THE BRAILLE FORUM is available in braille, large print, half-
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Subscription requests, address changes, and items intended for
publication should be sent to Penny Reeder at the address above, or via e-mail to
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 website and complete an 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, the national office can make printed cards available for this purpose. To remember the American Council of the Blind in your Last Will and Testament, you may include 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 at http://www.acb.org.
The questions which the candidates were expected to answer ("Board of Publications Hosts Internet Candidates' Page," April- May 2004) were not developed at the March board of publications meeting. The questions were developed by an ad hoc subcommittee of BOP members who are not eligible to run for re-election or who do not intend to seek elected office under the present ACB constitution and bylaws.
There was an error in the notice about the Family Study of Age-Related Macular Degeneration ("Here and There," March 2004). The study is seeking families in which there are three or more living siblings with at least one person having AMD. If your family is eligible, call 1-800-219-9157.
Nearly 50 years ago, John Kennedy, later to become president of the United States, wrote a book of inspiration and hope to Americans and all people throughout the world. Many of you will remember it or the television series it spawned. Both are titled "Profiles in Courage."
Many of the stories from that book have stayed with me over the years. The ideals and the principled actions of the books' protagonists are true models for greatness, tangible yardsticks by which to assess the true value of leaders as they emerge or disappear in the course of our lives.
In writing his book, John Kennedy was inclined to choose individuals from his particular spheres of activity: the military and the political. In this article, and in a far smaller way, the hope and the idea for this article is to focus on a few profiles in courage that have come to pass during the past year within the world of blind people. When compared to those in the world at large, perhaps any of these profiles fall short of true greatness. But then again, perhaps not. You be the judge.
Perhaps the place to start is by profiling in brief the person and her action that provided the seeds of inspiration for this article. Her first involvement in ACB was as a high school student in 1972. She has held many positions in our organization, some prestigious and others that were just plain hard work. She is active in both state and special-interest affiliates. Her record of accomplishments is significant. However, in the past year, that record transferred itself from significant to exemplary to ACB through her actions. In part her action is so notable because it occurred externally to ACB. Also, it is exemplary because, though entirely in line with ACB's position on the matters involved, this action placed its taker in an extreme minority, never a comfortable place to sit or stand.
I'm talking about ACB's representative to and chairman of the Braille Authority of North America, Kim Charlson. In March of this year, Kim found herself chairing the North American delegation at the International Council on English Braille. As chair of that delegation, Kim was required to cast the delegation's vote. That majority vote stood in opposition to ACB's policy as adopted by the membership by resolution. In casting that vote, she indicated at the same time her opposition to the action on behalf of the American Council of the Blind. In and of itself, this may be a small thing. It changed nothing, and an action was taken to the likely substantial detriment of braille as a means of literacy for the blind. But to us in ACB, this action speaks out with volume and clarity to the merits of our appointed representatives being willing to hold their integrity to the organization and make our views known to the world outside our organization.
It takes courage to stand up and be counted as a part of a losing minority, something Kim clearly demonstrated by her clear and public statement. Hats off to Kim for her representation of ACB's beliefs, regardless of the difficulties in doing so.
Kim's example demonstrates the importance of commitment as a guiding principle: commitment to ideals. Another invaluable commitment is to the need for action. The second profile is of an individual who absolutely espoused this commitment during April 2004. He has been known as a doer in our organization for many years and as a committed and well-spoken advocate. He is also known as a man with a good business head on his shoulders, particularly so in the state of Illinois. In April, he stepped out far ahead of any of these accolades. In fact, there is no telling exactly how many steps were involved as John Gordon chose to make a protest walk from Chicago to Springfield, Ill. in opposition of state actions that were destroying the blind vending program in that state. John walked alone, except for his white cane, approximately 150 miles over unknown terrain and mostly on the shoulder of a major highway. The walk took eight days. Spotters warned him via cell phone of upcoming construction sites and other potential hazards. Nearing the end of the journey, he was compelled to cut most of the bottoms from his shoes in order to combat blistering and extreme soreness of his feet.
To take such a walk at all makes a strong statement. For a totally blind person to make it alone is, to many, approaching the incomprehensible. The accompanying press and television coverage shows us the importance and legitimacy of John's amazing act. The busloads of supporters and their communications with Illinois state officials, including the governor, carry forward the action by an individual to the ability for an organization to act in ways that would not have been possible without this amazing and noteworthy personal contribution by John Gordon.
The subject of my third and final profile is a younger member of ACB, now in his mid-20s. He's president of the California Alliance of Blind Students and treasurer of the National Alliance of Blind Students. He's active in his local state affiliate chapter, and is a full-time graduate student at Sacramento State, majoring in business communications. I met him at dinner one evening during the legislative seminar in March in Washington, D.C. It was after our dinner together, however, that I came to learn, from a different individual, of Gabe Griffith's commitment to humanity and his personal example of the love we can bear toward one another.
Gabe and his girlfriend are both blind: him from a childhood retinal disorder; Becky from juvenile onset diabetes. Becky also has had the misfortune of losing complete kidney function due to diabetes. For many years, she lived with a transplanted kidney. Last year, her immune system began to reject the kidney. The realities of this loss for Becky were life-altering, and so began the process of searching for a possible replacement kidney.
You can probably guess what might transpire over a period of many months in 2003. Gabe tells me that once he understood the situation, thought it over, and decided he wanted to be Becky's kidney donor if possible, he experienced no real doubt from the moment of that decision onward; maybe some apprehension (and who wouldn't), but never doubt. "I just felt this was something I could do for somebody I care about very much, and that's really all there was to it for me in the end," he explained in a recent phone conversation.
Blood tests, medical exams, EKGs, and several discussion sessions later, Gabe's tissue was determined to be as good a match for Becky as they are for one another. The surgery date was scheduled, and then rescheduled, to fit the vagaries of hospital protocol in our time. Finally, early on the morning of December 24, 2003, Gabe donated and Becky received a kidney. One event occurred immediately after the other. "This was the time," Gabe recalled, "when I might have felt some concern about what I'd done. I felt pretty awful for a while because of how radically my body reacted at first. I couldn't help but wonder if I'd feel like myself again! When I was able to make the short walk to Becky's room and see how well, how much better, she was doing than before the surgery, I knew things would turn out great."
Indeed, things seem to have turned out absolutely GREAT! By the time you read this in "The Braille Forum," Becky will have graduated from college. Gabe is back to his cherished five-mile swims, though this has taken some time. It's hard even to believe they both went back to school in January, let alone anything else.
Only a few of us may have the opportunity in our lives to make such a contribution; even fewer choose to embrace that opportunity. Gabe's is an act of particular poignancy because practically all of us within the blind community know blind people who have secondary disabling conditions. Perhaps of greatest note is that this is a decision that transcends the microcosm of blind people and speaks to each of our places in the world at large and to how our contributions are a part of that world and the contribution itself is the greater for being so. Gabe's, as with all who make such a donation, is a largely selfless act in that he experienced personal loss for intangible gain. It's abundantly clear from our conversations that he hasn't approached life in this way, and there's probably a lesson in that as well.
So, there you have it: three profiles of people and events, all of which have happened since the holiday season of 2003. Each of the three people mentioned here are shapers, true creators, of the world we live in as blind people today, each in their own important way. Here are three individuals to whom we can look for inspiration and guidance in doing the right thing personally and organizationally.
Perhaps over time, other similar profiles can be presented within these pages. For example, I would like to share the story of Sadiq Al-Maliki, president of the National Association for the Care of the Blind in Iraq. He is fighting almost single-handedly to preserve any assistance for the blind at all in Iraq. Certainly, here is a story that transcends military action or political agendas. Or how about the story of Xu Xing Xian of the People's Republic of China, who translates articles from "The Braille Forum" into Chinese for presentation in a magazine entitled "Blind Monthly?" I feel certain there is a profile, perhaps many, waiting to be told.
Only by looking outward can we see most clearly what needs to be done and find the best examples of how to do it. Most often, turning inward leads to little but feelings of dissatisfaction or despair. By these three examples and the many more that exist in the world, let us strive to achieve the most that we can, individually and collectively. We can only see from these profiles how possible such achievements can be.
During the past year, three of ACB's leaders from three different states have been hit by cars. These are the latest in a long string of accidents involving blind pedestrians and automobiles. One of ACB's major advocacy goals is to put an end to this tragic trend. We have worked at all levels of this organization to make our environment more pedestrian-friendly.
However, the number of cars on the road continues to rise. With it, the risk for more serious encounters between pedestrians and cars is likely to increase too. That is, unless we who are pedestrians become even more proactive and take affirmative steps to manage and lessen that risk. There are steps we can take that I think could take us a long way in that direction.
We won't be able to get the cars off the road. Nor should drivers expect to get us off the streets. However, we can redouble our efforts to make both drivers and traffic engineers aware that cars must share the streets with pedestrians, including those who use white canes or guide dogs. We need to spread the word that planning for pedestrian traffic is just as essential as planning for motor vehicle traffic.
