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Braille Monitor

Vol. 53, No. 4                                                                 April 2010

Daniel B. Frye, editor

Published in inkprint, in Braille, and on cassette by

The National Federation of the Blind

Marc Maurer, president

National Office
200 East Wells Street
Baltimore, Maryland  21230
telephone: (410) 659-9314
email address: nfb@nfb.org
Website address: http://www.nfb.org
NFBnet.org: http://www.nfbnet.org
NFB-NEWSLINE® information: (866) 504-7300

Letters to the president, address changes,
subscription requests, and orders for NFB literature
should be sent to the National Office.
Articles for the Monitor and letters to the editor may also
be sent to the National Office or may be emailed to bpierce@nfb.org.

Monitor subscriptions cost the Federation about twenty-five dollars per year.
Members are invited, and nonmembers are requested, to cover
  the subscription cost. Donations should be made payable to
National Federation of the Blind and sent to:

National Federation of the Blind
200 East Wells Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21230-4998

THE NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND IS NOT AN ORGANIZATION
SPEAKING FOR THE BLIND--IT IS THE BLIND SPEAKING FOR THEMSELVES

        ISSN 0006-8829

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Contents


Vol. 53, No. 4                                                                April 2010

 

Lead Photo

Dallas Site of 2010 NFB Convention  

The Blind Comment on Fairness of Proposed Google Settlement
by Daniel B. Frye

Selections from Let Freedom Ring
Blind Americans Raise Their Voices
in Support of Braille Literacy  

Blind Toddler's Mother Has High Expectations  
by Debra Lemoine

As the Twig Is Bent

Training Reflections
by Jeff Altman

2010 Convention Attractions

Education: Top Down and Bottom Up
2010 NOPBC Conference  
by Carol Castellano

NFB Camp
Convention Adventures  
by Carla McQuillan

Hearing Enhancement and Spanish Translation
Available at National Convention
Spanish Translators Needed  
by D. Curtis Willoughby

Dialysis at National Convention
by Michael Freeman

Newly Designed Count-A-Dose to Be Released in April 
by Michael Freeman

Featured Book from the Jacobus tenBroek Library
by Ed Morman

Seville Allen Dies
by Charlie Brown and Fred Schroeder

Recipes

Monitor Miniatures

 

Copyright 2010 by the National Federation of the Blind

 

The casino-themed, interactive bulletin board display in the Betsy Zaborowski Conference Room this quarter focuses on the five elements for success outlined in James Omvig’s book, Freedom for the Blind: The Secret Is Empowerment. The title of the board is Increasing Your Odds for Success. The green background of the board and the black ribbed border suggest a poker table. The center is a 2.5-foot square, protruding two inches from the board and angled so that the corners point toward the centers of the sides of the board. This square is the number five side of a giant die. Each of the five eight-inch felt dots features one element for success discussed in the Omvig book: it is OK to be blind, mastering blindness skills, coping with public attitudes, fitting in, and giving back. The words of each concept in print and Braille and a tactile symbol representing that concept appear on each dot. The title of the board—Increasing Your Odds for Success—runs around the entire perimeter of the die (in shiny red letters) starting at nine o’clock and continuing clockwise. On either side of the die are three hands of jumbo cards turned face down. Each hand features a picture of a successful blind person or people. The cards on the right side, from top to bottom, feature the NFB Training Center directors (Julie Deden, Shawn Mayo, and Pam Allen) receiving the Jacob Bolotin Award at the NFB national convention; NFB President Marc Maurer sitting with children in a circle at national convention; and Mark Riccobono, executive director of the NFB Jernigan Institute, demonstrating how to use a chainsaw. The cards on the left side of the board from top to bottom feature Jim Omvig, author of Freedom for the Blind, giving a speech; Dr. Maurer with a group of young people, using a grill; and Ronza Othman and Jesse Hartle, government programs specialists for the NFB, posing for a picture with former Senator Obama and Senator Durbin of Illinois. Scattered around the hands of cards are real red, white, and blue poker chips.

 

Dallas Site of 2010 NFB Convention

The 2010 convention of the National Federation of the Blind will take place in Dallas, Texas, July 3-8, 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 2010 room rates are singles, doubles, and twins $62 and triples and quads $67 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, 2010. 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, 2010, 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 high-speed Internet access. The Hilton Anatole has several 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 2010 convention will follow that of last year:

Saturday, July 3            Seminar Day
Sunday, July 4               Registration Day
Monday, July 5             Board Meeting and Division Day
Tuesday, July 6             Opening Session
Wednesday, July 7       Business Session
Thursday, July 8           Banquet Day and Adjournment


2010 National Convention Preregistration Form

Please register online at www.nfb.org, or print legibly on this form, or provide all the requested information and mail to the address below.
Registrant Name ___________________________________________________
Address _________________________________________________________
City ____________________________________________________________
State ___________________________________ Zip ____________________
Phone __________________________________________________________

___ I will pick up my registration packet at convention.
___ The following person will pick up my registration packet:
Pickup Name ______________________________________
Please register only one person per registration form.
One check or money order may cover multiple registrations.
Check or money order (sorry, no credit cards) must be enclosed with registration form(s).

Number of preregistrations x $15 = ____________
Prepurchased banquet tickets x $40 = ____________
Prepurchased barbeque tickets x $40 = ___________
Total ______________

All preconvention registration and meal ticket sales are final (no refunds).
Mail to: National Federation of the Blind
Attn: Convention Registration
200 E. Wells Street
Baltimore, MD 21230
Registrations must be postmarked by May 31, 2010.

 

The Blind Comment on Fairness of Proposed Google Settlement

by Daniel B. Frye

Over fifty Federationists traveled from states along the East Coast on Thursday, February 18, to support NFB President Marc Maurer as he spoke in favor of the fairness of the proposed settlement between Google and author representatives, who have reached resolution of a lawsuit that requires court approval. The initial dispute stemmed from Google's efforts to digitize the library collection at the University of Michigan and elsewhere with the goal of creating the world's largest digital library and bookstore. Blind consumers, heartened by the fact that the proposed settlement contains far-reaching provisions guaranteeing blind people’s access to the digitized documents that Google processes, have rallied in support of this agreement since last summer. The agreement promises eventually to make at least ten million books available to our community, a record volume of accessible material that will help to level the information playing field between sighted and blind people. (See initial coverage of this story in the August/September and November 2009 issues of the Braille Monitor.)

In fairness to the almost twenty individuals and organizations invited to register their objections to the settlement during this hearing, none opposed the tentative agreement based on its accessibility provisions. Instead their objections involved concerns about deprivation of intellectual property and copyright entitlements, based on the default, opt-out structure of the proposed settlement. Issues of privacy; federally prohibited monopolies; judicial authority to interpret and change copyright law substantially; and compliance with class-action processes, including concerns about adequate notice and international language accessibility of the proposed agreement dominated the detractors' list of grievances. Conversely, supporters of the agreement focused on the value of returning millions of hard-to-get books to the reach of the general public; the sociological advantages that the copyright law originally envisioned; and the argument, advanced by some, that adoption of the settlement would result in competitive benefits.

Judge Chin declined during the hearing to rule on the fairness question, a preliminary finding that must be made before the settlement can go forward, citing the amount of material and the complexity of the issues. No deadline has been announced for completion of his deliberation. He noted that the case attracted so much interest that an overflow courtroom had been assigned to accommodate the public. Judge Chin specifically observed the conspicuous presence of members of the National Federation of the Blind. Our presence and President Maurer's remarks were also referred to in many press accounts of the hearing. The following February 18, 2010, New York Times article is representative of the coverage of the hearing and our involvement. Here it is:


Judge Hears Arguments on Google Book Settlement
by Motoko Rich

The federal judge overseeing the proposed settlement of a class-action lawsuit filed against Google by groups representing authors and publishers heard from a handful of supporters and a parade of objectors to the deal at a hearing Thursday in Manhattan. At the beginning of more than four hours of testimony in a packed courtroom, Judge Denny Chin of the Federal District Court for the Southern District of New York said he would not rule immediately on the settlement because there was “just too much to digest.”

Among the supporters of the deal, which would allow Google to create an extensive digital library and bookstore, were the president of the National Federation of the Blind, the librarian of the University of Michigan, and a lawyer for Sony Electronics, all of whom said that the agreement would make millions of hard-to-find books available to a vast audience. Opponents—who cited various concerns relating to competition, privacy, abuse of the class-action process, and the violation of copyright—included lawyers for rivals Amazon.com and Microsoft, representatives of various authors and estates, literary agents, and speakers representing Pennsylvania and Germany.

William F. Cavanaugh, a deputy assistant attorney general with the Justice Department, reiterated points the department made in a filing this month that raised legal objections to the agreement. Mr. Cavanaugh said the Justice Department was continuing its antitrust investigation into the settlement. While saying that the department “applauds the benefits of mass digitization,” Mr. Cavanaugh said that “our concern is that this is not the appropriate vehicle to achieve these objectives.”

The settlement, originally announced in October 2008, arose out of a copyright infringement suit brought by the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers against Google, which had been scanning millions of books from libraries. The complex agreement outlined a plan that would allow Google to make the scanned books available online for searching, as well as create new ways for authors and publishers to earn money from digital editions of works that had long been off the market in print form.

