Braille Monitor                                                 March 2012

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News from the Federation Family

The results of the election conducted on October 14, 2011, by the Chapter on Aging at the NFB of California convention are as follows: president, Michael Couey; vice president, Octavia Fuller; secretary, Ellen Clegg; treasurer, Cheryl Thirstin; and board member, Jana Littrell.

The Des Moines Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Iowa held its annual election on January 14, 2012. The following were elected: president, Scott Van Gorp; vice president, April Enderton; secretary, Cindy Lou Ray; treasurer, Mary McGee; and three members of the board of directors--Sharon Omvig, Michael Glynn, and Jill Clausen.

We appreciate April's selfless five years as our chapter president, and we know that she will move forward to help the affiliate and the chapter to grow and blossom as we work together to change what it means to be blind here and across the state and country.

Announcing LCB Summer Programs for Youth:
Buddy Program--Putting the Pieces Together: Since 1989 the Louisiana Center for the Blind has offered an innovative summer program for blind children in grades four through eight. This summer the Buddy Program promises to be full of learning opportunities, new friendships, and fun-filled activities.

Many blind children have misconceptions about their blindness because they lack positive blind role models and they face negative stereotypes in society. Unlike other summer programs for blind children, the Buddy Program is directed and staffed by competent blind adults. Classes in cane travel are taught to instill independence and self-confidence. The knowledge of Braille enables the blind child to compete on terms of equality with sighted peers in the classroom and provides a solid background in spelling and other grammatical skills. Computer literacy classes expose a blind child to available adaptive equipment. Classes in daily living skills promote equal participation in household duties such as cooking, shopping, and cleaning. In addition to learning the valuable alternative techniques of blindness, children will enjoy participating in a wide variety of exciting activities such as swimming, cookouts, bowling, roller skating, and other outings.

The combination of hard work and enjoyable activities provide a rewarding experience that children will cherish. Involvement in the Buddy Program helps blind children realize that it is not blindness that poses the greatest problem but the negative attitudes and misconceptions about blindness that can prevent them from reaching their potential. At the close of the program parents are required to attend a parents’ weekend, which will allow them to interact with other parents of blind children and to learn what their children have discovered about their blindness and themselves. Friendship, training, fun, growth, and interaction between blind children and positive role models are how the Louisiana Center for the Blind is “changing what it means to be blind” for tomorrow’s generation.

This year the Buddy Program will be held from Sunday, July 15, through Saturday, August 4. If you have any questions, call Eric Guillory at (800) 234-4166 or email him at <[email protected]>. Interested families may also apply for their students electronically at <>. Due to limited space, we cannot guarantee that every applicant will be granted enrollment. Please note that the fee for students not from Louisiana is $1,000, which is all-inclusive save for transportation to and from the program.

STEP 2012

Summer Training and Employment Project--Striving for Success: Since 1985 the Louisiana Center for the Blind has been changing what it means to be blind for adults from across America. In 1990 a program was created to address the needs of blind high school students. The Summer Training and Employment Project (STEP) Program is designed to introduce blind teenagers to positive blind role models and to provide participants with summer work experience.

The eight-week summer program will consist of two components. During the first part competent blind counselors will instruct the students in the alternative techniques of blindness. Classes in Braille, cane travel, computer literacy, and daily living skills will be taught by qualified blind instructors. In addition seminars will be conducted in the areas of job readiness, job interviewing skills, résumé writing, and job responsibilities. The second part of the program will continue all aspects of training and expand to include employment. Students will have the opportunity to work fifteen to twenty hours a week at a local business, for which they will receive the federal minimum wage. The staff will attempt to meet the job interests of the students. Instructors from the Louisiana Center for the Blind will be available to provide on-the-job assistance as needed.

The combination of work experience and blindness-related skills--along with fun-filled activities such as cookouts, movies, swimming, and various other excursions--will foster self-confidence and independence in young blind teenagers. Students will attend the annual convention of the National Federation of the Blind in Dallas, Texas. This exciting conference will allow them to meet thousands of competent blind people from across the country. The students will also have the chance to participate in a wide variety of informative seminars. At the close of the program parents will be required to attend a parents’ weekend, which will enable them to discover how much their children have learned throughout the summer. The STEP program is designed to provide invaluable work experience, friendships, opportunities for personal growth, and cherished memories.

