Braille Monitor                                                May 2013

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News from the Federation Family

Braille Book Fair 2013:
Calling all Braille readers, teachers, and parents! It’s that time again: time to sort through all those boxes of Braille books and donate gently used but no longer needed Braille books to the 2013 Braille Book Fair sponsored by the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children. 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 in our books in good condition: print-Braille picture storybooks, leisure reading (fiction or nonfiction) books, cookbooks, and books about sports.

Children are so hungry for their very own books that every year, despite generous donations of books, 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 UPS, Braille Book Fair, Attention: Milton Bennett, 8901 Atlantic Ave, Orlando, FL 32824.

This year's coordinator is Krystal Guillory. If you have any questions, contact Krystal Guillory at (318) 245-8955 or <kguillory@lcb-ruston.com>. This year's event is slated to take place on Wednesday, July 3, 2013, from 5:00 to 7:00 PM. Please check the convention agenda for location.

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 2013 national convention the resolutions committee meeting will be held on Tuesday, July 2. 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 18, 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, <nfbmd@earthlink.net>; fax, (410) 715-9597; or snail mail, Sharon Maneki, 9013 Nelson Way, Columbia, MD 21045.

How to Pay for Your Hotel Stay in Dallas:
Here is some 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, 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.

Instructor Turns Novelist:
Federationist Jerry Whittle has published two novels, costing $7.99 each, available on Amazon at the Kindle Store and online at Barnes and Noble. Slingshot, a baseball novel, and Standing with Better Angels, a novel about a blind minister who works at a homeless shelter in New Orleans, are the two titles.

Federationist Kenneth Silberman Honored:
Captain Kenneth Silberman of the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) earned CAP's prestigious Charles E. 'Chuck' Yeager Aerospace Education Achievement Award on March 15, 2013. He earned this award, named after the man who first broke the sound barrier, after having served as an assistant aerospace education officer for the Bowie Composite Squadron of the Maryland Wing since January 14, 2013. The Yeager award recognizes CAP officers who have demonstrated a thorough knowledge of aerodynamics, navigation, weather, and the history of both civilian and military aviation.

New Chapter:
We are excited to announce the formation of a new Federation chapter in Jackson, Michigan. The Jackson Area chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Michigan was formed in January of 2013 and currently has sixteen members. The new officers and board of directors are president, David Robinson; vice president, Rusty Higgins; secretary, Mary Ann Robinson; treasurer, Kristen Wilson; and board members, Pat Feldpausch and Travis Wilson.

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.

NLS Sponsors Braille Summit:
NLS invites you to participate in the NLS Braille Summit at Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown, Massachusetts, June 19 to 21, 2013, to help determine the best ways for libraries to promote and support Braille literacy. The conference will bring together librarians, Braille literacy professionals, Braille readers, and other stakeholders.

Braille is the only true form of literacy for people who are blind. It increases access to education, allows for fuller participation in society, and drastically increases the odds of employment. Yet studies suggest that fewer than 10 percent of people who are legally blind in the United States can read Braille, and many children who are blind have no opportunity to learn it. As leading providers of Braille reading materials, libraries are poised to play a key role in the fight to reverse this trend. NLS is committed to increasing Braille literacy as part of its strategic plan.

The conference will allow participants to gather lessons learned from across America and around the world; assess the present state of Braille literacy, technology, and access; and make recommendations that will shape Braille programs and priorities for the future of the NLS network of cooperating libraries. The conference will cover five major themes: Braille Readers, Library Selection and Collection Development, Braille Production, Braille Technology, and Promoting Braille Literacy and Awareness. Participants will have the opportunity to listen to expert speakers in each subject area and then engage in facilitated discussions with their peers, during which they will identify strategic issues and recommend solutions for implementation. We hope that you will join us to lend your own knowledge and experience.

The Crowne Plaza Boston-Newton, selected as the host hotel, is offering a rate of $159 per night. Attendees are responsible for arranging and covering their own lodging and transportation expenses. NLS will provide breakfast and lunch, as well as transportation from the host hotel to the conference facility.

Registration form and conference information available online: <https://nlsbard.loc.gov/
cgi-bin/public/nlsbardprod/Braillesummit2013conference.cgi>. Please note that attendance is limited and registration will be closed when capacity is reached. For more information contact: Judith Dixon, consumer relations officer, <jdix@loc.gov>

Braille Pal Wanted:
I am finishing the study of contracted Braille, thinking about trying grade three, and am contemplating a purchase of a Brailler. It would make Braille writing a lot easier and faster than using a slate and stylus. However, the cost of a Brailler did concern me, especially because I could not think of many reasons why I would have to use it.

Then someone mentioned that I could use it to write letters to others who are blind, and that led me to another thought: it might be fun to have Braille pen pals to correspond with. Writing letters with a computer using a screen reader is ok, but I do want to keep up my Braille skills. If you are interested in being a Braille pal, you can write to me in Braille, and I can write back to you. I am a senior but would also enjoy corresponding with younger people. I suppose we would need someone to address envelopes for us, but it is good to keep in touch with the sighted community too. My name and address are Estelle Shukert, 2924 S. Ingalls Way, Denver, CO 80227.