Speaking in support of the settlement, Lateef Mtima, director of the Institute of Intellectual Property and Social Justice at Howard University, said the settlement would aid in the “development of a thriving, vibrant culture.” But because the settlement would allow Google to scan and profit from copyright-protected books without the explicit permission of individual authors, the deal generated a litany of complaints. Critics also pointed out that Google would have the right to scan and sell so-called orphan works, those whose authors could not be found or whose rights owners could not be identified.

“You can’t settle a claim for copyright infringement by authorizing the miscreant to continue to infringe copyright,” said Hadrian Katz, a lawyer for the Internet Archive, a nonprofit group that is scanning books for its own digitization project. Mr. Katz, along with the Justice Department and several other objectors, suggested that Google and its partners amend the settlement to require that authors choose to participate. Daralyn J. Durie, a lawyer for Google, said the deal was fair because it compensated authors and publishers for any works sold through Google. She said it would be prohibitively expensive to track down millions of authors and negotiate individual deals to display or sell their works digitally. Michael J. Boni, a lawyer for the Authors Guild, said that a rights registry that would be set up as part of the settlement would make every effort to find authors of orphan works.

 

There you have the report of the New York Times on the day's events. Here are the remarks that President Maurer delivered:


I am Marc Maurer, president of the National Federation of the Blind. The organization, which came into being seventy years ago, is composed of more than fifty thousand members from throughout the United States. Our goal is to create a climate in which the blind may be integrated within society on the basis of equality with the sighted.

The National Federation of the Blind strongly supports the proposed settlement in this case. We have heard arguments suggesting that problems exist with the proposal. However, we also understand that, within a specified time after the proposal becomes final, the books covered by it are to be available to the blind in a usable format. Estimates of the number of these books vary, but we are led to believe that ten million is not unreasonable to expect.

Blind people spend enormous amounts of time and energy hunting for ways to get at books. A few commercial establishments exist that provide recorded information that the blind and sighted can buy—mostly recent best sellers, often abridged. Three substantial specialized libraries for the blind have been created in the United States: the Library of Congress National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, which began producing books in Braille and in audio formats in the early 1930s; Bookshare, which has recently begun to collect electronic files of books created for blind college students; and Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic, which began recording college texts in the 1940s. The total number of unduplicated titles available from these libraries is under one million. No other substantial sources of reading matter exist for the blind in the United States. Audible tells us it has sixty thousand, but Google offers ten million. The excitement of the potential to gain access to this much information is almost palpable.

Digital books are quickly becoming the norm. This should be good news for the blind. Digital information can easily be presented in auditory, large-print, or refreshable Braille formats. However, despite the simplicity of building accessibility provisions into digital management products, many of the manufacturers of the technology have refused to consider doing so. On the other hand Google will give us access to ten million books. In the process of doing this, Google will help to make the point that access to information for all is achievable and desirable.

A number of universities have established programs to offer students and professors digital books, which are often cheaper than those produced in print. Similar proposals have been made about elementary and secondary schools.

The Apple iPhone, the Apple iPad, and the Apple iTunes U application have auditory systems built into them that the blind can use, but some publishers have declared that the books loaded on such devices will not be allowed to be hearable. The blind have access to the machines but not the content.

We believe that access to the storehouse of ideas, books, is essential for participation in a free society. The ability to think, to write, to invent, and to create opportunity expands in the presence of the writings of others. If our talents are to be used, we must be able to read. Thank you, Your Honor.

 

President Maurer convincingly made our direct argument for access to information. We now print the supporting testimony of Lateef Mtima, director of the Institute for Intellectual Property and Social Justice and professor of law at Howard University, School of Law. Professor Mtima's remarks parallel our views on the social value of access to information. His statement reflects an allied spirit with the NFB and resonates with the passion of a great advocate of civil rights. The brackets in Professor Mtima’s testimony are his. Here is the full text of his remarks; Professor Mtima cautioned that time constraints prohibited him from delivering these comments verbatim to the court:

 

My name is Lateef Mtima, and I am the founder and director of the Institute for Intellectual Property and Social Justice and also professor of law at the Howard University, School of Law. I would like to thank the court for this opportunity to address the issues before the court and hopefully assist in placing proper emphasis upon the copyright social utility obligations that are at stake in this dispute.

"Today, education is perhaps the most important function of state and local governments. Compulsory school attendance laws and the great expenditures for education both demonstrate our recognition of the importance of education to our democratic society. It is required in the performance of our most basic public responsibilities…and is the very foundation of good citizenship. Today it is a principal instrument in awakening the child to cultural values, in preparing [her] for later professional training, and in helping [her] to adjust normally to [her] environment. In these days it is doubtful that any child may reasonably be expected to succeed in life if [she] is denied the opportunity of an education. Such an opportunity, [when made available] must be made available to all on equal terms."

The significance of these concerns to the issues currently before the court is of course clear, since universal access to books will help to level the playing field of access to information, knowledge, and education. But what may come as a surprise is that these statements were neither made in connection with mass digitization of text, nor were they made by an educator, an academic, or even a social scientist. These words were written by Chief Justice Earl Warren in the landmark opinion of Brown v Board of Education in 1954. The fact that these words resonate with the present issue reminds us of the primary purpose of the copyright law.

The first American copyright law, enacted by the first Congress as the 1790 Copyright Act, was entitled “An Act for the Encouragement of Learning.” To the extent that significant segments of the population lack equal access to copyrighted works, however, they are unable to learn from and build upon these works and, in turn, make their own contributions to American culture.

The development of digital information technology offers great promise for the social utility goals of the copyright law as well as the aspirations enunciated in Brown, but while technology has dramatically increased the availability of literature, art, music, and information for some Americans, the poor, the elderly, the physically challenged, and many racial and ethnic minorities, stranded on the wrong side of a growing digital divide, have instead witnessed a return to the separate and decidedly unequal society of the pre-Brown era.

Whereas virtually all commentators agree that mass digitization of books is a necessary step toward satisfaction of the mandates of copyright social utility, objections have been raised to the Google initiative. Two important objections are (1) that it undermines the author permission function of the copyright law, and (2) that the benefits it seeks to achieve are best left to government.

The first objection distorts the constitutional balance between author incentives and the public interest. While American copyright is in some ways an author-centered, permission-based system, author property interests are neither inviolable nor even paramount. Unlike European systems, American copyright is not based upon natural rights but rather is positive social law. American copyright favors neither the author nor the individual user of aesthetic works, but rather holds paramount the interests of society in developing a thriving, vibrant culture. As the United States Supreme Court observed in Sony Corp. of America v. Universal City Studios Inc.:

“The monopoly privileges that Congress may authorize are neither unlimited nor primarily designed to provide a special private benefit. Rather, the limited grant is a means by which an important public purpose may be achieved…. private motivation must ultimately serve the cause of promoting broad public availability of literature, music, and the other arts…. `The sole interest of the United States and the primary object in conferring the monopoly,'…`lie in the general benefits derived by the public from the labors of authors.'”

The eminent copyright scholar, the late L. Ray Patterson, cautioned that our copyright law is regulatory in nature [protecting the public interest with rules to accommodate the interests of authors, entrepreneurs, and users in a complementary way] and not proprietary, as a proprietary model can all too quickly become a device to inhibit learning rather than to promote it.

Now that mechanisms have been included in the Google initiative that address author proprietary interests, the copyright balance requires that the emphasis be shifted toward the public benefit generally and, in particular, the needs of that segment of the public that has been largely overlooked, including that of marginalized authors, as well as underserved users of copyrighted works.

This brings us to the second objection: that the balance should be achieved by Congress. First, this argument overlooks that the courts can and have addressed this kind of “new technological use problem” in the past, in cases such as Whitehall Music, the cable cases in Fortnightly and Teleprompter, Sony, and, in the digital information context, Kelly v. Arriba, etc.

Second, there is precedent for private initiatives, such as the royalty collection societies created with the advent of sound recordings, which have flourished for one hundred years, strengthened by judicial and legislative involvement.

Finally, it is the fact that many governmental and even scholarly institutions have been slow to recognize the digital divide as a problem of copyright social utility that brings us to where we are. Now that a meaningful mechanism for bridging the digital divide has been presented from the private sector, it would be unfair to stop the clock after the digitally disenfranchised have been overlooked for almost a quarter of a century.

We recognize that the proposed settlement will not cure all the deficiencies of the digital divide. But to those who say that this will provide only trivial improvement, we suggest that they may be unfamiliar with what the disenfranchised and marginalized can do with only a little. Give a slave pig intestines and she will make chitterlings; secretly provide Frederick Douglass a few books, and he will provide our nation with insight into its character; literally toss George Washington Carver peanuts, and he will produce scientific and industrial marvels from which we can benefit for generations.

I’d like to close with this final thought. Be it the heartland of the Midwest, the rural South, or the urban inner city, equal access to libraries makes the difference; and, having traveled that path from 1960’s Harlem to some of our nation’s elite institutions of higher learning, I have witnessed that difference firsthand.

In drafting the Copyright Clause, our constitution’s framers penned a broad directive of social utility, one amenable, not only to legislative and judicial interpretation and application, but also to private initiative and adaptation to the changing realities of our evolving national culture. Copyright is intended to be an engine of cultural development, not a brake on it. We have an opportunity to take an important step on behalf of copyright in the digital information age, and it is one that can’t afford to be missed.

Once again, we’d like to thank the court for this opportunity to appear before it.

