Braille Monitor                                                February 2013

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News from the Federation Family

Announcing Indy Super BLAST 2013:

Mark your calendars. Plan to join us for education, motivation, and the largest trade show for blind entrepreneurs and others interested in building small business opportunities for the blind. The National Association of Blind Merchants, a strong and active division of the National Federation of the Blind, is pleased to announce that the BLAST (Business Leadership and Superior Training) conference will return to Indianapolis, Indiana, in May 2013. After much negotiation and consideration of the top conference and hospitality venues across the country, contracts have been signed with the magnificent Indianapolis Marriott Downtown.

The BLAST conference has become the principal conference for blind vendors and state licensing agency management and staff over the past decade. Each year we have expanded curriculum, sought out the most dynamic speakers, added networking opportunities and team-building exercises, and scheduled top-notch tours and entertainment. In 2013 we are moving this conference to the spring.

In light of the recent far-reaching memorandum issued by President Obama and the recent launch of our National Federation of the Blind Entrepreneurial Initiative, we have much work ahead of us. Recent BLAST training conferences have also included a track for blind individuals who wish to develop small business opportunities in addition to or beyond Randolph-Sheppard. This effort will continue during Indy Super BLAST 2013.

How can a rehabilitation agency help you start a business? What role can the Small Business Administration play? What is SCORE? How do you increase active participation between blind vendors and a state licensing agency? What are the best social media strategies to help build your business? How do you get started in franchising? What are the latest healthy vending and food service approaches? What are best human resource practices? What are the latest and greatest accessible business technologies? Join us as we answer these and many other questions at Indy Super BLAST 2013.

Register now at <>. The conference registration fee is $200, or save $50 with early bird registration by registering before April 15, 2013. For assistance with registration and for further information, call (866) 543-6808. Reserve your room at the Indianapolis Marriott Downtown by calling (317) 822-3500. Rooms are available at the low rate of $124 per night plus applicable taxes. Room rates are effective from Friday, May 17, through Thursday, May 23.

NFB of West Virginia Announces Braille Tutoring Program:

In conjunction with Louis Braille’s birthday the West Virginia affiliate announced the establishment of a pilot project to teach Braille to interested adults across the state. The press release was picked up by various news organizations. Here is the release:

New Program Offers Literacy Training for Blind Residents

Charlene Smyth teaches Charles Powell Braille.The National Federation of the Blind of West Virginia is marking the anniversary of the birth of Louis Braille with the announcement of a statewide initiative aimed at helping blind adults gain literacy skills. The project matches blind adults who read and write Braille with other blind adults who wish to learn it. Louis Braille is the Frenchman who invented the system of reading and writing by touch, using raised dots. He was born 204 years ago, Jan. 4, 1809, and the code which bears his name is now used by blind people around the world.

"We know that literacy is vital to success in virtually every aspect of life, whether it be education, employment, or simply being good citizens of our communities," NFBWV President Charlene Smyth said. "For those of us who are blind, literacy means the ability to read and write Braille. This project allows us to share our knowledge of Braille with others who can benefit from learning it."

Last spring a dozen blind persons from throughout the state volunteered as tutors for the project and received some basic training in the best ways to teach others to read and write Braille. About half of them are currently working with students, and those interested in learning Braille are encouraged to take advantage of the program. The project has received a grant from the West Virginia Division of Rehabilitation Services for the purchase of books and other learning materials. The funds will also assist with transportation costs when tutors and students must travel some distance to meet with each other.

NFBWV Second Vice President Sheri Koch, who recently retired as a supervisor with the Division of Rehabilitation Services, was instrumental in planning and launching the project. She recognizes that losing one's vision is often a traumatic experience. "It can complicate even the simplest of tasks, like following a recipe, writing down a phone number, or finding the right elevator button," Koch said. "Learning Braille can help a person with vision loss to regain independence, confidence, and self-respect. It can also be the key to finding and retaining a job."

The training is offered to any adult who has experienced vision loss affecting his or her ability to read and write. Persons with some basic knowledge of Braille who want to improve their reading and writing skills can benefit from the project as well. To learn more or to register as a student, contact NFBWV First Vice President Ed McDonald at (304) 788-0129 or email him at <>.


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.

Maps of South Carolina Available:

The Princeton Braillists have recently completed a volume of Maps of South Carolina. This single volume includes an overview of the state, followed by individual maps of cities, rivers, counties, highways, farm and mineral products, yearly precipitation, and average temperature. More detailed maps show the vicinity of Charleston and the vicinity of Hilton Head Island.

The package comprises twelve maps, thirty-three pages total. The price is six dollars and we use shipping by free mail where eligible. To order, please send check or purchase order to The Princeton Braillists, 76 Leabrook Lane, Princeton, NJ 08540. For further information contact Ruth H. Bogia, (215) 357-7715, or Nancy Amick, (609) 924-5207.

