Braille Monitor

Vol. 55, No. 4                                                         April 2012

Gary Wunder, Editor

Distributed by email, in inkprint, in Braille, and on USB flash drive (see below) by

The National Federation of the Blind

Marc Maurer, President

National Office
200 East Wells Street at Jernigan Place
Baltimore, Maryland  21230
telephone: (410) 659-9314
email address: [email protected]
Website address: http://www.nfb.org
NFBnet.org: http://www.nfbnet.org
NFB-NEWSLINE® information: (866) 504-7300

Letters to the president, address changes,
subscription requests, and orders for NFB literature
should be sent to the national office.
Articles for the Monitor and letters to the editor may also
be sent to the national office or may be emailed to [email protected].

Monitor subscriptions cost the Federation about forty dollars per year. Members are invited,
and nonmembers are requested, to cover the subscription cost. Donations should be
made payable to National Federation of the Blind and sent to:

National Federation of the Blind
200 East Wells Street at Jernigan Place
Baltimore, Maryland 21230-4998


        ISSN 0006-8829

Each issue is recorded on a thumb drive (also called a memory stick or USB flash drive).  You can read this audio edition using a computer or a National Library Service digital player.  The NLS machine has two slots--the familiar book-cartridge slot just above the retractable carrying handle and a second slot located on the right side near the headphone jack. This smaller slot is used to play thumb drives. Remove the protective rubber pad covering this slot and insert the thumb drive. It will insert only in one position. If you encounter resistance, flip the drive over and try again. (Note: If the cartridge slot is not empty when you insert the thumb drive, the digital player will ignore the thumb drive.) Once the thumb drive is inserted, the player buttons will function as usual for reading digital materials. If you remove the thumb drive to use the player for cartridges, when you insert it again, reading should resume at the point you stopped.

You can transfer the recording of each issue from the thumb drive to your computer or preserve it on the thumb drive. However, because thumb drives can be used hundreds of times, we would appreciate their return in order to stretch our funding. Please use the return label enclosed with the drive when you return the device.

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Dallas Site of
2012 NFB Convention

The 2012 convention of the National Federation of the Blind will take place in Dallas, Texas, June 30-July 5, at the Hilton Anatole Hotel at 2201 Stemmons Freeway, Dallas, Texas 75207. Make your room reservation as soon as possible with the Hilton Anatole staff only, not Hilton general reservations. Call (214) 761-7500.

The 2012 room rates are singles, doubles, and twins $63 and triples and quads $68 a night, plus a 15 percent sales tax. The hotel is accepting reservations now. A $60-per-room deposit is required to make a reservation. Fifty percent of the deposit will be refunded if notice is given to the hotel of a reservation cancellation before June 1, 2012. The other 50 percent is not refundable.

Rooms will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. Reservations may be made before June 1, 2012, assuming that rooms are still available. After that time the hotel will not hold our block of rooms for the convention. In other words, you should get your reservation in soon.

Guestroom amenities include cable television; coffeepot; iron and ironing board; hair dryer; and, for a fee, high-speed Internet access. The Hilton Anatole has several excellent restaurants, twenty-four-hour-a-day room service, first-rate meeting space, and other top-notch facilities. It is in downtown Dallas with shuttle service to both the Dallas/Ft. Worth Airport and Love Field.

The schedule for the 2012 convention will follow our usual pattern:

Saturday, June 30        Seminar Day
Sunday, July 1             Registration Day
Monday, July 2            Board Meeting and Division Day
Tuesday, July 3           Opening Session
Wednesday, July 4      Business Session
Thursday, July 5          Banquet Day and Adjournment


2012 National Convention Preregistration Form

Please register online at <www.nfb.org/registration> or use this mail-in form.  Print legibly, provide all requested information, and mail form and payment to:

National Federation of the Blind
Attn: Convention Registration
200 East Wells Street
Baltimore, MD 21230

Please register only one person per registration form; however, one check or money order may cover multiple registrations.  Check or money order (sorry, no credit cards) must be enclosed with registration(s).

Registrant Name ______________________________________________
Address _____________________________________________________
City ______________________   State _____________    Zip ___________    
Phone ____________    Email ____________________________________

___ I will pick up my registration packet at convention.
___ The following person will pick up my registration packet:
        Pickup Name ______________________________________

Number of preregistrations ___ x $25                      = ____________
Number of pre-purchased banquet tickets ___ x $50         = ____________
Number of pre-purchased barbeque tickets ___ x $40       = ____________
                                                            Total                      = ____________


  1. Preconvention registration, banquet, and barbeque sales are final (no refunds).
 All preregistration mail-in forms must be postmarked by May 31.



Vol. 55, No. 4                                                        April 2012


Illustration: Spectacular Art
at the Hilton Anatole

Art at the Hilton Anatole
by Barbara Pierce

A Word from our Host Affiliate
by Kimberly Flores

Blind Woman Works Where Many
Wouldn't Dare to Be Seen
by Mary Fernandez

Some Thoughts about Photographs
by Gary Wunder

When the Sleepshades Aren't On
by Jeff Altman

Advanced Technology for
Producing Tactile Materials
by Robert Jaquiss

Just Their Dad
by Chris Kuell

The Gift of Giving
The Braille Readers Are Leaders Contest:
A Parent’s Perspective
by Marianne Dunn

The Gift of Giving
The Braille Readers Are Leaders Contest:
The Student Perspective
by Elizabeth Kazmierski

Mobility on a College Campus
by Sherry Frank

Cheryl Echevarria Founder, Echevarria Travel
–Advocate for the Blind
by Beverly Fortune

Life in the Mainstream
2012 National Organization of Parents of Blind Children (NOPBC)
Conference for Families and Teachers
by Laura Bostick

NFB Camp Convention Adventures
by Carla McQuillan

Up the Down, and Down the Up
by Dave Hyde

Featured Book from the Jacobus tenBroek Library
Reviewed by Ed Morman

NFB Krafters Division
Satisfy Your Artistic Flair or
Make Some Extra Money
by Ramona Walhof

Introducing the Commonwealth
Braille and Talking Book Cooperative
by Greg Kearney

Hearing Enhancement and Spanish Translation
Available at National Convention
Spanish Translators Needed
by D. Curtis Willoughby

Dialysis in Dallas
by Mike Freeman


Monitor Miniatures


Copyright 2012 by the National Federation of the Blind


Spectacular Art at the Hilton Anatole

When you step into Atrium II at the Hilton Anatole this summer, pulsing overhead will be Nebula, the newest artwork in the hotel’s collection.


Art at the Hilton Anatole

For more than twenty years the Hilton Anatole has been home to over a thousand rare and unusual treasures from the collections of Trammell and Margaret Crow. One-of-a-kind works of art, many that once graced the royal palaces of kings, emperors, and czars from Japan, China, India, and Southeast Asia—dating back as far as the fifth century BCE—now adorn the hotel’s entryways and embellish its walls. Many of these works are completely accessible to tactile examination. The convention in July will be the third the Anatole has hosted for the NFB, yet many of us have been almost completely oblivious to the art around us. With the help of literature provided by the Hilton Anatole, we now invite you to learn a little about several pieces in one of the largest and most beautiful private art collections in America. On Saturday, June 30; Sunday, July 1; and Monday, July 2, hotel staff members trained to give walking tours of the collection will conduct several tours for interested convention attendees. The convention agenda will provide complete information about times and tour size limits.

Perhaps the newest addition to the collection is a sculpture that we cannot touch, but it seems important for us to know of its existence. In the fall of 2011 the Hilton Anatole’s staff unveiled Nebula—a structure made of ten miles of aircraft cable, 1,780 pulleys, and over 4,500 amber crystals—floating above the redesigned Atrium II space in a wavelike dance. Nebula is a dramatic, slowly moving kinetic structure, organized in a multi-tiered, geometric pattern that fans out almost one hundred feet long and fifty feet wide, according to the hotel’s press release.

The sweeping design of Nebula, a cluster of stars, is the work of world-renowned artist Reuben Margolin. Combining the logic of mathematics with inspiration from wave patterns and the graceful motion of caterpillars, the thirty-nine-year-old San Francisco Bay Area sculptor creates large-scale kinetic sculptures using pulleys, motors, and a wide variety of materials. In 2009, after submitting designs for a kinetic structure competition led by Atrium II’s interior designer, EDG Interior Architecture + Design, Margolin was commissioned by Crow Holdings—owners and operators of Hilton Anatole—to conceptualize and design a dramatic centerpiece for Atrium II, a 31,000-square-foot common area in the hotel lobby. The artwork took approximately seventeen days and a crew of five to suspend it fifty feet above the Atrium II space. Nebula slowly rises and falls in a complex choreography so that it appears to swim or breathe gracefully. The movement is not digital in origin, but rather the result of a mechanism using physics to create complex and fluid shapes.

During past conventions at the Hilton Anatole we have enjoyed fine dining at the Nana Restaurant on the twenty-seventh floor. Unfortunately it will be closed for renovation during our visit this year. It took its name from the classic nude in oils by Marcel Suchorowsky displayed over the bar. Nana was the main character in the 1880 novel of the same name by Emile Zola. Unfortunately the artwork will no longer be on display when the restaurant reopens in September. Another Anatole restaurant that takes its name from a work of art is the Gossip Bar, where a sculpture of the same name is on display. With flowing robes and exotic headdresses, this whimsical life-size trio of figures seems caught up in the delight of sharing a secret. The Gossips was created by contemporary Danish artist Bjorn Wiinblad, known for his imaginative and colorful designs. The Hilton Anatole contains a number of Wiinblad works, including tapestries, stained glass, and lithographs. Wiinblad works in a variety of media and is perhaps best known for his dazzling ceramic and porcelain designs for Rosenthal.

The two life-size elephants outside the Chantilly Ballroom were carved in Thailand in 1983. They stand eight feet tall and weigh three tons each. They were carved from single pieces of 12-foot-in-diameter monkey pod trees by artisans in the Golden Triangle area of Thailand near the Laotian border, famous for its outstanding art. These and four other elephants in the hotel were purchased by the Crow Collection and placed there in honor of the 1984 Republican National Convention, hosted by the Hilton Anatole.

For some years the hotel has displayed two sections of the Berlin Wall, which it has just moved indoors. Built in 1961 at the height of the Cold War, the Berlin Wall stood for nearly 30 years as a hated symbol of repression and fear. Until 1990 the wall cut through 192 city streets, blocking East Berlin and East Germany from the West. By 1991, after reunification, the wall almost completely vanished. A few larger segments were officially donated or sold. The two segments owned by the Crow Collection, each twelve feet high and four feet wide, feature images and text painted by German artist Jurgen Grope, known as “Indiano.”

A number of sculptures are installed on the grounds of the hotel. Children at Play is a set of eight bronze figures charmingly sculpted by David Cargill in 1983. They seem to invite passersby to take to the grass and join their game. Cargill, a contemporary sculptor based in Beaumont, Texas, is known for his elegant and understated treatment of religious and secular themes.

In Fishing a grandfather and his grandson share an afternoon together, fishing the pond of the Anatole Park. J. Seward Johnson Jr., a Johnson & Johnson heir, began focusing his attention on sculpture in 1968 after a successful career painting impressionistic landscapes. Since then more than two hundred of Johnson’s life-size cast bronze figures have been featured in collections throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, and Asia.

More than forty pieces of Wedgwood porcelain enhance the foyer of the Wedgwood Room. Josiah Wedgwood was an eighteenth-century English potter, whose works are among the finest examples of ceramic art. During his long career Wedgwood developed revolutionary ceramic materials, notably basalt and Jasperware. The rarest piece in the collection is the 1885 covered vase in blue and white Jasperware. Nearly five feet tall, this monumental object is the largest recorded Wedgwood Jasperware vase in the world. Unfortunately these pieces are displayed behind glass.

A number of Asian works of art are scattered throughout the public areas of the hotel. A spectacular plate in hand-painted gold and enamel on a porcelain body is the work of artist Su Wen Sheng. It was created at the Quanfu Ceramic Factory in China’s Guangdong Province. This beautiful monumental work—measuring more than seven feet in diameter and weighing 650 pounds—is one of the largest porcelain creations in the world. In a hallway niche, an elegant female deity on a lion, also from China, is carved from luminous white sandstone.

The Hilton Anatole collection includes a number of Buddhas. One is a six-foot statue depicting a Buddha sitting on the cosmic lotus, a symbol of mercy and compassion. The Buddha’s hands are held in dhyana mudra, the meditation posture. The bronze Laughing Buddha known as PuTai, clutching his prayer beads and a cloth bag of gold, embodies the ideals of happiness, good luck, and plenitude, and dates from the seventeenth or eighteenth century.

This brief survey of the art on display at the Hilton Anatole is meant only to whet your curiosity to learn more about the collection and to get your hands on as much of it as possible during convention.


A Word from our Host Affiliate

by Kimberly Flores

Convention is just around the corner, and we in Texas want to make sure you can get to the airport as quickly and as affordably as possible. Then, if you choose to, we want to give you a wide array of choices to explore your surroundings and take in some of the variety that makes Texas unique. Please read on for airport shuttle discount information and a handful of tempting tours. The last three tours listed are fundraisers for the Travel and Tourism Division, so have a nice evening out and support a worthwhile cause as well. Our convention rate is available through July 7, but only a limited number of rooms are available, so, if you plan to stay a few extra days and sample some Texas food and fun, make your reservations quickly.

To reserve these great discounted airport transportation options and rates from either DFW or Love Field, use the following unique link designated for NFB reservations: <http://yellowcheckershuttle.hudsonltd.net/res?USERIDENTRY=G119810&LOGON=GO>.
DiscountGO Yellow Checker Shuttle is offering discount airport transportation (from either DFW or Love Field) for attendance at the National Federation of the Blind national convention. Several transportation options are available, including airport shuttle ride share web-tickets (Best Price Option No Fuel Surcharge Fee), $32 roundtrip online or $16 one way online. This is a shared ride service, which means that the driver has 25 minutes on airport property from the time the first passenger is picked up. Other passengers going to various locations may be in the van. Exclusive (private non-stop) van service for up to 10 passengers $85 each way. Save $35 one way or $70 roundtrip booked online. This shuttle leaves as soon as you or your party boards. Airport Lincoln Town Car Service web-tickets $75 each way. An online reservation qualifies you for discounts from your city of origin through our partner company, Go Airport Shuttle.com. Once the online reservation is made for your DFW transportation, the system will automatically make these discounts, if available.

Tour a Slice of Texas

Choose from one of the following three tours to have a uniquely Texas experience.

Dallas Highlights Tour

Join your tour guide, board your motorcoach. Off to enjoy the top sights and attractions of Dallas’ Downtown, Uptown, and Highland Park on this exciting city tour. Visit Dealey Plaza in the West End Historic District, birthplace of Dallas and site of the tragic JFK assassination. See the world famous Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, which is dedicated to the life, death, and legacy of President John F. Kennedy. Visit the Grassy Knoll where bystanders heard gunshots, and learn little-known details of that fateful day.

At the Old Red Courthouse hear about the colorful history of Dallas from the 1800s to present. Stop by John Neely Bryan’s cabin and the Kennedy Memorial. Visit spectacular Pioneer Plaza, a downtown public park, which commemorates a cattle drive of larger-than-life Texas longhorns and hear stories about Texas cowboys and western cattle drives.

Next enjoy an introduction to the Dallas Arts District, a rare jewel that is the centerpiece of our cultural life and home to some of the finest architecture in the world. Learn about the acclaimed, globally significant Nasher Sculpture Center and the serene beauty of the Crow Collection of Asian Art. See the stunning, state-of-the-art Winspear Opera House and the innovative design of the Wyly Theatre. Step inside the world-class Meyerson Symphony Center, home of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, to learn about its legendary sound and world renowned architect, I.M. Pei. Visit the historic Victorian Gothic jewel, the Cathedral Shrine of the Virgin of the Guadalupe, to see its exquisite European stained glass windows. Learn about the Belo Mansion’s ties to the infamous gangsters, Bonnie and Clyde.

Tour scenic Turtle Creek, learning about the Native Americans who once called this area home, to the exclusive enclave of Highland Park, passing by its beautiful mansions, parks, outdoor sculpture, and upscale shopping and dining in Highland Park Village. Finish your tour in the Victory Park neighborhood, home to Dallas' Mavs (NBA) and Dallas Stars (NHL) and filled with options for sophisticated dining, entertainment, and nightlife.

Scheduled Tour
Friday, July 6, 2012
9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
$45 per person
*Minimum 20 persons for tour to commence
Fort Worth Highlights Tour

Where the West begins. Indians. Cattle. Railroads. Oil. The History of Fort Worth reads like the history of the American West. Your tour guide will introduce you to downtown’s dazzling Sundance Square, a historically rich area, full of attractions and a beautiful setting for dining, theater, and exciting nightlife entertainment. Walk the Heritage Trail for fascinating western history. Hear tall tales about the Chisholm Trail and the famous outlaws, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. See the Fort Worth Water Gardens and the Bass Performance Hall, one of the world’s finest concert and performance halls. Learn about Hell’s Half Acre, where saloons, gambling parlors, shooting halls, and dance halls once flourished, and hear stories of the city’s colorful past. Visit the superb Sid Richardson Museum to enjoy western art by masters Russell and Remington. Stop by Hotel Texas, where President Kennedy spent his last night.

