HERE AND THERE
by Sue Lichtenfels

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 Sharon Lovering’s mailbox. Information must be received at least two months ahead of publication date.

BREAST CANCER SUPPORT GROUP

The ACB Women's Concerns Committee is sponsoring a support group by phone for women with vision loss who are living with breast cancer. The group will be facilitated by three social workers who are members of ACB. The group will not give medical advice, or provide therapy. It will foster a safe and positive atmosphere in which to discuss relevant issues and support one another. Participants should respect the confidentiality of all involved. Meetings will take place via toll-free conference call on the first Tuesday of each month from 8:30-10 p.m. Eastern (5:30-7 p.m. Pacific). To join the support group discussion, call 1-866-633-8638. Enter the group identification code 7877678, which spells SUPPORT. Should you encounter any problems with the phone system, hang up and call (650) 969-3155.

WOMEN WITH DISABILITIES ANTHOLOGY

Women with disabilities are being sought to participate in an anthology that will explore the disability experience through poetry, short essays and visual arts. Selected pieces will be part of a follow-up to the groundbreaking book "With the Power of Each Breath" that was written in the 1980s. To find out more about the project, go to www.powervoices.blogspot.com. The deadline for submissions is Feb. 28, 2009. For further information, e-mail Susan Weiss at [email protected]

2009 SCHOLARSHIPS

Through the Looking Glass and its National Center for Parents with Disabilities and Their Families are pleased to announce new scholarships specifically for high school seniors and college students who have parents with disabilities. Please note that these are new awards and have different application procedures. Five scholarships of $1,000 will be awarded in each category. For application details and selection criteria, visit www.lookingglass.org, or call 1-800-644-2666. The deadline for applications is March 16, 2009.

IRS CONFERENCE

The IRS/DEAF and VIEW annual Leadership Development Conferences will be held in tandem for the first time. This three-day event will take place at the Omni Southpark Hotel in Austin, Tex., from June 16-18, 2009. The theme of the conference is “Workforce of Tomorrow: Carpe Diem.” There will be issue-specific workshops, roundtable discussion groups, and presentations. Keynote speakers will address general sessions. Other features include an awards banquet and a job fair. This will be IRS/DEAF's third such event and an exciting first for VIEW. Each group is a recognized employee organization of the Internal Revenue Service. For more information about IRS/DEAF, VIEW, or the Leadership Development Conferences in Tandem 2009, contact IRS/DEAF president Jim Bishop via e-mail at [email protected], or by phone at 1-866-642-8779. Or contact VIEW president Joyce Williamson, [email protected], or by phone, (206) 220-6052.

AFB CLOSING AUDIO PRODUCTION

After 75 years of participating in the NLS Talking Book Program, the American Foundation for the Blind is closing its audio book division in October 2009 with the expiration of its New York headquarters' lease. Since pioneering the development of recorded books in the 1930s, AFB has produced tens of thousands of Talking Books for the Library of Congress -- a program championed by Helen Keller during her tenure at AFB. Of course, fans of talking books will continue to have access to high-quality audio books from the many other accomplished audio book producers participating in the NLS program.

READER TRYING TO RECONNECT

My name is Adrijana Prokopenko and I am hoping that someone can help me find and get in touch with a particular individual. I am living and working in Macedonia, but 10 years ago, I had a chance to visit and study in the U.S. After coming back home, I had the pleasure of contacting a particular blind individual who was trying to help me acquire some information about university scholarships for international students. I got his address from Labina and Teona Mitevski, two Macedonian sisters involved with Macedonian movie production, and I believe they got to know about him by a common friend of theirs called Goran. I believe that this blind individual was either English or American and I believe he is in his 30s now. All I know is that he studied at Oxford 10 years or more ago and that he was pursuing a very unusual degree in history or architecture. If he is reading this magazine, or if anyone thinks they know him, please forward this article to him, because I would really like to get back in touch with him. My e-mail address is [email protected] and my Skype ID is adrijana832.

FREE SAMPLE SUBSCRIPTION

National Braille Press is offering a free month (four issues) of its braille newspaper, "Syndicated Columnists Weekly.” "SCW" gives you access to the editorial pages of the most respected newspapers and web sites in the country, such as "Wall Street Journal," "The New York Times," "The Washington Post," "The Boston Globe," "The Chicago Tribune," "Salon.com," and many others. Each week you will receive a 36-page braille weekly newspaper that contains the best editorials appearing that week, written by syndicated columnists -- many of whom have won the Pulitzer Prize for journalism. To begin receiving this trial subscription, contact NBP at 1-888-965-8965 or via e-mail, [email protected]

DEAFBLIND COMMUNICATOR

Great news for the deaf-blind community! HumanWare recently began shipping its new DeafBlind Communicator (DBC). The DBC enables deaf-blind users to communicate with members of the hearing and deaf communities. The basic DBC provides a TTY for communicating with other deaf or deaf-blind individuals. The DBC consists of two components: 1) a BrailleNote with braille display and either a standard or braille keyboard and the accompanying software, and 2) the DBC Companion phone. These two separate units communicate wirelessly with each other using Bluetooth technology to allow for face-to-face communication. The BrailleNote also has special software built into it that enables it to operate as a TTY when connected to a land-line telephone. With the addition of a SIM card and a texting plan from a wireless provider, a DBC user is able to send and receive text messages via cell phone. The DBC instantly translates the text to braille and vice versa. To learn more about the DBC, contact HumanWare in the U.S. at 1-800-722-3393; via e-mail, [email protected]; or on the web at www.humanware.com/deafblind_communicator.

