by Sue Lichtenfels

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, send a message to [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.


Spoken Word Ministries, Inc. is currently conducting a survey of people who are blind and visually impaired to determine interests in Christian ministries and desires for participation in Christian ministry opportunities. They are seeking blind and visually impaired people to participate in the survey. Contact Tim Snyder at (919) 635-1000 or e-mail [email protected]


On March 30, 2006, Talking Communities will hold a free on-line employment symposium from 1-5 p.m. Eastern. Participants will receive pointers on job-seeking skills, whether beginning or changing careers, and will have an opportunity to ask questions of presenters. For more information, contact Pat Price by e-mail, [email protected], or by phone, (317) 254-1185.


Entry Point!, a program of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, offers 10-week paid internships and semester co-ops in major companies throughout the United States, including NASA, IBM, NOAA and Merck. The program is open to students with disabilities majoring in life sciences, physical sciences, computer science, engineering, mathematics, and other quantitatively based fields (e.g. economics and finance). Qualifying students must: be full-time undergraduate or graduate students; be a science, mathematics, engineering, business or computer science major; have a B average GPA (or higher); and be a U.S. citizen. For more information, contact Laureen Summers, Project on Science, Technology and Disability, AAAS, 1200 New York Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20005; phone (202) 326-6649; e-mail [email protected], or visit


Brian Charlson, ACB board member and vice president of computer training services at the Carroll Center for the Blind, was recently honored by the northeast region of AER. He was cited for his work in helping the blind and visually impaired receive the technology training needed to become more independent and productive. Charlson is past president of ACB's Bay State Council of the Blind. He is a charter member and remains active in work of the Microsoft Accessibility Advisory Council. Charlson is also a trustee of AFB and serves on its executive committee.


The American Bar Association Commission on Mental and Physical Disability Law is pleased to announce that nominations for the sixth annual Paul G. Hearne Award for Disability Rights are now being accepted. Each year, an award is presented to an individual or an organization that has performed exemplary service in furthering the rights, dignity, and access to justice for people with disabilities. To request or submit nomination forms, contact Jamie Hochman Herz, American Bar Association, Commission on Mental and Physical Disability Law, 321 N. Clark St., Mail Stop 19.1, Chicago, IL 60201; e-mail [email protected]; or phone (312) 988-5682. All forms must be postmarked by March 1, 2006.


On October 14, 2005, Helen Keller was honored for her tireless service by being one of only 20 Americans honored on the "Extra Mile Point of Light Volunteer Pathway" in Washington, D.C. Each honoree is memorialized in a bronze medallion laid into a granite sidewalk. It will include a likeness of Keller, a description of her contribution, and one of her quotes.


WGBH Boston recently released the PBS special, "Rx for Survival A Global Health Challenge," on DVD and VHS. Brad Pitt narrates the six-part documentary that details the dramatic history of public health achievements and struggles. The videos include both closed captioning and audio description. To order, call (800) 949-8670 or visit


The anthology containing uplifting pieces portraying visually impaired people has a firm commitment from a well-known publisher. Its editors are seeking both new and previously published works of non-fiction and poetry. For instructions on submitting pieces or to schedule an interview, please send your e-mail address, mailing address, and phone to Ann Morris Bliss at [email protected] or P.O. Box 6579, Bradenton, FL 34281. Or contact Cheri Langdell at [email protected] or send your information to her at 1141 S. Oakland Ave., Pasadena, CA 91106.


During World Sight Day 2005, Special Olympics and Lions Clubs International launched a joint education effort to meet the vision needs of people with intellectual disabilities.

The curriculum concentrates on a wide range of areas, including: the history of people with intellectual disabilities; global statistics on prevalence; practical and tangible "best practices" on patient relationships; treating the patient; how to garner a reliable medical history; and how to extract correct, reliable information from the patient during a vision exam.


Quantum Technology has announced the launch of a new web site devoted solely to the Mountbatten braille writer and braille literacy. You can find the site at


The South Carolina Commission for the Blind has entered into a partnership with the American Red Cross to train blood donor recruiters who are blind or visually impaired. Anyone who successfully completes this program will go directly to work in one of the Red Cross' 36 recruiting centers. The six-week training program includes transportation between the hotel and training center and most meals. Applicants should have effective communication skills, type at least 20 words per minute, and be proficient with their personal accessibility software. For more information, contact Ed Bible at (803) 898-8786 or [email protected]


Serotek Corp. received the 2005 da Vinci Award from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society for its creation of the FreedomBox software, and for continued leadership in accessible technology. The da Vinci Awards recognize those in the engineering, construction and technical fields whose design innovations have exceeded legally mandated requirements to further empower people with disabilities.

Serotek's Key to Freedom makes FreedomBox capability fully portable. Plugging the key into the USB port instantly converts any Windows XP system into the user's personal FreedomBox. Unplug it, and the computer instantly reverts to its original state. It self-loads instantly and leaves no residual software or files.

The Pass Key is a CD that offers the flexibility to access the FreedomBox network on any computer. Users have instant access to Windows applications, including Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and Excel. This key is for remote access to files stored on the user's personal computer. It is compatible with computers using Windows 98, 2000 or XP.

The company has signed a distributor agreement with Freedom of Speech, Inc., a full-service provider of assistive computer technology products and services. Learn more about the Serotek products available through Freedom of Speech at or 1-877-367-4228.


