Future Reflections         Fall 2008

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ODDS & ENDS

Close to Home

News from the NOPBC and NFB

Selected Books and DVDs from the NFB Independence Market
Order online, by phone, or by mail at: NFB Independence Market, 1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21230; <www.nfb.org/nfb/Independence_Market.asp>; E-mail: <IndependenceMarket@nfb.org>. Phone: (410) 659-9314 (select the option for Independence Market from the voice mail menu). Please note that the prices listed below do not include shipping and handling charges.

It’s OK to Be Blind (DVD)

Parents and blind kids are interviewed at a National Federation of the Blind national convention about their thoughts and experiences with blindness and the NFB. One blind girl sums it all up when she says it is OK to be blind. Fourteen minutes. LPA32DV: $5.00

White Canes for Blind Kids (DVD)

Depicts blind children and adults at an NFB national convention using their white canes in crowds, on escalators, crossing streets, and many other situations. Parents, blind adults, and kids are interviewed regarding their experience with, and views about, early cane use. Twelve minutes. LPA17DV: $15.00

Avoiding An IEP Disaster: Questions and Answers (DVD)

This 33-minute DVD opens with a role-play which shows an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) meeting gone awry. A discussion follows, which addresses such questions as, “What are parents’ responsibilities and rights under the law?” and “What should a parent do if they disagree with a recommendation?” The federal law that set up the IEP process--Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)--is referenced and explained in the context of practical questions and concerns of parents. LPA73DV: $5.00

Making It Work: Educating the Blind/Visually Impaired Student in the Regular School (by Carol Castellano, 227 pages.)

Discusses how to make the regular school education a successful experience for blind/visually impaired children. Appropriate for school staff, specialized service providers, and parents. (Regular print format) LSA05P: $25.00

The Bridge to Braille: Reading and School Success for the Young Blind Child (by Carol Castellano and Dawn Kosman, 191 pages, illustrated by Lynne Cucco.)

Chapters like “Setting the Stage for Success,” “Adapting Materials,” “Doing Math in Braille,” “Independence in the Classroom,” and “Using Technology” show parents and teachers how to guide blind children from early Braille literacy experiences all the way to full participation in the classroom. The book enables parents and teachers to give ordinary help with schoolwork to children who happen to be blind.

Independent Movement and Travel in Blind Children: A Promotion Model (by Joseph Cutter, 331 pages, b/w photos.)

This book is full of practical tips and strategies about how parents and teachers can help a blind child develop normal and independent movement. It includes detailed instructions and information about canes--what kind, when a child should get one, etc.--and introduces an exciting new approach, “Bottom-Up,” to teaching orientation and mobility to young children developmental ages birth through kindergarten. (Regular print format) LSA104P: $30.00

Modular Instruction for Independent Travel for Students Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired (by Doris Willoughby and Sharon Monthei, 398 pages, b/w photos, diagrams.)

For the mobility teacher, classroom teacher, or parent, this practical guide offers a thousand creative suggestions for teaching cane travel to preschool through high school blind and visually impaired students in every possible setting. (Print format) LSA01P: $20.00

NFB Teens on Facebook
From Carrie Gilmer, president of the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children comes this notice: “It is my pleasure to announce a new place for teens to hang out, network, and get great information in a safe, facilitated environment--not hindered in the least by geography or time warps, or unduly by parents or teachers. So, share this news with your teen and circulate it widely to all the blind and visually impaired teens you know:

Calling all blind and visually impaired teens--Blindness 4 1 1 was created by the National Federation of the Blind to give you a place to meet other teens with vision loss and to give you a chance to learn about resources that can help you in school, at home, and in your community. If you are currently a Facebook member, go to groups, search for the group using our group name--Blindness 4 1 1--and request access to our group. If you are not signed up for Facebook then join in on the fun. Visit <www.facebook.com> to get connected with our NFB teen group. If you have any questions, call Rosy Carranza at (410) 659-9314, extension 2283 or e-mail her at <rcarranza@nfb.org.”

Save the Date!
The National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute will be holding an early childhood conference on May 8-9, 2009 in Baltimore, MD. This conference is open to those parents of blind children ages birth to seven who live in the Mid-Atlantic region. However, other interested families are welcome to attend. More information will be available in the coming weeks including how to register for this exciting event. Please continue to visit <www.nfb.org> for more details as they develop, or contact the Education Department at the NFB Jernigan Institute at (410) 659-9314. 

