Vol. 51, No. 4 April 2008
Barbara Pierce, editor
Published in inkprint, in Braille, and on cassette by
The National Federation of the Blind
Marc Maurer, president
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THE NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND IS NOT AN ORGANIZATION
SPEAKING FOR THE BLIND--IT IS THE BLIND SPEAKING FOR THEMSELVES
Vol. 51, No. 4 April 2008
Dallas Site of 2008 NFB Convention
Reflections on Philosophy
This Car Seems to Be Alive—Perspectives on the Documentary,
by Margaret M. Quinlan, J. Webster Smith, and Casey Hayward
BANA Publishes New Braille Rules
by Judith Dickson
Blind CEO a Lighthouse First
by Nancy Bartley
Ask Miss Whozit
An Accessible and Highly Usable Webmail Service
by Curtis Chong
2008 Convention Attractions
NFB Camp: It’s More Than Child’s Play
by Carla McQuillan
Remember the Past, IMAGINE the Future
by Barbara Cheadle
Hearing Enhancement and Spanish Translation
Available at National Convention
by D. Curtis Willoughby
Dialysis at National Convention
by Ed Bryant
Copyright 2008 by the National Federation of the Blind
The 2008 convention of the National Federation of the Blind will take place in Dallas, Texas, June 29-July 5, at the Hilton Anatole Hotel at 2201 Stemmons Freeway, Dallas, Texas 75207. Make your room reservation as soon as possible with the Hilton Anatole staff only. Call (214) 761-7500.
The 2008 room rates are singles, doubles, and twins $61 and triples and quads $66 a night, plus a 15 percent sales tax. The hotel is accepting reservations now. A $60-per-room deposit is required to make a reservation. Fifty percent of the deposit will be refunded if notice is given to the hotel of a reservation cancellation before June 1, 2008. The other 50 percent is not refundable.
Rooms will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. Reservations may be made before June 1, 2008, assuming that rooms are still available. After that time the hotel will not hold our block of rooms for the convention. In other words, you should get your reservation in soon.
Guestroom amenities include cable television, coffee pot, iron and ironing board, hair dryer, and for a charge high-speed Internet access. The Hilton Anatole has six excellent restaurants, twenty-four-hour-a-day room service, first-rate meeting space, and other top-notch facilities. It is in downtown Dallas with shuttle service to both the Dallas/Ft. Worth Airport and Love Field.
The schedule for the 2008 convention will depart from what many think of as our usual schedule:
Sunday, June 29 Seminar Day
Monday, June 30 Registration Day
Tuesday, July 1 Board Meeting and Division Day
Wednesday, July 2 March for Independence and Opening Session
Thursday, July 3 Tour Day
Friday, July 4 Banquet Day
Saturday, July 5 Business Session
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On September 1, 1978, the National Federation of the Blind purchased property at 1800 Johnson Street in Baltimore, Maryland, and began the step-by-step process of renovating it to create the National Center for the Blind that we know today. By the time our national convention took place in Baltimore in 1981, the first offices at our new headquarters were in use, and Federationists could tour the entire property on the Fourth of July, the day before the convention began. But from the moment the legal documents were signed that September morning in 1978, the National Federation of the Blind has been an active member of the corporate community in Maryland. On January 17, 2008, the Maryland senate passed a resolution and presented a plaque to President Maurer commemorating thirty years of the NFB’s contribution to the community.
Maryland Senator Joan Carter Conway (right) presents a plaque to NFB President Marc Maurer in Maryland’s senate chamber.
From President Maurer: On December 5, 6, and 7, 2007, a rehabilitation conference entitled "Dare to Be Remarkable," occurred at the National Center for the Blind. Staff members from the Louisiana Center for the Blind, the Colorado Center for the Blind, and Blindness: Learning in New Dimensions (BLIND) made presentations. Shawn Mayo, director of BLIND, addressed attendees of the conference on December 6. Although I was not present for her remarks, I understand that she expressed the view that the task of an orientation center for the blind is to teach blind students that, when blindness is properly understood, it is a "nonissue." This choice of words caused much discussion. Before the day had concluded, I had discussed this remark with both Jim Omvig, a very longtime Federation leader, and Shawn Mayo.
Subsequent to the rehabilitation conference, Jim Omvig sent a letter to Shawn
Mayo and others, and she responded. I was somewhat surprised both by what Jim
Omvig said and by what Shawn Mayo replied. In a letter dated December 14, 2007,
I expressed this surprise and added comments of my own. Upon reflection I have
modified my thinking slightly, and I have altered my response accordingly.
One of the most oft-repeated (and frequently misunderstood) statements of Federation philosophy is that the real problem of blindness is not the loss of eyesight. "The real problem is the misunderstanding and lack of information which exist. With proper training and opportunity blindness can be reduced to the level of a physical nuisance. The ordinary blind person can do the ordinary job in the ordinary place of business and do it as well as the ordinary sighted person."
Many have said, either with annoyance or anger, that blindness is not simply a nuisance—it is much more than that. Of course the Federation has never said that blindness is either simply or only a nuisance. What we have said is that with proper training and opportunity blindness can be reduced to the level of a physical nuisance. This leaves the social aspects of blindness to be considered, which can be a very great nuisance indeed and often much more than a nuisance. As I reflected upon the language employed in the rehabilitation conference, I wondered how blindness had changed in the decades that I have been working in the Federation.
It seems to me that the letters written with reference to the remarks of Shawn
Mayo pose questions that have a fundamental impact on the underlying philosophical
belief system of the Federation. Here is what was written:
From: James H. Omvig
Sent: Tuesday, December 11, 2007
To: Shawn Mayo, Pam Allen, Julie Deden, Marc Maurer
Cc: Joanne Wilson
Subject: NFB Orientation Centers and NFB Philosophy
I don't want to make too big a deal of my concern with the way you stated NFB philosophy on Thursday, but since Dr. Maurer has raised it with you, I thought I'd let you know of my concern. And since I'm writing you, I thought I'd share it with the other centers. I'd hope we're all consistent and up-to-date concerning our NFB belief system.
As I told you, I was concerned when you began your remarks by saying that the purpose of an NFB center is to make blindness a "nonfactor" or "nonissue" in the lives of our students. I was concerned for two reasons: first, NFB philosophy has never been stated that way, and it surprised me; but, second, and even more important, our critics are always looking for something we say that can then be taken out of context and used to make us appear to be unrealistic or foolish.
I assume that, when you said a center's purpose is to make blindness a "nonfactor" in a person's life, you were really saying what we always say, "Blind people are normal people who, given proper training and opportunity, can compete on terms of absolute equality with our sighted peers," and that, "Given proper training, blindness can be reduced to the level of a nuisance or inconvenience," that "Blindness is a normal characteristic that can be managed in the same way humans manage other normal characteristics." That's all clear enough to me and to those in the room who already understood and were committed to NFB philosophy.
But there were enough strangers in the room that the audience may well have included those who would be all too eager to leave the conference and head back home armed with what they would consider new ammunition with which to distort and smear. Perhaps I'm being over-sensitive and an alarmist, but I don't think so. I've been at lots of meetings and conferences over the past twenty-five years--during the time I've been writing about our training techniques and philosophy--where the effort from many traditional blindness professionals has been precisely that.
Actually, the issue of whether or not blindness is a nonfactor came up back
in 1973. Someone wrote to Dr. Jernigan and said essentially, "You and the
NFB are not consistent. You can't say, on the one hand, that blind people are
normal people and then, on the other hand, also say that blindness is a nuisance
or inconvenience, even if one has experienced proper training. Either we're
normal, or we're not."
Dr. Jernigan answered this question at the 1973 New York convention in his speech, “A Left-Handed Dissertation.” Analogizing blindness to left-handedness, he pointed out that left-handed people are normal people but that, even so, left-handedness is still a nuisance (a characteristic) that is real and must be accepted and dealt with. Although the last paragraph of the speech is long, I thought I'd copy it here in its entirety, since it speaks to the point of blindness as a nonfactor. It reads:
For all these reasons I say to you that the blind are able to compete on terms of absolute equality with the sighted, but I go on to say that blindness (even when properly dealt with) is still a physical nuisance. We must avoid the sin and the fallacy of either extreme. Blindness need not be a tragic hell. It cannot be a total nullity, lacking all inconvenience. It can, as we of the National Federation of the Blind say at every opportunity, be reduced to the level of a mere annoyance. Right on! We the blind must neither cop out by selling ourselves short with self-pity and myths of tragic deprivation, nor lie to ourselves by denying the existence of a problem. We need your help; we seek your understanding; and we want your partnership in changing our status in society. There is no place in our movement for the philosophy of the self-effacing Uncle Tom, but there is also no place for unreasonable and unrealistic belligerence. We are not out to "get sighty." Will you work with us?
Shawn, I hope my raising this issue with you is not a bother. Since I have written so widely on the topic of NFB training over the past twenty-five years (based on hours and hours of discussions on the subject with Dr. Jernigan), I have a pretty good handle on what we think and why we do what we do. I recognize that our philosophy can grow and develop, and I also recognize that I am not necessarily the keeper of all knowledge on the subject, but I am not aware that we have progressed to the point that we say that blindness is a "nonfactor" in someone's life.
If I'm missing something, let me know. Also let me know about whether you think we need to be concerned any longer about how others state, or misstate, our positive message about blindness.
Hope all is going well at BLIND, Incorporated.
From: Shawn Mayo
To: James H. Omvig, Pam Allen, Julie Deden, Marc Maurer
Cc: Joanne Wilson
Date: Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Subject: RE: NFB Orientation Centers and NFB Philosophy
I am really glad that we can discuss this because our philosophy is so very important. I think that discussion is good but that we also have to be careful that we don't mistake discussion for criticism. I in no way think you were criticizing me for saying what I said. I believe in discussion as I'm sure you do, but I hope we never reach the point where the appearance of discussion is used to mask a one-size-fits-all philosophy. I don't think either you or I would want that.
"Left-Handed Dissertation" is a speech that we use regularly in seminar. Something I love about this speech is the way that Dr. Jernigan carried forward the ideas that Dr. tenBroek articulated in his Society for the Bald in "Within the Grace of God," and then President Maurer carried the same concept forward when he talked of the plight of the tall in "The Rest of Reality." It shows how durable our philosophy is even though it is articulated in different ways at different times.
When I was writing my portion of the panel presentation, though, I was thinking more about another speech we often use, "Blindness: Handicap or Characteristic" and particularly the passage: "No one is likely to disagree with me if I say that blindness, first of all, is a characteristic. But a great many people will disagree when I go on to say that blindness is only a characteristic. It is nothing more or less than that. It is nothing more special, or more peculiar, or more terrible than that suggests. When we understand the nature of blindness as a characteristic--a normal characteristic like hundreds of others with which each of us must live--we shall better understand the real need to be met by services to the blind, as well as the false needs which should not be met."
I could have just put the term "characteristic" or "physical nuisance" in place of "nonfactor" or "nonissue," but I didn't for two reasons. First, the term "physical nuisance" was new and innovative when it was first used: however, we have used it so frequently that people—even people not overly familiar with our literature-may not be as inclined to think about the term and what it actually means. I'm no great rhetorician, but I do know that, while not wrong, repetition can have a sedative effect on listeners, and we intended to make people work at listening to what we had to say and hopefully remember and discuss it.
Second, I wanted to deal with this on more of a sociological level. There are a good number of folks who'd like to break all people down into a string of hyphenated subject positionings based on gender, class, race, sexual orientation, etc., and there are a lot of disabled folks who'd like to add disability to that list. I wanted subtly to show that, not only is blindness not a tragedy, it isn't an identity either. Joyce Scanlan received a call the other day from a college student wanting to research blind culture. We need to stand up, as Joyce did, and say blind folks are as individual as snowflakes. That is what I meant when I said, "The only real common denominator among blind people is blindness," the same as "Blind folks are a cross section of society." The concepts that blindness is a characteristic and that blind people are a cross section of society are two sides of the same coin, and I wanted to flip it around and show both sides. I thought the term "nonfactor" worked for this.
As far as anyone’s taking the phrase out of context and using it against us, any words can be twisted and misrepresented; that's the nature of language. People have done this with Dr. Jernigan's speeches as well as with those of other members. And the rehabilitation field has done this with the words we use to describe NFB training, informed choice, structured discovery, etc. In the context of our presentation "nonfactor" or "nonissue" means removing it from the individual's decision-making process. It's not that blindness goes away. We just want them to put it into perspective so that decisions that have been made on the basis of blindness are no longer being made on that basis.
The rehab establishment has a long history of false advertising when it comes
to Federation philosophy, but that has never stopped us from speaking our minds.
We were also addressing a seminar for professionals in the blindness field.
While I wouldn't vouch for the intelligence of every person in attendance, we
did assume that they were reasonably bright and at least mildly interested in
the NFB and our thoughts on rehab, or they probably wouldn't have bothered to
show up. We wanted to treat them like professionals and produce a presentation
that was honest and intellectually engaging on the assumption that they would
listen to the speech as a whole, consider it, and engage in meaningful dialog.
I think that, if anyone wants to take one term out of context, that's his or
her decision. I certainly don't have twenty-five years of experience in rehab
or the Federation, but I believe that I have a firm understanding of our history
and philosophy. I also believe I have the responsibility to carry our philosophy
forward, and I am doing the best I can in this regard. I like what Dr. Jernigan
said in his final banquet address, and I consider it a challenge I am trying
to live up to:
I leave the presidency of this organization knowing that our movement has come of age and is fully mature. Make no mistake: we will go the rest of the way to freedom. I know it as surely as I know that the blind are as competent as others. I know it as surely as I know that the sighted are capable of accepting us as the equals we are. We of the second generation of the movement have kept faith with the first generation. We have treasured the heritage, expanded the opportunities, resisted custodialism, fought where we could with the weapons we have had to advance the cause, supported each other, nurtured our fellow blind, and sacrificed and planned for the future. We have also kept faith with our children, the third generation. We have transmitted to them a powerful movement. We have trained them in the ways of freedom. We have shared with them our beliefs and our understanding. We have wanted better for them than we have had for ourselves. And, above all, we have loved them. We do not seek to make them like us, for in our strongest imaginings we cannot go to the house of their ultimate tomorrow. We seek only to go with them as far as we can on the way.
December 14, 2007
Sent via email
Dear Jim and Shawn:
I have read your emails dated December 11 and 12, 2007, and I am a little surprised. I had thought that you, Jim, had expressed the view to me that Shawn's expression of philosophy overstated the case because it opined that blindness could be rendered a nullity, which you believed was impractical as a concept. In your email I do not find this assertion, which surprises me somewhat.
I found the conversation that we had during the rehabilitation conference about Shawn’s presentation fascinating. I wondered whether the proposition that blindness could become a nonissue could in any respect be possible. You related to me that this is what Shawn had said. If her argument is merely a restatement of what we have always said (whether her statement is subject to misinterpretation or not), then it seems less dramatic than what you earlier told me she said. I am well aware of what Dr. Jernigan said in "The Left-Handed Dissertation," and I agree with him. I think Dr. Jernigan's packaging of the ideas in that speech is among the most delightful of his writings. However, I am interested in knowing how Federation philosophy will develop. I do not believe that Dr. Jernigan thought up everything we should know. This implies that something new will be added to our philosophical comprehension of blindness and that we should be open to it. I hope I am open to the contemplation of ideas that extend beyond what all of us know. I think the thought of blindness becoming a nullity is an interesting one. I don't think I believe in it, but I would like to examine the proposition.
It seems to me that our expectations are greater today than they have ever
been. Our technology is advancing faster than it ever has in the past. I also
believe that we are challenging elements within society beyond those that we
have addressed in former times. Will there ever be a time when blindness approaches
irrelevance in the minds of blind people and of the public at large? Other characteristics
of humanity that divide populations into groups have changed in importance.
"No Irish need apply" is a saying that in the past meant exactly what
it said. There are still tensions in Ireland, but in the United States Irish
descent does not prevent participation in the broader society. Even the French
and the British seem to work together these days. Apartheid is no longer the
law of the land in South Africa. Will blindness ever become a nullity? I find
this a fascinating question. I offer these thoughts only for what they may be
Marc Maurer, president
National Federation of the Blind
by Margaret M. Quinlan, J. Webster Smith, and Casey Hayward
From the Editor: Dr. J.W. Smith is a professor of communication studies
at Ohio University. He is also first vice president of the National Federation
of the Blind of Ohio. Margaret Quinlan is a doctoral candidate in the OU School
of Communication Studies, and Casey Hayward is a documentary filmmaker based
in southeast Ohio.
Ed Marko redefines what it means to be not only an auto mechanic but a person who is blind. At the age of twenty he lost his sight from a degenerative disease called infantile glaucoma. However, he has surpassed what we traditionally think of as the capabilities of blind people. Now in his late sixties, he was once a rehabilitation counselor, but he also enjoyed working on cars. Then he decided to open his own shop, Community Car Care, in Columbus, Ohio. Plan F, a twenty-seven-minute documentary awarded the 2007 Oxford International Film Festival Award in cinematography and nominated for best short documentary at the Southern Winds Film Festival, takes us through a day in Ed’s life as we watch him work on cars and interact with his partner Brad and his cat. Ed teaches us that one does not need to see to work on cars as he uses his fingers and tongue to manipulate bolts, nuts, and bearings. The ways Marko navigates the auto shop demonstrate how he approaches life. If plan A does not work, he moves on to plan B. Flexibility and a sense of humor allow him to switch to a new plan when the first one does not work out. In this review of Plan F we begin with summaries of the nine major scenes of the documentary, followed by reviews by a blind and a sighted person. The piece concludes with comments from the director.