Time will tell whether Judge Chin allows this version of the Google settlement to go forward, but when it is ultimately approved in some version, blind Americans will have unprecedented access to the written word. We will be able to say that the National Federation of the Blind played an active role in bringing this reality to fruition. The Braille Monitor will keep readers apprised of the status of this ongoing legal saga.

 

Selections from Let Freedom Ring
Blind Americans Raise Their Voices in Support of Braille Literacy

From the Editor: Following its February release, we occasionally plan to print selected passages from Let Freedom Ring: Braille Letters to President Barack Obama, our volume of one hundred first-person accounts about the importance of Braille. Many of these narratives present compelling accounts of how the code, or its absence, has influenced the lives of blind people. These narratives should be helpful in local Braille advocacy initiatives; will be effective educational pieces for the general public on the value of literacy for blind people; and will introduce a series of interesting people, often accomplished blind role models.

This month we spotlight four contributions. Rosy Carranza is currently a doctoral student in education at the University of Maryland and a member of the staff in the NFB's Department of Affiliate Action. Mary Ellen Gabias, a longtime Federationist and mother of four, now lives in Canada with her professor husband and promotes the work and message of the NFB through the efforts of the Canadian Federation of the Blind. Mary Ellen has been a frequent contributor to the pages of the Braille Monitor. April Lynn Enderton, president of the NFB's Des Moines Chapter, works for the American Red Cross. Finally, Dr. Geerat Vermeij is a professor of geology at the University of California, Davis. Professor Vermeij serves as one of the NFB Braille ambassadors in our Braille Readers are Leaders (BRL) campaign. They share their impressions and personal experiences of Braille in the following four letters. Here they are:

Rosy Carranza
Baltimore, Maryland
August 29, 2009

Dear President Obama:

I grew up as the only blind person in a large Mexican family in central California. My parents migrated to the United States in the early 1970s in pursuit of the American dream. Upon their arrival they obtained employment working in the hot fields of the San Joaquin Valley picking grapes and other fruits. Earning less than $2 an hour, they worked tirelessly to give me the opportunities they had lacked in their own lives.

Aside from coping with the demands of being in a new country, my parents also struggled to find solutions to my failing vision. Possessing less than a sixth grade education and not knowing how to speak English left my parents feeling inadequate and intimidated; consequently, they entrusted my ophthalmologists and my special educators to make decisions that would help me thrive.

I navigated through the educational system led by the conventional approaches used to educate blind students at the time. Since I had some residual vision, I was not taught Braille. Instead I was armed with thick glasses, powerful magnifiers, and heavy large-print books. Even with the help of these things, I still had trouble seeing, and eventually my love for reading dwindled. With the loss of my literacy skills came many other losses--the loss of my self-confidence, the loss of my academic progress, and the loss of my dreams for the future. Yet most painful was the awareness that all of the sacrifices that my parents had made would be in vain; without being able to read, I would end up with the same limited opportunities that they had experienced in their own lives.

I graduated from high school unable to see well enough to read my own diploma. Depressed and uncertain of the future, I signed up to attend a boot camp for the blind. This program transformed my outlook on blindness and taught me Braille and other critical blindness skills—skills that I should have learned much sooner. Instead my school years were defined by the sleepless nights I spent crying about my vision loss, by the embarrassing moments I spent feeling inadequate because I could not read aloud when the teacher called on me, and by the looming feeling that I would always be a tremendous burden to my family and society.

Just as my parents had faced their fears to make a better future for themselves and for me, I too feel the same responsibility to change the future for blind children. It has been twelve years since I graduated from high school, and blind students today are still taught using the same failed approaches that were used to educate me. Through my work with the National Federation of the Blind I have met countless blind children, and I have witnessed their immeasurable potential fall through the cracks of the educational system and society. These students are smart, motivated, and ready to serve their communities; however, they are not being taught the literacy skills they need to contribute fully to the world. Essentially blind students are not emerging from school as products of their own abilities; instead, they are emerging as examples of the deficiencies in the systems that educate them.

President Obama, we need your help in creating a new educational avenue for blind students. We need a system that does not prepare blind students for a life of inequality. Instead we need a system that can help propel these students into first-class roles of productivity. In looking at my life and at the lives of my immigrant parents, I can see the amazing opportunities that our country has to offer. I sincerely hope that we can work to make sure that blind children have an opportunity to live the American dream.

Cordially,
Rosy Carranza


Mary Ellen Gabias
Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada
August 1, 2009

Dear President Obama:

“Christmas won’t be Christmas without any presents,” grumbled Jo, lying on the rug.

It’s been nearly half a century since I first read the opening paragraph of Louisa Mae Alcott’s Little Women, but the March family parlor, with its worn rug, broken-down sofa, and loving family has been part of my soul’s architecture ever since.

The entire city of Toledo had only one copy of the six-volume Braille book; I had to stand in line to get my hands on it. Someone else had volume 2 when I finished volume 1, so I grabbed volume 3 and read the book out of order. I didn’t mind. Braille books for leisure reading were such a rare treat that I read anything I could get my hands on, including the World Book Encyclopedia and several volumes of the dictionary. But it was the fiction that enthralled me. Under my hands the words on the pages came to life, and I was transported to times and places our family station wagon could never take me. I skipped through Alpine meadows with Heidi and blasted off with Space Cat when he visited Venus.

I loved recorded books too, but they did not allow me to participate in the author’s creation of the stories in the way that Braille did. When I read Braille, the characters spoke in the tone and with the accents I gave them. I also learned how words were spelled and sentences constructed.

Nobody told me Braille was slow and difficult to learn. When I started school at age six, all I knew was that I wanted to be like my older brothers. I wanted the miracle of learning from the words others had written. I wanted to share in adventure and humor. I wanted to revel in the beauty of written language. I wanted access to the realm of thought, and Braille was my key to the kingdom of ideas.

It never occurred to me that those who used their eyes and those who used their fingers should experience different reading ability. By the time I learned that Braille readers were expected to achieve speeds of only ninety words a minute, I was reading 222. I wanted to read quickly because there was so much to learn, so much I wanted to know.

My only problem was that there simply wasn’t enough Braille. Books had to be copied by hand by individual transcribers using the Braille version of a manual typewriter. There were a few Braille presses for making multiple copies of books, but the plates used in the pressing process had to be handmade. These labor-intensive production methods meant that, if I was very lucky, I might be able to get my hands on a book two years after my sighted friends had the print version.

Braille was also very expensive. That Braille copy of Little Women cost $22 at a time when a print paperback could be had for fifty cents. No wonder I squealed with delight on my eleventh Christmas when I ripped open a package to find two Braille volumes. For the first time in my life I owned a book! It was called Lumberjack by Steven Meader. It told the story of a teenage boy whose first job was helping a timber company log his grandfather’s wood lot. A mystery and some skullduggery were involved, though I’ve long since forgotten the details. It wasn’t exactly the sort of thing I would have chosen, but it was mine; at least for two weeks it was. A civic group had purchased the book to donate to the minuscule library in the resource classroom for blind children. They wanted it to be a gift to a blind child who would pass it along to the library after finishing the story. I was the lucky child who proudly carried it to school after Christmas vacation.

It wasn’t until high school that I discovered that the Talking Book library also had a Braille collection. A good thing too, because the library became my only source for Braille books. I’d chosen to leave the public school system for a Catholic high school; as a result I had no Braille textbooks. My algebra text cost as much as a year’s tuition, far more than my family could afford. An anonymous donor came up with the funds, but, when the book arrived, we discovered it was an old edition and of no use in my class. I did first year algebra and geometry successfully without a textbook. Afraid that I would be unable to master advanced algebra and trigonometry without Braille texts, I took only the minimum math requirement. As a result I was streamed into remedial mathematics in college and wasted the better part of a year catching up.

Although finding Braille books to read and study was a challenge, writing Braille was not. In the first grade I learned to use the Perkins Brailler, the Braille equivalent of a manual typewriter. I also mastered the slate and stylus, the Braille equivalent of a pencil. I used the Brailler for transcribing long documents; in the seventh grade I copied the entire U. S. Constitution, including the Bill of Rights, in order to study it for an exam.

The slate and stylus served me well for most projects. I used my slate to take notes in college. To this day, though I own a Braille PDA computer, I wouldn’t dream of leaving home without a slate and stylus in my purse.

Braille remains one of the mainstays of my life, though the ways I use it have changed. As the mother of four, I’ve done a lot of reading to my children. Some of the classic children’s books that I’ve read to them weren’t available in Braille when I was young, so my children and I have explored them together. Thanks to computer technology, which has simplified production, I was able to buy the final book in the Harry Potter series on the day the print book was released. I downloaded the files onto my Braille Lite computer. Our family spent a glorious day and a half reading together.

Because of downloadable computerized Braille, I can now own a library of cookbooks. My wooden bookshelf could hold only five or six embossed Braille recipe books at a time. In digital form I can acquire a virtually unlimited number.

I don’t have a lot of time to sit quietly with a good book these days, but that doesn’t mean Braille use is dormant in my life. I keep financial information, phone numbers, appointment reminders, and hordes of miscellaneous notes to myself. I place Braille labels on important print documents, food packages, and the controls on my washing machine. My life would be chaos without Braille.

How ironic that, just when Braille has become more available than ever before, we are facing a crisis in Braille literacy. I hear the statistics, but I don’t think of percentages and totals. I think of children who will never grumble about no presents at Christmas in Jo March’s voice or skim through a cookbook looking for that perfect dessert. I worry about future adults who won’t be able to read their bank balances independently. Their futures, the quality of their lives, depend on this country’s commitment to ensuring them the possibility of achieving the sense of wonder that comes from independently reading a great book.

