THE
Braille Forum
Volume XL June 2002 No. 12
Published By
The American Council of the Blind
THE AMERICAN COUNCIL OF THE BLIND STRIVES TO INCREASE THE INDEPENDENCE, SECURITY, EQUALITY OF OPPORTUNITY, AND QUALITY OF LIFE FOR ALL BLIND AND VISUALLY IMPAIRED PEOPLE.
Christopher Gray, President
Charles H. Crawford, Executive Director
Penny Reeder, Editor
Sharon Lovering, Editorial Assistant
National Office:
1155 15th St. NW
Suite 1004
Washington, DC 20005
(202) 467-5081
Fax: (202) 467-5085
Web Site: http://www.acb.org

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

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.

Copyright 2002
American Council of the Blind

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Celebrating Accessibility in the 21st Century, by Christopher Gray
The Transportation Challenge: Here to There without Worry?, by Charles H. Crawford
Report on the ACB Board of Directors Conference Call, April 30, 2002, by Winifred Downing
Affiliate News
In Memoriam: Karen Koelling Woodford; Three Friends Remember, by Harvey Heagy, Kristy Sykes, and Vicky Ireland
In Memoriam: Anna Rose Cain, by Carla Ruschival
The Day My Two-Year-Old Began College, by Missy Tijerina
Is There a New Optacon in Your Future?, by Penny Reeder
Jobs for the Blind: Java and Screen Readers, by Rodney Neeley
Accessible Voting Succeeds in Florida, by Deanie Lowe and Doug Hall
Flag Days, by Ken Stewart
My Faceless Students, by Verne R. Sanford
My Adaptive Technology Learning Adventure, by Cheryl Cumings
A Word to the Wise, by Jeannette E. Gerrard
Here and There, by Billie Jean Keith
High Tech Swap Shop
Letters to the Editor
Zeus to the Rescue!, by Ronnie Breeden
CLARIFICATION

The article, "Report on the Meeting of the ACB Board of Directors: February 17-18, 2002," which appeared in the April Braille Forum paraphrases the content of ACB Resolution 99-30 within the context of the discussion which took place at that meeting. The use of the word "convicted" is erroneous. ACB Resolution 99-30 refers to "documented disreputable business practices." The account of discussions which occurred at the ACB board of directors meeting should not be construed to imply, in any way, that MaxiAids has ever been convicted of a crime. As far as we are aware, MaxiAids has never been convicted of illegal business practices.


CELEBRATING ACCESSIBILITY IN THE 21ST CENTURY
by Christopher Gray

As long as I have been a member of ACB, a key buzzword going around in the organization has been "access," or its synonym, "accessibility." What does that concept of access really mean? For each of us, there is almost certainly a private meaning. For me, the meaning of "accessibility" has changed markedly over the course of my life. I cannot believe how much my thinking has evolved over the years. At age 12 or 13, I wasn't about to be seen traveling around with a cane outside, at school or around my neighborhood. There was no way I would bring such embarrassment onto myself! By age 17 and on my excited way to university, I had learned that carrying a cane was not a badge of disability, but rather a means of gaining access to a whole world of fun and activity I had denied my more tentative younger self.

In the early to mid-1970s, there was much greater debate than there is now within the blind community about the effectiveness of and need for audible pedestrian traffic signals. Part of me saw their possible benefit, but there was another part that shrank back from their loud noises and the attention they doubtless called to me and my travel skills. Oh, how I did not wish to endure that attention. And only slowly over time was I able to either ignore the fact of such attention, or to realize that much of the "attention" was perhaps more inside my head than in the real world around me. Partly, this has to do with growing up, but there is that element of becoming secure with oneself and putting together a realistic approach to what it actually means to be a functioning blind person. It was a far different thing to understand emotionally as well as believe philosophically how much we deserve the same right as blind people to know auditorially what others see visually. Each of us has gone through a private coming to terms with these and so many other issues related to our personal philosophy of blindness and accessibility to the world around us.

So what about a public definition? Here is one for the word, "access," from the quite-accessible web site dictionary.com: "A means of approaching, entering, exiting, communicating with, or making use of: {example}, a store with easy access.

"The act of approaching. The ability or right to approach, enter, exit, communicate with, or make use of: {example}, has access to the restricted area.

"Public access. An increase by addition."

These are intriguing definitions, particularly the one for "public access" which clearly allows for access to encompass additions of or additions to something to make it more available. This idea bears some serious consideration as we undertake future accessibility efforts in ACB.

As president of ACB and as a blind person, I have advocated and fought for access many times. In San Jose, Calif., we had astonishing difficulty with accessibility to public transit for many years. Finally, a small group of us sued as individuals, and our local chapter of CCB joined with us. Over time, we were able to make significant improvements in that transit district. The simple fact is that we fight for access every day whether for allowing a guide dog into a taxi or working with our cities to install accessible traffic signals.

But as true as these necessities are, as much as we are forced to continue the fight for access in many arenas and on practically a daily basis, how many times have you stopped lately to rally around the access that we as blind people already have? This year alone, significant numbers of talking ATMs have finally been deployed throughout the country. In Des Moines, many of us, including me, had never used a talking ATM before. Now, they are in many of our neighborhoods and towns.

ACB won a significant battle for described video and now several broadcasting networks are beginning to produce a handful of described shows. A year ago, this access seemed stalled due to the short-sightedness of those who would have tied the matter up in court.

Laser canes, accessible voting, accessible gambling machines, and yes, perhaps even more accessible paper money: these are all either on the horizon or already in existence. These are just some of the cool things that are being made accessible around the U.S. today.

Do you use the Internet? Several Internet sites have gone out of their way to make themselves unreservedly accessible to people who are blind. Albertsons.com created a web site specifically for blind and visually impaired users. A whole new array of shopping possibilities exists there. Paying bills online is no longer just a neat idea; blind people are doing this all over the country with dignity and independence.

I can't speak for anyone else, but I can get pretty frustrated when I think of how far we have yet to go to gain anything like complete accessibility. Taking a moment, however, to reflect on what we are about and how much success we have had helps us know that we can and will go further in the months and years to come. Yes, some of the days may be long, but they will give way to fruitful months and years of progress for ACB and for blind people throughout the world.

In closing, please let me acknowledge all of the work that everyone in ACB has done. You've worked tirelessly and these are some of your results. Whether you know it or not, you are making magic and creating a better world.


THE TRANSPORTATION CHALLENGE: HERE TO THERE WITHOUT WORRY?
by Charles H. Crawford

How often have all of us considered going to a movie, shopping, seeing friends, meeting that special person for a hot date, going to work, getting a haircut et cetera, only to run up against the dreaded "T" word? Truly transportation is a major bugaboo for folks with visual impairments, but hold on, there's hope!

ACB has been in the forefront of accessible environmental issues for many years. We have gotten detectable warning requirements enforced at the edges of subway and train platforms and those areas where we encounter vehicular traffic; we have gotten accessible pedestrian signalization installed at intersections where we need to know when the crossing phase is active; we are struggling to keep roundabouts from becoming a no man's land for the blind, but all these things will have gone for nought if we don't take the transportation challenge! Here's what I mean.

For years public transportation has been seen as a kind of transit repository for the dispossessed who are too poor to afford their own cars, or the politically correct and environmentally sound alternative to the private auto by many of us who listen to public radio and worry about life in third world countries. Smile. Yet neither of these views really addresses the larger issue of smart community growth or our own direct issue of getting from here to there safely and without many inconveniences. How many of us can recount endless problems with subway delays, buses passing us by, not finding bus stops, not having upcoming stops announced, not finding the bus we need in a row of them, trying to manage connections to other buses or trains in a system that seems unwieldy at best? Is there an answer? Let me offer two encouraging beacons of light in this all too often overwhelming world of public transport.

First, we can truly celebrate our organizational involvement with what is called Project Action. This program that has been around for many years seeks to combine the thinking of public and private transportation providers along with governmental officials and people with disabilities to improve the transportation situation for people with any number of disabilities, including us. We have gotten funding for a good deal of research and programming aimed at making our use of the transit system better. In fact, this year Project Action will be funding important programming, including training municipalities in the proper installation of accessible signals as well as partially funding research into making the pedestrian environment associated with public transportation more user-friendly.

Another approach to the issue of truly making transportation accessible is the fact that talking sign technology is finally making its entry into the mainstream of public transport. Two makers of signs for buses are already working on implanting talking sign transmitters into the sign at the front of the bus. This means that any person who has a talking sign receiver will be able to tell what bus is coming or is standing there and to get on just like everyone else. If we add this technology to the bus stop signs and get receivers into the hands of blind folks, then just imagine the difference from today to tomorrow!

ACB is deeply involved with these and other solutions. We will be giving away six talking sign systems at our national convention in Houston, and we are involved with helping Project Action to address the mobility issues we all confront. There are no singular solutions to the transportation challenge, but whether it be fixed route transportation, paratransit, combined modalities or the host of other approaches, we will meet the challenge, get from here to there with safety and convenience, and free ourselves of the isolation and exclusion that comes not from blindness, but from the unintended barriers that have arisen from mainstream planning while people who were blind were on the margins. Now, we who are blind demand the inclusion we deserve as participating citizens in the life of our larger community. Working together as an organization, we can make it happen.


REPORT ON THE ACB BOARD OF DIRECTORS
CONFERENCE CALL, APRIL 30, 2002
by Winifred Downing

"The Braille Forum" of April 2002 contained the report of the meeting of the ACB board of directors, February 17-18, 2002. An item in that report concerned MaxiAids which had, according to available documentation, purchased Perkins braillers from entities in Africa which had been subsidized by a grant from the Hilton-Perkins Foundation in an effort to promote the education of blind children in developing countries. MaxiAids had allegedly then resold the braillers at lower prices than would otherwise be charged for such braillers. Pursuant to a resolution ACB passed in 1999 (Resolution 99-30), the board of directors decided that MaxiAids could not exhibit at the upcoming convention, advertise in the convention program, or disseminate information about its products in the convention newspaper or on the telephone Newsline.

The report did not quote the 1999 resolution but in paraphrasing it, used the word "convicted" in referring to organizations or agencies that would be judged culpable of business practices meriting the enforcement of the restrictions. MaxiAids strongly objected to this language, and "The Braille Forum" apologized for the error online at the ACB web site.

