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.


National Braille Press is now accepting applications for the 2009 Touch of Genius Prize for Innovation. The award was developed to inspire an innovator to continue the promotion of braille literacy for blind and deaf-blind people worldwide. The $20,000 prize will be granted for a new educational method, new tactile literacy product, or new technological advance in tactile literacy. Whatever your idea -- whether a tactile-based technology project, a viable braille teaching technique, a way to inspire preschool braille learners, or a braille writing instrument – you are encouraged to apply. Applications are due by July 20, 2009. For more information, visit


The Candle in the Window organization will hold its 2009 conference from Aug. 5-9 at the Wooded Glen in Henryville, Ind. This year’s topic will be "Facing our fears and effecting positive change." Registration is limited to 20 participants. For additional information about the conference or Candle in the Window, contact either Nancy Trzcinski at [email protected] or (413) 441-2305, or Jonathan Ice at [email protected] or (319) 298-2919.


For 15 years, the Texas Center for the Physically Impaired has operated a program where, for a $100 donation, they will provide individuals who are blind or visually impaired within the U.S. or Canada with a computer. The computer is a refurbished unit that includes keyboard, mouse, sound card, monitor and speakers. They use Windows XP machines that businesses donate. The computer also includes a demo version of the Window-Eyes screen reader and a demo of the ZoomText screen magnification software. If a recipient can use ZoomText, the person is able to get a licensed version for free from TCPI thanks to the generosity of Ai Squared. Also included is a seven-tape tutorial on how to use the computer. For more information, visit or call (214) 340-6328.


Serotek has launched a new online radio station. The station, SAMNet Radio, can be heard from SAMNet Radio will air the best music of the last 40 years, the latest technology news, live and interactive voice chats, and a portal for all to know what is happening in the SAMNet community. With the slogan, “Your Station, Your Community,” the broadcast is directed at an audience that is blind or has low vision. The station’s manager is Michael Lauf, former creator, host and producer of HandiTalk, the first interactive Internet radio program to discuss the needs of the blind and visually impaired.


“Assistive Technology For Students Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired: A Guide to Assessment,” by Ike Presley and Frances Mary D'Andrea, is a new book available through AFB. The book includes: an overview of the full range of assistive technology that students can use to manage information in print or electronic formats, whether they use vision, touch or hearing to access information; how to select appropriate tools and strategies; a structured process for conducting a technology assessment; a detailed assessment form that can be used to determine students' technology needs and solutions to address them; and advice on writing up program recommendations based on assessment results. It also covers tips for teaching technology, a resource section, summaries of the relevant laws, and reproducible blank assessment forms. The guide can be ordered for $49.95 in paperback or ASCII CD-ROM through AFB Press, or [email protected]


AdaptiveTechnology, a division of Perkins Products, has developed the Seika Braille Display. Features of this new device include: 40-cell display, portable and lightweight, USB connection, compatible with JAWS, Window-Eyes, HAL, and Virgo screen readers, and repositioned cursor keys for easier operation. It is available for $2,495. To learn more about this product, visit, call (978) 462-3817, or e-mail [email protected]


The 2009 National Disability Sports Conference will be held Sept. 10-12 on the campus of Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, Ga. The conference is expected to be the best ever, with more than 30 interactive sessions on topics ranging from coaching to recruitment and program development. These sessions will be lead by the nation’s top sports professionals with elite coaches and Paralympic athletes sharing their cutting-edge training techniques. Wheelchairs and other adapted sporting equipment will be on hand to ensure a hands-on learning experience. Attendees will also have access to one-on-one consulting on fundraising, risk management, public relations, grant writing, and more. CEUs are available. For more information, visit or contact Jeff Jones at (770) 850-9095 or [email protected]


The STEP-HEAR system is a new orientation and mobility device based on radio frequency (RF) technology and is comprised of two units: a transmitter/base and a small receiver/activator. Installed at strategic locations, the base sends out a continuous signal. When the activator, held by the user, is within the range of the base, it vibrates and beeps. Pressing a button on the activator will trigger a pre-recorded voice message from the base. This helps the user to obtain information and become oriented toward the location, be it an office, an elevator or a bus. The system can be used virtually anywhere: government and municipal buildings, post offices, schools and universities, museums, conferences and exhibitions, hospitals, nursing homes, banks, ATM machines, stores, hotels, transportation vehicles, recreational places, and more. Designed with universal recognition, activators can be used anywhere in the world. Step-Hear offers bases for $130 and activators for $25. For more information on obtaining the system or getting it into your community, contact Yael Furman at [email protected] or internationally by phone 972-3-5710794. On the web, visit


