Braille Monitor                                                    July 2008

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News from the Federation Family

Time to Prepare for Meet the Blind Month:
Now is the time for your chapter to begin making plans for our October Meet the Blind Month activities. The planning process should begin at your meeting this month. Some of the activities your chapter could plan are:

1. Arrange to present the Braille Is Beautiful program to a class of students, a Boy or Girl Scout troop, or a service club. Braille Is Beautiful video sets and our Braille alphabet cards make it easy to share the basics of Braille with both youngsters and adults.

2. Contact your local Barnes and Noble Booksellers, Boscov’s department store, Macy’s, or other big box store in your area and speak with the community relations manager. Inquire about their fundraising programs and schedule a date on their calendar to have a meet-and-greet or fundraising activity.

3. Check your local community calendar for fall events. Pick a day in October to plan a White Cane Walk or to participate at a community-sponsored fall festival.

NFB literature, including Braille alphabet cards, will be available again at no cost, in prepackaged quantities to speed up the order process. Chapter activities and literature order requests can be placed online. For more information or to share ideas that have been successful with your chapter, contact Director of Special Projects Jerry Lazarus by calling (410) 659-9314, ext. 2297, or email him at <jlazarus@nfb.org>.

In Memoriam:
With sorrow Ed McDonald of West Virginia writes as follows: I am saddened to report the death of Denzil Jones of Parkersburg, a longtime member of the NFB of West Virginia. His wife Jenny called this evening to report that he died on May 21 following what was apparently a brief battle with lung cancer. He had been hospitalized since late April. Denzil was a proud veteran of World War II, and the service will include military honors.

Denzil worked for many years as a long-haul truck driver until losing his vision sometime during the 1970s. He served for many years as president of our Parkersburg chapter and represented the chapter on the board of directors of the West Virginia affiliate. Jenny also served several terms as state secretary and financial secretary. Both were inducted several years ago into the NFB of West Virginia Hall of Honor.
I have always known Denzil to be a man of conviction and integrity. Together he and Jenny were warm, caring, and generous people. They were never involved in the NFB at the national level, so they are probably not well known beyond our borders. Nevertheless, here in West Virginia Denzil and Jenny are dearly loved and respected by our Federation family. We have lost a good man, and we will remember him with fondness.

Attention Blind Incorporated Alumni and Friends:
Twenty years have passed since BLIND Incorporated first opened its doors offering innovative, consumer-based adjustment-to-blindness training programs to blind Americans, the first of its kind in Minnesota. That means it’s time for a celebration. Although our plans are not yet fully set, here’s what we have so far: Saturday, October 25, 2008; 10:00 a.m. to midnight.

Plans for the day include: tour the center, catch up with everyone’s activities, reminisce about the program, share a picnic lunch in the front yard, make a video of attendees for the Website, review new BLIND Incorporated programs developed over the years, establish an alumni organization, begin making plans for our twenty-fifth anniversary in 2012/13, and conclude with a catered dinner followed by a dance or other entertainment in the evening. We welcome further suggestions.

Current students and staff are eager to hear stories of the past and let you know about today’s life at BLIND Incorporated. What has changed? What remains the same? What challenging activities do today’s students experience?

Please share this notice with others whose mailing addresses may no longer be on our list. We want to reach everyone, student or staff, who had a part in shaping the history of BLIND, Incorporated since we first launched our program on January 4, 1988.


In Brief

Notices and information in this section may be of interest to Monitor readers. We are not responsible for the accuracy of the information; we have edited only for space and clarity.

Braillerman Brailler Repair:
When your Perkins Brailler starts to get sluggish or won’t backspace or whatever the problem, it is time to let Alan Ackley make it right. He has reconditioned more than five thousand Braillers from individuals, schools, and agencies in every state in the country. He was trained at Howe Press on the campus of Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown, Massachusetts, and maintains a complete inventory of factory parts. He assures prompt turnaround and reasonable charges.