Plan F opens with a shot of the shop exterior. The scene cuts to black while Ed talks to himself as he works on cars. He calls to Brad. The camera then cuts to Ed shuffling his feet as he walks into a wall, and the screen goes black, the first clue that Ed is blind. The second scene shows him seated at his desk saying that he is not sure why anyone would be interested in his story. He then explains how he became a mechanic. He says he does not need much because all he really has to take care of is his cat. In scene three Ed explains that he has been blind since the 1950s and was a rehabilitation counselor most of his working life. He tells humorously of a time when a client's father accused him of pretending to be blind. He got burned out in that occupation because he was always hearing bad news.
In scene four Ed says that his customers expect him to perform miracles even when they have been to other mechanics. He makes a crack about customers who don’t get regular tune-ups. In scene five Ed talks about one of his customers, a German girl, who looks good and must have no idea how good looking she is. He blames her for distracting his workers. Then Brad and Ed go through his mail, and Ed comments that he only "reads" NPR and the BBC. In scene six, Brad and Ed go over finances, and Ed holds firm on the low prices he wants to charge. This frustrates Brad, who thinks they should charge for the services other auto mechanics do. The seventh scene reveals Ed's history with infantile glaucoma. He was born with vision that slowly deteriorated. This scene is important because we observe the shop’s messiness and the way he navigates it. He talks about his photographic memory and the way he uses his tongue to feel things and a rubber mat to organize parts. Scene seven closes with a funny exchange between Ed and Brad about forgetting the rug and not being able to find a nut even though he has buckets of nuts and bolts. Ed tries to start a car with a spark plug wire attached incorrectly. He and Brad bicker about what is wrong with the car. Ed fixes the problem and talks about how much work people are able to do without being able to see.
The documentary concludes with Ed contemplating whether he is burned out on
cars. He is not. Instead he is willing to try to do whatever he can. At the
end he says he is giving up, but we know that is not true. The film ends with
the words: "This car seems to be alive."
A Federation View of Plan F
I've always approached films and media depictions that focus on blind characters with ambivalence at best and, in many cases, trepidation. Two of the more realistic depictions, for me at least, were Butterflies Are Free (1972) and Scent of a Woman (1992). I probably like these films because they show blind people as complete individuals, foibles and all. With this context in mind I approached Plan F. When I was presented with the opportunity to view the film, I thought, "Oh, no. Here we go again!" However, from the opening scene I am pleased to say that this was not the case, and, as I watched the film, I was immediately drawn to the experiences of Ed Marko, who just happened to be blind. Furthermore, I was pleased to learn that the person who shot the film intentionally chose to feature Ed "in his own words." I understand that this is an edited version, but at least no commentator was attempting to tell us what Ed really meant, or to give the audience his or her interpretation of Ed's comments. In my opinion Federationists would find this film refreshing for at least three reasons.
First, the documentary is about Ed, told by Ed. In short, it is Ed speaking for himself, and as Federationists we know how important it is for blind people to speak for ourselves. How often have we been told to sit in a corner, wait our turn, and let someone else speak for us. One of the tenets of our movement is that "We are the blind speaking for ourselves," thus the National Federation of the Blind. I don't know if Ed has ever been a Federationist, but I was proud to see him speak assertively about his likes and dislikes, even with his business partner, and in this forcefulness he demands respect.
Next, the focus of the film is on Ed's work and not his worth. He is portrayed as a dedicated businessman doing a job he loves and, by his own account, doing it fairly successfully. The film does not preach about the "laudatory benefits of the blind man at work." In fact, parts of the film might be viewed as boring at times, but isn't that the case with most of our lives? We are not better or worse for the particular jobs we have; they do not determine who we are, just what we do. I am often fascinated when I meet people while traveling, and I observe how they treat me when they don't know what I do for a living. Many times, when they discover that I am a university professor, their entire attitude and assessment of my worth drastically change. I become more human in their minds and of course “normal.” I'm sure that this probably happens to TABs as well (the Temporarily Able-Bodied), but I wonder to what degree and how often.
The film depicts a man doing a job that he loves, and, I might add, that he has chosen. It is ironic that, according to Ed, he was a rehabilitation counselor at one time. As many of us know, even the rehabilitation system often tries to force blind people into the jobs and training programs that the professionals think are best for us. I am fortunate that, like Ed, I was given a chance to pursue my career goals and to do what I wanted to do, not what others wanted me to do and, more to the point, what others thought I could do. In the Federation and in the blind community in general, we are just people from all walks of life trying to live as productively as we can in society. We don't want nor do we need bonus points or additional barriers based solely on our blindness.
Finally, blindness is not a big deal when appropriate alternative techniques are introduced and applied. Here is a man who is blind, who doesn't think that the fact that he is a mechanic warrants a CNN crew or even this film. Ed can't even understand "why anyone would be interested in his story." Fellow Federationists, isn't this refreshing? While others are fascinated by the way Ed gets around his shop, identifies his tools, and implements his strategy for working on engines, it's no big deal to Ed because these are just the alternative techniques he uses to do a job he loves as efficiently as possible. In the Federation we believe that with proper training and the right attitude, what many view as miraculous and superhuman can be reduced to the boring, mundane, and matter-of-fact world of human existence. I really appreciate Ed's attitude throughout the film. He is not looking for a stop-the-presses outcome. In fact he seems almost bored with his own commentary at times.
Let me be careful here not to minimize the impact of the onset of blindness
or any other disability. It can in fact be life-altering and even devastating,
depending on the context and the circumstances, but I think those who view this
film will understand that the real issue of blindness is not blindness itself,
but people's attitudes about it. Ed is a great role model for the philosophy
that blindness need not be the end of the world and that with proper training,
appropriate role models, and equal opportunity people can live productive and
positive lives. In short, this film says to me that Ed is the expert on blindness
as it relates to him. It is honest and straightforward, and the depiction rings
true to me. As I watched it, I thought to myself, "I don't know this man,
but I'm pleased that he is doing what he wants to do and that he is not using
his blindness as an excuse one way or the other." Maybe that's the crux
of it all: as blind people we often try plans A and B, and sometimes C and D
are forced on us, but we decide that the best way to get the job done is to
try plan F.
A Sighted Perspective on Plan F
What I took away from this film was the resiliency of the human spirit. Even though Ed does not view his life as remarkable, he is a reminder that we have to be flexible because our lives do not always take us in our planned direction. Anyone may end up at plan F. I appreciated the focus on the beauty in the mundane-ness of Ed's life. The shop had rusty cars, old parts, and grease stains everywhere. However, the dark and dreary lighting of the film helped to capture the feeling of what it would be like for me to be in the shop, and the director did not make any effort to transform the scene. We must acknowledge that Casey's presence in the shop changed the ways in which Ed navigated. For example, Ed is talking with Casey while he is working on cars and makes a few mistakes. It is possible that, because Ed was distracted, he may have made more mistakes than he would have if he had not been concentrating on the interview.
As an aspiring disability scholar I believe that it is important that we pay
attention to the negative ways individuals with disabilities are portrayed in
the media. Although Plan F did not glorify Ed’s life, it did show him
as a complex character with humor and humanity in addition to his business skills.
In many ways Ed's story is redefining what it means to be blind when one can
be employed and doing what he or she loves.
The Director's Perspective on Plan F
I first heard about Ed while I was at a charity dinner and was sitting across from some people I did not know. During our conversation over dinner, we talked about my work as a documentary filmmaker. The man said, "I have a great subject for you," and he proceeded to tell about his son, who worked for a blind auto mechanic in Columbus, Ohio. I was intrigued by this, but I was not sure it was necessarily a film for me to make. It was fascinating, but I could not fully comprehend a blind person working on cars. But over the next few days my wife (and now co-producer) continued to ask me if I was going to follow up on this documentary idea. The more she asked, the more I asked my own questions already having some background working on cars about what it would be like to be blind and an auto mechanic. So I met with Ed at his shop, and I realized fairly quickly that he would be an interesting subject for a documentary. However, I would not be able to romanticize his situation. He was open to having a documentary made about him, but he did not think anyone would be interested in who he was or what he did. To him his life was completely normal, so I knew that was how I would portray it.
The main thing I learned from making this documentary, when dealing with a film subject with disabilities, is not to overdramatize the situation, not to play up the challenges anymore than I would anyone else's experiences, and to show the good with the bad. I think humor also played an important role—I needed to avoid taking Ed's life too seriously simply because he was disabled. In working on location in Ed's shop, for the first time in my life I shot with no additional lighting in a space that Ed obviously keeps very dimly lit. This situation forced me to understand, in some very small way, what it's like to perform intense technical tasks without being able to see what you're doing. In turn this informed my aesthetic decisions about the film, specifically to have the film look dim and out of focus so that viewers must work to see and not take the very sense that Ed lacks for granted.
I hope other people can see Ed as an active, engaged member of society, rather than a category or a charity case. But I hope they will also see blindness in a less noble light--as though Ed had special status or insight simply because he could not see. We seem to deal with disability in one of two ways. Either we feel pity or are overawed by a disabled person's achievements in everyday life. I wanted the film about Ed to resist both of these extremities.
by Judith Dickson
From the Editor: Judy Dickson is one of the most knowledgeable Braille
users in the country today. She is consumer relations officer at the National
Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped of the Library of Congress.
She has written and spoken extensively in the area of Braille, is the creator
and manager for NLS's Web-Braille service, and has been a lifelong reader of
Braille and a tireless advocate for Braille literacy. She is also in her second
year as chair of the Braille Authority of North America. Here is her report
on recent BANA actions:
In October 2007 the Braille Authority of North America (BANA) released "Braille Codes Update 2007.” This Update includes official changes to three BANA publications: “Nemeth Code for Mathematics and Science Notation,” “English Braille, American Edition,” and “Braille Formats: Principles of Print to Braille Transcription.” The effective date for these code changes is January 1, 2008.
As the vast array of print characters, styles, and formats continues to evolve, so must the Braille code intended to represent this constantly shifting array of print. It is indeed a challenge for BANA to keep the medium of Braille precise enough to reflect accurately the myriad of print symbols and complex print formats, while remaining flexible enough to maintain readability for the Braille user. Many of the changes in this Update are small but have been adopted in an effort to make Braille codes more consistent with print and more usable for both Braille readers and Braille transcribers.
The changes to the Nemeth Code include a keystroke indicator added to the list of shape indicators, a subsection added on calculator and computer keystrokes, several examples in the codebook added or fixed, and a section added on the Brailling of stem-and-leaf plots. Most of these corrections and changes were approved by the BANA Board many years ago and are simply being incorporated into the official code with the publication of this Update.
A few of the changes to the literary Braille code are likely to be noticed in the near future in popular Braille books and magazines. These include:
Apostrophe Rule: an inserted apostrophe is no longer required in plural abbreviations, numbers, or letters where none existed in print. For example, if “1930s” is written without an apostrophe in print, it will now be written that way in Braille as well. This change in the apostrophe rule will give Braille readers more accurate information about print practices.
New Symbols: A few new symbols have been added to the literary
Dot 4, a: at sign
Dot 4, c: cents
Dot 4, e: Euro
Dot 4, y: Yen
Dot 4, and: ampersand
Dots 45, c: copyright symbol
Dots 45, r: registered trademark
Dots 45, t: trademark
Dots 456, 1456: crosshatch
Dots 456, 34: slash
Since the symbols no. and lb. both represent a print crosshatch and are easily misunderstood as representing the print no. and lb., they have been replaced by a new symbol representing the crosshatch, whatever its meaning. This gives Braille readers the same information that print readers have. While a common meaning of the crosshatch is number, it also has a variety of other meanings: number, pound, and even sharp, as in the programming language C#. A symbol not associated with the word number is more easily associated with other meanings.
The new symbol for the slash is meant to be used whenever a slash appears in
print that is not a fraction line. In the past transcribers were required to
change slashes that occurred in dates to hyphens. The new rule says to use slashes
whenever they occur in print. This revised rule for the transcription of dates
provides a step in the direction of giving Braille readers more information
about print practice.
The symbol dots 456, 34 was selected to represent the print slash symbol because it is already widely used with letters in textbooks and is used in the Nemeth code, British Braille, and Unified English Braille. By preceding dots 34 with dots 456, the slash will no longer be confused with the Braille st sign.
Following print in the use of the slash or fraction line gives the Braille reader the same information the print reader has. When a fraction is written as a fraction (numerator above denominator) in print, it is also written as a fraction in Braille (using dots 34). When, in print, a fraction or similar construction is written using a slash and all numbers on the same level, the use of the Braille slash (dots 456, 34) reflects that expression. The transcriber no longer needs to know whether two numbers are related to each other as parts of a date or a fraction or have some other relationship. The new rule is simple, easy for a computer to follow, and unambiguous for the Braille reader, regardless of the treatment of fractions. Some agencies and transcribing groups may wish to preserve traditional ways of transcribing fractions in certain publications, so the rule also allows for this.
Changes in the formats section of the Update include:
Alphabetic Page Numbers: Sometimes page numbers are shown as words on a page with the numeric page number. Most often used with math, foreign language, and lower grade materials, they reinforce the spelled-out version of the numeric number. The new rule puts the alphabetic number in the note position (cell-7) with leading dots 36. This will help the younger reader find the number quickly.
Boxed and Screened Material: The current guidelines for boxes within boxes does not give a true indication of the position of these materials on the print page. Changing the top and bottom boxing lines to the full cell indicates to the reader that everything following the full cell is related until he or she reaches the next full cell. The opening and closing boxing lines indicate the internal boxes. The graphic nature of textbooks and the print placement of text are often indicative of its importance or its relationship to other materials. This new arrangement for boxes within boxes will better indicate the relationships.
Wide Tables: The linear format for displaying tables that was used years ago has been reinstated. It saves space and retains the connection of one piece of information to the next piece. The listed table is a new method of Brailling tables and is useful for large tables with multiple row and column headings. The repetition of the headings makes it easy for the student to follow the information and not have to back up to check individual headings. It is clear and easy to understand.
To stay up-to-date on the activities of the Braille Authority of North America,
subscribe to BANA-Announce, a one-way list to facilitate the dissemination of
official BANA information: summaries of meetings and other BANA activities;
new publications; announcements about code changes; and general information
to promote Braille, its use, and production. To join this listserv, send a blank
email message to <firstname.lastname@example.org> and follow
the directions in the confirmation email that will be sent automatically in
response to a subscription request.
by Nancy Bartley
From the Editor: Kirk Adams, who addressed the 2007 NFB convention in Atlanta, has just become the first-ever blind CEO of the Seattle Lighthouse for the Blind. On January 21, 2008, the Seattle Times carried the following story about Mr. Adams and the Lighthouse:
As the talking alarm clock tells him it's 5:30 and time to get up, Kirk Adams's day unfolds in sound, scent, and touch. The aroma of coffee drifts through the house. He hears his wife's soft voice in the kitchen of their small, white Leschi home as he reads the morning news with his fingertips. The sound of his children clomping on the floor lets him know they're getting up. The day for Adams, the first blind chief executive officer and president of the Seattle Lighthouse for the Blind, has begun.
In the organization's ninety-year history, only executives with vision have been at the helm of the organization, which offers training and employment for the blind. Proponents for the blind say his appointment illustrates how technological advances, like talking computers and laptops with Braille keyboards and screens, now open opportunities for talented people to do most of the jobs a sighted person can do. They say Adams's appointment is not just a promotion but a statement that disabilities don't have to be limiting.
A Phi Beta Kappa graduate from Whitman College and a recipient of a master's degree from Seattle University, Adams, forty-six, was employed by the agency for eight years before the board selected him to take over for President George Jacobson, who retired Friday after forty years—twenty-nine of them leading the organization. The time has come for a blind president, said Jacobson, who mentored Adams. "He's a good choice to fill my sandals."
Paula Hoffman, a board member who hired Adams, said he was promoted because
he's skilled, has a background in nonprofit management, and "he's brilliant."
That he happens to be blind "is a bonus," she said. "It gives
him so much credibility with blind people and other blind agencies...and he's
just a regular Northwest guy," Hoffman said. He's got a favorite table
at the Virginia Inn, never misses opening day of fishing season, and loves the
Help with the Details
On a recent morning, as Adams's family stretches and yawns and sinks into chairs at the breakfast table, his wife, Roslyn Adams, stirs eggs on the stove. Does he want anything to eat? When does his flight leave? And what about the TV appearance in Spokane? Does he want the blue shirt or white?
As soon as she drives him to the office in time for his 8:00 a.m. teleconference, she'll go home and pack for him. As he gets out of the car, he raps his knuckles against the window in a gesture of affection, then--seemingly effortlessly--navigates his way up the stairs, into the building, and to his office.
His computer gives him a message. He calls a shop foreman on a standard cell phone, having memorized the keys. With his white cane held before him, he makes his way downstairs and into a workshop. There he asks a foreman who can see for an elbow and takes hold of it as he walks along the aisles, the cane swishing from side to side.
There's the hiss of compressors and hum of machinery--nearly all run by people who are visually impaired. The machines have been modified for the blind and vision-impaired. Sometimes the modification was simply getting a larger computer screen to make the type bigger, and other times it was adding a computer program that talked, giving instructions to a router operator.
"Where we see the disconnect is with the kids" coming into the Lighthouse, Adams said. Most have not gone to special schools for the blind, so they are not proficient in Braille or other technology to make them employable. And while sighted kids get jobs flipping burgers, blind kids miss the opportunity for entry-level jobs. "I want the Lighthouse to be a beacon of [Braille] competency," he said.
The blind can do most jobs, except those involving driving. But because most employers don't realize that or aren't willing to pay the extra cost to make a workplace accessible to the blind, there are limited employment opportunities, Adams said.