Then off to explore the Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District, where the Old West comes to life. Enjoy a guided walk of the stockyards and learn about the historic attractions that speak to a bygone era when the town was a stop for the legendary cattle drives on the Chisholm Trail. Watch a team of cowhands drive a herd of Texas Longhorns along Exchange Avenue. Every detail of this cattle drive, from the saddles to the chaps, from the hats to the boots, is authentic.

Visit the Livestock Exchange, the Wall Street of the West. See Cowtown Coliseum, site of the world’s first indoor rodeo. Step inside the White Elephant Saloon--the interior was used in the filming of Walker Texas Ranger. Tour the historic Stockyards Hotel and experience an era when cattle and cotton were common currency and outlaws were folk heroes. Drop into Billy Bob’s Texas, the world’s largest honky tonk. Stop by the Bull Ring Saloon, the birthplace of Texas Hold’em, and see its interesting collection of Texas art. Try on cowboy boots at one of the many western stores or pick up a memento or gift from Stockyards Station--formerly sheep and hog barns, now home to many unique shops and restaurants.

Put on your cowboy boots and join us for a western-styled, thrilling evening at the Fort Worth Stockyards Championship Rodeo. Relax and settle into your seat in the historic Cowtown Coliseum, built in 1908 and the site of the world's first indoor rodeo.

Scheduled Tour
Friday July 6, 2012
3:00-10:30 p.m.
$65 per person (includes entrance to the Stockyards Rodeo)
*Minimum 20 persons for tour to commence
*Dinner on your own in the Fort Worth Historic Stockyards
Southfork Ranch Tour
The Legend Lives on

No visit to Dallas is complete without visiting the legendary Southfork Ranch. Tour the famed Southfork Ranch and Ewing Mansion and relive exciting moments from the series. Relax on a guided tram tour of the ranch grounds from the visitors’ center en route to the Ewing Mansion. You'll hear a history of the ranch and see Texas longhorns and American quarter horses. At the Ewing Mansion a tour guide will give a full guided tour of the mansion, including interesting tidbits about the years of filming and insight into the character of the Ewings. Learn about the exciting new TV series--Dallas, the Next Generation.

As you depart the mansion, feel free to stroll through the ranch grounds and stop and visit "Lincolns and Longhorns," displaying Jock Ewing's original 1978 Lincoln Continental. Relive some of the memorable moments from Dallas in the Dallas Legends exhibit. See the gun that shot J.R., Lucy's wedding dress, video clips from the series, interviews with the stars, and other memorabilia that will make you feel right at home with the most infamous Texans of them all, the Ewings.

Scheduled Tour
Friday, July 6, 2012
9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
$50 per person (includes entrance to Southfork Ranch)
*Minimum 20 persons for tour to commence
The following three tours are organized by the NFB Travel and Tourism Division, and a portion of the cost of the tickets will benefit the division.

Jersey Boys–Broadway Show at the
 AT&T Performing Arts Center

Jersey Boys is the Tony, Grammy, and Olivier Award-winning best musical about Rock and Roll Hall of Famers, the Four Seasons: Frankie Valli, Bob Gaudio, Tommy DeVito, and Nick Massi. This is the story of how four blue-collar kids became one of the greatest successes in pop music history. They wrote their own songs, invented their own sounds, and sold 175 million records worldwide--all before they were thirty. Jersey Boys features their hit songs “Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Rag Doll,” “Oh What a Night,” and “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You.” “It will run for centuries!” proclaimed Time Magazine.

The Jersey Boys creative team comprises two-time Tony Award-winning director Des McAnuff, book writers Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, composer Bob Gaudio, lyricist Bob Crewe, and choreographer Sergio Trujillo. This is also a fundraiser for the Travel and Tourism Division of the NFB; $5 of the total price is being donated to the division.

One reason this show is of particular interest to some Federationists and as an extra treat is that the Frankie Valli role is being played by Travel and Tourism Division President Cheryl Echevarria’s cousin, Brad Weinstock. Mr. Weinstock has agreed to arrange a quick meet-and-greet with the cast of the show.

Scheduled Tour
Saturday, June 30, 2012
6:00-11:00 p.m.
$100 per person
*Minimum 20 persons for tour to commence
Medieval Times Dinner Show

Surrender to an age of bravery and honor and witness epic battles of steel and steed during our all-new show. From ringside seats discover a feast of the eyes and appetite with more action, more fun, and more excitement than ever before. As you thrill to a rousing live jousting tournament, marvel at awe-inspiring horsemanship and falconry, Medieval Times serves a four-course meal fit for royalty.

Convention attendees will also have an opportunity to meet with the ensemble for photo ops, as well as the chance to pet the horses and touch the armor.

A vegetarian meal is available upon request; let Cheryl know of your preference when booking. The standard menu includes tomato bisque soup, focaccia bread with olive oil and herbs, large BBQ spare ribs, oven-roasted chicken, herb-basted potato split into two quarters, braided apple strudel, and large beverage servings and coffee. Meals are eaten with bare hands here; no need for silverware in this authentic Medieval experience.

Scheduled Tour
Friday, July 6, 2012
7:00–10:00 p.m. Dinner begins at 8:00 p.m.
$50 per person
$5 of the $50 will be donated to the Travel and Tourism Division
No bus will be needed; this event is 2 blocks away from the Hilton Anatole
We will meet in the lobby at 7:00 p.m.
*Minimum 20 persons for tour to commence
Six Flags Over Texas

Six Flags Over Texas is more than a first-class family theme park. It’s the Thrill Capital of Texas. With over 100 rides and attractions, Six Flags Over Texas is the place to be. With incredible rides like Titan and Mr. Freeze, Superman and Batman: The Ride, you’ll find more to scream about than in any other park around. So if you’re looking for pure thrills, go big--go Six Flags!

Scheduled Tour
Friday, July 6, 2012
3:00–9:00 p.m.
$65 per person (includes entrance, bus, tickets to the park, food on your own)
$5 per ticket will go to the Travel and Tourism Division
*Minimum 25 persons for tour to commence

Tour Registration Form:

Name: _________________________________________________________
Address: _________________________________________________________
City, State, Zip: _________________________________________________________
Phone: (H)___________________ (Cell) ___________________ (Fax) ___________________

Tour 1. Dallas Highlights Tour              July 6                                   $ 45        $__________
Tour 2. Fort Worth Highlights Tour       July 6                                   $ 65        $__________
Tour 3. Southfork Ranch Tour                July 6                                   $ 50        $__________
Tour 4. Jersey Boys                               June 30                                $ 100      $__________
Tour 5. Medieval Times Dinner Show   July 6                                   $ 50        $__________
Tour 6. Six Flags Over Texas                July 6                                   $ 65        $__________
Prices include taxes and fees, bus service, and tips when food is included.

                                                                                                Total for Tours $__________

Payments, deposits, and headcounts must be submitted no later than May 15, 2012.
Final payments are due June 10, 2012.

Make checks payable and remit payment to:
Echevarria Travel
10 Aljan Drive
Brentwood, NY 11717
Attention: Cheryl Echevarria

Questions or to register by phone: (631) 456-5394 or (866) 580-5574
email: <[email protected]>


Blind Woman Works Where Many Wouldn't Dare to Be Seen

by Mary Fernandez

From the Editor: Mary Fernandez is a 2010 NFB scholarship winner who comes from New Jersey and attends Emory University, from which she will graduate in May. This presentation was made at the winter meeting of the National Association of Blind Students in Washington, D.C. I have observed that meetings of students are not always quiet, but they are generally respectful. When Mary made this presentation, however, you could hear a stylus drop. Enjoy:

It was the middle of the afternoon in late May. Although the summer had just started in Atlanta, I was still grateful for the little spot of shade I was sitting in while I handed out my bags of goodies. Each bag had a six pack of condoms, a rubber stopper, some gauze, some soap, and some other supplies. The people I was handing them to were mostly homeless and mostly drug addicts and lived in the poorest area of Atlanta. I smiled at everyone, happy that I was being useful, but also extremely nervous because it was my first day on the job.

Back at the beginning of the spring semester of my sophomore year, I had wracked my brain about how I could earn some money during the summer. After an extensive search, I received a message in my inbox that looked truly promising. The Emory Center for Ethics would be sponsoring twenty-seven students from Emory to work in different nonprofits throughout the city. The Ethics and Servant-Leadership Program would include eight weeks of work. In addition, each week we had to meet at the Ethics Center for discussion on—surprise--ethics, and nonprofit management. The final portfolio and other small requirements seemed worth the effort since I would also get a $4,000 stipend. So I figured I'd apply.

The first step was choosing one or two organizations where I'd be interested in working. The one that I kept coming back to was the Atlanta Harm Reduction Center, a small nonprofit that served marginalized communities in Atlanta. Unlike homeless shelters and rehab or crisis centers, they had a different approach to dealing with drug use in society. Instead of denying services to drug users, they had decided that they would try to reduce the harm that drug use can have on a community--hence the bag of goodies. The most controversial service AHRC offers is completely illegal in the state of Georgia--needle exchange. Basically, clients bring in their dirty needles, and we give them clean ones. When I worked for AHRC, we received 10,000 needles in two months and gave out almost double that number. We got away with it because of a little loophole in Georgia law. Since drug users will use drugs no matter what, it's better that they do not spread AIDS in the process.

I was one of three candidates being interviewed for the job. The day of the interview was rather interesting. My interviewer was actually forty-five minutes late. The forty-five minutes waiting out in the heat and sweating under my suit jacket helped to calm my nerves and give me a bit of my confidence back, although I kept worrying that I'd smell terrible by the time he got there. Finally he came, and we talked for an hour.

Two weeks later I got an email saying that I had been chosen as their intern, and I walked on air for days. I had a job and would be living in my own apartment that I would have to find and would be going to work every day. Oh joy! That first day was a Wednesday, and we did street outreach on Wednesdays and Saturdays. So we hit the street corner, and, after chatting with my coworkers and seeing how everything ran, I asked if I could help with handing out the paper bags, since they had no idea of what I could and couldn't do. All the clients were polite except that about halfway through two gentlemen approached me. I did my usual, hi how are you spiel. One of them whispered to the other in a rather carrying and dramatic whisper, "Hey, Bro, do you know she's blind?"

The other man responded in a rather loud and indignant tone, "Yes, I know she's blind, you rude, m***f***er. My mother was blind, but I bet you she can hear your rude a** talking s**t." Extremely amused by this time, I gave one of my characteristic cackles, as my new advocate apologized for this "fool’s BS," and said he was happy I'd be working there for the summer.

As the weeks went by, I met more and more people and was given more and more responsibility. Though at times my coworkers would ask if I felt comfortable doing something, they couldn't afford not to give me work because I was blind. AHRC was struggling, and they needed all the work they could get from me. After I had spent three weeks on the job, our outreach specialist Verna told me I'd be responsible for teaching the substance abuse management class every week until the end of the summer and that I'd be starting that day. I had to keep forty people, most of whom were rather gregarious men, interested in a topic. Somehow, after a few false starts, I managed to get them talking, and the time flew, full of great discussion and a lot of laughter. I also helped with our other groups, including a graphic form of sex education.

I didn't feel that I had truly been accepted until the day that I had a client ask for me specifically and come to talk to me at my little cubby. Later in the summer I found him on our porch steps because I was the first to come in that day. He was battered and bruised and had slept outside the night before because he had been beaten up and thrown out of the shelter he and his partner had been staying in. They were gay and were not welcome at that shelter anymore. That day Verna and I worked on finding him a place, and we talked to him for a long time about being twenty-five, having AIDS, and being a sex worker in downtown Atlanta. We pointed out that he was spreading AIDS every time he hopped in with a business man on his way home headed to his wife.

Working at AHRC taught me much about the struggles of those that we shunt to the outskirts of society, those that we are ashamed of. Though I had rough patches during my internship, my blindness seemed to be almost natural to them. Many of our clients were often surprised when they asked me about my blindness to realize that people treated me as incompetent. They wondered how someone could think me dumb and as needing constant help, when I managed to walk in and out of the hood of Atlanta every day, do what all my other co-workers were doing, and just go on with life. Their acceptance gave me confidence and a sense of accomplishment, which in some ways made aspects of life a bit more frustrating when I got out into the world. I remember having a meltdown on the bus back home while talking to my friend on the phone about how frustrating it was that, as soon as I hit the train station, I had people grabbing and pulling me just because I was using a cane. She told me to calm down. She assured me that no, I didn't look weird because I was tearing up in the bus. She had seen much worse on MARTA. She told me that I needed to let my confidence in my abilities shield me from the ignorance of people. She said I should not internalize their low expectations because, even if we don't know it, it is easy to start believing that we can't make it to the right platform if someone isn't leading us.

I want you to take away from my ramblings that you can really do what you think you can do. Often we talk about misconceptions about the blind in society, but we don't talk about the effect that has on us, even if we are fully confident in our abilities. We may know that we can take the bus, go shoe shopping, and do everything else independently, but having constantly to reassure others of that fact can be wearisome. But let's not dwell on that; let’s prove them wrong. Let's go out there this semester and look for something awesome, adventurous, and a little scary to do this summer. Whether it is a Google internship, study abroad in Japan, or interning with EPA, you can do it. I know that because I know blind students who have done it. So grab that cane, that résumé, and that great suit, and go. After all, as T.S. Eliot said, "Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go." So go too far; it’s better than going nowhere. And once you find that limit, push it and see how far you can stretch it. You might actually surprise yourself.


Some Thoughts About Photographs

by Gary Wunder

It seems as if we are always asking people to take time out of their busy convention schedules to drop by the photographer and reminding them to capture the special events that happen in their local areas, but no matter how often we ask, we always seem to be desperately short of good photographs to use in the Braille Monitor. Some argue that photographs are of little value to us given that the majority of our circulation is in Braille, audio, and Internet text and Word files, but to think this way ignores the value of the print publication and what we can communicate to sighted people or to those who have enough sight to make reading the print enjoyable.

Digital photography is a godsend for us, but we often encounter problems when people try to use their cellular phone cameras to send us photographs. Unless the cell phone is a rather advanced model, its camera is usually more for convenience than for taking quality photographs. Picture quality is measured digitally in pixels or, in our case, megapixels, and we find that pictures must be at least 5 megapixels or better for us to use them. A more accurate way of measuring photograph resolution is by dots per inch (DPI). For publication, photographs should be at least 300 DPI. A related problem is that pictures taken with high-resolution cameras are sometimes electronically reduced when sent through e-mail or uploaded to the Internet. Usually you find an option that asks whether you would like to make the transfer faster. Your answer should always be no.

Not only do we lack quality photographs for many who are making Federation news, but we need action shots which do more than show you sitting in a delegation at convention. If your chapter or affiliate does a challenge event such as rock-climbing or snow skiing, take along a digital camera and take some photographs. If you are doing a demonstration of Braille or a fundraiser at the local mall, again let us have a picture. If you are going to meet with legislators in some kind of event, give us a shot of a legislative hearing room packed with Federationists. When dignitaries come to your chapter meetings or affiliate conventions, get a shot with them at the podium and send it along. If your photographer pays attention to the composition of the shot (lighting, background, avoiding extraneous people and objects), we might not use what you send right away, but the time will come when we will be grateful for your photographs and will use them.

When your camera takes a picture, it often names it with a sequential number (000375.jpg). This is fine for the camera, but it is not very helpful to those of us who will handle the photo. It would be quite useful if the name of the photo had something to do with the content. Good are “Jim Barber and Brian Buhrow at the 2012 WashingtonSeminar.jpg” or “Mike Freeman, Marc Maurer, and Jim Gashel with Congressman Fred Smith.jpg.” Since our practice in the Monitor is to name people from left to right, your naming the photos in this way will also help us confirm who each person is. It should also go without saying that leaving on the feature that date-stamps photos across the face makes them unusable for publication.

Some people tell me that they are not photogenic or the fact that they are blind makes it difficult to get a good picture. I understand this problem; it is one of the best reasons to take and send many photographs so that we have a choice when trying to make you look your best. We are proud of our organization, proud of the people who make her what she is, and we want readers to hear and see you at your best. You can help us immensely. In fact, without your help we will fail in our effort to create a collection of good photos from which to draw.


