The Braille Monitor                                                                                January/February 2002

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Monitor Miniatures

One Million C-1's and Counting:

The C-1 Talking Book playback machine
The C-1 Talking Book playback machine

Telex Corporation built its millionth C-1 cassette playback machine in Blue Earth, Minnesota, on December 12, 2001. Telex began building these tough and reliable machines for the Talking Book Program of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped in 1983 and has continued building them ever since. To celebrate this milestone, Russ Groen, Blue Earth Production Manager for the C-1, presented that millionth unit to the NLS for display in Washington, D.C. Brad Kormann, Chief of the Material Development Division, accepted the gift on behalf of the NLS.

A luncheon for factory personnel was part of the celebration. Glen Cavanaugh, President of Telex Multimedia Division, joined Brad at the luncheon to thank the long-time C-1-line employees, some of whom were at work in 1983 and have been building C-1's ever since.

Telex has been a generous supporter of the NFB's capital campaign, and we thank the company for its generosity and for this machine, which has served Talking Book borrowers faithfully for almost twenty years.

Convention Scholarships Available:

Allen Harris, Chairman of the Jernigan Fund, writes to say that the committee has established criteria for the Dr. Kenneth Jernigan Convention Scholarships for 2002. These factors will be considered when awarding Jernigan Convention Scholarships:

*attendance at previous National Conventions

*activity at the local, state, or national level

*recommendation from the state president (formal letter not required; we will contact him or her.)

*amount of assistance requested

*other sources of funding sought

When applying for a convention scholarship, please write a brief paragraph on why you wish to attend the convention. Submit your application letter and statement to Allen Harris, 3000 Grand Avenue, Apartment 619, Des Moines, Iowa 50312. The application deadline is May 1, 2002.

Correction:

The article in the December issue which invited nominations for the Blind Educator of the Year Award incorrectly announced that the amount of the prize will be $500 in 2002. The prize has in fact been raised to $1,000. We regret the error.

New Distance Learning Courses Available:

We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

Beyond Sight, Inc., a leader in technology for the blind and visually impaired, is proud to introduce an accessible distance-learning program. Veteran Federationist Robert Leblond will conduct courses in JAWS, Window-Eyes, Open Book, ZoomText, Windows, Microsoft Word, Excel, Access, and Internet applications. More classes will be added as necessary.

For more information go to <www.beyondsight.com> or e‑mail <bob@beyondsight.com>.

Braille Magazines Wanted:

We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

Gordon Janz, a deaf-blind man, would like to receive no-longer-needed Braille copies of the following publications: the New York Times, National Geographic, Kiplinger's Personal Financial, Reader's Digest, the Washington Post Book Review, Science News, ESPN Magazine, and Popular Mechanics.

Contact Gordon Janz, 101-2425 Brunswick Street, Vancouver, British Columbia, V5T 3M1, Canada.

Animal Health Care Community Support for Guide, Hearing, and Service Dogs:

We recently received the following press release of interest to guide dog users:

Corporate America has established a unique relationship with the International Association of Assistance Dog Partners, a cross-disability consumer advocacy organization of disabled people partnered with guide, hearing, and service dogs. Under the newly initiated Veterinary Care Partnership program, IAADP members unable to meet the high costs of diagnostic tests, emergency care, chronic-disease treatment, and surgical intervention can call on VCP for financial aid. Bayer, Fort Dodge Animal Health, Friskies, the Iams Company, and Nutramax Laboratories are the corporations supporting this ambitious and far-sighted effort.

To qualify for support, the IAADP member's veterinarian contacts the VCP coordinator at Bayer with a request for aid in cases in which the disabled client cannot afford the suggested intervention for the canine assistant. Recommended medical procedures must have a high probability of maintaining the working capability of the assistance dog. Ed Eames, IAADP president, says, "As a result of VCP, assistance dog teams will have a better chance of staying together. With VCP removing the stress of prematurely ending the partnership because of financial constraints, both humans and canines can share a better quality of life."

In an additional outreach effort Bayer will provide its flea-control product Advantage to IAADP assistance dog partner members at no cost.

IAADP welcomes assistance dog partners and those interested in supporting the assistance dog movement. However, VCP and other benefits are available only to disabled members working with guide, hearing, and service dogs. Information and application forms can be found at <www.iaadp.org> or by calling (586) 826-3938.

Piano-Tuning Training Opportunity:

We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

The Emil Fries School of Piano Tuning and Technology is seeking new students for the 2002-2003 school year. Our training program is a twenty-month course in piano tuning and repair for both blind and sighted men and women interested in a career that supports music and the arts.