New York Parents on the Move
This past August, the New York Parents of Blind Children (NY/POBC) division of the NFB collaborated with the NYC Fire Department, the NYC Board of Education, and the Hearing Education Services to sponsor two Emergency Safety Day events. The goal of the event was to provide hands-on safety instruction to blind and visually impaired, as well as deaf and hearing impaired, youngsters from the finest emergency medical providers and the finest educators in the country. Maria Garcia, president of the NY/POBC and a lieutenant with the fire department’s emergency service, said that after the event, the kids were actually practicing mock 911 calls on the way home on their school busses. One hundred kids attended the event on the 16th of August in the Bronx and one hundred fifty the following week in Queens. The event garnered media attention throughout the city, and much praise from parents and teachers. Many emergency medical technicians, veteran paramedics, FDNY fire fighters, teachers, and para-professionals volunteered their time to make the event possible. Garcia says that everyone is now “harassing me to find out when they can do another event.” For more information about the event, go to <http://abclocal.go.com/wabc/story?section=news/education&id=6301708>. See also the Web site at <www.pobcny.org> and blog at <pobcny.blogspot.com>.

Indiana Parents of Blind Children
During the recent state convention of the NFB of Indiana of October 30 through November 1, 2008, the Indiana chapter of the NOPBC met and elected the following officers: president, Jan Wright; vice president, Nancy Cole; secretary, Lisa Rodriguez; and treasurer, Chris Hollingsworth.

Minnesota Parents of Blind Children
The Minnesota parents division held elections on Friday, October 10. The results are as follows: president, Carrie Gilmer; vice president, Brenda Johnson; secretary, Dorie Miller; treasurer, Phillip Richardson; and board members, Jean Bening and Sue Kress.

They also made plans to create a flyer about Minnesota Parents of Blind Children, Saturday School, and Teen Night to insert in the affiliate brochure and distribute to doctors’ offices, diabetic and oncology clinics, and hospitals. They formed a team to revive the division newsletter. They plan to hold informal technology fairs for parents and students separately, where parents can get informal, one-to-one help from NFB members throughout the year in two-hour workshops. Finally, the group has made plans for blind teens to mentor the students at Saturday School. Minnesota parents are on the move!

Maryland Parents of Blind Children
In November, at the NFB of Maryland state convention in Ocean City, the Maryland Parents of Blind Children conducted a Cane Walk seminar for families, and held elections at their annual luncheon meeting as part of the many activities held that weekend. The officers elected for the 2008-2009 year are: president, Susan Polansky; first vice president, Trudy Pickrel; second vice president, Darlene Dorr; secretary, Barbara Cheadle; treasurer, Bob Watson; and board members, Sharonda Baker, Bill Jacobs, and Leslie Garrison. Parent, Latonya Phipps, was elected to the board of the NFB of Maryland that weekend also.

NFB Writers Division Contests for Youth
The dates for the 2009 Writers Division contests are January 1 through (postmarked) April 1. A great new feature this year is that, in addition to our annual short story fiction and poetry contest for adults, we have added a writing contest for youth. See all requirements below.

The Youth Writing Contest is intended to promote Braille literacy and excellence in creative writing. Entries will be judged on creativity and quality of Braille. We are looking for creative writing in fiction and poetry. This is a contest for students who use Braille. Entries must be submitted in hand-embossed Braille, using either a slate and stylus or a Braillewriter. No computer Braille entries will be considered. Submissions must be Brailled by the entrant. Elementary students (K-5) may submit contracted Braille, uncontracted Braille, or an acceptable combination of the two. Students in higher grades will be expected to submit stories or poetry in contracted Braille.

There are six categories: elementary fiction, elementary poetry, middle school fiction, middle school poetry, high school fiction, and high school poetry. Elementary is K-5. Middle school is 6-8. High school is 9-12.

Three cash prizes will be awarded in each of the six categories. First prize per contest is $25, second prize is $15, and third prize is $5. Submissions for fiction may not exceed one thousand words. Poetry may not exceed twenty lines. Authors may submit multiple entries, and all work must be original and unpublished. Each entrant must provide an identical print copy for possible publication.

Entries must be accompanied by a cover sheet containing entrant’s name, address, phone, e-mail, entry title, and school and grade of entrant. Winners will be announced at our division meeting during the July 2009 NFB national convention in Detroit, Michigan. Send all youth entries to Fred Wurtzel, 1212 N. Foster, Lansing, Michigan 48912.

The NFB Writers Division adult short story and poetry contests will take place during the same period as the youth contest: January 1 through April 1. For more details about the division and how to join, contact Lori Stayer, 2704 Beach Drive, Merrick, New York 11566; <LoriStay@aol.com>.