As many as 70 percent of all adult blind people are unemployed, according to one survey. That makes organizations like the Lighthouse, which employs two-hundred blind people, forty of them who are also deaf, vital as both employers and places for learning blindness skills, like reading Braille and becoming familiar with technology that compensates for being unable to see, he said.
Those skills Adams learned early in the Oregon School for the Blind in Silverton, which he attended as a day student. By the fifth grade he entered public school. Later, when the family moved to Snohomish, where his father, Jim Adams, became a coach at Snohomish High School, Kirk ran track, skied, and wrestled.
The oldest of three children, Adams was born with crossed eyes. He had surgery to repair them and apparently had an adverse reaction to the anesthetic, causing hemorrhaging that eventually detached the retinas. He was only five at the time, and although his vision was fading, he never seemed to be any different from a typical boy, his father said. His parents vowed never to overprotect him. Learning to ski through the Ski for Light program for the blind came easily. The person who skied behind him was his eyes and told him to turn left or right. He went to championship meets across the nation.
When he went away to Whitman College, his father was looking for Seattle students with whom Adams might be able to ride to and from campus. A college newsletter had photos of freshman students from Seattle. Jim Adams saw a photo of Roslyn Jackson and told his son, "Hey, she's beautiful. You should call her."
Once he was on campus, he did. Eventually they married and now have a son Tyler,
twenty-one, a college senior, and daughter Rachel, seventeen, a senior at Garfield
On the Move
Adams was in Spokane early last week announcing the opening of a Lighthouse for the Blind there and made an appearance on a local television station, in addition to meeting with architects and planners. Then he was off to Florida on another business trip.
Through technology or sometimes requests as basic as asking for an elbow or an explanation, Adams navigates strange airports, subways, machine shops, high-traffic streets, shopping, cooking, and the daily routine of running a corporation. He credits his ease to having learned blindness skills early in life and to a world that is slowly, steadily opening, giving blind people access to some of the opportunities the sighted take for granted.
On Adams's desk are tactile objects?shells, a prickly sea star, a jagged-edged amethyst, a smooth rock. He's a nature lover who in 1980 climbed Mount Rainier with famed climber Jim Whittaker. On the wall of the office is a quote from a Sherman Alexie novel about a man who stood in the dark, the only light the distant stars, small miracles that "happened at the edges of his peripheral vision, tiny wonders exploding while his back was turned." Although Adams cannot read the type--it's not in Braille--he knows the words like he knows his world: through his senses and his heart.
From the Editor: From time to time Miss Whozit answers reader questions
about etiquette and good manners, particularly as they involve blindness. If
you would like to pose a question to Miss Whozit, you can send it to the attention
of Barbara Pierce, 1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21230, or email
me at <email@example.com>. I will pass the questions along. Letters may
be edited for space and clarity. Here are the most recent letters Miss Whozit
Dear Miss Whozit,
I have had a problem lately handling sighted people who make clearly mean comments about my blindness. Such a thing happened to me in a book store recently. I asked a clerk to find a book title for me in the computer. He found it and told me the location, but I was rather unsure of the directions, and I guess it showed on my face. (I have a little sight for reading print.)
I answered, "I didn't see it there."
The clerk then asked in an unsure and annoyed tone: "Do you want help finding the title, sir?"
I replied, "Yes, that would be helpful."
As we began walking to the location, he turned and asked: "Are you partly blind or blind, sir? When you said you `didn't see the title' were you trying to be funny?"
I replied, "Partly blind, and, no, it would annoy me and my fellow blind people to make funny comments about blindness."
So I repeat: How should one handle a clearly mean comment about one's blindness
like this one?
Confused about Comments
It’s clear from your description of this exchange that you were not the only one who was confused. You did not mention whether or not you were using a white cane or a guide dog, but I infer that you were. Without some such signal your clerk’s perplexity and tactlessness would quite likely have been far more overt and annoying. Such a reaction is obviously nothing new to you. People with little or no experience dealing with blind people are nonplussed to find blindness and competence and normality coexisting in the same person.
The clerk’s half-formed logic probably went something like this: Blind people need help finding their way anywhere, but then what is a blind man doing looking for a print book, which he can’t read. Moreover, a blind man wouldn’t talk about “seeing things.” On the other hand, sighted customers need help locating individual books, but they can follow my gesture-filled instructions. So which is this guy, blind or sighted?
Whether the tactless people you come across intend to be rude or manage to
do it unconsciously, your question is the same: how should you deal with their
resulting comments? In the spirit of civility and etiquette, Miss Whozit urges
everyone to take the high road. The more considerate you are, the more likely
it is that the other person will actually hear and understand your explanation
about seeing a bit but not enough to follow mostly visual instructions. This
advice should not be understood as advocating that blind people meekly allow
ourselves to be dragged around or consigned to waiting areas or wheelchairs
where the sighted can take care of the inconvenience of our appearance in their
world. One can simultaneously be both civil and calmly insistent on our right
to useful information or appropriate assistance. Getting the mix right is a
matter of personal taste and wide experience. Keep working on your responses
and concentrate on aiming to be clear but courteous.
Dear Miss Whozit,
I recently returned home from the Washington Seminar. I love this event, and I get a real charge out of being with a large group of blind people from across the country. But, Miss Whozit, please join me in pleading with our members to move to the side of the hallways to conduct conversations. I don’t know why people can’t pay attention to where they are standing and whether or not they are preventing people from getting through their group or around them. I get frustrated at convention when people don’t seem to care whether or not they are causing a bottleneck or being disruptive. Surely we have as much responsibility as other people to be considerate of others, no matter how many times others have failed to treat us with consideration.
The Young Curmudgeon
Miss Whozit rejects the notion that wishing to inhabit a world in which everyone is considerate of others makes one a curmudgeon at any age. Miss Whozit emphatically agrees that all blind people would do well to consider where they are and whether their behavior is likely to inconvenience others. And while we are at it, sighted people who give directions or carry on conversations with blind people in a normal voice while a room full of people are trying to listen to a speaker or conduct a meeting are themselves rude and encourage the unobservant blind people they are helping to make themselves conspicuous.
Once and for all let us agree that the tops and bottoms of escalators, the area outside exit doors, the space immediately in front of elevators, and the center of busy hallways are not appropriate places to chat with friends. Stopping to visit or check for missing belongings or answer a cell phone in any of these locations is likely to earn the annoyance of those being blocked. In the case of escalators, stopping as soon as one steps off the moving stairs is just plain dangerous and tends to create panic in the people piling up behind.
Let’s all pledge to be more considerate of others when we get together. We can all move to the side to chat, and we can also be courteous when we are reminding others to step out of the way or speak more quietly. Civility makes life more pleasant for everyone.
by Curtis Chong
From the Editor: Curtis Chong is president of the NFB in Computer Science division. Here is his interesting brief report on America Online’s Webmail service:
Any blind person who has used a talking screen-reading program to read email with a Web browser (sometimes referred to as "Webmail") has had to deal with an interface that is both awkward and inefficient. This interface is so cumbersome, in fact, that, when given a choice, most of us prefer to use an email client such as Outlook Express or Eudora whenever we get the chance. In most Webmail services, when you open a Webpage that displays the body of an email message that you want to read, it often takes four or more keystrokes to move the cursor to the body of the message before you can read it. (One typically presses the down arrow key over and over again until one hears the first line of the message.) The Reply and Delete controls are often placed so far away from the message itself that only an advanced user can find them with less than five keystrokes. Finally, no shortcut keystrokes take you directly to the inbox or to a screen where you can type a reply.
Well, let me tell you about the Webmail offering from America Online (AOL). To begin with, it is now possible to obtain an email address from AOL free. That's right, free! Simply point your browser to <www.mail.aol.com> and get yourself what AOL calls a screen name. As part of the process you will be asked to copy some graphical text into an edit box (the dreaded visual CAPTCHA), but fortunately AOL provides a way to copy the text using an audio prompt.
As for the AOL Webmail service itself, the first thing you will notice (once you have switched to "accessible view") is that a number of very useful shortcut keys are now available. For example, Control+Alt+N takes you directly to a screen where you can write a new email message; Control+Alt+A takes you to your list of email contacts; and Control+Alt+M checks for new email. When you are reading a message, you can press Control+Alt+D to delete the message, Control+Alt+F to forward the message, Control+Alt+R to reply to the message, or Control+Alt+J to mark the message as spam (unsolicited and unwanted email). You can store names and email addresses of those with whom you exchange email, and the spell check function works quite nicely with talking screen-reading software.
On each page that is part of the AOL Webmail service, you have the option of bringing up a table containing the list of available keyboard shortcuts. You can either click on the link which says, "Click this link to show or hide the keyboard shortcuts table," or simply press Control+Alt+H.
I have used a number of Webmail services over the years, and none of them has
impressed me as much as the AOL Webmail service. As most people who know me
will tell you, I am a hard person to impress. I find little to criticize about
the AOL Webmail service and much to be glad about. I believe that a lot of careful
thought and hard work went into the design of the accessible interface to the
AOL Webmail service. The design clearly demonstrates a strong understanding
of the way screen-access programs for the blind work, a knowledge of the shortcuts
they use to facilitate efficient navigation of Webpages, and a practical understanding
of what blind people need and want in an email system. Kudos to AOL for making
this accessible Webmail service, and kudos to its director of accessibility,
Tom Wlodkowski, who in my view was largely responsible for making this happen.
Consider a Charitable Gift
Making a charitable gift can be one of the most satisfying experiences in life. Each year millions of people contribute their time, talent, and treasure to charitable organizations. When you plan for a gift to the National Federation of the Blind, you are not just making a donation; you are leaving a legacy that insures a future for blind people throughout the country. Special giving programs are available through the National Federation of the Blind (NFB).
Points to Consider When Making a Gift to the National Federation of the Blind
• Will my gift serve to advance the mission of the NFB?
• Am I giving the most appropriate asset?
• Have I selected the best way to make my gift?
• Have I considered the tax consequences of my gift?
• Have I sought counsel from a competent advisor?
• Have I talked to the planned giving officer about my gift?
Benefits of Making a Gift to the NFB
• Helping the NFB fulfill its mission
• Receiving income tax savings through a charitable deduction
• Making capital gain tax savings on contribution of some appreciated gifts
• Providing retained payments for the life of a donor or other beneficiaries
• Eliminating federal estate tax in certain situations
• Reducing estate settlement cost
Your Gift Will Help Us
• Make the study of science and math a real possibility for blind children
• Provide hope for seniors losing vision
• Promote state and chapter programs and provide information that will educate blind people
• Advance technology helpful to the blind
• Create a state-of-the-art library on blindness
• Train and inspire professionals working with the blind
• Provide critical information to parents of blind children
• Mentor blind people trying to find jobs
Your gift makes you a part of the NFB dream!
From the Editor: Every year’s national convention is an absolutely unique event. The agenda items, the exhibits, the new friends and business acquaintances: all these give each convention its own character and significance. Some activities lend a luster to the convention in part because they do take place every year and provide helpful fixed points in the whirl of events. In this category are the meetings of the Resolutions Committee and the board of directors, the annual banquet, and the many seminars and workshops of the various divisions and committees. Here is a partial list of activities being planned by a number of Federation groups during the 2008 convention, June 29 through July 5. Presidents of divisions, committee chairpeople, and event presenters have provided the information. The agenda will list the locations of all events taking place during convention week.
Access Technology Seminars
by the IBTC Technology Team
On Sunday, June 29, the National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute’s Access Technology Team will conduct four seminars covering a wide range of access technology topics ranging from the basics of Webpages to the latest in optical character-recognition technology.
From 8:30 to 10:00 a.m. learn the basics of HTML and how to write a Webpage. We will also discuss tips and techniques for ensuring nonvisual accessibility.
From 10:30 a.m. to noon join us for a discussion of the latest advances in eBook technology: from new players, to where to get books, to tools for producing your own DAISY content.
From 1:30 to 3:00 p.m. discover how all of your electronic devices can work
together to maximize your productivity. Don’t get overwhelmed by the computer,
the cell phone, the notetaker, the digital book reader, and all the other technology
blind people carry every day. We will talk about how to make it all fit together
and work for you. From 3:30 to 5:00 p.m. find out what the most recent technology
in the optical-character-recognition market has to offer. We will demonstrate
the new OpenBook 8.0, Kurzweil 11, Zoom-Twix, and the Eye-Pal. See you there.
Affiliate Action Action
by Joanne Wilson
The NFB Department of Affiliate Action will again sponsor a variety of programs at this year’s convention to strengthen membership in the Federation, expand our diversity, and develop our organization. Please plan to take advantage of this full array of chapter and affiliate membership-development programming. What follows is a list of the Department of Affiliate Action programs open to everyone at this year’s convention:
• Third Annual Spanish Seminar—Federationists Jessica Bachicha and A.Z. Martinez will facilitate a three-hour seminar conducted in Spanish, which will explore the roots of Federationism and will enable Latino members of our organization to network with one another. This event will be held on the afternoon of Monday, June 30, from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m.
• Recruiting Workshop—A hands-on, how-to-recruit-people-to-the-Federation workshop, featuring interactive exercises, will again be sponsored the evening of Tuesday, July 1, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. Come learn about effective strategies for inviting blind and interested sighted people to join the most vibrant and productive national consumer organization of the blind in America.
• Local Chapter Presidents' Networking Reception--A reception for local chapter presidents only will be held on Wednesday, July 2, in the Affiliate Action suite from noon to 1:30 p.m. In anticipation of the membership and chapter-building workshop later in the week, this informal gathering will allow local leaders to talk about issues of particular interest to Federationists at the grassroots level and begin to bond with one another as another level of Federation leadership. Please plan to attend this brief but important meeting if you are the president of a local chapter. Because of the number of NFB chapters, space constraints require that chapter presidents only participate in this first-ever local chapter presidents' reception.
• Back to Basics: Foundations in Membership and Chapter Development—As the name of this new four-hour seminar suggests, the staff of the Department of Affiliate Action will lead a thoughtful, detail-oriented session that will examine fundamental issues for strengthening individual membership and chapter vitality in the Federation. This seminar will occur Thursday afternoon, July 3, from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. At the top of each hour during the seminar, focus will be given to a new aspect of individual and chapter development, allowing interested convention delegates to attend all or a portion of this event, depending on their particular interests. Seminar segments will be presented as follows:
1:00-2:00 p.m.—Membership building and new chapter development
2:00-3:00 p.m.—Running an engaging chapter meeting
3:00-4:00 p.m.—Community projects and chapter fundraising
4:00-5:00 p.m.—Weaving Federation philosophy into local chapter meetings
• Rehabilitation and Education Professionals Luncheon—Friday, July 4, from noon to 1:30 p.m. all directors or administrators of state rehabilitation agencies serving eligible blind consumers, and administrators of state residential schools for the blind or system-wide blindness special education programs are invited to attend an informal networking luncheon in the Affiliate Action suite to discuss current issues in rehabilitation and education of mutual interest to the profession and the Federation.
• Finally, participants in Department of Affiliate-Action-sponsored programs such as the Parent Leadership Program, the Scholarship Alumni Program, the Rookie Round-Up Program, NFB students, and affiliate presidents should be on the lookout for special invitations to attend events in the Affiliate Action suite at various times throughout the convention. Those involved in these programs will receive personalized invitations with time and location details.
For further information about the program initiatives of the Department of
Affiliate Action at the 2008 convention, contact Joanne Wilson, executive director
of affiliate action, at (410) 659-9314, ext. 2335 or by email at <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
Attention All First-Time Convention Attendees
We invite you to attend a reception previewing our 2008 NFB convention agenda. Along with President Marc Maurer, former rookies will be on hand to welcome you to the convention and to answer questions about the week's activities. Our annual convention is a truly memorable and exciting event, and we look forward to sharing the week with each of you. Please consult the agenda for the location of this Rookie Round-up, and check the Affiliate Action Suite for other rookie events throughout the week.
Date: Sunday, June 29, 2008
Time: 8:00 to 10:00 p.m.
For more information contact Pam Allen, (800) 234-4166; <email@example.com>.
BLIND, Inc., Karaoke Night
by Shawn Mayo
Whether you are a contender to become the next American Idol, shatter the stereotype about blind people possessing great musical talent, or fall somewhere in between, you'll have a great time at BLIND, Incorporated's annual Karaoke Night on Sunday, June 29, from 8:00 p.m. to midnight. Find out what song the BLIND, Incorporated, staff and students will sing this year. Meet current students and alumni as they share their experiences from training. Bring all your friends or come make new ones and enjoy music, door prizes, and a cash bar. Admission is only $5, and song lists will be available in Braille that night. Don't miss your chance to be a rock star!
Books on Time: Mobilizing the Troops for Action
Despite considerable effort over the past ten years, blind children still begin the first day of school without their books. Now is the time to educate and mobilize a force of advocates at the grass roots who will help us overcome this injustice. Each affiliate should send at least one person to this seminar Tuesday, July 1, from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. During the seminar affiliate representatives will receive information about how the law is supposed to work, how to assist families in navigating the complaint process, how to create change at the local level, and how to assist the NFB national office in tracking the problems with timely, accessible textbooks. More specific details will be available in the coming months about the exact time, location, and agenda for this important training seminar.
Building Our Future: Youth Outreach in NFB Affiliates
From 3:30 to 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, July 3, the NFB Jernigan Institute will be hosting a networking and idea-sharing session for NFB affiliates undertaking youth outreach programs. Come tell people what your affiliate is doing in youth outreach and what resources you need, and learn from the Institute’s education team as well as others passionate about youth outreach. Affiliates in attendance will be asked for information about what they are doing in youth outreach and what barriers they are running into. This motivational, idea-sharing session is meant to expand the youth empowerment movement within the NFB. Those considering how to begin new youth outreach initiatives should come network and learn from those who are already building our future with the next generation.