When the Sleepshades Aren't On

by Jeff Altman

From the Editor: Jeff Altman is a blind mobility instructor who works for Nebraska Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired (NSBVI). Here he discusses the use of sleepshades and structured discovery and the fact that both are sometimes seen as incompatible with the use of remaining vision--a contention he flatly rejects. We reprint the article from the winter issue of the Nebraska Center for the Blind Newsletter. Here is what he has to say about learning new techniques, building a skill set that doesn't rely on vision, and then using remaining vision effectively to lead a safer and more satisfying life:

While there are many good reasons for using sleepshades during center training, some situations can create confusion for students. It is not unusual for people to wonder why sleepshades are used at all; in fact, many people have strongly opposed their use, and for these reasons several articles have already been written to address these concerns. The Nebraska Center for the Blind is firmly committed to the use of sleepshades as a teaching tool because years of experience have shown that this approach to training leads to a higher level of independence and success. Therefore the center requires students to wear the sleepshades eight hours a day, five days a week.

Given this policy, why aren’t students asked to wear sleepshades throughout their waking hours? There are two related answers to this question. First, it simply wouldn't be comfortable for students to wear sleepshades for extended periods, and we recognize that many people have a physical need for a break from the shades. Second, center students need to have the opportunity to learn to incorporate the use of their developing nonvisual skills with their usable vision. Each student needs to come to understand those situations in which his or her vision works well and those in which the better choice would be to use the new, nonvisual alternatives. This understanding must occur in each student, and this integration is just as important as developing a complete set of nonvisual techniques.

These two answers lead to a host of other questions that are important for students to ask and have answered. Some frequently heard include why are students with a high degree of usable vision required to use their canes when they are not wearing the sleepshades? Why are students with relatively high levels of vision discouraged from using their vision to work with the computer at the apartments? Why should a student who does not have enough vision to read print have to go to the trouble of arranging for a sighted reader when other center students at the apartments with enough vision to read and inclination to help are available? Why should a student with some useful vision not use his or her vision to assist a totally blind student or a staff person to find a dropped object, locate a chair, announce when a traffic light has changed to green, or help set an alarm clock? Does this mean that center staff believe that blind people with some vision shouldn't use it at all?

As confusing as the center's policies may at first appear, we have good reasons for each of them. While the overall goal of any rehabilitation training program is to prepare students to obtain appropriate employment, one of the most important purposes of center training is to assist agency clients to become experts in their own blindness. This means being able to make informed choices regarding techniques they will use in their everyday lives as well as in the workplace. In some situations a visually based alternative may be more efficient, while others may be better accomplished using a nonvisual method. An individual cannot make an appropriate choice of techniques unless that person becomes well practiced with the methods that would otherwise be unfamiliar. Since the majority of people rely on their vision for the tasks of everyday life and in the workplace, most often the less familiar techniques tend to be nonvisual. Only after an individual has truly mastered the less familiar nonvisual techniques can he or she make a balanced comparison with the more familiar and socially acceptable visual methods.

During center training students are expected to use their canes at all times, except when they are in their own apartments. The reasons for this policy are really very simple and important. First of all, students with limited vision need to learn which method of gathering information is most effective in their own situations: the cane and its related nonvisual techniques or their limited eyesight. They must also learn to use both sources of information in concert. This means learning through experience, making mistakes, and experimenting to find the best combination of skills. Cane travel requires practice, and center classes simply don't provide enough time to develop proficiency. In addition, each person must come to terms with the social issues that using a cane can create. The general public often reacts to a person with a white cane in socially awkward ways ranging from excessively helpful to outright strange. When it becomes apparent that the blind person has some useful vision, the interaction can be even more uncomfortable, causing the blind person to feel self-conscious, even if most people do not react at all. Using the cane in nearly all situations provides center students with the experience to make good judgments about which skills best meet their needs, to learn to blend visual and nonvisual skills effectively, to refine their cane techniques, and to develop positive responses to even the most awkward social situations related to blindness.

Student experiences in the apartments are as much a part of training as are classes during the week. Developing new skills, such as operating a computer using synthesized speech and keyboard commands, requires far more practice than can be provided in daytime classes. For this reason a computer is available for student use in the apartments, and often instructors give homework assignments. Students who employ their vision to work with the computer, even if they use a screen-enlargement program, are not practicing nonvisual techniques; some will compare their well-developed, visually based computer skills with their limited experience in the use of keyboard commands and listening skills. It is all too easy for them to become convinced that using a computer visually is a superior method, even though in reality many nonvisual computer techniques are much more efficient. It is also not uncommon for a student with some useful vision to attempt to assist a student who is unable to read the computer screen visually. The problem with this seemingly kind gesture is that neither student learns the nonvisual techniques to accomplish the task.

Learning to obtain and work with a reader is one of the most important skills that a blind person can develop. When other center students jump in to help with reading, they are denying the student who needs print-reading assistance the opportunity to learn many aspects of this skill. Even more troubling is that this intended act of kindness can reinforce in the minds of both students the notion that the more vision a person has, the better off he or she is. This false notion can obscure the fact that a well-educated, highly skilled, motivated blind person is much more likely to be successful than a less motivated person with eyesight who has not had the opportunity for education or to develop critically important skills. Therefore, it is not vision that determines the outcome, but the experience and characteristics that are a part of that person's makeup.

Each of the skills taught in center training, including finding a dropped object, locating a chair, knowing when a traffic signal has changed, and correctly setting an alarm clock, is the kind of daily task that underpins independence. Every center student needs to find the best alternatives to accomplish these if he or she is going to live in the world and be a contributing member of society. Nonetheless, something much deeper is at work here--the need to believe in the ability of all blind people. When an individual with vision performs a task for someone with less vision, it takes away the sense that functioning as a blind person is not only possible but of equal merit. When a student with some vision steps in to assist a blind staff member, it takes away the opportunity for that staff person to model the nonvisual techniques and attitudes necessary to be successful as a blind person.

The emphasis on the development of nonvisual techniques can sometimes cause some clients and others to misinterpret the purpose of the agency's approach to training, leaving them with the impression that staff members are opposed to the use of low-vision techniques and devices. The philosophy of the Nebraska Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired actually promotes the use of low-vision techniques and devices when appropriate to achieve maximum independence. In fact, the agency was for many years a major sponsor of the low-vision clinic at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha and continues to purchase low-vision devices when appropriate for meeting the needs of clients. Also NSBVI field staff have received training in appropriate low-vision assessment techniques and services for working with agency clients, especially the senior blind.

Because vision is such a commonly used sense, has been such a part of the student's life, and has such social acceptance, the decision about when to introduce visual techniques to a student and still use structured discovery is critical. Introduce low-vision techniques too early and, because of social acceptance and personal familiarity, a student will focus on the visual techniques to the exclusion of nonvisual ones. When this happens, he or she will never really come to understand that it is possible to function without vision while using remaining vision to supplement and enhance alternative techniques. This focus on visually based techniques and devices can obscure the discovery that many activities are not best addressed using visual techniques, but that the majority of daily tasks are completed more efficiently, effectively, and safely using nonvisual alternatives.

Informed choice is a critical aspect of successful rehabilitation, and only a consumer who is fully knowledgeable about the complete range of possible nonvisual and low-vision alternative techniques can make a truly informed choice about which technique will best meet his or her needs in a given situation. The only way to be truly informed about nonvisual techniques is by developing a true mastery of these skills so that a fair comparison can be made with the more familiar visually based skills. The development of the new nonvisual alternatives is unlikely if the student is provided with appealing low-vision techniques before the nonvisual techniques are fully developed, since the consumer is likely to assume mistakenly that no further skill development is needed. For this reason the Nebraska Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired emphasizes the development of nonvisual skills before low-vision alternatives are introduced. Throughout this process individual needs and abilities are considered, and the approaches to training are adjusted through informed choice so that these needs are most appropriately met.

Center training, for example, is a choice, which is intended to assist consumers to develop the highest level of proficiency in the complete complement of nonvisual skills, therefore low-vision training and devices are simply not a part of this program. A student who makes the choice to use low-vision-based alternatives has access, through the agency, to a qualified low-vision specialist, home-based instruction, and other training resources. Developing effective nonvisual techniques through structured-discovery learning can actually enhance an individual's use of low-vision because using nonvisual techniques like the long white cane to avoid obstacles can free the person's vision to locate useful landmarks at a distance or observe the movements of other pedestrians. Also the highly developed problem-solving skills that result from structured-discovery learning can directly improve an individual's ability to learn to use available visual information more efficiently and effectively.

Being blind really means that a person does not have reliable eyesight; therefore he or she needs to devise an effective and efficient set of alternative techniques in order to perform daily tasks successfully. People with some usable vision and a highly refined set of nonvisual skills can seamlessly transition from visually based techniques to those that do not require vision whenever conditions prevent use of their vision. Those who rely primarily on low-vision techniques may not have the ability to adapt effectively or safely to conditions that are poorly suited to the use of their limited eyesight. Rehabilitation is successful when our students leave training knowing both the alternative skills of blindness and the best way to optimize their remaining vision and so are able to integrate them into a skillset that makes dealing with blindness second nature, leaving our graduates empowered and ready to take on whatever challenges the world presents.


Advanced Technology for Producing Tactile Materials

by Robert Jaquiss

From the Editor: Robert Jaquiss is an access technology specialist at the International Braille and Technology Center for the Blind. He has a strong interest in tactile graphics. The following article provides a great starting point for those who need to know about this important subject. This is what he says:

This article briefly discusses the need for and describes technologies that can be used to produce tactile materials. Some pricing is included for the equipment discussed, but it is subject to change.

Tactile materials have been used to educate the blind since the late eighteenth century. Blind and visually disabled students are challenged when studying science, technology, engineering, mathematics, social sciences, and the arts. Sighted students have access to a wide variety of images in books, videos, and the Internet, but blind students must rely on text or verbal descriptions or the occasional tactile graphic. Adding to the difficulty faced by these students is the fact that depictions of three-dimensional objects in two dimensions can be difficult to understand.

Consider the structures of molecules in chemistry; anatomical structures; the shapes of vehicles--aircraft, boats, ships or spacecraft; simple and complex geometric forms; the shapes of dwellings used by indigenous populations like tipis, hogans, yurts, etc.; and archeological, anthropological, and other cultural artifacts. For some of these examples it is possible to purchase commercially available models. Kits exist for demonstrating the structures of molecules by assembling three-dimensional shapes representing atoms and connecting them with rods. Model shops can provide models of various vehicles, aircraft, etc. But, if a model cannot be easily obtained, what alternatives do educators have?

Producing tactile materials has until recently been a labor-intensive process. In the last few years, however, computerized techniques and advances in technology have made it possible to produce tactile materials with much greater speed. It is now easy to produce materials with complex shapes and even moving parts.

Commonly Available Technologies

Tactile materials are currently produced in a variety of ways; collage, thermoform, capsule paper, and embossers with graphic capabilities. Capsule paper and embossers have made it possible to produce line and shaded images rapidly. These techniques are useful and will continue to be used. New technologies, however, offer the possibility of producing materials unimaginable a few years ago.

New Technologies

The following new technologies, collectively known as Rapid Prototyping (RP), fall into two basic categories: additive and subtractive. Additive technologies, as the name implies, add material to a substrate. Subtractive technologies remove material from a block or sheet of material. Both are computer-based and require the use of graphical design software. When creating an object, computer software converts a model into layers. In turn each layer is processed to create an actual model. The capabilities of RP equipment are measured in terms of build envelope and layer thickness. Build envelope refers to how large a model the equipment can create. For example, a machine with a build envelope of 10 by 8 by 6 inches could create models ten inches long, eight inches wide, and six inches high. Layer thickness is how thick each model’s layer is. Thinner layers make it possible to produce models with finer details and better surface finish.

Additive Technologies

All but one of the devices in this category produce three-dimensional models. Some produce models intended to show concepts or to be used as casting patterns. Others produce usable plastic parts. The devices described below are priced beginning at $1,800. Some of the lower-cost devices are already finding their way into schools and are used by students studying Computer-Aided Design and Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CADCAM). The more expensive devices are feasible only for businesses, large schools, regional centers, or state agencies.

Roland LEC Printers

The Roland LEC family of printers produces tactile images including Braille, large print, and colored images. These printers are intended for use by signmakers, package designers, and anyone else needing to produce large images. The LEC-330 can print images up to twenty-nine inches wide on sheet-fed or roll-fed material. An included cutter and creaser allows for the cutting of parts in various shapes. Package designers use this device to print and cut out a piece of tagboard that can be folded into a box, thus creating a 3D object.

The LEC printer deposits ultraviolet-cured ink which can be printed in layers, and therefore the images can have a tactile feel. Braille characters are available as a font, so Braille is easy to produce. The LEC can handle applications needing different-sized dots or different spacing of the Braille dots with no problem. For example, Micro Braille such as that used in Japan is easily produced.

The LEC-330 can print one hundred square feet per hour, price: $60,000.

The LEC-540 is, as its model number implies, a larger machine, capable of producing images up to fifty-two inches wide, price: $70,000.

The LEF-12 is a small printer and can produce images twelve inches square on sheets or objects up to four inches thick. The LEF-12 is targeted at the awards industry, price: $30,000.

3D Systems

3D Systems produces a wide variety of RP devices. These range from low-end equipment intended for schools to large, industrial-sized machines. The best known of 3D Systems’ technologies is stereolithography (STL). The process starts with a vat of liquid photo-curing epoxy. A platform in the vat is close to the surface of the epoxy. A computer-guided laser beam exposes part of the epoxy at the surface, solidifying it. After the first layer is created, the platform lowers slightly, flooding the area above the solidified layer with fresh epoxy. The process continues until the model has been created. The finished model is extracted from the vat, cleaned of excess epoxy, and then cured in an oven. The parts produced have a smooth, glossy finish.

Selective laser sintering (SLS) uses powdered material deposited in layers. After a layer of powder is deposited, a computer-guided laser heats selected areas to fuse the powder to form a solid layer. The process continues until the part is formed. SLS parts have a slightly rough finish.

3D Systems recently acquired SolidScape, which makes machines renowned for their fine detail. SolidScape machines use wax to create parts that can be used in lost wax casting.

3D Systems also recently acquired ZCorp, whose machines are known for their higher build speed. Zcorp models are created using layers of powder fused with liquid from an inkjet printer head. ZCorp models are often infiltrated with epoxy or other material to strengthen them.

The lower-cost 3D Systems products are suitable for schools and small businesses. The larger, higher-priced equipment is suitable only for large institutions or large businesses. Prices range from $5,000 for the Cube, which can create small objects, to nearly half a million for large, industrial-sized machines.

MakerBot Industries

MakerBot offers the Replicator™ machine that can create plastic parts. The Replicator is targeted at the home hobbyist market. Its build envelope is 8.9 by 5.7 by 5.9 inches. Layer thickness 0.2-0.3 millimeters. Price: $1,749 and up, depending on options.

Mcor Technologies

The Mcor Technologies Matrix 300 printer uses laminated object modeling (LOM) to create parts. A layer of paper is laid down and then scored. Subsequent layers are bonded together and scored. The result is a block. Excess paper can be removed, leaving the part. The parts have a woodlike feel. The build envelope is 10 by 8 by 5 inches. A major advantage of the Mcor system is the very low cost of consumables. The machine uses new, nonrecycled twenty-pound copier paper. Models can be left as is or dipped in a material similar to superglue to strengthen them.

The Matrix 300 printer is suitable for use in schools and small businesses. Mcor Technologies has an unusual pricing scheme. The price includes enough glue and cutter blades to run the unit for 365 days. Price for one year: $18,500 plus $4,000 shipping and training.


Objet machines are known for producing models with fine details. Objet printers use PolyJet™ technology. Liquid polymer is deposited and immediately cured with UV light. A gel support material is also deposited, making it possible to create complex geometries. The gel support material is washed away after the part is completed. The Connex family of Objet printers uses PolyJet Matrix™ technology and can deposit two different materials simultaneously. For example, it is possible to create plastic parts with rubber surfaces. The Objet 24 is suitable for larger schools or small businesses. The Connex 500 is suitable only for larger organizations.

Objet 24, build envelope: 9.45 by 7.87 by 5.9 inches, layer thickness: 28 microns. Price: $30,000.

Eden 350V, build envelope: 13.7 by 13.7 by 7.8 inches, layer thickness: 16 microns. Price: $158,000.

Connex 500, build envelope: 19.7 by 15.7 by 7.9 inches, layer thickness: 16 microns. Price: $266,000.


Stratasys machines deposit two different materials: ABS plastic and a support material, a soluble plastic. The materials are deposited as hot droplets. Stratasys calls this technology fused deposition modeling (FDM). When the soluble-supporting material is dissolved, the model is ready for use, so it is easy to create models with moving parts. Using ABS plastic allows creation of a fully functional model that can be used as actual parts. Stratasys machines range from small machines for schools to large industrial-sized machines capable of building models 24-by-36-by-24 inches. The higher-end Stratasys machines can deposit other materials such as polycarbonate.

Dimension BST 1200es: $24,900
Dimension SST 1200es: $32,900
Build envelope: 10 by 10 by 12 inches.
Layer thickness: 0.013 inches.

