Braille Forum
Volume XL November 2001 No. 5
Published By
The American Council of the Blind
Christopher Gray, President
Charles H. Crawford, Executive Director
Penny Reeder, Editor
Sharon Lovering, Editorial Assistant
National Office:
1155 15th St. NW
Suite 1004
Washington, DC 20005
(202) 467-5081
Fax: (202) 467-5085
Web Site:

THE BRAILLE FORUM is available in braille, large print, half- speed four-track cassette tape, computer disk and via e-mail. Subscription requests, address changes, and items intended for publication should be sent to:
Penny Reeder,
1155 15th St. NW,
Suite 1004,
Washington, DC 20005,
or via e-mail.
E-mail the Editor of the Braille Forum
Submission deadlines are the first of the month.

Those much-needed contributions, which are tax-deductible, can be sent to 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

Copyright 2001
American Council of the Blind


Leading: Our Challenge and Our Choice, by Charles H. Crawford
Can We Still Have Thanksgiving?, by Penny Reeder
The Orchid Guy, by Billie Jean Keith
Blind Man Walking Across State to Help Relief Effort
Helen Keller Archives Lost in Terror Attack
Assisting People with Disabilities in a Disaster
ACB Getting Tough on Accessibility, by Christopher Gray
Report on the Meeting of the ACB Board of Directors, by Winifred Downing
Come on Down: We're Getting Ready for the 2002 Convention in Houston!, by Ed "Doc" Bradley
How Can We Reduce the Overwhelming Unemployment Rate among People Who Are Blind and Visually Impaired?, by Darian Hartman
2001: A Technology Odyssey -- A Groundbreaking Event in the Field of Blindness, by Deborah Kendrick
HotBraille: What Is It, and How Do Blind People Use the Service?, by Amy-Lynn Fischer
Away We Go, Amtrak! Some Useful Travel Tips for Blind and Visually Impaired Folks, by Barbara Grill
Bank of America Announces Plans to Install More Than 7,000 Talking ATMs Nationwide by 2005
First Union National Bank Announces First Installation of Audio Assisted ATMs in Maryland, New Jersey and North Carolina
NIDRR Grant Awarded to an All-Star Team to Fund Research into Way-Finding Technology
Here and There, by Billie Jean Keith
Reflections on Homer Steele, by Ardis Bazyn
ACB Charter Member, Marie M. Boring, Dies
Tribute to Nelson Malbone, by Bud Keith
High Tech Swap Shop


Due to an editing error, the name of the country which Paul Edwards visited was misspelled ("ACB Pre-Convention Board of Directors Meeting Highlights," September 2001). The country was Grenada.

In the same article, the Sutton nomination information was incorrect. Sutton was nominated for a seat on the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, not the Supreme Court.

The e-mail address listed for Abraham Nemeth in "Comments on Mathematical Aspects of the UEBC" (September 2001) was incorrect. The correct e-mail address is [email protected]

by Charles H. Crawford

The American Council of the Blind has indeed become a force in the many situations that impact upon the lives of people who are blind throughout our nation and beyond. When people hear the name of ACB, they now think in terms of pedestrian safety, detectable warnings, descriptive video, guide dogs going to Hawaii, vending facilities changing to incorporate the active participation of blind vendors, excellence in web design and radio streaming, democratic processes, consumer relations with the rehabilitation system, Social Security reform, education improvements and more. With this large and varied agenda there come rising expectations that any organization would be hard pressed to meet. How proud we can be of our accomplishments and how much more proud we can be of our members who volunteer heart and heartache to make this nation a better place for blind folks. The cost is heavy; it is a burden of leadership that humbles me when I think of all of our national and affiliate leaders who so often work without rest and far too little credit.

I want to dedicate this writing to you. I want you to know that every time you pick up a phone to answer a call or make a call to a public official, a political figure, a Social Security office, a member of the clergy, or another blind person in need, you once again show the best that is in us.

I have had the absolute pleasure of attending state conventions, ACB board meetings, special advocacy campaigns and my hat is off to all of you who have stayed the course, stood up for what is right, and extended yourselves on behalf of all blind people.

Thank you to all the leaders of ACB whether at the national or state or chapter level. You have made it happen and you are the very people whom the blindness community ought to be thanking as we sit down to the holiday meal at the end of November. You have met the challenge and I have seen the joy and the pain you have celebrated and endured. I cannot help but brim over with pride when I know in my head and my heart that you and all the ACB activists along with our staff have not only met the challenges, but chosen to do it and done so with pride.

God bless all of you. Thanks for being there and caring enough about your fellow blind brothers and sisters to walk the many extra miles that will lead us all to a promised land where our nation is stronger by the day for the kind of people you are.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and I for one along with so many others will be grateful for the privilege of knowing you.

by Penny Reeder

Since the events of September 11, much has happened, in the world and in our little ACB microcosm of America: There was a board meeting in Albuquerque, various state affiliates held conventions, where some elected new officers, resolutions were debated and adopted, new friendships were forged, old friends were remembered, and many renewed their commitments to making the world a better place for everyone, blind and sighted alike. The ACB Task Force on Voting began compiling and drafting a Voting Access Handbook which is expected to take up its position next to its sister guidebook for advocates, the Pedestrian Safety Handbook, at A pretty cool computer traveled from its factory of origin to Kansas where Matt Campbell installed the operating system which allowed it to become our web server, and from there to a California server farm, where Earlene Hughes, Jonathan Mosen, Chris Gray, Matt and others loaded files and installed programs to convert it into a "new and improved", and our presence on the web once again became a reliable and reassuring "fact of life."

Mike Duke and Jay Doudna spent all their "free" weekend and evening minutes preparing the convention tapes, and Sharon and I began figuring out when we will squeeze the associated tasks of summarizing the tapes and compiling the photographs to create a convention issue of "The Braille Forum" into our regular schedules, and we went in and had a talk with the tape duplicator that lives in our work room, and encouraged it to stay in good repair for that important annual job of duplicating all those sets of convention tapes.

Meanwhile, many from ACB have stood in long lines waiting to give blood or made monetary donations to the Red Cross. All of us have lighted candles, some of us have attended church services for the first time in a while, or resurrected our Fourth of July flags to fly proudly on porches, from balconies, on dog-guide harnesses, or from the tops of backpacks. I gave to DC firefighters collecting money at my Metro stop for their fallen New York comrades every morning for a week; in Arkansas, they held bake sales and sent the money they raised to the New York State WTC Relief Fund. Imogene Johnson from Little Rock told me, "Last year when we had some trouble down here in Arkansas, electricians from New York City came down to help us get our electricity back after the storms had knocked down all our power lines. And we just felt we needed to do something to help them in their time of trouble, to repay them in some small way for their kindness to us."

Other affiliates from New York to South Carolina, Maryland to California, have done the same. In California, CCB has directed donations toward agencies who can help WTC survivors whose injuries will leave them visually impaired.

The death and destruction at the World Trade Center, in the skies over Pennsylvania, and at the Pentagon dominated all our e- mails for many days. A parody of How the Grinch Stole Christmas featuring an evil "Binch" made all the e-mail list rounds, with some complimenting the anonymous author's creativity and others wondering about the usefulness of allowing all our anger and sadness to reside in a racial epithet. List members of the Muslim faith told their colleagues about a tradition anchored in a belief that God encircles the whole universe with love. Some wondered exactly how many books the NLS has recorded about Islam, and others shared Internet resources with those who wanted to learn more about what Muslims believe.

There was a brief discussion about the appropriateness of using a medium like the ACB listserv to discuss topics which were not really related to blindness or the organization, but the discussion seemed to evaporate because we all needed to share with one another. Many newspaper articles and editorials found their way to our lists. Every day we wondered why, how, who; every night we watched the evening news and shed tears of sadness and frustration. The e-mailing lists of the ACB family allowed us to do what any family does best -- to offer support during times of sadness and provide a forum for sharing information, hosting discussions, allowing debate, and helping each member to find solace in the comfort offered by others.

Gradually, as hours turned to days, and then weeks, we learned to tear ourselves away from our TVs and radios and, as our president and others urged, get back to work, school, normal. The lists went back to topics like scripts for JAWS, upgrades of Window-Eyes, the costs of technology and ways to afford it, speeches by blindness leaders, accessible pedestrian signals in West Virginia, the discipline amendments that could deny special ed students appropriate educational services, where and when to hold the annual ACB legislative seminar: the typical topics of conversation for people who are blind.

On October 7, I returned from the Maryland state convention, where new officers had been chosen and among other things, we had voted to send money to assist the relief efforts of the American Red Cross. Expecting to relax with a re-run of "a Prairie Home Companion," I turned on the radio and learned that at that very moment, U.S. bombs were falling on Afghanistan. There were somber briefings from the Pentagon, from the President, from Tony Blair in London, and a menacing videotaped diatribe by Osama Bin Laden beamed across the world's news wires and television screens by the Middle Eastern satellite news channel Al-Jazeera, in which he celebrated Americans' sorrow and fear and promised more of the same.

Is this solemn tone destined to be the subtext of the rest of our lives? What can I say in a Thanksgiving message to help myself and my readers gain a thankful perspective as fall turns to winter and we gather with comfort foods filling tables and sideboards to break bread together with family and friends? With so much sadness and anxiety at the back of our minds, coloring our thoughts, our plans, our conversations, will a "normal" season of Thanksgiving be forever out of our reach?

I can remember the Thanksgiving after John Kennedy's assassination and death. I can still hear the sad way Lyndon Johnson sounded on that Thanksgiving day as he addressed Americans, although I no longer remember the words he spoke. I was in high school then. I wondered if we would ever recover as a nation, and I remember thinking that the Thanksgiving meal seemed entirely inappropriate. This year, with thousands dead, my own teenagers may feel our Thanksgiving preparations are inappropriate. Yet, as I gather supplies, and look up the old familiar recipes for Mama Stamberg's cranberry sauce, cornbread and sausage dressing, and pumpkin pie, I am comforted and thankful: for family and friends to share the meal and the day with; for work that allows me to do things I think are important, for all the men and women I've met who work tirelessly to bring opportunities to people who are blind while not allowing blindness to interfere with their own involvement in family and community life or their citizenship in the USA or the world.