This year the STEP Program will be held from Sunday, June 3, through Saturday, August 4, including a one-week break in July following the NFB’s national convention. If you have any questions, call Eric Guillory at (800) 234-4166 or email him at <[email protected]>. Interested families may also apply for their students electronically at <>. Due to limited space, we cannot guarantee that every applicant will be granted enrollment. Please note that the program tuition is $6,500, which is all-inclusive save for transportation costs associated with getting the student to and from Ruston, Louisiana, at the start and conclusion of training. Applicants must have an open case with their state’s vocational rehabilitation agency or other entity for funding to cover costs.

Where the Blind Work:
Where the Blind Work is a program sponsored by the Jernigan Institute and the NFB Writers’ Division. Do you need to know where the blind work, what types of jobs they hold, how they do their jobs, the qualifications needed, or what helps a blind person succeed? Are you looking to find a first job or to change careers? Are you a parent of a blind child concerned about his or her future employment prospects? Are you an employer or blindness professional hoping to learn what is possible? Where the Blind Work is the employment resource you are looking for. Consult job descriptions at <>.

We presently have more than a hundred job descriptions and need more. We know blind workers are handling many more jobs than we currently list. The Where the Blind Work page has descriptions divided into twelve generalized categories: administrative and office; business/entrepreneurial; computer specialists; customer service; education; financial; government; human services; law enforcement and legal; media, marketing, and public relations; medical; and vocational jobs.

All job descriptions are fewer than one thousand words and follow a set format of five questions, listed below. The uniformity and predictability of the descriptions assures readers of what they will find in all the documents. Help us to expand this resource by filling out a description of your present job if you are working. If you have had successful jobs in recent years, please share those with us as well. Write your answers to the five questions below and email them to Robert Leslie Newman at <[email protected]>.

Where The Blind Work Description Form

Give us your contact information: name, email address, mailing address, and phone number.
1. What is the title of your job?
2. What do you do on your job? (Explain what anyone in this position is required to do. Save any blindness-related specifics for the next question.)
3. To what extent are you blind, and what special adaptations do you use on the job? (Give the medical term for your blindness and extent of limitation. Give the type and name of any special low- or high-technology or procedure you use to perform your job duties, describing where and how you use them.)
4. What are the qualifications to enter this job? (any required job experience, degrees or certifications, special skills, etc.)
5. What influences along the way helped you to be successful? (mentoring, memberships or associations, etc.)

Announcing BISM Summer Programs for Middle and High School Students:
Blind Industries and Services of Maryland is pleased to announce its highly successful Independence 2012 program and its new Independence 101. Independence 2012 is an eight-week residential program for blind and low-vision high school students who will be entering or in high school in fall 2012. Students will live in apartments with blind adult instructors/mentors, where, while having fun, they will learn how to cook, clean, grocery shop, manage money, and wash clothes. Classes include cane travel, Braille, computers and technology, independent living (home ec.), and daily seminar class. In addition to learning the skills of blindness, participants will have the opportunity to gain paid community work experience during the last two weeks of the program.

Independence 2012 students and staff will attend the annual convention of the National Federation of the Blind in Dallas, Texas, where they will meet successful blind people from around the world, attend the National Association of Blind Students seminar, learn self-advocacy, check out the latest access technology, and attend a wide array of blindness-related seminars. While attending convention, students will learn about what is happening on the national level in blindness legislation, education, and rehabilitation. During the eight weeks we will explore Baltimore, New York City, and our nation’s capital, attend an O's game, go swimming, go to the movies, visit a farmers market, attend a street festival, and--new in 2012--learn how to sail. There are also nights of playing cards and board games until the wee hours of the morning. Dates for Independence 2012 are June 17 to August 10, 2012.

Independence 101 is a three-week residential program for blind and low-vision students entering the fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth grades in the fall of 2012. Students will live in apartments with successful blind instructors/mentors and participate in daily classes where they will learn to travel independently using a long white cane; read and write Braille; access information using computer literacy and technology; and participate actively in household chores such as cooking, cleaning, and developing and using organizational skills. While learning the alternative skills of blindness, students will go bowling, horseback riding, shopping, and swimming and will attend an O's game and visit a local festival, while learning firsthand from their instructors how to travel, shop, and generally do things nonvisually.

Parents of Independence 101 students are required to attend the Independence 101 parents retreat, which begins the afternoon of August 9 and concludes with Independence 101 graduation on August 11. Dates for Independence 101 are July 22 to August 11.

For more information about the programs, the application process, and the cost and funding resources, contact Amy Phelps at (410) 274-1647 or <[email protected]> or Dezman Jackson at (410) 737-2676 or <[email protected]>. Please share this information with other parents, teachers, counselors, and students.