Subtractive Process

The subtractive process starts with a block of material from which material is removed to create the finished object. The most common means for doing this is to use a computer numerically controlled (CNC) milling machine. Two examples are the 2BOT and the Roland family of milling machines. These machines create debris that must be vacuumed from the machine.


The 2BOT accepts a block of material up to 12 by 12 by 2 inches and can cut foam, balsawood, and machineable wax. The 2BOT is unique in that the block of material is loaded into a frame that slides into the 2BOT like a drawer. A cover encloses the work area, creating a safe machine. The 2BOT has a high-speed cutter that closely resembles a drill bit. The cutter removes unwanted material from the block. If the model is to be cut on both sides, the frame is removed and flipped over so that the back side of the model can be completed. The finished piece is still attached to the frame by small tabs of material that can easily be removed. The 2BOT is fast and can make models quickly. The downside to this speed is that the models lack fine detail. The 2BOT is easy to use and is being marketed to schools and to those who want concept models. The low cost of materials makes the 2BOT very attractive to schools. Price: $11,000

Roland MDX40A

The Roland MDX40A accepts blocks of material 12 by 12 by 4 inches and can cut foam, acrylic, wood, machineable wax, and soft metals such as brass and aluminum. Because the Roland machines accept different size cutters, it is possible to create models with very fine detail. The MDX40A is also enclosed for safety. The workpiece is mounted on a table that moves back and forth. The cutter moves from side to side. Dowel pins can be used to align the workpiece if it is necessary to cut both sides of the model. The MDX40A is much slower than the 2BOT. The benefit is that it produces extremely well-finished parts. The MDX40A is more versatile in what it can do. Roland has other milling machines such as the MDX20 for small parts and the MDX540 for larger parts. The low cost of materials makes the MDX40A very attractive to schools. Price: $9,000
Using RP Equipment

Designing a model from scratch requires the use of computer-aided design (CAD) software. AutoCAD and ArtCAM are two well-known software packages. Google’s SketchUp is a much simpler software package.

It is also possible to find free files online or purchase files of models. Common file formats include OBJ, STL and DXF. A short list of libraries is:

1.  3D Science.com; this site, operated by Zygote Media Group, sells science-related models, <http://www.3Dscience.com>.
2.  Flat Pyramid; Flat Pyramid sells a wide variety of 3D models, <http://www.flatpyramid.com/3D-models>.
3.  Google Sketchup 3D Warehouse; this site has a wide variety of files contributed by the general public, <http://sketchup.google.com/3Dwarehouse>.
4.  SolidWorks; this site has a wide variety of hardware and mechanical parts, <http://www.3Dcontentcentral.com>.
5.  Castle Island Co.; Castle Island Company has an extensive list of model repositories, <http://www.additive3D.com/sw1_lks.htm>.

By its nature CAD software is graphical and is not very accessible except to blind people who can use screen magnification. I am totally blind and have used some of the software supplied by Roland for operating the Roland MDX40A, milling machine. It is possible to open and send files to the milling machine. It is also possible to set up the MDX40A without sighted assistance. In addition, I have printed images, scanned them with a scanner, and then created an engraved copy. I used this technique to create large images of the 2009 Louis Braille coin.

There are devices for scanning 3D objects. Like document scanners, 3D scanners create datafiles usable by various CAD applications. Some 3D scanners resemble microwave ovens. The object is placed on a rotating table and scanned as the table turns. Other scanners are like cameras and mount on tripods. Given the appropriate technology, it is possible to scan objects with details as fine as those on coins or as large as Mount Rushmore.


This article describes a number of options for producing three-dimensional models and is intended to provide a starting point for anyone interested in this subject. Use of three-dimensional models will enhance learning for both blind or visually disabled students and their sighted peers.

A MakerBot Replicator has been ordered for the IBTC, and a Roland MDX40A milling machine will follow in the future. What will we do with this equipment? We will create some sample models to show to those visiting the IBTC. We will make models to support the educational programs conducted by the Jernigan Institute. And of course we will demonstrate this equipment to our visitors. Inkprint printers and Braille embossers put our words on paper. In the same way RP technology will make images real.

Company Contact Information

Listed below are the companies mentioned in this article and their contact information:
2BOT physical Modeling Technologies
17455 NE 67th Court, Ste 110
Redmond, WA 98052
Phone: (425) 869-5035
Fax: (425) 484-6472
Email: [email protected]
Website: <http://www.2bot.com>

3D Systems Corporation
333 Three D Systems Circle
Rock Hill, SC 29730
Phone: (803) 326-3900
Website: <http://www.3Dsystems.com>

MakerBot Industries LLC
87 3rd Ave.
Brooklyn, NY USA 11217
Website: <http://www.makerbot.com>

Mcor Technologies
Unit 1, IDA Business Park
Ardee Road, Dunleer,
Co. Louth, Ireland
+353 41 6862800
[email protected]
Website: <www.mcortechnologies.com>

Objet Inc.
5 Fortune Drive
Billerica, MA 01821
Phone: (877) 489-9449
Fax: (866) 676-1533
Website: <http://www.objet.com>

Roland DGA Corporation
15363 Barranca Parkway
Irvine, California 92618
Phone: (949) 727-2100
Toll free: (800) 542-2307
Website: <http://www.rolanddga.com>

Stratasys Inc.
7665 Commerce Way
Eden Prairie, MN 55344
Phone: (800) 937-3010
(952) 937-3000
(888) 480-3548 (Information Line)
Fax: (952) 937-0070
Website: <http://www.stratasys.com>
Additional Useful Information

Tactile Pictures: Pictorial Representations for the Blind, 1784-1940
Author: Yvonne Eriksson
Publisher: ACTA Universitatis Gothoburgensis (January 1998)
ISBN-10: 9173463299
ISBN-13: 9789173463294

BST systems require users manually to remove plastic support material. Models with moving parts cannot be created.
SST systems use a liquid bath to remove support material. Models with moving parts can be created.
Autocad website: <http://usa.autodesk.com/autocad/>
ArtCam website: <http://www.artm.com>

Google SketchUp website: <http://sketchup.google.com>


Just Their Dad

by Chris Kuell

From the Editor: The following article appeared in the Winter 2012 Minnesota Bulletin, a publication of the NFB of Minnesota. It is what all blind parents hope for as we seek to raise our blind children and influence them and those around them about our capabilities. This article begins with the editor’s note from the Bulletin:

Editor’s Note: This is the winner of the 2011 Metro Chapter essay contest.

I received a great report from my daughter’s kindergarten teacher this morning. Not that it was a surprise, but good to hear nonetheless. The teacher came over to me as Grace was busy putting away her coat and backpack in her cubby. She said, “Grace is such a great kid. Her reading skills have just skyrocketed in the last month. She is really getting it. And all the kids love her. I’ll be sad when she moves on to first grade.”

Beaming with pride, I thanked her, made some small talk, and hugged Grace before walking my son to his third-grade class. There was a rousing “Hello Mr. Kuell!” as his teacher greeted me. “Did Nick tell you he was the Multiplication King?” the teacher asked. I informed her that indeed he had, and then I gave him a hug and was on my way.

Heading down the long hallway towards the door, I heard a small voice to my side say “What’s that?”

Hearing no other response, I assumed the kid was talking to me. “This thing?” I responded. “This is my cane.”

“What’s it for?” asked the inquisitive voice.

Knowing I had only a minute before reaching the exit, I gave the simple answer, “My eyes don’t work. I use the cane to feel where I am going.”

“You can’t see anything?” came the astonished youngster’s response.

“Nope, nothing,” I answered.

“Oh” said the child. A few steps later, the kid gave me a cheery “Bye.” I bid him good-bye, and then headed out of the school into the fresh air.

When I lost my sight four years ago, I never could have envisioned such a pleasant drop-off. Amid the anxiety of losing my sight, my job, and my career, I felt helpless regarding raising the children. When my daughter was born, I was blind in one eye but the other could see what a beauty she was. By Christmas that same year everything was a blur for me; I couldn’t really make out what gifts were what. For the first time I couldn’t see the joy on my kids’ faces as they opened their loot. My vision was really going downhill. I needed surgery on my better eye a few months later, and, while I was hopeful, there was still lingering doubt. On the day before the operation, I tried to hold my daughter still, and I got about four inches from her face to try to see her as best I could. Being a kid, she thought I was playing, so she squirmed and rolled, and I never did get a good look at her. My son had just turned five at the time, and he was a little more cooperative. That was the last time I ever saw my children visually.

So how does one move from this heart-wrenching melodrama to the nice morning I had today? How can a blind parent help to educate his or her children and give a positive impression to others? It’s not that hard. The answer is through persistence, creativity, and a positive attitude.

You have to believe you can do it. This is fairly logical--thousands of other people do it every day. You have to work at the essential blind skills; they are necessary to do what you want to in life, plus mastering them will build your confidence for tackling new stuff. And you have to be creative. Unless you have a blind friend at your side 24/7, you are going to have to figure stuff out on your own. Remember, necessity is the mother of invention.

My wife and I both worked with our son to teach him the alphabet and basic phonics, and at age four he was beginning to read simple things. Now he excels at all his schoolwork, which we attribute to his early reading. So, when Grace turned three, I tried to figure out a way that we could give her the same head start. I took some old business cards and wrote a letter in bold marker on the back of the card. I used my slate and stylus to make the letter in Braille, so in effect I made blind-friendly flash cards. We used to play games in which she would memorize the letters. After she got the upper-case letters down, we did lower case and started working on sounds. This took a while longer, but soon she caught on. A year or so ago I started making word cards, emphasizing families of sounds. For example, at, cat, bat, rat, and sat are the “at” family. We also worked on the basic, much-encountered words like the, and, but, you, etc. In time she developed a good sight vocabulary. My wife and son often read with her, and together we listened to books on tape. As her teacher said, in the last month everything has really started to click, and she is reading.

I taught both my son and daughter basic addition and subtraction at the kitchen table and in the bathtub. I started by having them learn to count—fingers and toes, crackers, whatever. Then in the kitchen I’d give them a few grapes, have them count them, then give them some more and count again. This quickly evolved into an addition game. After that came subtraction. If I gave them twelve cheese doodles and they ate seven, how many were left? This stuff was reinforced during bath time when I quizzed them with problems and they tried to answer both correctly and quickly. My son is very good at doing math in his head, while Grace is still relying on her fingers a lot. But that is OK; she understands the concepts and can do problems more and more without manipulatives. By a combination of a lot of innate intelligence and bathtub grilling, Nicholas has memorized the multiplication table and now reigns king of the third grade.

Finding games to play with kids takes a bit of imagination and a lot of patience. Playing with cars and trucks, setting up blocks and bowling them over with a tennis ball just came naturally for me. Doing arts and crafts is a little trickier, but I have a sighted memory of most things, so with a pad of colored construction paper, some scissors, and white glue we can create just about anything. Both of my kids and I love playing cards, which is possible using Braille playing cards. I don’t know too many card games, and I soon became weary of Go Fish. So at a very early age my kids learned to play poker, which provided a natural opportunity to work once again on their math skills.

The possibilities for learning and having fun with kids as a blind or visually impaired adult are limited only by your desire and imagination. My kids are well adjusted and smart and overall just great people. They bring me a great deal of pride and help me in many ways to become a better person. I honestly believe I would not have come as far as I have if not for the challenge of being a good dad to Nick and Grace. To them I’m not a blind guy or the man with the long white stick; I’m just their dad, and a very lucky one at that.


The Gift of Giving
The Braille Readers Are Leaders Contest: A Parent’s Perspective

by Marianne Dunn

From the Editor: Marianne Dunn is the parent of a blind child who wrote to thank the National Federation of the Blind for the work we are doing for her blind daughter and for all who are blind. Not only is her article a wonderful testament to what we try to do, but it captures the spirit of giving that is necessary for us to continue to grow, both individually and organizationally. Here is what she says:

I am the parent of twin teenagers who are blind due to retinopathy of prematurity. Elizabeth and Michael are now fifteen years old, and each has had the opportunity to attend programs at the Jernigan Institute over the past year. Most recently Elizabeth, who likes to be called Lizzie, has participated in the Braille Readers Are Leaders Community Service Award competition, which recognizes the use of Braille in community service. Regardless of whether she receives this honor, she has been a winner many times over in ways far more important than she or I could have imagined. As a result Lizzie and I have both felt compelled to write about this experience from our positions as parent and contestant. We’ve chosen the title “The Gift of Giving,” to convey our personal experience of what we have come to learn is one of the key tenets of the NFB’s mission in advancing the capabilities of blind people and in correcting misconceptions about blindness.

By way of background, we are relative newcomers to the NFB. I had heard of the organization growing up because it was one that my parents supported as veterans of WWII, aware of soldiers returning home with blindness. It was also familiar because I grew up in a Baltimore suburb before my family relocated to Michigan. Though it’s fascinating to observe the way life builds connections for us, I could never have predicted that blindness or the NFB would come to factor so significantly in my life or the lives of my children.

My awareness of the NFB remained fairly remote when my children were young. In Michigan we are fortunate to have two groups that support parents of blind children: POBC and MPVI or Michigan Parents of Children with Visual Impairment. For a variety of reasons my primary affiliation as a parent of blind children has been with MPVI though we have attended a few NFB of Michigan state conventions over the years and have enjoyed many friendships with adult Federationists.

Though membership in the NFB was years off, the Federation spirit was beginning to be formed quite early for Lizzie and Michael. As preschoolers they joined me, along with Michigan Federationists like Fred and Mary Wurtzel, to protest at Michigan State University in an effort to reverse the school’s decision to close its premier training program for teachers of the visually impaired. Michael and Lizzie, huddled together in their Burley stroller, could be heard shouting, “We’ve got Braille; we need teachers!”

While I consider myself fortunate in the support I found through my affiliation with MPVI, as my children have grown, the focus has shifted appropriately from my needs as their parent to their own needs in becoming stronger self-advocates and independent young adults. They now assume more of the decisions for the paths their lives will take and for the identity they wish to form as members of the community of blind adults.

Enter the NFB. Lizzie attended the LAW [Leadership and Advocacy in Washington] Program last April, returning home more inspired than ever to champion the cause of those facing unfair treatment or prejudice. She had taken part in the Michigan Youth in Government program, but the opportunity to advocate at the national level was a thrill for her. We are strong social justice advocates, and her participation at LAW reinforced this. Michael attended the Computer Science Academy last October and was struck by the personal interest that both President Maurer and Mark Riccobono conveyed to him and other attendees in ensuring that the goals of the Federation apply in a direct way to them as blind youth. It is evident that the Federation’s goals of self-determination and advocacy are becoming more fully integrated for them both.

Lizzie and Michael attend East Grand Rapids High School, which ranks consistently among the top performing schools in the nation. This coming fall every student will be using a digital device such as a laptop, iPad, etc., in class to augment instruction. Both Lizzie and Michael had questions for their principal regarding the accessibility of the instructional sites that will be used in the classroom. They have decided to draft a letter to each member of our school board and send it along with a copy of the joint letter from the Departments of Justice and Education, (DCL, 2010), requiring that technology be accessible in K-12 as well as postsecondary education. It was through the NFB that we learned about this communiqué, and we received a copy of it from Jernigan Institute Director of Education Natalie Shaheen. Lizzie and Michael will follow up their letter with a presentation to the school board to ensure that members are apprised of existing law as it relates to technology and web-instruction at East Grand Rapids. It is exciting for a parent to witness such self-advocacy. However, I’m not certain that Michael and Lizzie would feel as empowered as they do regarding their plan had they not attended programs at the NFB and experienced first-hand the value the organization places on them as young blind adults deserving of equality in all aspects of life, but especially in their education.

When we learned of the Community Service portion of the BRAL [Braille Readers Are Leaders] Contest last fall, Lizzie decided to enter and share some of the ways she engages in service activities, given that service to others through church and community affiliations has always been a priority for our family. The idea of focusing on the use of Braille in these activities was exciting to Lizzie. She and her twin brother are musicians (Lizzie a pianist/composer and Michael a pianist/bagpiper), so they have performed at countless fundraising events over the years, making in-kind donations of their time and talent. The difference I have observed for Lizzie as a result of the BRAL Contest is that she has acquired a new way of looking at these and other acts of service in which she engages. She felt empowered for example, by demonstrating her proficiency with the Braille Music Code to stunned observers, who were clearly impressed by the fact that the blind community has developed its own methods of recording and performing music. As a lector in our church, both she and fellow parishioners gained greater appreciation for the importance of Braille in allowing her to participate more fully by reading scripture from the display on her BrailleNote Apex. A subtle but profound shift in her identity as a young blind woman has been taking place.

Lizzie also served as statistician for her high school girls field hockey team last fall. She used Braille to record all manner of statistics, relayed to her by team members from the bench. Compiling and organizing these data, she then emailed to her coaches a more complete set of game statistics than they ever expected to receive. Team spirit and unity were strengthened as players relayed to Lizzie the action on the field, and a new appreciation for the commonalities between them sprouted. As we all know, one of the most powerful ways to break down barriers of misunderstanding is to experience how similar we are to someone we previously thought of as different.

