Braille Monitor                                                 January 2013

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News from the Federation Family

National Federation of the Blind Congratulates Dr. Fredric K. Schroeder:

The National Federation of the Blind recently announced that Dr. Fredric K. Schroeder has been elected as first vice president of the World Blind Union (WBU).  Dr. Schroeder, who also serves as first vice president of the NFB, was elected to the position at the Eighth General Assembly of the World Blind Union, recently held in Bangkok, Thailand.

Dr. Marc Maurer, president of the National Federation of the Blind, said: “We congratulate our longtime friend, colleague, and leader Fred Schroeder on his election as first vice president of the World Blind Union.  Fred will bring invaluable skill, experience, and knowledge to the many challenges faced by blind people throughout the world, as he has done so capably for blind Americans throughout his career.”

Dr. Schroeder said: “I am honored to have the opportunity to represent the blind of the United States within the World Blind Union, and I look forward to helping to advance the WBU’s important agenda to improve the lives of blind people across the globe.  I thank the members of the WBU for placing their trust and confidence in me.”

Dr. Schroeder has a long and distinguished career in service to the blind.  He served as the first executive director of the New Mexico Commission for the Blind.  His success in making its rehabilitation and employment programs the most successful in the country led to his appointment in 1994 by President Bill Clinton as commissioner of the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) in the United States Department of Education.  Following his service as RSA commissioner, he joined the faculty of the Interwork Institute at San Diego State University.  He now works as a research professor specializing in leadership and public policy in vocational rehabilitation and also serves as president of the Virginia affiliate of the National Federation of the Blind.

In Memoriam:

Joe Money, January 15, 1950, to November 5, 2012With deep regret we report the death following a massive heart attack of Indiana Federationist Joe Money. He was a deeply committed member of the NFB of Indiana for forty years. For six years he served as affiliate president, and current Indiana President Ron Brown reports that at one time or another he held just about every other affiliate office.

Joe was a Randolph-Sheppard vendor who was always actively working in the legislature. Single-handedly he fought for and obtained funds for NFB-NEWSLINE in Indiana. He worked on the Braille bill and many other pieces of state legislation, and he missed only two Washington Seminars.

Joe quietly worked for the NFB, wherever the work took him. He helped members of the Federation family physically or financially whenever he saw a need. We offer our deepest sympathy to Joe’s wife Debbie and his affiliate family.

Elected:

On October 27, 2012, the National Federation of the Blind of Maine elected its new board of directors. Elected were president, Leon Proctor Jr.; first vice president, Patricia C. Estes; second vice president, Roger Cusson; secretary, Faith Armstrong; treasurer, Curtis (Skip) Estes; and board members, David Van Wickler, Lee Ann Nelson, and Walter Woitesek.

Pennies for Pages: Support Braille Literacy:

The National Association of Blind Students (NABS) is proud to be holding our fourth annual Pennies for Pages fundraiser to support Braille literacy. Students and supporters from across the country are reading in the Braille Readers Are Leaders Contest and soliciting donations for pages read. If you haven’t yet had the chance to support a reader, it’s not too late. Please go to the following URL and make a pledge for pages read or a fixed donation to the state or student of your choice: <http://www.nabslink.org/pennies_for_pages/pennies_form.php>. We can accept credit cards, checks through postal mail, or cash in person at the Washington Seminar. Your donation of any amount will go a long way toward helping NABS to carry out the important work of the Federation. If you have any questions, please contact NABS President Sean Whalen at <nabs.president@gmail.com> or by calling (608) 332-4147. We are extremely grateful to all who have donated or will donate.

2013 NFB Writing Contest:

The annual youth and adult writing contests sponsored by the Writers’ Division of the NFB opened January 1 and will close April 1. Adult contests, poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and stories for youth are open to all entrants eighteen years of age and over.

The youth writing contests, poetry and fiction, are to promote Braille literacy and excellence in creative writing. Entries will be judged on creativity and quality of Braille. The age groups for these authors is divided into grade levels: elementary, middle school, and high school. Prizes for contest winners range up to $100 in adult categories and up to $30 in youth categories.

All contest winners will be announced at the Writers’ Division business meeting during the NFB national convention to be held in Orlando, Florida, the first week of July, 2013. In addition, shortly after convention a list of winners will appear on the Writers’ Division website, <www.nfb-writers-division.net>. First-, second-, and third-place winners in each category will be considered for publication in the Writers’ Division magazine, Slate & Style. For additional contest details and submission guidelines consult the Writers’ Division website.

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.