Since MaxiAids also felt that the judgment was undeserved, because it had already received and returned its application documents in order to exhibit at the convention, Chris Gray, ACB president, assigned a working group under the direction of Steve Speicher, first vice president, to consider the matter. Speicher chose as committee members Brian Charlson, Charles Crawford, Paul Edwards, Oral Miller, and Mitch Pomerantz. Because the committee was not able to reach consensus on the matter, a meeting of the entire board of directors was called on April 30 to attempt to do so.

Members of the working group had access to between 400 and 500 pages of documentation which MaxiAids had submitted as relevant to the problem, and so much material was available concerning contested allegations that it was not possible to read everything. Of the six members who voted, three felt that additional information furnished to them suggested that the matter should be reconsidered. Three, however, believed that the essential facts had not changed and doubted that the entire board would think differently were the matter presented to them.

In an effort to consider all points of view regarding MaxiAids, discussion ensued concerning its history, relationships with other agencies and organizations, and the way in which it is perceived by blind people. Serious consideration was given to the various actions and positions which the ACB might adopt. The board had at its disposal the opinions of the members of the working group derived from their extensive study and could have asked also to hear from the MaxiAids attorney, though they voted not to request his presence.

Some members of the working group and the rest of the board had concerns arising from the documentation they had seen and wished to rescind the decision made in February. They also felt that Resolution 99-30 should be rescinded because, implemented in this instance, it would require that the organization assume a watchdog attitude toward organizations in the future, resulting in its being difficult to administer. Others felt that problems of this type would occur only rarely, that the intention of the convention was clear in passing 99-30 and that the board was at this time required to function with that position in place.

The board voted against rescinding the February decision and recommended to President Gray and Charlie Crawford that guidelines be established for applying Resolution 99- 30 in the future and for the process to be followed in reinstating an organization once barred from participation in the ACB convention. It was resolved that the president, executive director, and chair of the board of publications confer on any further statements necessary concerning this subject.


AFFILIATE NEWS

If You Want to Use the Buses in Houston

Hello all of you folks coming to the convention. If you're interested in using our Metro buses or the MetroLift paratransit service which serves the Houston area, just fax a copy of your identification card to the attention of Dwayne Thompson at this number: (713) 615-7140 and tell them which dates you'll be staying in Houston. Remember that, to use the paratransit service, you'll have to make a reservation at least one day in advance. To schedule a ride, call (713) 225-6716 between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. weekdays, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays, and 1 to 5 p.m. Sundays. We're all looking forward to your coming to Houston. -- Ed Bradley

CURTAIN UP ON FRIENDS-IN-ART'S ACTING WORKSHOPS:
Leading Man: George Ashiotis
by Nancy Marie-Luce Pendegraph and Janiece Petersen

Friends-in-Art is delighted to sponsor two workshops featuring a blind actor from live theater: George Ashiotis. Some of you may recognize that name from the 1997 Houston banquet's presentation of Theater by the Blind. George has been co-artistic director of Theater by the Blind since 1993, and brings a wealth of experience from general and blindness-related theatrical productions. He told us that while honing his skills as an actor, he has held a diversity of jobs which give breadth and depth to his insights as an artist.

Wednesday's workshop: Overview with Special Point of View: Any and all are welcome who would like to learn more about the pitfalls of and preparation for acting. George will focus on various facets of acting including blindness-related performance concerns on stage, such as eye contact, blocking of movements, and the subtle visual details of maintaining character. There will be exercises on how to prepare one's body and voice for performing. No, we don't have Barbara Walters dropping by, but George will be interviewed, and there will be an opportunity for questions and answers to learn more about his acting career.

Thursday's workshop: Trying your wings: George has selected two monologues each for men and women -- one serious, and one humorous. Individuals participating in this workshop must pick up their script of choice at the Friends-in- Art Sunday afternoon mixer, the Wednesday afternoon workshop, or at the FIA tables in the exhibit hall. These scripts are available in large print and braille. You may obtain a script by e-mail prior to the convention by contacting Peter Altschul at [email protected] Participants will read their monologue at Thursday's workshop, and George will give them tips on how to make their performance or communication more effective. This workshop will give you a chance to explore "real acting." It may also expand your ideas of how to communicate.

LUA Invites You to Its Convention and Drawing

You are invited to attend the 2002 annual convention program and participate in our prize-packed drawing at the Adam's Mark Hotel July 1 and 3, 2002.

Schedule

Monday, July 1, 2002 1:15 p.m. to 1:40 p.m.: Finding The Book You Need The Louis Way. Looks at a new database developed by the American Printing House for the Blind to find that accessible book you've been wishing to read for years.

1:40 to 2:45 p.m.: Accessible Public Libraries: How do we get them, and what happens after we have them? Panel discussion led by Barry Levine. Panelists: Joel Pinkus, Terri Lynne Pomeroy, and Pat Shreck. Discussion will focus on various access issues, sources for accessibility funding, and ways to encourage use.

2:45 to 3 p.m.: Break

3:00 to 3:30: Update on National Library Services. NLS representative Michael Moody will discuss developments at the National Library Service and progress on specific projects.

3:30 to 4:10: National Library Committee Reports. Sharon Strzalkowski, LUA vice president, will discuss the NLS Equipment Committee meeting held April 3-5, 2002. Jill O'Connell, board member, Library Users of America, will discuss concerns addressed at the annual NLS Book Collection Subcommittee meeting held in May 2002. Don Breda has been invited to speak on developments in the digital books arena.

4:15 to 4:45: Annual LUA general business meeting. All current LUA members are invited to participate. Elections will be held this year for the five board positions.

5 to 7 p.m.: Annual LUA Wine and Cheese Party. Tickets are $6 in advance, $8 at the door.

Wednesday, July 3, 2002 Library Users of America & Braille Revival League Joint Program

1:30 to 1:40 p.m. Welcome and Introductions. During this brief session, participants will be asked to introduce themselves, tell where they are from and their favorite book from the past year.

1:40 to 2:30 p.m. NLS Narrator, Erik Sandvold

2:30 to 3 p.m. Bookshare.org -- It's happening and it works. Jim Fruchterman, founder of Benetech, Technology Serving Humanity, talks about this great new online service called Bookshare.org from its beginnings to today's reality.

3 to 3:15 p.m. Break

3:15 to 3:45 p.m. Exploring E-Books. Cecelia Robinson, with the Texas education program, will talk about the e-book online service we've been hearing so much about.

3:45 to 4:30 p.m. A Look at the Future of Radio Reading Services. Panel discussion. Jonathan Mosen and others TBA

Library Users of America is having a drawing. Tickets are just $1 each. Winners will be announced Friday, July 5, during the ACB annual convention in Houston. Winners need not be present. Prizes include: one copy of the ACB History book on cassette (value as yet undetermined) - donated by the National Library Service; one TV/radio receiver (value $160) - donated by C. Crane Company; one subscription to Bookshare.org (value $75) - donated by Benetech, Technology Serving Humanity; one one-hundred dollar ($100) cash prize - donated by Library Users of America. Your one dollar donation per ticket will help fund many LUA activities, including production of the LUA newsletter, published and distributed twice a year, development of informational materials about library programs and services, and efforts around the country to make local public libraries accessible. To donate and place your name in the drawing, please contact Pat Shreck, LUA President, or any LUA officer or board member during the national convention in Houston. And GOOD LUCK!!!

Workshop For Serious Job Seekers
by Mitch Pomerantz, Chairperson

Employment Issues Task Force

Employment -- or the lack thereof -- has been a hot topic around ACB for as long as I can remember. With establishment last summer of the Employment Issues Task Force, the American Council of the Blind is preparing to do more than simply talk!

On Sunday, June 30th, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., the task force will conduct "Brass Tacks Job Search and Retention Strategies for the 21st Century." This interactive program is geared for serious job seekers, no "lookie-loos" please. Topics to be covered include: Preparing to Get a Job; Getting the Job; and On the Job Issues. An entertaining and informative ADA presentation will kick-off the festivities and there will be plenty of time for discussion and questions.

Additionally, the task force will provide employment-related materials on diskette which you can use later.

We are limiting participation to 64 people in order to maximize interaction between attendees and presenters. A $3 fee will be charged to cover the cost of wake-up refreshments.

If you are unable to attend the Sunday program, one of the break-out sessions on Thursday will address much of the same information, although not in as much detail. However, given the number of people likely to attend, the Thursday session cannot be as participatory. Nonetheless, if you miss out on the Sunday program or just want to find out what we're doing and saying, join the task force on Thursday. See y'all in Houston!

Wanna Buy a Horse?
by Barbara Kron

Well, here's your chance. CCLVI's Game Night, Wednesday, July 3 from 7 to 11 p.m., will feature a horse race you will never forget. Six horses and riders will be sold to the highest bidders. They may be purchased at the Welcome to Houston party, CCLVI mixer and CCLVI Sunday night dance. You or your affiliate can bid on: Princess Papoola aboard Hawaiian Knight, Scarecrow on Hayburner, Batt Masterson on his black stallion Stardust, the Gambler with Shady Lady in the saddle, Ghost Rider on Spoke, or Long Tall Texan on Pecos Pete. If your horse and rider are the grand winner of this three-heat race, you will be welcomed into the winner's circle to receive your reward.

Come and see some of ACB's most popular couples tell all in our version of "The Marriage Game," sing along with "Team Name That Tune," play "Team Trivia" and "The Dating Game." Let CCLVI buy dinner for the winning bachelor and his date and the winning bachelorette and her date. All this and more will take place in a cabaret-like setting complete with bar. If you want to participate in "The Dating Game," call Barbara Kron at (707) 838- 9207 or CCLVI at (800) 733-2258.

All games, horses and riders will be described by your host and hostess for the evening, Charles Glaser and Barbara Kron. So get your teams of five together for "Team Name That Tune" and "Team Trivia." Come join the fun; you don't even have to leave the hotel.

Visually Impaired Data Processors International
VIDPI Chatroom

VIDPI invites you to participate in our chatroom on Sunday evenings at 8 p.m. EDT on www.for-the-people.com. We meet there for approximately one hour or however long you might want to hang around afterwards. In order to use the chatroom, you must sign up with "for-the-people" ahead of time. One of the first links on that site will allow you to sign up. Allow a day or two to get a response back. There is no charge. After that, you will use your ID and password to get into the VIDPI chatroom. To find the chatroom, just hit the letter "V" twice and you'll be there.

Session on Visual Basic on Chatroom John Mattioli is planning to host a session on Visual Basic on the VIDPI chatroom at www.for-the-people.com on the evening of June 9, 2002 starting at 8 p.m. We are going to see how this one works and if it works well we would like to do other sessions in the future. Please do join in.

