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The American Council of the Blind is a membership organization made up of more than 70 state and special-interest affiliates. To join, visit the ACB web site and fill out the application form, or contact the national office at the number listed above.
Those much-needed contributions, which are tax-deductible, can be sent to Ardis Bazyn at the above mailing address. If you wish to remember a relative or friend by sharing in the council's continuing work, the national office makes printed cards available to acknowledge contributions made by loved ones in memory of deceased friends or relatives.
Anyone wishing to remember the American Council of the Blind in his/her Last Will and Testament may do so by including a special paragraph for that purpose. If your wishes are complex, contact the ACB National Office.
To make a contribution to ACB via the Combined Federal Campaign, use this number: 2802.
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, or visit the Washington Connection online.
Due to an editing error, the name of Anthony Newley was misspelled ("Pictures in My Mind," July-August 2002). We regret the error.
(Editor's Note: We could devote this entire issue of "The Braille Forum" to remembering and honoring Justin Dart and it wouldn't be enough. We honor Justin for the Americans with Disabilities Act, which might have never come to be the law of the land without his tireless efforts. We honor him for the way he encouraged all of us with disabilities, and all of us who are from ethnic, racial, gender, or other groups that have been denied civil rights to be proud of who we are and to stand up for one another and for our rights as human beings, citizens of the USA, the world, and the universe. We honor Justin because he helped us to see that we could and will overcome -- overcome discrimination, overcome isolation, overcome attitudes that can make people feel small and unimportant. We honor Justin Dart for all that he did for each of us. It is sad to have to say farewell.
Justin Dart was ACB's very first life member. As Charlie Hodge tells the story, at the convention of 1986 in Knoxville, Tenn., Justin was scheduled to speak, in his capacity as Commissioner of the Rehabilitation Services Administration. Just before his scheduled talk, the convention debated and ultimately adopted a bylaw which created the category of life membership. At the conclusion of his remarks which followed that decision, Justin said, "Let me be the first to become an ACB life member." Thereupon, he took out his checkbook and wrote a check for $1,000 and presented it to LeRoy Saunders, who was ACB's treasurer at the time. With sadness, and in celebration of a life well lived, and gratitude for all that he has meant to people with disabilities here and around the world, we share with you Justin's final letter to his colleagues; Charlie Crawford's remembrances in "News Notes" for the week ending July 26, 2002, and Ray Campbell's moving "Because of the ADA."
Good-bye, Justin Dart, Jr. Know that your work will continue, as each of us renews our commitment to patriotism and equality and justice for all.) I AM WITH YOU. I LOVE YOU. LEAD ON.
Listen to the heart of this old soldier. As with all of us the time comes when body and mind are battered and weary. But I do not go quietly into the night. I do not give up struggling to be a responsible contributor to the sacred continuum of human life. I do not give up struggling to overcome my weakness, to conform my life -- and that part of my life called death -- to the great values of the human dream.
Death is not a tragedy. It is not an evil from which we must escape. Death is as natural as birth. Like childbirth, death is often a time of fear and pain, but also of profound beauty, of celebration of the mystery and majesty which is life pushing its horizons toward oneness with the truth of mother universe.
The days of dying carry a special responsibility. There is a great potential to communicate values in a uniquely powerful way -- the person who dies demonstrating for civil rights. Let my final actions thunder of love, solidarity, protest -- of empowerment. I adamantly protest the richest culture in the history of the world, a culture which has the obvious potential to create a golden age of science and democracy dedicated to maximizing the quality of life of every person, but which still squanders the majority of its human and physical capital on modern versions of primitive symbols of power and prestige.
I adamantly protest the richest culture in the history of the world which still incarcerates millions of humans with and without disabilities in barbaric institutions, backrooms and worse, windowless cells of oppressive perceptions, for the lack of the most elementary empowerment supports.
I call for solidarity among all who love justice, all who love life, to create a revolution that will empower every single human being to govern his or her life, to govern the society and to be fully productive of life quality for self and for all.
I do so love all the patriots of this and every nation who have fought and sacrificed to bring us to the threshold of this beautiful human dream. I do so love America the beautiful and our wild, creative, beautiful people. I do so love you, my beautiful colleagues in the disability and civil rights movement.
My relationship with Yoshiko Dart includes, but also transcends, love as the word is normally defined. She is my wife, my partner, my mentor, my leader and my inspiration to believe that the human dream can live. She is the greatest human being I have ever known.
Yoshiko, beloved colleagues, I am the luckiest man in the world to have been associated with you. Thanks to you, I die free. Thanks to you, I die in the joy of struggle. Thanks to you, I die in the beautiful belief that the revolution of empowerment will go on. I love you so much. I'm with you always.
Lead on! Lead on!
(From News Notes from the National Office for the Week Ending July 26, 2002.)
It was a solemn and powerful two hours spent on Friday afternoon as advocates, leaders, politicians, family, and everyday people joined in remembering and celebrating the life of Justin Dart. While the sadness of Justin's passing would not be denied, there was a sense of victory from his leadership in the disability rights movement, and hope for the future that flowed from the deepest wells of the human spirit that are the mark of dignity and yearning that he shared with us all.
Whether it was the moving spirituals that joined our hearts to "The Battle Hymn of the Republic," or the incantation of his last message for us to lead on, there was no mistaking the earmark of passion for justice that called upon each of us to go beyond the borders of our everyday preoccupations towards the creation of a world in which all are free. Whether it was the profoundly human words of President Clinton or the powerful remembrances of those average folks who loved Justin Dart, we were in that one place and that one time, all as a family who had lost the man who spent his life building up people who had the audacity to tear down the barriers of prejudice.
ACB was well represented by Penny Reeder, Patricia Moreira, Charlie Hodge, Oral Miller, Sue Ammeter, Sue and Charlie Crawford along with others who we may not have known about in the throng.
The memorial service ended even as it began. The Army of Advocates was called to the front of the church and from the many came the one refrain that marked the life of Justin Dart, the birth of the ADA, and the conviction of all who gathered; we sang from the depths of our hearts in solidarity with all who have raised their voices to the heavens and proclaimed that indeed "we shall overcome."
Happy Anniversary, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
To celebrate on this, the 12th anniversary of the ADA, I did some of the things that the ADA has opened up to me. I used ADA paratransit service to travel to the local YMCA to work out independently.
After working out, I used that same paratransit service to travel to my local bank, then on to the grocery store where I was provided with the reasonable accommodation of a person to assist me with my shopping.
Finally, I used that same paratransit service to bring me and my groceries home.
Tomorrow, I will join many of my fellow advocates, families and friends for the annual picnic sponsored by our Center for Independent Living. This will be an occasion for us all to gather, enjoy great food and conversation, and reflect on the ADA and what it means to us.
Here are a few of my thoughts on what the ADA means to me on this special day. Since these are my thoughts, they reflect what I feel the ADA has meant to a person who is blind. There are many, many other wonderful things which have happened because of the ADA.
Because of the ADA, I can confidently move about on commuter rail and subway platforms using my well-honed travel skills. If I get too close to the platform edge, I will be warned thanks to the presence of detectable warnings, in enough time to allow me to take appropriate action. If I want to enjoy a day with one or more of my friends who use wheelchairs, we can take that commuter train and/or subway together.
Because of the ADA, I can travel to downtown Chicago or out to my nearby bus stop if I like, get on a bus and actually know when it's time to get off. Because the bus driver will call out the stops, I will feel safe, relax and enjoy the ride as other passengers do.
Because of the ADA, I can go to my local village hall, confidently enter the elevator and find the button for the third floor. I can also enter the rest room knowing I am going into the correct one, thanks to braille and raised-character signage.
Because of the ADA, I can go to a hotel, check in, receive my room number, and independently identify my room. After going to my room, I can go and enjoy a relaxing meal in a restaurant inside or outside the hotel and know that the menu will be accessible to me, either in braille or by having someone read it aloud.
Because of the ADA, I can interview for a job and know that I am being judged strictly on my ability to perform the job. If I get the job, I can excitedly look forward to my first day of work knowing that any accommodations that I may need will be readily provided to enable me to produce high quality work just as my co- workers do.
Because of the ADA, I can call my local transit system, request a schedule in braille and receive it. I can request an agenda from my village board of trustees and it will be in a form I can read. I can request an accessible copy of the Illinois Open Meetings Act and it will be provided.
Because of the ADA, I can call any of my friends who are deaf and enjoy a conversation with them.
On this day of celebration, let us all reflect on the bounty we have because of the ADA. Let us think about how we can improve this civil rights law and each commit ourselves to make the ADA the best it can be.
How many times have you thought of doing something that would be fun, constructive, productive or whatever and thought that you might get together with some other folks and get the ball rolling? With all the excitement of someone anticipating what a good thing this would be, you call other folks and suggest to them that you all get together on this project or social event. Some join in with enthusiasm, while others might hem and haw and still others have other things they would rather do. When you think about it, ACB is a macrocosm of exactly this kind of get-together, and the extent to which people come together in common purpose to carry out an activity starts with that first step of joining the organization. So, then comes the question of what does it really mean to be a member of ACB?
First there is the statement of what we really believe as people who have joined. We recognize that our visual impairments or blindness really do exert an impact upon our lives. We know that there are many things we can do individually to move forward with dignity and independence in our lives, and yet we know that there are things only a group of people can articulate and accomplish. We know that organizations must reflect where we are in our lives rather than imposing a model of where we should be. We know that true partnership with others in our society requires mutual support and understanding of our needs and accomplishments. We know that we all must have the skills and tools for success to read, access information, get around our environments, and participate in our larger communities. We know that only through the communication of a diversity of ideas can we finally come to agreement on which ones make sense for our people. We know that life is the sum of many things including relationships to others and we must honor each other if we expect to be honored ourselves.
Furthermore, our membership in ACB allows us to contribute our talents to the improvement of the quality of life for all blind people. Some are great at working with others and they are the organizers. Some know how to use computers really well and they can take seats on our information access committee to work with industry and others toward the access to information we need. Some are great at understanding how the environment around us is built and functions and they can join our environmental access committee to work on issues such as pedestrian safety and access to the many places in our environment we want to visit. Some are great at understanding the law and can join our advocacy committee to help us determine when we need to take legal action. Some are just regular folks who can help others with problems, make phone calls to check on the welfare of another, bake cakes or bring materials or ideas or excitement to chapter meetings, or sell tickets for raffles and more! No matter what your skills or interests, there is a place for you in ACB and people who want to get to know who you are so we can all make life better for everyone.
