Braille Monitor                                                    December 2008

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News from the Federation Family


The Minnesota parents division held elections on Friday, October 10. The results are as follows: president, Carrie Gilmer; vice president, Brenda Johnson; secretary, Dorie Miller; treasurer, Phillip Richardson; and board members, Jean Bening and Sue Kress.

They also made plans to create a flyer about Minnesota Parents of Blind Children, Saturday School, and Teen Night to insert in the affiliate brochure and distribute to doctors’ offices, diabetic and oncology clinics, and hospitals. They formed a team to revive the division newsletter. They plan to hold informal technology fairs for parents and students separately, where parents can get informal, one-to-one help from NFB members throughout the year in two-hour workshops without having to plan large seminars dealing with the logistics of food, funding, childcare, etc. Finally, the group has made plans for blind teens to mentor the students at Saturday School. Minnesota parents are on the move!


Elections for 2009 officers were conducted October 11 at the monthly meeting of the Blackhawk Chapter of the NFB of Illinois. The results were as follows: president, Bob Gardner; vice president, Lois Montgomery; treasurer, Kathy Abbott; secretary, Donna Miles; and board members, Patrick Olson, Don Carey, and Jay Blanchard.

Imagination Fund March for Independence:

Joe Ruffalo, Imagination Fund steering committee member and NFB of New Jersey president, writes as follows: As you know, I love to keep it simple. If you take the first letter from each of the words “Imagination Fund,” you make the word “IF.”
IF we all tried harder to make contacts…
IF we all worked toward a plan…
IF we showed leadership in informing the public of our mission…
IF we concentrated on the same target…
IF we dreamed of our possibilities…
IF we keep believing, dreaming, and learning….

The Imagination Fund gives everyone in our organization the opportunity to make a difference. If you are ready to participate, register now at <>.

Top Ten Teams in 2008
Greater Baltimore Chapter Team, $2,507
Idaho Lamplighters, $2,640
Ruff Ruff Pet Care, $2,665
Junior Blind Olympic Friends, $2,678.75
Minnesota Brass, $2,820
Team Mackenzie, $2,972.77
Mattie's Menehune Marchers, $3,045
Voice of the Diabetic Team, $4,485
Empowerment, $26,797
The Imaginators, $29,285

Top Twelve States in 2008 Contest
California, $7,820.75
Minnesota, $8,090
Iowa, $9,201
Ohio, $9,370
Illinois, $10,148
Virginia, $13,718
New Jersey, $14,274
Texas, $16,589
Florida, $16,747
Louisiana, $24,577
Colorado, $48,455
Maryland, $108,630.82


The NFB of California held elections at its annual convention in Irvine, California, on October 19, 2008. The following people were elected to the board: president, Mary Willows; first vice president, Nicolas Crisosto; second vice president, Robert Stigile; secretary, Shannon Dillon; treasurer, Jonathan Lyens; and board members, Tiffany Manosh, Ever Lee Hairston, and Lisamaria Martinez.


The NFB of Ohio conducted its election of officers on November 2, 2008. Elected were president, J. Webster Smith; first vice president, Eric Duffy; second vice president, Barbara Fohl; secretary, Deborah Kendrick; treasurer, Sherry Ruth; and board members Crystal McClain and Bruce Peters. By acclamation the Convention voted to confer the title of president emerita upon retiring president Barbara Pierce, who served twenty-four years as president and who had been a board member since the late seventies.

Job Available:

The National Federation of the Blind of Ohio is accepting applications for its position of director of field services. This person will work closely with the affiliate president to carry out day-to-day organizational duties. These will include but are not limited to working with members of the legislature on matters of importance to the organized blind; representing the NFB at meetings in the blindness field; assisting, advising, and advocating for blind consumers and parents of blind children; and offering support to NFB members and chapters across the state.

Interested candidates should use access technology efficiently; write effectively; be interested in the political process and issues in the blindness field; have some experience working with people; travel independently; and be able to use initiative, seek guidance, and distinguish when to do which. The applicant chosen must be willing to relocate to Columbus, Ohio.

This is probably an entry-level position. To some degree it will come to reflect the individual skills and interests of the person hired. Applicants must understand and embrace the NFB’s philosophy of blindness. The candidate chosen will work closely with the NFB of Ohio president, first vice president, and president emerita.

