Future Reflections                                                                                                      Fall 2001

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Research on Usher’s Syndrome

We have been asked to publish the following information:

Attention: Individuals and families with Usher Syndrome or combined hearing and vision loss.

We are conducting a study to find the genes responsible for Usher’s Syndrome (hearing loss and retinitis pigmentosa (vision loss) in Ashkenazi Jews. If you or a member of your family are an Ashkenazi Jew or of Ashkenazic heritage and have Usher’s Syndrome, or both hearing loss and vision loss that has no other known cause, you and your family member may be eligible to participate.

Participation may be as simple as a phone call and giving blood locally or may involve spending a few hours at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York for vision and hearing tests at no cost to you.

There may be no direct benefit to you as a participant other than the possible medical advances and greater understanding of Usher’s Syndrome that may result if causative genes are found.

For more information please call
Drs. Ness or Willner at (212) 241-6947

Contact us by mail at:

Judith Willner, Department of Human Genetics Box 1497, Mount Sinai School of Medicine One Gustave L. Levy Place
New York, NY 10029
or email Dr. Seth L. Ness, M.D., Ph.D. at <nesss01@doc.mssm.edu>

Braille for Parents

I received the following note and announcement from Lois Wencil:

Dear Ms. Cheadle,

Will you please put this ad in Future Reflections? It is important for parents to share the code that makes it possible for their children to compete with their peers. Many parents have learned to read Braille through using this series. It was written by a Braille reading/mentor for blind adults who needed to know Braille quickly. The average number of lessons of instruction was twenty-three ranging over a period of six months.

Sincerely,

Lois Wencil

THE FAST TRACK is a no-nonsense, no frills Braille/tape/print manual for learning to read Braille. It has been successfully used to instruct adults through a Braille mentoring program for four years. To obtain your copy send $39.95 to Lois Wencil, 19 Parkview Drive, Millburn, NJ 07041

Curriculum for Microsoft Word

This announcement comes from Margaret Marston:  

Announcing a Curriculum for Teaching Microsoft Word to Blind Students:

This curriculum was written for teachers to use with blind students in middle school or higher. The students should know how to read Braille and to type. A pre-test and post-test covers the keyboard commands presented in the lessons. The 20 lessons cover 39 keyboard commands. The lessons are written in semi-script form for the teacher. The teacher files are on the included disk in a folder called Teacher Files, and in printed form. Braille worksheets and Microsoft Word files come with several of the lessons. The content covers keyboard shortcuts, formatting shortcuts, paragraph controls, and cursor movement keys. The cost is $45.00 (including shipping and handling). Send checks and orders to Margaret Marston, 1124 Southport Court, Wellington, FL 33414; <http://scis.nova.edu/~marston>. 

Pip Squeakers

We recently received a press release about a product that may be of interest to some of our readers. Here is the information we could glean from the text:

Walking down a busy city street in China, you may hear a toddler or two because their feet squeak. Squeaky baby shoes have been around in China for a long time. Their purpose is to amuse babies. I was fortunate enough to witness this phenomenon during my trip to China while adopting my daughter.

After coming to the U.S., my daughter wore her squeaky shoes everywhere. Anyone who heard her shoes squeak was guaranteed to smile, children and adults alike. As a result I sought out a manufacturer in China and imported several styles. Pip Squeakers began selling baby squeaky shoes in March, 2001, on the Internet at <www.pipsqueakers.com>.

We quickly realized that squeaky baby shoes not only were fun but could actually be of benefit to both parents and babies with vision and mobility impairments. We have received many positive responses from groups dealing with blindness.

Pip Squeakers can serve as motivation for blind and visually impaired babies and toddlers, who learn that moving their feet causes the amusing sounds. As a result they are encouraged to move, explore, and take their first steps. Blind and visually impaired parents use squeaky shoes to track their baby’s movements by sound.

The secret of these shoes is an insole air pocket. As the baby presses a foot against any surface, the air travels through a small squeaker embedded in the rubber sole. The sound is similar to that of a rubber squeak toy. For more information check out the Web site.

RFB&D® Scholarships

The following information comes from a recent press release:

RFB&D® announces its 2002 National Achievement Awards (NAA) program – an annual competition for students with print disabilities.

RFB&D’s Mary P. Oenslager Scholastic Achievement Awards (SAA) are given annually to nine blind or visually impaired seniors at four-year U.S. colleges or universities. The Marion Huber Learning Through Listening Awards (LTL) are presented annually to six high school seniors with learning disabilities. Additionally, qualified applicants for the SAA award who provide proof of plans for post-graduate studies at accredited four-year U.S. colleges or universities will be considered for an additional award from the Freedom Scientific Technology Scholarship Award program.

The competitions are open to active RFB&D members, meeting the schooling requirements, who have been registered for at least one year prior to the deadline – either individually or through their schools – and who demonstrate outstanding scholarship, leadership, enterprise, and service to others. Award monies total more than $50,000.

