Braille Monitor June 2006
News from the Federation
Mark Your Calendar Now:
We have just learned that Federationists can celebrate the Fourth of July this year with a Texas-size barbeque in the beautiful park, immediately outside the west door of our convention hotel. The cost of the meal from barbequed beef and grilled chicken to peach cobbler is $35 per person. The Texas affiliate has arranged for a band to serenade us, and you will be able to dash back to the hotel for meetings during the evening. Tickets will be available from members of the Texas affiliate and at convention registration.
We will conduct a brief ceremony to honor our veterans at the opening general session of the convention in Dallas. If you are a veteran of the Armed Forces of the United States of America and plan to attend our national convention this year, please contact Dwight D. Sayer, first vice president of the NFB of Florida, 259 Regal Downs Circle, Winter Garden, Florida 34787; (407) 877-1970; email <email@example.com>. Knowing who will be present will help us plan this third annual ceremony.
The Chicago Chapter of the NFB of Illinois conducted elections on Saturday, April 8, 2006. Those elected were president, Debbie Kent Stein; first vice president, Patti Gregory-Chang; second vice president, Anthony Thomas; secretary, Connie Davis; treasurer, Carmen Dennis; and board members Joe Monti, Ronza Othman, Debbie Pittman, and Bob Widman.
Attention Cruise Lovers:
Cruise with the NFB of California to the Mexican Riviera on a sunny, seven-day fundraising voyage. A portion of each booking goes to the NFB of California. Sail Carnival's Pride from Long Beach on November 26, 2006, for a one-week trip to:
Puerto Vallarta--Winding cobblestone streets lead from fantastic shopping and art galleries to over twenty-five miles of tropical sandy beaches.
Mazatlan--the pearl of the Pacific, Mazatlan's blue lagoons welcome visitors year-round with average November temperatures in the low to mid eighties during the day.
Cabo San Lucas--Located on the tip of Baja, where the Sea of Cortez meets the Pacific, Cabo offers unsurpassed recreation and nightlife in a desert paradise.
Inside staterooms start at $579 per person. Outside staterooms start at $729 per person. Balcony staterooms range from $829 to $889 per person. Act fast since these rates are subject to availability--first come will be first served. These fares are based on double occupancy. Rates for three and four passengers sharing a cabin range from $319 to $379 per person.
To book this fantastic vacation, call Sian (pronounced Shawn) or Greg at the Cruise Shoppe of Boulder at (888) 440-5777.
Tour reservations are fully refundable (before September 10). A deposit of $250 is due at booking. Government fees and taxes are an additional $27.54 per person. Final payment is due on September 12. Travel insurance and airfare can be arranged.
For additional information
phone the NFB of California at (818) 558-6524 or email <NFBCevents@yahoo.com>.
Additional Information about the Showcase of Talent:
The Showcase of Talent, which will take place at convention the evening of July 4, will be divided this year into two sections. The first will be for anyone who signs up with Adrienne Snow, president of the Performing Arts Division, during the first days of convention; and a second part is reserved for performances by members of the division. A boom box will be available for those who wish to sing along with a recorded track. A piano will also be available for anyone wishing to play or bringing an accompanist. Those requiring other instruments must provide them.
The Potomac Chapter of the NFB of Virginia held its annual election on Thursday, April 20, with a change of the guard. Tracy Soforenko assumed the presidency when Larry Povinelli decided to step down after eleven years as chapter president and give some younger folks a taste of leadership. Larry says that he will find it hard to attend meetings without holding an office. After all, he was chapter treasurer for eight years prior to becoming chapter president.
The results of the election
are as follows: president, Tracy Soforenko; first vice president, Seville Allen;
second vice president, Nancy Yeager; recording secretary, Sandy Halverson; corresponding
secretary, Carol Cooper; treasurer, Albert Sanchez; and board members, Pam Hayes,
Priscilla McKinley, and Elizabeth Akinola.
The NFB of Louisville conducted its election on April 22, 2006, with the following results: president, Nickie Priddy; vice president, Tonia Boyd; secretary, Stephanie Brown; treasurer, Maria Jones; and board members, Mary Harrod and Kevin Pearl.
New Service Available:
Tom Barretta, a member of the NFB of Connecticut's board of directors, sends the following announcement:
I am starting a company
called Barretta's Imagery, and I am willing to donate 10 percent of my sales
to any NFB chapter, state affiliate, or the national organization. Barretta's
Imagery is about reliving your fondest memories and sharing them with the people
you love. Send me your favorite photographs and tell me the songs that you would
like to include, and I will make you a personal photographic DVD slideshow.
The DVD will play in any properly configured computer as well as most DVD players.
A personal DVD slideshow makes a great birthday, anniversary, or holiday gift.
If you have any questions or are interested in ordering a photo slideshow, email
me at <firstname.lastname@example.org> or call me at (860) 582-6703.