Nearly 40 years after we mourned the death of a popular and youthful president at another Thanksgiving table, I can begin to understand why my family bought the turkey, set the table, made two kinds of dressings and went through the rituals of a harvest festival. That was a year when we were frightened and sad, but we all went through the motions of Thanksgiving, because, after all, we still had all the folks gathered around the groaning table to be thankful for and to count upon, and if we hadn't celebrated the holiday in 1963, then the Thanksgiving of 1964, and the years after that, would have been even sadder.

Who knows what terrors will have come to America or the world between today when I write this message and the day you retrieve your November "Braille Forum" from your mailboxes? No matter what happens, this is a year when we will all feel far removed from the "normal" of last year's Thanksgiving feast. But I urge you to make your holiday preparations, to order the turkey or make plans to fill a seat at the table of a friend or family member. Let us hold hands and thank God for being together, and for living in a country where we think it's important to come together every November to give thanks, to share and create memories, and to draw strength from one another.

Even if we feel like we're just going through the motions and the day, the dinner, the relatives and the endless loads of dishes seem more surreal than real, it's worth it to go through those motions, because counting blessings, asking for divine guidance, and saying the familiar words will help us to feel grounded, to know who we are, and to find the wisdom and the strength that will allow us to be, once again, truly thankful.

by Billie Jean Keith

To me he is the orchid guy. To the rest of the world, he is an Army colonel who works in the Pentagon, has a wife and two children and plays on the Army national tennis team. I found him on the Internet, or rather my husband did. I had recently become the proud owner of several orchids from Hawaii. Very soon afterward, I realized that orchids are not like house plants. They don't even grow in soil. They demand specialized attention - - kind of like a young child does. Children get sick and you know what to do to help them get better. Orchids get sick and just die. Rather than listen to my consternation, my husband got on the Internet and sent a message to a couple of people in our nearby area who seemed to know about orchids. In came the orchid guy. He was willing to stop by the house after work to tell me how the dozen or so orchids looked, and possibly what they needed. When a couple of them -- for no apparent reason -- became puny, he took them home with him for intensive care. Imagine a tall, athletic guy in a colonel's uniform cradling two baby orchids in his arms. Those orchids thrived.

Following the horrific events of September 11th, I could not send a message to find out how he was. Every day I remembered that I should send the message, but still could not. Two weeks following the attacks, a little voice told me I had to make contact. In my e-mail address book, he is listed as "orchidguy." The next day, an answer came back from him. He is all right, but like me, is just going through the motions of getting through each day. He said that sometimes he takes a solitary walk so his children will not see how depressed he is about the attacks on our country.

He also mentioned that one of his walks recently led to the area in the Pentagon where the plane crashed. He told me it looks like the biggest cave one has ever seen. And he offered to come visit my orchids soon. But I'd already learned what I wanted to hear. On the radio I heard someone advising listeners that this is the time to get in touch with a sister or brother you haven't seen in a long time, or a relative from whom you are estranged. In my family, there are no broken relationships, but I know that this may be an exception. How sad it must be for someone who isn't in touch with a family member because of a perceived lack of concern, or other family tension-like strain that often follows the death of a parent. The radio social worker reminded the audience that we know our sisters and brothers longer than anyone in our lives. We are born with them around and they are there when we die. Isn't this tragedy a good reason to try to communicate with them?

I mentioned this to a cab driver taking me home a day or so after September 11, and he paused for a time and said, "I think I'll call my sister," and we drove to my house. As I was getting out, he said, "I wonder if she's still in Texas." I hope he finds his sister. I hope the orchid guy can get over the pain of having colleagues who were killed in the attack on the Pentagon, and I hope we can all call our sisters and brothers and tell them we miss not being in their lives.

(Reprinted from "The Daily Herald," October 12, 2001.)

JACKSONVILLE, Ill. (AP) -- Dan Thompson wanted to help his country after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. He couldn't join the military, though, because he is totally blind.

So Thompson decided instead to walk across the state -- some 220 miles -- to raise money for the American Red Cross and disaster-relief efforts.

Thompson reported Thursday that he was nearing the end of his march, with an umbrella and a toenail the only casualties so far.

"It's fun. It's exciting because I'm doing something for the country and a good cause," he said in an interview by cell phone. "This way I can contribute."

Thompson, a technology teacher at Jacksonville's Illinois School for the Visually Impaired, set out Monday to walk across Illinois from west to east.

A "shadow car" is accompanying Thompson, 49, to scout out potential problems in his path and drive him over bridges and through construction zones where he is not allowed to walk. But he is doing the walking alone, with only a cane to help.

Thompson said he has suffered a few blisters and lost one toenail on his trek, which involves walking 40 to 50 miles a day. He braved heavy rain and wind Wednesday, which destroyed his umbrella.

He said a number of motorists slowed down to offer encouragement and read the sign on his back that explains what he's doing. Thompson planned to reach his destination, Danville, tonight.

This is not the first time he has done something out of the ordinary to bring attention to a special cause. He said he also has walked from Galesburg to Bloomington and from Peoria to Bloomington to raise money for a camp for people with disabilities, and he once perched on a platform atop a flagpole for 14 days to help the Association for Retarded Citizens.

"People tell me I'm a little crazy," Thompson added.


When the World Trade Center was destroyed by the terrorist attack on September 11, the offices of Helen Keller Worldwide were destroyed. Also destroyed were the irreplaceable archives of letters and photographs of Helen Keller. The offices were located a block from the World Trade Center. The Helen Keller Worldwide organization was established in 1915 and supports blindness prevention programs in over 30 countries. This announcement was reported in USA Today (October 1, 2001) 5D.


(Editor's Note: We received this information from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and are passing it on for your information.)

People with disabilities who are self-sufficient under normal circumstances may have to rely on the help of others in a disaster. Provide Assistance Do You Know Someone With a Disability?

* People with disabilities often need more time than others to make necessary preparations in an emergency.

* The needs of older people often are similar to those of persons with disabilities.

* Because disaster warnings are often given by audible means such as sirens and radio announcements, people who are deaf or hard of hearing may not receive early disaster warnings and emergency instructions. Be their source of emergency information as it comes over the radio or television.

* Some people who are blind or visually impaired, especially older people, may be extremely reluctant to leave familiar surroundings when the request for evacuation comes from a stranger.

* A guide dog could become confused or disoriented in a disaster. People who are blind or partially sighted may have to depend on others to guide them, as well as their dog, to safety during a disaster. In most states, guide dogs will be allowed to stay in emergency shelters with owners. Check with your local emergency management officials for more information.

* People with impaired mobility are often concerned about being dropped when being lifted or carried. Find out the proper way to transfer or move someone in a wheelchair and what exit routes from buildings are best.

* Some people with mental retardation may be unable to understand the emergency and could become disoriented or confused about the proper way to react.

* Many respiratory illnesses can be aggravated by stress. In an emergency, oxygen and respiratory equipment may not be readily available.

* People with epilepsy, Parkinson's disease and other conditions often have very individualized medication regimes that cannot be interrupted without serious consequences. Some may be unable to communicate this information in an emergency. Be ready to offer assistance if disaster strikes

If a disaster warning is issued, check with neighbors or co- workers who are disabled. Offer assistance whenever possible. Prepare an emergency plan

Work with neighbors who are disabled to prepare an emergency response plan. Identify how you will contact each other and what action will be taken. Evacuation

Be able to assist if an evacuation order is issued. Provide physical assistance in leaving the home/office and transferring to a vehicle.

Provide transportation to a shelter. This may require a specialized vehicle designed to carry a wheelchair or other mobility equipment. Self-Help Networks

Self-help networks are arrangements of people who agree to assist an individual with a disability in an emergency. Discuss with the relative, friend or co-worker who has a disability what assistance he or she may need. Urge the person to keep a disaster supplies kit and suggest that you keep an extra copy of the list of special items such as medicines or special equipment that the person has prepared. Talk with the person about how to inform him or her of an oncoming disaster and see about getting a key to the person's house so you can provide assistance without delay.

by Christopher Gray

Recently, I bought a laptop computer. As a practical matter, I need something portable to take with me when I travel, so I can keep up with my paying, daytime job and the work of ACB as well. The unit is an IBM Thinkpad, a respectable name with excellent repair facilities and programs.

With the actual computer in hand, now I am faced with the problem of precisely what to do with it, and how to get the system set up and configured. Accessibility software must be installed. The computer must be configured in such a way that the accessible software will function reasonably well. Now, like all blind users, I must deal with visually oriented computers, and use the software that allows one to access computers in a non-visual (or limited visual) manner.

It is precisely at this point where each of us finally runs into what I call the "big lie." The "big lie" is that "computers are accessible."

Out of the "big lie" comes the critical distinction between accessibility and usability. Those who work with accessibility technology grapple with this distinction constantly as software is developed and equipment is made accessible.

Here is an example of the distinction between accessibility and usability. By now, many readers will have experienced the "accessible" automated teller machines that many banks are introducing into our communities. You can walk up to a specially equipped teller machine, insert an earphone, and the machine will begin talking to you. Braille markings further assist you by indicating where to insert a card and providing information on selecting keys. There was an example of such equipment at the ACB convention in Des Moines, Iowa this past summer. Most people find these talking and brailled teller machines usable.

However, can we also say that these machines are "accessible"? The answer to this extremely crucial question is "no": "no" because there are many features available on these teller machines that have not yet been made available to blind consumers of this equipment.

Take something as simple as a balance inquiry. You can't hear your balance on any machine I have tested thus far.

Did you wish to press the button to hear your last five transaction entries? You won't be told what button that is, and even if you know, pressing the button will not yield the requested information.

With this very simple example, it is easy to see the distinction between usability and accessibility. One can also extrapolate the idea that the meaning of accessibility cannot be defined by a simple measurement of use. A great deal more detail needs to be incorporated into an accurate definition of what accessibility really is and what it must include.

Returning now to that laptop computer, it was not very many minutes after beginning to load accessibility software that I began to run into an abundance of issues that made using the computer a very complex and troublesome exercise. First of all, attaching external braille displays or speech synthesizers raises a host of hardware problems that must be addressed. All of the software that purports to provide access, and does the best it can, runs into issues reading screen information and getting around the software hurdles placed in the way by graphical interfaces. In one instance, the computer will talk, but 10 seconds later in an identical instance, it is utterly silent. Some screens say far too much, others say nothing even remotely helpful or even meaningful. In short, the typical blind computer user must jump through at least three hoops for every one that his or her sighted counterpart confronts. So prevalent are computers today in our society that this extra set of complex and onerous requirements poses an unfair, and more important, an unjust set of requirements on the blind user of computer-based equipment.

