The Braille Monitor                                                                                       November 2002

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Monitor Miniatures

News from the Federation Family

Scott and Anahit LeBarre holding son Alexander.
Scott and Anahit LeBarre holding son Alexander.

New Baby:

At 2:06 p.m. on Friday, October 4, Alexander Scott LeBarre made his appearance weighing seven pounds, ten ounces, and measuring twenty inches long. Parents Scott and Anahit are very proud, and the family is doing well.

 

Elected:

The following officers were elected at the June 2002 meeting of the National Federation of the Blind of Greater Springfield, Massachusetts: Walter Woitasek, president; Cindy Hess, vice president; Basil Maurice, treasurer; Glenn Muisinski, sergeant at arms; Peg McCarthy, trustee; and Bill Braese and Heather Doray, board members.

Academic Achievement at the Colorado Center for the Blind:
Michael O'Grady is a recent graduate of the CCB Independence Training Program.   He is pictured at his graduation from the GED program at Arapahoe Community College.
Michael O'Grady is a recent graduate of the CCB Independence Training Program. He is pictured at his graduation from the GED program at Arapahoe Community College.

Sometimes a student at the Colorado Center for the Blind (CCB) needs in-depth work on academic skills. This instruction is provided by various people and resources, including Doris Willoughby, who has many years' experience teaching both adults and younger students. Recently we have had the great pleasure of seeing two students complete high school graduation. With good preparation and support, many CCB graduates go on to college.
Jamie Foster graduated from her California high school, having completed the last two course requirements while at the CCB.  She is shown at the celebration held in her honor.
Jamie Foster graduated from her California high school, having completed her last two course requirements while at the CCB. She is shown at the celebration held in her honor.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Talking ATMs in Pennsylvania:

October 3, 2002, for immediate release

The National Federation of the Blind of Pennsylvania (NFB‑PA) announces that the Disabilities Law Project, acting on behalf of the Federation and its individual members, has entered an agreement with Citizens Bank to implement the installation of hundreds of voice-guided ATMs throughout Pennsylvania for blind and visually-impaired banking customers. The agreement follows a lawsuit filed against Mellon Bank in July of 1999. The lawsuit, the first of its kind filed in the United States, challenged Mellon Bank's continued practice of purchasing new ATMs without voice-guided instructions for blind ATM users under the new-equipment provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and prompted several other banks thereafter to begin installing talking ATMs throughout the U.S.

Mellon Bank had unsuccessfully argued that providing Braille labels and keypads was a sufficient accommodation under the ADA to enable blind ATM users to conduct their banking transactions. This position disregarded the fact that only 10 to 15 percent of blind people can read Braille and that for even that small number of people who do read Braille, the Braille information on Mellon's ATMs did next to nothing to help customers understand the interactive instructions appearing on the ATM computer screens.

ATMs equipped with voice-guided instructions and prompts heard through inexpensive personal headphones are very effective at enabling blind ATM users to conduct banking transactions privately and independently without the assistance of strangers standing in line behind them. "Fortunately the Court correctly interpreted the ADA's requirements for accessible ATMs, and it flatly denied Mellon Bank's ridiculous and flawed legal arguments," said Thomas H. Earle. Earle along with Robert Meek, two civil rights attorneys from the Disabilities Law Project in Philadelphia, filed the case against Mellon Bank.

Late last year Citizens Bank purchased virtually all of Mellon Bank's retail banking branch locations, including all of its ATM locations in Pennsylvania. Almost immediately representatives from Citizens met with the Disabilities Law Project to express their commitment to install hundreds of voice-guided ATMs quickly. Within a few months Citizens Bank and the Disabilities Law Project entered an agreement whereby Citizens will be installing 326 talking ATMs by May 31, 2003. The arrangement with Citizens Bank rendered the pending lawsuit against Mellon Bank moot and the plaintiffs in the case voluntarily dismissed their legal claims against Mellon.

"Citizens Bank's quick recognition of the need for accessible ATMs and its implementation of the talking ATMs in such a short period of time demonstrates its commitment to providing all customers, including those who are blind or visually impaired, with the best banking service in Pennsylvania," said Jim Antonacci, the president of the NFB of Pennsylvania. Antonacci, who is also blind, said further, "Citizens' talking ATMs work fine, and we are very pleased with their corporate citizenship in the Pennsylvania banking industry."

Information about the locations of the talking ATMs in Pennsylvania can be obtained from <www.citizensbank.com> or <www.nfbp.org> or by calling the NFB of Pennsylvania at (215) 988‑0888.

