Vol. 54, No. 2 February 2011
Gary Wunder, editor
Published in inkprint, in Braille, and on cassette by
The National Federation of the Blind
Marc Maurer, president
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THE NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND IS NOT AN ORGANIZATION
SPEAKING FOR THE BLIND--IT IS THE BLIND SPEAKING FOR THEMSELVES
The 2011 convention of the National Federation of the Blind will take place in Orlando, Florida, July 3-8, at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort at 9939 Universal Boulevard, Orlando, Florida 32819-9357. Make your room reservation as soon as possible with the Rosen Shingle Creek staff only. Call (866) 996-6338.
The 2011 room rates are singles, doubles, and twins, $63; and triples and quads, $67. In addition to the room rates there will be a tax, which at present is 12.5 percent. No charge will be made for children under seventeen in the room with parents as long as no extra bed is requested. The hotel is accepting reservations now. A $75-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, 2011. 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, 2011, assuming that rooms are still available. After that time the hotel will not hold our room block for the convention. In other words, you should get your reservation in soon.
Guestroom amenities include thirty-two-inch flat screen television with NXTV; two telephones; laptop safe; coffeemaker; hairdryer; and, for a fee, high-speed Internet access. The Rosen Shingle Creek Resort has a number of restaurant options, including two award-winning restaurants, and twenty-four-hour-a-day room service. It has first-rate amenities and shuttle service to the Orlando airport.
The schedule for the 2011 convention will follow the dates of last year’s:
Sunday, July 3 Seminar Day
Monday, July 4 Registration Day
Tuesday, July 5 Board Meeting and Division Day
Wednesday, July 6 Opening Session
Thursday, July 7 Business Session
Friday, July 8 Banquet Day and Adjournment
Vol. 54, No. 2 February 2011
A Better Way
by Kevan Worley
Almost Heaven in 2011
by Dan Hicks
What I Didn't Know about Vision Loss
Confessions of a Confused Federationist
by Debbie Wunder
Blind Immersion: A Proposal for a New Approach
to the Education of Blind Children
by Frederick Driver and Oriano Belusic
A Crisis in Instructional Technology
in Higher Education
by Jim Marks
Legally Blind Melbourne Man
Excels at Rebuilding Antique Autos
by Chris Kridler
Handling Math in Braille: A Survey
by Al Maneki
Striving for Goals with the Help of a Ball
by Cathy Morgan
DAISY: What Is it and Why Use it?
by Greg Kearney
Ask Miss Whozit
Voice of the Diabetic
A Wake-Up Call
by Marilyn Brandt Smith
Getting the Most from NFB-NEWSLINE® Online
by Renee West
Featured Book from the Jacobus tenBroek Library
Convention Scholarships Available
by Allen Harris
Copyright 2011 by the National Federation of the Blind
On May 4, 2010, NFB President Marc Maurer was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree by the University of South Carolina Upstate. Miles Loadholt, chairman of the University board of trustees, (left) and Thomas L. Stepp, board secretary, adjust President Maurer’s hood.
by Kevan Worley
From the Editor: Traditionally the Business Enterprise Program, operating under the Randolph-Sheppard Act, has been lucrative for blind people interested in managing everything from convenience stores to full-service cafeterias. Created in 1936 and expanded in the 1974 amendments in an attempt to reduce the high unemployment rate among the blind, the Act established a priority for blind people to sell on federal property. Contracts for facilities go through the state licensing agency (SLA), which is the rehabilitation agency for the blind of the state. The special relationship between the blind manager and the state agency creates tensions not normally found in most business arrangements. Since the contract is negotiated with a governmental agency, what role should it play in the day-to-day affairs of the facility, and what latitude should be given to the manager? If the state agency has contracted for what it considers a lucrative facility, how many managers can it reasonably assign? Does assigning more than one manager to a facility constitute a decision on the part of the state agency to limit how much blind people are entitled to make?
These arguments, while important to those involved in them, tend to obscure the real crisis now faced by blind managers and state licensing agencies. Facilities that have traditionally been awarded to blind people as a result of the priority given under the Randolph-Sheppard Act are being sought increasingly by other government programs to expand employment of the handicapped and by fast food chains. What appears below is a wake-up call to all blind entrepreneurs who work in this program to practice the innovation that successful companies are using in the twenty-first century. The following speech was delivered on June 11, 2010, by Kevan Worley, then president of the National Association of Blind Merchants, to the National Randolph-Sheppard Training and Leadership Conference, a collaborative effort sponsored by the National Association of Blind Merchants, the Rehabilitation Services Administration, George Washington University, and the National Council of State Agencies for the Blind. This is what he said:
"The most important form of leadership is not reactive, but creative. It examines conditions as they exist and examines what may be possible if energy and resources can only be focused." Dr. Marc Maurer, “The Continuity of Leadership”
Special Assistant Dale, Commissioner Ruttledge, Dr. Finch, Suzanne Mitchell, Terry Smith, members of the planning committee, honored guests, colleagues, and friends:
I believe in a better way. Here we are, in the second decade of the twenty-first century, at a conference of the principal leadership in Randolph-Sheppard. We are here for networking, for learning, and for frank discussion of where we are and where we are going as a program and a community. We work in a program that has been very good to many of us. It is important to recognize that truth. It's also important to recognize the ever-growing liabilities of a system conceived many years ago: a system rapidly becoming outmoded and obsolete. It is time for a better way.
Any time I begin my musings for modernization, some of my friends and colleagues get nervous. After all, no one likes change; most of us are risk averse. But the challenges we now face are numerous and insidious and call us to action. It is time we exercise that most important form of leadership to maximize our vocational potential and to become entrepreneurs. The dictionary defines "entrepreneur" as “1. a person who organizes and manages any enterprise, especially a business, usually with considerable initiative and risk; and 2. an employer of productive labor--contractor.”
I've told this little story before. I was once invited to a state meeting of blind vendors. I was dismayed by what I observed. The group seemed to exchange no zest, no passion, and no real information—just no exuberance for business. So I asked this old boy, "What do you think your biggest problem is here, ignorance or apathy?"
He said, "I don't know, and I don't care."
Okay, that's a little joke, but not far off the mark. We simply must evolve or face extinction. The second definition under “dinosaur” in the Random House Dictionary is "something that is unwieldy in size, anachronistically outmoded, or unable to adapt to change. Example: The old steel mill was a dinosaur that cost the company millions to operate." Sound familiar? We must change and modernize to build a better way.
We must have some guiding principles upon which to construct our better way. I would suggest the following: create jobs for the blind; protect Randolph-Sheppard; develop entrepreneurship; cultivate respect, dignity, and independence; strive for a measure of security; bring a passion for self-employment; act with enlightened self-interest; be committed to the principle of service to others; invest ourselves in the creation of jobs that allow us the ability to earn a good living for our families and to hold our heads high with pride, purpose, and promise.
Recently, at what I will call the Acme Commission for the Blind, the director had grown frustrated with the dysfunction in the program--understandably so. The director announced a basic outline for a legislative initiative. The vendors believed they hadn't been included appropriately at the earliest point in the director's development of the proposal--what I would call the white-board stage. The vendors felt strongly that their livelihoods were threatened; they reacted; the director reacted; the commission board reacted; the consumer organizations reacted; the attorney general reacted. The attorney general explained that active participation meant that the Acme Commission had only to advise the vendor committee before a decision was implemented. I looked at the ideas contained in the director's early draft. I concluded that they had a basis for discussion. In my view two important elements were missing in the director's early draft. One was security. We cannot have dramatic transformation without transition, and this plan, while innovative, could have endangered the jobs of over half of the Acme vendors in less than eighteen months. Second, the beginning of any reform discussion must include stakeholders. Do not seek our advice after the fact. Would you appreciate blind vendors’ beginning to redefine your job and then seeking your advice? Why not come to the committee and say, "We need to work together for reform," and start the process together? By the way, as all of this razzle-dazzle was happening, how many jobs were created? How many businesses opened? How many blind people maximized their vocational potential? How many were trained and empowered to provide best customer service?
In Kouzes and Posner's primer The Leadership Challenge they detail five best practices of management: 1) model the way; 2) inspire a shared vision; 3) challenge the process; 4) enable team members to act; and 5) encourage the heart.
Let's contrast the lack of collaboration we found in the Acme Commission story with a different model. Let's call this one the "Mile High Commission for the Blind." Over the past three years, the elected committee and agency management have pledged themselves to real partnership. Every bit of financial data is shared with the elected committee. The committee is empowered to ask probing questions and does so respectfully. The agency expects blind vendors to go to on-site visits and evaluate possible new opportunities. It is the norm, not the exception, for agency staff to copy the committee on correspondence between agencies. Brainstorming takes place in a nonjudgmental environment. There is a mentoring program. Vending commissions have doubled. New locations have come online. At least a half a dozen new vendors have come into the program, And the culture is professional and collegial. I'm told that in spite of bureaucracy, agency staff enjoy coming to work, and blind entrepreneurs believe they have a committed ally.
But they say it can't be done. The fact is that the most successful states are doing it. They are modeling a better way. Collaboration brings positive results. Subjugation brings denial of opportunity.
But, even in the best circumstances, in which the blind vendors and the state agency work from the same page, we are increasingly blocked in our valiant attempt to gain ground, create jobs, maximize potential, procure permits and contracts, and ensure enforcement of the Randolph-Sheppard statute. All too often it seems we're just late to the party. Mostly I have come to believe that it's no one's fault. I suggest that the construct of the 1974 amendments, though revolutionary for the time, has simply not been able to keep pace with the miraculous changes in society. We no longer live in the world of the ‘74 amendments: the world of the 55-cent gallon of gas, the rotary-dial telephone, or the eight-track tape. We live in the world of Google, Twitter, the iPad, Facebook, and fast food on every corner. Thirty-six years and we are fighting for an ever-shrinking segment of government concessions.
Recently a fellow called my office from a federal agency. He said, "I'm looking over this MOU (memorandum of understanding) with a state agency. It says, “semi-wet stand.” Can you tell me what that means?" Alas, I could not. Semi-wet? What? Is it in a swamp or perhaps one of our many facilities "in the basement, under the stairs, beneath the leaky pipe in the ceiling, across from the men's room, down the hall from the linen closet." And we wonder why we lose the marketing battle.
But we have a priority! Really? What we have is jargon and acronyms. We have designated state licensing agency, nominee, guidelines, policies, rules, and regulations. We have elected committees of blind vendors. We have the mini-Randolph-Sheppard act. We have the squishy and nebulous active participation. We have the Kennelly Amendments, locations, satellites, third party, and income sharing. We have set aside and the administrative fee. We have business consultants, specialists, promotional agents, and supervisors. We have fair minimum return. We have NABM and RSVA. We have the BEA, the ACB, the NFB, the NCSAB, the SLA, GSA, RSA, AEIOU, and the EIEIO, (just seeing if you were paying attention). We have snack bars; vending banks; facilities; vending routes; vending stands; blind stands; roadside rest areas; cafes; convenience stores; cafeterias; dining facilities; dry stands; and, I guess, semi-wet stands. But where is our Big Mac? Where is our "Think outside the bun?" Our "Mmm mmm, toasty?" Where is our "Eatin' good in the neighborhood," or our "Finger-lickin' good"?
If America runs on Dunkin', Randolph-Sheppard runs on conflict, controversy, and complexity--a lack of uniform standards and, all too often, low expectations. I've served as president of the National Association of Blind Merchants for a decade, and it takes me twenty minutes to explain our program to a potential customer. I'll bet it does not take Burger King, Quiznos, Starbucks, Compass, or Sodexo that long to market what they offer. They all have high-priced, well-connected people to sell their value proposition. They all do business on federal property, never mind the law. It is a law which, as envisioned by the framers, should not let food courts on federal property operate entirely without us. It should prevent the United States Postal Service from awarding a contract to control its vending to a private sector company. It should not have allowed our priority to become so warped, watered down, and weakened, so porous that Ability One and transnational corporations can steal our jobs. That's exactly what is happening.
Armed with our priority, we fight the uphill battle against well-funded corporate competitors. We are encumbered by bureaucrats who are complacent and often complicit. We react, but we do not change. We posture, we arbitrate, we litigate, and occasionally we demonstrate. In the 1980s, when Burger King and GSA cozied up, we picketed. That held them off for a time. We take a step forward and a step and a half back. We have been able to stop some intrusion and a total collapse, but we have paid a high cost. We have often been complacent and have acted as if we were entitled. We have been reactive, played the victim, and acted out of emotion rather than with intellect and imagination. Warren Buffet says, "If you cannot control your emotion, you can't control your money."
We have a program of vast complexity. The irony is that, with all of its terms, its definitions, and its multiplicity, the program channels every blind person who might benefit from a social-program/private-enterprise interface into a single stream: the narrow box of food service and vending. So, if you want to be a blind entrepreneur but have no interest in or affinity for burgers, Snickers, or Fritos, good luck. As Buddy Hackett once quipped, “When I was a child, my family's menu consisted of two choices: take it or leave it."
Others in our nation who are considered socially or economically disadvantaged are eligible to receive assistance, guidance, and preference for a vast array of procurement opportunities. Not the blind. The Javits-Wagner-O'Day Ability One program has its own jargon and complexity, but they have evolved, changed, and adapted. Once a broom shop for the blind, Wagner-O'Day is now a manufacturing and service-providing juggernaut. It has tentacles throughout the federal government and in the private sector. It has at least eleven-thousand goods and services on the federal procurement list--and it wants more. It employs thousands of blind and disabled people, many still at subminimum wage. It has hundreds of highly paid, mostly nondisabled managers and agents to represent it, and we spend our time trying to reach a common definition for active participation or try to determine what should be included in an RS-15 report.