Sincerely,
Mary Ellen Gabias


April Lynn Enderton
Des Moines, Iowa
August 1, 2009

Dear President Obama:

I invite you to read over my shoulder.

Dear Grandma Beulah,

When you drive down our road for the first time, you'll want to have your windows open so that you can savor the sounds and smells of the farm. You'll hear loose gravel pinging against your tires, while inhaling the aromas of freshly mowed hay, clover, wildflowers, and damp earth--all intermingled with the sharp, unmistakable odor of cow manure.

After all these years I am still composing letters to Grandma in my mind as I once did in Braille. It's a lifelong habit, I guess. Whenever something exciting would happen, I'd grab my Braillewriter and share my news with Grandma. Nowadays the phantom letters help me feel close to her, even though she's been gone for almost eight years.

Our story began back in the late 1950s, shortly after my birth, when the doctors told my mother and grandmother that I was blind. Although I had enough vision to read large print, I always understood that I would use Braille. I'm not sure what made Grandma decide to learn Braille. I always just took for granted that she did. At any rate, she was undaunted by claims that Braille was too complicated to master.

In those days Braille instruction wasn't offered until first grade. The night before my first day of first grade, I was so excited about learning Braille that I had trouble falling asleep. The first day of school our teacher asked for a show of hands for those who would be reading print and for those who would be learning Braille. My hand shot up for Braille.

I learned the Braille alphabet ahead of my classmates. My teacher gave me a little desk in the back of the room where I could write while she worked with the other students. Since I didn't know many words, I entertained myself by writing Braille numbers into the hundreds. Meanwhile, back home Grandma was learning Braille too. She bought a Perkins Braillewriter, slate and stylus, Braille paper, and books on Braille instruction.

Around that time I started receiving Braille books in the mail from our state library for the blind. One of my first reading ventures was The Little House by Virginia Burton. When Grandma asked what the book was about, I told her I couldn't read it because it was too hard for me. Grandma transcribed the book into print. For years the tale of the little house that moved from the country to the city was one of Grandma's and my favorite bedtime stories.

Grandma and I started exchanging Braille letters when I was in second grade. The first letters arrived at the school for the blind on heavy manila paper folded in fourths to fit into letter-size envelopes. With much of the Braille mashed in the creases, these early letters were difficult for small fingers to decipher. In her letters Grandma wrote about the weather, her garden, and Foxy, her fox terrier. These letters contained two or three pocket-size print storybooks for a teacher or a housemother to read to me.

By the time I reached third grade, the pocket books were replaced by poems. Grandma enjoyed poetry and frequently copied some of her favorites in Braille to share with me. Many of the poems dealt with nature: plants, animals, and the changing seasons. These poems inspired me to try my hand at writing poetry. Years later I won first place in a couple of poetry competitions.

In the late 1960s Revenue Foregone became law, allowing us to mail Braille materials free of charge. The law required that we leave the envelope unsealed and write "free matter for the blind" where the postage stamp would go. Gradually we moved away from standard envelopes to cardboard tubes. These letters posed a whole new set of reading frustrations. Out of the tube the pages would roll back up during reading. Eventually we discovered that the best way to send Braille letters was to fold the pages in half and print the mailing information on the back of the last page. With a few strips of scotch tape, these letters were good to go.

In the beginning Grandma's Braille skills far surpassed mine. She had been reading and writing for decades; now she merely needed to transfer her literacy to Braille. On the other hand I was just learning the nuances of language. But with continued exposure to Braille in and out of school, I quickly took the lead. Before long Grandma looked to me instead of the experts for answers to her Braille questions. Since I wouldn't have wanted to plead ignorance, it was crucial that I be knowledgeable about Braille.

Because her fingers lacked sensitivity, Grandma read Braille with her eyes. Many times I caught her reading over my shoulder. This was especially disconcerting when I was writing to a friend or writing in my journal. "What are you doing?" I would say with annoyance, as I covered the Braille with my hand.

"I'm just practicing my Braille," Grandma would calmly reply.

In sixth grade I started losing the precious little sight I had left. While some things such as travel and picking out my own clothes required a major adjustment, my reading and writing did not. Thanks to my early Braille training, my school work moved forward without a hitch.

Grandma's letters followed me into adulthood as I moved away from home. Often Grandma transcribed my letters into print so Grandpa could read them too. Grandma took literary license to tailor my letters to suit Grandpa. Once, when I had written that some friends and I went back to my apartment for drinks, Grandma wrote that some friends and I went back to my apartment for dessert.

When I announced to Grandma in a letter that I would be getting married, she wrote to say that she was "saddened" to hear of my plans. Angrily I wrote back accusing her of not using the proper Braille contractions in the word "saddened" and suggested that maybe she should focus more on her Braille and less on my business. She wrote back to say that I was probably right. Although she didn't use the proper Braille contraction for the word "right," I let that one slide.

Over the years Grandma seized many opportunities to use her Braille. If I wanted a recipe, Grandma would whip out a Braille copy and put it in the mail. For my children's birthdays she would copy their birthday cards in Braille so that I could read them. She also copied articles for me from the Reader's Digest and Prevention, two of her favorite magazines. Once I told Grandma that a friend and I had had a letter-writing contest to see who could write the longest letter. Grandma thought that sounded like great fun and challenged me to a letter-writing contest. This will be a breeze, I thought, recalling Grandma's two- and three-page letters. I'll beat her hands down. Imagine my surprise when a book-sized letter arrived in the mail for me.

Every time Grandma and I got together, our conversation invariably turned to Braille. Grandma asked me to create Braille worksheets to test her knowledge. "You really stumped me with that last worksheet you sent," she would say, laughing.

Grandma was outraged when I told her that blind children born in the 1970s and beyond weren't automatically taught Braille the way we had been. She strongly disagreed with the contention that Braille was obsolete and that cassette tapes and later screen-readers were an adequate replacement. Like me, she believed that Braille is literacy for blind people and that literacy is the key to success for blind and sighted alike.

In her late 80s Grandma reluctantly set her Perkins Brailler aside when her arthritis made writing Braille too painful. Grandma's Braillewriter, along with a catalog of my life (all the letters I had ever written to her), fell into my hands in 2001 upon her death. I cherished her Braillewriter for all the wonderful memories it evoked, but I didn't think I'd ever use it. Enter Alyssa Joy.

Born in 2002, our youngest child, Alyssa Joy, never knew Grandma. But early on she expressed a strong love for books. I borrowed books from our state library for the blind and bought books from Seedlings Braille Books for Children, but that wasn't enough. She would see a book in the store and demand that I take it home and read it to her. So I unearthed Grandma's Braillewriter and started Brailling Alyssa Joy's books. If I can Braille books to read to Alyssa Joy, the thought occurred to me, I can also Braille books for other children. In 2006 I started Brailling children's books to donate to the Braille Book Flea Market at the annual convention of the National Federation of the Blind. I call my project BRL, the contraction for the word “Braille” and an acronym for Beulah Reimer Legacy, named for my grandmother, the wise and insightful woman who empowered me to become proficient in Braille. BRL's mission is to put Braille at the fingertips of as many eager readers as possible.

Alyssa Joy is seven years old now, and, although she is sighted, like Grandma she is learning Braille. What would Grandma think? I sometimes wonder. Hmmmm. Perhaps I'll write and ask her.

Sincerely,
April Lynn Enderton


Geerat Vermeij
Davis, California
July 18, 2009

Dear President Obama:

One of Johann Sebastian Bach's great harpsichord pieces is playing in the background as I take a break from writing a book on evolution. In my pleasant home office I am surrounded by books, and next to me is a cabinet filled with fossil shells I have collected over the years, each sample carefully labeled. I consult my books and specimens frequently as I write papers and books. And there are vastly more specimens and books in my spacious office at the University of California, Davis, where I am a distinguished professor of geology. One long wall contains part of my enormous library, the product of forty years of constant reading of the scientific and scholarly literature. My research collection of fossil and modern-day shells contains tens of thousands of labels, which help me decipher the evolution and ecology of shell-bearing animals and their enemies. All this accumulated treasure trove reflects an active life as a scholar and teacher. It has allowed me to publish five books, almost two hundred scientific papers, and an assortment of other writings on subjects ranging from the shapes of crab claws and vine leaves to the mathematics of shell growth, the evolution of plant-eating animals, the causes of mass extinction, and parallels between evolution and economics. And I am still going strong, writing, reading, teaching, and conducting original scientific research all over the world.

But none of this would have been possible without Braille. Everything I have and do is in Braille. I have at my fingertips a library of tens of thousands of publications; and all the labels in my collections are in Braille. I owe an enormous debt of gratitude to teachers in the Netherlands (my birthplace) and the United States for instructing me in Braille early and well, and to my parents, who from the very beginning of my blindness at age three understood that Braille was the only means by which their blind son could be educated. For my sighted peers such a tribute to print and to literacy would be considered superfluous and laughable; but for the blind, even in the twenty-first century, a plea for literacy and for the use of the one medium that makes it possible still appears to be necessary.