The salary is negotiable, depending on experience, but is likely to start at about $33,000. Benefits are included. Candidates are welcome to apply until the position is filled. If interested, send résumé, cover letter discussing strengths and significant experience, and the names and contact information of two people with whom we can discuss your candidacy to Dr. J. Webster Smith, P.O. Box 458, Athens, Ohio 45701-0458. Documents may be emailed to <>. Those interested in discussing the position with its previous holder may call Eric Duffy evenings at (614) 562-5524 or J.W. Smith at (740) 592-6326.
Terry Bradshaw

Terry Bradshaw to Serve as National Ambassador for Braille Literacy:

The National Federation of the Blind announced November 3 that Terry Bradshaw, Hall of Fame NFL quarterback and current football analyst and cohost of FOX NFL Sunday, will serve as a National Ambassador for Braille Literacy. As an ambassador Terry will help advance the NFB’s Braille Readers Are Leaders campaign, a national initiative to promote the importance of reading and writing Braille for blind children and adults. The Braille Readers Are Leaders campaign kicked off in July of 2008 with the unveiling of the design of a commemorative coin to be minted in 2009 in recognition of the two hundredth anniversary of the birth of Louis Braille (1809-1852), the inventor of the reading and writing code for the blind that bears his name.

Dr. Marc Maurer, president of the National Federation of the Blind, said: “The National Federation of the Blind is pleased to have Terry Bradshaw as part of this historic initiative to bring Braille literacy to all of the blind children and adults in America who need it. As one of the most popular personalities in America, Terry Bradshaw will surely have a huge impact as a national spokesperson for Braille literacy. There can be no doubt that the ability to read and write Braille competently and efficiently is the key to education, employment, and success for the blind. Despite the undisputed value of Braille, however, only about 10 percent of blind children in the United States are currently learning it. Society would never accept a 10 percent literacy rate among sighted children; it should not accept such an outrageously low literacy rate among the blind. The Braille Readers Are Leaders campaign, with the support of influential Americans like Terry Bradshaw, will reverse the downward trend in Braille literacy and ensure that equal opportunities in education and employment are available to all of the nation’s blind.”

Terry Bradshaw said: “I am honored and pleased to serve as a national ambassador for the Braille Readers Are Leaders campaign. I strongly believe in the importance of literacy for everyone, and I am excited to help make a difference in the lives of blind children and adults throughout the country.”

For more information about the Braille Readers Are Leaders campaign and the Louis Braille commemorative coin, please visit <>.


The NFB of Washington conducted its affiliate elections on November 2, 2008, with the following results: president, Michael Freeman; first vice president, Kris Lawrence; second vice president, Maria Bradford; secretary, Don Mitchell; treasurer, Doug Johnson; and board members, Kyle Parrish and Ben Prows serving two-year terms, and Gary Mackenstadt and Bob Sellers serving one-year terms, replacing Maria Bradford and Doug Johnson.

NFB Writers Division Contests for Youth and Adults:

The dates for the 2009 Writers Division contests are January 1 through (postmarked) April 1. A great new feature this year is that, in addition to our annual short story fiction and poetry contest for adults, we have added a writing contest for youth. See all requirements below.

The Youth Writing Contest is intended to promote Braille literacy and excellence in creative writing. Entries will be judged on creativity and quality of Braille. We are looking for creative writing in fiction and poetry. This is a contest for students who use Braille. Entries must be submitted in hand-embossed Braille, using either a slate and stylus or a Braillewriter. No computer Braille entries will be considered. Submissions must be Brailled by the entrant. Elementary students (K-5) may submit contracted Braille, uncontracted Braille, or an acceptable combination of the two. Students in higher grades will be expected to submit stories or poetry in contracted Braille.

There are six categories: elementary fiction, elementary poetry, middle school fiction, middle school poetry, high school fiction, and high school poetry. Elementary is K-5. Middle school is 6-8. High school is 9-12.

Three cash prizes will be awarded in each of the six categories. First prize per contest is $25, second prize is $15, and third prize is $5. Submissions for fiction may not exceed one thousand words. Poetry may not exceed twenty lines. Authors may submit multiple entries, and all work must be original and unpublished. Each entrant must provide an identical print copy for possible publication.