Lighthouse International and Creative Mobile Technologies Headed to Washington, D.C. for Prestigious Board Appearance:

Lighthouse International in partnership with Creative Mobile Technologies, LLC (CMT) announced today that it has been invited by the United States Access Board to appear at its Tuesday, January 8th meeting held in Washington DC to showcase taxicab improvements for the visually impaired community. The Board is structured to function as a coordinating body among Federal agencies and to directly represent the public, particularly people with disabilities. Half of its members are representatives from most of the Federal departments. The other half is comprised of members of the public appointed by the President, a majority of whom must have a disability.

Both Mark Ackermann, president and CEO of Lighthouse International, and Jesse Davis, president of Creative Mobile Technologies (CMT), will address the board on the groundbreaking software enhancements designed to enable blind and visually impaired taxi riders to independently access the credit card payment system and other technology features in New York's yellow medallion taxicabs as well as taxi fleets around the nation.

CMT created adaptive software that will allow blind or visually impaired taxi passengers to hear the fare changing in regular intervals during the trip and facilitate all aspects of the credit card or cash payment functions upon reaching their destination including selection of payment options, verification of fare, and selection of tip percentages. VIP Mobile, CMT's audible touch screen feature, can be activated by a special card, a multi-tap on the top right of the screen, or by simply asking the driver. The feature transforms the screen into large, easy-to-navigate sections that are operated by touch and prompted by step-by-step spoken instructions.

This software is critical to the blind and visually impaired community's ability to independently pay taxi fares. Prior to implementation of this new software, blind and visually impaired passengers who chose to use credit cards were forced to rely on cab drivers to swipe their card and enter the correct amount, including tip. Not only is this a violation of current New York City TLC rules, but also it exposes the visually impaired passenger to the potential for fraudulent transactions, including overpayment. In addition to its New York City rollout, CMT plans to introduce software in 4,500 credit card and payment systems in taxis around the country.

"CMT's adaptive software will ensure that the millions of people who are blind and visually impaired in New York City, Boston, Chicago, and San Francisco, as well as nine other major U.S. cities, will be a part of a community that benefits from independent payment and other technology in taxi fleets around the nation," said Jason Poliner, vice chairman and chief operating officer, Creative Mobile Technologies. "We are proud to have worked closely with Lighthouse International to bring these benefits to visually impaired communities across the country and look forward to sharing CMT's experience and best practices with the U.S. ACCESS Board."

Lighthouse International estimates that the prevalence rate of vision loss in New York City is 362,000. This number will only increase because of the aging population and age-related causes of visual impairment and blindness, as well as blindness due to uncontrolled diabetes.

"This is an excellent example of the private sector working with government leaders and advocates to voluntarily change a system that has excluded the independent participation of millions of people who are blind or visually impaired for far too long," said Mark G. Ackermann, president and CEO of Lighthouse International. "We are delighted to have played a role in this nationwide initiative and will continue working to ensure that every taxi in the nation is accessible to people with a visual impairment."

About Lighthouse International [formerly known as the New York Lighthouse for the Blind]: Founded in 1905, Lighthouse International is a leading non-profit organization dedicated to fighting vision loss through prevention, treatment, and empowerment. It achieves this through clinical and rehabilitation services, education, research, and advocacy. For more information about vision loss and its causes, contact Lighthouse International at 1-800-829-0500 or visit <>.

About Creative Mobile Technologies (CMT): Founded in New York City in 2005 by taxi industry leaders, Creative Mobile Technologies (CMT) provides more than 20,000 taxicabs in 60 cities and 35 states with a variety of taxi technologies and enhancements including credit and debit card processing, media and advertising content, text messaging, interactive passengers maps, GPS, electronic trip sheets and back-office fleet management systems. CMT has more than 6,600 units in New York City alone. CMT's unique "for the industry, by the industry" business model has empowered taxi fleets and individual taxi operators throughout the country with customized solutions born out of the company's deep roots in the taxi industry. CMT's FREEdom Solution integrates all of the technology including dispatching, banking and media components that has helped to bring the American taxi industry into a new era of efficiency and innovation.


Monitor Mart           

The notices in the 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:
Perkins Brailler, standard, brand new condition, in original packaging. Includes dust cover and manual. This Brailler has been used exactly four times. It is in excellent condition. I thought I would use it, but I found that I don’t really need it. Retails for $750. I’m asking only $450. PayPal available. Call Deanne (619) 600-2501, or email <>.

For Sale:
HIMS Braille Sense Plus with qwerty keyboard and thirty-two cell Braille display for sale. It is in perfect condition, rarely used, about a year and a half old. It comes with the original packing materials, leather carrying case and a thirty-two gig compact flash card already installed. $3,500 or best offer. Please contact me at my cell number: (903) 285-2519.

For Sale:
New, still in unopened box: Window-Eyes 7.5.3. Value is $895. Will sell for $600 plus shipping/handling. Call (702) 631-9009 or email <>.

Victor Stream for Sale:
I am selling a Victor Reader Stream that is in excellent condition. It comes with all original materials/items. I am asking $150 or I will consider trades. If you are interested, call (734) 658-2919 or email <>.


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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