Volunteers for Children’s Activities Needed
by Melissa Riccobono
Energetic and enthusiastic volunteers are needed to work with children ages five to seven on Sunday, June 29, from 1:00 to 4:30 p.m. Volunteers will work one on one with blind and sighted children in structured activities while their parents attend workshops sponsored by the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children. This is a fantastic opportunity to serve as a blind role model to a young blind or sighted child and to spend the afternoon having fun. To volunteer or for more information, contact Melissa Riccobono at (410) 235-3073 or <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
An Evening at the Colorado Center for the Blind
by Julie Deden
Take charge; challenge yourself. You are invited to an open house on Thursday, July 3, from 6:30 to 9:00 p.m. The staff and students at the Colorado Center for the Blind want you to discover what good training can do for you.
• Practice using a long white cane with our travel instructors.
• Meet our employment staff and take a quick career assessment survey.
• Create a piece of art with our art instructor.
• Try out a Braille puzzle.
• Learn about exciting innovations in the area of adaptive technology.
• Pick up some recipes and practice your techniques in food preparation.
We look forward to seeing you on Thursday, July 3, at our open house.
Committee for the Promotion, Evaluation, and Advancement of Technology
by Gary Wunder
On Tuesday, July 1, a meeting of the Committee for the Promotion, Evaluation, and Advancement of Technology will conduct a meeting in which exhibitors from the convention hall will each be given a five-minute segment to tell us what they are exhibiting, where they are in the hall, and other contact information they may wish to share. Following these presentations, we will hold a brief meeting to conduct committee business, to evaluate the effectiveness of what we now do, and to consider programs we might conduct in the coming year. For more information write to Gary Wunder by emailing <email@example.com> or by calling him at (573) 874-1774.
Crafters Organizational Meeting
by Joyce Kane
Crafters in the National Federation of the Blind are planning an organizational meeting at convention in Dallas. Please come and be part of planning this new group, committee, or division. We will have demonstrations of some of our crafters’ skills. We will also have some give-it-a-try demonstrations. Please put this on your list of got-to-do activities, and check the convention agenda for day, place, and time. If you have questions, contact Joyce Kane at <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
Committee on Research and Development
by Curtis Chong
Anybody who has been active in the National Federation of the Blind for any length of time will remember some of the more outlandish inventions and research projects that have surfaced, ostensibly for the benefit of blind people. There was the toilet designed especially for the blind. Then there was the camera that transmitted tactile images from one's surroundings to a vibrating sensor on the tongue. These crazy projects have one thing in common—they were conceived with no meaningful involvement from the blind community—particularly the organized blind.
The Committee on Research and Development of the National Federation of the Blind is interested in technological developments and research projects that will truly benefit blind people. Think about the Kurzweil-National Federation of the Blind Reader--a technology that was conceived, designed, and implemented with the full and active involvement of the National Federation of the Blind--and one can imagine what spectacular accomplishments are possible if blind people themselves are a meaningful part of any technological or research project. If you have an interest in new technologies that will benefit the blind, come to the 2008 meeting of the Committee on Research and Development at the National Federation of the Blind convention.
The meeting of the Committee on Research and Development will occur Thursday evening, July 3, from 8:00 to 10:00 p.m. The specific room location will be listed in the National Federation of the Blind convention agenda. Previous meetings of the committee have touched on a wide variety of interesting and thought-provoking subjects, and I feel confident that this meeting will be no different.
If you want more information about the committee or the meeting, contact Curtis
Chong, chair of the committee, using the following contact information: 3000
Grand Avenue, Apartment 810, Des Moines, Iowa 50312; home phone (515) 277-1288;
by Robert Eschbach
The Deaf-Blind Division will meet on Tuesday evening, July 1. Registration begins at 6:00; meeting starts at 7:00. This is an election year; we will also have time for committee reports and a discussion about the newest technology to assist deaf-blind people. We will conclude no later than 10:00. Don't forget our table in the exhibit hall. The traditional T-shirts will be available. We are also introducing NFB flipflops. See you there.
Diabetes Action Network Seminar
by Ed Bryant
Our Diabetes Action Network will have its seminar and business meeting on Tuesday, July 1, from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. Our keynote speaker will be Ann S. Williams, PhD, RN, CDE, who is a diabetes educator with much experience with diabetic issues. There will be plenty of time for your questions. We will also have a panel discussion on adaptive diabetes equipment, in which much information will be disseminated. Our seminar is free and open to the public.
by Buna Dahal
Successful employment demands effective leadership. We are planning a dynamic, practical, resourceful employment seminar. Whether you are a job seeker, trainer, or provider, you will find something valuable at this event. Imagine that you will be opening a beautiful surprise. When you combine employment and leadership effectively, they fit like a well-made glove; come discover that this seminar is one of a kind. Mark your calendar to unwrap the gift of employment on Sunday, June 29 from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. For further information contact Buna Dahal, committee chairperson, (303) 758-1232; <BunaDahal@DynamicBuna.com>.
Ham Radio Group Emergency Preparedness Seminar
by D. Curtis Willoughby
In accord with long-standing tradition, the first meeting of the 2008 convention will be the Emergency Preparedness Seminar conducted by the NFB Ham Radio Group. The seminar will be held at 7:30 a.m. on Sunday, June 29. We will discuss frequencies to be used during the convention, and especially those to be used in the event of an emergency call-out during the convention. We will also discuss architectural features of the convention hotel and other information NFB hams need to know if an emergency response is necessary.
Any Dallas hams willing to do a little frequency scouting before the convention are asked to contact Curtis Willoughby, KA0VBA; (303) 424-7373; <email@example.com>.
The Ham Radio Group has a service project to serve the Federation by handling the distribution of special FM receivers. These receivers allow hearing-impaired conventioneers to hear a signal directly from the public address system. This signal is much easier to understand than the sound that regular hearing aids pick up in a large meeting room. The same receivers are used to allow Spanish speakers who do not speak English fluently or do not understand it well to hear a Spanish translation of the convention and the banquet.
We will take some time at the Emergency Preparedness Seminar to prepare for
this project as well. It is important that all group members willing to help
come to the seminar.
Ham Radio Group Annual Business Meeting
by D. Curtis Willoughby
The annual business meeting of the NFB Ham Radio Group will be held at noon on Friday, July 4. In addition to our regular business, we will consider the constitution for our conversion from an interest group to an NFB division, so all NFB hams should plan to be there.
The Human Services Division
by Melissa Riccobono
Are you a psychologist; counselor; social worker; music, art, or dance therapist; or someone working in a related field? Are you a student interested in a human service career? If so, plan to attend the annual meeting of the National Federation of the Blind Human Services Division. The meeting will take place on Tuesday, July 1, from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. Dues are $5, and registration begins at 1:00 p.m. We are planning an exciting program this year which will include, among other things, an open question- and-answer period regarding the way human service professionals succeed in job interviews, fill out paperwork, read charts, and much more. Please come with your questions ready.
From 5:00 to 6:00 p.m. we will have the opportunity to mingle and network with
one another in a more informal setting. If you have any questions about the
NFB Human Services Division, please contact Melissa Riccobono, president, at
(410) 235-3073, or by email at <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
by Ramona Walhof
Friday, July 4, at lunchtime Lions will meet. Anyone who is a member of a Lions Club is encouraged to attend. Those who would like to learn more about what Lions do or would like to work with a community service organization are also welcome. This is an opportunity to compare notes and share our experiences in Lions. Since a primary goal of Lions is to prevent blindness and assist those who are blind, Federationists can have a good influence in local Lions Clubs. Many clubs are coordinating their efforts with local chapters of the Federation.
The Louisiana Center for the Blind Players
by Jerry Whittle
The Louisiana Center for the Blind Players present Deja Blue, a musical play about a young man who suddenly loses his vision because of diabetes on Tuesday, July 1. Two performances featuring a live New Orleans-style band. Price $5. All proceeds go to the summer training program for blind children at the Louisiana Center for the Blind.
The 2008 March for Independence
by Kevan Worley
Here we come, Texas! Here we come, Dallas! The blind are on the march, the March for Independence?A Walk for Opportunity. Again this year at our national convention the March for Independence will be the culmination of our year-long Imagination Fund campaign. This year we will march in Dallas early the morning of Wednesday, July 2. Our plan is to assemble in the Anatole Hilton parking lot in front of the clock tower. We will be ready to march our 5K route, leaving at precisely 7:00 a.m. We will be heading to the AT&T Plaza at American Airlines Center, home of the Dallas Mavericks and site of large community events. The AT&T Plaza will be an extraordinary setting for another memorable rally. Imagine well over one thousand of this nation’s blind citizens marching into the plaza, the energy and enthusiasm of the blind magnified on the jumbo-trons surrounding the plaza. Again this year our March and ceremonies will exemplify the independent spirit and true capacity of the blind. As always in the National Federation of the Blind, we will do it with imagination, gusto, and flair.
Those who participated in our first ever March for Independence will remember the camaraderie, the solidarity of spirit, and the pride as we marched together as one movement through downtown Atlanta. Those who missed our first annual March for Independence must be sure to be a part of the action in Dallas.
Leading the March will be NFB President Marc Maurer. Walking shoulder to shoulder with him will be Congressman Pete Sessions, who serves as this year’s March for Independence Honorary Chair. Congressman Sessions (32nd District) is keenly interested in issues important to blind people and those losing vision. He serves in the Congressional Vision Caucus. Both President Maurer and Congressman Sessions will address the blind who lead the blind at the ceremonies, which will mark the halfway point of the March. The rally is sure to be a spectacle to remember, with even more surprises than last year. After our rally we will march back to the Hilton Anatole to begin the sixty-eighth annual convention of the National Federation of the Blind.
So raise your money. Those who raise $250 will receive an official NFB March for Independence?A Walk for Opportunity T-shirt. Those who raise $500 or more will also receive an official NFB March for Independence?A Walk for Opportunity hat to keep that early morning Dallas sun off your head. Those who raise $1,000 or more will also be awarded a commemorative March for Independence gold medallion. We will be reading the names of all of the $1,000 medallion winners at the ceremonies, which will echo from the jumbo-trons. There were nearly one hundred medallion winners in 2007. At this March for Independence?A Walk for Opportunity, let’s plan to double the number of names read and medallions awarded.
Raising money for our Imagination Fund is important work. Being a part of the
March for Independence?A Walk for Opportunity with all of your brothers and
sisters is exhilarating. The T-shirt, the hat, and the medallion are fine tokens
of a job well done, but the work for which we raise the money is reward in itself.
The pride we will feel when we march as one Federation through the streets of
Dallas will be deeply fulfilling. So start now; ask your friends, family members,
and those you meet every day to contribute toward your participation in the
March for Independence?A Walk for Opportunity. And plan to be at the National
Federation of the Blind convention for our second annual march. Here we come,
Dallas! Here we come, America! The march of the blind continues.
Meet the Blind Month Activities and Other Special Events Seminar:
Plans and Action Equal Success
by Jerry Lazarus
October is Meet the Blind Month. Find out about lively and entertaining events that can occur so that sighted people can meet their blind neighbors. Session includes exchanging successful ideas and encouraging chapters to try new types of fundraising and meet-and-greet events. The seminar will be conducted by Jerry Lazarus, NFB Jernigan Institute director of special projects, Thursday, July 3, 3:30 to 5:00 p.m.
National Association of the Blind in Communities of Faith
by Tom Anderson
The National Association of the Blind in Communities of Faith will hold its annual meeting on Tuesday, July 1. Registration will be at 12:30 p.m., and the meeting will be called to order at 1:00 and adjourn at 5:00 p.m. The theme of this year’s meeting will be Ambassadors of Confidence in Communities of Faith. We will have panel discussions regarding the education of the sighted in various facets of faith based activities. We will also receive updates regarding the production of Christian literature.
The National Association of the Blind in Communities of Faith will again coordinate the devotional services that will take place Thursday, July 3, through Saturday, July 5. The theme of the devotions will be remission and reconciliation. Devotions will begin an hour before the morning sessions and will adjourn fifteen minutes before the opening gavel each morning.
Please contact me if you wish to preach or sing at these devotional services.
My home address is 5628 South Fox Circle, Apartment A, Littleton, Colorado,
80120. My home phone number is (303) 794-5006. My work phone number is (303)
778-1130, extension 220. My email address is <email@example.com>.
National Association of Blind Lawyers
by Scott LaBarre
Each year the National Association of Blind Lawyers (NABL) conducts its annual meeting at the convention of the National Federation of the Blind, and this year is no different. We will meet on Tuesday, July 1, from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m., exact room to be announced. The purpose of our annual meeting and seminar is multifaceted.
We will examine emerging trends in the law that affect blind people and others with disabilities. For example, we will address the ongoing struggle to gain equal access to Websites (including legal sites), access to employment, meaningful access to legal texts, and access to a level playing field for legal examinations like the LSAT and bar exams. We will also review other discrimination and civil rights cases. We will discuss how to practice law most effectively as a blind or visually impaired legal professional, focusing this year on the most effective technology for blind lawyers. Undoubtedly we will hear from the American Bar Association as well as local law schools and bar associations about their outreach efforts to blind and visually impaired students and legal professionals. Because our agenda covers substantive areas of the law and addresses the practice of law itself, many of our members have applied for and received continuing legal education credits for our seminar.
At the conclusion of the seminar we will hold a reception for NABL members
and seminar participants to promote networking and fellowship within our membership.
If you are a lawyer, legal professional, or law student or are otherwise interested
in law, the NABL meeting in Dallas on July 1, is the place to be.
by Scott LaBarre
The National Association of Blind Lawyers will sponsor its eleventh annual Mock Trial at the 2008 NFB convention. This trial will reenact an old Federation case. Federation lawyers will be pitted against each other arguing the merits of the two positions.
We have not selected this year’s case, but it will undoubtedly highlight a case in which a blind person or people have faced different treatment based on their blindness in the area of education, employment, or other civil rights. Stay tuned to Presidential Releases and NFB listservs for details on this year’s case. See your favorite Federation lawyers strut their legal stuff.
You, the audience, will serve as the jury. This year's trial promises to be
just as entertaining and thought-provoking as past trials. A nominal charge
of $5 per person will benefit the National Association of Blind Lawyers. The
trial will take place on Monday afternoon, June 30, from 4:30 to 6:00 p.m. somewhere
in the Hilton Anatole. Consult the convention agenda for the exact place.
NFB Jernigan Institute Open House
Take an opportunity Thursday afternoon, July 3, from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. to drop in and speak with members of the National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute staff about the programs and initiatives of the four-year-old research and training institute operated by the NFB. This informal networking and exhibit session is meant to provide members of the Federation with a greater understanding of the Institute and an opportunity to discuss hopes and dreams that the Institute should pursue in the future. This is your Institute--come learn more, connect the work of the Institute to priorities in your state affiliate, be part of shaping the future, and imagine. Institute initiatives to be highlighted include education, parents, technology, Jacobus tenBroek Library, and partnerships.
Newsletter Publications Committee
by Norma Crosby
The Newsletter Publications Committee will hold its annual meeting during the 2008 convention of the National Federation of the Blind. The committee and others in attendance will be treated to presentations about what should be included in a state newsletter, how to format a good publication, how to start a newsletter, publishing in accessible formats, and much more. We will have lots of opportunity to ask questions, and all newsletter editors are encouraged to attend. If your affiliate does not currently produce a newsletter, please send a representative so we can talk about how you might get started.
Newsletters are a wonderful way to publicize what an affiliate is doing, and
they can also be a great recruiting tool. Publishing a great newsletter should
be a goal of every affiliate. Our committee is willing to help, so come and
join us. The time and location of our meeting will be posted in the convention
agenda, and if you have questions about the meeting before convention, you can
contact Norma Crosby at (318) 251-1375 or <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
National Association of Blind Merchants
by Kevan Worley
Revolutionizing Randolph-Sheppard: Creating New, Robust, and Diverse Small Business Opportunities for the Blind of America will be the theme of this year’s annual meeting of the National Association of Blind Merchants. This symposium will take place Tuesday afternoon, July 1, from 1:30 to 5:00 p.m. Check the convention agenda for location. This year registration for our division meeting will begin approximately thirty minutes after adjournment of the board of directors meeting. Our agenda will focus on protection of the priority and the creation of new, robust business opportunities and outreach to young people to develop their interest in small business ventures. For more than a generation the National Federation of the Blind has worked tirelessly to protect and defend the Randolph-Sheppard program.
The need to expand business opportunities and to develop new business initiatives for the blind is essential. On Thursday, July 3, from 7:00 until 8:30 p.m. we invite you to our eighth annual Randolph-Sheppard reception. Socialize, network, and learn more about Randolph-Sheppard and other business opportunities we can create through our work in the National Federation of the Blind. Check the convention agenda for location. On Wednesday morning, July 2, our Federation merchant team will be participating in the second annual National Federation of the Blind March for Independence--A Walk for Opportunity. We will carry our Federation merchant team banner high, proclaiming the independence of the blind.
The National Association of Blind Merchants would like to thank our loyal snack
pack customers over the past ten years. The snack pack not only has been a lot
of fun and a great fundraiser for our division, but has also helped many conventioneers
on tight budgets to snack pretty well. This year our plan is to sell our ever-popular
snack pack again. Only $5 will get you a grab bag of snacks, salty and sweet.