Entries must be accompanied by a cover sheet containing entrant’s name, address, phone, email, entry title, and school and grade of entrant. Winners will be announced at our division meeting during the July 2009 NFB national convention in Detroit, Michigan. Send all youth entries to Fred Wurtzel, 1212 N. Foster, Lansing, Michigan, 48912.

The NFB Writers Division adult short story and poetry contests will take place during the same period as the youth contest: January 1 through April 1. Top prize in each contest is $100, second prize is $50, and third prize is $25. Winners will be announced at our division meeting during the July 2009 NFB national convention in Detroit.

Short stories can be up to 3,000 words and can be in any genre. All work must be original and previously unpublished. If you wish to submit, you are required to send a cover sheet listing all entry titles, name, address, phone, and email (if available). All documents must be double spaced, and, if you are sending hardcopy, documents cannot be handwritten. The cost to submit a single story is $5.00. You can send either a check or money order made out to the NFB Writers Division.

Submissions may be hardcopy with check enclosed. Send these to Tom Stevens, 1203 S. Fairview Road, Columbia, Missouri 65203. You may also email submissions with cover letter to <>. Payment for electronic submissions can be by PayPal if arrangements have been made by then, so check the division Website, <>. If you must mail the check, use Tom Stevens’s address above.

Entrants are invited to submit original poetry of up to thirty-six lines. If you wish to submit, you must send a cover sheet listing all entry titles, name, address, phone, and email (if available). All documents must be double spaced and may not be handwritten. The cost is $5 for up to 3 poems. Send your check or money order made out to the NFB Writers Division.

Send hardcopy submissions and checks by mail to Lori Stayer, 2704 Beach Drive, Merrick, New York 11566. You can also email submissions and cover letters to <>. The entry fee can be paid using PayPal if available or mailed to Lori at the above address.


The NFB of Indiana conducted its convention October 31 to November 2, 2008. The Parents Division elected new officers as follows: president, Jan Wright; vice president, Nancy Cole; secretary, Lisa Rodriguez; and treasurer, Chris Hollingsworth.


As we were going to press, we received the following announcement circulated to the staff at the National Center for the Blind. It will be of interest to everyone in the Federation family.

On Thursday, November 6, 2008, Anne Taylor took her oath to become a United States citizen. We have always been proud of Anne’s many accomplishments and contributions as the director of our International Braille and Technology Center for the Blind, but this has to rank as a personal milestone for this competent and personable native of Thailand. May she prosper and continue her immeasurably valuable expertise and commitment to our nation.


The Illinois Association of Blind Students held its election of officers and board during our fall business meeting in Bradley, Illinois, at the state convention. The new board members are president, Aly Slaughter; first vice president, Michelle Wesley; second vice president, Brandi Winecki; secretary, Aricelli Avina; treasurer, Ronza Othman; and board members, Debbie Stein and Cassandra Certeza.

In Brief

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

Braille T-Shirts Available:

Introducing Braille Tees--the clothing line that naturally raises awareness and engages others in lively conversation. Braille Tees reveal their message in uncontracted (Grade I) Braille so that beginning Braille and nonBraille readers can follow letter by letter. Braille Tees come with many sayings and in many styles and colors, and we print on only the best-quality garments available on the market. We can put Braille on any printable surface and also accommodate custom orders. A portion of every t-shirt sold goes to charity, so call today to set up a fundraiser or sale, and be sure to ask about wholesale pricing. For more information visit us at <>, or call us toll-free at (877) 410-9866. You’re going to love these tees.

Leading the Way Invites Applicants for 2009:

Leading the Way students raft down the Colorado River.If you knew one trip could change your life, would you take it? Last summer twelve students, six of them blind or visually impaired, embarked on a truly life-changing adventure: rafting the Grand Canyon. They spent two weeks shattering expectations and using adversity to their advantage as they explored science, culture, leadership, and service within the canyon walls.

Developed in partnership with world-renowned blind athlete Erik Weihenmayer, the Leading the Way program teams high school and college students who are blind, visually impaired, and sighted for an unparalleled science, community service, leadership, and cultural adventure. In 2008 we traveled to the Grand Canyon, the Inca Trail, and the Amazon. In 2009 we are returning to the Grand Canyon and piloting our first group combining students who are hard of hearing, deaf, and hearing on a trip to Costa Rica.