In no way do I mean these comments to disparage or show a lack of respect to those visionaries who came before us or to those who work hard to protect what we have. More than thirty-six years ago, those who came before us thought "outside the lobby stand." They thought outside of the old blind futile system, replete with its limits and condescension. They imagined a bigger, better, more vibrant, empowering Randolph-Sheppard for the future. It’s time that we dream up a bigger, better, bolder program that meets the needs of today and the next generation. We can let the blind of 2046 worry about the next transformation. Joe Shaw, Catriona McDonald, and Jesse Hartle will still be around to lead that mid-century modernization.
We now have a choice. We can be whiners or winners, outraged or enriched, victims or victorious. It's really up to us. Earlier I made mention of Google. When I imagine a twenty-first-century platform upon which blind entrepreneurs can flourish, I think, "What would Google do?" In his excellent book, Howard Jarvis says, "Google is about creating and managing abundance rather than controlling scarcity. " We can continue to fight for crumbs, but, as Dr. Phil might ask, "And how's that working out for you?" We can innovate, take some risk, and think outside the vending machine. We can construct an expanded business-development model. We would do well to adopt the Google world view.
Consider the number of vendors in 1975, 3,810; vendors in 1985, 3,689; vendors in 1995, 3,510; and vendors in 2008, 2,400. I recognize that a number of factors bear on this trend. Nevertheless, it is clearly a downward trend. Consider this: twenty-two arbitration cases are in progress: seventeen vendor vs. SLA and five SLA vs. federal property management agencies. If we can't come to a recognition that we are in crisis, we will become like the proverbial dinosaur.
In “The Assimilation of Crisis," Dr. Marc Maurer says, "When the crisis occurs, do not lose heart. Face the uncertainty and press forward until what we have considered in our wildest imaginings comes true. Dream; have faith; build; and share the spirit."
I certainly do not have all of the answers, nor am I responsible for every imagining. I do, however, have my ideas and my imaginings. I have great passion to take up the task of brainstorming with all of you. I implore each and every one of you to dream bigger dreams, accept the challenge of crisis, and envision a better way. Martin Luther King in his "I have a dream" speech said, "Vision is the force that invites the future."
We can model a better way when agency partners allow blind vendors an equal place at the table, when blind vendors move beyond the petty and the notion that we are aggrieved, when we recognize the many staff members who give it their very best every day and bring honor to what they do, when RSVA and NABM can put away ancient rivalries and work for common benefit, when we can applaud the BEA chaired masterfully by Terry Smith for modeling a way forward: when we can do these things, we are finding a better way.
With this as a start we can inspire a shared vision for a transformed, modern, twenty-first-century business development program for the blind and go far beyond. We can establish a new construct to encourage and facilitate jobs for the blind through entrepreneurship. As a community we can consider the needs of others with disabilities as a part of our discussion without feelings of insecurity or fear. We can challenge the process through effective advocacy, both individually and collectively, and do it in a better way: more focused, less fractious; more collaborative, less confrontational; more strategic, less shrill.
We must enable team members to act. We must not be naïve: some will oppose anything new. Some competitors and bureaucrats will be wed to the status quo. Einstein said, "Great spirits have always found a violent opposition from mediocre minds."
It is not enough to take only the steps to avoid extinction. We must leap into a tomorrow of possibilities. If we are truly to be successful, we must encourage the heart. For all of this must be about heart; respect for one another; honor; integrity; compassion; and, yes, love. Coretta Scott King said, "The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members; a heart of grace and a soul generated by love."
My friends and colleagues, we can do this. We can dream up the kind of model we want to empower the blind for greater inclusion in society and greater economic freedom. Emerson said, "Do the thing, and you will have the power. But the goal cannot be some far off abstraction that one loosely dreams and procrastinates about. It must be a sharp goad for intense activity and applied effort." For us to make immediate, sustainable progress, we must act before we become irrelevant; before we become insignificant; and before, like the dinosaur, we become extinct. We must unite in common cause to dream, to plan, to anticipate, to include, to cultivate, and to care.
I submit that we have the intellect, the spirit, and the power to bring about a better way without destroying the opportunities we now enjoy. If we are to make a better way, if we are to make a real difference, it will take the work, the will, and the wisdom of each and every one of us to believe in that better way. So this is our time. This is our mandate. This is our call to action.
by Dan Hicks
From the Editor: Dan Hicks is president of the National Federation of the Blind of Florida, the host affiliate for this year’s national convention. If your memory stretches back to the 1979 convention in Miami Beach, you already know that the Floridians are experts at both playing hard and hosting a great convention. As you will read in the following message from Dan, Orlando is the center of all sorts of family fun. Make your plans now to sample at least a bit of the Florida vacation experience. This is what Dan says:
By now you probably know that the 2011 convention of the National Federation of the Blind will be held in Orlando, Florida. As a matter of fact, you probably know that the 2011, 2013, 2015, and 2017 conventions are all scheduled to take place in Orlando, but that’s just too much for us to think about right now. In this article we will focus on this year’s spectacular event.
The National Federation of the Blind of Florida is pleased to invite all of you to attend the NFB’s 2011 convention, which will take place July 3 through 8, at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort, 9939 Universal Boulevard in Orlando. Not only is this hotel just about perfect for our convention, its location is marvelous for almost anything convention-goers might want to do in the East Central Florida area. For instance:
Universal Studios Resort, where you can take part in a wide array of top movie and TV-based entertainment. Universal Studios also encompasses the five themed islands at Universal’s Islands of Adventure and unforgettable nightlife at Universal’s CityWalk.
SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment, which includes the world-famous SeaWorld, Discovery Cove and Aquatica. By the way, bring your NFBF convention badge to SeaWorld and receive a $10 discount on the regular admission price. Just try to keep the badge dry for the next day’s convention activities.
Wet’n’Wild, Orlando’s premier waterpark, is more than just a place to get wet and cool off in the hot Florida summer. Wet’n’Wild is a world-famous showcase for everything from towering waterslides to space-age thrill rides.
Universal, SeaWorld, and Wet’n’Wild are all within a short drive of the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort. If you are willing to travel a little farther, the hotel is located about twenty minutes from Walt Disney World Resort, which includes Magic Kingdom Park, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Epcot, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom. This latter is the largest theme park in the world.
Our hotel has a desk which will be happy to help you with tickets and transportation to all of these attractions and more. What more can we say? We could say that all of California’s Disneyland would fit entirely inside the Magic Kingdom’s parking lot or in Epcot’s lagoon, but you might think we are boasting, so we just won’t mention that fact, even though it’s true.
While you are in Orlando, you will want to take some time to enjoy some of these fun-filled Florida facilities. Taking part in just a small fraction of the copious adventures available to you will probably take days, so plan on arriving a couple of days before the convention or staying a few days after the banquet ends. You will be glad you took the time to attend a great convention and make lots of happy memories in the sun. Remember to use sunscreen.
by Debbie Wunder
From the Editor: I was born totally blind.What little I know about actually losing vision has come from hearing countless stories of people who have gone through the experience. Often I hear these stories long after the loss is complete. The passage of time tends to obscure the details of the transition and focuses more on the outcome. In the same way former smokers don't usually dwell on how hard it was to quit--they recount how they finally put their minds to it and got the job done. They have forgotten or omit the details--the feelings and frustrations they had to overcome to accomplish what they did.
The following article is not an after-the-fact account of losing vision but a thoughtful and candid snapshot of life as it is now. As you can tell from the byline, the article was written by my wife. I am not an objective reader. I hope that those of you who are will find in it the same candor and honesty I see and that what she has taken the time and trouble to write will speak to a part of our community who too often believe that most of us don't quite understand the challenges of functioning successfully with some vision and the difficulty of the transition when we lose some or all of it. Here is what Debbie has to say:
I am a blind woman and have been blind for as long as I can remember. When I graduated from high school, it was the stage of the Missouri School for the Blind I walked across. One of my first jobs was with the Wolfner Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, and I've been a patron since I was a teenager. My employment has included managing a cafeteria and a convenience store as a part of the Business Enterprise Program.
The first contact I had with the National Federation of the Blind came during high school, but I didn't join until 1983. Since then I've read our literature, learned from it, and enthusiastically supported the things we believe and say about what it means to be blind. Though I don't think of myself as a writer, sometimes I do write when called on to give a speech at a seminar or convention, and, when someone needs encouragement in the form of a letter or email, I'm glad to sit at the keyboard and offer what support I can.
All of this is to say that I'm not new to blindness or the NFB, but in the last few years I've gone through physical changes that have made me question my understanding of what it means to be blind, the words that once came so easily about my life and the place of sight in it, and my belief in what I can really do as a blind person.
Never have I had what a sighted person would consider good vision. Throughout my adult life I've always traveled exclusively with a cane or a dog or, as now, by using them interchangeably. Until recently, however, my vision was good enough to be helpful, just how helpful became clear to me only after it was gone.
About three years ago I began having trouble with my good eye--the left. Glaucoma was the culprit, and, when the pressure could no longer be controlled with medication, doctors performed several surgeries to get it back in the normal range. Unfortunately my pressure remained extraordinarily high, and the feared damage came to pass. To deal with the damage, surgeons replaced the cornea with living tissue, replaced the newly implanted tissue that my body had rejected with tissue from a different donor (they tried this twice), replaced yet another failed graft of living tissue with a synthetic cornea, and finally performed surgery to repair the retina, which had become detached as a result of all of the trauma to the eye. After each surgery I experienced pain, a brief improvement in vision (never as good as it had been before), and then the emergence of a new problem to solve. Eventually the optimistic message "If this doesn't work, we can always..." gave way to "I don't think this will work, but we can certainly try...."
Through all of this I wrestled with the question whether each new surgery was a reasonable attempt to hold on to what I had or a desperate gamble to keep from becoming blind, which I thought I had been comfortable with all along. When I would think I was ready to stop the surgeries and get on with the rest of my life, the doctors would encourage me, and I would think that perhaps this one last surgery might stop my vision loss. Riding the roller coaster of hope and despair took its toll and added to the downward spiral until I realized I was more than just sad and tired but was actually depressed. I knew that depression was common among those who had had normal vision and lost it, but why did I feel it if I was really happy as a blind person? Was I the woman represented in those speeches and letters I had written, or was I a fraud, pretending to beliefs I really didn't hold about my own capabilities? Recognizing and admitting to these doubts and feelings was difficult, but nothing compared to how hard it was for me to say all of this to the blind people I loved and respected. My husband is totally blind. I wrestled with how to tell him that I was feeling terrible about losing vision. Would he understand, or would he doubt me as I had come to doubt myself?
As hope faded for the little vision I had left, other problems started to pile up. I could no longer shop without assistance. I knew the alternative techniques others employed, but those techniques didn't change the way I felt, which was pushed and rushed when someone accompanied me to the store. It didn't matter whether the person was a friend who was volunteering or a person I was paying. If the person accompanying me was a volunteer, I was imposing; if he or she was paid by the hour, I was wasting our money.
Beyond the guilt at what I believed I should be doing for myself was the sadness at no longer being able to do something I had enjoyed. Shopping by myself had been more than just buying what the family needed; it had been fun. I could be content occupying the whole day just browsing and never spending a dime.
Over time my techniques for doing other things also failed. Once the groceries came into the house, what they were was a mystery. Was the can corn or peaches? Was the package pork or beef? I knew that the solution was to label, but labeling wasn't the system I had always used. Besides, labeling took more time and energy than I had left after a trip to the store, and the thought of having someone identify items while I wrote labels and affixed them seemed too difficult to tackle.
Sorting the laundry before washing also began to require assistance from someone with sight. The same was true for matching the clothes once they were dry. I knew about sock clips, sew-in tags, and separate baskets for whites and colors. Somehow knowing these techniques didn't help much because they took energy and organization to implement, and energy and organization were two things my sadness and depression took hostage.
Before my loss of vision I would have said that I was a screen reader user, but after it I found I no longer enjoyed surfing the Web, and in fact my ability to do so was severely limited. Sometimes what I used to enjoy was doable, but no longer was it fun. The screen reader had always been on in the background, and I appreciated the information the speech provided, but I soon came to realize that I navigated the Web with vision.
Then there was the matter of reading and writing. Before the rapid deterioration of my vision, I could see well enough to read large print with ease and speed, but after the surgeries reading under a good light was at an end. I really enjoy the audio materials I have, and they've always had a place in my love of literature, but they don't replace the feeling of pleasure I once had while sitting with a book and mentally conjuring up the voices of the characters.
Making a grocery list, taking a phone number, or writing down appointments and then retrieving them were beyond me. I had the technology and enough skill to use Braille for simple note-taking, but using it wasn't the way I did my lists, and the transition has been difficult.
As my vision has worsened, I have continued to travel, but the mental cost has been higher and my confidence lower. Even though I've never fallen off a curb or down a flight of stairs, I found myself afraid of both. No stranger to airports and knowing well the techniques for getting around in them, still the mental energy I put into thinking about the way I was going to navigate and the actual energy required to do it was much greater than ever before. I had no reason to doubt my ability, but doubt I did.
Perhaps the thing that has surprised me most about losing vision is the grief I feel at the loss of techniques that once worked for me. My techniques were not those used by people who are totally blind, but neither were they the techniques employed by the sighted. They were adaptations I had invented or learned. If I couldn't read a label, I relied on my knowledge of the shape of the box, where in the store it was located, or where it was likely to be relative to other items I could identify. I was proud of my ability to develop a mental map of the stores I liked, and it is not overstating the case to say that I knew the stores so well that friends and family relied on me to get them where they needed to go in a hurry.
I have had to give up on ways of doing things that once made me independent and have had to relearn skills long since mastered and taken for granted. I have taken as much pride in the alternative ways I have done things as my totally blind friends have taken in the techniques they have learned and used. I may have talked less about the ways I coped, because my skills relied on the V word and because what blind people with some vision see varies greatly from person to person. My silence also sprang from a concern I share with other low-vision Federationists: that we too often fail to get the training we need in essential skills because of what we can see. I wish I had been given the opportunity to learn Braille, but what I know came from asking fellow students. The school for the blind pushed me to read print, never considering that any vision loss for me would mean I could no longer read. I'm sad and angry that I'm not likely ever to read at a rate that will keep the interest of my grandson.
