Braille Monitor                                                 June 2012

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News from the Federation Family

Philadelphia Federationists Serving Their Community:
Pictured here with donations are Denice Brown, Greater Philadelphia Chapter president; James Antonacci, NFB of Pennsylvania president; and Betty Sago, Whittier Elementary School principal.Each year, as their contribution to the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service in Philadelphia, the Greater Philadelphia and Keystone Chapters of the NFB of Pennsylvania collect warm winter clothing and book bags and donate them to two inner-city Philadelphia elementary schools. Chapter members and employees from local businesses participate in making this effort successful each year. This photo was taken as Federationists delivered hand-knit scarves, gloves, coats, and book bags to one of the schools.

Texas Barbeque Temptations:
For many years a cornerstone of a national convention in Dallas, Texas, has been a good, old-fashioned, all-you-can-eat barbecue with live music. I am proud to tell you that this year’s convention will carry on the tradition on the evening of Tuesday, July 3. The Texas affiliate, however, has secured some exceptional entertainment that we are excited about. Rather than sign up some local band to imitate honky-tonk sounds or top-forty hits, we have enlisted a truly authentic Nashville talent who is also a Federationist. If you have not yet had the pleasure of hearing JP Williams’ music, visit <http://www.jpwilliams.net> for a sample.

The following is from JP’s online bio:

JP Williams is a soulful-singing artist and songwriter with a T-shirt and jeans groove. His original music has scored him bookings everywhere from the Kennedy Center in D.C. to colleges throughout the Atlantic and Northeastern US, and he's opened for the wide-ranging likes of Randy Travis, Jo Dee Messina, Bruce Hornsby, Charlie Daniels, T. Graham Brown, Marshall Tucker, and Ricky Skaggs.

Though blind since age ten, JP writes and sings with incredible insight. He’s thankful for the downs and the ups, ‘cause—when you’re a songwriter and artist—it’s all material.

Give a listen. If you dig a little James Taylor, John Mayer, or Jack Johnson, JP's gonna make your next playlist.

JP has agreed to play some original songs, throwing in a nice mix of chart-toppers from the last several decades. It will be the perfect accompaniment to an evening of delicious food and fellowship. Weather permitting, fingers crossed, the event will take place under the endless Texas sky.

We urge you to join us for this unforgettable evening. Forego the cabs and hassle of a dinner reservation or long lines and a wait; walk right through the dinner buffet and find your friends at the Texas Barbeque on the evening of July 3. Then enjoy a custom concert, just for you.

Community Leaders Honored in Virginia:
Three community leaders who serve as officers and board members of the Fredericksburg Area Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Virginia and as board members of the disAbility Resource Center (dRC) were recognized at the tenth annual Walk with the Blind Saturday, April 21, at the city dock in Fredericksburg.

Marilee Kenlon, Angie Matney, and Mel Padgett received recognition from Mayor Tom Tomzak; Debe Fults, director of the dRC; and Michael Kasey, president of the local NFBV chapter. Certificates were presented to them noting their service and honoring their example for us all. Marilee Kenlon is a vision rehabilitation therapist at the Virginia Department for the Blind and Visually Impaired. Melvin Padgett is a commercial loan and grant specialist for the Department of Agriculture. Angie Matney is an attorney with the firm of Hirschler Fleischer.

The Walk with the Blind is held downtown every year and promotes the businesses on Caroline Street while also serving as a fundraiser for the blind. Over sixty-five participants gathered this year to receive gift certificates from downtown merchants to encourage visits to their shops. The local NFB chapter meets every second Thursday of the month at the dRC, 209 Progress Street.

Spend an Evening with the CCB:
Have you ever wondered what training could do for you?  Meet the staff and students at the Colorado Center for the Blind (CCB); pick up a Braille recipe and a Braille puzzle; draw a tactile picture; and learn all about challenge, recreation, and the latest technology. Join us for this exciting open house on Tuesday, July 3, from 6:30 to 9:00 p.m. For more information contact Carol Sprague at (303) 778-1130.