Finally, being a member of ACB validates the dreams and work of thousands of people who are just like you. ACB is a wonderful collection of young and old, all races and colors, women and men, rich and poor, stars and everyday people. You can join a local affiliate of ACB or perhaps an affiliate that is national and represents a special interest. We've even got a membership at large for those who simply want to support the organization and our goals, but can only contribute as individuals -- and contribute they do.
To join or not to join? It's up to you. Take a look at our web site at www.acb.org and select the sign-up link, or give our national office a call at (800) 424-8666 after 2 p.m. Eastern time and ask about what affiliates you might want to join, or ask for our membership at large application. ACB will continue to work for all blind people, and we ask those who have either allowed their memberships to lapse or who have never been members to take that one small step for yourselves and that one big step for us all.
It's August as I write this president's message. Even in San Francisco, we've had some sultry, hot days, and today really feels like summer. So, let's have some fun. I thought today I'd ask you to come with me on a brief tour of one of my favorite haunts. San Francisco is a tourist city after all. How about visiting a shopping mall, an information and drop-in center, and maybe we'll even find our way to an information kiosk. I'm going to take you slightly off the beaten path on this trip, though. No Market Street department stores, no Fisherman's Wharf tourist traps for us. Let's try a relatively new corner of the city, an up-and-coming place known to long-time city dwellers as Web Street.
I'll bet you've never been there before, and even if you have it's kind of neat and maybe the places I'll take you are places you haven't seen yet. Best of all, Web Street is located virtually in my living room, so we can get there fast and start having some good times without even boarding a bus. It's a street of balloons and banners, of game arcades, music and art, and YES, shopping!
In fact, let's try a department store first. I know just the one we might explore and enjoy. OK, it's no Macy's or Bloomingdale's, but you may well have heard its ads on radio and TV. Let's go to Amazon.com. Step in with me and let's see what's waiting for us. I've heard there are floors upon floors with departments and galleries on each floor.
Here we go through the revolving glass door (well, OK, hourglass) and, ... WOW! You want banners? Flashing signs? Self-proclamations? You got 'em here! Look at that: Amazon.com: Earth's Biggest Selection.
This is going to be hard to beat! Inside, we see all sorts of signs for books, CDs, videos, furniture, clothing. There are even area themes like "My Room" and "the Kitchen."
Let's start by trying to find a book; that shouldn't be too hard. In fact, a book about that wizard, Harry Potter, could be a nice gift. So, we'll select the book area, put Harry Potter into the search box, and push the Go button. No elevators or escalators on Web Street; they're supposed to have better, faster ways to get you where you want to go.
OK, so we push the button and ... the landscape swirls, we hear sounds, the magic commences. We are catapulted into a series of aisles with signs. "Who's got a magnifier? What does this first sign say, anyway?" 103-0784614-2015858
Hmmmm, that doesn't tell us anything. It's not quite like Platform Nine and Three-quarters, or is it? Obviously, we are not in the realm of the initiated! Gazing around, we see more GO button shapes but with no GO or other marking on them, and lots of randomly placed objects. But what are they? We'll keep looking though, hoping to find a key to this magic maze, or maybe an easier riddle:
image [then more numbers, letters and mysterious .gifs]. What runes are these, then?
Continuing the search through the aisles, we find conduits to a Harry Potter store (no details, but at least it's beginning to make sense), to a Harry Potter toy store, to a place that has lots of hidden possibilities for other Harry Potter unidentified rooms and spaces. We hurry past that potential labyrinth without even a tremulous backward glance. We then see Harry Potter Collectibles at Toysrus.com. And now, more weirdness:
Maybe our original GO button went amiss! But no, there are still more: Harry Potter DVDs for six or seven long, weirdly twisting aisles; Harry Potter international films; even an aisle chock full of Harry Potter playing cards. Their rustling shadows beckon us inside. But, alas, still no books. This landscape is hard going, numbing mind and spirit, aisle by aisle, and hey, I thought we were on vacation. But wait! Here's our search box again, still holding our request, and the Go button. Pressing it swirls the aisles. Nothing else changes in this sea of STUFF! Suddenly, there's an EXIT button. Pressing it, we escape back into fresh air, sunshine, and the outside, quieter ambience of Web Street.
Maybe it's time to check out that information and drop-in center. As a regular visitor to Web Street, let me suggest we visit one of my favorite spots, a place called Craigslist. Craig is a pretty cool guy who runs a friendly, orderly establishment. It may not have the glitz of some other places, but you'll like this place. In fact, here we are already, and check out its no-nonsense, neighborly sign: Craigslist: San Francisco Bay Area Online.
When you walk in the door, everything is neat, helpful, and conveniently laid out. Help is offered right away, and you discover that, in fact, there are lots of other Craig's List locations around the country. Want to place a classified ad, find housing or a job, wonder what events might be available for the next few evenings? How about taking a class? It's here and all so easy to find.
Have a problem or want to make a suggestion? It's simple because there is a real Craig at Craigslist.org and he generally gets back to you in the next 12-24 hours. Mention that to the Department of Justice the next time you send in an ADA complaint. It'd be good for them to know that some organizations actually answer their correspondence.
Time is moving on and I did promise to show you an information kiosk during this mini-tour. Actually, Web Street is rather like an information kiosk, in that it has so many nooks and crannies housed within it. Care for a taste of European cooking, or to hear a concert being broadcast in New York City? They're here if you just know where and how to find them.
I see your apprehensive glances. Of course, we don't have enough time to do all these things. And you don't want to get too accustomed to this street, because soon you'll be back at home and wishing you could come again. I can hear some of you whispering: "I don't get out that much these days, so how can I take advantage of such a fine place?" The answer is that Web Street is available, albeit in a slightly limited way, from your touch-tone telephone.
There are several routes to get to Web Street by phone. I'm going to mention only one for now. It's called Pronto and you can reach their accommodating customer service representatives at (866) 437-7668 or 43-PRONTO. You can call and ask them questions or ask them to visit specific locations on Web Street for you. They are experts (not like us), and they may find it easier to traverse difficult places like Amazon.com. There is a fee for their service, kind of like what you would pay for a Nordstrom personal shopper, but at least you can get what you want. So, the reality is that you can take a run to Web Street whenever you like.
I guess it's time to quit fooling around and tell you, as if you hadn't already figured it out, that Web Street is kind of like a new Main Street in Everytown USA. It's located on that ubiquitous Internet highway that we all know, and at least sometimes love. Until now, you've probably heard of this place only as the World Wide Web. Isn't that a terrible, uninviting name? I like my name better.
We love it when it works, as it does on Craig's List. When things are properly labeled, well organized, and laid out right, visiting Web Street -- oh, sorry, the World Wide Web -- is a breeze. On the other hand, when things are very complex, badly laid out, and created in ways that are inaccessible for blind people, we hate the experience. Worse than that, we lose out on what is there to be had by others.
Whatever the case, there are many good sites to visit and many good things the web can do for you. Use Pronto and you won't even need a computer to do at least some things on the web. Please know that in the weeks and months to come, the American Council of the Blind is working cooperatively with companies and organizations to help make web sites more accessible.
If you enjoyed this trip, let me know and maybe I'll plan another tour for us and talk about access kiosks other than Pronto. Until then, happy shopping or whatever you want to do there, and have fun doing it. Be empowered; put yourself in the driver's seat. With or without a computer, Web Street is available whenever you want to go.
This is an account of an editorial that almost was. Fortunately for the many blind guide dog users who might be in the market for some computer training with a free refurbished Pentium computer thrown in, an editorial which was slated for publication in the September "Braille Forum" does not need to appear. Here is what happened.
A few weeks ago, I received a phone call from my friend, Bob. Communicating Computers for the Blind, about which information had appeared in the June "Here and There" column, Bob said, had not only refused to accept him as a student if he came to South Dakota with his guide dog, but their representative had been extremely rude to him on the telephone. Bob was upset. I told him I would look into the matter.
But, before I had a chance to track down their phone number, I was contacted by a representative from Guiding Eyes. It seems a graduate of theirs had contacted Communicating Computers for the Blind and asked about coming for their training, with his guide dog. The student was reportedly told, not only that he couldn't bring his guide dog to class, but also that he -- with his 20/800 vision -- shouldn't even have a guide dog in the first place. I told the representative that we would investigate and print some kind of disclaimer in the Forum if these allegations turned out to be true.
On the day before we were slated to go to press, I called Communicating Computers for the Blind. As I dialed their number, my intention was to check out the facts which had been given to me, and if they were borne out, to print some kind of disclaimer, either at the front of the magazine or at the top of Billie Jean's "Here and There" column. I was planning to say that it had come to our attention that Communicating Computers for the Blind did not welcome guide dogs in their training facility, and so "The Braille Forum" regretted ever having promoted their establishment within the pages of our magazine -- or something to that effect.
However, when I called the foundation and my questions were met by a stream of invective about smelly, hairy unkempt guide dogs, irresponsible guide dog handlers, and the foundation's unequivocal refusal to admit any student who wanted to attend their facility with his or her dog, my mild-mannered intentions flew out the proverbial window. I told Lou Calesso, who, with his wife, runs the foundation, that not only was I planning to write an editorial expressing my outrage at their not allowing guide dog users to take advantage of the services their foundation offers, I was also filing a complaint with the Department of Justice.
My fingers flew across my computer's keyboard. Where were these people for the last dozen years? I asked. Didn't they understand that the Americans with Disabilities Act applies to them? Even though they offer their training services from their home, they still have an obligation to serve blind people who come with guide dogs the same services they would offer any other blind people, no matter what mobility aid they choose to use -- even if the Calessos themselves don't necessarily welcome dogs into their home.
I wrote the editorial. I sent a copy to the Calessos at the same time I sent a copy to the board of GDUI and the Department of Justice. When I wrote to the Department of Justice, along with the text of the editorial, I supplied the name, address, and telephone number of the foundation, and I stated that I was filing a formal complaint against the foundation for violating Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act. I was not required to inform Communicating Computers for the Blind about the complaint I had filed against them, but, because Lou Calesso had asked to see a copy of the article which would go into the Forum, I sent him a copy of the editorial.