I know most good stories have a happy ending and a conclusion that leaves the reader settled, but my story is still a work in progress. What I have realized is that I do believe in blind people and always have. I believe my ability to adapt will once again assert itself; that I will learn the things I need to know in order to do commonplace things with a reasonable exertion of effort; and, equally important, that I will come to feel as good about my new way of doing things as I once did about my old ones.
Right now I'm still climbing the hill, but I share my story because I have learned three things. One is that others climb with me and need to know that grief, doubt, and second-guessing oneself are normal reactions to vision loss, no matter how little or how much. In the Federation we have people who serve as wonderful examples of what can be done without vision, but we who are experiencing significant vision loss also have one another as we struggle to regain our lost independence.
The second reason I share my story is that I believe it illustrates that those of us with some vision have special challenges and techniques for overcoming them that we should freely discuss and refine. Some of these may not serve us for life, but, while I had the vision necessary to use them, they served me well.
The third reason for sharing is my belief that what I'm experiencing isn't unique and that my progression through learning to live with vision loss would have been smoother had I felt that there were people in my organization who would understand what I was feeling. When I have ventured to share parts of my story with other Federationists who are also in the process of losing vision, I find that they too want to talk about their surprise at how hard it can be, and, like me, they are afraid to say it publicly for fear they will be thought of as people who have never really understood the work and the message of the Federation. I think we have understood, but there are levels to what it means to understand. I have seen poverty on television, but I have come closer to understanding the feelings that accompany it when in hard times I've wondered whether I would have enough money to feed my children or have had to suffer the humiliation of saying to a teacher that we couldn't afford that needed school supply until after the first of the month.
We are told that every cloud has a silver lining. Whether that's true or not I can't say, but I do know that my experience has given me a better understanding of those who talk about the difficulty in adjusting to blindness. I came to this battle as a person already blind. I came already knowing blind people with good attitudes and skills. What I have learned is that seeing the attitudes and techniques in others doesn't mean that they can be easily transplanted into me. I have to make room for them, give them a place to grow, and work through the feelings of loss that aren't really addressed with the advice to just keep a stiff upper lip or just move on. Adjustment is more than knowing. It is a journey I've begun, and with your help it is one I know I will complete successfully.
One of the great satisfactions in life is having the opportunity to assist others. Consider making a gift to the National Federation of the Blind to continue turning our dreams into reality. A gift to the NFB is not merely a donation to an organization; it provides resources that will directly ensure a brighter future for all blind people.
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by Frederick Driver and Oriano Belusic
From the Editor: We recently received the following article in a roundabout way. It was written by two Canadian Federationists, and it builds on the French immersion educational model as a possible radical new way of addressing the many problems in the education of blind students in both neighborhood and residential schools. We thought that the ideas were intriguing and trust that you will find them interesting as well.
Frederick Driver is sighted and a founding member of the Canadian Federation of the Blind. His university degree is in French and teacher training. He worked in the Canadian French immersion program for seven years. Oriano Belusic is totally blind. His degree is in economics, and he is a past president of the Canadian Federation of the Blind. He has personal experience in both residential and public schools. This is what they say:
On the whole the educational system is failing blind children. Too often they are denied the opportunity to master essential skills, are unnecessarily excused from robust expectations, are denied appropriate materials, and are isolated from both their blind and sighted peers. We propose a new educational structure: a blindness-specific hybrid, grown from the innovative marriage of disparate but effective and proven programs and precedents. Our aims are first a greater realization of blind students' academic, social, and vocational potential; second a broader and more positive affective experience for blind students; and third the improvement of knowledge and attitudes about blindness held by the sighted, which should lead to more meaningful integration both in school and beyond.
This new model will empower blind students and their families in a collective and cooperative educational structure, replacing the varieties of isolationism that currently dominate the field. It will foster networking and the growth and exchange of ideas and methods. Educators will see both their effectiveness increase and their jobs become easier as they engage a new community of common purpose and opportunity.
Much debate has taken place amongst educators and the blind over which educational setting is more effective for blind children: integration in the regular school or segregation in a residential school. Some argue that a special residential setting is necessary for the thorough acquisition of blindness skills such as Braille and cane travel and that blind students integrated in the public system are often not given adequate opportunity to learn these essential skills for future success. Others argue that it is wrong to segregate blind students and that they must be integrated in the regular school. Take a moment to reflect upon which you think is better.
Either-or thinking has often been an impediment to understanding and progress. The view that segregation and integration are competing and opposite options is a false dichotomy beyond which educators and stakeholders have failed to venture, one that has severely and unnecessarily limited the opportunities available to blind students to realize their potential. We suggest that the segregated and integrated options are by no means mutually exclusive and, if combined, would indeed be complementary.
What do we mean by combining the two? It is true that some educators have been less intransigent than others in their advocacy of one or the other of these models and have shown enough flexibility to recognize that the choice depends on the student concerned. But this is not enough, for both models offer in themselves only an incomplete educational and social experience for the student. No one would insist that sighted students choose between thorough mastery of necessary skills and the broadest possible opportunity for personal and social growth. Why are blind students and their parents forced to make this choice?
We suggest a third and better option. An ideal model for the operation and administration of a holistic and complementary coexistence of the integration and segregation options has existed for many years in Canada. That model is French Immersion.
French Immersion students from all over an Anglophone school district attend designated schools that have a French Immersion program. These programs are essentially segregated French units within English-speaking schools. But the two are not isolated from one another. Regular and Immersion students interact in elective courses and social settings. Immersion students take some of their classes in French and others in English. The ratio changes over time, with younger students doing more in French and seniors doing more in English.
Similarly, blind students from across a district could attend a designated public school--one with a Blind Immersion program. Students would spend some time in the Blind Immersion program and some time integrated in the regular classroom. Younger students would likely spend more time in the former, with seniors spending minimal time in a segregated setting. But the ratio would be entirely flexible, depending on the needs of the individual student.
The current system typically integrates a single blind student in a school with hundreds of sighted students. But blindness is just a characteristic like any other. Imagine the isolation of being the only girl in an all-boys school, the only black in an all-white school. Blind Immersion programs would offer an alternative to this needless isolation. Blind students would come together and experience the self-confidence that comes with peer support and interaction. Furthermore, this collectivity would become a political unit, empowering both students and parents in their advocacy for access to quality education.
The present dispersion of blind students in individually integrated placements throughout districts has caused widespread inconsistency in matters of quality, access, performance standards, and achievement. It is not uncommon for blind and visually impaired students to graduate without mastering Braille. This is a tragedy, for Braille is not an optional or specialized skill; it is to the visually impaired what print is to the sighted--basic literacy. Some students have ready access to assignments, examinations, and materials in appropriate alternate formats and are expected to meet performance standards, while others lack these resources and are unnecessarily excused from these important expectations. It is critical, not only for evaluation, but for motivation that students be given the tools and the opportunity to meet goals and challenges and to demonstrate their mastery through testing.
Student evaluation is presently a haphazard business because pupils and their teachers work in relative isolation, often struggling to reinvent the wheel at every turn. Blind Immersion programs would foster the sharing of strategies and the development of common methodologies, thereby enhancing student achievement, facilitating more reliable norm- and criterion-referenced testing, and ensuring an environment in which the importance of blindness skills and accessible materials would not be overlooked. It would also result in more efficient and economical use of technical resources.
We believe that Blind Immersion will significantly, and most importantly, improve the lives and learning of blind students. But it will also give sighted students a more realistic view of blindness. Despite the best intentions, when one member of a visible minority is placed with hundreds from the majority, the latter tend to generalize stereotypes based on the one person they know. This is the ubiquitous dynamic of prejudice. The myth that blind people are helpless has been the greatest single barrier to the social integration and employment of blind people. The interaction of significant numbers of blind and sighted students in schools with Blind Immersion programs will demonstrate the abilities, potential, and normalcy of blind students, toppling pervasive myths about blindness and opening a new future of opportunity for blind people. Is this not, after all, the goal of integration?
by Jim Marks
From the Editor: Jim Marks is a longtime Federation leader, having served as first vice president of the Montana affiliate. He currently works as the state administrator of Montana's combined vocational rehabilitation and independent living program. Before changing careers in 2010, he directed disability services for students at the University of Montana for over twenty-one years. He served as an officer and leader in the Association on Higher Education and Disability and is still in the fight for access to information in postsecondary education. The following article discusses the history of e-books, their evolution, and their importance to today’s students. Here is what Jim has to say:
I first understood how radically information technology was changing higher education when a professor told me that the bulk of students in his online course were located in university dormitories only a few yards away from the classroom. I assumed that traditional courses were taught as they always had been and that online education was for the student learning miles away from campus. We used to call online courses "distance education," but the concept of distance becomes irrelevant in the new foundation for college learning. The truth is that technology alters everything we used to know about traditional instruction, and blind people must find a way to stay in synch with all the changes.
Take, for instance, the growing momentum of e-books. From a traditional point of view one might look at e-books as simply an alternative format to print. However, e-books make possible things that print can never do, and it is these possibilities that challenge our presumptions about the way college students learn.
E-books broke free from a print paradigm almost as soon as publishers and professors realized their potential. They quickly evolved into e-learning systems. With today's information technology students not only read, they interact with instructors and peers, complete exercises, do research, take tests and quizzes, and accomplish all learning functions online. Professors build their courses in ways that take advantage of the possibilities that instructional technology provides. For example, course lectures become supplemental and sometimes even optional as students conduct their learning through e-learning systems. Sometimes professors never grade a single paper or test. The technology does it for them. Their attention goes into the development and delivery of the instruction. Instead of finding themselves isolated by technology, students use electronic tools to connect with peers, instructors, and the course material in ways that are extremely effective and meaningful.
The technology also radically changes the publishing industry in ways most did not expect. We used to believe that students would want e-books purely for the sake of the medium. We mistakenly thought that e-books are cool and cool sells. It turns out that most people like print, and early attempts by publishers to provide e-books fell well short of marketing goals.
Just because e-books did not sell for their own sake does not mean technology is finished working its magic, though. The behavior of students, along with the keen observation of publishers, spun things down a different path. With powerful Internet tools, students can search for used books in a global marketplace. In the old days the local college bookstore was the only source for college books. Today, thanks to the Internet, college students can find their books from a nearly infinite collection of booksellers. The broadening of the choices not only helped students find the least expensive version of their college textbooks, the choices made it possible to buy used books or books with the same content published in different ways. All these consumer choices severely hurt new book sales. Faced with steeply declining new book sales, publishers had to find a way to control the market.
Everyone knows that fire must be fought with fire, and the publishing industry realized it must fight technology with technology. Instructional technology makes it possible for publishers to control the market. E-books and e-learning systems do not have a used-book market, nor is there a need for multiple booksellers. When an e-book or an e-learning system is published, the publisher sells one new version to each student with no allowance for a used market. Moreover, publishers can sell their books and systems directly to the student, thus cutting out intermediaries like college bookstores.
Technology may have created a near catastrophe for publishers, but it also promises to be the industry's salvation. The trouble is that every action has consequences which include many positive aspects such as a more affordable higher education, better interaction with peers and teachers, and development of rapidly improving learning technologies that make more and better learning possible. Of course negative consequences abound as well. For example, we can expect fewer print books, the loss of college bookstores, and the exclusion from education of certain groups in society.
So what does all this mean for blind college students? I believe these developments present the most significant crisis in the civil rights of blind people today. The technologies that are changing higher education are not accessible to or useable by the blind except in a frighteningly small number of cases. Other students can jump into the technology with enthusiasm. Thanks to the barriers imposed on them, blind students struggle to accomplish even the simplest functions in this new and emerging learning environment. As higher education moves away from print and towards more and more instructional technology, blind college students face a brutal shutout from postsecondary education, which means a shutout from everything that higher education does for individuals and society.
What makes the crisis particularly painful is the fact that the technology in and of itself presents no inherent barriers for nonvisual access. Ironically, not only can technology work for the blind, but the blind led the way in the first applications of instructional technology in higher education.
The very first e-books came from the 1970s collaboration between the National Federation of the Blind and Dr. Raymond Kurzweil. The early Kurzweil Reading Machine converted print to an electronic format that blind people could read with the aid of computer voice synthesis. Moreover, the first e-book service in the world stemmed from the work of Dr. George Kerscher and his former company, Computerized Books for the Blind. Kerscher started his program in the mid-1980s at the University of Montana. As a blind graduate student in computer science, Kerscher started the service in order to improve access to instructional materials by blind college students. Blind people knew that we could use the technology to gain accessibility the likes of which we had never known. Even today the possibilities remain equally promising.
The thing is that blind people face a political problem more than a technological problem. Done right, technology puts blind people on equal footing with the sighted. The crisis for blind college students comes from at least two major factors, neither of which is a technological barrier. First, designers fail to include accessibility as a key element of design. In the rush to publish, and with no apparent malice, publishers simply forget about accessibility. Accessibility becomes an afterthought, and afterthoughts are more difficult and expensive to fix than doing it right in the first place.
Second, publishers insist on controlling copyrights, so they deliberately build security systems into e-books that prevent access through the assistive technologies that blind people use to read. Even though access and property rights can coexist and do not have to be mutually exclusive, the press for accessibility causes publishers to hang on fiercely to their copyrights. Somehow we must find a solution that lets everyone have his or her cake and eat it too.
Civil rights laws do not mandate that publishers produce accessible materials. However, those same laws require colleges and universities to assure access to their programs. In a June 2010 letter to college and university presidents, the Office for Civil Rights of the US Department of Education admonished campuses to use only those instructional technologies that are accessible by blind students. A few months before that letter the US Department of Justice testified before the House Judiciary Committee that the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act require accessibility to information technology. And at this time the US Access Board is hearing testimony about strengthening the regulations that prohibit discrimination in information technology. Clearly colleges and universities must comply with civil rights protections by making certain that the instructional materials are accessible to and usable by blind students and others who cannot read print due to a disability. Blind students who find themselves shut out from their studies cannot seek relief from publishers. We must go after our colleges and universities. The obligations of higher education then will shape what publishers provide, because publishers will find no market for discriminatory instructional materials.