Our school is located in Vancouver, Washington. We have been training students for fifty-two years and have had students from all over the United States plus Guam, Australia, Belize, Canada, Ethiopia, Finland, Iceland, India, Israel, Korea, Malaysia, Switzerland, and Trinidad.

All full-time instructors are blind or visually impaired, and blind students work alongside sighted students as equals in all ways. Students may live in apartments in the community or at the Washington State School for the Blind. If students living at the school wish, they can arrange to volunteer as mentors for the WSSB students.

Federal financial aid and other scholarships are available. For more information call (360) 693-1511. Send e‑mail to <pianohospital@pianotuningschool.org> or see our Web site at <www.pianotuningschool.org>.

Help! Is Any Capital Out There?

Are you an entrepreneur in reality or only in your dreams? Does finding a way to get enough initial capital to get your business off the ground seem impossible? If you are interested in learning about ways to find some of that elusive funding, you are invited to attend "Creative Ways to Capitalize Your Business," sponsored by the National Association of Blind Entrepreneurs, on February 3, 2002, from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. at the Capitol Holiday Inn in Washington, D.C., during our annual Washington Seminar.

Space will be limited. If you are interested in attending, please call Marie Cobb at (410) 644-6352, and leave your name on the voicemail, or e‑mail your information to <cobbmarieantoin@aol.com>. First come, first served.

In Support of Braille Literacy:

January 4 is Louis Braille's birthday. In many areas that week is celebrated as Braille Literacy Week. The presentation described in the following article is the sort of project that could be duplicated for any public library across the country. The story is reprinted from the October 17, 2001, edition of the Arbutus Times, a weekly newspaper in the Greater Baltimore area. Here it is:

Helping to Share the Secrets of Braille Code

Lorraine Rovig of Arbutus, Anne Taylor of Paradise, and Steve Booth of Arbutus, all members of the Greater Baltimore Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind (NFB), gave a free presentation, "Secrets of the Braille Code," to about two dozen sighted participants at the Arbutus Library on Saturday, October 6.

Lorraine explained how Braille works and offered each student his or her own half of an egg carton to use as an example of a Braille cell.

The three teachers took turns demonstrating reading and writing, numbers, and punctuation; talked about the uses of Braille; and gave a short history of the code. At the end they handed out NFB Braille alphabet cards and wrapped up with the new video, Jake and the Secret Code.

Participants in the session, who included youngsters, Cub Scouts, two teachers, parents, two librarians, and a grandmother, stayed enthusiastic to the very end.

Taylor noted that, right after the video, one of the Scouts grabbed a slate and stylus on the display table, wrote two sentences on a three-inch by five-inch card, and asked her if he had done it right. He had done it perfectly. All three of the slates got a workout.

Gail Ross, manager of the Arbutus Library, who was one of the students, said she plans to promote the program to other libraries in Baltimore County.

"Secrets of the Braille Code" was jointly sponsored by the NFB and Soroptimist International of Arbutus (as an SIA literacy project). Lorraine Rovig is a member of both groups.

Kurzweil Educational Systems, Inc., Out from Under:

The blindness field has been concerned in recent months by the news that Lernout & Hauspie, the company that acquired Kurzweil Educational Systems, Inc., several years ago, was in serious financial trouble. We recently received the following press release containing good news for users of Kurzweil products. Here it is:

November 19, 2001

Management Team Acquires Kurzweil Educational Systems Group

from Lernout and Hauspie Speech Products

Management Buyout Ensures the Continued Availability of Leading‑Edge Software for People with Reading Difficulties, Blindness, and Low Vision

The management of the Kurzweil Educational Systems Group of Lernout & Hauspie Speech Products (L&H) today announced that they have purchased the business and assets of the group from L&H. Kurzweil Educational Systems is the industry's leading developer of innovative reading software for people with learning disabilities, reading difficulties, blindness, and low vision.

Michael Sokol led the management buyout and will serve in the new company as President and CEO. Sokol was a founder in 1996 of Kurzweil Educational Systems, Inc., along with technical visionary Ray Kurzweil, who will be a Director of the new entity, and Jerome Elkind, who will be Chairman of the Board. Kurzweil Educational Systems, Inc., was acquired by L&H in 1998. The new company will resume operations under its original name of Kurzweil Educational Systems, Inc., and will remain headquartered in Massachusetts. It will also continue to maintain sales offices in St. Petersburg, Florida, and Palo Alto, California, along with its United States and international reseller channels of distribution.