As the presses were about to roll, the Calessos, who are long-time members of the ACB, contacted the chair of the ACB Board of Publications. They told Charlie Hodge that they have contacted the Department of Justice and have requested that the department send a representative to South Dakota to instruct them in how they should alter their business practices in order to comply with the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
As we go to press, and I withdraw the original editorial I wrote, I can only hope that the Calessos are as good as their word to Mr. Hodge. I am glad that they were motivated by -- what? The threat of my complaint, or the possibility of some decidedly uncomplimentary publicity in the pages of "The Braille Forum" -- to rethink their policy of denying services to guide dog users.
I want the Calessos to know that "The Braille Forum" will follow up to see just how sincere they are about learning what the Americans with Disabilities Act means for every person with a disability.
We are taking a very unusual step, pulling our editorial from the pages of the magazine on a day when we expect the blue lines to arrive from the printer and the presses to roll. Stopping the presses, pulling the editorial, and informing readers that the situation seems to have changed for the better is a fair thing to do. It also represents a leap of faith -- that the Calessos will begin offering their seemingly very attractive training package to guide dog users on a non-discriminatory basis. And it is a celebration of policies changed, compliance (however belatedly) with the law achieved, and justice served.
In an issue which seeks to honor the memory of Justin Dart and to keep our promises to him to overcome injustice where we find it, I do not regret having written the original editorial or taking the time to file a formal complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice. I am pleased, though, to replace the anger in my original piece with hopeful words about changed minds and fair treatment. Let justice prevail.
(Reprinted from "The Bremerton Sun," June 16, 2002.) SEATTLE -- The loudspeaker blares, "Let's play ball!" and the crowd of Mariners fans in section 314 at Safeco Field jumps to its feet, empty peanut shells falling to the floor. They whoop, they shout, they clap. One turns up the volume on a boom box radio so everyone around can hear, and others adjust the radio speaker-buds in their ears.
For the visually impaired, baseball is experienced through sounds, smells, flavors and friendships.
In contrast to the hubbub above them, under several seats well-trained dogs curl up for a nine-inning nap.
To most of the 65 people in the group, the ball field is just a green blur or is completely black, even on this sunny Sunday afternoon with the stadium roof wide open. But their visual impairments don't dampen their enthusiasm for the great American pastime -- or the home team.
These members of the Washington State Council of the Blind, including a large contingent from Kitsap County's Peninsula Chapter, rely on the roar of the crowd and radio commentators to help them visualize the players on the field, the home run by Sammy Sosa, and, ultimately, the solid trouncing of the Mariners by the Cubs.
Although their eyes don't see the action on the field, their experience of the game is rich with often raucous sounds, aromas, flavors, textures and temperatures of the game.
Safeco staff members greet the group arriving outside the stadium, open a turnstile just for them, and walk them to their seats.
As in every other section of the ball field, there is the occasional confusion about whose seat is whose. A quick swipe of fingers across the raised Braille dots on the tickets quickly solves the problem.
As the people take their seats, many of them collapse white canes into tote bags. They orient themselves, delighting in learning that friends are in nearby seats.
"Is that you, Terry?" Becky Bell of Seattle asks as she stands to let a man pass by her. "It's Becky. Ann is to my right, and Shirley and Dottie and Viola are behind us."
Although some members of the group use white canes or the guiding elbow of a sighted friend to check out fare of the food vendors, others accept the Safeco staff members' offers to take food orders and deliver the popular but sharply pungent garlic fries, the icy beer, or the boxed pizzas to their seats.
Joining Sarah Schweizer of Bremerton for the game is her husband, Jeff, a submariner assigned to USS Houston, and her golden retriever Janine. Formerly of Charleston, S.C., Sarah had attended only minor league games. "This was my first major league game," she said. "The fans are more into it here; the whole atmosphere is better."
Schweizer, who has been visually impaired all of her life, could see the green of the field. By listening to the play-by- play on the radio, she could easily track the action.
Among the boisterous younger fans were 12-year-old Nicole Torcolini, who will be a seventh grader at Central Kitsap Junior High in September. Cancer at age 4 robbed her of most of her vision but not of her lively spirit. She brought along her mother, Cathy, and spent much of the game socializing and filling up on hot dogs, French fries, cotton candy and more.
While the adults were resting on the ferry returning to Bremerton after the game, Torcolini's energy hadn't abated a bit. She talked about her violin, her collection of Lionel trains, and her "mutt" dog. She gave a show-and-tell of a talking keychain, watch and pedometer.
"It says I walked 2.02 miles," she said, and then added defiantly, "I'm not buying a Mariners T-shirt until I see them win!"
Chris Forhan, a 14-year-old Fairview Junior High student, arrived early at the field, hoping to get players' autographs. He scored when Freddy Garcia autographed his baseball.
For many of the members of the group, the chance to spend time together was as important as following the game. "I went with the group last year, too," said Meka White, a 22- year-old from Bremerton who plans to become a massage therapist. "Seeing everybody from across the state, being together as a group, and getting to know everybody better. That's what I liked best about the game."
Organizing the annual event was Cindy Burgett, president of the local Council of the Blind, Braille teacher for the Central Kitsap School District, and a tour de force advocating for the visually impaired. Her daughters, Amanda and Amelia Wearstler, her husband, Lyle, and their two guide dogs, Milo and Arabelle, also attended the game.
During the seventh-inning stretch and in spite of their inability to see the video screen, many in the crowd placed their bets during the "Hat Trick" and "Hydroplane Races," then laughed as some beat the odds of winning.
And as for the dogs, Janine slept through the game. Milo was a bit uptight with the loud noises and peanut shells falling on his fur. And Arabelle left the stadium smelling strongly of garlic.
For more information, the Peninsula Council of the Blind meets the first Saturday of each month until September, when meetings change to the second Saturday of the month. Call (360) 373-2772 for further details. Or call president Cindy Burgett at (360) 698-0827, e-mail [email protected], or visit http://www.sinclair.net/pcb/. Resources Washington Council of the Blind - (800) 255-1147 Washington State Department of Services for the Blind - (800) 552-7103 Washington Talking Books and Braille Library - (800) 542-0866 Web site Links: www.wcbinfo.org, www.acb.org, www.acbradio.org
(Editor's Note: This article is based on Dr. Hatlen's presentation at the 2002 ACB national convention in Houston, Texas. Hatlen has served as superintendent of the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired for a dozen years. Under his leadership, the school has emerged as perhaps the best known and certainly one of the most respected schools for blind and visually impaired children in the world. Here are Dr. Hatlen's ideas for meaningful reform in the systems which educate blind and visually impaired children. We at "The Braille Forum" are honored to share these provocative ideas with educators, parents, and concerned blind people everywhere.)
It pleases me more than I can express to have this opportunity to talk with you about the education of blind and visually impaired children. This profession has been my joy, my frustration, my passion and my pleasure for almost 50 years. So, you see, any changes you may want to discuss are changes that I have most likely already lived through.
Now, let's get to the topic. The title for my presentation comes from a Dilbert poster that I have prominently displayed in my office. It needs no further explanation. I have debated about whether I should focus only on the evolution of schools for the blind, or the overall situation with regard to the education of blind and visually impaired students. I'm going to begin with the former, and perhaps say a few things about the general state of education later.
Many people who are blind attended schools for the blind during a different era. Times have changed, as most of you well know. Change appropriately directed is growth.
Today schools for the blind are continuing to evolve. From 1970 until the 1990s, I found schools for the blind floundering, searching for a role in a profession that was rapidly changing the location of service delivery. Then, beginning in the 1990s, it became apparent that these schools were assertively moving toward determining their own destiny. I maintain that the new destiny for schools for the blind is to be multi-service centers. They should serve, in some capacity, all students in their state or region. They should offer their expertise to any school requesting help. They should acknowledge the capability of local school districts to meet the academic needs of visually impaired students. Today children can receive a quality education in their local schools, and most never attend a school for the blind. Schools for the blind, however, can and do play a vital role in providing educational services to blind students who may receive a series of non-traditional services and interventions from specialized schools that were primarily residential facilities for only a relatively small number of blind children several decades ago.
And so the Wisconsin school changed to be a center, followed closely by the Nebraska school. Outreach programs housed at schools for the blind multiplied quickly, and teams of expert teachers were made available to students, parents, teachers, and administrators throughout their state or region. My own school, TSBVI, became the model for outreach services, and our responsibility grew from the 150 on-campus students to over 6,000 state-wide students.
The concept of the school for the blind being the "hub" of services began to become a reality. Schools were identifying their strengths and shaping their own destiny. What an exciting time!! These are some of the roles that TSBVI now offers:
1. First and foremost, we continue to be a residential school for blind and visually impaired students who need the intensity of instruction and the expertise of staff.
2. Summer programs for students from local schools
3. Short-term classes during the school year for students from local schools
4. Outreach services for all students in Texas
5. A post-secondary program, co-sponsored by the Texas Commission for the Blind
6. Facilitation of personnel preparation in Texas
7. Statewide staff development
8. Instructional materials center
9. Assessment of quality of educational programs in local districts
10. Curriculum development
11. A world-famous web site: www.tsbvi.edu
The respect and acknowledgement that local schools give to this sharing of resources indicates to me a lessening of the competition and suspicion that permeated many attitudes between schools for the blind and local school districts. Now it is time to move the concept of shared resources even further. Now is the time to take the last tilt out of an almost level playing field. Now is the time to find effective ways in which to meet all the needs of blind and visually impaired students. Let me share with you some experiences I have had that are shaping a new concept for me.
Several years ago a parent of a visually impaired child called me, and this is basically what she said. "I have chosen the local school for my child. I want him at home, and I want him educated with his peers from the neighborhood. However, I know that my local school district cannot meet all the educational needs of my child. So I want your school to enter into a partnership with my local district. I want you to mutually decide which system will better meet specific educational needs of my child, and I want you to provide the opportunity for my child to move back and forth, as needed, between the school for the blind and the local district."