The problems faced in leveling the playing field between blind and sighted computer users are far bigger than any individual user can manage or resolve, more vast than can be tackled even by an organization of the size and strength of the American Council of the Blind. But we cannot afford to ignore them either. ACB has tried very hard for many years to come to the table with Microsoft and others to fashion a means of making computers and computer-based technology like cell phones fully accessible to the blind community. To date, computer hardware and software manufacturers simply have not done enough to help bridge the gap between what is accessible to a visual user as compared to a non-visual user.

Because of this lack of fundamentally meaningful cooperation on the part of major players in the computer field, particularly the software field, and because of the longstanding nature of the problems faced by blind users, I have asked ACB's information access and environmental access committees to focus significant attention on these issues and to design a strengthened blueprint for taking action. A cornerstone concept in this blueprint must be that we expect corporations to accept full responsibility for making their software and hardware accessible to blind and visually impaired users. Customizing ancillary software that allegedly allows others to make material accessible is a completely unacceptable solution on the part of manufacturers and software developers. It is a solution that we have tried and that has fundamentally failed blind consumers. It is a solution that has helped keep unemployment rates for people who are blind at an unacceptably high level. The time has come to insist that those responsible for ignoring the accessibility requirements of blind and visually impaired hardware and software users step up to the plate and remedy the situations that keep us miles behind our sighted counterparts in the field of computer access.

We blind people are not without our champions in this field. Dr. James Thatcher led the IBM Corporation's developmental accessibility efforts for years in the field of graphical user interfaces and we have never experienced anything like the software his team created in the Microsoft Windows environment. We did, however, experience the possibility and the reality of that accessibility from committed individuals and a company acting out of responsibility to the concept of full accessibility.

Sun Microsystems is another example of a corporation committed to true accessibility, not only for visually impaired computer users, but also for people with all manner of special communications needs. Sun's Java extensions pave the way toward a whole new definition of what accessibility can mean and what can be made accessible for disabled users. Peter Korn and his entire team of dedicated specialists has kept alive the hope of true accessibility for people who are blind and the entire disabled community.

However, the pale efforts of the strongest players in the computer field, companies like Microsoft and Adobe Systems, have done little to change definitively the face of access for blind consumers. In the months and years to come, we must make one of our major goals in ACB to turn this around and enlist the support and assistance of these leading companies in ways that truly foster access. We are working on this at many levels and will continue to do so. Access to technology represents a key bridge we must build and walk upon as we strive toward equality and independence for all blind Americans.

September 22-23, 2001
by Winifred Downing

President's Report: Fund Raising

Chris Gray explained the problems of fund-raising in detail. He said that ACB needs to increase and diversify its financial resources, and toward this end, he has been networking with a person who has been very successful in fund-raising to support breast cancer treatment through a Bay Area organization called Support Systems. Laura Oftedahl, long associated with fund- raising efforts of various kinds, has assisted Gray in arriving at a specific plan for approaching raising funds for ACB.

Gray outlined four principles which, he said, should guide ACB in its approach: (1) People and organizations who make the commitment to financially support organizations like ACB are interested in giving to people, rather than to impersonal amorphous organizations. 2) These donors demand results, (3) They want to make a difference, and (4) they need recognition for their efforts. Therefore, we should increase and intensify our annual appeal, rewarding in specific ways major contributors; and we should place greater emphasis on planned giving which might lead to gifts of stock or bequests. Foundations can be approached with requests to fund specific projects like scholarships, pedestrian safety, the job bank, "The Braille Forum," and ACB Radio. Another kind of involvement Gray identified is the capacity-building grant, which might be sought for some new and long-term goal like hiring a development director to expand the membership and operations of ACB or setting up an extensive information and referral service. To initiate and implement ideas like these, the cooperation and expertise of ACB committees will be important as will monetary expenditures to inaugurate activities.

ACB Web Site

To address the severe problems that have caused the unreliability of the ACB web site, the decision has been made that the organization must have its own server which is presently being configured. A talented student in Kansas (Matt Campbell) has taken on this responsibility and will, after completing that task, get the ACB site up and running and assist affiliates who lost their sites because of the difficulties we experienced. The Braille Authority of North America (BANA) and our affiliates will be contacted by correspondence to explain how and when we anticipate assisting them to restore their material. It will probably be several weeks before these goals can be addressed.

The server costs $6,000 with added expenses for locating and for data transfer based on the gigabytes used.

New Magazine

A new, four-color magazine, intended for the sighted reader, is under discussion as a public relations and fund-raising mechanism. It might be distributed to doctors' offices, ACB donors, and families of blind persons. The bulk of the expense would be met by advertising.

Other topics connected with the president's report are addressed in connection with the work of committees and task forces.

ACBES Report

Though two of the thrift stores have closed and the Des Moines store is not yet making money, ACBES's performance this year far exceeds last year's performance. By this time a year ago, earnings were approximately $193,000; this year they are $390,000.

Ardis Bazyn, Paul Edwards, Brian Charlson, Dawn Christensen, and Michael Garrett were elected to the ACBES board of directors for terms of varying lengths in accordance with the provisions of the ACB constitution.

ACB Staff Reports

Executive Director Charlie Crawford spoke of staff adjustments made subsequent to the convention and in connection with Anne Fesh's illness and death and of the plan to hire someone in her place. An intern financed by the Canadian government will work in the ACB office to research and develop a plan for helping affiliates achieve pedestrian safety goals.

The Braille Forum

Editor Penny Reeder told the board that the number of people reading the "Forum" online increases each month. 7,540 people read the magazine on tape, 2,310 in braille, 12,350 in large print, 738 on disk; and in September 200 read it online. Citing the importance of having a single "Forum" issue dedicated to the 2001 convention and the positive feedback from last year's convention issue, Reeder appealed to the board to approve funding for this year's issue. Responding to her arguments and to the fact that this is ACB's 40th anniversary, the board voted to approve the necessary funds.

Affiliate and Membership Services

Terry Pacheco reported that the Social Service Providers affiliate wishes to change its name and focus to become Human Services Providers. The group will need to present a new charter for approval by the board of directors. The National Association of Blind Students (NABS) has received 400 names to consider as possible members.

Voting Procedures for the Board of Directors

Donna Seliger, reporting for the Board Election Task Force, said that the group proposed that members of the budget and executive committees be elected separately, no proxy voting be permitted, certain clarifying procedures be adopted, and a voice vote be taken by roll call. There is nothing in parliamentary procedure to prevent the ACB president as chair of the board from voting. The proposal was moved and adopted.

Committee and Task Force Reports

Resource Development Chair, Sandy Sanderson, reported that in Alaska, several ATM machines have been purchased and installed which are serviced by members of the state affiliate with a fee for that accommodation paid by machine users and going to the affiliate. An initial outlay of $12,000 is required for each machine; and care must be exercised in the choice of persons who monitor and service the machines. Locations must be chosen that attract steady patronage, like shopping malls, night clubs, and entertainment areas. Sanderson suggested that the ACB and state affiliates could jointly purchase machines, arrange for servicing them, and divide the proceeds realized. A motion was passed to give further consideration and study to this proposal, and Sanderson indicated that he will be meeting with interested affiliates between now and the mid-year meetings to explore these possibilities further.

Another idea proposed by the committee involves ACB's sponsorship of a Washington, DC-based celebration and book- signing event to coincide with the publication of "The History of the American Council of the Blind." This social event could attract Congressmen and senators because it would involve no continuing effort or commitment to any program while providing an opportunity to be involved in a historic occasion. The expenses of the gala would be met largely by voluntary contributions. The board advocated further investigation with a report at the mid- year meeting.

Alan Beatty stated that Lions Clubs are eager to work with ACB if appropriate projects can be identified.


Pam Shaw reported that ACB has a data base of 48,000 names of members and persons who have contacted the organization for various reasons. A planned approach for sorting, classifying, and contacting these names could result in greatly increased membership. An effort has been launched to restore inactive affiliates, and each person on the membership committee will have responsibility for a given affiliate to track and assist. The committee will work with ACB staff to prepare a membership recruitment commercial on ACB Radio and Gray will appoint a committee to develop a survey aimed at helping affiliates evaluate their membership strategies with attention to be given to youth, the elderly, ethnic minorities, and parents of blind children. More ACB materials will be produced to attract those who speak Spanish.


Ardis Bazyn reported that two bequests made it possible for the American Council to fund many activities that had been slated for cancellation this year. Actions have been taken to add to the scholarship fund, make grants to affiliates needing help like Louisiana and the recently organized New Mexico affiliate, set aside money to investigate fund-raising opportunities, and address the need for the equipment and labor involved in the reconstruction of the ACB web site. A motion was passed to allow the resource development committee $20,000 to forward its plans for initiating larger and more diversified earnings.

The committee set forth a detailed plan for how expenditures are to be anticipated, justified, and met. These guidelines will be considered by the executive committee and presented to the board at the February meeting. While expenses must be carefully considered and monitored, care must also be taken not to so restrict the president that he cannot take necessary action when required to do so.


LeRoy Saunders reported that some 1,500 persons were in attendance in one capacity or another at the Des Moines convention. The convention center proved to be extremely cooperative, often exceeding our expectations and showing flexibility concerning both time and expenses.

Public Relations Committee

Chair, Ralph Sanders, and chair of the board of publications, Kathleen Megivern, addressed the board concerning certain diverse perceptions about the board of publications' role with respect to press releases and other activities of the public relations committee. An effort to determine the responsibilities of the two groups will be made either before, or in connection with, the February board session by a committee appointed by Gray and including members of the public relations committee, the board of publications, appropriate staff persons, and representatives from the board of directors. The goal is to ensure accurate and timely release of publicity concerning the American Council of the Blind.

Guide Dog Users

Debbie Grubb reported that GDUI members are grateful to Paul Edwards for including one of their members on the convention committee to represent their specific needs. GDUI has arrived at the consensus that a cleaner and more attractive relief area would result if someone can be paid to survey the area regularly several times each day and clean up as necessary. In the past, guide dog users made a voluntary offering (recommended to be $10), and this money was given as a gratuity to the person who checked the area, though it was not done on any established schedule. 50 percent of GDUI members made this contribution, but it must be remembered that many of those attending the convention and using the dog relief areas were not GDUI members and did not, consequently, contribute to this fund.