National Association of Blind Automobile Enthusiasts, Formerly CARS Division, Seeking Members:
The Classics, Antiques, and Rods (CARS) Division has been a part of the NFB since 2005. It was chartered in Louisville, Kentucky. The division has changed its name to National Association of Blind Automobile Enthusiasts. The mission of the division is to enable blind men and women with an interest in the automotive world to take part in building and collecting cars and to understand the mechanics of automobiles and restoring them. The CARS Division has conducted seminars at each convention since its admission to the NFB and has provided antique car shows in the parking lots of convention hotels. Current division President David Hutchins and former President Joe Naulty, who is seventy-seven years old, would like to see the division continue with new, younger members. Dues are only $5 a year. For more information about the division, contact David Hutchins at (816) 931-0091 or Joe Naulty at (321) 768-9500.

The San Antonio Chapter of the NFB of Texas held its election Saturday, January 21, 2012. The following officers and board member were elected: president, Athalie Malone; vice president Arturo (Art) Gutierrez; secretary, Mary Etter; treasurer, Bryan Baldwin; and board member, Cindy Martinez.

New At-Large Chapter:
The NFB of Texas has just organized the Lone Star Chapter, made up of people who live in rural areas and small cities around the state. Norma Crosby reports that she is proud to serve as president. The other members of the board are vice president, Gabe Cazares; secretary, Kayleigh Joiner; and treasurer, Ann Cunningham. The group ratified its constitution and held elections on January 16, 2012. Anyone who lives in an area of the state with no active local chapter is welcome to join. Meetings are on the second Saturday of each month, beginning at 10:00 a.m. Dues have been set at $5 annually. Most meetings will be by phone because the members live in different parts of the state.

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.

A Nutshell History of Diabetes:
The listing for January 23 on recalls the following historical note in 1922:

At Toronto General Hospital fourteen-year-old Canadian Leonard Thompson becomes the first person to receive an insulin injection as treatment for diabetes. Diabetes has been recognized as a distinct medical condition for more than 3,000 years, but its exact cause was a mystery until the twentieth century. By the early 1920s many researchers strongly suspected that diabetes was caused by a malfunction in the digestive system related to the pancreas gland, a small organ that sits on top of the liver. At that time the only way to treat the fatal disease was through a diet low in carbohydrates and sugar and high in fat and protein. Instead of dying shortly after diagnosis, this diet allowed diabetics to live--for about a year.

A breakthrough came at the University of Toronto in the summer of 1921 when Canadians Frederick Banting and Charles Best successfully isolated insulin from canine test subjects, produced diabetic symptoms in the animals, and then began a program of insulin injections that returned the dogs to normalcy. On November 14 the discovery was announced to the world. Two months later, with the support of J.J.R. MacLeod of the University of Toronto, the two scientists began preparations for an insulin treatment of a human subject. Enlisting the aid of biochemist J.B. Collip, they were able to extract a reasonably pure form of insulin from the pancreas of cattle from slaughterhouses and used it to treat Leonard Thompson. The diabetic teenager improved dramatically, and the University of Toronto immediately gave pharmaceutical companies license to produce insulin, free of royalties. By 1923 insulin had become widely available, saving countless lives around the world, and Banting and MacLeod were awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine.

Let Heartsight Cards Get Special Occasion Cards to Your Family and Friends On Time:
HeartSight’s continued mission is to provide beautiful, tactile greeting cards to all blind people and their families and friends. HeartSight now offers you the ability to send a single appropriately themed HeartSight card to a loved one in the U.S. within three days to celebrate any occasion. Charges remain the same ($7); however, rush orders and expedited shipping will cost more. Contact us at (269) 779-2216 or <[email protected]> to order. Visit our website at <> to see greeting card samples.

New Book about Blindness:
Pathway to Independence: A Guide for People with Vision Loss, by Rita Thomas Kersh, is a practical guide for people with varying levels of vision loss who strive to be more independent in their everyday activities. The author describes it as filled with tips and techniques to use throughout the home and in the community. She says that the book is especially useful for people who are currently experiencing vision loss, but several of the tips and hints may be new ideas for those who have been visually impaired for a long time.

You can order the book in large print (hardcover and paperback) and as an e-book by visiting Barnes and Noble <>, Amazon <>, Xlibris <>. The large-print book can be ordered through the author for a reduced price of $15. Audio CDs will be available soon. To inquire about this book or place an order, contact Rita at <[email protected]> or write to SCAVI, Attn: Rita’s book, PO Box 2216, Bedford, Indiana 47421.