Pen Pal Wanted:
A friend of my father lives in Poland and is legally blind and retired. He speaks Polish, German, Esperanto, and some English. He would love to learn the American Braille Code and is looking for a pen pal. He is very musical and used to tune pianos and guitars. Can someone direct me to older blind people who would like to communicate with my father’s friend? If anyone can help, please write to Martina Stroup, <martinastroupe@gmail.com>.

Science Sense Tours at the American Museum of Natural History:
Blind and partially sighted visitors are invited to attend this program, held monthly in the Museum galleries. Specially trained Museum tour guides highlight specific themes and exhibition halls, engaging participants through extensive oral descriptions and touchable objects. Science Sense is free with Museum admission.

Sunday, May 19, 10:00 AM: Scales of the Universe
Explore the Scales of the Universe, a 400-foot-long walkway that hugs the glass curtain wall along the Rose Center for Earth and Space, which introduces visitors to the relative sizes of galaxies, stars, planets, and atoms through text panels, interactive terminals, and models.

Wednesday, June 12, 2:30 PM: Living Large
Join us on a big expedition throughout the Museum as we discuss and examine several larger-than-life icons such as the blue whale, the giant sequoia, dinosaurs, and the 63-foot-long Great Canoe.

Saturday, July 13, 10:00 AM: Ocean Life
Plunge into the ocean to explore aquatic habitat dioramas in the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life.

Thursday, August 15, 2:30 PM: North American Mammals
Discover the dioramas in the stunningly restored Bernard Family Hall of North American Mammals, which offers a snapshot of North America’s rich environmental heritage.

Science Sense tours are available to individuals or groups. Space is limited, and advance registration is required. Programs may be subject to change. For additional information or to register for a Science Sense tour, call (212) 313-7565 or email <accessibility@amnh.org>.

Reunion:
If you attended The Ohio State School for the Blind (OSSB) and are interested in attending the biennial reunion/business meeting, it will be held at 5220 N. High Street, Columbus, Ohio, from June 7 to 9. If you have not updated your mailing address, phone numbers, and/or email address, please do so ASAP if you want to attend so we can send out the necessary invitation to you, your family, and friends.

Please send contact information to <louis.mazzoli@yahoo.com> or call at (614) 882-8370. You can also call our information line and leave your contact information there. The telephone number is (206) 279-6833.

Lions World Song Festival for Blind Singers:
Four Lions Clubs in Kraków, Poland, part of LCI District 121, are in the process of organizing a Lions World Song Festival for the Blind. The event, called “Sounds from the Heart,” will be held in Kraków from November 18 thru 20, 2013. The primary purpose is to give talented vision-impaired singers a chance to be heard on a world stage. At the same time the organizing clubs want to raise awareness among the general public about the needs and difficulties that severely sight-impaired people face. All proceeds will benefit LCIF’s SightFirst programs.

The Festival will take the form of a competition among the participants. Participation will not only create a bond among the artists but will also give them a worldwide stage. It also demonstrates to the world how Lions from all parts of the globe can work together to address great humanitarian needs and achieve successful outcomes. The Festival will demonstrate again to the world that the Lions are still fully committed to the eradication of preventable blindness, to research into the various causes of severe eye diseases, and to assisting those who are blind in any manner possible.

The Song Festival initiative was first presented at the European Lions Forum in September 2012. It was met with great enthusiasm on the part of the attendees. In October 2012 the National Lions Convention in Zakopane, Poland, threw its full support behind this initiative of the four Kraków clubs.

Participation in the festival will involve four steps:

  1. initial qualification of applicants to participate, based on submitted DVD’s
  2. two-day auditions of invited applicants in Kraków and selection of finalists
  3. finalists’ performances with accompaniment by Kraków orchestra
  4. announcement of winners

The competition is intended to give talented vocalists who are blind or sight impaired an opportunity to perform for a large and diverse audience. Only amateur musicians will be invited, although participation may lead to a professional career. The venue for the festival will be the Grand Opera in Kraków, a city selected by the European Commission to receive the Access City Award 2011 in recognition of its initiatives to make life easier for the severely handicapped. One of these initiatives is a special tourist route using three-dimensional maps and GPS technology to make access to the city’s cultural and historical heritage easier for blind and vision-impaired people.

Lions Clubs from around the world are invited and encouraged to join the Kraków clubs to participate in this important service project. It will involve identifying vocally talented people from their geographic area who are blind or sight impaired, assisting them to create an original song with the help of local composers and lyrics writers, and sponsoring them to make a recording in a professional studio.

The Kraków Lions are confident that the idea of promoting young, talented vision-impaired musicians to become respected and appreciated artists will be supported by the entire Lions community. A little push from their Lions friends may be all that’s needed to get them on stage. Stevie Wonder and Andrea Bocelli may not be the exception after all. The Lions of Kraków will be happy to assist any club willing to participate in this joint Lions project. Details about the Festival are shown on the website: <www.lionsfestival.jordan.pl>.

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:
Ann Wasserman has a BrailleNote Empower thirty-two-cell refreshable display with a Braille keyboard. It is gently used, having been owned for just over a year. Asking $1,500. She can be reached at (732) 222-3510.

For Sale:
AmbuTech Mobility Aid iGlasses ($80), PowerBraille 81 Braille display ($500), and Juliet Classic Braille Embosser ($500). All prices negotiable and do not include shipping. All items come with accessories. If interested, call (519) 669-1456 or email <dvm975@gmail.com>.


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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