The announcement of products and services in this column does not represent an endorsement by the American Council of the Blind, its officers, or staff. Listings are free of charge for the benefit of our readers. The Braille Forum cannot be held responsible for the reliability of the products and services mentioned. To submit items for this column, send a message to [email protected], or phone the national office at 1-800-424-8666, and leave a message in mailbox 26. Information must be received at least two months ahead of publication date.
A new National Center for Parents with Disabilities and their Families has been established in Berkeley, Calif. under the auspices of Through the Looking Glass, a non-profit organization founded in 1982. The center will oversee several national research studies concerning parents with disabilities and their families, as well as provide consultations, training and publications to parents, family members and professionals. The new center will focus its research and resource activities on four critical areas that impact parents with disabilities: custody; family roles and personal assistance; paratransit; and intervention with parents with cognitive disabilities and their children. One of the notable activities planned over the next three years is a scholarship program for high school seniors and college students whose parents have disabilities. The center will be staffed by nationally recognized experts regarding parents with disabilities, most of whom have personal or family experience with disability or deafness. More information is available at www.lookingglass.org. Or contact the center by phone, 1-800-644-2666; by TTY/TDD, 1-800-804-1616, or by e-mail, [email protected]
Many disabled taxpayers may be overlooking a valuable tax credit that could increase their federal income tax refunds by as much as $4,824. The IRS estimates that up to one in four taxpayers who qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) fail to claim it. You may qualify if your income was under $41,646 last year and you, or your spouse, worked or received disability retirement benefits under an employer plan and were under the minimum retirement age. The amount of your EITC depends on several factors, such as the amount of your earned income, your filing status, whether you have children and how many, etc. Special rules apply if you have a child who is permanently and totally disabled. To get the credit you earned, you must 1) file a federal income tax return and 2) claim the credit. Many communities have volunteer income tax assistance sites or local IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers, which will compute your EITC and prepare your return without charge. To locate a volunteer site, call your community's number for local services or call the IRS at 1-800-906-9887. Find more information about EITC in alternative formats for people with print disabilities at www.irs.gov. Follow the home page link to "Accessibility," then the link to "Accessible IRS Tax Products" and select the appropriate link to download accessible forms or publications. The IRS web site provides accessible electronic files in formats including ASCII text (.txt), braille-ready format (.brf), and Talking Tax forms in PDF that work with MSAA-compliant screen-reading software and braille display devices.
The Accessible World will begin sponsoring a historical novels discussion group the first Tuesday of each month beginning January 2009. Nan Hawthorne, a published author from the Seattle area, will lead the group. The first month's discussion will examine Hawthorne's own first novel, "An Involuntary King: A Tale of Anglo-Saxon England." The book is available in a digital version through Lullu.com and for members at Bookshare.org. The group's first meeting is Tuesday, Jan. 6 at 8 p.m. Eastern and elsewhere in the world Tuesday 1:00 GMT. To join the discussion, visit www.accessibleworld.org. Select the Accessible World Auditorium, and enter your first and last names on the sign-in screen. If you are unable to join live, visit the archive section of the web site to download the podcast.
J.K. Rowling's newest book "The Tales of Beedle the Bard," her companion piece to the Harry Potter books, is currently available through National Braille Press. "The Tales of Beedle the Bard" are known to millions of Harry Potter fans as the volume of wizarding fairy tales left to Hermione Granger by Hogwarts Headmaster Albus Dumbledore in the seventh and final book, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows." The five fairy tales contained clues that were crucial to Harry Potter's final mission to destroy Lord Voldemort, but only one of the stories, "The Tale of the Three Brothers," was actually recounted in the book. This single braille volume or PortaBook version costs $12.99. For more information, visit www.nbp.org/ic/nbp/BEEDLE.html. To order the book, send payment to: National Braille Press, 88 St. Stephen St., Boston, MA 02115-4302 or call 1- 800-548-7323.
Rev. Theresa Beers Taylor and her husband Ken, founders of Seek the Son Ministries, Inc., are producing a tribute book to the awesome memories of Camp Wapanacki. They would love for anyone who attended Camp Wapanacki to help. They seek stories, history, and photos of your special Wapanacki memories. To share your tribute, e-mail [email protected] or send them to Rev. Theresa C. Taylor, Seek The Son Ministries, Inc., 3821 Reservoir Blvd. NE, Columbia Heights, MN 55421. Acceptable formats include braille, cassette, and large or regular print. A web form is also available at www.seektheson.org. The book will be published in several formats. Proceeds from this endeavor will go straight to Seek the Son Ministries, which aims to create a year-round retreat center for people with disabilities.
The 2009 Siloam Camp for Blind Adults, which is sponsored by the Gospel Association for the Blind, will be held May 23-30, 2009 at the Golden Cross Ranch, a 110-acre facility, in New Caney, Tex. The camp costs $200, which includes lodging, all meals and activities. Among the activities planned for the week are a shopping trip to Wal-Mart; experiencing various animals from the Houston zoo; two talent nights; swimming; horseback riding; various games; Bible study; interesting Christian videos; a road trip; two hayrides, a campfire and much more. The theme for the 2009 camp is "You Can Be a Gospel Messenger!" A $25 non-refundable camp registration fee is required of all campers to receive the camp application and medical form.
