Future Reflections Fall 2000, Vol. 19 No. 4
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Hear Ye! Hear Ye!

Braille in a Bag

“Braille in a Bag” is a set of rubber stamps of the Braille alphabet letters and a few punctuation marks. They are great to use with sighted siblings or classmates who are curious about Braille. The set is available for $13.50 plus $1.50 s/h. To order write: Lynn Goeden-Hough, N21 W24305 Cumberland Drive, Pewaukee, Wisconsin 53072.

Shaken Baby Alliance

Parents and caregivers of babies blinded by Shaken Baby Syndrome may contact the Shaken Baby Alliance over the Internet for support and information. The Web Site is <www.shakenbaby.com>.

IEP Material on Disk

Two publications about the Individualized Education Program (IEP) are now available in plain text files on a 3 ½-inch floppy disk. The publications are “Questions Often Asked by Parents About Special Education” (LG1 4th Edition, September 1999) and “Individualized Education Programs” (LG2 4th Edition, September 1999). Both documents are published and distributed in print by the National Information Center for Children and Youth with Disabilities (NICHCY). The publications are reviewed by the U.S. Office of Special Education Programs for consistency with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Amendments of 1997, Public Law 105-17, and the final implementing regulations published March 12, 1999. To get these two publications on one computer disk, send shipping and handling costs of $5 to NFB Materials Center, 1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21230. Make checks payable to the National Federation of the Blind or NFB. To order the print publications from NICHCY call (800) 695-0285 or check the Web Site at <www.nichcy.org>.

Because Books Matter

This little booklet from the National Braille Press is a must for every parent of a blind or visually impaired baby, toddler, or preschooler.

Written by Carol Castellano, the booklet provides a blueprint for parents into the ways and means of providing those oh-so-vital pre-literacy experiences that, for sighted children, we take for granted.

When do you begin to read print-Braille books to a blind baby? Where can you get these books? How can parents enhance the reading experience for children who cannot see (or see clearly) the pictures in picture books? Does Braille matter? Should parents learn Braille? Where can parents get instruction? How can parents encourage good tactile reading techniques? What are the Braille basics?

Parents can expect to get answers to these questions, and many others, from this wonderfully informative and upbeat little booklet.

Because Books Matter: Reading Braille Books with Young Blind Children is available free of charge from National Braille Press, 88 St. Stephen Street, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, (800) 548-7323, <www.nbp.org>.

NOPBC Updates:

Elected: At the 2000 Annual Meeting of the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children the following officers were elected: President, Barbara Cheadle (Maryland); First Vice President, Carol Castellano (New Jersey); Second Vice President, Martin (Marty) Greiser (Montana); Secretary, Christine Faltz (New York); Treasurer, Brunhilda Merk-Adam (Michigan); and Board Members: Sally Miller (South Carolina), Tammy Hollingsworth (Indiana), Mark McClain (Ohio), Brad Weatherd (Montana), Samuel Baldwin (Missouri), and Maria Jones (Kentucky).

Retired: We were very sad that Julie Hunter, our long-time Treasurer, chose to retire from the Board this year. She has been an outstanding Treasurer: organized yet creative; good with details, yet always able to see the big picture. Although she will no longer share her wisdom, talents, and deep understanding of NFB philosophy as a member of the NOPBC board, Julie will continue as an active member of NOPBC and as a leader of the parents division in Colorado.

New Division: The Arkansas NFB affiliate is proud to announce the formation of the NFB of Arkansas Parents of Blind Children Group. The officers are: Della Berman, President; Sandra Giles, Vice President; Paul Giles, Secretary/Treasurer; and Hank Berman, Board Member.

2001 Annual NOPBC Meeting: The 2001 meeting will be held on Tuesday, July 3, 2001 at the NFB Convention at the Philadelphia Marriott, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The keynote speaker will be the winner of the 2001 Distinguished Educator of Blind Children Award. The lively and informative agenda will include reports from our state parent divisions regarding new and innovative programs and projects. Everyone is welcome—NOPBC members, non-members, parents, teachers, etc. There is no special registration fee, but attendees are expected to register for the NFB Convention, which is only $10 per person. See page 6 in this issue for information about how to reserve a room at the Philadelphia Marriott.