"From the outset we assembled a talented and dedicated management team, which remained intact at L&H and which will now be key to our success as an independent entity," said Michael Sokol. "Collectively we are excited by this opportunity to build on the reputation and leadership position we have established in our industry. This acquisition demonstrates our unwavering commitment to those with disabilities who rely on our products."

Stephen Baum, Chief Technology Officer of the new company, commented, "Few things are as rewarding as applying software innovation to improving the lives of people with disabilities. As an independent company we will be an organization that is totally focused on using our technical resources and skills to extend the capabilities of our products. The ability to continue to provide innovative reading and writing products that fulfill such a vital need in the lives of our customers inspires us and will guide our future success."

The Kurzweil Educational Systems current product line consists of Kurzweil 1000, an advanced reading tool for people who are blind or severely visually impaired; Kurzweil 3000, a reading and writing tool for those who have learning disabilities and other reading difficulties; and MagniReader, for people who have low vision.

Four Utilization Awards for Rehabilitation Practitioners:

We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

Win a $250 award for demonstrating how you have used recent research or training information from the RRTC on Blindness and Low Vision (e.g., research reports or training material) to improve your service delivery to clients who are blind or visually impaired and improved their lives. To apply, complete and return an evaluation form available on our Web site: <www.blind.msstate.edu> or call (662) 325-2001 to request further information.

Convention Scholarships Available:

Allen Harris, Chairman of the Jernigan Fund, writes to say that the committee has established criteria for the Dr. Kenneth Jernigan Convention Scholarships for 2002. These factors will be considered when awarding Jernigan Convention Scholarships:

*attendance at previous National Conventions

*activity at the local, state, or national level

*recommendation from the state president (formal letter not required; we will contact him or her.)

*amount of assistance requested

*other sources of funding sought

When applying for a convention scholarship, please write a brief paragraph on why you wish to attend the convention. Submit your application letter and statement to Allen Harris, 3000 Grand Avenue, Apartment 619, Des Moines, Iowa 50312. The application deadline is May 1, 2002.

Research Project on Blind and Visually Impaired Graduate Students:

We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

I am a blind doctoral student in psychology doing my dissertation on the experiences of blind and visually impaired students in graduate training. If you are a student in a master's or doctoral program in any field or have graduated from one within the past two years, I would like to talk with you. If you are selected, you will take part in interviews in person or by phone to discuss your experiences in your graduate training. Your responses will be confidential.

By participating in this study, you will provide information that may help guide efforts to improve educational opportunities for our community. You will be paid $50 as a thank-you for your time.

If you wish to be considered for participation in this project, please contact Scott Feldman at the University of Illinois at Chicago, (312) 355-1120 or <sif@uic.edu> with your phone number or e-mail and the best times to contact you.

More Research Assistance Needed:

We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

I am currently doing research in preparation for a book on the history of orientation and mobility. Included in the book will be an examination of a number of issues and conflicts surrounding the creation of the O&M profession. As part of my research I am interested in obtaining blind people's experiences with orientation and mobility training. Examples could include length of training, instructor's role in teaching, instructor expectations, your level of confidence in traveling independently following training, perceived benefits from having a certified mobility instructor (if you did), helpful or unhelpful techniques taught, type of setting in which training was received, or any other evaluation information. No names will be used without the consent of the author. Please send your recollections to Ronald Ferguson, Professional Development and Research Institute on Blindness, 101 S. Trenton, Ruston, Louisiana 71270, or send e-mail to <fergusonr@lcb-ruston.com>.

Election:

On November 10, 2001, the NFB of Pennsylvania conducted elections at its annual convention. The results are as follows: Jim Antonacci, President; Judy Jobes, First Vice President; Fred Leader, Second Vice President; Connie Johnson, Secretary; Chuck Morgenstern, Treasurer; and Patricia Grebloski, Gus Jasper, Lisa Mattioli, Rodney Powell, Mark Senk, and Cary Supalo, Members of the Board of Directors.

Research Assistantship Available:

We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

The Rehabilitation Research and Training Center (RRTC) on Blindness and Low Vision, in collaboration with the Department of Educational Psychology at Mississippi State University, is sponsoring a graduate research fellowship emphasizing rehabilitation research in the area of blindness and low vision. Students are expected to pursue and attain a doctoral degree in the Department of Counselor Education and Educational Psychology.