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.
NLS Publishes tenBroek Biography:
The following notice was printed in the July-September 2005, Volume 35, Number 3, issue of News, a publication of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped:
The first full-length biography of a champion of equal opportunities for blind people and founder of the National Federation of the Blind was recently published by NLS and Friends of Libraries for Blind and Physically Handicapped Individuals in North America.
Blind Justice: Jacobus tenBroek and the Vision of Equality by Floyd Matson recounts how the crusader (1911-1968), who was blinded by an arrow at age seven, obtained a law degree, fought for and received a university teaching position, and became a pioneer in organizing the blind community to claim constitutional rights. "Individually, we are scattered, ineffective, and inarticulate. Collectively, we are the masters of our own future and the successful guardian of our own common interests," tenBroek stated in his 1940 keynote address to the inaugural convention of the National Federation of the Blind.
In his introduction, author Matson, a professor of American studies at the University of Hawaii and friend and collaborator of tenBroek, writes: "Equality, for tenBroek, was the last great goal of democracy yet to be accomplished--the hope deferred, the one true thing demanding to be realized in the world. His own life was an unrelenting battle for equality not just for himself as a blind man but also for all the disabled and dispossessed, the invisible people of the earth."
"To attain progress, individuals with common needs and shared goals must organize. And for the blind of America to progress, they too must organize. This salient assessment--and the ability to transform this assessment into action--was one of Jacobus tenBroek's greatest contributions to the blind community," NLS director Frank Kurt Cylke writes in the foreword of Blind Justice. "NLS is pleased to publish this biography of the man who built the case for the constitutional rights of many minority groups in America--including, but not limited to, the blind community."
Marc Maurer, president of the National Federation of the Blind and of the Friends of Libraries, notes in the preface, "TenBroek's voice is one that expanded human potential by a faith in those who would otherwise have been rejected. He is a champion among the founders of freedom."
Copies in regular print
are available in both hardcover and paperback from the Government Printing Office.
The book is also available from the NLS collection in Braille (BR15863) and
on audiocassette (RC59656).
Important Announcement for Guide Dogs for the Blind Alumni:
Have you ever imagined what it might be like to have a guide dog? Visit the Guide Dogs for the Blind (GDB) booth at convention to take a test drive. The booth is a great place to connect with GDB staff and graduates, learn the basics of working with a guide dog, and actually have the chance to take a walk with a trained guide dog.
GDB alumns, get the inside scoop on clicker training and the details about this convention's alumni reunion at GDB's convention booth. Clicker training is a form of operant conditioning using a clicking noise to mark a desired behavior in the dog and reinforcing that behavior with food reward. GDB's director of training, Terry Barrett, and director of research and development Michele Pouliot will be conducting classes on clicker training for GDB alumni and their guide dogs throughout the convention. Classes will discuss the theory of clicker training and then provide the opportunity for you to introduce your guide to clicker work and complete a clicker exercise. Alumni and their guests are invited to join us on Monday, July 3, for a special Southwest fiesta reunion from 5:30 to 8:00 p.m. Visit our booth in the exhibit hall for location and details.
Finally, throughout the
convention Guide Dogs' human resources staff will be on hand to conduct brief
informational interviews for those interested in employment opportunities with
Guide Dogs for the Blind. Sign up for interview times at the booth.
The People-Finding Challenge and a Potential Solution:
Mike May, president and CEO of Sendero Group, LLC, sent us the following tantilizing challenge:
If you wish to be part of designing a new technology, read on. Identifying and locating nearby people in professional and social meetings and events constitutes a significant challenge for blind people. Independent blind people employ a number of techniques to deal with this highly visual challenge. A blind person can use hearing to identify voices, but noisy parties or restaurants interfere with this technique. Teaming with a sighted spouse or colleague can be effective, but this isn't always practical, and it means dependence on a sighted companion. One can be gregarious and hope that friends will approach, but let's hope you aren't blind and shy. In other words, every blind person has coping techniques and a personality which work to various degrees for people-finding, depending upon the situation.
The most frustrating situation for me has been at conventions, where I know lots of people, but I don't know when they are nearby. This is one circumstance in which having eyes is a huge advantage, no matter how good one's coping techniques. A sighted colleague can spot someone across the room and make contact. My ability even to know that the person is in the room is limited.
An emerging technology for solving this problem deserves serious attention and testing. It meets two important criteria: it is ubiquitous in the commercial market, and it is relatively low priced.
There are over 170 million cell phones in the U.S., and I believe the percentage of blind users may be even higher than among the sighted. Most newer phones have Bluetooth capabilities. If a blind person has a cell phone with Bluetooth and screen-reading software, this tool may help with people-finding if the people being sought also have a Bluetooth phone. Although the number of users with these capabilities may be low at present, younger people are adopting the cell phone (with Bluetooth and text messaging) as their primary communication device. People-finding will be a very useful by-product of this trend.
