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Submission deadlines are the first of the month.
The American Council of the Blind is a membership organization made up of more than 70 state and special-interest affiliates. To join, visit the ACB web site and fill out the application form, or contact the national office at the number listed above.
Those much-needed contributions, which are tax-deductible, can be sent to Ardis Bazyn at the above mailing address. If you wish to remember a relative or friend by sharing in the council's continuing work, the national office makes printed cards available to acknowledge contributions made by loved ones in memory of deceased friends or relatives.
Anyone wishing to remember the American Council of the Blind in his/her Last Will and Testament may do so by including a special paragraph for that purpose. If your wishes are complex, contact the ACB National Office.
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.
White Cane Safety Day is October 15. "The Braille Forum" urges all readers to travel with your white canes or guide dogs and to educate the general public about pedestrian safety.
Disability Mentoring Day is October 16. Do you know teenagers or young adults who are blind or visually impaired? Bring them to work with you on Wednesday, October 16, so they can see other people with disabilities being successful at work.
If you are interested in participating in Disability Mentoring Day, as a student, a volunteer mentor, or an employer, find out more at http://www.aapd-dc.org/docs/.
(Editor's note: Charlie Crawford is designating this space, usually reserved for a message from the executive director, to this important topic. Look for Crawford's Executive Director's Report in the November "Braille Forum.")
In the coming months, Congress will consider and pass a re-authorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the federal law that sets out how children with disabilities will be educated throughout this country. ACB's Task Force on Special Education, established several months ago, has focused critically needed attention on the educational needs of students who are blind or visually impaired. The IDEA task force includes ACB members with expertise in the areas of special education, administration, higher education, dispute resolution, vocational rehabilitation, assistive technology, and Braille literacy, as well as parent and student perspectives. Moreover, the task force has benefitted from the expertise of members who represent ACB special interest affiliates, including the National Association of Blind Teachers (NABT), National Alliance of Blind Students (NABS), the Braille Revival League (BRL), Library Users of America (LUA), and eight ACB state affiliates.
As a result of the work of the task force, ACB is releasing a comprehensive report, a "white paper," detailing both the current problems faced by blind children and specific recommendations to improve the education of students with blindness or vision impairments. To explore the obstacles confronting those committed to providing an appropriate education for blind students, ACB examined the overlapping issues of people, tools, and environment.
A fundamental principle of IDEA is to place children with disabilities in the least restrictive environment. But for too many blind children, the mainstream classroom, or full inclusion as it is called, actually imposes restrictions and obstacles to an appropriate education. Blind children have been isolated academically and socially within the general classroom because many general education staffpersons do not consider it their responsibility to teach blind children; special educators with expertise in Braille, assistive technology, and other services are in short supply; and information in print, such as textbooks, daily worksheets, library materials, and building signage, is not accessible to blind students at the same time as it is to their classmates. These circumstances have resulted too often in woefully inadequate academic and social learning, leaving blind students ill equipped for self-direction, independent living, and employment.
Blind students are often excluded from recreation, extracurricular activities, career education, and community service and work experiences. Instead of developing a sense of inclusion and belonging in the school, blind and visually impaired students often suffer academic and social isolation.
Parents seldom know about all the options which may exist for their blind children. In addition to the regular curriculum, blind children must develop strong Braille literacy skills, computer and assistive technology competencies, and independent living skills that are part of an expanded core curriculum. Sometimes students have been able to acquire these essential core curricular skills by receiving instruction via a combination of local school placement and temporary placement at the state's school for the blind. Rather than planning for their blind and visually impaired students to acquire all of the skills they will need in order to be successful in the post-school environment, however, many state educational authorities continue to see these important issues in terms of a struggle between local school districts and schools for the blind concerning which placement option will prevail.
So WHAT can be done? ACB believes that we now have no choice but to seek to impact an intransigent bureaucracy by changing the law itself. For the sake of generations of blind children we must mandate changes that equalize the playing field for blind children so that they have the opportunity to develop to their full potential.
Most of ACB's proposals relate to people. Right now, teachers who must work with children with disabilities in mainstream classrooms are required to take only a single survey course on disability. ACB proposes that all teachers in all states be required to have at least nine credits of disability-related education (including blindness) to acquire or retain their teacher certification. ACB allows a five-year period for bringing teachers up to this level and urges the federal government to earmark funds to support this initiative.
ACB believes that the current funding formula for low-incidence populations under personnel preparation has disadvantaged programs preparing specialists in the blindness field, which is part of the reason that so many programs which prepare teachers and specialists to work with blind and visually impaired children are finding it hard to survive. ACB proposes that 35 percent of the funding allocated for personnel preparation for special education be allocated to low-incidence populations and that 20 percent of that sum be specifically allocated to programs that train specialists to serve blind children.
Parents need to know what the options are for their children. To encourage the recognition of the range of choices that might best serve their children, ACB proposes requiring each school district to provide parents with a document that lists the range of education options both within and out of state that might be appropriate for their children. This document should be mailed along with the notice of the IEP so that parents have time to read it before their team meetings.
To assure that blind children and their teachers have the tools they need to be successful, ACB includes two major proposals. First, ACB proposes amending IDEA so that the core curriculum is expanded to include instruction in orientation and mobility, assistive technology, daily living skills, and low vision. Second, ACB asks the Secretary of Education to create a priority during this funding cycle to train teachers, paraprofessionals, administrators, and students to utilize access technology.
In terms of affecting the environment in which education is delivered, ACB makes several recommendations. First, when children are to be educated in a mainstream classroom, ACB advocates that the law be amended to assure that they are not disadvantaged by the extent and manner in which they are provided access to both information and activities. We propose that blind students have access to technology, hand-outs, textbooks, classroom activities, field trips, audio-visual presentations, notices and all other activities conducted in the classroom at the same time as they are available to their non-disabled peers. ACB also proposes that one of the requirements for all blind students regardless of their environment is that the expanded core curriculum described earlier becomes a part of IDEA.
Finally, ACB proposes that the definition of least restrictive environment be amended to include two exceptions instead of one. Currently the law says that a child whose disability is so severe that education in the mainstream classroom is not appropriate may be placed elsewhere. ACB proposes that if a child's educational needs can best be met, in the opinion of the IEP team, in an environment other than the mainstream classroom, then that child can be placed elsewhere along the continuum of services.
In addition to the white paper, ACB has submitted specific statutory language to amend the current law, and ACB has submitted written comments concerning the recent report by the President's Commission on Excellence in Special Education.
We urge our friends, both individuals and organizations, to join us in this effort. ACB, through the advocacy of its many members, will continue to advance the educational opportunities available to all blind children. We are optimistic that the work of our IDEA Task Force will make the kind of difference we believe is crucial for the sake of generations of blind and visually impaired children now and in the coming years.
One of the most fascinating institutions within the American Council of the Blind is the ACB Board of Publications. It was created to safeguard a "free press" within ACB and founders and longtime members of the organization hold great faith in the ability and function of the BOP as a protecting agent in our democratic organizational framework and heritage.
At the 2002 pre-convention meeting of the ACB Board of Directors, questions were raised regarding whether the ACB board could regulate or require the BOP to be involved in certain committees or adhere to standards that might be set by entities outside of the BOP. On more than one occasion in the past five years, the ACB convention has struggled with clarifying the responsibilities of the BOP and its role within the organization.
I believe the time has come for a new analysis of this body, its role, function, and what was intended for it by the founders of our organization. In fact, the analysis is really not "new" in the sense that there is no organizational analysis and precious little recorded history regarding the BOP in existence anywhere within the documentation that comprises the formal record of ACB.
I am devoting a multi-part series of articles over the next year to this topic. In this first article, an examination is undertaken of the relative positioning of the Board of Publications within the governing structure of ACB. Is the BOP as powerful as the assembled convention? Is the BOP as powerful as the ACB Board of Directors? What are the precise charges given to the BOP and from where do they emanate? What do earlier ACB documents tell us about the structure and reasons for existence of this organizational entity? Let us first consider the BOP and the ACB convention.
Fortunately, we have quite clear guidance here from our primary governing document: the ACB Constitution. This topic is clearly addressed in Article V, Section A: "A. The annual convention of this organization shall be the ultimate authority within this organization on all matters except those matters delegated herein or in the Bylaws to the final authority or discretion of the Officers, the Board of Directors, or standing committees." It is easily concluded from this that the convention of ACB constitutes the supreme authority within the organization. This leaves us with a very complex question regarding the relationship between the ACB Board of Directors, standing committees in general, and the Board of Publications in particular. In the remainder of this analysis, I will attempt to consider the variety of issues that surround the relationship between the ACB Board of Directors and the ACB Board of Publications.
First and foremost, it must be said that the relationship is intended to be cooperative and mutually supportive in nature. The ACB Board of Publications was established to foster organizational cohesiveness. There is no documentary evidence that suggests any other type of basic relationship between the BOP and any other entity within ACB.
Beginning with some historical facts, it should be noted that while BOP is often spoken of as one of the basic safeguards within ACB against abuses of freedom of the press, it is equally true that this "safeguard" was not created at the time of the creation of ACB. Thus, it cannot accurately be claimed that the function of the BOP was considered by the founders of ACB to be either central or "key" to proper, democratic functioning of the organization. In ACB's original Constitution and By-Laws, By-Law 7 contained descriptions of several standing committees. The Board of Publications was designated in Part C of By-Law 7 and its membership was entirely appointed by the president. (Braille Forum, October 1962.) There is virtually no documentary evidence regarding the reasons for breaking out a description of the BOP into a separate bylaw, nor is there any writing in "The Braille Forum" or elsewhere of which we know that spells out the scope and operational parameters of the BOP. The only written record we have of the change of BOP from a typical standing committee to a committee in which three members are elected by the convention is contained in a letter from Durward McDaniel to Floyd Qualls that mentions the change in By-Law 7 from the Chicago convention of 1963, and informs Qualls that he was elected as one of the three elected members under the new structure (though he was not in attendance at the convention).
However, it must also be pointed out that there had been some controversy between 1961 and 1963, when the BOP was reconstituted, with regard to editorial matters within the organization. Some problems were personal in nature. For example, Marie Boring was the first editor of "The Braille Forum," and it is relatively well-known that some degree of mistrust existed between Boring and George Card, due to some of his actions while editor of "The Braille Monitor" within the period 1957-1960. Notwithstanding this fact, Card was an associate editor of the Forum, working side by side with Boring, and remained so until February 1982.