Blind Chess Clubs and Training Available:
            If you would enjoy learning to play chess, you can take two free correspondence courses from Hadley School for the Blind. After completing them, you get a free two-year membership in the USBCA (United States Blind Chess Association) <>. Register online or by phone for chess for beginners, CRE-091, and chess: principles and strategies, CRE-092. You will receive a free adaptive chess set for the two courses. Visit the Hadley website by going to <> or call the school at (800) 323-4238. Join the Blind Chess list at <>.

Download a free accessible Windows computer chess game called WinBoard for Jaws at <>. Scroll down to find the WinBoard for Jaws download link. Visit for the friendship, and stay for the fun.

Social Security Applicants Can Now Sign Authorizations Electronically:
Beginning in April 2012 many people applying for Social Security disability benefits will be able to sign and submit their Authorization to Disclose Information to Social Security (SSA-827) forms electronically, as the last part of the online process. Social Security requests more than 15 million medical records each year on behalf of people applying for disability benefits, and a signed SSA-827 accompanies each request. Offering the option of electronically signing and submitting the form helps the agency provide better service, reducing application processing time by up to nine days.

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and other applicable laws permit the use of electronic signatures, and Social Security is encouraging medical providers to treat the new electronic signature the same as they would a wet signature on the SSA-827.

How It Will Work for the Applicant
Adults applying for disability benefits will click and sign the SSA-827 as part of the online application process, immediately making the form part of Social Security’s electronic disability folder. This eliminates the need for the applicant to print, sign, mail, or deliver a paper copy to a Social Security office. Social Security will continue to take the appropriate steps to verify the identity of the signer and to protect the information and records received. Applicants will also receive a copy of the electronically signed and dated SSA-827 for their records.

How It Will Work for the Provider
Medical providers will continue to receive a HIPAA-compliant SSA-827 with each of Social Security’s requests for records. The only change to the current form will be in the completed signature block, which will indicate that the applicant electronically signed using the new process. An electronically signed SSA-827 requires no change to existing procedures for processing authorization forms.

Accepting electronic SSA-827s will help speed the application process and can result in Social Security paying benefits to qualified patients more quickly, as well as providing Medicare and Medicaid coverage faster. The electronic SSA-827 will also decrease the number of uninsured and underinsured patients served by medical providers.

Initially Social Security will offer this new process only to adults applying online for disability benefits on their own behalf, so there will continue to be wet-signed SSA-827s for other claims. The agency expects the use of this new signature process to expand over time as the number of online filers increases.

For more information about this process, go to

Hadley School Creates New Program for Veterans:
Hadley has just announced the launch of a new Blinded Veterans Initiative. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, there are an estimated 158,300 legally blind veterans and 700,000 veterans with low vision. In addition approximately 7,000 veterans become newly blind or visually impaired each year from non-combat-related causes. Compounding the problem is that approximately 70 percent of working-age Americans who are blind or visually impaired are unemployed or underemployed.

In response Hadley's Blinded Veterans Initiative will educate and inspire blind or visually impaired veterans to pursue their personal and professional goals and help support their families. Veterans signing up with Hadley as a result of this new initiative will be able to enroll in any of 100 plus distance education courses. Core subject matters emphasized through this new initiative include business and entrepreneurship, technology, independent living skills, adjustment to blindness and Braille literacy.

The program is tuition-free for all visually impaired veterans and their family members, thanks to the support of Goldman Sachs Gives, a donor-advised fund. The gift was made at the recommendation of John Willian, a managing director at Goldman Sachs and Winnetka native whose family has shown a legacy of support for the Hadley School. For more information about this new initiative or to enroll, visit <> or call Hadley at (800) 323-4238.

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.

KNFB Classic Reader for Sale:
I have a KNFB Classic Reader for which I am asking five hundred dollars, negotiable. This unit has the box and all packaging. Contact Jason Teitelbaum during the day at (201) 659-1680, evenings at (201) 669-1776, or email <[email protected]>.

Recorder Needed:
I am looking for an AIWA four-track cassette player/recorder with AM/FM and recording capabilities. Please email or call to negotiate a price: email <[email protected]>, phone (706) 375-9500.

For Sale:
            This Optelec ClearView Plus 22 inch Widescreen Video Magnifier includes table. It is in like-new condition. Purchased new in June 2009 for $3,185. Asking $1,500 or best offer. Contact Matt at <[email protected]>, or call (513) 276-0981.

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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