As one of the National Federation of the Blind's Braille ambassadors, I can only say that Braille is the single most important invention ever to have aroused the blind out of a state of pity and dependence to a rightful, productive place in society. How else could I have kept notes on a research ship after a day's field work on a reef in eastern Indonesia? How else could I record measurements on leaf shape in a rain forest in Panama, or document material collected in a mosquito-infested mangrove swamp in Madagascar? How else could I mine obscure papers for information about the timing of the great extinction that brought an end to the dinosaurs, or about the oldest member of a lineage of fossil snails I was working on?

How else would I know where specimens in my own collection came from or when I collected them? How else could I write and revise my own papers and books or keep track of other authors' manuscripts as they made their way through peer review in the scientific journals I edited?

Braille is an enabler, an essential ingredient of life for a blind person who wishes--and is expected--to engage in the world. On the two hundredth anniversary of the birth of its inventor, Louis Braille, we celebrate not only the man, but especially what he has made possible. Braille is the DNA of the blind, the code that gives our lives meaning.

Sincerely,
Geerat Vermeij

 

Blind Toddler’s Mother Has High Expectations

by Debra Lemoine

From the Editor: We reprint the following story of hope and investment in our next generation of blind children. This article is taken from the January 28, 2010, issue of the Baton Rouge Advocate. The story is a fine reminder of what common sense in parenting can yield for blind children. It is also a commentary on the value of our Parent Leadership Program, one of the membership-cultivation programs that our Department of Affiliate Action and the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children jointly sponsor. Here it is:

When Brock Kaiser of Walker, Louisiana, was born, his family feared the worst. “We noticed he couldn’t focus on anything,” said Joan Brock, his grandmother. ”It hits you like a ton of bricks--your whole family.”

Brock Kaiser, now twenty-one months old, was diagnosed with septo-optic dysplasia, a condition where his optic nerve did not develop fully and caused blindness. The condition also has other issues, such as a hormonal deficiency, so Brock Kaiser takes daily growth hormone injections. But overall Brock Kaiser has a mild form of the condition, which can improve slightly as children get older, his mother Erin Kaiser said. Brock Kaiser can see images close up but is considered legally blind. His sight is not expected to improve much beyond that, she said.

Despite her son’s blindness Erin Kaiser, twenty-three, holds high expectations for his life. When Erin Kaiser began working full-time as an administrative assistant after graduating from Southeastern Louisiana University in May, Brock Kaiser was enrolled in a regular daycare for sighted children. “He keeps up,” she said. “He’s right where he needs to be.” At twenty-one months Brock Kaiser is a happy baby who toddles around the room. When he picks up his white cane, which his mother says is a sign of independence for blind people, he bangs it on the ground and says “tap, tap.”

At the suggestion of one of her son’s therapists, Erin Kaiser went to the state conference for the National Federation of the Blind of Louisiana, where she learned that her son can live a full, independent life. When she was there, she decided to get involved and has since attended the group’s national convention. “I learned that, if you hold high expectations, they’re going to be fine,” Erin Kaiser said. “They’re going to learn differently than sighted people, but they will learn.”

But that full life does not come without its obstacles. People who are blind have a 90 percent illiteracy rate and a 70 percent unemployment rate, she said. “I know the literacy rate,” Erin Kaiser said. “Brock is not going to be one of those who don’t know how to read.” Erin Kaiser taught herself Braille, so she can teach her son to “read the bumps.” She has baby books with the Braille bumps to get her son familiar with the system.

She also mentors other mothers of blind children over the Internet. Erin Kaiser was recently selected as a parent leader for the National Federation of the Blind and will go to Washington, D.C., next week to attend workshops and lobby on behalf of people who are blind. For example, one issue she and Brock Kaiser will address is seeking legislation to require hybrid vehicles to make more engine noise, because blind people use the noise of car engines to determine when it is safe to cross the street, she said.

 

As the Twig Is Bent

From the Editor: Several of the pieces in this issue address our current efforts to increase opportunities for the next generation of blind people. The following article, reprinted from the August 1989 Braille Monitor, demonstrates that we have long been mindful of the value of youth outreach (even before it became fashionable) as a means of building our organization and strengthening blind people with a philosophy that promotes self-respect and self-confidence. In this spirit we reprint Dr. Kenneth Jernigan's introduction and nine-year-old Jason Ewell and thirteen-year-old Michael Leiterman’s letter reflecting emerging personalities dedicated to collective action, strong advocacy, and simple justice. The NFB’s influence in Jason's life has definitely yielded direct benefits for our movement. Today Jason applies his intellect, passion, and expertise to the work of the Federation as a staff member in the Affiliate Action Department of our national office. Mike is a patent attorney practicing and living in northern Virginia. Here is the story:

From the Editor: When does a person become mature? At what age does he or she become responsible for helping make the world better, not only for himself or herself but also for others? More to the point (at least, for purposes of this discussion) how old must an individual be to become (in the active, full sense of the word) a Federationist? How about thirteen? What about nine? The associate editor and I recently received a letter from two students at the Ohio State School for the Blind, which helped me answer the question. I found the letter both delightful and heart-warming. I also found it instructive, for it told me that our message and philosophy are beginning to permeate every segment of the blind population--children, adults, and the elderly; the rich and the poor; the educated and the illiterate. It renewed my faith in the ability of people to act in their own enlightened self-interest and to do it collectively. It underscored something which, at the core of my being, I have never doubted--that the future of the National Federation of the Blind is going to be all right. Even now the leaders of the fourth generation are developing and reaching for maturity. They are learning their Federation philosophy at an early age and living it on a daily basis. Read the letter from the students at the Ohio State School for the Blind, and you will see what I mean. Here it is:

Columbus, Ohio
April 20, 1989

Dear Dr. Jernigan and Mrs. Pierce:

Our names are Jason Ewell (age nine) and Mike Leiterman (age thirteen), and we wish to tell you about our coalition--the Student Alliance Coalition (SAC) at the Ohio State School for the Blind. Our committee grew out of a minor student concern, which was soon put on the back burner for a major issue. Therefore we are writing to tell you about our efforts over the past year concerning totally blind students being discriminated against as dining room workers.

This policy is unjust because only students with high residual vision have been allowed to hold these positions. Collectively we decided to approach the administrator of residential services to share this concern because she oversees the dining room staff and, if persuaded, could use her authority to aid us. We shared with her our belief that our school should be a discriminatory-free environment, in which we could learn by trying as many things as we wished to attempt. She appreciated our honesty and position. Likewise she thought that other students should follow our example here at the OSSB. Dorm Council was started. Every two weeks we meet for around an hour or so to discuss issues which arise out of living in a residential setting. The dietitian, who acts as immediate supervisor over the dining room staff, came to one of our meetings and agreed to help by restructuring the hiring policy and developing a more efficient training program for all who wish to apply. Weekends and daily after school have been designated as periods for the training sessions.

At this time those interested seem to be satisfied with this new procedure. We feel glad that we were able to work together to end this problem. Even though this issue really only directly pertains to the totally blind, we felt it necessary that those with residual vision be active participants because what affects one of us, affects us all.

Respectfully,

Jason Ewell and Mike Leiterman

Training Reflections

by Jeff Altman

From Barbara Pierce: What jobs do blind people hold? We have all been asked that question. The longer I live and meet Federationists across the nation, the harder I find it to give an answer. Blind people are doing all sorts of things. The following profile describes Dan Treffer, who is doing something that I would never have thought to list as a job a blind person can do. The profile appeared in the Winter 2010 issue of the newsletter of the Nebraska Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired. Here it is:

Dan Treffer, 2000 graduate of the Nebraska Center for the Blind, runs a unique business from his home. He has devoted approximately half of his three-acre property to his metal recycling business, but thanks to the privacy fence that surrounds his work area, you might not know what business he is in. Dan takes metal of virtually any type, including old cars, appliances, and scrap from the farms, which he cleans up, and uses a torch to cut the metal into manageable, eighteen-by-thirty-six-inch pieces, for which the scrap yard pays a higher rate. To make this process faster, he has placed markers that he can feel on the hoses of his torch at eighteen and thirty-six inches so that he can compare the markings on the hoses to the metal. He is then able, in one easy step, to know where to begin each cut. Dan jokes that he has nearly set himself on fire a few times: “I’ll get done cutting up something and then forget and lean up against the hot metal. The next thing I know, my overalls are starting to smoke. No matter what, I think that is just one of the hazards of the work.”

Dan points out that the hardest part of the job is taking apart the appliances, since the scrap yard will not accept the plastics inside of them. He says, “You’d think that, after so many years of tearing apart appliances, I’d know how to do it pretty quick, but sometimes I’ll spend a lot of time looking for just one more screw that has to be removed before the plastic liner will come out. It can be very time-consuming and frustrating.”

At first, Dan says, he wasn’t really sure what to do with the plastic materials he was taking out of the appliances because the scrap yard didn’t want them, and trying to put them in his trash was creating a real mess. Then he found out that the scrap yard would accept them if they were inside the body of a junk car, so he has been doing that ever since. He also said that running the business has been a learning process for him. For example, he was throwing the wiring from the appliances into the car bodies along with the plastic parts until one of the scrap yard workers told him that they actually buy insulated wire, so now he makes a little extra money from every appliance he disassembles.

Another important part of the work is sorting out the different types of metal. For the steel and iron Dan uses a magnet. For other types of metal Dan uses his basic knowledge of what types of metal are usually used in the manufacture of certain items, such as plumbing pipes, which are often made of copper, and old lawn chairs, which are usually made from aluminum. Dan can also use his limited eyesight to identify the color of other pieces of metal, but it isn’t always simple to figure out exactly what they are. For example, Dan explains that there are three types of brass and two types of aluminum, and these have to be separated. “I sort out the metal the best I can, and the fellows down at the scrap yard help me out from there, when I take a load in.”

