Future Reflections         Fall 2009

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ODDS AND ENDS

Braille Books

With the Braille Readers Are Leaders Contest in full swing, it can be a challenge to keep up with kids' hunger for fresh reading material. Braille books also make great holiday gifts, and several sources offer books for purchase or free of charge. Here is a list of resources.

American Action Fund for Blind Children and Adults: Kenneth Jernigan Library for Blind Children, 18440 Oxnard St., Tarzana, CA 91356; (818) 343-2022; <www.actionfund.org>--The Kenneth Jernigan Library lends books from its Twin Vision collection free of charge to individuals and schools. The books contain Braille pages bound between the pages of the original print book.

American Action Fund Free Braille Books Program: 1800 Johnson St., Baltimore, MD 21230; (410) 659-9314, Ext. 2361; action@actionfund.org; <www.actionfund.org>--This program provides titles in popular children's series free of charge to schools and individuals. Books are mailed out monthly so that blind children can have them at the same time they appear in the bookstores.

American Printing House for the Blind: 1839 Frankfort Ave., Louisville, KY 40206; (800) 223-1839; info@aph.org; <www.aph.org>--The American Printing House (APH) offers a variety of Braille and print/Braille titles for purchase. Books in the On the Way to Literacy series are print/Braille titles with tactile illustrations.

Braille Institute of America, Inc.: 741 N. Vermont Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90029; (323) 906-3104 or (800) 272-4553; ums@brailleinstitute.org; <www.brailleinstitute.org/childrens_books>--The Braille Special Collection includes some 1,100 titles for children at all grade levels. Any blind child in the US or Canada can receive books free of charge. Additional titles are available for purchase.

Braille International, Inc.: 3290 S. E. Slater St., Stuart, FL 34997; (772) 286-8366; molly@brailleintl.org; <www.brailleintl.org>--Braille International has an extensive online bookstore with fiction and nonfiction titles for children from preschool through grade 8. A few Spanish-language titles are available.

Future Aids, The Braille Superstore: (800) 987-1231; <www.BrailleBookstore.com>--Among the numerous departments at Future Aids is the Braille Bookstore, which offers both Braille only and "Text/Braille" titles for children. Designed to help parents and teachers who are not fluent in Braille, Text/Braille books have print text on the left-hand page and the accompanying Braille text on the right.

National Braille Press: 88 St. Stephen St., Boston, MA 02115; (800) 548-7323; <www.nbp.org>--Most titles in NBP's catalogue can be purchased in hard copy or electronic Braille "PortaBook" formats. NBP also hosts the Print/Braille Children's Book Club, offering a new title for purchase each month. Each book is sold at the same price as the print edition.

National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped: <www.loc.gov/nls>--With tens of thousands of titles in its collection, NLS has by far the most extensive library of Braille books in the United States. Books can be borrowed in hard copy Braille or downloaded as e-books through the WebBraille program. Visit the Website to locate your nearest regional library or to search the database by author, title, or subject. In addition to books, NLS offers the following Braille magazines for children and teens: Boys' Life, Muse, Seventeen, Spider, and Stone Soup.

Seedlings Braille Books for Children: P.O. Box 51924, Livonia, MI 48151-5924; (734) 427-8552 or (800) 777-8552; info@seedlings.org; <www.seedlings.org>--Seedlings offers more than one thousand reasonably-priced Braille children's books for preschoolers through teens. The Book Angel Program for VI Children allows readers to receive two books per year free of charge. The Rose Project provides Braille copies of articles from the World Book Encyclopedia on request.

Seeing Hands: P.O. Box 46374, Minneapolis, MN 55446; info@seeinghands.org; (763) 404-2675; <www.seeinghands.org>--Seeing Hands is a free lending library of print/Braille titles for children ages four to ten.

Volunteer Braillists and Tapists, Inc.: 517 N. Segoe Rd., No. 200, Madison, WI 53705; (608) 233-0222; office.vbti@tdsnet; <www.vbti.org>--VBTI maintains a lending library of some two thousand Braille titles for children and adults. Most library books are also available for purchase. The organization provides transcription services and will transcribe everything from textbooks to knitting patterns and crossword puzzles.

Toys and Games

Toy Ideas from NOPBC: <www.nfb.org/nfb/NOPBC_Toys_for_Blind_Kids.asp>--This Webpage, compiled by parents of blind children, lists commercially available toys that can be enjoyed by kids from preschool through the school-age years.

 2009 Toys"R"Us Toy Guide for Differently-Abled Kids: <www.toysrus.com/category/index.jsp?categoryId=2257808>--This catalogue, updated annually, is available online and is free of charge at all Toys"R"Us and Kids"R"Us stores. The catalogue is not arranged on the basis of specific disabilities; rather, it emphasizes particular skill sets and/or areas of strength. Categories include auditory, creativity, fine motor, gross motor, language, tactile, and more. Within each category you can search by age and gender.

The Braille Caravan: Available from National Braille Press, <www.nbp.org> or Creative Adaptations for Learning, <www.cal-s.org>--The Braille Caravan is a set of thirty plastic blocks, each with moveable pins that can form any Braille letter or contraction. Blocks can be arranged to form words or phrases. This is a great tool for the beginning Braille reader.

Celebrating Louis

Louis Braille on Tour: <www.nbp.org/ic/nbp/louis/louis_tour.html>--With the help of biographer Michael Mellor, National Braille Press has compiled a traveling exhibit on the life and work of Louis Braille. The touring schedule can be found on the Website. The site provides descriptions of ten of the twenty panels in the exhibit, and gives biographical information drawn from Mellor's book A Touch of Genius.