National Convention Program Our vice president and program chair, Frank Welte, is putting together a great program for the convention in Houston. Once again our Sunday session will allow our exhibitors to explain their products to VIDPI and friends. We will present both technical and not-so-technical sessions later in the week. There will be something for a wide range of computer users and power users alike. As always, our luncheon speaker will provide an interesting perspective. Afterwards, VIDPI will hold its annual business meeting. Among the items of business, there will be presentation of proposed amendments to the constitution and bylaws. Please keep us in mind when making your convention plans.

Join VIDPI VIDPI invites you to become a member. If you are a computer user anywhere on the spectrum from hobbyist to power user, VIDPI invites you to join us. Among our benefits is the newsletter on tape or on our web page. Rob Hubbard, our editor, does an outstanding job. You can sample our newsletter by going to our web page and streaming the audio or you can download the MP3 file to your computer for later listening. Information about joining can be found on the web page.

AAVL Elections

The Alliance on Aging and Vision Loss will be holding an important election on Tuesday, July 2, following our annual luncheon. A new president will be elected as well as two board positions. The offices of vice president and recording secretary will also be open for re-election. The AAVL slate selected by our nominating committee will be sent to all members by June 1, 2002.

The AAVL prize-drawing this year will offer three wonderful prizes: 3 day, 2 night stay in Las Vegas at the Orleans Hotel, a set of tapes of old radio shows and an afghan, hand-made by Milly Lillibridge commemorating the "Heart of America." AAVL board members will be selling tickets including Jeanne Sanders, Teddie- Joy Remhild, Bill Lewis, Al Gayzagian, Jean Peyton and Bob Chaffin. The winners will be announced on Thursday at the general session.

McDaniel Fund Drawing

There will be a prize-drawing for the Durward McDaniel Fund to be held at the "Texas MacHatter Tea Party" on July 4th. There will be two sets of prizes. Drawing prizes will include $250, $150 and $100 cash. The winner of prizes for the most inventive hat will receive four handmade mats which will be red, white and blue in color and have a star on them for Texas, and an authentic Texas hat, and a replica of some historic sites in Washington, DC. We will also have a few other surprises. Our tickets cost $1 each or 6 for $5. Tickets can be bought from any committee members or they can contact me at (510) 357-1986. Request tickets from Cathie Skivers at 836 Resota Street, Hayward, CA 94545-2120. Committee members are Terry Pacheco, M. J. Schmitt, Dr. Ed Bradley, Stephanie Hall, Lucille Fierce, Milly Lillibridge, Carl McCoy, and Gerald Pye. I hope everybody helps with this most worthwhile cause. -- Cathie Skivers

Illinois Drawing

The Illinois Council of the Blind is holding its annual computer drawing again this year. The system specifications for the computer are: Intel Celeron 1.2 Ghz, 128 MB Ram, 20 GB hard drive, 3D video, sound, speakers, CD-RW drive, floppy drive, 17- inch monitor, 56K modem, keyboard, optical mouse, Windows XP, Microsoft Office 2002. Tickets are $2 each or 3 for $5. The drawing will be October 12, 2002 during the ICB convention. Tickets may be obtained from our office by calling (888) 698-1862 or at the ACB convention from Ray Campbell, MJ Schmitt or any of the Illinois delegation.


IN MEMORIAM: KAREN KOELLING WOODFORD
Three Friends Remember
by Harvey Heagy, Kristi Sykes, and Vicky Ireland

Memories from Harvey Heagy The ACB and the community of people who are blind have suffered a great loss with the sudden death, on Friday, March 29, of Karen Koelling Woodford, 53, of Nebraska and Colorado.

I first met Karen in 1989 at an NFB convention in Denver. Right away, I found her to be one of the most upbeat people I had ever met. She was an avid sports fan, and her favorite football team was the Denver Broncos. Karen was a regular caller to the Joe and Irv sports talk show on the Fan 950 -- so much so that when her apartment caught fire, destroying most of her possessions, the on-air personalities helped in an effort to replace her losses.

Karen was a go-getter -- a person who could tell a stranger in Denver how to get anywhere in that city on a bus.

While attending the Colorado School for the Blind, she and three others formed a singing group called "the Teenmates," which, I am told, did quite a bit of performing.

In recent years, she served as the information director for the Colorado Council of the Blind. When given the opportunity, Karen was a hard worker who would try her best at anything she set out to do. If there was a way to succeed, she found it.

But, most important, Karen was a person of integrity who was never afraid to speak her mind or to stand up for what she thought was right.

In 1991 when I was going through one of the darkest hours of my life, Karen was one of the people who helped me through it. She was there for me during a very difficult time and for that I will always be grateful, and never forget her.

I had the pleasure of hosting Karen for nearly two weeks for Mardi Gras in 1992. Anyone who has been to Mardi Gras in New Orleans knows that it is a very hectic time. The city turns topsy turvy. Cabs are hard to get, and public transportation doesn't work the way it normally does. You can't even count on parades rolling according to schedule because of weather conditions and other variables. So you just have to allow for unpredictability and live with it the best way you can until it's over.

And, to make things more hectic that particular year, I was working the overnight shift at a New Orleans radio station, so I was getting by on very little sleep because I was also trying to get Karen to as many parades as possible so that she could experience the total ambiance of the season. At times, both our nerves became frayed, but as is the case with every Mardi Gras, we got through it and breathed a sigh of relief on Ash Wednesday when it was over for another year.

I put together a souvenir audio cassette album of local broadcast Mardi Gras coverage plus music associated with the season, and Karen loved it so much that she hosted Mardi Gras parties thereafter at her apartment on every subsequent Mardi Gras using those tapes as background.

I had spoken to Karen only casually over the last few years, but she seemed to lose some of that upbeat posture that so dramatically characterized her during the early days of our relationship. We all grow older, though, as we cope with the losses that inevitably come along during the course of our lives, and Karen had a plateful of disappointments to deal with in her own life. I wonder if any one of us would do any better than she did or if we could display the same class and bravery she did.

Karen did not climb Mount Everest or sit on any national board or hold any particularly high office. She was just a normal everyday person like most of the rest of us. But she worked hard and always did her best.

Perhaps I didn't find the right way to do it, but I wish I had done a better job of reaching out to Karen. For me, Karen's death is very hard to deal with because I know of nothing that should have taken her life.

At her own request, there was no funeral or memorial service. It is my understanding that she had remarked to friends that she didn't want any kind of service because she felt that no one really cared about her.

Karen, this article is a testimony as to just how much many people cared about you, and as a Christian, I can only hope that God will one day reveal to you just how much you were loved and cared for. We will miss you very much.

Memories from Kristi Sykes It was sometime in the 1980s, I think, that I first met Karen Woodford. We were both living in Denver then, and we were attending some blindness function or other. A group of us got around to introducing ourselves, and then both of us ended up getting jobs at a telemarketing place.

Karen always had a unique, sometimes amusing, way of looking at things. We worked alongside each other and got on famously. Sometimes we would go to our favorite "watering hole," where we would often entertain one another with anecdotes or responses to whatever was going on in our lives at the time.

Since Karen and her dad had always enjoyed football, we both got a kick out of the Andy Griffith "What It Was Was Football" routine, where he'd say, "I did." She'd call me sometimes and make a comment, and then say, "I did," like Andy. That'd usually get us going.

When I got divorced some years back, Karen was there for me. She was there for me when my dad died. I don't know how I would have made it without her. Karen and I had an unforgettable friendship and I miss her. I feel enriched to have known her.

Memories from Vicky Ireland

I find comfort in remembering the good times Karen and I had together. We laughed more as kids than we did as adults. But we still had plenty of good times even in adulthood.

One memory I'll treasure from a couple of years ago has to do with singing. We were at a non-denominational church service. We just happened to be standing next to one another, sharing in song, a thing we hadn't done for years. We had sung in the recent past, but positionally, we always seemed to be on opposite sides of the room. In that moment of singing, I was again struck by how well she sang with that beautiful contralto voice of hers and how much I enjoyed standing next to her. I dropped out from my harmony just for a quick moment to listen to her sing and just to delight, not only in what she was singing, but in how she was singing. She always sang with such gusto and life, and with such expression. I remember just savoring that moment. And at that particular time, she sure remembered more words than I did of that familiar but not quite remembered hymn. I'll miss those times, and I'll miss her. I can only trust that she now sings even more gloriously, being unencumbered by the things of this old world that sometimes weigh us down. And I'm confident that we'll meet again and once more join in happy song.

I extend heartfelt sympathy to any of you who were Karen's friends or acquaintances who are touched by her sudden exit from this world.


IN MEMORIAM: ANNA ROSE CAIN
by Carla Ruschival

It is with sorrow that we report the death of Anna Rose Cain on Tuesday, October 23, 2001.

Rose was a life member of the Kentucky Council of the Blind, a graduate of the Kentucky School for the Blind (class of '52), and a long-time member of the K.S.B. Alumni Association. Rose served as president of the Alumni Association in the mid-'90s, and was president of the Kentucky Council of the Blind in 1974 and 1975 during KCB's reorganization process. Rose was one of KCB's representatives on the Kentucky Department for the Blind Advisory Council. She was active in the Library Users of America and other ACB special- interest groups, and was a retired social worker, having assisted countless blind people over the years.

Expressions of sympathy should take the form of contributions to the Ned Cox Fund at the Kentucky School for the Blind, 1867 Frankfort Avenue, Louisville, KY 40206.

We'll miss you, Rose.


THE DAY MY TWO-YEAR-OLD BEGAN COLLEGE
by Missy Tijerina

(Editor's Note: I met Missy Tijerina on the ROP List, an electronic-mailing list where parents of preemies who are blind or visually impaired as a result of Retinopathy of Prematurity and some adults with ROP trade stories, support and information. I have "known" Daniel in that way since his earliest infancy and have listened as Missy shared her feelings about being the mother of a child who would never see, her worries about Daniel's food aversions, her jubilation about his first words, the successes he experienced with scleral shells, his first days at preschool, his first Halloween party when Missy sent photos of the cutest Halloween bat anyone on the list had ever seen. I am very pleased that Missy agreed to share her family's very positive experience with the UNLV nursery school program.)

Send my precious former 23-week premature miracle and now blind two-year-old son to preschool? What was I thinking? I must be crazy. There had to be another alternative. Surely I could find some caring person to watch my Daniel in her home while I went to work every day.