GDUI recommends that a $15 contribution be requested from guide dog users who attend the conventions in the future and that the need for members and guide dog users to make such a contribution be publicized in "The Braille Forum" rather than through "Pawtracks." There are companies that will take on cleanup responsibilities and even build guide dog relief areas as necessary, but arrangements of this sort can cost up to $6,000. Aside from the gratuity extended in the past, hotels have accepted the expense of the relief area, and it is uncertain how much of the cost they should be expected to assume.

The committee also recommended that a guide dog user be present whenever a convention site is being considered. To keep down the expense of that proposal, it is hoped that someone on the convention site committee can function in both capacities. The committee will continue its deliberations and report at the February board meeting with specific recommendations for the Houston and Pittsburgh conventions.

Employment Task Force

Mitch Pomerantz reported that a time slot will be sought at the Houston convention to consider issues relating to the continuing low employment rate for blind and visually impaired people. Pomerantz said that the special problems of people with retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), dissemination of training materials, and actual training opportunities will be considered; and consistent articles in "The Braille Forum" will help focus attention on the entire issue and ACB's effort to address it. It was suggested that Randolph-Sheppard vendors, private entrepreneurs, and persons involved in retail sales be included on the committee to broaden its scope. Logo Committee

Following upon a review of various suggestions and recommendations concerning size and colors, the board moved that the logo committee, which was created at the post-convention board meeting and is chaired by Jerry Annunzio, submit three drawings of logos of distinctly different sizes and designs to the February meeting that have been prepared by professional companies skilled in logo design, not by anyone's best friend.

Raised line diagrams should be produced for those who cannot see the drawings. Pro bono work done by a university may be investigated as a possible source for the drawings.

Endorsement Committee

Oral Miller reported that the policies set forth at the post- convention board meeting in July were adopted and a motion passed to have the president appoint a group of board members to ensure that the criteria adopted are enforced. Having completed its work, the task force was dissolved.

Affiliate Dues

The decision to raise the dues for individual members and the cap on the number of members for which an affiliate must pay are two different issues according to the thinking of some board members so the matter will be discussed with affiliate presidents at the mid-year presidents meeting, February 16-18, 2002 in Houston, Texas.

Education Task Force

A task force on the education of blind children and youth will be established to identify goals to be sought in light of the reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), anticipated within the next two years, and ways of reaching those goals.

by Ed (Doc) Bradley

The great state of Texas is proud to welcome the ACB back to Houston for the 2002 annual national convention. We want to share a few of the highlights about what we are hoping to provide when you come on down in the summer of 2002. First -- and some would say foremost -- is barbecue! Barbecue was the one thing that was missing the last time you all came down to Houston, and we plan to remedy that situation this time! So come with your appetites and plan to have a good ole time!

The Adam's Mark hotel is large enough for all the meeting rooms and the exhibit hall to be contained on one floor, which will be convenient for everyone. The West Chase Hilton, which will serve as the overflow hotel, is right across the street from the Adam's Mark.

Right next door to the Adam's Mark and across the street from the Hilton is an area where you'll be able to find virtually any kind of food that strikes your fancy. There's a dinner theater and an Outback Steak House, an ice cream parlor, and a Subway sandwich shop. If you get the munchies, we'll definitely be able to satisfy your cravings!

Houston has many interesting venues, and we're planning to show you a good time. There's the famous Johnson Space Center, the Museum of Fine Arts, and the Imax theater. The Enron Field Baseball Stadium is new to Houston. We are exploring all these and other sites as possible candidates for tours, and as we find answers and finalize plans, we'll let you know about all the possibilities in the pages of upcoming "Braille Forums."

We were fortunate to lock in some excellent hotel rates for our Houston convention. Singles and doubles are $65 per night plus tax at the Adam's Mark and at the Hilton across the street. If you want to book a triple or a quad at the Adam's Mark, that will cost you only $75 per night (plus tax). Both hotels have beautiful pools, and many who came to Houston in 1997 have fond memories of the unique inside/outside swimming pool at the Adam's Mark. Hotel rooms are going fast, so get your reservations in as soon as you can. The dates for the Houston convention are June 30 to July 6, 2002. Call toll-free (800) 444-2326 to make your reservations.

It's already November and lots of you may be getting that old winter chill. Think about heat, and great barbecue, and good times with ACB friends, and make your reservations today. Y'all come!

by Darian Hartman

During last July's ACB national convention in Des Moines, Iowa, the American Council of the Blind Government Employees affiliate sponsored a discussion about why there continues to be a 70 percent unemployment rate among people with visual impairments. This session was well attended and many good ideas were generated.

As a result of this session, the new ACB board of directors, as one of its first official actions, created the ACB Employment Issues Task Force (see the September 2001 issue of "The Braille Forum" to learn more).

It's not enough to talk about this issue; we must take action! The ACB Employment Issues Task Force intends to do just that. Our goals include developing educational/training activities during annual ACB conventions; disseminating relevant materials to employers and consumers; and promoting advocacy efforts on behalf of employees and job seekers who are blind or visually impaired.

We are planning to conduct a workshop during the 2002 ACB convention in Houston, Texas. Possible topics include discussing how the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) can work for you in employment settings and enhancing self-advocacy skills that you can use during interviews, on the job, and in your personal lives.

ACB and the Employment Issues Task Force can spearhead these opportunities, but we must all work together to realize social change. We must act individually to improve our employment outlooks, and we must join together to make an impact. We hope that you will want to be a part of this action.

It is important to begin by looking at what our priorities are regarding improving the employment outlook for people who are visually impaired. What are the reasons why so many of us are unable to secure employment or receive promotions if we are working? Yes, much of the responsibility falls on the shoulders of prospective employers and social attitudes. Through my own experiences, however, I have discovered that we cannot change others; they have to want to change. What we can do, though, is influence others by working on changing our own attitudes and behaviors. To do this, we must take a long, hard, honest look at ourselves.

This is the first in a series of articles that will appear in "The Braille Forum" on the subject of employment of people who are blind. The next article in this series will address how our self-esteem affects our employability. I hope these articles will arm us to work singly and together to spark some serious soul- searching, initiative and enthusiasm for bringing one another, and a growing number of employers, into the 21st century.

by Deborah Kendrick

(Reprinted from "The Columbus Dispatch," August 12, 2001.)

(Editor's Note: This article was originally printed in "The Columbus Dispatch" and is reprinted with permission. To alert editors of newspapers near you to the weekly "Alive and Well" column on disability rights issues, contact Deborah Kendrick via e-mail at [email protected]) PITTSBURGH -- Imagine having to teach 50 children, ages 3-18, how to get their homework done, get from classroom to classroom, and use computers to keep up in school. Now imagine that all of those children are in 40 different schools and that all have a visual impairment ranging from total blindness to a need for always sitting in the first row and holding print 10 times the conventional size at close range for reading. That's the job that Terry Pastel, teacher of visually impaired students in Conejo Valley, Calif., and many others like her from throughout the U.S. and other countries is doing every day.

Karen Schoenharl, computer skills instructor for the Clovernook Center for the Blind in Cincinnati, faces a different set of challenges. Teaching mostly one on one, her job is to help people losing vision gain computer skills with screen-reading and magnification software to keep their jobs or going to on-the-job locations to adapt software to work with assistive technology products.

For Nasser Nofel of Palestinian Gaza, diversity of skills is perhaps even broader. As the only teacher for blind students, his job is to translate braille texts from English to Arabic, teach orientation and mobility skills, locate library materials -- and, now that he has been to the United States for training -- teach students to get answers from the Internet and use e-mail.

The above three and more than 500 educators, rehabilitation specialists, and other professionals from throughout the United States, Canada, and from around the world gathered in Pittsburgh August 2-5 for a ground-breaking training conference that moved a giant step forward in bringing professionals with such broad responsibilities up to speed with assistive technology for blind and visually impaired computer users. Called 2001: A Technology Odyssey, the conference was sponsored by the American Foundation for the Blind, the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AER), the national professional organization for educators and rehabilitation specialists in blindness, and Mitsubishi Corp. In 26 hands-on computer workshops, participants learned to cruise the Internet with screen-reading software, to make Web sites accessible, and use common applications such as Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint with speech and keyboard commands. In addition to the hands-on workshops, 36 product demonstrations and 43 paper presentations ran concurrently for an unprecedented collection of assistive technology learning opportunities.

Product demonstrations included a program that converts the compositions of blind composers to braille music scores in minutes, a global positioning system that talks the user through routes throughout the U.S. or Canada, and a talking program with tactile drawings that enables a blind mathematics student to compute complicated equations with 3-dimensional representations.

Conference organizers anticipated a registration of approximately 250 people. When that was surpassed by more than 100 in early May, workshops were added and sessions expanded. Over 500 were registered in all, including program directors and university faculty from as far away as Malaysia, Taiwan, Israel, the United Kingdom, and several European countries.

"I am awestruck by the response this conference has generated," said Carl R. Augusto, president and CEO of the American Foundation for the Blind. "It is amazing that we have attracted people from all over the world, and clear that this needs to become an ongoing event."

The good news in technology over the past two decades is the remarkable progress it has brought to classrooms, work sites, and homes of computer users who are blind or visually impaired. The challenge has been to find experts able to teach those who need it. The 2001: A Technology Odyssey will likely be referred to in the future as a historical event in merging the information and the people who need it in a hands-on environment that worked.

by Amy-Lynn Fischer

Khaled Saad and Olivieri Giulieri, co-founders of, sat down with freelance writer Amy-lynn Fischer to talk about their unique web site and what it has to offer the visually impaired community. provides tools that facilitate communication among people with visual impairments, as well as their families and friends. HotBraille provides the only web-based Braille service that delivers tangible custom Braille transcription. In addition to its revolutionary Braille service, also offers tools that enable users to connect with each other instantly.

The company was started by Olivieri Giulieri, a French software engineer who is currently working in the United States and who had worked for CCNV, a non-profit organization in France which created the first weekly Braille newsletter in the south of France, and Khaled Saad, a computer science student at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo. They've been friends since Olivieri moved to California eight years ago.

For the two founders, HotBraille came out of a desire to launch a unique web site that would make a difference in people's lives. Unlike many other Internet entrepreneurs, their goal was not solely profit-driven. Questions and Answers about HotBraille Q: How does the Braille through the mail service work? A: Visitors to can type a letter, up to two Braille pages in length (that's about 250 words), that HotBraille will print out on a Braille printer and send via US mail to a visually impaired recipient. Visitors simply need to provide us with a street address, and the text of their letter. Q: Who is a typical HotBraille user? A: There is no typical user. We have 11,000 users from all over the world. Most of our users come from English-speaking countries, e.g., the USA, Canada, UK, Australia, and we also have users from as far away as China, Lebanon, Germany, Vietnam and Nigeria (and 3 in the Vatican City State!).