A Victory to Cheer About:
The following press release was circulated on May 7, 2012. It is self-explanatory:

National Federation of the Blind Applauds
New Jersey Ruling on Braille Instruction for Blind Child
After Three-Year Battle Hank Miller Will Receive Braille Instruction

After a three-year administrative and legal battle against their local school board, the Oceanport Board of Education, Jeffrey and Holly Miller obtained a ruling (docket number: 2011 17218) from an administrative law judge that their eleven-year-old son Henry “Hank” Miller was improperly denied instruction in Braille, the reading and writing code for the blind. The legal victory, obtained with the assistance of the National Federation of the Blind (NFB), comes on the heels of a letter from 26 U.S. Senators urging the Department of Education to take steps to ensure that blind children who need Braille instruction receive it.

Holly and Jeffrey Miller brought the legal case on behalf of their son Hank, whom they adopted from China and who is blind due to albinism and nystagmus. Hank has limited vision that allows him to read enlarged print for short periods of time, but he is unable to read for sustained periods. Although Hank’s parents continued to tell school officials that their son was experiencing visual fatigue and was having difficulty reading, the school board and its consultant, the New Jersey Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired (CBVI), insisted that Hank was a proficient print reader, notwithstanding his continued placement in a special resource room for language arts. In a nearly ten-day hearing, held under the due process provisions of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004, Mrs. Miller testified that she watched Hank routinely struggle with his homework, suffering from eye strain and fatigue, but was unable to convince school officials or the CBVI that Hank needed Braille instruction. She also testified that Hank’s schoolwork was not of the same quantity and quality as that of his classmates. Although experts from the school and the commission claimed that Hank was a “visual learner” and should participate in the “sighted world,” experts hired by the Millers and the NFB concluded after thorough assessment that Hank could not read print for extended periods of time without eyestrain, neck and back pain, fatigue, and loss of reading speed and comprehension.

In her order Administrative Law Judge Lisa James-Beavers found that the school board and the commission displayed a clear “bias against Braille.” She found that the school board and the commission had failed to assess Hank’s “sustained reading ability” with print, relying instead on reading assessments involving only brief passages, and citing Hank’s alleged failure to complain about struggling to read print. The judge was unconvinced by the board and CBVI’s contention that Hank could rely on audio technology as reading demands increased through his school years, noting that “as pointed out by all of petitioners’ well-qualified experts, listening does not equate to reading. One does not enhance the active skill of comprehending text by passively listening, even if one is following along with the reading.” The order noted that “the CBVI failed to do what Oceanport relied on them to do, which is to help construct a program that would give H.M. meaningful educational benefit considering H.M.’s future needs.” Judge James-Beavers ordered that Hank Miller be provided with Braille instruction for forty-five minutes, five days a week, and that the school board provide compensatory instruction because of the three years that Hank was not provided with Braille instruction, in the form of intensive Braille summer programs or tutoring.

Dr. Marc Maurer, president of the National Federation of the Blind, said: “Based on the experience of countless parents of blind children and blind adults who had never learned Braille and have contacted us over the years, the National Federation of the Blind has consistently argued that blind children are being improperly assessed and denied Braille instruction when it is clearly appropriate. Now after a thorough and comprehensive examination of the evidence in Hank Miller’s case, an independent judge has confirmed what we always knew. We hope that school and agency officials across the nation take note of this landmark ruling and commit to giving blind children access to Braille, the true key to literacy for the vast majority of children who are blind or losing vision. The National Federation of the Blind will continue to stand with families like the Millers, who find themselves pitted against the educational establishment in obtaining the equal education to which their children are entitled and which they deserve.”

