Future Reflections         Summer 2009

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A brand-new school year is upon us. Below you will find a gathering of resources for teaching and learning, in the classroom and beyond.

Back-to-School Resources from National Braille Press

Dictionary & Thesaurus: Spelling can be a problem for many Braille readers. National Braille Press (NBP) offers a speller that contains fourteen hundred elementary-level words, listed alphabetically (without definitions). A child can look up the spelling of words independently. Each word is listed first in its uncontracted form, and then with contractions. The same word appears in print just to the left, so everyone can use this speller. The Braille Speller costs $7.

NBP also sells the Scholastic Pocket Thesaurus, featuring more than 800 entries for words most commonly used by children ages nine through twelve. Words are listed alphabetically. For example: "drive: 1. vb steer, maneuver, navigate, pilot, ride, propel, jockey, operate, control. 2. vb banish 3. n trip 4. n ambition, energy." The Scholastic Pocket Thesaurus comes in two volumes and sells for $10.

Braille Symbols Chart: This print 11 x 17 inch poster shows the English Braille symbols for letters, numbers, punctuation, and 189 contractions. Selling for $5, this is a great poster for a classroom.

The Bridge to Braille: Reading and School Success for the Young Blind Child by NOPBC President Carol Castellano and TVI Dawn Kosman has everything you need to know about adapting school materials to promote independence in the classroom. It is available in print for $12.95.

 Primary Phonics: Educators Publishing Service provides the first reading experiences for millions of students. NBP has transcribed two sets of books from the popular Primary Phonics series. Every page includes print illustrations, large-print text, and text in both contracted and uncontracted Braille. Each set contains ten storybooks in a carrying case for $24. You can buy both sets together for $40.

Nemeth Reference Chart: This chart is organized in three columns. The first column shows a print mathematical symbol, the second column shows the Nemeth Code symbol, and the third column presents the ASCII equivalent. The chart is available in Braille or print for $16.95.

Help with Music: How to Read Braille Music by Bettye Krolick explains the Braille music symbols most frequently found in elementary- through intermediate-level music. In print only, for $9.95. Who’s Afraid of Braille Music? introduces concepts important in reading and writing Braille music for aspiring musicians of any age. Available in print or Braille for $14.

Print/Braille Picture Books: Twenty-five years ago National Braille Press started the Children's Braille Book Club, featuring popular picture books enhanced with Braille on transparent plastic sheets, and priced the same as the retail print title. These books are great additions to home and classroom libraries. Email notices are sent out monthly, announcing the new selection.

PortaBooks: Most of the books from NBP are available electronically as "PortaBooks," either on a CD or as a direct download from the Website. You can get lots of popular children's books already translated and ready to be embossed or read on a notetaker. NBP has bundled dozens and even hundreds of titles together: Early Reader 1 (87 books in 4 formats on CD): $20; Early Reader 2 (237 books in 4 formats on CD) $20; and the Magic Tree House Series (35 books on CD): $12.

Tactile American Flag: Most blind kids know the American flag has stars and stripes, but they may not know how it is designed. NBP has created a tactile American flag in red, white, and blue with the Pledge of Allegiance printed on it in print and Braille. The flag is available in either uncontracted or contracted Braille for $5 (please specify format).

Poetry: Where the Sidewalk Ends is available in most school libraries. NBP’s version features the same poems in print and Braille, and includes the illustrations. The whole classroom can read the humorous poems of Shel Silverstein for the same price as the print edition, $18.99 (2 volumes). A Family of Poems: My Favorite Poetry for Children, compiled by Caroline Kennedy, shows great respect for children by including quality children's poets (Lear, Milne, Stevenson) and age-appropriate classics by poets such as Dickinson, Hardy, Wordsworth, and Shakespeare. The book is available in one volume for $19.95.

Astronomy: Touch the Stars is an astronomy book created by Noreen Grice specifically for blind and visually-impaired stargazers. Nineteen carefully-rendered tactile illustrations by Creative Adaptations for Learning (CAL) bring the excitement of constellations, comets, meteor showers, and nebulae down to earth and onto the page. The text is in large print and Braille. The book includes print versions of the tactile illustrations for sighted readers. (One hardcover volume for $32.)

Labeling: Our most popular book this year is Label It! Braille & Audio Strategies for Identifying Items at Home & Work. It focuses primarily on labeling clothing and household items with Braille. An extensive resource list at the back covers labeling materials and products. It's available in print or Braille for $12.

Valentines: Every year NBP designs print/Braille Valentines for kids to share with their classmates. Designs are posted online every January.
Remembering Louis: To help celebrate Louis Braille's bicentennial, NBP has created print/Braille bookmarks featuring a design by artist Judy Krimski. The bookmarks are packaged in bundles of thirty (for $8) or fifty (for $12).

Note Cards: To help educate the public about Louis Braille's legacy, NBP offers gift boxes of Louis Braille note cards. Ten cards and envelopes are packaged in each box. The cards feature the colorful Louis icon designed by artist Judy Krimski. The number 200 appears in Braille in the upper left-hand corner, and in print on the right. Along the bottom are the words LOUIS BRAILLE in Braille and print.

