Future Reflections          Winter/Spring 2008

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ODDS AND ENDS

Close to Home
News from the NOPBC and the NFB

The Gifts that Keep On Giving
Braille Book Flea Market: This notice comes from Peggy Chong, coordinator of the annual Braille Book Flea Market. “Donate your gently used but no longer needed Braille books to the 2008 Braille Book 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, Twin Vision® books, and books suitable for children are greatly needed. Last year, even though we had many generous donations of books, we were almost out of books in the first hour of the Flea Market. So many children hunger for their own books to have by their bed in the same way that their siblings do.

In a few months, we will have a local address in Dallas where you can send the Braille Books you wish to donate. Begin your search through the boxes in your basement and spare room and get them ready for shipping. If you have any questions, contact Peggy Chong at (515) 277-1288 or e-mail <peggychong@earthlink.net>.” This year’s event is slated to take place on Tuesday, July 1, 5:30-7:00 p.m.

Can You Hear Me Now?
knfbReader Mobile: The knfb Reader, the device that changed thousands of lives among the nation’s blind, has undergone quite the facelift. In January, knfb Reading Technology, Inc., unveiled the knfbReader Mobile, a product that combines the benefits of the previous reader with the convenience of a multifunctional cell phone. Like the knfb Reader Classic—which is still available for purchase—the new version reads most printed documents, address labels and package information, easily recognizes US currency—no matter the orientation; stores thousands of pages of text; transfers text files to and from computers or Braille notetakers; and can adjust reading speed to a user’s preference. However, the knfbReader Mobile combines these features with a multifunctional cell phone, the Nokia N82, to better consolidate the blind consumer’s technology needs. For more information, visit <www.knfbreader.com>; call (877) 547-1500; or write to knfb Reading Technology, Inc., at P.O. Box 620128, Newton Lower Falls, Massachusetts 02462.

Get Linked
NFB-LINK: The best resource for most of life’s challenges and opportunities is not always found in a textbook or encyclopedia, but in the experience of those that came before us. That’s why mentors are so important and why the NFB-LINK online mentoring program is so successful. Here, a college student can learn how to conduct experiments in a biology class; a newly blind person can learn how to continue gardening after vision loss; and a parent, teacher, or rehabilitation professional can learn directly from the expertise of those with real-life experience. Answers to questions like “Can a blind person be a social worker” or “How can I participate in a yoga class” are all found on the NFB-LINK site. Information can be found on career paths, educational opportunities, recreational activities, technology, and many other topics from successful blind and visually impaired people.

To access the service, visit <www.nfblink.org> and either join the growing pool of mentors, or request a mentor that can help answer your blindness-related questions. For additional information about this program, contact Rosy Carranza via e-mail at <rcarranza@nfb.org> or by phone at (410) 659-9314, extension 2283.

Teach Your Teen to Fish
NFB Teen Empowerment Academy: Okay fishing enthusiasts, calm down. It’s just a metaphor. This summer, the NFB Teen Empowerment Academy will enable blind teens to learn the skills and build the confidence necessary to achieve a life of independence and a rewarding professional career. This eight-week residential training program based at the National Center for the Blind in Baltimore, Maryland, begins by developing the teen’s blindness skills through instruction on Braille, technology, mobility, and daily living skills—all taught by highly qualified blind role models. While skills are certainly a focus, regular discussions on blindness and a trip to the NFB national convention will raise expectations and foster positive views of what it means to be blind.

During the second portion of the program, participants will enter the working world as each student is placed, according to strengths and interests, into fifteen- to twenty-hour-a-week jobs earning minimum wage. In addition to on-site job coaching and real employment experience, students will benefit from everyday household chores such as preparing meals and doing their own laundry while at the National Center. Trips to baseball games and amusement parks, and activities such as hiking, bowling, and swimming will allow for additional skill-building through the support of qualified blind mentors. All students will be given consideration, but priority will be given to Maryland residents. Applicants must have an open case with their state’s vocational rehabilitation agency or another funding source. Contact Rosy Carranza at (410) 659-9314, extension 2283, or via e-mail at <rcarranza@nfb.org> for additional information.