White Cane Safety Day provides a perfect opportunity for us to do this. Each year, ACB affiliates across the country participate in activities during the month of October that seek to educate the public about the presence of blind and visually impaired pedestrians in their communities. Many have used the occasion to lobby their state legislatures for tougher white cane laws as well. These are the very steps we need to be taking if we are to create a more pedestrian-friendly environment in this country.
Therefore, I have a suggestion. Why don't we put together a nationwide White Cane Safety Week campaign this year? If we were to come up with a series of events and/or activities that could take place all across the country at the same time, we may be able to generate media coverage that could draw attention to pedestrian safety issues. It would also give us the opportunity to demonstrate the need for both enforcement and, in some cases, updating of current white cane laws.
The National Educational and Legal Defense Service for the Blind (NELDS) has begun compiling copies of current white cane laws for the purpose of developing a model white cane law. This is a good idea. I hope that this project will provide individuals and affiliates with a concrete proposal they can take to their state houses for their approval.
However, there is much we can do to educate the general public, and ourselves, regarding pedestrian safety issues. I think it could be both fun and effective for us to work together on a nationwide basis and focus attention on this growing concern.
Please contact Phil Strong at the ACB national office and let him know your thoughts on this proposed campaign. Give him your contact information, so someone can get back to you once the planning gets under way. You can reach Phil by e-mail at [email protected], or contact him via the address and phone numbers listed on the cover of this magazine.
I believe we have the resources within ACB to make a significant impact on the safety of pedestrian travel across the country. That impact can only increase if we pool those resources and work together. The results could save lives.
The board of directors of the American Council of the Blind met on February 15 and 16 at the Sheraton Birmingham Hotel, in Birmingham, Ala.
President Chris Gray called the meeting to order at 1:40 p.m. Central time on Sunday, Feb. 15. All officers and directors were present except for Dawn Christensen and Steve Speicher, both of whom had resigned. Numerous guests also attended throughout the open portions of the meeting.
Attendees reviewed the agenda and added three items. The motion to adopt the agenda as amended carried on a voice vote.
President Gray gave a brief report. He praised Laura Oftedahl for her work on fund-raising and grants for ACB. He also announced the appointment of Dave Williams as executive director of ACB Radio. Williams is working to get ACB Radio back on schedule, and hopes to begin broadcasting some programs in Spanish.
The board then turned to the task of filling the two vacancies created by the resignations of Dawn Christensen and Steve Speicher. The motion to elect Mitch Pomerantz by acclimation to the position of second vice president carried on a voice vote.
Cynthia Towers and Cindy Burgett, both of Washington, were nominated to fill the seat vacated by Christensen. On a roll call vote, Towers was elected by a vote of 9 to 4. Those voting for Towers were: Annunzio, Bradley, Keith, Miller, Pomerantz, Ruschival, Schmitt, Seliger and Sheehan. Those voting for Burgett were: Bazyn, Beatty, Charlson and Edwards.
David Trott of Alabama and Becky Floyd of Mississippi were nominated to fill the remaining position, which was created by the selection of Pomerantz as second vice president. On a roll call vote, Trott received 8 votes and Floyd received 7. Those voting for Trott were: Annunzio, Bradley, Pomerantz, Ruschival, Schmitt, Seliger, Towers and Gray. Those voting for Floyd were: Bazyn, Beatty, Charlson, Edwards, Keith, Miller and Sheehan.
The board then approved the minutes of the September and November meetings on separate voice votes.
Following the voting, the board discussed the disbursement of minutes to the membership. After discussion, the board adopted a policy that allows members to request, in writing, complete sets of minutes of open meetings from the secretary. A fair and reasonable fee may be set to cover the cost of such distribution.
M.J. Schmitt reported that membership committee members would call affiliate presidents to discuss local membership issues. She reported that the Four Corners Conference would meet in Salt Lake City September 10-12, 2004. The motion to accept the membership committee report carried on a voice vote.
Shortly before 4 p.m., the board went into executive session. Upon returning to the open business meeting at 5 p.m., Gray reported that the executive session was held to discuss the results of the executive director search committee. An executive director was chosen and negotiations can now begin with the candidate.
Acting Executive Director Melanie Brunson reported that Sens. Kennedy, Ensign and Gregg have gotten into the military food service contract issue on federal properties. NISH contractors now hold two-thirds of those facilities. Brunson asked the board to entertain a motion for the president to write a letter expressing the intention of the board's support for the Randolph-Sheppard program and ACB's continued support for the priority and its application specifically to military dining, and ACB's opposition to any effort to erode that priority in any manner. Annunzio made the motion, which carried on a voice vote.
Edwards moved that the board go into recess in order to convene the ACBES membership meeting. On a voice vote, the motion carried.
As chair of ACBES, Edwards asked for a nomination to replace Christensen on the ACBES board for a one-year term. After Carla Ruschival and Brian Charlson were nominated for the slot, the motion to close nominations was adopted. On a roll call vote, Ruschival received 12 votes and Charlson received 3. Those voting for Ruschival were: Annunzio, Beatty, Bradley, Gray, Keith, Miller, Pomerantz, Ruschival, Schmitt, Seliger, Towers and Trott. Those voting for Charlson were: Bazyn, Charlson and Sheehan.
The motion to adjourn the ACBES meeting and return to the ACB board of directors meeting carried.
Treasurer Ardis Bazyn reported that in the previous year, expenditures exceeded revenue by $296,831. She then made a motion that Jim Olsen be authorized to approach Price Waterhouse for the 2003 audit. The motion carried on a voice vote. A motion authorizing the CFO to expend up to an additional $90,000 from the board reserves to close out the books on the 2003 budget also passed on a voice vote. The board then accepted the treasurer's report.
Budget committee chairman Brian Charlson reviewed the proposed budget for 2004. Proposed revenues for 2004 are $937,000. The proposed expenses for 2004 are $1,000,037.
Edwards moved to reconsider motion seven of the November 25, 2003 conference call, which instructed the budget committee to prepare a budget on the assumption that 10 issues of "The Braille Forum" would be produced during 2004. The motion to reconsider carried with one dissenting vote.
The motion to budget for 10 issues then failed on a roll call vote of 6 in favor, 9 opposed. Those in favor were: Beatty, Edwards, Keith, Pomerantz, Schmitt and Towers. Those opposed were: Annunzio, Bazyn, Bradley, Charlson, Miller, Ruschival, Seliger, Sheehan and Trott.
Pomerantz made the motion to amend the proposed budget amount for staff travel to $8,000; the motion carried.
Edwards moved the adoption of the expense side of the budget. A motion to table Edwards' motion until the next day carried on a roll call vote with 8 in favor and 7 opposed. Those voting in favor were: Bradley, Keith, Miller, Ruschival, Schmitt, Seliger, Towers and Trott. Those opposed were: Annunzio, Bazyn, Beatty, Charlson, Edwards, Pomerantz and Sheehan.
President Gray then entertained a motion to recess until 8 a.m. on Monday, February 16.
The Monday session began with a continuation of the budget discussion. A motion to rescind the previous motion to delete $1,665 from the expense side of the budget for staff travel carried on a voice vote.
Next, Charlson reviewed the revenue side of the budget. The line item which now reads "board fundraising" will be changed to "board-sponsored fundraising."
The total revenues anticipated for 2004 are $915,500.
A motion that the ACB Store income become a separate line item for next year's budget carried. The board then adopted the revenue side of the budget.
Charlson then moved to adopt the budget in aggregate. This motion carried on a roll call vote of 10 in favor, 4 opposed and 1 absent. Trott asked to go on record as opposed to the deficit budget. Those voting in favor were: Bazyn, Beatty, Charlson, Edwards, Keith, Miller, Pomerantz, Schmitt, Sheehan and Towers. Those opposed were: Bradley, Ruschival, Seliger and Trott.
A motion instructing the acting executive director to prepare a plan that would involve the dedication of a significant amount of additional staff time to work specifically on fund- raising and related matters within a month carried.
The motion to use AIG Insurance Annuities for investment of matured CDs carried.
President Gray reported that the office review committee has not done much in the past few months because the committee members have been working on other projects, including the executive director search. It was recommended that the committee meet within the next 30 days to begin its work.
Cynthia Towers reported that the general sessions, exhibits and ACB Cafe will be in close proximity to one another this summer. Her report was adopted.
Acting executive director Melanie Brunson reported that Sharon Lovering is now the acting editor of "The Braille Forum."
The California Council of the Blind has contacted Lainey Feingold to help with negotiations to make point-of-sale credit card machines accessible. It was moved that ACB sign a retainer with Feingold and Dardarian's law firm for the purpose of making accessible point-of-sale machines. On a voice vote, the motion carried.