Louis Braille Bicentennial Wall Poster: This educational wall poster celebrates Louis Braille's life and achievements. The 12.25 x 17 inch poster prominently features the Louis icon plus the Braille alphabet. Along the left and right margins, smaller images and text illustrate Louis's life and facts about the Braille code. Posters are free while the supply lasts; there is a charge for shipping only. Limit: one per customer.

To order any of these products contact:

National Braille Press
88 St. Stephen Street
Boston, MA  02115
Toll-free: (800) 548-7323


Seedlings Braille Books for Children sponsors the Book Angel Program, open to all blind and visually impaired children in the US. Children who sign up will receive two free Braille books per year from the Seedlings collection of some 950 titles for children from infancy through age fourteen. To learn more, contact:

Seedlings Braille Books for Children
Toll-free:  (800) 777-8552

Science Resources

National Center for Blind Youth in Science <www.blindscience.org> is an extensive Website powered by the Jernigan Institute of the National Federation of the Blind. The site is designed to encourage blind students to consider careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (sometimes referred to as the STEM curriculum). Sections for students and teachers are packed with information and resources. Among the site's unique features are short biographical sketches of blind scientists and CareerLink, a means for students to network with blind people working in the STEM fields. The site posts information about opportunities for blind students such as Leading the Way, developed with the help of blind mountain climber Erik Weihenmayer; Space Camp for Interested Visually Impaired Students; and NFB's Youth Slam and Junior Science Academy.

Accessible Science at <www.perkins.org/accessiblescience> is a new Website created by the Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown, Massachusetts. The site suggests a variety of activities in the physical and life sciences that can teach concepts to blind and visually impaired students. Sections on such topics as astronomy, biology, chemistry, ocean science, and tactile graphics list print and online resources. Visitors to the site are strongly encouraged to submit their own experiences and ideas.

ILAB <http://ilab.psu.edu/index.html> is a project of the National Science Foundation in conjunction with Pennsylvania State University in State College, Pennsylvania. The site provides information about equipment that has been designed to give blind and visually impaired students greater access in the laboratory, particularly in the field of chemistry. Among the available products are the ID Mate Portable Bar Code Reader, which enables students to read labels on containers of chemicals; the Color Analysis Laboratory Sensor, which speaks the colors of solids and liquids used in experiments; and the Submersible Audible Light Sensor, which monitors the color of precipitates.


Tactile Maps

The Princeton Braillists are a small group of senior citizen volunteers dedicated to creating affordable tactile atlases for blind children and adults. Their maps are produced on heavy 11 x 11 ½ inch Thermoform sheets, bound into volumes with cardboard covers. The master for each map is made by hand with metal foil, allowing for a variety of textures to indicate mountains, oceans, cities, rivers, boundaries, and other features. To date they have created twenty-eight atlases, including Maps of Canada and the United States, Russia and Its Former Republics, Atlas of the Middle East, and Outline Maps of the World. They have also created a book of basic human anatomy diagrams. Prices range from $14 to $25. For a complete listing visit <http://mysite.verizon.net/resvqbxe/princetonbraillists>. To order send check or money order to:

The Princeton Braillists
76 Leabrook Lane
Princeton, NJ 08540 

For questions call Ruth Bogia at (215) 357-7715 <[email protected]> or Nancy Amick, (609) 924-5207 <[email protected]>.


Treasures from the Web

Many Websites not specifically intended for blind visitors offer a trove of fully accessible materials. Here are a few sites your kids or students may like to explore.

Kiddie Records Weekly <http://www.kiddierecords.com> makes available hundreds of recordings produced commercially for children in the 1940s and 1950s. Many were full-scale productions involving well-known actors, musicians, and composers. Selections include nursery rhymes, fairy tales, Tom and Jerry adventures, Wild West stories, and much more, often with dazzling sound effects. Files can be downloaded or purchased as CDs, or you can stream for free.

Two sites sponsored by National Public Radio (NPR) contain extensive audio archives that may be of interest to middle- and high-school students as well as older listeners. The Website <http://www.npr.org/programs/lnfsound/> holds a collection of "Lost and Found Sound," including historic interviews, city soundscapes, and songs in now-extinct languages of Africa. The Third Coast Festival Website <www.thirdcoastfestival.org> archives hundreds of radio documentaries. Listen with headsets and discover how state-of-the-art recording equipment captures the sounds of a Moroccan bazaar, a mountainside in Nepal, or a plunging waterfall.

Samizdat Express <www.samizdat.com> makes thousands of public-domain titles available on CD and/or DVD. The books are saved as text files, and can easily be accessed with a screenreader, Braille notetaker, or audio device such as the Victor Stream. The Complete Book 3-DVD Set contains 20,884 titles for $149--a whole library of classic fiction and nonfiction, both famous and forgotten. CDs sort the collection by author, time period, or subject area; purchase a single CD with all the works of Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, or Shakespeare, or a collection of documents relating to African American or Native American history. One CD contains hundreds of classic stories and novels for children. To receive a free "Kids' Book of the Week:” contact Richard Seltzer at <[email protected]>.

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