Dan stores the smaller pieces of metal in steel drums, which are painted different colors that he can see well enough to tell apart. He also has a loader to move the larger pieces around his work area in order to cut it up or otherwise process the materials. He says, “Sometimes I’ll run over something or bump into one of the junk cars, but it doesn’t really matter, since they are being scrapped anyway. As long as I take my time and I’m careful, I can handle the loader fine.”

Once he has enough scrap for a load, Dan hires either a family member or a friend to drive his truck down to the scrap yard. He processes from six to eight tons of metal each month, which really helps to supplement the family’s income. Dan also had done some mechanic work for a while after leaving center training, but he says that he doesn’t have the equipment or knowledge to work on the new vehicles, with all of the computer and electronic systems built into them, so he gave up on this part of his business. Aside from his scrap metal business, Dan babysits for his grandchildren, which he says “Doesn’t pay anything, but it’s my favorite job.”

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

Benefits of Making a Gift to the NFB

Your Gift Will Help Us

Your gift makes you a part of the NFB dream!

 

2010 Convention Attractions

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 2010 convention, July 3 through 8. Presidents of divisions, committee chairpeople, and event presenters have provided the information. The convention agenda will list the times and locations of all events taking place during the week. Remember that times and dates announced in this column are still tentative and may change. Consult the convention agenda as the final authority for convention happenings. This listing is intended to give those planning or considering coming to Dallas a sense of what will be going on, but at the date of this writing (early March), some details remain fluid.

Access Technology Seminars
by the IBTC Technology Team

On Saturday, July 3, the National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute’s Access Technology team will conduct four seminars covering a number of topics. Apple’s products will be discussed in the morning. Sessions on Blackboard Learn, eBay, and e-books will take up the afternoon.

The first session (9:00 to 11:30 a.m.) will be devoted to the increasing number of fully accessible Apple devices. The first hour-long session will provide an introduction to the Mac operating system. After a half-hour break, the session will resume with a focus on Apple’s portable devices—the iPod series, the iPhone, and the iPad.

From 1:00 to 2:00 p.m. Ebay will co-present with the Access Technology Team to discuss the work they have done to improve accessibility on the buyer side of ebay.com.

Blackboard Learn is perhaps the most commonly used online platform for education. Blackboard has made great strides in enhancing accessibility in its latest release, and in this session (2:15 to 3:30 p.m.) we will discuss the access improvements as well as some of the outstanding issues in the platform.

From 3:45 to 5:00 p.m. the day’s final topic will be e-books. The Access Technology Team will examine the rapidly expanding market of digital books and the devices used to access them.

Affiliate Action
by Joanne Wilson

First-Time Convention Participants: You are invited to participate in a gathering for first-time conventioneers in the Affiliate Action suite on Monday, July 5, from 12:00 to 2:00 p.m. This gathering will be a great opportunity to meet new people and to have your convention questions answered by experienced Federationists. Food will not be available, but you are welcome to bring your lunch. See you there.

NFB Link: On Tuesday, July 6, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. in the Affiliate Action suite people are invited to come and learn how to get connected through NFB Link, the National Federation of the Blind's online mentoring program. Each person is a resource of incalculable worth. As blind people we experience this reality in an especially powerful way through our participation in the National Federation of the Blind. Members of the Federation give and receive mentorship in countless areas, and we have an Internet-based mentoring program called NFB Link so that blind people throughout the world can share in this vibrant exchange of ideas and friendship.

Through NFB Link you can find a blind mentor who can answer questions on a wide variety of topics, including career choices, being a blind parent or a parent of a blind child, student issues, and the pursuit of hobbies from skydiving to knitting. Our 227 mentors come from a dazzling array of career fields. They include entrepreneurs, educators, computer programmers, engineers, artists, and CEOs. Currently, 272 men and women who are blind or who have questions about the skills of blindness are signed up as mentees with NFB Link.

This year at national convention you will have an opportunity to learn how you can be part of this exciting online mentoring program. Learn how to join NFB Link, network with mentors and mentees, and receive training on how to use the NFB Link site. Come and see how we have enhanced the program by introducing more personalized and thorough matching and evaluation processes, established contacts in each state between mentees and their local affiliates, and improved the operation of the NFB Link site. Through NFB Link blind men and women share knowledge and life experience, living the reality that it is respectable to be blind.

Assistive Technology Trainers Division
by Michael Barber

Are you an assistive technology trainer who would like to network with other trainers? Come join the NFB Assistive Technology Trainers Division Monday, July 5, from 6:30 to 10:00 p.m. We will discuss determining the right notetaker for your student, plunging without fear into Windows 7 with Cathyanne Murtha of Access Technology Institute, assessing whether your client will benefit from Jsay Pro, and teaching the Mac.

You can always count on lively and informative discussions as we meet each topic head-on. Please come join us. If you care to join our division, dues are $5 per year, and we will be happy to add you to our email list. If you have questions, call Michael Barber at (515) 771-8348 or email him at <Michael.NFBI@gmail.com>. Come join us in Dallas.

Attention All First-Time Convention Attendees

We invite you to attend the Rookie Roundup, a reception previewing the 2010 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. Check the Affiliate Action suite for other rookie events throughout the week.

Date: Saturday, July 3, 2010
Time: 8:00 to 10:00 p.m.
Dress: Casual
For more information contact Pam Allen (800) 234-4166; <pallen@lcb-ruston.com>.

Back to Basics
by Rosy Carranza

Are you looking for new ways to reach potential members, strategies to energize existing members, or methods to liven up your chapter meetings? If so, you don’t want to miss this session, scheduled for Monday, July 5, from 6:00 to 10:00 p.m. At the top of each hour a new topic will be introduced, so you are welcome to come to some or all of the meeting. Topics include membership building, developing an action-packed chapter meeting agenda, designing and using public relations materials, legislation and advocacy, working with youth, fundraising, and including Federation philosophy in local meetings. Attendees will receive a membership development tool kit. Special recognition will be given to chapter presidents and to newly formed chapters. You don’t want to miss out—put this information-packed session on your convention calendar.

BEP: U. S. Currency Identification Focus Group
by Ellen Gano

Representatives of the United States Department of the Treasury’s Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) will once again attend the NFB’s annual convention to provide an update on the BEP’s progress to provide meaningful access to U. S. currency for blind and vision-impaired people. This year the BEP will conduct open forums on two days during the convention—one Tuesday, July 6, from 8:00 to 9:00 p.m. and one Wednesday, July 7, from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m.—to give attendees flexibility scheduling a session to fit their busy convention agendas.
In addition to a general update and an open discussion, representatives of the BEP’s Office of Product Development and the project manager of the Meaningful Access Team will discuss some of the feature concepts the BEP is currently testing. The BEP is interested in hearing NFB members’ opinions about the effectiveness of these feature concepts in helping blind and vision-impaired people identify U. S. currency.

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 the BLIND, Incorporated, annual Karaoke Night on Saturday, July 3, 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.

Blind Musicians
by Linda Mentink

The Blind Musicians Group will meet Sunday, July 4, at 1:00 p.m. Those interested are encouraged to come and share ideas and tips and network with other blind musicians in the NFB. For further questions or information beforehand, contact Linda Mentink, chairwoman, by phone (402) 563-8138 or email <mentink@frontiernet.net>.

Cars Division
by Joseph B. Naulty

The Classics, Antiques, and Rods or Special-interest Vehicles (CARS) Division of the NFB will hold its seminar and business meeting on Monday, July 5, from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. Come and hear speakers from various automobile clubs talk about their activities and participate in the division business meeting. On Sunday, July 4, from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m., join car enthusiasts at an auto show featuring classics, antiques, and special-interest vehicles. Join us for an exciting ride in 2010.

Committee for the Promotion, Evaluation, and Advancement of Technology
by Gary Wunder

On Monday, July 5, from 7:30 to 10:00 p.m., 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 <gwunder@earthlink.net> or by calling him at (573) 874-1774.

Committee on Research and Development
by Curtis Chong

The committee on research and development of the National Federation of the Blind will meet during the convention from 8:00 to 10:00 p.m. on Wednesday, July 7. Of late the committee has considered such far-ranging topics as nonvisual access to automated transportation systems of the future, various ways for the blind to read commercially-produced electronic books, technologies to supplement the use of a white cane or guide dog in independent travel, and enhancements to refreshable Braille display technology to improve teaching methods for this valuable tool of literacy for the blind. The committee is also interested in the direction of technological developments because, for the most part, these developments tend to exclude the blind. Perhaps developers must change the ways future technologies are designed.
If any of these questions interests you, then come to the meeting of the committee on research and development. Perhaps you can suggest a technology or an approach that nobody else has considered. For more information about the committee on research and development or to learn more about the July meeting, contact Curtis Chong, the chairman of the committee. He can be reached by phone at (515) 277-1288 (evenings and weekends) or by email at <curtischong@earthlink.net>.

Deaf-Blind Division
by Burnell Brown

The National Federation of the Blind Deaf-Blind Division will meet on Tuesday evening, July 6. Registration will begin at 6:00 p.m.; division business, including presentations of interest to deaf-blind people and elections, will occur from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. Visit our table in the exhibit hall and support our work. If anyone is in need of an interpreter for this meeting or for the convention generally, please contact NFB Deaf-Blind Division President Burnell Brown at (202) 832-0697; email: <BrownBurnell@aol.com>.