This parent stopped me in my tracks, and I have thought often about that conversation over the years. However, I did nothing about it. Then recently a friend of mine at another school for the blind called me. He said that he had read the lead article in a recent Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness related to instruction in the expanded core curriculum. He suggested to me that the solution to delivering the expanded core curriculum to all students might be for local districts and schools for the blind to enter into contracts to serve the same children. The more I thought about this, and my years-old conversation with the parent, the more excited I have become about the potential for a new model.
Why not, instead of either/or, as represented by the local schools and the residential schools, adopt the concept of "both"? Why not really look hard at what is good about each placement, and make both available to all children, as their needs indicate? With the recognition of the expanded core curriculum as being a necessary addition to the academic curriculum for blind and visually impaired children, we have placed too much of a load on our teachers for the visually impaired. Many of these teachers go to their workplace every day with a heavy decision to make: what to teach today. Do I support my student in academic subjects so that she can be as successful as possible in her inclusive setting? Do I consult with his daily service providers so that they understand his needs? Or do I let everything go, and teach my daily living skills curriculum, regardless of what may be going on in her regular classroom? Even more critical, if my time with each student is limited, and my caseload too large, how can I do anything else but be a consultant and an academic tutor?
And that, my friends, means trouble in River City. Perhaps we are asking teachers in local school programs to do more than they can. Perhaps the addition of the expanded core curriculum to the load of teacher responsibility is simply too much. To be sure, many of us have recommended solutions for teacher overload:
1. Don't be an academic tutor -- use your time to teach the expanded core curriculum.
2. Change your work day so that you have time after school to teach.
3. Provide summer courses that address the expanded core curriculum.
4. Add an additional year to the education of blind and visually impaired students.
These and others are good ideas, and to some extent all have been tried. But, maybe we're overlooking the most obvious solution -- use our schools for the blind in new and creative ways.
I come to you today proposing that the solution to having time to meet all of the educational needs of blind and visually impaired students is to form partnerships between schools for the blind and local school districts. In order to do this effectively, we will have to develop a level of trust and honesty with one another that I fear doesn't exist today.
Local schools would have to admit that they need help in the education of blind and visually impaired children. Schools for the blind would have to admit that there are many things that local schools can do better than them, and that a true partnership, based on the strengths of each program, needs to be developed. Of course, the key to this is to comprehensively and honestly assess every blind and visually impaired student, determine needs, and provide a placement to meet the needs. This, my friends, is standard IDEA rhetoric. Let's take it a step further.
Comprehensive assessment means that every area of adaptive learning and every area of the expanded core curriculum is assessed. Too often, I look in the folders of children and find assessment documents that include only a low vision assessment, a learning media assessment, and a standardized achievement test. Sorry, but that doesn't tell me anything about the student's abilities and needs in independent living, in social interaction, in career education, in use of assistive technology, etc. So let's begin this partnership by assuring that every student receives a truly comprehensive assessment.
Next, let's talk about determining needs based on assessment. The outcome of a comprehensive assessment is likely, in most cases, to illustrate a wide range of needs for most blind and visually impaired students. But when and how should these needs be met? Are some needs immediate while others can be delayed? Perhaps most important, what will be the frequency and duration of instruction from the teacher of the visually impaired?
Now we move into the area of placement. For local school districts and schools for the blind, this is where the rubber meets the road. For a beginning braille reader, will the TVI provide reading and writing instruction for up to two hours a day? If not, should the school for the blind be considered for a six-year-old? Should this depend on how often the child can return home? If instruction in assistive technology is a need, then what will be its frequency and duration? And on it goes, through the entire expanded core curriculum.
My friends, I fear we have been settling for mediocrity in some cases. I have often told parents that, when they opt for local school placement, knowing that the itinerant teacher for the visually impaired will be at their child's school only an hour every week, they have made a trade-off. They have decided that having their child at home full-time, that having her go to her local school, is a higher priority than having their child learn to read. What I want is for the local district to tell the parents this, too. All too often, the local district will suggest that their child will learn to read and write Braille with one hour a week of instruction. This is being intellectually dishonest with parents, and I ask that local school districts stop doing this and admit their shortcomings in meeting some of the intensive needs of blind and visually impaired students.
This need for honesty includes both local districts and schools for the blind. Schools for the blind cannot offer education with sighted peers. Schools for the blind constantly run the risk of accepting behavior that would not be condoned in general society. Schools for the blind also run the risk of not maintaining high standards for students. So, you see, those of us in schools for the blind must clean up our act before we approach local school districts with the concept of sharing.
Local schools must admit to what they cannot do. Local schools must stop using teacher assistants in place of teachers. Local schools must either accept responsibility for, and necessity of, teaching the expanded core curriculum or consider the use of schools for the blind for this. Local schools must work harder to develop strong self-esteem in blind and visually impaired students.
And, perhaps most damaging is the prevailing opinion among many parents and educators that a school for the blind is the placement of last resort.
I envision a day when teachers and administrators from local school districts, together with parents, will sit at the table with representatives of schools for the blind. I envision a time when such a meeting will not generate any defensiveness, suspicion, hostility, or territoriality. I envision a time when neither local schools nor residential schools will "own" a child. Instead, the family will "own" the child, and the two educational systems will work together, as equal partners, to provide the very best educational program for every individual child. Should we settle for any less?
I am ready and committed to working to achieve this vision. Will you join me?
Future Conventions: Most of the Saturday morning, June 29, 2002 meeting was given over to a consideration of future convention sites. Carla Ruschival explained that, contrary to some perceptions of the past, hotels are very much interested in hosting the ACB convention, especially because it is scheduled over the Fourth of July. ACB reserves a large number of rooms, schedules many meals and receptions of various kinds, and spends well in restaurants, bars, gift shops, and so on. To date 23 hotels have contacted ACB, and 19 are at some stage in the convention process.
Convention planning has changed since the 1980s because nowadays, it often includes multi-year arrangements. The Adam's Mark hotel chain, for example, wants very much to retain an association with ACB. Members of their management spoke to the board as did representatives from hotels in several other cities. In their presentations, they reviewed available rooms and suites, room rates, and taxes; proximity of airports, bus stations, and Amtrak; dog relief areas; number and location of restaurants; attractive features of the area for tours; accessibility for people with disabilities and whether shuttles would be necessary. Of concern to ACB convention planners are the steadily increasing room rates in all parts of the country. An interesting aspect of the bids made by some of the hotels is rebates of from $5,000 to $10,000 to aid the organization in its convention expenses.
Established convention sites for the future are Pittsburgh, Pa. in 2003; Birmingham, Ala.in 2004; and the Adam's Mark, Jacksonville, Fla., in 2006. In 2005 the hope is to have a location in the west, and in 2007 one in the east or northeast.
President's Report: Chris Gray reviewed the long history ACB has had in encouraging and subsidizing provision of various kinds of radio services to blind and visually impaired people culminating in ACB Radio. In February he had expected that he could release information about the radio device that will give access to the Internet, but details are unfortunately not clearly established as yet. A motion was passed empowering the executive committee to continue its work with Smart Media and report at the September board meeting. More immediate results have come from ACB's involvement with promoting election procedures that will give all people the opportunity to vote privately with the assurance that their votes will be counted. Paul Edwards and his committee deserve praise for developing "The Voter Access Guide," which is expected to be available at the ACB web site by the end of September, to assist in this effort.
Florida, Alaska and Maryland have already adopted meaningful laws on this subject. A new area of involvement for ACB is a lawsuit aimed at influencing the U.S. Department of the Treasury to make paper currency identifiable by blind and visually impaired individuals. That was actually a recommendation of the National Academy of Science more than five years ago, and ACB has asked the court for an injunction to prevent the treasury from issuing any more inaccessible paper currency. Options that can be used to identify currency include differences in color, texture, shape, clipped corners, or tactile markings to name several. However, the ACB lawsuit does not tell the U.S. Department of the Treasury how to make paper currency accessible; rather, ACB demands that it do so without further delay. The discussion is timely since currency redesign is scheduled for next year. From a public relations point of view, it is important for ACB to communicate and collaborate with other entities that are particularly interested in this matter like vending machine companies and banks. One hundred fifty countries have already taken steps to make their currencies accessible, so ACB's effort is entirely appropriate.
Old Business: Two items mentioned earlier in the session followed up on subjects taken up at previous board meetings:
1. A letter was sent to Frank Kurt Cylke, Director of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, concerning the library's cooperation with the effort to make Newsline, the creation of the National Federation of the Blind, widely accessible to patrons. In his response, Cylke assured ACB that the anonymity of all applicants to Newsline is protected and that they would not be contacted by the NFB. The letter did not address what ACB sees as transparent advertising by the NFB through Newsline.
2. The ACB history has been completed and sent on to the publisher. Since pagination has not been determined, the exact cost is not known, but printing will begin from three to six months after final editorial decisions have been reached.
Adjournment: Adjournment of the pre-convention board meeting was preceded by an extensive discussion of the recommendations of the ad hoc Committee on Communications which will not be detailed here because they were obviated by a constitutional amendment adopted by the convention later in the week.
Staff and Committee Reports: The post-convention board meeting opened on Saturday afternoon, July 6, with the report of Charlie Crawford, ACB Executive Director. He sees his responsibilities as centered on office procedures, governmental affairs and advocacy, and dissemination of information. These areas are being positively affected by an improved telephone system including applications that may be possible using technology employed in the "Convention Ear" computer system, by Internet arrangements that derive twice as much speed for half the expense, and by association with appropriate offices in Washington that have resulted in sustained and valuable relationships.
Report of Melanie Brunson, Director of Advocacy and Governmental Affairs: There have been court decisions and other occurrences that adversely affect the ADA, and in the next few months, specific efforts will be made to ensure that the act is not weakened by decisions based on emotions which can stem from the fear of terrorist activity. ACB's consultation with appropriate governmental entities has led to a decision to allow blind and visually impaired people to carry styluses on airplanes. Sustained efforts have been made to increase funding for programs affecting older Americans. Funding was improved this year from $19 million to $25 million, and a further increase to $30 million is being sought for next year.
The Accessible Voting Task Force has prepared a comprehensive manual on Election Reform Advocacy which we plan to produce and widely distribute. Along with its value for solving election access problems which blind people may be experiencing in their local areas, the guidebook can also lead to some great publicity for ACB.