All of these I consider to be gifts of giving. However, they pale in comparison to the experience for Lizzie of receiving letters from the six different adults who observed or recorded her acts of community service. The Contest requires letters to be submitted by individuals familiar with the community service activity of the contestant. One by one, as these letters of recommendation were received and read, Lizzie felt proud of course, but, more noteworthy, she learned of the significant impact her efforts had had on others and the extent to which these were noted and valued. The contributions she had made became much more tangible and real because of the words of praise and appreciation those letters contained. I observed a shift in the way she viewed herself and what she has to offer to those around her. She has written of the experience and hopes to share with others.

For my part, I am writing to convey the perspective of the parent of blind children and the gratitude I feel for the ways that the NFB lives out its commitment to our blind youth, making gifts to our children of their own time, talent, and treasure, ensuring that a better world and better life lie before them. Through this experience of the BRAL Community Service Award competition, I have come to appreciate more fully how the act of service and the giving of one’s self is particularly empowering for the individuals, such as blind people, who are often perceived by society as requiring aid, assistance, even pity, instead of as the fully participating and contributing community members they can be. I believe the act of choosing to give of oneself is a profound statement of self-worth and serves to equalize one’s position with those around him or her, changing attitudes and perceptions in the only way they can be changed, through action, not just words.

As I consider it, I am struck by the observation that service to others is one of the few areas in a blind person’s life not restricted by the barriers and misconceptions of society. There is no need for legislation or regulation to ensure the right to engage in acts of kindness and service to one’s community. It is liberating to embrace such a notion, and it is what I have discovered is alive and well in the NFB. I am humbled by the commitment shown to my children and all blind youth and the sincere intention, through action, of paving a better way for those coming after. The investment in the future of a blind child is no small gift to a parent. I find great comfort in knowing the Federation will be there, not only to foster the goals of independence, but also to shepherd the philosophy of service. Selfless giving is truly a measure of high character, and it comes from a place of humility born of genuine self-worth and personal confidence--all part of the mission and intention embodied in the NFB as we have come to experience it.

So, while Lizzie was doing the giving, it was she who garnered the gift. Likewise, as her parent I have been given a far more substantial appreciation of the commitment of the members of the NFB to my children and all blind youth; of the many members who dutifully support the organization, sometimes stretching their budgets, so that the blind youth of tomorrow will be better prepared for a life of independence and self-sufficiency, ready to give back to their communities through service alongside their sighted neighbors and coworkers. It’s not only a gift, it’s every parent’s dream.


The Gift of Giving
The Braille Readers Are Leaders Contest: The Student Perspective

by Elizabeth Kazmierski

From the Editor: Now here is Lizzie’s view of the story:

I have always had the opportunity to share good deeds with others in many places and many ways. I hope that these everyday-life contributions encourage feelings of giving. This year I participated in the Braille Readers Are Leaders Contest, for the Community Service Award. I heard about it from news we get because my twin brother and I are members of the NFB and have been to Baltimore for programs for blind students. One of my first full contributions to the NFB was performing an original composition for piano entitled “Summit,” written for Erik Weihenmayer, the blind mountain climber. It was recorded on the first Sound in Sight compilation by the NFB Performing Arts Division. I had the opportunity to play the piece for Erik at a fundraiser in Detroit in 2006. As a composer, I write most of my pieces for others who have touched my life, especially involving blindness.

In April of last year I participated in the LAW [Leadership and Advocacy in Washington] Program at the Jernigan Institute, during which I advocated for the Technology Bill of Rights for the Blind to congressional staffers. My group members and I went from office to office discussing the bill. A month ago I got to put the skills I learned at LAW into practice, because of our governor's decision to abolish the Michigan Commission for the Blind. We marched with members of the NFB of Michigan and the Michigan Parents of the Visually Impaired outside the governor's office for a protest, and then we visited senators and representatives to make the views of the NFB known. I was even able to help some adults talk to legislators. It was powerfully nice to use the skills I learned through the LAW Program in a very important way.

Last fall I chose to participate in my high school girls’ field hockey team as a statistician. The other girls would give me details about plays, penalties, and substitutions; then I would record these details on my BrailleNote. Being part of the team, I was included in every activity, and I helped out while the parents and coaches learned about Braille and how blind people could take part in the team. As a teenager might say, “It was awesome,” when the team formed a huddle with their sticks up and I held up my cane too, feeling part of the team. This experience was enjoyable for me and everyone who saw me copying down every little detail in Braille.

During the spring of last year I helped to raise money for the American Cancer Society by playing piano at a restaurant in our town and also displaying Braille music to the public. All of the people who watched thought of the alternative Braille code as impressive, and it was a lot of fun showing them about reading Braille music.

Another activity I did as part of the Community Service Award contest was reading Bible excerpts for the weekday service at our church. The people in our congregation and the priest were delighted to see me reading the lines of important text as it ran across the display of my BrailleNote Apex and speaking out to spread the Word. In the priest's letter he wrote for the contest, Father Jim talked about how touched he was to see me take in simple words through my fingers, and then breathe out a scripture, communicating the important message it had to say.

These were some of the activities I participated in for the Braille Readers Are Leaders Community Service Award. I had to have letters of recommendation from people who knew about the various service activities I did. Each of these people emphasized the importance of my spirit in the process of using Braille to help other people. It made me feel proud to read the letters, and the words also encouraged me to think of other ways I could help out in my community to eliminate barriers put up by people who do not know blindness as I see it. I hope my service pays forward and inspires other people, but it was neat to get paid back with letters in which almost every word was a compliment. I'm glad the NFB has a contest that promotes service and using Braille, especially because people can learn more about what blind individuals are capable of and what they can accomplish. When we give to other people, gifts get paid back to us in return.


Mobility on a College Campus

by Sherry Frank

From the Editor: Sherry Frank is a mobility instructor in Pennsylvania. Like many other travel teachers she frequently works with incoming college students to master their new campuses. The following article describes a problem becoming more and more common. She does not offer a solution, and indeed probably no one solution is possible. Confidence and creativity, as always, lie at the heart of every mobility solution. That said, it is useful to consider her point that accessible spaces for people with orthopedic impairments are generally less accessible for travelers using white canes and guide dogs. This is what she says:

Learning to travel independently around an unfamiliar college campus is challenging, even for a skilled veteran cane traveler. Recently a graduate student needed to be oriented to a new college campus, and, though she was an expert independent traveler, this proved to be complicated and extremely frustrating. The university in question is rated #5 on the list of most handicapped-accessible universities in the U.S. However, as this student observed, handicapped-accessible refers primarily to wheelchairs, and, if an environment is wheelchair accessible, it tends to be visually impaired inaccessible.

In order to make an area wheelchair accessible, architects create lots of wide open spaces so that wheelchairs will not bump into obstacles. On the streets they make wide curb cuts so that the chairs can cross the street more easily and in more places. Sidewalks are often as wide as ten feet or more, and tend to run seamlessly into the street. Landmarks are frequently removed because they get in the way of wheelchairs. Blind travelers use landmarks to maintain orientation as they travel. Examples are trees, street signs, trash cans, sidewalks with grass shorelines, etc.

The college student with whom I was working needed to travel to a building a long way down one street. She found that her only sensible option was to follow the curb. She learned to count the curb cuts along the way in order to find her destination. This was difficult, however, because some of the curb cuts were twenty to thirty feet long. When she came close to the building she was looking for, she could usually rely on traffic sounds, the voices of students, and the sounds of doors opening and closing to provide directional guidance to the building’s entrance. However, these cues were often absent between classes and in the evenings.

This student learned to find her way from her dormitory to the student center, dining hall, classroom buildings, and bus stop. Negotiating this college campus was challenging for her to learn and for me to teach. Ironically, we both concluded that it would have been a great deal easier for a visually impaired traveler to negotiate a campus that was not handicapped accessible. The time has surely come for students, faculty, and university administrators to work together with engineers and landscape designers to devise ways to provide cues for blind travelers that do not complicate the lives of wheelchair users as well as barrier-free pathways that do not provide hazards to blind travelers.


Cheryl Echevarria Founder, Echevarria Travel–Advocate for the Blind

by Beverly Fortune

From the Editor: Cheryl Echevarria demonstrates every day that blind people can and do live full and satisfying lives. On February 15, 2012, the Long Island Press published a story about Cheryl and her life and business. Here it is:

Cheryl Echevarria is blind and might not be able to sightsee like everyone else, yet this intrepid Brentwood woman loves to travel. She relies on her service dog Maxx; her heightened sense of smell, touch, and sound; and the confidence that comes from traveling often.

Born with Type 1 diabetes, Cheryl was twenty-two years old when she was diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy, a common diabetic eye disease that is the leading cause of blindness in American adults. Her life changed forever one night in 2001 when she was driving home from her job as an administrative assistant and suddenly her vision became completely blurry. “I had to pull over. I couldn’t see.”

Cheryl’s doctor told her that, if her diabetes was affecting her eyes, it would also affect other organs in her body. Subsequently her kidneys began to fail as well. In 2002 she began kidney dialysis four hours a day three times a week. Her treatments continued for three years until she went through another life-altering experience when her friend Steve Carroll donated a kidney to her.

Once Cheryl recuperated from the organ transplant, she was determined to go back to work. During her dialysis treatments, she lost her sight completely in one eye. She says her remaining sight is “like looking through a telescope hole covered in thick plastic.” She enrolled in a training program provided by the New York State Commission for the Blind and Visually Handicapped (CBVH), where she learned new job skills, including how to use computer software for the blind. After completing the program, she was ready for the next step in her recovery, which was to go back to school. She began taking classes at Branford Hall Career Institute in Bohemia and became the school’s first blind student to graduate. She found an administrative job in the healthcare field, where she worked for two years.

Cheryl felt that she had lost ten years of her life being sick and was ready to transition into a new career. She began scouring the Internet for new connections. “I found the National Federation of the Blind online and joined the Greater Long Island Chapter,” she says. The NFB is the largest nonprofit organization in the world for the blind that is operated by the blind. Cheryl now serves as the treasurer of the chapter, adding that all officers must be blind. “We are advocates for education, employment, and accessibility,” Cheryl says proudly. “We advocate for ourselves; we don’t hire anyone.”

After searching through the Federation’s resources, she decided that becoming a travel agent would be a good career choice. She loved to travel, and she could work from home. “I have a background in customer service and sales, so this was a good fit,” she says. After completing her job training online, Cheryl started working through a host travel agency, confident that becoming a travel agent was the right career move.

In 2009 Cheryl and her husband Nelson founded Echevarria Travel. Cheryl says Nelson is an integral part of the agency and is the photographer and videographer for the travel images used on its website. “As far as I know, I’m the only blind travel agent in the tri-state area,” she says. She was recently elected president of the NFB’s Travel and Tourism Division.

Cheryl’s blindness has given her insight into the planning required to ensure a pleasurable trip for her clients. Her agency offers services to everyone, but her specialty is the traveler who is blind or on dialysis or in a wheelchair or has had an organ transplant. As a survivor of all of these illnesses, Cheryl is uniquely qualified to help them plan a trip. “I know what disabled travelers need and the questions to ask them,” she says. “What’s your degree of blindness? Do you use a cane?” If travel plans include a cruise, she wants to know if the client can read Braille. “I ask because not everyone does,” she explains. “If they don’t [read Braille], I contact the cruise line and make sure they get a meet-and-greet and tour of the ship so they can familiarize themselves with their surroundings,” she says. If they plan on traveling with a service animal, Cheryl explains that they will need to go to their vet to get a health certificate and they need to secure a permit to bring the animal into another country.

The cruise industry has taken notice of this newly mobile customer base and is making vessels more accessible so sight-impaired travelers can acclimate themselves quickly. Cheryl has been working closely with Norwegian Cruise Lines and says she helped them introduce Braille menus on their ships.

No two visually impaired people have the same level of functional vision, so Cheryl helps her clients overcome some of the red tape they might encounter to ensure that they have a good experience. All of this pre-travel preparation includes additional paperwork that she helps her clients complete as part of her services. Understanding the requirements and information needed for traveling today is invaluable. As a travel advocate and advisor for the blind, Cheryl has opened up a world of new experiences for these sensory travelers that might have been out of reach before.


Life in the Mainstream
2012 National Organization of Parents of Blind Children (NOPBC)
Conference for Families and Teachers

by Laura Bostick

From the Editor: For many years now one of the most lively and creative elements of our national conventions has been the group of activities planned by the NOPBC for parents and teachers of blind children and the youth activities that go with them. Here is NOPBC President Laura Bostick’s intriguing glimpse of the 2012 parent conference during our national convention:

Every student can learn, just not on the same day or the same way.
--George Evans

My daughter Lindsay began receiving early intervention services from a teacher of blind students, an orientation and mobility specialist, an occupational therapist, and an early childhood specialist when she was four months old. When she turned three, she entered the public school system and attended preschool programs for children with disabilities, where she continued to receive services. By the time she entered kindergarten, she was receiving an hour per day of Braille instruction. She’s a bright, curious child who loves to learn; she was in an excellent school district; and she had caring teachers who truly wanted her to succeed. Things weren’t perfect, but I really wasn’t too concerned. She was keeping up and making good grades, and she seemed to be on track.

Imagine my surprise when she started falling behind. At the end of second grade she was no longer reading on grade level. She lost confidence. She didn’t want to read aloud in class because her reading was so much slower than that of the other kids. She began to say that she hated reading and she hated school, and, when I asked her why, she told me that she didn’t think she was very smart. It broke my heart.

Lindsay’s story is not unique. Many of our blind kids start out on track and then fall behind. Countless others begin school with delays and are told that being behind is normal for a visually impaired child. Why is this slow progress accepted? If a child with normal eyesight began falling behind, would a different set of questions be asked? Would a different set of interventions be put in place?

At this year’s conference, Life in the Mainstream, we’ll examine the strategies that are known to assist struggling sighted readers and explore how these interventions can be applied to children with visual impairments. For our younger children and those with multiple disabilities, we’ll examine movement and exploration, active learning, and items and ideas that can facilitate learning at home and in school. We’ll also take a look at access to the newest technology, independent mobility, the skills of daily life, tactile graphics, and other topics that can enable our children, whatever their level, to be full participants in school and in the community. In addition to activities for children and youth, we’ll feature our annual IEP workshops, recognition of our Braille Readers Are Leaders Contest participants, and presentations by NASA, eminent leaders of the National Federation of the Blind, and the winner of the Distinguished Educator of Blind Children Award.

The 2012 NOPBC Conference, Life in the Mainstream, will take place at the NFB national convention in Dallas, Texas, from June 30 to July 5. All families and teachers of blind and visually impaired children are welcome, and we have planned activities for everyone. Highlights for parents and teachers include:

Hope to see you there!


NFB Camp Convention Adventures

by Carla McQuillan

From the Editor: The childcare service at NFB conventions has for many years now been known as NFB Camp. Here are a description of this year’s program, the schedule of camp hours, and various registration forms and permission slips. If you are considering placing your youngsters in childcare, please read the following information carefully and note that the deadline for registration, assuming that capacity has not already been reached, is June 15. Here is the information:

If you are between the ages of six weeks and twelve years, NFB Camp is the place to be at national convention in Dallas. During meetings and general convention sessions NFB Camp will be open for fun. Our camp rooms are divided by age with toys and activities appropriate to the ages served in each room. We have rooms for infants and toddlers, preschoolers, and school-age children. The infants and toddlers spend much of their time in the room with occasional walks around the hotel and stories read from Braille books. The preschool group will enjoy Braille story time, a few arts-and-craft projects, and small group play on the hotel lawns. The school-age children will have special-guest presentations on writing stories, science and technology, music and movement, and blind people employed in various professions. In addition, we will have daily excursions to the hotel lawns for outdoor games and water play.

Special Outdoor Activity

This year, on Tuesday, July 3, we will be bringing in a giant inflatable obstacle course to explore and experience. The course will include several obstacles to climb over, through, and around, ending in a giant slide. This activity will be available for preschool and elementary-aged children during the morning sessions.

Even non-campers are invited to join in.

Children who are not signed up for NFB Camp for the day may come during the lunch break, 12:00-2:00, with the following conditions:
1)         Children must be accompanied by an adult who stays the entire time the child plays.
2)         A waiver of responsibility must be signed by a parent or guardian (available at NFB Camp and at the course site).
3)         A fee of $1 per course run-through will be charged. Tickets may be purchased at the NFB Camp desk before the event. Tickets can be purchased on site, availability permitting.
4)         Children must go through the course in stocking feet or barefoot.
5)         NFB Camp reserves the right to deny participation to any individual who poses a safety threat or concern.