Brunson asked for consensus from the board for ACB to enter into a contract with Tari Susan Hartman, who plans to bring corporations to the ACB convention to conduct focus groups on household items that are not now accessible.
Terry Pacheco announced that the scholarship committee has received applications sent electronically. Six hard copies have also been received. She also reported that the sight and sound committee listserv is very positive and has seen a lot of growth. The national office report was accepted on a voice vote. The fundraising update was also accepted.
Mike Duke reported that the board of publications will meet on March 1, 2004 via conference call. He had previously addressed issues relating to "The Braille Forum" during appropriate portions of the budget discussion. The board of publications report was accepted.
The Randolph-Sheppard Vendors of America donated $5,000 to ACB to be used to offset expenses of the legislative seminar. Board members discussed the best ways to spend the money. A motion to use these funds to offset the cost of printing materials and then room charges if it appears that there are sufficient funds carried on a voice vote.
After a brief discussion, it was agreed that President Gray would write a brief report on the transportation survey and post it to the board list in seven to 10 days.
A motion to adjourn was adopted, and the meeting ended at 12:05 p.m. on February 16.
Last year ACB looked back and celebrated its history. This year a group of ACB members asks you to join us in looking ahead and beginning to prepare for ACB's future. We call the project "ACB Future Place," and we invite your participation.
What will happen in ACB Future Place? Brainstorming and informal give-and-take about developing a future for ACB and how to get there; helping people interested in a topic affecting ACB's future to find each other and start discussion groups; informal or facilitated discussions concerning proposed amendments or resolutions to see whether agreement can be reached before taking the idea to the appropriate committee; a suggestion box for those with ideas but no time for discussion; an ombudsman function allowing those with ideas to learn about existing ACB procedures for change and getting them in touch with the right committee or personnel. If you are interested in improving ACB but don't have specific ideas, just drop by ACB Future Place to learn what others have proposed.
Extended discussions could be held in ACB Future Place across several days on topics such as developing a proactive, organization-wide advocacy strategy, or ways to implement sustainable, ongoing, low-cost leadership training and development.
The planning group is working on some other ideas as well, such as experimenting with ways for those unable to attend the convention to participate in the Future Place experience.
Several scheduled events are already under consideration. One of these would review the processes we currently have for bringing change to ACB, the goal being to increase the chances that ideas will get heard and will get addressed in appropriate ways. Another event under consideration is an open forum on the topic of ACB's future, probably on Monday night from 8 to 10. Keynote speakers will be LeRoy Saunders, the inventor and architect of ACB's first effort at long-range planning, and Carl Augusto, President and CEO of the American Foundation for the Blind, who will share his own special perspective on ACB and its future. We hope this forum will generate a number of good ideas which can be pursued throughout the rest of the week and beyond. Where Will We Find the ACB Future Place?
Plans call for room 419 (called "Future Place South") to be the center of Future Place activity. Come here to find out what's going on in Future Place, to find others who are interested in shaping a future for ACB, or to meet up with others interested in discussing a particular Future Place topic. Another room (called "Future Place North") will be used for scheduled discussions and other activities requiring more space or more quiet than Future Place South can offer. We hope to make both of these spaces special environments in which the atmosphere is designed for the challenging and important work of preparing for ACB's future. To work toward this atmosphere, we ask participants to observe the following ground rules:
1. No smoking. We want all to feel welcome; and some people need to avoid tobacco smoke.
2. No alcohol. Courtesy and clear heads will be important in what are likely to be spirited discussions.
3. No personal attacks. We ask that all who step across the threshold into ACB Future Place agree to leave personal grudges and conflicts outside.
4. Official hats are to be checked at the door. We hope that all those with current elected, staff or appointed positions in ACB will participate fully in ACB Future Place, for the project needs their knowledge and their perspectives. But we ask that all participants come to ACB Future Place as nothing more, and certainly nothing less, than ACB members and friends.
5. Speak for yourself or for an affiliate, if designated by the affiliate for that purpose; and allow others to speak for themselves.
6. No campaigning. Candidates and their supporters are certainly welcome, but this will not be a forum in which to promote or oppose anyone for office.
How Will Activities In ACB Future Place Be Conducted?
Volunteer facilitators will keep discussions on track and help all participants observe Future Place ground rules. Other volunteers will make participants welcome, serve refreshments and explain activities. Organizers will manage the spaces in ways that allow participation by the greatest number of interested conventioneers.
Is ACB Future Place Politically Motivated?
Yes and no. It does not seek to promote the election or removal from office of any specific person or group of people. But it certainly does seek to give both voters and candidates more opportunities to make more thoughtful, informed decisions about how to get to the future they want for ACB. No one in the Future Place planning group currently holds elected office in ACB's national structure; and none of us are seeking election this year. But many of us hold one or two appointed positions in ACB, and each of us is active in at least one affiliate.
How Will ACB Future Place Be Funded, and How Much Will It Cost?
The current cost estimate is between $9,000 and $10,000, mostly for hotel space. None of this money will come from the ACB budget. Instead, it will come from those who choose to support or sponsor the effort. The planning group has decided that any excess of funds raised over actual expenses will be donated to the Floyd Qualls Memorial Scholarship endowment fund. For information on how you can support ACB Future Place financially, look for upcoming announcements or contact any planning group member.
How Will ACB Future Place Be Staffed?
By volunteers; and yes, we are recruiting. If the idea takes off, ACB Future Place may be open long hours and need a good deal of volunteer staff support. We are, for example, looking for resource people and discussion facilitators who agree to follow Future Place ground rules while conducting Future Place activities.
We are excited about the potential of ACB Future Place to produce good results for ACB and its constituents. We hope the effort this year will begin a tradition of using some of that precious convention time for planning ACB's future and preparing to go there.
We welcome your suggestions. As the project takes shape, look for more Future Place announcements and share them with your friends.
The ACB Future Place Planning Group consists of Marcia Dresser, Steve Dresser, Rebecca Hodson, Gayle Krause, Donna Smith and Steve Speicher.
ACB is certainly going through some turbulent and challenging times. Yet despite widely circulated rumors within the blind community that ACB is in mortal crisis and is coming apart at the seams, our officers and undermanned national office staff continue to function normally and to carry the ball forward toward accomplishing a myriad of advocacy and public policy objectives to better the lives and equality of opportunity for every blind or visually impaired individual. Our hard-working acting editor, Sharon Lovering, continues without missing a beat to put together and publish the quality product that you are currently reading and of which you can continue to be proud, "The Braille Forum."
ACB is struggling to cope with some trying and stress- provoking budgetary and financial challenges, as reflected in the austere 2004 budget adopted by the board of directors at its mid- year meeting, reported upon more fully elsewhere in this issue. Right now, especially when ACB is hard-pressed financially, those of you who believe in its underlying core principles and values and have dedicated yourselves to support our blind consumer membership advocacy organization are, in an ironic way, being presented with a truly unique opportunity to step forward and demonstrate your support by becoming a life member. At the same time, local chapters and state and special-interest affiliates also have a unique and particularly timely opportunity to assist ACB in coping with its budgetary shortfall by purchasing life memberships to honor their own deserving living members who have made important and meritorious contributions to those respective organizations as well as to ACB. Life membership dues are not cheap, $1,000, but you can pay it in up to five annual installments of $200, which comes to 55 cents per day over the course of an entire year. ACB needs the financial support of its affiliates, local chapters, and devoted and dedicated individual members and friends during these difficult and challenging times. Affiliates, local chapters and/or interested individuals who wish to learn more about ACB's life membership program should contact Jim Olsen at (800) 866-3242. As a life member myself, I am looking forward to welcoming a large, new delegation of life members at our 43rd annual national convention in Birmingham, Ala. I have every expectation that the 2004 class of life members will push the honor roll of such members past the milestone of 200 members in this membership category. You -- yes, you! -- could well become that much sought-after 200th life member.
This summer the American Council of the Blind will hold its 43rd annual national convention in the great, historic city of Birmingham, Ala. It is not just noted for its place in the civil rights movement. To be sure, Birmingham is an entity unto itself. Just take a look at some of Birmingham's noteworthy accomplishments!
The University of Alabama at Birmingham's University Hospital is the world's top kidney transplant center. Additionally, Birmingham took 10th place among the U.S. cities on the annual list of Fortune 500 companies. Birmingham is also home to the nation's oldest baseball park, Rickwood Field, which opened in 1910 and hosted baseball greats such as Jackie Robinson, Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb. I can think of no better place to gather for our annual event.
Once you arrive in Birmingham, you can get to the Sheraton via its complimentary shuttle, which runs on a regular basis. You can also call the hotel at (205) 324-5000 or call from the courtesy phone located in the baggage claim area. The hotel is just 10 minutes away from the airport; a cab ride will run about $12. Once you arrive at the hotel, go through the doors; the front desk is straight ahead. Upon check-in you will be presented with a thorough description of the hotel and convention center. The Sheraton, like many other hotels, is trying to be energy efficient. If you want new towels, place the old ones on the floor in the bathroom; if you want your bedding changed, there is a specially marked card for you to place on the bed on the day you want new linens. A listing of the television line-up will appear in the convention program.
