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The American Council of the Blind is a membership organization made up of more than 70 state and special-interest affiliates. To join, visit the ACB web site and fill out the application form, or contact the national office at the number listed above.
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.
The following document has been prepared by the American Council of the Blind to assist users and potential users of video description to know what the service is, what the Federal Communications Commission requires of those responsible for providing it, and what you can do to insure it is available to you. ACB quotes from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rule and order establishing the requirements for video description, but this document is not a publication of the FCC and represents only the understanding and opinions of the American Council of the Blind with respect to the following content.
Q. What is video description?
A. Video description is the insertion of audio narrated descriptions of a television program's key visual elements into natural pauses between the program's dialogue.
Q. Who is responsible to include video description in their programs?
A. All four of the major commercial television networks: ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC. Public television (PBS) has been providing described video for a number of years. Also covered are the top five cable providers which deliver TV signals via cable or satellite. Currently the list includes Lifetime, TBS, TNT, Nickelodeon and USA network.
Q. Who has to carry the descriptive video programs?
A. Every regular TV station that is affiliated with one of the commercial networks and is located in one of the top 25 TV markets in the U.S. must carry the descriptive video that comes with the programs originating on the network. Also the cable and satellite systems that have at least 50,000 subscribers must carry the video description if it is contained in any program they are transmitting through the cable or satellite.
To discover whether or not you live within one of these 25 top markets, which are defined as Nielsen-designated market areas, you can go to this link: http://www.nielsenmedia.com/DMAs.html.
Q. How much programming must be described and how are programs selected?
A. Each of the above covered entities must present 50 hours of described programming per calendar quarter. It is up to the providers of programming to decide which programs will be described, although they must choose between prime time or children's programming, and the resulting schedule for each entity is expected to be a mix of the two.
Q. Are there any exemptions to the rule?
A. Yes. If a program already utilizes the SAP channel for another purpose, such as Spanish-language translation, the video description does not take precedence. This exemption stems from the fact that in some instances, the SAP is used to broadcast simultaneous foreign-language translations of certain programs. Once digital television allows for up to 16 separate subchannels for a variety of purposes, these conflicts among needs will disappear. Meanwhile it appears that contention between the need for video description and the need for foreign-language translation does not often arise.
Exemptions can also be granted where the covered entities can show that video description would impose an undue burden or is not technically achievable. The 18-month lead time before the rule took effect was designed to accommodate the need for covered entities to get ready for compliance, and the limitation concerning exactly which entities would be subject to the rule was designed to insure that those covered could easily afford to comply.
Q. When did the rule take effect?
A. April 1, 2002.
Q. What about emergency information scrolled at the bottom of the screen?
A. Scrolling text of an emergency nature must be indicated by tones when presented. This requirement was incorporated in the rule for many reasons including the ability of local stations to technically provide description of the text while a program is running, the expectation of the FCC that local stations would break in when an emergency was severe enough to warrant that, and the already existing obligation of stations to allow governmental interruption of programming when a serious emergency requires it. In the event that a local station interrupts programming, that station must make any visual information accessible to visually impaired audience members by, for example, defining "the area flashing in red."
ACB suggests that if you hear a tone during a program, you call local authorities, listen to radio or take other actions to find out if there is an emergency that could pose danger. We make that suggestion with the caveat that we also expect that the local stations will break in and provide spoken information, should the emergency be so severe as to warrant it and we leave it up to each viewer to decide what to do. ACB does support the development of solutions to make scrolling text accessible and will incorporate this concern in our ongoing advocacy efforts.
Q. My television is a stereo TV and is capable of getting the secondary audio channel, but it has one of those on-screen menus and I can't access it to turn on the SAP for description. What can I do?
A. This is a difficult issue. If you have a remote control that includes a SAP selection button, or if you can buy a universal control that includes a mechanism for turning the SAP on and off, then you can try those solutions. Other solutions include seeing if your cable box or satellite receiver includes a SAP selection button, or if your VCR has one. If all else fails, then check with local electronics stores to see about where you might be able to purchase a piece of equipment that you can hook up to a stereo. In the not too distant future, television stations will be broadcasting digital signals and the new televisions or converters will incorporate SAP selection capabilities.
Q. What should I do if I don't get video description even though I know it is supposed to be on a program?
A. Now our discussion gets more interesting. First we need to understand two issues. One is that communications are not always as good as they should be in the television industry. In fact, we have heard that other rules implemented by the FCC often took awhile to get implemented at the TV station and network levels because the lawyers and the governmental folks knew about them, but did not communicate with the field. So if a spokesperson for your station or network acts as if he or she never heard of the rule, then that very well may be the case, and so you may need to do some educating.
Second, there is an issue related to the equipment your local cable or satellite provider needs to have in place in order to pass along the video description, because the provider needs to have a separate SAP adapter for each of the channels that is sending out a program with description. For example, you may believe that your cable company should pass through the SAP channel for say ABC, since you have already heard description on another channel such as PBS.
If they tell you that they need to order equipment or have that equipment on order already, then they may well be telling you the truth. All this even though covered entities had 18 months to get ready. If you are advised by the cable system, satellite TV, or regular TV station that they either did not know or just found out about their obligation, then you may want to ask them how long it will take for them to get the equipment and install it.
Depending upon their answer, or in the worst case if they say they do not believe they are obligated or just flat out say they are not going to do it, you will need to file a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission. We suggest you coordinate your complaint process with our national office, so we can track the complaints and see where there are the most problems, but you are certainly free to go straight to the FCC with the complaint.
Q. How do I file a complaint and what information do I need to have?
A. The FCC will take complaints directly in whatever way you reasonably communicate. This means by letter, by fax, by e-mail, in print or braille, by audiocassette, or other reasonable means of communication.
Here is what they say and what they need:
Complaints should be addressed to: Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau, Consumer Inquiries & Complaints Division, 445 12th Street SW, Washington, DC 20554. A complaint must include:
(i) The name and address of the complainant;
(ii) The name and address of the broadcast station against whom the complaint is alleged and its call letters and network affiliation, or the name and address of the MVPD against whom the complaint is alleged and the name of the network that provides the programming that is the subject of the complaint;
(iii) A statement of facts sufficient to show that the video programming distributor has violated or is violating the Commission's rules, and, if applicable, the date and time of the alleged violation;
(iv) The specific relief or satisfaction sought by the complainant; and
(v) The complainant's preferred format or method of response to the complaint (such as letter, facsimile transmission, telephone (voice/TRS/TTY), Internet e-mail, or some other method that would best accommodate the complainant's disability).
(2) The Commission will promptly forward complaints satisfying the requirements to the video programming distributor involved. The video programming distributor must respond to the complaint within a specified time, generally within 30 days. The Commission may authorize Commission staff to either shorten or lengthen the time required for responding to complaints in particular cases.
(3) The Commission will review all relevant information provided by the complainant and the video programming distributor and will request additional information from either or both parties when needed for a full resolution of the complaint.
(i) The Commission may rely on certifications from programming suppliers, including programming producers, programming owners, networks, syndicators and other distributors, to demonstrate compliance. The Commission will not hold the video programming distributor responsible for situations where a program source falsely certifies that programming that it delivered to the video programming distributor meets our video description requirements if the video programming distributor is unaware that the certification is false. Appropriate action may be taken with respect to deliberate falsifications.
(ii) If the Commission finds that a video programming distributor has violated the video description requirements of this section, it may impose penalties, including a requirement that the video programming distributor deliver video programming containing video description in excess of its requirements.
(f) Private rights of action are prohibited. Nothing in this section shall be construed to authorize any private right of action to enforce any requirement of this section. The Commission shall have exclusive jurisdiction with respect to any complaint under this section.
Q. What did all of that mean?
A. If you have gotten in touch with the station or cable or satellite provider about having tried to get a described program and they either refused to do it or don't seem to be diligently trying to carry the described programming, then send ACB or the FCC a letter or e-mail explaining what you were trying to watch, when it was on without video description, what answers you got when you tried to resolve the problem and with whom you spoke or corresponded and their contact information, along with yours. You also need to tell the FCC what you consider would be an appropriate remedy for the situation.
The FCC may require more information from either you or the folks against whom you filed the complaint. They can order the provider to comply with the rule and they can also order them to supply even more video description than the rule requires, as a way of making up for the lack of access.
Q. Where can I get more information?
A. From the Federal Communications Commission. Visit their web site at http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/consumerfacts/vid_des.html . Call them at these numbers: voice: 1-888-225-5322; TTY: 1-888-835- 5322; fax: (202) 418-0232. E-mail the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau (CGB) at [email protected]
Q. I don't have cable or satellite and my local stations are not in the top 25 TV markets. Can I get any descriptive video?
A. There is no obligation on the part of your local channels to carry described programming. However, if your local broadcasters already have the equipment to pass the described video along to you, then, whether or not they are in the top 25 markets, and whether or not they have in excess of 50,000 subscribers, the rule requires them to deliver the described video service to you. If this is not the case, however, don't despair. The top 25 markets may change and your locality may become one of them at some point. You may also try talking with your local stations to see about their getting the equipment to pass along the video description they receive. Otherwise, you may wish to invest in cable or satellite to get at least the cable channels and any other channels that would be carrying described programming. Eventually, digital television will take over and ACB is working both to increase and improve the amount of programming available and to address the remaining issues regarding scrolling text on screens.
Q. I love video description and my local radio reading service! Now I find that the SAP channel that used to carry my radio reading service is carrying video description, which interferes with my radio reading service. What can I do?
A. This is a thorny question since this unintended consequence comes as a surprise to all of us. While digital television and its many audio subchannels will eventually offer the long-term solution, either shared SAP access, local community access channels on cable, or other options still to be developed will need to resolve the short-term conflicts. ACB is committed to the continued health and viability of radio reading services as well as that of descriptive video and we are working to help find a solution to this problem. The answer will be the product of negotiation with all impacted parties, rather than any unilateral decision; and any resolution will need to be made in the context of the two competing benefits.