Quiet Cars Update
The National Federation of the Blind continues to work with legislators, regulators, the automobile industry, and other interested parties on a solution to the problem of silent vehicle technology such as that used in gasoline-electric hybrid cars. On November 19, 2008, the National Federation of the Blind made a presentation to the World Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations, a United Nations working group also known as WP-29, at its meeting in Geneva, Switzerland. Our presentation was well received and WP-29 has begun the process of studying the problem and issuing a formal opinion. Also this past fall, members of the Maryland affiliate served on the Maryland Quiet Vehicles and Pedestrian Safety Task Force, which is charged with producing a comprehensive report and recommendations for the consideration of the Maryland General Assembly. The report of the task force was submitted in December. The NFB also continued to advocate for passage of a federal law to ensure the safety of the blind and other pedestrians, as well as other affected groups such as runners, cyclists, and small children. This proposed law, the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act, did not pass the 110th Congress but garnered bipartisan support from over eighty co-sponsors, and the bill’s original sponsor plans to reintroduce it when the 111th Congress convenes in January of 2009.

World-Wide Braille Essay
The National Federation of the Blind has agreed to promote and administer this exciting contest sometime in the Spring 2009 for the geographical area covered by the North American/Carribean Region of the World Blind Union. Cash prizes will be awarded for the top five essays in two categories: Junior and Adult. Sponsors for this one-of-a-kind contest include the Japanese company, Onkyo. As soon as information about the contest details becomes available, it will be posted on <www.Braille.org>.

Looking for Braille Books?
NFB announces ShareBraille.org: Parents, teachers, librarians--are you trying to find a new home for your child or student’s discarded Braille books? Is your child or student gobbling up Braille books faster than you can find them? The National Federation of the Blind is pleased to announce the availability of ShareBraille.org, a site dedicated to giving your older Braille books a new home, and helping you find Braille books that you want to own and give a home.

ShareBraille.org was developed to allow the posting and searching for “gently used” Braille books that you no longer need. You don’t have to worry about books taking up space if you or your child does not plan on reading them again, and you don’t have to feel guilty about throwing them away. The Web site is simple to use: create a free account at ShareBraille.org, add the books you want to offer to another user, and look for an e-mail from someone requesting that you ship them your book. Pack and ship the book using the Free Matter for the Blind mailing privilege, and you’re done. Someone else gets to enjoy a “new” Braille book. Of course, the program works both ways. If you are a parent, teacher, or school librarian, this is a great way to find and collect some free Braille books for that special child or student of yours.

ShareBraille.org can only accept listings for materials you are entitled to redistribute. Please do not list any materials owned by a lending library or other entity. Participants are expected to list books that they are willing to give away. This service is offered free of charge to users in hopes that Braille materials can be available to all who want them. Please take a moment and visit ShareBraille.org today!

Around the Block
Helpful Items from Here and There

Please note: We are not responsible for the accuracy of the information in this section; we have edited only for space and clarity.

Leading the Way Invites Applicants for 2009:
Leading the Way students raft down the Colorado River.From Shannon Smiley, a Leading the Way Fellow, comes this announcement: “If you knew one trip could change your life, would you take it? Last summer twelve students, six of them blind or visually impaired, embarked on a truly life-changing adventure: rafting the Grand Canyon. They spent two weeks shattering expectations and using adversity to their advantage as they explored science, culture, leadership, and service within the canyon walls.

Developed in partnership with world-renowned blind athlete Erik Weihenmayer, the Leading the Way program teams high school and college students who are blind, visually impaired, and sighted for an unparalleled science, community service, leadership, and cultural adventure. In 2008 we traveled to the Grand Canyon, the Inca Trail, and the Amazon. In 2009 we are returning to the Grand Canyon and piloting our first group combining students who are hard of hearing, deaf, and hearing on a trip to Costa Rica.

Not only an amazing experience for the participants themselves, each Leading the Way expedition is paired with a social awareness and media campaign used to educate a much broader constituency. These campaigns provide a message of hope and inspiration while helping to break down barriers, misconceptions, and prejudices about people with disabilities. Leading the Way has been featured on CBS Sunday Morning, The Travel Channel, ABC Nightline, and World News Tonight.

To see if spots are still available on the 2009 Leading the Way expedition, send an e-mail to <leadingtheway@globalexplorers.org>. Scholarship funds are available. To learn more about the program, go to <www.globalexplorers.org> and click on “Leading the Way” under the main photo.”