So come to our table in the exhibit hall, enjoy a small cool drink, buy a raffle
ticket for a chance to win $1,000, and prepare to be surprised and delighted
by our latest entrepreneurial venture. I’m sure we will have something new to
sell you. After all, we are Federation merchants.
National Association of Blind Office Professionals
by Lisa Hall
The National Association of Blind Office Professionals (NABOP) will hold its annual meeting on Sunday, June 29. Registration will begin at 6:30 p.m., and the meeting begins at 7:00 and ends at 9:00 p.m.
If you are employed in the clerical field or seeking work of this type, please come. An agenda attempting to meet everyone's information needs is being put together. Who should attend? Anyone who is employed as a telephone operator, receptionist, clerk typist, customer service rep, Braille transcriber, Braille proofreader, medical transcriber, or employment specialist. Maybe even job coaches should be included since job specialists and job developers sometimes work with blind people seeking employment in order to work out reasonable accommodations with employers in today's office setting. Many office software programs are proprietary and can cause problems for those installing access technology on networks because of security issues. We hope to address your problems getting access to information in an office. We plan to cover job-finding and job-preparation techniques and strategies for finding information about specific jobs. We also hope to include discussion of accessible phones blind people can use when working outside the office. We will discuss exciting developments in the Braille printing industry as well as my appointment representing Clovernook on the BANA board. If you know of someone who could speak about any of these topics, let me know as soon as possible.
This is an election year. I have been president of this division since 1996
and so will be wrapping up twelve years of service. I do plan to run again and
hope that other board members will run as well. Dues are $5 and can be paid
in advance or at the meeting during convention. If you are unable to attend
our meeting that week because of scheduling conflicts, I can be found in the
Ohio delegation or can be reached by cell phone at (513) 550-5155. I can also
be contacted at the following address: 7001 Hamilton Avenue, Unit 2, Cincinnati,
Ohio 45231-5262; home (513) 931-7070; email <email@example.com>. The
current board members are Lisa Hall, president (Ohio); Mary Donahue, vice president
(Texas); Sherri Brun, secretary (Florida); and Debbie Brown, treasurer (Maryland).
See everyone in Dallas.
National Association of Blind Piano Technicians
by Don Mitchell
Looking for a job that puts you in charge? Come to the piano technology seminar sponsored by the National Association of Blind Piano Technicians, Tuesday, July 1, from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. This seminar will give you the opportunity to have hands-on experience with the craft of piano technology. For an appointment with a member of the division to receive personalized information, contact Division President Don Mitchell in Dallas. See the convention agenda for meeting room location.
National Association to Promote the Use of Braille
by Nadine Jacobson
It's hard to believe that soon our wonderful national convention will be upon us. This year we have planned a particularly exciting NAPUB meeting. In addition to our normal activities, we have some special guest speakers. Twelve of the winners of the Braille Readers Are Leaders contest will be coming to our convention, and several will speak to us about their efforts and accomplishments. We will also have some exciting auction items to help raise funds for next year's contest.
On January 4, 2009, we will all be celebrating the two-hundredth birthday of
Louis Braille. Join us and help begin the celebration. Our meeting will take
place from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. Tuesday evening. Come join us for this very special
National Association of Blind Rehabilitation Professionals
by Carlos Serván
The National Association of Blind Rehabilitation Professionals (NABRP) will cosponsor the National Conference for O&M and rehabilitation professionals on Sunday, June 29. This conference promises to be the best of its nature in our country. We will address the structured-discovery method, working with blind seniors, working with blind people with additional disabilities, certification for residential training centers, certification for Braille instructors, and more. For location consult the convention agenda.
On Tuesday, July 1, the National Association of Blind Rehabilitation Professionals will meet for our annual seminar and business meeting. Registration will begin at 1:00 p.m., and the seminar and business meeting will be held from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. The NABRP meeting is a great opportunity for all rehabilitation professionals in the blindness field to get together, network, share mutual interests, find placement strategies, examine concerns about the rehabilitation profession, and generally shape quality rehabilitation services for the blind in the nation.
If you are involved in rehabilitation for the blind, you don't want to miss
this meeting. We promise to have nationally recognized leaders in the rehabilitation
field to help us examine and discuss current issues in rehab. If you have any
questions about this meeting, contact Carlos Serván at (402) 327-0414,
or send an email to <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
National Association of Blind Students (NABS)
by Tai Tomasi
The National Association of Blind Students will conduct its annual meeting on Monday, June 30, from 7:00 to 10:00 p.m. Registration with a fee of $5 will begin at 6:00 p.m. Immediately following the student meeting join your friends and meet new ones in the Affiliate Action suite from 10:00 p.m. to midnight. Snacks and drinks will be served.
On Tuesday, July 1, NABS will be hosting a free pizza lunch from noon to 2:00 p.m. for all students wishing to attend. The informal lunch will be held in a suite, so space will be limited, and food will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. Come eat pizza and socialize. The location is still to be determined. Details will be advertised on the student listserv. To join the student listserv, go to <http://www.nfbnet.org>. Details will also be announced at the student meeting on Monday, June 30.
NABS is also hosting Monte Carlo Night on Thursday, July 3, from 8:00 p.m.
until midnight. For the first time NABS will also provide board games for your
enjoyment in addition to your favorite card games. Come play Monopoly, Scrabble,
and other games with your friends for a $5 fee to support your student division
or pay-to-play card games for your chance to win awesome prizes. Monte Carlo
Night is a fundraiser for the student division, and this year it will be bigger
and better than ever. Come support the students and have fun at the same time.
For more information contact Tai Tomasi, president, (801) 953-4340, or email
National Association of Guide Dog Users
by Marion Gwizdala
Have you ever wondered what exactly Islam teaches about dogs in general and service animals in particular? Do you want to know what the NFB’s stand is on guide dogs? Would you like an opportunity actually to work a guide dog to see if it might be for you? What’s all the buzz about the ownership policies of training centers in the United States? Are you interested in forming a guide dog users division in your state or strengthening an existing one? Then the annual seminar of the National Association of Guide Dog Users (NAGDU) is the place for you at this year’s national convention.
The National Association of Guide Dog Users, a strong and proud division of the national Federation of the Blind, will hold its annual meeting and seminar in conjunction with our national convention. This year we are planning several exciting and interesting activities that even those who do not use a guide dog will enjoy. Our dynamic programs will expand your mind, challenge your perceptions, and build bridges. Take a look at our many plans, and you will agree that NAGDU is changing what it means to be blind. On Sunday evening, June 29, NAGDU will hold its annual membership meeting. One of the many challenges faced by guide dog handlers is access to taxicabs. A frequent reason for this discrimination is the assertion by those of the Islamic faith that their religious tenets forbid them from having our dogs in their presence. In order to learn more about Islam, we are inviting a Muslim cleric to deliver the invocation at our business meeting and provide us an authoritative view of this issue.
NAGDU has been experiencing tremendous growth over the past few years. Our current constitutional leadership consists of only four executive officers: president, vice president, secretary, and treasurer. An amendment to the NAGDU constitution will be considered that would expand our board of directors to include three additional members to our board. After we consider and vote on this measure, we will hold elections to fill the available seats.
United States guide dog training centers have a variety of policies pertaining to the ownership of our guide dogs. Some provide full ownership upon graduation, others offer ownership after a probationary period, while some retain ownership for the life of the dog. We are putting together two teams to engage in a Lincoln-Douglas-style debate on the question of ownership. In order to challenge and expand our perceptions and those of the training centers, we are asking training centers to provide representatives who will argue in favor of full ownership upon graduation, while the NAGDU team will take the opposing side. We are hopeful that such an exchange will help bridge the gap and create more consistency in ownership policies among the training centers.
Stress is a major concern for everyone. The way we manage our stress has a profound impact on our mental and physical health. The same is true for our dogs, whether they are our guide dogs or our pets. A very effective tool for managing stress is massage. Not only does a good massage help relieve tension in our muscles, the physical touch of another releases beneficial chemicals in our bodies that contribute to our sense of well-being. Dogs as well can benefit from massage. During our Tuesday seminar we will learn the art of massage for dogs.
A strong affiliate guide dog users division is a key element in protecting our right of access and educating the public on the issues faced by us. Many affiliates have guide dog users divisions that they would like to strengthen, while others would like to organize one. At this year’s convention we will hold a workshop presented by leaders who have burgeoning affiliate divisions to learn their secrets to success.
Many of you may wonder if a guide dog is for you. We are inviting guide dog training centers attending our convention to provide a demo dog that others can work. Experienced handlers will be on hand to answer questions about the impact of a dog in your life, including the practical aspects of caring for a dog. In addition we are planning a skills course to test our dogs. We will be inviting the public to an event where we will present a scripted demonstration of a working guide dog, expose the audience to the truth about guide dog use, and teach them about the National Federation of the Blind.
Whether you are a current guide dog user, are interested in obtaining a guide
dog, or would just like to become better educated about guide dog issues, the
NAGDU seminar will be an exciting and rewarding experience. Watch for the upcoming
release of the convention agenda for the details of times and places for these
activities. As we tell our dogs when asking them to work: join the NAGDU Division
as we move “Forward.”
NFB in Computer Science
by Curtis Chong
The 2008 meeting of the National Federation of the Blind in Computer Science will take place on Tuesday, July 1, from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. Registration will commence at 12:30 p.m. Check the NFB convention agenda for the specific room.
This being an even-numbered year, there will be an election of officers and board members at this year's meeting as well as the usual informative and technology-oriented program items. Current officers and board members of the NFB in Computer Science are Curtis Chong, president; Steve Jacobson, vice president; Mike Freeman, secretary; Susie Stanzel, treasurer; and board members Brian Buhrow, Lloyd Rasmussen, and D. Curtis Willoughby.
While the formal program has not yet been finalized, we expect to hear from Google about its programs to enhance the accessibility of the many services available through its Website. We are working to put together a number of program items for blind people who are working in the field of information technology. It is possible that we will have an update from Microsoft about its accessibility efforts, and it seems high time to hear from America Online about what it is doing to make its Internet offerings accessible to the blind. All of this is to say that the program is still fluid, and suggestions are always welcome.
Membership dues for the NFB in Computer Science are $5. You can pay your membership
dues at the convention or send them directly to the NFB in Computer Science
president, Curtis Chong, 3000 Grand Avenue, Apartment 810, Des Moines, Iowa
50312; home phone (515) 277-1288; email <email@example.com>. I
look forward to seeing all of you at the convention.
National Organization of Blind Educators
by Sheila Koenig
On Tuesday, July 1, the National Organization of Blind Educators (NOBE) will conduct its annual meeting from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Registration begins at 1:00 p.m. NOBE is a network of blind teachers and those interested in careers in education. Our meeting will offer an opportunity to meet blind people teaching at various grade levels and in different content areas.
Many questions arise as people contemplate and realize their dreams of teaching:
How will potential employers react to a blind applicant? How does a blind person
manage students in a classroom? How does one accomplish the daily duties as
well as the "other duties as assigned" for which teachers are contracted?
During our seminar successful blind teachers will discuss such questions. Seminar
participants will also meet in small groups specific to grade level and content
areas of interest. In this way we can create a network of mentors extending
beyond our meeting. If you teach or are considering a career in teaching at
any level, plan to join us.
National Federation of the Blind Seniors Division
Seniors Welcome You
by Judy Sanders
We have a new name, and we invite you to join us to see if anything else is different. We are now the National Federation of the Blind Senior Division. Reserve the evening of Monday, June 30, for an inspiring time with your elders.
We will open the doors at 6:00 p.m. to begin registration and our ever-popular somewhat silent auction. To make the auction work, we are once again counting on generous contributions of Federationists both in items for the auction and in emptying wallets and checkbooks. Please make sure your items arrive in time for eager bidders. Our thanks to Ramona Walhof for coordinating this activity.
The focus of our meeting will be finding ways to spread our message of hope to seniors who have recently become blind. Are there new approaches that we can take to teach others to understand and embrace our philosophy? Are there unique activities that are sponsored in our states that attract the attention of our ever-growing population of blind seniors? The NFB is loaded with talented and enthusiastic people who are ready to share what they are doing so we can take their ideas home with us and implement them. Join us to hear about these innovative activities and thoughts, and bring your own visionary ideas to share.
The meeting will adjourn no later than 10:00 p.m. If you have questions or
suggestions for the agenda, call Judy Sanders at (612) 375-1625, or email <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
One final thing: leave your ID in your hotel room. Everyone is welcome.
Performing Arts Division
by Dennis Holston
This year’s Performing Arts meeting will be on Tuesday, July 1, from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. We are excited about this upcoming Performing Arts Division meeting. This year we have representatives from Out of the Blue Records. They will speak to us about starting a record company and all the challenges that go into running one. We will also have one of the artists from our 2007 “Sound in Sight” album tell her unique story. This woman will be playing a major role in future Performing Arts initiatives. We will also have elections this year and a discussion about the new scholarship program that is being built. As always, we will have our yearly report and a question-and-answer segment. Join us for an action-packed division meeting, and help play a role in the future of the division. Membership dues are $5.
Consumers Shaping the Field of Rehabilitation
Seventh Annual Rehabilitation and Orientation and Mobility Conference
by Edward Bell
8:00 a.m.-9:00 a.m. Registration (fees are $50 for professionals working in the field and $25 for students)
9:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m. Conference
This conference on Sunday, June 29, will be of particular interest to those
working in the field of rehabilitation for the blind, students in professional
preparation programs, and those interested in travel training as a career. Sponsored
jointly by the National Association of Blind Rehabilitation Professionals (Carlos
Serván, president); the Professional Development and Research Institute
on Blindness, Louisiana Tech University; and the National Blindness Professional
Certification Board (NBPCB) (Allen Harris, president).
Showcase of Talent
by Adrienne Snow
The Performing Arts Division of the National Federation of the Blind will hold its third annual Showcase of Talent on Wednesday, July 2, from 7:00 to 10:00 p.m., at the wonderful Hilton Anatole Hotel. This year’s show is bound to be the best yet; all proceeds from the show this year and in the future will benefit our newly devised scholarship program dedicated to and in memory of Mary Ann Parks. The scholarship program will begin in 2009. Admission for spectators and performers is $5 per person, collected at the door. Signing up can be done at the Performing Arts Division table in the exhibit hall or by contacting Adrienne Snow in her room at the convention. Consult your agenda for the Showcase room location. We look forward to seeing you all in Dallas.
Social Security Seminar
by James McCarthy and Teresa Uttermohlen
An outreach seminar, “Social Security and Supplemental Security Income: What Applicants, Advocates, and Recipients Should Know,” will take place Thursday afternoon, July 3. The purpose of this seminar is to share information on Social Security and Supplemental Security Income benefits for the blind, including the income subsidy program for those receiving the Medicare prescription drug benefit.
Seminar presenters will be Jim McCarthy, governmental program specialist for
the National Federation of the Blind, and his wife Terri Uttermohlen, first
vice president of the Greater Baltimore Chapter of the NFB of Maryland with
many years of experience providing training and technical assistance to work
incentives specialists and those receiving benefits throughout the nation. Social
Security representatives may be available to hand out publications describing
their programs and share tips about communicating with the Social Security Administration.
Those wanting a better understanding of the programs and benefits offered by
the Social Security Administration are strongly encouraged to join Jim and Terri
at this seminar.
Sports and Recreation Division
Going for the Gold
by Lisamaria Martinez
The Sports and Recreation Division is planning a sports extravaganza in 2008. This is an Olympic year, and the S&R Division wants to go for the gold. Members of the division are busy planning activities that will last all week long. Keep an eye out for a detailed list of upcoming activities. However, plan on packing your bathing suit and flip flops as well as your sneakers and comfy clothes so that you can learn about goalball, triatholons, judo, skating, and much, much more. And don't forget the S&R Division meeting to be held on Tuesday, July 1, Division Day. We plan on having excellent speakers who are past and future Paralympians.
Celebrate the conclusion of our second March for Independence by unwinding at the end of the day in beautiful Anatole Park with a delicious dinner under the stars. Buy your tickets early for a Texas-style barbeque of beef brisket, grilled marinated breast of chicken, potato salad, coleslaw, beans, corn on the cob, warm cornbread and biscuits with honey butter, pecan pie, and warm peach cobbler. We will also enjoy live western swing and country music—all happening on Wednesday, July 2, starting at 6:00 p.m. Tickets are $35 when purchased before May 31.
Travel and Tourism
by Doug Johnson
The Travel and Tourism Division meeting in Dallas will be on Monday, June 30, from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. This year’s meeting will have an election of all officers and will be primarily a division business meeting. Dues-paying members only are eligible to vote and hold office. Annual dues are still $10. Those wishing to pay in advance may send checks to Doug Johnson and make them payable to NFB Travel and Tourism Division. For more information contact Douglas M. Johnson, president, Travel and Tourism Division, P.O. Box 597, Manchester, Washington 98353, (360) 871-3731, <email@example.com>.
by Dwight Sayer
The National Association of Blind Veterans is seeking veterans from across the nation to become members. They are encouraged to go to our Website at <http://www.nabv.org> to download the membership application. Forward your completed application to the address indicated along with $5 dues. Our next meeting will be in Dallas at our national convention. We are also seeking leaders across the nation to help us establish state organizations of the NABV. If you have questions, contact NABV President Dwight Sayer at (407) 877-8668 or email <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
Webmasters Meeting in Dallas
by Gary Wunder
On Monday, June 30, all Webmasters for NFB divisions and affiliates are encouraged to attend a meeting in which we will discuss the importance of an informative, accessible, visually attractive Website, how to develop the skills to be a Webmaster, and how to share the work of updating various information on a site by area of responsibility. Check your agenda for time and room, and feel free to contact Gary Wunder by writing to <email@example.com> or by calling (573) 874-1774 for more information.
by Robert Leslie Newman
The Writers Division will conduct two activities of interest at this year’s convention. On Seminar Day, June 29, from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., a workshop titled “Everything You Should Know about Publishing Today and in the Near Future,” will be open to everyone. Cost is $5 at the door.