In other words, the advocacy of the blind will eliminate the market for discriminatory instructional materials. The wheels are already turning, and the promise of a more accessible future is within our grasp. The United States is going beyond prohibiting discrimination; it is talking about integration and effective communication, all predicated on the premise that it is respectable to be blind.
Institutions of higher learning rarely speak with a single voice. Instead higher education is a cacophony of many voices. Instruction varies not only from school to school or department to department, but from instructor to instructor. The emerging instructional technologies cater to this individualism. Publishing marketers sell to the individual instructor, and this creates serious management issues for higher education authorities.
Someone must be in charge of the bigger picture. Someone has to control technology lest it control us. We cannot and should not throw up our hands and let technology create a learning environment that denies, excludes, and discriminates. Who is that someone? Anyone who knows the National Federation of the Blind already knows the answer. The blind need to step up and take control of our own lives and the services we use. We must not passively accept the consequences of tools that change systems and outcomes. Instead we must master the tools and put them to work as they should be used.
Recent articles about this issue in the Chronicle of Higher Education and other publications seem always to find a blind person who decries assertive advocacy. That passive person inevitably expresses mystification about why any blind person would tackle the access problem by using the due-process options available, but pressing for the elimination of discrimination in higher education sure beats waiting for the remote possibility that the problem will solve itself. Remember that the blind face a political rather than a technical problem in accessing higher education instructional materials. If we can find ways to make our priority for equal access the priority of those who decide what happens in higher education, blind college students will be able to study on equal footing with their sighted peers.
Our lawsuits over the discriminatory use of the Amazon Kindle at Arizona State University and other campuses were necessary in making the priority of the blind the priority of higher education leaders. We got their attention, and we are continuing to get consideration as we tackle other issues such as access to e-learning systems and Websites at Penn State or the Law School Aptitude Test. There are reasons behind the US Departments of Education and Justice and the US Access Board’s getting behind access rights for the blind, and those reasons have a number. That number is the fifty-thousand members of the National Federation of the Blind. It is not merely a matter of filing lawsuits. Those who would discredit legal actions ought to know that the National Federation of the Blind places many irons in the fire that start with assertive, but polite requests for access, demonstrations of the way access works in real life, and attempts to win the hearts and minds of those who can make a difference. Lawsuits emerge from many efforts at advocacy. And they can be extremely effective in changing circumstances for the better.
I had the great pleasure and honor of serving as an expert witness in the Arizona State University Kindle lawsuit. One might think that the dispute was intensely polarizing as advocates for access and advocates for the status quo sparred over the issues. To my surprise and delight, I found just the opposite. Colleagues who were advocating for the University were secretly and not so secretly cheering us on. The people responsible wanted to find a way to get past the logjam of discrimination and to get on with the business of post-secondary education. Of course they used their intellect and experience to oppose the lawsuit, but they were emotionally in step with the movement for equal access to information. They knew the blind held the high ground. They knew we were right.
Unfortunately being right is not enough. Having the law on one's side is not enough. Relying on the remote hope that technology will solve a political problem is not enough. The blind must engage and that is what the National Federation of the Blind is doing. I think history will show that we made the correct choices.
by Chris Kridler
From the Editor: The following online story about Federationist Joe Naulty appeared on the Internet on January 5, 2011, in the publication, Florida Today. Joe is a past president of the NFB’s Deaf Blind Division and is currently president of the CARS (Classics, Antiques, and Rods, or Special Vehicles) Division. Here is the article:
Joseph Naulty has been a lot of things--the owner of a manufacturing business, a governor's appointee, an inspirational speaker, and a lip-synching, guitar-playing cowboy with a Melbourne Elks Lodge entertainment group. But Naulty, seventy-six, may be first and foremost a wizard with cars. Legally blind, he has just two degrees of vision in one eye, the result of deteriorating sight after an accident when he was fourteen.
He is restoring his twenty-sixth Model A in the garage of the Melbourne home he shares with his wife Arlene and is president of the CARS Division of the National Federation of the Blind. He's planning an Orlando car show in July. "This car did not exist," Naulty says as he points out the bright red 1931 truck's different parts. "A lot of times I buy cars and take them apart and put them together. This car, I bought pieces and put it together."
The fenders, the lights, the gas tank all had to be restored before he assembled them. He has help with painting, but he finished and installed a beautiful wood lining in the truck's bed by himself. "I Braille all the parts," he says as he touches and identifies them. He does the same with a table full of tools.
Naulty is already thinking about his next car, but it's clear he loves the one he's with. "The Model A was simplicity," he says, noting that many of the parts are new, manufactured by specialty vendors. "Model A's are very sought after by the older generation." It still needs work on the seat, and, even though the cloth top fits, he'd like to get a more authentic one.
"I've got a good $20,000 in this vehicle. You wanna buy it?" he asks with a laugh. He'd like to pay off a hefty credit card bill. Naulty says he's lost money in real estate and spent a fortune on one of his three grown sons' medical bills. He used to have a thirty-six-foot boat and fifteen antique cars. "Life is full of ambitions, direction. You go up, you come down, and I'm going back up again," Naulty says.
He gets help about once a week from representatives of a state program that aids disabled people starting their own businesses. "It's such an inspirational thing," says Jason Jones, who works on Naulty's behalf for the Florida Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, "just getting to know Joe for a year and hearing all the things that he's gone through and continues to go through, but he doesn't stop." The program aims to help Naulty do more inspirational speaking and write a book about his life, partly with new equipment that allows him to dictate to a computer. With another machine Naulty can use his limited vision to read greatly enlarged type on a screen. That's how he reads all the paperwork for his governor-appointed post on the state Board of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology. "He's so inspirational to us and to other people," says Ron Bowen, who works with Jones. "How can you not be encouraged to do better in your life?" he adds. "You don't see us helping. We don't touch anything. He does everything by himself."
Naulty can't drive the cars he so lovingly restores, except for in and out of the garage. He isn't sad about that, and he has a message for others with disabilities. "Do something with your life," he says. "Don't sit in the corner. Don't cry. Don't rot. Nobody wants to hear it. So maybe you can go to school. For God's sake, try to get a college education if you can today, or take up some vocational skill."
Naulty's wife Arlene says being married to Joe has given her opportunities she never would have had if she weren't so involved in his life and business. "I got to drive a truck. I got to experience all the male chauvinism. I got to learn things," she says.
Naulty talks about starting up a manufacturing company again and developing an energy-generating wind machine he designed. His wife calls him "tenacious and a dreamer, and there's nothing wrong with that. Many things have come from dreams."
by Al Maneki
From the Editor: At the 2010 NFB convention in Dallas, Al Maneki moderated a lively panel on access to mathematics classes by blind students. The response to the panel was enthusiastic, but it raised a number of unanswered questions. Al realized how little is actually known about how blind people handle the many challenges of math. With the help of Judith Chwalow and Mark Riccobono of the Jernigan Institute, he has compiled a series of survey questions to help us learn more. Here are the article and the survey:
How do blind and visually impaired people read and do mathematics? I address this question to any blind person who has studied math at any level or who uses math regularly in his or her work. Technology makes Braille materials more available than ever before. However, it is unclear whether the greater availability of Braille extends to the field of mathematics. Even if mathematical materials are available in Braille, the question remains of how blind and visually impaired people actually perform mathematical tasks--solve problems; prove theorems; take tests; and write papers, dissertations, and books. How do blind and visually impaired people communicate mathematically with others?
As a blind person I have studied and worked as a mathematician my entire adult life. I have answered the above questions for my own situation. Yet it is clear to me that mine are not the only answers. We know that a number of blind and visually impaired people have done and are currently doing mathematics, but we have no systematic information about the methods they find most useful. To help the blind community, we need to gather answers from a number of people with a variety of experiences. We plan to organize and summarize these answers and publish the results in a form that will be helpful to teachers, parents, students, and blind adults.
With the help of Judy Chwalow, director of research at the NFB Jernigan Institute, I have compiled a set of questions that I would like to circulate as widely as possible. If you wish to furnish answers to some or all of these questions, please send your responses to me. While this is an informal survey, I believe that the responses we receive will prove valuable to many people.
Who should complete this survey? We would like to hear from any blind or visually impaired person who has taken or is taking at least one math or math-based science course at the secondary or postsecondary level. We are interested in students' experiences learning geometry or elementary school arithmetic. We would also like to hear from any parent or teacher who has advised or assisted a blind or visually impaired child with at least one math or math-based science course.
There is no restriction on when or how long ago you or your child took a math course. We want to learn about the methods of handling math that worked best for you. We are equally interested in methods that were not particularly successful or useful. If you or your child is considering taking math courses at any level, you should read these survey questions. They may help you get the information you need to complete your courses successfully.
In your responses please provide contact information (name, address, email, phone) so that I can reach you for possible clarifications and follow-up interviews. Please also include your age (closest 5-year multiple, e.g., 20-25, 25-30); the highest level of education you have completed; your primary reading medium; and your current employment status and job title.
You need not answer all of the questions since some of them may not be relevant to your experience. You do not have to answer questions separately. You may provide a narrative summary for your response to this survey.
If you require additional information about these questions, please get in touch with me. You may contact me by email, phone, or snail mail. My contact information appears at the end of the survey. You can submit your responses by email or snail mail (Braille or print please, no audio) to the addresses shown below. Please complete this survey by April 15, 2011. Those taking courses after this date may respond later since I anticipate a continuation of this survey.
Your answers will not be used to judge your mathematical strengths or weaknesses. Any personal information you reveal in your responses will remain confidential. Names, mailing addresses, email addresses, and phone numbers will not be distributed.
Here are the questions to consider:
1. What math or math-based science courses have you taken (elementary, secondary, community college/university, graduate school)? Specify the level of each course, and describe the subject matter included.
2. Were classroom lectures useful to you? Since mathematics is generally communicated visually, tell us as specifically as you can what you actually learned from these lectures. If lectures were not helpful, tell us what you did to compensate for the missing information.
3. Were you able to take classroom notes? If so, tell us what method you used: large print, hardcopy Braille, live or electronic notetakers, audio recordings, etc.
4. How did you handle reading assignments? Tell us about your use of Braille textbooks, recorded textbooks, large print textbooks, or live readers or tutors.
5. How did you do homework assignments and take tests? Describe your use of large print, notetakers, hardcopy Braille, mental arithmetic, or dictation to a live reader. If you used Braille, describe your method of transcribing Braille into a medium accessible to instructors who do not know Braille. If you used Braille/print reverse translation software of any kind, describe how this worked. In your answer to this question, tell us about any additional devices and technologies you have used, e.g., older devices such as the Taylor Slate, Cube-a-Rithm Slate, circular slide rule, and Cranmer Abacus; and newer devices such as talking calculators or specialized learning software.
6. Have you written papers containing mathematical content in an academic or professional setting? Describe how you did this, especially the use of human support.
7. How did you work with line drawings, graphs, or charts? Explain how these were described to you or produced in accessible formats. If you had to construct these items, tell us how you accomplished this task.
8. How familiar are you with the Nemeth Braille code? Describe the extent to which you use it for reading or writing.
9. Are there any tools/devices/aids that you wish you had had that would have enhanced your mathematical experiences?
10. How satisfied are you with your mathematical experiences? Do you have other comments about the way blind and visually impaired people read and do mathematics?
This is an informal survey. I am conducting it with the intention of using the results to help others who will be taking math and math-based science courses in the future. After they have been compiled, the results of this survey may also prove useful to people who are accustomed to doing math in their own ways. These folks may find new ways of working more productively. Further, it could turn out that these responses will suggest altogether different ways of doing math, either by refining methods already in use or by suggesting the development of new techniques and technologies. I fervently hope that over time this survey will make it possible for blind and visually impaired people to learn and do mathematics more efficiently and with greater ease.
I plan to compile the first set of responses (those received by April 15, 2011) into an article, ideally for publication in the newly established Journal of Blindness Innovation and Research. I also hope that it will become a continuing investigation. Additional articles pertaining to this survey will be published if they are warranted.
In preparing this article and survey, I received valuable help from Deborah Kent Stein, editor of Future Reflections, and from Mark Riccobono and Judith Chwalow of the NFB Jernigan Institute. Although they have left their marks on this article and survey, I assume responsibility for all shortcomings, errors, and omissions.
Contact Dr. Al Maneki: 9013 Nelson Way, Columbia, Maryland 21045; (443)745-9274; <[email protected]>
by Cathy Morgan
From the Editor: Goalball seems to be increasing in popularity with every passing year. President Maurer is even trying to find a way to build a goalball court at the National Center for the Blind because so many visitors have urged him to do so. The following article describes the sport and suggests why it is stirring up so much enthusiasm. Cathy Morgan is a senior journalism major at Utah State University.
All you can recognize are darkness and the reassurance of the tactile taped boundary lines that guide your feet and hands. You hear the jingle of the ball as it crashes into your teammate. You picture her swift movement from a stretched-out position on the court to jumping up and quickly throwing the ball. You shout encouragement and tap on the floor to help her get back into a defensive position. Your aim is to get the ball past the other team and score a goal. Playing this sport has not just taught you to strive for victory on the court, it is leading you to reach for other goals in life.
The sport of goalball was invented specifically for those who are not able to compete effectively in sports like baseball and basketball. Hanz Lorenzen and Sepp Reindle invented it in 1946 to help rehabilitate blinded war veterans. It was introduced into the Paralympics in 1976, and along with judo and beep baseball it is one of the most popular sports in the visually impaired community today.
The game’s concept is simple. The playing area is roughly the size of a basketball court. Raised taped lines on the floor show players where they should be so they can manage their positions. Three players, two wings and a center, control each side of the court. The goalball is about the size of a basketball. It is hard and rubbery with bells in its center so players can hear where it is on the court. Everyone on the court is blindfolded. The object of the game is to throw or roll the ball past the players on the other side to score a goal. Defensively you must throw your body down to block the ball from going into your own goal. The ball travels twenty to forty miles an hour, so the game is fast moving.