Q. Will there be more programming with video description than is currently offered?
A. ACB believes that video description will become a natural part of programming over time. Once the initial kinks are worked out of the system and the television industry builds description into its ongoing planning and budgeting cycles, ACB believes that access to television for people who are blind and visually impaired will be just as reliable as it is for all other viewers.*****
As you read this article in May, it is still not too late to make your plans to come to Houston for ACB's 2002 convention. It promises to be a festive time with many wonderful program items and much work to do to continue the activities and programs of the American Council of the Blind. In this article, I am going to tell you a little about the upcoming program and convention schedule in case this might help you with your attendance plans. First though, I'd like to address an area that is already generating a lot of discussion and that promises to carry with it some degree of controversy at our convention. Several people, including some affiliate presidents, have asked me to write about this issue and so I will address some salient points.
The issue at hand concerns how affiliates currently pay dues to the national organization. Right now, each state and special- interest affiliate pays $3 dues for each of its members. This amount will increase to $5 in 2003. However, a cap is placed on the number of members for whom each affiliate must pay dues. The cap equals 625 members. This means that if you are an affiliate that has over 625 members, you pay only for the first 625 members, and you can keep the whole dues collected for the rest of your members. It is important to point out that all of the members of any ACB affiliate are treated equally and an affiliate does not pay for any specific members, but all its members are considered to be paid members of ACB. Many larger affiliates feel that this allows them to safely begin building programs in their states that they might otherwise not initiate since every new member represents to them a greater funding source for their internal work and activities.
How and why, one wonders, was such a formula adopted by the authors of the ACB constitution? The answer is quite simple and straightforward. It comes directly from the voting structure of our organization. No affiliate within ACB can have over 25 votes for their affiliate: one vote for every 25 members up to 625 members. When the voting formula was reached, those affiliates with over 625 members asked why it should be that they should pay for their members who could not garner them affiliate votes within the organization. After considerable discussion, the cap on voting was agreed to along with an identical cap on affiliate dues. Historically, this is how the cap came into being on ACB affiliate membership voting and dues. Any charter member of ACB who was involved in the creation of the original constitution and bylaws of the organization can verify this set of events and discussions.
These actions were taken in 1961 and the structure they represent is now almost 41 years old. The question that will come before the convention in Houston is whether it makes sense to sever the link between a cap on the casting of affiliate votes and a cap on the payment of dues. The discussion is that simple.
In order to be clear about certain facts that should be considered before we engage in a discussion of the matter in Houston, let me present some figures to help the membership assess the overall impact of dividing voting from the payment of dues. The fundamental questions to be considered here seem to me to be how many affiliates and members are affected and is such an effect worth any incumbent difficulties this change may bring either to our affiliates or the organization as a whole. So first of all, who will be affected?
Let's look at several affiliates that currently have 25 affiliate votes and over 625 members within their organizations. The most extreme case is California, an affiliate with approximately 3,000 members. They have 2,375 additional members for whom they would pay an additional $11,875.00. If the cap on voting were removed, California would also receive an additional 95 votes for a total of 120 affiliate votes. One has to wonder whether California would reiterate its 2001 contribution of $10,000 to ACB if it had to pay these additional dues. You don't need to be a psychic to be pretty certain the answer is "no;" in fact it is a resounding "no" as far as Californians are concerned. Further, the president of the California Council of the Blind has made it clear that California will not pay such a dues increase without an equal increase in voter representation within ACB. Taxation (in this case, financing) without representation is not an American or an ACB ideal as far as Cathie Skivers is concerned. How do we in ACB fairly address this consideration? We must think carefully about this: philosophically and practically.
Another case, less extreme, is that of Pennsylvania. Last year, they certified 1,074 members. Thus, they would pay for an additional 449 members, $2,245, and were the voting cap removed have a total of 43 votes.
When all is said and done, approximately 5,000 members would be added to the number for which dues are assessed by the national organization. A total of approximately $25,000 would be realized. The votes for these members, if the voting cap were also removed, would accrue to the hands of nine affiliated organizations. Given the contributions previously made by these nine affiliates, which would likely no longer be available to us, we could still be looking at new income which might amount to as little as $5,000. Thus, an important question to be considered is whether $5,000 is really worth the possible disruption and ill will that such a change could create.
Another key issue to be considered is that of affiliate growth. With our renewed emphasis on membership development within ACB, it is likely that many more affiliates can surpass the 625-member mark in the next year or two. There is considerable incentive for an affiliate to do this because financial growth is more and more achievable with an increase in membership accordingly. Removing the dues cap could have the effect of discouraging some of this growth, which would be unfortunate.
Finally, while this concept has the potential to bring at least some amount of additional money into ACB's treasury, it is disturbing that this represents no new money within the work that needs to be done in our organization and its affiliates as a whole. We are just trading our money around in a new way. Looked at in that light, this is not a win/win situation between the national organization and its affiliated members. If we are to embark on this new way of doing business within ACB, we must create a win/win situation.
This and probably other issues will lend excitement and debate to our 2002 convention. It is my intention to ask the constitution and bylaws committee to report to us on this issue early in the week and we will probably devote one of our early morning sessions, 8:30-9:15, to our discussion and action on this matter.
In addition to this, we have many exciting program items to be shared and enjoyed by all. I am particularly excited to let you know that Sunday evening will feature a presentation by Linda Braithwaite, president of our Utah affiliate, about her 20-year experience as a member of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, one of the world's leading groups of singers. Linda has a wonderful, inspiring story to tell, and she does a beautiful job of presenting it and herself.
This year, our featured international speaker will be Jia Yang, a blind woman who will tell us of her work and conditions for blind people living in China. She is currently studying at the Carter Center in Atlanta, Georgia and I know her presentation will be fascinating to hear.
This year, we are expanding the number of topics you will be able to choose among during the Thursday morning break-out sessions. This array of choices will give you a chance to have more of a hands-on experience and interaction directly with speakers in topic areas of particular interest to you.
Finally, please note that on Friday, we will devote the entire day to ACB business. In doing so, it is my hope to conclude the business portion of the convention on Friday afternoon. This will make our 2002 banquet a true celebration of our work: past; present; and future. Hotel space is filling up fast, so don't delay in making your plans to come to Houston and join in the fun and activities of the American Council of the Blind.*****
At the conference call on March 17, several decisions were made and actions taken.
The Alaska Independent Blind (AIB) has identified a location for a talking ATM machine in a recreational area where considerable traffic occurs. The ACB will purchase the machine, and the AIB will service it, not taking any part of the profit for the affiliate but contributing all of it to reimburse the reserve fund for the $6,000 purchase. Because Sandy Sanderson, AIB president, has another location under discussion, the board moved the acceptance of the proposal for two such machines. AIB has four machines in use now and earns about $1,200 a month from this source. The original machines cost $4,000, but it is important for the ones ACB sponsors to be talking ATMs, thus increasing the cost.
The report of the Resource Development Committee omitted mention of the Monthly Monetary Support program for which many members signed up at the mid-year meeting and which, it is hoped, will constitute major financial assistance to the organization.
A new and more advantageous contract has been submitted by the organization which is promoting Internet radios. Jim Olsen has located an attorney skilled in matters concerning non-profit entities, and Christopher Gray has found a legal concern to comment on the dot.com relationship.
An encouraging report was brought back by Carla Ruschival and Cynthia Towers when they returned from Pittsburgh. Plans for the 2003 convention seem to be proceeding in a satisfactory manner.
After considerable discussion, it was decided that Chris Gray and Charlie Crawford will prepare a letter to be sent to Frank Kurt Cylke requesting assurance that every application for Newsline will contain the promise that NFB will not use any individual's name in any way other than as a Newsline reader. ACB would also like to see some control so that every call to Newsline does not provide advertising for NFB unless an opportunity for similar advertising is provided for other organizations serving people who are blind.*****
Once again this year, the ACB Board of Publications will host an online candidates' forum to take place on the ACB web site, http://www.acb.org, during the two weeks preceding ACB's national convention.
"This page will provide a venue for declared candidates for vacant positions on the ACB Board of Directors as well as for elected positions on the ACB Board of Publications to introduce themselves and allow our members to begin to get an idea of who wants to run for which positions and how the candidates feel about a variety of specific issues," said Kathleen Megivern, chair of the BOP. "It will work as a read-only web page where all candidates who wish to announce and who wish to participate will be asked to respond to the same set of questions. We envision the online candidates' page as a place where people who want to run for office can allow the ACB membership to get to know them. The online candidates' page will allow ACB chapters and affiliates to have more information at their disposal before they send delegates to the national convention. Last year, we were gratified to learn that a number of chapters had provided copies of the candidates' responses to their members in braille or had read all the responses aloud at membership meetings." Lively discussions ensued, and many members have told us how much they appreciated the opportunity to participate more actively in ACB's democracy because of the early dissemination of information which the online "forum" was able to facilitate.
How Will It Work?
Appointed members of the BOP have identified five questions which they believe will allow people who want to run for vacancies on the ACB Board of Directors to introduce themselves and allow voters to get to know them. The questions are:
1. What are your qualifications for serving on the ACB Board of Directors?
2. How would you go about building consensus on issues around which there is disagreement among the membership or the board?
3. What should ACB do to expand our resources with respect to finances, members and leadership?
4. What strategies should ACB use to make our advocacy efforts work more effectively, and what role should an ACB director play with respect to advocacy?
5. What do you personally identify as the three major issues affecting people who are blind upon which ACB should be focusing its efforts?
These are the questions which have been identified for potential members of the Board of Publications. If you would like to serve on the ACB Board of Publications, please answer all of the questions listed below.
1. Why do you believe you are qualified to serve on the BOP?
2. What do you think is the most positive role played by the BOP?
3. What should the BOP do to expand our resources?
Answer each question with a maximum of 250 words. Submit answers in any accessible, readable media, i.e., in print, or braille, on paper, computer disk (in ASCII text, WordPerfect 5.1, or Microsoft Word formats), or via e-mail. Pasting the text into an e-mail message is preferable to sending attachments, but attachments in ASCII text or Microsoft Word will be accepted. Submissions will not be accepted via telephone, voice-mail, audiocassette, or in handwriting. Note that we will not edit submissions for spelling, grammar, or content. The only change which will occur to submissions is conversion to the HTML code to facilitate online posting. Note further that it is our webmaster's role to convert documents into HTML, and we will not accept submissions which you have coded in this format yourself.