His interest in Braille blossomed when Kenneth Jernigan hired him to the staff of the Iowa Commission for the Blind in 1974. He retired from his post there in 2004 to devote his full time to servicing the Perkins Brailler. He has been certified by the National Library Service as a volunteer Braille transcriber, so he appreciates what good Braille should look like and how the Perkins should operate. For more information call (515) 288-3931, or visit on the Web at <www.braillerman.com>.

Passing of an Era:
On Thursday, May 22, 2008, an AP story by Zinie Chen Sampson appeared in the Newport News, Virginia, Daily Press and no doubt other Virginia newspapers. This is what it said:

The Virginia School for the Deaf, Blind, and Multi-Disabled in Hampton will close at the end of June, clearing the path to consolidate the state's two schools for students with visual and hearing impairments. The state board of education voted Wednesday to end state-operated programs at the Hampton school, including residential and day-program services, on June 30.

Forty students are enrolled in Hampton's programs this school year, and all but fourteen are graduating or moving to Staunton, according to state Department of Education spokesman Charles Pyle. School officials plan to work with those fourteen families to arrange for their continued education in their home districts, Pyle said.

The decision is part of a plan approved by the general assembly in 2006 to consolidate the Hampton school and the Virginia School for the Deaf and the Blind in Staunton onto the Staunton campus. The estimated price for the construction and renovation project is $71 million, Pyle said. The legislature decided during the 2008 session that no state funds would be available for construction or renovation in Staunton until the Hampton program shut down. The Hampton campus will become surplus state property on July 1, 2009.

The closing of the Hampton school will end a chapter of Virginia's educational history harking back to the days of racial segregation. The Staunton school opened in 1839 at a site provided by an Augusta County delegate, which had served as a Confederate hospital during the Civil War. In 1909 the state opened the Virginia State School for Colored Deaf and Blind Children in Hampton to serve black students excluded from the other school. It enrolled its first white student in 1964 and started educating students with multiple disabilities.
The schools have educated thousands of young Virginians with impaired hearing and sight but have seen steady enrollment declines since the mid-1970s, after federal special-education law began requiring that local school districts integrate more students with disabilities into regular classrooms.

Watch a Video Online:
Federationist Sahar Husseini works at the Orientation Center at the Nebraska Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired. She recently notified friends that a new video about the adult rehabilitation program is now available online. It illustrates that with good training and healthy attitudes blind people can do what they choose. If you would like to see the video, go to <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YPMZqAumZxA>. It is easy to get to and very interesting and inspirational. It is also very effectively described. Take a look.

Get Healthy With Yoga:
Beginning Yoga for the Blind and Visually Impaired is a dynamic, inspiring five-CD set produced by Gretchen Hein, a certified Kripalu yoga instructor, and Marty Klein, a blind author and workshop facilitator. The goal of the series is to help blind and visually impaired people use yoga to reclaim and sustain strong, flexible bodies. The series also provides encouragement and information about how to find a local yoga class that will be suitable for blind or visually impaired people.

The packaging has bold, dark lettering with a contrasting background so it can be read by those with low vision. Each CD is numbered with bold markings as well. Gretchen’s descriptions of yoga postures are detailed and explained in language specifically intended to be clear to blind students, while Marty’s comments and insights as a blind man create an informative and enjoyable learning experience. The CDs are engineered so that each pose is on a separate track. This allows the listener to design his or her own yoga sequence once the series is familiar. The set also contains one CD that is similar to a yoga class. Another CD has specific tracks that inform prospective yoga teachers how to be thoughtful toward a blind student. Students are encouraged to share this CD with a teacher of their choice. The cost of the five-CD package is $39.95 plus shipping and handling. You can order the set at <www.blindyoga.net>.

