Braille Monitor                                                         June 2007


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News from the Federation Family

Don’t Miss the 2007 tenBroek Auction!
This year the Jacobus tenBroek Memorial Fund Auction will take place on Wednesday evening, July 4. Check your agenda for time and location.

Several unique items of great historical interest in the Federation will be available at the auction this year, and you won’t want to miss the fun and excitement. You may have heard of the National Accreditation Council for Agencies Serving the Blind and Visually Handicapped (NAC) but may not know much of the history of the tumultuous days of NAC’s vitality. The NFB recorded almost all of its board meetings during NAC’s heyday in the 1970s and 80s. During the 1988 NAC meeting in Arlington, Virginia, a set of headphones being used by NFB personnel was damaged in an attempt by a former American Council of the Blind national president to cut the cable with a knife. He was caught by the wrist with the knife in his hand while he was cutting the cable, and the knife was taken from him. Those very headphones will be auctioned off this year as a wonderful piece of memorabilia from the bad old days of NAC. Be sure to get to the auction to bid on this priceless item. The starting bid will be $100.

In 1968, while serving as director of the Iowa Commission for the Blind, Dr. Jernigan was invited to present a ninety-minute program at a church in Des Moines, Iowa. Don Bell, author and columnist for the Des Moines Register, introduced Dr. Jernigan. For the first forty-five minutes he read some of his favorite humorous poems and stories. After an intermission for coffee and cookies, he was re-introduced by Mr. Bell. During the second half of the program Dr. Jernigan read excerpts from his favorite poems and stories about love. At that time all recordings were made on open-reel tape. These two tapes have now been restored and transferred to compact discs. They are recorded on two CDs and will be available to the highest bidder as a set. They have been encrypted to prevent mass duplication but can be played on any CD player or computer. Not many Federationists have recordings of Dr. Jernigan reading materials not related to blindness or the NFB. The bidding will start at $200. These CDs are absolute jewels that everyone will want to own. So plan to be present on Wednesday evening, July 4, to bid on these once-in-a-lifetime items.

On January 6, 2007, the Tri-Valley Chapter of the NFB of California elected the following officers to serve two-year terms: Carl Martin, president; Steve Peters, vice president; Mary Willows, secretary; Jim Willows, treasurer; and Rickie Murphey, board member.

Jobline Ends:
Effective April 13, 2007, America's Jobline was suspended because of the upcoming shutdown of America's Job Bank. For information about other public workforce services, please call the America’s Workforce Network toll-free help line at (877) 872-5627 (voice) or by TTY at (877) 889-5627.

At its fifty-fourth annual state convention held in Worcester, April 13 to 15, the NFB of Massachusetts elected the following officers to its executive board: Dr. David Ticchi, president; Priscilla Ferris, first vice president; William Cuttle, second vice president; Gloria Evans, treasurer; Kobena Bonney, secretary; and James Daley, Sunish Gupta, and Kristina Constant, board members. During the Saturday night banquet members paid glowing tribute to Priscilla Ferris, who was stepping down from the presidency after twenty-five years at the helm, for her stalwart leadership and outstanding service to the organization.

On April 14, 2007, the Chicago Chapter of the NFB of Illinois elected the following officers and board: Deborah Kent Stein, president; Patti Gregory-Chang, first vice president; Anthony Thomas, second vice president; Connie Davis, secretary; Carmen Dennis, treasurer; Mary Lou Grunwald, Debbie Pittman, Jemal Powell, and Bob Widman, board members.

The Greater Daytona Beach Chapter of the NFB of Florida recently held elections. Officers and board members were elected to two-year terms. Results are as follows: president, Kathy Davis; vice president, Sabrina Deaton; secretary, Bill Outman; treasurer, Allen Bornstein; and board members, Peter Cerullo, Laurel Brown, and Peter Poiley.