SYSTEM ACCESS BREAKTHROUGH

Serotek has recently released System Access 3.0, the first software to provide screen-reading support for 64-bit Windows operating systems. This latest version enables a blind IT professional to plug in a USB drive containing the System Access 3.0 software and instantly provide technical support services to anyone in the world. Version 3.0 also features voice-over IP, speech and refreshable braille output, and extensive support for iTunes 8. For a free trial or to purchase the product, visit www.satogo.com. For a complete list of features and enhancements, visit www.serotek.com/whatsnew.html.

KURZWEIL USB VERSION

Kurzweil Educational Systems has released Kurzweil 3000 version 11 USB. This version gives students a portable and convenient way to access Kurzweil 3000 regardless of the computer they use. It includes a complete set of tools for the writing process such as planning, drafting, revising and proofreading. It also includes Kurzweil 3000's Virtual Printing functionality for accessing electronic files and an increased 4GB capacity. For more details on features and pricing, visit www.Kurzweiledu.com.

CANADIAN CHANNEL FOR THE BLIND

On Dec. 3, 2008, the National Broadcast Reading Service launched the “Accessible Channel” for the millions of Canadians who have a visual impairment. The channel’s open format makes description available on the primary audio setting and the only soundtrack provided is the described track. The channel also provides closed captioning for 90 percent of its program schedule. The Accessible Channel’s broadcast library includes over 500 films, countless television programs, as well as current events, news, and entertainment.

BOOK OF POETRY

Handtype Press recently released "Suddenly Slow: Poems," a limited edition chapbook that showcases 16 poems by the award-winning deaf-blind poet, John Lee Clark. He was born deaf and became progressively blind in early adolescence. Some of his poems deal directly with deaf-blindness, while others are about broader topics. Among Clark's accomplishments are: being the first member of the signing community, deaf or deaf-blind, to be published in the prestigious magazine "Poetry;" having a poem of his selected for and broadcast on the "Poem of the Day" radio program on Martha Stewart; and winning a Best Sports Poem prize from Kent State University. To order copies by mail, send a check for $8 to John Lee Clark, 111 E. Kellogg Blvd. #3207, St. Paul, MN 55101. To order online, visit www.handtype.com or www.amazon.com.

2009 TRIPS FOR THE BLIND

Mind's Eye Travel, which organizes trips for people who are visually impaired or blind, has released its 2009 schedule. The three trips include: New York City and the Arts, May 13-17, for $1,595; Discover the Coast of Maine, July 22-26, with prices starting at $995; and Santa Fe and Taos, Sept. 16-20 with prices starting at $1,195. All prices are per person based on double occupancy. For more information, visit www.mindseyetravel.com. For reservations, call (207) 542-4438.

SUPPORT FOR PERFORMERS WITH DISABILITIES

I.AM.PWD is a global civil rights campaign seeking equal employment opportunities for artists and professionals with disabilities throughout the entertainment and news media. Founded in 2008 by the Actors Equity Association (AEA), American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) and Screen Actors Guild (SAG), Tri Union Performers With Disabilities Committee, I.AM.PWD is dedicated to ending the discrimination and exclusion of performers and broadcasters with disabilities. I.AM.PWD is uniting labor, industry, community and governmental allies in the fight to combat continuing discrimination against people with disabilities. Visit I.AM.PWD at www.IAMPWD.org.

CROSSWALK SAFETY TECHNOLOGY

Engineers at the University of Idaho are developing a system that would assist people who are visually impaired to locate and stay within crosswalks. The technology utilizes features already available in many cell phones, including communications, GPS functions and magnetic compasses. Specialized software would allow these pedestrians to activate the crossing signal remotely without having to locate the physical button. Then, the GPS system monitors the position and direction of travel while crossing. As long as the pedestrian stays within the crosswalk, nothing happens. But stray outside the lines, and an audible warning activates. It then provides directions on how to get back within the safety zone. Should the walker somehow end up in the middle of the intersection, the system automatically would turn every light red, stopping traffic and averting a potential disaster. While the system would require rewiring all intersections, the engineers have developed a more cost-effective, simplified powering system. Field trials are expected to begin in June. They are building prototypes supported by funds from the University Transportation Centers program, Idaho's Higher Education Research Council and their commercial partner, Campbell Company, who currently makes the accessible pedestrian signals that chirp and talk.


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