982 to 1995, he worked as a staff member at the American Foundation for the Blind, then transferred to the American Council of the Blind, where he worked on aging, Social Security, and Medicare issues. Glenn maintained his pilot's license well into the 1990s. After he left employment with ACB, he returned to school for a master's degree. During that time, he also became well known for his advocacy efforts on behalf of the elderly in his community.
Glenn knew and advised some of the most powerful men and women in Washington regarding Social Security and health care financing. Despite his vast knowledge, Glenn never made those who worked with him feel inferior or intimidated. Quite the opposite was true. His rich, off-beat sense of humor drew people to him.
Glenn knew that I grew up near Salt Lake City, and that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the predominant religion of that area, forbids its members from drinking coffee. Knowing that, he never tired of reminding me that "the best damn cup of coffee I ever drank came from Salt Lake City." He delighted in the irony of the reminiscence.
Upon returning home from an ACB convention soon after he began working for the Council, he came into my office, sighed a long sigh, and asked with an almost exaggerated frustration, "What's a guy gotta do to get noticed at one of those conventions?"
"What do you mean?" I asked.
"Well, nearly every night I was there, I deliberately left my room door unlocked, hopin' some of those good-lookin' women would try the handle. Not once did anyone try that door," he lamented. I felt duty-bound to question what Mrs. Plunkett, to whom he was married for 58 years at the time of his death earlier this year, would have thought of his unlocked door policy. "Ah," he said with the same exaggerated frustration in his voice. "You would have to bring that up, wouldn't you."
I always admired Glenn for his ability to go out of the way to make a difference. He never complained to me about the long daily train rides between his Catonsville, Md., home and our office; he simply did it without fanfare. That simple ability of his to go the extra mile without expecting any rewards had a lifelong impact on me one late Sunday night at the conclusion of a meeting of the Affiliated Leadership League of and for the Blind of America, which met at a hotel near Capitol Hill every spring. I had gone there that Sunday to cover the meetings for "The Braille Forum."
As that Sunday afternoon gave way to evening, I had begun to feel sick. I knew I was feverish and growing dizzier with every passing hour. What would later be diagnosed as a nasty case of strep throat came on like a tornado. By 10 that night, the meeting broke up. I stood rather shakily and unfolded my cane in an effort to walk from the hotel to the subway station where I would catch a train, then transfer to another one to get home.
I was amazed and frightened that I could be so disoriented. The dizziness, fever and wildly ringing ears made good mobility nearly impossible. Glenn must have noticed I was having some trouble. He approached me as I moved slowly toward the door. "I'm headin' to the subway. Would you like an arm?"
Filled with immense gratitude, I accepted immediately. We made small talk about the day's meetings, and I grew weaker and dizzier with every step. When we reached the subway station, Glenn seemed to know I was quite ill, although I hadn't mentioned it to him. "I'll just walk with you onto the platform," he offered. I gladly accepted, knowing well that if I were to attempt the short walk from the subway fare gate to the place where the first train car would pull up, I would surely fall to my death. Of course, this incident occurred in the earliest days following passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and there were no detectable warning strips on the D.C. subway system at that time.
He walked with me to the platform and waited with me until the train arrived. Even now, I have no memory of making the transfer to that second train, but I recall leaning against the platform wall at the end of the line where I was to get out. I slowly walked to the escalator, practically holding the wall as I went.
Days later when I had recovered, I privately approached Glenn to thank him for saving my life -- something I'm convinced he did. In that characteristic no-nonsense manner of his, he simply said, "You'd have made it OK." I know better. I'll always be grateful to Glenn Plunkett, not only for his advocacy work on behalf of all of us, but for that one awful Sunday night in which his willingness to go a bit out of his way and spend a few extra minutes with someone he barely knew made a lifetime's worth of difference to me.
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 [email protected] 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.
Congratulations go to some very innovative people working on our behalf to make the fast-moving world of technology and access more available for people with visual impairments. Those to be commended are Jeff Pledger, George Kerscher, Ingar Beckman Hirschfeldt and Michael Moodie. They recently received awards from the International Coalition of Access Engineers and Specialists.