Banquet Night

NFB Campers will enjoy their own banquet night activities beginning with an evening meal. Afterwards the children will be dazzled by the exotic animals of the Creature Teacher. Hairless guinea pigs, iguanas, and hedgehogs are just a few of the animals in the Creature Teacher's hands in this educational presentation. Immediately following the creature teacher's lesson, the children will relax with a movie and popcorn.

NFB Workers

NFB Camp is under the supervision of Carla McQuillan, a longtime member of the Federation. Carla is the executive director of Main Street Montessori Association, operating three Montessori schools and a teacher education program. She has directed NFB camp since 1996. Alison McQuillan serves as the activities and staff coordinator for the camp. She monitors the daily programs, drop-off and pick-up, staff-to-child ratios, and ensures that only parents and authorized adults are allowed into camp rooms.

Each of the three camp rooms has a supervisor who is responsible for the activities of that age group. These leads are chosen because of their experience and demonstrated capacity to handle groups of children and workers. They are staff members of Carla's schools. Other workers and camp volunteers are drawn from within the NFB. We usually have a mix of blind and sighted teens and adults who trade off for the working shifts throughout the week.

Blindness Professional on Staff

Michelle Chacon is a certified orientation and mobility instructor and a teacher of blind children. She will be available throughout the week to consult with parents and staff as well as to provide some individualized instruction for our campers.

Babysitting List

NFB Camp maintains a list of people who are interested in providing care outside of the scheduled hours for camp. The list is at the check-in desk for NFB Camp. Parents are welcome to review names on the list if they are in need of caregivers during off hours. NFB Camp and the National Federation of the Blind are not responsible for the actions and behavior of those on the babysitting list. We do not screen the people; we merely maintain a central list for the convenience of convention attendees.


Because of the limited space we require that parents wishing to enroll their children in NFB Camp complete and return the registration forms to follow no later than June 15, 2012. You may also e-mail or call to reserve your child(ren)'s space: <[email protected]> or (541) 726-6924. Any questions can be directed to Carla McQuillan at the same address, email, and phone.


Completed form and fees must be received on or before June 15, 2010.

Parent’s Name________________________________________________
City__________ State___________ Zip______ Phone _______________
Cell Phone _______________ Cell Phone _______________
Child(ren)’s Name(s)
___________________________ Age_____ Date of Birth___________
___________________________ Age_____ Date of Birth___________
___________________________ Age_____ Date of Birth___________
Include description of any disabilities or allergies we should know about:
Who, other than parents, is allowed to pick up your child(ren)?__________
Per Week: $100 first child, $75 per sibling; no. of children_____ $_________
(Does not include banquet)
Per Day: $25 per child per day
No. of Days_____ x $25 per child; no. of children _____ $_________
(Does not include banquet) S M T W TH (circle)
Banquet: $25 per child; no. of children _____ $_________
_____Turkey Sandwich _____Cheese Sandwich

We understand that NFB Camp is being provided as a service to make our convention more enjoyable for both parents and children. We will pick up children immediately following sessions. We understand that, if our child(ren) does not follow the rules or if for any reason staff are unable to care for our child(ren), further access to childcare will be denied.

Parent’s Signature _____________________________________ Date ______________

Make checks payable to NFB Camp. Return form to NFB Camp, 5005 Main Street, Springfield, OR 97478; (541) 726-6924; and <www.mainstreetmontessori.org>.

NFB Camp Schedule

NFB Camp will be open during general convention sessions, division and committee meeting day, and the evening of the banquet. The hours for NFB Camp are tentative. The actual hours will be based on the beginning and ending of sessions so that parents can drop off their children thirty minutes before the start of session and must pick up their children within thirty minutes of the end of session. On occasion the actual end or beginning of session may be earlier or later than the agenda indicates. We charge a $10 per quarter-hour per child late pick-up fee. NFB Camp provides morning and afternoon snacks. You must provide lunch for your children every day.

Date                                         NFB Camp Hours
Saturday, June 30th                 8:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m.–5:30 p.m.
Sunday, July 1st                      Camp is closed.
Monday, July 2nd                    8:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m.–5:30 p.m.
Tuesday, July 3rd                    9:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m.–5:30 p.m.
Wednesday, July 4th                8:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m.–5:30 p.m.
Thursday, July 5th                   8:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m.–5:30 p.m.
Thursday, Banquet                   6:30 p.m.–30 minutes after adjournment.

Times are tentative and will be based on thirty minutes after sessions adjourn. You are required to provide lunch for your child(ren) each day.

Giving a Dream

One of the great satisfactions in life is having the opportunity to assist others. Consider making a gift to the National Federation of the Blind to continue turning our dreams into reality. A gift to the NFB is not merely a donation to an organization; it provides resources that will directly ensure a brighter future for all blind people.

Seize the Future

The National Federation of the Blind has special giving opportunities that will benefit the giver as well as the NFB. Of course the largest benefit to the donor is the satisfaction of knowing that the gift is leaving a legacy of opportunity. However, gifts may be structured to provide more:

NFB programs are dynamic:

Your gift makes you a partner in the NFB dream. For further information or assistance, contact the NFB planned giving officer.


Up the Down, and Down the Up

by Dave Hyde

From the Editor: Dave Hyde is the professional development coordinator for the Wisconsin Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired. He has recently taken on part of the parent liaison responsibility for the state. He is also president of the Rock County Chapter and a member of the affiliate board of directors. As you will read, his Federation experience stretches back over several decades. This gives him a useful perspective on the education of blind children. This is what he says:

I recently spent a weekend with a little girl and her cane. That is a normal thing in the National Federation of the Blind. Blind children, like blind adults, use canes. The children learn that, if used properly, the cane hits things before they do and locates obstacles, even when those obstacles are human. For them the cane is a normal part of life, not remarkable at all. How things have changed.

When I was about eight, I asked a teacher why only the big boys got to use canes. They sounded neat as they tapped their way around campus. I was told that I’d get one someday, but it was more important that I use what vision I had; otherwise I would come to depend on the cane. I accepted this because, after all, it was uttered by an adult who should know. I got my cane at thirteen. I learned to use it in unfamiliar areas and to put it in the closet when not taking orientation and mobility lessons. I rarely used it on campus; after all, I knew the campus. But I liked that tapping sound. It was a sign of being a teenager, so I used it whenever I could. The cane went through a number of incarnations. It telescoped, it folded, it broke, it got heavier and lighter. It got traded for a dog guide but always lived in the house somewhere. It was, after all, a mark of being an adult.

In 1983 I was in a meeting in Kansas City at one of our national conventions. Someone had brought a two-year-old into the meeting, and, like most children of that age, he had gotten bored with the interesting discussion the adults were having. He got up and was walking around. As he passed by me, he hit me with something. Reaching down, I discovered a very short (about the right length for a two-year-old) cane, with a toy hooked to the top. My exploration didn’t slow him down; he went on to locate the next obstacle, my neighbor to the left. Watching the kid, I was surprised that someone would give a cane to a child that young.

The next year we were in Phoenix. The temperature was higher than the national debt, and we were all glad to have meetings inside. Heading for one of them on Saturday morning, I passed a family with their four- or five-year-old daughter trying to negotiate the escalator. The little girl was determined that she was not going to ride that thing, and Mom and Dad were just as determined that she would. Her protests excited a lot of echoes in the lobby of the hotel, and, no matter how they coaxed, she wasn’t going on that moving staircase. Eventually, dad picked her up and, over her loud, shrill protests, carried her up to the second floor.

That week in Phoenix a few children were using canes. They were rare, but they were there. Every once in a while in an elevator, in a hall, or in the restaurant, I’d find a person under four feet tall using a cane. Some used it as a horse, some as a device to make interesting noises on things, and one budding percussionist tried to take mine away thinking that longer might mean louder, and with enough length he could out-do Louis Prima.

On the Saturday after the convention, I again found myself in contact with the little girl and her family. I was in fact stopped by her father, who asked me to wait at the top of the escalator and catch his daughter. It seems that she had discovered not only independence, but timing. If she got on the up before her father got off the down, he could never catch her. I did end her new game and reveled in the change that had taken place in that week.

Most of us adults thought that the idea of getting canes that young was one of those things that, although we saw as good, some professional would find a way to squelch any move toward independence, and we’d go back to getting a cane some time close to puberty. But programs like that in New Mexico in the mid eighties, things like the children’s programs at our centers, and enlightened professionals in the field of orientation and mobility have proved us wrong. Children with canes are no longer a rarity. In fact, at national conventions they are common. For those who haven’t seen them, you should know that they frequently travel in packs and are rarely silent. They like to play, they like to swim, and they like to explore. It’s just like any other group of children, and the adult who is not alert is in peril of becoming an obstacle to travel. Those who got their canes around the time of their first date can only marvel and regret.

It is now almost thirty years since that toddler in Kansas found me with his cane. I now work with blind children and also with orientation and mobility professionals. Recently a colleague came in after visiting a young child and giving him his first cane. The boy was about two. She decided that it would be a good thing for the whole family to use canes to show how normal it was. She took pictures and proudly showed them to us over lunch. I smiled and found it hard not to break into a wide grin. To her giving a cane to a toddler is exactly what she should do. She makes books with Braille and pictures talking about the cane and how much fun it is. I don’t know if she is as excited as I am to see how much of a regular part of life she is making it, but I know that she is happy with what the children and the parents are learning about blindness. Now the whole family is learning that the cane and blindness are a normal part of life. If asked, she will tell you that she owes a lot to Joe Cutter, who was a pioneer in the orientation of young children and continues to contribute to the field.

So what can these children look forward to when they are starting with a tool that many of us found only as teenagers? I really have no idea. They will have different problems to solve than I did. I do know that, at least for me, the joy with which I watch them run and play in the unquestioning assurance that that cane will keep them safe is tinged with just a bit of envy. They are learning at their tender age lessons with which I struggled in high school and college. The best thing I can do is to celebrate their freedom and know that they have it because people my age did the things that were necessary to make it happen. So in every pod of cane-wielding children that runs past me, augmenting the sound of their canes with the delight of their voices, goes a part of you and a part of me. Yet people still ask, “Why the National Federation of the Blind?”

Featured Book from the Jacobus tenBroek Library

From the Editor: With some regularity we spotlight books in the tenBroek Library. Here is Librarian Ed Morman's review of a book in our collection:

Blind Justice, by Bruce Alexander, New York: Putnam, 1994

Reviewed by Ed Morman

In his 1973 banquet speech, “Blindness: Is History Against Us?,” Kenneth Jernigan credited two books, both published in the nineteenth century, for much of what he had discovered about blind people in history. Those books—James Wilson’s Biography of the Blind and William Artman’s Beauties and Achievements of the Blind—provide information on dozens of important blind men and women. Jernigan had so many notables to choose from (not to mention all of those who flourished after these two books were published) that he can be forgiven for leaving some of them out. Later, as editor of this magazine, he made up for omitting Sir John Fielding (1721 to 1780) by publishing a short article, “The Blind Beak of Bow Street,” in the June 1984 issue.

Those familiar with the article (which was reprinted in the Kernel Book, Toothpaste and Railroad Tracks, and again in the June 1995 Monitor) may remember that Fielding was blinded by an accident at age 19 while in the Royal Navy. He later worked as an assistant to his half-brother, the novelist Henry Fielding, before succeeding Henry as chief magistrate in London.

The magistrates’ responsibility was to investigate crime and determine whether to hold suspects for trial, and the Fieldings are credited with introducing innovative criminal detection methods to the work of the magistrate’s office. They established London’s first quasi-professionalized police force, the “Bow Street Runners” (so named because they operated out of the Fielding house on Bow Street) more than fifty years before the founding of Scotland Yard; they established a department of criminal records; and, using those records, they published the periodical, Police Gazette, which described habitual criminals and helped identify suspects. Why they were called “beaks” is uncertain but may be related to the odd headgear physicians used to wear during plague outbreaks. In any case, in eighteenth-century London the slang term “beak” was applied to judges, magistrates, and others in positions of authority.

The historical John Fielding seems to have taken little notice of his blindness. Living decades before Louis Braille (and centuries before trained dog guides or the long white cane), he was dependent on sighted assistants for both mobility and reading—but he knew how to incorporate his assistants’ visual perceptions into his own understanding of crime scenes, and he used a highly developed talent for voice recognition to great advantage in his investigations. He was an astute questioner and was strict but empathic in his dealings with those brought before him. He understood that deprivation and lack of opportunity could lead the denizens of London’s slums to antisocial behavior, and he sought to ameliorate the bad conditions and assist those who could be rehabilitated.

John Fielding, then, was very much a real person, a blind man of talent and great accomplishment. In fact, so interesting was the historical Sir John that fictional accounts of his adventures abound. A character based on him appears in several TV shows, plays, and crime novels.

Here we take note of the first in a series of eleven fictional books devoted to him: the Sir John Fielding Mystery novels written by the late Bruce Alexander Cook (writing as Bruce Alexander). Blind Justice introduces us to the blind beak through the eyes of the narrator, an orphaned adolescent named Jeremy Proctor. Tricked by a confidence artist almost as soon as he sets foot in London the day after his father’s death, Jeremy is brought before Sir John as an accused pickpocket. It does not take long for Sir John to determine that the lad is innocent, and he soon recruits him to assist in a murder case.

Cook paints a believable picture of eighteenth-century London, including both the low-lifes brought before Sir John’s bench and the idle rich who are friends and family of the victim. There are prostitutes and pimps, playboys and slave traders, and literary figures like Samuel Johnson and James Boswell. Sir John is portrayed as a complete human being, not merely a proto-detective who happens to be blind. In this book he mourns the recent passing of his older brother, prepares himself for the death of his sickly wife, and puts up with a love affair between his housekeeper and one of his favorite constables. He encourages a young Irish Catholic physician who faces religious discrimination, and as magistrate he struggles with the contradictions between justice and mercy. In this fictionalized account Sir John knows how to train his assistants and how to make best use of their eyesight, but he also occasionally curses his own inclination to ignore his blindness. In other words, at times he could have used a long white cane; without one he sometimes trips, stumbles, or bumps into things.

Blind Justice is not great literature, but it is an enjoyable book to pick up for a quick read. Your librarian liked it enough to make sure we have the whole series in our collection. All eleven Sir John Fielding Mystery books are also currently available in accessible formats through the National Library Service and its network libraries.

Both of the history books cited by Kenneth Jernigan are available in accessible format through our library catalog, THE BLIND CAT <www.nfb.org/theblindcat>, and a modern edition of Biography of the Blind is available in Braille and Talking Book formats from the National Library Service.

Three nonfiction books devoted to Sir John and Henry Fielding appeared during the twentieth century, but none are yet in the tenBroek Library. A sale copy of one (The Life and Work of Sir John Fielding by R. Leslie-Melville) is proving hard to locate; the others (Hue and Cry: The Story of Henry and John Fielding and Their Bow Street Runners and Henry and Sir John Fielding--The Thief Catchers, both by Patrick Pringle) are currently on order. Unfortunately, we have not been able to identify a source of accessible copies of any of these.


NFB Krafters Division
Satisfy Your Artistic Flair or Make Some Extra Money

by Ramona Walhof

From the former Editor: I can’t count the times that I have spoken with a newly blind person who laments the loss of crafting as an inevitable consequence of blindness. I know that this does not have to be true, but, except for knitting, I am not an arts-and-crafts person, so I can give little hands-on advice or help. Ramona Walhof is a longtime Federation leader who has always enjoyed sewing, knitting, and other handcrafts. In the following article she describes the work of one of the NFB divisions with which she is active. Some readers will be interested in becoming members, but all of us should know about the Krafters’ work so that we can pass along the information to those who need to know about their work and learn how to keep active with the crafts they love. This is what Ramona says:

Although only three years old, the Krafters Division of the NFB is probably the most active of the thirty NFB divisions. Federationists may wish to know more about its activities, and some may wish to join.

President Joyce Kane from Connecticut has done crafts all her life. She knits, crochets, makes clothing and quilts with her sewing machine, does safety pin beading, and is interested in all sorts of other arts and crafts. Joyce lost her vision fourteen years ago and began looking for and creating techniques to do the things she had always enjoyed in order to continue doing them without vision. She joined the Federation and was soon elected to office in her chapter and state affiliate. She was president of her chapter in southern Connecticut for eight years. Joyce made contact with other blind crafters and found that most had experience and ideas to share. Several years ago she contacted President Maurer about forming an NFB division. He recommended she hold an organizing meeting at the 2008 convention.

Before that meeting Joyce had recruited officers and board members from all over the country. Dr. Maurer asked me to help the group write its constitution along the lines customarily followed by NFB divisions. I didn't think I had time for one more activity but was elected to the board and now serve as secretary. This division is different from others in which I have been active, and it is a lot of fun.

By the time of the organizing meeting in 2008, Cindy Sheets of Kentucky had agreed to develop a website: <www.KraftersKorner.org>. Laurie Porter of Wisconsin and some others had agreed to teach classes by conference telephone. Diane Filipe of Colorado brought handmade ceramic Braille pins to sell at the 2009 convention as the first division fundraiser. Before organizing, the group had already begun holding Monday night chats by conference phone calls each week, and in 2012 these chats continue.