However, our most active users are blind and come to the site several times a day to communicate with other blind and sighted users. Q: Why did you create HotBraille? A: We wanted to create a useful web site to maximize the Internet's potential for people who are visually impaired. We identified obstacles not only with Braille delivery, but with Internet accessibility, as well.

Interviews and surveys of visually impaired Internet and non- Internet users confirmed a profound need for HotBraille. Q: How is HotBraille funded? A: is a privately held company founded in September 1999 and we support it with our time and money. HotBraille members may support the site with voluntary contributions for the use of our services. We also have plans to launch new value-added services that should help the service fund itself. Q: What does HotBraille offer that other services for people with visual impairments do not? A: Our users tell us the main reason for using HotBraille is simply convenience. It reduces obstacles for communicating freely with sighted friends and family. Braille printers are costly, and our services eliminate the need for sighted family and friends to purchase them, thereby opening up more avenues of communication. Some blind users have told us they own a Braille printer, but they use HotBraille to avoid the hassle of writing an address on an envelope. Q: What other services does HotBraille provide? A: Last year we added an on-line Braille tutorial where sighted people can come and learn Braille. We also added resources, like a searchable directory of schools for the blind, guide dog schools and Braille libraries in the US, all searchable by state.

Once we had enough users, it was time to allow them to interact and connect with each other. So we added a member search service that searches through personal profiles that users can create. Users can then send private messages to each other when they are on the site. We also host a public forum for discussion, which allows users to add and post ideas to ongoing discussions.

Many of our newly introduced services were inspired by actual feedback sent to us by our users. We've created an interactive web site for the blind community, and our users have as important a role in the site as we do. Q: Do you think you've fulfilled your mission with HotBraille? A: Yes, definitely, as is evident by the frequent feedback and voluntary contributions from our users. A recent example of this kind of positive feedback comes from Bobbie Evans, a blind member from Illinois: "I like HotBraille because it's a place where I feel accepted and can meet other blind people who understand the trials, inconveniences and hardships of being blind, as well as the fact that blind people can and do live independent, fulfilling and productive happy lives. I can ask questions on blindness-related topics and get real answers. And I can share my own experiences and perhaps help other blind people to find success in their lives."

We are proud of what we've created, and hope to introduce our site to many others who will benefit from HotBraille as much as Bobbie has.

Check out HotBraille for yourself. Just go to Look around and become acquainted with all the services. Write a letter and send it to a blind friend, or convert a favorite recipe into Braille and have it mailed to yourself! The service is free, and it's one of the most innovative Internet projects to have come along in the new millennium.

Some useful travel tips for blind and visually impaired folks
by Barbara Grill

(Editor's Note: Barbara Grill is a member of the Amtrak Customer Advisory Committee and chairperson of the committee's Disability/Senior Task Force.)

My love affair with traveling began when my aunt brought me to Florida on a train. Our trip took place during the Second World War and the train was crowded with GIs moving around the country. I still remember that trip even though I was only four years old.

That was the first of many train trips. My train travels have carried me to many of life's important milestones as well as to far-flung corners of the United States, Canada and Europe. For example, I moved from Chicago to Las Vegas with all my earthly possessions boxed and secured in the Santa Fe train's baggage compartment to the waiting arms of my future husband!

I have to admit, though, that, in those days, train travel was not my favorite way to go. In fact, I'd travel by automobile, bus or plane -- any mode that would get there. During some of those years, my business log recorded over 20,000 miles often criss-crossing several times across the Continental Divide. When the time came to settle down, we settled in Sarasota, Fla. My responsibilities as a stay-at-home mom really did settle me down, for I remained in one place with our two daughters, and I did not once leave the state of Florida for 13 years.

Ultimately the wanderlust struck again and I was off, this time traveling with friends and sometimes with my two grown daughters. By now, Amtrak had come into existence and the train had become my preferred mode of travel. Over time my vision degenerated due to retinitis pigmentosa and it became evident that a safe, travel-friendly mode of transportation was now a determining factor in planning for any trip.

Several years ago, while returning to Sarasota from San Francisco after attending my oldest daughter's wedding, a seemingly unpleasant incident turned into an opportunity for me to use much of the knowledge gleaned from all those years of travel. Although I carried documentation to prove my legal blindness, a very rude conductor collecting tickets decided to challenge my state of Florida documented disability. What an embarrassment! After that, it seemed as though all the Amtrak employees on that train were observing my every move. My entire trip was overcast by mixed feelings of anger, discomfort and frustration. Then approximately 100 miles from Denver, to my surprise, a distinguished gentleman in a suit approached me and introduced himself as an Amtrak Product Line Director. Taking only a few minutes, this gentleman learned from Amtrak employees the details of the incident, examined the documents certifying my legal blindness, and assured me that things would be made right. Once in Denver where I had planned to spend a few days, he returned the documentation (after making copies) and helped me with my luggage into a waiting taxi.

A few weeks after my return to Sarasota, a letter arrived containing an apology, a solution for the inappropriate behavior of the conductor, a travel voucher, and a partial refund check. And more intriguing than all of that was some unsolicited advice to contact the coordinator of the Amtrak Customer Advisory Committee in Washington, D.C. and to apply for a position whenever the next vacancy occurred.

This was all too tempting to pass up, so I researched what the Amtrak Customer Advisory Committee (ACAC) was all about. ACAC is a very large committee comprised of a maximum of 31 individuals residing in all parts of the United States. The bylaws are pretty specific about the composition, allowing for appointment of three people with disabilities, two senior citizens aged 62 or older, and one full-time college student, etc. The mission statement clearly defines what the work of the ACAC will be: to establish and maintain communication with consumers, to improve quality of service from the customer's point of view, to provide for direct input to management about customer perception of service and to facilitate inclusion of customer observations into service monitoring and modification.

This sounded quite straightforward and, at the same time, challenging. So I applied for membership and subsequently corresponded with the program administrator over the course of several months. After about a year had gone by, I finally received a telephone call from the administrator asking whether I was still interested in pursuing an appointment to the ACAC. Of course I was interested! She went on to explain the responsibilities of membership. A few months later, I attended my first quarterly meeting of the committee in Jacksonville, Fla.

Before departing from Sarasota, I tucked a copy of the October 2000 "Braille Forum" into my suitcase. That particular issue contained Julie Roberts' letter to the editor expressing profound criticism of Amtrak. More about this in a moment. During the orientation for new members, another blind member of the committee asked for volunteers to join his task force. I approached him and introduced myself during a break in the formal proceedings. We chatted about his four-year tenure on the committee and the interesting work he was doing. I described the article, which had appeared in "The Braille Forum" and gave him a copy to take back to Ohio with him so he could scan and read it. He made an interesting proposal. Would I be interested in joining forces to form a new task force to explore disability issues?

We presented the examples of Julie Roberts' experience along with my unfortunate incident involving the rude behavior of the Amtrak conductor to show a need for the Amtrak Advisory Committee to approve the formation of a task force to study and make recommendations that could resolve disability-related complaints and issues. The ACAC broadened the scope of the task force to include special needs of senior citizens. Thus, the Disability/Senior Task Force (DSTF) was born. Several other ACAC members joined our task force team and I agreed to serve as co- chair of the DSTF.

We decided to explore Julie Roberts' complaint and learn how it was resolved. It took some digging but ACB located and contacted her for us. Roberts gave permission to the American Council of the Blind to allow for her telephone number to be given to me. My co-chair called her for more details about the incident, which were exactly as she had written for "The Braille Forum." Not only were she and her traveling companion neglected on the train, treated very badly by a Thruway Motorcoach driver but they also lost her luggage! Although it took many months, Roberts was sent a letter of apology containing a travel voucher and a check for her lost luggage. And she made an interesting comment: "I need to become more assertive."

This would be my very first and most important of the following tips for visually impaired individuals who travel on Amtrak:

1) Be assertive at every stage of your contact with Amtrak whether it be making reservations, traveling onboard the train or moving about the station. Ask numerous questions and let someone know when your request is not being honored. Communicate.

2) When making reservations, let the reservationist know that you are visually impaired and will need assistance. Even if you do not want assistance, it is wise to have your ticket indicate that you have a visual impairment.

3) You may request meals at your seat or sleeping compartment when onboard the train.

4) Remember that arrangements for special diets need to be made when making reservations so your ticket will indicate same.

5) Ask for a short tour of the train to orient yourself to the location of restrooms, dining car, caf‚ car and emergency exits.

6) If you want assistance into the station when departing the train, it is always wise to remind the attendant to call ahead so someone in station services will meet the train.

7) Don't assume that there will be an Amtrak employee waiting to meet you at every station because there may be only one very busy employee in the station or the station may be unmanned. Check ahead.

8) Plan to wait in the "accessible handicapped passenger" area of the train station and arrange for the accessible handicapped carts, if you feel you need this assistance to or from the train platform.

9) Plan a vacation on a train that features Trails and Rails, a joint project of Amtrak and the National Park Service which is an excellent program that offers on board narratives about the history, geographic wonders and cultural heritage along many routes.

10) If you do have difficulty with any aspect of the service on board the train, ask to speak to the lead service attendant who will make an effort to correct your problems.

11) Remember to take some dollar bills to tip employees for the personalized special service you may be provided.

12) Amtrak guarantees your satisfaction with your travel experience; therefore, if you do not experience satisfaction after reporting poor service or a bad trip, contact 1-800-USARAIL [872-7245].

13) Finally, if you do not feel that any of the tips above are strong enough to get you the satisfaction you deserve, address a written complaint to Amtrak at Office of Customer Relations, 60 Massachusetts Avenue NE, Washington, DC 20002.

Bon voyage!


On October 4, 2001, Bank of America announced plans to install more than 7,000 talking ATMs coast to coast. With a total of more than 3,000 talking ATMs planned by the end of 2002, the rollout is expected to be complete by the end of 2005. The bank currently has 500 talking ATMs installed in Florida and California. According to the bank's news release, the aggressive plan reinforces Bank of America's objective of continuing to lead the industry in pioneering talking ATMs nationwide.

This generation of talking ATMs will include technological innovations not found in earlier generations of machines. These features, which will make Bank of America Talking ATMs among the most advanced in the industry, include efforts in volume control, spoken balance and voice synthesis.

