Braille Monitor                                                    October 2008

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News from the Federation Family

Indy BLAST 09, National Training Conference:
Attention National Association of Blind Merchants members: get out your 2009 calendars and mark the dates of our Business, Leadership, and Superior Training (BLAST) conference April 1 to 4 at the Indianapolis Marriott Downtown. Receive unbelievably low room rates good from Monday, March 30, through Sunday, April 5, based on availability. Visit with merchants, agency partners, and suppliers with time left over to relax and enjoy the racing capital of the world and all that it has to offer. Conference activities blast off on Wednesday afternoon, April 1, and conclude midday Saturday, April 4.

Training sessions and meetings will begin Wednesday afternoon. We will be in meetings all day Thursday and Friday and Saturday morning. Those who attended our Memphis BLAST say that they learned much from the innovative, interactive, and informative training. We are working now to develop the training curriculum for BLAST ’09. Your suggestions are welcome and appreciated. The goal of the BLAST conference is to target training to meet the specific needs of blind entrepreneurs and our agency partners.

Working with our partner suppliers and purveyors, we are planning an even more extensive product and services showcase of exhibits during the Indy BLAST the afternoon of Thursday, April 2. New products, special pricing, accessible technology, and more will make this showcase one you don’t want to miss.

This year registration is $200, covering all conference activities and training materials. Those who register before Monday, March 2, 2009, will pay only $150, receiving a $50 discount for early registration. If you both register and reserve your room before March 2, you will receive a further discount of $25 and will therefore pay only $125. Provide your hotel confirmation number to receive the additional discount.

Send checks to NABM, 1223 Lake Plaza Drive Suite D, Colorado Springs, CO 80906. With your check include the name, phone number, and best mailing address and email address (if available) for each person you are registering. You can also register online at <www.blindmerchants.org>. Remember that the registration fee also includes tradeshow, receptions, leadership breakfast, luncheon, and more surprises.

The Indianapolis Marriott Downtown offers luxurious lodging at very low rates. Rates for our Indy BLAST are $97 a night for standard rooms all week long. All rates quoted are net per room, per night, plus the current 15.95 percent tax. The newly renovated Indianapolis Marriott Downtown Hotel is the premier destination for important business events in Indianapolis. The hotel is connected by skywalk to the Indiana Convention Center and Circle Centre Mall and is steps from Lucas Oil Stadium, White River State Park, NCAA Hall of Champions, Conseco Fieldhouse, and Victory Field and is just minutes from the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

For hotel reservations call the Indianapolis Marriott Downtown at (317) 822-3500 or (877) 640-7666. Tell the agent that you should be booked at the National Association of Blind Merchants’ group rate. Make your reservations now.

Working together, we can continue to grow the Randolph-Sheppard Program; we can transform it into a program of true entrepreneurship; and we can develop unique, dynamic, and profitable business opportunities outside of the Randolph-Sheppard Program. Please join us for our Indy BLAST. As those of you who have attended previous BLAST conferences know, we are always trying to mix things up. This is not your usual blind vendor conference. Join us as speakers, trainers, and consultants walk us through dynamic approaches to develop rapport with customers, building management, state licensing agencies, and colleagues. You’ll go home with new tools and techniques to reach your customers and keep bringing them back as well as with methods to anticipate, understand, embrace, and manage change in the marketplace. You will be energized by practical strategies to manage, teach, lead, and profit. We will have formal and informal opportunities throughout BLAST to network and build strong personal and business relationships.

For further information and to offer your suggestions, contact Kevan Worley, president, National Association of Blind Merchants, at (719) 527-0488 or (866) 543-6808, or email <kevanworley@blindmerchants.org>. Make plans now to join us in Indy. It’s going to be a BLAST!

In Brief

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

RT Annual Training Conference:
 The annual joint training conference of the Association of Southeastern Rehabilitation Teachers (ASERT) and the Mid-America Conference of Rehabilitation Teachers (MACRT) will be held November 13 to 15, 2008, at the Sheraton Birmingham Hotel, 2101 Richard Arrington Jr. Blvd. N., Birmingham, Alabama 35203. The phone for registering is (205) 324-5000, fax (205) 307-3045. Early registration (by October 3) is $130; after October 3 it will be $160. This training conference is always rich in information to strengthen our professional skills and knowledge. For more details call Lenore Dillon at (256) 549-7790 or Sue Schulgin at (205) 290-4447.  http://www.macrt.20m.com/Rainbow.html

Solar Bibles Available:
The Spoken Word of God in Orlando, Florida, has been serving the blind community for many years through distribution of CD and cassette Bibles. We are glad to announce the introduction of our self-contained solar audio Bible that requires no player. You can visit our Website <www.spokenwordofgod.org> for details. We also have the New American Standard version, which is not mentioned on our Website.

