_______________________________________________________________________________

Braille Monitor

Vol. 54, No. 4                                                            April 2011

Gary Wunder, editor

Published in inkprint, in Braille, and on cassette by

The National Federation of the Blind

Marc Maurer, president

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

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

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

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

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

        ISSN 0006-8829

____________________________________________________________________

 

Orlando Site of 2011 NFB Convention

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

 

2011 National Convention Preregistration Form

Please register online at <www.nfb.org/preregistration> or print all requested information legibly on this form and mail to the address below.

Registrant Name ___________________________________________________
Address _________________________________________________________
City ____________________________________________________________
State ___________________________________ Zip ____________________
Phone __________________________________________________________

___ I will pick up my registration packet at convention.
___ The following person will pick up my registration packet:
Pickup Name ______________________________________

Please register only one person per registration form.
One check or money order may cover multiple registrations.
Check or money order (sorry, no credit cards) must be enclosed with registration form(s).

Number of preregistrations x $15 = ____________
Prepurchased banquet tickets x $50 = ____________
Total ______________

All preconvention registration and banquet sales are final (no refunds).
Mail to: National Federation of the Blind
Attn: Convention Registration
200 E. Wells Street at Jernigan Place
Baltimore, MD 21230
Registrations must be postmarked by May 31, 2011.

 

Contents

Vol. 54, No. 4                                                            April 2011

 

Lead Photo

Fidelco Guide Dogs:
Dreams of Independent Travel
Become Nightmares of Sorrow
by Marion Gwizdala

Students, Leadership, and Perspective
by Marc Maurer

It’s Going to be Hot in Orlando!
by Dan Hicks

Tours of the Sights in Orlando
by Cheryl Echevarria and Maurice Shackelford

Totally Blind Chef Makes it in Chicago
by Anita Padilla

Ode to a Mentor and a Friend
by Ryan Strunk

A Few Notes on Buying a Computer, Third Edition
by Wesley Majerus and Clara Van Gerven

Robinson Attends Challenge
by Brett Ellis

A New Jersey Fashion Exclusive
by Linda Zani Thomas

Introducing The Journal of Blindness
Innovation and Research

by Fredric K. Schroeder

Meet the Blind Month 2010
by Karen Zakhnini

When I Grow Up…
2011 NOPBC Conference for Families and Teacher
by Laura Weber

Child Care at Convention

Featured Book from the Jacobus tenBroek Library
by Ed Morman

The Record Jacket
by Donna W. Hill

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

Dialysis in Orlando
by Mike Freeman

Recipes

Monitor Miniatures

        

Copyright 2011 by the National Federation of the Blind

 

The Education Department of the National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute is in its fifth year of working under contract with the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped of the Library of Congress to administer the courses leading to certification for Braille transcribers and proofreaders.  In this past year alone its contractors graded some 5,000 course lessons and approximately 400 certification tests. As of this writing Jennifer Dunnam, manager of Braille services, has forwarded to the Library of Congress the names of 975 individuals who have earned certification as transcribers or proofreaders of literary, Nemeth, or music Braille.

Jennifer manages the program from her office in Minneapolis, where she serves as president of the NFB of Minnesota. Trisha Tatam is Jennifer’s assistant, and Steven Booth has a number of responsibilities in addition to his work with the Braille Certification Training Program, in which he and a group of subcontractors around the country grade lessons.

 

Fidelco Guide Dogs: Dreams of Independent Travel Become Nightmares of Sorrow

by Marion Gwizdala

From the Editor: Marion Gwizdala is president of the National Association of Guide Dog Users. This report is based on correspondence between a female guide dog user, the Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation, and the author. The consumer’s name has been changed to protect her from bias during the application and selection process to other guide-dog training programs.

When Brenda received her Fidelco guide dog on April 5, 2010, it ended a nearly three-year wait. Although this supposedly trained dog that she was expected to trust to guide her safely came with a few out-of-harness behavioral issues like jumping on people, scrounging for food, and having accidents on carpet, Brenda quickly became attached to her and agreed to work to resolve the problems. Working together actually made the bond between them stronger. Brenda reports that she fully engaged in the rigorous training program and as a result felt new independence and confidence. When she signed the agreement opting for ownership of her guide dog after six months, she says that she never expected that a school whose mission is “promoting increased independence to men and women who are blind by providing them with the highest quality guide dogs” would come to her home and reclaim the dog without explanation.

According to her trainer, Brenda was a competent, skilled guide dog handler. Under date of June 22, 2010, Rebecca Cook, placement specialist for Fidelco Guide Dogs, who trained Brenda and her guide dog, wrote Brenda the following email:

 

I have to say, I am very proud of you!!!!!! It sounds like you are really getting out there! I am so glad! You are doing the correct thing by correcting her and saying “leave it” then “forward.” What you could do is practice the "leave it" command under different circumstances...meaning practice at home, the grocery store, etc. That way she is remembering on a daily basis what "leave it" actually means! You could put food on the ground or a toy, have her on leash, allow her to start to go for it, then tell her "leave it" and have her target your hand/sit/down, whatever. You could also do it say in a grocery store, allow her to sniff something, then ask her to "leave it" target/sit/down, etc. Same thing with [your daughter], let [your dog] say hi and interact, then ask her to "leave it" target/sit/down...I feel real bad that you are losing so much money. I hope everything works out. I'm really sorry I won't be able to see you this time around, but I will definitely be looking forward to taking you to NYC and Boston when you come to Connecticut!!!! We will work that dog like crazy! Late September should work; let's just keep in touch regarding the timing. I think I have vacation the last week in September already scheduled (going to Virginia Beach again). But we will definitely work something out. I will call you when I have a chance to really talk! Take care, grandma, (almost)!!!!!

 

This message, written a full two months after completion of Brenda’s training, indicates that the trainer believes she is doing well and is diligent in her work. There is no concern that her guide dog is unsafe, and the tone of the message is certainly friendly.

At one point during their travels Brenda and her dog passed by a neighborhood property with automatic sprinklers that activated just as they were passing. The sudden shower startled the dog, and she began exhibiting apprehension when approaching and passing this property. The dog also began to generalize this apprehension to other places where sprinklers were running, as well as in the presence of operating fountains and infinity pools. Brenda made several calls to Fidelco seeking direction and assistance, but the issue persisted. Fidelco trainers finally decided to visit Brenda and promised they would work with her in her community for five days. If the issue was not resolved, they said they might need to bring the dog back to Fidelco for more intensive training.

Becky Cook began the follow-up training on October 20. Brenda and Becky worked together for about nine hours. At the end of the first day of training, Brenda reports that Becky told her that she thought that her guide dog “had lost none of her skills” and that Brenda “had become an expert handler.” She said that they would continue training in the morning and that Brenda should make a list of places where they could train the next day.

When Becky arrived the next morning, she told Brenda she was taking her dog back to Connecticut. Brenda says she was dismayed and asked for an explanation. Becky would say only that this was what she had been told to do. Brenda continued to ask for an explanation, and Becky said she was “only following orders.” Becky leashed up Brenda’s dog, loaded her into the car, and drove away.

“I felt betrayed,” Brenda told me. “I trusted Becky. If I had known she was going to take my dog away, I would never have let her into my house!”

Since the day her dog was taken from her, Brenda has made numerous attempts to get information about her guide dog. She spoke with Eliot Russman, Fidelco’s chief executive officer, on October 22, and he promised she would receive regular updates about her guide dog’s progress. On October 26 Mr. Russman wrote the following email to Brenda:

 

As promised when we concluded our telephone conversation this past Friday evening, I tried to call you a few minutes ago with an update about [your guide dog]. Unfortunately, the voice-mailbox is full and would not accept any more messages.

[Your dog] is in good spirits in the Fidelco kennel. She is being evaluated daily by our director of training. She is being exercised. I will be able to provide you with an updated report in about a week or so, and I will plan to call you next Monday, November 1, with any available information.

In advance, thank you for your patience,
Eliot

Eliot D. Russman
CEO and Executive Director
Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation, Inc.
"Share the Vision"
<www.fidelco.org>
Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

 

Because Brenda knew she was going to be unavailable most of November 1, she says that she telephoned Mr. Russman on October 29. She was told he was out of the office. Brenda left a message for him, letting him know of her unavailability and requesting that he call her early in the morning or later in the day on November 1. Anxious for word about her guide dog on that day, Brenda reports that she called Fidelco at 8:00 a.m. and once more in the afternoon. Both times she was told that he was unavailable, and both times she left him a message.

Mr. Russman returned Brenda’s call later that evening and began explaining that her guide dog “had been evaluated by the director of training and other Fidelco trainers, and they have determined that the dog is an inappropriate guide dog match” for her. In light of the seven months of successful work and the praise she had received from Becky Cook on her “expert” handling ability just a few days earlier, Brenda reports that she felt very confused. She asked Mr. Russman what guidelines had been used to determine that they were an “inappropriate match.” She says that Mr. Russman replied, “I don’t have to answer you, and I decline to answer that question.”

Brenda offered to travel to Connecticut at her own expense to work with Fidelco’s director of training to demonstrate their ability as a team. Brenda says that Mr. Russman told her that this would not be a “fair assessment” since her guide dog was familiar with the area around Fidelco. When she offered to be evaluated in New York City or Boston, Mr. Russman again asserted that that would not be a “fair assessment” either, since her dog had been trained in those places as well. Brenda reports that she continued to press Mr. Russman for an opportunity to prove to Fidelco that she was a good handler and that she and her dog were a good match, but he became indignant and said, “I am the CEO, and I am Fidelco. All my decisions are the final word!”

Brenda says that she pressed further for an explanation and was again told, “I don’t have to answer your questions, and I decline to answer your questions.” When she inquired about future plans for her guide dog, he told her that her dog was no longer her concern. Brenda reports that Mr. Russman finally said, “I don’t have to answer your questions! I decline to answer your questions! You are keeping me from spending time with my wife! How dare you! This conversation is over!” and hung up on her, even though he was the one who had placed the call.

Brenda says that nothing in Mr. Russman’s email message or at any time during their conversation made any direct or implied statement expressing concern about the safety of the dog’s work. The decision to remove the dog seemed to Brenda to have been arbitrary. The rationale for removing the dog is hard to understand given the statements of Becky Cook who characterized their work in her email as “expert.” In the weeks since this decision, Brenda has made a number of telephone calls and each time has been told that Mr. Russman was in a meeting. She has left messages for him each time but has received no return calls. Unable to speak with Mr. Russman by telephone, Brenda sent him a letter by mail asking for an explanation of why her guide dog had been taken from her; what Fidelco’s plans for the dog were; and, if the dog was to be retired, could it be returned to her? She further requested a replacement dog from Fidelco and offered to travel to Connecticut, at her own expense, for training, but she reports that she received no reply to her written inquiry.

Frustrated with Fidelco’s lack of response, she contacted the National Center for the Blind in Baltimore and was referred to me as the president of the guide dog division. I secured a written and signed release of information from Brenda authorizing Fidelco to discuss information from her file with me and began telephoning and writing to Eliot Russman myself. I made three telephone calls to him at various times of the day over a three-week period, and each time I was told that he was in a meeting. I did receive email messages from him after leaving voicemail messages. His first email message to me, dated December 29, 2010, read:

 

I just received an email from our office regarding your telephone message of earlier this morning (below). I'm out of town for a few days and will be returning to the office the week of January 03, 2011.

I am delighted to chat with you about the Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation and our organization's fifty years of experience and expertise in breeding, training, and placing German shepherd guide dogs. We can discuss, at length, Fidelco's client application process, our Selection Committee review process and our in-community placement program that Fidelco pioneered in the United States over twenty-five years ago. We can also discuss our recent accreditation renewal by the International Guide Dog Federation (IGDF), successfully completed during August 2010. And we can discuss our best-practices client service program, along with our annual client team review process, designed to insure the safety of all our guide dog/human partner teams.

What I cannot, and will not, discuss with you is anything regarding Fidelco's clients: past, present, or future. I'm certain that, given your position and experience with the National Association of Guide Dog Users/NFB, you can appreciate client confidentiality, HIPAA, and the like.

Perhaps a good next step would be for you to send along some times that are convenient for us to have a telephone conversation next week.

Happy holidays and warm regards,
Eliot

 

That same day I replied to Mr. Russman:

Thank you very much for your message. Though I would be open to discussing all of the topics you mention in your message, I am well aware of Fidelco's history. What I am interested in discussing with you, however, is Fidelco's ownership agreement and its practical application, in general, and the issues raised by Brenda, in particular. As president of the National Association of Guide Dog Users (NAGDU) and a professional in the mental health field, I am aware of issues of confidentiality and privacy. It is for this reason that I have instructed Brenda to send a signed release allowing you to discuss her case with me. Once you have received this release, please contact me so we can attempt to amicably resolve this issue. My contact information is below my signature.

 

On January 11, 2011, having received the signed release of information from Brenda authorizing Fidelco to discuss her case with me and not having received a reply to my email message, I telephoned Mr. Russman again and was again told that he was in a meeting and was transferred to his voicemail, where I left a message for him to call me to discuss Brenda’s case. I received an email message the following day advising me that, due to severe weather, Fidelco would be shut down. I replied to this message, saying that he should have received Brenda’s signed authorization and requesting a telephone call from him to discuss the issue. On January 20 I received an email reply giving me two dates and times to “chat about Fidelco.”

I met with Eliot Russman by telephone on January 24, 2011. Julie Gamble, Fidelco’s chief operating officer, was also on the call. Mr. Russman inquired about anyone else on the call with us, and I said that no one was with me. I asked if he was in receipt of the release of information form signed by Brenda authorizing Fidelco to discuss her case with us, and he indicated that he was. I told him my purpose was to attempt an amicable resolution of the issue. Mr. Russman advised me that he could not discuss Brenda’s case with me due to “privacy and confidentiality.”

 I again confirmed that he was in receipt of the release of information form that Brenda had signed, and he advised me that it was not adequate since it had been neither witnessed nor notarized. I asked if he would discuss the issue if he had such a witnessed, notarized form, and he did not answer. I asked if Fidelco had a form that was appropriate and acceptable for this purpose, but he did not answer, repeatedly citing issues of privacy and confidentiality. I have no doubt that Mr. Russman was certain Brenda had authorized Fidelco to discuss this situation with me in light of her numerous attempts to do so herself. I am equally sure that her file at Fidelco contains a number of signed forms that the school had accepted as including authentic signatures, none of which had been witnessed or notarized.

Mr. Russman asked if I had read the Fidelco ownership agreement. He referred me to “section d, as in dog” that states, "I agree that Fidelco may repossess the dog in the event I do not comply with this agreement, in the event I do not provide proper and humane care for the dog as determined by Fidelco in its sole judgment, or for any other reason as determined by Fidelco in its sole and absolute discretion. In such event title to the dog will revert to Fidelco automatically at Fidelco's option." I said that I had read the agreement and, though I was not an attorney, did not consider it an ownership agreement—an opinion later confirmed by legal counsel.

For nearly a half hour I pressed Mr. Russman to explain why the dog was repossessed, and he was steadfast in his refusal to answer my questions. He finally did say that the dog had been repossessed “for safety reasons.” When I asked for clarification of the safety issues, he reverted to statements about privacy and confidentiality.

Mr. Russman then advised me that I did not have all of the information. He asserted that I needed to read a missing document. I asked him for more information about this document, and he told me I needed to talk to Brenda. I asked him if he could be a little more specific, and he refused, repeating that I needed to read a missing document, emphasizing the phrase by repeating the words slowly in a tone that felt very condescending. “If it is missing,” I asked, “how can I get it?” He again said that I needed to get it from Brenda. I later asked Brenda if she knew what this missing document might be, but she had no idea.