I was confronted with a true child care crisis when my son's in-home caregiver told me that she was moving out of state. I spent the next three months interviewing providers and visiting their homes. Many had reservations about watching a blind child, and no one seemed suitable to tackle the task at hand. What was I to do?

Fortunately, things seem to happen in very wonderful and mysterious ways for moms of preemies and special-needs children. I heard about a preschool program administered by the Department of Education at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas from another mom of a preemie. She had so many wonderful things to say and it sounded fantastic -- but would they be capable of working with my blind son, let alone accept him into the program? With school registration only a week away, I contacted the director of the program, Catherine Lyons, and explained my situation. She took a genuine interest in Daniel and seemed excited about welcoming him into the program. She explained that the school operated within a traditional classroom setting, with classroom teachers and university students who worked as teachers' aides.

Just thinking about my Daniel's first day at school, I was terrified! Would they be able to love and care for my precious baby? Or would he sit in a corner all day without anyone to hug him when he was upset? How would he be received by his classmates and the teacher? The questions kept me up all night. He was, after all, my miracle preemie and the most special thing that had ever happened in my life.

To help children adjust to the new environment, the school encourages parents to drop off their children and say a quick goodbye. Fortunately for me, Ms. Lyons understood my anxieties and allowed me to stay for a few hours with Daniel on his first day. Being a mom, I believed that my extended stay was for Daniel's benefit. Now, though, I realize that the exception was made to help me with my own transition! Daniel took so quickly to his classroom, the teacher, aides and his 12 new classmates. Within weeks he was doing and exploring so much. It seemed as if he was learning something new and wonderful on a daily basis. I discovered that my blind son can create the most magnificent works of art with finger paints. That he can ride a tricycle. That he enjoys making new friends. And that he loves to read books!

The year has flown by. Recently, I was surprised when I walked into Daniel's classroom to find all of the university student aides blindfolded and trying to play with the toys and books in the room. On the tables were the remnants of arts and crafts projects and ice cream melting. Daniel's teacher explained to me that she wanted to try to give the college students a little sample of what Daniel's everyday experiences were like. They were required to scoop ice cream from the container, put it in a bowl, pour chocolate sauce over it and eat it, do an arts and craft project and explore the classroom. At the end of the day they were asked to write about their experiences (not knowing that I would ever see a copy of what was written).

The teacher presented me with a copy of the pictures that were taken during that day and the stories that the college kids who work with Daniel on a daily basis had written. One particular story touched me deeply. There is a student aide named "Mr. Eric." Here is what he wrote:

"This past Thursday in the meeting, I learned a lot about myself and Daniel. At first I thought the whole activity would be fun and kind of silly. As time passed during the activity I slowly came to realize how hard it was for Daniel and how I take things for granted in my life. Though I feel bad for him, it is not good for us to baby Daniel because we have to get him ready for the world. The most that we can do is help by making him understand concepts, speaking to him and letting him do things independently. I truly love Daniel and want to help him in any way I can."

There were many other stories that shared similar feelings: realizations about how the aides needed to assist Daniel by explaining and describing things better and help him by teaching him independence. I remember how worried I was when I first enrolled Daniel in the preschool at UNLV. Now, my husband and I smile whenever we see a bumper sticker on a car that reads, "My son is an Honor Student at John Doe Elementary School." We keep saying that we need to get one that reads, "Our three-year-old attends the University of Nevada, Las Vegas."

Now I know that Daniel is in the perfect place.

CAPTIONS

Daniel dressed up as a bat for his first Halloween party at preschool. Here he looks ready to take off on another adventure with the help of his walker!

Eric is sitting on the floor next to another student who is playing with a doll, thinking that someone would bring him a toy to play with. After a few minutes, Missy said, he realized that if he wanted to play, he was going to have to get a toy for himself!

Eric (left) cautiously pours syrup over his bowl of ice cream.


IS THERE A NEW OPTACON IN YOUR FUTURE?
by Penny Reeder

My friend, Melanie, says she used an Optacon to get through law school. "I used to take it to the library, and even when I couldn't find a live reader, I could use the Optacon to get research done," she says.

A systems administrator has told me about the middle-of-the- night crises she used to be called upon to solve. "The phone would ring at 3 a.m., and the person on the other end of the line would tell me that the system had just crashed. The only way I could rescue the system," she says, "was to get out my Optacon and begin searching through those reams of computer print-outs to locate the programming error that had caused the system to crash. Without the Optacon, I could not have done my job."

Another friend buys used Optacons, just so she'll have spare parts available for the inevitable day when hers fails. She still finds it the most efficient device in her house for sorting through the envelopes that come in the mail.

I know a blind man who believes the Optacon is the single most important technological innovation for people who are blind to have occurred within the last hundred years, more important than the development of screen readers, more important than the Internet.

Screen readers, braille displays, OCR reading systems, and combinations of all these approaches to making printed materials accessible to people who are blind and visually impaired have replaced the original Optacons, but many people still look back upon the original devices with a certain degree of nostalgia, and some personal speculations: What if the Optacon hadn't fallen on hard times; what if the machines had gotten easier instead of harder to use; what if prices had gone down?...

What if there were to be a new Optacon? A better Optacon? One that could combine the advantages of electronic tactile displays, refreshable braille, text to speech and speech to text, one that used off-the-shelf components to keep prices down and encourage replacement of components with better cheaper ones as they become available, one that used digital technologies? Are these idle speculations, or is such a device around the proverbial corner? Improved Optacon on the Near Horizon?

According to Oleg Tretiakoff, who developed the first piezo-electric braille display in 1975, a new, improved Optacon is on the near horizon. As a matter of fact, the inventor, who began working with Dean Blazie to develop the tactile display for such a device in late 1999 under a research grant which was funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), says that the new Optacon may, in fact, evolve into two machines, one for people who prefer to read by touch, and another for blind people who cannot access or process information tactually.

Tretiakoff explains, "During the last 30 years, we have witnessed changes in electronic circuits technology and consequently computer hardware and software which have rendered the technology used in the original Optacon all but obsolete, while the functions it provided have remained as necessary and important as they were 30 years ago. In addition, researchers throughout the world have learned much about the way people process information tactually. Our goal is to develop new print reading machines around the best available electronic circuits technology and software available today, and to apply what researchers have learned about the ways people interface best with tactile displays so that whatever we design will be easier to learn to use and easier to use than the original Optacon reading machine." A Multi-Modal Reading Machine

Tretiakoff, whose company, C.A.Technology, Inc., has been developing the new device with the remnants of the original grant which the NSF awarded to Blazie Engineering before the company was sold to Freedom Scientific (which chose not to continue the research), says that the new iteration of the Optacon will dispense more than just the tactile impressions of letters and symbols which its predecessor provided.

"People have had more than a century of experience reading embossed braille produced on paper, and about 20 years of practice with refreshable braille displays," he explains. "And we know that braille is the preferred way for blind people to read."

"There are some symbols and graphics that just can't be converted into braille," he continues, "and our new display would simply utilize the information which a very accurate digital camera can convey to convert symbols like those into a tactually accessible display. Therefore, the new machine's tactile graphic array will actually display combinations of two types of information: braille and tactual representations of symbols and graphics."

"The new machine will use a megapixel digital color camera to acquire an image of any document, book page or printed object in a single shot," he continues. With the new device, one will no longer have to put a large volume through a series of contortions or risk breaking the book's spine in order to scan in images of its pages for a reading system.

Nor will the machine be confined to interfacing only with printed sheets of paper. Tretiakoff explains, "The goal of the new machine is to allow blind people to read what is written, not necessarily just printed materials on paper, but written information wherever it appears. The display which we are working on will be very thin -- probably no thicker than a third of an inch."

He is investigating a number of possible alternatives for the machine's actuator device, but he is convinced that, no matter what alternative he settles upon, the new reading machine will generate its tactile array in a completely new way. Therefore, one can imagine the number of convenient applications that such a display mechanism might afford. The display could become part of another device, in fact, like a personal data assistant or a cell phone, or it could be the display component on a computer system.

Tretiakoff understands that braille is not everyone's cup of tea. Some people came to blindness late in life and have not had the patience or the inclination to learn to read braille or to develop their tactile sensibilities; others have additional disabilities, like certain neuropathies, which make tactile discrimination virtually impossible. Therefore, Tretiakoff plans to make a version of the new machine which will utilize the advanced optical character recognition features of a digital camera to provide information in spoken formats. "We do not intend to reinvent the OCR process, but we will carefully select the best available OCR and synthetic speech software," he explains. Such a device might cost as little as $1,500, he told me.

Tretiakoff says that the new machines will be easy to learn to use. "They should be very easy to operate without any specialized training, both by blind people proficient in braille reading and by those who are unable to read by touch," he said.

When C.A. Technology took over the project, there was only 20 percent of the original grant funding left. Two years later, the money is running out, and Tretiakoff has submitted grant proposals to the National Science Foundation to continue product development. "I have done the preliminary research which shows what should be done," he explains. "But there is still much work to do."

His grant proposals were submitted on May 2, and the period for submitting proposals will conclude in June. His goals are twofold: First, to bring the cost of a new Optacon down, and second, to bring down the thickness of any tactile display array. He believes that he can make the display thin enough to interface easily with a multitude of other electronic devices, and that the new machine may cost as little as half that of the original Optacon. Meanwhile in Wuppertal, Germany Blind people are already using something called "TIM" to convert printed symbols and pictures into tactual displays."TIM" stands for Tactile Interactive Monitor, and according to its inventor, Gunnar Matschulat, there are already several people using his invention at their worksites, and by the end of 2002, the company hopes to have between 15 and 20 people actively testing the device.

Video-TIM converts a visual image into piezo-electric "dots" to display the image and make it tactually accessible to people who cannot access it visually. TIM employs digital technology which can "decide" which particular pixels of a graphic should be displayed, and which ones should not -- thereby producing an image which is free enough of "clutter" to be understood tactually.

The TIM stand-alone machine provides only a tactile display, which is similar, though not identical, to that of the original Optacon. According to Matschulat, "The Video-TIM is built to show a live video-picture of original graphics, and letters just like the original Optacon. There is a PC-TIM, which, via its connection with a computer, is able to display braille as well. But the PC-TIM is not a finished product yet. We have to simplify its usage."

According to the machine's inventor, it takes only about a day for a blind person to learn to use the TIM device, although their reading speed is "very slow for sure."

Former users of the Optacon have told me about having to learn to recognize and decode the printed alphabet before even beginning to learn to use the Optacon, so I think this reported learning curve of one day is remarkable to say the least.