We provide quantity discounts when customers purchase multiple units. Please feel free to call or email if you have further questions, phone (800) 232-4253, fax (407) 521-0721, or email <swog@worldramp.net>.

Braille Chocolate Bars and More:
Besides Braille chocolate bars, Sweet Tooth has added chocolate guide dogs with Braille sayings (Best Friend), Braille chocolate watches, and other Braille chocolate items for various holidays, including Christmas, Valentine's Day, and Easter. Sweet Tooth also has a complete line of chocolate products. Price lists are available in print (regular and large), Braille, and email.

The Braille chocolate bars come with a choice of sayings including Happy Birthday, Love You, Have a Nice Day, Thank You, Merry Christmas, and Happy Holidays. They weigh 4 1/2 ounces and can be made in milk, dark, or white chocolate. The bars can be plain at a price of $2.50 each or with nuts, rice krispies, or peppermint at a price of $2.75 each. For sugar-free bars add $1.00 additional per bar. Bars are bagged in cellophane and tied with ribbons.

Shipping and handling is extra based on each order, and orders are shipped two-day priority U.S. Postal Service. To order, contact Sweet Tooth by calling Judy Davis (owner) at 32 Vinton Road, Rochester, New York 14622; (585) 544-1853; or by email at <judydavis12@rochester.rr.com>. Payment is by check or money order only, made payable to Judy Davis.

VSVH Changes Name to
Audio & Braille Literacy Enhancement (ABLE):
After forty-three years Volunteer Services for the Visually Handicapped has officially changed its name to Audio & Braille Literacy Enhancement, Inc. The new name and accompanying logo bring a fresh, modern approach to the delivery of services. ABLE’s volunteers make every day Independence Day for hundreds of blind and visually impaired individuals, as well as others who are unable to read standard print materials.

“It is my hope that our new name helps spread the word about the options ABLE makes available to people who are not able to read standard print,” Executive Director Cheryl Orgas said. “Some members of our community may not be familiar with the unique transcription services we provide. Thanks to our volunteers, we are able to transcribe everything from school and college textbooks to restaurant menus to opera librettos to make them more accessible for individuals in the Milwaukee area and beyond.”

“Our new name also reflects the commitment of our ABLE volunteers and ABLE board in making sure that everyone in our community can access printed materials and information,” Board President Cheri McGrath added. “Thanks to our great staff of ABLE volunteers, individuals needing this assistance are able to access more information than ever before.”

For more information go to <www.ablenow.org> or email Cheryl Orgas at <corgas@ablenow.org>.

Tactile Adaptations Kit Available:
The Tactile Adaptations Kit for blind, visually impaired, and special needs students was designed for teachers by Dr. Lillian A. Rankel (science teacher) and Marilyn Winograd (teacher of the blind). This kit has been used to teach chemistry, AP chemistry, and AP physics to a blind student and has also been used to teach chemistry to students with learning differences. The kit uses magnetic materials that adhere to a magnetic dry erase board and allow easy movement and sliding of the materials around the board. With this kit you will be able to introduce and reinforce concepts tactilely with colorful materials in a variety of textures. Science and math lessons can be made into tactile representations. Concepts can be shown in bright colors with rough or smooth surfaces on a magnetic board allowing for easy manipulation. Uppercase letters and numbers marked with Braille are included so that math and science formulas can be displayed and rearranged to solve problems. Circle charts, bar graphs, ionic compounds, molecules, DNA structures, cells, incline planes, vectors, and more can be presented. Magnetic-backed felt and foam sheets, textured dots for coding, various magnets, and magnetic strips can be used to create your own adaptations. The instruction booklet gives many examples for students from grammar school to college. This approach also targets multisensory learning students. The Tactile Adaptations Kit can be ordered for $149.00 plus shipping. A detailed description with photos and ordering information can be found at <www.MDWEducationalServices.com>.

Information Needed:
Does anyone know of any staffing companies besides NTI National Telecommuting Institute that place people with disabilities in home-based jobs? I would appreciate any information that anyone can provide. Contact Christine Chaikin at <questionfaq@gmail.com>.

Braille Books for the Adult Market:
EXtasy Books has been providing books in electronic formats since 2003. We have recently begun making them available in an electronic Braille format that can be read with the BrailleNote, the PAC Mate, and similar notetakers for blind people. For a list of our books go to <http://www.extasybooks.com>. If you find and like a title that hasn't yet been converted into a Braille format, please let us know, and we can make it available.

New Ownership and Management at Independent Living Aids:
Effective May 1, 2008, Irwin Schneidmill and his three silent investment partners purchased Marvin Sandler’s Independent Living Aids (ILA), one of America's most well-known blindness aids and appliances mail order houses. Prior to this purchase Mr. Schneidmill had no direct professional association or experience in the blindness community, though several members of his family are disabled.

