The Braille Monitor                                                                                         June, 2002

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You've Got More Mail

by David Andrews

David Andrews
David Andrews

From the Editor: David Andrews has served faithfully for many years now as the systems operator for the NFB's bulletin board.

In March of 1999 the Braille Monitor published an article called "You've Got Mail." Since that time quite a number of Internet mailing lists have been added to NFB Net, so this seems a good time to update this 1999 article.

While the part of the Internet that gets the most attention is the World Wide Web (www), the Internet service that people use the most is electronic mail or e-mail. That is just as true for members of the National Federation of the Blind as it is for our sighted friends. One use of e-mail which has exploded over the past few years is Internet mailing lists, also called listservs.

A listserv is a list of people who use electronic mail to discuss a topic of mutual interest. In general, when you decide to join a mailing list, you send an e-mail message to a special address, with some specified words either in the body of the message or in the To: line or the Subject: line. Your name is then added to the list of subscribers to that list, and you will automatically receive in your electronic mailbox a copy of every message sent to that list.

This kind of communication has a number of advantages and a few disadvantages. First, when properly used, mailing lists allow for very focused topical and timely discussion. You can get answers to specific questions quickly. You can also read and answer mail at your convenience. Support and a real sense of community can develop--something we know a lot about in the NFB. On the downside, message threads sometimes wander, and lots of off-topic messages get posted. Also, because of the impersonal nature of the medium, people say things that they wouldn't say in face-to-face conversations--personal attacks, so-called flames.

Nevertheless, inside and outside the NFB Internet mailing lists are an increasingly popular mode of communication. In fact, hundreds of lists cater to blind and visually impaired people, and tens of thousands of lists exist overall. We now have approximately twenty-four lists on NFB Net, with more coming.

The NFB and many of its divisions, as well as some state affiliates, now sponsor mailing lists. The majority, but not all of them, are hosted by our computer bulletin board/Web/FTP service, NFB Net. In fact, NFB Net is the grandfather of all of our discussion lists, having started NFB Talk and Blind Talk back in 1991.

To subscribe to a list on NFB Net, send a message to <listserv@nfbnet.org>. Leave the subject line blank, and write the word "subscribe" followed by the name of the list to which you are subscribing in the body of the message.

Please note that "listserv" has eight letters: listserv; there is no e on the end. All the body of the message need contain is the word "subscribe" plus the list name, which is a word up to eight characters in length. While names here are shown preceded by the <and followed by>, these punctuation marks are the conventional indication of the beginning and end of an address and should not be included in what you type when subscribing. Also please note that some of the list names contain hyphens, which must be used. Finally, each list is available in two different formats, regular and digest. A regular list means that you get a copy of each message as it is sent to the list, and digest mode means that you get only one message every twenty-four hours. This message contains all the individual messages for the past twenty-four-hour period. On NFB Net digests are composed and sent each evening at 7:00 p.m. Central Time.

Below is the information about each list added to NFB Net since early 1999 and the list names needed to subscribe. These list descriptions are taken from the information automatically sent to users when they subscribe to the list. If you have any problems, please contact David Andrews by e-mail at either <dandrews@visi.com> or <david.andrews@nfbnet.org>.

The purpose of the blind parent list is to create a forum for blind parents to share their experiences. Topics may include but are not limited to solving logistical problems (such as how to manage a couple of wiggly toddlers at a shopping mall when you need one hand for your cane and the other to carry packages), emotional issues such as dealing with the public, and handling a child's embarrassment about blindness. Parents are also encouraged to share resources, such as arranging the exchange of print/Braille books. The list name is <blparent> and the digest name is <parent-d>.

Musictlk is the e-mail list of the National Association of Blind Musicians (NABM), the music division of the National Federation of the Blind. Musictlk offers a forum for the discussion of topics of particular interest and concern to blind persons who work as full-time or part-time musicians and to blind individuals who are preparing to enter the music profession. Such topics might include employment opportunities, copyright law, availability of Braille music, new software, other technology of particular importance to blind musicians, and resolutions and policies of the National Federation of the Blind that may have an impact upon blind musicians and the music profession. The list also serves as a vehicle for the dissemination of information related to the programs, activities, and administration of the National Association of Blind Musicians. Members of NABM or anyone else with a serious involvement or interest in music is invited to be a part of the list. The list name is <musictlk>, and the digest name is <music-d>.

Welcome to the National Association of Blind Office Professionals (NABOP) list. The purpose of the National Association of Blind Office Professionals list is to serve as a vehicle to exchange information between blind people in various office jobs such as telephone operators, receptionists, secretaries, transcribers of Braille transcription and medical transcription, customer service jobs, Braille proofreaders, etc. With proper training and opportunity, blind persons can perform these jobs by learning from others what alternative techniques are being used today. The list name is <nabop>, and the digest name is <nabop-d>.