In addition to such unavoidable personal issues that can arise from time to time in any organization, it should be noted, and ACB has always been mindful of the fact that our publication may be the single most important thing we do to communicate with one another and to bring our message to the world in general. Such a mission cannot be performed adequately by a board of directors. To have the assistance of a board of publications is a complementary and helpful mechanism for the administration of an organization.
Finally with regard to historical perspective, it must be kept in mind that the board of publications was formed at a time when ACB did not have a paid editor and was barely able to produce a small magazine on a bi-monthly basis. In fact, in the early years of the Forum, the BOP was responsible for choosing editorial staffs, and no single person acted as editor. June Goldsmith, first chairperson of the BOP as it is presently constituted, refers to the editor of "The Braille Forum" working along with three editorial assistants. The editor was Marie Boring and her associate editors were Ned Freeman, Mary Jane Hills and George Card. (Braille Forum, September 1964.) It should be specifically noted here that in this case, a sitting president of ACB acted in an editorial capacity for "The Braille Forum." Here, as in many other ways, the alleged separation of "The Braille Forum" and the board of publications from the ACB Board of Directors in absolute or even significant terms does not align with the factual history of ACB.
Editors might well need advice, direction, and counsel on a variety of matters. Editors, with the exception of Durward McDaniel, who was acting editor between the death of Ned Freeman and the assumption of editorial duties by Mary Ballard, worked from their homes on a volunteer basis. Only during the course of Mary Ballard's editorship was a stipend initiated and later a minimal salary provided. These core items led to the creation of a BOP with regard to the functioning of "The Braille Forum." Support for the editor, support of communication, and a mechanism to try and take as much personality as possible out of the day-to-day affairs of the magazine were key factors.
When considering the BOP, there is a second thread of history that must be considered. Perhaps the greatest single vehicle that fostered ACB's creation as an organization was the Braille Free Press. This magazine was created because dissident members of NFB could gain no voice in their magazine. There is no question that the collective leadership of ACB at the time of its formation and at the time of the creation of the BOP believed in and wished to preserve a magazine that could publish many diverse points of view. There can be no question that a board of publications would be expected to play a significant role in preserving this freedom for the organization.
There is a final historical thread that weaves through this discussion and needs to be mentioned here. Many founders of ACB had very uncomfortable feelings toward fundraising brochures that had been distributed by Bernard Gershin in the name of the organization for fund-raising purposes. There was a widespread belief that a BOP could help to protect the "public face" of the organization. A BOP could act as a possible safety net against the dissemination of condescending, heart-wrenching materials that were not in keeping with the message about blindness that ACB members believed was appropriate for their organization to distribute. Taken together, all these elements coalesced and led in 1963 to the creation of the American Council of the Blind Board of Publications. Their existence was codified in By-Law 7. Note here that the BOP was not given the status of constitutional inclusion. This fact must be given some degree of significance when considering the true scope and power of this body.
The BOP is mentioned twice within the constitution. The first instance states that the election of a BOP member, as with a board member, must be by record vote. The first mention of any significance with regard to the BOP in the Constitution is in Article IV, Section D. It is in this section that a member of the BOP is allowed to hold a seat on the Board of Directors. Historically, this role was fulfilled by the editor. However, this was changed to align the organization with the Long Range Plan adopted by the ACB national convention in 1995. This change signified a notable decrease in the role and responsibilities of the editor position with regard to the governance of ACB and perhaps in other areas as well. The next mention of the BOP appears in Article IV, Officers, Section L. This section authorizes the board of directors of ACB to elect any vacancies of elected members to the BOP. It states in whole: "L. If a vacancy should occur between annual conventions in any elected position on either the Board of Publications or the Board of Directors, except in the offices of President or 1st Vice President, the Board of Directors shall, by a majority vote, elect an individual to serve in the position until the next annual convention. At this convention, if necessary, the membership shall elect a successor to serve for the remainder of the term. An officer, director, or member of the Board of Publications elected or succeeding to a position under the provisions of this section shall assume the duties of that position immediately upon election or succession."
To highlight the scope and power of the BOP, here is the bylaw as it exists in our present constitution that expressly authorizes BOP and prescribes its duties: "Bylaw 7 Publications Board: A. There is hereby created a Board of Publications consisting of five (5) members whose term of office shall be two (2) years. The Board shall be selected and constituted in the following manner: every odd-numbered year, the President, at the close of the annual convention, shall appoint a Chairperson and one (1) additional member of the Board; and every even-numbered year, the annual convention shall elect, by a majority vote in accordance with voting procedures contained in the Constitution or in the Bylaws, the three (3) remaining members of the Board, provided, however, that no Board member shall serve more than three (3) consecutive terms and no more than one (1) Board member shall be either appointed or elected to the Board of Publications from any one (1) state. It shall be the duty of the Board of Publications to approve or disapprove employment by the Executive Director of the Editor of 'The Braille Forum' and to establish editorial standards and policies applicable to all American Council of the Blind communication formats including: but not limited to, periodicals, the ACB convention programs and ACB brochures, the ACB web site, and ACB Radio. The Executive Director shall have the authority to dismiss the editor of 'The Braille Forum,' but only with the concurrence of the Board of Publications, after a hearing on the matter. A majority of the Board of Publications may agree to include an editor/producer of any nationally distributed Board of Publications project of the American Council of the Blind as an ex-officio member of the Board. The Board shall meet at least once each year, and more often if necessary, upon the call of the Chairperson or upon the request of not less than three (3) members of the Board of Publications. B. A member of the Board of Publications is considered to be from the state in which he/she maintains legal residency. A candidate for, or an appointee to, the position of member of the Board of Publications shall be considered to be from the state in which he/she maintains legal residency at the time of such election or appointment."
In evaluating what may or may not be in accordance with the ACB Constitution and Bylaws with regard to the failed motion or the remarks placed on the record by Charles Crawford, ACB executive director, it is only necessary to examine the prescribed duties of the BOP. These are: "It shall be the duty of the Board of Publications to approve or disapprove employment by the Executive Director of the Editor of 'The Braille Forum' and to establish editorial standards and policies applicable to all American Council of the Blind communication formats including: but not limited to, periodicals, the ACB convention programs and ACB brochures, the ACB web site, and ACB Radio." The only additional requirement that could be easily added to those listed above is the holding of at least one meeting per year. Based solely on the constitutional and bylaw references, there is no basis on which the board can be forbidden from providing instructions to the BOP. Given that the board of directors can elect a member to the BOP, there is a small suggestion that the board of directors is hierarchically above the board of publications.
For most of its history, the BOP has considered this to be the case and has acted accordingly as demonstrated elsewhere in this document. Before concluding the discussion of the BOP's place in the governing documents of ACB, it is important also to consider where BOP is not mentioned. In particular, the BOP is not even referenced in Article V, "Powers and Duties of the Convention, the Officers, the Board of Directors and Committees." Given the extraordinary role and powers that are suggested to be held by the BOP, it seems hard to believe that some mention of such powers or duties is not contained in this article of the constitution. However, the constitution is silent on the matter.
Let us now consider the BOP in its institutional existence within ACB. While not as important as the governing documents discussed above, the history of BOP is unique and peculiar enough to warrant such a discussion. This discussion is specifically and intentionally limited to BOP scope and relationship to the board.
A treatment on censorship and the role of the BOP in its specific duties is excluded at this time. It is a fascinating topic of its own, but not deemed relevant here. First, it is clear that BOP has acted continuously in its oversight role to the editor of "The Braille Forum." In this matter, the BOP and the ACB Board exist on relatively parallel tracks and interaction is limited if it exists at all. Over time, the BOP has come to have a role in the contracts through which "The Braille Forum" is produced. This role came into existence only after the editor of the Forum was moved into the national office structure. This role was limited significantly in July 2002 when the board of directors mandated that contracts over $25,000 must be presented to the budget committee, an elected committee of the board of directors. This will undoubtedly include contracts for the print and braille editions of the Forum. Third, the BOP has routinely made recommendations about article length, page count, and possible topics of interest and of a timely nature that might be included in "The Braille Forum." For example, concerning activities in the past year of the BOP between 1963-1964, June Goldsmith writes: "The board recommended a budget to the board of directors of ACB for the maintenance and publication of the magazine. The board took part in the discussions which preceded the decision to make 'The Braille Forum' a bi-monthly publication. The board is also taking part in the consideration being presently given to putting the Forum on discs." (Braille Forum, September 1964.)
During her chairmanship of BOP, Harriet Fielding writes regarding recommendations by BOP to the ACB board on the scope of their duties: "The guidelines proposed by the Board of Publications and approved by the ACB Board of Directors are as follows. ..." (Braille Forum, March 1982). This provides clear documentation that the board of directors has the authority to approve BOP guidelines. Even more significant are the guidelines themselves. Consider the first two guidelines presented in her report: "1. The phrase, 'all official publications,' as used in By-Law 7 of the ACB Constitution and By-Laws, is defined so as to include any and all periodicals, pamphlets, brochures, leaflets, or other comparable materials produced for or by the American Council of the Blind and intended for general distribution. 2. Specifically excluded from the provisions of Section 1 are news releases, public service announcements, and materials designed for rapid distribution to state and special-interest affiliates."
The exclusions referenced above were made specifically by the board after discussion and debate. It is equally true that the national office and the board have taken a very lenient view in the application of the exclusions in item 2. However, the policy has not been revised inasmuch as this is about what the BOP can require regarding its involvement, not about what it may be requested to do. Clearly, the BOP has made recommendations to the executive director, the president and the board of directors with regard to "Braille Forum" length and the number of issues of the magazine. This shows that the board of directors holds complete budgetary control over "The Braille Forum" as well as other publications of the organization and the BOP itself.
In addition, we see from the Fielding article that the BOP has made recommendations about its own scope and brought those recommendations to the board of directors for approval. There could be no clearer demonstration of the hierarchical relationship at work here. I trust that this brief review of the history of the development of the board of publications as a corollary and assistive body to the board of directors will prove helpful to those who may have become confused during recent discussions over the roles and relationships of various committees and groups within our family of working groups.