Last year, we were perplexed by a significant variation in the way each of the candidates provided personal information. For example, one candidate placed his name, address, employer, and telephone entry at the bottom of each page, while another placed only her name, with no additional identifying information, at the top of her document. Some respondents wrote each question and placed the corresponding answer underneath; others combined the answers to all questions into one single essay. Therefore, to prevent our having to resolve a similar perplexing situation this year, we offer the following guidance for formatting your answers:
Place your name, address, telephone numbers, e-mail addresses, and employer and job title at the top of each page. Center each item. The top of your page should look like this:
Write each question, and then place your corresponding answer underneath. Please number your pages.
Send your completed submissions to the following address: American Council of the Blind Candidates' Page, 1155 15th Street NW, Suite 1004, Washington, DC 20005. Responses may be submitted by e-mail, according to the guidelines noted above, to [email protected] . Time Lines
Submissions should be mailed, either by postal delivery or electronic mail, so that they reach the ACB national office no later than midnight, Eastern Daylight Time, on May 31, 2002. When we receive a declared candidate's materials, we will check the ACB membership database to ensure that he or she is a member of the organization in good standing. We hope to have the online candidates' page available at the ACB web site as soon after we have received all the submissions as possible, so that members will have access to the information in time for June membership meetings of local chapters. The pages will be available online no later than midnight, Eastern Daylight Time, on Monday, June 10, and will remain online at http://www.acb.org until the morning of July 5. We encourage ACB members who have computer access to share the contents of the candidates' page with members who do not. We anticipate that the page will become the substance for discussion among ACB members at chapter meetings and other venues where blind people get together. We will notify members on the day that the page goes live online on all the ACB e-mailing lists. In addition, Jonathan Mosen, director of ACB Radio, will utilize the contents of the candidates' page as a basis for ACB Radio coverage of the 2002 elections.
When official campaigns begin in earnest at the ACB national convention, declared candidates will present at formal and informal state and special-interest caucuses. In addition, the board of publications will sponsor a live question-and-answer Candidates' Forum, which will be moderated by Jay Doudna, at 8:30 p.m. on Thursday of convention week. The board of publications encourages all ACB members to submit written questions which will be considered for this forum to the convention press room. More details about this and other aspects of press room operations can be expected in the June Braille Forum.
"Once again this year, our process for electing officers begins at the ACB convention," says Charlie Hodge, a current member of the BOP. "Following constitutionally mandated procedures, the nominating committee will meet early in convention week to put forward an approved slate of candidates. In addition, the floor will be open on Friday, election day, as it always is, for nominations of people who may not have decided to announce in advance. We do not anticipate that this online candidates' page will alter the customary course of ACB elections in any way. We do expect the level of excitement about our candidates and the elections in general to build as we approach the dates for our departures to Houston, TX, and the 41st convention of the ACB."
Best of luck to all the candidates.*****
Whereas, our annual convention is fast approaching, and whereas many of you will be traveling to the city of Houston, Texas for ACB's national convention, and whereas the Adam's Mark is full and you will now need to make your reservations at the Hilton across the street by calling (713) 974-1000, and whereas the convention committee will try to meet the equipment, meal and meeting room needs of those attending; now, therefore, be it resolved in the city of Seattle at the computer of the national convention coordinator, who is on spring break from correcting those 143 math papers, that the 41st annual convention be declared officially open in less than 60 days of your receiving this Forum and be it further resolved that both offices, DC and Minneapolis, as well as the convention committee are hard at work to ensure that you will return home more informed and inspired to work on behalf of blind people in your community and state and most of all will have had the best time of your life. I recommend a do pass! Getting There
Ed Bradley continues working to improve our airport transportation options. As many of you know, the cost from either airport to the hotels is quite high. A one-way cab fare from Bush International to the Adam's Mark can run as high as $60 with a tip. Shuttles are slightly less for a round trip, but run only every two hours. Ed has met with various bus companies as well as the Adam's Mark to try to get the round trip fare down to a rate that is more acceptable and to provide more frequent trips. Unfortunately, I do not have anything definitive to report in this regard. Stay tuned and we will disseminate the information to you as soon as we know what the cost and particulars will be. Training for Hotel Staffpersons
This year I am pleased that Margie Donovan, with the able assistance of national office staff person Terry Pacheco, will be conducting the training for the hotel staffs. They will touch on the usual topics from restaurant assistance to providing sighted guidance. We live with blindness every minute of every day and there are so many people who do not travel in our circle. So, a little patience will go a long way. During convention, please inform either Margie or me about how we can better educate the hotel staffs if particular challenges should surface. If midyear was any indication, I foresee very few, if any, issues that could arise as this hotel hosted us in 1997 and is eagerly awaiting our return. Changes in Convention Program Formats
There has been much preliminary discussion among members and on various ACB e-mail lists about a change in program format for the general session. The program committee is trying something new with an all-day business session on Friday and other proposed departures from what you may think of as "tradition." Remember that ACB needs to reinvent itself from time to time. So in an attempt to breathe new life into the general session and to have as much programming as possible during the week, there will be approximately 45 minutes of business each day and we are working on having some very educational, enlightening and helpful breakout sessions as well. News about Pittsburgh
And now a short word about 2003. Carla Ruschival and I traveled to Pittsburgh in early March to see for ourselves how the construction of the David L. Lawrence Convention Center is progressing. We met with several hotel and convention center officials and came away with a much more positive outlook than when we first arrived. The convention center had a home show exhibition in progress in its first completed section. It is on schedule and has several other events besides ours on the books prior to our convention in June-July of 2003. Even if construction were to cease as of this minute, there is currently enough space in the convention center as well as the Westin, the lead hotel, to accommodate our needs. More details will be forthcoming at this summer's convention.
Well, just one more Forum article before the main event. This is a mission that I did gladly choose to accept. I am having a great time and I want to again give acknowledgment to all the convention committee members for their personal commitment to ACB and to each and every convention attendee. See you at the barbecue!!*****
Another step toward improved pedestrian safety was achieved recently when the first in a series of audible traffic signals was installed, and turned on at the intersection of Washington Avenue and Hawk Street, near the Capitol Building in Albany, N.Y., one of Albany's busiest intersections. While there are a few widely scattered audible traffic signals on the outer edges of Albany, the intersection of Washington Avenue and Hawk Street is the first high-volume intersection to receive an audible traffic signal. Several additional key intersections are expected to receive accessible pedestrian signals in the near future.
While the audible traffic signal project has been a very important endeavor of the Capital District Chapter of the American Council of the Blind of New York, the real winners are the members of the blind and visually impaired community, not merely any particular agency.
Many thanks to our chapter's pedestrian safety committee for the countless hours of work which went into this important endeavor.
Good luck to other ACB chapters throughout the country who are working to get audible traffic signals installed in their communities. Never give up, and keep on pushing in the direction of better pedestrian safety. Remember, it is not an impossible task. It is a dream that can come true!
Library Users of America (LUA), an affiliate of the American Council of the Blind, recently announced that it has launched a new Internet discussion list designed for librarians and patrons to share information and ideas about programs and services at all types of libraries as they affect people who are blind or visually impaired. If you are interested in participating on the list, subscribe by sending an e-mail post to librarytalk- [email protected] or complete the form on the association's web site at http://libraryusers.tripod.com/internet.htm.
A super drawing has been organized to raise funds for the ACB national scholarship program. Only 300 tickets will be sold. The owner of the winning ticket will receive $10,000. The second prize is $500, and third prize is $300. Tickets cost $100 each. If you don't think you can afford to buy a ticket yourself, you can partner with up to four friends to buy the ticket and share the proceeds among yourselves if yours is the winning ticket. Local chapters, state affiliates or special-interest groups, as well as individuals, can purchase tickets to support this worthy cause. The winning ticket will be drawn at the banquet during the 2002 ACB national convention. You do not have to be present to win.
The idea grew from a small committee of NOVA chapter members from northern Virginia, and ACB staff. NOVA receives no money from this volunteer service project. For more information, or to purchase a ticket, contact Billie Jean Keith by e-mail, [email protected], or by phone at (703) 528-4455. Once she has your check in hand, she can mail you a ticket.
The Alliance on Aging and Vision Loss (AAVL) has some wonderful events, fun and prizes planned for the 2002 ACB convention in Houston! Let's start with our AAVL Raffle Fundraiser: How about a three-day, two-night stay at the Orleans Hotel in Las Vegas, located at 4500 Tropicana Blvd. with free shuttles, public transportation and taxis to take you to the strip. This prize also includes two free breakfast buffets and two free dinner buffets. The Orleans also has on its premises a movie complex, several outstanding restaurants and a large swimming pool. Our other prizes include a 20-cassette collection of "Old Time Radio Shows" and a gorgeous "Heart of America" handmade afghan donated by board member Milly Lillibridge. Now that we've piqued your interest with that wonderful assortment of prizes, let us tell you about all the outstanding programs and events scheduled for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of convention week.
Don't forget to join us on Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. for the AAVL Musical Mixer with entertainment provided by our own piano virtuoso Al Gayzagian! We'll also have an entertaining luncheon on Tuesday and joint programs with GDUI and SASI. Watch for more details and registration information in coming issues.
As you read this article, many of you are probably finalizing your plans for the ACB national convention in Houston, which will take place from June 29 to July 6, 2002. As you fill out your pre-registration forms, please allow time during convention week to attend the exciting activities sponsored by the National Association of Blind Teachers. Here is our lineup for the week.