The 2008 Grand Canyon expedition team poses for a group photo.Not only an amazing experience for the participants themselves, each Leading the Way expedition is paired with a social awareness and media campaign used to educate a much broader constituency. These campaigns provide a message of hope and inspiration while helping to break down barriers, misconceptions, and prejudices about people with disabilities. Leading the Way has been featured on CBS Sunday Morning, The Travel Channel, ABC Nightline, and World News Tonight.

To see if spots are still available on the 2009 Leading the Way expedition, send an email to <>. Scholarship funds are available. To learn more about the program, go to <> and click on Leading the Way under the main photo.

City Off Limits to Blind Thief:

On October 6, 2008, the Edinburgh Evening News published the following story:

A blind shoplifter from Glasgow has been banned by a court from entering Edinburgh city center. George Hamilton, forty-nine, reportedly faces being locked up if he is found in any shops, bars, or restaurants in the center of the capital over the next twelve months. The ban was handed down when he made his latest appearance in court for shoplifting and the sheriff heard he had ninety-six previous convictions.

Hamilton, who lost his sight in 1990, relies on his heightened senses of hearing, touch, and smell to carry out his thefts. He said: "I've been banned from Marks & Spencer before for shoplifting, but not a whole city. It's a pity—I liked Edinburgh."

Back Magazine Issues Needed:

I am a professor of animal behavior at Sacramento City College and of perception at the University of California—Davis. I confront the many interesting ways in which nonhumans might experience their worlds. I am also an avid reader of science fiction. In recent years, because of my studies in comparative perception, I have become fascinated with the possibilities emerging from worlds in which the dominant sentient life form resembles one of Earth’s modern carnivores, such as lions, tigers, or bears. For many years I have received Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact and Asimov’s Science Fiction in cassette format from the Library of Congress’s National Library Service. I have read scores of interesting stories with themes involving anthropomorphic lions, wolves, bears, and dolphins. Recently I embarked on a project to accumulate science fiction materials that focus on nonhumans in science fiction to develop a compendium of this material. Unfortunately I have not preserved the hard copies of my past issues as an audio archive. Further, the older editions of these magazines are not available through my local cooperating library.

Therefore I would like to hear from readers who have back issues of these magazines or know of others who might possess them. I am interested in all back issues of both magazines, especially those produced before 2005. The format is not important. I can transcribe materials from both the 8-1/3 RPM flexible discs and the 15/16 IPS quarter-track Talking Book formats issued by the Library of Congress. I am interested in procuring them either temporarily or permanently. I would be willing to compensate anyone for time and effort spent locating these potentially interesting and valuable materials. Any assistance that anyone can provide would be greatly appreciated.

Contact Chris Tromborg, 217 Baja Avenue, Davis, California 95616; (530) 753-2763; or <>.

Music Lessons Available:

You can learn to play your favorite musical instrument by ear with Bill Brown’s courses for the visually impaired. Because these courses use no print or Braille, they are easy to use and give quick results. There are courses for the piano, guitar, flute, violin, harmonica, and many other instruments. These courses cost $39 each and are also available for free checkout through the National Library Service. Now learning to play your favorite musical instrument is easy. For more information call (888) 778-1828 or visit the Website at <>.

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 purchased a 32-cell BrailleNote with a Braille keyboard during a convention special in 2005, including a disc drive, an AmbiCom wireless CF card, and a 1-gig ATA card. I now wish to sell the unit and accessories because another product fits my needs better. Its condition is great. I allow the battery to discharge every time, which should keep it in good order according to the manual, though it sometimes seems to show funny percentages. This does not affect performance.

This BrailleNote has Keysoft version 6.2, build 23, hardware revision C, kernel version 6—6/24/2005, operating system―Windows CE, version 4.20. Asking $2,000. HumanWare says that this unit is not eligible for a service contract at this time. It would need to be evaluated to determine if it can go back under warranty/service contract. The cost to evaluate the unit is $145. Upgrading software to 7.5 would cost $585. If you want to do an SMA, you must first be current; then you can purchase an SMA for $195. If you are interested, email Beth at <>.

NFB Pledge

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

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