Optimistic about the future of ILA, Mr. Schneidmill said, "We have a good company and a good reputation. We are going to try and expand the business while continuing to provide the same high-quality customer service and array of products that our consumers have come to expect from ILA. We are going to do more advertising through the Internet and through circulation of more catalogues. I'm invested right now in meeting and introducing myself to long-standing customers and to cultivating relationships with new consumers. On a part-time consulting basis, Marvin is helping me to get acquainted with members of the blindness community."

Mr. Schneidmill has a BA in accounting from Baruch College, a division of the City University of New York. He is a certified public accountant, and he practiced as an accountant for over twenty years. After retiring, he ran several mail-order businesses.

Mr. Schneidmill told the Braille Monitor that he and his partners were introduced to each other by their accountant, who knew of each man’s interest in finding a business in which to invest or to manage. Mr. Schneidmill will be solely responsible for all operations and day-to-day management of ILA. Thus far he says the transition has gone smoothly. Purchasing the company from Marvin has been a "pleasant and clean" business arrangement. He says he is fortunate to have found three partners who were looking for a sound investment and who are comfortable with letting him handle company operations.

In conclusion Mr. Schneidmill said, "I have two major objectives: to run a good and profitable business and to do good work for our blind and deaf customers. I was given a ship sailing in the right direction, and I'm simply going to keep sailing it."

Honing Career Skills through Hadley:
Economic uncertainty makes finding work more challenging for all job seekers. How can blind people compete when fifty sighted people are applying for the same job? Blind job seekers often struggle with finding the time and resources to hone their skills to keep up or get ahead. Free distance education from the Hadley School for the Blind offers an accessible solution that provides engaging content, flexible scheduling, and responsive online courses. Enroll when you wish and complete your studies from your home or office. Since Hadley courses are designed to be studied in segments or lessons, you have the ability to learn in measured steps with personalized Hadley instruction and feedback from an assigned teacher. Hadley also can be a source to acquire a high school education and diploma if that is your initial need. Few distance education programs offer you access to a qualified instructor to make the learning process the best it can be.

Distance education will increase your marketability. Employers value the job candidate who demonstrates that he or she is a lifelong learner. They recognize that distance education provides essential additional training making you more employable. This is why Hadley has become the one-stop destination for the skills needed to help blind people land that dream career.

Hadley offers easy-to-use accessible courses to help blind people advance in their current positions or improve their skills to acquire the jobs they desire. Hadley is creating a Finding Employment course specifically designed to market your employability and help you identify the career for which you are best suited. Hadley courses are created from content gathered from research conducted by subject matter experts, including those who are blind. Once you complete a Hadley course, you have the necessary confidence to market your newly acquired skills to employers. Increasingly Hadley course titles are appearing on résumés of applicants identifying the skills they have learned in correspondence classes.

Hadley offers more than one hundred courses designed to meet your skill needs. Look for the newest courses in business communications, business writing, Internet basics, and Internet: beyond the basics--along with more traditional staples of Braille and typing. Hadley's new course, Using Excel, has become popular, offering a critical must-have business skill to enhance your résumé. How about a course in French or Spanish to make you stand out over other applicants? If you’re not certain what courses are best for you, sample lessons for many courses are available on the Hadley Website at <www.hadley.edu>. Remember, Hadley distance education is free.

Telephone Voice Service Available:
Lady Lou is the owner of the Ultimate System, and Jim is its programmer. The system allows disabled people to communicate by voice in a community forum. Several other systems on the market do the same thing; however, the monitoring and control of the Ultimate System set this one apart.

Lady Lou closely monitors the system’s content and maintains some simple ground rules for control and order so that everyone can benefit and enjoy the services. Other features include voicemail, community bulletin boards, news, weather and information, live radio stations, conference chat rooms, and much more. The partner carrier also provides local access numbers throughout the U.S. and Canada, which are included in the service. This system also allows members to take advantage of contests that earn prizes. The service is free. I ask only that you enjoy the system. For more information or to sign up, call (603) 580-9403.

Audio Guitar Instruction Available:
Visual impairment or visual learning difficulties shouldn’t stop anyone from learning music. The TalkingTabs All-Audio Guitar Instruction Complete Beginners Series Special Edition is the easiest, most entertaining way to learn to play guitar. Unlike other guitar instruction programs, ours has no materials to read. We use easy-to-follow, all-audio instructions that articulate exact hand and finger positions, guiding you every step of the way so you can begin playing notes, scales, chords, and finally your favorite songs.

It took our staff of Berklee College of Music alumni over a year to develop our innovative instruction method, which has proven to be successful for many who are blind, visually impaired, dyslexic, or simply auditory learners. Our easy-to-follow step-by-step audio instructions combined with guided playing exercises allow students to begin playing much more quickly and effectively than any other method.

