Braille Monitor                                                 May 2012

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News from the Federation Family

Resolutions for Convention:
Here is a message from Sharon Maneki, who chairs the NFB resolutions committee:

Do you think we should change a government policy, take a stand concerning an agency for the blind, or create new regulations? If you do, consider writing a resolution. At the 2012 national convention the resolutions committee meeting will be held on Sunday, July 1. The committee will debate and discuss resolutions on a wide variety of subjects. If passed by the Convention, these resolutions will become the policy statements of the organization.

To ensure that your resolution will be considered by the committee, please send it to President Maurer or to me by June 15, two weeks before the committee meeting. If you send a resolution to me by email and do not receive a response acknowledging your email in two or three days, please call or send it again. If you miss the deadline, you must get three members of the committee to sponsor your resolution and then get it to the chairman before the meeting begins. I will be pleased to accept resolutions by email, <[email protected]>; fax, (410) 715-9597; or snail mail, 9013 Nelson Way, Columbia, Maryland 21045.

How to Pay for Your Hotel Stay in Dallas:
This helpful information comes from Tony Cobb, who has been a fixture in the lobby of our convention hotels for as long as I can remember. Here is his advice about paying for your hotel stay:

Every year at our national convention we have serious trouble with use of debit cards or cash payments at hotel check-in, and, having worked to solve these problems for years, I can tell you they can nearly ruin the convention week for those experiencing them. Planning to attend our national convention should therefore include thinking seriously about how to pay the hotel, and I cannot urge you strongly enough to avoid using cash or a debit card as your payment method. Doing so may seem convenient, but you should not do so. If you do not have a credit card of your own to use instead, prevail upon a close friend or family member to let you use one just for convention. Here’s why:

If you are paying in actual currency, most hotels will want enough cash up front at check-in to cover your room and tax charges for the entire stay, plus a one-time advance incidentals deposit to cover meals, telephone calls, Internet service, and other things you may charge to your room. The unused portion of the incidentals deposit may be returned at check-out or by mail after departure. Understand, however, that, if your incidentals charges exceed the incidentals deposit credited, you are responsible for payment of the full balance at checkout. The total can end up being a very large sum indeed.

If you use a debit card, however, you are really at a potentially painful disadvantage. The hotel will put a hold on money in your bank account linked to the debit card to cover the estimated balance of your stay—that is, for the entire week’s room and tax charges plus a one-time incidentals deposit to cover meals, movies, and so on charged to your room. You should be aware that the hold can therefore be a considerable amount of money and that you will not have access to that amount for any other purchases or payments with your card. (Hotels sometimes also put authorizations on credit cards, by the way, but those are not often a problem unless they exceed your card’s credit limit.)

Holds can remain in effect for three to five days or even a week after you check out. If you have pre-authorized payments from your bank account, for example your monthly mortgage payment, or if you try to make a purchase with your debit card and it's refused, the hold from the hotel can cause you trouble or result in very large overdraft fees for payments you thought you had money in your account to cover. I have seen this hit some of our members in the form of hundreds of dollars in overdraft fees.

This means that, if you use a debit card, you would have to be certain you have a high enough balance in your checking account when you come to convention to cover any debit card holds. This is a perilous practice since charges may exceed your estimate by a considerable amount. (Some frequent travelers even open a separate checking account used only for debits like these.) Remember, a hold is going to be placed on your debit card regardless of how you end up paying the bill, and the hold is not necessarily released right away, even if you pay with a credit card or cash when you check out of the hotel.

Planning ahead in this area can ensure an untroubled week at convention, leaving you free to enjoy fully the world’s largest and most exciting meeting of the blind. See you as usual in the lobby at check-in—using a credit card, I hope.

Attention All Federationists with Cerebral Palsy:
Come one and all to form a new division of the National Federation of the Blind to help improve the lives of blind people with cerebral palsy. It will be the National Federation of the Blind with Cerebral Palsy Division. If you have cerebral palsy and you are blind, or if you know someone who is blind who has cerebral palsy, this is a good opportunity for networking to develop this division. The purpose of the division is to provide support for blind people with cerebral palsy in pursuing successful and independent lives. If anyone is interested in developing this division, contact Alex Kaiser at <[email protected]>. He can also be reached at (973) 525-8096. Meetings of this group will be held by telephone conference call on the first Monday of each month from August through June from 7:00 p.m., to 8:30 p.m. Eastern in a free Conference Pro conference room. The conference dial-in telephone number is (218) 632-3715. The access code to enter after the greeting is 999999 followed by the pound key. Feel free to contact Alex with additional questions.