Federationist Honored:
Frank Shamenek writes to announce the following good news:

It seems only yesterday rather than two years ago that National Federation of the Blind member Melissa Resnick began nursing school at Nassau Community College in the spring 2005 semester. As you will recall, approximately halfway through the semester, after necessary surgery for an injury sustained in a car accident, Ms. Resnick had to take a medical withdrawal. We all hoped that her injuries would heal so that she could return to the nursing degree program, but this did not happen. To this day she still suffers from those physical injuries, and her personal injury lawsuit is moving towards trial.

Not one to be kept down, Melissa searched for a different direction that would still allow her to work in the medical field, albeit in a more cerebral than physical career. After investigating her choices, she decided upon medical librarianship and enrolled in the M.L.S. program at Queens College. Ms. Resnick will be earning this, her second graduate degree, next month.

Her exceptional aptitude and abilities have been recognized in her selection for a prestigious and highly competitive academic fellowship. Melissa Resnick is a 2007-2008 Associate Fellow at the National Library of Medicine in Bethesda, Maryland. We are all very proud of her continued success.

We were asked to wait until the first week of May before making any public announcement of Melissa's selection. She earned this highly selective academic fellowship on merit, with no preference given because of her blindness. Melissa's selection is one more example that blind people are capable of successfully competing with the sighted, even when the bar is set very high.

The following press release was circulated on May 8, 2007.

President George W. Bush has reappointed James H. Omvig, a resident of Baltimore, Maryland, to the Committee for Purchase from People Who Are Blind or Severely Disabled (Committee). Mr. Omvig continues to serve as the Committee’s vice chairperson, a position he has held since July 2006. First appointed to the Committee by President Bush in March 2003, Mr. Omvig serves as a private citizen representing the interests of nonprofit agency employees who are blind. The Committee is an independent federal agency responsible for administering the AbilityOne (formerly Javits-Wagner-O’Day, JWOD) Program through the Javits-Wagner-O’Day Act, a public law that directs the federal government to purchase certain products and services furnished by nonprofit agencies employing individuals who are blind or have other severe disabilities.

Mr. Omvig is a nationally recognized leader in the field of rehabilitation and lifelong advocate for people who are blind. He began his career as the first blind attorney ever employed by the National Labor Relations Board and went on to direct the Iowa Commission for the Blind’s Adult Orientation and Adjustment Center for nine years. In 1978 he moved to Baltimore to become director of an employment program for people with disabilities at the Social Security Administration for six years. The capstone of Mr. Omvig’s career was serving as director of the Alaska Center for Blind and Deaf Adults from 1984 to 1987.

Mr. Omvig’s many professional affiliations include the National Blindness Professional Certification Board, where he is a past president; the American Action Fund for Blind Children and Adults, where he is treasurer; and the National Federation of the Blind. He is an accomplished author of numerous articles, published speeches, and books. His most popular book, Freedom for the Blind: The Secret Is Empowerment, republished in 2005, is a resource for the Department of Education on how best to provide training and rehabilitation services to people who are blind.

“I am honored by President Bush’s reappointment of me to this essential federal committee,” said Mr. Omvig. “In my capacity as committee member and vice chairperson, I will continue to ensure that people who are blind or have other severe disabilities have access to a variety of employment opportunities nationwide.”

As the committee’s vice chairperson, Mr. Omvig will continue to play a leadership role in the strategic direction of the AbilityOne Program, which is the nation’s largest employer of people who are blind or severely disabled. In fact, the AbilityOne Program provides nearly 47,000 jobs for this population, including many of the manufacturing jobs at Blind Industries and Services of Maryland, headquartered in Baltimore.

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.

Braille Text Now Available through a Web Test:
On April 12, 2007, BBC News published a story by reporter Geoff Adams describing a project to translate computer files into Braille in only a few minutes. Here is the story that appeared:

A free service that provides automatic Braille conversion is proving popular despite still being in test phase. RoboBraille was started by a Danish organization and now has partners in five other European countries, <>.