The Crowne Plaza Redmont is the overflow hotel for this convention. Room rates are the same as the Sheraton, $75 per night plus tax for singles and doubles, $85 per night plus tax for triples. Rooms are available beginning July 1. We have contracted for rooms for the nights July 1 through July 3; there are plenty of rooms still available at the Sheraton beginning July 4. Make reservations at the Crowne for the nights you plan to stay there, and reserve your room at the Sheraton for the day you plan to move. The Crowne will accommodate those who wish to stay past the night of July 3 at the same rate on a space- available basis. Their phone number is (205) 324-2101; their address, 2102 Fifth Ave. N., Birmingham, AL 35203.
For those arriving on Saturday, July 3, we will begin our quick meal service for dinner starting at 5 p.m. You will be able to have one of two main dishes, plus two side dishes and a beverage for around $7 -- salad and dessert cost extra. This will be in Hall One of the convention center and will be in the hotel description. Please remember that the ACB Caf‚ (quick meals) is a cash-only operation. The hotel also has two restaurants, Casey's Bar and Grill and the Atrium Caf‚, that will both be open as well.
Registration will be located on the first floor of the convention center, where some larger meeting rooms are located. Escalators and elevators are in the same vicinity and will easily get you there. The general sessions, exhibits and the ACB Caf‚ are all within steps of one another on the second floor, which is the floor you enter as you come over the sky bridge. Meeting rooms D through M are on the third floor. General sessions will again be set classroom style, with tables, for all the delegates.
The Alabama Council of the Blind is planning a grand "Welcome to Alabama" party on Saturday evening. David and Rhonda Trott and crew have worked tirelessly to ensure that your stay in Birmingham is the best ever. Those who attended the midyear meetings were treated to a preview of what is to come. The Alabama Council really welcomed ACB in February and will do it again tenfold this summer.
Berl Colley has done an excellent job in putting together a tour package with something in it for everyone. Check out the offerings on the pre-registration form and sign up before the choices get taken. Margarine is working with the airport to enable volunteers to come to the gate to assist folks -- if anyone can make this happen, Margarine can!! The ACB Store will have a table in the exhibit hall along with the vast array of vendors from all over the country. Mike Smitherman has done an extraordinary job for all of us in getting the hall set. I personally spend a bundle in that area each time and this year will be no exception.
Pam Shaw will take a break from her busy schedule to staff the convention information services desk and Margie Donovan has been in the forefront of guide dog issues from relief area to ensuring that you are absolutely safe at any time you take your dog out to the designated areas. Patti Cox will be taking some trips to museums and amusement parks with the children she will be supervising in the Youth Activities Center.
Yes, the weather will be very hot, but you will be in an air-conditioned hotel and complex. When you go out in the evening the temperature will most likely have dropped to the 80s!!!
This year's convention theme is "Together Everyone Achieves More (TEAM)." It will be our goal this summer to begin the process of healing, working toward a positive and productive future and getting back to making this country a better place for blind and visually impaired people. Please join us in Birmingham to be a part of TEAM ACB and be a contributing member to the best organization of the blind in this country, and possibly the world.
Are you coming to convention? Do you like helping out where needed? The press room is now seeking volunteers to help collate and staple papers, take ads and announcements, and staff the room.
Sharon Lovering is once again the operations manager, aided by Steve and Marcia Dresser and others. She is seeking volunteers to fill two-hour shifts throughout the day (8- 10 a.m., 10 a.m.- noon, noon-2 p.m., and 2-4 p.m.). The press room will be open Friday through Wednesday, and be taken down Thursday; it will open daily at 8 a.m. and close to the public at 5 p.m. To sign up for a shift, contact Sharon at the ACB national office, (800) 424-8666 extension 22, or via e-mail, [email protected] We especially need people with good braille skills to take ads for the paper and the ConventionEar.
This year's convention newspaper will be called "The Birmingham Beacon." The Beacon will run from Saturday through Thursday. Ads and other items intended for publication must be in the press room's hands by 2 p.m. each day. By a directive from the board of publications, ads will be allowed to run for only three days, in order to give important convention announcements more space. Ads should be 100 words or less. (See "Convention Newspaper Fees for 2004" elsewhere in this issue.) The board of publications editorial policy manual prohibits us from producing or distributing campaign materials.
During the evenings, we will need people to help collate and staple the braille papers. Thanks to Enabling Technologies, we will have three braille printers this year, and we will need one person per printer. Got an hour to spare between 5 and 11 p.m.? Drop by and see if the press room needs help.
If you have signed up for home delivery of "The Birmingham Beacon," PLEASE make sure you drop by the press room to give us your hotel and room number once you arrive. Be certain to specify braille or large print. This will ensure that you don't miss an issue. And please hold onto your Saturday issue; it will include all the suite numbers, phone numbers, and room changes.
The ConventionEar will be updated twice daily. Deadlines are 10:30 a.m. (or after the morning break during general sessions) and 5 p.m. If we do not receive your announcement until after 5 p.m., the item will not appear in the Ear until the next morning.
Please remember that the press room is a working room. While we understand that convention is a great time to see old friends and new, loud conversations make it difficult to record the ConventionEar announcements and even more difficult to hear the speech synthesizers on the computers which enable us to get the newspaper out to you, the readers. Help us help you get the information you need.
Photocopying will again be allowed this year. Copies will cost 10 cents per page. Please pay the registration office. And if your committee or affiliate needs something brailled, we will be able to do that as well. Make certain you label your disk(s) before bringing them down to the press room, and tell us how many of each format (braille and large print) you will need, by what time. If you bring your item(s) down in the morning, that will help us fit them in during the quiet times between other jobs.
Affiliates, if you know who your delegate, alternate, and nominating committee representative will be, please let Donna Seliger and Sharon Lovering know as soon as possible. Thanks to all who have already sent this information.
Once again this year, a three-tier fee structure will be in effect for convention newspaper ads. Organizations and individuals wishing to place ads in "The Birmingham Beacon," this year's convention daily newspaper, and on our dial-in "Convention Ear" service will contribute to the cost of production via the following fee structure. All ads must be 100 words or less.
For-profit businesses will be charged $100 for a newspaper ad for three days or $35 per day.
Non-profit organizations and ACB affiliates will be charged $10 per day for a newspaper ad which will run for three days.
Individuals will be charged $5 per day for a newspaper ad which will run for three days.
These fees will entitle the advertiser to announce his/her product in both the daily paper (available in print and braille) and on the dial-in announcement service. The 2004 convention will feature newspapers between Saturday and Thursday.
Don't forget, you can sign up for daily "home delivery" of the Beacon. This service will be provided by members of the National Alliance of Blind Students; it costs $5 if you pre- register, or $10 if you subscribe when you get to Birmingham.
(Reprinted with permission from the "WCB Newsline," March 2004.)
Why hasn't she learned braille? I did.
Why can't she travel independently? I can.
Why can't he manage more on his own? I do.
Why doesn't he maintain a more positive attitude toward his vision loss as I do?
From time to time, I hear these kinds of comments and wonder if we sometimes lose sight of the fact that we each come to different degrees of vision loss at different times in our lives and from different causes. We each have our own life circumstances, including age, health, emotional and physical environment conditions as well as varying support systems. There should not be a one-size-fits-all expectation as far as accomplishments and use of blindness skills is concerned. Since there is no accurate ruler with which to measure, we can help by offering resource information, support and encouragement. Above all, we can offer respect.
The McDaniel Fund Committee is again raising funds to sponsor two first-timers to attend the national convention. Tickets are available through your affiliate president, committee members or board members. Those tickets cost $1 each, or you can get six for $5. You could win a cash prize or one of many other prizes contributed by committee members, including a beautiful afghan by Milly Stokes.
We are counting on your generous support of this worthy project again this year, so get your tickets early and often.
Many thanks to the California Council for funding the cost of printing the tickets.
Do you wear hats? Do you enjoy decorating them? Then come to the Mac Hatter's Party at convention, where you can join the parade of unique, ridiculous, pretty, outrageous, frilly and outlandish hats. Coats are optional. The hat parade will be audio described, and prizes will be awarded.
So join us for the Mac Hatter's Party, where you'll get a chance to meet the first timers, and find out who's won a prize in the drawing. We've planned a good time for the serious and the silly!
The National Educational and Legal Defense Services for the Blind (NELDS) invites you to write a song and come share it with us in Birmingham.
NELDS has long sponsored a Folk Fest at the beginning of each year's annual convention. It started out as just some musicians and singers, and some of us who can't sing, but we can hum, getting together for an old-fashioned sing-along. Over time, it has evolved into one of NELDS' largest fund raisers. This year, we want to make it bigger so we can have more fun. And, if we make it larger, it becomes more of a fund-raiser.