The 2012 National Convention Youth Track:
Meleah Jensen of the Jernigan Institute Education Department sends us the following information:

The annual convention of the National Federation of the Blind is always jammed with exciting activities, and this year in Dallas will be no different. If you are between the ages of eleven and eighteen or are bringing a young person to convention who is, you should definitely plan to participate in the Youth Track activities. These activities on the convention agenda are specifically for young people. They will foster positive attitudes about blindness and encourage social interactions between blind youth and successful blind adult mentors.

This year the Youth Track will consist of twelve activities spread across six days. In some of the activities the whole group will stay together. In others the group will be divided into eleven- to fourteen-year-olds and fifteen-to-eighteen-year-olds. All of the activities are interactive and high energy.

The Youth Track will open with a creative problem-solving activity called “Balloon Build or Bust,” first thing Saturday, June 30. Activities will continue throughout Saturday and will include opportunities for creative expression, exploration of NFB popular culture, and our own Federationbook activity, the social media network you may not have heard of. Throughout the rest of the week youth will participate in activities in which they will explore the Federation, socialize, recreate, and put on their creative-writing caps.

We are looking forward to seeing all the youth in Dallas. As we get closer to convention, we will publish an official Youth Track agenda. Watch for it on the listservs and at <>. Some of the activities will have limited space and will require prompt registration. For more information and to ask questions, please contact Meleah Jensen at (410) 659-9314, extension 2418, or by email at <[email protected]>.

NAGDU Now on Facebook:
The National Association of Guide Dog Users, (NAGDU), a division of the National Federation of the Blind, is pleased to announce its move into social media. NAGDU now has a Facebook page in which guide dog users, puppy raisers, guide and service dog trainers, and those interested in the training and use of guide and service dogs can discuss and exchange information about these wonderful animals and the human-animal bond. Please check out our page by following these steps:

1. In the search field of your Facebook page type "National Association of Guide Dog Users" or "NAGDU" and click on groups. Please take note of the capital letters and the symbols when searching for the NAGDU group.

2. You can also access the NAGDU group directly by clicking on the following link: <>.

3. If the link does not take you to the NAGDU page, copy and paste the link into your web browser and press enter. NAGDU is please to make this forum available to everyone and hopes that you will join in discussions, provide comments, and share information with everyone.

New Chapter:
The newly formed At-Large Chapter of the NFB of Illinois elected the following board at its April meeting: president, Leslie Hamric; vice president, Linda Hendle; secretary/treasurer, Charlene Elder; and board members, Sid Weiner and Danny Mandrell.

Rice University and CCB Students in the News:
The following story appeared in the Wednesday, March 7, 2012, edition of the Littleton Independent:

Center for Blind Students Host Visitors from Texas
by Jennifer Smith, Community Media of Colorado

A team of students from Rice University in Houston spent part of their spring break in Littleton [Colorado] on “The Mile High Mission: Overcoming Disability.” Part of the mission was to help Colorado Center for the Blind students move into the apartment building the center recently purchased near Lowell Boulevard and Bowles Avenue. But a larger part was walking in the blind students’ shoes for a few hours, learning that blindness does not equal defeat.

“You’re all to be congratulated,” Julie Deden, the center’s director, told the Rice students on March 2, the last day of their visit. “You’ve learned so much in such a short period of time. ... With good training, being blind does not have to be a barrier at all. It can be very natural.”

The visit was arranged through Rice’s Community Involvement Center, to which students have to apply and be accepted. The beginning of their week was spent skiing with disabled students in Winter Park, in cooperation with the National Sports Center for the Disabled. “The NSCD and the CCB are both so unique in their approach to working with disability and so established throughout the country that the trip is made more effective by going all the way to Colorado to study the social issue,” according to Rice’s website.

Judging from the emotional goodbyes after the going-away luncheon, which everyone helped prepare while wearing sleep shades, the social aspect of the visit was successful. “You guys make it seem like a vacation,” said Rice student Natalie Lazarescou. “You feed us every day and you tell us stories. And we get the pleasure of seeing a different community, of stepping out of the hedges and realizing it’s not all about us. It’s so refreshing.”