It is important that the textbook bill, which is called the Instructional Materials Accessibility Act (IMAA), gets through Congress before attention is concentrated wholly on the reauthorization of IDEA. Congressional support in both houses of Congress is being sought. Discussion of some of the resolutions passed in 2001 occurred, and the prioritization of this year's resolutions followed. They are grouped in three categories: (1) those which need immediate action; (2) those which require action but of a more sustained nature; and (3) those which must be watched over a period of time with appropriate actions to be taken as necessary.
Report of Penny Reeder, Braille Forum Editor: 2,320 braille copies of the Forum are being mailed; 12,710 large print; 7,720 audio cassettes; 745 computer disks; and 558 e-mail issues, 100 more than at mid-year. E-mail subscriptions are particularly welcome since the only cost involved is the time it takes ACB's webmaster to prepare the files. The intention is to seek printing and recording bids early this year and to attempt to arrange two- year contracts in the hope of preventing costs from increasing.
Since the mid-year meeting, the national office has released eight news releases, the two which have received the most popular attention have dealt with ACB's successful effort to exclude blind people from inclusion as part of a class of people with disabilities with whom 7-11 stores had reached a settlement, and the suit being brought by the ACB to require changes in design of paper currency.
Membership Committee, Pam Shaw: Toward affiliate expansion: (1) Preparations are under way for a special-interest affiliate for people associated with workshops to be called Associated Blind for Industrial Development and Equality (ABIDE). (2) Work is continuing toward formation of a new affiliate for professionals in human services with charter presentation scheduled for the September board meeting. (3) A motion was passed to encourage the membership committee and Oral Miller to work together to promote some means by which international associations will be encouraged and nourished.
To reverse the trend the committee noted toward decreases in membership in many affiliates and near failure of some, a plan for increasing membership will be presented to the meeting of the board in September. The recently organized affiliate in New Mexico attracted 25 to 35 members at its convention; it is, however, a very young group and may need assistance in developing leadership.
Convention Committee, Cynthia Towers: Items which caused some concern at this convention and will need to be considered in preparing future conventions:
1. Should the ACB child-care arrangements be available to parents who do not attend the banquet?
2. The level of assistance required on tours is ever increasing with expectations surpassing what is offered under present conditions. More assistants would require higher tour costs. A task force should be convened to arrive at what kinds of assistance should be expected of ACB representatives: medicines? eyedrops? dressings?
3. Fifteen percent of people using the guide dog relief areas do not clean up after their dogs. Some sort of sound clues should indicate where the trash receptacles are, and hotel personnel should not be requested to walk dogs.
4. Some exhibitors leave very early on the last day the exhibit hall is open, thus depriving members of an opportunity to visit exhibits on the final day. What action can, or should, be taken to correct this situation? Perhaps choice placement in next year's exhibit hall should be denied to those who leave early.
5. A plan is being considered to combine the activities of the convention office with those of the information desk to make arrangements easier for members and ACB workers.
Following up on executive session, a motion was adopted: That an ad hoc committee be appointed including members of the convention committee, a mental health clinician, a lawyer from the board of directors, and such others as the president deems appropriate, with the responsibility of reviewing and updating our current reasonable accommodations guidelines and presenting to the board at the September meeting the document they prepare.
Jerry Annunzio: A request was presented to the board of directors that a letter of appreciation be sent to the designers of the logo who charged nothing for their services beyond cost, an expenditure already covered by the sale of ACB pins with a profit of $500. Handsome luggage tags with the logo are also being sold.
In the Major Donor Campaign Annunzio has been asked to develop, he proposes that a list of previous donors be established, that they receive letters of thanks with specific information about what their contributions have accomplished for ACB, and that a request be made for increased monetary participation in the work of the organization. It is hoped that board members will help to identify and contact those who can become major donors.
Another area of concentration is the Combined Federal Campaign, conducted by states where charities present their programs for acceptance in order to receive contributions from groups of federal employees much like the United Way Campaigns. A motion was passed instructing the executive director to prepare a report, an implementation plan, that will enable ACB to be fully recognized as a nationally designated program in the United Way Campaign.
ACB Enterprises and Services, Paul Edwards: An executive director has been hired, and various changes have been made which result in lower earnings that are expected to be only temporary. Sales are up, but so is overhead, causing gains that are less both in terms of budget projections and comparison with last year's earnings. A new and attractive store has been opened in West Allis, Wis.; and sources of additional items for stock are being explored, like merchandise returned to stores and items left over from garage sales. Not having a vehicle available for pick-up is a severe problem.
Board of Publications, Winifred Downing: 1. To avoid waste and duplication, the BOP seeks a purge of all forms of "The Braille Forum" and an examination of mailing labels used by the various mailing entities.
2. The manual expressing its editorial policy will be revised to accord with the appointment of the Public Relations Committee and the decision to have Jonathan Mosen as an ex officio member. His recommendations for guidelines to be used by ACB Radio in member participation and programming will be included in the manual, and it will be posted on the ACB web site.
3. Mike Duke was elected to serve on the Public Relations Committee, and Charles Hodge has been appointed BOP chair.
4. The following requests were made: that the Board of Directors write the Recording Industries Association of America seeking relief from payments for copyrighted music played on ACB Radio. That, to increase involvement in the candidates' page on the web and the Candidates' Forum at the convention, instructions for the candidates' page be printed in the April, rather than the May, issue of the Forum, and that Charlie Crawford be asked to remind members about the candidates' page in weekly "News Notes." That next year's convention program, with any changes adopted, be submitted for final examination by the editorial department to avoid some of the omissions and confusion that occurred this year. That Jonathan Mosen be appointed as an ex officio member of the convention committee to address some of the difficulties he encountered this year in arranging coverage by ACB Radio.
Final Decisions, Election: Billie Jean Keith was elected to be the board representative on the newly designed public relations committee.
Budget Recommendation: At the September meeting, permission will be sought to allocate funds for the first three months of the coming year to avoid having the budget committee's hands tied.
September Meeting: The September board meeting will occur on September 21. Carla Ruschival will identify the location by August 1.
Each year, many employers ask employees to contribute part of their income for worthy causes via the Combined Federal Campaign or the United Way. When these campaigns are launched, you have an opportunity to help ACB. The forms you receive from your employer contain a field where you can enter the name of a particular organization if you choose. To make a contribution to ACB via the Combined Federal Campaign, use this number: 2802.
Once you've filled out the forms, you may also need to follow up, to be sure your wishes are being honored. In many businesses, government agencies, and corporations, the amounts donated are automatically given to the Combined Federal Campaign network and that entity may simply aggregate the funding rather than separating your contribution out and delivering it to your local ACB affiliate or the national organization. So, even though you have written in the correct information, you should contact your office accountant to make sure the payment is handled correctly. Please help us make sure ACB and its affiliates are credited correctly.
Recently, the inside front cover of "The Braille Forum" was revised to include the above CFC information so any interested person can find it more easily. Plans are under way right now to conduct a seminar at next year's presidents' meeting to show interested members how to become even more involved in promoting ACB during CFC campaigns in the future. Any methods we can use to promote ACB and support its work are beneficial to all of us.
Have you ever wanted advice about doing those little jobs around the house? Are you tired of being told that you're blind so the easiest thing is to pay for a tradesman? Then you won't want to miss ACB Radio Mainstream's latest show, "The Blind Handyman Show," with Phil Parr. You can hear the show at 10 p.m. Eastern time and 7 p.m. Pacific on Monday evening, that's Tuesday at 2 Universal time. It repeats every two hours over a 24-hour period.
The Virginia Association of the Blind-Shenandoah Valley recently announced the recipient of the 2002 Nelson Malbone Award. And the awardee is Dr. Roy Grizzard of the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy. Grizzard received the award in appreciation for his advocacy, support and service in an awards ceremony in Virginia Beach on August 4.
The ACB of Maryland will hold its 2002 convention October 4-6 in Cumberland, Md. There are already more than 40 people registered, and it looks like this will be the largest and hopefully best convention ever. Saturday evening we are hosting a private steam-powered train ride with dinner on board, for a cost of only $35. Registration costs $40, which includes our luncheon on Saturday. Hotel rooms cost $79 per night plus 10 percent tax. If you have any questions or need more information, do not hesitate to contact Butch Arnold at (410) 254-1972.
The Utah Council of the Blind (UCB) state convention will take place October 17-18, 2002. On October 18, we will be holding a benefit concert featuring country singer Brenn Hill. For more information contact Pat Gann at (801) 943-1559 or e-mail [email protected]
The ICB convention is scheduled for October 10-13, 2002 at the Renaissance Hotel, 701 E. Adams St., Springfield, Ill. Highlights of this year's convention include a tour of the Illinois School for the Visually Impaired on Thursday, October 10; a Descriptive Video movie presentation, "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone;" a discussion of the present and future of state rehabilitation services for people who are blind and visually impaired; a presentation from the Hadley School for the Blind; an update on all of the happenings at the Illinois State Library; a Friday evening barbecue at the Mary Bryant Home for the Blind featuring Jack Davis, local radio personality and former political figure; and a Saturday night banquet keynoted by ACB President Christopher Gray.
Convention room rates at the Renaissance are $69 plus 10 percent tax per night. Hotel reservations must be made by September 10 by calling the hotel directly at (217) 544-8800 and mentioning that you are with the Illinois Council of the Blind. To receive a convention registration packet, contact the ICB office at (217) 523-4967, toll-free at (888) 698-1862, or via e-mail [email protected]
Do you know anyone who might be interested in working to form a new ACB affiliate for people with diabetes? A posting on ACB-L proposing the creation of such an affiliate has engendered much interest and enthusiasm. If you are interested in forming an affiliate whose members are drawn together because of a mutual interest in working on diabetes-related issues, please contact Steve Heesen. You may e-mail him at (work) [email protected] or (home) [email protected] Or, if you don't have access to e-mail, contact him at (425) 562-9949.
The Pennsylvania Council of the Blind recently held a very successful career day entitled "Pathways to Successful Employment" in the Pittsburgh area. More than 50 visually impaired students attended plus teachers and counselors. This was a joint effort with Pennsylvania Council of the Blind, Pittsburgh Vision Services and the State Bureau of Blindness and Visual Services.