All of our old friends will be on hand. Alan Beatty will be there to do his Mississippi squirrel song; Pat Shreck will provide the keyboard support, and Pat and Lynne Koral will provide the harmony. David Trott is inviting members of the Alabama affiliate to share their talent. And we have invited several guest artists to serve as surprise performers.
Now, back to the song writing. We are challenging every member of the ACB who fancies him or herself as a song writer, to write a song which needs to incorporate two essential elements. First, it in some way must resemble a song. And, most importantly, it must be about the ACB or about the legal rights of blind people. Songs will be judged on originality.
A judging panel consisting of Charles Hodge and others will decide who wins. The panel's decision is final and binding. The first prize is a fifth of Southern Comfort. Now, some have requested that Alabama state president David Trott try to find a bottle of White Lightning to insert as first prize, but since that cannot be guaranteed, we hope the winner can be mollified with the Southern Comfort.
The Folk Fest is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Saturday, July 3, near the Welcome to Alabama Party.
During the convention, you will have a chance to obtain raffle tickets for our 2005 drawing. First prize is two round- trip tickets to Las Vegas; second prize is five nights at the convention hotel; and third prize is two tickets to the annual banquet. We are also introducing a new raffle prize during the 2004 convention. We will be selling books of tickets (six tickets for $5) for cash prizes to be drawn at the banquet. See any NELDS member to buy tickets.
Start your convention week with a stress-relieving, blood- pressure reducing, knee-slapping good time. Take in the AAVL After-Lunch Entertainment segment. Bill and Jack Lewis team up again with new material and an audience-pleasing strategy like you have never seen before (or would want to). There are two ways to attend:
1. Purchase an AAVL luncheon ticket from the registration office. The luncheon will take place on Monday, July 5th from 12:15 to 1 p.m. Enjoy lunch with old and new friends and be there at your front-row table for the show at precisely one o'clock.
2. Find lunch on your own, then sneak quietly into the room at 12:50 p.m. on Monday, July 5th, find a chair and attend the show that begins precisely at one o'clock and ends at one-thirty. There is no admission charge, but contributions are welcome, with or without arm-twisting. Following the luncheon and entertainment will be the AAVL elections and business meeting, to which you are also invited, and which might whet your appetite to join us in a worthwhile mission regarding age and vision loss.
"Stop the Violence, Break the Silence" is an important national initiative to raise awareness about the incidence of violence against people with disabilities, including blindness and low vision, affecting young and old, male and female alike. ACB and two other disability organizations partnered with SafePlace of Austin, Tex., on this two-year project funded by the U.S. Department of Justice Office for Justice Program. More than a dozen ACB members from across the country have completed the Train-the-Trainers Institute on preventing and responding to domestic violence, sexual assault, neglect, and exploitation against individuals with disabilities. As an important part of this project, ACB Human Service Professionals (ACBHSP) and the women's concerns committee invite all ACB convention attendees to participate in a "Stop the Violence, Break the Silence" workshop on Thursday, July 8 from 2 to 4:30 p.m.
As you prepare for the boisterousness of the upcoming ACB convention in Birmingham, don't forget about the exciting activities that Friends-in-Art (FIA) will be offering. Below is a summary of mixers, workshops, and performances.
Saturday, July 3
1:30 to 3:30 p.m.: Once again, Elsie Monthei will be running two hands-on workshops focusing on the wondrous quirks of quilting. While both sessions are entitled "You Too Can Be An Old Sew-and-Sew," the first session is aimed at beginners. Participants (no more than 8) will learn basic needle threading, measuring, cutting, sewing, and quilt tying. Materials will be provided.
7 to 9 p.m.: FIA Board Meeting. All welcome!
Sunday, July 4
1:30 to 3:30 p.m.: This quilting workshop is aimed at the more advanced quilt-maker (maximum of 8 participants), and will focus on assembling, stitching, and using a stencil to quilt your block.
4 to 6 p.m.: Mixer/Showcase Sign-up. Come meet old friends and make new ones while registering for a showcase audition slot. (Note that you must sign up for a slot if you wish to perform in the FIA showcase.)
6 to 7 p.m.: Chorus rehearsal. This year, Carrie Hooper has arranged a medley of Judy Garland tunes for our enjoyment, and Krista Brooks is currently putting together an arrangement of "'Til There Was You."
Monday, July 5
1:30 to 3 p.m.: MIDI Workshop. This year, Jerry Halatyn will focus on ProTools, considered to be the best recording software in the industry. He will be using Outspoken for the Mac and the CM Labs Motor Mate control service.
3:30 to 6 p.m.: Audition/Rehearsal for Showcase.
9 to 10:30 p.m.: Prose/Poetry Reading. Writers are invited to read their original works and non-writers are invited to listen to, and interact with, these writers.
10 to 11 p.m.: Final chorus rehearsal.
Tuesday, July 6
12:30 to 2:30 p.m.: "Think Inside the Box" Luncheon and Business Meeting. After sharing deli sandwiches with others interested in the arts, attend our annual business meeting, including election of officers and board members.
3 to 5 p.m.: Writers Workshop: Tricks of the Trade. Gain techniques to improve the quality of your writing and getting it published. We are especially pleased that Deborah Kent, published author and sister of Gordon Kent, will lead this session.
8 to 10:30 p.m.: Showcase of the Performing Arts.
Wednesday, July 7
1:30 to 3 p.m.: Here's to Your Vocal Health. Carrie Hooper will talk about her experiences as a voice student in Sweden, and impart techniques designed to improve your ability to breathe, project your voice, and articulate more clearly.
3 to 5 p.m.: Making a Scene. Some of you may remember George Ashiotis' workshop a couple of years ago where he provided feedback to participants, which aimed at improving their public speaking skills based on their readings of monologues that he provided. This year, George is offering a similar session, except that he will be providing dialogues instead of monologues, meaning that participants will be paired to enact each "scene."
5:30 to 6:30 p.m.: Round and Harmony Sing. Come and sing those beautiful rounds and harmony songs we all know and love and learn some new ones.
8 to 9:30 p.m.: Drum Circle. Ladonna Smith and Lynn Hedl will oversee this unique musical activity, which will feature rhythmic multicultural chants and musical improvisations.
Thursday, July 8
7:30 to 8:30 a.m.: FIA Board Meeting. All welcome!
Do rainy days and Mondays always get you down? Well, even if raindrops keep falling on your head on Monday, July 5, 2004, in Birmingham, the Independent Visually Impaired Enterprisers has a fun and informative day planned for you which is sure to lift your spirits.
We start bright and early with our breakfast and business meeting, which will take place from 7 to 8:30 a.m. After enjoying a delicious breakfast of sausage and eggs and some time for fellowship with old friends and new, you will have the opportunity to learn more about IVIE and help make decisions about our great affiliate.
On Monday afternoon at 1:30, we will be having an interesting program with an intriguing title: "Different Strokes For Different Folks: Sundry Stories and Styles Of Business." Panelists will tell the stories of their businesses and we will explore the ins and outs of various business types, such as profit vs. non-profit businesses, product sales vs. service provider, corporations, partnerships and sole proprietorships. To accomplish this, we have assembled a dynamite panel of well-known people, including Marvin Sandler, President of Independent Living Aids; Carol McCarl, founder of Blindskills Inc. and publisher of Dialogue Magazine; and Steve Speicher, a lawyer in solo practice.
From 4 to 7 p.m., we will hold the IVIE Business Expo. Blind and visually impaired business owners will showcase their products and services and answer questions about what they do. You will be amazed to see the variety of businesses represented! Of course, the success of the expo will depend entirely on you. There are two ways to participate. First, if you own or represent a business, you can have a table at the expo. The cost for a table is $10 for IVIE members, $15 for non-members. Tables must be reserved in advance.
To reserve a table, submit your name, address, phone number, e-mail address, business name and description, along with a check for $10 or $15 made payable to IVIE. All expo information and checks should be sent to Sila Miller, 2201 Limerick Drive, Tallahassee, FL 32309. Please reserve your table as soon as possible. This will greatly help us with our planning.
Since IVIE's calendar year begins on July 1st, this would also be a good opportunity to renew your IVIE membership. Annual dues are $15 and can be sent to Sila Miller at the above address. When sending a check, please specify whether it is for a table at the expo or annual dues. A second way to participate in the IVIE Business Expo is simply to come and browse. You will have a good time, meet a lot of great people, and learn about various products and services. By the way, browsing is free.
Even though we only have one day of activities planned for the convention, it is a full and exciting one! Please set some time aside on Monday, July 5 to take part in IVIE's activities! You will be glad you did! If you have any questions about IVIE's convention program, the business expo or IVIE in general, please call me at (724) 941-8184.