Message of Hope Ministry:

Unity's Message of Hope ministry, serving the blind and visually impaired, has the following products and services available free of charge:

1.  “Daily Word” in Braille--bimonthly, one Braille volume.
2. “Daily Word” on CD. Two CD's, bimonthly.
3. A virtual library of downloadable Braille Unity publications, available free of charge to anyone with access to a computer, Braille notetaker, or digital Talking Book player at <http://content.unity.org/prayer/inspirationalArticles/messageOfHope.html>
4. An audiobook lending library. Contains Unity publications on audiocassette and CD. To request a catalog, call (866) 421-3066 or email <message-of-hope@unityonline.org>.
5. Hardcopy Braille book lending library. Unity publications in Braille. To request a catalog, call (866) 421-3066, message us on Facebook at <facebook.com/messageofhope> or email <message-of-hope@unityonline.org>.

Visit the Message of Hope Facebook page at: <http://www.facebook.com/messageofhope> to stay updated on new books and other materials that become available in our various accessible libraries. Visit the Message of Hope website at <http://www.unity.org/>.

News from the Braille Authority of North America (BANA):

BANA circulated the following press release in November 2012:

BANA Adopts Unified English Braille (UEB) for United States

On November 2, 2012, the Braille Authority of North America (BANA) set a new course for the future of Braille in the United States when it adopted Unified English Braille (UEB). The motion, which passed decisively, specifies that UEB will eventually replace the current English Braille American Edition and that the U.S. will retain the Nemeth Code for mathematics and science notation.

The transition to UEB will not be immediate and will follow a carefully crafted timeline. Implementation plans will be formulated with the input and participation of stakeholders from the consumer, education, rehabilitation, transcription, and production communities. Plans will take into consideration the various aspects of creating, teaching, learning, and using Braille in a wide variety of settings. The plans will be designed to provide workable transitions for all involved in Braille use and production and to minimize disruption for current Braille readers.

UEB is based on the current literary Braille code and was developed with input from many people, primarily Braille readers, who worked to achieve an optimal balance among key factors including keeping the general-purpose literary code as its base, allowing the addition of new symbols, providing flexibility for change as print changes, reducing the complexity of rules, and allowing greater accuracy in back translation.

Letters and numbers will stay the same as they are in the current literary code. There will be some changes to punctuation, but most will remain the same. Some rules for the use of contractions will change. Nine contractions will be eliminated, and some will be used more often. A FAQ providing more detail about changes is available on the BANA website. After implementation the official Braille codes for the United States will be Unified English Braille; Nemeth Code for Mathematics and Science Notation, 1972 Revision and published updates; Music Braille Code, 1997; and the IPA Braille Code, 2008.

More detailed information about UEB and the motion that BANA passed can be found on the BANA website at <http://www.Brailleauthority.org/>. The Board of BANA consists of appointed representatives from fifteen member organizations of Braille producers, transcribers, teachers, and consumers.

The mission and purpose of the Braille Authority of North America are to assure literacy for tactile readers through the standardization of Braille and tactile graphics. BANA promotes and facilitates the use, teaching, and production of Braille. It publishes rules and interprets and renders opinions pertaining to Braille in all existing codes. It deals with codes now in existence or to be developed in the future, in collaboration with other countries using English Braille. In exercising its function and authority, BANA considers the effects of its decisions on other existing Braille codes and formats, the ease of production by various methods, and acceptability to readers.

Attention Prospective NASA Student Interns with Disabilities:

NASA hopes to increase the number of students with disabilities pursuing science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) careers through our internship programs. NASA has a 2 percent hiring goal for employment of people with disabilities, and internships are a good way to get experience. Students can apply for summer internships now. The deadline for submitting applications is Friday, March 15, 2013, and we will begin extending offers to students as early as February 2, 2013. We encourage you to apply early because the best opportunities are likely to be filled quickly, and your likelihood of being selected decreases the longer you wait. You can register for an account and look for internships anytime at the One Stop Shopping Initiative (OSSI): NASA Internships, Fellowships, and Scholarships (NIFS) at <http://intern.nasa.gov/>. Summer 2013 internships run for ten weeks for college students and six to eight weeks for high school students, from early/late June through early/mid-August. College students receive a stipend of $6,000 and high school students $1,800. As an intern you are responsible for your own housing. NASA internships for college students are also offered during spring, fall, and year-long sessions.

NASA has internships for high school students and for rising freshmen through doctoral students in STEM fields. A rising freshman is a high school student who has been accepted to an accredited institution of higher learning, i.e., a college or university, at the time of the internship. Applicants must be U.S. citizens, with a minimum GPA of 2.8 for college and 3.0 for high school; however, applicants must understand that the competition for internships is keen. High school students must be at least sixteen years old at the time the internship begins.

Internships are available at all NASA centers nationwide. Students can submit a completed application whether they apply to an opportunity or not. However, applying to opportunities has the advantage of allowing applicants to be considered by mentors who work in disciplines of interest and at a particular center. Applicants may apply to as many as fifteen posted opportunities.  For example, an opportunity having to do with the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) will be at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland because SDO is located there. Not applying to an opportunity means that prospective interns will be hoping that a mentor happens to read their applications rather than directing their applications to mentors in fields and at centers of interest.