At the end of the conversation, Mr. Russman asserted that he could not share information about Fidelco’s clients, but Brenda’s father was not their client, so he felt “comfortable sharing the details of a long and friendly conversation” with him. He reported that, at the end of this conversation, her father had said, “If I were you, I would not give my daughter another guide dog, either!” Mr. Russman said this was evidence that the consumer was not being truthful with me. He said that even her own father didn’t support her. I later spoke with Brenda’s father, and, when I repeated what Mr. Russman had told me about their conversation, and he replied that he was a liar. He further said that the telephone call to Mr. Russman had not been long, lasting only a few minutes; was not a conversation since Mr. Russman had said very little; and was by no means friendly.

Before ending the call with Mr. Russman, I told him that the blind community is a close-knit group of people who share information freely. I said I had heard that Fidelco had treated other consumers similarly. He replied by quoting Mark Twain, who said, “The rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated!” Of course, rumors remain rumors only until they are confirmed.

On January 25 Mr. Russman sent me an email message summarizing his version of our telephone meeting. He wrote in part, “Thank you for your time yesterday and for the opportunity to discuss various aspects of the Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation program with Julie and me.” He went on to describe my affect as “frustrated by Fidelco's adherence to a strict confidentiality policy regarding our client information.”

On January 26 I replied to him, objecting to his characterization of the facts. I said, “Your unwillingness to discuss Brenda’s case with me in spite of her signed release giving you permission to do so only causes me to wonder what you are hiding and your motivation for doing so.”

On January 29 I circulated an email message seeking other consumers who had been treated by Fidelco in what they considered to be an arbitrary or unjust manner. Within twelve hours I had heard from three people with similar stories. On February 17 I heard about two more cases. In each instance those responding reported that Fidelco had removed their guide dogs with no explanation.

I have received several calls from Fidelco consumers defending Fidelco. One caller told me he received his second Fidelco guide dog in 2005 and had nothing but praise for them. I replied that the Fidelco of 2005 is not the same Fidelco with which we are dealing today.

I want to assure Fidelco consumers that the National Federation of the Blind and the National Association of Guide Dog Users are not engaged in an anti-Fidelco initiative. No matter which training program blind people choose, we should have the expectation that we will be treated fairly and with dignity and respect. If, for some reason, the program needs to take action against a consumer, it should not be arbitrary and “at the sole and absolute discretion” of the program. We agree that cases occur in which a dog needs to be removed because of neglect, abuse, or safety issues; however, this decision should be based upon objective, real evidence of such issues.

I appreciate the dedication Fidelco consumers have demonstrated by their telephone calls and email messages of support for Fidelco. I would also like to say that, for every message of support, I have received two messages expressing concern. I, too, am very loyal to the program from which I received my guide dog. At the same time, if I had heard that they were treating consumers the way Mr. Russman and his staff seem to have treated these people, I would be the first to stand up and demand a reasonable explanation and accountability for their actions.

The time for custodial and paternalistic treatment of the blind in the guide dog movement is long past. We have the right to direct our lives and be free of the type of intimidation Brenda and the others seem to have experienced from Fidelco. Time was when Fidelco was well respected as an innovator in the guide dog movement. This respect is rapidly eroding. As consumers we are their primary stakeholders. I urge you to join me in resisting the regressive policies and practices employed by the current Fidelco administration that are contradictory to the basic tenets of human rights and compromise the confidence of blind consumers.

The National Federation of the Blind will continue to advocate on behalf of the consumers who request our assistance. We urge you to join with us, making our voice louder and strengthening our ability to forge a positive direction for the blind. I believe the result will be a return to the quality services and sound reputation for which Fidelco has been known.

 

Students, Leadership, and Perspective

by Marc Maurer

From the Editor: Over the years I've seen many pieces of legislation introduced and passed at the instigation of the National Federation of the Blind. Our annual message to the Congress almost always has something about programs of the Social Security Administration. This is not surprising since for some blind people Social Security benefits represent the bulk of their income and for others the way they move from education to employment.

In this article President Maurer explains how we have arrived at the positions we've adopted about Social Security and explains the decision-making process used in making Federation policy. Here is what he says:

In the spring of 2010 I met with a group of students at our headquarters in Baltimore. I had wondered about whether we should conduct a student leadership seminar. The president of the student division thought we should. In the planning, I learned that the president thought that she should lead it. With this in mind I wondered what my participation in the seminar would be. After discussing it with her, we came to the conclusion that I should come to talk about the policies of the Federation, the method for these policies to be adopted, the implementation of such policies, and the position of students within the structure of the Federation.

Shortly after I joined the meeting, I discovered that what the students wanted to discuss was the Federation’s policy supporting disability insurance programs for the blind. They did not like this policy. They thought that supporting disability insurance payments to the blind was equivalent to demanding payments without earning them—asking for money for nothing. They thought that the position of the Federation about the nature of blindness was being compromised by our policy to support disability insurance payments. How can the Federation simultaneously argue that with proper training and opportunity blindness can be reduced to the level of a physical nuisance while at the same time demanding Social Security payments based solely on the disability of blindness?

The students and I discussed both the substance of the policy about disability insurance and the way the Federation came to adopt the policy. The substantive part of the argument goes something like this. Although blindness can be reduced to the level of a physical nuisance with proper training and opportunity, most of the time proper training is hard to get, and opportunity is denied to all of us at least part of the time. Blindness is a disadvantage in employment, in education, in certain types of entertainment, and in other circumstances. The unemployment rate for the blind is estimated at greater than 70 percent. The graduation rate for blind people from high schools is estimated at 45 percent. In any activity in the community blind people find themselves discouraged from participation. A realistic view of blindness is that it is a substantial economic disadvantage.

An individual, a group of people, or a society may obtain insurance against disadvantages. Disability insurance is a program to provide recompense for the economic disadvantage of blindness and of other physical disabilities. A society is not obliged to have such insurance, but it may come to believe that having such insurance is beneficial. The effort of the National Federation of the Blind to persuade Congress to obtain this insurance on behalf of blind people is an effort to identify blindness as an economic disadvantage and to mitigate this disadvantage through payments provided to those who possess this characteristic.

A further philosophical reason for favoring disability insurance has sometimes been offered. Classes of those in society who are regarded as inferior to others can change the perception of inferiority by creating the environment which offers to those who are thought to be inferior advantages not readily available to others. Most folks do not want to be among the blind. However, if the advantages are good enough, some people will want to change groups. The fact of blindness does not create inferiority. However, the social perception of blindness quite often does. So creating advantages for the group perceived as inferior helps to change this perception.

The students were not happy with this argument. They responded by saying that other groups also have disadvantages. Why should the blind be singled out? Why should there not be a comprehensive program to meet such disadvantages as exist?

The National Federation of the Blind represents blind people. It does not represent other groups. It has background and experience about blindness, and it is the largest organization of the blind in the nation. It espouses a positive philosophy about blindness. Hence it is the best organization to represent the blind that can be found. The members of the National Federation of the Blind have come together in Convention to establish the policy of supporting disability insurance. The Federation does not oppose policies sought by others to gain advantages they believe are useful. However, the Federation is not an appropriate representative for any group other than the blind. Therefore we seek adoption of legislation designed to serve the best interests of the blind.

I pointed out to the students that one of the obligations of the president of the National Federation of the Blind is to carry into effect policies adopted by the Convention. Support for disability insurance is one of our policies. If the students want this policy to change, they must persuade the Convention to alter it. We do this by presenting proposed resolutions to the resolutions committee. Resolutions are policy statements of the Federation. If the resolutions committee, a group of dozens of Federation leaders from throughout the United States, believes that these proposed statements of policy should be adopted, it votes to send them to the convention floor. If the committee decides not to pass a resolution, it may still come to the Convention for consideration if the delegates from five state affiliates bring it jointly to the convention floor. The Convention, acting as the supreme authority of the organization, decides upon statements of policy. The president is expected to administer the organization to give effect to these statements of policy.

Subsequent to my meeting with the students, I was looking through past issues of the Braille Monitor. I found an article by Dr. Jacobus tenBroek, the founding president of the Federation, entitled “Special Legislation vs. Equality—A False Dilemma,” which appeared in November, 1960. In Dr. tenBroek’s article he indicates that some have claimed a “dilemma” in the field of blindness. “That ‘dilemma,’ it soon appears, consists largely of the well-worn charge that the blind cannot in justice claim that they are `normal’ while pressing for special programs ‘on the basis that blindness somehow automatically makes a person subnormal.’ …If the pertinent `conditions’ imposed by blindness—social, economic, psychological, and so on—are not `identical’ to those of other disabled groups, then the principle…is simply irrelevant.”

These are some of the words of Dr. tenBroek published in 1960, more than half a century ago, in support of the policy of the National Federation of the Blind to seek payments to the blind through the national Social Security system. That blindness carries with it economic and social disadvantage was then a part of the basis for this policy. This element of the understanding of blindness remains as real today as it was half a century ago.

I reflect that the fundamental discussion of the nature of blindness and the proper approach of policy in the Federation required by this fundamental comprehension remain as vital today as they have been throughout the history of our movement. In 1969 I participated in a training program for blind people directed by Dr. Kenneth Jernigan, who was then serving as the president of the Federation. I met the idea that blind people are normal human beings who cannot see. I demanded to know why normal human beings should receive payments based upon blindness alone. I said that welfare is intended to mitigate the disadvantage of poverty, that preventing starvation is a salutary goal of a society, but that payments to normal human beings who cannot see are not in accordance with this salutary goal.

Dr. Jernigan responded by telling me that insurance and welfare payments are not the same. Welfare payments meet basic living expenses that would otherwise not be met—prevent starvation. Insurance is meant to compensate a person for a loss which has been encountered.

However, I argued, those who are already blind cannot buy insurance against becoming what they already are. Besides, if blind people are normal, the loss is only incidental to their lives.

Dr. Jernigan replied to these arguments by telling me that insurance purchased by an individual is intended to protect against losses that may happen in the future. However, insurance purchased by a group may also incorporate protection against conditions possessed by members of the group that pre-date the purchase of the insurance. For example, Congress could decide to adopt a law providing crop insurance for farmers against drought. This insurance might well be payable to a farmer experiencing loss from drought that had occurred before the law was adopted. Beyond all of this, Dr. Jernigan pointed out that a loss of vision may not strip a human being of the normality of that human being while, at the same time, imposing severe economic disadvantages. He cited the dramatically high unemployment rate for the blind as evidence of this economic disadvantage. Consequently it is reasonable for a society to decide to purchase disability insurance to protect against the economic and social disadvantages of blindness. When we had reached this stage of the argument, I found myself unable to discover further challenges to offer. Dr. Jernigan suggested that I go where my mind led me.

In the spring of 2010 I urged the students to remember that we adopt policy in the Federation by submitting resolutions to the resolutions committee. Some of the students thought about writing a resolution for the 2010 convention. Eventually they decided not to try to craft a policy which would alter our position supporting disability insurance. Therefore the policy of the Federation has remained. However, those who feel that this policy is in error still have the opportunity to prepare and submit resolutions for the 2011 convention. Sharon Maneki chairs the committee. Our policies require that those who wish to submit resolutions must send them to the chairperson of the resolutions committee or to the president no later than June 20, 2011.

What blindness is and what it is not are very important fundamental topics of discussion for Federationists. What policies should be adopted to implement programs that arise from the fundamental understanding of blindness is no less important. The resolutions committee is the place to raise these questions because this leads to a discussion on the convention floor. Throughout the history of the Federation, the Convention has remained the supreme authority of the organization. The Convention may decide on any policy which it believes should be adopted. I look forward to the discussion that will happen at the Convention.

 

It’s Going to be Hot in Orlando!

by Dan Hicks

From the Editor: Dan Hicks is president of the NFB of Florida. He and the rest of the Floridians are getting ready for a memorable convention. Rooms at our headquarters hotel are going fast, so make your reservations today. This is what Dan has to say:

Everybody knows July in Orlando is hot. Anyone who has ever been to a convention of the National Federation of the Blind also knows that the hottest place to be the first part of this July will be the 2011 convention of the NFB, which will be held July 3 through 8 at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort. If you haven’t yet made your hotel reservations, now is the time. Just call (866) 996-6338 and tell the friendly reservationist that you want those great NFB convention rates.

The Rosen Shingle Creek is as nearly perfect a hotel for our needs as we could ever hope for. It is one of Orlando’s newest and most respected meeting destinations. The resort features golf courses, four swimming pools, a full-service fitness center and spa, and nearly half a million square feet of meeting space. You can bet we will be using much or all of this space for our convention. One of the truly marvelous attributes we can look forward to is that our meeting rooms will all be in the same location.

Among the luxurious amenities of the sleeping rooms and suites, you will find: ultra-comfortable Creek sleeper beds, thirty-two-inch flat screen TVs, high-speed Internet connection capabilities, two telephones, hairdryers, plush robes, mini-refrigerators, coffeemakers, first-class toiletries, and laptop safes.

The hotel features a number of award-winning restaurants, bars, and other eateries; is very close to dozens of famous restaurants on Orlando’s International Drive; and is across the street from a Publix Supermarket. The hotel will help you with reasonably priced travel to and from any of these destinations. Ask about the NFB convention rates for this transportation, which at press time is expected to be $5 per vehicle to travel to or from Publix and $10 per vehicle to travel to or from destinations on International Drive.

Our low convention rates are legendary, and at $63 a night (plus tax) a convention vacation stay in this hotel will create memories you and your family and friends will treasure forever. The Rosen Shingle Creek Resort has given us our fantastic hotel rates from June 28 through July 14, 2011, so plan on coming a couple of days early or leaving a few days after the convention ends. There is much to do in the central Florida area, home of Universal Studios Orlando, Disney, SeaWorld, and the Kennedy Space Center.

NFB members Cheryl Echevarria of Echevarria Travel and Maurice Shackelford of Peachtreetravel.net are working with the Florida affiliate on exciting tours for July 9, 2011, and other days as well. If you are staying later or coming to Orlando earlier, contact them for the latest tour and travel information. Please see their accompanying information-packed article in this issue.

Even if you’ve been to dozens of NFB conventions, you’ve never been to one as hot as this one is shaping up to be. We’ll have plenty of really cool things to do and lots of cool drinks and air conditioning. See you all in Orlando.

 

Tours of the Sights in Orlando

by Cheryl Echevarria and Maurice Shackelford

From the Editor: Cheryl Echevarria of Echevarria Travel is treasurer of the Long Island Chapter of the NFB of New York. Maurice Shackelford of Peachtreetravel.net is a member of the NFB of Georgia. They are working with the Florida affiliate to provide exciting tours on July 9, 2011. If you are staying later or coming into Orlando earlier, they can also help you plan special tours in the area. This is what they say:

The Rosen Shingle Creek Resort has given us our fabulous rates from June 28 through July 14, so, if you haven’t made your hotel reservations, you need to do so immediately. We will be visiting Orlando, one of the best family cities in the United States. While you are there, why not take the time to enjoy the various attractions close to the Rosen Shingle Creek facility?

We are organizing tours to the Kennedy Space Center, Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, and SeaWorld. The tour buses will cost $20 a person, roundtrip. We need deposits of $10 per person and a head count by May 1 for all destinations so that we know exactly how many buses we will need to reserve. The final payment of $10 per person for the bus and the full cost of all admission tickets being ordered are due by June 1, 2011. Make arrangements for payment directly with Cheryl or Maurice. Their contact information appears at the close of this article.
 