Congratulations to the Commission for the Blind and Visually Handicapped of New York. For the third year in a row, CBVH job placements for individuals with vision loss have increased despite the economic downturn. In 2008 CBVH placed 402 legally blind adults in fields as diverse as law, social work, financial consulting, family divorce mediation, radio, youth services, physical therapy, counseling, teaching, retail, food services, banking and research. In addition to vocational rehabilitation, CBVH assists clients with daily living skills, orientation and mobility training, diagnostic evaluations, obtaining adaptive equipment, job development, job training, and job placement services. CBVH also provides rehabilitation services to children who are legally blind, including working with and empowering parents, arranging services to supplement educational activities (including providing college scholarships), and ensuring a smooth transition to adult services. CBVH provides children with the opportunity to attend summer camps and year-round recreation programs. For legally blind individuals who are 55 and older, CBVH has programs to teach the skills necessary to maintain safety and confidence in the home environment. For more information, call toll-free 1-866-871-3000 (TDD 1-866-871-6000) or visit the agency web site at


The Alumni Association of the Perkins School for the Blind is trying to reconnect with anyone who attended the school for at least one year. This is an opportunity to learn about other alumni, receive the alumni newsletter and share ideas for articles, attend events and conferences at Perkins, participate in alumni weekend and other alumni activities, serve as a mentor to a student or alumni member, or join an alumni committee. To learn more about the alumni group or share your updated contact information, call Alumni President Marie Hennessy at (617) 972-7873 or e-mail her at [email protected]


Professional counselor and author Carmella Broome, who has been legally blind since birth, has released her first book. "Carmella's Quest: Taking on College Sight Unseen" is a memoir about her first year at a small Christian college in upstate South Carolina. It is published by Red Letter Press of Columbia, S.C. For more information, or to order the book, visit or e-mail [email protected]


A survey is being conducted to find out what blind people think about built-in screen readers. To participate in the one-question survey, visit The survey feedback is available for all to read at the web site.


Betty Jo and Jack Keitzer offer a multipurpose check-writing and signature guide for $9, including shipping. The guide measures 6 1/4 inches wide by 3 1/8 inches long, weighs 2 oz. and has a lifetime guarantee. To see a picture of it, visit To get one, send your order with payment to Keitzer Check Writing Guide, 5324 Ingleside, Leesburg, FL 34748, or call (352) 326-3437.


"You Can, If You Think You Can" by Larry Johnson is a compact how-to book based on the author's more than 27 years of conducting highly successful motivational workshops. It offers hope, encouragement, motivation and practical strategies to overcome adversity, rebuild self-esteem and fulfill one's most cherished dream goals. It’s printed in 14-point double-spaced pages. The book is available from for $10.75 plus shipping, or from the author for $10 plus $2.50 shipping. Mail payment to Larry Johnson, 10863 Lake Path Dr., San Antonio, TX 78217.


The Princeton Braillists recently released “Maps of Alaska,” a 74-page book containing 21 maps. The first half of the book consists of overall maps showing land regions, cities and towns, boroughs, rivers, mountains, national parks, native corporations, and climate. In the second half, the state is divided into seven regions: Brooks Range and North Slope, Fairbanks and the interior, Anchorage and south central Alaska, west coast, Kodiak and Alaska Peninsula, Aleutian Islands, and the panhandle. Each region has a page of introductory information followed by a detailed map. Maps are labeled with key letters that are identified in brailled key pages. “Maps of Alaska” costs $14. Shipping is by free matter mail (if eligible). To get yours, send your check, money order or invoice to The Princeton Braillists, 76 Leabrook Ln., Princeton, N.J. 08540. For information on other maps and atlases available, visit or call (609) 924-5207 or (215) 357-7715.

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