We'll kick off our program on Sunday, June 30 from 8 to 10 a.m. with our annual breakfast. The program topic will be "Impress And Dress For Success: It's All In Your Image." Our presenter will be Lynn Cooper, an image awareness consultant and motivational speaker who is regularly featured on ACB Reports. Just in case you miss the breakfast, or if you have additional questions, there will be two image awareness break-out sessions with Lynn Cooper from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. and at 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. on Sunday. This will give you a chance to meet with her in a smaller group setting. Immediately after the breakfast program on Sunday, there will be an NABT board meeting. This is an open meeting; anyone is welcome to attend. The exact time and location of the board meeting will be announced at the breakfast.
On Tuesday, July 2, the NABT business meeting will take place from 1:45 to 2:30 p.m. Come to share your ideas for NABT and to learn more about our organization. After the business meeting, there will be a timely program with an interesting title: "School Violence, Terrorism and Other Emergencies: What To Do Before The Slugging Starts." September 11, 2001 has proven to us that we live in very dangerous and uncertain times. In order to address the concerns that many people have about school safety, we asked a representative from the Houston D.A.R.E. program to come in and present a program for us.
Wednesday, July 3rd will also be a busy day for NABT. From 1:30 to 3 p.m., Cindy MacArthur, the Education Resources Coordinator at the Space Center in Houston will present a workshop titled: "Education From Out Of This World." In this interesting program, you will learn about accessible NASA web sites and participate in stimulating group activities. Then, from 3 to 5 p.m., NABT and FIA will join forces to sponsor a writers' workshop titled: "Teachers And Writers: Applying Writing Without Scotch Tape." The workshop presenter will be Dana Nichols, editor of "Our Special" magazine and college-level writing instructor. This workshop will include exercises to sharpen your writing techniques.
As you can see, NABT has a full and exciting schedule for convention 2002. Why not come and share in the excitement?
The Independent Visually Impaired Enterprisers (IVIE) has always been an important part of the ACB national convention, and this year is no exception! Here is what we have planned for convention week.
Many of IVIE's activities will take place on Monday, July 1. We will start with our breakfast and business meeting at 7:30 a.m. Come and share a delicious meal with old friends and new, learn more about IVIE and help us to make important decisions about our dynamic affiliate! Our program will take place on Monday afternoon at 1:45. The name of the program will be "Taking Care Of Business." A panel of blind and visually impaired business owners will discuss successful business practices which they use to meet the needs of their sighted clientele. There will be plenty of time for questions and answers and exchanging ideas.
Throughout convention week, IVIE will have a booth in the exhibit hall. Blind and visually impaired business owners will have the opportunity to buy blocks of time at the booth and showcase their products and services. Be sure to visit the IVIE booth often because different people, products and services will be featured at different times.
So, there's a sneak preview of IVIE's convention week activities. As you plan your days during the convention, be sure to save plenty of time for IVIE. You will be glad you did!
Where can you go this summer in Houston to enjoy a good horse race, have a glass of wine and mingle with friends, learn about low vision services in the Houston area, or dance to the best music in town? Try the Council of Citizens with Low Vision International. This year's convention program, mixer, dances, and Wednesday Game Night promise to be the best ever planned.
The events begin Sunday morning with everything you want to know about low vision Houston style. Learn about the role of the low vision therapist in the vision rehabilitation team, the low vision clinic at the Houston Lighthouse, and other topics of interest from low vision professionals in the Houston area. That afternoon, enjoy a sneak preview of what's new inside and outside of the exhibit hall with Janis Stanger and vendors who are exhibiting technology at the convention this year. That evening, attend the best mixer CCLVI has ever hosted. But find some time during the day to take a little nap so you can stay up for the highlight of the day: dancing and listening to music the way you like it with Gordon Kent taking requests.
Sunday's activities are just a sampling of what will be available throughout the week. Of particular interest is the program session scheduled for Monday afternoon. Members of the board of directors of CCLVI will join with others in a discussion of issues in rehabilitation for people with low vision. Also scheduled is a panel discussion on different philosophical approaches to training for those who are blind and visually impaired. Particular emphasis will be placed on the impact various approaches may have on those seeking training. The session will conclude with an update on proposed legislation concerning Medicare coverage of vision rehabilitation services.
New to the calendar this year is the Wednesday Game Night. Charles Glaser and Barbara Kron are busily planning the social event of the convention: an exciting night of horse racing, our own spin-off of "The Newlywed Game," featuring married couples well-known to members of ACB, team trivia, Name That Tune and the Dating Game. Anyone looking for a lot of laughs will be there Wednesday night to cheer on their favorite horse, or root for their chosen jockey. Between races, laugh at the antics of our Dating Game contestants, and enjoy finding out how much our couples actually know about each other. And, of course, there will be plenty of team trivia, and Name That Tune with pianist Janiece Petersen.
Friday night, after the banquet, top off your convention week with the CCLVI Texas Farewell Dance with Gordon Kent providing the best dance music in town.
CCLVI invites everyone in ACB to join us this summer in Houston for some of the best programming and activities we have ever planned.
The ACB Women's Concerns Committee has planned a wide variety of program items for this year's convention to address the needs and interests which are particularly important to women with impaired vision. As you attend our sessions, remember that we are eager to hear from you about how we're doing and where we should go from here.
On Saturday afternoon, June 29, from 3 to 4:30 p.m., we will hear from Mary Mehn, who has been conducting a project called Mammacare, concerned with communicating to various special populations awareness of breast cancer prevention and the need for and technique of self-examination. Following her presentation, Dr. Mehn will be available for the first part of the week by appointment to demonstrate self-examination techniques to individuals.
On Sunday, June 30 from 10 a.m. to noon, committee member Phyllis Burson, a clinical psychologist, will lead a discussion about the kinds of interpersonal relationships women with vision impairment participate in and how skill in managing these relationships can affect their quality of life.
On Wednesday morning from 7 to 8:30 a.m., our breakfast session marks the return of a program which was quite popular the last time it was presented (1993 and 1994). "Breakfast Rolls and Role Models" will feature four women who have been deeply involved in the leadership of ACB.
On Wednesday afternoon from 3 to 4:30 p.m., our own Phyllis Burson will return to discuss the interrelated phenomena of self- esteem, assertiveness and anger as they affect blind and visually impaired women.
And finally, on Thursday evening, July 4, from 7 to 9:30 p.m., committee member Jill Tobin will present a "Fashion Update." Come and learn from Jill about what's hot and what's not.*****
New!! Don't Miss out on this Special Limited Anniversary Offer!
Show your guide how much you really care by outfitting him or her with a GDUI commemorative dog scarf! When you help celebrate GDUI's 30th anniversary by donating the generous gift of $30 or more, you will receive a beautifully designed teal scarf with GDUI embroidered in gold lettering for all to see. As an added bonus, any guide dog proudly sporting GDUI's attractive attire at the 30th anniversary celebration in Houston will be eligible to win one of many instant door prizes! Call the GDUI toll-free number, (888) 858-1008 today! Orders must be received no later than May 31, 2002 to ensure delivery before the 2002 convention.
New!! GDUI Round Table Discussions!
This new feature of the GDUI convention is your chance to talk in a facilitated yet relaxed atmosphere. Each discussion will focus on a particular issue of interest to our members. Round table discussions will take place on Monday and Tuesday from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m.
New!! Leader Dogs for the Blind Sponsors Convention Door Prizes!
GDUI is pleased to report that Leader Dogs for the Blind has once again generously donated to our national convention! This year, funds will be used to purchase GDUI products from our catalog to be given away as door prizes at the Houston festivities!! Canine Comfort
As part of GDUI's ongoing efforts to help our members reduce and counteract the stress placed on guide dog teams at convention, we have arranged a variety of informal activities for the 2002 convention.
New!! Canine Massage!
Certified professional canine/equine massage therapist and member of the International Massage Association, Carla Campbell will be offering relaxing, full-body massages for your dog at the 2002 Houston convention! Like us, our dogs suffer from built-up physical and emotional tension. As well as causing pain and discomfort, a build-up of muscle tension impacts a dog's ability to concentrate causing many dogs to become anxious, hesitant, distractable or to tire quickly. Massage can provide the extra boost some dogs need to help them stay comfortable, relaxed and focused in the fast-paced, chaotic convention environment. Time out for a massage can be calming, release muscle tension, prevent injury and help our dogs work and feel their best.
Sessions will last approximately 15 minutes and cost $15. Longer sessions for older dogs, dogs with chronic joint problems or arthritis or dogs that simply need a little extra TLC may be arranged by appointment. Carla will be available each day, Sunday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. until noon in the GDUI suite. Why not give your dog a special treat that you will both appreciate! Ten percent of all profits will go to GDUI.
New! Explore Nearby Houston!
GDUI will offer a new and exciting orientation with guide dog school instructors on Sunday, June 30 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Explore fabulous nearby restaurants such as Mission Burritos Inc., The Great Caruso Dinner Theater, Rio Ranch Restaurant, and Tortugia Coastal Cantina! Scout out the perfect route for a brisk morning walk or wind down with an evening stroll in the balmy summer climate. GDUI encourages all to slow down, relax and enjoy your visit to Houston!
Give Yourself a Treat!
GDUI empathizers will be available to "lend an ear" during the 2002 celebration! GDUI's caring volunteer empathizers will be available for peer support to meet with anyone needing to take time out from his or her busy schedule. A braille or large print list of empathizers attending the convention will be available at the GDUI suite.
Individuals who wish to speak with an empathizer outside the prescribed time may use this list to contact an empathizer privately. Please visit the GDUI suite for more details.
Canine Health in Houston
Back by Popular Demand, the Canine First Aid and Safety Booth! For the first time in GDUI history, guide dog handlers enjoyed the helpful advice and guidance of certified veterinary technicians right on site at the 2001 national convention. GDUI will once again attempt to arrange a first aid and safety booth for the 2002 Texas gathering! Please check the GDUI suite for more details.
Tanglewilde Veterinary Clinic, Cory E. Stiles, DVM, 2717 Rockyridge Dr., Houston, Texas; phone (713) 783-4044
The clinic is located one mile from the hotel. Office hours include Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and will be closed each day from noon - 1:30 p.m. and holidays. The clinic accepts all major credit cards but will not accept out-of-state checks. The fee for a regular office visit is $28.