LUA will hold its program meetings at 1:30 on July 5 and July 7, and there's a very exciting program planned. We want all of you to know about it. There is so much information out there now, but most of us do not know where it is or how to get it. LUA plans to help you find your way around all the new technologies that are revolutionizing how we read.
Paul Edwards, Kim Charlson and Barry Levine will lead you through an introduction to a whole bunch of ways that we can read. We will talk about what e-books are and what we can expect from Microsoft and Adobe, the two leading producers. We will talk about Audible.com, Bookshare, Web-Braille, and other places where people can get books read by computers and by humans. We will give you a chance to hear samples of all these technologies and explain MP3 files, text files, Daisy and PDF files and how you can read each of them. We will also plan to show some of the devices that people are using to read these formats, and we hope that a lot of the confusion about all the new ways and places to read will be cleared up by our presentation.
Lori Bell is one of the most exciting librarians ever to hit talking book services. She has great ideas and goes out and tries things that are right on the edge of both technology and what libraries are doing. She will join us and talk about several projects that she has been working on in Illinois that relate in some ways to our presentation. She will also talk about a whole new approach to asking reference questions of your talking book librarians that allows interactive approaches. We expect to have a talking book narrator there and, as usual, we will have our wine and cheese party which will give you a chance to meet friends and talk about books, readers, and libraries.
We think this will be an exciting program and we invite all of you to join us, buy donation tickets to win cool prizes, and become members of Library Users of America to help make public and talking book libraries better for people who are blind or visually impaired. See you in Birmingham!
In today's world, it is important that we all think about security and personal safety. This is especially true for blind and visually impaired individuals, as most criminals consider us easy targets. Many blind and visually impaired people stop venturing out on their own because of their personal security concerns.
That time is over. Cory MacDonald is a legally blind martial artist who has developed a comprehensive self-defense system for the blind. From "street-smart" tips on staying safe and avoiding conflict, to reviews of products available for your safety, to self-defense techniques designed exclusively for the blind and visually impaired, this program will give you the tools and confidence you need to stay safe in today's world!
Come to a National Alliance of Blind Students program session on Monday, July 5. The self-defense sessions are offered at 1:30 p.m. and 3 p.m., and cost $10 per session.
The National Association of Blind Teachers has a very exciting program planned for convention 2004! Here is our schedule for convention week. Sunday, July 4, 2004 8-9:30 a.m. NABT Breakfast And Program.
The title of our program is "From Sight to Insight: One Man's Journey." Listen as Carl Foley, retired mathematics teacher, adaptive technology specialist and AAVL president, tells the inspiring story of how he gradually became visually impaired. In his presentation, he will highlight the techniques that he developed for coping with his sight loss. 9:45-11a.m. NABT board meeting (open to everyone) 5:30-7 p.m. NABT boxed dinner and social. Are you constantly late for the Sunday night general session because of slow service in the hotel restaurant? Well, never fear because NABT will be there to provide a quick boxed dinner and the opportunity to socialize with old friends and meet new ones before going to ACB's opening session. Tuesday, July 6, 2004 1:30-2:30 p.m. NABT business meeting. Come and share your ideas for our organization. 2:30-4 p.m. "Education Can Begin At Home: A Panel Discussion On Homeschooling." Are you dissatisfied with American public education and you can't afford to send your children to private school? Perhaps homeschooling is an option for you. Learn all about homeschooling from people who know about it firsthand. Our panelists will include: Carla Hayes, Homeschool Foreign Language Teacher, Lengua-Learn Communications; Carla Ruschival, who homeschools her grandchildren; and George Abbott, Dean of Educational Programs and Instruction from the Hadley School for the Blind.
Wednesday, July 7, 2004 1:30-3 p.m. "What You Always Wanted to Know About Rehab But Were Afraid to Ask." Do you have questions about rehabilitation services, or just what it takes to be a rehab teacher or counselor? If so, this is a workshop just for you. Some of our panelists will include: Anne Elliott, itinerant teacher for the blind and visually impaired; Donald J. Koors, retired consultant on blindness and visual impairment, deaf-blindness and funding, and coordination of post-secondary education; and Stephanie Hall, rehabilitation teacher from Vision Loss Resources in Minneapolis, Minn.
As you can see, NABT has planned several fun and stimulating activities for this year's convention. Please come and join us. We'll see you there.
When I was a child, my parents took my brother and me to ACB conventions. It was our vacation. Because my parents couldn't drive, we couldn't just jump in our car and go whenever, wherever we wanted to go. So it was off to conventions, and we have wonderful memories of places and events that most kids never had an opportunity to experience.
Now, as an adult, I am so pleased to be able to give other children the same chance to have fun at conventions. Perhaps through my efforts other visually impaired parents will be able to bring their children along to conventions and enjoy a family vacation.
So what is all the YAC about?
It's all about a week of fun for all the children who attend the convention this year in Birmingham. There will be lots of fun, so bring your kids along for a YACkin' good time! The Youth Activities Center (YAC) is just the ticket!
On Monday kids check in, paint T-shirts to wear on Tuesday, and take a dip in the pool. Tuesday we spend the day at an amusement park. Wednesday it's off to an interactive science center, and Thursday and all day Friday we will have games, videos, crafts, and much more in the YAC room. While the grown-ups enjoy the ACB banquet and entertainment, the YAC crew will enjoy a pizza party and splashin' good time at the pool!
The YAC is available for children between the ages of 6 and 13; older teens, from 14 to 17, are also welcome, and can act as counselors (just like at camp)!
Look for the YAC on the pre-registration form. Signing up your children in advance helps us know how to plan. If you plan to register upon arrival in Birmingham, please contact me at the e- mail and phone number below to let me know that your children are coming.
We've got a great week of fun planned, but we are still in need of funding. If you or your affiliate can help support these activities, please contact me at [email protected] or at (502) 897-3864. Thanks to those who have supported the Youth Activities Center.
As readers of "The Braille Forum" are aware, we have scaled back production of the magazine to eight issues for calendar year 2004. The budget committee felt it had to make cuts in the production budget for "The Braille Forum" so that it could function within the overall budget constraints of the organization.
So that you may better understand what all is involved in getting you -- all 24,806 of you -- your electronic, disk, tape, braille, or large print copy of "The Braille Forum," we want to provide you with some detailed information about the "Forum," its costs, and how they relate to the overall budget of the ACB. We believe this information is important to you because the "Forum" remains the most valuable source of information about issues of importance to the lives of blind and visually impaired individuals, as well as to the members of ACB. We think you will agree that your "Braille Forum" is, by far, the best value for the money available to any blind or visually impaired person.
Most ACB members seem to agree that "The Braille Forum" is the single most important program or service we provide. That idea in no way takes away from the value or importance of our work on advocacy, our work with Congress and federal agencies, our support to state and special-interest affiliates, or our public education. In fact, it is simply the recognition that "The Braille Forum" is the one thing that enables us to pull all other activities together in a way that lets our members, friends and public officials know who we are and what we are doing in all the other categories.
It should not be surprising, therefore, to realize that "The Braille Forum" is the single largest cost center for the ACB budget. The cost of the magazine is made up of many parts: the cost of producing the magazine, most of which is paid to outside suppliers for printing, brailling, recording and duplicating; internal expenses, including staff salaries; and support expenses, office equipment and space. When taken together, these costs are approximately 25 percent of the total ACB budget.
A tremendous amount of staff time goes into the process of working with members on getting articles submitted, editing those articles and scheduling them for inclusion in a future issue -- the essential work of creating "The Braille Forum." The actual work of preparing "The Braille Forum" for production and distribution and seeing that it happens in an orderly fashion requires an equally tremendous amount of staff time. Sharon Lovering spends a minimum of 10 days per issue performing production and distribution-related tasks. The first challenge is to design the issue based on content; the second, to choose photos, if any. It not only has to be designed for the print edition, but once that is done, some alterations are necessary before it can be sent to the production house for brailling.
While the tape, print and braille versions are produced and distributed by outside suppliers, the disk version is produced and mailed from the national office. And, as anyone accustomed to working with a large publication is aware, there is always additional time required to do last-minute editing caused by production questions from the various outside suppliers. There are a couple of additional days of work each issue contributed by other staff members.
Even having reduced the publication to only eight issues for the year, ACB will spend in excess of $10 per subscription, including production and distribution expenses as well as the costs for staff salaries and support costs. Obviously the costs associated with production and distribution of an electronic subscription are considerably less, while the cost of a braille subscription is much higher. A braille subscription, for production expense only, costs us roughly $16 for the eight issues, compared with roughly $4 for the same subscription in print. The tape version, on the other hand, runs about $5.
Any way you look at it, "The Braille Forum" costs far more than the dues paid by any member. And it is the best value you can find. In order to help increase the number and size of issues, we need your support and contributions. If you cannot afford to give more than your membership dues, don't worry. "The Braille Forum," like all other programs and services of the American Council of the Blind, is yours without any question. If you can, we hope this information will encourage you to send contributions to ACB for "The Braille Forum." Gifts from affiliates have provided a valuable source of funds to ensure the continued viability of the publication.