Pennsylvania's state convention will take place at the Holiday Inn in York November 1-3, 2002. The theme is "Living off the Shelf, Ready to Use or Easy to Adapt." It will feature a demonstration of the Freedom Box, a web dial-up service and a discussion of common methods by which purchased off-the-shelf items can be easily adapted. There will also be a panel discussion by the state agency for the blind, presentations by Chris Gray, ACB President, chapter and committee reports and election of officers and board members. For reservations, call (717) 845-5671. Room rates are $62 per night plus tax.
The Pennsylvania Council of the Blind continues to work on a braille bill, a revision of the white cane law, increasing shared ride transportation, cruelty to service animals legislation and accessible voting. Testimony has also been presented at a public hearing on funding newsline services.
The Pennsylvania Council of the Blind is ready to work with ACB in planning a great national convention in Pittsburgh in 2003.
September 13-15: ACB of Texas, Lubbock
September 21-22: Oklahoma
September 27-28: Indiana, Columbus, Holiday Inn
September 27-29: North Carolina, Holiday Inn Crabtree, Raleigh
October 3-5: Alaska Independent Blind, Palmer, at Gold Miners
October 4-6: ACB of Maryland (see above)
October 11-13: Missouri, Ramada Inn, Sikeston
October 18-20: ACB of Oregon, Bend, OR at Shilo Inn; call (541) 389-9600 for reservations by Sept. 27 for convention rates.
October 18-19: South Dakota
October 18-19: Kansas Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired. Mary T. Adams Seminar, October 18. Convention, October 19. Holiday Inn, Hays, Kansas. Contact Nancy Johnson at (785) 235-8990 or, if in Kansas, toll-free at (800) 799-1499.
October 19: Nevada Council of the Blind, First Southern Baptist Church, 700 E. St. Louis St., Las Vegas, NV 89104. Contact Carol Ann Ewing for more information at (702) 383-0600.
October 19: Old Dominion Council of the Blind and Visually Impaired
October 24-26: Washington Council of the Blind, Red Lion Inn, Kelso, Wash. Contact Cindy Burgett for more information at (360) 698-0827.
October 25-27: Michigan Council of the Blind and Visually Impaired
October 26: New Jersey Council of the Blind, Ramada Inn, 1083 Route 206, Bordentown, NJ $15 reg + $30 for lunch and breakfast. Contact Ottilie Lucas at (609) 882-2446 for more information.
October 26: Bay State Council of the Blind fall conference at the Carroll Center, Newton, Mass.
October 31-November 3: California Council- Atrium Hotel, 18700 MacArthur Blvd., Irvine. Contact CCB executive for information (510) 537-7877.
November 1-3: Pennsylvania Council (see above).
November 8-10: ACB of Ohio
November 8-10: Kentucky Council, Kentucky School for the Blind
December 7: D.C. Council of the Blind (date still tentative)
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.
Dear ACB Members:
During the ACB national convention coverage on ACB Radio, I was listening to Ed Bradley talking about giving to ACB. I have been doing so for a couple of years through the Combined Federal Campaign for federal government employees. Normally this campaign, which encourages charitable contributions, begins in the fall, so keep an eye out. The CFC number for ACB is 2802.
The nice thing about the CFC is you can designate an amount and it is taken out of your paycheck each pay period; for example, if you designate $260, then $10 is taken out of your check every two weeks.
The CFC is a convenient way to help raise money for ACB.
Dear Penny Reeder,
Remember the poem from Alice in Wonderland, called "The Jolly Caucus Race?" It starts with:
Forward, backward, inward, outward
Come and join the chase!
Nothing could be drier
Than a jolly caucus-race.
A caucus race it is; jolly it isn't. I'm still reeling from the caucus race run by candidates in the recent ACB election process in Houston during our national convention. There is almost no way for candidates to get to every caucus held by state affiliates and special interest groups. I understand and agree with the reason for having a caucus -- for affiliate members to discuss the pros and cons of each candidate. This is democracy in action, and I agree wholeheartedly there should be caucuses.
However, I think the process could be improved to make it a little easier on the candidates to participate in the convention, and to minimize the repetitiveness of their messages. I'd like to suggest that the Candidates' Forum be held earlier in the week, say before noon on Wednesday, so everyone interested could ask and have questions answered in a way that everyone hears the same answers. This could take place as part of our general session. Then states and special interest groups can hold their caucuses on Wednesday afternoon or evening, and Thursday with prior knowledge of candidates' answers to members' questions.
As it is now, caucuses are held Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday (all before the Candidates' Forum) with four caucuses an hour beginning at 7 a.m., and continuing after the general session and more meetings throughout the afternoon and into the evening -- as many as 17 or 18 caucuses a day. This is an exhausting process for anyone running for office, and forget meals and seeing friends. For candidates who have obligations in special interest programs, they can't take part at all, because they feel the need to attend caucuses.
I sincerely request that ACB leadership look at this situation and see how we might make it possible for people to run for office and still take part in the convention.
And Lewis Carroll can have the final say here:
... Backward, forward, outward, inward,
Bottom to the top,
Never a beginning
There can never be a stop
To skipping, hopping, tripping
Fancy free and gay,
I started it tomorrow and will finish yesterday.
Dear Editor of The Braille Forum,
I heartily agree with Rudy Lutter's letter in the May 2002 issue of your fine magazine. We live in our brains, although too often people don't act like it -- they act like they live elsewhere in their bodies and are sitting on their brains instead of using them.
Too often sighted people -- the majority I have run into -- think because we are blind, it affects our minds as well. They often don't want to be educated, and these people can include one's own family. I've had this happen to me.
I like the Forum very much and look forward to each issue. I admire the ACB of which I am a member, for bringing about solutions peacefully instead of taking everyone to court.
Bob Groff of Quitman, Ark. is seeking an elementary school teacher to work with him on basic math facts. He's trying to bring up his math skills so he can take the GED. Please correspond with him via cassette. His address is 487 PC Circle, Quitman, AR 72131.
Few members of the American Council of the Blind of Indiana realized the true significance and international impact its longtime member and 26-year treasurer, Dr. Henry W. Hofstetter, had upon the field of optometry. To ACBI, Hank was a gentle man whose presence was always felt but was never intrusive. He demonstrated a rich sense of humor in life around him, always had positive things to say about people, was remarkably disciplined, organized, and totally committed to the duties of his office as treasurer, even while outside the United States on three sabbatical leaves for the Indiana University School of Optometry.
Dr. Hank Hofstetter, as he was known worldwide, began his teaching career in a one-room school in Middlefield, Ohio. Three years later, he enrolled in the Ohio State University for his degree in optometry. Then he enrolled in graduate school to earn the first Ph.D. degree in physiological optics. In the latter studies and during the next six years on the Ohio State University faculty, his research was in the graphical analysis of ocular accommodation and convergence interrelationships and their clinical interpretation, in which subject matter he became a leading authority. In 1948, he was appointed Dean of the Los Angeles College of Optometry (now Southern California College of Optometry). In 1952, he joined the Indiana University faculty to organize and develop the legislatively mandated program in optometry and graduate study in physiological optics. In 1970, he withdrew from administrative duties to pursue full-time teaching and research, at which time the program had become variously rated among the top three optometric institutions.
During his tenure at Indiana University, Dr. Hofstetter dedicated his three sabbatical leaves to surveying and observing optometric education and professional development in 26 countries. This led to more than 50 published reports, most of which were subsequently reprinted in the local journals of the subject countries. For more than two decades, he was regarded as the best authority on international aspects of the profession.
His publications, including two textbooks and five editions of the co-edited "Dictionary of Visual Science and Related Clinical Terms," total over 450, the majority based on direct research. Dr. Hofstetter served as president of the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry, the American Optometric Association, the Optometric Historical Society and served on numerous national and international committees until his death. He was awarded five honorary doctorates and given several major citations. In 1974, he was named Rudy Professor Emeritus of Optometry at Indiana University.
He was known worldwide as a result of his interest in international optometry and his focus on optometric practice and education throughout much of the world. In 1991 he was recognized as the International Optometrist of the Year by the International Optometric and Optical League for his "profound influence upon the visual welfare of mankind." In 1999 at an international symposium held in his honor at Indiana University, he received the Distinguished Service Award from the World Council of Optometry.
With all these accomplishments, Dr. Hofstetter himself considered his most significant achievement to have been his influence on optometric curriculum, where he introduced much of his own personal philosophy into courses, including cultural and broad-based scientific background rather than a purely clinical approach.
Yes, Hank was truly a gentle giant. All of us are better for having had the unique opportunity to call him our colleague and friend. While his physical presence is no longer with us, the legacy he left behind will live forever in our hearts and minds.
The announcement of products and services in this column is not an endorsement by the American Council of the Blind, its staff, or elected officials. Products and services are listed free of charge for the benefit of our readers. "The Braille Forum" cannot be responsible for the reliability of products and services mentioned.
To submit an item for "Here and There," send an e-mail message to [email protected] You may call the ACB toll-free number (800) 424-8666, and leave a message in mailbox 26. Please bear in mind that we need information two months ahead of actual publication dates.
Ski For Light returns to Anchorage, Alaska, February 23 - March 2, 2003. Join more than 250 active adults from around the world for the 28th annual Ski for Light (SFL) event.
An international, week-long, cross-country skiing vacation, SFL pairs visually and mobility impaired skiers with non-disabled guides. Novice skiers will be taught to cross-country ski. At Ski For Light, skiers set the pace, asking their guides to assist with skills, technique, endurance or simply enjoying the outdoors.
Those interested in attending may contact Lynda Boose, phone (906) 250-7836, e-mail [email protected], or apply online at www.sfl.org. The application deadline is November 1, 2002.
Philmore Productions provides a service that allows access to the Internet using a touch-tone phone. The user can send and receive e-mail, browse web pages, and surf and post Usenet articles. System access costs $24.95 for five hours per month on a toll-free number, or $29.95 per month for unlimited time on our Chicago number. For more information, please call (877) 638-2974, or e-mail [email protected]
If you could live anywhere in the U.S., where would it be? The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) is surveying U.S. citizens who are blind or visually impaired to find out what makes a community livable. This year-long, national research project will identify actual communities most highly rated by participants. The best-rated communities will be announced in February 2003, at Vision Loss in the 21st Century, an international symposium co-sponsored by the AFB and the Foundation for the Junior Blind (FJB). The purpose of the project is to help people who are visually impaired advocate to improve the accessibility of their own communities. The research will provide information resources for people who are considering a residential move, college attendance, tourist destinations, etc.