The press kit included a statement by ACB President Chris Gray. "Bank of America continues to take a leadership role in the development and installation of Talking ATMs and we congratulate them on today's announcement. This unparalleled action solidifies and magnifies Bank of America's reputation in serving the blind community."

Talking ATMs are part of a broader initiative at Bank of America to make banking work in ways it has never before, according to the news release. Accessible banking services for blind and visually impaired customers include making account statements available in braille and large print and raised line checks. The bank is also taking further steps to ensure that its web site and online banking services are W3-C compliant, so that people who access the Internet with screen readers won't have problems accessing the information about their accounts displayed on their computers' screens.

Talking ATMs provide audible instructions for people who cannot view information on an ATM screen. These machines make it easy for people who are visually impaired to withdraw cash, deposit money and perform other ATM transactions. The ATMs have audio jacks that deliver spoken instructions through standard headsets to facilitate privacy and protect the security of users.

To obtain additional information about the Bank of America's Talking ATMs, call toll-free (800) 299 BANK. California customers can contact Bank of America at (800) 362-2538 for assistance. To locate a Bank of America talking ATM, visit


On October 4, 2001, First Union National Bank announced the first installation of audio- assisted or "talking" ATMs in Maryland, New Jersey and North Carolina. The effort, hailed by the blindness community, includes the installation of 19 audio- assisted ATMs in those states, as well as in Pennsylvania, Florida and Washington, DC. In the next nine months, more than 100 machines will be installed in these states and other First Union locations.

First Union National Bank and Wachovia Bank, N.A., are banking subsidiaries of the holding company Wachovia Corporation, which was created through the September 1, 2001 merger of First Union Corporation and Wachovia Corporation.

"First Union is excited to offer audio-assisted ATMs throughout our markets," said Cece Sutton, executive vice president and Retail Banking Executive for Wachovia Corporation. "Supporters of the blindness community have been terrific partners in our quest to provide banking independence to our customers with visual impairments. Through the installation of audio-assisted ATMs, we are able to offer visually impaired customers greater convenience in accessing their First Union accounts."

"We applaud First Union's demonstrated commitment to improving banking accessibility for blind and visually impaired people," said Pat Yarborough, a representative of the North Carolina Council of the Blind.

During the next nine months, First Union plans to enhance select ATMs to include audio guidance and instructions for all transactions, including "spoken" customer balances. The ATMs also will be equipped with universal audio jacks that work with standard earphones.

Lainey Feingold and Linda Dardarian, two California lawyers who have assisted members of the blindness community around the country, said, "The expanded First Union services will benefit the blindness community as well as all persons who have difficulty reading standard print."

Tom Earle, with the Disabilities Law Project in Philadelphia, praised First Union for the initiative. "I urge other financial institutions to follow its example in providing independent access for all customers to a wide array of banking services," said Earle.

More information can be obtained by calling 1-800-ASK-FUNB or by visiting the First Union web site at Locations of First Union's Audio Assisted ATMs District of Columbia 1510 K St. NW Florida Coral Springs: 3300 University Dr. Lake Worth: 120 N. Dixie Highway Naples: 6155 Town Center Circle Tampa: 10430 Highland Manor Dr. Maryland Baltimore: 7 St. Paul Street North Carolina Charlotte: 301 S. Tryon St. and 1525 W.T. Harris Blvd. Mooresville: 631 Brawley School Rd. Durham: 201 N. Roxboro Rd. New Jersey Kendall Park: 3510 Route 27 Pennsylvania Allentown: 702 Hamilton Mall Newton Square: 3515 W. Chester Pike Philadelphia: 1500 Market Street 2 W. Girard Ave. 601 Chestnut St. 6208 Lancaster Ave. 340-50 S. Second St. 1 N. 5th St. 123 S. Broad St. 1712 Walnut St. Scranton: 130 Wyoming Ave.


In early October, Jim Halliday, president and CEO of HumanWare, Inc., announced the Department of Education National Institute for Disability Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) has awarded $450,000 per year for five years for wayfinding research and development to a national all-star team led by Sendero Group. The goal of this project is to create a Global Positioning System (GPS) core platform around which other wayfinding technologies will be tested and incorporated including GPS cell phones, indoor and outdoor navigation, location specific signs, complex intersections and signal lights.

Mike May, Director of Business Development at HumanWare, who also remains CEO of Sendero Group, is the principal investigator of this grant. The investigative team additionally includes the following members: Jack Loomis, Ph.D., Reginald Golledge, Ph.D., and Jim Marston of the University of California-Santa Barbara; Roberta Klatsky, Ph.D., Carnegie-Mellon University; Gordon Legge, Ph.D. and Nick Giudice, University of Minnesota; Paul Ponchillia, Ph.D., Richard Long, Ph.D., John Gesink, Ph.D. and David Guth, Ph.D. of Western Michigan University; Bill Crandall, Ph.D., Smith Kettlewell Institute; Charles LaPierre, Sendero Chief Technology Officer; and Janet Barlow, orientation and mobility consultant.

"This unprecedented collaboration and high level of funding will enable the best of commercial GPS and location information technology to greatly augment orientation for blind and visually impaired persons through our accessible interface," says Halliday.

Sendero introduced the first commercially available accessible GPS product in March 2000 and has now teamed up with Pulse Data International and HumanWare to add GPS capabilities to the BrailleNote and VoiceNote PDA units.

"Two major events will make accessible navigation and location information a reality," said Mike May. "First, teaming up with Pulse Data International and HumanWare on the BrailleNote GPS to provide the most innovative, stable and user-friendly platform for the GPS technology. Secondly, collaborating with top universities and orientation and mobility experts to research and develop state-of-the-art wayfinding technology. This is a thrill for me because of the location information access this R&D funding will create. It will have a huge impact on people who are blind or visually impaired."

by Billie Jean Keith

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.


The Illinois Department of Human Services is seeking qualified candidates for the position of superintendent, Illinois School for the Visually Impaired in Jacksonville. Successful candidates must possess an advanced degree in special education or a related field (doctorate preferred); three years experience in educating students who are visually impaired; administrative certificate and three years experience in educational administration (certificate in vision preferred); and possess or obtain a superintendent endorsement. This position requires knowledge of the regulations applying to the operation of a 24- hour residential and special education program including such program areas as assistive technology, communication needs, braille and slate and stylus, low vision, orientation and mobility, independent living, etc. It also requires working knowledge of federal statutes related to special education, IDEA, the Americans with Disabilities Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, and the Illinois School Code; the ability to establish and maintain effective working relationships with administrators, program managers, various state and local education agencies on a statewide basis, parent organizations, alumni associations, advisory councils, service providers, consumer groups and students at all levels. The salary range for this position is $47,772 to $101,484.

To apply, send a resume including salary information to Marjorie Olson, Education Liaison, Illinois Department of Human Services, PO Box 19429, Springfield, IL 62794-9429; fax (217) 785-5753. All applications must be postmarked no later than February 15, 2002.


These harness pouches are made of top grain leather. They measure approximately 6.5" x 4.5" x 1.5" and attach to the backstrap of your harness. There is a large pocket big enough for wallet, small cell phone, and a few other personal items like comb or lipstick. A key attachment is included so your keys don't fall out when you open the pouch. There is a flat inner pocket as well as a flat outside pocket. Velcro closures keep your belongings secure. No two pouches are ever exactly the same as they are completely handmade at the time of order. Nearly any color is possible, from the traditional tans, black, mahogany and browns to reds, blues, greens and others. We also have one that is done in both red and blue and stitched in white to honor the USA. The cost is $35 plus $5 for shipping and handling. An even larger model is available that attaches to the harness handle. The handle model is $60 plus shipping. Pouches ordered prior to December 1 can be guaranteed for Christmas. Ordered after that, we'll sure try but we can't guarantee delivery before Christmas. Other leather equipment for dogs is available such as collars, leads, and harnesses. Send an e-mail message to [email protected]


Dancing Dots, developer of GOODFEEL, the world's first braille music translator, has taken another step in the advancement of music opportunities and independence for blind and low vision students and professionals worldwide. Working with author Richard Taesch of the Southern California Conservatory of Music, Dancing Dots has published "An Introduction to Music For the Blind Student; A Course in Braille Music Reading" to meet the basic need of blind music students: to become literate in music braille.

Lessons and supplemental exercises are applications of the course which has been the official curriculum at the Southern California Conservatory of Music - Braille Music Division for over five years. Taesch, the author of the curriculum, has chaired the guitar department at the Conservatory since 1976 and is certified by the Library of Congress as a music and literary braillist.

"An Introduction To Music for the Blind Student" has a retail price of $299 for three print and four braille volumes. Further information on ordering the course in braille music reading is available by contacting Dancing Dots, Braille Music Technology at (610) 783-6692.


The next best thing to shopping at Ann Morris' booth at the ACB convention is shopping in her catalog of varied items selected for people who are blind or have low vision. The 2002 catalog includes holiday items such as musical lighted angels; electric window candles that automatically turn on at dusk and off at dawn; a Christmas clock; a lighted musical church; a talking Santa salt/pepper set; a musical wreath and much more. Items range from about $7 to $20 each. And of course there are the everyday items we need -- from talking and braille watches to kitchen accessories. Specialty items include a talking book/TV- radio and a digital recorder. The money identifier's price is reduced to $295 during 2001.

The catalog is available in large print, four-track cassette, computer disk, e-mail and the shopping cart web page. Braille catalogs are $10, but with any order, just $6. For more information, contact Ann Morris Enterprises, Inc., 551 Hosner Mountain Rd., Stormville, NY 12582-5329, phone (845) 227-9659, toll-free (800) 454-3175, fax (845) 226-2793, e-mail [email protected], or visit the web site,


This coffeehouse sells gourmet coffee, tea and gift baskets with braille labels, if requested. The coffee catalog is available by e-mail only, and there is a print catalog featuring their Healthglow products. According to coffee lovers on the ACB listserv, the selection of coffees and teas is excellent. For the holidays, they have a Christmas blend that people order year round, and there is eggnog coffee. Other Christmas specials include 10 percent off regularly priced coffee in their e-mail catalog and a gift basket on sale. For more information about gift baskets and gourmet Belgian chocolates, call toll-free (800) 347-9687, visit the web site, or e-mail [email protected]


Glow Dog, Inc. sells unique safety apparel for people and pets. Following America's tragedy on September 11, the company decided to give a portion of the proceeds from patriotic reflective T-shirts and pet bandanas to the Fire Fighters 911 Disaster Relief Fund in New York City. The patriotic items include a reflective American flag T-shirt and pet bandanas. Glow Dog uses a technology called "Iluminite," a printing process that embeds millions of microscopic reflectors into the weave of a fabric. Because the reflectors are microscopic, the fabric maintains softness and daylight/indoor color. At night, however, the fabric reflects a brilliant light in the headlights of oncoming cars.