Federation Regeneration

Members of the Education Department at the NFB Jernigan Institute would like to help you develop quality programs for youth in your state while regenerating your Federation spirit. From Braille literacy programs like Braille Readers Are Leaders to science academy programs or youth mentoring, a fit for every shape and size affiliate can be found. Gain valuable insights and resources to strengthen your affiliate’s efforts. We will meet Sunday, July 4, from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m.

Friends of Recovery
by Gary H. Ray

All convention delegates involved in or interested in twelve-step recovery programs are invited to attend meetings during the convention from 8:00 to 9:00 p.m. on Monday and Wednesday, July 5 and 7. Questions may be directed to Gary Ray at (828) 505-0299; email <ghraynfbofnc@charter.net>.

Diabetes Action Network Division Meeting and Seminar
by Mike Freeman

On the afternoon of Monday, July 5, the Diabetes Action Network (DAN), a division of the National Federation of the Blind, will hold its annual meeting and diabetes seminar. Registration will begin at 12:30 p.m.; the seminar will take place from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. The seminar will include a presentation on diabetes by a certified diabetes educator or endocrinologist from the Dallas area; an update on the research into the efficacy of the use of insulin pens by the blind recently conducted by Dr. Ann Williams; a panel discussion on strategies to get medical insurance providers to cover diabetes management equipment accessible to the blind; and presentations on what's new in diabetes management devices accessible to the blind. Election of DAN officers and members of its board of directors will also be held during the seminar, and a report of DAN activities during the past year will be given.

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 Thursday, July 8.

Ham Radio Group Emergency Preparedness Seminar
by D. Curtis Willoughby

In accordance with long-standing tradition, the first meeting of the 2010 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 Saturday, July 3. 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; <ka0vba@dimcom.net>.

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.

Human Services Meeting
by David Stayer

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 Monday, July 5, from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m.; registration will begin at 1:00 p.m. Dues are $5. We are planning an exciting program this year. Please come with your questions.

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, contact David Stayer, president, at (516) 868-8718 or by email at <davidandloristayer@verizon.net>.

Independence Science LLC
by Pei-Lin Weng

Independence Science, LLC, a new start-up assistive-technology company, in collaboration with Purdue University researchers, will be conducting two focus groups to collect feedback on a new portable handheld data collection device for blind students to be used in high school science laboratories. We are seeking a limited number of participants to examine and offer feedback about this portable scientific information collection device. A modest stipend will be provided for those who volunteer to participate in this three-hour exercise. These sessions will be held on Saturday and Monday, July 3 and 5, from 7:00 to 10:00 p.m. Contact Pei-Lin Weng at <pweng@independencescience.com> by May 15 for more information and to participate in a pre-focus group questionnaire to assess suitability for study participation.

Judaism Meeting
by David Stayer

A service for interested Jews attending the NFB convention in Dallas will be held on Sunday, July 4, beginning at 8:00 p.m. Consult the convention agenda for further details.

knfbReading Technology, Inc., Presents
by James Gashel

James Gashel, vice president for business development with knfbReading Technology, Inc., will present Experience the Blio Reader: Making the World's Books Enjoyable, Usable, and Accessible to Everyone. Learn how printed books are becoming digital and accessible to the blind through the Blio e-book reader developed and distributed by knfbReading Technology, Inc., Blio is free e-reader software specially designed for dynamic, flexible, and accessible presentation of digital media, including cookbooks, travel guides, how-to books, school books, children's stories, magazines, and more. Relax, learn, work, or play.

Shop endless titles at the online Blio bookstore with access to over one million free books and a huge library of today's best sellers as well. Read wherever you are by syncing your digital library to your favorite on-the-go-mobile device. To learn more about how Blio can enrich your life, come to one of our small group demonstration sessions on Saturday or Sunday afternoon, July 3 or 4, or to one of our evening sessions on Wednesday, July 7. Consult the convention agenda for specific times. Experience and share the joy of access to books through Blio.

Legislative Strategies Seminar: Moving Legislation on the State and National Level
by Ronza Othman

This interactive seminar, held on Tuesday, July 6, from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m., will focus on the best methods of increasing support for our legislative priorities on the state and national levels. Participants will have the opportunity to share firsthand accounts on how successful their affiliates have been at getting legislation enacted.

Jesse Hartle, Lauren McLarney, and Ronza Othman, the NFB Governmental Affairs staff, will facilitate this session. Each affiliate should send at least one representative. Plan to join us for this instructive session. Changing lives through laws is our business.

Library Services Committee
by Dave Hyde

The NFB library services committee, charged with working on organization policy toward the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, will meet on Sunday, July 4, at 7:30 p.m. Consult your convention agenda for an ending time for this meeting. Contact David Hyde, chairman, at (608) 758-6152; email <w.dave@sbcglobal.net>.

Lions Clubs
by Ramona Walhof

If you are thinking of joining a Lions Club or are already a Lion, we encourage you to join us Saturday, July 3, at 8:00 p.m. to meet Lions and share ideas and experiences. The better we coordinate, the more our clubs and districts can work with the blind. Several notes have appeared recently in the Lions Magazine about the Braille coin and other relevant matters. We will exchange names and contact information, take time to hear from all clubs represented, and plan future activities. If any blind Lions are going to the International Lions Convention in Sydney, Australia, please contact Ramona Walhof at <rwnfbi@qwest.net>. We always learn new things at these meetings. Wear your shirts or vests, and we'll try to get a good picture.

The Louisiana Center for the Blind Players
by Pamela Allen

The Louisiana Center for the Blind Players will present two performances of Broken-Hearted River to Freedom on Monday, July 5, at 7:00 and 9:00 p.m. During Civil War times a man loses his sight in the war, returns home, and learns to deal with his blindness and his family. The ticket price for this production is $5. All proceeds support the summer training program for blind children at the Louisiana Center for the Blind.

Membership Committee
Finding, Attracting, and Keeping New Members in our Chapters and Affiliates
by Ron Gardner

The membership committee of the National Federation of the Blind will convene for its annual meeting on Sunday, July 4, from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. For further information contact Ron Gardner (801) 299-0349; <ronandjan@qwestoffice.net>.

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 Monday, July 5, from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. Registration will be held from 12:30 p.m. until the start of the meeting.

The purpose of our annual meeting and seminar is multifaceted. We will examine emerging trends in the laws that affect blind people and others with disabilities. For example, we will address the ongoing struggle to gain equal access to Websites (including legal-based 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. Other discrimination and civil rights cases will be reviewed. We will discuss how to practice law most effectively as a blind or vision-impaired legal professional. We will undoubtedly hear from the American Bar Association as well as local law schools and bar associations about their outreach efforts to blind and vision-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 5 is the place to be.

Mock Trial
by Scott LaBarre

The National Association of Blind Lawyers will sponsor its Thirteenth Annual Mock Trial at the 2010 NFB convention. This trial will reenact a previous Federation case. Federation lawyers will be pitted against each other, arguing the merits of the two positions.

We have not yet selected this year’s case, but it will undoubtedly highlight a case in which a blind person or persons 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 the past trials. A charge of $5 per person will benefit the National Association of Blind Lawyers. The trial will take place on Sunday, July 4, at 4:30 p.m.

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 Monday, July 5, from 1:30 to 5:00 p.m. This year registration for our division meeting will begin at 1:00 p.m. Our agenda will focus on protection of the priority and the creation of new, dynamic, and profitable 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 pressing.   

National Association of Blind Office Professionals
by Lisa Hall

The annual meeting of the National Association of Blind Office Professionals (NABOP) will be held on Saturday, July 3. Registration will begin at 6:30 p.m.; the meeting will begin at 7:00 p.m. Consult your convention agenda for room location. If you are interested in working in an office and would like to learn about what blind people are doing in this profession, this is your chance to be involved. If you are a Braille transcriber, Braille proofreader, telephone operator, receptionist, or customer service representative or work in any other office position, you are welcome to come and participate in our discussions of challenges found in the office setting. You will learn what is new in adaptive technology, what jobs people are doing, and how blind people solve various problems at work.

Our agenda is currently being developed, and anyone wishing to submit suggestions may contact Lisa Hall by email at <lhall007@cinci.rr.com> or by phone at (513) 931-7070 in the evenings or during the weekends. Lisa can also be reached by cell phone at (513) 550-5155. Membership dues are $5 per year and may be sent to Debbie Brown, treasurer, 11923 Parklawn Drive, Apartment 104, Rockville, Maryland 20852. Debbie can be reached by phone at (301) 881-1892; email <dabro@loc.gov>.

National Association of Blind Piano Technicians
by Don Mitchell

The National Association of Blind Piano Technicians invites you to join us on Monday, July 5, from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. for a stimulating discussion of blind stereotypes. The field of piano tuning for the blind has long been considered a stereotypical career choice for the blind. Is this true? What can we do about it? Come join us and help us change what it means to be blind. Consult your convention agenda for room assignment, or contact Don Mitchell, division president, at the hotel.

National Association of Blind Students
by Arielle Silverman

The National Association of Blind Students (NABS) will again be holding its annual business meeting at the NFB convention in Dallas on Sunday, July 4, from 7:00 to 10:00 p.m. Arrive early (between 6:00 and 7:00 p.m.) to register with NABS and become a NABS member. Students, young professionals, parents, teachers, and anyone else interested in learning about issues affecting blind students are all invited to join our meeting. Come to learn about the latest developments in technology and resources for blind students and to meet other members of NABS.