The goal of this fellowship is to produce a scientist-practitioner well grounded in state-of-the-art research methods and practices. The fellowship experience includes a paid graduate assistantship with the RRTC; payment of tuition; participation in ongoing applied rehabilitation research; involvement with professional groups, state agencies for the blind, and consumer advocacy organizations; and involvement in regional and national training conferences.

The deadline for applying to the MSU Graduate School is March 1, 2002. For more detailed information about this fellowship, contact J. Elton Moore, Ed.D., Director, RRTC on Blindness and Low Vision, P.O. Box 6189, Mississippi State, Mississippi 39762, (662) 325-2001, TDD: (662) 325-8693, Fax: (662) 325-8693.

New Merchant Division:

The NFB of Georgia proudly announces the launch of its Merchants Division. If you are a vendor within the Business Enterprise Program, we welcome you to join. Membership is only $10. We are also offering assistance to vendors who wish to attend the NFB-National Association of Blind Merchants BLAST (Business Leadership and Superior Training) conference in Las Vegas in early March. For more information on membership or grants to attend the conference, call Stephanie Scott at (404)763-1551, or toll-free (866) 999-6324. Stay tuned for details on the upcoming 2002 Randolph-Sheppard Seminar.

Attention Skiers:

We have been asked to carry the following press release:

New Organization Expands Mountain Access for

Blind and Visually Impaired Skiers and Snowboarders

Visually impaired skiers and snowboarders have a new opportunity to hit the slopes thanks to Foresight Ski Guides, a non-profit organization launched in Colorado this season. Its aim is to provide one-of-a-kind, affordable, and flexible services for blind or visually impaired skiers and snowboarders.

"Although a number of resorts and organizations provide ski services for people who are blind or visually impaired, few do so affordably or flexibly," said Foresight founder Mark G. Davis. "Our aim is to provide one-stop service for blind or visually impaired people to fully enjoy a winter mountain experience."

Foresight's focus will be to arrange for trained volunteer guides to accompany the skier or snowboarder on the slopes. For a once-a-season donation of $50, participants will be entitled to four days of guided skiing, with lift tickets, equipment rental, and assistance for lodging and transportation. Grants, corporate sponsorships, and charitable donations cover the remainder of the expenses. Initially services will be available at Vail Resorts, with eventual expansion to resorts elsewhere in Colorado and nationwide.

"Vail has historically supported adaptive ski programs as part of our commitment to our guests," said Bill Jensen, Senior Vice President of Vail Resorts, Inc., and Chief Operating Officer of Vail. "We recognize and understand that snow sports can provide a life-changing experience to visually impaired people, and with Vail Resorts' expanded opportunity to partner with Mark Davis and Foresight, this will only broaden the benefits of skiing and snowboarding to those who are visually impaired."

Foresight was founded by Mark G. Davis, a part-time Denver/ part-time Vail resident and lifelong skier who himself became visually impaired as a result of an attack of multiple sclerosis. He was recently named a Betaseronsm_ Multiple Sclerosis Champion of Courage grant recipient and is applying that grant toward the establishment of Foresight. Various corporations, including Vail Resorts and Vail Sports, have also pledged corporate support.

In addition to notifying blind or visually impaired skiers, snowboarders, and their families, Davis is also looking for volunteers to act as guides and hosts on the mountain. An application is available at the Foresight Website <www.foresightskiguides.org> or by calling toll-free (866) 860-0972.

If I Had Only Known Then:

Mary Brunoli
Mary Brunoli

Mary Brunoli is a longtime Federationist. The events of September 11 have taught us all things about ourselves. Here Mary shares a recollection that demonstrates just how far the NFB has helped us come. This is what she says:

The story of Mike Hingson's escape from the Trade Center reminded me of an incident which occurred during the early days at my little canderia. There was a fire in the baling room, and the fire alarm knelled out its warning. People were rushing out, choking, and crying: "I can't see a thing!"

"Come this way," I called, showing people the way out.

One person shouted, "Oh, Mary, you are a life saver." In fact I led a number of people to safety with no problem.

The next day the newspaper report said that I had to be led out of the building. I was furious, as were some of my customers. One of my very good customers was the mother of the reporter who had written the story, and to my shame I dared not even speak to her about the inaccuracy and injustice of his story. Remember, these things happened before the National Federation of the Blind. If I had only known then what I know now.

NFB PLEDGE

I pledge to participate actively in the effort of the National Federation of the Blind to achieve equality, opportunity, and security for the blind; to support the policies and programs of the Federation; and to abide by its constitution.

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