The division will conduct its annual meeting on July 1 from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.
We will develop our division, report on the accomplishments of our members,
and provide information and support for any blind person who wishes to write.
For more information contact Division President Robert Leslie Newman, email
Youth Track 2008
by Mary Jo Thorpe
Attention all teens between fourteen and eighteen: So your parents just told you that you are coming to the national convention in Dallas this summer. You may think this means kicking back and watching movies in your hotel room all day while your parents go to meetings. While having sole control of the cable is great, we’d like to invite you to join us for a different kind of cable entertainment.
The Education Department at the NFB Jernigan Institute is once again partnering with the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children to present the National Convention Youth Track. This year’s theme, “C.A.B.L.E.—Challenging Adolescents to Believe, Lead, and Explore,” is sure to have something for everyone, blind and sighted alike. The NFB Youth Track is a great way for teens to find their place and share their influence with our organization. Whether it’s participating in the recreational activities, attending group workshops, or just hanging out with teens from all over the country, come click with our clique. The week will kick off at the NOPBC program the morning of Sunday, June 29. A detailed schedule of activities for the week will be included in the convention agenda. For more information or questions, contact Mary Jo Thorpe, education programs specialist at the NFB Jernigan Institute at (410) 659-9314, ext. 2407, or at <firstname.lastname@example.org>. See you there.
Programs and Activities: During convention week children six weeks through ten years of age are invited to join in the fun and festivities of NFB Camp. NFB Camp offers more than just childcare; it is an opportunity for our blind and sighted children to meet and develop lifelong friendships. Our activity schedule is filled with games, crafts, and special performances designed to entertain, educate, and delight. If you are interested in this year’s program, please complete and return the registration form provided at the end of this article. Preregistration with payment on or before June 15, 2008, is required for staffing purposes. Space is limited, so get your registration in early.
This year our complete registration packet is available on our Website in Word format: <mainstreetmontessori.org>. Complete the entire packet and send it with payment by U.S. mail before June 15th and save time at convention.
About the Staff: NFB Camp is organized and supervised by Carla McQuillan, the executive director of Main Street Montessori Association, operating three schools, parent education courses, and a teacher-training program. Carla is the mother of two children and a longtime leader in the National Federation of the Blind.
Alison McQuillan—camp worker and teacher since 1998—will be our activities
director again this year. Over the years we have recruited professional childcare
workers from the local community to staff NFB Camp. Recently we have determined
that recruiting from our Federation families results in workers with the proper
philosophy and attitudes about our blind children. Carla and Alison will be
supervising camp workers and all related activities.
Special Events: The children are divided into groups according to age: infants and toddlers, preschoolers, and school-aged children. Each room is equipped with a variety of age-appropriate toys, games, and books. In addition, school-aged children will have the opportunity to sign up for “Four Hours of Fun in the Stockyards.” Space for special events is limited. We are selling NFB Camp T-shirts this year for $10. Pre-order them to make sure we have your size (call or visit our Website for an order form). On the final day of NFB Camp we will conduct a big toy sale—brand new toys at bargain prices.
Banquet Night: NFB Camp will be open during banquet for an additional fee, which includes dinner as well as entertainment: the Creature Teacher is going to be bringing six exotic animals for a learning and touching experience. Our animal collection will include an African bull frog, a hairless guinea pig, and a giant black African millipede.
Plenty of teens are always available to babysit during evening and luncheon
meetings. We will have a list of babysitters at the NFB Camp table at convention.
NFB Camp Registration Form
Completed form and fees must be received on or before June 15, 2008
Parent’s Name ____________________________________________________
City _______________ State___________ Zip______ Phone _______________
Cell Phone _______________ Cell Phone _______________
________________________________ Age______ Date of Birth___________
________________________________ Age______ Date of Birth___________
________________________________ Age______ Date of Birth___________
Include description of any disabilities or allergies we should know about: _________
Who, other than parents, is allowed to pick up your child(ren)? ______________
Per Week: $90 first child, $60 siblings No. of children______ $_________
(Does not include banquet)
Per Day: $20 per child per day No. of days_____x$20 child $_________
(Does not include banquet)
Banquet: $15 per child No. of children ______ $_________
_____Hamburger _____Chicken nuggets
Field Trip: $35 per child No. of children_______ $_________
(includes NFB Camp T-shirt-child size: S M L XL)
Total due $_________
We understand that NFB Camp is being provided as a service to make our convention more enjoyable for both parents and children. We will pick up children immediately following sessions. We understand that if our child(ren) does not follow the rules or if for any reason staff is unable to care for our child(ren), further access to childcare will be denied.
Parent’s Signature ______________________________________ Date ______________
Make checks payable to NFB Camp. Return form to NFB Camp, 5005 Main Street, Springfield, Oregon 97478; (541) 726-6924; <mainstreetmontessori.org>
NFB Camp Schedule
NFB Camp will be open during general convention sessions, Division and Committee Meeting Day, and the evening of the banquet. The below scheduled hours for NFB Camp are tentative. The actual hours are based upon the beginning and ending of sessions, so that parents may drop off their child(ren) thirty minutes prior to the start of session and must pick up their child(ren) within thirty minutes from the end of session. On occasion, the end or beginning of session may be earlier or later than the agenda indicates. There is a $10 per quarter-hour per child late pick-up fee. NFB Camp provides morning and afternoon snacks. You are responsible to provide lunch for your children every day.
Date NFB Camp Hours
Sunday, June 29 8:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m.–5:30 p.m.
Monday, June 30 Camp is closed
Tuesday, July 1 8:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m.–5:30 p.m.
Field trip for elementary students
Wednesday, July 2 9:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m.–5:30 p.m.
Thursday, July 3 8:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m.
Friday, July 4 8:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m.–5:30 p.m.
Banquet 6:30 p.m.–30 minutes after closing
Saturday, July 5 8:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m.–5:30 p.m.
You are required to provide lunch for your child(ren) each day. These times may vary, depending on the timing of the actual convention sessions. NFB Camp will open thirty minutes before the beginning gavel and close thirty minutes after sessions recess.
Field Trip: “Four Hours of Fun in the Stockyards”
What does four hours of fun mean? It means a historic walking tour of the famous Fort Worth Stockyards, Cowtown, USA; a front-row seat to a live cattle drive, including one-on-one discussion with the herders; a tour of The Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame that has numerous restored covered wagons from different periods; and an amazing trip through the Cowtown Cattlepen Maze.
This trip leaves on Tuesday, July 1, and includes transportation to and from the hotel, lunch, an NFB Camp T-shirt and the “Four Hours of Fun.” Tour departs at 8:45 a.m. and returns at 3:00 p.m. Space is limited. We will fill spaces in the order received. Note: registration must be accompanied with payment for consideration, and priority will be given to children enrolled in NFB Camp. Children who are not enrolled for the entire week of NFB Camp are welcome for a fee of $40. Sorry, this trip is only for children 5-10 years of age.
by Barbara Cheadle
From the Editor: Barbara Cheadle is president of the National Organization
of Parents of Blind Children (NOPBC). This coming July she will retire from
this position, so this is the last time she will be taking primary responsibility
for planning NOPBC activities at convention. Here is her final report:
How does one imagine the unimaginable? Have you ever looked at a new gadget or piece of technology and wondered how anyone came up with the idea? Did you ever read about some social practice from ancient primitive societies?such as abandoning newborn twins because (so it was believed) they were inhabited by evil spirits?and wondered how people could ever have thought that? It is hard to imagine something new, either a physical thing, or different ways of thinking about people or the world around us.
At one time it made all the sense in the world to believe that the Earth was flat and that evil spirits caused physical and mental illnesses. To suggest otherwise would have invited being thought a fool, or worse, mad. Yet, astonishingly, history clearly demonstrates that the human race has a unique capacity to do this very thing: imagine the unimaginable.
Some of the greatest turning points in history were rooted in those moments when individuals or even small groups of people glimpsed a vision of something new, something different, something currently beyond their grasp. The unimaginable becomes a reality when an individual or a group of people pursues that vision and makes it come true; consider Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement; Mohandas Gandhi and the nonviolent movement to free India; Raymond Kurzweil and the invention of a reading machine for the blind; and Dr. Jacobus tenBroek, who with fifteen other blind men and women from seven states founded the National Federation of the Blind.
I do not believe I exaggerate when I say that a turning point in the history of the blind occurred twenty-five years ago on July 2, 1983, in Kansas City, Missouri, when parents of blind children made common cause with the organized blind and brought into being what would ultimately be known as the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children, a division of the National Federation of the Blind--the NOPBC.
From the beginning the goals were bold and imaginative; the structure and premise
new, fresh, and unique. Never before (so far as I know) had a national parents
organization of children with blindness (or any other disability, for that matter)
chosen to be guided and mentored by an adult organization of the same disability.
Our affiliation was not to be a matter of lifeless words on paper, but a living,
breathing, growing, and changing relationship--parents and their blind children
interacting and partnering with blind adults.
On that day we made the commitment to imagine together with the members of the National Federation of the Blind a society in which our children would be accepted as normal--with all the rights and responsibilities that this implies--and given the same opportunities as all other children to achieve their potential and pursue their dreams.
As individual families and as an organization we hitched our wagon to the star of the National Federation of the Blind, and that decision has made all the difference in the lives of thousands of blind children—some of whom are now young adults. Now, after twenty-five years, it is time to pause, take stock, reflect, take inspiration from our past successes, and consider what it is that we might imagine for the future.
At the 2008 NFB convention in Dallas, Texas, the NOPBC invites you—and all
families and teachers of blind and visually impaired children—to celebrate our
twenty-fifth anniversary with us as we “Remember the Past, IMAGINE the Future.”
The day of celebration will begin in our usual style on Sunday, June 29, with
workshops, seminars, and activities for every member of the family—blind kids
and sighted siblings, too. Following a day full of active learning is an evening
of relaxation: an informal buffet dinner with our families (kids included) and
friends in the NFB and an upbeat, inspirational, yet fast-paced program highlighting
twenty-five years of accomplishments.
And don’t overlook your opportunity to be a sponsor. You can honor your special child or student, express your congratulations, or send a brief message about what NOPBC has meant to you for inclusion in the commemorative program. The sponsorship form is available at www.nfb.org/nopbc.
See the convention bulletin at the beginning of this issue for details about
how to make room reservations at the convention hotel and how to register for
the NFB convention (which is a separate fee from the NOPBC registration and
a requirement in order to get convention rates). Of course, as in past years
the workshops and other activities on Sunday, June 29, are only the beginning
of many NOPBC-sponsored activities scheduled throughout the NFB convention.
Below is a schedule of events followed by an NOPBC preregistration form:
Day 1: Sunday, June 29
Childcare: The NFB offers childcare (NFB Camp) all day except during lunchtime on Sunday, June 29, and during other convention sessions throughout the week. Complete information, including fee schedule, age requirements, times available, and so forth, can be found in this issue. Please note that preregistration for NFB Camp is required.
NOPBC fees including dinner tickets to the Sunday night, June 29, anniversary buffet: $25 per adult, $15 per youth ages 12 and up, and $7 per child, ages 6-11. Children ages 5 and under, no charge. Tickets for the buffet dinner may not be available at registration, so please preregister. Preregistrations are due June 20, 2008.
NOPBC fees, no dinner tickets: $20 per adult, no charge for children and youth accompanied by family members. Teens accompanied by chaperones, $15 per teen.
The fee helps cover the cost of workshop materials, the packets and handouts
from all NOPBC sessions, AV equipment for our speakers, the cost of our teen
hospitality room, and other expenses incurred by the NOPBC at the convention.
8:00–9:00 a.m. Registration. Those who have preregistered should pick up name badges, packets, and dinner tickets at this time.
8:30 a.m. NFB Camp opens
9:00–10:30 a.m. Remember the Past, IMAGINE the Future
(general session beginning with NFB President Maurer’s famous Kid Talk session)
10:30–noon Breakout sessions. Seven concurrent 90-minute sessions for adults.
Children, ages ten and up, accompanied by a parent or adult are invited to participate
in these sessions too.
1. Getting Serious about Music Education: A hands-on look at the Braille music code and music software for the blind musician. Instructor, Jennifer Dunnam
2. Getting Serious about Math: A hands-on introduction to the abacus. Instructor, Annee Hartzel
3. Touch, Sound, Movement, and Little White Canes for the Early Years (birth-5). Instructor, Denise Mackenstadt
4. Games—Think Outside the Box: Learn how to adapt board games, and which games are blind-friendly right off the shelf. Instructor, Merry-Noel Chamberlain
5. Blind and Multiply Disabled—Life after 21: Resources and tips to help parents maximize their multiply impaired children’s opportunities for an independent, productive life after they exit the educational system. Instructor, Barbara Schultz
6. Low Vision: Low Expectations? How you can help your low-vision kid learn to use nonvisual techniques and develop positive attitudes to overcome subtle and not-so-subtle messages of low expectations. Instructor, to be announced
7. What Do You Do When You Meet 2,000 Blind People? Is this your first convention, and do you feel a little overwhelmed by all those canes and guide dogs? This session conducted by blind member Angela Howard will give you a chance to ask those “dumb” questions so you can relax, learn, and enjoy
10:30–noon Youth Track 2008 (cosponsored by the NFB Jernigan Institute): “Tonight on David Letterman--Educating the Public about Blindness.” Blind and sighted youth get a chance to go onto a mock David Letterman Show and explain to the audience what it is like to be blind or to have a blind family member. Coordinator, Mary Jo Thorpe
Noon–1:45 p.m. Lunch on your own
2:00– 4:15 p.m. Sessions for children and teens according to age/grade levels. The children in grades K–8 will have fun with the seminar theme, “Remember the Past, IMAGINE the Future,” as they learn more about themselves, blindness, and the skills of blindness through games, art, making Braille books, and other activities. Denver artist, Ann Cunningham, in collaboration with the children session coordinators, will be lending her talents to produce exciting, interactive projects and activities.
2:00–4:10 p.m. Concurrent workshops for parents. Two sessions: 2:00–3:00 p.m.
and 3:15–4:15 p.m.
Session One: 2:00–3:00 p.m.
1. Early Years: Can I Be Your Friend? The development of social skills begins
in the cradle. Instructor, Heather Field
2. Elementary Years: Technology and Blindness Skills. Like the chicken or the egg question, we have to ask ourselves which comes first? Instructor, Kristin Sims
3. Teen Years: From the Mall to College Campus. Preparing teens to travel in all settings. Instructor to be announced
4. Special Topics: Raising the Mobility Bar for Multiply Disabled Students. Instructor, Denise Mackenstadt
Session Two: 3:15–4:15 p.m.
1. Early Years: Listen—Your Little One is Trying to Tell You Something. Parents
have a lot to do with their children’s development of language and communication.
Instructor, Heather Field
2. Elementary Years: Mobility: Making It Work in the Public School Setting. Instructor, Denise Mackenstadt
3. Teen Years: Fun, Friends, Fashions, and Fitting In. Instructor to be announced
4. Special Topics: The Challenges of Home Schooling. Instructor Brunhilde Merk-Adam
6:00–7:00 p.m. Family buffet, casual dress, bring the kids. (See NOPBC registration information below for cost. Please note that tickets must be purchased in advance.)
7:00–8:00 p.m. NOPBC Celebrates 25 Years. Program with surprise awards, inspirational addresses, and highlights of NOPBC accomplishments. (No fees, attendance at dinner not required)
8:00–10:00 p.m. Family Hospitality
8:00–9:30 p.m. Teen Talks: As in previous years, experienced, sensitive blind
leaders are asked to conduct these two talk sessions on the all-important teen
topics of dating, relationships with parents, social interactions with peers,
and so forth. Moderators are experienced blind adults with extensive experience
with children and youth. Parents are not invited. The session for boys will
be led by Dan Wenzel and the girls by Christine Boone. For boys and girls ages
fourteen and up.
Day 2: Monday, June 30
8:00–10:30 p.m. Cane Walk: Session I
10:00–12:30 p.m. Cane Walk: Session II
The Cane Walk is for blind kids, their family members, and teachers. It is sponsored by the NOPBC in partnership with the Institute on Blindness at Louisiana Tech University and the Louisiana Center for the Blind.
10:30–11:30 a.m. Youth Track 2008
2:00–4:00 p.m. Demystifying Chemistry with Dr. Andrew Greenberg (University
of Wisconsin-Madison) and Cary Supalo (Pennsylvania State University). Come
join us as we explore the wonders of the chemical sciences using state-of-the-art
tools and techniques designed specifically for laboratory independence for blind
and visually impaired students. You will run a series of entertaining and exciting
chemical reactions. These safe, hands-on chemistry activities will highlight
such topics as acids and bases, solution concentration, and nanotechnology.
Included in the presentation will be an introduction from blind chemist Cary
Supalo, a doctoral candidate at the Pennsylvania State University. Participants
will be divided into groups according to elementary, middle school, and high
school levels, as well as a section for parents. Preregistration is required
for participation. See NOPBC preregistration below.
1:00–4:30 p.m. Teen Hospitality Room. Games, music, and socializing for all teens. Drop in anytime. Contact Brigid Doherty at the hotel for the hotel suite location.