Kennedy Space Center

Admission price: $90.09 per person, $180.09 per couple, and $65.09 for children under eleven. This eight-hour tour of the Kennedy Space Center includes lunch with an astronaut. The Kennedy Space Center is an Orlando-style space-travel theme park that’s real. It's a great day for the whole family, and it’s only forty-five minutes from Orlando. NASA's launch headquarters is located on a huge island wildlife refuge eight times the size of Manhattan.

Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex Admission includes: Kennedy Space Center tour of NASA's launch headquarters, shuttle launch experience, astronaut encounter, two IMAX films (Space Station 3-D and Magnificent Desolation), all shows and exhibits, and a visit to the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame. (This package can be a two-day ticket, allowing you to see everything in one day or divide your experience into two days within a seven-day period.)

The Space Pass: This package gives you everything in the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex Admission as well as having lunch with an astronaut and taking the Discover KSC: Today and Tomorrow guided tour (reservations required). This pass can also be used over two consecutive days within a seven-day period. Visitor guides are available in large print, Braille, and audio tape. The complex is wheelchair accessible. Wheelchairs are available at no additional charge from the information counter inside the entrance. Captioning systems and descriptive narration are available for the IMAX presentations. Restaurant menus are available in Braille and large print.

Our Tour Itinerary

Attractions at Kennedy Space Center include:

Kennedy Space Center Tour--Board a fleet of forty-four air-conditioned buses and observe firsthand the Apollo/Saturn V Center, the LC-39 Observation Gantry, and the International Space Station Center. Guided bus tours depart each day from 9:30 a.m. (seasonal), and run continuously throughout the day. Also on the tour is the acclaimed Apollo Saturn V Center, where guests can relive the days of America's moon landings by experiencing a simulated launch from mission control, viewing a real 363-foot-long Saturn V moon rocket, and taking a front row seat as man takes his first steps on the moon.

Astronaut Encounter--Guests to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex will have the opportunity to meet a real astronaut every day. This innovative program consists of question-and-answer sessions, mission briefings, video footage, space artifacts, and personal stories of space travel as told by those who have experienced it. Walk through full-scale mock-ups of space station modules and visit the viewing gallery, where you can see actual space station components being readied for flight.

IMAX Theatres--Two different larger-than-life films take you on an awe-inspiring journey into space on screens over five stories tall. Dramatic footage, photographed in space by the astronauts, gives each of the IMAX films an exciting you-are-there feeling.

U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame--Located at the entrance of Kennedy Space Center, the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame houses the world's largest collection of astronaut memorabilia, exhibits, and tributes. Realistic training simulators allow you to feel the pressure of four times the force of gravity, ride a river across Mars, and land a space shuttle.

Lunch with an Astronaut--This meal opportunity, currently offered every day of the week at 12:15 p.m. at the Visitor Complex, includes a banquet-style lunch with a speaking appearance by a real astronaut. The popular program incorporates a highlight video of astronauts living and working in space, a brief oration, and individual time with each family for Q&A and photos. The meal is topped off by a wonderful selection of desserts. Guests even receive an autographed souvenir to take home. Program runs approximately one hour (reservations required).

Discover KSC: Today and Tomorrow Tour--Led by a trained space expert, this tour gives visitors an insider's view of the space program from launch preparation to lift-off. The tour includes up-close views of Space Shuttle launch pads, the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB), massive crawler-transporters, which move the shuttle from the VAB to its launch pad, and shuttle landing runway. Also included is a very special stop at the International Space Station Processing Facility, where visitors view actual Space Station modules being readied for launch.

Walt Disney World Day Pass

Admission is $82 per adult and $74 per child. If you plan on coming to NFB conventions in Orlando in the future, we recommend the purchase of no-expiration tickets, so, if you want to visit Disney World again and again, your tickets will not expire. Also, if you are a Florida resident, the tickets are cheaper. Ask Cheryl about the no-expiration tickets and the water park options as well. If you are staying longer at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort, let us know as well. We can get you more day passes and hopper tickets to other parks in Walt Disney World.

We are also working on a special tour of Walt Disney World for those who are interested. An additional price of $74 per person provides this once-in-a-lifetime tour experience. This tour is also wheelchair accessible. It is called the Disney’s Keys to the Kingdom tour for those who don’t like theme parks but would love to know the history of Walt Disney and his world. It highlights the fascinating history of Walt Disney World Resort and provides backstage access to secret areas of the Magic Kingdom theme park. Guests must be at least sixteen years of age. This approximately 4.5-hour walking tour explores the stories behind the remarkable creation and growth of the Magic Kingdom theme park. Hear the intriguing story of Walt Disney and learn how his innovative ideas, revolutionary vision, creative philosophy, and amazing accomplishments brought the theme park to life. The journey includes stops at backstage facilities and a variety of favorite attractions.

One unforgettable highlight is a trip below Magic Kingdom theme park into the service tunnels known as the Utilidors. This is one urban legend that is absolutely true—the guest-accessible areas of Magic Kingdom theme park are actually on the second floor of a massive structure. The first floor allows cast members, deliveries, and even trash to be transported below guests' feet as they wait in line for their favorite attractions.

Ask about character dining at the parks and the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique for girls and the Knight Package for boys. Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique is a beauty salon, where little girls are magically transformed into little princesses at two locations and boys over three years old have their own special Knight Package, which includes hair styling as well as a mighty sword and shield.

Universal Studios

A one-day pass to Universal is $87.29 per adult, $78.79 for children three to nine, and infants are admitted free.

SeaWorld

A one-day pass is $84.95 per adult, $74.95 for children three to nine, and infants are free. Spend the day at SeaWorld Orlando, and come face-to-face with the ocean's most fascinating marine animals. With over thirty attractions, a show, and rides, this family-friendly SeaWorld Orlando admission ticket has something for everyone.

Venture into the amazing world of the ocean and its inhabitants as SeaWorld Orlando takes you on an unforgettable journey into the deep. With various up-close encounters with killer whales, sharks, polar bears, and turtles, you'll feel the enthusiasm, energy, and excitement of all kinds of marine life.

Many more Orlando area attractions and experiences are waiting for you. Let us know what you are interested in when you book your bus seat. To contact Cheryl, email <reservations@echevarriatravel.com> or phone her at (866) 580-5574. To reach Maurice Shackelford, email <reservations@peachtreetravel.net> or call him at (888) 389-2723. Do it today.

Giving a Dream

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.

Seize the Future

The National Federation of the Blind has special giving opportunities that will benefit the giver as well as the NFB. Of course the largest benefit to the donor is the satisfaction of knowing that the gift is leaving a legacy of opportunity. However, gifts may be structured to provide more:

NFB programs are dynamic:

Your gift makes you a partner in the NFB dream. For further information or assistance, contact the NFB planned giving officer.

 

Totally Blind Chef Makes it in Chicago

by Anita Padilla

From the Editor: The following story aired on Fox News in Chicago on Wednesday, February 16, 2011. Clearly Laura Martinez is holding her own in a career that most people, even blind people, would consider impossible for a totally blind person. She is one more example proving that we should never say no to a blind person’s dreams. Here is the story:

World travelers know Charlie Trotter's restaurant is a culinary experience like no other. What arrives on the table is virtually a work of art. It all starts in the kitchen, where chefs like Laura Martinez put their heart and soul into their work. Martinez is just like everyone else, only she is totally blind. "We're like family; no one is like, `You can't do this because you can't see,’ or anything like that. They treated me like anyone else," Martinez said.

"It is really quite fascinating to see her in action," said owner and chef Charlie Trotter. "To see her make a plate of food, you would say, `Oh my God!' you really wouldn't even dream this was made by someone who is blind."

Trotter hired Martinez a year ago while she was still in culinary school at Le Cordon Bleu. He was impressed with not only her cooking--but what he witnessed, a determined student who lacked sight, but exuded passion. "I was watching her cook and touch food, very delicate with sensitive, tactile awareness to what she was doing,...literally touching boiling oil to get temperatures right,” Trotter said. “She was touching things, seasoning things, even putting together a plate that included fried chicken and layered potatoes au gratin."

Martinez remembers the moment too. "He came in, he tasted my food, and he offered me a job,” she said. “I was in kind of a big shock. He was the first person to offer me an opportunity to work in a real industry like this."

Anyone who has spent time in a working kitchen knows it can be a little dangerous because of the fire and the knives you are using. Martinez is not afraid of anything in Trotter’s world-class kitchen, and in fact she likes to live life on the edge. Her hands are her eyes. And she uses them to roll dough, make pasta, place food on the fire, and chop vegetables with large knives--her favorite kitchen tool.

"I just love the danger, the way you play with them,” Martinez said. “You have to control the knife, not the knife control you. I got used to them. The more I used them, the more I liked them."

Being blind was only part of the challenge Martinez faced growing up. She comes from humble beginnings and is the youngest of five siblings. Her family thought a culinary career was impossible. Now she knows better. Martinez says being blind or challenged doesn't mean you can't envision a better life. "Stop using an excuse; whether it's your money, disability, laziness, or whatever," she said. "You can do whatever you want to do; it's up to you. No one is going to come up to you and say, `Hey you, wanna do this?' It's up to you."

For many, working alongside Chef Trotter would mean they have reached their goal. But Martinez says the next thing she wants to do is open a restaurant of her own. Hers will feature a fusion of Asian and Mexican fare. She's got a big supporter in her corner--Chef Trotter--who has no doubt she'll be great. "In the meantime she is contributing. So that's the win-win for everybody," Trotter said.

 

Ode to a Mentor and a Friend

by Ryan Strunk

From the Editor: The following article appeared in the Winter 2011 issue of the Minnesota Bulletin, a publication of the NFB of Minnesota. It captures the way many of us felt and have come to feel about our teachers--the good ones--the ones we used to say we didn't like but who challenged us enough that we knew there were standards to meet, goals to achieve, and a person to satisfy who actually demanded something of us. We detested and then came to love these special people for not making allowances and excuses because we were blind. I wish I had had the good sense to write something like this for my first public school teacher while she was still living. Here is the article, including the original editor's note:

Bulletin Editor's Note: This is the winner of the 2010 Metro Chapter essay contest. Ryan grew up in Fremont, Nebraska. He is a communications instructor teaching Braille and computer at Blindness: Learning In New Dimensions (BLIND); is a past president of the National Association of Blind Students, an NFB division; and is a member of the Metro Chapter of the NFB of Minnesota. We are glad to have him in Minnesota.

From age two to age eighteen I had the privilege of working with Kim Adams on everything from learning Braille to cooking to traveling independently--all skills in which many of today's blind youth never receive training. Because of Kim's excellent teaching and boundless dedication, I am able to lead a normal, productive life.

But Kim's story is also our story. The time and effort she was willing to put forth to ensure that her students received the training we would need to be competent, successful blind people is the same work each of us in the National Federation of the Blind of Minnesota does every time we advocate for the rights of blind people. Every time we hold ourselves and the public to a higher standard of expectations, we raise the bar that much higher for those who will come after us, and, though some may tell us we are being unrealistic or expecting too much of blind people, we, the blind, know better.

Kim Adams is retired from the public school system now, but she continues to work to improve the lives of blind children across the country. She is still active in the National Federation of the Blind, and she still believes wholeheartedly in the capabilities of blind people. When Kim retired in 2008, her coworkers asked those of us who had learned from her to write our reflections for her in a scrapbook. I include my remarks here as a public thanks to Kim for helping me to become the man I am today. At the same time, however, I include them here to show just how much of an impact the work we do can have. Kim's story is our story, and our story is a great one.

Dear Kim,

I wonder if there is a nice way to tell someone he or she is mean. I suppose it all depends on how I write it and how you take it. I hope, though, that as you read what amounts to a heartfelt roast--one out of love, of course--you will keep in mind that, as far as I'm concerned, you did everything right.

Kim, let's be honest with one another. I mean really, really honest. You're mean, okay? Sometimes you're downright cruel! Five detentions for not writing down my assignments? And not once, but three or four times. That's fifteen to twenty detentions. That's seven and a half to ten hours of my life that I'll never get back. Granted I've spent more than that in front of the Nintendo on a good weekend, but I mean, really!

Everyone else got their books from the teachers. Not me. I had to order my own books, all the time. So unfair. You made me sew. You made me cook. You made me vacuum your house. I am not your maid. I had to miss lunch in first grade so I could sit in a dark classroom with you and learn to cut meat. If God had wanted us to use forks, he wouldn't have given us fingers. I had to walk around with sleepshades on--in public--in front of people! "What are you?" they asked--"a burn victim"? "Why do you have those things on your face?"

I had to miss class to study Braille. "He's so lucky," they said. "He gets out of class fifteen minutes early." Yeah? Well, while you guys were studying your aquamarine and teal readers, I was prancing my happy bootie up and down the sidewalks learning to cross streets and shoreline. Lucky me, huh?

Do you have any idea how hard it is to write with a slate and stylus? You do? Well, do you have any idea how hard it is to write with a slate and stylus on an empty stomach? You don't care? Well I'll just starve, then. See how you like it! You called me blind! You wouldn't even let me hide behind the false security of political correctness. "I'm not blind; I'm optically occluded." and I could go on….

I wonder why it never struck me before that there was more to your style than my perception of your sadism. Probably because, when you're a child and a kid and a preteen and a teenager and a young adult, life is unfair. I should get what I want, regardless of whether or not it is what I deserve. So you were mean—and, if we're still being honest, you were more than mean. If we printed what I really thought about you sometimes, this book would probably catch fire.

I have to wonder as I'm writing this what you're thinking at this point. Are you blushing? Are you quaking with righteous indignation? Are you holding fast to grim resolve? "So what if I was mean," you might be saying to yourself. "It was for your own good." I hope it's the last of those, because despite my grumbling and grouchiness, my wheedling and whining, my cursing and complaining, my bartering and bit…--well, you get the picture--I think I may just have turned out okay, and I owe much of it to you.

As I look back on it now, I realize what a pain in the neck I was, and for that I'm sorry. I think, though, on some level it really was sinking in--with glacial slowness, of course--but sinking in nonetheless.

You gave me detentions for not writing down my assignments. You even gave me a couple for negligent behavior (not wearing my watch to school). But I eventually started wearing that watch, and I started filling the pages of those handi-books with my cramped abbreviations. You caught me lifting my sleepshades while walking around my babysitter's block. You were supposed to be waiting back at the house. All you did was clap your hands once, and I was reduced to paroxysms of guilty tears.

You even told me once that, if I fiddled with the typewriter and broke it, you'd stop working with me. You know, I never again fiddled with that typewriter, despite all my curiosity. I think the thought--even then--of losing your teaching scared me enough that I knew I had to do the right thing.

But the cruelest part? I wasn't the only one who fought you. You have spent your whole life working in a field where little is usually expected of the people you serve, and it hasn't always been comfortable for you. The status quo has very little room for blind people with college degrees, blind people with jobs, or blind people with any semblance of a normal life, and, because you chose to defy the status quo, you faced any number of uphill battles, blacklists, and irate teachers.

I was wrong, though, and so are they. I used to think nasty thoughts about you. I used to think you were unfair and unkind. I never realized that what I took as unfairness was really a dose of reality in a world that was happy to give me everything I wanted and nothing I needed. I never realized that what I took for unkindness was really tough love in a world that would be soft for me on purpose.