The Rice students did, however, use words like “disorienting” and “isolating” to describe their sleepshade experiences. “It’s absolutely amazing what you guys do on a daily basis,” said Rice student Shaurya Agarwal.

The CCB students, in turn, enjoyed teaching their visitors about their lives. “Thank you for the time you took away from your spring break to be with us,” said CCB student Trish Cavallaro. “Now you know we have a great life, and we experience great things, just like you.”

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 <>; 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.

Attention Braille Book Lovers:
Anna Walker is loaded with Braille books she picked up at the Braille Book Fair.Last month we carried a notice entitled “Braille Book Fair 2012.” Here is additional information about the event from Barbara Cheadle:

Last year Peggy Chong announced the Braille Book Flea Market/Fair, and introduced me as the new coordinator. Thanks to our book donors and volunteers, it was a great event. Here are the details about this year's event and information about how you can help.

Date and Location: Monday, July 2, 2012, NFB convention, Hilton Anatole Hotel, 2201 North Stemmons Frthat’s eeway, Dallas, Texas 75207.

Donations: If you can donate Braille books, send them to the address below. As always, we desperately need print/Braille children's storybooks. Ship the books to Vanessa Pena, 10155 Monroe, Dallas, TX 75229. You can ship them Free Matter for the Blind using the Postal Service. Please keep volumes of the same book together if at all possible.

Recognition: If you donate books, please send me a note telling me how many books or boxes of books you are shipping. We want to recognize your donations in our magazine, Future Reflections, after the event. We don't have time to check return addresses when we unpack and sort the books at the event, so sending me a note when you ship the books is the best way to make sure we can recognize your generous donation. Send your information to Barbara Cheadle at <[email protected]> or 230 North Beaumont Ave., Catonsville, MD 21228; home (410) 747-3472; cell (410) 300-5232.

Volunteers Needed: We need print- and Braille-reading volunteers to unpack, sort, setup, assist customers, and clean up. Please contact me if you can volunteer for two or more hours any time between noon and 8:00 p.m. on Monday, July 2, 2012, at the NFB convention. The actual event will occur between 5:00 and 7:00 p.m.

            The White Sands Chapter of the NFB of New Mexico conducted elections at its February 2012 meeting. The results are as follows: president, Larry Hayes; vice president, Kay Boyd; secretary, Ray Thomas; treasurer, Soledad Vigil; and board members, Bea Thomas and Larry Lorenzo.

At its April meeting the Chicago Chapter of the NFB of Illinois elected the following officers: president, David Meyer; first vice president, Denise Avant; second vice president, Jemal Powell; secretary, Debbie Stein; treasurer, Steve Hastalis; and board members, Mary Grunwald, Debbie Pittman, Gina Falvo, and Patti Chang.

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.

HeartSight Cards Still Available:
HeartSight Cards has been through some changes. Unfortunately, the HeartSight website is no longer available. However, HeartSight Cards is committed to its current and future customers and will continue to be available to help you celebrate life's special occasions by offering beautiful print/Braille cards. A single custom card will remain only $4.95 (plus shipping and taxes).

When you wish to send a HeartSight card, contact Haley Dare at (269) 779-2216 or send an email to <[email protected]> describing the occasion, your personalized message, and any ideas you have. HeartSight will still design and ship your card within three days. You may pay by debit or credit card, or you can ask to receive an invoice.

Adventures at Oral Hull Park:
How will you spend your summer vacation? At Oral Hull Park in Sandy, Oregon, we challenge the status quo and encourage you to take advantage of an exciting variety of adventures including whitewater rafting, kayaking, rock-wall climbing, jet boats, hiking, bicycling, hay rides, and much more.

Blind and visually impaired people will find plenty of fun and challenges. Our adventures vary with each camp, and we have a few add-ins such as skydiving, windsurfing, and bungee jumping. The camp itself, Oral Hull Park, is twenty-two acres of beautiful green countryside with lots of trees, gardens, a fishing pond, nature trails, walking/jogging track, and a heated indoor pool. The property for the camp was a gift to the Oral Hull Foundation for the Blind. Oregon's summer weather is ideal, with highs in the seventies or low eighties in July and August. Nights are usually just cool enough for a sweater or hoodie.

Adventure camps ($450) and traditional camps ($395) for adults start on July 22, August 1, August 11, and August 21. Complete date information can be found on our website: <>. Call for more information, and we will gladly mail or email applications to you.