I have enjoyed corresponding with both these inventors. Matschulat has the kind of sardonic wit that I appreciate. When I asked him how much the Video-TIM might cost in U.S. dollars, he told me he is unable to provide an estimate right now. The company is struggling and working under the constraints of a very low budget, but Matschulat is not discouraged.

"As you know," he said, "there is a law of nature that successful people are required to start in a garage."

Who knows, perhaps both these inventors will turn out to be the next Steve Jobs and Bill Gates of the assistive-technology community!

To learn more about the Video-TIM, visit the company's web site at www.abtim.com. To learn more about the new Optacon, visit www.catechnology.net or e-mail the machine's inventor at [email protected]


JOBS FOR THE BLIND: JAVA AND SCREEN READERS
by Rodney Neeley

The purpose of this article is to tell my own story. I have been asked to write this story because of the fact that it could be considered a major issue which confronts blind job hunters as well as those blind people who are employed in private industry. Additionally, some of the critical comments which I will make regarding Microsoft Active Accessibility (MSAA) enabled screen readers are germane to all Windows-based products currently on the market. With that in mind, here's my story.

The names of the two companies mentioned in this article have been changed to protect their identities.

I had worked in inside sales for approximately three years when I decided to move back to the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. I thought that my career opportunities would increase because Washington has become a center for high tech companies. After looking around for approximately two months, I landed a job with Dialog Communications. Dialog Communications sold teleconferencing services. Everything went well for the first year of my employment at Dialog. I even managed to win an award for selling the most reservationless teleconferencing services in the entire nation.

Then Dialog was taken over by a company called General Conferencing. For the next six months, everyone seemed really excited about the new company. I was pretty happy about the situation because our sales commissions were increased. We also had a broader product line to sell to consumers.

The most important addition to our product line was our web conferencing service. This service enables people in different locations to share presentations over the web. My colleagues and I were all excited about selling this new service. So we started producing our own PowerPoint presentations and practicing presenting them to each other.

I participated in this presentation sharing. I did my presentation just like everyone else. It did not contain too many graphics, but it was interesting to learn to use PowerPoint. My presentation worked fine when I was using it on my own computer, but when I tried to conduct a practice presentation with one of my colleagues using the Internet, I discovered that I could no longer read my presentation. Fortunately, I was able to do most of the presentation from memory, but I sensed that not being able to read the presentation using my screen reader was a bad omen. I tried to participate in presentations with my colleagues as a member of the audience, but I couldn't read their presentations either.

After investigating this phenomenon, I learned that our web presentation software was written in Java. I knew that my screen reader did not work well with many Java applications. So I decided to contact some more knowledgeable computer users. I asked them to try to use our web conferencing service. Curtis Chong, Technology Director for the National Center for the Blind, tried our web conferencing software. He discovered that I was correct. General's web conferencing services just wouldn't work well with my screen reader. Part of the reason for this was that there were no text labels included in our web applications. For example, instead of saying "Question" when someone had a question about the presentation, the software showed a man with his hand raised and a puzzled look on his face.

Upon further investigation, I contacted Sun Microsystems. One of their accessibility engineers told me that General's software was not written using Sun's recommended accessibility standards for Java applications. I spoke to our programmers about this issue. They told me they were working on this problem. That was six months ago; the problem still exists today, as I discovered when I visited the General conferencing web site.

Since web conferencing was our major new product and we were penalized for not doing at least 20 presentations per week, I decided to leave my inside sales position at General. Since then, I have recently found a job as a contract specialist with the Department of Interior. I decided to work for the federal government because of the Section 508 regulations. These regulations should encourage federal agencies to provide information platforms that are accessible to blind computer users. Besides that, I was tired of selling. Most of my colleagues in inside sales had changed companies once every two to three years. I wanted a position that was more secure, and, fortunately, I was able to obtain such a position.

I believe this issue has some further ramifications for all totally blind job seekers. How can we compete in today's high tech graphically oriented job market? I'm not a technology expert. I'm a salesman. Like most salespeople, I don't want to have to be an expert on technology. I just want my products to work well with speech so that I can conduct presentations to my customers.

I have also done some remote work which required me to dial into a database. The dial-up connection showed me a graphic of the database, which, of course, my screen reader couldn't read. I have spoken with other people who have experienced this situation. What can we do to help blind people have efficient access to dial-up databases? Just today, I was searching for jobs on the Internet. I came across a company called Check Again. I visited their web site, http://www.checkagain.com. I tried their on-line demo. The first two screens worked well with my screen reader. The third screen contained some graphic images which my screen reader could not interpret. How could I realistically expect to compete for this position if the web demo won't work with my screen-reading software?

This company is not obligated to comply with Section 508 because it works mostly with private companies. I guess that what I am trying to say is that technology is developing at a rapid pace. Our screen readers are just not able to keep up with all of these advancements. So what does this mean for the 74 percent of blind people who are not working?


ACCESSIBLE VOTING SUCCEEDS IN FLORIDA
by Deanie Lowe and Doug Hall

(Editor's Note: Deanie Lowe is currently the Supervisor of Elections in Volusia County, Florida and Doug Hall, who chairs the Access Committee of the Florida Council of the Blind, serves on the local elections advisory committee.)

A fundamental right which we as adults of voting age expect is the ability to go to the polls on election day and cast a secret ballot. However, there are people with certain disabilities who have long been unable to enjoy this right, because voting equipment designed to make it possible for them to vote without assistance was not available. People who are blind, visually impaired, dyslexic and unable to read English have had to rely on the assistance of other people to cast their ballots. This so-called accommodation has caused personal embarrassment and always meant that someone other than the voter knows how his or her votes were cast.

Voters with print disabilities have generally been served in Volusia County and most other areas of the state of Florida in the following manner:

When a person registers to vote, he or she is asked to indicate on the application whether assistance with voting is needed. If an affirmative answer is given, the person's name is listed on the precinct register with an asterisk to indicate that he or she is approved to have assistance in the voting booth for marking the ballot. If a voter without an asterisk beside his or her name requests assistance at the polls, it is provided after the voter completes an affirmation form. A voter may be assisted by a friend or relative (other than the voter's employer, an agent of the employer or an officer or agent of his or her union) who has accompanied him or her to the polls. Alternatively, if a voter desires, he or she may request assistance from the poll workers. In the latter case, Florida law requires that two poll workers with differing party affiliations accompany the voter to the booth. One poll worker reads the ballot to the voter and marks the voter's choices, while the other poll worker observes, to be sure the ballot is being marked as the voter directs.

According to a report prepared by a joint committee of the Division of Blind Services and the Florida Association of Agencies Serving the Blind, there were approximately 10,000 voting-aged blind and visually impaired people living in Volusia County in 1999; the number has probably increased since that date and will continue to do so with our population growth and longer life expectancy. In addition to those, the National Institute for Literacy estimates that as many as one in four adults may be functionally illiterate and the Florida Medical Center Library estimates that about 15 percent of the population is dyslexic.

Equipment that makes it possible for people with print disabilities to vote independently has been developed and is being certified for sale by the Division of Elections in Florida. The equipment, which is used in conjunction with a touch screen voting unit, allows a voter to use a set of earphones to listen to instructions and the choices on the ballot, and then to use a small, hand-held key pad to indicate his or her selections.

The Volusia County Supervisor of Elections was eager to acquire this type of equipment, to meet the needs of voters with disabilities. Several months ago, visually impaired representatives from four consumer groups were approached to form a special task force to advise, encourage and promote accessible voting. On Thursday, February 21, 2002, they and other advocates, most of whom were blind or visually impaired, joined the supervisor of elections to ask the County Council to make the voting process in Volusia independent, secret and verifiable for print impaired citizens. The council voted unanimously to purchase 194 accessible voting units, one for each polling place. In this way, all of the county's voters, regardless of ability or disability, will be able to vote independently.

As they cast their votes, members of the council said things like, "This is a no-brainer," and "Approving this is the right thing to do."

With this historic vote, Volusia becomes one of the relatively few counties in the state and nation to combine an existing optical scan system with an accessible touch-screen system to enable all citizens to exercise their right to cast, as Article VI, Section 1 of Florida's Constitution states, "direct and secret" votes.

The special task force, which helped Deanie Lowe to win approval of accessible voting in the county, will continue as an advisory body, assisting with accessibility and awareness concerns. One of its first challenges will be to encourage heretofore dependent and non-voters to go to their local polls to exercise their rights to vote secretly, independently, and verifiably with the new accessible system.


FLAG DAYS
by Ken Stewart

When the federal government announced its new system of alerting the public and local law enforcement agencies about the various levels of national security risk, I was a bit resentful. According to the announcement, there would be a series of flags of various colors signifying how much our domestic safety is threatened from time to time. Green indicates no danger; blue is little danger. Yellow, the risk level at the time of the national proclamation, stands for medium risk. Orange would denote a need for high alertness, and red conveys a very high risk to national security.

Well, how about those who cannot see, or those like me who have very little color perception? In terms of the Americans with Disabilities Act, we are entitled to reasonable accommodation, aren't we?

My solution is to employ flags we can feel. Green should be lovely plush velvet. Blue could be corduroy. Sandpaper is what the medium-risk yellow flag should feel like, and I'd make the orange flag like goose bumps. But for the highest level of security alert, red, that has to feel like rough wood with plenty of splinters.

Oh, and when our government officials have conflicting information from the FBI and the CIA, when their thinking is not clear on how high the risk is, run a fuzzy flag up the pole!


MY FACELESS STUDENTS
by Verne R. Sanford

I used to kid my university students, "If I pass you somewhere on campus and act like I've never seen you before, it's because I've never seen you before!" They laughed with me. From the first day, when I walked into the classroom tapping my white cane, they understood that I could not see their faces. They didn't mind, and I was grateful. I wasn't totally blind. The U.S. government classified me as legally blind, but I still couldn't see their faces.

My mind wandered as I sat there listening to them write their final exams. Technology was forcing me out; I was unable to operate an in-class, "rolling" computer, nor could I see the information it projected onto a large screen in front of the classroom. At the end of the semester, I would retire from a long teaching career. It had been a fabulous ride! I had gone through all of the usual faculty ranks, from instructor to my present position as professor of mathematics.

I mused about the myriad of people who had helped me along the way. I had greatly needed their help. I was courteous but very determined when it came to asking for help. It struck me that someday, in my old age, I wouldn't shrink from asking for help. I'd been asking for too many years to be self-conscious anymore. It wasn't always so simple. For years I had struggled to understand my visual problem and learn to cope with it.