Around the Block
Helpful Items from Here and There

Please note: The NOPBC is not responsible for the accuracy of the following information; we have edited only for space and clarity.

The Universe at Your Fingertips
Noreen Grice holding a copy of Touch the Invisible SkyTouch the Invisible Sky book release: On January 15 at the National Center for the Blind in Baltimore, Maryland, NASA launched their most recent tactile exploration of the cosmos. Touch the Invisible Sky contains sixty pages of color images of nebulae, stars, and galaxies, as well as representations of the telescopes used to create those images—Hubble, Chandra, and Spitzer. Raised lines and textures are placed in various patterns directly over the color pictures so that they can be interpreted by touch. Since many of the phenomena in the universe are invisible to the naked eye, Touch the Invisible Sky merely reinterprets the invisible tactually rather than visually, as infrared telescopes do. The book is authored by Noreen Grice of You Can Do Astronomy LLC and the Museum of Science, Boston; Simon Steele, an astronomer with the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts; and Doris Daou, and astronomer at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. Copies can be ordered through the publisher by phone at (787) 730-0987, by writing to PMB 500, RR 8, Box 1995, Bayamón, Puerto Rico 00956-9676, or by purchasing online at <www.ozonepublishing.net/contact.htm>.

Stay Puft Diagrams
Tactile Diagrams: “VIEW International Foundation (VIEW) is pleased to make available a large number of tactile diagrams developed for use by college students. Initially this collection is only available on CDs. Schools may purchase all or part of the collection depending on their needs. To utilize the files in this collection, a school must have the free Adobe Acrobat Reader and a means for printing on and processing capsule paper. There are 11,280 files in the complete collection. The complete collection is on ten CDs and sells for $259. Each individual CD will sell for $59. These prices include shipping and handling. The CDs are designed to run as a CD-based product, and no installation is needed. To utilize these diagrams, they must be printed on capsule paper which is then processed with a machine that activates the paper producing a raised image.” Subjects covered by the diagrams include but are not limited to aeronautics; mathematics; statistics; physics; economics; psychology; and thermal, fluid, earth, atmospheric, and computer sciences. For more information, visit <www.viewinternational.org/diagrams.htm> or contact VIEW at 230 Peach Tree Drive, West Monroe, Louisiana 71291-8653. You can also call (318) 396-1853 or e-mail <ttsinfo@earthlink.net> with “tactile diagrams” in the subject line for more information.

Braille Volunteers
Braille Transcribing, Binding, and Distribution: The Temple Beth El Braille Bindery Volunteers (TBEBBV) is an organization that provides services in the typing, binding, and the distribution of reading materials in Braille at state, national, and international levels. It supplies children’s books to schools and libraries on a “paper-exchange” basis, without further costs. Concept books for preschoolers are available for order as well. These books are brief titles on a variety of subjects including shapes, numbers, the alphabet, and the solar system. They are all tactile and contain accompanying Braille and print text. Each book ranges in cost from $1.50 to $4.50 which covers the cost of materials in constructing the books. The group also repairs Braille writers upon request. For more information about this and other services provided by TBEBBV, contact them at 7400 Telegraph Road, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan 48301; or by phone at (248) 851-1100, extension 3129, or (248) 788-0358; or by e-mail at <asmandel1@sbcglobal.net>.

Braille Music Seminar
Summer Braille Music Institute: “The National Resource Center for Blind Musicians is accepting applications for its seminar for blind college-bound musicians, which will be held July 14-20 at the Overbrook School for the Blind in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Designed for serious Braille-reading music students preparing for or already in college (ages average 17-21), the program tailors instruction to each person’s need to develop Braille music and theory skills, and to learn to use technology to submit music assignments in print notation. Applicants must have already studied some music theory, have had several years of music lessons, and be able to present a polished and pleasing performance. Applicants must also show they have begun thinking realistically about reachable goals, and that they have the independence skills, social readiness, and maturity to be a contributing part of a close-knit group. Contact the Resource Center regarding tuition, scholarship criteria, and the application and audition procedure. Deadline for requesting applications is April 12; all application materials must be in the Resource Center office by May 8.