"The Braille Forum" is our voice for members and the blindness community at large. It is a vital voice which must remain strong. Won't you please help us keep it that way?
After reading this article, many of you will wonder why it is in "The Braille Forum" and not on some list somewhere. Although I was a computer systems analyst by profession, when I retired, I was totally burned out and wanted no computer in my home. I receive e-mail by phone, which has worked for me. You who are out there on many lists are our techies -- our brightest bulbs, so to speak. I wanted this article to be printed in "The Braille Forum" to reach our grass roots membership, not just the microchip crew which inhabits the Internet.
With regard to the current condition of ACB, yeah, it's pretty ugly! Has it ever been this ugly before? Yes, it has; and, if you want more details, seek me out at the convention and I will be happy to discuss it with you. Are we going to make it? I think so, because ACB is far more important than any person or group of people involved in it. I will give you my opinion on many if not all of the topics which have been on the lists.
On the subject of loyalty, board members support the president when and if they believe him to be right. The board of directors is responsible to you, to each and every one of you. The board has been castigated, but let us be clear about one thing. The board did what it had to do, and they did it for you. It is your right to praise or criticize. If you don't like what we're doing, get rid of us. It would indeed be interesting to see how you would have handled our challenges.
I was very disappointed to learn of Dawn's resignation, especially when she only had six more months to serve. And Steve Speicher, who I always admired because he had the courage of his convictions; it's a loss. Just think about it. Could someone who couldn't decide whether to seek an office until Tuesday of convention week after the meeting of the nominating committee possibly make presidential decisions for our organization?
Then there is the former editor of "The Braille Forum," who now has established a magazine on another web site. Under her guidance, numerous corrections have appeared in the front of our magazine. How many did we see before she entered our employment world? She had little background in ACB. For instance, three or four years ago, I spent much of my time at midyear passing out letters to state and special-interest affiliate presidents explaining that I was chair only of the McDaniel committee, not of awards, because that is what had appeared in "The Braille Forum." She wrote a lengthy article about Andy Potok who was slated to be a convention banquet speaker. This gentleman had been at a previous convention and was known to many of us. And then there was the guide horse article which was much too long, although eventually you got to the information. Kudos to the board of publications for doing a thorough job.
There are those who have tried to link what is happening today to our history. Truly, there is only one correlation. Those who are demanding all kinds of things in the name of democracy are applying the same divide-and-conquer tactics used on us by the tenBroek administration. Talk with Cathy Skivers, Audrey Hebner, or Alberta O'Shaughnessy -- all of whom will be at convention -- and they will tell you the same thing.
There will be much to think about at the Birmingham convention -- resolutions and constitutional amendments. Think about them before you submit them. Think about them before you vote on them. Remove us, if you must, through the constitutional democratic process. Redirect your thoughts and energies toward what is best for ACB. Please join with those of us who have decided to help ACB through the MMS program and, ultimately, the organization will be OK. I have faith in each and every one of you.
The contents of this column reflect the letters we had received by the time we went to press, May 7, 2004. Letters are limited to 300 words or less. All submissions must include the author's name and location. Opinions expressed are those of the authors.
It troubles me to see so much discord among the higher-ups in this organization. I am unaware of the cause, but I am not concerned.
I had a family member who worked for a nice small company in a supervisory capacity. Because of disagreement between the family members who owned the company, within about two years the company went under. Each family member thought others might have had a little more power than they did. This proved fatal for this company.
I had another friend who was highly respected by many. He said that when he was on the board of a particular organization, when they couldn't all agree on a particular course of action, they would all go and think about it some more. Then they would meet and the decision which was made was the right one. This friend told me that every time over several years when there was not a unanimous vote on an issue, that was because they did not have the right answer yet. But when more thought was given and the right answer appeared, the vote was unanimous.
Over the years we have had difficult decisions to make. Sometimes maybe we don't all agree. Sometimes, however, I'm not sure that the right decision has been thought of.
There is nothing wrong with discussing a thing until the right answer appears, but please keep harmony as the number-one goal. Remember, we all want the same thing for the blind.
I recently received my April-May "Braille Forum" via e-mail, and I noticed immediately that the magazine is no longer a monthly. I did not wonder why; I already knew. Since last summer's national convention in Pittsburgh, Christopher Gray and the organization have gone out of their way to give Penny Reeder an extremely difficult time. It all started after the 2002 convention, when Chris and several others printed some articles asserting that the board of publications was usurping power unconstitutionally. I could sort of see things coming.
Penny had a site on the Internet, braille-free-press.org. (Editor's Note: This site has been taken down.) I spent some 12 hours on the ACB-L list recently, and saw people telling Penny that she was showing disrespect for ACB history by using that name. I was able to show a pre-law student from Boston that the name came into existence in 1959; that in the magazine of that title, dissidents wrote articles and speeches, etc., demonstrating the dictatorial nature of Jacobus tenBroek's presidency. I never heard back from the student, but I did hear from Donna Seliger, who suggested that I read "People of Vision." I told Donna that because I am writing a book, I don't have time.
Threatening such a lawsuit is not a smart thing at all for the American Council of the Blind to do with its limited financial resources. How do you who are active in the ACB like the organization's squandering your money like this?
Of course, it may be that Chris Gray and the rest of his administration make $100,000 a year. If that is the case, I suggest that the rest of you in the organization just leave them to fight things out.
Many of you in the Council are figuratively raking my friend Penny Reeder over hot coals, and I don't appreciate that. As long as you do this, I have no interest in the American organized blind whatsoever. I left NFB for several reasons: 98 percent of its members don't think for themselves; its membership has been inflated at 50,000 for 25 or 30 years, when it is nearer 20,000; the NFB force-feeds its philosophy; the NFB has stolen from ACB affiliates; the NFB attacks the ACB (and the ACB does the same to the NFB); and the NFB idolizes its officers. Neither organization is willing to work with the other. If they would do so, the American organized blind would be the most powerful force the American blindness field has ever seen. My ceasing activity in both will defeat the purpose for the blind's organizing in 1940; but since the ACB and NFB fight between themselves and with each other now, what is the point in staying?
Dear Editor and ACB members,
It was my privilege to represent the Mississippi Council of the Blind at the mid-year meeting in Birmingham. I hope many of you will attend the national convention in July. Please try to stay until the close of business on July 9th and participate in the business of our organization.
Attending the mid-year meeting confirmed to me that this convention could be one of ACB's most important ever. If we do not attend and take part -- like Humpty-Dumpty sitting on that wall -- many critical internal issues will be addressed only by those taking part.
Right now, ACB is a house divided, and if it falls, all those wall sitters fall too, and we cannot put Humpty-Dumpty together again as it was before. We cannot let ACB fall. We won't have to if the ACB board and all of us remember that a house divided cannot stand. Everyone must understand that it really doesn't matter who is at fault; casting blame will not fix the problem. The board must take steps to regain the confidence of the membership and the membership must work with its elected board to confirm that we still have a strong, united organization.
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 items for this column, you may e-mail Sarah Blake at [email protected], or call ACB at 1-800-424-8666 and leave a message in mailbox 26. Please remember that postal regulations prohibit us from including advertisements, and that we need information two months ahead of actual publication dates.
Carol Edwards, licensed massage therapist and reiki master, will be providing massages and reiki sessions at the ACB national convention in Birmingham. The cost is $60 for a one-hour massage or reiki session or $15 for a 15-minute chair massage. Contact Carol prior to convention via e-mail at [email protected], ask for her room, or watch the convention newspaper for further details.
Are you currently looking for a job or thinking about a career change? If so, be sure to stop by the National Industries for the Blind (NIB) booth at the ACB convention and learn about a broad range of employment opportunities available for people who are blind across the country. If you are unable to attend the conference, but would still like more information, please feel free to e-mail or call Kathy Gallagher at [email protected] or (703) 578-8343.