Of necessity, at a very young age I became a good listener, an attribute that proved to be invaluable in the field of teaching. I found grade school to be easy, especially when teachers spoke what they were writing on the blackboard. My mother, God bless her, with only an eighth-grade education, read nearly all of my assignments to me, and I listened. Did I ever listen! High school was more difficult, with longer assignments and much more reading. Mom kept reading and I kept listening! I was able to graduate with my class, an exciting day for me. I recalled my poor grades of Cs and Ds in high school math, certainly not the preparation I needed for teaching college mathematics.

"Get a good education," my father told me over and over again. "Many jobs will be closed to you, so get as much education as you possibly can." My father had graduated from high school and attended a small community college for only six weeks before he had to withdraw and find a paying job.

I took my father's advice and completed a bachelor's degree, two master's degrees and a Ph.D. My academic studies and classroom teaching, as well as my daily life, were an endless, challenging process of adaptations. Good listening habits substituted for required reading. As technology advanced, my state vocational rehabilitation service provided a hand calculator and computer monitor with synthesized speech. A closed-circuit television enlarger helped me prepare lessons, grade papers, read mail and the like. Family members, friends and colleagues often read things to me when I was away from my enlarger. Eyeglasses with strong magnification permitted me to write assignments, examinations, reports, personal checks, and grade papers, as long as each of those things was held one inch from my glasses! Years ago I had used a jeweler's lens for reading tiny subscripts and exponents.

Writing had always been straightforward; reading what I had written was often very difficult or even impossible. I tried grocer's grease pencils, crayons, carpenter's pencils and, later, wide felt markers, so I could write abnormally large characters. I inscribed book pages with large black page numbers, and various words or symbols written in strategic places, allowing me to more easily use a textbook in front of a class. I asked my students not only to raise their hands with a question in mind, but to wave their hands from side to side. They helped me locate equations I had "lost" somewhere on the blackboard. And I asked them to stop me in the halls or elsewhere on campus, because I really wouldn't recognize them. Their cooperation in all ways was phenomenal. Without the generous assistance of my students, colleagues, family members, townspeople, everyone around me, I know the success I've enjoyed in my teaching career and in my life would have been so much less. How do I properly thank them?

I've heard it said that teaching is a noble task. But how can I tell? Nobleness surely would appear on the faces of those being taught, and my students don't have faces! Might nobleness have been shared in some way? I helped them with their mathematics, they helped me see. If they've gone out to help others, my teaching has been a great success.

You must excuse me now, the exam time has elapsed. I must enlarge what they have written, squint to grade it, turn in their grades and then retire. I'll miss my teaching, my colleagues, and the students I've taught. I will always wonder what they looked like.


MY ADAPTIVE TECHNOLOGY LEARNING ADVENTURE
by Cheryl Cumings

Before I write my first sentence, I must tell you why I am writing this article. A few weeks ago, I was sitting in my co-worker's office; we were solving the world's problems, and I was complaining about adaptive technology and how I didn't have the time to learn more. My work colleague and friend happened to be Joe Lazzaro, the director of the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind technology program and the author of "Adaptive Technologies For Learning And Work Environments."

When Joe suggested that, for starters, I could read his book, I am embarrassed to tell you that I told him that even though I was sure it was a great book, "... books about technology put me to sleep."

Of course, at this point, Joe should have invited me to leave his office. Instead, he came up with another suggestion. "Cheryl, I am teaching a course online at Equal Access to Software and Information (EASI), and I think you should take the course."

I thanked him politely and said I would think about the online course. Joe, however, did not let me forget about his suggestion. Every time I spoke with him thereafter, he would remind me about the course. Finally, on the day the course began, I said, "I will take the course and if I like it and learn something, I will write an article about my experience."

That evening I arrived home to find an e-mail with instructions for registering for the Train the Trainer course at EASI. Although I had heard that BlackBoard is not a very accessible program, EASI made the registration process very straightforward. Within a few minutes, I had joined the class and was part of an online learning community. All participants were required to read the lessons in conjunction with the specified chapters in "Adaptive Technologies For Learning And Work Environments" and to post our responses to the class' e-mail list.

The class began with a discussion of who uses adaptive technology and what adaptive technology actually is. Aware that my responses would be read by everyone in the class, I diligently read the lesson and the chapter in the book. Although I wondered if I would learn as much as if I was in a classroom and listening to a lecture, after the first lesson, I was hooked.

I liked the fact that I could submit my answers anytime from the comfort of my home. I found that by reading the responses from the other participants, I often gained a perspective I had not previously considered. Then I saw lesson two, "input devices, output devices, ports, memory and disk drives and the CPU and the mother board," and my resolve to continue the course wavered. However, the information provided in the lesson and the book was approachable and easily understood. By the end of the course, I was very comfortable with the process of downloading my lesson, submitting my answers to the listserv and reading the responses of other classmates.

While exploring the EASI web site, I learned that this class was actually part of a certificate program in accessible information technology provided by EASI and the University of Southern Maine. To learn more about the certificate program, visit the web site, http://www.easi.cc and click on the training link.

Although I was initially a reluctant and skeptical student, I strongly encourage anyone wanting to learn about adaptive technology to take this course and to read the book, "Adaptive Technologies for Learning and Work Environments." The book is available in various accessible formats and can be purchased at http://www.amazon.com or http://www.specialneeds.com.


A WORD TO THE WISE
by Jeannette E. Gerrard

Anyone who has experienced violence or robbery will be able to identify with me. Those who have not experienced this kind of ordeal need to be alert and be safe everywhere. For this reason, I'd like to tell you about a recent experience I had and what I unfortunately had to learn the hard way about what people should know and do if they find themselves in a dangerous situation.

Early on the morning of Wednesday, December 1, I left my home in Washington, D.C., and started on the trip I take every day to my job. I took the route I always take: I walked three blocks to the Van Ness Metro Station, caught the Red Line, and rode to Union Station, where I exited the train and rode the escalator to get to the exit fare gate. When I put my card into the machine, it popped back out but the gate didn't open, so I knew there wasn't enough money left on the card and I would need to "add fare." That was not an unusual occurrence, so I went to the machine and added fare and got change. After exiting the fare gate, I went up the escalator to the Massachusetts Avenue exit of Union Station. One part of the exit has been blocked off for several months because of ongoing construction. So I proceeded to another less familiar area and continued on my way. A woman was sitting there, near the escalators in this part of the station where there are a number of shops and stores. She told me that she needed help to get back to her home in Georgia. She said that the police had talked with her, and that they had told her about an agency where she might be able to secure a voucher to pay for part of the bus fare. She even said that the police had told her she could not ask people directly for money because panhandling is not permitted at Union Station.

I told her she was right about that, and that I would not give her money in hand but that I would try to help her by going with her to the agency. We walked a relatively short distance in the direction of my office, but she said the agency was not open yet. We went back toward the station and I bought her some food from a street vendor because she said she was hungry and three months pregnant.

When we got back to the station, I offered to keep her food for her while she went to the rest room; but she said that I didn't need to, and so I promised to wait for her to return. Well, she did not return right away, and did not return, and did not return. Then, a second woman showed up outside the shops where I was waiting. She said she was a plain clothes police officer. She asked me if I needed help. At that point, I asked her about the woman who needed help getting home. I assumed she was a real police officer. After all, she had identified herself as a police officer, and she had a badge -- it was made of plastic and quite large. She showed it to me more than once.

In reply to my question about the first woman, the one who needed help getting back to Georgia, the one who was three months pregnant, for whom I had purchased breakfast from the vendor, she told me the woman was OK and that she knew her.

Then, she began to tell me how dangerous it was for me to be walking outside in that particular area. She said that people were watching me. She told me that she had a blind sister and so she felt a special need to be looking out for my safety. She asked where I was going. I explained that I was on my way to work and told her where my job is. She said that a number of people had been arrested the day before and that several people had even been attacked. It was not safe for me to carry my purse outside, she told me. I should take whatever money I had and put it in my pockets in case my bag was stolen.

I couldn't do that, but beginning to feel uneasy, I did grab my Braille 'n Speak out of my bag (I explained to the "police officer" that it was a computer) and I put it in another bag I was carrying. Then this kind "police officer" offered to get a police car to take me to work. She said she would carry my bag for me. I gave it to her, and then we left the station and started across the street. While we walked together, with my purse over her shoulder and me walking alongside, sighted-guide style, she called someone and told him she was arranging for the police car. When we reached the other side of the street, she told me that the next siren I would hear would signal the arrival of the expected police car. Then she walked away and I began listening for the siren which would signal the car's arrival. But no car came.

When something like this happens, it takes a few moments before you realize what has just happened to you. When that realization came to me, I felt sick inside. The only name I knew was Jesus, so I began to ask Him for help, quietly at first, then louder and louder. A park policeman came by, but he did not have much to say when I explained the situation. Finally, a woman who recognized me from the Department of Human Services, where I work, came and helped me back to the station. Metro police (who provide security in Washington's subway system) questioned me for awhile and then called over a representative from Amtrak's police. When they determined that the incident had occurred within Amtrak's jurisdiction, I was taken to the Amtrak police service area and questioned further. While there, I phoned my pastor and then a co-worker, who came down to get me and take me to work. The Amtrak police officer showed me what a real badge looks like: it's a small, metal badge on a neck cord.

Don't ever believe a person is a police officer if you are shown a plastic badge. It is false!

Witnesses have said that this woman was accompanied by a man. I was never aware of this. I wonder, Would I have been attacked if I had not given her my bag?

It's common for someone in my situation to begin to blame herself for the crime. I started thinking that it was my fault and that I had allowed the criminal to take advantage of me. Why hadn't I been more alert? Why had I been so gullible?

All the real police officers and others who came to my assistance assured me that it was not my fault and that what the criminals had done was wrong. In fact, one of the policemen who helped me that morning is a pastor.

Unfortunately, none of the items stolen have been returned; but many of them were replaced by the kind contributions of friends and other people I didn't even really know before this incident, and by my homeowners' insurance. The Amtrak police were very angry that someone would take advantage of a blind person. Although there has been no news on whether these people have been caught, vendors in the area and others believe they have seen a man and woman again who fit the description. Of course, they have reported this to the Amtrak police.