You are a rare gem, Kim. You are the treasure I never realized I had until I had already grown rich. You polished and shaped me, and through it all--the late nights, the weekends, the missed lunch breaks, the countless hours of devotion--you never lost your own gleam and sparkle. Thank you for your love, your dedication, and your hard work. I could not be where I am today without you.

Are you mean? Absolutely! But you're the kind of mean you can justify; you're the kind of mean that gets results. I know that, as you go through life, you won't ever lose that. You'll stay strong, you'll stay focused, and you'll keep your determination; and the world will be a better place because you're in it.

With all my love,
Ryan

 

A Few Notes on Buying a Computer, Third Edition

by Wesley Majerus and Clara Van Gerven

From the Editor: Every year thousands of people ask the National Federation of the Blind Access Technology Team for advice in buying just the right computer. Below is the third edition of an article the Braille Monitor periodically runs incorporating information about the latest technology one should think about when purchasing a new computer system. Here it is:

The International Braille and Technology Center (IBTC) is operated by the National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute and serves as a demonstration and evaluation center for technology solutions that blind people can use in their everyday lives. The technology answer line that the IBTC operates receives thousands of calls each year from blind people who want to buy computers. Most of our callers want a computer to write letters, keep records, send and receive email, and surf the Web. Some people want to use their computers as reading machines which can scan and speak printed material.

In addition to the staff of the International Braille and Technology Center, the National Federation of the Blind has thousands of members willing and able to answer your questions. I urge you to call the president of the NFB affiliate in your state and introduce yourself to him or her. If you do not know how to reach your NFB state affiliate president, call the NFB's general information staff in Baltimore at (410) 659-9314 (8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time).

Sometimes people new to using computers hire someone to build them a computer. This can include lessons which teach the buyer how to get started once the computer is assembled and ready for use. Such experts often know how to buy good basic equipment during sales or at a reduced rate on Internet Websites. If you know some blind computer experts, I would suggest you ask what fee they would charge for assembling a system in addition to the cost of the computer parts. Remember that sighted experts may help to build a computer but are unlikely to know how to instruct you to use keyboard commands instead of the mouse. Again, I highly recommend locating local blind computer users to help you through the frustrating early days of learning to use your new system.

While most of our readers use voice output with their computers, others prefer screen magnification. People who need to read highly technical material or who are deaf-blind might prefer reading their computer screens using refreshable-Braille technology. We will touch on each of these options in this article.

If you cannot read your computer screen because you are blind, you will need to add software called screen-access technology. Windows and Macintosh systems are two popular options that contain screen-access software. For basic computing tasks, entertainment, and audio editing, the Apple Macintosh computer may be useful for some. As of this writing we recommend Windows if you are creating advanced documents with heavy use of styles and formatting since Windows-based screen-access technology, in conjunction with word processors like Microsoft Word, provides greater reporting and control of style and formatting. The following specifications can be used as a guide to determine which built-in features you should get for your new Windows-based system: at least 2 gigabytes of RAM (random access memory), preferably 3-4 gigabytes; at least 160 gigabytes of hard-disk space (most hard disks have at least this amount or more storage capacity); an Ethernet card if you plan to connect to the Internet using a cable or DSL Internet service; a wireless LAN card supporting 802.11 A, B, and G, if it is not already included; no less than a 1.66 GHZ (Gigahertz) processor speed (nothing slower is sold these days). While almost any video card works with screen-access technology for the blind, the blind person using speech output should bear in mind that the more sophisticated, three-dimensional card used for video games is not necessary.

Because many new computers are being sold with wireless networking hardware that supports the 802.11-N standard, ensure either that you have a wireless router that supports the standard or that the system you purchase is backward-compatible with older standards like 802.11-B or 802.11-G. Please also note that many newer computers are being sold with 64-bit processors. Most screen-access packages have versions supporting these new processors; however, you must ensure that you obtain the proper version for your type of machine.

A brief word should be said about a new class of computer hardware that has become popular over the past year, the Netbook, a lightweight computer designed specifically for travelers who do not want to carry a full-size laptop. These computers are extremely small and have small keyboards. Despite their small size, blind users find these devices useful because they have sufficient processor power to run screen-access software, word processing programs, and Internet-based applications. They are also useful for those who give presentations on the road since they can be connected to audio/video equipment. If you would like to shop for a Netbook, look for a model with a minimum of 92 percent keyboard ratio (a percentage measurement comparing the size and number of keys on the netbook to a standard-sized keyboard). As of this writing the Asus 1018PB is an example of a usable netbook and would make a good benchmark for specifications on any Netbook you may be interested in purchasing.

Although we primarily recommend Windows, we have noticed interest in the Macintosh operating system over the past two years. For an in-depth look at the Macintosh and VoiceOver, Apple's built-in screen-access package, please consult the December 2009 Braille Monitor. If you are interested in using the Macintosh, we urge you to do so with Apple's latest operating system. As of this writing the latest Mac OS is OSX 10.6 Snow Leopard. It is important to understand that, unlike other screen-access packages, VoiceOver cannot be installed separately from the operating system, so any updates made to it come as part of the OS itself. Greater browser support and other VoiceOver functionality are offered only in the latest operating system. Macs are sold as desktop and laptop units. iMacs are computers in which the operating components are built into the display screen. The Mac Mini is a small computer system that requires that users purchase their own displays and keyboards.

Because VoiceOver is a part of the operating system, any Macintosh computer that is compatible with Snow Leopard will work correctly for a blind user. However, we recommend that, if you wish to run Microsoft Windows in conjunction with Mac OS using a program like VMWare Fusion, you should plan to have at least 4 GB of RAM in your Macintosh system. Users should be aware that memory is not as readily replaceable on Macs as it is in Windows, so some preplanning may be necessary. VoiceOver offers some capabilities for navigation and screen review that work with a multitouch track pad. These are available on Mac Books that were made after late 2008. Recently Apple began producing a portable multitouch track pad that connects with a computer using Bluetooth. Called the Magic Track pad, it may be beneficial for desktop Macintosh systems or older Mac laptops.

Three types of Mac laptops are currently sold: the Mac Book Air, the Mac Book Pro, and the standard Mac Book. All three types should work equally well with screen-access software. The users will need to determine whether the smaller Mac Book Air's keyboard will meet their needs. Because VoiceOver can use the numeric keypad, some users may wish to equip their Macs with keyboards that contain a numeric keypad to take advantage of these features. Training on the Mac may be more difficult to find since its screen-access software is relatively new to the Access Technology market. Handy Tech North America, at <http://www.handytech.us>, offers in-person training through its Mac Academy as well as for-sale workbook and study materials.

The Macintosh comes with a basic suite of applications. TextEdit, a word processor, allows for editing tasks on Microsoft Word 2003 and 2007 documents, as well as text and RTF files. Media playback is achieved through iTunes, or one can download a player like VLC Media Player, which acts more like other stand-alone players that readers might recognize. If you wish to use the Macintosh for presentations or to keep track of numerical data, you can try the IWork suite, Apple's productivity suite of applications that contains Pages, a word processor with advanced features; Numbers, a spreadsheet program; and Keynote, a program for creating and giving presentations. OpenOffice also provides word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation software. Although it is for the most part usable, its interface is a bit different from that of standard applications, and feedback that VoiceOver gives could be confusing.

At this writing computers are sold with the Windows 7 operating system (OS). Some manufacturers may still allow you to obtain Windows XP. Four versions are available, Starter, Home Premium, Professional, and Ultimate. If you plan to use your computer at home and do not plan to connect to many other devices, Seven Home Premium is sufficient because it includes features like Windows Media Center and is enough for basic computing tasks. If Windows 7 comes on a Netbook, it will most likely be Windows 7 Starter, a slim version of Windows 7 that excludes items like Windows Media Center. If purchasing a traditional desktop or laptop, consider buying Windows 7 Professional or Windows 7 Ultimate since these operating systems offer better networking capability, email, and Web-browsing software. Windows Mail and Internet Explorer come free with the Windows operating system, but you get only a simplified free word processor (WordPad for Windows). While you can use WordPad to write letters and other simple documents, you may want to consider buying Microsoft Office if you are interested in spell-checking your material, creating documents with advanced formatting techniques, generating PowerPoint presentations, or managing numerical data with an accessible spreadsheet.

A word processor that works fairly well with screen-access technology is Microsoft Word. As of this writing Office 2007 has been on the market for three years. Although it contains a more complicated menu interface consisting of ribbons that contain buttons for completing tasks, we have found that it is usable with screen-access software. We have not thoroughly reviewed Office 2010, which was released recently, but we believe that it can be used with screen-access software, Office 2007, previously featured in a Monitor article, sports a new and potentially complicated Ribbon interface. If you still have a copy of Office 2003, it will run satisfactorily on Windows 7. As we reported in our previous Monitor article, Office 2007 is usable with screen-access software, but one will need to relearn the location of popular menu items and functions. For a detailed look at Windows Vista and Office 2007 soon after their release, you can consult the June 2007 Braille Monitor, which may be viewed online at our Website. The article is entitled "Windows Vista and Office 2007."

The next software component that must be given serious consideration is a screen-access program. The last page of this article contains further information about how to contact screen-access technology vendors.

If you want your computer to read and speak printed material, you will need to buy a piece of hardware called a flatbed book scanner (for about $230) and a software product that actually speaks the text on the page. You should be prepared to spend at least $1,000 to acquire the blind-friendly systems--especially if you do not consider yourself a relatively sophisticated user of Windows. There are two noteworthy products to consider: Open Book from Freedom Scientific and Kurzweil 1000 from Kurzweil Educational Systems. Both of these programs come with their own speech and can operate without screen-access technology.

For those users who can benefit from magnification, a number of magnification programs are available. These software packages will magnify the content of the screen in a number of ways and let the user pick a color scheme and contrast setting. The packages listed here all have a speech option, which reduces eyestrain for the user who makes use of this option.

The most popular magnification software is ZoomText by Ai Squared. It has a simple user interface and basic speech.

MAGic from Freedom Scientific is a powerful magnification package. It is a little less intuitive in its use than ZoomText but lets the user customize the settings more and also integrates well with JAWS, which is made by Freedom Scientific for consumers who benefit from magnification with full-fledged screen-access software.

British company Dolphin Computers has become well established in the US, and its magnification software is another option available to low-vision users. SuperNova Magnfier and SuperNova Magnifier with Speech are easy to use and have magnification from the logon screen. All three of the above magnification programs have scripting capabilities so that scripts can be created for specific functions or applications that are not fully supported

Dolphin Computer Access's SuperNova Access Suite combines all the commands of its screen-access software with the full-function magnification of SuperNova Magnifier. There are many other possibilities, so you would be wise to start networking with other blind people. Again, call our NFB state presidents to meet people already using computer systems you'd like to have yourself.

A word should be said about using portable screen-access packages. If you find yourself working with multiple machines, you may wish to use your screen-access package from a USB flash drive. This is possible with several of the screen-access packages. Dolphin products allow access to the Dolphin Pen, which works with all of the company’s screen-access and magnification products. A small driver must be installed on the computers that you want to use with the Dolphin Pen. JAWS for Windows also runs from a flash drive as long as you first install the JAWS Video Intercept Manager on the computer. NVDA can run in portable mode from a thumb drive with no extra installation. Serotek's System Access Mobile Edition allows you to create a flash drive providing access to any Windows computer using System Access. This must be a U3-enabled drive, which can be purchased separately and created using tools that come with your license, or can be purchased as part of the package. VoiceOver, the Macintosh screen-access package, allows the use of portable preferences. This saves settings such as speech parameters, control labels, and hotspots on Webpages to your flash drive. Then any Mac can use these settings when you plug in the drive.

Refreshable Braille may be another consideration. It is important to understand that a Braille display alone will not provide Braille output on your system. You need to be running a screen-access package in order for Braille to work. Once you have decided on a system and screen-access package, consult the documentation to determine which displays it supports. The Access Technology Team's Technology Resource List contains information about Braille displays and display manufacturers. Displays can communicate with your computer either using USB or through Bluetooth wireless technology. The advantage to obtaining a Bluetooth Braille display is that it can be used with a mobile device like a cell phone or iPod Touch. Displays range in cost from $1,900 for an 18-cell display suitable for use with laptops and mobile devices to $10,000 for an 80-cell display that one might rely on to assist in computer programming or other Braille-rich fields.

Here are the approximate costs of setting up a fully functional computer system for the blind as of December 2010. We assume that an average Windows 7-based computer costs between $500 and $700. Screen-access software costs from $399 to $1,195, depending on the package and options chosen. Office 2010 Home and Student, which contains Word, Excel, Power Point, and OneNote, costs $149. Some users are accustomed to Outlook, which is an email and calendaring application that works with screen-access software. The Home and Business version of Office 2010, containing Outlook, can be purchased for $279.

A good baseline for a Windows computer is $2,050. This assumes JAWS for Windows Standard at $995, $600 for an Intel-based Windows 7 Home Premium machine, Office Home and Business 2010; and a $150 printer. If you choose to add scanning and reading capability to your system, plan to spend an additional approximately $1,229. This assumes the $995 cost for either Kurzweil 1000 or Openbook and the Plustek Bookedge scanner, which works well and is recommended by the Access Technology Team here in Baltimore. The scanner costs approximately $230.

The Mac Baseline is as follows: We chose a 21.3 inch iMac and included the Magic Track Pad for $69. In addition, we included iWork Suite, which is discounted to $49 with the purchase of a new computer. We also assumed the same $150 for a new printer. The baseline comes to $1,636. As of this writing, only one blindness-specific OCR package on the Macintosh is available. It is the Eye-Pal for Mac, which is produced by ABiSee. This package, which comes with software and the camera for capturing the image, retails for $1,275.

Computer ownership has some ongoing costs. Some screen-access packages offer software maintenance agreements as a way to keep software up to date at a lower cost. Depending on the software and the terms of the agreement, expect to pay around $150 to $200 a year. Antivirus/antimalware software is essential in today's connected society. Expect to pay $30 to $50 annually to keep your protection up to date. A usable package is ESET (Essential Security against Emerging Threats) NOD32 Antivirus. This company also produces a full-fledged security suite that contains antimalware protection called ESET Smart Security. At the time of this writing this Windows package works with screen-access technology using the screen-reader’s review cursor in some areas.

If you plan to subscribe to Internet service, expect to pay approximately $250 annually for a cable or DSL-based broadband package.

References and Contact Information

While JAWS for Windows from Freedom Scientific is the most widely used screen-access program, several other options are available. Window-Eyes, manufactured by GW Micro, offers many useful features. System Access, a third option, includes features such as the ability to be run from a USB flash drive and an online community similar to AOL called SAMNet. Each program has a unique set of features. The decision about which screen-access program to buy should be based on the features important to you and on the amount of money you have to spend. The availability of local training resources and hands-on support may also be an important consideration. You should consult with the screen-access vendor to obtain the most current information about features and prices. Screen-access software vendors can also provide demo versions of their software that you can try before committing to a specific choice. These demos can be downloaded, or the vendor can ship them to you on a CD.

Recent years have seen the introduction of low-cost screen-access software. While these may be helpful for someone on a budget, users need to be aware of a few concerns. Some applications may not be fully supported, or their level of support may not be as good as a full-cost screen-access program. Because some low-cost screen-access software is open source, it may contain more bugs or stability issues. For a run-down of such low-cost screen-access software, consult the May 2009 Braille Monitor article entitled "Low-Cost Screen Readers."