NOPBC National Workshops: NOPBC will sponsor a day-long seminar at the NFB Convention on Sunday, July 1, 2001. The day will also include activities for children, teens, and a Family Hospitality in the evening. Other NOPBC workshops for parents will be scheduled on Wednesday, July 4 and Thursday, July 5. A supervised teen room will also be available at scheduled times throughout the convention. More information will be available in the Braille Monitor, the monthly publication of the NFB, and the next issue of Future Reflections. For more information you may also contact Barbara Cheadle, President, National Organization of Parents of Blind Children at (410) 659-9314 ext. 360 or <BCheadle@nfb.org>. The NFB Web Site, <www.nfb.org> will also have convention information.

State Braille Bills Passed: Although the provision of Braille instruction to blind and visually impaired children is now required in the federal law (the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act—IDEA), it is still important for our NFB and POBC affiliates to press for Braille legislation at the state level. Such legislation can fine-tune, if you will, the Braille requirement to meet the specific needs and circumstances of blind children and teachers in that state.

This past year Michigan and New York passed Braille Bills. This brings the total of states with Braille Bills to thirty-two. The Michigan Parents of Blind Children Division (MI/POBC) worked long and hard in partnership with the NFB of Michigan for the passage of their Braille Bill. Even the kids pitched in and helped. Here is the text of the testimony Kyle Neddo, son of Dawn Neddo, President of the MI/POBC, gave to state legislators in support of the Braille Bill:

Hi. My name is Kyle, and I’m 10-years-old, and I would like you to support Bill 4377. Some of my friends that are blind like me don’t get Braille in school like I do, and they don’t have Braille books. I have my books in Braille, and I have a Braille teacher so now I can read. My Mom and Dad had to go to a lot of meetings to make sure I was going to learn to read Braille. Please help my friends to be able to read like me. Thank you.

Low Vision Products

We have been asked to publish the following information:

Mons International of Atlanta, Georgia, has compiled, in response to customers’ requests, a catalog of low-vision products and devices. The catalog also contains guidelines and tips for effective use of low-vision products. To request the Just For You catalog, contact Mons International, 6595 Roswell Road, N.E. #224, Atlanta, Georgia 30328, (800) 541-7903, Web Site <www.magnifiers.com>, e-mail <mons@negia.net>.

Dizzy Disc Jr.

From Quantum Toys comes this information:

The Dizzy Disc Jr., a fun and safe spinning ride-on toy, allows kids to sit, kneel, lie down, and even stand as they play while improving balance and coordination! The Dizzy Disc Jr. is a great way to enhance any child’s motor skills. A built-in level adjusts the slope of the disc. The greater the angle, the greater the excitement. Comes fully assembled, no batteries required. For ages 5 and up, up to 150 pounds. The Dizzy Disc Jr. was a finalist in the Family Fun magazine 1999 Toy Awards. For more information contact Quantum Toys, Inc., Seattle, Washington, (877) 526-8697, <www.dizzydisc.com>.

Golf for Blind Kids

Joe McCourt, Director of the Junior Golf Program, United States Blind Golf Association. Joe, who spoke at the 1999 Annual Meeting of the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children in Atlanta, Georgia, sent us the following announcement:

We want to help in any way that we can to make sure that blind and vision impaired children and adults have the opportunity to learn to play the great game of golf. We are developing matches of children and adults with members of the PGA of America. This past summer we conducted clinics at guide dog schools, Lion’s camps, and eye clinics. To learn more about our programs, please call us at: 

Adults: Call Bob Andrews at (850) 893-4511, e-mail: <usbga@blindgolf.com> Children: Call Joe McCourt at (561) 569-3494, e-mail: <joeusbga@cs.com>. Web Site: <www.blindgolf.com>.

Policy Letter from Department of Education

On June 8, 2000, the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, U.S. Department of Education (OSEP), issued a Notice of Policy Guidance on Educating Blind and Visually Impaired Students. This notice updates the policy memo that was issued November 3, 1995, and reflects the new and revised provisions of the IDEA Amendments of 1997. In the new memo, OSEP states:

“This notice provides important background information to educators in meeting their obligations to ensure that blind and visually impaired students receive appropriate educational services in the least restrictive environment appropriate to their unique needs. A description of procedural safeguards also is included to ensure that parents are knowledgeable about their right to participate in decisions regarding the provision of services to their children.”