As for me, and how this incident has impacted the way I travel through my days, the next time someone asks me for help, I will just keep on walking. I had always thought of myself as careful, but now I know that unfortunate things can happen to anyone at any time. My advice to all of you is: Use your "gut feeling" or intuition or whatever you want to call it! If you ever find yourself in a situation like this one, if you're exiting from a transit station and you just don't feel safe, go back inside, and report the suspicious person or situation. I believe that the first woman I encountered early that morning might also have been involved in this scam. Keep alert to your surroundings and keep walking at a good pace. Folks, blindness is not necessarily an issue here! Crime can happen to anyone. You don't have to walk the streets in fear, but stay alert and don't let anyone with a large plastic "badge" convince you that he or she is a police officer, plain clothes or otherwise! And, if you are attacked in any way, use your voice and shout! Keep shouting until you get attention, even if you have to shout "fire."

I am hopeful that somebody will benefit from reading my story and that many would-be criminals will be stopped in their tracks because people trap them in some way.


HERE AND THERE
by Billie Jean Keith

The announcement of products and services in this column is not an endorsement by the American Council of the Blind, its staff, or elected officials. Services and products are listed free of charge for the benefit of our readers. "The Braille Forum" cannot be held 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.

PATRIOTIC AND PRAGMATIC: ACB'S NEW LUGGAGE TAGS ARE A GREAT WAY
TO SUPPORT THE ORGANIZATION YOU LOVE!

Our luggage tags featuring the new ACB logo in the lower right-hand corner, look like a waving American flag, in honor of their Independence Day debut at this year's national convention in Houston. Buy one for $5 or three for $12. You may order in advance by calling the ACB national office after June 1, or purchase them at the convention. If you order in advance, we cannot guarantee the tags' arrival in time for you to use them on your trip to Houston, but we can guarantee you'll enjoy using them when you claim your bags at the carousel in your hometown airport.

GRANTS FOR ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY

The Association of Blind Citizens (ABC) has established an Assistive Technology Fund to provide grants to cover 50 percent of the retail price for adaptive devices or software. It is hoped that access to more assistive technologies will have a significant impact on opportunities for employment. Products provided under this program must have a retail price ranging between $200 and $6,000. Applicants for grants must have a family income of less than $50,000 and cash assets of less than $20,000. All applications will be reviewed by an ABC committee, and successful applicants will be asked to provide documents such as tax returns, bank statements, etc.

Applicants must be legally blind and residents of the United States. Completed applications must be submitted by any of the following three dates: June 30, September 30, or December 31, 2002. Only one application will be considered for an applicant per calendar year. All applications must be submitted via e-mail in accordance with the procedures outlined on the Association's web site, http://www.assocofblindcitizens.org. Find the assistive technology information link for all details.

ACCESSIBLE SLOT MACHINES

Valley Braille Service Inc. of Las Vegas has partnered with Ray Charles Enterprises, Game Makers Inc. and Bally Gaming Corp. to produce the first slot machines that blind and visually impaired people can play independently. These machines are called "Ray Charles Tours America," and were recently unveiled at the World Gaming Exposition in Las Vegas. Anyone can play these machines; players actually interact with a virtual Ray Charles during the play. The American Foundation for the Blind awarded one of their prestigious 2002 Access Awards to this project. For more information, contact Richard Dortch at (702) 733-6941, or via e-mail at [email protected]

FREE COMPUTER TRAINING

The Communicating Computers for the Blind Foundation Inc. is a non-profit foundation established to provide free computers, software, and training to blind individuals living in the United States. Trainees are introduced to the powerful world of the Internet, trained in e-mail, word processing, electronic books, online shopping, online newspapers, digital radio and information searches. All training and living expenses are free and cover a two-week period at the Foundation's facilities in South Dakota. When training is completed, the free personal computer used by the student is shipped at no charge to the student's home. Students will be responsible for their own transportation to South Dakota and for their screen-reading software, Connect OutLoud, which costs $249. Also, students must be able to type. For more information, call (605) 644-0445.

WIN $10,000 CASH

You could win $10,000 in the ACB drawing, or you could win $500, or $300, and benefit the ACB national scholarship program. Buy a ticket for yourself, or partner with three or four friends to buy a ticket. Only 300 tickets will be sold at a price of $100 each. Winning tickets will be drawn during the banquet at the national convention in Houston. You do not have to be present to win. Many affiliates and local chapters have purchased tickets. All proceeds (other than prize money) go directly to the ACB scholarship program.

For tickets by mail, contact Billie Jean Keith using the ACB toll-free number, (800) 424-8666, and leave a message with your phone number in mailbox 26. You may contact her by e-mail at [email protected]

FROM THE CASTLE

A business owner who is blind maintains a castle full of treasures for blind people. If you would like to find the best deals around on adaptive products and don't feel like spending all your time looking, we can help. Join our mailing list and uncover treasures beyond belief. Adaptive treasures will appear right in your mailbox, and shipping is free. To make things even more exciting, we give away a free gift every month.

To join the treasure scroll mailing list, send an e-mail to [email protected] In the body of the message, type subscribe treasurescroll (real name). Please do not include parentheses. For more information, contact Tony Meade, 10809 King William Rd., Apt. D6, Aylett, VA 23009, phone (804) 769- 0226, e-mail [email protected], or visit the web site, www.blindtreasures.com

EBAY AND DISABILITY-RELATED SALES

eBay has a section for bidding on disability-related items such as books, assistive technologies, independent living aids and mobility products. The large print book section lists more than 400 books for sale. But items for sale change every day. The link is http://pages.ebay.com/theme/disability.html.

BRAILLE ALE FOR SALE

Britain's first blind-friendly beer went on sale recently -- with the bottles labeled in braille. The new labeling for Winter Warmer has been marked with raised lettering to help people who are blind to identify it on store shelves.

SUPPORT GROUP FOR MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES

An Iowa member is organizing a cassette tape support group for people who are blind and/or disabled, and dealing with mental health issues. Topics to be covered include depression, anxiety, panic disorders, shyness/social anxiety and sexual harassment or abuse. If you feel alone dealing with these problems and would like to take part in the support group, we are here to share experiences and to learn and grow together. Group members can submit their information on cassette tape which will be compiled into an interactive group cassette sent out each month. Self- help materials will be provided on each tape to help us learn to overcome our concerns with mental health. To join our group, you must sign a confidentiality form, stating you will not divulge names or other information shared within the group. Dues are $12 per year, which equals $1 per month. Members who join during the calendar year will be charged according to the month they join.

For more information or to become a member, please contact us by cassette tape, braille, floppy disk or e-mail (no handwritten letters please). Send to Mental Health Issues Support Group, 610 B Ave., Vinton, IA 52349, e-mail [email protected]

BUDGET RELIEF

More than 3,000 non-profit organizations across the United States supplement their budgets with new, donated supplies. They receive everything from office products to janitorial goods to items for clients, choosing what they need from catalogs, monthly fliers, and an online shopping site. The National Association for the Exchange of Industrial Resources collects new, overstock products from American companies, then makes this merchandise available to non-profits and schools. Recipient groups pay dues ranging from $475 to $575, plus shipping and handling, but the products are free. Members receive an average of $12,000 worth of new merchandise a year. For more information, call toll-free (800) 562-0955 or visit www.naeir.org.

BRAILLER AND TYPEWRITER REPAIR

The Selective Doctor, Inc. is a repair service for Perkins Braillers and IBM typewriters. The brailler can be sent free matter, and should be insured when mailed. Labor costs for repairs are $50, plus the cost of parts. Send item to The Selective Doctor, Inc., P.O. Box 28432, Baltimore, MD 21234. For more information, phone (410) 668-1143, e-mail [email protected]

TWO BOOKS ON MEMBERSHIP DEVELOPMENT

Two books by ACB treasurer Ardis Bazyn are available for sale. One is "Building Blocks to Success: Does the Image of Your Church Attract Members?" and the other is "Building Blocks to Success: Does the Image of Your Organization Attract Members?" Copies are available in print, CD-ROM and on audiocassette. Prices are $18.95, plus 8.25 percent sales tax and $3 shipping and handling. Orders for five or more include free shipping and handling.

Send check or money order to Bazyn Communications, 500 South 3rd St., Apt. H, Burbank, CA 91502-1476. For more information, call toll-free (866) 476-8538, e-mail [email protected], or visit the web site, www.bazyncommunications.com.

CHRISTIAN BOOKS

Denise Ferrin sells children's books with a Christian world view. She takes print books and adds braille to them. So she can charge the smallest amount possible, some are purchased on sale; others are used, and some have been donated. To view her list of books, go to www.millcreekmedia.com/books.

WORDSMITH

Need a quick word lookup? E-mail [email protected] To find the definition of a word, type "define myword," in the subject line, with "myword" referring to the word whose definition you want to find. To find synonyms of a word, type synonym myword in the subject line. To unscramble an acronym, make the subject line: acronym myword. And anagrams? To find those, make the subject line read anagram myword. If you have access to the Web, you can access the Internet Anagram server at http://www.wordsmith.org/anagram/index.html.


HIGH TECH SWAP SHOP

FOR SALE: Braille Lite 40. In excellent condition. Asking $5,000. Contact Howard at (602) 264-7895. Leave message with your name and complete telephone number.

FOR SALE: Perkins brailler with dust cover and carrying case. In excellent condition. Asking $325. Handicassette II in good condition. Best offer. Franklin Language Master with carrying case and AC adapter. Best offer. Dymo tape labeler, best offer. Call Mark at (956) 574-8333 after 5 p.m. weekdays, and on weekends.

FOR SALE: Blazie engineering disk drive for use with Braille 'n Speak or Type 'n Speak note takers. The unit is three years old and in excellent condition. I am asking $300 or best offer. Call Richard after 6 p.m. Eastern at (716) 873-4132.

FOR SALE: Pentium III, 500 mHz processor, 20 gig hard drive, 128 mg ram, Sound Blaster live sound card, CD-ROM, speakers, 15- inch color monitor, Windows 98 2nd edition, hot keys set up for blind individuals, mouse, Office 2000 installed, 3 1/2-inch floppy drive, excellent condition. $700 plus shipping. Serious inquiries only; contact Laura Ann at (877) 633-8553. Pentium III, 500 mHz processor, 20 gig hard drive, 256 mg ram, Sound Blaster live sound card, CD read & write drive, speakers, 15-inch color monitor, Windows 98 2nd edition, hot keys set up for blind individuals, mouse, Office 2000 installed, 3 1/2-inch floppy drive, excellent condition. Asking $800 plus shipping. Serious inquiries only. Contact Laura Ann at the number above, or by e- mail, [email protected]

FOR SALE: Index Basic braille printer along with 486 PC desktop and 17-inch monitor (JAWS for DOS and JFW, Windows 95 already installed) with braille translation software, braille and print menus for $1,000, negotiable. Send e-mail to [email protected] or call (773) 631-3234 between 6 and 9 p.m. Central time.