Emergency Vet Care
Animal Emergency Clinic, 1111 West Loop South, Suite 200, Houston, TX; phone (713) 693-1100
The hospital is open Monday-Thursday nights from 6 p.m. to 8 a.m. and 24 hours on weekends and holidays. The cost of an emergency visit is $75 plus diagnostic and treatment. The hospital accepts out-of-state checks and all major credit cards.
Dog food should be ordered no later than Friday, June 28, 2002, and prepaid with MasterCard, Visa, Discover or American Express. Call Petsmart at (713) 973-7667 and ask for Eddie. When placing an order, explain that you are with the Guide Dog Users, Inc. annual convention. Petsmart will deliver the food to the GDUI suite on Saturday, June 29, and will be available for pick- up from 1 to 4 p.m. Foods available for ordering are: Eukanuba, Iams, Science Diet, Nutro, Pro-Plan, Bil-Jac, Waltham, and Nature's Recipe.*****
At the ACB mid-year meeting, I had the pleasure of visiting Houston Taping for the Blind. The agency's director, Cynthia Franzetti, assured me that they would do all possible to provide audio description at four of our convention tour venues. These include the Galveston Outdoor Musicals Amphitheater, The Great Caruso Dinner Theater, and Imax theaters at Moody Gardens and Space Center Houston (which I've been incorrectly calling NASA). "Taping," as it is called in Houston, is anxiously awaiting our visit. In addition to providing audio description, they offer a 24-7 radio reading service, and, believe it or not, tape transcription services!
"We all have a duty to do this once," remarked our volunteer driver after spending two hours with Doc Bradley and me at the Holocaust Museum of Houston. The experience had a profound impact on all of us. Through powerful symbolism and an extensive collection of information and materials, the museum paints a vivid picture of a bleak part of human history. It's one thing to read about the Holocaust, and quite another to learn about it at this museum. You are reminded at the start, primarily through pictures, that Holocaust victims were ordinary, innocent people. As you learn about the historical events leading up to World War II, you have the chilling experience of listening to recorded speeches by Hitler, complete with large groups of people saluting. You learn about the plight of many of our brothers and sisters with disabilities, who did not conform to the Aryan standard. You will want to take some time for reflection as you consider the torture inflicted on so many innocent victims.
Much of the material in the museum is printed information. The museum's tour director, and later an intern, spent considerable time with Doc and me customizing this tour for ACB. Plenty of docents will be available to read documents and describe key exhibits as you walk through the museum. You will also spend time in the archives, where you will be able to touch Jewish artifacts such as a candlestick and objects bearing a swastika.
This tour, to be conducted on July 3 from 1 to 5:15 p.m., likely represents the best opportunity you will ever have as people who are blind and visually impaired to receive such a thorough tour of a Holocaust museum. Please understand that some graphic details are provided, and we strongly discourage this tour for children 12 and under.
For those of you contemplating the tour to the Museum of Fine Arts, here is some more enticement direct from Carrie Robinson Cannon, the museum's docent program manager:
"The Lillie and Hugh Roy Cullen Sculpture Garden is located across Bissonnet Street from the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. It opened to the public in 1986 and was designed by world-renowned Japanese-American sculptor, Isamu Noguchi. Noguchi conceived the garden specifically for this site, seeking to create a peaceful environment within a busy city where visitors can enjoy and contemplate modern sculpture. The garden displays sculptures by late 19th and 20th century European and American artists. They include Henri Matisse, Alberto Giacometti, Jim Love, Auguste Rodin, David Smith, Frank Stella, and many others. When you are not touching the sculptures, you may rest on the benches and enjoy the serenity of the site."
Yes, she said touching. Normally, tourists are not allowed this liberty. However, the museum is enthusiastically making this accommodation for our tour. By donning a pair of latex gloves, you will be given complete access to the sculpture garden.
I'll close this article with some more information about Galveston. You're going to like the menu from Landry's Seafood restaurant. It starts with a house salad. You'll then have a choice between freshly caught Pontchartrain, fried shrimp with steak fries and onion rings, and fettuccine alfredo with grilled chicken breast. Dessert actually comes with the meal. We'll be around to take orders on the bus ride down to Galveston, another good reason to be awake and alert at such an early hour. I assumed that you'd want to know more about "No, No Nanette" than the bit of baseball trivia I shared last time. With the help of a drama teacher and the Internet, I found a synopsis! It seems that a Bible publisher, Jimmy Smith, develops platonic relationships with three young women while traveling across the country. Afraid that his wife will find out about these relationships and misunderstand, he pays an associate, Billy Early, $10,000 to end the three relationships. Billy decides to meet all three women in Atlantic City during the same weekend. And -- you guessed it -- Jimmy shows up in Atlantic City with his stepdaughter, Nanette. Throw in the two wives, and you've got quite a complicated development! Intrigued? I certainly am, and I look forward to sharing laughs with many of you during and after this exciting production.
Stay tuned for more tour information. Next time, we'll talk about the dinner theater and provide a final tour schedule.*****
Although international dignitaries often speak on the national convention program, many outstanding international guests who attend the ACB national convention are not included on the program because they come to the convention at the last minute or simply because they have chosen to attend as regular conventioners. Over the years the ACB national convention program has included presentations by several presidents of the World Blind Union as well as the leaders of outstanding national blindness service organizations from nations such as Japan, Taiwan, Australia, Malaysia, the United Kingdom, Spain, Germany, Sweden and Russia, along with outstanding consumer leaders from Canada, the Caribbean nations and others. In order to give more people an opportunity to meet more of these guests under less formal circumstances ACB initiated the International Forum a few years ago. The International Forum is a somewhat informal event, usually conducted early in the evening, during which international guests are recognized, given an opportunity to make a few remarks about their organizations or anything else they care to discuss, asked questions, given information and generally welcomed warmly to the ACB national convention. I urge you to check the preregistration material and to make a special effort to attend the international forum this year in order to meet and welcome the international guests who undoubtedly will be present. Although we do not always know who all of the international guests will be until registration forms are returned, we already know that an educator from China, a member of the staff of the world-famous Spanish National Organization of the Blind and a student of a highly respected American instructor of computer access technology in Japan plan to be with us.
Because of the political dynamics of some international organizations of the blind, many people in other countries have not been given an accurate report concerning the history, nature, scope and effectiveness of the American Council of the Blind. I am pleased to note that ACB national conventions and ACB Radio are helping to present a more accurate picture of who we are and what we think to people who live outside the USA. I urge you to attend our International Forum so that you can help spread the word about who we are and learn about the perspectives of people who are blind and who care about people who are blind, in the world beyond our national borders.*****
Don't you wish you could stand up, stretch and do something to gently work most of your tired muscles after sitting all day in interesting but long, tiring meetings at the ACB national convention? Now you can! A few years ago ACB initiated Recreation Zone activities several afternoons during convention week to enable you to stretch, exercise those muscles and try out a few new physical activities -- like floor aerobics, goalball, water aerobics and talking darts. Recreation Zone activities will be available again this year during at least three days of convention week, and will include: helpful floor aerobics by ACB's own energetic Jill Tobin of Cleveland, water aerobics under the direction of ACB's own Geraldine Koors (with the assistance of husband Don) of Indianapolis, and beep baseball under the direction of ACB's Houston stars like Dr. Ed Bradley and Michael Garrett. Watch the convention scope and pre-registration material for the afternoon of the activity you want to learn more about or try out. Last year the water aerobics session was so popular that a second session was quickly scheduled for the next afternoon. As Jill Tobin said in agreeing to direct floor aerobics this year, "Wear your exercise clothes or most casual clothing and be ready to have fun!"*****
Calling all artists! Friends-in-Art is seeking entries for its annual art show at the ACB national convention. Because of increased interest in the art exhibition, Friends-in-Art is planning an even bigger display at this year's convention in Houston, Texas. And we've even added a new category: fiber art!
Artists who reside in the USA and are legally blind may enter a maximum of two original ready-to-display works of art in the areas of painting, drawing, printmaking, collage, sculpture or fiber art. Each entry should be labeled with the artist's name and title of the work. Entries should also be labeled to indicate orientation. All works of art must be ready to hang or display-ready.
Send your intent to enter letter to Elsie Monthei, 1304 39th St., Des Moines, IA 50311, or call her at (515) 277-0442. Information about your work should include media, size, title and dimensions. Please also include a short description of your work.
If you intend to attend the convention, you may bring your work with you. You must pick up your work and pack it yourself for the return home. However, if you intend to submit a mailed entry, you must include a return fee for us to be able to Federal Express your work to you. Ship your works to Elsie Monthei, Adam's Mark Hotel Houston, 2900 Briarpark Drive, Houston, TX 77042. You may also hand deliver your works to her at the hotel when you arrive.
There is an entry fee of $10 per entry to cover display costs. Fees will not be returned if the artist does not display his/her work.
If you intend to display your work, please let me know by June 15, 2002. If you're mailing your work to the convention hotel, send it no later than June 27, 2002. If you're bringing it with you, hand deliver it to me June 29-30. The public exhibit will run July 1-3. Friends-in-Art Convention
On Tuesday, July 2, FIA will hold its annual business meeting and luncheon at 12 noon. From 3 to 5 p.m. we will host our annual artists' reception.
On Thursday, July 4, the winners of the show will be announced and awards presented. Later that day, you must pick up your works if you're there; they will be packed and shipped if you have enclosed a return FedEx fee.
All reasonable care will be given to objects in the exhibition. FIA will insure works accepted at the marked sales price or included insured value. Coverage is for the time the works are on exhibit. Insurance does not cover the object in transit, or works unclaimed after the convention. Works not claimed or picked up by July 6 will be treated as gifts to FIA.
Sales are encouraged. No commission will be charged by FIA; nor will the affiliate act as agent. All sales must be negotiated by participants.
Submission of an entry to this exhibit constitutes agreement with all conditions in this application. Friends-in-Art reserves the right to reproduce works for publicity purposes. Works not ready for exhibition or display can be withheld from the exhibit. The names of show participants may be published in "The Braille Forum."