The listserv, nfb-krafters-korner was established before the division was organized. Today approximately 150 people are subscribed to this list, and it is one of the most active of all the nfbnet lists now in operation. From 15 to 40 messages may appear on this list most days. Topics cover crafts from quilting to pottery, from crocheting to weaving, from making Christmas decorations to using the sewing machine. Some of the topics discussed during December of 2011 were candy wreaths, blocking knitted items, crafts that can be done one-handed for someone about to have surgery on her shoulder, crocheted cupcakes, snowmen made on the knifty knitter loom, gumdrop trees, sewing rags for rugs, and on and on. To join this list, go to <www.nfbnet.org> and select the link entitled Join or Drop NFBnet Mailing Lists.

President Kane is always eager to recruit volunteers to teach classes. Frequently three or four classes are taught by conference phone call each week. Some classes are complete in one hour, while others stretch over three or four lessons, each lasting from one to two hours. During 2011 twenty-nine classes were offered and completed. Anywhere from three to fifteen students can be in a class.

As usual Joyce was recruiting teachers and students last fall. After some thought I realized there might be some interest in machine sewing, but we had to find out whether members had access to sewing machines. It turned out that some people did. They had to learn how to thread their machines before the class began. We couldn't teach that by phone to people using a variety of machines. Each student in that class now has a new apron. Both Joyce and I were very pleased that we could explain the techniques by phone, and the students were also happy. As you might guess, Joyce is encouraging me to teach another class, this time on making T-shirts as a means of teaching techniques used to sew knitted or stretchy fabrics.

On the listserv, problems are posed and answered by other crafters. Members have learned new crafts and new methods. Newly blind people have gained confidence and ideas for pursuing the craft activities they wish to master.

We have heard many stories of individuals who have conquered fears or other problems. One member, Jewell Boll from Sheboygan, Wisconsin, sold her sewing machine when she lost her sight and is now excited about taking up sewing again. She wants to tell those who are newly blind not to become angry and frustrated. She says that, if she had been in touch with more blind people when she became blind, she would have done things differently. She is looking for a machine to purchase and has sought opinions on the listserv about various models.

Another member, Lynda Lambert from Pennsylvania, was a painter and was depressed and angry when she became blind about four years ago, but she is now enthusiastically producing large and beautiful pottery and beaded items. She held an art show displaying her work last fall and received compliments from those who visited. She also sold several pieces at satisfactory prices. You may wish to check out her website, <http://lyndalambert.com>. Lynda has a lot of ideas, and she entertains other listers as she shares her experiences. She says an artist just can't stop being an artist, even when she has to turn to a different art. Her standards are high, and that will not change. Lynda also knits and does other arts and crafts.

Another painter who lost her vision continued to knit dish cloths while recovering from her surgery, but this was not enough of an outlet for her love of art. After some training at BLIND, Incorporated, in Minnesota, Jeanny Nylander returned home to Lacrosse to find that her husband had bought her a potter's wheel. She had taken pottery in college and enjoyed it. She contacted Joyce Kane and Lynda Lambert through the Krafters Division, and pottery has become her new art. She is again making and selling art. Both Lynda and Jeanny are extremely complimentary about the opportunities they have discovered from each other and from the division. The two led a discussion about pottery for other crafters and taught a class in January of 2012 by conference call. They are planning to teach other classes in coming months. Both say that artists have a need to share ideas and techniques.

Another crafter, Jaselli Walter, uses clay that does not need to be fired. She has led a Monday night chat about this, and members are eager to learn more about what she does. Division members are encouraged to list items they have made for sale on the first and the fifteenth of each month. We have plans to make sales opportunities available on the website as soon as possible. The group also makes items for charities.

Becky Frankeberger from Washington State taught a Tunisian crochet class in January and February, using an email list.  Becky is a machine knitter and has gone into business selling items she has made. See her work at <www.butterflyknitting.com>. A write-up on her and her work appears on <www.KraftersKorner.org>.

Representatives from a group of blind quilters have joined the list, and I am sure we will learn more from them.

Division dues are ten dollars per year and may be paid directly to the treasurer, Diane Filipe, 1455 44th Avenue Place, Greeley, Colorado 80634, or pay using PayPal on the website, <www.KraftersKorner.org>. Classes are free to members, and they are described ahead of time on the website. Anyone who has questions or suggestions should contact President Joyce Kane at (203) 378-8928 or email her at <[email protected]>. All those interested in arts and crafts should come to the division meeting at the convention in Dallas this summer. I believe we will also have a display and sale of handmade items Saturday afternoon, the day before the exhibit room opens. Please check your agenda for times and locations. Plans are moving forward for a busy week. If anyone has requests, don't be shy. We can't guarantee to do everything you can dream up, but anything could happen.


Introducing the Commonwealth Braille and Talking Book Cooperative

by Greg Kearney

From the Editor: Although getting accessible books today is easier than ever before, the need to have many of them transcribed into Braille, transcribed or reformatted for large print, or recorded by a person for audio readers still exists. This costly undertaking is often repeated because of the lack of sharing among the English-speaking countries of the world. Some organizations are attempting to change this deplorable situation, and Greg Kearney is actively involved in one of them. Here is what he has to say:

“Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.” This language is taken from Article 19 of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The Commonwealth of Nations is an international organization of nation states which have a connection to Great Britain. A number of nongovernmental organizations exist within the Commonwealth, the Commonwealth Braille and Talking Book Cooperative (CBTBC) being one. The CBTBC is intended to promote the collaboration and sharing of resources among the Braille and Talking Book libraries of the Commonwealth and other interested institutions. Central to this collaboration is the sharing of Braille and Talking Books between the institutions that benefit the blind, vision impaired, and print disabled of the Commonwealth. This project is not a replacement for the work on a wider Talking Book treaty or the work of the WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization), which we fully support.

From time to time we are asked why this effort is focused on the Commonwealth of Nations. The answer is that the nations of the Commonwealth share common legal, cultural, historic, and linguistic traditions and ties to one another. We hope that these ties will make the exchange of resources more productive for all. Membership in the Cooperative is not limited to organizations within the Commonwealth. A number of schools and organizations in the United States are members because of the close historic and cultural ties between the United States and the Commonwealth. Ties to the Commonwealth give us a common structure under which to conduct our efforts, most of which are centered on work in the English language, but the Cooperative hopes to expand our membership regardless of geographical considerations.

We seek to achieve two goals: greater cooperation between Talking Book libraries in the Commonwealth and support for Talking Book libraries and users in developing nations within the Commonwealth. One of the aims of the Cooperative is to develop and put into place the methods by which accessible materials can be exchanged by member agencies. This is the practical side of the World Intellectual Property Organization and World Blind Union efforts.

Membership in the Cooperative is open to any library, agency, school, or other entity serving the blind, vision impaired, or print disabled, as long as the organization operates in the Commonwealth or such organizations reside in any British overseas territories, mandates, or former mandates, and Crown Dependencies. Also eligible are organizations from nations or states with an historic, cultural, or linguistic tie to the Commonwealth. This would include locations such as the United States and its constituent states, territories, or former territories--the Philippines being one example. Membership is also open to nations such as Ireland, Israel, Zimbabwe, and the Palestinian territories.

Membership is not limited to entities that have book collections but is intended for any interested organization, whether local or national. The degree of participation is determined by each member. Membership is at no cost. The members of the Cooperative have differing goals and will derive differing benefits. The library members will work to develop holdings and to exchange books between themselves. Agencies with limited holdings may be interested only in accessing the collection, while consumer agencies such as the National Federation of the Blind might want to share its extensive literature on blindness with a wider community while simultaneously offering expanded library service to its members. Each member organization sets its own policies and decides what its participation will be. The NFB may wish to make its literature available but not offer its members other services from the Commonwealth. Alternatively, since many materials can be borrowed in a digital format, requiring that nothing be sent or returned, it might wish to be a full participant.

One of the first tasks that the Cooperative has undertaken is the development of a federated search of Braille and Talking Books held by our members and other libraries. This, of course, is the first step in getting a book--knowing it is available and from whom. The Commonwealth Braille and Talking Book Cooperative federated search <www.cbtbc.org/yaz.php> provides a method of searching several libraries at once when a title is desired.

The Commonwealth Braille and Talking Book Cooperative has also developed a range of support programs and utilities for its members and the public at large to assist in the production and distribution of materials. These include listing services, catalogs, and production aids and applications.

The work of the Commonwealth Braille and Talking Book Cooperative is centered on the practical, day-to-day issues that both producers and consumers of Braille and Talking Books face. In many cases the costly and time-consuming process of book production has been needlessly duplicated because there was no method for finding and sharing the works already available. Many smaller and less developed nations have yet to develop an infrastructure to deliver works in alternative formats. It is hoped that the print disabled of the Commonwealth and those nations closely tied to it will be able to see an expansion of the materials made worldwide through this effort.

For more information about this project, write to Greg Kearney, Manager of Accessible media, Association for the Blind of Western Australia, PO Box 101, Victoria Park WA 6979, 61 Kitchener Ave., Victoria Park WA 6100. Call him at (307) 224-4022, or email him by writing to <[email protected]>.


Hearing Enhancement and Spanish Translation
Available at National Convention
Spanish Translators Needed

by D. Curtis Willoughby

From the Editor: Curtis Willoughby is a member of the NFB's research and development committee and president of our Amateur Radio Division. Here is his annual announcement about FM receivers at convention:

Again this year at national convention we will offer special arrangements for severely hearing-impaired people attending convention sessions and the banquet. This will consist of transmission of the public address system signal over a special short-range radio transmitter for the severely hearing-impaired. Also Spanish-language translation of convention proceedings in general sessions and the banquet will be provided using a similar arrangement. The special receivers required for these services will also be provided.

In cooperation with several state affiliates (notably Colorado, Utah, and Virginia), the NFB will provide special receivers for these transmissions to those needing them. The receiver-lending will be managed by the Amateur Radio Division and will be operated from a table just outside the meeting room. A deposit of $40, cash only, will be required of anyone wishing to check out one of the Federation's receivers. The deposit will be returned if the receiver is checked in at the checkout table in good condition by the end of the banquet or within thirty minutes of adjournment of the last convention session that the borrower plans to attend. Batteries for the receiver will be provided. Anyone checking out a Federation receiver will be given upon request a miniature earbud-type earphone to use with the receiver.

Along with explaining what will be available, it is important that we explain what will not be available. The miniature earbud loudspeaker-type earphone will be the only kind of earphone offered. The receiver requires a 3.5 mm (formerly called 1/8-inch) earphone plug, in case you want to use your own earphone(s), silhouette, neck loop, adapter cable, etc. You are advised to arrange for such things well ahead of arriving at the convention. Other than the earphone jack on the receiver, no means of connection to a hearing aid will be available from the checkout table. The receiver does not have a built-in loudspeaker. While earphones, and even neck loops, are sometimes available in the exhibit hall, you cannot be certain of getting one there.

Many severely hearing-impaired people already use radio systems that employ FM radio signals to carry the voice from a transmitter held by the person speaking to a receiver in the hearing aid. Some of these hearing aid systems can be tuned to receive the Federation's special transmitters. In this case the hearing-impaired person may simply tune his or her own receiver to receive the Federation's transmitter and will not need to check out a Federation receiver.

Some audiologists and rehabilitation agencies are now buying digital and other FM hearing aids that cannot be tuned to the Federation's frequency. If you have one of these or if you have any other type of hearing aid, you should obtain from your audiologist an adapter cable to connect from your hearing aid to a monaural 3.5 mm earphone jack. This will allow you to plug the cable from your hearing aid directly into a receiver you check out from our table. This will allow you to hear as well as anyone else using one of our receivers.

The transmitter for the hearing impaired will be connected to the public address system so that the signals from the head table and the aisle microphones will be transmitted on channel thirty-six (74.775 MHz narrow band FM). People must not operate their personal transmitters on channel thirty-six or on channel thirty-eight, because that would interfere with the reception by others. This means that folks wishing to use their own receivers (rather than checking out one of the Federation's receivers) need to have their personal receivers arranged so that they can switch between their personal channels and channel thirty-six. Some people may need to purchase replacement or additional receivers. Caution your audiologist that there is more than one channel thirty-six, and he or she must also verify that your frequency matches our frequency.

This announcement is published now to allow as much time as possible for those interested to make the necessary arrangements before convention. It contains this amount of detail so that any audiologist who works with this type of equipment should be able to know by reading this article exactly what capabilities a person's hearing system must have to work with the Federation's system at convention.

Even if your hearing aid is not of the FM type, you may be able to purchase a silhouette, a neck loop, or an adapter cable to couple the signal from a Federation receiver directly to your hearing aid. Your audiologist should also be able to help you with this.

The service for Spanish speakers will be similar, except that a live Spanish translator will speak over a separate transmitter on channel thirty-eight (75.275 MHz narrow band FM). We do not expect that people will bring their own receivers for the Spanish-translation service, unless they are also hearing impaired and use an FM hearing aid system. Spanish speakers may, however, wish to bring their own earphones. See above for a description of the type of plug needed.

Norm Gardner from Utah will be coordinating the Spanish language interpreters, and he would appreciate hearing from anyone willing to volunteer to interpret. Please call him before convention at (801) 224-6969, or send him email at <[email protected]>.

Finally, if other state affiliates or chapters are interested in purchasing this type of equipment for use in state and local meetings, they are encouraged to purchase equipment that is compatible with that which we are using and to allow it to be used in the pool of equipment that the Amateur Radio Division administers at national convention. I (D. Curtis Willoughby) would like to help you choose equipment that is compatible with that which the NFB is using. I may also be able to help you get the good prices the NFB has been getting. You may contact me at (303) 424-7373 or at <[email protected]>. The Federation is pleased to offer these services to our severely hearing-impaired and Spanish-speaking colleagues, and we hope and believe that it will again significantly improve their convention experience.

Dialysis in Dallas

by Mike Freeman

From the Editor: Mike Freeman is president of the Diabetes Action Network. In the following article he lists the facilities near our convention hotel that can provide dialysis to those who need the service. Arrangements should be made soon, so here is the information:

During this year's annual convention in Dallas, dialysis will be available. People requiring dialysis must have their local servicing unit set up the desired location well in advance. The convention will take place at the Hilton Anatole Hotel, 2201 Stemmons Freeway, Dallas, Texas 75207. You can find dialysis units and directions for reaching them by calling the DialysisFinder hotline at (866) 889-6019 or (610) 722-6019 if calling from outside the United States or by looking at the website <www.dialysisfinder.com>, which is quite accessible.

Here are a few dialysis units located near the Hilton Anatole Hotel:

FMC-Swiss Avenue: 2613 Swiss Avenue, Dallas, Texas 75204; Phone (214) 827-9854; 1.85 miles from the hotel

Children’s Medical Center Dallas Dialysis Unit: 1935 Medical District Drive, Dallas, Texas 75235; Phone (214) 456-2780; 1.87 miles from the hotel

FMC Dallas South: 1150 N. Bishop, Suite 200, Dallas, Texas 75208; phone (214) 942-2900; 1.99 miles from the hotel.

This is not an exhaustive list. You can find many more dialysis facilities by calling the DialysisFinder telephone number or by looking at the DialysisFinder website. Planning your dialysis in advance will enable you to enjoy the convention fully with a minimum of disruption.


This month’s recipes are from members of the NFB of Georgia.

by Garrick Scott

Garrick Scott is president of the NFB of Georgia. He works with blind youth and teaches public speaking to blind students. He is a graduate of the Colorado Center for the Blind. He reports that his grandmother taught him to make these teacakes. She served them any time of day, not just for tea. They are a cross between biscuits and cookies and are absolutely delicious.

1 cup margarine
1 1/3 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 cups self-rising flour

Method: In a large mixer bowl beat together margarine and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time and vanilla extract, beating well after each addition. Beat in flour, but do not over-beat. Preheat oven to 350. Using a quarter-cup measuring cup as a scoop, arrange dough on a greased cookie sheet, leaving a couple of inches between teacakes. Bake for ten to twelve minutes. Cakes are done when they are browned and feel set all the way through (no sticky dough half way down the side). Remove to a rack to cool or to a serving plate to enjoy warm.

Tomato Pie
by Lena Bowen

Lena Bowen was introduced to the NFB eight years ago and is a member of the Decatur Area Chapter. She is president of the Georgia affiliate’s Senior Division.