Methods for gathering information includes focus groups, informal interviews and web-based "voting." AFB learned early that an important criterion is the general "walkability" of the community. Walkable includes sidewalks that are present and in good condition; in snowy areas, sidewalks are plowed and snow is kept off walkways; and good street lighting is present at night, etc.
Currently, the plan is to identify "livable" communities in each of four major geographic regions of the U.S. Community size will also be considered. And what's important for students, and working-age adults, or seniors may be totally different.
To submit input, or learn more about the project, please e- mail [email protected], visit www.afb.org/livability.asp or phone (800) 232-5463.
Jumbo font Scrabble Protiles are made especially for people who are visually impaired. Letters are larger and bolder, yet still fit the grid of a standard deluxe Scrabble board. The tiles are white or school bus yellow, both with bold black letters. For more information, phone (718) 847-1322, e-mail [email protected], or visit the web site, www.protiles.com.
If you have an Internet question, e-mail [email protected], and state the text of your query in the subject line. Search results will arrive by e-mail.
In addition to the recognition and awards during the ACB national convention, scholarship recipients were presented with a copy of Kurzweil 1000 (TM) software. Twenty-eight students who are blind or visually impaired were chosen by ACB to receive scholarship awards, in recognition of their scholastic excellence and community service.
Kurzweil user group meetings will be held on a semi-annual basis coordinated by Kurzweil Educational Systems. Consumers will receive free product updates, technical alerts, company news and other relevant information via a unique online retrieval feature within version 7 of Kurzweil 1000.
To learn more about Kurzweil products, contact Kurzweil Educational Systems, Inc., 14 Crosby Drive, Bedford, MA 01730, phone (781) 276-0600, toll-free (800) 894-5374, fax (781) 276- 0650, e-mail [email protected], or visit the web site, www.kurzweiledu.com.
For information about ACB scholarship opportunities, call (800) 424-8666, or visit the ACB web site at www.acb.org.
Since 1979, Innovative Rehabilitation Technology, Inc. (IRTI) has modified electronic products to make them accessible to people who are blind or visually impaired. Portable 4-track talking book players have been a specialty. IRTI also provides cassette-recorded instruction manuals for their products.
For more information, see IRTI's web site at www.irti.net, e- mail [email protected], toll-free phone (800) 322-4784. Call and ask for their catalog on cassette tape.
If you are interested in gardening, this list is worth joining. Receive articles and newsletters of interest and discuss topics such as gardening company web sites and how accessible they are for screen readers; gardening in general and other problems unique to blind gardeners. To join the list, send a blank message to [email protected]
The Catholic Guild for the Blind records all printed materials onto audio cassette in a prompt, professional and inexpensive manner. They specialize in recording school and college textbooks. They also will record instruction manuals, magazines, newspaper articles, novels, self-help books, etc. Orders are accepted from all addresses in the United States at a cost of $1.75 per cassette. For more information, please contact Eddie Williams at Catholic Guild for the Blind, phone (312) 236-8569, e-mail [email protected]
The Talking Typing Teacher (TTT) is ideal for home or classroom. It features human speech in every part of the program. With the exception of having text-to-speech read your name and play back text typed into Workbook, every typing lesson or practice session is read aloud with clear, concise pre-recorded dialogue. Manuals are available in large print, braille, and on cassette at a cost of $99.95.
For more information, contact: MarvelSoft Enterprises, Inc., phone (800) 987-1231 ext. 3066, fax (800) 695-8271, e-mail [email protected], or see the web site, http://www.marvelsoft.com. (Excerpted from "Vision World Wide" magazine, July 2002.)
Slightly used C-90 or C-60 cassettes are for sale at 50 cents each. Phone (925) 674-1264, or e-mail [email protected]
According to a press release, Logitech has introduced a PC and telephone headset providing 100 feet of cordless freedom. The Swiss-based company has "cut the cord" with the Cordless Freedom Headset for PC's and the Cordless Telephone and PC Headset. Logitech has a new corded headset, the Hands-Free Telephone and PC Headset, that brings added clarity for PC voice recognition dictation, and offers "smart switching" technology to enable users to switch instantly between the PC and telephone. This new line is available in U.S. and Canadian retail outlets and online at www.logitech.com. The headsets range in price from $49.95 to $79.95.
If you are an AT&T customer and would like to have your monthly statement in braille or large print, call toll-free (800) 222-0300 to request this accommodation. It may take three billing cycles for the request to be fulfilled.
This is the name of the monthly radio program hosted by people who are blind in the Washington, DC area. Programs can be heard nationwide through the Internet. Sponsored by the Metropolitan Washington Ear, programs are broadcast monthly on the radio reading service and can be heard anytime using the Ear's dial-in news service. ACB members were recruited to be program anchors and included Julie Carroll, Pat Beattie, Paul D'Addario, Jane and Pat Sheehan and Billie Jean and Bud Keith. Program topics have included taxes and special provisions for blind people, clothes shopping and fashions, recreation and sports, travel tips for blind people and various ways to get food and how to organize your kitchen. More programs are being developed by the Ear's founder and president, Dr. Margaret R. Pfanstiehl. To listen to these programs, visit the Washington Ear's web site, www.washear.org, and follow the link to Practical Tips for Everyday Living.
Business owners Tami and Jeff Carmer, who are blind, have a new travel-lite, slim-line, folding cane, with tip of choice, denim/leather cane holder for $45, which includes shipping. Contact California Canes at 16263 Walnut Street, Hesperia, CA 92345, toll-free (866) 332-4883, fax (760) 956-7477, e-mail [email protected], or check the web site, www.californiacanes.com.
FOR SALE: Note Teller money identifier. Asking $125. Contact Rosemir at (925) 586-5211.
FOR SALE: Inline CCTV system by Magnisight. Like new; only 2-3 months use. Comes with 21-inch monitor with black and white output on screen; has line markers and various other settings. $1,200 or best offer. Contact Monty Cassellius at (804) 353- 1128, or via e-mail at [email protected]
FOR SALE: Keynote Companion palmtop computer with soft carrying case. Measures 11 x 5 x 1 « inches. Has word processor, scientific calculator, address book, telephone book, diary, and more. Includes extra memory card, external drive for floppy disks (E drive) and A drive, and matching HP printer, all manuals in braille, print, on tape and disk. Asking $700 plus shipping. Contact [email protected] or phone (440) 449- 3141.
FOR SALE: Type 'n Speak and portable Blazie disk drive. $700 for the pair, or best offer, or will trade for a DECTalk Express. Contact Bobby White at (785) 266-3729.
FOR SALE: Internal DECTalk speech synthesizer with speaker. Asking $100. External Apollo 2 Dolphin speech synthesizer with cable, speaker, and power supply, $100. Call Bob Langford during Central time business hours at (214) 340-6328.
FOR SALE: Two Braille Lite 18-cell units, recently upgraded and fully serviced; like new. Hardly used. Asking $1,500 each, which includes shipping and handling. Optacon II R2B - latest model before it went out of production. Never used. Asking $750 including shipping and handling. Please contact Jeffrey Bohrman via e-mail at [email protected] or call Lisa McLaughlin at (614) 261-5792 during regular business hours.
FOR SALE: Accent SA external speech synthesizer with AC/DC power adapter, serial cable and JAWS freeware for DOS. This unit will work with any screen reading software including JAWS and Window-Eyes and is in great physical, cosmetic and working condition. Asking $150 plus $15 shipping and handling & insurance. TSI VertPlus internal speech synthesizer card with VertPlus v.5.0 DOS drivers and software, tutorials and instructions manual on cassette tape and print. Unit works with any IBM compatible PC 486 or lower and is a full size or length card. Unit is in great physical, cosmetic and working condition. Asking $25 plus $15 shipping & handling and insurance. Contact Don by e-mail at [email protected] for more information or call (850) 457-8131.
FOR SALE: OutSpoken 9.0 screen reader software for Macintosh, new in box. $340 or best offer. Handi-Cassette II four-track player/recorder, excellent condition, with charger, $130. Walters handheld monocular 10x20 - 6 degree, $125. Cobolt Weight Talking Scale new in box, adjustable volume & automatic switch off. $55. Polaron Navigation Aid, in excellent condition with extras, $490 or best offer. Has many great uses; helpful for wheelchair users. Call (760) 741-6503.
FOR SALE: Three CCTV systems. One is a Visualtek unit with a 19-inch monitor, two-camera split display system, wood grain cabinetry on monitor and camera stand. Asking $500. Apollo Laser system, 17-inch monitor, low profile camera stand, $300. Visualtek portable unit, $600. Shipping cost to be paid by purchaser. Contact me by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at (616) 720-4317.
FOR SALE: CCTV, Aladdin Genie Pro, color, $1,200. Price includes cost of shipping. Call (757) 455-0709.
FOR SALE: Optacon II in perfect condition. Hardly used. $1,000 or best offer. Contact Janell Peterson in any format at 303 Harvard Ave. E, #302, Seattle, WA 98102; phone (206) 328- 4778. Call before sending any money.
FOR SALE OR TRADE: Alva 320. Works with Window-Eyes, JAWS for Windows and DOS. Runs with parallel or serial ports. Comes with manuals in WordPerfect 5.1, ASCII and braille. $1,100 or best offer. Will trade for Bookworm. Alva 380. Manuals on disk in WordPerfect 5.1, ASCII and braille. Unit works on serial and/or parallel ports. You can hook up to three machines to it at the same time. Works well with Windows and DOS, Window-Eyes and JAWS for Windows. $4,000 or a Braille Note 18 or 32 plus cash. Contact Isaac Obie by e-mail, [email protected], by phone at (617) 247-0026, or write him at 755 Tremont St., Apt. 205, Boston, MA 02118.