Global Explorers is located at 420 S. Howes Street, Suite B300, Fort Collins, Colorado 80521. Office phone is (877) 627-1425.

Tactile Kit for Science
The Tactile Adaptations Kit for blind, visually impaired, and special needs students was designed for teachers by Dr. Lillian A. Rankel (science teacher) and Marilyn Winograd (teacher of the blind). This kit has been used to teach chemistry, AP chemistry, and AP physics to a blind student and has also been used to teach chemistry to students with learning differences. Science and math lessons can be made into tactile representations. Concepts can be shown in bright colors with rough or smooth surfaces on a magnetic board allowing for easy manipulation. Upper-case letters and numbers marked with Braille are included so that math and science formulas can be displayed and rearranged to solve problems. Circle charts, bar graphs, ionic compounds, molecules, DNA structures, cells, incline planes, vectors, and more can be presented. Magnetic backed felt and foam sheets, textured dots for coding, various magnets, and magnetic strips can be used to create your own adaptations. The instruction booklet gives many examples for students from grammar school to college. The Tactile Adaptation Kit can be ordered for $149.00 plus shipping. A detailed description with photos and ordering information can be found at <www.MDWEducationalServices.com>.

Crashing Through Award
Sendero Group would like to encourage and recognize independent travel exploits by blind people as exemplified by the book about Mike May, Crashing Through, by Robert Kurson. The Crashing Through award is open to applicants from any country, twenty-nine years of age or less. The funds can be used for school, technology, travel or whatever the winner chooses. Interested parties should think about adventure travel already taken in 2008 or about future possibilities. The focus is on independent travel. In other words, a cruise would not be rated highly in terms of independence. A portion of every Sendero GPS sale will go into an annual scholarship fund to be awarded to the applicant with the most impressive travel adventure for the year. All applications must be submitted by February 15, 2009. We anticipate a $2,500 award for one person. To apply, go to <www.senderogroup.com/ctapp.htm>. For more information about the Sendero Group, LLC, see <MikeMay@SenderoGroup.com>, or call toll-free (888) 757-6810. Sendero Group, LLC, is located at 429 F Street, Davis, California 95616.

“On the Go” Literacy Activities
Developed by Angela Notari-Syverson, Ph.D. and colleagues, these materials include fourteen activities designed to be used outside the home: in the car, while walking, during bus rides, etc. The activities encourage early language and literacy development from birth through preschool. They are appropriate for children with disabilities as well as children who are developing typically. The development of these materials was supported by Grant H324M020084 from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs. To download materials go to <www.walearning.com> and click on the purple button that says “Free Parent Education Handouts” on the home page. Look for the “On the Go” file to download the materials in PDF format. For questions please contact: Mary Maddox, Washington Learning Systems, (206) 310-7401, <maddox@walearning.com>.

Portable Scanner
ABISee, Inc. is proud to introduce the Eye-Pal, a portable one-pound Scanner/Reader. This innovative tool makes it possible to turn any computer into a scanner and reader for the blind and deaf-blind. It converts printed material to refreshable Braille, speech, or a saved text file. With a single keystroke you can easily start and stop scanning or reading, or get the description of the page layout spoken as a sighted reader sees it. The saved text can be carried anywhere and used with iPod, key chain memory, CDs and more. Eye-Pal folds like a tripod and fits in a laptop bag. When unfolded, the L-shaped legs are locked to make the device stable. For more information, go to the ABISee, Inc. Web site <www.abisee.com> or call toll-free (800) 681-5909. ABISee, Inc., is located at 141 Parker Street, Suite 201, Maynard, Massachusetts 01754.

For Low Vision Users
For low vision users, ABISee has developed two portable devices: the Zoom-Ex, a scanner/reader and magnifier with no need for an X-Y table, and the Zoom Twix, a dual function CCTV and document-reading device with two cameras that makes low vision students fully functional in a classroom. For more information, please see ABISee, Inc. contact information above.
 
Free Braille Books
American Action Fund Free Braille Books program is taking applications for the 2009 year. This program gives away up to two Braille books per month throughout the year to eligible blind students, their teachers, blind adults, and institutions (such as school libraries) that serve blind students. The books are in contracted, interpoint Braille for students reading at levels between second and sixth grade. For more information see <www.ActionFund.org> or call the AAF office in Baltimore, Maryland at (410) 659-9315, extension 2361.