New Chapter:

On Saturday, October 12, 2002, twenty‑six residents from Leon, Wakulla, Madison, Gadsden, and Taylor Counties met at the Western Sizzlin' Steakhouse to organize the newest chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Florida. A number of members and leaders from across the state were present to welcome the new chapter. Elected as officers of the new Greater Tallahassee Chapter of the NFB of Florida were Dawn Arthur, president; Don Hefti, vice president; Jennifer Chesser, secretary; Doug Wolfe, treasurer; and Sam Atwood, David Hoss, and Lydia Markley, board members. Best wishes to the new officers and board of directors.

In Brief

Notices and information in this section may be of interest to Monitor readers. We are not responsible for the accuracy of the information; we have edited only for space and clarity.

New Division for the Blind in California:

Jim Willows, past president of the NFB of California, recently sent the following e-mail message to President Maurer:

As of Sunday, September 29, 2002, the blind of California have won a great victory. On that date Governor Gray Davis signed SB 105 creating a Division for the Blind within the California Department of Rehabilitation. The head of this division will have line authority over the counselors and counselor-teachers for the blind within the department. This is not the commission for the blind that we originally sought, but with the fiscal crisis in California brought on by high electricity costs and the strain on our economy of homeland protection, we felt we should seek a division at this time.  

The bill was carried by Senator John Burton, president pro tempore of our state senate. Senator Burton's influence carried us through the California Senate and Assembly with little opposition. Dr. Catherine Campisi, director of the California Department of Rehabilitation, was a great help in the governor's office and with our state Department of Finance.

The NFB of California worked with most of the other organizations in the blindness field in California to pass this vital legislation. We are excited about our success and look forward to a new era in rehabilitation for the blind of California.

Family Needed for a Two-Year-Old Girl from Asia:
Two-year-old Soo Bin needs a family.
Two-year-old Soo Bin needs a family.

The World Association for Children and Parents (WACAP) is seeking an adoptive family for Soo Bin, a pretty little girl who plays happily, sings, and makes joyful sounds. Soo Bin is blind, and her delays in development seem to be related exclusively to this condition. Caretakers in her orphanage report that they don't have the necessary experience or facilities to meet her needs, so they hope that a family can be found soon to help her reach her highest potential.

For more detailed information, please contact WACAP's Family Finders Project at (206) 575-4550 or FamilyFinders@wacap.org. WACAP will mail her photo and medical information to you upon request. Financial assistance is available for the adoption of this child.

 

 

New Organization:

Angels of Light is a new not-for-profit organization that plans to provide the following services: in the Latrobe, Pennsylvania, area only—local monthly fellowship meals, Bible study, and other classes; Bibles; Christian and secular materials and equipment; pen pals; prayer ministry; lending library of Braille, cassette, CD, and large-print books; a newsletter; and counseling and advocacy services. James E. Brown, the organizer of this program, is also seeking the donation of the following items: a Braille 'n Speak disk drive and cables, computer screen reader, Braille embosser, printer, Braille translation software such as Duxbury, a Kurzweil personal reading system, a VersaBraille, and a Perkins Brailler.

People can contact Mr. Brown by Braille, cassette, or telephone. His contact information is 301 Wimmerton Boulevard, Apartment 106, Latrobe, Pennsylvania 15650-2534, toll-free phone (877) 643-1129, pin number 0117.

Computer Program for Diabetics:

For some time now blind diabetics have been looking for an easy, affordable, and accessible way to keep track of their blood sugar readings and medications and to create a report for their doctors. Now HBGM (Home Blood Glucose Monitoring) is coming. A blind diabetic computer programmer has written a simple program that gives you the ability to keep track of your readings, times, medications, and other information useful to both you and your doctor. You can quickly check your average and produce a 30-, 90-, 180-, or 365-day report.

The program does not allow you to download information from your meter; information is entered manually. It does not produce graphs either. But if you are looking for a simple, accessible way to keep track of your readings and other data, look no further.

The program is now ready for shipping. It is available at the nominal fee of $10, Canadian, to cover the cost of producing the CD and shipping. For further information or to place an order, please contact <Armando.delgobbo@sympatico.ca>.

Bookshare.org and Braille Institute Partner to Deliver Hard-Copy Braille:

We recently received an interesting news release. Here is an excerpt:

PALO ALTO, California—Bookshare.org's extensive online collection of electronic books can now be seamlessly ordered as hard-copy Braille books, to be embossed and proofread by professionals at Braille Institute of America, Inc., significantly increasing access to books for Braille readers nationwide.