Other options: Please contact the Resource Center if you are a sighted teacher and would like to gain experience as an intern helping out during the program, or are a parent and would like to bring a younger student for an evaluation. The Resource Center now works with colleges and state agencies to provide phone and online tutoring to students studying music at the college level. Visit <www.blindmusicstudent.org>, which is also a music information resource. Contact David Goldstein at (203) 366-3300, extension 229, or <info@blindmusicstudent.org>.”

Sharing the Wealth
Bookshare.org Awarded $32 Million over Five Years: This past fall, Bookshare.org announced that the Office of Special Education Programs of the U.S. Federal Department of Education selected the organization to receive an award of $32 million over five years. According to President and CEO Jim Fruchterman, “this funding is to fully support all schools and students with qualifying print disabilities in the United States, K-12 and post-secondary, with access to the entire Bookshare.org collection of accessible electronic books and to software for reading those books. As of October 1, 2007, we will cease charging these schools and students anything to join Bookshare.org as members. We are planning on adding more than 100,000 new educational books and materials to our existing collection of over 34,000 titles. We expect to provide millions of books to students through this new program over the next five years, at a tenth or less of the historical cost of providing these services.” To find out more about Bookshare.org, visit their Web site at <www.bookshare.org>; e-mail them at <info@bookshare.org>; or write to Bookshare.org, The Benetech Initiative, 480 S. California Avenue, Suite 201, Palo Alto, California 94306-1609.

Online Resources
Reading Rockets: Here are some online resources provided by Reading Rockets, “a national multimedia project on how young kids learn to read, why so many struggle, and how caring adults can help. <www.ReadingRockets.org> is our comprehensive and daily updated Web site that includes reading news headlines, research-based articles, tips for parents and educators, video interviews with top children’s book authors, a monthly e-newsletter, national and local resources, an online store, and much more.” For more information visit <www.readingrockets.org> or write to Reading Rockets, WETA Public Television, 2775 S. Quincy Street, Arlington, Virginia 22206. You can also call (703) 998-2001 or e-mail <readingrockets@weta.org>. Another online resource, Colorín Colorado, provides information, activities, and advice for Spanish-speaking parents and educators of English-language learners. More information about Colorín Colorado can be found at <www.colorincolorado.org>, or contact Reading Rockets directly.

“The Reading Rockets project is comprised of PBS television programs, available on videotape and DVD; online services, including the Web sites <www.ReadingRockets.org> and <www.ColorinColorado.org>; and professional development opportunities. Reading Rockets aims to inform and inspire parents, teachers, childcare providers, administrators, and others who touch the life of a child by providing accurate, accessible information on how to teach kids to read and help those who struggle. The project is guided by an advisory panel made up of leading researchers and experts in the field of reading.”

Dinner and a Hologram
Children’s Vision Award Dinner: On Saturday, May 31, 2008, The Association for Retinopathy of Prematurity and Related Diseases (ROPARD) will host the Children’s Vision Award Dinner at the new Detroit Institute of Arts. This will be of particular note for parents and teachers of the visually impaired and individuals interested in technology. ROPARD will be presenting an award to Dr. Mark Humayun for his work in artificial vision. He is currently testing microchips in a first study with humans and expects to begin to implant a more advanced microchip in the very near future. The keynote speaker for this event will be Raymond Kurzweil who will be appearing as an interactive hologram. During the presentation, Mr. Kurzweil and Dr. Humayun will have a dialogue about each of their perspectives about artificial vision. Proceeds from the event will be used to help continue the research and free educational services to families at the Children’s Low Vision Resource Center funded by ROPARD. For further information, or to register for the dinner and/or the presentation, visit <www.ropard.org>, call (800) 788-2020, or e-mail <ropard@yahoo.com>.

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