JAWS for Windows and OpenBook by Freedom Scientific: JAWS for Windows ($995) provides speech and Braille access to Windows XP Home Edition and Windows 7 Starter and Home Premium editions. Another version of JAWS for Windows ($1,195) provides access to Windows XP Professional Edition and all other versions of Windows 7. JAWS for Windows is shipped with the Eloquence software speech synthesizer, meaning that it can generate speech through your computer's sound card.

OpenBook is a scanning and reading package that sells for $995. It offers self-voicing capabilities and can work in tandem with JAWS. Braille and notetaker support, among other features, is included.

Window-Eyes by GW Micro: GW Micro offers Window-Eyes for use with all Windows XP and Windows 7 versions for $895. This screen-access software ships with both Dectalk Access32 and Eloquence voices.

ZoomText, available from Ai Squared: This screen-magnification program sells for $395 without speech and $595 with speech.

SuperNova Access Suite by Dolphin Computer Access: SuperNova Access Suite, which includes both screen reading and magnification, is available for $1,195. SuperNova Screen Reader, Dolphin's screen-access software, is available for $795. SuperNova Magnifier with Speech is available for $595.

System Access by Serotek: Serotek offers several software solutions. System Access Stand-Alone ($399) can be run on two computers and is simply a screen reader that can be installed on those computers. System Access Mobile Edition ($499) combines the stand-alone screen reader with the capability to install and run System Access from a U3-enabled pen drive. The AIR Foundation offers System Access to Go, a free screen-reader that can be run from <www.satogo.com> and will run as long as the browser is open and connected to the Internet. In addition, Serotek offers an online community called the System Access Mobile Network for a yearly fee of $129.

Macintosh Accessibility using VoiceOver: This screen-access package ships with all Macintosh systems, and Apple's accessibility Website has usage resources available. The software uses both keyboard commands and a touch pad commander to allow access to software on the Mac. It also supports thirty plus refreshable Braille displays. Some may find Handy Tech's training resources helpful. The company, in Columbia Heights, Minnesota, can be contacted at (651) 636-5184 or <http://www.handytech.us>.

Kurzweil 1000 by Kurzweil Educational Systems: Kurzweil 1000 is available at $995.

Company Contact Information
Freedom Scientific, Inc., 11800 31st Court North, St. Petersburg, Florida 33716-1805
Telephone (800) 444-4443, (727) 803-8000, fax (727) 803-8001
Email <info@freedomscientific.com> <http://www.freedomscientific.com>

GW Micro, Inc., 725 Airport North Office Park, Fort Wayne, Indiana 46825
Telephone (260) 489-3671, fax (260) 489-2608
Email <support@gwmicro.com> <www.gwmicro.com>

Ai Squared, P.O. Box 669, Manchester Center, Vermont 05255
Telephone (800) 859-0270, fax (802) 362-1670
Email <info@aisquared.com> <www.aisquared.com>

Dolphin Computer Access (US), 231 Clarksville Road, Suite 3, Princeton Junction, New Jersey 08550
Phone (866) 797-5921, fax (609) 799-0475
Email <info@dolphinusa.com> <http://www.yourdolphin.com>

Handy Tech North America, 3989 Central Avenue NE., Suite 402, Columbia Heights, Minnesota 55421
Phone (651) 636-5184
Email <info@handytech.us> <http://www.handytech.us>

Serotek Corporation, 1128 Harmon Place, Suite 310, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55403
Phone (866) 202-0520, fax (612) 659-0760
Email <info@serotek.com> <http://www.serotek.com>

Apple, Inc., 1 Infinite Loop, Cupertino, California 95014
Phone (800) MY-APPLE
Email <accessibility@apple.com> <http://www.apple.com/accessibility>

ABiSee, Inc., 20 Main Street, Suite G2, Acton, Massachusetts 01720
Phone (978) 635-0202
Email <info@abisee.com> <http://www.abisee.com>

Kurzweil Educational Systems, 14 Crosby Drive, Bedford, Massachusetts 01730
Phone (800) 894-5374, fax (781) 276-0650
Email <info@kurzweiledu.com> <www.kurzweiledu.com>

ESET, LLC, 610 West Ash Street, Suite 1900, San Diego, California 92101
Phone (866) 343-ESET (3738), fax (619) 876-5845
Email <info@eset.com> <www.eset.com>

 

Robinson Attends Challenge

by Brett Ellis

From the Editor: Members of the National Federation of the Blind’s Teacher of Tomorrow Program joined members of the Federation January 29 in Daytona to witness the Blind Driver Challenge and afterward in Washington, D.C., to be a part of our annual Washington Seminar. Mary Robinson of Freemont, Nebraska, is a member of this year’s Teacher of Tomorrow class. Here is what the Freemont Tribune of February 23 had to say about the Blind Driver Challenge and Mary Robinson’s participation in the event:

Mary Robinson recently got the chance to watch something very few people thought was possible: watch a blind person drive a vehicle. Robinson, a teacher for Fremont Public Schools' Blind and Visually Impaired Program, watched Mark Anthony Riccobono drive a Ford Escape hybrid before the Rolex 24 in late January at Daytona Beach, Florida.

Riccobono's vehicle was equipped with nonvisual technology, including a pad that gave him cues for when to stop, speed up, and slow down, as well as gloves that indicated which direction to turn. Riccobono also had to avoid obstacles, including boxes that were dropped from a van. Robinson was amazed by the experience and said it showed her that there really are no limits for her students. "It completely changes my attitude about blindness, is what it does," Robinson said. "If I don't have those high expectations for my students, they're not going to go as far. If I believe they can do it, they'll soar."

Robinson made the trip to Daytona Beach as part of her participation in the National Federation of the Blind's Teacher of Tomorrow Program. Robinson was one of sixteen educators from around the country chosen to participate in the program last June.

In September Robinson went to Baltimore to hear visually impaired people share some of their experiences and the ways in which they were taught. “Some of them had great experiences, and they learned Braille as a child when they should have, but others didn't learn Braille because teachers thought they had enough vision," Robinson said. "They didn't, and that slowed them down."

She returned to Baltimore in November and attended a leadership academy for students who were fourteen to eighteen years old and came from around the country. Those students performed such tasks as grilling food while blindfolded, putting on makeup in the dark, and changing clothes. "It was showing us teachers that anybody can do it if they have access and have the right tools," Robinson said.

After leaving Daytona Beach, Robinson went to Washington, D.C., where she got the chance to attend a seminar on Capitol Hill with parents of visually impaired students and members of the NFB. They visited with senators, including Mike Johanns of Nebraska, in an effort to convey the importance of legislation that would be beneficial to visually impaired and blind people. Much of that legislation, Robinson said, focused on technology issues. "It's things that I've never thought about," she said. "We, as sighted individuals, never think about access for the blind community, and, if we do give the access, everything has to cost more."

In April Robinson will go to the NFB's state convention in Louisiana. She also will go to Orlando, Florida, for a week in July for the organization's national convention. Robinson feels blessed to have been selected to participate in the Teacher of Tomorrow Program. "This is the best thing I could have ever done for myself," she said. "It has not only helped me with my teaching, it's helped me be a better advocate for my students."

 

A New Jersey Fashion Exclusive

by Linda Zani Thomas

From the Editor: It was my good fortune to attend the convention of the National Federation of the Blind of New Jersey in late 2010. I saw something there that I had never seen in my almost twenty-five years acting as the Federation’s national representative: a fashion show featuring blind models and conducted with audio description for a blind audience. I was intrigued by the idea. The notion that blind people might be attractive enough to compete in fashion has been given lip service without much evidence demonstrating that it can and should be done. At the New Jersey event I was also impressed by the biographies of the Federationists who participated in the show. Linda Zani, author of the “Looking Good Without Looking” articles that have appeared in the Monitor, organized and narrated the convention fashion show. Here is what Linda has to say about the show and some of the descriptions we heard as the participants strutted their stuff:

On November 5, 2010, the NFB of New Jersey state convention debuted a new concept: the first fashion show featuring blind and visually impaired teens, men, and women modeling outfits from their own wardrobes showcasing their personal styles. The show was videotaped by Christina Zani and can be viewed by searching for “NJ Fashion Exclusive” in the search engine box on Youtube.com or Google.com. Linda Zani Thomas, fashion show host and author of the "Looking Good Without Looking" guides to personal style for visually impaired men and women, can be seen monthly in her new one-hour live interactive personal style and fashion program, Looking Good Without Looking at <www.thruoureyes.org> the fourth Wednesday of every month. It began January 26, 2011 at 8:00 p.m.

The excitement started to build in the ballroom of the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Clark, New Jersey, as President Joe Ruffalo took to the podium to introduce our inaugural fashion show. Linda opened the show with a quotation from the late Dr. Kenneth Jernigan, who was fond of saying that blindness “can be reduced to the level of a mere physical nuisance” once you learn the skills and techniques of blindness. Linda went on, “this also holds true for fashion and personal style. What you are witnessing tonight is a world exclusive, the first fashion featuring all blind/VI models modeling outfits from their own wardrobes that showcase their personal styles.”

Linda wore a black and white ensemble in homage to Coco Chanel. She introduced and thanked Dan Romero, who was seated to the right of the runway. She said, “The music you will hear tonight was provided by Dan Romero, a high school senior at Passaic County Tech majoring in music technology. Dan is a LEAD student and is currently applying to colleges and plans to pursue a career in the music industry. He runs a small studio; is a producer, DJ, and vocalist; and plays keyboard on the local R&B scene.”

Once applause stopped, Linda continued, "It has been a pleasure working with the beautiful models you will meet tonight. They know the secrets of portraying their true selves through the subtle communication of fashion. They have discovered and embraced their assets, successfully projecting their own unique style and image. Now, let’s get this party started. Please put your hands together for the stars of the first ever NFB of New Jersey fashion show.” With that, fashion show coordinator Marisa Zani readied the models in the lobby outside the doors of the ballroom.

The first model to appear in the doorway was NFB of New Jersey’s godmother of fashion, Jerilyn Higgins. Jerilyn is always impeccably dressed, and it was a chance remark she made that inspired Linda to create the "Looking Good Without Looking" guides to personal style for blind and visually impaired men and women.

Jerilyn came down the runway to Shania Twain’s hit song “Man, I Feel Like a Woman,” wearing a print ruffled-front blouse, a brown suede shirt jacket, dark wash jeans, and boots. She carried a metallic shoulder bag. Jerilyn is from Verona and is an activities of daily living instructor and a contractor for the Essex County Senior Community Independent Living Services (SCILS). She conducts a program at the Puerto Rican Association for Human Development, Inc., in Perth Amboy. This service helps adults fifty-five plus who have age-related vision loss become independent in their homes and communities. Jerilyn is also a LEAD mentor working with blind teens.

Shania Twain’s song also accompanied Winnie Oyuma as she strode confidently down the runway in a red suit over a black crewneck and carrying a structured handbag, a hot trend this season. Winnie is from Jersey City and works as a multilingual librarian. She originally hails from Africa and speaks eight languages. She works with clients with developmental disabilities in group homes in Hudson County.

Next down the catwalk, to the song “Crazy in Love” by Beyoncé, came the spirited steps of the super stylish Evelyn Valdez of Hillside. Wearing a draped, deep purple silk dress cinched at the waist with a black belt, Evelyn twirled and blew kisses, joining Jerilyn and Winnie to the left of the podium. Her hair swept up in a loose bun, Evelyn sported gold stiletto heels and a cuff bracelet pushed up her forearm and carried a handbag with a metal chain strap. Evelyn is currently working as a fifth-grade inclusion specialist in the school system. She recently completed her master’s degree in education and would like to work for a federal government agency such as FEMA to help families and communities during disasters. Evelyn is a peer mentor in the LEAD program and president of the New Jersey Association of Blind Students.

“Power,” by Kanye West perfectly expressed handsome Jeremy Capati of Kenilworth, as he made his way to the front of the ballroom wearing dark wash jeans and a long-sleeved, fitted Izod shirt in creamy beige. Nineteen-year-old Jeremy is a political science student at Keane University. A former LEAD student, he is a member of the College Leadership Program and a state scholarship winner. Jeremy will be taking a year off to attend the NFB Center in Colorado to study the techniques of blindness. He plans to return to school and then attend law school to become an attorney. Jeremy likes to play basketball and work out with his brother Jason.

And, speaking of Jason, he electrified the audience when wearing a red Nets Number 34 jersey, basketball shorts, and sneakers. With a gold chain around his neck, he strode athletically down the center aisle to “Winner,” by Jamie Foxx, T.I., and Justin Timberlake. Jason is a LEAD student and a junior at David Brearly High School in Kenilworth, where he is on the basketball team and at the top of the class in academics. Jason also competes in track and field, where he competes in shot put and discus. Upon graduation he plans to go to college to study sports medicine.

Isabelle Rodriguez walked to the beat of “Diamond Girl” by KMW, with one hand on her hip, her long, thick hair flowing over an animal-print fitted top with a black vest, and a charm bracelet dangling from her wrist. She wore skinny jeans tucked into boots, one of the key silhouettes of the season. Isabelle is a former LEAD student and a senior at Passaic High School, where she is a member of the student council and choir. She would like to attend either Rowan University or the University of Maryland and major in music therapy or developmental psychology and minor in music performance.

The crowd clapped enthusiastically for the dynamic duo of sisters Melissa and Marie Lomax of Plainfield as they came down together in hooded, cropped military jackets; dark sunglasses; and T-shirts imprinted with the word “Awesome.” “Rock Your Body” by Stagalie and MVP played as the crowd went wild when they stopped in unison and dropped the hoods from their silky, long, black hair, revealing beaded hoop earrings.

Big sister Melissa is nineteen years old and a former LEAD student. She attends the University of Maryland with a double major in English literature and education. Melissa excels at writing and has won many scholarships with her essays, including the national and state NFB scholarships, a scholarship from Walmart, and the Owens scholarship, sponsored by Queen Latifah and her mother. Melissa attended a seminar in Syria this past summer sponsored by the Open Hands Initiative. She is attending the Colorado Center for the Blind to master the skills, techniques, and confidence of blindness.

Sister Marie is fifteen, a LEAD student, and a sophomore in high school, where she is a member of the swim team. Marie is a fashionista and sews many of her own clothes. Upon graduation Marie plans to pursue a career in fashion.

Next up was the suave Elyard Whalen of Baltimore accompanied by the tune “Pretty Boy Swag” by Solja Boy. Elyard definitely brought the swagger and cool attitude as he stopped to stroke his chin and glance left and right at the adoring crowd on his way to the right side of the podium. Elyard wore a white button-down shirt, a dove gray V-neck argyle sweater, grey jeans, and bright white Adidas sneakers. Sixteen-year-old Elyard is a student at the Vivian T. Thomas Medical Arts Academy, a high school that prepares teens who want to go into a medical field. Elyard plans to become a veterinarian.

Bespectacled Isaiah Green of Delaware, as tall and thin as a male model, smoothly made his way down the runway to Ciara’s “Picture.” He wore a black business suit with a white shirt, a fitting ensemble for this aspiring information technology executive. Isaiah is a sophomore at Hayton Prep School in Delaware, where he is student body president.

Khalil Abdul-Majid, a LEAD mentor from Delaware, eased his way down the runway to Flowrida, F.T, and T-Pain’s “Get Low.” He is a new member of the NFB and is studying to be a massage therapist. The bearded and cool Khalil wore a tailored suit with a light salmon colored shirt and coordinating necktie. His suede sneakers gave his look a contemporary edge.

Ben Vercellone, a junior at Montclair State, chose a piano interlude to accentuate his typical weekend wear when he goes to his piano lesson in Manhattan: navy slacks, black casual shoes, a checked teal button-down shirt, and a teal scarf. Ben is a former LEAD student from Montvale and is an English major. He likes to write and do woodworking, which he picked up during his stint at the Louisiana Center for the Blind.