Anyone wanting to use the service, which is partly funded by the EU [European Union], can send plain text, Rich Text, HTML, or Word documents by email. Within a few minutes they receive their document either as an MP3 audio file or as electronic Braille. Electronic Braille can be read by a tactile display--a device connected to the computer with a series of pins that are raised or lowered to represent the Braille characters--or sent to a Braille printer.

"About two or three years ago we came to the conclusion that it's simply too complicated for the average user to produce Braille," consortium leader Lars Balieu Christensen told the BBC News Web site. "You need to know far too much about Braille conversion, Braille characters, and layout."

Mr. Christensen--who also runs a Danish assistive technology company--said that he and a colleague decided that the process needed to be made far simpler. "We wanted to set up a system that was entirely automated, where the user didn't need to know anything apart from an email address."

Testing Times
Although the RoboBraille site currently handles plain text, Rich Text, HTML, and Word format, Mr. Christensen's team is about to add PDF documents as well. The consortium includes the UK's Royal National College of the Blind as well as organizations from Ireland, Italy, Portugal, and Cyprus. The European Commission provided more than £500,000 for the testing phase, which should end this year. It is hoped that the service will be fully implemented next year and that it will remain free to individual users and nonprofit organizations.
Mr. Christensen thinks that RoboBraille could be funded by a combination of public and private grants as well as charging pharmaceutical companies for producing Braille labels for medication, which is soon to become a legal requirement. He says a number of other large institutions will also need to produce information in Braille and could use his service as paying customers. As well as widening the number of countries and languages involved, the consortium has also decided to expand the number of users by catering for people who--for a variety of reasons, for example dyslexia--find it difficult to read.

The RoboBraille service is currently processing about 400 requests a day, but the system has the capacity to deal with up to 14,000 a day. Mr. Christensen thinks this will be sufficient to provide a viable service for the first two years, which will cost around £135,000 a year to run. With the second phase of testing about to begin, RoboBraille's developers are now keen for more people to test the service ahead of its planned launch next year.

Attention Travelers:
Fellow Federationists, we all work hard performing our professional and personal duties, changing what it means to be blind one step at a time, dreaming, and working towards those dreams. When you are ready to sit back and relax, enjoy a nice vacation, or simply plan a memorable weekend getaway, LaBarre Travel full-service travel agency will be happy to assist you with all your travel needs. Whether it is a hotel reservation, a cruise, a resort vacation, transportation, or a tour, I can be there to make sure every experience is a pleasant and unforgettable one. You deserve a vacation, and we are here to help. Contact Anahit LaBarre, independent travel agent for ETravel Unlimited, (720) 334-3652; <>.

Assistance Needed:
The Braille Circulating Library is a Christian resource for the blind that provides free religious materials including missionary biographies, devotionals, Bible studies, doctrinal materials, and music in Braille, in large print, and on cassette for six-week loan to those who are print disabled. The collection also includes special resources for children and youth and some materials in Spanish. The vision of Brian J. Barton, executive director of the Braille Circulating Library, is to assist churches to integrate blind worshipers more effectively into their ministries by providing hymnals, sermon notes, and other print materials in members’ preferred alternative format.

The Braille Circulating Library was founded eighty-three years ago as a faith-based ministry. At present its operating funds are so low as to threaten insolvency. The Rev. Mr. Barton believes that, if three hundred people, churches, civic groups, Sunday school classes, etc., could contribute $25 a month to this ministry, the operating budget would be fully funded. An advisory counsel of blind individuals from diverse backgrounds is now being assembled to help spread the word about this important ministry resource. If you want to find out how you can help, contact the Rev. Mr. Barton directly either by snail mail at the Braille Circulating Library, 2700 Stuart Avenue, Richmond, Virginia 23220; by telephone at (804) 359-3743; or by email at <>.

Talking Multimeter Available:
Bryan Bashin reports that he's found a source for an inexpensive and largely accessible talking multimeter. The meter announces volts, amperes, resistance, and capacitance in a clear voice. Most meter functions are accessible.