Holly Miller, Hank’s mother, said: “I am obviously thrilled with this ruling, although I am still saddened that it took such a prolonged battle to achieve it. I am stepping forward to tell Hank’s story in hopes that other parents of blind children will not have to struggle as we did. I thank the National Federation of the Blind and all of the individuals and experts who came forward to assist in this case. I plan to advocate strongly and publicly with the National Federation of the Blind for Braille instruction for blind children.”

The plaintiffs are represented in this matter by Sharon Krevor-Weisbaum of the Baltimore firm Brown, Goldstein, and Levy; and Jayne M. Wesler of the Cranbury firm Sussan and Greenwald.

White House Hails Blind Chemistry Grad Student as “Champion of Change”:
The White House circulated the following press release on May 7:

Hoby WedlerHenry "Hoby" Wedler, a graduate student in chemistry at the University of California, Davis, was one of fourteen individuals honored May 7, 2012, at the White House as Champions of Change for leading the way for people with disabilities in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). “STEM is vital to America’s future in education and employment, so equal access for people with disabilities is imperative since they can contribute to and benefit from STEM,” said Kareem Dale, special assistant to President Obama for disability policy. “The leaders we’ve selected as Champions of Change are proving that, when the playing field is level, people with disabilities can excel in STEM, develop new products, create scientific inventions, open successful businesses, and contribute equally to the economic and educational future of our country.”

Wedler, who is blind, is working towards his PhD in organic chemistry. Inspired by programs offered by the National Federation of the Blind in high school and with encouragement from professors, colleagues, and others, Wedler gained the confidence to challenge and refute the mistaken belief that STEM fields are too visual and therefore impractical for blind people.

Wedler is not only following his own passion, he is working hard to develop the next generation of scientists by founding and teaching at an annual chemistry camp for blind and low-vision high school students. Sponsored by the National Federation of the Blind, the camp's goal is to demonstrate to these students, by example and through practice, that their lack of eyesight should not hold them back from pursuing their dreams.

Wedler was nominated by Douglas Sprei of Learning Ally, a nonprofit formerly known as Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic. The organization allowed Wedler to excel in school. The Champions of Change program was created as part of President Obama’s Winning the Future initiative. Each week a different sector is highlighted, and groups of champions, ranging from educators to entrepreneurs to community leaders, are recognized for the work they are doing to serve and strengthen their communities.

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.

Announcing the 2012 Governor Morehead School Alumni Reunion:
Come join the Governor Morehead School Alumni Association, Incorporated, for our fifth annual reunion. As always we will have fun, food, and fellowship. You do not have to be a GMS alum; everyone is welcome to attend.

When? August 3-5, 2012.
Where? Holiday Inn Raleigh North, 2805 Highwoods Blvd., Raleigh, NC 27604.
Cost? $50 for paid members; $65 for nonmembers: after July 16 an additional $10 charge for everyone.

The room rate, which includes a full hot buffet breakfast for up to four guests per room, is $63 plus 13.75 percent tax per night ($72.69).To make your reservations call, (919) 872-3500 and ask for a room with the Governor Morehead School Alumni Association. Registration will begin on Friday, August 3, at 3:00 p.m. Other activities for the weekend include games, karaoke, a catered lunch, a talent show, a dance, and Sunday service.

Come join us and find out what we’re all about. Bring family and friends. If you need more information, forms, or help filling out your forms, contact Margaret Carter at (919) 856-0034. Send all money and forms to Margaret Carter, 1704 Picnic Place, Raleigh, NC 27603.

Old faces, come back; new faces, come join us, and you won’t regret it. See ya in August.

Carroll Center 2012 Accessible iOS App Camp:
Whether you are a new or experienced user of an iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, or even an Apple TV receiver, you are sure to learn new techniques and apps in the new app camp for school-aged students. During this week-long program you will get hands-on training in the use of these new and exciting devices. Join us and expand your abilities to use Apple technology. This camp is recommended for blind and low-vision students in middle or high school who use speech, magnification, or Braille to interact with technology. You need not have iOS devices to attend, but, if you do, bring them all. By the end of the week you will be an independent iOS device user.