“Glamorous” by Fergie played as the head of the contingent from Delaware, Catherine Newman, appeared, wearing a navy blue dress that set off her peaches-and-cream complexion and gorgeous thick fawn-colored, nearly waist-length hair. She holds a master’s degree in school counseling from the Wilmington University Graduate Center and is a vocational rehab and transition counselor. Catherine planned to donate her hair to Locks of Love by year’s end.

Hand in pocket, Brian Mackey of Medford confidently walked down the runway to “Tonight’s Going to Be a Good Night” by the Black Eyed Peas. Brian wore an Elvis tie with his subtle navy, green, and gray plaid sports jacket and button-down shirt, perfect for his new internship with Liberty Tax Service as a bookkeeper at its Maple Shade location. Brian is a die-hard Philadelphia Flyers fan, a former LEAD student, and a recent graduate of the Harris School of Business in Cherry Hill in its computerized accounting program. Upon graduation Brian will pursue a career in data entry or bookkeeping. He is a black belt in karate with the special needs karate group in Marlton and a recent member of the Middle Atlantic Blind Golf Association.

The evening ended fittingly with two beautiful models in evening wear. Entering smiling with her hand on her hip was the lovely Melissa Hurff in a strapless ombre blue silk gown sprinkled with sparkles. She twirled and posed, her dark hair swept back in a long ponytail, the dress perfectly highlighting her porcelain complexion. Melissa is a former LEAD student and a current peer mentor and board member of the New Jersey Association of Blind Students. She has participated in the College Leadership Program sponsored by the Jernigan Institute and is a student at Gloucester Community College in Deptford, from which she will receive an associate’s degree in May. She plans to continue her studies at Shenandoah College in Virginia with her ultimate goal to earn a BA and MA in pediatric occupational therapy. Melissa has a passion for music, loves to sing show tunes, and has been involved in many plays and musicals.

Finally, the tall and regal Shafeka Hashash appeared in the doorway, her gold chandelier earrings flashing against her long dark hair as she turned and posed in a chocolate brown silk shantung gown topped with a matching short jacket and gold brooch at the bustline. Godets in her long gown sparkled with bronze beading and crystals. Shafeka is a LEAD student, a senior at Bergen County Academies, and hopes to attend Princeton University to study political science and international relations with an emphasis on Middle Eastern studies. Shafeka recently attended the Clinton Global Initiative at the invitation of the Open Hands Initiative in Syria for her work on an integrated American and Arab youth with disabilities comic book series.

One by one the models then walked into the lobby, led by Shafeka, to raucous applause and whistles by the appreciative audience.

This article was written by fashion aficionado Linda Zani Thomas, mother of Marisa, a multiply-disabled diva who rocks her signature color butter yellow as often as she can. Linda would love to hear stories of your personal style journey and will answer your questions at <lindazani@aol.com> or at (201) 314-8045.

 

Introducing The Journal of Blindness Innovation and Research

by Fredric K. Schroeder

From the Editor: Here are an important announcement and introduction by NFB First Vice President and San Diego State University Research Professor Dr. Fredric Schroeder. Fred is chief editor of this new online journal. Dr. Edward Bell and Dr. Matthew Maurer are the associate editors, and Jernigan Institute Executive Director Mark Riccobono is the managing editor.

The organized blind in the United States have insisted for more than seventy years that we know what’s best for us and that we’re capable of managing our own affairs. The growth of the NFB and the increasing adoption of the rehabilitation techniques pioneered by Kenneth Jernigan testify to our success in making that point.

Nonetheless, an arena remains in which we still have to demonstrate our knowledge and understanding. Several major intellects have been associated with the NFB—some of whom struggled hard to gain positions in academic institutions—starting with Jacobus tenBroek, himself. Until recently, though, blind university professors proved their mettle in fields not directly connected with blindness. Similarly, only in the last few decades have blind educators moved into work involving blind children and adults.

The growing presence of the organized blind (and our sighted allies) in these key areas—university departments, primary and secondary schools, and rehabilitation programs—takes us to a new level. We now have the certified expertise to demonstrate the depth of our knowledge to those who still do not believe that the blind know more about blindness than do self-appointed sighted experts.

The Journal of Blindness Innovation and Research is the embodiment of that expertise. An online only, open-access (meaning free to anyone), scholarly publication, the JBIR is published by the NFB. It is edited by a team of blind and sighted professionals who are committed to exploring means of enhancing the independence of all blind people.

Some have asked why the NFB needs a new journal. Hasn’t the Braille Monitor served us well for more than fifty years? The answer to this reasonable question is that our monthly magazine—published in Braille, print, audio, and online—serves a different purpose from the new, online-only journal. Moreover, the intended audiences of the two publications are not identical. The Braille Monitor is, and will remain, a general magazine about blindness, the struggles of the blind, and advances that the blind have made. It is a place for news; discussions of Federation philosophy; glances at the history of the blind; and proposal of new ideas about education, training, and technology.

JBIR, on the other hand, is the place where we—and others who are seriously interested in exploring blindness—will publish articles that meet the standards of academic discourse. This means that research-based articles must use recognized research methods and appropriate statistical analysis. Articles based on the experience of practitioners (primarily school teachers, orientation and mobility instructors, rehabilitation counselors, etc.) must be persuasive and provide documentation. Above all, articles published in JBIR must pass a rigorous peer-review process. This means that all papers submitted to JBIR (except for opinion pieces) will be sent to people with expertise for their opinions on whether or not to publish and, if so, what changes the author should make. In the peer-review process, the author and referees remain unknown to one another. The editors will make final decisions about whether to publish, but their decisions will always be informed by the knowledge and experience of the peer reviewers. Like a growing number of other online scholarly journals, JBIR also allows for timely posting of reasoned and knowledgeable responses to articles.

The fundamentals of NFB philosophy have always been behind the Federation’s approach to education, training, legislation, and technology development. In almost every case our approach has turned out to be superior in practice. JBIR will give us—and others interested in a friendly, fact-based dialogue—the opportunity to test our ideas in the broader world of academia.

The editors invite you to participate in this exciting new venture. The Web address of the journal is <www.nfb-jbir.org>. Once you’re on our Website, please sign up as a subscriber and consider volunteering as a peer reviewer. Researchers and practitioners who have something to say to the academic community should consider submitting articles to JBIR.

 

Meet the Blind Month 2010

by Karen Zakhnini

From the Editor: The time has come to begin thinking about our 2011 Meet the Blind Month activities. To help you think creatively about what your chapter or affiliate might do next fall, here is a brief report of some of the events Federationists conducted in October 2010:

The Meet the Blind Month campaign, which takes place each October, was first launched in 2002. It is a coordinated nationwide project to provide opportunities for National Federation of the Blind members to reach out to their communities. Affiliates and chapters across the country organize and execute events to increase public awareness of blindness and dispel commonly held misconceptions, as well as inform the public about the mission and efforts of the NFB.

During the 2010 national convention we held a Meet the Blind Month seminar which was attended by over thirty NFB members representing over twenty affiliates. We discussed traditional events, new ideas, and a new pilot program called Who's Whozit, targeting students from kindergarten through high school and designed to answer questions about blindness and shatter common misconceptions. We decided that the National Center would once again provide the necessary literature for these events and that the team at the Jernigan Institute would develop the Who's Whozit curriculum and materials to launch the program during the 2010 Meet the Blind Month.

In October 2010 at least twenty-four affiliates presented the Who's Whozit curriculum, including Iowa, Tennessee, Florida, Oklahoma, Virginia, Alabama, South Carolina, North Carolina, Mississippi, Texas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Washington, D.C., West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Missouri, Minnesota, Kansas, New York, California, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Colorado. Most of these affiliates did several Who's Whozit activities, and the program was well received by both our presenters and the audiences.

Brenda Watson, from the Pauline Gomez Chapter in New Mexico, presented the curriculum at all grade levels. She reports, "Everyone asked to take materials for friends and relatives... It was a great experience, and more people are aware of the NFB, our philosophy, and what we can do for them. Thanks again for sending the materials and allowing me to participate in this great program."

Ryan Smith, from the Middle Tennessee Chapter, spoke to his daughter's first-grade class. He reports, "The kids enjoyed it and were very engaged in the discussion. I wanted them to feel comfortable interacting with blind people and asking me any questions they wanted. I came away feeling like I had really impacted the children, and I think the children and I feel more comfortable with each other now."

In 2010 our affiliates and chapters held over two-hundred events across the country. In addition to the Who's Whozit presentations, there were various activities at retail establishments, health fairs, libraries, senior centers, schools, and community events. Many affiliates obtained Meet the Blind Month and White Cane Safety Day Proclamations from their governors.

Dolores Reisinger of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, presented to groups from school children to senior citizens. She discussed blindness, shared her experiences, showed the children Braille, and reached out to the seniors losing vision. She was also interviewed by Paul Nemeth, who wrote a great article for the Cedar Rapids Civil Rights Commission newsletter.

In Oklahoma Jeannie Massey reported that the Central Oklahoma Chapter participated in the Head of the Oklahoma River Regatta, a rowing event that attracts approximately 10,000 people each day. She said that Federationists handed out literature, discussed blindness with attendees, and challenged those who visited their tent to decipher the message on the NFB Braille alphabet cards. In addition a blind rowing team participated in the event through a program called Visually Impaired Assistive Rowing Program (VIARP).

Some affiliates came up with different ways to introduce themselves to their communities. In Minnesota, in addition to attending conferences and other events, the affiliate used its Facebook page to profile two different Minnesota Federationists each week. The purpose in publishing these vignettes was to show fans, friends, and interested onlookers that blind people can lead normal, productive lives.

Affiliates and chapters across the nation implemented both new and traditional programs to highlight the work of the NFB and increase the public's knowledge of blindness. While recognizing the efforts of the chapters and affiliates highlighted in this article, we are quick to acknowledge and appreciate all of the effort expended by chapters and affiliates throughout the country. We congratulate and thank everyone who was involved in the planning and execution and look forward to hearing about all of your events in 2011. It is not too early to begin planning for this year’s Meet the Blind Month events.

 

When I Grow Up…
2011 NOPBC Conference for Families and Teachers

by Laura Weber

From the Editor: Laura Weber is president of the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children. In the following article she provides a glimpse of what families of blind children will experience at this year’s national convention with its many programs and opportunities for parents and teachers of blind children and blind children and young people themselves. This is what she says:

When my daughter Lindsay was six years old, she wanted to be the president of the United States. But only for one term, she told me. After that she wanted to be a clown and make balloon animals at Chick-fil-A.

When she was seven, Lindsay decided that she wanted to be a stay-at-home mom. She told me that she was going to have two children, both girls, and that their names would be Brittany and Emma. I asked her whether a husband fit into this picture, and, if so, did she already know his name too? She didn’t miss a beat. “His name will be Mr. Lindsay.” Of course. How silly of me not to know that.

Now Lindsay is eight years old. She wants to be a baker…and a singer…and an author…and a mom. Her plans may change a hundred more times before she grows up, but the important thing is that, when she thinks about her future, she’s not putting limitations on herself based on her blindness, or anything else for that matter.

What does your child want to do when he or she grows up? Go to college? Get a job? Have a family? What do you want for your child? We all want our children to succeed, but no single definition of success applies to all people--blind or sighted. I believe that our goal should be to help our children reach their full potential, whatever that may be. Whether our kids have academic goals or developmental goals, it is our job as parents and teachers to learn all that we can to help them succeed. The NOPBC conference at the national convention of the NFB is the place to learn how to do just that.

My family attended our first national convention in 2006, and, by the time I left, I knew that the NFB’s philosophy was what I wanted my daughter to learn and live. I want her to have a positive attitude, self-determination, and high expectations; and I want her to have blind adults in her life to model the skills, competence, and confidence needed for success. I don’t know what Lindsay’s future holds, but, whether she’s destined to be the president of the United States or a clown making balloon animals at Chick-fil-A, I want to make sure she has all the tools she needs to achieve her dreams. I want that for your child too, so I hope you’ll join us at the NOPBC conference this year.

The 2011 NOPBC conference, “When I Grow Up,” will take place at the NFB national convention in Orlando, Florida, from July 3 through 8. All families and teachers of blind and visually impaired children are welcome, and we have planned activities for everyone. Be on the lookout for the final conference information bulletin, which will include registration materials. Meanwhile here are some highlights for parents and teachers:

• Sunday, July 3: the full-day NOPBC seminar with speakers, workshops, and activities for children and youth, and a family hospitality meet-and-greet in the evening
• Monday, July 4: cane walks in the morning and a family field trip to Sea World in the afternoon
• Tuesday, July 5: the NOPBC annual meeting, the Braille Book Fair, and Dads’ Night Out
• Wednesday, July 6: NOPBC evening IEP workshops and other workshop sessions
All of this is in addition to the NFB convention sessions, with exciting and important agenda items; the Exhibit Hall, filled with the latest technology and aids and appliances; and division meetings, such as the blind students, Sports and Recreation Division, Performing Arts Division, computer science, guide dog users, and car lovers, just to name a few.

Hope to see you there.

NOPBC Insider Information

National convention is a complicated week of events. Here are a few tips to help you stay organized and take advantage of the many opportunities that will be available.

•  Registration for the NOPBC conference will appear in Future Reflections magazine and will be posted on the blindkid listserv and the NOPBC Website shortly. Preregistering will save you money.
•  The NOPBC conference takes place within the larger NFB convention. You will need to register for the NFB convention as well, especially if you would like to get our amazingly low room rates. Registering early for the NFB convention will save you money too.
•  NOPBC children’s activities take place in the NFB child care rooms and this year will include cars, crafts, and clowns. If you would like your child to participate in the NOPBC children’s activities, please register your child for NFB Child Care.
•  NFB Child Care is for children ages six weeks to ten years of age. NFB Child Care information, schedule, and registration forms appear elsewhere in this issue. Child care will be offered each day except Monday, July 4. Check the schedule for details. Note: NFB Child Care can accept only a limited number of children; also there is a deadline for NFB Child Care registration.
•  On seminar day (Sunday, July 3), adults, children, and teens will start the day together at the “When I Grow Up…” seminar, where the children will have a chance to chat with NFB President Marc Maurer. At a certain point in the morning, children who are registered for child care will be escorted to the child care rooms, and youth eleven to eighteen will depart for Youth Track activities. Parents and children will rejoin at lunch time. In the afternoon parents and youth will have concurrent workshops, and other children’s activities will take place in the child care rooms.
•  NOPBC teen room (ages fourteen to eighteen) and tween room (ages eleven to fourteen) will be available for chaperoned, informal activities at various times during the week.
•  In addition to the special NOPBC activities for parents, children, and youth, many other activities that you and your child may be interested in will be going on all week. Often many activities are going on at the same time, and you and your children will have to make choices. Here is a sampling:
•  NFB convention sessions Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday
•  Karaoke Night, the Mock Trial, the Talent Show, a play written and performed by blind people, open houses of our blindness skills training centers, and technology demonstrations
•  Meetings of divisions such as blind students, sports and recreation, performing arts, writers, blind educators, blind office professionals, blind lawyers, computer science, employment, legislation, guide dog users, agriculture and equestrian, and classic car lovers
•  The NFB banquet and scholarship presentations
•  Our incomparable exhibit hall

 

Child Care at Convention

From the Editor: If you are interested in child care during the national convention this summer, you will want to read the following article carefully. Please note that preregistration is required. Here it is:

Since 1996 Carla McQuillan has organized and directed child care during sessions of the national convention. Carla is a longtime Federationist and is a leader at both the state and national levels. She is also the executive director of a non-profit organization that operates three Montessori preschools and a teacher certification program.