Many of our campers come year after year, form friendships that stretch across the country and the Internet, and sometimes schedule two back-to-back weeks so they can spend more time with the friends they've made on the rivers and hiking paths of lush, green Oregon at the foot of majestic Mt. Hood. You are invited to join us at Oral Hull Park in this, our fiftieth year of providing recreation and socialization for the blind community.

Attention Illinois School for the Visually Impaired Alumni:
From 3:00 p.m., May 24, until noon, May 27, the ISVI Alumni Association will conduct its reunion. Hotel rates for this event are $66 a night plus applicable taxes. Reservations can be made now by calling (888) 707-8366 or (217) 529-6626 in Illinois and requesting a room in the ISVI alumni block. You can also contact Melissa at the hotel by email at <[email protected]>. For additional information about the hotel and its services, visit the website <>.

The reunion banquet is scheduled for Saturday, May 26, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the school’s dining room. The menu is grilled ribeye steak, cheesy potatoes with crisp topping, seasoned green beans, dinner rolls, cole slaw, assorted fruit pies, coffee and tea. A meatless entree is available upon request. The banquet cost, including transportation from the hotel to the venue, is $30 per person. If you wish to attend, make your check payable to ISVI Alumni Association and write “Banquet” or “Dinner” in the memo line. Mail checks and attendance form to ISVI Alumni Association, P.O. Box 82, Springfield, IL 62705-0082.

For more about the Illinois School for the Visually Impaired visit its website <>.

Iowa Department for the Blind Gets New Commissioner:
Michael Barber, president of the NFB of Iowa, writes as follows: Our own Jim Omvig, director of the Iowa Adult Orientation and Adjustment Center many years ago, has received a three-year appointment to the board of the Iowa Department for the Blind from Governor Terry Branstad. Jim will be an excellent addition to the Department board, bringing with him a vast knowledge of rehabilitation programs for the blind and a lifetime as a dedicated and committed member of the National Federation of the Blind. We all congratulate Jim on this achievement. The blind of Iowa will all benefit through his service on the Department board.

A Site to Match Tandem Riders:
With Spring in full swing what better way to enjoy the fresh air than on a bicycle? The U.S. Blind Tandem Cycling Connection is a free resource dedicated to matching interested blind participants with sighted tandem captains. Even if you do not own a tandem, there are probably cyclists in your area who have one to share with you. Visit <>, create your profile, and use your zip code to search for cyclists in your area. The site provides tutorials to make your first ride enjoyable and safe. You can also communicate with potential riders anonymously through the site. You can keep your contact information safe until you are ready to share it.

If you have any questions about the site, tandem bicycles, or anything related to cycling as a blind person, contact Ron Burzese, NOMC, (916) 716-5400 or email <[email protected]>.

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:
Benjamin Vercellone is selling a BrailleNote Apex QWERTY with 32 cells and with Sendero GPS Version 2011 included. Other accessories are also included. It was purchased in December 2009 and comes in its original box. It includes the latest software, Keysoft 9.2. The Braille dot quality is very good. He is asking $3,050 with shipping included inside the U.S.

Additional items include the Concise Oxford English Dictionary, The Nemeth Tutorial, a GPS receiver with a sleeve and an AC adapter, an extra battery, an 8 GB SD card containing North America maps from New England and Mid Atlantic plus some other points of interest, a leather carrying case for the Apex, an AC adapter for the Apex, a serial-to-USB cord, and a Braille user’s manual for the Apex.

He is also selling an Alva BC 640 with Feature Pack for $2,050, with shipping included inside the U.S. The Braille dot quality is very good. He purchased this item in the summer of 2009. It includes the carrying case, the AC adapter, a USB chord to connect it with a computer, and a CD with the drivers (burned from the Internet). This unit works especially well with Windows. If interested in either item, contact Benjamin by phone at (201) 218-7618 or by email at <[email protected]>.

For sale:
I have a PAC Mate OMNI QX, with or without its 40-cell Braille display, in excellent condition. The asking price without the display is $500; the asking price including the 40-cell Braille display is $1,000. For more information email Angela Griffith at <[email protected]> or call her at (510) 969-6125.

Intel Reader for Sale:
I have an Intel reader with capture station that has been used once and is about one year old. I am asking $650. For more information call me, Kirk Buzzard, at (810) 845-2404 or email me at <[email protected]>.

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

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