Bookshare.org (<www.bookshare.org>), launched earlier this year by its nonprofit creator Benetech, offers blind, dyslexic, and other disabled individuals access to more than ten thousand digital books online, by enabling members of this community to share scanned books legally. Until now Bookshare.org has operated exclusively as a subscription service, where members register on the Web site, provide proof of a qualifying disability, and pay an annual subscription fee to access book files. Subscribers download books of their choice to listen to on their computers using a synthetic voice or to read using a refreshable Braille device.

"The problem of access to books by people with print disabilities is huge, with fewer than 5 percent of books available in Braille or audiotape," said Jim Fruchterman, CEO of Benetech. "This new partnership enables people to order hard-copy embossed Braille books from the Bookshare.org collection. Now, whether people prefer reading digital books on their computers or reading right from a physical Braille book, their options for access are increased."

"Literacy rates for blind individuals have been steadily declining, due in part to the enormous amount of time and talent it takes to create Braille books, compared to audio. This partnership is a wonderful opportunity to bring together the power of Bookshare.org's emerging technology and the traditional proofreading and production capabilities Braille Institute has well in place. Together we offer more choices to meet the needs of today's Braille reader," said Les Stocker, president of Braille Institute.

Subscribers pay an annual fee of $50, with a one-time set-up fee of $25, to be able to access the full collection. The number of books that can be made available by Bookshare.org is limited only by the number of volunteers willing to scan and submit books. Designed to break even, Bookshare.org relies on volunteers and members of its online community to scan books on conventional scanners.

Available publications on Bookshare.org are organized just as they would be at your local library-–by title, author, subject, and genre. With the launch of this new partnership, ordering a book in hard-copy Braille can be done all in one visit, directly from the Bookshare.org Web site (<www.bookshare.org>). Users simply search for their book of interest and select the embossed Braille option. After the user fills out a simple online order form and submits payment, the book order and any proofreading requested is sent to Braille Institute and the completed book mailed directly. There is no requirement to be a subscribing member to the Bookshare.org service to order embossed Braille books.

Each Bookshare.org book is rated for scan quality, indicating the number of text errors present: excellent, good, or fair. Embossing, editing, and proofreading services are available for excellent or good scan-quality books, offered at three levels to meet the needs and budgets of a variety of clients:

* Scan Quality—a book embossed directly from the scanned book file, with no editing involved ($0.08 a Braille page). This option is available for books rated either good or excellent quality.

* Formatted Scan Quality—a scanned book embossed with basic formatting added, such as a table of contents and chapter headings, but not text-edited ($0.36 a Braille page). Available only for books rated excellent quality.

* Quotes are available to fully proofread any book rated excellent quality by e-mailing <braillebooks@bookshare.org>.

In Memoriam:
Dr. Fatima Shah, 1914 to October 12, 2002
Dr. Fatima Shah, 1914 to October 12, 2002

We are saddened to learn from Dr. Salma Maqbool, Chairperson of the Pakistan Foundation Fighting Blindness,  that on Saturday, October 12, 2002, the fourth anniversary of Dr. Jernigan's death, Dr. Fatima Shah died in Pakistan. Dr. Shah had a distinguished career as a Western-trained physician until she lost her sight in the fifties. She was awarded an MBE (Member of the British Empire) in the honors list at the time of Queen Elizabeth II's accession to the throne in 1952. Dr. Shah founded the Pakistan Association of the Blind, of which she was the president until her retirement in 1984.

In the early sixties she came to the United States to take a course and became more socially active. Dr. Jacobus tenBroek became a friend, and she was subsequently a founding member of the International Federation of the Blind (IFB). She served in a number of leadership positions, including a term as president of the IFB.

At home again in Pakistan she pressured the government to introduce Braille and successfully advocated for other social benefits for women and disabled people. She played a significant role in the establishment of the World Blind Union and also became a member of Pakistan's Federal Council, National Parliament.

Dr. Shah received many awards and honors. Her autobiography is still widely read in Pakistan, and she has been a role model for many in the disabled community. In short, she is considered the liberator of blind Pakistanis. She was deeply revered and will be sincerely missed.

Custom-Handcrafted Engraved Wooden Signs for Sale:

These signs are great gifts for the holidays, birthdays, or any time of the year. We can engrave last names, pet names, business names, house numbers, or children's name plates (Kelly's Room). We can also custom-make any creative sign idea you have. These cedar signs are created by A G Originals. The engraved block letters are easy to read by touch and can be custom-painted any color to match your home, garage, or business building. The signs are one-inch thick and six inches high. The length is determined by the length of the name. The signs are decoratively routered along the top edge. The ends can be cut in three styles: standard square cut, rounded ends, and most popular, a forty-five‑degree miter cut. All signs are finished with tongue oil for a smooth, shiny finish.