Make your check payable to the Gospel Association for the Blind, and send it along with a 3" x 5" index card containing your name, address, phone number, cell phone number and e-mail if applicable to: The Gospel Association for the Blind, PO Box 1162, Bunnell, FL 32110. If you are a first-time camper to Camp Siloam, except for the $25 registration fee, the week of camp is free. If needed, we will help with travel expenses. The camp fills up fast; if you are interested in being a part of this exciting week, you should act quickly. All applications and medical forms MUST be in the Florida office by April 15, 2009. After Feb. 1, you can hear a voicemail message concerning Camp Siloam 2009 by calling toll-free 1- 866-251-5165 and then enter mailbox 7128#. Also check www.circle-of-love.net for more information.
National Braille Press is offering for free "After Diagnosis: Prostate Cancer -- Understanding Your Treatment Options," by the American Cancer Society. Prostate cancer can often be treated successfully, especially when it's found early. This booklet gives you general information about prostate cancer, the tests your doctor may order, treatment options, and common side effects as well as other resources for more information. Order this booklet in Braille or PortaBook from the web site, www.nbp.org/ic/nbp/PROCAN.html, by calling 1-800-548-7323, or sending e-mail to [email protected]
David M. Capozzi was named the Access Board's new executive director at a recent meeting of the board. Capozzi, director of the board's Office of Technical and Information Services for over 16 years, succeeds Lawrence W. Roffee, who retired in August. Capozzi had served as acting executive director in the interim.
The United States Association of Blind Athletes (USABA) will be hosting the 2009 International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) World Youth and Student Championships and the 2009 IBSA Pan American Games in Colorado Springs, Colo., July 15-20, 2009. Blind and visually impaired athletes, ages 12-19, from around the world will compete in the IBSA World Youth and Student Championships while athletes of all ages from the Pan American region will compete in the 2009 IBSA Pan Am Games. Sports on the program include track and field, judo, swimming and goalball. Colorado College will serve as the athlete village; competitions will take place at the United States Olympic Training Center, Colorado College, and a local track and field complex. Qualification standards for Team USA will soon be available on the USABA web site, www.usaba.org.
HumanWare is now shipping Trekker Breeze, a talking GPS specially designed for the needs of visually impaired users. This simple orientation tool is designed for use when traveling in familiar surroundings or pre-defined routes. The Trekker Breeze provides talking GPS directions that help users know where they are, where they are going and what is around them. When walking by, users receive audible information, such as street names, intersections and reference landmarks. In case they are lost, they can retrace their steps. Users can also record routes, and activate them for future use. They can also reach favorite destinations with turn-by-turn instructions. The Trekker Breeze is available for $895 in English, French, Dutch, Swedish or Norwegian. For more information, visit: www.humanware.com/en-usa/products/gps, call 1-800-722-3393, or e-mail [email protected]
The U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a bipartisan resolution authored by Congressman Mark Kirk honoring the Hadley School for the Blind. Based in Winnetka, Hadley is the world's largest provider of distance education to blind and visually impaired individuals, their families and blindness service professionals. Kirk presented the resolution to Hadley trustees, staff, and students on October 16 during a Hadley student awards ceremony at the Skokie Country Club in Glencoe. Each year Hadley serves more than 10,000 students in 50 states and 110 countries. For more information about Hadley courses and programs, visit www.hadley.edu.
Portal Tutoring offers individualized tutoring in using adaptive computers, braille and specialized equipment for the blind and visually impaired, as well as pamphlets, books and audio classes on these same subjects. In addition, they now offer a program designed to teach basic writing skills for all students from age ten on up. For more information, visit the web site, www.portaltutoring.info or phone (585) 244-0477. For a product list, or to discuss your training needs, e-mail [email protected]
Hugh Haggerty operates a web site that offers a variety of educational software and games. Many are specifically designed for people who are blind or losing vision. One such program helps you learn braille using a standard computer with adapted keys. To learn about more programs, visit www.hahaggerty.com or call Hugh at (352) 861-8313.
GW Micro has created Window-Eyes version 7.0 using an open source language. This enables scripts to be written and installed at will to make the screen-reading capabilities customized to each user. The management of scripts is handled through a simple user interface with standard Windows controls. Window-Eyes can be configured to automatically look for updated scripts on its own. GW Micro hosts a centralized script repository where both script users and script developers can gather to distribute and discuss Window-Eyes scripts at www.gwmicro.com/Script_Central. For more information, visit www.gwmicro.com or call (260) 489-3671.
WebAnywhere software enables blind and visually impaired people to surf the Web on the go. The tool developed at the University of Washington turns screen-reading into an Internet service that reads aloud Web text on any computer with speakers or headphone connections. The free program and both audio and video demonstrations are at http://webanywhere.cs.washington.edu.
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