WANTED: A machine that would allow me to read print at a size of 24-point or larger. It must be capable of saving material on disk for future reference. It can be a word processor or any other machine that has large print capacity, nothing fancy. I cannot afford the price or shipping charges, and have been turned down by a number of organizations that offer such assistance. Contact Jerry Hamrick at P.O. Box 213, Valley Head, WV 26294- 0213; phone (304) 339-6489, or e-mail [email protected]
WANTED: Woman's Seiko talking watch, new or used. Call Marie at (336) 834-2941.
WANTED: Braille 'n Speak, 640 or 2000. Call Philip Cheek at (609) 344-7830.
WANTED: Braille writer or computer with JAWS. Can't afford price. Call Sheila Cottle at (252) 445-2706.
WANTED: One Discman and one MCD player with recorder. Also seeking small, inexpensive song recording device. Contact Gaurav Dhwaj Khadka, Post Box No. 21110, Kathmandu, Nepal, or e-mail him at [email protected]
WANTED: A Braille Lite of any make but millennium at a reasonable cost. Hoping to pay in installments. Contact Kira Larkin at 1724 Heritage Center, Salt Lake City, UT 84112, or at (801) 587-1789.
WANTED: Sharp Talking Time 1 or Talking Time 3. Contact Robert Feinstein at (718) 627-0713; by e-mail, [email protected]; or by U.S. mail, 1750 E. 14th St. #2E, Brooklyn, NY 11229.
WANTED: Lavender braille writer. Contact Maxine Lavender at (405) 751-8560 or via e-mail at [email protected]
I have become increasingly overwhelmed by the information age. There's so much to read and to keep up with that I'm perpetually falling farther and farther behind. I already have a database in my computer with over 6,000 recorded books from the NLS program. I'm going to order them and read them someday.
So, when a friend introduced me to www.audible.com, my first reaction was an emphatic, "I'm not interested." After all, I've never even been on the bookshare.org web site for fear that I'd be tempted into getting yet another bunch of books that I'll never have time to read.
But, as time went on, I got curious, and went on the Audible.com web site, and found it to be very speech-friendly. I saw a link where I could download a few free books (they do that to get you hooked).
Then, as I always do when I'm contemplating a new computer- learning experience, I went into ACB Radio's Main Menu archives to see if Jonathan Mosen could show me how to use this stuff. And, sure enough, there's a lovely two-hour tutorial, all about Audible.com, and how to get and read books from the site.
I still wasn't hooked. I read the couple of free books that I'd downloaded, and they were fun, but no way was I going to get into a situation where I had to pay to download books when I didn't have enough time to read the free ones available to me.
Well, one fateful day, I got this e-mail message from Audible, offering me a free book by John Saul if I would only sign up as a premium Audible listener. With this program, you pay $15.95 per month, and can download two books of any price from the Audible.com catalog. And to sweeten the deal, you get a free portable MP3 player to play your books on. (There's also a cheaper subscription plan where you can get one book and a magazine subscription.)
That message about the John Saul book pushed me over the edge, and I signed up for the premium plan there and then. After all, I told myself, this was the wave of the future, and digitally recorded books were the way things were going, so why not jump in now and get used to it.
Since I had listened to Jonathan Mosen's tutorial, I was somewhat familiar with the Audible Otis, the MP3 player that Audible sent me, but I was pleasantly surprised by its compactness and convenience, and its easy-to-use controls.
I did have a frustrating few weeks trying to get the Otis to talk to my computer, since neither of the two computers I tried it on would recognize my Otis through either of their USB ports. But throughout the ordeal, the customer service personnel at Audible were incredibly patient and supportive, and even sent me another Otis to try, and were prepared to send me another model of player, should the second Otis not work.
I finally solved the problem by purchasing an AC-powered USB hub. Now my computer and Otis are merrily chattering away back and forth, and I'm gleefully downloading my two books per month. (You aren't limited to the two books you get with your plan, but if you purchase more books during the month, you'll pay full price for them, and books seem to range from $5.99 to $32.99.)
The Otis has become a permanent fixture on my belt as I move around my house, or ride to and from work on the subway. Right now, I'm scaring myself to death with a collection of classic ghost stories. But the eighth day of the month is fast approaching, and that's the day my book balance goes back to two, and I can download two more digital books from Audible.com.
As for the narrators of the Audible books, they're quite good for the most part, and Barbara Caruso and Suzanne Toren (known to all of us through the NLS program) read for them too. If you've read other commercially recorded books before, you may have encountered the music and sound effects that some publishers add to the reading. Personally, I can't stand these "enhancements," but I've only encountered that annoying music on one of the Audible.com books Otis and I have read thus far.
As for the kinds of books available to choose from, Audible.com seems to have lots of current best-sellers. Many are abridged, but there are still hundreds of full-size books available in the catalog.
I just read "Fatal," a medical thriller by Michael Palmer, a "new title" that NLS is just now considering for production. I also read "The Summons" by John Grisham, and that title isn't mentioned anywhere on the NLS site. There are also language-learning tutorials, as well as subscriptions to quite a few magazines and shows from National Public Radio.
I'm thoroughly enjoying this, for me, new experience. I'm really glad I took that plunge and signed up for Audible.com.
If you have any questions concerning Audible.com or the Audible Otis, please feel free to contact me. My e-mail address is [email protected], and if you don't have e-mail, just call ACB's national office and the staff can help you get in touch with me.
(Editor's Note: We discovered Carlie Grippi's poem on the Children's Page of "Exceptional Parent" magazine. We are impressed with Carlie's talent and are pleased that the magazine gave us permission to reprint her poem. Carlie is 17 and attends the Ohio State School for the Blind. She plans to attend college after graduation and is considering Bowling Green State University or Gallaudet University. She would like to be a writer, perhaps even a song writer.
She enjoys all kinds of music, especially country music. Her hobbies include running, swimming, writing and hanging out alone or with friends. Carlie has CHARGE syndrome and uses a "Link" to communicate. The link is a voice output communication device like a combination TTY/laptop computer. It has a visual display that reads what is typed.
Carlie is learning Braille and American Sign Language. She has attended many summer camps and volunteers in programs for children with mental retardation and developmental delays. We wish Ms. Grippi good fortune in whatever choices she makes for her future, and we are pleased to share her poetry with our readers.) I ride on a train of thoughts, I made a nick in time. What does it mean to have bare feet? And can you drink a whine? Can you ever eat a date? Or send a deck of cards? And if I put three feet together, would they fill a yard? Does a finished book become bright red? Can water really see? Is a riverbank filled with money? I've climbed my family tree. Where is the head of the class? I've given a dozen stares, I wonder what the number ate? I've seen those Easter hairs! I've eaten the color orange, and eaten little peas, and I've stepped in a cherry pit, and drunk a cup of tea. I write my letters with a pigpen, and swim in a game of pool. Juries sit in tennis courts, and all fish go to school. Does blowing turning a whistle blue? Do window shades go blind? I take nice walks with candy canes, and the ones who are smart will mind. All of these words put together mean different things as we see. And I must say in my own words, OUR LANGUAGE CONFUSES ME!
I selected the title of "Anticipation" because that was also the Carlie Simon song used to promote Heinz ketchup in the past. Heinz, Hershey, the Steelers, the Pirates and the Primanti Brothers are all famous Pittsburgh institutions.
Plans are under way to make the 42nd annual convention of the American Council of the Blind a rip-roaring success. Slated for July 5-12, 2003, the Westin as the lead hotel and the Hilton as the back-up, have started to take reservations and the Daniel L. Lawrence Convention Center, where the majority of our meetings will be held, is nearing total completion. Originally referred to as the "Gateway to the West," Pittsburgh boasts a population of 370,000 and 1.2 million when surrounding counties are taken into account. Established in 1758, it has an average temperature of 82.5 degrees Fahrenheit in July. Some Pittsburgh firsts are KDKA, the first radio station, 1909, the Pirates' first World Series win, Winky's, the first fast food chain even before McDonald's and the Steelers' first original name was the Pirates.
When you fly into Pittsburgh International you will be 17 miles from the hotels. A cab ride will run around $35 one way and the shuttle service, called Airport Transportation, which runs every half hour, is $14 each way. Your stay at the Westin for $85 per night will mean that you will be connected to the convention center via a skywalk or you can go down and just cross the street. Your stay at the Hilton for $79 is approximately six blocks from the convention center, but don't worry. The Hilton has agreed to provide shuttle service to and from the convention center.
While in Pittsburgh you will have much to choose from during whatever "down time" (down time? what's that?) you might have. The Strip (no, not that kind) District is a 30-block long section located alongside the Westin and is a source for dining and entertainment. Hand-crafted brews, museums, theaters and the Primanti Brothers are close at hand. I would like to take this opportunity to introduce ACB's new tour coordinator. Berl Colley of Lacey, Wash. is a longtime ACB member, advocate for people who are blind and Washington's (WCB) state president. He brings a wealth of travel and tour experience to ACB and has already begun working on what promises to be some incredible venues.
So, who are these Primanti Brothers anyway? Well, back in the days when Pittsburgh was a steel town, truckers rolling through the warehouse district did not have time to sit down for a meal. Steel workers would get their meals "to go" all between two pieces of bread. And so it is to this day -- the ultimate rival to Subway -- when you go to the restaurant, you call out your order. No one writes anything down, it's just made on the spot. The meat, veggies, and condiments along with your side dishes are all placed inside the sandwich. Yes, that's right, the French fries and coleslaw are all in there too!!! I'm told I've just gotta have one; stay tuned, I'll report back in future issues.
Speaking of the future, make reservations for the Westin at (412) 281-3700 and for the Hilton at (412) 391-4600. I suggest you use these direct numbers rather than calling the national 800 numbers for each to ensure that your request is properly handled. As I sit at my computer and write this, it is 12:30 a.m. and I am still wide awake. But this will soon end as I return to the land of the middle schooler and waking up at 5 a.m. Be that as it may, I have enjoyed being your national convention coordinator and look forward to all that lies ahead. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have matters you need to discuss with regard to convention. My home number is (206) 729-9654. I live in Seattle, home to Starbucks and the Mariners. By the way, Starbucks coffee, and all the fixings, are in every sleeping room. You computer users may contact me at [email protected] Your convention committee is already hard at work to make the 2003 convention magnificent and memorable while managing a myriad of multitudinous meetings. Stay tuned; it's going to be a great ride.
94 RAMONA AVE.
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