All indoor and outdoor apparel and a catalog appear on the Glow Dog web site at, e-mail [email protected], call toll-free (888) 456-9364, fax (781) 687-9888, address 131A Great Rd., Bedford, MA 01730.


Following the collections of American and children's literature on CD-ROM is the latest collection of British literature assembled by Richard Seltzer. Authors of classic works from England, Ireland, Canada, Scotland, Wales and Australia (703 books in plain text) make up this new collection. Books are easily accessible by browser or with a word processor. Please check the table of contents at

The cost for the entire collection is $29. Orders by check or credit card go to: B&R Samizdat Express, PO Box 161, West Roxbury, MA 02132, phone (617) 469-2269, or e-mail [email protected]


When Microsoft released its latest operating system, Windows XP, two separate versions were created. One is the Windows XP Home version that focuses primarily on home entertainment and Internet access; the other is Windows XP Professional that focuses primarily on business and advanced home computing.

According to Clarence Whaley, Director of Sales and Marketing for GW Micro, many large computer manufacturers (such as Dell, Compaq, HP, and others) are already including these new operating systems on their custom-built machines. Originally, GW Micro thought it would follow Microsoft's lead and develop two screen readers, Window-Eyes and Window-Eyes Professional. After examining the details of the two operating systems, GW Micro's development team deduced that minimal differences exist between the two Windows XP versions. GW Micro is developing only one product, Window-Eyes Professional. It provides a software package that includes access to both versions of Windows XP as well as versions of previous Microsoft operating systems such as Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows Me, and Windows 2000. This will make Window-Eyes Professional a "one size fits all" product.

For the first 60 days after its release, users who own a current version of Window-Eyes can migrate to Window-Eyes Professional for a very special price. For information about the various pricing plans available, or the technical aspects of Window-Eyes Professional, please e-mail [email protected], phone (219) 489-3671, or visit the web site,


The Matilda Ziegler Magazine for the Blind, a free monthly publication since 1907, gathers items from leading newspapers and periodicals. Articles cover health, travel, nature, personalities, history, science, music, sports -- you name it -- to assure as broad a selection of articles as possible. Each issue contains "Readers' Forum," where readers can "sound off," and "Special Notices," in which readers and organizations can announce goods or services they will sell, buy, exchange or give away. Every issue has a short story and a poem as well as names and addresses of readers seeking pen pals.

The magazine is available in grade 2 braille, four-track cassette, or by e-mail subscription. To subscribe, contact Matilda Ziegler Magazine for the Blind, 80 Eighth Ave., Room 1304, New York, NY 10011, phone (212) 242-0263, fax (212) 633-1601, e-mail [email protected] .


Remember the item (August Here and There) about the wide variety of cookbooks, knitting and crochet books in braille, large print and computer disk from Copper Dots? Now, there are three new Christmas crochet books available. Also, the company's e-mail address has changed. To receive a braille catalog, please write in braille or typewrite to 1446 N. Coronado St., Chandler, AZ 85224-7824, phone (480) 345-8773, e-mail [email protected]


Message Cleaner is a utility program designed to remove those pesky little carets and line breaks from forwarded e-mail messages. The program is available for a free, 30-day trial period, and operates with Windows 95, 98, and NT. Following the free trial time, Message Cleaner costs $7.50. For more information, contact Roundhill Software via the web site,, or e-mail [email protected]


California Canes has a new, slim-line, seven-section folding cane made of the same durable carbon fiber as the regular folding canes. It comes with a tip that retrofits other tips. Sizes range from 46 to 60 inches at a cost of $30 each with roller tip, $22.50 each with regular tip. The company also has carry cane holders made from 100 percent leather and denim lined with leather. The price range is $15-20. During December, there is free shipping for single orders and 50 percent off shipping and handling for bulk orders. Contact California Canes, 25611 Quail Run #125, Dana Point, CA 92629; phone toll-free (866) 489-1973, fax (949) 489-0996, visit the web site,, or e-mail [email protected]


The Organization of Blind Spaniards, "Organizacion Nacionale de Ciegos Espanoles" (ONCE) invites submissions by December 31, 2001, for its second ONCE International Prize in Research and Development for New Technologies for the Blind. The prize recognizes innovative research and its practical application for computers, telecommunications and biotechnology that result in improved quality of life for people who are blind or visually impaired. The top winner will receive just over $160,000, and two runners up will win over $53,000 each. Prizes will be awarded in June 2002. Submissions will be accepted in English or Spanish. For more information, contact ONCE by phone at 011-34-91-577-3756, or via the web site

by Ardis Bazyn

"If anyone could rightly claim the statement 'I fought the good fight,' it would be Homer Steele," says John Gordon, the chair of the Illinois Blind Vendors. "He never compromised any of his values on any issue. He always looked out for the small operators if others were trying to take advantage of them. He used personal funds to bail out the vendors' insurance fund, even though he didn't qualify for it. He always took time to talk to people just like Durward McDaniel had always done."

Homer Steele was a Randolph-Sheppard vendor from Illinois who celebrated his 50th anniversary in the program in 2000. He had been an active member of RSVA since shortly after its charter was granted. Homer has received numerous awards through the years including the Don Cameron Award given to him by the Randolph- Sheppard Vendors of America on July 3, 1995. He had attended every RSVA convention, except for three, since the first one in 1968. He was president of RSVA from 1974-1978 and held numerous other positions on the board.

Homer Steele was born on September 20, 1923 to a couple on an Illinois farm. He graduated from high school in 1941 before losing the rest of his sight in 1946. The assistance services at that time suggested he raise bees and honey on the family farm. Since Homer didn't appreciate that employment solution, he investigated other possibilities. In 1948, he learned about the industrial school for the blind where he took six weeks of vending training.

On May 11, 1950, he received his first location in East St. Louis, Ill. Homer married Louise Smith on May 1, 1965 and she always supported Homer's efforts both at work and with his volunteer activities. On January 6, 1990, he was promoted to the St. Francis Medical Center and remained there until he received his last facility at the Cumberland Rest Area. Homer died on July 31, 2001.

MJ Schmitt, the immediate past president of the Illinois Council of the Blind, fondly remembers her long association with Homer Steele. "Homer served the board of the Illinois Council of the Blind several times through the years. He attended most of our conventions. He always came through when we needed help. He was still involved with working on our constitution and bylaws committee in April of this year."

Gene Hiesler calls Homer one of his greatest mentors. He told me how much he learned from both Homer and Paul Verner, two of the past RSVA presidents.

Gene tells about an event that happened at the 1983 convention in Phoenix, AZ. "Opal and I were in our room overlooking the pool when we noticed Homer standing on the edge of the pool. It looked like Homer was going to take a jump and quicker than anything Homer twirled around on one foot and walked away. We have never seen anything like it since."

Alberta O'Shaughnessy mentioned how much time Homer spent with her husband Bob. When Bob was new in the vending program, Homer would talk with him about his business and offer whatever advice he could. At that time, the Illinois program was called Business Opportunities for the Blind.

"Homer was like a father to me," says Larry Jones from Trenton, IL. "My father had passed away just eight months before I started the vending program. Homer took me under his wings and shared the history of the organization and anything else relating to the vending program he could. He told me how he and Kenny Decker had organized the Illinois vendors and then joined RSVA in 1969."

"We could be on opposite sides during any debate in the program but we were always friends afterwards." Larry and his wife would often drive to state vendor meetings together with Homer and Louise and Larry recalls these rides as some of his best experiences through the years. Larry told me how one time, they even chartered a plane to fly to Chicago for meetings. "It was cheaper than the train, believe it or not!"

Kim Venable, the office manager for RSVA, had these kind words about Homer. "Homer was a leader, an advocate, a mentor for all blind vendors, but most of all he was my friend. I will cherish each and every conversation I had with him, giving me guidance and information on the history of RSVA. He always had time for me whenever I called him with a question. When RSVA asked affiliates to submit Pepsi data for the national account program, Homer had his relatives drive him all over the state of Illinois to collect it. Homer Steele is the definition for dedication. Homer was not going to be able to attend this year's convention in Des Moines because of poor health. When he found out that RSVA had purchased him a lifetime membership in ACB and it was going to be presented at convention, he said, 'I have to be there, if RSVA thinks that much of me to do this I must be there to receive it.' Sadly Homer was hospitalized two days before he was scheduled to leave for Des Moines. I will truly miss my mentor, but I will miss my friend even more."

As I talked to many of Homer's friends, I was reminded of all the helpful words I'd heard from Homer over the years. He encouraged me to get more involved in RSVA when I started coming to conventions. I was honored to participate in his 50th anniversary celebration last year. We could always count on Homer and Louise being there to support any efforts that were needed. Homer always advocated for blind people and would show by example how it should be done. We will all miss his cheerful spirit and mentoring ability!


(Editor's Note: The following article appeared in the Durham, NC newspaper, "The Herald Sun," as this issue of "The Braille Forum" went to press. The ACB Board of Publications presented an Exceptional Achievement Award to Marie Boring at the 2001 national convention in Des Moines. Without her courageous leadership and her creativity and zeal for telling the truth as the first editor of "The Braille Forum," ACB might not be the organization of which we are so proud today.)

Mrs. Marie M. Boring, 85, died peacefully in her sleep Thursday morning (October 11) at the Treyburn Rehabilitation Center.

Marie was a graduate of the School for the Blind in Raleigh, (Governor Morehead School) and Guilford College in Greensboro, majoring in English. This was a remarkable achievement, for Marie was totally blind. She retired from Duke University Medical Center as a medical transcriptionist. Marie was a strong advocate for blind people's rights, serving as president of the North Carolina Federation of the Blind in the '50s and on the board of directors for the National Federation of the Blind from 1956 through 1959. She was instrumental in the forming of the American Council of the Blind in 1961, where she was elected to the first board of directors and served on the first constitution and bylaws committee. She was elected to serve as the first editor and was instrumental in the naming of "The Braille Forum," a national publication for blind people. She was truly a remarkable woman fighting for blind people's rights and will surely be missed by all.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to the American Red Cross in support of the recent tragedies, the American Council of the Blind, or a charity of your choice.

by Bud Keith No room was ever quiet when Nelson Malbone was present. He was always working on some idea and always talking to others about his ideas and how to make them a reality. If Nelson was not the person running a meeting from the podium, then you could be sure he was exerting a telling influence from behind the scenes. A master of politics and group dynamics, he exuded confidence. When you were in conversation with Nelson, he often convinced you that his way was the right way.