During convention we divide the children into three age groups: infant/toddler, preschool, and elementary. The rooms are equipped with toys, games, books, and art activities, and the baby room has cribs. Each room is assigned an experienced supervisor who engages the other care professionals. This year the supervisors will be drawn from the staff at Carla’s Montessori school. In addition, local Head Start teachers will assist with the care and activities. Alison McQuillan, Carla’s daughter, will be directing the program and staff while Carla is in sessions. Alison has worked in this capacity since 2003.

Special Activities and Events

A clown team, Dipsy and Doodle, will be conducting a clown clinic during the first few days of convention. They will teach the children some skits and explore costumes, make-up, and face painting. They will return to entertain the children during the banquet. Other special activities include water play on the lawns, projects organized by the Krafters Division, and Braille story time and music activities led by blind adults.

We anticipate a large crowd in childcare this year. It is imperative that all children be registered in advance. We have a limited number of spaces and will fill them quickly. To secure your children’s space, be sure to fill out the registration form below and mail it with your payment to:

NFB Child Care
5005 Main Street
Springfield, OR 97478

We can also accept MasterCard or Visa by phone or email. Any questions can be directed to Carla McQuillan at (541) 726-6924, or email her at <admin@mainstreetmontessori.org>.

NFB Child Care Schedule

Sunday, July 3, 8:00 a.m.–12:30 p.m.*, 1:30 p.m.–5:30 p.m.*
Monday, July 4, Closed all day
Tuesday, July 5, 8:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m.*, 1:30 p.m.–5:30 p.m.*
Wednesday, July 6, 8:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m.*, 1:30 p.m.–5:30 p.m.*
Thursday, July 7, 8:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m.*, 1:30 p.m.–5:30 p.m.*
Friday, July 8, 8:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m.*, 1:30 p.m.–5:30 p.m.*
Banquet, July 8, 6:30 p.m.–10:30 p.m.*

*Closing times may vary, depending on the actual adjournment of sessions. Children must be picked up within thirty minutes of adjournment to avoid a late fee.

Child Care Fees

All week, (5 days, excluding banquet), $100.00
Siblings, $75.00
Banquet, (Includes dinner and show) $25.00
By the day, (As space is available) $25.00

Priority will be given to children who are registered for the care week. Spaces will be assigned on a first-come first-serve basis, as registration and payment are received. We accept checks, money orders, MasterCard, and Visa. For more information call Carla at (541) 726-6924.

 

Featured Book from the Jacobus tenBroek Library

by Ed Morman

From the Editor: With some regularity we spotlight books in the tenBroek Library. Here is Librarian Ed Morman's description of another book in the collection:

Blind Educator: The Story of Newel Lewis Perry by T. Hugh Buckingham. Berkeley: 1974.

Among the most heartfelt of Jacobus tenBroek's speeches was his eulogy of Newel Perry, his mentor at the California School for the Blind. Director of advanced studies at the school for more than thirty years, Perry taught and inspired tenBroek and other future leaders of the blind in California and the nation.

In his oration tenBroek explained that Perry was the first to articulate the sentiments that came to summarize the NFB’s original vision for the blind, “Security, Opportunity, and Equality.” TenBroek went on to describe the example that Perry set for his students, indeed for all blind people:

More than any other person, it was he who taught us that the blind can and must lead the blind and the sighted, too, when dealing with the problems of the blind. More than any other person, it was he who made us aware that to go on unorganized was to remain disorganized, that only through concerted action can the blind hope to convert and enlist the power of government and to defeat the thoughtless tyranny of public prejudice and opportune ignorance.

TenBroek did not meet Newel Perry until Perry was in his forties. For information to include in his speech on Perry’s childhood and young adulthood, he reported that he depended on Perry’s “near contemporaries,” and he singled out Hugh Buckingham as a particularly useful source.

Buckingham entered the California School in 1896, by which time Perry had left the blind-only institution and graduated, not only from Berkeley High School, but also from the University of California. During the next few years, when Perry was teaching at the university, he and Buckingham developed a mentor-mentee relationship and a friendship that survived until both men died in their eighties.

Shortly before Perry died, Hugh Buckingham set out to write this biography. To do so, he sat in on interviews with Perry conducted by the University of California Oral History Office; and he made a point of talking with Perry about his childhood and early life in the Sacramento Valley. Only after Perry died did Buckingham see the letters his older friend had written during his twelve years away from California. During that time Perry completed a doctorate in mathematics at the University of Munich and subsequently spent years working as a tutor in New York City, unable to secure a university professorship because of his blindness.

The result of Buckingham’s efforts is a truly beautiful book. In simple but elegant language it brings to life not only the world of the blind in late-nineteenth century Berkeley, but also the world of a motherless sighted child who lost first his sight and then his father in a rural area of California.

Buckingham clearly loved Newel Perry, but he pulls no punches in telling Perry’s life story. Perry used to insist modestly that he was no math genius and that he succeeded in making optimal use of his intellect only because he was blind and therefore did not have the distractions that vision would have provided. On the other hand, while Perry was known as a warm-hearted, if demanding, father figure to his “boys” (quotation marks around the word “boys,” because Perry included the brightest girls in the school among them), Buckingham reports that Perry was impatient and sometimes nasty and unpleasant to slower students of both sexes. Similarly, Perry—a whiskey drinker who was proud of his ability to hold his liquor—refused ever to discuss the time that he got drunk on sherry (an event that Buckingham witnessed).

Buckingham seamlessly weaves a discussion of his research methods into this delightful book. He describes the surprise he felt when he discovered—while exploring Perry’s correspondence after Perry died—that he was unhappy with Berkeley when he left at the start of his peregrinations, and that he almost begged for a position at the California School for the Blind when unable to land a university faculty position. In their earlier conversations Buckingham had never heard Perry mention his dissatisfaction and frustrations.

When Buckingham died in 1965, the book remained in manuscript form. Almost a decade later his widow arranged to have the book printed in a lovely limited edition of one hundred copies.

Thankfully, the National Library Service had the book Brailled in 1980, and it is therefore available in that format (BR 04141). The tenBroek Library plans to digitize this book within the next few months and thus make it more widely available to both blind and sighted readers. Both for its subject and for its fine writing style, this book merits a wider readership.

 

The Record Jacket

by Donna W. Hill

From the Editor: Recently I attended an IEP meeting in which a second-grader’s school district decided to discontinue her instruction in Braille. Braille would be too slow. Braille would make her different. The time might come when extended reading would require another look at Braille, but that was in the future, and their concern was for teaching the curriculum in the here and now.

In this article Pennsylvania Federationist Donna Hill talks about what it was like to go through school being expected to depend on vision she didn’t have and the consequences when good training isn’t available to teach and reinforce the skills of blindness necessary to function competitively. This is what she says:

Among my childhood keepsakes is a monaural LP of the musical My Fair Lady, starring Rex Harrison and Julie Andrews. I bought it in sixth grade when my teacher played a different Broadway show every Friday.

Upon first reading the record jacket, I was perplexed. The book and lyrics were written by Alan Jay Lerner; the music by Frederick Loewe. Furthermore, the whole thing was based upon George Bernard Shaw’s play Pygmalion. Three people to write one story? At eleven I already wanted to write a novel and a musical, but I couldn’t imagine not doing it all myself.

That I expected to work alone wasn’t unpredictable. My efforts to fit in weren’t working. Born legally blind from Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP), I was living in a nether world between total blindness and normal vision. I was the first blind child mainstreamed in our local school district. At the time the theory was that visually impaired children who could in fact see print should read print. No consideration was given to the damage and ineffectiveness of this strategy. Large print didn’t work for me because of one of RP’s most misunderstood characteristics: tunnel vision. The bigger the word, the less of it I could see. Long before my reading vision failed completely, I was piecing words together letter by letter. Changes in lighting, such as clouds passing over, left me unable to read anything for several minutes.

At home I held my books up to a bright incandescent light. When I recollect reading print, I can still smell the hot ink and feel the sting in my eyes. Blistering headaches were common. The irregularities in my visual field and the profound differences that lighting made meant that adults were puzzled by my changing visual abilities. I was often accused of faking it.

My greatest solace was music. From age four, I believed I was supposed to do something important and that, whatever it was, it involved music. My musical journey, however, had many pitfalls. In second grade I was selected to sing in the Christmas concert, but I was dismissed before the first rehearsal. The rickety risers on which choirs stand were new to me. Tunnel vision, especially when inappropriately used for mobility and orientation, causes balance problems. My spot was on the third riser. With nothing to hold on to, I was tottering, trying to adjust. The teacher, fearing that I would fall, insisted that I get down. I was sent back to class in tears. The options of either giving me time to get used to the risers or placing me on the ground level weren’t considered.

My early rejection notwithstanding, I studied piano, memorizing the music so I wouldn’t have to keep looking at it. After five years my vision was slipping, and the music I could play was too complicated for easy memorizing. There was no help, however. Shortly after purchasing the My Fair Lady album, I quit piano.

Having given up the thing I loved most, other compromises weren’t as difficult to make. Extracurriculars were out. Constant bullying pushed me away from socializing with my peers. I started making choices about which subjects I would work on and which would fall by the wayside. English was in; history was out. Soon even English fell victim to more demanding reading loads. The fact that I once managed to get on the honor role had more to do with my ability to glean information from teachers and classmates than from reading.

At fourteen I began teaching myself guitar and writing songs. I had been a bit of a poet, and my poetry skills blended nicely with writing lyrics. Aside from one time when our neighbor invited me to sing at the nursing home where she worked, I had no outlets for performing. With the help of Talking Books, I obtained a BA in English literature. Only after college, when I trained with my first guide dog, did I learn about Braille. Teaching myself the basics allowed me to live independently. I started making labels for spices and important paperwork. I Brailled my song lyrics, recipes, and to-do lists. I even made a label and track list insert for that My Fair Lady album. Without real training, however, my ability to use Braille to read age-appropriate material developed too slowly to erase the damage that had been done.

Soon I had to face the reality that I wasn’t prepared for the job market. I always wanted to pursue music, but I was painfully shy and had no experience working with other musicians or appearing in public. My answer was to become a street performer in Philadelphia. The local media noticed, and I started doing my own PR. In my thirteen years as a troubadour, I recorded three albums; appeared at hundreds of local schools, churches, and libraries; and received numerous accolades for my songs for special projects.

Then life stepped in. I was recording my third CD when I found a lump in my breast. It was cancer, but I knew how to survive. After treatment I returned to the studio and finished the project. My husband and I planned to take The Last Straw to Nashville. The masters and cover art were no sooner out the door, however, than I found another lump. The second diagnosis left me financially, physically, and emotionally drained. I had to start over, but how?

A move to the mountains, learning to use a computer with text-to-speech software, and a request from a nonprofit I’d never heard of brought me to my new path. The Performing Arts Division of the National Federation of the Blind (PAD, NFB) asked me to donate my song “The Edge of the Line” to PAD’s Sound in Sight CD, a multi-genre compilation of tracks by blind recording artists. In promoting the CD, which funds PAD’s programs, I realized that the PR skills I had developed in Philadelphia were needed--and not just to help PAD.

When I was a kid, 50 percent of America’s blind and visually impaired children learned Braille. Nowadays, despite strong Braille literacy/independence links, the Braille-literacy rate is only 10 percent. Over 70 percent of working-age blind Americans are unemployed. Of those who work--and they’re successful as lawyers, engineers, mechanics, and chemists and in countless other fields--over 80 percent read Braille. Audio books and talking computers, though irreplaceable and valuable tools, are no substitute for Braille, which remains the only tool offering true literacy on a par with print.

In addition to my volunteer PR work for PAD and the NFB of Pennsylvania, I write for the online magazines Suite 101 and American Chronicle. I cover blindness issues, music, health, wildlife, and knitting, interviewing people using the phone.

The project I’ve been working on in some form since elementary school is coming together. My fantasy novel, The Heart of Applebutter Hill, features a fourteen-year-old girl who, like me, is a songwriter dealing with Retinitis Pigmentosa. The book, of course, has music. As for collaboration, well, maybe I’ll get someone else to write the screenplay.

 

Hearing Enhancement and Spanish Translation
Available at National Convention
Spanish Translators Needed

by D. Curtis Willoughby

From the Editor: Curtis Willoughby is a member of the NFB's research and development committee and head of our Ham Radio Division. Here is his announcement about FM receivers at convention:

Again this year at national convention we will offer special arrangements for severely hearing-impaired people attending convention sessions and the banquet. This will consist of transmission of the public address system signal over a special short-range radio transmitter for the severely hearing-impaired. Also Spanish-language translation of convention proceedings in general sessions and the banquet will be provided using a similar arrangement. The special receivers required for these services will also be provided.

In cooperation with several state affiliates (notably Colorado, Utah, and Virginia), the NFB will provide special receivers for these transmissions to those needing them. The receiver-lending will be managed by the Ham Radio Division and will be operated from a table just outside the meeting room. A deposit of $40, cash only, will be required of anyone wishing to check out one of the Federation's receivers. The deposit will be returned if the receiver is checked in at the checkout table in good condition by the end of the banquet or within thirty minutes of adjournment of the last convention session that the borrower plans to attend. Batteries for the receiver will be provided. Anyone checking out a Federation receiver will be given upon request a miniature earbud-type earphone to use with the receiver.

Along with explaining what will be available, it is important that we explain what will not be available. The miniature earbud loudspeaker-type earphone will be the only kind of earphone offered. The receiver requires a 3.5 mm (formerly called 1/8-inch) earphone plug, in case you want to use your own earphone(s), silhouette, neck loop, adapter cable, etc. You are advised to arrange for such things well ahead of arriving at the convention. Other than the earphone jack on the receiver, no means of connection to a hearing aid will be available from the checkout table. The receiver does not have a built-in loudspeaker. While earphones, and even neck loops, are sometimes available in the exhibit hall, you cannot be certain of getting one there.

Many severely hearing-impaired people already use radio systems that employ FM radio signals to carry the voice from a transmitter held by the person speaking to a receiver in the hearing aid. Some of these hearing aid systems can be tuned to receive the Federation's special transmitters. In this case the hearing-impaired person may simply tune his or her own receiver to receive the Federation's transmitter and will not need to check out a Federation receiver.

Some audiologists and rehabilitation agencies are now buying digital and other FM hearing aids that cannot be tuned to the Federation's frequency. If you have one of these or if you have any other type of hearing aid, you should obtain from your audiologist an adapter cable to connect from your hearing aid to a monaural 3.5 mm earphone jack. This will allow you to plug the cable from your hearing aid directly into a receiver you check out from our table. This will allow you to hear as well as anyone else using one of our receivers.

The transmitter for the hearing impaired will be connected to the public address system so that the signals from the head table and the aisle microphones will be transmitted on channel thirty-six (74.775 MHz narrow band FM). People must not operate their personal transmitters on channel thirty-six or on channel thirty-eight, because that would interfere with the reception by others. This means that folks wishing to use their own receivers (rather than checking out one of the Federation's receivers) need to have their personal receivers arranged so that they can switch between their personal channels and channel thirty-six. Some people may need to purchase replacement or additional receivers. Caution your audiologist that there is more than one channel thirty-six, and he or she must also verify that your frequency matches our frequency.