Certainly, the work of the BOP is very significant to our ability to meet the needs of our members. But just like the budget committee, which is a committee elected by the board of directors, no one can presume that such entities take a standing or political status to alter the historic and constitutional order of authority within the American Council of the Blind. We all need to remember that the annual convention remains the supreme authority of the ACB even though it has delegated certain of its powers to the board of directors. And right behind the annual convention comes the board of directors, even though it may delegate certain of its powers and responsibilities to other groups. There is no doubt that the board of publications holds a unique place in the power structure of ACB. It is to be respected by the board of directors.
It may be that there might, under a certain set of circumstances, need to be an arms-length relationship between the two boards. However, it is equally clear that in a strictly hierarchical sense, the board of directors holds sway over BOP unless otherwise directed by the convention. While it may not be wise to end this discussion on a note of speculation, there is one area in which the board of directors would be wise to act with extreme caution with regard to the scope and power of the BOP. That is in the area of censorship of materials that appear in "The Braille Forum." While there is no documentary evidence whatsoever on this topic in the formal writings within ACB during or after July 1961, there is a history of writings by key ACB members before that time in the Braille Free Press. These writings contain some of the threads of ideas that provide BOP with the anecdotal powers many claim for it.
While it has been argued here that such anecdotal powers clearly do not exist with regard to the day-to-day budgetary and operational affairs of BOP, it is much more difficult to understand the role, scope, or power of the BOP within the specific area of censorship. The history of BOP further confounds this issue. However, let this specific consideration be the topic for another time.
The board of publications took a break after the banquet to pose for some pictures. Top row: Mike Duke, Ken Stewart, Charlie Hodge. Bottom row: Jonathan Mosen, Winifred Downing, Penny Reeder. Not shown: Adrian De Blaey, Earlene Hughes, Ralph Sanders.
Madeline Burnett, known to many as just "Mady," passed away on May 15th due to complications from pneumonia. She was 47 years old and she leaves behind her husband, Doyle Burnett and her guide dog Savannah, her mother and sisters as well as many extended family and friends.
Madeline had a longtime association with the Alaska Center for the Blind as a student, a volunteer and an employee. Among other things, she taught home management and Braille and was a community resource specialist. Mady was a very giving, high spirited and compassionate woman, who shared of her time and talents freely. She dealt with many health challenges in her life including diabetes, a kidney transplant, and blindness. She was born in Los Angeles, went to high school, lived and worked in Juneau for many years before moving to Anchorage in the early '90s. She was very well known around Anchorage and the state since she gave so many public presentations and was always recognizable with her faithful guide dogs Jewel or Savannah. She was very active with the Spenard Lions Club. Her unique laugh, her smile and her frequent hugs were uplifting things that she shared with people around her. She also shared a gift of wisdom, showing us all how to live life with rich enthusiasm, optimism and compassion for others even in the face of personal adversity.
The American Council of the Blind of Ohio invites you to attend its state convention. It begins Friday, November 8 and ends Sunday, November 10 at the Holiday Inn on the Lane in Columbus. The convention is co-sponsored by the Rehabilitation Services Commission.
This year's convention theme is "Looking Good, Feeling Good." Many vendors will be exhibiting a variety of adaptive products on Friday and Saturday.
Registration for the convention costs $65 before October 21, $75 afterward. Your fee includes three meals on Saturday and breakfast on Sunday.
Mike May from Pulse Data HumanWare will be conducting tours with a Talking Global Positioning System on Friday afternoon at 1, 2 and 3. If you're interested in signing up for one of these tours, contact Jim Sullivan at (330) 528-1428. These will be walking tours, weather permitting; otherwise, they will be driving tours lasting about half an hour.
On Saturday afternoon, Paul Schroeder will be working with those interested in cell phone access.
For more information on the convention, contact Ken Morlock at (614) 221- 6688 or in Ohio, (800) 835-2226.
(Editor's Note: When our student intern came to town only a few days before many staff members were due to leave for 10-plus days at the national convention in Houston, Tex., there was barely enough time to get acquainted before thrusting her into the internship tasks we had in mind. But Jen Barrow is no stranger to challenging situations, having just returned from a semester abroad in Ecuador, just a week before coming to ACB's national office in Washington, D.C.
We receive many calls each tourist season from blind members and friends who are curious about how to go about touring the city, with its modern subway system, famous federal monuments, and throngs of visitors from all over the world. We hadn't updated our "tourism resources" or our own knowledge base for a while, so our assignment for Jen while we were away at convention was to take on the city and report to "Braille Forum" readers about her experiences and advice.
Jen managed to have a great time, despite the hundred-degree temperatures and "Code Purple" air-quality conditions which prevailed during the first week of July in Washington, D.C., and a summary of the sites she visited and her experiences as a solo tourist follows.
Thank you, Jen, for coming, for sharing, and for adding just the right amount of youthful enthusiasm to our national office this summer. And thanks for bringing your sweet guide dog, Pumpkin; all of us, including Glory, Bloom, and Ruthie, have enjoyed trading wags and kisses with your perfectly named pooch!
Jen has also attended hearings and committee meetings on topics like the reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Project Action's transportation and pedestrian safety projects, the digital divide, and other issues which are important to ACB. She recommends ACB's national office summer internship to other blind students. Watch future issues of "The Braille Forum" for details about applying for the summer internship and other ACB scholarships.)
The tourism season in Washington, D.C. is well under way as parents, school children and international vacationers crowd the avenues that lead to our renowned monuments, memorials and museums. There is something majestic and awe-inspiring about exploring the hallowed buildings that house our three branches of government, and treading alongside the structures that were erected to honor those who pioneered and those who have preserved our national liberty and identity. The experience of touring such a dynamic and influential city is truly unique . . . or is it?
As far as independent travel for a person who is blind in Washington is concerned, the transit system and street layout are quite logical so that few real frustrations arise while en route. The chances of boarding a bus or train with intelligible stop announcements are hit or miss, but at least the D.C. subway is less complex than either the New York or Boston systems. One noteworthy observation for people who have residual vision that decreases in dim lighting is to be careful in the black holes that are called subway stations, because they are severely light deficient.
I began my tour of DC by taking the all-encompassing Tourmobile bus tour. As with most things in life, the pleasure level of any experience often depends upon the people who are surrounding one. This became increasingly evident throughout the day, as each time I boarded a new tour bus, a new guide materialized to continue the tour narration. Only one of the three guides I encountered was spectacular as she not only narrated all the typical historical data you'd expect to hear, but also periodically slipped in descriptions about a famous statue, or read the inscription engraved upon a building. I didn't quite find the tour fulfilling or worth the expense because the added description was still not sufficient. The information given was interesting, but not anything that couldn't be learned from the History Channel or a tour pamphlet. While aboard, I disembarked at the Lincoln, Vietnam and Korean Memorials, the Air & Space Museum and the Folklife Festival.
For the rest of my week, I had arranged appointments in advance to receive guided tours from docents in the places I visited. This worked out 100 times more efficiently and enjoyably than attempting to do a self-guided tour of the attractions along the Tourmobile route. It is very important to respect the typical recommended process of calling at least two weeks in advance of your arrival to schedule a tour appointment. While on the Tourmobile, I had stopped by the National Air & Space Museum on a whim, and not surprisingly they were not able to spontaneously accommodate my request for an individual docent-led tour. I did, however, enjoy successful and fruitful tours at the National Cathedral, the National Museum of American History and the National Holocaust Memorial Museum, free of charge. Each of the tour docents at these three places was decent, but the highlight was unequivocally the tour at the National Holocaust Memorial Museum. It was called the Guided Highlights Tour, and it is especially geared to visually impaired, blind and deaf-blind visitors. The museum itself is intense and thought-provoking, and the manner in which it was presented by the docent was professional and effective. The American History and Holocaust Museums offered me braille and/or large print pamphlets, and I happened to notice that the Cathedral and parts of the museums had braille descriptions on various exhibits.
I find it fascinating to tour different regions of our country and world in order to gain new understandings about the local culture. There is a great difference between touring specific buildings that cater to conveying one particular pocket of knowledge, such as pertaining to Air & Space, and touring an area to capture the essence of a local culture. I believe that it is very realistic to enter a touring experience expecting to accomplish the first type of learning by visiting various museums and sites, but the second type I've found to be much more elusive. As a person who is legally blind, it was difficult to synthesize a general impression of the local customs, mood, architecture, fashion, etc., because information about these is subtly learned through visual images of their manifestations. While I was walking along Independence Avenue in D.C., I would be lying if I said that it was a thrilling experience that was markedly distinct from walking down Commonwealth Avenue in Boston or Fifth Avenue in New York City.
I like to draw an analogy between touring D.C. as a blind person alone and watching a non-descriptive video by oneself. I experienced several gaps this past week when I did not understand what was surrounding me as I traveled between points, while in the midst of the Folklife Festival, and especially at the outdoor memorials where I tried to determine what I was looking at and why everyone around me thought that it was so impressive. If you were to watch the same hypothetical video a second time, but with description, you would probably realize how much richer it was intended to be as you push the "eject" button with renewed satisfaction and an increased awareness. Depending on what your expectations are for touring Washington by yourself, the end result could be anywhere between mediocre and worthwhile. In the meantime, if you haven't already exhausted the local tourist museums in your own town, schedule an appointment. You'll probably be pleasantly surprised and learn something new!
(Reprinted from the New York Times, June 10, 2002.)
There is a wall outside my window. I have an attractive first-floor office in a newly constructed building on the campus of Dartmouth College. But my view is obscured by a pillared free-standing wall that runs parallel to the north face of the building. The wall has no structural purpose; its function is purely aesthetic.
Contemplating this wall daily has brought me face to face with the senseless barriers that are built in the name of design, particularly in my own design specialty: the Web.
As a Web designer, I do not consciously build walls, but like the architect of my office building, I do fall prey to vanity. I use design to draw attention to myself and to my work. I want people to be delighted when they look at my Web pages. I want them to notice my designs. But just as the wall obstructs my view of the world outside my office window, my fancy graphics and page designs are often simple barriers between people and the information they seek.
Take something as basic as access to the daily news. People who cannot see can nevertheless read the Web using text-to-speech software. And because there are loads of news sources on the Web, blind people should theoretically have access to much more information online than in the print world, where they often must rely on the availability of alternative versions, like audio recordings or Braille.