The purpose of the deaf-blind mailing list is to serve as a vehicle in which deaf-blind people can exchange information on all aspects of daily life, including adjustments to deaf-blindness, sources in obtaining assistive devices designed for deaf-blind persons, and any other NFB-related matters of interest to NFB-DB members. This list is open to all interested parties, including professionals who work with deaf-blind clients, teachers who work in special education for deaf-blind students, parents of deaf-blind children, etc. The list name is <nfb-db>, and the digest name is <nfb-db-d>.

The National Organization of Blind Educators sponsors NOBE-L, a mailing list for blind people working in or aspiring to work in the profession of education. Subscribers to the list work in all levels of education. Some people teach blind students, and some teach sighted students. NOBE-L provides a forum for all blind educators to discuss strategies, techniques, and experiences related to the profession of education. The list name is <nobe-l>, and the digest name is <nobe-d>.

The Rehab list is for interested individuals or workers in the field of rehabilitation for the blind. This listserv is to promote positive attitudes concerning rehabilitation for blind individuals. Discussions may be held in the areas of certification for rehabilitation professionals, job search for customers, assistive technology in the rehabilitation process, necessary alternative techniques, and laws that govern the rehabilitation field. This will give those of us in the field the opportunity to gain support and share ideas. The list name is <rehab>, and the digest name is <rehab-d>.

The purpose of Stylist is for writers to share resources and techniques of writing, but it's also for the purpose of networking and promoting the ideals of NFB and the Writers' Division. The list name is <stylist>, and the digest name is <stylistd>.

The Vendtalk list exists to promote communication to, between, and by blind vendors, as well as others interested in the National Federation of the Blind Merchants Division. Possible topics of discussion include, but are not limited to, the operation of vending facilities, vending machine operation and repair, product selection, other marketing and merchandising topics, laws affecting blind vendors, and more. The list name is <vendtalk>, and the digest name is <vtalk-d>.

Three state affiliates, Alabama, Illinois, and Washington, now have listservs. Members have found this to be an efficient and effective way to communicate with each other.

The purpose of the 4alabama list is to engage in dialogue about issues that affect the blind in this state. Membership on this list includes members of Alabama state agencies serving the blind, teachers of the visually impaired, and consumers. This list is sponsored and run by the National Federation of the Blind of Alabama, and therefore discussions will be limited to issues, legislation, how-to questions, and literature that affect the blind living in the state of Alabama. Issues concerning how to get better services from the agencies and how to get schools to serve your child better are very much welcomed. The list name is <4alabama>, and the digest name is <4al-d>.

The e-mail list of the National Federation of the Blind of Illinois is il-talk. The purpose of this listserv is twofold. First, it will provide information to anyone interested in events and issues affecting blind people in Illinois. Second, it will facilitate discussion on topics related to blindness. The list name is <il-talk>, and the digest name is <iltalk-d>.

The purpose of NFBWA Talk is to facilitate discussion among members of the NFB of Washington and to present a means of disseminating announcements of interest to NFB of WA members. There will also be occasional posts concerning issues of major importance to the blind as well as announcements concerning activities of the National Federation of the Blind. The list name is <nfbwatlk>, and the digest name is <nfbwa-d>.

The Art Education for the Blind mailing list exists to discuss the use and development of tactile representations of artwork, especially those produced by Art Education for the Blind (AEB). This group is mainly of interest to those working with AEB materials. The list name is <aebteam>, and the digest name is <aebteamd>.

In addition to these lists, NFB Net also hosts eleven other lists. For information on all lists, send a message to listserv@nfbnet.org. Leave the subject blank, and put the word "index" without the quotes on the first line in the message.

You can now also search or view messages posted on NFB Net via the World Wide Web by using a browser such as Internet Explorer or IBM's Home Page Reader. Go to the address http://www.nfbnet.org. From this page you can subscribe and unsubscribe to mailing lists and view or search the message archives. All messages on listservs hosted on NFB Net are also stored on the bulletin board system for reference or later perusal. You can telnet to NFB Net by pointing your telnet client to <nfbnet.org>. You can also dial in using a standard modem by calling (651) 688-6334. In addition, files stored on NFB Net are also available via the World Wide Web and via FTP. You can go to <http://www.nfbnet.org> or <ftp://ftp.nfbnet.org> to retrieve files, including past issues of the Braille Monitor, Future Reflections, and more.

We would also like to remind you that it is possible to get the Braille Monitor electronically each month. The <brl-monitor> list provides the entire text of the month's Braille Monitor directly to your electronic mailbox. Well over 800 readers from around the world subscribe to this list. This is an efficient, timely, and inexpensive way to receive the Monitor.

To receive the Braille Monitor electronically, send a message to <listserv@nfbcal.org>. Leave the subject line blank, and in the body of the message write "subscribe brl-monitor" followed by your full name. For example, if I wanted to subscribe, I would put the following in the body of the message: subscribe brl-monitor David Andrews. I would then send the message to <listserv@nfbcal.org>.

If your NFB state affiliate, division, or group wishes to start its own list, please have the president or an authorized officer contact David Andrews by telephone at (651) 688-6364 or by e-mail at dandrews@visi.com to make the arrangements. See you online.

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