Jeff Pledger is president of AbleTV.net, the organization that received an award for being the first global TV network for people with disabilities powered by accessibility, via the web.
The winners of ICAES' Collaboration and Coordination Award are the Daisy Consortium, NISO and the Open e-Book Forum. This award recognizes national, international or industry efforts to prevent, resolve, or address compatibility and interoperability.
George Kerscher is the chairman of Open e-Book Forum, and Senior Officer, Accessible Information, Recording For the Blind & Dyslexic (RFB&D).
Michael Moodie is chair of the National Information Standards Organization (NISO) Standards Committee at the Library of Congress. Moodie, Kerscher and Hirschfeldt received the award on behalf of their organizations, and their work developing file specifications for Digital Talking Books and e-Books.
Ingar Beckman Hirschfeldt is President of the Daisy Consortium for the Swedish Library of Talking Books and Braille.
Thanks to support from a large number of Canadians, and the hard work and dedication of the board and staff of NBRS (National Broadcast Reading Service of Canada), the Canadian Radio- television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has renewed the licenses of all the television stations owned and controlled by CTV Inc. (CTV) and Can West Global Communications (Global) for a full seven-year term.
In renewing these licenses, the CRTC has imposed a number of conditions of license, including a requirement for both CTV and Global to adhere to a Statement of Principles and Practices regarding cross ownership of television stations and newspapers. These conditions, along with other requirements and expectations, will balance the industry need for flexibility and synergies in a global marketplace, with clear benefits for Canadian audiences, the Canadian broadcasting system and the public interest.
In order to meet the aims of the television policy and the Broadcasting Act, as well as enhance services for CTV and Global's audiences, the CRTC has set out a number of conditions, expectations and requirements. They include the following: audio description for blind and visually impaired viewers; priority programming; local programming; regional programming; independent production; closed captioning; and freezing the amount of advertising minutes per hour at 12. These changes take place this month!
James M. Allan, webmaster of the Texas School for the Blind, was recently the surprised recipient of the Harvey Lauer Technology Award from Division V of AER. The award is presented (words from the plaque) "For pioneering accomplishments and many years of service, mentoring, and spearheading accessible information through technology."
Congratulations to Jim, who quoted Einstein when he accepted the award, saying, "If I have seen so far, it is because I have stood on the shoulders of giants ..."
The Edwin Dickinson Memorial World Wide Literary Competition, sponsored by the Royal Blind Foundation, Inc., of Queensland, Australia, is sponsoring a literary competition for adults and children. A tradition with the Foundation, the competition is open to anyone in the world who is legally blind. The deadline for entries is October 31, 2001. Cash prizes will be paid in Australian pounds and range from about $150 to $400 in each category. Submissions must be in braille or typed in English (tapes will not be considered).
Here are the categories: adult section, short story (maximum 2,000 words); essay (maximum 1,500 words); poem (serious); poem (humorous); children's section -- senior (under 16 years on January 1, 2001); essay (maximum 1,000 words); poem; children's section -- junior (under 12 years on January 1, 2001); essay (maximum 1,000 words); poem.
For further information, e-mail Kirsten Haynes at [email protected] Winning writers will be announced in December. Send entries to: The Edwin Dickinson Literary Competition, P.O. Box 455, Stones Corner, Queensland 4120, Australia.
It's time to sign up for the Ski For Light International week, where people who have never skied before can learn and become proficient within a week. The deadline to apply is November 1, 2001. This year's event will be held in Granby, Colorado from January 27 -- February 3, 2002. Skiers who are blind and visually impaired are paired with trained volunteer instructor/guides for the week. More than 250 active adults from all over the world take part each year. Why not you? A limited amount of financial assistance and ski equipment are available for first-time participants. To apply, contact Donna Permar, phone (919) 302-2319, e-mail [email protected]
The Department of Disability Services at the University of Colorado-Boulder invites you to attend its fourth annual conference on Assistive Technology in Higher Education Nov. 14- 16, 2001. This conference will include an "EASI Mini Institute" featuring a series of special sessions on web access and access to science and math.