But with the Web's current hyperactive state, text-to-speech access to the daily news is tedious at best, impossible at worst. Screen-reader software works only when it has text to read. Graphics are not text. Flash animations and navigation are not text. Video is not text. PDF files often are not text. So unless the Web developer provides a "text equivalent" in the page's underlying code, material in these formats is inaccessible to people who rely on screen-reader software.
Consider the news site MSNBC.com. The site uses graphic text for its navigation links, which cannot be read by screen-reader software. Nor can the text be enlarged by people who can see only large type. Because the site's developer did not provide alternative text in the code of the pages, when the screen reader encounters the Sports link, it reads the link's U.R.L., which sounds like "slash news slash s p t underline front dot asp link." Huh?
Another potential barrier on the MSNBC site is the video, which is great and interesting and useful, but only if you can hear and see (and are running Microsoft's Internet Explorer and Windows Media Player). There are no captions, text transcripts or descriptions to accompany the video and audio material.
Peter Dorogoff, a spokesman for MSNBC.com, said the site's developers would continue to assess its usefulness to the largest possible audience. "We've addressed the broadest accessibility issues within the constraints of our publishing tool and other necessary resources," Mr. Dorogoff said. "We continue to monitor and evaluate accessibility across the site and have made a concerted effort to achieve this goal on a consistent basis, sitewide."
There is no reason to single out MSNBC.com. The New York Times on the Web, for example, presents its own barriers. Every page on the Web site has graphics and advertising at the top and an extensive set of navigation links along the left side. Sighted people, if they choose to, can skip the advertisements, the last updated date, the search features and log-in information and the more than 50 navigation links and jump straight to the headlines.
But for people who rely on text-to-speech software, skipping over those elements is not an option. Screen-reader software reads sequentially, starting at the top of the page. This means that blind people must listen to the advertisements and navigation before reaching the main content, and they must do this on every page of the site.
Stephen P. Newman, the assistant general manager of NYTimes.com, says the Times Web site is frequently redesigned. "For each redesign," he said, "we gather feedback from our readers during comprehensive user testing and focus groups. So our designs currently reflect the needs of the majority of our users."
Accessible design does not mean doing away with navigation links, graphics and banner advertisements. Accessible design means designing in features that accommodate all users. For example, some sites, like CNN.com, have added a special "skip navigation" link at the top of every page that is invisible to sighted people but is detected by screen-reader software. When activated, this link directs the screen reader's focus to the main content of the page.
The "skip navigation" convention is a fairly recent one, and sites that lack this feature were probably designed before people started talking about accessibility. Indeed, most Web barriers result from errors of omission and unintended consequences.
But some Web sites do seem designed with a deliberate lack of flexibility. People wanting to play games at HarryPotter.com, for instance, had better arrive with a current browser, the Flash plug-in, and good vision and hearing. Otherwise, they won't make it past the intro page. Most of the site is in the Flash format, which allows animations, sounds, fancy fonts and other cool features that are not available using standard Web coding. It also means the pages on this site cannot be enlarged or rendered to speech, and they are not easily accessible from the keyboard.
The site is fun for those who are able to use it, and I doubt that its developers are mean-spirited. But they did make a choice to favor the cool over the practical and most widely accessible. Macromedia recently released a new version of Flash, Flash MX, which allows developers to include more accessibility features in their Flash presentations.
Don Buckley, the senior vice president for interactive marketing at Warner Brothers Pictures, said that the topic of access for people with disabilities was "of great interest" and that the Web site's developers "would certainly be looking at the technology." Maybe the developers at Warner Brothers will revise the site to include some of these new features, or, better yet, use plain old HTML to build a new, flexible Diagon Alley that's accessible and fun for everyone. Now that would be cool.
It does not necessarily take more time or cost more money to design accessible Web sites. The Web was designed to be flexible. Why not work within the medium and build Web sites that are accessible to the largest possible audience?
The Web is so much more than image. The Web is an access point, an entryway, a window on the world. Let's not allow fancy walls to block the view.
Since 1997, Robby Barnes and I have been working as a team to teach English to visually impaired and blind immigrants and refugees. I have often been asked how we do it. The short answer is by combining our personal knowledge of adapting to living with visual impairments with techniques that allow us to tailor our teaching methods to the individual needs and goals of our diverse students.
Robby is partially sighted, and I am totally blind. Each of us has developed a variety of adaptive skills over the years that have enabled us to complete college and graduate school, work in a number of different kinds of jobs, volunteer in community programs, enjoy many kinds of recreational activities, travel and develop friendships with people in other countries. Moreover, we are both avid readers and writers. Robby uses print, and I use braille. We both use computers -- Robby with a screen magnification program and I with a screen reader. And both of us have continually reflected on how we learned to do these things and the adaptive skills that make the doing possible. Teaching Diverse Students
As native New Yorkers, both Robby and I grew up with friends and acquaintances who spoke at least one other language before they learned English. And, as part of a family of immigrants, I was always close to people who spoke English as their second or third language. Since our early teaching careers began in New York City, we always had a high proportion of students who came from places where English was not the primary language. So, we learned early to consider the needs of new English learners, even when we were not focused directly on teaching English. In 1988, we both began new careers teaching English as a second language (ESL).
In 1997, we were both hired as independent professional ESL tutors for some clients of the Washington State Department of Services for the Blind. We were initially called in by Doug Hildie, an insightful and dedicated vocational rehabilitation counselor in Seattle. Hildie had worked for the Washington State Department of Services for the Blind for 20 years. By the late 1990s he was concerned about an increasing number of visually impaired and blind clients who were arriving in the United States from a variety of countries where English was not the primary language. Although many of his new clients spoke a little English, few could read, write, or speak English well enough to communicate effectively with others.
It became clear to Hildie that new English learners with visual limitations have needs which are greater than and in some respects different from both the needs of fluent English speakers who are visually impaired or blind and those of fully sighted new English learners. He was finding that simply adding together training, educational offerings and services designed for fluent English speaking visually impaired people and those designed for fully sighted new English learners could not meet the needs of his visually impaired clients for whom English was not a primary language.
Instruction in adaptive skills is heavily reliant on participants' familiarity with spoken English. Providing native language interpreters proved to be generally unsatisfactory, both because the interpreters were unfamiliar with what was being taught and so often confused the students as much as they helped them, and because the amount of interpreter services required was so expensive.
Hildie was not satisfied with the common practice of simply letting these clients stay home or channeling them into unskilled manual jobs and hoping that they would learn English on their own in time. He wanted to do something more that would help to improve their chances for personal fulfillment and success in the job market.
He tried sending these clients to local community colleges to learn English. However, it became more and more apparent that many visually impaired and blind students were not being served adequately by the English classes available for fully sighted immigrants and refugees. The instructional and other staff in the community college programs had little or no familiarity with the possibilities for, or abilities and needs of people with visual limitations. They were not prepared to help visually impaired and blind students in appropriate or effective ways. They were teaching students in large groups, and paying little attention to any specialized needs. The textbooks and methods they relied on were full of lessons centered around pictures, print materials, and other vision-based learning experiences. The individual tutors who were available to help struggling ESL students with their class work didn't have a clue about how to assist visually impaired and blind people beyond teaching them some basic oral communication skills. Although Hildie tried to provide additional support services for his clients, including sending a braille teacher to assist in the classes and work with the staff, nothing he did was enough to accommodate the needs of the low-vision and blind students, whose many challenges, which might have been annoyances if they had been fluent English speakers, were actually counter-productive for learning the new language. They were constantly confused by the references to visual cues of all sorts, disorientated by poorly produced materials in braille, and embarrassed by their inability to read and write the in-class drills alongside their sighted peers.
Finally, Hildie hit on the approach of hiring Robby and me to teach English as a second language to his blind and visually impaired clients. Specialized Approaches
Robby and I adapt our teaching styles and techniques to our individual students' needs. We work hard to find suitable materials, and we have found that students learn more easily when they are offered opportunities to learn through multiple sensory experiences. As visually impaired people ourselves, we have the advantage of being consciously aware of all the non-visual cues the world is full of. Moreover, we have always utilized a holistic communicative language approach, which recognizes that teaching a new language is not merely a matter of transmitting a long list of new words or phrases, but the more complex process of teaching how to use and understand a language in a new culture. This involves our demonstrating in clear, easily understandable ways the contexts in which words, phrases and sentences in the new language are used. We use environmental sounds, mimic sounds, songs that can be listened to and sung together, gestures, such as clapping, shaking hands, stamping feet, etc., objects that can be touched, moved around, worn, made with clay or paper, smelled, cooked, eaten, and so on. Since the meanings of words, phrases and sentences all depend on the settings and situations in which they occur, we utilize either real life settings or simulate, as best our classroom facilities allow, settings such as a home, store, park, and the like. And students need to practice interacting in English in various situations in those settings.
The most significant research over the last 30 years has shown that students learn new languages best when their teachers replace isolated skill exercises and drills with actual real-world social interactions involving interesting activities with both people and objects. It is also important for students to learn speaking and listening, and reading and writing at the same time and in an integrated way, both to reinforce the language learning process through a variety of channels, and to foster authentic functional literacy in the new language.
This holistic communicative perspective is particularly relevant and even crucial for enabling visually impaired and blind adult students to learn the new language, and especially for developing authentic functional literacy in accessible formats. Our students need to learn English literacy through braille, large print and speech-accessible computers in contexts that encourage them to practice using these accessible formats. It has become clear to us that new English learners who are visually impaired and blind derive tremendous benefit from studying English with people who are naturally using these formats themselves on a regular basis, because this provides them with both real positive role models and authentic reasons for practicing reading and writing in accessible formats. We want to help visually impaired immigrants and refugees to participate in the sighted world, including in mainstream educational institutions. But only when they have developed some functional literacy will they be able to utilize accessible formats to successfully learn other subjects along with sighted peers.
In 1998, Doug Hildie suggested that we form a small non-profit organization specifically devoted to helping blind and visually impaired immigrants and refugees who need to learn English. The name of our organization is Kaizen: Program for New English Learners with Visual Limitations. Kaizen means continuous improvement in Japanese. To find out more about Kaizen, and to make a much-appreciated contribution, contact us, Sylvie Kashdan or Robby Barnes at (206) 784-5619, or write us at 810-A Hiawatha Place South, Seattle, WA 98144, or email@example.com.