I got involved in the game when I was very young. It helped me build a close-knit group of friends on and off the court. As I grew older, I found that these friends accepted me as a teammate and as someone they could rely on for advice. It taught me early that, if you set goals and establish ways to reach them, you can accomplish just about anything by setting your mind to it and having the support you need.
Sometimes people take for granted that vision is necessary to accomplish anything. Low-vision children or those with no vision are sometimes told that there are things they will never be able to do. This attitude leads many blind people to become reclusive and unsocial, without any physical activity in their lives. Joma Leonard from Georgia commented that some kids have social acceptance problems, teens have a hard time being heard and being acknowledged as young adults, and adults are looking for respect.
Sachin Pavithran is a National Federation of the Blind chapter president who has recently started playing goalball. He commented that “there are a lot of roadblocks from families or even friends who think blind people aren’t capable. The result is that they have no faith in themselves.” Before Pavithran lost a lot of his vision, he was involved in soccer and cricket. He says he finds goalball fun, and it challenges him, which he likes.
Jalayne Engberg is a vision teacher as well as the coach for the Utah women’s goalball team. She says that she likes to introduce her students to sports because it helps them work as a team. She said, “Visually impaired students struggle with body awareness and space.” Leonard pointed out that younger kids open up more and deal with the issue of being social when they get involved with goalball. Engberg also said that coaching goalball has helped her realize that communication is always important. She teaches her students listening skills and emphasizes that paying attention to their surroundings helps on the court and also in getting around every day to places like a job, school, and even a simple trip to the grocery store.
Chris Boidy is a player from Illinois just beginning college. He said that sometimes it’s embarrassing having to rely on other people. For example, when he goes out for fast food, he can’t read the menu overhead, so he has to ask someone to read it to him. Even asking a professor to read a slip of paper with small print on it can be an embarrassing moment. Boidy said: “Playing goalball has taught me to take a leadership role; I am the go-to guy. You are relying not just on others, but on yourself as well. Having only three players on the court means there is no room for anyone to slack off.” When you are given the chance to be the leader or are given another specific role, these things make you more aggressive in everyday situations. Even though Boidy gets flustered about things involving his vision, he still asks for help when he needs it. He is able to voice his opinion and know he will be given respect for his thoughts just like everyone else.
Daryl Walker, a Paralympic player from Florida, mentioned that there is always something out there for everyone. Walker said that “playing a team sport helps kids realize that, yes, they do have a disability and that’s OK.” By playing a sport like goalball, you are saying that without saying it in so many words. Walker said that sometimes you can be or may feel like a liability because of your lack of vision, whether it’s not being able to catch a ball or not seeing someone whom you run into on the court or field. Pavithran said, “Even when I get hit by the ball and it hurts, I still have a good time.” I would like to add that, when I was younger, I had these same fears, but when I got involved in goalball and other blind sports at youth camps, these fears went away.
You should not let blindness limit what you can do. I think of it simply as a speed bump. Getting yourself involved in adaptive sports like goalball can help you learn how to strive for goals and can give you momentum in life, regardless of the level you achieve. Whether you are aiming to make the USA team or you just want to make it a new hobby, you can take something away from it. You will open a network of new friends, and you get to travel to new places. Don’t let others tell you what you can and cannot do.
by Greg Kearney
From the Editor: For a while now we’ve offered Monitor readers an audio copy of the magazine that can be downloaded from the Internet. The files can be read directly from the computer or downloaded to a favorite listening device, but they lack the flexibility blind people have become accustomed to with the navigational capabilities in DAISY books from the National Library Service, Bookshare, Recordings for the Blind and Dyslexic, and other providers of audio books and publications. Converting our audio to the DAISY format allows readers to move easily from article to article and, when the material lends itself to navigation by smaller units, by sections within an article.
The Monitor will be available in the DAISY format beginning with this issue. To whet your appetite for the new format, here is an article from Greg Kearney in which he discusses the advantages of placing audio recordings and text in this format.
Greg is the manager for accessible media at the Association for the Blind of Western Australia in Perth, Australia. A native of the state of Maine, he was educated at Landmark School in Massachusetts, which he believes to be the leading school for dyslexics in the United States, and graduated from Brigham Young University with a bachelor of fine arts in design. As a profound dyslexic he is a user of Talking Books as well as a professional producer of them. The library for which he works offers over seventy-thousand titles to the blind of Australia and the world. Greg is married to Tamara Johnson Kearney, who served as president of the National Federation of the Blind of Wyoming before moving to Australia. Here is what Greg has to say:
DAISY (the Digital Accessible Information System) is the emerging world standard for digital talking books for people who are blind or have a print disability. This format has been under development for over ten years, with most of the world's talking book libraries now employing some form of the standard. Work to improve and promote the adoption of the format is directed by the DAISY Consortium (<www.daisy.org>). DAISY attempts to give the talking book reader the same flexibility that readers of standard print enjoy: navigation by chapter, section, subsection, and page. Readers can read or skip footnotes, sidebars, or information added specifically for users of the audio version.
There are three types of DAISY books. One is audio-only DAISY, which is the most common. This is the kind of book that the National Library Service in the US produces. This format provides minimal text content and a set of recordings that the reader hears when the book is played. Audio only is commonly used for recreational reading employing live human narration.
Text-only DAISY books have no audio recording but provide the text of the book itself. These books are read with either text-to-speech systems or Braille displays. Bookshare.org produces text-only DAISY books. Their chief advantage is their very small file size as compared to books with audio files. The disadvantage is that these books require a text-to-speech system in the playback device, which means they cannot be played using the NLS player and that users must be willing and able to read tactilely or tolerate less than human-sounding speech.
The Cadillac in DAISY books is found in the full-text, full-audio DAISY book. In this kind of book both the text and the audio are present and can be synchronized so the reader can listen to human narration and hear the text-to-speech voice at will to determine spelling, punctuation, and other information that may not be clearly conveyed through the narrated audio. These books work in players that do not support text-only books, and, while it is possible to have a human-narrated book, it is also possible to use quite human-sounding voices that are generally not found in products available to the individual blind user but that are used by producers of materials for the blind.
Three DAISY format standards are in use today, the oldest of which is the most common worldwide and is referred to as DAISY 2.02. The National Library Service uses DAISY / NISO 2002, which, as the name implies, was released in 2002. Work is ongoing to create the next version of the standard, DAISY 4, which will add support for multimedia and test administration tools.
A DAISY book can provide as much or as little navigation as the producer decides to incorporate. Minimal markup includes a marker at the start and the end of the book. A little more work on the part of the producer gives the reader the ability to move by page, section, and chapter. It is even possible for DAISY books to include images because DAISY is designed to serve everyone from the blind Braille reader with no sight at all to a person who is dyslexic with perfect vision but a limited ability to read. The amount of navigation is decided by the book's producer. Recreational reading may have limited navigation (by chapter or even by original tape side when the title was converted from tape), while textbooks require more complex navigation.
DAISY books that do not carry digital rights management can be played on a wide range of devices, from dedicated talking book players to devices such as the iPod. The vision of DAISY's creators and those who work for its improvement and adoption is that the standard will be adopted worldwide and that everyone's books will play on everyone's devices. At the Association for the Blind of Western Australia, we have books in our collection from New Zealand, Canada, India, and Sri Lanka. All of these books will play on every DAISY player because they meet the DAISY standard. Sharing books means we reduce the cost of books by eliminating the duplication that occurs when each country has to produce the book for its citizens.
DAISY marks a significant advancement in the production of talking books for people who are blind or have a print disability. The standard and the new technology provide a better reading experience and have the potential to bring many more books to the ears and fingertips of the blind.
From the Editor: In recent years Miss Whozit has answered reader questions about etiquette and good manners, particularly as they involve blindness. If you would like to pose a question to Miss Whozit, you can send it to the attention of Gary Wunder, 200 East Wells Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21230, or email me at <[email protected]>. I will pass the questions along. Letters may be edited for space and clarity. Here are the most recent letters Miss Whozit has received:
Dear Miss Whozit,
I have been legally blind for just under five years. I need your advice to decide how much it is reasonable for me to ask my family to modify their way of life now that I can’t see the messes they leave around the house.
I have read Federation literature and am very encouraged about our attitudes about independence and normality, and I certainly don’t want to use blindness as an excuse, but I am having trouble with some things that my kids do. Since my diagnosis my husband has gotten better at closing drawers and cupboard doors—he is certainly better than he was when I could see to close them and avoid walking into their corners. I guess I should have taken a stronger stand on such things when the children were little because when the kids come home for visits from college and their jobs, they are making my life miserable.
Not only do they leave doors half open, they leave their not-quite-empty soda cans on the coffee and end tables. Of course I find them the hard way and then have to clean up the spills that result. I have asked them to close drawers and clean up after themselves, not to mention removing their shoes and coats from the living room floor, but they apparently can’t be bothered. I don’t want to spend their visits complaining and nagging, but I also don’t want to spend them cleaning up messes and applying ice to my bruises. Please help me decide what is fair to ask others to do and chart a reasonable course in my home.
Bruised but Still Trying
Miss Whozit commends you for your impulse to avoid using blindness as an excuse for insisting that the world be remade for your convenience. She merely wishes to enquire with all due respect, whose house is it anyway? A good deal of negotiating territory lies between insisting that every movable object in your home be returned to its exact location and no furniture should ever be moved out of its appointed position on the one hand and allowing members of your family to make your life miserable by disregarding reasonable requests to be considerate. Your husband can take a hand in resolving this unfortunate situation if he is willing to do so. When he observes someone leave a drawer open or sees a soda can in the living room, he can casually ask the offender to close the drawer or enquire whose can is on the table and then ask him or her to deal with it appropriately. Mostly adult children can be pretty lax about maintaining the rules of their parents’ home when they have become used to the trash heaps that most dorm rooms and first apartments become at their hands. But that is no reason why they should not be expected to remember the adage: when in Rome, do as the Romans do.
When you are visiting in someone else’s home, Miss Whozit is quite certain that you try to meet or exceed the owner’s standard of neatness. You make the bed, hang up your towels, tuck away your possessions in public rooms, and offer to carry glasses and plates to the kitchen. Your children are becoming visitors in your home, and they should learn to adopt the same principle. When you are in an unfamiliar space, you would be advised to use your white cane to check your path and find room doors that are ajar, but you should not be forced to use the same precautions in your own home. Young children cannot be expected to pick up their possessions, and blind parents soon learn to kick the toys aside and pick up the mess frequently, but your adult children do not have the same excuse for inconveniencing or damaging you.
Miss Whozit emphatically urges you to establish rules of conduct in your home that will keep you in control of the space. She then urges you and your husband to inform your offspring and their friends that those who do not care to abide by these rules are welcome to spend their vacation time elsewhere and make brief visits when their behavior can be limited to that of casual guests. Hold the line by not making exceptions. If your home had just been painted, you would not allow anyone to write on the walls. If your husband was allergic to peanuts, you would not allow anyone to bring them into the house. No one would think you were obsessive if you asked people to remove their shoes before stepping onto new white carpeting. We all establish house rules to fit the circumstances of our families. Your circumstances have changed, and everyone should expect you to adjust the rules for your own convenience.
Good luck holding the line.
Dear Miss Whozit,
My wife and I are both blind, and we have three children who are getting old enough to be helpful to us in reading and identifying things. I have observed blind parents who expected their kids to stop what they were doing whenever the parent had a problem that required sight to solve. We don’t think this is fair to the kids, and we do not want to be dependent on our children. At the same time it seems as though we should not have to pay for all the reader time we need when our kids could do some of those jobs.
What do you think? Is it fair for us to expect our children, who are fourteen, twelve, and ten, to contribute their vision to the smooth running of our home? Or would doing so undermine our authority as parents and rob them of their childhood?
A Perplexed Parent
Miss Whozit subscribes to the principle that every member of the family old enough to understand instructions should bear some responsibility for the efficient operation of the home. For a toddler this might be merely picking up toys and fetching tissues or diapers for a busy parent. As the children mature, their duties should naturally expand. Of course no child should be expected to carry an adult share of family responsibility, but youngsters who grow up learning that their duties expand to fit their growing maturity and capacity to behave responsibly usually adjust to carrying their share of the load.
Parents should expect to assign jobs that are age appropriate and within the child’s ability and attention span, and it goes without saying that the jobs should also be useful to the parent. Identifying mail or groceries for a blind parent is a perfectly appropriate job for any child who can read. Paying the family’s bills, however, is not. Identifying bus numbers or addresses when the family is traveling can even be a privilege for young readers, but taking a child out of school to serve as a human guide on a parental trip is almost always inappropriate.
In short, Miss Whozit believes that all children should have age-appropriate duties in the family, and there is nothing wrong in these being tasks that will assist a blind parent. Mutual respect and consideration should guide family discussions about assigning jobs. You might consider offering to pay your oldest child to do extra reading for you. If the alternative would be hiring a paid reader, why not give the business to your own teen. Some reading and identifying should be expected of all the children, but extraordinary jobs should be paid for in cash or extra privileges. This usually motivates everyone to try to prove that he or she is old enough and responsible enough to get the paid work.
Don’t be surprised, however, if your children grumble about the amount of work they are expected to do. All kids complain, but they will thank you later on when they know how to do things around the house and aren’t afraid of work or organizing their time.
by Marilyn Brandt Smith
From the Editor: Marilyn Brandt Smith lives in Louisville, Kentucky, with her husband Roger and their son Jay. The Smiths are retired teachers, and Marilyn is also a freelance writer and editor.
My husband's talking watch announced that it was 6:00 p.m. when the phone rang. Thanks to his audio caller ID, he knew instantly who was calling that April evening. But the doctor's office should have been closed. Did surgeons work this late?