RFB&D, a nonprofit volunteer organization, serves people who cannot effectively read standard print because of visual impairment, dyslexia, or other physical disability. Across the U.S., more than 91,000 students in kindergarten through post-graduate school use RFB&D’s audio textbooks.

Award applications can be obtained by calling RFB&D’s Member Services Department toll free at (800) 221-4792, or on the organization’s accessible, award-winning website at www.rfbd.org. The application deadline is February 21, 2002.

Art Competition

This announcement comes from the American Printing House for the Blind (APH):

The American Printing House for the Blind (APH) invites visually impaired or blind artists of all ages to submit artwork for its tenth annual international art competition, APH InSights 2002. Last year, over 500 entries were received. From these, jurors selected eighty-one pieces for the exhibition, which was shown in Louisville in October, and which will be on view on the APH accessible web site: www.aph.org in December 2001.

Artists may enter artwork created in any visual art medium, including (but not limited to), painting, drawing, printmaking, fiber, metal, or wood. Award winners receive a cash award and a ribbon. Entry forms and art pieces (children) or slides (adults) must arrive at APH no later than April 1, 2002. Artists should contact APH to request a copy of the entry form and rules of the competition: Call 1-800-223-1839, 1-502-895-2405, or email Roberta Williams at rwilliams@aph.org. Beginning in February, rules and down-loadable forms will also be posted on the web site: www.aph.org.

Braille Music

We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

Dancing Dots, developer of the GOODFEEL Braille music translator, has published An Introduction to Music for the Blind Student, A Course in Braille Music Reading to meet the basic need of blind music students to become literate in music Braille.

No prior experience needed: Braille music educator David Simpson of the Braille Institute of America addresses the curriculum’s value to sighted teachers and tutors as well as to students. “Sighted teachers who are not Braille-literate can now guide blind students in their musical education. In the process both the student and the teacher learn the Braille music code,” says Simpson. Bill McCann, founder and president of Dancing Dots, says of the intent of the curriculum, “We’ve tried to take away the barrier that Braille music is ‘too hard to teach or learn’ so that all students can receive music instruction in class with everyone else. This is an effort to advance literacy for the blind. Literacy can lead to independence, which is a key to success.”

An Introduction to Music for the Blind Student has a retail price of $299 for three print and four Braille volumes. Further information on ordering the course in Braille music reading is available by contacting Dancing Dots, Braille Music Technology at (610) 783-6692 or e-mail <info@dancingdots. com>.

Braille Book

We have been asked to announce the following:

With the Help of Love, I Can Do Anything, by Angelo K. Menefee. This Braille and large print book is easy for little ones to read along with parents or older siblings. Larger pictures enhance the story of childhood lessons from tying your shoes to brushing your teeth. Children learn that lessons learned with love are long lasting. Raymond learns the most important lesson all. The book is $20 plus $4.95 shipping and handling. For more information contact Angelo K. Menefee, 307 Wren Court, Newark, DE 19702.

Talking Geographical Map

Hannah Hashash provided the following information in the July issue of In Touch, the newsletter of the New Jersey Parents of Blind Children:

We recently purchased a talking United States geographical map – Geo-Genius II – for our eight-year-old daughter, Shafeka. The map is flat with buttons on each state that, when pressed, states the name of the state. Along the bottom under the map are five buttons which gives information about the capital city, nickname, state wildlife, landmarks, and famous people in each state. Two more larger buttons quiz the player on the information presented. The map and buttons are easy to label in Braille. Shafeka absolutely loves it! It is distributed through Castlesprings, Ltd., and we bought it at a Kay-Bee toy store for $24.99.

For the Kids

Here are some new items from the NFB Materials Center especially for kids. For more information (including shipping and handling costs), contact:Materials Center, 1800 Johnson Street,  Baltimore, MD  21230; fax: (410) 685-5653; phone: (410) 659-9314; or email: <nfbstore@nfb.org>. You may also order online at: <www.nfb.org>.

Braille Alphabet Blocks: 27 embossed wooden ABC blocks (4 complete alphabets plus numbers, math symbols, and colorful animal pictures). $28.00, order number AIB16B.

Braille Math Blocks: 16 embossed wooden block (2 complete sets of numbers based on the Nemeth code; plus, minus, and equal symbols; and colorful animal pictures. $20.00, order number AIG18B.

Feel and Find Braille Puzzle: 20 matching wooden shapes and 3-D textured tiles in a durable, reusable cloth bag (10 geometric and 10 object shapes). A great visual and tactile exercies. $22.00, order number AIG17P.

Kenneth Jernigan Map of the United States. This sturdy, but lightweight, 32-1/2 x 18 inch colorful take-apart topographical puzzle map of the United States has incised state boundaries and state abbreviations in Braille. The major rivers, mountain chains, latitude and longitude lines, and state capitals are all tactile. Excellent teaching tool. Print and Braille reference guides included. $250.00, order number AIG19M.

Future Reflections

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

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