Service Dog Census Project:
Eighteen years after Congress passed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which ensures the rights of disabled people to access public areas with their service animals, many still have to explain their medical history and educate the public about their rights. Blayne Douglas, who works at a deaf counseling, advocacy, and referral agency in California, often runs into acceptance problems with his hearing dog. "The lion's share of my day is educating the public about the use of hearing dogs. I'm always surprised by the number of people who think only guide dogs for the blind count as service dogs," says Douglas. "I've even experienced doubt by business owners who hesitated in providing us access because they didn't understand."

The service dog census project and the United States service dog registry are working to change that. The registry offers free service dog registration through a central online database. This allows service dog owners to register their animals and receive a unique ID number. A look-up feature allows others to verify the registration status securely while protecting the medical privacy of the individual.
The purpose of the service dog census project is to provide detailed statistical data about the large number of service animals currently working in the United States. The data can be used for various positive purposes including advocacy, media references, university studies, and public support. “The response has been phenomenal,” says Marc Battaglia, executive director of the census. “Even during our beta-testing phase we had people registering from New York to California. We’ve received emails from people thanking us for initiating this project.”

The census is open to all service dog handlers, regardless of certification or training status. Individuals using a service dog for any disability covered by the ADA qualify for this count. (Please see <http://www.ada.gov/animal.htm>) A service dog is any canine trained to provide assistance to an individual with a disability. Therapy dogs and other working dogs provide many great benefits but are not covered by the ADA and are therefore not eligible to be included in the census. The United States service dog registry collects the data for the service dog census project. To participate in this census, go to <http://www.usservicedogregistry.org>.

BANA Call for Participation:
The Braille Authority of North America (BANA) seeks knowledgeable and enthusiastic Braille readers, teachers, and transcribers to serve on various BANA committees. Much of BANA’s work is conducted by volunteer technical and ad hoc committees. BANA has nine technical committees and five ad hoc committees dealing with all aspects of Braille codes. These committees are charged by the BANA board with developing code, e.g., rules and symbols, revising and updating code, reviewing work from other technical committees, and responding to questions from constituents. In addition to committees dealing with the technical aspects of Braille codes, BANA also has committees dealing with publications, crafts and hobbies, and Braille signage and labeling. All committees have representatives from both the United States and Canada and consist of at least one Braille reader, one teacher (of children or adults who are blind), and one transcriber. Most work is done by email, so all committee members must have frequent and convenient access to electronic communication.

Several committees are currently seeking members. If you are interested in serving on a BANA committee and would like to be considered, please fill out the form found on BANA's Website at <www.brailleauthority.org> stating your areas of interest and your qualifications (for example, years of Braille reading, teaching, or transcribing experience, certifications, qualifications, and so forth).

Settlement Agreement Ensures Accessibility at the International Spy Museum:
The Department of Justice announced on June 3, 2008, a settlement agreement with the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C., under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Working together, the Department of Justice and the museum have come to a settlement agreement under which the museum agrees to work to bring the content of its exhibitions, public programs, and other offerings into full compliance with ADA requirements so that its exhibits are accessible and effectively communicated to individuals with disabilities, including those with hearing and vision impairments. By focusing on visitors who are blind or have low vision and who are deaf or hard of hearing, the agreement establishes a new level of access for cultural and informal educational settings.

"We applaud the International Spy Museum for its innovative efforts to improve access to its exhibitions and programs for individuals with disabilities, and especially for those who are blind or have low vision and those who are deaf or hard of hearing," said Grace Chung Becker, acting assistant attorney general for civil rights. "This agreement will ensure equal access for people with disabilities who want to participate in the educational activities offered by the museum."

Of the fifty million Americans with disabilities, sixteen million have sensory disabilities. The agreement seeks to ensure that they will have access to the museum's exhibitions, audiovisual presentations, and programs, as required by law.

The museum fully cooperated with the Department's investigation and has demonstrated an effort to find innovative solutions to work toward compliance. It developed a proprietary technology for closed captioning of its audiovisual presentations and has retained experts to help provide effective access for visitors who are blind or have low vision. When it reaches full compliance with the settlement agreement, the Spy Museum will become a national museum leader in welcoming visitors with disabilities.