Over twenty hours of professionally designed lessons on CD
Easy-to-follow audio instructions
No materials to read
Simple and enjoyable method for the whole family
All you need is a guitar and a CD player

Course includes lessons for tuning, picking, strumming, fretting, scales, open chords, power chords, twelve-bar blues, playing techniques, and much more. Teacher’s edition is available. It includes syllabus, sixteen- and eighteen-week lesson plans and assessment guide in Braille, large print, normal print, and CD format.

After completing the TalkingTabs program, you will be ready to learn to play many songs using our Play-It-Now tunes, which are the simplest and most exciting all-audio song lessons for guitarists ever created. Three rock Play-It-Now tunes are included in the TalkingTabs Guitar Instruction-Complete Beginners Series Special Edition. However, you can substitute Christian, country, or traditional song lessons. For more information, visit <www.talkingtabs.com> or call us at (800) 660-6850.

Monitor Mart

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

For Sale:
I have the following items for sale:

1. Braille 'n Speak 640 with leather case and a disk drive, cables, Braille and print manuals―$225 or best offer; postage not included. Free Matter recommended.

2. Sharp electronic inkprint typewriter (purchased in 1992) in good working condition with print manual―$35 or best offer; postage not included.

3. Perkins Brailler in good working condition, $250. Postage not included. Free Matter recommended.

Contact Vileen Shah at <vileenshah@hotmail.com> (preferred), or at (847) 647-6677 evenings and weekends.

For Sale:
BrailleSense in excellent condition. Includes CD manual, Braille command summary, latest software, all of the original cords and carrying straps, as well as a wireless card that I am throwing in. Asking $3,750. Contact Connie at (612) 822-6991 or by email at <charityrose12@msn.com>.

For Sale:
1. Dell Inspiron E1705 model laptop with Core Duo processor (1.6GHz), 1GB DDR2, 256MB. 17-inch widescreen. Original price over $2,100. One year old, lightly used. Price $800, free shipping.

2. ZoomText magnifier/reader software. ZoomText magnifier/reader gives you the total computer access solution. See and hear what you're doing in all of your applications. ZoomText reads your documents, Webpages, and email, right through your computer's speakers. Print size and amount of speech can both be customized. Price $500, free shipping.

3. ZoomText computer keyboard with large white keys on black background. Price $75, shipping extra.

Complete system―Dell laptop with ZoomText software installed and operational plus the keyboard, $1,250, free shipping. For more information contact David Park at <dzpark@roadrunner.com> or call (330) 289-0889. Bank certified check or money order please, no credit cards.

For Sale:
Faith Cummings sells a variety of hand-knit and crocheted items, from wearables to afghans. She also dresses dolls of different sizes in outfits from modern to historical patterns. She does not keep a large inventory; items can be made to order. Prices vary according to the item ordered. If you are interested, email her at <fecpw@aol.com> or call (540) 337-2036.

Tandem Recumbent Tricycle for Sale:
Great for touring, this tandem tricycle was rebuilt and improved three years ago. It has adjustable front and rear positions for riders of approximately 5 feet, 2 inches, to 6 feet, 3 inches, in height. Recumbent means the seat is like a chair with a comfortable high-back seat with headrest. The frame is welded metal with blue finish. It has two twenty-inch front wheels and a twenty-six-inch rear wheel. All three wheels have their own disc brakes, including a parking brake lock. The three-year-old replacements and improvements are new chain; sprockets for front rider and rear rider; three-speed front derailer and six-speed rear derailer (totaling eighteen speeds); new brake cables; cleaned and refurbished brakes; combination set of left-hand and right-hand handle-bar-tip click-to-position-style shift controls; and new tubes and tires, spokes and rims. The trike has been used about fifty hours in the last three years. It is a 1990 TRC brand, built in Monroe, Michigan (no longer in business). I am asking $1,200 or best offer. If interested, call Steve Waltke (517) 347-7046. If you leave a message, speak your contact information slowly and clearly.

MagniSight Reader for Sale:
This is a MagniSight Reader, B&W 20-inch in-line, X-R20-NIL. The owner no longer needs it and is hoping to sell it for $700 or best offer. This is a 1995 unit that cost $2,200 at that time. Contact Constance Foley at (908) 658-4471, or email Susan Balsley at <ribals@comcast.net> and she will relay the message.

Sale:
Brytech Noteteller2. It usually does not recognize the new $5 bills, but otherwise it works superbly. Asking $200. CanoScan LiDE 25 Color Image Scanner. $40 plus $7 shipping/handling. Contact Larry Railey at <jlr1@att.net> or (281) 444-0907.


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

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