During the annual meeting of the American Public Transit Association (APTA), four public transportation providers were honored as the best transit agencies in North America. Winning the award means that they have demonstrated achievement in efficiency and effectiveness. The winners were: Laketran in Painesville, Ohio, which increased ridership by 8.2 percent; Muncie, Ind. Transit System (MITS), for its record-breaking ridership increase and ability to keep operating costs low enough to charge riders just 50 cents; Sun Tran of Tucson, Ariz., which boosted ridership 13.2 percent between 2002 and 2004 without increasing routes, hours, or fleet size; and Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) in California, for increasing bus ridership by 4.2 percent and Metrolink train ridership by 41.4 percent.


Kathy Martinez, a well-known disability rights and policy specialist, has been appointed executive director of the World Institute on Disability, an influential public policy and research center. Blind since birth, Martinez, 47, is an internationally recognized disability rights leader specializing in employment, asset building, independent living, international development, diversity and gender issues.


Ai Squared recently released ZoomText 9.0. This version includes Xfont, which displays high definition text, and Neospeech to read documents aloud. Other features include a text finder, the ability to change application settings on the fly, a wider magnification range and reading zones. Download a free 30-day demo at or call 1-800- 859-0270 for more information.


Enhanced Vision's newest additions are the Merlin LCD 19" video magnifier and the Acrobat 3-in-1 video magnifier. Some features of the Merlin include: screen pivot, tilt and swivel in all directions; 5x to 68x magnification; 24 programmable custom color combinations; optional voice recognition; and auto focus. Acrobat's features include: detachable camera, auto focus, 72x magnification, dual keypad, and the option of running on battery power. Find more information at, or call 1- 888-811-3161.


Plustek's Book Reader has both text-to-speech and optical character recognition features and can be customized to read books in several different languages. With a single one-touch button, the Book Reader transforms printed words into audio output, which can be saved in MP3 format for future access. The system uses a curved lamp to provide a clear copy of the book without distortion. To learn more about this $699 device, visit


Merlin's Window and the Phone Monocle are designed to enlarge the displays on both home and cell phones by two to four times. It is stretchy and fits around most phones. The set will also work on many small handheld objects such as iPods, insulin pumps, and MP3 players. Send an e-mail message to [email protected], visit, or call (818) 248-2228 for more information.


Freedom Scientific has released FacetoFace, a portable communication device for the deaf-blind. The deaf-blind person uses the Pac Mate's keyboard to write messages, while the sighted person types on an iPaq pocket PC. Using Bluetooth technology, the entire conversation is displayed accessibly for each party. FacetoFace costs $1,400 and includes the application, an iPaq with thumb keyboard, and a compact flash Bluetooth card. Call 1-800-444-4443 or visit


Just a few weeks ago, Erik Weihenmayer, the blind mountain climber who conquered the seven summits, again achieved the top of Kilimanjaro. But this time he was accompanied by four other blind climbers: Douglas Sidialo, a Kenyan who was blinded in the 1998 Kenyan embassy bombing; Andy Holzer from Austria; Koichiro Kobayashi from Japan; and Carl Kroonenberg from Denver. The team is creating the Kilimanjaro Blind Trust, which will be used to improve the lives and opportunities of blind children orphaned in East Africa.


Tom Fillyaw is looking for copies of the Florida School Herald from September of 1948 through and including May 1959. Anyone with copies that they would like to share, please contact Tom at 1140 SW 3rd Ave., Lake Butler, FL 32054; phone (386) 496-8189.


Money Talks, a computer software package for money management, is designed for computer users who are visually impaired. Its many features allow users to download and use electronic banking information to reconcile accounts, provide automatic category memorization and reuse, schedule recurring transactions, and create reports on a number of aspects of the accounts in braille or print. To learn more, or download a trial version, visit or call 1-800-223-1839.


TCM Reviews wants to add a review section for audio books, books in braille, and large print books that will include new content every week. If you are interested in becoming a book reviewer, please contact Tami Brady at [email protected]


The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) as launched an online research clearinghouse for consumers to learn the opinions of experts on the dangers associated with importing medicines. Visit


Mobility International USA and the National Clearinghouse on Disability and Exchange (NCDE) have released the second online issue of "A World Awaits You" (AWAY). This web-based journal describes the successful experiences of individuals with disabilities in overseas cultural and educational programs. "AWAY" stories answer frequently asked questions, list useful resources and share the benefits of participating in international exchanges. Find the newest issue at


Associated Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired in Philadelphia has opened an online braille bookstore. It currently includes more than 100 titles from the classics to present-day popular fiction. Most books cost $15 to $35. Visit


U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao announced the winners of the New Freedom Initiative Award for outstanding support of employment for people with disabilities. They are: Jim Westall, Port Townsend, Wash.; Breaking New Ground, West Lafayette, Ind.; Center of Vocational Alternatives, Columbus, Ohio; Inspiritec Inc., Philadelphia; Computer Science Corporation Federal Sector, Falls Church, Va.; Merck and Co. Inc., Whitehouse Station, N.J.; and Tec Access, Rockville, Va.


Rachael Scdoris, the legally blind professional sled dog racer, was recently named the winner of the 2005 Casey Martin Award. The Nike-sponsored award recognizes the efforts of an athlete who, like Martin, has overcome physical, mental, societal or cultural challenges to excel in his or her sport. A $25,000 award will be given to the U.S. Association of Blind Athletes in her name.


MSFocus, the magazine of the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation, is now available on CD for individuals with impaired vision and other disabilities caused by MS. To obtain an audio subscription, call 1-888-673-6287 or visit

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