Are you tired of surfing the Internet for hours, looking for web sites where you can download accessible versions of good books, only to find out that a site that looked promising when you discovered it offers only selected passages of the book, or just an abstract? Are you tired of playing the betting game, and buying e-books online, only to find they aren't accessible and a waste of your money? A new book from National Braille Press, "Finding Ebooks on the Internet," by Anna Dresner, might just have the resources you are looking for.
This single volume book, although small, is chock full of great information and helpful tips and resources for surviving the wild jungle called the Internet. All of the sites that are listed in the book are tested and have been proven to be accessible to screen readers. The book offers several different sources for e-books, including Web Braille, Visutext, and the Bean library, to name just three.
The book is organized into sections, each one focusing on a different e-text site, and gives directions for using both JFW and Window-Eyes commands for accessing each site, downloading or ordering the books and beginning to enjoy them. The author offers helpful hints and advice on what has worked in the past as well as suggestions on how to deal with problems that might crop up along the way.
There are also several appendices which are chock full of valuable information. The first is a description of the various file formats cited throughout the book and how to access them. The second is a discussion in detail on how to use the download dialogue box of Internet Explorer and also how to teach your computer to recognize different file types for downloading. The third appendix contains a listing of all the JFW and Window-Eyes keyboard commands which serves as a quick reference for new users. The fourth is a listing of all the web addresses used in the book, plus some valuable resources and other web sites for information on such things as Braille ready note takers and scanning software.
This is an excellent book to add to your library, and at only $10, it's definitely worth the investment. If you are a teacher of visually impaired students, or a parent of a blind child or someone who just loves to read and doesn't have the time or the technology to scan, clean up, and translate your own material, this book is for you. It offers something for everyone. Whether you're a new Internet user or an experienced e-book reader, you'll find that this little reference book offers some surprising treasures just waiting for your discovery.
To order "Finding Ebooks on the Internet" by Anna Dresner, contact National Braille Press by phone at (800) 548-7323, or on the Internet at www.nbp.org.
Although ten-pin bowling has been a popular recreational and competitive sport for blind people in the USA for more than 50 years, not until the late 1990s was it popular enough among blind people in other nations to enable the International Blind Sports Association (IBSA) to recognize it as an official sport eligible to certify world champions. International conferences to discuss proposed rules and to demonstrate varying techniques were held in Singapore, England and Finland before IBSA, following generally the rules of the World Ten- Pin Bowling Association, officially adopted in late 2001 the rules to govern competition to be sanctioned by IBSA. Furthermore, some of the rules adopted were significantly different from the rules and procedures with which American blind bowlers had become familiar over the decades. This was the background under which IBSA sanctioned its first world championship ten-pin bowling tournament, which took place in Helsinki, Finland, during the period June 11-16, 2002, and into which the U.S. Association of Blind Athletes (USABA), the organizational member of IBSA in the USA, entered a talented team of blind and visually impaired athletes and team administrators.
Since the American Blind Bowling Association had been conducting national tournaments and competitions in the USA for more than 50 years, the USABA invited that organization to select four team members and a team manager to fill five of the 13 positions (bowlers and administrators combined) allocated to each nation entering the tournament. The other eight positions were filled by the USABA (which unsuccessfully lobbied the tournament organizers to allow other interested American blind bowlers to participate as at-large international participants). We went into this history-making tournament with a great deal of confidence that our blind bowlers would more than hold their own in international competition. Much of this confidence was based on performances by a few American blind bowlers during earlier international demonstration events and the fact that in the USA over the years we have developed a very reliable and simple guide rail that is used to assist visual class B1 athletes in particular and some visual class B2 bowlers to bowl with little or no sighted assistance. That guide rail has transformed the sport of bowling into a sport where a totally blind athlete can reach a high level of performance. Every B1 athlete on the USA team credits his or her phenomenal success in Finland to the use of the American guide rail, which a few of the other teams scornfully demeaned initially as "awfully ungainly." During the tournament, totally blind bowler Wilbert Turner of Cleveland, Ohio, bowled a scratch game of 207 and, when asked how he felt about bowling such a good score, he replied, "I was in a zone and all I had to do was stay relaxed and just follow the rail."
Like Wilbert, the other members of the team were very focused, constantly reminding one another that we must do our best to bring home honor and respect for the USA.
The tournament included teams from Australia, Chinese Taipei, Finland, Great Britain, Japan, Singapore, Sweden, Thailand and the USA. The ten bowlers making up the American team won an astonishing total of 11 gold medals, 9 silver medals and 5 bronze medals -- a total of 25 medals. Every team member won at least one medal and I cannot resist the temptation to share my pride by telling you how well we did in this, the first world ten-pin blind bowling championship tournament. In the B1 men's singles event, for example, Wilbert Turner of Cleveland, Wayne Keeney of Los Angeles and Simon McNeil of Cleveland swept the scratch division, after which Wilbert and Simon won silver and bronze in the handicap division (actual score plus handicap based on previously established average). Our only totally blind woman bowler, Cathy Fleming of Roanoke, Va., in the B1 female singles event won the gold medal in the scratch division and the silver medal in the handicap division. In the women's B3 singles event, Linda Keeney of Los Angeles, Calif., finished first in the handicap division and Marie Van Liere of Newport News, Va. won the silver medal. In the three-person team event we won the gold medal in the handicap division and the bronze medal in the scratch division. In the four-person team event we won the gold medal in the handicap division and the silver medal in the scratch division. We capped off this success by capturing the silver and bronze medals in all-events (total pin fall during entire tournament).
The USA team wishes to thank the USABA for making it possible for us to participate in the first world ten-pin blind bowling championship tournament, which was truly a once in a lifetime experience for everyone who participated. In my capacity as team leader and the USABA member of the IBSA ten-pin bowling technical subcommittee, I commend the team members for the flexibility and cooperation they displayed while taking part in a history-making world championship tournament that was conducted under sometimes difficult conditions and subject to rules and procedures which were sometimes very different from those we are used to. Many of those differences will be smoothed out as the Helsinki tournament is reviewed, future competitions are scheduled and potentially unclear issues are clarified by the IBSA ten-pin bowling technical subcommittee.
Some rules and practices which may be subject to review include the following somewhat difficult circumstances, all of which were dealt with very competently by the USA team members:
First, the visual status of each bowler was required to be confirmed by an experienced ophthalmologist before the tournament started and each B1 competitor was required to wear somewhat uncomfortable opaque goggles while bowling, to guard against assistance from any residual vision.
Also, selected athletes were required to undergo drug testing (just as in the Olympics and Paralympics) and there was some concern that the tests were administered without the presence of a third-party witness.
Another issue which deserves clarification was the practice of assigning each B1 bowler to a separate lane during the singles events, which required him or her to bowl 60 or 80 consecutive turns without having any opportunity to rest briefly after each frame while a partner bowled his or her turn. Proper pacing is a significant factor in establishing and maintaining an effective bowling rhythm (perhaps this practice was motivated in part by the incorrect assumption in many nations that the placement of a bowling guide rail of any type interferes with bowlers who do not need or choose to use it).
Finally, an unfortunate interpretation of one rule during the tournament had the effect of denying B1 bowlers the use of the guide rail at the instant of releasing the ball. Many accomplished bowlers believe that the release is the most important part of the bowling approach-and-delivery sequence. The overly literal interpretation related to a rule that was intended to prevent a bowler from leaning on a guide rail but not intended to prevent him or her from having contact with it through the release of the ball.
Several other concerns can almost certainly be collected under the heading of misunderstandings due to language differences.
These concerns notwithstanding, the first IBSA-sanctioned world ten-pin bowling championship tournament was an unqualified success! It was obvious that the Helsinki organizers had worked tirelessly for many months to plan and implement very detailed procedures that culminated in an outstanding bowling tournament. Nothing can detract from the success of the first world championship tournament, which will surely serve as a model for other outstanding international tournaments in the future.
If you have ever visited Topanga Canyon in southern California on a Tuesday afternoon approaching sundown in late May surrounded by all the sounds and smells of the area's natural beauty, you have experienced a little piece of heaven. Add to this, observing seven blind teenagers taking their first walk with a guide dog, and now there's magic. This was the scene when I visited GDB's facilities where staff and volunteers were familiarizing blind teens with various aspects of relating to, caring for, playing with and generally learning about guide dogs. I have participated as a volunteer in this pilot project before; however, the dog/teen workout was a first for all of us, and the experience was a positive one. My guide dog, Dorian, was a furry little trooper who completed a short route seven times with seven enthusiastic young people who all appeared to be enjoying themselves immensely. The teens were encouraged to hold the harness in a relaxed manner in their left hands and just experience the feeling of the dog guiding them.
When Dorian paused to alert to changes in the underfoot terrain, the novice handlers were encouraged to probe with a foot to figure out why she was stopping. Then they were coached to praise her effusively, which they happily did before issuing the next "forward" command. Off they would go again, with Liz Morosco walking alongside holding the leash as a safety precaution for inexperienced handlers and me out front maintaining Dorian's confidence leading the way with the use of a cane loaned to me by one of the teens. During the course of their route, the young people experienced Dorian guiding them down a grassy hill, up and down a flight of steps, along some slightly uneven cement much like a normal sidewalk, a left and a right turn as well as the proper technique for turning around when working a guide dog. When turning around, handlers drop the harness while holding the leash, make a 180-degree turn, then call the dog to their left side before retrieving the harness handle and issuing the "forward" command. One of the teens amused us when after successfully turning around, praising Dorian and issuing the "forward" command, she walked off without the harness in her hand, leaving Dorian trailing behind looking bewildered. Some of the teens were more confident when executing these unfamiliar tasks than others, but all did a great job considering they had never worked a guide dog in harness before.
As blind adults, we have two options for independent mobility, cane travel and partnering with guide dogs. Most blind students receive some O&M instruction in cane use while growing up, which is extremely beneficial to their developing the skills so necessary to blind adults for safe, independent travel. I know of no programs, however, that introduce children to the experience of working with a guide dog. Perhaps this is an idea whose time has come, and thought should be given to the creation of opportunities for young people to experience formal interaction with trained guide dogs.