I am looking forward to seeing all of you in Houston. I plan to bring several of my new pieces. Please plan to attend our "Sandwich Bash" in the FIA Suite on Tuesday. Check the pre- registration materials and convention program for more details.*****
The Youth Activity Center, better known as the YAC, will be open to convention attendees, ages 7-14, at this year's ACB convention in Houston.
The YAC will be located in the Adam's Mark Hotel, across the hall from general sessions, staffed by volunteers and will be open to registered participants, from 8:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., Monday through Friday of convention week.
Registration will open from noon to 2 p.m. on Sunday, June 30 and be available during operating hours Monday-Friday. The registration fee is $5 per participant.
A game table, reading corner, craft area and other fun, lively activities are in the works for YAC attendees to enjoy each morning. A Pizza/Fun Night is being planned in conjunction with the banquet on Friday night. There are many other surprises which will be taking place for our young people!
For the YAC to be a success, we need you! Please consider spending an hour or two of your convention week as a volunteer in the YAC. By sharing your time and talent with the kids of our ACB family, you will play an important role in keeping this vital activity going strong, and we guarantee you'll have fun too! Also, to help offset the cost of this program, we are looking to ACB members and affiliates for sponsorship. If you or your affiliate might be interested in sponsoring one of the YAC events (through financial means or volunteer time), or if you have any questions concerning the YAC, please contact Cindy Burgett, convention committee member, via e-mail at [email protected], by phone at (360) 698-0827, or by writing to her at 6686 Capricorn Ln. NE, Bremerton, WA 98311.*****
"The Braille Forum" has 23,591 subscribers. Of those, 12,740 are large print readers; 7,781 are tape readers; 2,323 read braille, and 747 access the magazine on disk. We also have 488 e-mail subscribers.
The large print costs 54 cents per copy. That's $6.48 for a year's worth of copies for one person. For all 12,740 readers, that totals $82,555.20.
The cassette edition costs 54 cents per copy as well. For a year's worth of copies for 7,781 readers, that amounts to $50,691.12.
The braille edition costs $2.51 per copy. For a year's worth of copies for 2,323 readers, that totals $69,968.76.
The disk edition costs about $1.75 per copy. For 747 readers for a year, that's $15,687.
Sending out the Forum via e-mail is virtually devoid of expense for us! The grand total for all of this amounts to $218,902.08.
We have a large number of subscribers overseas. One organization which receives the Forum is the Trinidad and Tobago Blind Welfare Association. Other subscribers include the National Federation of Blind Citizens of Australia and the Kawara State School for the Handicapped in Nigeria. We also have readers in China, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, England, Russia, India, Egypt, Spain, Malawi, Sweden, Sri Lanka and Turkey. Returns Are Costly
In an average day, the U.S. Postal Service brings back about 45 copies of the Forum for a variety of reasons: for example, the death of a recipient; a subscriber has moved without leaving a forwarding address, etc. Starting this month, the names of people whose magazines are returned will be removed from the distribution list. Each returned copy costs us between 60 cents and $1.50. If you have moved, please let us know. If you no longer wish to receive the magazine, please let us know that as well. To change your address via e-mail, send a message to [email protected] Please make sure to include your name and former address along with your new one. You may also call the ACB toll-free number and leave a message in mailbox 22. Please be certain to spell your name and any difficult-to-spell words in your address. It's Easy to Subscribe to the E-mail Edition
Would you prefer to receive the Forum via e-mail? To subscribe to the electronic version, visit www.acb.org and select the "join our e-mail discussion and information lists" link. Once you're on that page, select the "subscribe or unsubscribe to the Braille Forum e-mail list" link. Follow all directions. Then each month you will receive, when it's available, "The Braille Forum" in your e-mail in box.
Are you interested in writing an article for the Forum? Do you have an item for Here and There, High Tech Swap Shop, or Affiliate News? We work a month in advance. For Here and There, we need your item two months in advance. We go to press on the 15th of the month; this issue went to press on April 15, and the June issue will go on May 15. We need your items by the first of the month. Send items for Here and There to Billie Jean Keith via e-mail at [email protected] Send items for High Tech Swap Shop and Affiliate News to Sharon Lovering via e-mail at [email protected] Of course, if you don't have access to e- mail, you can still call us and leave messages in mailbox 22 for Sharon Lovering, or mailbox 26 for Billie Jean Keith, or you may send us items in print or braille via the U.S. mail.
All other articles need to go to Penny Reeder, attached in MS Word or plain text formats, or pasted directly into a message, via e-mail, [email protected], or in virtually any other format except handwriting -- i.e., Penny will accept articles sent via the good old U.S. mail, in print, braille, or on audiocassette, and there have been occasions when a writer has dictated his or her letter or article into Penny's voice mail, and she has transcribed and edited it from there. This magazine is your forum, and we encourage readers of all ages and stages in life to write for us and to share with others your ideas, your experiences, your techniques for coping with blindness, and your opinions. Our youngest writer was only 10 years old, and we have received articles from people who are in their 90s, so whether you are old or young, whether you have completed postgraduate studies or you're still working toward a high school degree, we want to hear from you.*****
Why are you interested in the American Council of the Blind and its activities? Who benefits the most from the work of ACB? I'm sure you will agree that each of us benefits greatly from the advocacy, education, and support of other ACB members and staff. In other words, whatever ACB accomplishes affects each of us as people who are blind and visually impaired.
Since this is the case, I want to challenge each of you to consider participating in a new program which will allow you to help ACB in its endeavors. The Monthly Monetary Support program, called M&Ms for short, is a way for you to pledge an amount of money to support ACB which can be automatically deducted, monthly, from your checking or credit/debit card account. Please consider any amount that you can afford. Your Monthly Monetary Support will help make ACB more financially secure. With stability ACB will be more able to establish and maintain programs and services for people who are blind and visually impaired, and all of these programs allow us to participate more fully in defining our own futures.
Contact Jim Olsen, ACB's chief financial officer, at (800) 866-3242, for more information or to obtain the form which will allow you to participate in the M&Ms monthly giving program.*****
(Reprinted from The New York Times, February 8, 2002.)
With the help of three kinds of blind mice and some ugly frogs, scientists have discovered a new class of light-sensing cells in the retina.
The cells, which are different from the rods and cones that enable vision, appear to reset the body's master biological clock each morning and night. The researchers said that while the finding was made in mice, it was certain to hold true for humans, with implications for possible treatment of sleep disorders, jet lag, depression and other maladies involving the body's internal clock.
"We thought we knew everything about the retina," said Dr. Michael Menaker, a neuroscientist at the University of Virginia and an expert on biological clocks, who is familiar with the research. "Now we find we have two separate systems in the eye, one for vision and one for setting the clock. We have a new way of thinking about how light is interpreted by the nervous system."
Dr. Ignacio Provencio, an assistant professor of neuroscience at the Uniformed Services University in Bethesda, Md., whose work on frogs helped lead to the discovery, called it "heretical." Not every day, Dr. Provencio said, do scientists find a new body function.
The cells were discovered by Dr. David Berson, an associate professor of neuroscience at Brown University, and are described in today's issue of the journal Science.
Dr. Berson said a deeper understanding of the new photoreceptors might lead to novel treatments for disturbances of the body's internal clock. It may turn out that people who have defects in the newly described system could suffer from "time blindness," similar to colorblindness.
The traditional view of how light is handled in the eye has held for more than 100 years, Dr. Berson said. It states that the retina has only two kinds of light-sensitive cells: rods and cones. Together they carry out two jobs. One is to capture light and send it to the brain, where images are formed in visual processing. The second is to send light-induced signals to a tiny region in the brain that sets the body's biological clock.
This region, called the suprachiasmatic nucleus or SCN, is just above the optic nerve on both sides of the brain. A pinhead speck of tissue, the SCN measures the passage of every 24 hours by making and consuming proteins in precisely timed fashion -- letting the body know when to wake up and when to go to sleep.
This circadian clock works independently to measure time, Dr. Berson said, though it must be resynchronized every day as light levels change with the Earth's movement around the sun. But experiments over the last five years -- Dr. Berson calls them "head scratchers" -- raised questions about the role that rods and cones had long been assumed to play in setting the biological clock.
Three kinds of blind mice posed the problem, said Dr. Russell Foster, a neuroscientist at Imperial College in London. The first was a mutant mouse that lacked all its rods and 95 percent of its cones. "These animals are blind, yet they are as good at responding to light in setting their daily rhythms as their sighted litter mates," Dr. Foster said. Perhaps the biological clock could be reset with just a few cones.
To find out, Dr. Foster and his colleagues genetically engineered a coneless, rodless mouse. These completely blind animals aligned their clocks to natural light and dark cycles just as normal mice did. In a third experiment, Dr. Foster removed the eyes from mice. They could no longer set their biological clocks in response to light.
Meanwhile, Dr. Charles Czeisler, a physician at Harvard Medical School, found similar patterns in blind people. Some, without rods and cones, could set their biological clocks in response to daily changes in light levels. Others could not.
Then Dr. Provencio found a head scratcher -- a light- sensitive molecule in the skin cells of the African clawed frog that changes color when the light changes. The molecule, melanopsin, is in the family of proteins that help convert photons of light into electrical and chemical signals used by the nervous system. Rods and cones use rhodopsin, a mammalian protein in the same family. A search in genetic databases turned up a surprise. Melanopsin is found in a small number of ganglion cells in the retinas of mice, monkeys and humans. Moreover, these ganglion cells project to the SCN, the region that sets the body's clock.
"When I heard this, my eyes got huge," Dr. Berson said. To find out whether the ganglion cells reacted to light, he isolated them so they had no contact with rods or cones and monitored their electrical activity. "I'll never forget the first time we did the experiment," Dr. Berson said. "We gathered around the rig. The cell was sitting in darkness. We hit it with light. Nothing happened for almost a second. Then all of a sudden it began to spike. We went crazy. The missing photoreceptors in the retina and the cells that talk to the clock are one and the same."*****
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 National Library Service facility at 1291 Taylor Street NW, Washington, DC 20542, has not received regular mail service from the United States Postal Service since mid-October 2001. It is not known when full service will resume to this location. In the meantime, anyone wishing to contact the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped should use the telephone, facsimile or e-mail numbers listed here: telephone (202) 707-5100; fax (202) 707-0712; e-mail [email protected] If it is necessary to send physical items, parcel or expedited delivery services should be used.
