Braille Monitor                                                    November 2009

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News from the Federation Family

Attention Braille, Large Print, and Cassette Monitor Readers:
In January 2010 we intend to clean up the Monitor database. If you wish to continue to receive the Braille Monitor in large print or Braille or on cassette, you must notify Marsha Dyer by email (mdyer@nfb.org), phone (410-659-9314, ext. 2204), or mail (200 East Wells Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21230). Be sure to tell her which format you wish to receive.

Remember that you can receive each issue by email at the beginning of the month by signing up at <www.nfb.org> (select Publications and then Braille Monitor). There you will see instructions for receiving the email edition. From that page you can also download individual articles or the entire Monitor in text or MP3 format.

Writers Division 2010 Youth and Adult Writing Contest:
This year’s youth and adult writing contests sponsored by the NFB Writers Division runs from January 1 to April 1, 2010. Adult poetry and fiction contests are open to all entrants eighteen years and over. Youth poetry and fiction entries will be divided into three categories: first through sixth grades, seventh and eighth grades, and ninth through twelfth grades. Prizes for contest winners range up to $100 for adult categories and up to $25 for youth categories.

All contest winners will be announced at the Writers Division business meeting during the NFB national convention in Dallas, Texas, the first week of July, 2010. In addition the winners’ names will appear on the Writers Division Website, <www.nfb-writers-division.org>, shortly after convention adjournment. The names of the first-, second-, and third-place winners in each category will appear in the summer and fall issues of the Writers Division magazine, Slate and Style. For additional contest details and submission guidelines, go to the Writers Division Website.

Marching Orders for Making Washington Seminar Hotel Reservations:
The following information comes from Diane McGeorge, who organizes much of the logistics of Washington Seminar, beginning Friday, January 29, 2010, and ending Thursday, February 4.

Please make your hotel reservations as soon as possible. We must have all reservations no later than December 30, 2009. Here is the information you must include to make your hotel reservations:

1. Your dates of arrival and departure.
2. First and last names of roommates sharing with you. Please spell first and last names of each person in the room, and please include arrival and departure dates for each person.
3. Specify smoking or nonsmoking room and the number of beds you want--two beds, one queen bed, or one king bed.
4. Indicate any special accommodations such as an accessible room.
5. If you request a rollaway bed, there will be a $10 charge per night.
6. According to the hotel contract, individual cancellations must be made seventy-two hours before the date of arrival to avoid one night’s room plus tax cancellation charge. You must get in touch with Lisa Bonderson or me to make changes to your reservation as soon as possible to avoid such a charge.
7. If any divisions wish to have space for meetings, e.g., students, parents, merchants, lawyers, etc., I must have your requirements for meeting space no later than December 1, 2009. We want to accommodate everyone, and, in order to do so, we must have plenty of advance notice to work with the hotel.

The rates are $154 for single, double, triple, or quad rooms, and the tax is 14.5 percent a night. The address of the Holiday Inn Capitol is 550 C Street, SW. Please do not contact the hotel to make your reservations. I will submit all reservations for the Washington Seminar. Call (303) 778-1130, ext. 219, to make your reservation, or email reservations to Lisa Bonderson at <lbonderson@cocenter.org>. We will confirm receipt of your reservation either by return email or by telephone, so be sure to give us your telephone number and your email address.

Dog Book Available:
Golden Moments: Reflections of a Retriever is written from the point of view of a Seeing Eye® dog. Captivating photos in the seventy-six-page, large-print edition; picture captions and print page numbers in the 156-page Braille edition. To order send $20 check for each copy, and make check payable to the Campanian Society, Inc., P.O. Box 243, Rhinecliff, NY 12574. This includes shipping/handling. Specify Braille or large print. Please allow four weeks for book to arrive. Cost varies for agencies and for those ordering multiple copies. Therefore first contact the society for specific pricing. Call (845) 876-0303, or email <www.campania@hvc.rr.com>.

Honored:
On July 16, 2009, NFB of New Jersey President and national board member Joseph Ruffalo received a certificate and the following letter from Governor John Corzine:

I would like to congratulate you for being named a 2009 honoree by the New Jersey Department of Human Services Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired.

I commend you for your inspiring efforts in serving as a coordinator of community programs for people who are blind and visually impaired. In addition, you have provided meaningful community service work to the community, and you are a decorated Vietnam War Veteran, awarded the Bronze Star. Your talents and devotion are an inspiration to your peers and all New Jersey residents.

Best wishes for continued success. You are an outstanding role model.

Sincerely,
Jon S. Corzine, Governor
State of New Jersey

Here is the text of the certificate:

State of New Jersey
Department of Human Services, Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Certificate of Recognition presented to
Joseph Ruffalo, Jr.
For outstanding achievement. In appreciation of your having dedicated your life’s work to improving opportunities for independence and equality for individuals who are blind and visually impaired. Signed: Jennifer Velez, Commissioner, Department of Human Services; and Vito J. DeSantis, Executive Director, Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired. Presented at Covering the Bases: Blind and Visually Impaired Awareness Night, Waterfront Park, Home of the Trenton Thunder Baseball Team, July 16, 2009

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.

Choice Magazine Now Free as Digital Download from NLS:
Reconnect with an old friend or meet a new one–Choice Magazine Listening is available as a free digital download from the Library of Congress’ National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. Produced six times a year, each issue contains unabridged works from quality publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian, Sports Illustrated, and the New Yorker. The articles, short stories, poetry, and interviews are selected from more than one hundred magazines and other periodicals.