I know that when I was a teenager, I already knew in my heart of hearts that I wanted to train with a guide dog the summer between high school and college. At that time, when I pictured myself whizzing independently around a large university campus in the company of a beautiful, devoted guide dog, I was doing so without the benefit of ever having met one. It would have meant so much to me personally in my teenage years to have had the opportunity of meeting and walking with a real guide dog as participants in the Los Angeles Braille Institute's after school program got the chance to try. Maybe I would have become a more proficient handler in a shorter time, much the way younger children learn foreign languages more easily than adults. Who knows?
As it turned out, I did have the pleasure of attending all my classes at UCLA with Inca, my only guide dog to go for that coveted college education, and I often wonder how much more emotionally satisfying my high school years would have been with a guide dog by my side. Whether I could have handled the responsibility of working with and caring for a guide dog at age 16 or even younger will never be certain. However, after my experience with the young people for whom Dorian provided an e-ticket ride that afternoon in Topanga Canyon, I am sure that some sort of visually impaired teenager/guide dog interaction is a good idea.
On a brisk sunny day in December 1967, I hopped out of bed with great exuberance and anticipation of the upcoming event of the day. I had looked forward to this for many years. You can share the excitement and butterflies that I had by thinking back to the day when you were to try for your first driving permit. For most of you this is a rather routine event, but to me, a man of 28 years, without a driver's license, riding a bicycle or walking because of my limited vision, this was a GREAT event. I have useful vision, but limited to the extent that Oklahoma State University turned me out of their Education Department with the excuse that a person with a visual impairment could not teach.
This is how it all began. I spent my first three years in public school in Helena, Arkansas. I had difficulty seeing the blackboard, so I was enrolled in 1948 at the Arkansas School for the Blind in Little Rock. I was 9 years old at the time. With the tremendous staff, super programs, and great school spirit, I got the background that gave me the desire to win. We had a great wrestling program and we competed with schools for the blind all over that region. I felt very lucky that I was a part of the teams that won championships. I graduated from the school in 1959. In the fall of that year I went to Arkansas State. The dean of students told my counselor I didn't have to take P.E. because of my vision. But I let him know very quickly, "Well, sir, that is my major." The next year I was able to get a wrestling scholarship at Oklahoma State University. I had the opportunity to wrestle with the best in the world. I was on the team that won the nations that year. Unfortunately, I was told I couldn't get a teaching degree in Oklahoma, so I returned to Arkansas State and got my degree in P.E. in 1964. My first teaching position was at the great Perkins School for the Blind. I taught P.E. and coached the wrestling team for two years. It was a wonderful experience and I met some great people.
The Lord opened up another door and I got a teaching position at the Oklahoma School for the Blind in 1966. In 1968 I met Dr. Lin Moore and he turned my life around.
A friend of mine told me there was an optometrist who could fit me with a binocular system consisting of contact lenses and glasses that could improve my vision. Two questions entered my mind immediately.
1. I have seen a number of doctors and with the best corrections I have 20/100 vision, how could this doctor help me?
2. Would this binocular system look like Coke bottles or what?
I am a man who is willing to try anything once, so with a skeptical but hopeful attitude, I entered the doctor's office. After talking with him and taking some brief tests I was convinced that after all these years of no results, I was finally going to be helped.
The optometrist explained that the system, as he called it, would consist of minus contact lenses and a pair of plus glasses. With recent improvements the glasses could be made of plastic that would make them lighter in weight. The Examination
I underwent an extensive examination that consisted of checking my eyes for correct contact lenses (many doctors had told me I could not wear them because of my nystagmus) and testing and retesting to get the right plus lenses. The reason for the extensive testing is to acquire the correct contacts to go with the plus glasses to achieve the maximum magnification.
I was fitted with the minus contacts and left alone for a while to let them settle. Seeing a lens lying on the table, I picked it up and held it to my eye. My heart thumped, my eyes filled up with tears of joy, and I almost leaped from the examining chair as the blurred letters on the chart turned sharp and clear. I could read way down the chart. I exclaimed, "It is not possible. My Lord, is it really true?" "Yes, yes," I shouted, "I can really see." The doctor came in and placed the lenses in a frame and after they were adjusted I read the 20/60 line on the chart. I then tried to walk with the glasses, and if you want to know how I felt, try walking with a pair of binoculars. I reached for the doorknob four times before my hand made contact. Once outside I observed many things I had never seen before. When I left the office that day I felt like a new life had opened for me. Adjustment to the glasses
Adjusting to the glasses was a real problem but, with my desire to see better and my determination to drive, I was willing to do anything.
I fell off a few curbs, missed a step or two, but at the same time this was happening, I could see the stop light four blocks away, I saw a friend walking across the street and I was able to read a church song book from waist level. I felt normal for the first time in my life!
I worked out my own therapy for adjusting to the system. Being a physical education instructor, I had a good concept of how to start the training and that was to begin with the basic fundamental movements to improve the eyes. I had to learn to see and judge distance all over again. The day I got my system I rode my bicycle. When the doctor learned of this I thought he would have a heart attack, but he did not discourage me. Here is the method of adjustment I used:
1. Playing with balls: bounce a basketball; throw the basketball to develop depth perception, and catch the ball to develop coordination skills (distance should gradually be lengthened when this activity is mastered); catch and throw a ball; and bat a ball.
2. Jogging, and later, running to improve the balance. This is to be undertaken only on a level surface that is free of obstacles.
3. Riding a bicycle: move your head from side to side so that you are aware of any side traffic; realize your limitations and stay out of heavy traffic until confidence is high and depth perception is good.
4. Read every sign that is possible.
5. Play games that have moving objects such as pool, shuffleboard, shooting baskets with the basketball, ping-pong, croquet, miniature golf, and bowling.
6. Practice walking stairs until the proper depth perception is achieved.
7. Give religious devotion to the wearing of the glasses, doing everything possible with the system.
After frequent check-ups and adjustments being made on the contacts, this method of therapy had greatly increased my sight. Within a month or two I could read the 20/50 line on the eye chart. When November came around I had improved to 20/40, but not without great effort and endless patience on the part of the doctor and myself.
The day had finally come to try for my driving permit. On the way to take the test I remembered a prayer I had prayed at age 14. This prayer was that I might be able to see well enough to drive, some way or somehow by the time I was 21 years old. At 21, with the prayer not answered, I prayed that I might get my license to drive before my 29th birthday. I passed the vision test and got my driving permit that day, and incidentally, I was one month from being 29 years old.
I hired a professional driving instructor, and with his help and training I was able to obtain my license one month later with only glasses restrictions. The day that I retired my tandem bicycle that had served me so faithfully for many years will never be forgotten. Through my optometrist, God had answered my prayer.
This system can be used on countless other visually impaired people that have the faith, patience, desire, and determination to try it. I write this article to let people know that this worked for me when nothing else, including surgery, would help me.
In 1970, Mr. Carter, the superintendent, told me I had to get my master's degree in orientation and mobility. At that time there were three schools that gave that degree. Boston College and California State at Los Angeles turned me down because I didn't have 20/20 vision, and I couldn't be certified in orientation and mobility. Western Michigan told me if I had a driver's license I could be in their program. In 1971, I got my master's degree in orientation and mobility. Two years later I was on the national certification team that certified orientation and mobility specialists. Don't tell me it can't be done if you trust in the Lord and work hard.
I spent 30 years devoted to the Oklahoma School for the Blind. I am a lifetime member of the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AER). I have dedicated my life to improving the quality of life for the visually impaired. And I have been a member of ACB since 1960 because this organization shares my dedication. I would be glad to share my experiences and successes with others who want to improve their vision. Please write to 1107 Millis Rd., Muskogee, OK 74403 or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Reprinted from "The Cincinnati Inquirer," August 25, 2002.)
(Editor's Note: This article was originally printed in "The Columbus Dispatch" and is reprinted with permission. To alert editors of newspapers near you to the weekly "Alive and Well" column on disability rights issues, contact Deborah Kendrick via e-mail at email@example.com.)
"That's morbid," my daughter said when I told her I was going to a funeral in Columbus that would be audio-described for the visually impaired.
Actually, I wasn't quite sure how I felt about it myself; but I was very sure how I felt about the person being mourned, and the spouse who had lost her.
Joann Fais Fischer loved theater and movies and was constantly promoting the work of Accessible Arts, the nonprofit organization she helped form.
Through Accessible Arts, Columbus is perhaps the only city in the country that offers live audio description for both classic and first-run films. It was fitting, then, that Joann's funeral, where many blind and visually impaired friends were in attendance, would also be the first service of its kind to be audio-described.
Nothing about Joann's 64 years was particularly easy, but her constant smile and positive outlook were the refrains heard from many on the day she was buried. As a Type I (juvenile) diabetic, she had been giving herself insulin shots for more than 50 years, and had accepted with grace the losses wrought by that disease. Receiving the 50-year Survivor Medallion for insulin-dependent diabetics from Eli Lilly a few years ago might have been deemed gloomy by some, but to Joann it was evidence of what determination and faith can accomplish.
Her diminished eyesight, triggered by diabetic retinopathy, led her to many of the people and projects she valued most at the end of her life. It led her to the American Council of the Blind, an organization where she held office, worked hard, and made many friends. It led her to the love of her life, Dr. Elmer Fischer, who became legendary among Cincinnatians with disabilities in the mid-1970s when he founded Radio Reading Services of Greater Cincinnati.
Ten years after establishing RRS here, he moved to Columbus to take a job with Ohio Educational Telecommunications Network, coordinating all such services throughout Ohio. The couple met in Columbus and began what Dr. Fischer called "the most difficult and best 12 years of my life."
Who knows how two people in their 50s fall so wildly in love? Part of the attraction, certainly, was their shared tendency to turn adversity to advantage, and learn from their own difficulties how to benefit others.
When the couple married in June 1993, they arranged for the wedding to be audio-described. The circle was completed in more ways than one last week with the audio description. Joann Fais Fischer was just an ordinary woman whose extraordinary optimism and integrity made a lasting impression on others with disabilities near her.
As seasoned describer Nancy Van Voorhis spoke directly to my ear -- and that of 20 other listeners scattered throughout the crowded sanctuary -- I was grateful to be on the receiving end of this final tribute to Joann's commitment to audio description.