Nominate a Student for Free Technology
Nominate a student to receive equipment from the 13th Stevie Wonder House Full of Toys benefit concert, December 13, Los Angeles. Nominations are open for students and young folks who could benefit from this technology and who could not otherwise afford it. A school or small organization may also apply if the equipment will be used by more than one student. The application asks for one page or less with a story or essay about what the student has done or is doing to give to others. Nominations are open through January 15, 2009. For more details on how to apply, visit <www.SenderoGroup.com/hftform.htm>. So far, companies donating include: Code Factory, Freedom Scientific, GW Micro, Humanware, knfb Reading Technologies, LevelStar, Sendero Group, TalkingThermostats.com, and ViewPlus.

Top Tech Tidbits
Top Tech Tidbits is a weekly e-mail newsletter featuring short (really, really short) “tidbits” about technology for the blind. It is distributed by Flying Blind, LLC, 955 Pembrook Road, Cleveland Heights, Ohio 44121, Web site <www.flying-blind.com/>. People can subscribe to Tidbits via e-mail at <tttt-join@topdotenterprises.com> (Make sure to get all 4 Ts into the address!). For questions and comments regarding Tidbits, please e-mail Dean Martineau at <dean@topdotenterprises.com>. Dean Martineau provides adaptive technology training by phone, online, and in person, with flexible arrangements, and at affordable prices

For Sale, Touch the Sun and Other
VIEW International Foundation (VIEW) has the following for sale:
1. Copies of Touch The Sun by Noreen Grice. When ordered directly from VIEW and shipped Free Matter: $29.95. 2. Collection of files for creating tactile diagrams. This 10-CD set contains 11,280 files that can be used to create diagrams in a number of subjects: $259.00 for the complete collection; $59 for individual CDs. See their Web page for more details. 3. Clear thermoformable plastic sheets 13-7/8 x 18-5/8” and 0.007” thick. These can be embossed with a Perkins Brailler or thermoformed to produce transparent tactile materials: $0.60 per sheet; plus shipping and handling, minimum order 10 sheets. For more information, please contact Robert Jaquiss, Executive Director, VIEW International Foundation, 230 Peach Tree Drive, West Monroe, Louisiana 71291-8653; phone: (318) 396-1853; e-mail: <rjaquiss@earthlink.net>; Web site: <www.viewinternational.org>

Camp GDB
Camp GDB: the first class of 2008 poses with their instructors and counselors from Guide Dogs for the Blind.By Aerial Gilbert, Outreach Manager for Guide Dogs for the Blind: The inaugural Camp GDB was held on the San Rafael campus of Guide Dogs for the Blind in late July/early August 2008. The purpose for the camp was to give visually impaired teens (ages 13-16), a realistic experience and the knowledge to help determine if having a guide dog will be the right mobility choice for them.

There were a total of six teenage campers who participated in the four-day program. Additionally, two teenage graduates of GDB and their guide dogs attended the camp as peer mentors. The teenagers arrived on campus on a Wednesday afternoon, and they embarked on a scavenger hunt as a way to learn the GDB campus and dormitory as well as get to know one another. The evening wrapped-up with a barbeque and pool party.

The next day began early, and the campers learned about the process of applying for a guide dog, class training, how a dog thinks, the difference between a long cane and a guide dog, and the importance of having good mobility skills. (This was further emphasized by the fact that the campers were required to bring their canes with them.) Everyone got an opportunity to first work with the GDB instructors and Juno (the empty harness), and then with a guide dog, in downtown San Rafael. After returning to campus and after lunch, like a class of students in residence to train with a new guide dog, the teens were each assigned a dog. They were responsible for the dogs until the next morning. Responsibilities included feeding, grooming, and relieving their dogs. The night ended with a relaxing canine t-touch massage workshop.

The third day was designed to give the campers an experience job shadowing various departments on the GDB campus. The day began with a Q&A with Nancy Gardner, president and CEO for Guide Dogs for the Blind.

From there the campers went to work with canine welfare technicians in the training kennels and met with one of the veterinarians to tour the vet clinic. The morning ended with a tour of the Puppy Socialization Yard and learning the art of puppy handling. In the evening, a group of GDB puppy-raisers joined the campers to share stories about their puppy-raising experiences.

The following day Camp GDB came to its exciting conclusion when campers attended Fun Day, an on-campus annual GDB event celebrating the more than 1,400 dedicated puppy-raising volunteers.

Camp GDB was work and fun, as well as extremely gratifying for the campers and GDB staff. The next Camp GDB is scheduled for July 29 – August 1, 2009. Please e-mail <agilbert@guidedogs.com> or call (415) 499-4030 for additional information.

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