The Audio Yellow Pages has been undergoing improvements and testing, to be fully operational on May 15, 2002. ACB members may call toll-free (888) 654-1236 and use passcode 1222. For further details, call (800) 214-4842.
We've all heard stories about identity fraud used by thieves to take over a victim's name, address, Social Security number, etc. The source of this warning is an attorney with firsthand knowledge. His wallet was stolen a few months ago, and within a week the thieve(s) ordered an expensive monthly cell phone package, applied for a Visa credit card, had a credit line approved to buy a computer, and received a PIN number from DMV to go online and change his driving record information.
Here are some suggestions to protect your identity. Place the contents of your wallet on a photocopy machine, and copy both sides of each license, credit card, etc. This contains all the account numbers and numbers to call, if you lose them, or someone tries to take over your accounts. Keep the photocopy in a safe place. Keep a braille record too, if appropriate. Other critical information should be gathered to limit damage in case of identity theft. Cancel your credit cards immediately, using the toll-free phone numbers and card numbers you keep in that safe place. File a police report in the jurisdiction where belongings were stolen. And, most importantly, call the national credit reporting organizations to place a fraud alert on your name and Social Security number. Otherwise, thieves can go on the Internet using your information to order thousands of dollars worth of merchandise, and you won't know for weeks. The numbers are: Equifax, (800) 525-6285; Experian (formerly TRW), (888) 397-3742; Trans Union, (800) 680-7289; and the Social Security Administration (fraud line), (800) 269-0271.
People who are blind and visually impaired are invited to attend the 16th annual conference of Candle in the Window, sponsored by a small national non-profit organization that strives to build individual skills and a sense of community among persons with visual impairments. This year's theme is "The Way We Play: Recreation and Social Interaction of Blind People." Questions will be addressed, such as: "What encourages/discourages us from being playful?" and "How can we better interact with sighted people in social situations?" Besides provocative discussions, there will be plenty of time for swimming, hiking, eating, singing, quiet reflection, and just plain "hanging out."
Dates are July 24 through July 28, 2002 at the Kavanaugh Life Enrichment Center outside Louisville, Ky. The cost to attend is $230, with a $15 discount if the $35 non-refundable deposit is received by June 15. Limited scholarships and payment plans are available.
For more information, please contact Peter Altschul at (202) 234-5234, e-mail [email protected], or Kathy Szinnyey at (502) 895-0866, or e-mail [email protected]
* Oral Hull Summer Camp
Oral Hull Foundation for the Blind sponsors summer camping at the Sandy River Valley, east of Portland, Ore. Enjoy sport games, swimming, jogging, nature walks, fishing, and a day at the Oregon coast. Adult Camp (ages 21 and above) meets July 20-27, 2002. Youth Camp (ages 10 to 20) meets Aug. 17-24. For more information, please contact Ria Ehrheart, 12900 SW 9th St., #106, Beaverton, OR 97005; phone (503) 520 9384.
* Bartimaeus Alliance of the Blind, Inc.
This group will sponsor the Bartimaeus Bible Conference 2002 from July 29 to August 2, 2002. The theme for the Bible study portion will be "The Holy Spirit and His Ministries." Afternoon outings will include the Nature Trail in San Mateo County Memorial Park, and a trip to the Old Country Bakery in Pescadero. The cost is $300 per person for double occupancy. Stipends or camperships to attend are available, with an emphasis on welcoming newcomers.
For more information, contact Grant Metcalf, Bartimaeus Alliance of the Blind, Inc., P.O. Box 572, South San Francisco, CA 94083, phone (650) 589-6890, e-mail [email protected]
* Pa. Lions Beacon Lodge Camp
The Pennsylvania Lions Beacon Lodge Camp offers several sessions of camping experiences for people who are blind or visually impaired, from preschool age to golden elders. The Lions Club will sponsor residents of Pennsylvania who cannot afford to attend. People outside the state are also welcome. Many activities are offered, such as: bowling, swimming, mini-golf, canoeing, kayaking, paddleboating, fishing, arts and crafts, music, drama, ropes course, rock climbing, rappelling, hiking, games, dances, hayrides -- you name it! Session dates are July 6-17; July 20-31; and August 3-14. Costs range from $275 to $550. Apply right away, as sessions are for specific ages.
For more information, please contact Melanie McAleer, camp director, at (814) 542-2511, fax (814) 542-7437, e-mail [email protected], web site http://www.beaconcamp.homestead.com.
A "Braille Forum" reader from Massachusetts left a voice message describing free publications from the National Braille Press. As braille readers know, NBP produces many books in braille for the same price as print editions.
Among NBP free publications are a listing of braille transcription services; the U.S. Constitution and Declaration of Independence; area code listings for the USA; braille code reference cards; and a two-volume book on menopause. However, NBP will not prosper if we all order free publications. Customers have highly recommended "Wordwise," a book written by Sharon Monthei, who teaches Word for a living. The book is available in braille (three volumes), large print, PortaBook, and ASCII (one disk) for $22. Visit the NBP web site at http://www.nbp.org, or send an e-mail to [email protected] The snail mail contact is 88 St. Stephen St., Boston, MA 02115-4302, toll-free phone (800) 548-7323, or outside the U.S. and Canada, call (617) 266-6160, ext. 20, fax (617) 437-0456.
Lions World Services for the Blind, Little Rock, Ark. announces the next Service Center Collection Representative training course beginning July 8, 2002. This four-month course trains individuals to work as tax examining assistants at one of the 10 IRS centers located nationwide. The entry level is GS 4 or 5, with promotion potential to GS 7. People interested in this position must have a high energy and vitality level and possess good independent living and travel skills. Strong logical reasoning ability and emotional maturity are necessary for the job. Two years of college or equivalent work experience are required, along with a 12th grade spelling level, good knowledge of business math, ability to type 30 wpm, and a reading speed of 100 wpm with good comprehension. Candidates must be U.S. citizens.
For referrals and more information, contact Lions World Services Center for the Blind, Sherrill Wilson, Director of Vocational Services, address 2811 Fair Park Blvd., Little Rock, AR 72204, phone (501) 664-7100, fax (501) 664-2743, e-mail [email protected]
The Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Blindness and Low Vision has created a new business enterprise program web site, http://www.blind.msstate.edu/bep/bep.html. Located at Mississippi State University, the web site includes information about business resources, state program contacts, membership organizations and associations, legislative links, and a marketing video highlighting different types of facilities located throughout the country.
L & M Tele-Services provides support for businesses, civic/membership organizations, independent agents or consultants, etc. by handling their outgoing calls. These can be fund-raising, appointment scheduling, notification/reminder calls, surveys, records updating, etc. Contact Laura Collins at (605) 388-3056.
The people at "Speak To Me" want to talk about their new spring catalog full of interesting talking items -- from a talking VCR to a talking pedometer. There are useful gadgets and frivolous novelties. The "Speak To Me" catalog is available in print, cassette, IBM-compatible disk and through e-mail. Send a message to [email protected] For information and to order, call toll-free (800) 248-9965, or write to Speak To Me, 330 SW 43rd St., Suite 154, Renton, WA 98055-4976.
If you're a teacher who is blind or visually impaired, you may wish to join a listserv to exchange ideas, information and material with other teachers. To subscribe, send a blank e-mail message to [email protected]
AccessBraille is a braille production company offering a complete line of quality braille solutions at very reasonable prices. They produce Nemeth, literary, music, and foreign language braille books and documents, as well as multiple copy brochures, business cards, and pamphlets.
Contact AccessBraille at 1421 W. 12th St., Bloomington, IN 47404, phone (812) 339-6351, fax (413) 702-2243, or e-mail [email protected]
Shadows in the Dark offers braille pictured greeting cards. Cards are now available in seven languages: English, Spanish, German, Italian, Norwegian, French and Portuguese. Regular message cards cost $2.50 each; poetry cards, $4 each; foreign language cards, $5 each. Sets of 10 and 20 cards are available. Order online at www.shadowsinthedark.com.
We also offer a large selection of specialty gift items at 20 percent off. All major credit cards are accepted. Online orders can pay using PAYPAL.com.
Brytech's Note Teller 2 is a talking money identifier that accepts old and new series U.S. currency. Bank notes can be inserted in four orientations and will announce the denomination in English or Spanish. Note Teller 2 costs $295 with a 30-day money-back guarantee and six-month warranty. For more information and a distributor list, please contact Trish Hodge, Brytech Inc., phone (800) 263-4095, web site www.brytech.com.*****
FOR SALE: Accent SA external speech synthesizer with AC/DC power adaptor and serial cable. Unit is in great physical, cosmetic and working condition and works with any screen reading program such as JAWS and Window-Eyes. Asking $150 plus $10 shipping and handling and insurance. If interested contact me by e-mail at [email protected]
FOR SALE: Perkins Brailler. Reconditioned and in excellent condition! A vinyl dust cover is included. $300. Braille 'n Speak Scholar. One year old, but used only a few hours. Extra software, leather carrying case, battery charger, A/C adapter, serial interface cable for connection to PC, parallel printer cable, PC disk and large print user manual, braille and large print reference guide, audio tape tutorial. $400 or best offer. IBM NetVista desktop computer with Magic 8.0 magnification and speech already installed! One year old. Excellent condition! It has an Intel Celeron 667 MHz CPU, 64 megabytes of RAM, 10 gigabyte hard drive, 56Kbps V.90 modem, 48x CD ROM drive, 3.5-inch 1.44- megabyte floppy diskette drive, and comes with matching IBM 17- inch monitor, keyboard, speakers and mouse. 300. Shipping charges for each item are not included in the cost. I'll mail the Brailler and Braille 'n Speak Scholar free matter if you prefer. Insurance, if desired, is extra. For more information, please call or e-mail Bobbie at (309) 755-0828, [email protected]
FOR SALE: Used Perkins brailler. Comes with cover. Asking $250. Call (620) 227-3726.