The selections are read by professional voice talent from the studios of the American Foundation for the Blind in New York. The recording is human voice, not synthetic text-to-speech. Choice Magazine Listening is available free of charge only to people who are blind, experience vision loss, or have other disabilities that limit or prevent reading standard print. Choice continues to be released on four-track cassette tape for those who prefer that format. The Website is <www.choicemagazinelistening.org>, or call toll-free (888) 724-6423. Information on the digital download from NLS is available at <https://nlsbard.loc.gov/cgi-bin/nlsbardprod/index.cgi>. You can also contact regional NLS cooperating libraries, usually located in U.S. state capitals.

President Obama Announces New Initiatives
During National Disability Employment Awareness Month:
On October 5, 2009, President Obama announced that his administration is taking several steps to ensure that there is fair and equal access to employment for all Americans, particularly the fifty-four million people in this country living with disabilities. The announcement comes during National Disability Employment Awareness Month.

“My administration is committed to ensuring that all Americans have the chance to fulfill their potential and contribute to our nation,” said President Obama. “Across this country millions of people with disabilities are working or want to work, and they should have access to the support and services they need to succeed. As the nation’s largest employer, the federal government and its contractors can lead the way by implementing effective employment policies and practices that increase opportunities and help workers achieve their full potential. We must also rededicate ourselves to fostering an inclusive work culture that welcomes the skills and talents of all qualified employees. That’s why I’ve asked the responsible agencies to develop new plans and policies to help increase employment across America for people with disabilities.”

The following are some of the steps the Obama administration will take:

Los Angeles Public Library Stands up for Print-Disabled Readers:

For many months now we and our allies have been fighting to get audio access to digital books of every kind. The Authors Guild, Random House, and Amazon are prominent names among our opponents in this struggle for justice and equal access. On October 5, however, we circulated a press release announcing a significant piece of good news in the eBook wars. Here it is:

Los Angeles Public Library
Suspends Purchase of Adobe Digital Editions
Reading Rights Coalition Commends Decisive Action

The Reading Rights Coalition (RRC), which consists of thirty-one organizations dedicated to equal access to the printed word by people who are blind or who have other print disabilities, announced today that the Los Angeles Public Library system has agreed to suspend purchase of inaccessible eBooks using the Adobe Digital Editions (ADE) format. The library was informed by the RRC that ADE eBooks cannot be accessed by technologies used by the blind and others with print disabilities, including devices that read text aloud or convert it into Braille.

Dr. Marc Maurer, president of the National Federation of the Blind, said: “The Reading Rights Coalition commends the Los Angeles Public Library for its swift and decisive action upon learning of our concerns and for its commitment to ensuring access to books by all of its patrons. Companies like Adobe have adopted digital rights management schemes which do not allow the blind and other Americans with print disabilities to access their books, even though eBooks are inherently accessible and should provide an unprecedented opportunity for print-disabled Americans to access the wealth of knowledge contained in books. We will continue to inform libraries, universities, and other entities of the inaccessibility of these materials and urge them to comply with accessibility standards and applicable laws by requiring that any eBooks they purchase be accessible to those with print disabilities. We will no longer tolerate the gratuitous inaccessibility of eBooks; we demand that Americans who cannot read print be treated like first-class citizens and be given access to all of the printed information to which other Americans have access.”

Mitch Pomerantz, president of the American Council of the Blind (ACB) and former ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliance officer for the city of Los Angeles, said: "I am extremely pleased with the Los Angeles Public Library's decision, both as ACB president, and as someone who worked closely for fourteen years with library staff to ensure that its programs and services were fully accessible to persons who were blind or had other disabilities. The example set by officials of the library will certainly be taken seriously and followed by major libraries throughout the nation."

In a letter to the Reading Rights Coalition, the Los Angeles Public Library stated that the books were accessible when purchased from one of its eBook providers, OverDrive, but that Adobe had altered its software to block text-to-speech technology and then forced OverDrive to implement the new software. While the 773 ADE titles in the library’s collection will still be available to patrons, City Librarian Martín J. Gómez said that no additional ADE books will be purchased until they are fully accessible to the blind and others with print disabilities. The library also said that all of its other digital offerings are currently accessible to such readers. The library’s action comports with a resolution passed in July by the American Library Association, which strongly recommended that libraries purchasing electronic resources should take steps to ensure that such resources comply with accessibility standards. In the letter to the Reading Rights Coalition, the Los Angeles Public Library stated that it “will make every effort to apply pressure to our vendors by requiring verification of accessibility standards and making it clear that we will not purchase electronic resources that fail to meet accessibility standards.”

Medical CDs Available:
We recently received the following notice from Dr. O. Wesly:

We have made an audio CD about lung cancer that became available on the Amazon.com Website on October 1. It is called "Cancer In Plain English." It provides full and easy-to-understand information about lung cancer. In the coming months we will also have audio CDs about colon cancer, breast cancer, and prostate cancer, $14.95 each.

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 for sale a Power Braille 40-cell display in good condition. It comes with cable and handbook on disk. I'm asking $375.00 or best offer. I am selling it in order to buy a laptop computer, so I would trade for a laptop in good condition. Call Joe at (803) 238-7498 or email <Jdunham4@sc.rr.com>.

For Sale:
Heather Conway has the following equipment for sale: ZoomText 8.0, Max EVS Digital Magnifier, Victor Reader Wave, and Talkman 5 Panasonic tape player/recorder. If you have questions about products, prices, etc., email <hconway75@hotmail.com>.

For Sale:
Dennis Farro is selling two new, never-used Victor Reader Waves. The Wave plays DAISY-formatted books, MP3 CDs, and music CDs. They come with instruction manuals. Asking $170 each. I am also selling a Yepp Explorer MP3 player and smart card with easy-to-operate button controls. Manual included. Asking $70. Contact Dennis Farro at <dfarro@concentric.net> or at (803) 714-7890.

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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