As the describer named for me the gorgeous arrays of flowers, told me who was coming down the aisle, and even read the words to the closing hymn so I could sing, I knew for sure that there was nothing morbid in this unusual occasion for description.
Grief and the loss of loved ones are every bit as much a part of life as weddings and comic entertainment. Accessing them fully is part of equalizing all of life's experiences for everyone.
The editorial staff reserves the right to edit letters for content, style and space available. Opinions expressed are those of the authors, not those of the American Council of the Blind, its staff or elected officials. "The Braille Forum" is not responsible for the opinions expressed herein. We will not print letters unless you sign your name and give us your address.
Regarding Communicating Computers
I applaud Penny Reeder for filing a complaint with the Department of Justice against the computer training company that discriminates against people who use guide dogs. I am a guide dog puppy raiser and a disability rights lawyer, and was appalled to read Penny's story when the leader of our puppy raising group distributed it. I would be happy to talk to Penny if she has any questions about the ADA as she pursues her complaint.
Just read your story and felt compelled to drop you a note and say: GOOD JOB!! THAT WAS AN INSPIRATION!
It's atrocious to offer the service and not allow a guide dog. My friend has a guide dog and it's made a wonderful difference in his life!
Are You Blind or Just Accessorizing?
At 59, I have had low vision for four years. The vision loss was a trauma, but it happened; I can't change it.
Last April, I went to Europe with a friend, as we had done a few times when I was fully sighted. This time was different; I knew what life with an impairment was about. In Munich, I saw a lone, young woman on the subway with a red hard-hat, a red wagon, and a mobility cane with the top painted red. She was making her way down an escalator with the help of passers-by, doing quite well, thank you. When we got to Budapest to visit a friend, we toured with him in tow. At the end of the time, I asked him where the "handicapped, disabled" Hungarians were. We saw none who were obvious. His sad reply was, "They stay at home." "But surely..." "No, they stay at home."
How different it should be here. I feel that the reason that people are having "fits and snits" is because they ARE going out into the public. Good. The more people see that we can function and are not that different from them, the easier the way will be for those who come after us.
I have been amazed at the number of people who have no idea what the cane means. We are helping educate the public. Most people seem to think that dog guides are in need of petting and feeding. Many people think that we are helpless wretches, grateful for anything they will put into the caps we carry in our hands. Even when we explode, we are helping educate the public. We really MUST change what we can.
Regarding accessible currency
I was dismayed to read in the July-August Forum that our leadership has apparently sanctioned the mounting of a legal challenge against the U.S. Treasury because some people haven't figured out a way to identify their paper currency. But I don't recall that the membership was ever consulted about this expensive, protracted venture into the waters of legality.
First, how about those of us who have spent hundreds of dollars on the purchase of that wonderful Canadian product, the Note Teller? In fact, I'm on my second one because the government has already made the currency obsolete within the past five years or so. I put out $310 to buy the latest update of this very neat, efficient gadget.
Secondly, what kind of paper is going to hold up under braille dots, given the fact that money has to be stacked, folded and circulated among thousands of grubby hands before it becomes limp and has to be retired?
With just a touch of ingenuity, thousands of us blind and visually impaired folks have long ago figured out neat ways to identify our currency as we stash it into our billfolds. I would be willing to bet that the good folks who are party to this proposed suit have long had their money well catalogued. Little plastic dividers in a billfold or purse can go a long way to making currency easy to find.
At the very least, ACB leadership should put this proposed suit to a vote of the membership at large. Are we embarking on an endless binge of forever going to court over every inconvenience we bump into because we happen to be blind?
I'd love to hear a reply from our leadership; do I have to sue somebody?
The Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau has recently posted a consumer alert on what has become known as "fat finger dialing."
Fat finger dialing is a new scheme that can result in consumers paying several times more than expected. The scheme goes something like this: You place a collect call from a public phone or pay phone, intending to use a service like 1-800-CALL-ATT or 1-800-COLLECT. But you misspell or hit an incorrect button when dialing. You accidentally dial something like 1-800- CALLLAT. You get connected to the party you wished to call, but the phone company that connects you is not the one you thought you were using. Instead, it is a company that secured 800 numbers similar to well-known ones (i.e., a company secures the number 800-CALLLAT). The company is banking on the possibility that you might accidentally misdial your intended number. If this happens, you are probably unaware you are using a different phone carrier than the one you intended to use because you don't know you misdialed. Often, the company won't identify itself to you or the person receiving the collect call before connecting the call. See our consumer alert online at http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/consumerfacts/carelessdialing.html.
If you suspect you're a victim of this scheme, contact the phone company that charged you for the call in question. The company's number should be listed on your phone bill. In some cases, FCC rules may also protect you. We have simplified our complaint procedures with a new web page entitled Filing a Complaint with the FCC is EASY at http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/complaintfiling.html.
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 held responsible for the reliability of products and services mentioned.
To submit an item for "Here and There," send an e-mail message to firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
We are saddened to report the death of longtime ACB member Beulah Flynn Brazell on July 28, 2002. She was a member of the National Association of Blind Teachers, the Braille Revival League, and the ACB of South Carolina.
The Alachua County Council of the Blind has designed a T-shirt with a distinctive message just in time for White Cane Safety Day on October 15. On the front is the phrase "Support White Cane Safety -- It's the Law," picturing a white cane slanting across a highway, framed in a familiar diamond shaped road sign. On the back is the phrase "Close your eyes ... Now Cross the Street," with a replica of another white cane.
Shirts are available in white or black premium-quality cotton with reverse color printing. Sizes are small, medium, large, X-large, 2X and 3X at a cost of $10 plus shipping within the U.S. (10 percent of order, or $5 minimum). To order, phone (800) 380-2566, or write Alachua County Council of the Blind, P.O. Box 5094, Gainesville, FL 32627.
Mark Twain once remarked: "Twenty years from now you'll be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do ... Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds on your sail. Explore. Dream. Discover."
And this is what the Campanian Society has been doing for six years: Providing travel tours for people who are visually impaired. Robert Wilhelm, who arranges the tours, has been coordinating academic tours for teachers for 30 years. One year a Latin teacher who was newly blind requested a tour with tactile experiences, and thus began the Campanian Society.
Here are the dates and deadlines for tours in early 2003:
Saint Augustine: The Newport of the South (January 29 - February 3, 2003. Deadline: November 18, 2002.) The first permanent European settlement in the USA was St. Augustine. During this tour, visit Flagler's historic hotels, and the earlier Spanish architectural structures. When it's cold and snowy in the north, St. Augustine beckons visitors to its sunny, warm beaches.
Big Band in the Land of Jazz: Mississippi River Cruise (February 19 -27, 2003. Deadline: November 1, 2002.) Only from the deck of a steamboat like the magnificent Mississippi Queen can one truly discover travel during the golden age of steamboating. Sail to bustling river ports and beautiful plantations. Explore plantations and the Civil War battlefield of Vicksburg. And of course, there are shows and dancing every night to the big band sounds of the big band era.
Cherry Blossom Time in Washington, DC (April 9 - 14, 2003. Deadline: February 7, 2003.) At the height of Cherry Blossom time, Washington offers a memorable mosaic of experiences. There are tours of the U.S. Capitol, the Supreme Court, the Library of Congress, the National Mall, and Kennedy's gravesite at Arlington National Cemetery.
Tours are tentatively being planned for later in 2003, for Cape Cod and Boston, Hawaii, and a New York City Gourmet Dining Program.
To obtain detailed information about specific tours, contact Robert Wilhelm, Box 167, Oxford, OH 45056, phone (513) 524-4846, fax (513) 523-0276, e-mail email@example.com, or visit the web site, www.campanian.org.
The Royal National Institute for the Blind publishes several catalogs featuring its consumer products, books, exports for overseas buyers, children's fiction, toys, and videos and films on blindness. To obtain a catalog, contact RNIB at its new address: 105 Judd St., London WC1H 9NE, England, or visit the web site, www.rnib.org.
The New York Times has chosen "Here Is New York" as one of the 10 best books ever written about the grand metropolis, and The New Yorker calls it "the wittiest essay, and one of the most perceptive, ever done on the city." In the summer of 1949, E.B. White sat in a New York City hotel room and, sweltering in the summer heat, wrote this remarkable, pristine love letter to the city. The essay is a monument to a city that is changeless and constantly changing.
National Braille Press has produced this tribute in one braille volume for $6.95.
Also available from NBP are books on CD. NBP sells The Super CD, containing the full ASCII text of more than 600 books from its American literature and children's book CDs. This CD features the complete works of Shakespeare, the King James Bible, and the 2000 World Factbook by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, at a price of $39.
To order from NBP, write to 88 St. Stephen Street, Boston, MA 02115-4302, call toll-free (800) 548-7323, or (617) 266-6160 extension 20, or e-mail your order to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Two ACB members have recommended a dating service called Eharmony. They told me that blindness is not necessarily included as part of the profile developed by the service unless a participant wants it to be.
If interested, go to the web site, www.eharmony.com, and fill out a 2,000-question survey. There is no charge for this portion of the service. However, if you sign up, fees may be $20 per month for a year's participation. Fees vary according to length of service desired. If a person commits to a year's service and does not receive at least 12 matches in his/her geographical area, fees paid are refunded.
For information via U.S. mail, write Eharmony, 300 N. Lake Ave., Suite 1111, Pasadena, CA 91101.
Verbal View of Windows XP, written by Peter Duran, is a comprehensive tutorial designed for beginner and intermediate computer users who are blind or visually impaired. The braille edition, 900 braille pages, is transcribed by Hotkey Systems in the Computer Braille Code. The audio edition, ten tone-indexed, 2-track tapes with album, is recorded by the Cutting Corporation. The e-mail tutorial, 500+ print pages with 37 chapters, is usable with any screen reader. A complete table of contents is available by e-mail upon request. Send an e-mail message with the following subject line: table of contents for windows xp, to email@example.com. Prices are: braille edition $120; audio version $95; and the e-mail edition is $55.
To order, call toll-free (877) 993-4994. Credit cards are accepted, and purchase orders are accepted from local, state and federal entities.
Cathy Anne Murtha has created an e-mail list that provides a daily notice of audio described TV programming airing on networks in the USA. To sign up for this free service, send a blank e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. You will receive only one message each morning from Cathy Anne. If you have comments, suggestions, programming additions or feedback, please contact Cathy Anne by e-mail at email@example.com, or check the web site, www.accesstechnologyinstitute.com.