FOR SALE: Keynote Companion with series 2 keyboard and many extras, including disk drive. Asking $550. E-mail [email protected] or call (828) 669-7736.
FOR SALE: 2001 Compaq Presario, Pentium III, 930 MHz processor, 256 megs of RAM, 40-gig hard drive, DVD and read-write CD-ROM, high speed fax modem, SoundBlaster true stereo card with speakers, 20-inch flat screen high resolution monitor, photo quality Compaq color printer, 4 USB ports with two on front, Windows ME operating system, Microsoft Office 97, Internet ready plus lots of software extras including digital music library of more than 1,000 songs. Blindness extras include newest versions of JAWS 4.01 and Kurzweil scanning software 6.02 already installed. $2,500 or best offer. Brand new, still in the box. Windows XP upgrade included for this very low price. Call (703) 922-6214.
FOR SALE: Perkins brailler. Completely rebuilt. Asking $325. Tandem bike, about 5 years old. Ridden 10-15 times. Comes loaded with accessories like speedometer, lights, air pump, fenders, lock, extra set of tires, etc. In excellent condition. Asking $500. Payment plans may be negotiated. Contact Nino Pacini at (313) 885-7330 or by e-mail at [email protected] . You may also write him at 5237 Hillcrest St., Detroit, MI 48236-2103.
FOR SALE: Alva 380, an 80-cell unit for sale or trade. In excellent condition. Comes with manuals and cables. Would like to trade for Braille Note and cash or two Braille Notes. If only cash, asking $4,100 plus shipping and handling. Alva 320, 20- cell unit in excellent condition. Comes with manuals on disk and in braille, and cables. Asking $1,000 plus shipping. Versapoint 20 in excellent condition. Uses tractor feed paper; prints single sided. Asking $700 plus shipping (negotiable). Contact Isaac Obie by e-mail at [email protected], write him at 755 Tremont St. #205, Boston, MA 02118, or call him at (617) 247- 0026.
FOR SALE: Two reconditioned Perkins braillers. Asking $300 each. Contact Robert Schafer at (256) 350-9723.
FOR SALE: Color Clearview reading machine with Sony 20-inch Trinitron monitor. All manuals and remotes. In good working condition. Paid $3,500; asking $1,500 plus shipping and handling. Call Erma at (256) 582-6650.
FOR SALE: Aladdin Rainbow video magnifier. Asking $1,300. Contact Jo An McBride at (707) 786-9078. No calls please between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. Pacific time. You may e-mail her at [email protected]
WANTED: A machine that would allow me to read print at a size of 24-point or larger. It must be capable of saving material on disk for future reference. It can be a word processor or any other machine that has large print capacity, nothing fancy. I cannot pay shipping charges, and have been turned down by a number of organizations that offer such assistance. Contact Jerry Leon Hamrick at P.O. Box 213, Valley Head, WV 26294-0213; phone (304) 339-6489, or e-mail [email protected]
WANTED: One Perkins or Lavender brailler, one Banks pocket braille writer, and one grade-one Bible. Any braille games. Can't afford price. Contact Melody Edwards at (609) 347-7539.*****
The editorial staff reserves the right to edit letters for content, style and space available. Opinions expressed are those of the authors, not those of the American Council of the Blind, its staff or elected officials. "The Braille Forum" is not responsible for the opinions expressed herein. We will not print letters unless you sign your name and give us your address.
There are two articles which appeared in the February 2002 issue of "The Braille Forum" that set out the keystone philosophy of the American Council of the Blind: the first by our president, Chris Gray, entitled "The Incident in the Taxi: Some Thoughts about Attitudes and Advocacy," and second, "Snits and Fits," by Carl Jarvis.
The core of our philosophy is, of course, our belief in reasoning and educating the public to the fact that they should not be frightened by blindness and that, in fact, we are the same as they are, notwithstanding our blindness.
I taught communications law at Howard University School of Communications for a number of years. A question I posed to my students regularly was: "Where do you exist in your body? Your heart? Your genitals? Your skin? Your eyes? Or your brain?"
Of course, the answer to the question is you reside in your brain.
Your heart is only a muscle which pumps blood through your body. Your genitals give you pleasure and reproduction. Your skin, irrespective of its color, is only an organ that holds your body together. Your eyes are only one source of information for your brain. Your power to think, your memories, your hopes, your ambitions, and your decision-making are all in your brain.
Poor or non-existent eyesight can be unimportant if we are properly trained to use the senses of hearing, touching, smelling and tasting. In sum, our eyes may be different from other people's eyes, but we are still equal to others.
Asking a sighted person to describe a picture to you, drive you in a car, or read to you does not make you unacceptable or inferior.
Of course, if individuals or groups can't be troubled to understand this kind of reasoning, because of their emotions or because they don't want to be bothered by us, we have to do what the old adage tells us:
"Sometimes you have to hit a stubborn mule on the head with a 2 x 4 to get his attention." I suggest that the best 2 x 4s for us might include peaceful picketing or demonstrations, going to the media with a problem, or resorting to the courts and lawsuits!
After reading the December 2001 Braille Forum article entitled "WBU North America/Caribbean Region says no to UEBC in 2002," I expressed my concern to its author, ACB President Chris Gray, that this headline and his subsequent comment in the article (that the WBU regional members "opposed the adoption of the UEBC in 2002") might mislead some readers as to the context of the decision taken at a regional meeting earlier last year. Gray suggested that I write a clarifying letter to "The Braille Forum."
The letter to the Braille Authority of North America and the International Council on English Braille from me on behalf of our WBU Region which Gray included in its entirety does in fact state the facts clearly, i.e., that our region recommended to the International Council on English Braille that it postpone the vote scheduled at its January 2002 meeting until further consumer testing can take place.
Gray was absent for the majority of the discussion and therefore would not have fully appreciated the positive context of this recommendation. Some members committed funds to assist the Braille Authority of North America to carry out testing while others left the meeting agreeing to approach potential funding sources seeking support for this.
It was my observation that in general, members considered the work carried out by this world wide group of braille specialists on behalf of IECBI to be thorough and extensive. However, we felt that a "scientifically" based testing of braille users here in North America is required to confirm its validity and identify any specific problematic areas or issues.
I take comfort in knowing that debates and discussion about braille are taking place throughout the world. Many will recall the discussions of the 1970s and '80s conceding the imminent replacement of braille with technology. Braille, as the primary tool of literacy for the 160 million blind people worldwide, has a bright and solid future.
In the March 2002 Braille Forum there was an article, "Sighted People Have Rights Too." This expressed the feelings I have had at times. I have had low vision for the last five years but the majority of my life was spent as a sighted person. Becoming a partially sighted person has been quite an education for me and I am sure most in the sighted world do not understand or know about the varying degrees of sight. I think we need to educate them at every opportunity. Basically most people want to help and they just don't understand or do not think about the words that they use or that a casual comment might have the unexpected or unintended consequence of hurting someone's feelings. Although I have always been an independent person I try to accept an offer of help with good grace. There are times I really need it.
P.S.: I do enjoy "The Braille Forum." I think the articles are interesting and relevant. I particularly like the legislative reports, interviews and Here & There.
Bob Groff of Quitman, Ark. is seeking someone to teach him abacus. He would like someone experienced in teaching abacus who has worked with blind and visually impaired people as well as those with learning disabilities. He's trying to bring up his math skills so he can take the GED. Please correspond with him via cassette. His address is 487 PC Circle, Quitman, AR 72131.*****
As high school and college seniors across the country prepare to begin a new chapter of their lives, I too face a graduation of my own. For four and a half years, I have worked at the ACB national office as the administrative assistant to the executive director, my first full-time job in the real world. I have learned a variety of things, from the general skills of answering phones, typing correspondence, faxing and filing, to the specific skills of learning what products and services are available to blind and visually impaired people and how to be a sighted guide.
My education in the national office has not been limited to office skills and an introduction to the blindness community. Through the years, I have come to know the people I work with as a family of sorts; at times, fun and close-knit, and at other times, hectic. In four and a half years, we have watched one coworker through her entire pregnancy and seen her daughter grow before our eyes and watched another coworker through the dying process. Coworkers have left to pursue new and different opportunities and new ones have joined the team. We have laughed together, cried together, and most of all, grown together.
The only constancy in the real world is that things are constantly changing. But with any luck, there will be someone by your side to help you through the change. The ACB family has been there with me through those changes. Though the faces and names may change, the feeling of family has grown.
And now it is my turn to begin a new chapter of my life. I have been offered a new opportunity in the real world and will be leaving the ACB family. Similar to graduation from high school or college, I have mixed emotions about this new chapter of my life. While I am excited at the opportunity to try something new, I am also sad to leave the friends and family at ACB who I have grown with. My coworkers at the national office and the members of ACB have given me a great deal more than a paycheck. I will take with me the experience of a community of people who not only care about the cause but also care about each other. Thanks for the memories!*****
ACB wishes to thank its many members and friends who gave so generously in response to our December 2001 letter requesting support for ACB's ongoing programs and services. This partial list of donors reflects only those people who did not make it onto the list in April. Laura Oftedahl, Berkeley, CA Theodore Ruskin, Littleton, CO Becki & Jon Forsell, Tampa, FL Norma Boge & Eldon Conyers, Des Moines, IA Andrea Doane, Brookline, MA Cindy Wentz, Watertown, MA Debbie Komondy, Utica, MI Michael O'Brien, Troy, NY Donna Jean Harstad, Williston, ND Panagiota Bergados, Westerville, OH Larry J. Crawford, Canal Winchester, OH John & Karen Stuetter, Oregon, OH Pearl McMichael, New Brighton, PA Marcia Keller, El Paso, TX Debra Phillips, Vancouver, WA
Are you moving? If you are, or soon will be, please let Sharon Lovering at the ACB national office know by phone, (800) 424- 8666, or by e-mail, [email protected]
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