In our iOS App Camp, you will learn to:

1. Locate, download, and install apps from the Apple App Store;
2. Use VoiceOver, the iOS screen reader to interact with your apps; and/or
3. Use Zoom, the iOS screen magnifier, and other iOS screen modifications to interact with your apps;
4. Read books from Bookshare, Learning Ally, Audible, and other loan and purchase services;
5. Locate and view or listen to multimedia content including podcasts, Internet radio, and YouTube;
6. Use some of the GPS devices to get around;
7. Use the camera to identify objects, access bar codes, scan text, and identify money,
8. Use your iOS device to play games and listen to music;
9. Get social with Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube,
10. Read your mail, send and receive text messages, make phone calls, and browse the Internet.
Arrive Monday, August 13; depart Friday, August 17. For more information and an application contact Dina Rosenbaum at (800) 852-3131, extension 238, or visit the website at <http://carroll.org/>.
 
Announcing MSB Fun Fest 2012:
Calling all former Mississippi School for the Blind wrestlers, track members, cheerleaders, and performing arts members. Join us for clean and exhilarating fun at MSB Fun Fest 2012, tentatively set for November 9 to 11. We will turn the hands of time back a few years for the Blue and White to get together again for sister and brotherhood, to compete for excellence, and just because. This event will also give us the opportunity to memorialize some of our former MSB family members who have made an impact on our lives and for whom a salute is appropriate.

So pass the word, make a phone call, write a letter, and tell all former MSB students, teachers, houseparents, friends, and family members about MSB Fun Fest 2012. The cost of this event is $75 for adults and $40 for children sixteen years of age or younger for the entire weekend.  However, for the banquet only, the fee is $35 per ticket. Hotel rooms are available at the Cabot Lodge, 2375 N. State Street, Jackson, MS 39202, (601) 948-8650, for $94 plus 11 percent tax. Double and king beds are available. This includes cocktails between 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. and breakfast between 6:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m.

Schedule: Friday: MSB fellowship, games, and prizes 7:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m.
Saturday: MSB Homecoming at 1252 Eastover Drive, Jackson, MS 39211. Transportation will leave from the hotel at 7:45 a.m. and reload at 3:30 p.m.
Banquet: 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Sunday: Breakfast and memorial 7:30 a.m. to 11:15 a.m.

For more information contact Kenneth Maddox at (601) 982-1713 or Robert Skillon at (662) 680-8069. All fees must be paid by August 11, 2012, for an accurate count. Mail your payment to P.O. Box 68284, Jackson, MS 39286 after April 1, 2012. Money orders only: made out to Suzanne Turner, MSB Fun Fest. Keep the copy for your personal files. No checks or cash will be accepted. See you there. Go Tigers!

New Audio Magazine Available:
The Jubilee Club Magazine is a monthly cassette produced by and for blind readers featuring messages from around the world, a travelogue, stories of triumph and tragedy, and a monthly competition. It is free of charge (British residents are asked to contribute two pounds annually); subscribers are asked to provide high-quality ninety-minute tapes to editor Malcolm Mathews, 93 Winchelsea Road, Tottenham, London, N17 6XL, England, and to wrap a rubber band around any cassette that contains a message.

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.

Keyboard Needed:
I would like to purchase an external keyboard for the Romeo Braille Embosser RB20 or RB40. Enabling Technologies is no longer making it, but I still have a working embosser and would love to have one. Anyone interested in parting with one should contact Dr. Mohammed Aziz at (858) 578-5458 or by writing to <aziz1@sbcglobal.net>.

Brailler Needed:
I am looking for a reasonably priced Perkins Brailler. If you have one to give away or sell, please contact Nichole Hughes at (609) 501-7003.

For Sale:
Selling a QX 400 PAC Mate with typewriter keys and a 20-cell Braille display. Six years old. Battery and Braille display new. Will accept best offer. Contact <erival@comcast.net>. Unit could be available for examination and sale at national convention.

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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