FOR SALE: Jordy 1 low vision system in excellent condition. Has all attachments, batteries and all. Asking $500. Contact Joel Abbot at 599 Eaglescrest Village Lane, Apt. #6, Roswell, GA 30076; phone (770) 594-9889.

FOR SALE: Telesensory Vantage CCD model ER2A-2. Comes with 14-inch non-glare black-and-white screen, 3 to 45 times magnification. Seven years old; used very little. Asking $600. Contact Tom Ritch by mail at 2068 Celestial Dr. NE, Warren, OH 44484; phone (330) 609-6111.

FOR SALE: Braille Inferno, $1,995 or best offer. This braille embosser has never been used, and the carton has never been opened. I can be contacted at e-mail [email protected] or phone (920) 469-1326.

FOR SALE: Braille 'n Speak 640 version with disk drive and all accompanying materials; still in original packaging. Asking $400. If interested, send e-mail to [email protected] or call (503) 788-2714.

FOR SALE: No longer used low vision aids at one-third cost. All in good working condition with manuals etc. Telesensory Voyager CCD. Sale at $600. Xerox-Kurzweil Reading Edge Express edition . Sale at $1,500. Contact Dick O'Day by e-mail, [email protected], or by phone, (703) 941-6183.

FOR SALE: Expert Reader from Xerox. In excellent condition. Originally cost $3,695; asking $2,000 or best offer. Contact Ruth Boivie at (516) 731-2040.

WANTED: User's manual for Braille 'n Speak model BS2 640. Contact Mr. Kim Ledford at (478) 923-9245 or via e-mail at [email protected]

WANTED: Perkins braille writer for a low cost. It must be in good condition. Contact Troy Sullivan via e-mail at [email protected]

WANTED: External Doubletalk LT speech synthesizer, Open Book 5.01, braille compass, and Lunar Advanced. Can pay between $5 and $25; parents can pay shipping. Contact Barb Steiner at (217) 585-8035.

WANTED: A woman's gold Seiko talking watch. Call Marie Heep at (336) 834-2941.


LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

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

Regarding dues and Houston

Dear Braille Forum editor:

In the May 2002 issue of "The Braille Forum," President Gray presented some information regarding the issue of member dues and voting at the national convention. I agree with his opinion that this issue is very controversial and could take center stage during the upcoming convention in Houston.

After weighing the facts and giving it some thought, I have concluded that a "middle of the road" approach may be the best alternative to resolve this dilemma and come out with a win/win solution that benefits both ACB and the state affiliates. In a spirit of cooperation and compromise I would like to place an idea out on the table of public discussion.

As it stands now, in 2003, ACB will collect $5 for each member of all affiliates up to a maximum of 625 members. This will generate income of up to $3,125 to ACB from each affiliate. In exchange each affiliate receives one vote for every 25 members up to a maximum of 25 votes.

Certainly asking large affiliates like California to pay the full $5 for every last member while maintaining only 25 votes is unreasonable. It is also unreasonable for large affiliates to only be paying dues for a portion of their respective members. Therefore I would like to suggest we have a two-layered dues system. I propose that each affiliate pay $5 for each member up the current maximum of 625 for which they will receive the right to cast one vote for every 25 members. In addition I propose that affiliates pay dues of $1.50 for each member over 625 members. Under this structure every member of ACB would pay dues of $1.50. The additional $3.50 would be levied on the first 625 members as voting rights. This would still allow affiliates to retain $3.50 from every member over 625. This figure is 50 cents more than they currently retain under the $3 dues collection, which expires this year.

Using California for an example, here is a breakdown of the numbers. I chose California because it was also President Gray's first example and of course they are the largest affiliate with the most to lose or gain from any changes.

In 2002 according to President Gray, California had approximately 3,000 members for which they collected a total of $9,000 ($3 times 3,000 members) in dues. Out of this California paid a total of $1,875 to ACB for dues and also donated a generous additional amount of $10,000. This left them in an approximate deficit of $2,875, meaning they collected $9,000 in ACB dues and paid out $11,875.

Under my proposal, assuming the membership numbers and donation to ACB remain the same, California's situation would look like this in 2003. They will collect a total of $15,000 ($5 times 3,000 members). They would then pay $3,125 for the first 625 members ($5 times 625). In addition they would pay $3,562.50 for the remaining 2,375 members ($1.50 times 2,375). If they then also made a gift donation of $10,000, their total would be $16,687.50. This is a deficit of only $1,687.50 compared to the current deficit of $2,875. California would have a net savings of $1,187.50 and ACB would see its revenue increase by $4,812.50, going from a total of $11,875 this year to a total of $16,687.50 next year.

The bottom line to all of this is simple. California, my example, would increase its contributions to ACB by $4,812.50 while at the same time reducing out of affiliate treasury expenses by a total of $1,187.50. In my opinion this is a win/win for everyone. See you all in Houston.

-- Glenn McCully, Auburn, Wash.

Thank you

Thank you for publishing our ad in your May edition. We sold the machine even before the newsletter came out and received more calls also. Thank you for providing this free service that benefits individuals and organizations for the visually impaired. The lady who bought the brailler was pleased to find a machine she could afford to buy. Keep up the good work.

-- Joanne Martin, Dodge City, Kan.


ZEUS TO THE RESCUE!
by Ronnie Breeden

When we go sailing, we sail on a little 25-foot O'Day named Mischief. She weighs 4,000 pounds, she draws 2 feet 8 inches of water, her mast is 29 feet tall, her tail weighs 1,800 pounds and when under power she's pushed along at six knots by a 9.9 Johnson engine. She's a masthead sloop and in addition to the main sail we usually keep a 110 jib and a 180 Genoa on board in our sail inventory. Her interior accommodations boast a B berth, two quarter berths, a head, a small galley and she can carry 20 gallons in her water tank. She has two 12-volt deep cycle batteries on board for lights and cranking the engine, etc. We sail her on a little lake in east central Tennessee called Cherokee. This lake was formed by the Tennessee Valley Authority when they built Cherokee Dam. Captain's Log, 6/5-6, 2000

My helmsman, Terry Cupp and I arrived at German Creek boat dock and on board Mischief at 1700 hours. A gentle mist was falling and because we did not wish to get the sails wet we just threw off the dock lines and motored out. Terry and I both believed the rain would end soon and we could proceed under sail. Sure enough, in about 20 minutes things got a whole lot drier so I went forward to put up some sail. I went into the cabin, hauled out the 110 jib and started hanking it on the forestay while Terry untied the main sheet. I threw out the main sail cover and ties while Terry pointed her into the wind and I hauled up the main sail. Although the rain had stopped, there was still a force five wind blowing out of the southwest. Terry let the boat fall off to port. Then I raised the jib and he trimmed in the port jib sheet. I said a little prayer to Castor and Pollux and we took off.

About 30 minutes into our ride the rain began again but now it wasn't a sprinkle, it was a flood. We both camped under our ponchos, but with the wind gusting to 25 knots, we were both soaked in a matter of minutes. However, Mischief seemed to be having a good time peeking into the wind with the bone in her teeth. So Terry and I soon decided that we were having a good time, too. Tacking was fun too. Terry would put the helm over and as the bow went through the eye of the wind all hell would break loose in the sails. Then we'd trim in the sails on the other tack and be off again. After about three hours, beating into the wind started getting a little tiresome, so we started looking for a place to camp. We sailed into the lee of a little island and proceeded to anchor about 100 yards off shore. Before we took down the sails we let her shoot on up to the spot. Then I dropped the anchor and let out all 150 feet of the rope. With the wind blowing the way it was I knew we'd need all the rope we had. While we were looking around to see if the anchor was going to drag, there appeared an incredibly beautiful rainbow two points off the port bow. Zeus had sent his messenger to let us know that he had heard our prayer for a safe journey to Castor and Pollux.

After we were reasonably sure that the anchor was going to hold, we retired into the cabin for a little adult refreshment and to play some music. We tipped a couple of glasses to Bacchus. Terry got out his Martin acoustic guitar and I got out my Martin backpacker guitar to pick a few tunes. The rain soon began again. And we were playing Dylan's "She's Got Everything She Needs" with the rhythm of the rain on the coach roof. Around 0100 we both decided that the awake state had lost most of its charm of the day, so we prepared to batten down the hatches and crawl into our sleeping bags. Terry tied down the tiller and bungeed the swim ladder while I bungeed the halyards to the shrouds. I knew all about support, so they wouldn't be banging into the hull.

After we got the boat relatively quiet to the sound of rain drumming on the coach roof, we turned in for the night. The next morning I was awakened by Terry rummaging through the cabin. The rain had stopped but the wind was still up, and it was bringing the smell of Terry's world-famous campfire coffee through the companionway door and into my nose. I got up to shut off the anchor lights but quickly jumped back into my warm sleeping bag. The rain of the night before had brought the temperature down to 47 degrees, and we were both in shorts, T-shirts and sandals; however, we had sweatshirts on board. After donning the thickest ones, we breakfasted on coffee, boiled eggs, cereal and bananas. After breakfast our thoughts reluctantly turned toward heading back to the dock. We left the sails up the night before because they were too wet to put in the sail back. So all we had to do was crank up the motor and haul in the anchor.

I started hauling the boat up to the anchor while Terry attempted to start the engine. Anchor line could kill the battery to the point where the engine wouldn't start. So we had to put up the sails and sail out the stuck anchor. However, the trip back home wasn't going to be that big a problem, with the wind on our stern all the way. With the wind still gusting near 20 knots we would have a romp of a downhill run back to port. (Footnote: There are three points of sail. When the wind blows over the boat in the vicinity of the bow, the boat is on a bead or a close hold. When the wind blows over the boat in the vicinity of the beam or the side, she is on a reach. When the wind blows over the stern or the back of the boat, she is on a run.)

My biggest worry on the way home was how to get the boat back into the dock under sail. With no motor I thought it might get a little sticky. However, when we were only a quarter of a mile away from our docking area, with the aid of the crank rope Terry managed to get the engine fired up. To reduce windage, I took down the sails and Terry backed around without a hitch. We secured the dock lines, briefed the main and rolled up the jib. We topped up the water tank and hooked her back up to electricity. Then we put all our gear ashore and locked her down. Tied securely at the dock, she sits patiently waiting for our return and another romp up the lake.


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