Recorded Periodicals announces two new titles in its list of recorded magazines: Bloomberg Personal Finance and Gardening How-To. Both magazines are $36 for a year's subscription. For a list of recorded magazines, visit the web site, www.asb.org. If preferred, request a free large print list and order form. Phone (215) 627-0600, ext 3206. Leave your name and address on the voice mail message.
Design Tech International sells wireless devices such as the Mail Alert that sends a signal when your mailbox is opened. There is a Driveway Monitor that chimes whenever a vehicle enters your driveway. The Door Announcer is a wireless door chime, and the Motion Alert senses moving objects and emits an audible alert. For information, contact Design Tech International, Inc., toll-free (800) 337-4468, or (703) 866-2000, fax (703) 866-2001, web site www.designtech-intl.com.
If you want to receive useful information about skills that visually impaired people can use in their daily lives at home, work, and play, consider a subscription to Dialogue. This magazine presents a world of ideas for people of all ages who are visually impaired. In Dialogue, you will learn methods for: coping, cooking, gardening, accessing technology, parenting, working, studying, traveling, writing, and many other activities. Reading Dialogue is like having a mentor in your home. Subscriptions are available in braille, 4-track cassette, large print, and IBM-compatible diskette. A four- issue subscription is $28 for readers who are legally blind, and $40 for all other subscribers. For a free sample copy of Dialogue, call toll-free (800) 860-4224. To subscribe, use a credit card, or send a check or money order in U.S. funds to: Blindskills Inc., PO Box 5181, Salem, OR 97304-0181. For more information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the web site, www.blindskills.com.
After a similar offer ran in this column last year, a long waiting list was created. Bob Langford, the coordinator for this program, now has more computers to send from the Texas Center for the Physically Impaired to people with disabilities, for a donation of only $100. These are Windows-based Pentium computers provided with monitor, keyboard, a six-cassette tutorial and a demo copy of Window-Eyes 4.1.
People making requests from outside the U.S. and Canada will be responsible for shipping and customs. For more information about this wonderful opportunity, contact Bob Langford, Texas Center for the Physically Impaired, 11330 Quail Run, Dallas, TX 75238, phone (214) 340-6328, e-mail email@example.com.
Also available through the Texas Center is a lending library of more than 200 video-taped movies with audio description. Volunteers administer the exchange club service. For a one-time $15 fee, members can enjoy a described movie at home. When a movie is returned, another is mailed. For information about the DVS movie exchange club, contact Bob Langford at the address provided above.
FOR SALE: Voyager XL CCD with a 19-inch monitor (model MC3A), all in good shape and working order. Asking $1,000 for it. Contact Bill Taylor via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or phone (205) 556-7544.
FOR SALE: One-year-old Optelec 317, used about five hours. Excellent condition. Asking $1,200. Call Alan Cohn at (954) 792-5553.
FOR SALE: Juliet braille printer, used four times. Comes with sound cover. Excellent condition. Asking $2,000 or best offer. Contact Bonnie Lyon at (801) 607-3952.
FOR SALE: PowerBraille 40, $3,000 or best offer. PowerBraille 80, $6,000 or best offer. Call Terry Marsh at (302) 893-0451.
FOR SALE: Aladdin Rainbow Telesensory Video Magnifier, rolling table and floor mat for $1,800. Contact Joan Adelman via e-mail at email@example.com, or phone her at (405) 751-1498.
FOR SALE: Versapoint braille embosser in excellent condition. Asking $500. DECtalk Express, still in package, asking $500. Type 'n Speak with external disk drive. Asking $700. Please call Mark Montgomery at (716) 836- 0822 extension 105.
FOR SALE: Freedom Scientific Type 'n Speak. Brand new. Never been used. Asking $1,200. For product information, visit http://www.freedomscientific.com/fs_products/notetakers_tns.asp. If you are interested in purchasing it, contact Linda Bolle at 10 Indiana Avenue, Reading, MA 01867 or firstname.lastname@example.org. (No phone calls please.)
FOR SALE: Two Perkins braillers. Asking $350 or best offer each. Call Roger Acuna at (925) 969-9744.
FOR SALE: Papenmeier BraillEx 2D 80-character 8-dot braille display plus one 22-character 8-dot display for reading screen information and attributes. Works with JAWS for Windows. Comes with serial cable, power cord and carrying case. Asking $7,000 (negotiable). Contact Ann Durber via e-mail, a- email@example.com.
FOR SALE: Braille 'n Speak. Asking $250 (negotiable). Looking for Franklin Language Master, any talking games and a Type 'n Speak. Can't afford price. Contact Melody Edwards at (609) 347-7539.
FOR SALE: Telesensory Voyager XL CCTV with 19-inch monitor. $500. Contact Kim A. Freeman at (909) 784-1634 or write to her at 3561 Brockton Ave., Riverside, CA 92501.
FOR SALE: Braille Blazer printer and accompanying Duxbury Braille Translation software. This equipment is like new, still in original box with all accompanying manuals. The translation program is version 10.2d. I am asking $1,500, but will consider offers (no less than $1,300) plus shipping costs. For more information, contact Mary at firstname.lastname@example.org , or call (503) 788-2714.
FOR SALE: Braille Lite 40 and its disk drive, all cables, braille and print manuals; the maintenance agreement is transferable and runs through June 15, 2003. Asking $4,500 or best offer. Call Toula at (973) 214-4210 or e- mail email@example.com.
FOR SALE: Braille 'n Speak 640. Currently has July 3, 2000 firmware revision. Can be upgraded by download from Freedom Scientific web page. Comes with leather case, charger, serial cable and manual on disk. Make offer. Contact Peter Brown at (703) 892-8849, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
FOR SALE: One Perkins braillewriter, recently professionally reconditioned with soft cover. $400. Contact Robert at (763) 537-8000 or via e-mail at Ziegler@Earthlink.net.
FOR SALE: 13 boxes of BD U-100 disposable 1 cc insulin syringes and 5 boxes of Monoject disposable half cc insulin syringes. There are 10 packs of 10 syringes in each box totaling 100 syringes in each box. I am asking $15 per box which is significantly less than Target or other pharmacies would charge. I also have 65 Insulgauges for the BD U-100 syringes and two hand-made wooden cases for some of them. There is Braille on one side of the gauges and raised numerals on the other side. Some of the gauges are the same size/dose. I am asking $5 each for the gauges or $120 for all 65 plus the cases. Contact Robert at (763) 537-8000 or via e-mail, Ziegler@Earthlink.net.
FOR SALE: DECTalk Express. Includes carrying case for accessories, case for the device itself, serial connector and A/C wall adapter. In excellent condition. Asking $350 + $8 for shipping or best offer. Contact Clark Friedrichs via e-mail, email@example.com.
FOR SALE: Perkins brailler, recently updated. In excellent condition. $425 or best offer, shipping included. Contact Joe Castorina at (865) 588- 2440.
FOR SALE: CTX Ezbook, 700 series, 200 megahertz laptop. Includes JAWS 3.7, Windows 98, 2 gig hard drive, 40 meg RAM and a 20x CD-ROM drive. Needs new battery. Asking $750. Alva 80-cell braille display in excellent condition. Asking $3,000. Artic Transtype notetaker with speech output, excellent condition, $650. Squirt notetaker with speech output, $300. Thiel high production braille printer, $7,500. Seller pays shipping on all items except the Thiel and the Alva. If you're interested, contact Jill at (215) 487-0347 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
FOR SALE: CCTV Freedom machine, new. 20-inch screen, automatic focus. Asking $2,300 for the whole set, or $1,900 for the base. Contact Beal Pickett at 1-866-327-8390.
WANTED: JAWS for Windows, decent price, home version. Perkins brailler. Call Ty Bellini at (724) 339-1154.
WANTED: Taj braillewriter manufactured by MaxiAids. Contact Scott Manning at (573) 442-0000.
(Editor's Note: For the poem below, the author received second prize in the serious poetry category of the 2001 Edwin Dickinson Memorial Worldwide Literary Competition, sponsored by the Royal Blind Foundation of Queensland, Australia, Inc. We congratulate him and thank him for sharing this evocative poem with "Braille Forum" readers.)
when the clack of leather heels on a hollow sidewalk
echoes down an empty street.
There's a chill in the air.
Somewhere, across a darkening park,
beyond me, beyond time,
a mother cries, "Johnny! Oh, Johnny!"
And the air is strangely tinted
with the thrill of fresh beginnings,
though my blood thickens for winter.
When friends draw close
in the lee of a canvas awning
near the Upstairs Theater Downtown.
Inside, we sip hot apple cider
from tall, glazed glasses
while the stage is set for the third act.
that can murder the heart with silence,
coming home alone
after the losses.
You make up your mind to try something new,
to take a chance,
to pursue the road not taken.
But it's the fifth game of the World Series;
your money's on the underdog
and the leaves are dying.
there's all that bother of Christmas coming.
The season's almost half over now
and the odds are lengthening.
It's the fourth quarter;
your team is six points down
to the odds-on favorite
and the clock is running.
But there's the scent of roses riding on the wind,
and there still is time.
the days are shrinking.
The air is thick with the smoke of bonfires
and there's a presidential campaign under way.
and I carry the memories
of what I used to get for Christmas
home with me in a small, brown paper bag.
But though the leaves have fallen and the fans are home now,
tending their fires,
there still is time.
Time there is for long shots and last chances;
Time to kick 5 billion footballs across 5 billion parks;
Time to ready the heart for one more run for the roses.
But though the sun languishes
and the stars are dying,
as we glide into the shadows of Entropy
on the back of this vagabond Earth,
there is time
There is time still.
94 RAMONA AVE.
SAN FRANCISCO, CA 94103
FIRST VICE PRESIDENT
825 M ST., SUITE 216
LINCOLN, NE 68508
SECOND VICE PRESIDENT
1027 DUNLOP AVE
FOREST PARK, IL 60130
3912 SE 5TH ST
DES MOINES, IA 50315
500 S. 3RD ST. #H
BURBANK, CA 91502
IMMEDIATE PAST PRESIDENT
20330 NE 20th Ct.
Miami, FL 33179