The policy notice may be viewed on the Internet in text or Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) at either of the following sites: <http://ocfo.ed.gov/fedreg.htm> and <http://www.ed.gov/news.html>. Individuals with disabilities may obtain the document in an alternative format (e.g. Braille, large print, audiotape, or computer diskette) on request to Katie Mincey, Director of the Alternate Formats Center, (202) 205-8113. For further information contact Rhonda Weiss or JoLeta Reynolds, OSEP, Mary E. Switzer Building, Room 3086, 330 C Street, SW, Washington, D.C. 20202. Telephone (202) 205-5507, TDD (202) 205-5465.

Art History Through Touch and Sound

From the American Printing House for the Blind (APH) comes this announcement:

Art Education for the Blind and APH present Art History Through Touch and Sound. The first three components of this ongoing series, The Building Blocks of Art, The Art of Ancient Egypt, and European Modernism: 1900 – 1940, are now available from APH.

For more information contact APH, 1839 Frankfort Avenue, P.O. Box 6085, Louisville, Kentucky 40206-0085. Phone (800) 223-1839, Web Site <www.aph.org>. You may also contact your regional Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped for information about volumes from the series available for loan.

Braille Letters

The following information has been circulating among newsletters and Internet listservs:

If you want to write a Braille letter to one of your friends, but don’t know Braille, there is a new web site that will help you out. If you go to <http://www.hotbraille.com/public/welcome.asp> you can request that a letter be formatted, Brailled, and mailed to anyone in the United States. There is no charge to you to send the letter. All you have to do is open an account, sign in, and write your letter.

Web-Braille

Braille readers can now read or download their books on the Internet through a service called Web-Braille. The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) Web-Braille digital Braille book files can be accessed from home with a personal computer and Braille embosser or refreshable Braille display.

For more information contact your regional Library for the Blind or Robert E. Fistick, Head, Publications and Media Section, National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, Library of Congress, 1291 Taylor St. N.W., Washington, DC 20542; telephone: (202) 707-9279; e-mail: rfis@loc.gov.

Music V.I.

We have been asked to print the following:

“Music V.I.” is a series of music courses and lessons on audiotape for the visually impaired. Included is “Intro to the Guitar for the Visually Impaired,” and “Intro to the Piano for the Visually Impaired.” Each of these is $37, which includes shipping & handling. Once these courses have been completed, the student is ready to start using the “Guitar By Ear” and the “Piano By Ear” cassette library which is available from the developer. Contact Valdosta Music and Publishing, 704 Habersham Rd., Valdosta, Georgia 31602, (912) 249-0628.

Financial Planning

We have been asked to publish the following information:

Merrill Lynch has launched a program designed to address the unique financial challenges faced by families with children with disabilities. Contact <http://www.plan.ml.com/specialneeds/>.

MetLife’s Division of Estate Planning for Special Kids will offer legal and financial assistance to parents of children with special needs. Also, they have prepared a free brochure, “Planning for Your Special Needs Child” (brochure #512). Contact Metropolitan Insurance Company, One Madison Avenue, New York, New York 10010, (800) 638-5433, <www.metlife.com/desk>.

Tactile Picture Recognition

We have been asked to print the following:

The Guild for the Blind offers a number of tactile picture books for blind children. The books are great for teaching tactual picture recognition, and they make wonderful coloring books, too. The books feature Braille-print text and pictures made from Braille dots, called “Braillables.” A manual for parents and teachers about how to make and use Braillables is also available. For more information contact Guild for the Blind, 180 North Michigan Avenue, #1700, Chicago, Illinois 60601, (312) 236-7463.

Accessible Games for Windows

We have been asked to share the following information:

Accessible Games are Windows 95/98 games written by the blind for the blind. These games interface directly to JAWS for Windows (JFW) version 3.3 or higher, and the Window-Eyes screen reader to give spoken feedback to the user. This interface, sound effects, and keyboard support make these games very accessible for blind gamers. Games currently available are Accessible Battleship, Accessible Blackjack, Accessible FreeCell, Accessible Memory, Accessible Simon, Accessible WordPlay, Accessible Word Scramble, and Accessible Yahtzee. For more information, contact Robert Betz, 12961 Spencer Street, Fort Meyers, Florida 33908. The games are available at <http://www.GamesForTheBlind.com>.

Future Reflections

The National Federation of the Blind Magazine for Parents of Blind Children

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