"You have to get your blood glucose down, or we aren't doing your surgery next week," said the voice on the other end of the line.
My fifty-six-year-old husband Roger had been suffering from infections, headaches, congestion, and pain, and, when he went to the doctor to investigate the cause, they found a tooth fragment lodged in his sinus cavity, the result of a routine tooth extraction last summer.
Since Roger was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes at age forty-eight, he had been managing with oral medication, improved diet, and increased exercise. He lost fifty pounds, and, although his A1C has crept up in recent years, he thought he was in reasonably good control. Then the surgeon called to report a blood glucose level of 270 mg/dl, more than double what a fasting glucose should be. Something had to change and fast.
Diabetes runs in Roger's family, and he has always known he might someday need to go on insulin. Although Splenda and other sugar-free goodies appear regularly on our grocery list, his diet is not as good as it should be. He was, and still is, a great fan of the all-you-can-eat buffet.
The morning after that disappointing phone call, we went to see our family doctor, and Roger got an A1C test. The result left everyone speechless: His A1C was 9.3 percent--far too high. Our doctor knew that Roger would prefer to avoid insulin injections, so she was surprised when he was the first one to suggest that option. Roger told the doctor about his twin sister Linda, who suffers from nerve damage as a complication of her diabetes. Roger didn't want to deny the seriousness of the disease, as he feared his sister may have done. He didn't want to develop kidney disease or neuropathy. And my husband cares more than most about the sensitivity in his hands and feet because he has been blind since birth.I knew where Roger was coming from. I've also been blind since birth, and I have had type 2 diabetes since 2004, when I was sixty-five. Mine has always been well controlled with just two Metformin tablets a day. But I knew that my husband's A1Cs were getting out of control and that he would need a change. Roger started taking insulin injections the same day. He brought his blood glucose under control, and his surgery was completed on schedule. Three months later his A1C had dropped to 6.7. An A1C of 9.3 right before surgery wasn't what my husband wanted or expected. But it got him on the right track to good diabetes control. He started on insulin, and he has been improving his diabetes management ever since.
by Renee West
From the Editor: NFB-NEWSLINE® is one of the most exciting programs we sponsor. When we started the service, it opened the newspaper for many blind people and did so with a simple telephone interface that anyone could use. As the service has evolved, we have kept our simple telephone interface and have added to it to provide an ever-increasing set of features for our readers who demand more.
In this article Renee West, who works on our NEWSLINE staff, reviews how to use both the basic and advanced features of the service in an easy-to-understand style that will soon have you getting more out of your favorite newspapers. Here is what she says:
NFB-NEWSLINE®, a free service provided by the National Federation of the Blind, offers a wealth of information to anyone who cannot read the printed word due to a visual or physical disability. Subscribers can easily and independently access over three-hundred publications, including magazines, national and state newspapers, and wire feeds, as well as TV and job listings anytime, day or night. They can access NFB-NEWSLINE using any touch-tone telephone or with our new online access methods using NFB-NEWSLINE Online.
In early 2009 NFB-NEWSLINE created a new Website, <www.nfbNEWSLINEonline.org>, which serves as the portal for the ground-breaking new initiatives, Web News on Demand, NFB-NEWSLINE in Your Pocket, and Podable News. Many people have already benefitted from these new access methods, but many more who may wish to make use of them need a little more information and a friendly nudge to get started. This article will help you enjoy the increased access and flexibility from NFB-NEWSLINE Online (the name we’ve given this suite of current and future online initiatives). More information about the newest access method, NFB-NEWSLINE NLS DTB Downloader will be provided in a later article.
To learn more about as well as enjoy these new access methods, visit <www.nfbNEWSLINEonline.org>. This site has lots of useful information about the new initiatives, a frequently-asked questions page, and pages created to keep our subscribers connected and informed. Select the “Log In” link from NFB-NEWSLINE Online’s Website, and on the next page provide your subscriber ID and security codes in the user entry fields. If you’ve forgotten your codes, don’t worry. You can easily obtain them by giving us a call at (866) 504-7300. Also you don’t need to have a second set of codes to use the service; your current codes will work just fine. On the next page you will be presented with the NFB-NEWSLINE Online Main Menu, and from there you can choose the initiative you wish to use. The link for Web News on Demand will take you directly to that access method, and the link for NFB-NEWSLINE in Your Pocket and Podable News will direct you to their pages with information about these initiatives and links to download the corresponding software. Please note that, to use these new initiatives, you’ll first need to agree to abide by our non-dissemination policy; we require that you not share the content with others.
We currently offer over three-hundred publications. You should first select the link for the new favorites management tool from the NFB-NEWSLINE Online main menu to choose which ones you want to read, since setting up your favorites is a crucial first step for several of our new access methods.
In the past, using phone access, subscribers were able to choose up to six favorites from our publications, and those favorites remained constant across all access methods.
With the changes to favorites management made available in early 2010, subscribers are able to choose different favorites for each of the ways they read our publications. Further, with the electronic access methods (such as email, Web News on Demand, NFB-NEWSLINE In Your Pocket, and Podable News), subscribers can select as many favorites as they’d like. Please note that only the online favorites management tool may be used to set up favorites for these online access methods, including email. Setting up favorites for Podable News is slightly different, since those who wish to have individual sections of publications downloaded will need to identify which sections they desire. The limit on favorites for the phone access method is still six, but we will work to increase that number in the future. Naturally subscribers who access NFB-NEWSLINE by telephone can still manage their favorite channels just as they’ve always done or by using the Web if they prefer. Finally we have also given subscribers the ability to establish their favorite TV channels using the Web.
Let me first tell you about Web News on Demand and why you’ll find it to be tremendously useful. Many print publications have a Website where you can read a selection of their articles, but to do so you have to maneuver around a multitude of links, pop-up ads, graphics, and other such technological detritus, a difficult task even for those who are technologically savvy. With Web News on Demand, however, subscribers visit a secure, text-only Website that affords easy access to all publication content with a minimum of distractions. One terrific benefit of Web News on Demand is that you can view an entire publication offered on the service on one screen so that you can easily locate a term wherever it occurs in the publication by using the search function (control+F). This is a great feature if you’re accessing a particular publication just to read for example about a recent federal appellate court ruling, commentary on your sports team’s new recruit, or a review of your favorite band’s new album.
Using Web News on Demand is a snap because the menus are laid out logically as follows:
My Favorite Publications: Once you’ve set up your favorites for Web News on Demand using the favorites management tool, you can easily access all of your favorite publications under this link.
Information Specific to Your State: This is where you can read your State Information Channel to become informed about important issues affecting your state, such as state agency or organizational news—always assuming that your service provider has posted the information.
Publications for Your State: As with the phone-based service, the publications for your state are easily accessible--all of your state’s NFB-NEWSLINE papers are available here.
Publications Organized by State: Select this option to get papers from across the country organized into groups by state (this includes groupings for national and Spanish-language papers as well as for magazines).
Publications Organized Alphabetically: This is a comprehensive list of all of the publications offered; this list makes searching for a specific newspaper particularly easy.
Magazines: The service currently offers over thirty magazines, and they are all available under this heading.
TV Listings: This link will direct you to the TV listings feature. You will first need to have your listings customized to your location and television signal receiver, which is done over the phone by selecting option number eight from the main menu.
When viewing the publications in a particular category (such as for your state), you’ll see the name of each publication available, as well as a link for each issue in the system. As on the phone, you will have access to the current issue, the previous issue (for newspapers this will be yesterday’s edition), and (for newspapers) usually the Sunday edition. To read the issue of your choice, select the link for that date. You will be taken to a page with a listing of all sections; each section is a link to a page that lists the articles available in that section and the first line or two from each article. The article titles are links to the articles themselves.
If you wish, using the Full Publication and Full Section links, you can view the entire publication or a particular section on one screen. This multi-tiered approach also allows you to have an email of a full publication, a particular section, or a single article delivered to you on demand. Of course you’ll need to provide a valid email address in your subscriber account, so, if you’re not receiving your requested email, please call us with that information at (866) 504-7300. (If leaving a voice mail, please include your six-digit subscriber code.) You may also wish to inspect your junk mail folder, since these emails may initially get snagged by spam filters.
NFB-NEWSLINE in Your Pocket is a free software application that a subscriber installs on his or her computer. It automatically downloads newspapers or magazines of the subscriber’s choice to his or her Victor Reader Stream, Icon/Braille+, BookSense, or BookPort Plus. With NFB-NEWSLINE subscribers can quickly and easily get their favorite publications and can connect with the server at any time of the day to retrieve publication updates and get the latest-breaking news.
To obtain the NFB-NEWSLINE in Your Pocket software and learn about how to use this feature, visit <www.nfbNEWSLINEonline.org>, log in, and from the main menu select NFB-NEWSLINE in Your Pocket. Please note that, to use this access method, you will need to have set up your favorite publications list using the favorites management tool before launching the NFB-NEWSLINE in Your Pocket software. To experience the flexibility that this feature affords, you must download the software, and we recommend that you install the application that includes Java to ensure that you have the necessary software to run the program. Selecting the download link will open the NFB-NEWSLINE in Your Pocket setup wizard; follow the steps to install the program on your computer.
Now that you have the application installed, getting your favorite papers and magazines is easy. To have your favorite publication content placed on your digital Talking Book player, first plug your device into your computer using a USB cable and turn on your player; your computer should recognize the attached device before you launch the application. Please note that some digital Talking Book players require that you set your device to act as a drive before connecting it to the computer. Then double-click on the NFB-NEWSLINE in Your Pocket application icon on your desktop to launch the software and connect to the server that will retrieve your content.
Launching the application will open a command-prompt screen, your device will be recognized, and you will be asked to enter your codes and confirm the device’s name. Subsequent downloads will not require this step because your device will be recognized by our servers. The command-prompt screen will describe the download process for you; your content is at this time being transferred onto your digital Talking Book player. When your favorite content has been fully downloaded onto your device, the command prompt will say “Completed” and will indicate something in the form of “All Content Updated on (Your Name)’s Victor Reader Stream.” You may unplug your device at that time after using the “Safely Remove Hardware” utility on your computer. Pretty easy, don’t you think? Not only easy, but also fast. It will probably take you as long to read about how to use NFB-NEWSLINE in Your Pocket as it will actually take to use it.
At the 2010 national convention we released our newest access method, Podable News. This access method will be of particular interest to those of you who would like to read specific sections of publications, since one of the unique benefits of Podable News is that you can create a publication tailored to your preferences by choosing, cafeteria style, from the content available. For example, you can choose to have just the sports section from USA Today, just the Editorials from the New York Times, and just the Features section from Wired. Like NFB-NEWSLINE In Your Pocket, Podable News is a small piece of software that you download to your computer. Podable News creates MP3 files of our publication content that you can play on a media player on your computer (such as Winamp) or download to MP3-playing devices or to most digital Talking Book players.
To use Podable News, you’ll first need to visit <www.nfbNEWSLINEonline.org>, log in, select the link for the favorites management tool, and select the “Podable News” link (Manage Your Podable Subscriptions). Here you can set up your preferred publications and/or their individual sections that you wish to download. You can choose to view the available publications either from an alphabetical list or from a list organized by state—this includes sections for magazines, national newspapers, and Spanish-language publications. You’ll see that there are two links for each publication. Selecting one adds that entire publication to your favorites list, while the other opens a new page listing the sections for that paper. When making your selections, it’s important to remember that it takes longer to download an MP3 file than it does to download text or DAISY files. As a result you may need to allot more time for the download process if you have selected quite a few favorites. Once you’ve selected the publications or their sections, you’re ready to download the Podable News software.
To obtain the application, select “Podable News” from the NFB-NEWSLINE Online main menu. On this page you’ll see two links for the software; one includes Java software, and the other does not. As with NFB-NEWSLINE in Your Pocket, we recommend that you select the software with Java included to ensure you have the most recent version of Java on your computer. Selecting the link will begin the download process. Simply follow the steps outlined in the setup wizard to install the Podable News software on your computer.
Once Podable News is installed, launch the application by selecting the shortcut icon placed on your desktop. This will open a command-prompt screen that will outline the download process for you and will let you know when it is complete. Either you may choose to download content to your computer to play on a media player such as Winamp, or, if you connect an MP3-playing device or a digital Talking Book player to your computer using a USB cable, you can download content directly to these devices. Digital Talking Book players supported by Podable News are the same as those supported by NFB-NEWSLINE in Your Pocket: BookSense, BookPort Plus, Victor Reader Stream, and the Icon/Braille+.
We hope you find that the availability of these new access methods increases the value of NFB-NEWSLINE and makes it easier for you to access the news you need. For more information about NFB-NEWSLINE or its new features or to become a subscriber, call (866) 504-7300, email <[email protected]>, or visit <www.nfbNEWSLINEonline.org>.
From the Editor: With some regularity we spotlight books in the tenBroek Library. Here is librarian Ed Morman's review of a book in our collection:
The Making of Blind Men: A Study of Adult Socialization by Robert A. Scott. New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 1969.
In 1969 a young sociologist launched a bombshell into the comfortable world of the blindness establishment. Robert Scott was an assistant professor at Princeton University with an appointment at the Russell Sage Foundation. In The Making of Blind Men, he revealed to his readers that the perceived wisdom about the blind was simply wrong. Blind people were not by nature dependent and needy; rather, contact with the blindness system socialized them to view themselves as such. But what does the title of this book mean? Why “blind men” rather than “the blind” or “blind people”? And what could he have meant by “making” blind men?
First of all, let’s forgive Scott his apparently sexist title; after all, the second wave of feminism (what was then called “women’s liberation”) was just beginning to make headway when this book was written. The book is not gender specific; the only limit in the book’s scope was the result of Scott’s difficulty in finding data about the small proportion of blind people born blind (or who have no memory of being able to see). While his book therefore concerns the adventitiously blind in particular, there is good reason to consider his findings across the entire blind population.