Blind or sighted, most people probably aren't aware that their phones have this capability, much less how to implement it. Here are some of the technical details. Our goal is to highlight the challenge of people-finding in hopes that we can present the Bluetooth cell phone as a solution worth funding. We would then create software to simplify the process currently necessary to use Bluetooth people-finding.
Many blind people have a Nokia phone with Talks or Mobile Speaks screen-reading software, which includes having the Nokia 3650, 3660, 6600, 6620, 6630, or 6682. Newer models like the Nokia 6682 allow multiple Bluetooth devices to be used at once, whereas older models support only one connection at a time. The 3650 and 3660 have limited memory. So, if you are scanning for Bluetooth phones, with older models you cannot use a Bluetooth headset at the same time, but you can with a 6682.
Under the Connectivity menu item, you must turn Bluetooth on, show visibility, and rename your identity from the default phone name to a personal name like "Mike May6682." To make getting to the Bluetooth option easier, select one of your phone's hot keys, like the right selection key for example, to go straight to Bluetooth.
Once your phone is configured, do the following to locate another person: go to Bluetooth, press Options, and select New to search for new connections. A list of nearby Bluetooth phones will be presented if they exist within 30 feet or so. Other Bluetooth devices will be in the list as well.
To make contact with one of the experimental group at convention, select it, and you will be asked to enter a code if you haven't connected with this person before. Enter something simple like 1111 and press Okay. The other person will see your phone name and can recognize the code. If not, at least the person will know that you are within thirty feet. At a convention we could establish a code like 1111.
Once the recipient accepts your connection, you can permanently authorize this contact for future use. You can transfer files or messages or simply call out to find each other. You can ask for the person's phone number and call. It is also possible to send a greeting message without having to enter a code. You can use Bluetooth scanning to know who is around even if you don't wish to make contact. It is nice to know who is around as sighted people do.
At the NFB convention this July blind attendees can test cell phone people-finding for themselves with help from the NFB access technology team and the Sendero Group. If we can create a critical mass of 100 or more blind people with phones configured for people-finding, finding each other will be fun and helpful.
Here is how it will work: Use the instructions above to configure your phone. Come by the Sendero booth in the exhibit hall to sign up for the project and get help if you have any trouble configuring your phone. We want to make sure your phone is indeed Bluetooth-enabled. We will also announce a workshop for people who want to learn more about installing software on their phones, sending text messages, and adding accessories like a Bluetooth headset or external keyboard. We will have a meeting toward the end of the convention to get participant feedback on how things worked and what to improve for the future. A prize or prizes will make the research informative, fun, and rewarding.
If you need Talks screen-reading software for your Nokia phone, contact the Sendero Group, (888) 757-6810, extension 107. If you don't have a phone and are considering purchasing one, check out the Nokia 6682 with Cingular service. The Sendero Group and NFB access technology teams look forward to this experiment and the feedback from many blind attendees at the national convention, July 1 to 7 in Dallas, Texas. For more information go to <www.nfb.org>.
A college in Ghana desperately needs thirteen Braillewriters. Last October (for the first time ever) Wesley College admitted five blind students into its teacher-training school, and the college plans to admit seven more this year. In September I will be moving to Ghana to adapt materials for the math and science courses (they have never before taught these subjects). I am a trained teacher of the blind and visually impaired and will be teaching the Nemeth code and, I hope, a computer class. However, the school has no Braillewriters (the students are all using slates and styluses). We will also need Nemeth and science textbooks, talking calculators, a Braille dictionary (if JAWS is not available), math tools for the blind, JAWS, Kurzweil 1000, a tactile image machine and paper, and a Braille embosser. If you'd like to donate equipment or money to support this important project, please call Wendy Olson ASAP at (201) 918-1448. Your donation would definitely be put to good use. For more information check out <http://www.ghanaweb.com/public_agenda/article.php?ID=5041>
The notice in this section has been edited for clarity, but we can pass along only the information we were given.
Specific Braille Publications Needed:
I hope to acquire Braille-only copies of the following magazines: Holiness Evangel, produced by the Church of the Nazarene, anything prior to November 1988, January to June 1989, September and October 1989, July 1992, January and February 1994, May and June 1994, November and December 1994, and anything after February 1995; the Pentecostal Digest, produced by the Assemblies of God, anything prior to June 1998, January through April 2001, and anything after January 2002; the Gospel Messenger, produced by the Gospel Association for the Blind, any Braille issues; and Guidepost, prior to April 1998.
Contact Pastor Earl Jones,
Southside Baptist Church, P. O. Box 391, 902 School Street, Charleston, Missouri
63834; office phone (573) 683-4704; home (573) 683-3398; email <email@example.com>.
I pledge to participate actively in the efforts 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.