Each sign, created by blind craftsman Allan Golabek, is intended for outside use. The signs are great for hanging outdoors and weather beautifully. They also have a great cedar fragrance. They come with two counter-sunk holes, and screws are included for easy hanging.

The standard cost of these decorative signs is $55, which includes shipping and handling in the continental United States. Prices may vary depending on size. Make checks payable to Allan Golabek, 70 Greenwood Avenue, Bethel, Connecticut 06801.  To place an order, e‑mail Allan at <allan.golabek@snet.net>. Please specify name to be engraved, color of letters, and style of end cut. Also ask about our handcrafted treated cedar and pine Adirondack chairs. They are extremely comfortable, sturdy, and relaxing. For more information call Allan at (203) 743‑9238.

Monitor Mart

The notices in this section have been edited for clarity, but we can pass along only the information we were given. We are not responsible for the accuracy of the statements made or the quality of the products for sale.

For Sale:

Index Basic D Braille printer for sale. Asking $2,500 or best offer. Contact Sharon Klug, (817) 657-4690 or (512) 206-0714, e-mail <babygirl13@peoplepc.com>.

For Sale:

Braille Lite 40, gently used, with current software for sale. Asking $3,200. If interested, please call (614) 263-2653. Ask for John Whitney or leave a message.

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.

LOWER PRICES! NEW PACKAGE OPTIONS!

Braille Is Beautiful

Curriculum Program

“Braille Is Beautiful is a flexible, hands-on program [that] . . . aims to help sighted students in grades four through six understand not only Braille but also the many capabilities and achievements of blind people.”

NEA Today, April 2002

“After using Braille Is Beautiful, I saw my students become more understanding of children in other areas as well, whether it was a disability or just a kid who wasn’t as quick at a given subject.”

— Fifth Grade Teacher, NEA Today, April 2002

The National Organization of Parents of Blind Children (NOPBC) deeply believes in the benefits of the Braille Is Beautiful Program for children.  It is a disability-awareness program that really does change attitudes.  The NOPBC is, therefore, pleased to join with the National Federation of the Blind in announcing, for a limited time, the following new package options and fantastic low prices for the Braille Is Beautiful Program:

NEW OPTION

Teacher's Guide Economy Kit  $25

This economical kit includes the following items:

·        A hundred-page Teacher's Guide complete with background information, lesson descriptions, pullout exercises, and master copies of the student instruction booklet and student workbook.

·        A hundred-count package of Braille alphabet cards

·        Three paperback books containing stories by blind people about Braille and about their lives: The World Under My Fingers, What Color Is The Sun, and I Can Feel Blue on Monday

·        A slate and stylus (tools for writing Braille)

LESS THAN HALF-PRICE

Braille Is Beautiful Video Set  $35

Normally $100, this set is now available in two options, each for the low price of $35

Both options contain the following:

·        Thirty-page video discussion guide (includes instructions for Braille-writing demos)

·        A slate and stylus (tools for writing Braille)

·        Braille alphabet card

Video Set Option 1: Two different videos

·        Jake and the Secret Code and That The Blind May Read

Video Set Option 2: Two videos, one title

·        Jake and the Secret Code, two copies

Super Deal Save $10

The Braille Is Beautiful Combo Set $50

·        Braille Is Beautiful Program Video Set (Video Option 1 or 2)

·        Teacher’s Guide Ecomony Kit

STILL THE BEST DEAL

The Braille Is Beautiful Curriculum Program (originally $350) now $250

Note: Request a brochure for details, see address below.

ORDER FORM

Braille Is Beautiful

Ship To ______________________________________________________________________

Address ______________________________________________________________________

City, State ____________________________________________________________________

ZIP _________________   Phone ______________________________________

Video Set:

    Option 1 _______   Option 2 ________   = $35 + $10 S/H

Teacher's Guide Economy Kit = $25 + $10 S/H  ____________

Combo Set = $50 + $10 S/H  ____________

TOTAL ENCLOSED: __________________

Please make check or money order payable to NFB and mail with this form to:

Materials Center

National Center for the Blind

1800 Johnson Street

Baltimore, Maryland 21230

E-mail: nfbstore@nfb.org

Phone: (410) 659-9314

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