The question remains, what did he mean by “the making of” blind people? Here he was not referring to the cause of any particular person’s vision loss, but to the role in which blind people had been cast. Scott’s point was that blind people have been “made” by social expectations that were largely the doing of the American Foundation for the Blind, the agencies, and the professional workers for the blind. Drawing on sociological theory that was current at the time, Scott described a “blind role” that the blindness system had taught blind people to adopt.
While acknowledging that goodwill may exist among workers for the blind, Scott pointed out that the professionals nonetheless have their own interests, which do not necessarily align with the interests of their blind clients. Professional workers for the blind tend to reject blind people’s ideas about what they want or need, and the workers—deliberately or unwittingly—reduce their clients to dependency on the agency. Agencies, moreover, need attractive but docile blind people for fundraising purposes.
What Scott somehow missed was that the blind were already speaking for themselves and had been changing what it means to be blind for almost thirty years. The Federation does not appear in this book at all, nor does Scott cite any writings by NFB leaders. Had he looked harder, Scott might have found a succinct summary of his main points in Jacobus tenBroek’s banquet address of 1957, “The Cross of Blindness.” In that speech tenBroek distinguished between what he called the disability of blindness—the simple inability to use vision as sighted people do—and the handicap imposed on the blind person by “the attitudes and preconceptions of the community.” Although use of the terms “disability,” “handicap” and now “impairment” have changed since 1957, tenBroek’s distinction—which Scott echoed in 1969—is now widely accepted in the disability community. To paraphrase Kenneth Jernigan, the anatomical or physiological characteristic we refer to as a disability can be reduced to a nuisance if, among other things, we educate the public to see the disabled as capable of self-determination and independence.
If Robert Scott missed what the NFB had to say about the blind, the NFB certainly took note of Scott’s interest in the subject. In fact, a year before Scott’s book was published, Jacobus tenBroek had solicited—and had received—Scott’s permission to reprint an article of his in the Monitor. Reprinted from the scholarly journal Social Problems, “The Selection of Clients by Social Welfare Agencies: The Case of the Blind,” appeared in the March 1968 Braille Monitor (the final issue tenBroek edited before his death at age fifty-seven). You can find it on the Web at <www.archive.org/stream/braillemonitorma1968nati/braillemonitorma1968nati_djvu.txt>.
It’s not surprising, then, that Hazel tenBroek took note of The Making of Blind Men as soon as it appeared. In the December 1969 Braille Monitor (now also available on the Web at www.archive.org/stream/braillemonitorno1969nati/braillemonitorno1969nati_djvu.txt), as associate editor she provided a “comment” (of more than five thousand words) about the book, generally praising it, but not pulling her punches when she saw errors in Scott’s approach or findings—most notably his failure to see that thousands of blind people had already escaped the social role assigned them by the agencies.
A year later the Monitor reprinted a column that Floyd Matson had written for the Honolulu Advertiser, his local daily newspaper. Matson was commenting on a controversy concerning blind vendors. To underscore his point about the capabilities of blind people, he cited The Making of Blind Men approvingly. Scott’s book, Matson pointed out, shows how “the handicap of blindness is a result not of physical disability but of dependent roles and custodial traditions imposed by a well-meaning society.”
But leave it to Kenneth Jernigan to parse out exactly what was right and what was wrong in Scott’s book and to conclude his analysis with a call to action for Federationists. In “Disability and Visibility: Uncle Tom, Blind Tom, and Tiny Tim” (<http://www.nfb.org/images/ nfb/Publications/brochures/Disability%20and%20Visibility_edit.html>), originally published in 1973, Jernigan takes Scott to task for failing to notice the organized blind. He then continues:
This incredible lapse of scholarship on the part of Professor Scott is, moreover, still more astonishing in view of the fact that his study is not laudatory but highly critical of the role of the agencies in what he calls the "blindness system." It seems unlikely indeed that he has consciously suppressed information concerning the organized blind. What is a great deal more likely is that such information was not volunteered by his informants, most of whom were agency personnel, and that it simply did not turn up in his scrutiny of the professional literature. In short, his otherwise valuable assessment of the field of work with the blind has been seriously distorted, not to say invalidated, by the conspiracy of silence on the part of powerful agency interests hostile to the philosophy and achievements of the organized blind movement.
Jernigan’s skill at building an argument is almost perfectly displayed here. He first criticizes Scott for his neglect of the organized blind. Then he notes that Scott nonetheless echoes the Federation’s criticism of the agencies. From these he infers a “conspiracy of silence,” through which Scott’s informants at the agencies effectively kept him from learning about the NFB. But this is not the conclusion of his argument. Instead Jernigan turns back to the NFB itself:
The moral of this story is crystal clear. The message of Federationism has not yet been broadcast far enough and wide enough; the voice of the organized blind is not sufficiently heard in the land. Not only must we reach more blind persons themselves with our philosophy, our history, and our program; we must reach out to the wider community as well, to the reading public and its writing members, and not least to those who write of social movements and stigmatized minorities and the politics of social service. We cannot rely on others to carry the torch for us; nor can we hide the light of that torch under a bushel, lest it be the light that failed.The tenBroek Library director found this book fascinating. Apparently Robert Scott was ignorant of the NFB and all that it had accomplished by the late 1960s. Nonetheless, this sighted social scientist was able to discern much of what the organized blind had already learned from their own experience. Was the book ahead of its time, or behind? Judge for yourself. It is available as a Talking Book from the NLS (RC 25905).
by Allen Harris
From the Editor: Allen Harris chairs the Kenneth Jernigan Convention Scholarship Fund committee. He has an important announcement for those who would like to attend this year's national convention but find themselves short of funds. This is what he says:
The Kenneth Jernigan Convention Scholarship Fund is looking for individuals who can use some financial assistance to attend our national convention in Orlando, Florida. In 2011 our convention will begin on Sunday, July 3, and run through Friday, July 8. The convention ends with the banquet Friday evening.
Who is eligible to receive a Kenneth Jernigan Convention Scholarship?
If you are a member of the National Federation of the Blind, you are eligible to apply. Preference, however, will be given to first-time convention attendees. The scholarship selection committee is able to make an occasional exception, but first-time convention participants are the target group.
What do I have to do to apply for a Kenneth Jernigan Convention Scholarship?
You must do the following and are responsible for these application requirements:
1. Find out who your state NFB president is and get him or her to write a letter of recommendation for you, or you may have a chapter president or other officer write a letter of recommendation, but we must have a letter from a Federation leader who is familiar with you.
2. You must write a letter to the Kenneth Jernigan Fund committee expressing the reasons why you want a scholarship. Describe your participation in the Federation and what you think you would get and give to the convention. Please send all information to Allen Harris, 5209 Sterling Glen Drive, Pinson, Alabama 35126, or email the information to <[email protected]> or <[email protected]>.
3. You must register for and attend the entire convention, including the banquet.
What else must I do to insure that my application will be considered?
We must receive all of the following:
1. Your full name
2. Your address
3. Your telephone numbers (home, business, cell)
4. Your email address (if you have one)
5. Your state president's name and the name of your local chapter, if you attend one
All applications must be received by April 14, 2011.
How do I get my scholarship funds?
You will get a debit card at the convention loaded with the amount of your scholarship award. The times and locations to pick up your debit card will be listed in the notice you receive if you are a scholarship winner. The committee is not able to provide funds before the convention, so work with your chapter and state affiliate to assist by advancing funds you can pay back when you receive your scholarship.
When will I know if I have been selected as a Kenneth Jernigan Scholarship winner?
The committee makes every effort to notify scholarship winners by May 15, but you must do several things to be prepared to attend if you are chosen:
1. You must make your own hotel reservation. If something prevents you from attending, you can cancel your reservation.
2. You will receive a letter with the convention details which should answer many of your questions. It is also helpful to find a mentor from your chapter or affiliate to act as a friend and advisor during the convention. Although you will not know officially whether or not you have been selected until mid-May, you must make plans to attend and then adjust your plans accordingly.
This past summer in Dallas the Jernigan Fund scholarship committee awarded seventy Kenneth Jernigan Scholarships. The average grant was $600. You can include in your letter to the committee any extenuating circumstances which the committee may choose to take into consideration. Above all, please use this opportunity to attend your first convention and join several thousand other blind Federationists in the most important meeting of the blind in the world.
If you have questions or need additional information, call Allen Harris at (205) 520-9979 or email him at <[email protected]>. You may also email Joy Harris at <[email protected]>. We look forward to seeing you in Orlando.
This month’s recipes have been contributed by the hard-working and talented staff of the Events Department at the National Center for the Blind. These are the folks who feed NFB visitors royally in the Center dining room. What follow are recipes for some of their most popular dishes.
Beef and Tomato Relish Appetizers
6 to 7 Roma tomatoes
3 to 4 fillets mignon
Coarsely ground pepper
Fresh French baguette
Method: Bring three to four inches of water to the boil in a pot. Dip the tomatoes into the boiling water one at a time, immersing them completely for fifteen to twenty seconds. Peel and seed the tomatoes. The skins will easily slip off using this method. Cut the tomatoes into cubes. Add sea salt, pepper, and fresh or dried tarragon to taste. Refrigerate for one to two hours.
Meanwhile preheat oven to 450 degrees. Brush the fillets with olive oil and season with an ample amount of salt and pepper. Sear the beef for five to seven minutes in the oven, turning over once. Watch for the beginning of charring and remove immediately. Set aside to cook a bit further and to cool.
Slice the baguette into quarter-inch rounds and lightly spread with Dijon mustard. Slice the beef very thinly (one-eighth-inch or thinner) and arrange the beef on top of the baguette slices. Garnish with tomato relish and enjoy.
Lemon/Orange Orange Roughy
4 pieces of orange roughy
4 cups orange juice
1 cup lemon juice
1 container citrus seasoning
Method: Mix together the orange and lemon juices. Arrange the orange roughy pieces in a single layer in a casserole dish and pour the orange and lemon juice mixture into the dish until the liquid comes halfway up the fish. Sprinkle citrus seasoning on top and refrigerate for an hour. Flip the fish over and add more citrus seasoning. Once again return the dish to the refrigerator for an hour. Using a spatula, carefully transfer the drained fish to an ungreased cookie sheet that has been lined with aluminum foil. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for twenty to twenty-five minutes. Serve immediately.
Salmon a la NFB
1 bag of frozen salmon (thawed)
Old Bay seasoning
Method: Cover a cookie sheet with aluminum foil. Pour some olive oil into a bowl and place the desired amount of salmon in the bowl, turning to coat all sides with oil. Remove from bowl and arrange on the lined cookie sheet. Sprinkle Old Bay on top and cook in a preheated 450-degree oven for ten minutes. The salmon is done when you can flake it with a fork.
Broccoli Cauliflower Casserole
3/4 cup uncooked white rice
12 ounces fresh broccoli florets
12 ounces fresh cauliflower florets
1/2 cup butter
1 small onion, chopped
1 1/4 pound Velveeta cheese food, cubed
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 can condensed cream of chicken soup
3/4 cup milk
2 cups Ritz Crackers, crushed
Method: In a saucepan bring chicken broth to a boil. Add rice and stir. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for twenty minutes. Drain and set aside. Meantime simmer broccoli and cauliflower florets in water for ten minutes or just until they are tender crisp. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large pot melt the butter and sauté the onion till tender. Stir cauliflower, broccoli, and rice into the pot. Once the vegetables and rice are coated with butter, combine the cheese, chicken soup, and milk in a bowl and stir into the vegetables. Transfer the mixture into a 9-by-13-inch casserole dish and sprinkle cracker crumbs on top. Bake for thirty minutes or until mixture is bubbly. Enjoy.
Hash Brown Casserole
1 32-ounce bag shredded hash browns
8 ounces sour cream
3/4 can condensed cream of chicken soup
3/4 can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 small onion, chopped
1 stick butter, melted
1 1/2 8-ounce bags of shredded cheddar cheese (or 12 ounces shredded cheddar)
Method: Mix all ingredients together except the half bag (four ounces) of cheddar cheese and place in an ungreased casserole dish. Top with remaining cheese. Bake casserole in a preheated 350-degree oven for forty-five minutes to an hour. Serves eight.
End-of-Summer Vegetable Medley
1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed
2 red peppers, seeded and sliced
1 sweet potato, peeled and cubed
3 Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 red onion, quartered
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, crushed
4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Method: Preheat oven to 375. In a large bowl combine prepared vegetables. In a small bowl combine remaining ingredients and toss vegetables with this mixture until they are well coated. Spread vegetables evenly in a large roasting pan that has been coated with cooking spray. Roast for 1 hour. Continue roasting, stirring every ten minutes until vegetables are tender crisp and browned.
News from the Federation Family
How to Pay for Your Hotel Stay in Orlando:
This helpful information comes from Tony Cobb, whose convention job has made him a fixture in our hotel lobbies for as long as I can remember. Here is his advice about paying for your hotel stay:
Every year at our national convention we have serious trouble with use of debit cards or cash payments at hotel check-in, and, having worked to solve these problems for years, I can tell you they can nearly ruin the convention week for those experiencing them. Planning to attend our national convention should therefore include thinking hard about how to pay the hotel, and I cannot urge you strongly enough to avoid using cash or a debit card as your payment method. Doing so may seem convenient, but you should not do so. If you do not have a credit card of your own to use instead, prevail upon a close friend or family member to let you use one just for convention. Here’s why:
If you are paying in actual currency, most hotels will want enough cash up front at check-in to cover your room and tax charges for the entire stay, plus a one-time advance incidentals deposit to cover meals, telephone calls, Internet service, and other things you may charge to your room. The unused portion of the incidentals deposit may be returned at check-out or by mail after departure. Understand, however, that, if your incidentals charges exceed the incidentals deposit credited, you are responsible for payment of the full balance at checkout. The total can end up being a very large sum indeed.