2 14.5-ounce cans chopped tomatoes, drained
1 small bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 small onion, chopped (or to taste)
1 tablespoon flour
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 stick butter or margarine, very soft
1 standard or deep-dish pie crust, unbaked
1/2 cup cheese, shredded

Method: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a sauté pan or skillet, sauté the chopped bell pepper and onion in the half stick of butter. In a large bowl combine drained chopped tomatoes, sautéed bell pepper and onion, flour, and sugar to taste to take away the tartness of the tomatoes. Be sure that the flour is well mixed in and does not form lumps. Mix well. You may also add a pinch of salt. To make a pie, pour the tomato mixture into an unbaked pie shell. To prepare as a soufflé, pour the tomato mixture into a lightly greased Pyrex or other baking dish. Bake either version about twenty to twenty-five minutes. A few minutes before set, sprinkle with shredded cheese and continue baking until cheese is melted and filling is no longer runny. This dish is great with garlic bread.

Pistachio Delight Pie
by Jo Ann Collins

A native of Fort Wayne, Indiana, Jo Ann Collins moved to Atlanta and joined the NFB Atlanta Metropolitan Chapter in 1999. She has just completed four terms as chapter president. She has also held a number of other board positions and presently serves as affiliate first vice president and youth coordinator for Georgia. She is expecting her first grandchild.

2 cups pecans, finely chopped
2/3 cup butter
3 tablespoons sugar
2 small boxes pistachio pudding mix
4 cups milk

Topping Ingredients:
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened, or a tub of cream cheese, already soft
1 8-ounce package Cool Whip
Chocolate chips or additional chopped pecans for garnish

Method: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place butter in eight-inch square glass baking dish and melt in heating oven or in microwave. Meanwhile combine sugar and pecans and press into baking dish to form a crust. Bake for five to seven minutes, then cool completely. Prepare pudding according to package directions and pour into crust-lined dish. Allow to set in refrigerator. Beat softened cream cheese and fold in the Cool Whip. When pudding is set, carefully spread topping over pie and allow it to chill. Garnish with chocolate chips or chopped pecans. Refrigerate leftovers if there are any.

Sugar Cookies
by Magnolia Lyons

Magnolia Lyons is a longtime member of the NFB of Georgia Atlanta Metropolitan Chapter. While she was living in Alexandria, Virginia, the NFB helped her win a lawsuit. She has adapted this recipe to please her sweet tooth.

1 cup sugar
1 stick margarine
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
2 cups self-rising flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Method: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine first four ingredients and beat till light and fluffy. Beat in the flour and baking soda. If dough is too dry, add a tablespoon of cold water; if it is too sticky, refrigerate the dough for thirty minutes. With floured hands roll dough into walnut-size balls and arrange an inch apart on a greased cookie sheet. Bake for twelve to fifteen minutes. Allow to cool on sheet for five minutes before moving to rack to cool completely. Makes about fifteen.

Marinated Shrimp
by Norma Johnson

Norma Johnson relocated from Florida to Atlanta two years ago to be near family when she lost her sight. She is an active member of the Atlanta Metropolitan Chapter. She is now retired from the hospitality field, but she still loves to prepare good food.

6 1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons salt
2 1/2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 large purple onion, thinly sliced
1 large lemon, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup hot sauce
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup capers, undrained
1/4 cup black olives, sliced and drained

Method: Bring salted water to a boil and cook shrimp for two minutes. Drain and rinse in cold water. Arrange shrimp in a 13-by-9-inch pan. Place onion, lemon, and garlic slices evenly over shrimp. In a bowl combine sugar, hot sauce, olive oil, and vinegar and mix well. Pour mixture over shrimp. Scatter capers and olive slices over all. Mix well and cover. Refrigerate for four to eight hours, stirring several times. Serve alone or with crisp French bread slices.

Shrimp con Queso Dip
by Norma Johnson

1 32-ounce package Velveeta Cheese
1/2 can Rotel tomatoes, drained
1 16-ounce jar salsa
2 pounds large shrimp, peeled, deveined, thawed, and drained
1 large bag tortilla chips

Method: Cube the cheese and combine it and remaining ingredients, except for shrimp and chips, in a large slow cooker. Heat, stirring frequently until all ingredients are melted and well combined. Add shrimp and stir gently but well. Serve with corn or tortilla chips. Makes about eleven cups.


Monitor Miniatures

News from the Federation Family

Braille Book Fair 2012:
Calling all Braille readers! It’s that time again: time to sort through all those boxes of Braille books in your basement or spare room and donate those gently used but no longer needed Braille books to the 2012 Braille Book Fair sponsored by the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children and the National Association to Promote the Use of Braille. Our primary goal is to get more Braille books into the hands of children, youth, and beginning adult readers, so here’s what we need most: books in good condition, print-Braille picture storybooks, and leisure reading (fiction or nonfiction) books. Cookbooks are always in demand, as are books about sports. Children are so hungry for their very own books that every year, despite generous donations, most of our books for young children are gone in less than an hour. So begin your search through the boxes in your basement and spare room and get those books shipped to Braille Book Fair, Vanessa Pena, 10155 Monroe, Dallas, TX 75229.

This year's coordinator is Barbara Cheadle. If you have any questions, you may contact her at (410) 747-3472 or email her at <[email protected]>. This year's event is slated to take place on Monday, July 2. Check your agenda for the time and room.

Department of Affiliate Action Invites Chapter Leaders to the 2012 Back to Basics Seminar:
Back to Basics is planned for Monday, July 2, from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. This session will introduce fresh new ideas to make your chapter meetings exciting, informative, and philosophically strong. The session will feature presentations from some of our most inspiring Federation leaders, live demonstrations, plenty of audience participation, and a special recognition for chapter presidents. It is not too soon to place Back to Basics on your 2012 convention calendar.

Requests for Accommodations Based on Disability:
The convention of the National Federation of the Blind is intended to be accessible, especially to blind people. Materials are offered in accessible formats, and other nonvisual aids are provided. If you require specific accommodations based on your disability other than the blindness-related accommodations routinely provided by the Federation in order to participate fully and equally in the convention, let us know as soon as possible. Because of the size and complexity of this convention as well as the need to plan for additional human and other resources, requests for specific accommodations must be submitted no later than May 31, 2012. In order to make a request, 1) preregister for the convention by visiting <http://lx-web.nfb.org/convention/preregistration.php>; and 2) send your request for specific accommodations in writing to the attention of Mark Riccobono by email at <[email protected]>. Be sure to include your name, the dates you plan to be at the convention, information on the best method of following up with you, and your specific request.

New CD Available:
As many Federationists know, in addition to being the Ohio affiliate president, JW Smith loves to sing and play music. Over the past several years many of us have enjoyed his gospel CDs. Now he writes to tell us about his latest project. This is what he says:

The CD is entitled 24 Hours with Dr. Feelgood, and it is my first secular recording. It includes classic renditions of the Ray Charles version of “America the Beautiful,” James Brown’s “I Feel Good,” and the song “It’s so Hard to Say Goodbye,” most recently popularized by the group Boyz II Men. The other thirteen selections are all original compositions, including my own instrumental composition, appropriately entitled “24 Hours”; a musical tribute to a friend who has cerebral palsy but continues to run five miles a day, entitled “Running Man”; and a ballad entitled “Make Me Smile.” In short, there is something on this recording for everyone, including a country music rendition entitled “Meet You on the Moon.”

I would like to let my Federation family know how you can get copies. You can email me at <[email protected]>, or call me at (740) 707-5114 and make arrangements for me to mail you a copy or send you an MP3 file electronically. You can go to iTunes or CDBaby.com and download it. You can also visit the Ohio table at the national convention in Dallas or find me in our delegation and purchase the CD. All proceeds from sales at the convention will go to the Ohio affiliate. The cost of the CD is $10. I hope you enjoy listening to this CD as much as I enjoyed making it. I believe that it is my best work to date.

Showcasing Your Talent:
Do you like to do crafts? Are you an artist? Have you created some type of art that you are proud of? Enter your creation in your local county or state fair. I teach the alternative skills of blindness in home management, and that includes teaching clients new crafts. Over the past three years I have encouraged clients at the Nebraska Center for the Blind to enter the crafts they have made in our local fairs. Whether they bring home a ribbon or not, their confidence soars just because of completing a project and learning a new craft.

If you would like to learn new crafts, join the National Federation of the Blind Krafters Division. For more information call or e-mail Cindy Zimmer at (402) 435-6628 or <[email protected]> or Joyce Kane, president of the Krafters Division, at (203) 378-8928, <[email protected]>.

Join the NFB of Arizona on a Cruise:
We are excited to announce that we are ready to take reservations for our fundraiser cruise--traveling as a group, enjoying good company, and savoring the food and much more while raising money for the organization we all deeply care about! The Arizona affiliate will be selling tickets for a prize of a cruise package for two, the drawing to take place at the NFB of Arizona convention banquet in September. We will announce further details of the drawing quite soon. Royal Caribbean International will contribute $50 per cabin as the base fundraiser for this trip.

Please join us on a seven-night Western Caribbean cruise, departing from New Orleans, Louisiana, January 5, 2013. We will visit the beautiful ports of Cozumel, Mexico; George Town, Grand Cayman; and Falmouth, Jamaica. Come with us to explore the destinations and have fun on the Navigator of the Seas. Follow the link below to read information about the ship and details of the itinerary.


Our travel agent, Anahit LaBarre, is ready to assist you and to answer any questions you have. Prices listed below are per person, based on double occupancy, cruise only; include all taxes, fees, and gratuities; and may vary a little depending on which deck the cabin is on. Optional shore excursions and insurance are available. Royal Caribbean International reserves the right to charge a fuel supplement if fuel prices go up significantly.

Here are the cost details:

1. Inside cabins start at $769 per person;
2. Ocean View cabins start at $959 per person;
3. Balcony cabins start at $1,049 per person;
4. Junior suites are $1,399 per person.

Contact Anahit LaBarre for additional details. She can be reached at <[email protected]> or (720) 334-3652.

Take a moment to read the important information below:
A minimum deposit of $50 per person is due by May 20, 2012. Payment plans can be arranged. A total deposit of $250 per person is due by August 10, 2012, and the final payment is due by October 20, 2012.

Suites are limited and are subject to availability. They require full deposit at the time of booking. The same applies to accessible cabins and those with third and fourth passengers. We strongly encourage everyone to make reservations as soon as possible, since these types of cabins are limited and cannot be held for the group without a full deposit.

Attention Current or Would-Be Office Professionals:
Lisa Hall, president of the National Association of Blind Office Professionals (NABOP), announces the next division meeting, scheduled for June 30, 2012, in Dallas, Texas, at the Hilton Anatole Hotel. Registration begins at 6:30 p.m., and the meeting begins at 7:00 and ends around 10:00. This meeting is for anyone working in an office as a medical transcriber, Braille transcriber, Braille proofreader, telephone operator, receptionist, clerk of any kind, hotel reservationist, or other such fields. This year the group plans to have a Braille proofreader workshop, which will help anyone learn by hands-on experience what it’s like to work as a Braille proofreader. Handouts will be primarily in print and Braille for the benefit of Braille readers and sighted transcribers and anyone who expresses interest in improving Braille skills. Mary Donahue and Lisa Hall will lead the session and will provide information about what it takes to become certified as a Braille proofreader or Braille transcriber. Other agenda items are being worked on, but plans are not complete at this writing. Come one and all for this great gathering and learn from others how to solve problems in an office environment.

If you plan to attend this seminar, let us know by June 15, 2012, so that enough copies of the handouts can be made. Send correspondence to Lisa Hall, 7001 Hamilton Avenue, Unit 2, Cincinnati, OH 45231-5262; home phone (513) 931-7070; cell phone (513) 550-5155; email <[email protected]>. You can also contact the vice president, Mary Donahue, at 8800 Starcrest Drive, Apartment 226, San Antonio, Texas 78217; home phone (210) 826-9579; cell phone (210) 445-6356; email <[email protected]>. Membership dues are $5 and can be paid in advance by sending to treasurer, Debbie Brown at 11923 Parklawn Drive, Apartment 104, Rockville, Maryland 20852; home phone (301) 881-1892; email <[email protected]>.

Wedding Bells:
Stacy Cervenka and Gregory DeWall were married on Saturday, October 29, 2011, in Burr Ridge, Illinois. Stacy and Greg are both longtime members of the Federation, and the wedding was attended by many NFB friends. Stacy is currently earning her master's degree in rehabilitation counseling from Texas Tech University, and Greg is a rehabilitation instructor in the Senior Impact Project at the Sacramento Society for the Blind.


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.

Teachers Fly Experiments on NASA Reduced-Gravity Flights:
The OfficialWire PR News Bureau published the following story on February 14, 2012, in Houston, Texas.

More than seventy teachers had an opportunity to experience what it feels like to float in space as they participated in the Reduced-Gravity Education Flight Program at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston last week. The teachers flew aboard an aircraft that flies parabolic flight paths, which create brief periods of weightlessness. It is a key component of NASA's astronaut training protocol. The teachers were selected for the flights through NASA's Teaching from Space and Explorer School Programs.

NASA Associate Administrator for Education and two-time space shuttle astronaut Leland Melvin also participated in some of the flights and shared first-hand with the participants his experiences in astronaut training. "The enthusiasm among our teachers participating in the reduced-gravity flights is contagious," Melvin said. "I know it will add a new dimension to their teaching as they engage their students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics studies."

Also participating in the flights was Mark Riccobono, executive director of the National Federation of the Blind's Jernigan Institute. Riccobono is blind. NASA has worked with the National Federation of the Blind in a variety of capacities during the past ten years to share the excitement and inspiration of the agency's missions and programs with those who are visually impaired. "NASA education is always looking for ways to make our offerings available to the widest audience possible," Melvin said. "Mark Riccobono's flight represents a new chapter in our commitment to sharing the excitement of NASA's mission with the blind community."

The Teaching from Space Program offers educational opportunities that use the unique assets of NASA's human spaceflight mission to engage the education community and create space-related learning opportunities. Teachers used the event to work with their students to propose, design, and build the experiments they took on the flights. Fourteen teams comprising forty teachers from NASA Explorer Schools also participated as part of the 2011 School Recognition Award for their contributions to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, or STEM. They conducted microgravity experiments provided by NASA.

The Reduced-Gravity Education Flight Program continues NASA's investment in U.S. education by helping attract and retain students in STEM disciplines critical to future space exploration. To learn more about NASA's education activities, visit <http://www.nasa.gov/education>.

Help for the Blind of Rwanda:
My name is David Van Der Molen. I'm planning to go to Rwanda in early 2013 for a month to teach grade two Braille and to distribute Braille and large print material along with low-tech equipment to the blind. I will also set up a blind-friendly computer work station at a university. I'm looking for donations of Braille and large-print books, Braille paper, white canes, slates and styluses, abacuses for the blind, a Braille display, a Perkins Brailler, and a Braille embosser. All items need to be in good condition. I will be sending everything to Rwanda in advance of my arrival. That is why I'm asking for these items now.

Please contact me if you are able to contribute any of the above, and we'll work out the arrangements from there. I can be reached by phone evenings and weekends at (519) 669-1456 or by email at <[email protected]>.

NIB Now Accepting Applications for Leadership Development Fellowship:
The Fellowship for Leadership Development, sponsored by National Industries for the Blind (NIB), is a salaried program that combines business-focused, on-the-job experience with professional development activities. Legally blind people with undergraduate degrees, work experience, and a passion for business are invited to apply.

Fellows are selected based on experience, academic achievement, and personal interviews. Fellows who have already completed the program have moved to management jobs, gained financial independence, and as business leaders have added value at all levels of the workplace and society.

For additional information and an application, go to the NIB website and visit the Business Leaders Program pages. For a direct link to the Fellowship page, go to <http://www.nib.org/content/business-leaders-program-fellowship>. Please carefully read the FAQs before applying. If you have questions, contact Karen Pal, NIB Business Leaders Program, at <[email protected]> or (703) 310-0515.

iPhone Discussions Available:
Every Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. Eastern and Saturday at 6:00 p.m. Eastern there is an iPhone conference. If you are interested in purchasing a phone or would like to talk with other iPhone users, come in and join us. The number to call is (616) 883-2999 followed by the pound sign. The room number is 2428.

Contest for Braille Readers:
The Onkyo Braille essay contest is administered by the National Federation of the Blind for the North America/Caribbean Region of the World Blind Union. Essays must be written in Braille and in English or their author’s native language and must be completely original. Entries should be no fewer than eight hundred words and no more than one thousand words.

The contest is divided into two groups of competitors--one junior group, aged twenty-five and under; and one senior group, aged twenty-six and above. Prizes range from $500 to $2,000. All essays must be received by April 30, 2012. Visit <http://www.nfb.org/onkyo-braille-essay-contest> for more information and an application.


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:
I have a knfbReader Mobile for sale. The software runs on a T-Mobile 83MP3 phone in perfect condition. I am asking $850. For more information about the phone, software, or price, please contact me by phone at (443) 415-9828.

Help Wanted with Software for the Blind:
My name is Marcia Baran, and I use Dolphin Guide software for the blind on my computer. I don't know a single person who uses Dolphin Guide. I would like to correspond and speak with other users to discuss problems and solutions in using the program. My email address is <[email protected]>, and my cell phone number is (860) 997-2234.


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.