The keynote speaker will be Larry Scadden of the National Science Foundation. Among other speakers will be Doug Wakefield of the U.S. Access Board, focusing on the implementation of Section 508. The pre-conference will also feature a full day of hands-on workshops and other activities at the University of Colorado, Boulder Campus.
For more information, visit the conference web site at: www.colorado.edu/sacs/ATconference. The conference agenda and registration form are on the web site. Phone (303) 492-8671 (V/TTY), e-mail [email protected]
The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) invites nominations for its 2002 Access Awards. Access Awards honor individuals, corporations, and organizations that are eliminating or substantially reducing inequities faced by people who are blind or visually impaired. Nominations for an AFB Access Award should illustrate an exceptional and innovative effort that has improved the lives of people who are blind or visually impaired by enhancing access to information, the environment, technology, education, or employment, including making mainstream products and services accessible. The effort should have a national impact or can be a model for replication on a national level.
Letters of nomination and all supporting materials should be received by October 1, 2001. The nomination letter may be sent by e-mail to [email protected] Send a hard copy of the letter and supporting materials to: AFB 2002 Access Awards Committee, Attn. Anthony Candela, 111 Pine St., Suite 725, San Francisco, CA 94111.
Social Security program services are free for services such as replacing a lost Social Security card, or applying for benefits. However, non-program services are not free. Do you want information for genealogical research, or to search for someone to let him/her know they have an inheritance, or do you want a letter forwarded to a long-lost relative? Under the Freedom of Information Act, SSA can provide these services for a charge. SSA charges are based on the grade level of the employee doing the work and the amount of time spent on the request (plus 10 cents per page for photocopying). SSA will tell you what the charge will be, after looking at your request. Charges begin at $16.
If the request will cost more than $250, SSA will contact you prior to starting a search. For more information, including price list, see the Freedom of Information page, http://www.ssa.gov/foia/foia_guide.htm.
FOR SALE: One Braille 'n Speak 640 with flash RAM. Comes with new extended batteries and case. $750 or best offer. One Type 'n Speak, updated recently, flash RAM, case included, $750 or best offer. Contact Jesus Garcia at (305) 582-7254 or toll-free (800) 495-1141 extension 444; e-mail [email protected] or [email protected]
FOR SALE: 3 CCTVs. One 19-inch Eyequest, used very little; has cover and sliding shelves. Two smaller Visualteks, all black and white; both have covers and sliding shelves. All three sell for $2,000; separately, best offer accepted on each. CPAP machine with tray humidifier, holder, hose and various attachments. Asking $495 or best offer. 16 boxes of One-Touch test strips (50 strips per box), plus meter, $320 or best offer. Left over from estate sale. Call M.K. Leets at (703) 938-0172 before 7:30 p.m. Eastern time.
FOR SALE: Aicom text-to-speech synthesizer, external Accent SA. Asking $100. Index Basic braille printer, never been used, still in original box. Includes manual and software. Asking $2,500. Artic Technologies Transport 16 Business Vision and Win Vision. Upgradable to Windows 98 or ME. $400 or best offer. Synphonix version 4.1, usable for DOS and Windows 3.1. $200 or best offer. Both include software, hardware and manuals. Will ship free matter. Contact Frances Campione, 2415 Aurelius Rd. #29, Holt, MI 48842; phone (517) 694-1231 or e-mail her at [email protected]
FOR SALE: Talking/braille Windows network web-server workstation. Used for network and web-server based security design and analysis. Comes with commercial grade documentation and system tools. $3,000 plus shipping. Reading machine, copy machine and web design system (includes modem and programmable track ball). Also includes talking/braille CD-encyclopedia and fully MIDI programmable sound/instrument studio and color printer (along with replacement printer parts), as well as system development tools and full documentation. $2,500 plus shipping. Talking/braille based reading machine, copy machine, fax machine and Windows network/web-capable computer with modem. Includes full documentation, commercial grade system development tools, full-size digital tablet four-button puck and stylus, and draftsman quality color printer with supplies and documentation. $2,500 plus shipping. Talking/braille commercial grade micro- programmable control unit with commercial grade real-time operating system and system programming languages. Includes 8 EPROMS, an EPROM programmer and eraser, external 1.44 MB floppy disk storage unit, all communications cables, all AC adapters, programmable key templates and full documentation. $2,500 plus shipping. Contact Dr. Marco Bitetto, 113 E. 13th St., Suite 8C, New York, NY 10003; phone (212) 995-9488 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Eastern.