Students who are selected for summer internships will receive an offer letter by email sometime after February 1, 2013. They will then have five days to accept or reject the offer through their OSSI: NIFS account. The offer will automatically expire after five days if no action is taken.

Please feel free to contact me for more information or help with applying: Kenneth A. Silberman, Esq., U.S. Supreme Court, Maryland, and Patent Bars B.A., M.Eng., J.D., NASA Engineer & Registered Patent Attorney, Office of Education, Code 160, NASA/GSFC, Mailstop 160, Bldg. 28, Rm. N165, Greenbelt, MD  20771, USA; Voice: (301) 286-9281; Fax: (301) 286-1655; Email: <kenneth.a.silberman@nasa.gov>

Disney’s The Lion King and Newsies to Offer New Accessibility Services on Broadway:

Supported by funds from the City of New York Theater Subdistrict Council, LDC, and the City of New York, Disney's hit musicals The Lion King and Newsies have joined the Broadway Accessibility/Audience Expansion Initiative, which creates collaboration between producers and accessibility specialists at all stages of production. The Initiative is a partnership between Inclusion in the Arts, a New York-based not-for-profit, and G-PASS, a service company using technology from Sound Associates Inc., in collaboration with Disney Theatrical Productions. This historic initiative provides theater-goers with disabilities a theater experience as complete and captivating as that enjoyed by non-disabled audience members. The services are I-Caption for deaf and hard-of-hearing patrons and D-Scriptive for blind and low-vision patrons.

I-Caption, a revolutionary text-based system by Sound Associates Inc., provides the entire script of the show--including character names--as it unfolds in performance, via a handheld polarized video screen. D-Scriptive provides an extremely thorough audio description of a show on a handheld unit for blind and low-vision patrons. Both services are integrated into the show's light and electrical cueing system so that the commentary keeps pace with the action onstage. These services are provided for every performance and evolved from the Infrared Listening System, for which Sound Associates Inc. won a Tony Award in 1979.

With the addition of The Lion King and Newsies, Inclusion in the Arts and G-PASS expand access to Broadway audiences of all ages in unprecedented ways. The Initiative is particularly proud to showcase Broadway as a welcoming entertainment option for all family members at every show.

New Perkins SMART Brailler® Opens Braille Learning and Teaching to All:

Learning to read and write has just become easier for students who are blind, and that process can now smoothly include their teachers, families, and friends. For the first time since Louis Braille created his namesake writing code more than 200 years ago, people who are sighted can instantly understand the tactile reading system used by people who are blind with the new easy-to-use, portable Perkins SMART Brailler. Until now only specialists or those trained to read the configurations of raised dots could understand Braille. Today the SMART Brailler allows a classroom teacher, a parent of a child who is blind, or a sighted classmate to hear and see what is being Brailled instantly with built-in audio and visual output. Perkins Products, a division of Perkins, developed the new device and is ready to ship to schools, rehab centers, and individuals.

The Perkins SMART Brailler, from the maker of the world-renowned Perkins Brailler®, provides audio and visual feedback coupled with hardcopy output so that everyone can learn Braille together--students, teachers, parents, and adults losing their vision. The new product enables a student to use Braille more independently. A proprietary electronic device displays large-print and simulated Braille images and provides audio output in English and a range of other languages using Acapela text-to-speech software developed by Perkins Products in conjunction with the American Printing House for the Blind. Perkins Products Vice President and General Manager David Morgan says, “We are convinced that this truly levels the playing field and demystifies the Braille code to allow a shared learning experience for all--student, parent, teacher, friend.”

For a child who is blind or partially sighted, learning Braille is equivalent to a sighted child learning to write letters and read back words and sentences. The SMART Brailler is unique in its multi-function, multi-sensory output using the standard Braille keyboard. Because the device is built around a next-generation Perkins Brailler, hardcopy Braille is also generated simultaneously. It not only functions as a mechanical Brailler, it allows a student to save and transfer electronic documents via USB and to edit documents. Even more important, with the audio feedback and the screen which displays what is being Brailled, a sighted classmate or parent can work alongside the student. It makes inclusion of students who are blind into mainstream classrooms far more possible than ever before.

The SMART Brailler comes with a quick start guide and an audio overview. Free training videos will be available online. See the SMART Brailler in action on YouTube: <http://youtube/A41u7XXB4QQ> (90 sec.); for more details: <http://youtube/avA_DOn6gk0> (4 mins.). For more information and to keep abreast of availability of this and other Perkins Products, visit <www.perkinsproducts.org> or email <perkinsproducts@perkins.org>.

 

NFB Pledge

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

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