This announcement is published now to allow as much time as possible for those interested to make the necessary arrangements before convention. It contains this amount of detail so that any audiologist who works with this type of equipment should be able to know by reading this article exactly what capabilities a person's hearing system must have to work with the Federation's system at convention.

Even if your hearing aid is not of the FM type, you may be able to purchase a silhouette, a neck loop, or an adapter cable to couple the signal from a Federation receiver directly to your hearing aid. Your audiologist should also be able to help you with this.

The service for Spanish speakers will be similar, except that a live Spanish translator will speak over a separate transmitter on channel thirty-eight (75.275 MHz narrow band FM). We do not expect that people will bring their own receivers for the Spanish-translation service, unless they are also hearing impaired and use an FM hearing aid system. Spanish speakers may, however, wish to bring their own earphones. See above for a description of the type of plug needed.

Norm Gardner from Utah will be coordinating the Spanish language interpreters, and he would appreciate hearing from anyone willing to volunteer to interpret. Please call him before convention at (801) 224-6969, or send him email at <ngardner@brlcenter.org>.

Finally, if other state affiliates or chapters are interested in purchasing this type of equipment for use in state and local meetings, they are encouraged to purchase equipment that is compatible with that which we are using and to allow it to be used in the pool of equipment that the Ham Radio Group administers at national convention. I (D. Curtis Willoughby) would like to help you choose equipment that is compatible with that which the NFB is using. I may also be able to help you get the good prices the NFB has been getting. You may contact me at (303) 424-7373 or at <ka0vba@dimcom.net>. The Federation is pleased to offer these services to our severely hearing-impaired and Spanish-speaking colleagues, and we hope and believe that it will again significantly improve their convention experience.

 

Dialysis in Orlando

by Mike Freeman

From the Editor: Mike Freeman is president of the Diabetes Action Network. In the following article he lists the facilities near our convention hotel that can provide dialysis to those who need the service. Arrangements should be made soon, so here is the information:

During this year's annual convention in Orlando, dialysis will be available. People requiring dialysis must have their local servicing unit set up the desired location well in advance. The convention will take place at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort, 9939 Universal Boulevard, Orlando, Florida 32819. You can find dialysis units and directions for reaching them by calling the DialysisFinder hotline at (866) 889-6019 or by going to <www.dialysisfinder.com>.

The following units are located near the hotel:

DeVita Orlando Southwest
6925 Lake Ellenor Drive, Ste. 650, Orlando, Florida 32809-4670, fax (407) 852-1748
Placement specialist available, phone (866) 889-6019
Reference Number: 4076
In-center Hemo
3.52 miles from the hotel

DeVita Orlando Dialysis
14050 Town Loop Boulevard, Ste. 104A, Orlando, Florida 32837-6190, fax (407) 858-0761
Placement specialist available, phone (866) 889-6019
Reference Number: 178
In-center Hemo
4.55 miles from the hotel

DeVita Orlando at Home:
14050 Town Loop Boulevard, Ste. 104B, Orlando, Florida 32837-6190, fax (407) 851-9967
Placement specialist available, phone (866) 889-6019
Reference Number: 6243
Home Hemo
4.55 miles from the hotel

Central Florida Kidney Center
 4301 Vineland Road, Ste. E17, Orlando, Florida 32811-7188, fax (407) 422-9055, phone (407) 425-4415
Reference Number: 101812
In-center Hemo
5.18 miles from the hotel

Nephrology Consult of Central Florida
3885 Oakwater Circle, Orlando, Florida 32806-6257, fax (816) 415-7726, phone (407) 851-5600
Reference Number: 106283
In-center Hemo
6.29 miles from the hotel

Orlando Home Training
116 Sturtevant Street, Ste. 2, Orlando, Florida 32806-2021, fax (407) 849-1657, phone (866) 889-6019
Placement specialist available
Reference Number: 3481
In-center PD
7.58 miles from the hotel

Orlando Downtown
116 Sturtevant Street, Orlando, Florida 32806-2021, fax (407) 426-7476, phone (866) 889-6019
Placement specialist available
Reference Number: 3021
In-center Hemo
7.58 miles from the hotel

Central Florida Kidney Center, Inc.
203 Ernestine Street, Orlando, Florida 32801-3621,
fax (407) 425-1526, phone (407) 843-6110
Reference Number: 101775
In-center Hemo, home Hemo, PD
8.10 miles from the hotel

DaVita Dialysis – Kissimmee
802 N John Young Parkway, Kissimmee, Florida 34741-4912, fax (407) 847-5973, phone (866) 889-6019
Placement specialist available
Reference Number: 4013
In-center Hemo, acute, nocturnal Hemo
8.81 miles from the hotel

FMC - West Orlando
5600 W Colonial Drive, Ste. 101, Orlando, Florida 32808-7646, fax (407) 298-3666, phone (407) 297-3777
Reference Number: 100512
In-center Hemo
8.81 miles from the hotel

Orlando Park Dialysis
5397 W Colonial Drive, Ste. 120, Orlando, Florida 32808-7647, fax (407) 532-4881, phone (866) 889-6019
Placement specialist available
Reference Number: 4446
In-center Hemo
8.84 miles from the hotel

This is not an exhaustive list. You can find many more dialysis facilities by calling the DialysisFinder telephone number or by looking at the DialysisFinder Website. Planning your dialysis in advance will enable you to enjoy the convention fully with a minimum of disruption.

 

Recipes

This month’s recipes come from Bill Packee, president of the National Federation of the Blind of Alaska.

Smoked Salmon Dip

This recipe is a great way to use leftover cooked salmon. Serve this delicious appetizer with crackers.

Ingredients:
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
Dash hot sauce
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
2 teaspoons horseradish
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon snipped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon grated onion
1/4 teaspoon dried dill weed
8 ounces smoked salmon or one 7-1/4-ounce can salmon with skin and bones removed
Liquid smoke flavoring

Method: Combine cream cheese, hot sauce, sour cream, butter or margarine, horseradish, and lemon juice; beat together. Stir in salt, pepper, garlic powder, parsley flakes, onion, and dill weed. Add flaked salmon. If you are using unsmoked canned salmon, add liquid smoke flavoring to taste. Mix gently, cover, and chill until ready to use. Makes two-and-a-half cups.

Tartar Sauce

Ingredients:
1 pint mayonnaise
About 1/2 onion (depending on taste)
3 tablespoons chopped sweet pickle (1 pickle)
3 tablespoons chopped stuffed green olives
1 tablespoon lemon juice (approximately)
Dash Tabasco sauce
Dash Worcestershire sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced

Method: Mix all ingredients well and chill until ready to use.

Moose Ribs

Ingredients:
Moose ribs
1 bottle (about 2 cups) barbecue sauce or homemade barbecue sauce
Seasoning (See following recipe for ideas.)
1 can beer
1 onion
2 to 4 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons horseradish

Method: Season ribs and brown in broiler, then place in crockpot. Add sliced onion and minced garlic to crockpot. Pour barbecue sauce, beer, and horseradish over all. Cook for eight to twelve hours on low or five to six hours on high.

Moose Meat Deluxe

Ingredients:
1 moose roast
1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup
Seasonings
Chopped vegetables to taste

Method: Preheat oven to 350 to 375 degrees and grease a roasting pan. Season roast with salt, pepper, lemon pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, or whatever other seasonings you like. Chop vegetables (onions, celery, garlic, or whatever else you like) and arrange chopped vegetables on top of roast. Pour cream of mushroom soup over roast and vegetables. Adjust seasoning. Tightly cover pan with foil, leaving a small hole as a vent. Cook for approximately forty-five minutes to one hour per pound of meat. Bon appétit!

Marinade and Basting for Reds and Silvers

Ingredients:
1 salmon fillet with skin on
1/3 cup olive oil
Juice of 2 limes
3 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced fine
1/4 cup shou or soy sauce
Dash garlic powder

Method: Score skin side of fish fillet in a cross-hatch pattern. Combine remaining ingredients to make a marinade. Marinate fish in refrigerator for a half hour. Cook on grill using remaining marinade to baste fish as it cooks. Do not overcook. This is the best way to eat reds and silvers. Don’t try this on very fresh king salmon unless they are old.

 

Monitor Miniatures

News from the Federation Family

Braille Book Fair/Flea Market:
Donate your gently used but no longer needed Braille books to the 2011 Braille Book Fair/Flea Market sponsored by the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children and the National Association to Promote the Use of Braille. Books should be in good condition. Cookbooks, books about sports, children’s print-Braille picture books, and all books suitable for children and youth are especially needed. Children are so hungry for their very own books that every year, despite generous donations, most of our books for young children are gone in less than an hour. So begin your search through the boxes in your basement and spare room and get those books shipped to Braille Book Fair, UPS/ Attention: Bessie Graham, 8901 Atlantic Avenue, Orlando, Florida 32824.

After many years of organizing this successful event, Peggy Chong has stepped down, and this year’s coordinator is Barbara Cheadle. If you have any questions, you may contact Barbara at (410) 747-3472 or email her at <bacheadle@msn.com>. This year’s event is slated to take place on Tuesday, July 1, from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m.

 

In Brief

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

New Books and Free Books from Seedlings Braille Books for Children:
Seedlings Braille Books for Children is pleased to announce that we have recently added thirty-three new books to our catalog, bringing our total number of low-cost titles available in Braille to 1,125. These books range from Print-Braille-&-Picture Books for toddlers and preschoolers like Curious George at the Park and Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes, to short chapter books like American Girls: Changes for Kirsten and Magic Tree House #35: Night of the New Magicians, to larger novels for teens and tweens like How to Train Your Dragon: Book 1 and Newbery Award winner The Graveyard Book.

We have also added an inspiring nonfiction book called Winter’s Tail: How One Little Dolphin Learned to Swim Again, which is being made into a movie. To view a list of all the new books, please go to <http://www.seedlings.org/whatsnew.php>. To read about all 1,125 titles, go to <www.seedlings.org> and click on "Order Our Books & Gifts."

If you would like to receive a print copy of the 2011 Seedlings catalog by mail, send your name and address to <info@seedlings.org> or call (800) 777-8552, or download the text file version right now from our Website: <www.seedlings.org>. Also don’t forget to register for Seedlings’ 2011 Book Angel Program, which is open to visually-impaired children who live in the US and Canada. Through this program each child can receive two free Seedlings books each year (list four books from our catalog, and we will send two of them.) If you haven't registered yet in 2011, just fill out the online form right now by going to <http://www.seedlings.org/special.php> and clicking on “Book Angel Program.”

Seedlings Braille Books for Children is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing the opportunity for literacy by providing high-quality, low-cost children's literature in Braille. Volunteers, grants, and donations make it possible for us to offer our books at a fraction of the production cost, and we have not raised prices for over twenty-five years.

Seedlings’ 2011 Book Angel Program:
Register your VI child to receive two free books. Seedlings' Book Angel Program is back again this year thanks to the generosity of our supporters, people who understand the importance and power of reading and who want to share the gift of reading with blind children. This program has been a huge success, bringing much joy to young Braille readers. The children love receiving two free books that they can read and re-read to their hearts’ content. It is also a great way to introduce Braille to VI toddlers and preschoolers who may become Braille readers. Just sign them up for some of our print-and-Braille books, and they will be able to enjoy reading time with their sighted parents and siblings while picking up important pre-reading skills.

The Book Angel Program is open to visually impaired children who live in the US and Canada. Book Angel orders will be filled when your child's name is selected and as time and materials allow. The books will be shipped Free Matter for the Blind.

To register, fill out our online form by clicking <http://www.seedlings.org/special.php> and then on "Book Angel Program." You can also use the registration form in the 2011 Seedlings Catalog and fax it to (734) 427-8552 or mail it to Seedlings, PO Box 51924, Livonia, Michigan 48151-5924. Please let us know if you would like us to send you our catalog with over 1,100 book titles.

Prodigy Diabetes Care, LLC: Listening to Patient Needs So They Can Hear:
When major players in the medical industry failed to acknowledge the needs of blind and low-vision diabetics, Prodigy Diabetes Care, LLC, a high tech engineering and design company located in Charlotte, North Carolina, stepped up to give the blind diabetic a voice. Prodigy® has developed an innovative line of accessible blood glucose monitoring systems and, at the request of the National Federation of the Blind, reintroduced a simple method to fill insulin syringes. These devices are not only affordable, but provide total independence and accessibility for all diabetics, especially those with low vision or vision loss.

Prodigy’s vision originates from the company’s president and top executives, who themselves or members of their families suffer from diabetes and diabetic retinopathy. They understand the needs and concerns of those affected by the disease and have set out to address those needs in collaboration with and at the request of the NFB.

Diabetic retinopathy has been recognized as the leading cause of new blindness in Americans under the age of seventy-four. In addition, diabetes is associated with several other visual impairments such as cataracts, glaucoma, anterior ischemic optic neuropathy, retinal vascular occlusive disease, and age-related macular degeneration. In collaboration with the NFB, Prodigy created the first stand-alone, talking, no coding meter on the market providing accessibility for any diabetic who suffers from low vision or vision loss. With these conditions in mind and a focus on the needs of the blind and low vision diabetic, Prodigy developed the Prodigy Autocode®, Prodigy Voice®, and Prodigy Count-a-dose®.

The Prodigy Autocode is an audible, multilingual meter that requires no coding. The Prodigy Voice, designed with feedback from NFB staff members, is fully audible from set-up to testing, has raised imprinted buttons for easy navigation, features a repeat button to replay last message or test result, and requires no coding. The Prodigy Count-a-dose provides an easy and accurate method of filling insulin syringes by measuring one unit of insulin at a time, allowing better control of insulin therapy. Each increment measured is indicated by a distinct click.

Not only does Prodigy develop medical devices that offer the blind diabetic the same conveniences and features available to other diabetics, but the Prodigy Voice instruction manual, packaging, company Website (prodigymeter.com), and even customer support are accessible to the low-vision and blind market. The instruction manual is available on an audio CD, in Braille, or on the Website. The Website has been awarded Gold-Level National Federation of the Blind Nonvisual Accessibility Web Certification for being compatible with the screen-reading software used by blind people to make the words of the Website audible. The meter’s packaging features Braille labels, and the colors and fonts are designed to be clearly visible to those with vision impairments.

As the growing diabetic community continues to suffer from related diabetic complications, Prodigy’s innovative devices enable all patients freedom and accessibility in their diabetes management. The Prodigy Voice is the only meter to be awarded Access Plus (A+) Honors from the NFB, making the Prodigy Voice the clear choice in blood glucose meters. The Prodigy Voice allows total independence for all blind and low-vision diabetics. To receive additional information on Prodigy Diabetes Care, LLC, and its products, visit <www.prodigymeter.com> or call (800) 243-2636.

Philadelphia Insurance Improves Website to Benefit People with Disabilities:
Philadelphia Insurance Companies (PHLY), the leading property and casualty insurance company for non-profits and other niche markets, announced today upgrades to its Website that increase accessibility to people with disabilities. These upgrades to PHLY.com make it possible for policyholders, business partners, and anyone with sensory, physical, or speech-related disabilities to access information that otherwise would be unavailable. While not legally required, the company made changes to PHLY.com to demonstrate its belief in being a good corporate citizen. The site has been designed to be consistent with federal guidelines under Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. To learn more about the improvements, visit <http://www.phly.com>.

 

Monitor Mart

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

Recorder Needed:
I am looking for an AIWA four-track cassette player/recorder with am/fm and recording capabilities. Please email or call to negotiate a price: email <msrdavidv@comcast.net>, phone (706) 375-9500.


NFB Pledge

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