7:00–9:00 p.m. Dads’ Night Out: This is an opportunity for fathers to talk
about their kids in an informal, social atmosphere. Blind dads of sighted kids
are also welcome to join the group. For location contact Brad Weathered at the
Day 3: Tuesday, July 1
7:30–9:30 a.m. NOPBC Board Meeting
11:30 –12:30 p.m. Youth Track 2008: Teen Meet and Greet with Division Reps: Come learn about the various divisions of the NFB.
12:45–4:15 p.m. Teen Hospitality
1:00–3:30 p.m. NOPBC Annual Meeting and Program: Keynote address by 2008 NFB Distinguished Educator of Blind Children Award Winner and a program with continued highlights from the 25th anniversary celebration. A brief business meeting with election of officers and board members to follow.
4:00–5:30 p.m. Parent Power Workshop: Moderator Barbara Mathews. An NOPBC workshop about expanding and strengthening state and local parent groups, fundraising, developing programs, and recruiting members.
5:30–7:00 p.m. Braille Book Flea Market and Reunion for Braille Readers Are Leaders
7:00 p.m. Books on Time: Mobilizing the Troops for Action
Despite considerable efforts over the past ten years, blind children still begin the first day of school without their books. Now is the time to educate and mobilize a force of advocates at the grass roots who will help us overcome this injustice. The session will cover how the law is supposed to work, how to assist families in navigating the complaint process, how to create change at the local level, and how to assist the NFB national office in tracking the problems with timely, accessible textbooks. More specific details will be available in the coming months about the exact time, location, and agenda for this important training seminar.
Day 4: Wednesday, July 2
7:00–9:00 a.m. NOPBC board meeting
Lunch break Teen Hospitality
7:00–10:00 p.m. Youth Track 2008: Teen Dance: Want to go to a dance with your kind of music? Come get your groove on with other teens at the NFB Youth Track Dance. Teens 14-18 are invited. Music will include Top 40, hip hop, R&B, and even country. There will also be games and time to chat.
6:30–10:00 p.m. Concurrent workshops for parents. Two sessions: 6:30-8:00 p.m. and 8:30-10:00 p.m.
Session One: 6:30–8:00 p.m.
1. All About Your Child’s IEP: Annee Hartzel, teacher of the visually impaired,
and Denise Colton, parent of a blind child. Hartzel also served on a committee
that developed state educational standards for Braille students in California.
Hartzel will review the basic principles of how to write an IEP, provide tips
on being an effective advocate in the IEP meeting, and so forth.
2. Drop-in Play and Learn with Heather Field: Parents of infants and toddlers (ages 0-5) are invited to bring their kids to this hands-on interactive session with Heather Field. Heather will answer questions, demonstrate toys and activities to encourage development and age-appropriate behavior.
3. Letting Your Child’s Wild Side Out: Join us as we explore how young blind children can enjoy fun, age-appropriate activities like surfing, skiing, snowboarding, gymnastics, Frisbee, rollerblading, and much more. Both presenters will use PowerPoint presentations with pictures and video of their blind children engaging in all of the above activities. Warning: While supervised children of all ages are encouraged to attend, be prepared for the consequences: they may very well ask you when they can try these activities too. Led by Dr. Eric Vasiliauskas and Grace Tiscareno-Sato.
Session Two: 8:30–10:00 p.m.
1. All About Your Child’s IEP (repeat session)
2. Good Educational Programs Are Built on Good Evaluations. This session will help parents and teachers learn to identify the elements of good assessments. The workshop will identify sources of assessments, how to develop and evaluate teacher-made assessments, and strategies for identifying sources of independent evaluations. A panel of instructors to include Dr. Ruby Ryles, Carol Castellano, and others.
8:30–10:15 p.m. Hobbies, Crafts, and Games: Supervised arts and crafts activities
for children ages 6-12. You want to go to an NOPBC workshop, but you have kids
who are almost too old for a babysitter but maybe not old enough to stay by
themselves, so what do you do? Bring them here for an evening of hobbies and
crafts. Note: This is a program for the children of parents who are attending
NFB workshops within the hotel. It is not a childcare service. In addition parents
are welcome to come with their child and do an activity together. Coordinated
by Heather Fields.
Day 5: Thursday, July 3
Time TBA Scout Open House: Come learn about scouting from representatives with Boy Scouts of America and blind Federation scouts. More information forthcoming.
1:00–3:00 p.m. Come to talk to Barbara Cheadle about the development of the Parent Outreach department of the Jernigan Institute.
1:45–6:15 p.m. Teen Hospitality
8:00–10:30 p.m. Astronomy and the Invisible Sky: Come participate in hands-on
activities to see what a night under the stars is all about. Weather permitting,
we will also have an outside star party. Led by Noreen Grice of You Can Do Astronomy
LLC and the Museum of Science, Boston. Kids of all ages, including blind adults
and friends in the Federation, are welcome to attend. Children must be accompanied
by an adult.
Day 6: Friday, July 4
Lunch break Teen Hospitality
NFB Banquet Along with other NFB Divisions, NOPBC will announce the much sought-after
50/50 raffle drawing.
Day 7: Saturday, July 5
NFB General Session During the session, NOPBC will announce contributions to the White Cane Fund, tenBroek Fund, Kenneth Jernigan Memorial Fund, and Imagination Fund.
NOPBC 2008 SEMINAR REGISTRATION
Sandy Taboada, NOPBC Registration
6960 South Fieldgate Court
Baton Rouge, LA 70808-5455
NOPBC Conference Fees
NOPBC fees, including dinner tickets to the Sunday night, June 29, anniversary buffet: $25 per adult, $15 per youth (ages 12 and up), and $7 per child (ages 6-11), ages 5 and under, free. Tickets for the buffet dinner may not be available at registration, so please preregister.
NOPBC fees, no dinner tickets: $20 per adult, no charge for children and youth accompanied by family members. Teens accompanied by chaperones, $15 per teen.
Fee enclosed (make checks payable to NOPBC) $________________
You can either register for specific workshops online at <www.nfb.org/nopb> or request a hardcopy registration form. Please check your choice: [ ] online [ ] send hardcopy
Adult Name(s). Please include first and last names of each adult and check
relationship or interest in the NOPBC:
[ ] parent [ ] relative [ ] professional [ ] blind parent [ ] chaperone for teens [ ] other
[ ] parent [ ] relative [ ] professional [ ] blind parent [ ] chaperone for teens [ ] other
City ____________________________________ State___________ Zip________________
Telephone(s) ______________________ Email ___________________________________
Do you already receive Future Reflections? YES NO
Are you a member of your state POBC chapter? YES NO
Is this your first NFB Convention? YES NO
Please list names (first and last), birth dates, and grades of all children
attending the convention with you. Please include a brief description of the
child’s vision and any additional disabilities.
Name Birth Date Grade Vision/other
1. __________________________ ________ ____ __________________________
2.__________________________ ________ ____ __________________________
3.__________________________ ________ ____ __________________________
4.__________________________ ________ ____ __________________________
by D. Curtis Willoughby
From the Editor: Curtis Willoughby is a member of the NFB's Research and Development Committee and head of our Ham Radio Interest Group. Here is his announcement about FM receivers at convention:
Again this year at national convention we will offer special arrangements for severely hearing-impaired people attending convention sessions and the banquet. This will consist of transmission of the public address system signal over a special short-range radio transmitter for the severely hearing-impaired. Also Spanish-language translation of convention proceedings in general sessions and the banquet will be provided using a similar arrangement. The special receivers required for these services will also be provided.
In cooperation with several state affiliates (notably Colorado, Louisiana, Ohio, Utah, and Virginia), the NFB will provide special receivers for these transmissions to those needing them. The receiver-lending will be managed by the Ham Radio Group and will be operated from a table just outside the meeting room. A deposit of $25, cash only, will be required of anyone wishing to check out one of the Federation's receivers. The deposit will be returned if the receiver is checked in at the checkout table in good condition by adjournment or within thirty minutes of adjournment of the last convention session that the borrower plans to attend. Batteries for the receiver will be provided. Anyone checking out a Federation receiver will be given upon request a miniature earbud-type earphone to use with the receiver.
Along with explaining what will be available, it is important that we explain what will not be available. The miniature earbud loudspeaker-type earphone will be the only kind of earphone offered. The receiver requires a 3.5 mm (formerly called 1/8-inch) earphone plug, in case you want to use your own earphone(s), Silhouette, neck loop, adapter cable, etc. You are advised to arrange for such things well ahead of arriving at the convention. Other than the earphone jack on the receiver, no means of connection to a hearing aid will be available from the checkout table. The receiver does not have a built-in loudspeaker. While earphones and even neck loops are sometimes available in the exhibit hall, you cannot be certain of getting one there.
Many severely hearing-impaired people already use radio systems that employ FM radio signals to carry the voice from a transmitter held by the person speaking to a receiver in the hearing aid. Many such hearing aid systems can be tuned to receive the Federation's special transmitters. In this case the hearing-impaired person may simply tune his or her own receiver to receive the Federation's transmitter and will not need to check out a Federation receiver.
Some audiologists and rehabilitation agencies are now buying digital and other FM hearing aids that cannot be tuned to the Federation's frequency. If you have one of these or if you have any other type of hearing aid, you should obtain from your audiologist an adapter cable to connect from your hearing aid to a monaural 3.5 mm (formerly called 1/8-inch) earphone jack. This will allow you to plug the cable from your hearing aid directly into a receiver you check out from our table. This will allow you to hear as well as anyone else using one of our receivers.
The transmitter for the hearing impaired will be connected to the public address system so that the signals from the head table and the aisle microphones will be transmitted on channel 36 (74.775 MHz narrow band FM). People must not operate their personal transmitters on channel 36 or on channel 38 because that would interfere with the reception by others. This means that folks wishing to use their own receivers rather than checking out one of the Federation's receivers need to have their personal receivers arranged so that they can switch between their personal channels and channel 36. Some people may need to purchase replacement or additional receivers. Caution your audiologist that there is more than one channel 36, and he or she must also verify that your frequency matches our frequency.
This announcement is published now to allow as much time as possible for those interested to make the necessary arrangements before convention. It contains this amount of detail so that any audiologist who works with this type of equipment should be able to know by reading this article exactly what capabilities a person's FM hearing system must have in order to work with the Federation's system at convention.
Even if your hearing aid is not of the FM type, you may be able to purchase a Silhouette, a neck loop, or an adapter cable to couple the signal from a Federation receiver directly to your hearing aid. Your audiologist should also be able to help you with this.
The service for Spanish speakers will be similar, except that a live Spanish translator will speak over a separate transmitter on channel 38 (75.275 MHz narrow band FM). We do not expect that people will bring their own receivers for the Spanish-translation service unless they are also hearing impaired and use an FM hearing aid system. Spanish speakers may, however, wish to bring their own ear phones. See above for a description of the type of plug needed.
Norm Gardner from Utah will be coordinating the Spanish language interpreters,
and he would appreciate hearing from anyone willing to volunteer to interpret.
Please call him before convention at (801) 224-6969, or send him email at <email@example.com>.
Finally, if other state affiliates or chapters are interested in purchasing this type of equipment for use in state and local meetings, they are encouraged to purchase equipment that is compatible with that which we are using and to allow it to be used in the pool of equipment that the Ham Radio Group administers at national convention. I, Curtis Willoughby, would like to help you choose equipment that is compatible with that which the NFB is using. I may also be able to help you get the good prices the NFB has been getting. You may contact me at (303) 424-7373 or at <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
The Federation is pleased to offer these services to our severely hearing-impaired and Spanish-speaking colleagues, and we hope and believe that it will again significantly improve their convention experience.
by Ed Bryant
During this year’s annual convention in Dallas, dialysis will be available. People requiring dialysis must have their unit set up the desired location well in advance. The convention will take place at the Hilton Anatole, 2201 Stemmons Freeway. You can find dialysis units and directions for reaching them at (866) 889-6019 or <www.dialysisfinder.com>.
The following units are located near the hotel:
Southwestern Dialysis; UTSHS: 8230 Elmbrook Drive, Dallas, Texas 75247; phone
(214) 630-4180; 2.6 miles from hotel.
Brookriver Dialysis: 8101 Brookriver Drive, Dallas, Texas 75247; phone (214) 951-7789; 2.7 miles from hotel. FMC Dallas South: 1150 N Bishop, Suite 200 Dallas, Texas 75208; phone (214) 942-2900; 3.4 miles from hotel.
This month’s recipes have been contributed by members of the National
Federation of the Blind of New York.
Vegetarian Tortellini Supreme
by Charlie Richardson
Charlie Richardson is from the Capitol District Chapter and has lived in Albany for twenty-two years. He has been in the New York Business Enterprise Program for the past seventeen years and has served on the state committee of blind vendors for the past ten years and been the chairman for the past five years. In 2007 Charlie was appointed by then Governor Spitzer as a member and cochairman of the executive board of the Commission for the Blind. A morning talk show DJ was recently quoted as saying, “When it comes to blindness issues, Charlie is the guy.” Charlie attributes this respect to his affiliation and learning from the NFB.
1 pound cheese tortellini
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic (if you like garlic as much as we do)
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1/2 cup green peppers, chopped
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 small can sliced mushrooms, rinsed and drained
1 8-ounce package frozen broccoli florets, thawed
1 15-ounce can Italian stewed tomatoes, drained
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 cup olive oil
Grated parmesan, optional
Method: Cook tortellini in boiling water for six to seven minutes. In large pan sauté garlic in two tablespoons oil for about thirty seconds. Add onion, green peppers, salt, and black pepper. Sauté for an additional three to five minutes. Add mushrooms and broccoli. Cover and heat through. Mix tortellini, tomatoes, 1/2 cup oil and basil together, and stir into heated veggie mixture. Add more oil if desired. Serve topped with grated parmesan.
Aunt Mindy's New York Deviled Eggs
by Mindy Jacobsen
Mindy Jacobsen is the wife of NFB of New York President Carl Jacobsen and an active Federationist in her own right. She says, “My niece needed a recipe for a cookbook she put together to raise money for kids with cancer, and her friends seemed to love this one.”
2 dozen hard boiled eggs, washed well
1 large onion, diced
1 small jar of gherkins pickles, diced
The juice from the jar of gherkins
1 pound of bacon
Mayonnaise to taste (approximately 1/2 cup)
Method: Peel the hard boiled eggs and cut them in half lengthwise. Carefully take the yolks out of the egg whites so that the halved whites remain in one piece with a concavity where the yolk half used to be. Place the yolk halves in a medium mixing bowl and the white halves in a larger one. Cook the bacon until it is crispy and then break it up into smaller-than-bite-sized pieces. One quick way to do this is to put the slices into a ziplock bag, zip it completely, being sure to remove all the air. Then step on the bag. Either process or blend the yolks with the pickle juice, mayonnaise, diced pickles, onions, and bacon. The mixture should be smooth, just a little looser than paste, but not too liquidy. Fill the egg whites with the mixture, not just filling the hole, but completely covering the top surface of the egg. Place the eggs on two trays and refrigerate them until you're ready to serve. Eat and enjoy.
Pork Chop Slop
by Carl Jacobsen
Despite the popular mythology, Carl Jacobsen assures us that he can find his way around the kitchen. If he couldn’t, he would not have maintained his present girth, and his children would not have reached their majority. He says that his children gave the above name to this dish during their teenage years. While it may not present a five-star appearance, it is filling, tasty, and inexpensive.
1-1/2 pounds boneless pork chops
1 cup rice, uncooked
1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 12-ounce can lima beans
Method: Grill pork chops in the stove or on a George Foreman grill. A periodic poke of a fork will determine when they are done. Slice the cooked pork chops into bite-size pieces. Cook the rice using two cups of water to the one cup of rice. In a one-gallon pot, place the cooked rice, the cut-up pork, the lima beans (after draining), and the cream of mushroom soup. Fold the various ingredients together until well mixed. At this point add enough caraway seeds to season to taste. I usually find that, when the mixture begins to smell like the seeds, enough are in the pot. Heat for about five minutes and serve. The whole process should not take more than thirty to forty-five minutes. This will serve four average people or two of the more gluttonous variety.
Peanut Butter Cookies without Flour
by Joyce Carrico
Joyce Carrico is the secretary of the New York City Chapter.
1 cup white sugar
1 cup peanut butter
Method: Mix the three ingredients together and drop onto cookie sheet. Press gently with fork. Bake in preheated 350-degree oven for ten minutes. Remove from oven and from sheet. Cookies are formed, but soft. When cool, store in a tightly covered container. This recipe makes one to two dozen cookies.
Easy Baked Ziti, New York Style
by Joyce Carrico
1 pound ziti, uncooked
3-4 quarts of water
1 pound mozzarella cheese, grated
2 tablespoons oil
1 quart spaghetti sauce, with or without meat
1/2 to 1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
Parmesan cheese, optional
Method: Sauté onion and garlic in oil, drain, cool, and add to sauce. Set aside. Bring water to a rolling boil in a 4- to 5-quart covered saucepan. Add ziti and cook until al dente or bouncy to the touch, no longer doughy to taste, approximately fifteen to twenty minutes. Drain. Cover the bottom of a deep 9-by-13 baking pan with sauce. Alternate layers of ziti, mozzarella, and sauce, making sure that each layer is even and thick, particularly the cheese. Cover dish and bake at 350 degrees thirty to forty-five minutes, uncovering the pan for the last eight to ten minutes. The cheese should be thoroughly melted and blended. The top should not be allowed to get too crisp. Remove from oven, add parmesan cheese if desired, and serve. Variations: You can alternate ricotta cheese in the layers similar to layers of lasagna. You can also add parmesan cheese in the sauce as well if desired.
Splenda Chocolate Chip Cookies
by Julie Phillipson
Julie Phillipson is from Buffalo. She is the affiliate’s secretary.