Louis Braille Postage Stamps: <www.blindianastamps.com>--The year 2009, the two hundredth anniversary of Louis Braille's birth, has been marked by celebrations around the world. Since January 4, Louis Braille's birthday, more than forty nations have issued postage stamps to honor the inventor and his reading system. The Louis Braille stamps are all on view at this unique Website, along with brief descriptions and ordering information. This site is a comprehensive source of information on stamps relating to blindness that have been issued from 1916 to the present. Areas of interest include education of the blind, the blind in art, mobility, and notable blind and visually impaired persons. The site represents the dedicated efforts of Ken Stuckey, former librarian at the Perkins School for the Blind, and Gunilla Stenberg Stuckey, former director of the Tomteboda School in Stockholm, Sweden.

Tactile Graphics

Noah's Ark: <www.nbp.org/ic/nbp/support/highlights.html?id=mLpPq5EV#27>--Just in time for the holidays, National Braille Press has issued a storybook about Noah's Ark with a set of twelve tactile illustrations by renowned artist Ann Cunningham. The Noah's Ark set comes in three parts: a print/Braille book by Caldecott Award winner Jerry Pinkney, a booklet called Fun Facts about Noah's Ark, and Cunningham's original pictures bound with metal rings. Simple yet full of intriguing detail, the pictures are reproduced on sheets of durable plastic. Kids can meet Noah, with his beard, sandals, and flowing robes; explore the Ark from bow to stern; and discover a host of animals two by two, from elephants to dragonflies.

Illustrated Christian Literature: Assembly of God Center for the Blind, 1445 N. Boonville Ave., Springfield, MO 65802; (417) 831-1964; blind@ag.org--This organization maintains a free lending library of Christian titles and also offers a variety of books for sale. Many titles include tactile illustrations created on standard Braille paper with the Tiger Embosser. Among the illustrated offerings are the seven titles in the ever-popular Chronicles of Narnia series by C. S. Lewis.

The T-Map Project: (415) 694-7363; <www.lighthouse-sf.org/services/vlrc/tmap.php>--Also using Tiger Embosser technology are maps from the T-Map Project of the San Francisco Lighthouse. The program creates tactile maps based on nearly any street address in the US. The address is marked by a small circle at the center of the map, which covers the streets in the surrounding square mile. Street names are given in the accompanying key. The maps are free to California residents and cost $15 apiece to persons outside the state.

Tactile Adaptations Kit: MDW Educational Services, LLC, 1115 Inman Ave., Suite 116, Edison, NJ 08820; (908) 565-1802; MDWEducationalServices@gmail.com; <http://dswinograd.web.officelive.com/tactileadaptationskit.aspx>--This kit is designed to help teachers and parents create tactile graphics for blind students and sighted children who learn best in a multisensory environment. The kit contains a magnetic dry erase board and a variety of materials for making pictures. Materials include glue sticks, textured dots, magnet-backed felt and foam, and magnetic print and Braille letters. A booklet presents ways the kit can be used and suggests adaptations for teaching difficult concepts.

Music

National Resource Center for Blind Musicians: Music and Arts Center for Humanity, 510 Barnum Ave., Bridgeport, CT 06608; (203) 366-3300; info@blindmusicstudent.org; <www.blindmusicstudent.org>--The National Resource Center for Blind Musicians maintains a comprehensive Website whose purpose is to acquaint students and teachers with materials and strategies that have been developed to give blind and visually impaired people equal opportunities for the learning of music. It provides a wide variety of links to music-related services through other organizations. Callers may be referred to individuals with expertise in a given area.

Opus Technologies: 13333 Thunderhead St., San Diego, CA 92129; (866) 678-7832; (858) 538-9401; opus@opustec.com; <www.opustec.com>--Established in 1992, Opus Technologies develops and sells software as well as print and Braille materials for the learning and use of Braille music. Publications include How to Read Braille Music, Second Edition, by Betty Krolick, in print, Braille, and CD-ROM formats; Music Braille Code, 1997, in print and Braille; New International Manual of Braille Music Notation, in print and Braille and on CD-ROM; and Music Literacy: Its Role in the Education of the Blind, by Sylvia Clark, a historical view of music notation systems for the blind used in Europe and the US, available in print only.

News and Information

Matilda Ziegler Magazine for the Blind: <www.matildaziegler.com>--In its new incarnation, the Matilda Ziegler Magazine is an online source of blindness-related information. RSS news feeds are archived and are updated daily. The site also provides extensive listings of products, services, and organizations.

New Book

Listening to the Children: Testimonies from the World's Blind and Partially Sighted Teenagers is available as a free PDF download at <www.once.es/new/Onceinternacional/0_pruebaonceint/listening-to-the-children-book>. The book is edited by Ana Pelaez Narvaez of ONCE, Spain's organization of the blind, under the auspices of the World Blind Union. Versions are available in both English and Spanish. Gathered here are personal essays by blind teens from the developing nations as well as the industrialized world. The teens write frankly about their struggles, disappointments, triumphs, and aspirations.

Advocacy

IDEA Information: <http://idea.ed.gov/explore/home>--This Website, sponsored by the US Department of Education, provides a wealth of information about the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Topic areas include early intervening services, the Individualized Education Program (IEP), the National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard (NIMAS), and much more. Videos and podcasts explain complex regulations in user-friendly, practical terms.

Pop-up IEP for Parents/Advocates: <www.unco.edu/ncssd/bviIEP/index.shtml>--Designed by the National Center on Low-Incidence Disabilities of the University of Northern Colorado in partnership with the NOPBC, this Website is intended to help parents advocate for blind and visually impaired children in the IEP process. The site includes a list of sixteen arguments often posed by school personnel, followed by reasonable and persuasive responses.

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