If you use a debit card, however, you are really at a potentially painful disadvantage. The hotel will put a hold on money in your bank account linked to the debit card to cover the estimated balance of your stay—that is, for the entire week’s room and tax charges plus a one-time incidentals deposit to cover meals, movies, and so on charged to your room. You should be aware that the hold can therefore be a considerable amount of money and that you will not have access to that amount for any other purchases or payments with your card. (Hotels sometimes also put authorizations on credit cards, by the way, but those are not often a problem unless they exceed your card’s credit limit.)
Holds can remain in effect for three to five days or even a week after you check out. If you have pre-authorized payments from your bank account, for example your monthly mortgage payment, or if you try to make a purchase with your debit card and it's refused, the hold from the hotel can cause you trouble or result in very large overdraft fees for payments you thought you had money in your account to cover. I have seen this hit some of our members in the form of hundreds of dollars in overdraft fees.
This means that, if you use a debit card, you would have to be certain you have a high enough balance in your checking account when you come to convention to cover any debit card holds. This is a perilous practice since charges may exceed your estimate by a considerable amount. (Some frequent travelers even open a separate checking account used only for debits like these.) Remember, a hold is going to be placed on your debit card regardless of how you end up paying the bill, and the hold is not necessarily released right away, even if you pay with a credit card or cash when you check out of the hotel.
Planning ahead in this area can ensure an untroubled week at convention, leaving you free to enjoy fully the world’s largest and most exciting meeting of the blind. See you as usual in the lobby at check-in—using a credit card, I hope.
Michael Barber, president of the National Federation of the Blind of Iowa, reports with sadness that on the evening of December 11, 2010, Priscilla McKinley, a devoted NFBI member and president of the Old Capitol Chapter, died while she slept. Priscilla was awarded a 1996 NFB scholarship and became a tenBroek Fellow in 1998. She received a master of fine arts degree in creative nonfiction writing as well as a PhD in language, literature, and culture from the University of Iowa. She served twice as chapter president of the Old Capitol Chapter and served several terms on the NFBI board of directors. In October of 2004 she wrote an article for the Braille Monitor entitled "Baby Steps, Long Strides, and Elephant Seal Humps," in which she talked about her early days as a blind person and her resistance to using the long white cane.
At the 2000 NFB convention Priscilla received the NFB's Blind Educator of the Year Award. She also served as first vice president of the NFB’s teachers division and vice president of the National Organization of Blind Educators. Priscilla was an exemplary Federationist and someone we can all remember as a successful, confident, and competent blind person. Her spirit will live on through her chapter and the National Federation of the Blind of Iowa.
The following announcement comes from Patti Chang, who chairs the National Federation of the Blind’s scholarship committee. Here is what she says:
Do you need money for college? The National Federation of the Blind scholarship application is now available online. This national scholarship program is available to those who are legally blind and living in the United States or Puerto Rico. There are thirty awards, ranging in value from $3,000 to $12,000. In addition each winner will receive assistance in attending the NFB annual convention for 2011 in Orlando, Florida. Applications and supporting documents must be postmarked by March 31, 2011. The application and other important scholarship information are available online at <http://www.nfb.org/scholarships>, and questions may be emailed to [email protected]
The following comes from Anthony D'Altrui, treasurer of the Happy Valley Chapter of the NFB of Pennsylvania. Here is what he says about a loved and respected Federationist, scientist, and friend:
Congratulations to Dr. Cary Supalo, who has just earned his PhD in chemistry from Pennsylvania State University and has been accepted into the MBA program at Purdue University. He intends to pursue his MBA part-time while he ramps up his business, Independence Science, LLC, which develops and offers accessible tools for the blind for use in education and science. So next time you say hello to Cary, remember that it’s okay just to say, “What’s up, Doc?”
The Milwaukee chapter of the NFB of Wisconsin held elections at its September meeting. The officers and board members elected for 2010-2011 are as follows: president, Bill Meeker; vice president, Steve Heesen; treasurer, Cheryl Orgas; secretary, Laurie Heesen; and board members, Joanne Braun and Cindy Freeman. Thank you to those continuing in office and to those leaving the board for their service to our chapter.
Steve and Laurie Heesen welcomed Andrew John (AJ) Heesen into the world on White Cane Safety Day, Friday, October 15. He weighed eight pounds and ten ounces and was twenty-two inches long. Big brother Josiah and big sister Jenna are excited to have this little guy around--until he starts taking their toys, that is. Mom and baby are both doing well.
Reminder from the Deaf-Blind Division:
If you didn't have an opportunity to examine and purchase T-shirts from the NFB's Deaf-Blind Division during convention, you are invited to contact Division President Burnell Brown at <[email protected]> for additional details about remaining colors and sizes.
NFB of New Mexico Participates in ADA Twentieth-Anniversary Celebration:
Christine Hall, president of the National Federation of the Blind of New Mexico, reports the following:
In celebration of the twentieth anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the affiliate marched in a parade and set up a booth to tell the world about the National Federation of the Blind and our life-changing message.
The Mesilla Valley Chapter of the NFB of New Mexico initiated a joint partnership with other ADA advocates affiliated with the Las Cruces ADA advisory board to create a parade float in the September 2010 Whole Enchilada Fiesta in Las Cruces. Chapter officers and members Wesley Peters, president; Nato Gonzalez, vice president; Maryellen Kebbel, secretary; and Michelle Phillips, treasurer; and members Terry Kebbel and Scott and Wanda Moore began the float planning in early July. The parade float theme was “Happy Twentieth Birthday, ADA.” To commemorate the historic legislation of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990, a three-tier cake was built by Alfred Hughey. On the day of the parade, along with the planners, Adelmo Vigil and students at the New Mexico Commission for the Blind’s orientation center, Claudia Martinez representing Parents of Blind Children in Albuquerque, Hearing Loss Association members, Blinded Veteran Association members, and Las Cruces Mayor Ken Miyagishima marched in the two-mile-long parade to acknowledge the importance of the ADA.
An ADA information booth was set up at the three-day fiesta. Members of the NFB provided information and brochures about the organization.
Notices and information in this section may be of interest to Monitor readers. We are not responsible for the accuracy of the information; we have edited only for space and clarity.
Free Life Insurance Program for Parents:
Anthony D'Altrui, treasurer of the NFB of Pennsylvania Happy Valley Chapter, works in insurance. He has offered to provide useful financial information to Monitor readers from time to time. Here is information about a program that very few people know about. If you are a parent and earn between $10,000 and $40,000 a year, the following may be of interest to you. This is what Anthony says:
If you think nothing is free in this world, you’ll want to learn more about a free life insurance program designed for parents. The philanthropic LifeBridge Free Life Insurance program is designed to help protect a family’s dream of providing an education for their children if anything happens to them before their children finish school. It’s that simple.
Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual) will issue a $50,000 life insurance policy at no cost to you for ten years. The company pays the premiums. If you die within that time, the $50,000 is used to cover the educational expenses of your children. They have ten years after your death or until age thirty-five (whichever is later) to use this educational benefit.
The $50,000 benefit is paid to a trust administered by the MassMutual Trust Company, FSB, solely for educational expenses. The trust pays benefits directly to the schools your eligible children attend. The money can be used to pay for tuition, fees, books, campus room and board, and other educational expenses. Preschool, private school, trade schools, colleges, and universities all qualify.
"We’re trying to ensure that access to educational opportunities exists for children of working families,” said Cindie St. George, director of LifeBridge operations, MassMutual. To be eligible for the program, you must be:
• between the ages of nineteen and forty-two,
• the parent or legal guardian of one or more dependent children under age eighteen,
• a permanent legal resident of the U.S.,
• currently employed full or part time with a total family income not less than $10,000 or more than $40,000 annually,
• the only member of your household who has applied for the LifeBridge Free Life Insurance program, and
• in good health as determined by MassMutual’s underwriting standards.
For more information about this program visit <www.massmutual.com>. To ask questions or to request an eligibility form for the program, email Anthony at [email protected]
New Distance Education Program Available:
Beginning in 2008, the Hadley School for the Blind and Utah State University (USU) began partnering to meet the growing demand for an affordable certificate and degree program for paraprofessionals, teachers, and parents through distance education. Courses are offered as part of USU’s SKI-HI Institute, a unit of the College of Education’s Department of Communicative Disorders and Deaf Education. This training enables USU-Hadley students to work more effectively with children who are blind or visually impaired in a classroom.
Students can earn either a certificate in blindness at the undergraduate level or a USU associates degree in general studies with a focus in blindness, enabling them to work in a classroom with school-age children who are blind or visually impaired. Courses include Introduction to Blindness and Visual Impairment, The Human Eye and Visual System, Introduction to Braille, The Role of Paraeducators with Individuals who are Blind or Visually Impaired, Introduction to Low Vision, and Introduction to Multiple Disabilities. The program is available to teachers, teacher assistants, paraprofessionals, and parents.
It offers various student options. Certificates of completion are available at two levels: nine semester credit hours (three courses) and a practicum, or eighteen semester credit hours (six courses) and a practicum. Associates degrees in general studies require sixty total credit hours, thirty of which must be in blindness or related topics in order to receive a focus in blindness as part of the degree. Courses are also available for graduate credit or can be taken on a noncredit basis.
Choice Magazine Listening Now a Free Download:
What is the value of a well-told story? What should it cost to hear quality writing from an eclectic selection of magazines that includes the New Yorker, Scientific American, National Geographic, Smithsonian, Condé Nast Traveler, Horticulture, and about ninety others? What would you pay to have the best articles, stories, and poetry culled from all of these magazines brought to life by professional narrators? Nothing if you subscribe to Choice Magazine Listening.
Choice Magazine Listening is a free literary service for people who are blind, visually impaired, or physically disabled. Like miners in search of gold, CML’s experienced editors read through stacks of magazines every month in search of fine writing. Not surprisingly, they often find their treasure in such literary journals as the Paris Review, McSweeney’s, and Granta. But it’s just as likely they’ll unearth a gem or two from Fortune, Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair, or even Sports Illustrated. Subscribers can expect to immerse themselves in entertaining and evocative literature spanning a multitude of topics. Past issues have included such gems as “The Wreck of the Beverly B.,” an exciting excerpt from T.C. Boyle’s soon-to-be-released novel When the Killing’s Done, as published in McSweeney’s. Subscribers were also treated to “The Farm,” an excerpt from Mark Twain’s autobiography, as published in the British literary journal Granta.
Choice Magazine Listening’s recordings are packed with articles, stories, and poems by authors who have won literary prizes or received worldwide recognition. A recent issue included two major literary award winners: “Looking for the Rozziner,” a memoir by Colum McCann, who won the 2009 National Book Award, and “Magic,” a poem by Philip Levine, who won the 1995 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.
Choice Magazine Listening (www.choicemagazinelistening.org) is a free audio anthology for a special audience of blind, visually impaired, physically disabled, or dyslexic subscribers. CML was created in 1962 by the nonprofit Lucerna Fund to offer the best of contemporary magazine writing, completely without charge, to adults unable to read standard print. For more information or to subscribe, call (516) 883-8280.
Independence Market Corner:
The following 2011 calendars are available through the NFB Independence Market:
American Action Fund Braille Calendar
Comb-bound, pocket-sized Braille calendar measures 6-by-6.5 inches. Each calendar page includes the days of the month and lists major holidays. A page for personal notes is in the back. Available free of charge.
Spiral-bound large print appointment calendar measuring 8.5-by-11 inches with inside pockets. Each month is displayed on two facing pages and features two-inch blocks for each day of the month. The months are tabbed and include a section for monthly notes as well as a three-month calendar overview. The cost is ten dollars plus shipping and handling
Featuring easy-to-read large print, this new spiral-bound, 146-page organizer measures 8.25-by-11 inches. All calendar views are spread over two pages and include current and upcoming year-at-a-glance views, twelve monthly and fifty-three weekly views, as well as pages for names and addresses, notes, and personal information. The cost is $22 plus shipping and handling
For more information contact the NFB Independence Market using email at <[email protected]> or by phone at (410) 659-9314, extension 2216.
Free Audio Recordings Available:
Have you ever wished that you could read popular magazines or learn about the latest in cell phones and computer technology for people with low vision? Would you like to keep up to date on the latest treatments to reverse blindness? The Audio Internet Reading Service of Los Angeles, (AIRSLA) is your one-stop source for audio recordings on all of these topics and much more. AIRSLA is a non-profit organization that produces audio recordings called podcasts for people with low vision and those who cannot read typical print. It is made up of volunteer voiceover artists and audio engineers from throughout the United States who read articles from popular magazines such as People, Oprah, Scientific American, Sports Illustrated, Consumer Reports, and dozens more.
In addition, AIRSLA produces educational programs that will teach people with low vision how to perform daily activities independently. They also post interviews with some of the most successful people with low vision who will inspire and motivate you. It also has interview shows featuring experts in the field of low vision and technology who share the latest advances to help blind people to work, play, and learn. Whether you are interested in the arts, politics, cooking, science, sports, drama, technology, or health or you want to listen to some of the most important seminars on vision impairment from the Council of Citizens with Low Vision, International; the Foundation Fighting Blindness, or the Braille Institute, AIRSLA has the audio recordings for you. Go to <www.AIRSLA.org> on your computer or Internet radio and listen from your home or office. If you wish, you can download any of the shows and listen to them on your iPod, Victor Reader Stream, BookSense, or other MP3 listening device. Best of all, the service is free.
The notices in this section have been edited for clarity, but we can pass along only the information we were given. We are not responsible for the accuracy of the statements made or the quality of the products for sale.
Barely used PAC Mate Omni BX 400 with Perkins-style Braille keys. Features full synchronization with Microsoft Office applications and uses ActiveSync to synchronize seamlessly with your desktop computer. Your email, contacts, appointments, files, tasks, and even Web favorites are effortlessly updated every time you connect. It meets the on-the-go needs of users at work, at school, and at play with word processing, spreadsheets, and mobile Web access. The PAC Mate measures 11 inches long by 4.87 inches wide by 1.93 inches high. It weighs only one pound thirteen ounces, and it’s yours for $1,250 or best offer, with a free executive case and free shipping within the United States. For more information email <[email protected]> or call (917) 856-1720.
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