Since the meter isn't sold in the United States, purchasers can order directly from KMS Tools, located near Vancouver, British Columbia. At this time the meter costs about $40 with no sales tax. To order, call KMS Tools at (800) 567-8979 and ask for the Nexxtech Talking Multimeter. Customers wishing to order online using a credit card can also visit the Web site at <>.

Fall Football Schedule in Braille Available:
The 2007 NCAA Braille college football schedule will be available again this year with 119 Division 1-A and some requested Division 1-AA teams. Included will be the results of the 2006-2007 bowls, the AP top twenty-five final polls, the 2007-2008 bowl schedule, and much more.

The cost of this year’s schedule is still $10 each. Please make your check payable to Allen H. Gillis and send to 302 Schaeffel Road, Cullman, Alabama 35055. If you have questions, call (256) 734-4047 or email <>.

New Poetry Chapbook Available:
Leveling the Spin by Nancy Scott is a collection of poems that explores the art of creating joy. Subjects range from the need for risk to the need for routine, the sounds of wind chimes to the sounds of early morning crickets. Leveling the Spin is available in two formats: the print contains nineteen poems for $9; the audio CD (read by the author) contains the entire text of the print edition plus selections from her first chapbook, Hearing the Sunrise for $14. Prices include shipping.

To order, make checks payable and mail to Nancy Scott, 2040 Lehigh Street, Apt. 304, Easton, Pennsylvania 18042.

National Braille Press and Louis Braille Honored:
We recently received the following good news from National Braille Press:

Just last year National Braille Press published C. Michael Mellor’s landmark biography, Louis Braille: A Touch of Genius–one of roughly 160,000 new titles published every year. Nonetheless, Louis got recognized. We are pleased to announce that Louis Braille: A Touch of Genius was selected by the New England Book Show as a winner in the category, General Trade, Illustrated.

Since 1956 Boston has hosted the prestigious New England Book Show, an annual juried show that recognizes the year’s most outstanding work by New England publishers, printers, and graphics designers. Winning books are selected for their design, quality of materials, and workmanship. Books, covers, and other media are judged in several categories, including elementary-high school, college, trade, and juvenile. National Braille Press and other awardees were fêted at the Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel in Boston on May 7, 2007, where the book was prominently displayed along with other jury picks.

If you haven’t yet ordered your copy, you can easily order online at <>. To order any books, send payment to NBP, 88 St. Stephen Street, Boston, Massachusetts 02115-4302; or call and charge it toll-free at (800) 548-7323 or (617) 266-6160, ext. 20; or order any of our books online at <>.

Volunteer Personal Instructor Wanted:
Bob Gruff wants someone to teach him Windows 2000 professional. His contact information is Bob Gruff Jr., 487 Pumpkin Center Circle, Quitman, Arkansas 72131, (501) 589-2886.

Music Instruction Tapes Available:
This summer learn to play your favorite instrument without having to read printed or Braille music. Bill Brown has created beginner courses for a dozen instruments including piano, guitar, bass, violin, banjo, and flute. These courses are taught in all-audio format, so there is nothing to read. Each course contains at least four tapes or CDs and costs as little as $39. As well as these beginner courses, there are over six hundred individual song lessons that are taught in the same all-audio format. The price of these starts at only $10 each. For more information go to the Web site at <> or call (888) 778-1828.

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.

Hoping to Buy:

Tony Sohl writes: I am looking for a Sony Dream Machine talking clock radio. If anyone knows where I can find one or if anyone is selling one, let me know. You can contact me at 333 North Chippewa Place, Apartment 102, Chandler, Arizona 85224; phone (480) 786-4898; email <>.

Optelec CCTV for Sale:
In 1994 I purchased a top-of-the-line Optelec CCTV, and for the last eight years it has sat on the shelf. It has many features, including zoom, reverse image, and more. Asking $850 plus $35 UPS ground. Contact Joe at (719) 495-4335, or email him at <>.

For Sale:
Xerox Outlook fourteen-inch CCTV. Asking $1,000. Also selling a Perkins electronic Braillewriter, recently serviced. Asking $450. Contact Jerry at <>.

NFB Pledge

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.

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