This past summer, Nelson Leonard Malbone, age 73, founder and executive director of the Virginia Association of the Blind, died undergoing unexpected emergency surgery in Des Moines, IA, where he had been attending the ACB national convention. During convention week, he had been undergoing kidney dialysis. Nelson died doing what he did best -- working to improve the lives of blind people.

He was a strong leader, and he had the knack of surrounding himself with people who agreed with his viewpoint, but wasted little time on people who wanted to disagree. Unlike many such leaders, however, Nelson wasn't seeking power for its own sake, he was trying to get things done to help people who were blind, as quickly and as effectively as possible. An enigma in a democracy, he wouldn't put up with the time it often takes to build consensus, and he wouldn't let bureaucratic protocol slow him down. His stated purpose was to help other blind people and that's what he did until the day he died.

Even those of us who knocked heads with Nelson had deep respect for his accomplishments. He became the consummate fund- raiser, and that money went to provide transportation and technology for hundreds of blind people. In rural Virginia where public transportation is mostly non-existent, Nelson bought vans for local groups of blind people around the state. He secured hundreds of used computers, refurbished them with access software, and sent them around the country to people in need.

Nelson was a force in the blindness field that comes along far too rarely. His leadership didn't come from privilege nor from training. It came from an internal drive to make a difference. People serving in many civic and public organizations were forced by the sheer persuasive power of one man, Nelson Malbone, to accept blind people into the fabric of society.

Besides his work with VAB, Nelson Malbone recently was appointed to the Virginia Council on Assistive Technology. He was a member of the Chesapeake Mayor's Committee for Persons with Disabilities for 20 years and was chairman for seven years. He served on the South Hampton Roads Disability Services Board for six years, was the organizer and manager of the South Hampton Roads Blind Bowlers League for 14 years. During this time, he served as the Blinded Veterans Association Regional Chairman for Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia. He served as president of the Hampton Veterans Hospital Support Group for Blinded Veterans, and manager and service officer for the Blinded Veterans Volunteer office at the Veterans Medical Hospital, in Hampton, Va.

Nelson was appointed by Governor George Allen to the Board of Virginia Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired (DBVI), and was reappointed by Governor James Gilmore and then served as chairman. His special honors include the WAVY TV-10 1996 Regional Jefferson Award for Volunteer Services and the 1997 Volunteer Services Award from the Blinded Veterans Association.

For many years, he served as a member of the Western Branch Lions Club and was past president of the Southside Lions Club and past chairman of the District 24-D Work for the Blind Committee. For four years, he was president of the American Council of Blind Lions. Nelson was also past chairman of the Tidewater Transportation District Commission Advisory Committee on Paratransit Services for Elderly and Persons with Disabilities and past chairman of the 1994 Hampton Roads Regional Symposium constituted by Mayor's Committees/Commissions for Persons with Disabilities of Hampton Roads.

Nelson lost his sight in what most people would call the prime of life. We can all take inspiration from a man who truly used his loss of vision as an opportunity to improve the lives of others.

ACB and Virginia are very grateful to this man who just wouldn't let anything stop him from doing good on behalf of blind people. We in Virginia truly miss this dynamic, generous man.


FOR SALE: Navigator 40, 8 dots refreshable braille display. Comes with AC adapter and serial cable. Asking $2,000 or best offer. If we can find some DOS programs we will throw them in. Accent PC internal speech synthesizer card. Fits only in a full length ISA slot. Comes with DOS drivers, print manual and 2 external speakers. Make an offer on this item. We are willing to pay shipping anywhere in the U.S. Payment must be in full and either a bank check or bank money order; no personal checks, please. Contact via e-mail: [email protected]

FOR SALE: Braille Lite 40 in excellent condition. Includes 2001 software update, Double Speed and Super Flash options, carrying case, charger and serial cable. Asking $3,000 or best offer. Type 'n Speak in excellent condition. Includes 2001 software update, Double Speed and Super Flash options, carrying case, charger, and serial cable. Asking $700 or best offer. Please contact John Glass via e-mail at [email protected] or call (408) 741-1034.

FOR SALE: Used braille Blazer, one year old, only used three times. Asking $1,000. Contact James Claiborne Jr. at home, (610) 867-7416, between 10 a.m. and 9 p.m.

FOR SALE: 14-inch black-and-white Telesensory Vantage CCTV. In good condition; recently refurbished. Comes with original box, owner's manual, and much more. Asking $1,000 or best offer. Call Harold Longmore (717) 787-1842 during the day or (717) 671- 8735 in the evenings, or e-mail [email protected]

FOR SALE: Brother Word Processor nylon ribbon cassettes, black ink, #1032. Four cassettes new in sealed box, plus one slightly used. Asking $28.50 for all post paid. Call Richard at (863) 324-2711 or e-mail [email protected]

FOR SALE: 486 SX computer with 33 megahertz RAM, $15. Norton Clean Sweep version 4.5 CD (Win 95-98 complete), $10. GE Super Radio 3, $45. Screen Power for Windows 3.1 complete, $15. Free shipping. Contact Dan Stabe at (928) 284-3775 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mountain time.

FOR SALE: Freedom Scientific Screen Reader JFW 2000 version 4.0. Just received update. You will need to pay Freedom Scientific a $75 transfer fee to become the licensed owner with all privileges! Asking $700 including shipping. Money and bank orders only! Contact Dick Chrisman at (480) 483-6584 or by e-mail at [email protected]

FOR SALE: Kurzweil Personal Reader 2.2 and IBM 386 with DECTalk and Vocal-Eyes. Asking $400 for the Kurzweil, $200 for the computer, or best offer. Contact Roger Acuna at (925) 969- 9744.

FOR SALE: Barely used Juliet braille embosser complete with optional single sheet feed. Like new. Includes all accessories (manuals, cables, original shipping box). Asking $2,700 plus shipping and insurance. Call Alex at (714) 488-3039 or e-mail [email protected]

FOR SALE: Smartview CCTV with 14-inch color monitor, original box, remote control and all paperwork. Never been used. Asking $2,000 or best offer. Contact Hattie Stewart or Nicole Headrick at (931) 469-7680.

FOR SALE: Interpoint Porta-Thiel embosser in excellent condition, hardly used. Includes: braille and print manuals, serial and parallel cables, one box of 11x 11 1/2 inch tractor feed computer paper (1,000 sheets). Also includes Megadots 2.0 dated January 13, 1999. Braille supplement, print and disk manuals come with the package. Asking price: $2,500. Shipping and handling are included. Artic Transtype 2000, virtually brand new, seldom used. Purchased after the ACB convention in Louisville. Includes: braille, disk, and print manuals, charging pod, two battery packs, and cassette tape instructions. Also comes with carrying case. Great for organizing your daily activities and appointments. Asking price: $995. Shipping and handling included.

For more information, please contact Cindy and Norm Banta, 674 Center St., Manchester, CT 06040-2701, phone (860) 643-4115 or e-mail [email protected] Be sure to leave a message on our answering machine with your name and telephone number, including area code.

FOR SALE: Braille writer in excellent condition. About six years old; rebuilt once. Best offer. Contact Michael Todd at (717) 238-8560 or e-mail [email protected]

FOR SALE: JAWS version 3.7 still in its factory package, unopened. Price negotiable. Other additional software and computer hardware. Contact Solomon at (727) 934-2087 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Eastern time, or e-mail [email protected]

FOR SALE: Telebraille II for communication with TTY for deaf- blind people using braille. Has 20-cell navigator; can be used with computer. Works well; comes with braille manual. Asking $2,000 (negotiable) plus $40 shipping. Versapoint 20 embosser. Works well; comes with braille manual and all cables. Asking $700 (negotiable) plus $40 shipping. Alva 20-cell model. Excellent condition. Five years old. Comes with all cables and adapter, braille and disk manuals. Asking $1,800 (negotiable) plus $30 shipping. Windows 95 CD in package, $20. Microsoft Access 97, $20. Microsoft Encarta, $20. MS Money 97, $20. For more information, send e-mail to [email protected], or call Isaac at (617) 247-0026 if interested.

FOR SALE: Reader CPU-Xerox/Kurzweil Personal Reader, model 7315 and scanner-Xerox/Kurzweil automatic scanner, model SA4-3. Like new. $3,000 or best offer. Contact Leonard DuBoff at (503) 597-2512.

FOR SALE: Aladdin magnifying viewer, five years old. Comes with manual. Asking $600 or best offer. Contact Marjorie Ofria at (781) 646-8881.

WANTED: Braille 'n Speak with all manuals and cables. Contact Walter Chavira at (661) 833-3663.

WANTED: Braille embosser, Type 'n Speak, and Franklin Language Master. Contact Chuck at (609) 347-7539.

WANTED: Goalball. Contact Roger Acuna at (925) 969-9744.

WANTED: Donation of Kurzweil reader. Contact Phillip Cheek at (609) 344-7830.

WANTED: IBM compatible 486 computer with monitor and keyboard. Perhaps other extras. Call (662) 690-6699 or e-mail [email protected]


Sanford Alexander
Wichita, KS
Jerry Annunzio
Kansas City, MO
Alan Beatty
Fort Collins, CO
Ed Bradley
Houston, TX
Brian Charlson
Watertown, MA
Dawn Christensen
Holland, OH
Debbie Grubb
Bradenton, FL
Oral Miller
Washington, DC
Mitch Pomerantz
Los Angeles, CA
Sandy Sanderson
Anchorage, AK


Kathy Megivern, Chairperson
Flossmoor, IL
Adrian De Blaey
Milwaukee, WI
Winifred Downing
San Francisco, CA
Mike Duke
Jackson, MS
Charles Hodge
Arlington, VA
Ex Officio: Earlene Hughes,
Lafayette, IN



825 M ST., SUITE 216


3912 SE 5TH ST

500 S. 3RD ST. #H

Paul Edwards
20330 NE 20th Ct.
Miami, FL 33179

Billie Jean Keith, Arlington, VA

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