FOR SALE: PowerBraille 80 cell Braille display with all Braille manuals, DOS software, both parallel and serial cables. Asking $6,000 or best offer. Contact Dennis Bartlett at (612) 722-8686 or [email protected]
FOR SALE: Blazie disk drive new model, $275. Vocal-Eyes (DOS screen reader) and Accent PC, $300. Voice Diary, $30. Dell computer 400 mHz, 128 meg of memory, 8 gig hard drive. Comes with original software (Windows 95 and 98, first edition Microsoft Word 97, Corel WordPerfect 8, monitor, Creative Lab sound card and 56k internal modem), $1,000. All items are in excellent condition. Shipping and handling are included for all items. If interested, contact Denise R. Avant, 3410 N. Lake Shore Dr., Apt. 41-M, Chicago, IL 60657; phone (773) 325-1117, or e-mail [email protected]
FOR SALE: 16" color monitor. $500. Call Tony at (214) 331- 5112 before 11 p.m. Central.
FOR SALE: Perkins braille writer, in excellent condition. Asking $500 or best offer. Contact Michael Todd at (717) 238- 8560 or write to him at 130 S. 3rd St., Apt. 115, Harrisburg, PA 17101.
FOR SALE: Navigator 40-cell 8-dot single line refreshable braille display. Includes AC power adapter and one serial cable with a 9-pin male on one end and a 9-pin female on the other. Asking $2,000 or best offer. Will only accept cashier's check or bank money order; no personal checks. Call evenings and weekends at (808) 734-0612 or e-mail: [email protected]
FOR SALE: Braille 'n Speak 2000 with all original manuals, tutorial tapes, charger and cables. Still in the box. Also has the 1994 disk drive and some additional software, such as checkbook and braille calculator programs. Asking $900 or best offer. Contact C.J. Daniel via phone at work, (760) 329-6257, or via cell, (760) 799-0607.
FOR SALE: Barely used Juliet braille embosser complete with optional single sheet feed in like new condition. Includes all accessories i.e. manuals and cables in original shipping box. $2,700 plus shipping and insurance charges. Contact Alex by phone at (714) 488-3039 or e-mail at [email protected]
FOR SALE: Perkins braille writer, in good condition. $350. Contact Jeff Johnson at (256) 362-2407 in the evening.
FOR SALE: One Telesensory Rainbow CCTV. Asking $1,000. Contact Phyllis Stanard at (804) 320-5558.
FOR SALE: MAGic 8.0 screen magnification software. New version for Windows 95/98/ME. Asking $400. Call Mike Gravitt at (412) 344-2313 or e-mail [email protected]
WANTED: Tactual Rubik's Cube. Contact Michael Todd at 130 S. 3rd St. Apt 115, Harrisburg, PA 17101; phone (717) 238-8560, or Rachel Saunders, PO Box 715, Otisville, NY 10963; phone (845) 386-3928.
WANTED: Braille 'n Speak Classic between 1992 and 1997, VersaBraille 1 or 2, a braille writer, Lavender brailler, or an Optacon. Also looking for donated copy of Window-Eyes and donated Kurzweil reader. Unable to afford price. Contact Melody Edwards at (609) 347-7539.
WANTED: Used braille writer that someone has that can be donated or a contact number on where I can possibly obtain one that is used. I run a resource center in Warner Robins, Ga. Contact Mr. Kim Ledford at (478) 923-9245 or via e-mail [email protected]
FREE TO GOOD HOME: DSM-4 manual on floppy disk. Used by mental health workers to keep up with their clients' diagnoses. Also, DSM-4 manual on cassettes. Tapes are free; 12-cassette album for protection costs $2 shipping and handling. Legitimate users only. Contact Bill Lewis at (316) 681-7443 or via e-mail, [email protected]
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