2/3 cup butter or margarine, softened
2/3 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
2/3 cup Splenda® no-calorie sweetener, granulated
2 teaspoons vanilla
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Method: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter, brown sugar, Splenda, and vanilla together in a medium mixing bowl. Mix until well blended and creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape sides of bowl. Add flour, baking soda, and salt. Mix until well blended. Stir in chocolate chips. Place level tablespoons of cookie dough on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake ten to twelve minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and cool on a wire cooling rack.
Peanut Butter Bites with Splenda
by Julie Phillipson
1/4 cup margarine, softened
1 cup creamy style peanut butter
1/4 cup egg substitute
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup Splenda® no-calorie sweetener, granulated
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Method: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat margarine and peanut butter in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer until creamy, approximately one minute. Add egg substitute, honey, and vanilla. Beat on high speed for approximately one and a half minutes. Add Splenda and beat on medium speed until well blended, approximately thirty seconds. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a small mixing bowl. Slowly add flour mixture to peanut butter mixture, beating on low speed until well blended, about one and a half minutes. Mixture may be crumbly. Roll level tablespoons of dough into balls and drop onto a lightly oiled or parchment-lined cookie sheet, two inches apart. Flatten each ball with a fork, pressing a crisscross pattern into each cookie with the tines. Bake seven to nine minutes or until light brown around the edges. Cool on wire rack.
by Sharlene Czaja Kraft
Sharlene Czaja Kraft is a member of the New York City Chapter.
One cup (2 sticks) butter
Three scant cups flour
Sixteen ounces extra sharp cheddar cheese, grated
One half to one cup chopped pecans
Cayenne pepper to taste
Method: In a food processor combine cold butter (cut into pieces) with the flour until coarse crumbs form. Add grated cheddar cheese. Then add nuts and cayenne pepper. Combine until just mixed, not too gooey. Divide into four balls. If you have difficulty working with them, wrap and refrigerate for about a half hour. Shape the first ball into a long roll. Cut one-fourth-inch slices. Place on a lightly greased cookie sheet or foil-lined sheet. Repeat with other three balls. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for approximately fourteen minutes. Let rest for three or four minutes before removing from cookie sheet. These can be frozen, thawed when you have guests, and served as an appetizer. They are great to munch while watching television.
Baked Banana Pancakes
by Sharlene Czaja Kraft
This dish looks good and tastes great. You can prepare other breakfast accompaniments while this is baking. You will not need to add butter or syrup.
2 large bananas
1 cup pecan pieces
1/2 stick butter
1/2 cup sugar-free or regular maple syrup
2 cups Bisquick
1 cup fat-free milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
Method: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In heavy iron skillet melt butter and remove from heat. Swirl the butter around so that sides of skillet are coated. Add maple syrup. Slice bananas evenly and spread over the maple syrup. Sprinkle pecan pieces over the bananas so that they fill in the gaps. In bowl mix the Bisquick with the eggs, milk, nutmeg, and vanilla. Gently pour batter over the bananas. Wrap foil around the handle of your skillet to protect it from the heat of the oven. Put pan into oven and bake approximately twenty minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the middle of the pancake comes out clean. Remove from oven. Let sit approximately five minutes. Wet a cold knife and run around the outside of the pancake. Invert pancake onto a large flat platter over the kitchen sink, just in case some of the sauce runs out. Cut into six to eight wedges and serve.
News from the Federation Family
2008-2009 Conference Stipend:
The Science and Engineering Division of the National Federation of the Blind (SENFB), is pleased to announce its first annual conference stipend, which will be awarded to a blind student enrolled in a science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) field of study at the senior-undergraduate or graduate level. This stipend, in an amount not to exceed $1,000, will be based on the applicant's need and the availability of other funding sources. It is being awarded as an incentive for a qualified blind or visually impaired student to attend a professional research conference to gain the valuable experience these conferences provide to promising students. This stipend is intended for conferences to be held in the 2008-2009 academic year.
Who is eligible? Any blind or visually impaired senior-undergraduate or graduate student enrolled in a STEM field of study at an accredited institution of higher learning may apply for this stipend. Your coursework or research experience should be at a sufficiently advanced level to permit you to benefit from attending and participating in a professional research conference in your field of study.
What are the stipend requirements? This is a reimbursement stipend. After attending the specified conference, the selected recipient must submit proof of conference attendance, including appropriate receipts, and a written report to John Miller (between 200 and 500 words) describing the recipient's conference participation, experiences gained, and lessons learned. Upon receipt of these items, the SENFB will mail a check made out to the recipient that can be used to defray the expenses listed in the application.
What can you use the stipend for? You may use this stipend to pay for expenses incurred while attending a conference in your field of study. Such expenses include conference fees, travel to the conference, lodging, and meals.
What is the deadline? All applications for this stipend must be in John Miller's possession by May 31, 2008.
How do you apply? Each application must consist of the following three items:
1. A personal phone call of introduction by the applicant to John Miller, (858) 527-1727 home or (858) 967-2666 cell. In this phone call you should be prepared to discuss your particular academic interest, your educational background, your career goals, and the adaptive techniques of blindness you use to compete on terms of equality with your sighted peers.
2. A letter from the applicant to the selection committee requesting the stipend. This letter should include your name, mailing address, telephone number, and email address; the title of the conference you wish to attend, the sponsoring organization, and the conference dates and location; the conference activities in which you plan to participate; a discussion of the experience you expect to gain by attending the conference; the total cost of attending the conference (conference fees, housing expenses, meals, and transportation); and the portion of conference expenses that you will pay out of pocket or that is being funded by other means.
3. A letter of recommendation from a faculty or research advisor in your field of study. This letter should include the author's familiarity with your academic and research work, an assessment of your potential for future research work, and a statement of what you can expect to gain by attending this conference. Letters of application, conference documentation, and conference report must be mailed to John Miller, 10955 Deering Street, San Diego, California 92126.
When will the recipient be announced? The recipient of the 2008 conference
stipend will be announced at the annual meeting of the SENFB, which will be
held at the 2008 NFB convention in Dallas, Texas, June 29 to July 5. For more
information call John Miller, president, NFB Science and Engineering Division,
(858) 527-1727 home or (858) 967-2666 cell.
New Summer Program to Empower Blind Teens:
The National Federation of the Blind announced February 26 that it will hold the first-ever Teen Empowerment Academy at NFB headquarters. This is the newest program in a series of initiatives striving to increase the educational, social, and vocational opportunities for blind youth.
The eight-week residential training program, led by blind instructors and occurring from June 15 to August 9, 2008, is designed to help blind and visually impaired teens develop the blindness and job-readiness skills necessary for success. The first part of the program will focus on helping teens develop their blindness skills. Highly qualified blind role models will teach courses in Braille, technology, mobility, and daily living skills. During the second part of the program students will enter the working world at a level suitable for teens. Each student will work fifteen to twenty hours a week earning minimum wage. With the support of mentors students will also be responsible for residential tasks like preparing meals, maintaining a clean living environment, and doing their own laundry. Additionally, students will participate in various recreational and challenge activities.
Contact Rosy Carranza at (410) 659-9314, extension 2283, or email her at <email@example.com>
for additional information. Those interested should visit <www.nfb.org>
to download an application.
Independence Market Corner:
We would like to draw your attention to two new items available from the NFB's Independence Market. The popular Victor Reader Stream can now be purchased from the Independence Market. This versatile handheld book reading machine can play not only MP3 files but also the new digital Talking Books from the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, audio books from RFB&D, and audible DAISY text files from Bookshare, as well as HTML and ASCII text files. The reader is loaded with features such as various quick navigation functions, bookmark insertion options, and recording capability. The books and music are stored on secure digital (SD) cards. The Victor Reader Stream is a must for students and book and music lovers on the go. The Stream costs $344 plus shipping and handling—a one-gig card is supplied with the Victor Reader Stream if purchased through the Independence Market.
The NFB recently released a new publication: Guide for Local and State Leaders by Ramona Walhof. Written from the point of view of a longtime leader and former NFB officer, this small book assists new leaders to take full advantage of resources in a complex national movement. It addresses structure and activities of local chapters, state affiliates, and the national organization from fund raising to public education. Each chapter and state affiliate would benefit from having access to the information contained in this guide. Copies are available through the Independence Market in print and Braille as well as on two-track and four-track cassette for $10 each plus shipping and handling.
For further information or to place an order for these or other items, contact
the Independence Market by phone at (410) 659-9314, extension 2216, or by email
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.
Seedlings Braille Books for Children:
We would like to announce that we have just added thirty new Braille books to our catalog of over 860 titles for children ages zero to fourteen. The new books range from Butterfly Kisses by Sandra Magsamen, a print-Braille-and-picture book for toddlers that comes with a finger puppet, to The Million Dollar Putt by Dan Gutman, a book for eight to twelve-year-olds about Bogie, who is blind, who is competing for a million dollar prize in a golf tournament.
For more information and a complete listing go to <www.seedlings.org>
or call (800) 777-8552 to request a catalog (available in print or in Braille).
And don’t forget to enter to win one free Braille book a year from Seedlings
through the Anna’s Book Angel Project. For more information and to register
online, go to <http:// www.seedlings.org/bkangel.php>. Seedlings is a
nonprofit organization. All books are sold for a fraction of the production
cost, so donations are always needed and appreciated.
Economic Stimulus Package Information:
The following information comes from the Internal Revenue Service Website that gives the latest update on the economic stimulus package signed into law on February 14. Note that the IRS emphasizes that the stimulus payments will not count toward or negatively affect any other income-based government benefits, such as Social Security benefits, food stamps, and other programs. In order to qualify, an individual must have at least $3,000 of qualifying income, which can include Title II benefits but not SSI.
Facts about the 2008 Stimulus Payments
Starting in May, the Treasury will begin sending economic stimulus payments to more than 130 million individuals. The stimulus payments will go out through the late spring and summer. The vast majority of Americans who qualify for an economic stimulus payment will not have to do anything other than file their 2007 individual income tax return to receive their payment this year. They will not have to complete applications, file any extra forms, or call the Internal Revenue Service to request the payment, which is automatic. The IRS will determine eligibility, calculate the amount, and issue the payment. Stimulus payments will be direct deposited for taxpayers selecting that option when filing their 2007 tax returns. Taxpayers who have already filed with direct deposit won't need to do anything else to receive the stimulus payment. For taxpayers who haven't filed their 2007 returns yet, the IRS reminds them that direct deposit is the fastest way to get both regular refunds and stimulus payments.
Basic Eligibility: The IRS will use the 2007 tax return to determine eligibility and calculate the basic amount of the payment. In most cases the payment will equal the amount of tax liability on the return with a maximum amount of $600 for individuals ($1,200 for taxpayers who file a joint return) and a minimum of $300 for individuals ($600 for taxpayers who file a joint return). Even those who have little or no tax liability may qualify for a minimum payment of $300 ($600 if filing a joint return) if their tax return reflects $3,000 or more in qualifying income. For the purpose of the stimulus payments, qualifying income consists of earned income such as wages and net self-employment income as well as Social Security or certain Railroad Retirement benefits and veterans’ disability compensation, pension, or survivors’ benefits received from the Department of Veterans Affairs in 2007. However, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) does not count as qualifying income for the stimulus payment. Low-income workers who have earned income above $3,000 but do not have a regular filing requirement must file a 2007 tax return to receive the minimum stimulus payment. Similarly, Social Security recipients, certain railroad retirees, and those who receive the veterans’ benefits mentioned above must file a 2007 return in order to notify the IRS of their qualifying income. The IRS emphasizes that people with no filing requirement who turn in a tax return to qualify for the economic stimulus payment will not get a tax bill. People in this category will not owe money because of the stimulus payment.
Additional Payments for Parents and Others with Qualifying Children: Parents and anyone else eligible for a stimulus payment will also receive an additional $300 for each qualifying child. To qualify, a child must be eligible under the Child Tax Credit and have a valid Social Security Number.
Limitation: To be eligible for a stimulus payment, taxpayers must have valid
Social Security Numbers. Anyone who does not have a valid Social Security Number,
including those who file using an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number
(ITIN), an Adoption Taxpayer Identification Number (ATIN), or any other identification
number issued by the IRS, is not eligible for this payment. Both individuals
listed on a married filing jointly return must have valid Social Security Numbers
to qualify for a stimulus payment. Eligibility for the stimulus payment is subject
to maximum income limits. The payment, including the basic amount and the amount
for qualifying children, will be reduced by 5 percent of the amount of income
in excess of $75,000 for individuals and $150,000 for those with a Married Filing
Jointly filing status. Individuals who pay no tax and who have less than $3,000
of qualifying income will not be eligible for the stimulus payment.
Most taxpayers will receive two notices from the IRS. The first general notice from the IRS will explain the stimulus payment program. The second notice will confirm the recipients’ eligibility, the payment amount, and the approximate timetable for the payment. Taxpayers will need to save this notice to assist them when they prepare their 2008 tax return next year. Anyone who moves after filing the 2007 tax return should notify the IRS by filing Form 8822, Change of Address, and also notify the post office.
The IRS emphasizes that stimulus payments will not count toward or negatively
affect any other income-based government benefits, such as Social Security benefits,
food stamps, and other programs. For more information go to <http://www.irs.gov/irs/article/0,,id=177937,00.html>.
AbilityOne Honors Ollie Cantos:
The JWOD program is now the AbilityOne program. Its chair is Andy Houghton, and James Omvig is its vice chair. (This is the first time ever that two disabled people have led the committee.)
When Olegario (Ollie) Cantos was working for the Domestic Policy Council, one of his duties was to write the annual progress report on the President's Freedom Initiative for the Disabled. For the first time in the history of that report, Ollie included information about employment under the AbilityOne program. As a result the President's Committee for Purchase from People Who Are Blind or Severely Disabled brought Ollie to Chicago for its November 2007 meeting (held in conjunction with the annual training conference of National Industries for the Blind) to recognize him for his support of the program.
As chair, Andy Houghton made the following presentation: “The Committee wants to recognize a special effort made on behalf of the AbilityOne program. Ollie [pronounced “Ohlie"] Cantos, would you please join me? Mr. Cantos currently serves as special counsel to the assistant attorney general, Civil Rights Division, U.S. Department of Justice. He recently returned to this position after serving as the White House domestic policy council associate director on disability. While serving in his position at the White House, Mr. Cantos made a special effort to reach out to the AbilityOne program, and he ensured that the accomplishments of AbilityOne participating agency employees were recognized in the president's 2007 New Freedom Initiative Progress Report. Until Mr. Cantos took the initiative to recognize the achievements of programs administered by smaller federal agencies like the Committee for Purchase, the significant impact of the AbilityOne program had not been highlighted for the widespread audience that reads this report. As someone who has been both a consumer of services for people who are blind and now a respected leader in the Bush administration who works unceasingly on a variety of issues on behalf of all Americans with disabilities, Mr. Cantos has shown by his actions that he is committed to work with us as we build new horizons for AbilityOne in the twenty-first century.
“Mr. Cantos, the Committee is pleased to recognize you for your much appreciated
support by presenting you with one of our numbered, special edition gold coins.
Monthian Buntan, president of the Thailand Association of the Blind and at one time a member of the NFB of Minnesota, was recently appointed as a senator in Thailand. Seventy-five members of the country’s senate are appointed by a selection committee in order to ensure diversity. Mr. Buntan was selected as a representative of the disability community. Congratulations to Monthian Buntan and to the nation of Thailand.
A Brief Report:
When as a student Sabriye Tenberken set out to learn the Tibetan language, she had to invent a Braille alphabet. She went on to establish the first school for blind children in Tibet. She called it Braille without Borders. Today it is described on the organization’s Website as “a small international development organization which aims to create training programs and Braille book printing houses for blind and visually impaired people.” The organization’s name reflects the international character and scope of its work and, more important, symbolizes its philosophical view that no arbitrary limits need restrict the lives and opportunities of blind people. With the goal of enhancing the literacy of the blind community internationally, the Braille without Borders school in Tibet administers a variety of programs throughout Asia to benefit blind people.
The Braille Monitor has periodically reported on the work of Braille without Borders since November 2003. Now its most recent annual report is available online.
Here are some highlights from the 2007 annual report:
• The Braille without Borders operating agreement with all appropriate authorities
was extended in September 2007 for another five years, guaranteeing that it
will be able to continue its work into the immediate future.
• Gyendsen, a Braille without Borders first-generation student, is profiled as one of eight recipients of the Ikeda ICT 2007 scholarship, allowing him to travel to Malaysia and Japan for computer and other academic studies.
• Braille without Borders has established a partnership with the Chinese Disabled Persons’ Federation. Five students and a teacher from the school have visited Beijing for a five-month medical massage course.
• The Braille without Borders instructional staff has established an innovative story-writing competition.
• German instruction for some students has been added to this year’s curriculum.
• Advocacy efforts to get several Braille without Borders blind students admitted to the government-sponsored middle school have been successful.
• The vocational training programs associated with the school’s farm have been updated. Information on the newly constructed bio-bakery as a work training facility for students is featured.
• Finally, the organization has established the International Institute for Social Entrepreneurs, a creative and wide-ranging program for blind people ages eighteen and above, described in some detail.
For further information on these and other Braille without Borders Initiatives, visit the Website at <www.braillewithoutborders.org>.
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.
Pac Mate BX420. Comes with twenty-cell detachable Braille display, clock, stopwatch, calendar, Pocket Word, Pocket Excel, and Pocket Internet Explorer. You can use a compact flash card and an Internet wireless card. Comes with carrying case, all cables, manuals on CD-ROM, and a quick-start guide in Braille. Has a good help system. Asking $2,500. Call Annamarie (870) 365-8477.
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.