Disabled Sports USA is pleased to announce The Million Dollar Round Table Foundation SummerFest. This event takes place in Long Beach, Calif., June 26 through July 2. SummerFest provides the opportunity for anyone with a physical disability to learn how to participate in a variety of summer sports. Professional instruction is available for all ability levels in sailing, waterskiing, cycling, outrigger canoeing, scuba, rock climbing, running and wheeling and more! We will also be training instructors and recreation professionals how to teach these adaptive sports. For more information, visit http://www.dsusa.org or contact Julia Ray at (301) 217-9840 or via e-mail at [email protected]
Jessica Lorenz of California will compete as a member of the U.S. women's goalball team at the Paralympic Games in Athens. CONFERENCE ON EMPLOYMENT FOR LATINOS WITH VISUAL IMPAIRMENTS
The Bridges to Employment conference/training is an annual event organized by Proyecto Visi˘n - a National Technical Assistance Center established to connect disabled Latinos to employment opportunities. This year the conference will take place July 14-16 in Chicago. For more information, visit http://www.proyectovision.net. For program information, call Kathy Martinez at (510) 251-4326, or e-mail [email protected] For registration and scholarship queries, contact Robin Savinar at (510) 251-4325, or e-mail [email protected]
HireAbilities is a national network of emerging professionals with disabilities, encouraged by existing professionals, employers and community partners. HireAbilities believes that people with disabilities should enjoy the same array of employment opportunities as people without disabilities, and that the presence of professionals with disabilities in the workplace is an important component of an employer's commitment to disability diversity. The organization's focus is on emerging professionals -- those about to begin their careers. We will assist these individuals in becoming leaders in their fields. The company also reaches out to schools and employers interested in enhancing their commitment to disability diversity and offers them consulting services and a connection to disability talent. For more information, visit the web site, http://www.hireabilities.org.
A new set of scripts for JAWS allows for easier web searches with Google. The scripts allow the user to open the Google web site, move to the search field, and navigate easily through the list of search results. For more information, visit http://www.AccessiblePrograms.com.
IntelliTactiles USB Overlay Companions, created by the American Printing House for the Blind (APH), are now available. These tactile overlays, made of durable clear plastic, feature braille markings and special tactile point symbols. They align with IntelliTools visual overlays for the IntelliKeys (R) USB keyboard, and include QWERTY USB, Basic Writing USB, Alphabet USB, Math Access USB, Web Access, Mouse Access and Setup USB overlays. For more information about IntelliTactiles USB Overlay Companions, contact American Printing House for the Blind, 1-800- 223-1839, or visit the web site, http://sun1.aph.org/products/index.html.
The Von Allmen Center for Electronic Commerce at the University of Kentucky is planning a major research study to examine the role of e-commerce and the Internet among individuals with visual impairments. You can register to be a part of this exciting research by calling toll-free 1-800-341-4943 or by sending your name and telephone number via e-mail to [email protected]
The Braille Authority of North America (BANA) participated in the third General Assembly of the International Council on English Braille held in Toronto March 29 through April 2, 2004. The assembly agreed that the Unified English Braille Code is sufficiently complete for recognition as an international standard for English-language braille that may now be considered by member countries for possible adoption as their national braille code. BANA recognizes and respects the autonomy of other ICEB member countries. For this reason, both the U.S. and Canadian delegations voted unanimously to allow implementation of UEBC in those countries that choose to use this newly developed code. At this time, BANA has yet to take a stand regarding the adoption of UEBC for use in the United States. BANA intends to monitor UEBC activities around the world and will make a decision on local implementation of the code only after due consultation with braille readers and other stakeholders.
The American Foundation for the Blind has redesigned its web site to provide more information about blindness. New features on the site include a glossary of eye conditions, "etiquette tips" for interacting with a person who is blind, and a home page function called "Where can I find?," allowing visitors to locate organizations in their state that provide services -- from dog guide training to newspaper reading services to education services -- for people who are blind or visually impaired and their families. AFB has also added an extensive searchable database of assistive technology products used by people who are blind or visually impaired. Visitors can browse by product, category, or manufacturer and find out everything from usage to price to the size and weight of the product. To use these features, visit http://www.afb.org.
The Ties That Bind is a web site inspired by a documentary produced by the National Film Board of Canada. The documentary follows a family through two years of adjustment to disability. Using the Jordan family's ongoing story as a starting point, The Ties That Bind Internet Documentary and Community Engagement Project (www.tiesthatbind-nfb.ca) allows participants to take part in discussions about disability issues, tell their own stories and find links to resources and events in their own communities. It includes practical guides to independent living. Updates are posted regularly.
FOR SALE: Type 'n Speak with disk drive, adapter, and braille instruction manual; completely refurbished last month. Asking $825, including shipping. Contact Kathleen by e-mail at [email protected]
FOR SALE: Braille 'n Speak 2000. Comes with disk drive, all cables and manuals. Asking $950 or best reasonable offer. Contact Priscilla McCree at (503) 257-7498.
FOR SALE: Prisma CCTV. Comes with video converter box. Only used about 2 months. Contact Mr. Kim Ledford at (478) 923-9245, or via e-mail, [email protected]
FOR SALE: Readman stand-alone reading machine. Adjustable voices and volume. Able to store your documents for later use. Reads columns and graphics appropriately. Portable desktop unit. Easy to use. Instructions in print and braille. Asking $325, including shipping. Type 'n Speak with floppy disk drive. Asking $425, including shipping. Contact Cheryl at (845) 895-3020, or via e-mail, [email protected]
FOR SALE: BrailleNote QT 32. 18 months old, good condition, software up to date. Includes serial and parallel cables, CD with manual, adapter, PCM card and card reader with software. Asking $4,000 or best offer. Contact Wayne at (214) 212-7780, or e-mail him, [email protected]
FOR SALE: Xerox Reading Edge. In perfect condition; no physical defects. Comes with two manuals and a zippered carrying case with shoulder strap. As it is no longer made, the specs for it can only be found on http://web.archive.org/web/19970608004536/www.xerox.com/xis/readi ngedge/readingedgespecs.htm. Buyer will pay for all shipping, packaging and insurance. Best offer. Contact Bob Gates, Manager of IT, Arizona Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired, 3100 E. Roosevelt St., Phoenix, AZ 85008; e-mail [email protected], or phone (602) 273-7411 ext. 128.
FOR SALE: Eschenbach ELG01 television reader. Asking $500. Contact Christie at (417) 833-5770 or via e-mail, [email protected]
FOR SALE: Optelec CCTV, 20-inch color monitor, 4 x 100 magnification. Asking $990 plus shipping and handling. Call Robert at (703) 591-6674.
FOR SALE: JFW training tapes, Eudora Pro JFW, Outlook 2000 JFW, Excel 2000 JFW, Power Point 2000 JFW, Word 2000 JFW, Internet Explorer 5.x JFW, Sound Forge 4.5 JFW, Word XP JFW, Excel XP JFW, and Internet Explorer XP. Asking $65 each, $575 for all, or best offer. Includes shipping. Magic 8.0 professional version, asking $600 or best offer, includes shipping. Contact Monty Cassellius, 1705 Dresden Road, Apt. C, Richmond, VA 23229; phone (804) 270-5951, or via e-mail, [email protected]
FOR SALE: New Perkins brailler, never used. Asking $300. Contact Lula Baker, 700 N. Berry Rd., Apt. B-301, Norman, OK 73069; phone (405) 364-4374.
FOR SALE: Magni-Cam portable CCTV system that can connect to any TV. In excellent condition. $600 or best offer. APH Handi- Cassette II. In good condition. Asking $110 or best offer. Braille 'n Speak 640. Like new. Asking $110 or best offer. Braille 'n Speak 2000. Recently repaired; like new. Asking $1,200 or best offer. Brand-new APH Handi-Cassette II. $130 or best offer. APH Scholar. Recently repaired; like new. $1,100 or best offer. Talking watch with black leather band and digital read-out. It features an alarm and a stopwatch. Asking $30. Unisex quartz talking watch with large print dial, white with black numbers, with expandable silver bracelet band. Features three alarms: rooster, cuckoo or beep. Asking $60. Contact [email protected] or phone (919) 949-6257.
FOR SALE: Jumbo Perkins braille writer. $400 or best offer. Braille Lite 40 with disk drive, $2,300 or best offer. Will only accept money order or cashier's check. Contact Margie Donovan at (650) 697-5300 or e-mail [email protected]
FOR SALE: Aladdin Ambassador Pro reading machine from Telesensory. Recently repaired and updated. It offers excellent optical character recognition and allows the user to scan and read at the same time. Can handle legal-sized paper. Comes with a 19-key keypad. Asking $750 or best reasonable offer. Contact Rob Turner via e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at (818) 761-8845.
FOR SALE: Braille 'n Speak 640 with flash ROM and serial cable. Updated 2001. Asking $500 including shipping. Braille 'n Speak 640 with flash ROM, extended memory, double speed, printer interface and modem. Has brand-new 12-volt battery pack with AC adapter and current software. Asking $900 including shipping. Contact Roger Cicchese, 114 Gardner St., Arlington, MA 02474; phone (781) 646-3149.
FOR SALE: Stand-alone reading machine. Excellent condition, rarely used. Comes with 19-key keypad, braille manuals and version 3.1 software which allows for newspaper reading and other advanced scanning options. Asking $1,500 (negotiable). Can accept credit cards through Paypal. No personal checks please. Contact Pat anytime at (512) 837-3041 or e-mail [email protected]
FOR SALE: Lightweight portable reading machine that can be hooked up to a regular TV. Two years old, in excellent condition. Includes cables. Asking $350, including shipping and handling. Contact Tina Black at (207) 443-2406.
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