Under the settlement agreement the museum will provide tactile maps of the museum and floor plan that visitors can borrow; regularly scheduled tours with a qualified audio describer to describe audiovisual presentations, computer interactives or exhibits; a qualified reader to read exhibit labels; captions for all audiovisual, audio-only, and computer interactive programs or scripts or wall text to communicate the audio narration or ambient sounds where captioning is not an option; a sample of models and objects or reproductions of objects for tactile examination accompanied by audio description; and sign language and oral interpreter services real-time captioning upon advanced request for all public programs; advertisement of the availability of auxiliary aids and services; integrated wheelchair seating areas and companion seats at certain locations; and training for supervisors and managers on the ADA.

The settlement is the result of an investigation conducted after the Department received a complaint from a blind individual who visited the museum with a group. He claimed that the museum's exhibits and programs were inaccessible to visitors who are blind or have low vision.
Title III of the ADA applies to private entities such as museums, restaurants, and stores. It requires that public accommodations ensure that no individual with a disability is discriminated against on the basis of a disability in the full and equal enjoyment of the entities' goods, services, and facilities. Where necessary, a public accommodation must also provide appropriate auxiliary aids and services in order to ensure effective communication. Title III also requires removal of barriers to access in existing facilities where it is readily achievable to do so. Any new construction or alteration to any buildings or facilities, including exhibitions, must be made in such a manner that those buildings or facilities meet the requirements of the physical accessibility standards.

The Spy Museum is located in the Pennsylvania Quarter neighborhood in Washington, D.C., within four blocks of the National Mall. According to museum officials, more than four million people have visited the museum since it opened in July of 2002. People interested in finding out more about the ADA or this agreement can call the Justice Department's toll-free ADA Information Line at (800) 514-0301 or (800) 514-0383 (TTY), or access its ADA Website at <http://www.ada.gov>.

Audio Darts Tournament:
Audio Darts of Pittsburgh will host its seventh biennial Harold Schlegel Dart Tournament the weekend of October 10 to 12, 2008. This tournament will be held at the Greentree Radisson, 101 Radisson Drive, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15205. The room rate for reservations made by September 26 will be $94.62 a night, including tax for up to five in a room. Call (412) 922-8400 for reservations.
Registration for the five events is $75, $20 for individual events. Total prize money will be approximately $3,600. All participants will be required to use occluders. No dart can exceed eight inches in length or weigh more than eighteen grams. Please mail your registration money and choice of team members to Louis Wassermann, 2503 Silver Oak Drive, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15220 no later than September 29, 2008. No refunds unless a substantiated emergency occurs.

We will begin Friday evening at 7:00 p.m. Specific events will be determined when we know the definite number of participants. For sure we will have 301 and 501 countdown events. We definitely will do singles, doubles, and triples. We want to do one or two team round-robins, but numbers might dictate double elimination. For additional information or questions, call Joe Wassermann at (412) 287-5166 or Sue Lichtenfels at (412) 429-1727. Come one and all to enjoy the weekend.


Monitor Mart

The notices in this section have been edited for clarity, but we can pass along only the information we were given. We are not responsible for the accuracy of the statements made or the quality of the products for sale.

For Sale:
Linda Dillon has for sale a Perkins Brailler in excellent condition. Asking $350. Contact her at home phone (916) 434-7371, cell (916) 580-5408, or email <lndln@earthlink.net>.

For Sale:
Closed Circuit TV, Model NM1, NC-1, with 17-inch black and white monitor. It was manufactured in 1999. Price negotiable or best offer. Contact Argenys Caba at (732) 697-9112 or email <mlindholm@cpofnj.org>.


NFB Pledge
I pledge to participate actively in the efforts of the National Federation of the Blind to achieve equality, opportunity, and security for the blind; to support the policies and programs of the Federation; and to abide by its constitution.

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