On Wednesday, July 7, we will be holding a fundraiser and social from 8:00 to 11:30 p.m. Stay tuned for details. To learn more about the National Association of Blind Students, visit <www.nabslink.org> or contact NABS President Arielle Silverman at <president@nabslink.org>.

National Association of Guide Dog Users
by Marion Gwizdala

The National Association of Guide Dog Users will convene for its annual business meeting on Saturday, July 3. Registration will begin at 6:00 p.m.; the meeting will run from 7:00 to 10:00 p.m. A reception and seminar will also be sponsored on Monday, July 5, from 6:00 to 10:00 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 Monday, July 5, from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. Registration for this meeting will start at 12:30 p.m. This year’s theme for the meeting will be Meeting Challenges: Gaining Opportunities. We plan to have representatives from various faith-based libraries and publishing houses to describe what their organizations do. Time for questions will be available. Additionally, we will also have speakers who will discuss how their faith has helped them face and overcome challenges. We may also have a discussion regarding problems which members may be having with full participation in their places of worship. A brief business meeting will follow these discussions. In this business meeting we will work to set goals for the next year.

The National Association of the Blind in Communities of Faith will again coordinate the devotional services that will take place Tuesday morning, July 6, through Thursday, July 8. The theme of the devotions will be Redemption through His Blood. Devotions will begin an hour before the morning sessions and will adjourn fifteen minutes before the opening gavel. Contact Tom Anderson 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 phone number is (303) 794-5006, and my email address is <tanderson@cocenter.org>.

National Association to Promote the Use of Braille
by Nadine Jacobson

This year our National Association to Promote the Use of Braille (NAPUB) seminar will be held on Monday, July 5, from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. We will present information about the remaining commemorative Louis Braille Bicentennial Silver Dollars that can be purchased from the NFB's Independence Market and elsewhere, the NFB Share Braille Website project, and other Braille news. We hope to see you all in Dallas.

National Organization of Blind Educators
by Sheila Koenig

On Monday, July 5, 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.

Newsletter Publications Committee
by Norma Crosby

The newsletter publications committee will conduct its annual meeting and a brief workshop for affiliate newsletter editors on Sunday, July 4, from 5:30 to 8:00 p.m. Join us to learn about developing an effective local publication to carry the Federation's message. For further information contact Norma Crosby, chairwoman, at <norma.crosby@gmail.com>.

NFB Imagination Fund: Grant Writing Seminar
by Mark Riccobono

Each year 25 percent of the money raised through the NFB Imagination Fund is used to support innovative grant proposals presented by affiliates and divisions of the Federation. Come learn how to plan, write, and submit a strong grant application. Discover key points and strategies about the various components of the grants process including identifying appropriate funders, making a good impression, organizing your materials, and pulling together that winning proposal that any funder would be pleased to support. Preparing the NFB Imagination Fund grants is good practice for submitting proposals to funders outside the organization. We encourage each affiliate to send a representative to this meeting. This seminar will be held on Wednesday, July 7, from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m.

NFB in Computer Science
by Curtis Chong

The annual meeting of the National Federation of the Blind in Computer Science will take place on Monday, July 5, from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. Here are some of the program items that are being planned:

1. We will have a program item called The Macintosh as a Productivity Tool for the Blind. This will be a panel discussion. Panelists will be blind people who use the Apple Macintosh on a daily basis to get real work done--giving practical demonstration to the idea that the Apple Macintosh is, for many blind people, the tool that enables them to be productive every day of their lives.

2. Anyone who uses the Internet regularly has doubtless encountered the visual CAPTCHA--those pesky graphical representations of letters that a person is expected to copy into an edit box to prove that he or she is, in fact, a real human being. A CAPTCHA-solving service has been established called Solona, which is essentially a volunteer service that helps to crack the visual CAPTCHA. We will be hearing from Bernard Maldonado, the founder of this interesting service.

3. We will be hearing from a representative of the Association of Information Technology Professionals. I hope through this presentation to begin building a bridge between aspiring or currently employed blind information technology professionals and the mainstream information technology profession. What skills are important in today's information technology profession? Do blind people have what it takes to compete? Does the industry really understand what the blind have to offer, and does it have a realistic expectation of the contributions that the blind can make to this ever-changing and dynamic profession?

4. We plan to hear from Rob Sinclair, the director of accessibility at Microsoft. Four years ago Mr. Sinclair spoke to our members, and at that time he talked about Windows Vista and the fact that for the first time ever an operating system would be released that would be accessible to the blind right out of the box. We now have Windows 7, which seems quite accessible today, and we are facing the imminent release of a newer version of Microsoft Office. One wonders what other products from Microsoft can be made accessible to the blind.

This being an even-numbered year, the National Federation of the Blind in Computer Science will be electing officers and board members. Our current officers and board members are president, Curtis Chong; vice president, Steve Jacobson; secretary, Mike Freeman; treasurer, Susie Stanzel; and board members, Brian Buhrow, Lloyd Rasmussen, and D. Curtis Willoughby. Membership dues for the organization remain at $5 and can be paid in advance of the meeting or at the meeting itself. If you want more information about our 2010 meeting or are interested in paying dues to become a member of the NFB in Computer Science, contact Curtis Chong, president, National Federation of the Blind in Computer Science, 3663 Grand Avenue, Unit 606, Des Moines, Iowa 50312; Phone: (515) 277-1288 (evenings and weekends); Email: <curtischong@earthlink.net>.

NFB Jernigan Institute: Where Do We Go from Here?
by Mark Riccobono

Three focused discussion times will be facilitated to gather input on priorities and directions for the only research and training institute developed and directed by the blind. While these sessions will give brief overviews of current Institute programs and activities, they are intended to be facilitated discussions about the concerns, hopes, and dreams of the blind of the nation in order to inform and direct future program development. Bring your ideas, solutions, and priorities so we can together formulate the programs that are most relevant to the blind of the nation. Sessions will have specific themes in order to focus the dialogue. Consult your agenda for themes, times, and locations.

NFB National Employment Seminar
by Buna Dahal

Please join the members of the employment committee at the employment seminar on Saturday, July 3, from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. to gain the secrets of obtaining and maintaining employment during this tough economic environment. For further information contact Buna Dahal, chairperson, at (303) 758-1232 or by email at <BunaDahal@DynamicBuna.com>.

NFB-NEWSLINE® Seminar and Convention Events
by Scott White

Would you like to get the scoop on the latest enhancements to NFB-NEWSLINE®, the free audible newspaper service? Would you like to know about the new access methods like Podable News, which provides podcasts of publications and their sections that you can download to your MP3-playing device, and KeyStream, which streams NFB-NEWSLINE content over the Internet to your computer? If you would like to learn more about these initiatives and how you can use them to get even more benefit from the service, please attend one of the two seminars we’ll be hosting at the upcoming national convention, either on Sunday, July 4, from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. or Wednesday, July 7, from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m.
We will also be discussing our new voices and our new on-demand article request feature, so, whether you access the service on the phone or want to use the new online initiatives, we’ll have some good news to share with you. You may also visit us at our table in the exhibit hall, where you can learn more about and sign up to use NFB-NEWSLINE. For more information about NFB-NEWSLINE activities at the 2010 national convention, contact Scott White at <swhite@nfb.org>.

National Federation of the Blind Senior Division
Seniors Welcome You…with a Twist
by Judy Sanders

We are the National Federation of the Blind Senior Division, and we cordially invite you to join us for our annual meeting. Reserve the afternoon of Monday, July 5, from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. for an inspiring time with your elders.

But first here is something new. Many of us have had the opportunity to learn how to make our blindness become simply an inconvenience. However, many of our seniors have not had such a chance. Therefore the NFB Seniors Division is sponsoring a seminar on Saturday, July 3, from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. to provide some introductory blindness skills instruction. Blind instructors will introduce seniors to Braille; use of the long white cane; eating in public; games; and more. Of course this seminar will have a dose of Federation philosophy, and everyone is guaranteed to have fun. This seminar is not open to everyone. In order to give our students the attention they deserve, we are limiting attendance to around thirty-five people.

Who should come? Anyone who is new to blindness or, for whatever reason, has never had the exposure to things we take for granted is welcome to let us know of their interest. You can do so by emailing or calling me at the address and phone number found at the end of this article. This seminar is being cochaired by Ruth Sager and Ramona Walhof. Our hope is that our students will go home and demand that their state rehabilitation services give them their independence. A minimal charge for a box lunch will be assessed.

And now for our annual meeting, where everyone is welcome. We will open the doors on Monday, July 5, at 1:00 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 from Federationists, both in items for the auction and emptying of wallets and checkbooks. Make sure your items arrive in time for eager bidders. For questions about the auction and to let her know what you will donate, call Ramona at (208) 338-1595 or email her at <rwnfbi@qwest.net>.

The theme for last year's meeting was Seniors in Charge, and it worked so well that we are continuing it. This is to prove we have longevity. As a continuation of Saturday's seminar, the focus 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 best moments to share.

If you have questions or suggestions for the agenda, call Judy Sanders at (612) 375-1625. Email: <jsanders.nfb@comcast.net>. The agenda is not finalized; so, if you have a topic of interest to seniors, let me know.

Performing Arts Division
by Dennis H.R. Sumlin