Braille Monitor                                                July 2013

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News from the Federation Family

In Memory of Hazel Staley:

Hazel Staley, August 17, 1916 - May 30, 2013We have received news of the death of Hazel Staley from James Benton of North Carolina. This is what he has to say about a wonderful American and a dedicated Federationist:

The passing of an icon--for more than seven decades she stood on the front lines, defending the rights of people who are blind and visually impaired in the state of North Carolina. Sadly, her journey has ended. On Thursday, May 30, 2013, Ruth Hazel Staley was lifted from this world to take her place with the angels above. Hazel was a graduate of the Governor Morehead School for the Blind, then known as the State School for the Blind, and the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. With support from Dr. Kenneth Jernigan, Don Capps, and others from the National Federation of the Blind, Hazel formed the North Carolina affiliate of the NFB in 1969. Living most of her life in Charlotte, Hazel did everything she could to embody and embrace the signature mission of the NFB: security, equality, and opportunity for all blind or visually impaired people. In 1989 she won the tenBroek Award, which is the highest award given by the Federation. She has touched the lives of many over all these decades and made North Carolina a greater place, a richer place, a deserving place for those of us with visual disabilities. With sadness we say goodbye to Ms. Staley, and we will all work together to enhance the legacy she left us.

Anyone wishing to make a donation in her memory is urged to contribute to the Robert and Hazel Staley Scholarship Fund.  Be sure to make checks payable to the NFB of North Carolina, mark all such donations clearly, and send them to Boyce Locklear, P.O. Box 2633, Lumberton, NC 28359.

That was what James Benton eloquently wrote. We conclude our tribute to Hazel by including a letter she wrote to Dr. Jernigan a month before his death:

Ruth Hazel Staley
Charlotte, North Carolina

September 3, 1998

Dear Dr. Jernigan,

For the past year I have prayed hard daily for your recovery, but apparently that was not to be. Now I try to console myself with the belief that God has something very special in heaven that He wants done, and, having carefully surveyed the whole world, He chose you as the person most likely to do it and do it well. I know you will serve Him well there as you have served Him and us here. I can't imagine life without you. You have been there so many times for me when I needed help or encouragement. I probably don't have many more years here myself, so I shall look forward to meeting you again when my turn comes.

I have been where Mrs. Jernigan is now, and I know the pain and frustration she is experiencing. Please convey to her for me that, if she ever needs a shoulder to cry on or just an understanding friend to talk to, I will be here.

Until we meet again, I am

Ruth Hazel Staley

In Memoriam Dorothy Kirsner Dies:

On Monday, May 20, 2013, Dorothy Harriett Kirsner died at the age of ninety-four. In 1958 Dorothy Kirsner chaired the three-person Iowa Commission for the Blind board that hired the young Kenneth Jernigan to run the Iowa Commission for the Blind when it occupied three rooms in a rundown state office building in Des Moines. At the time the Iowa Commission was independently rated as among the worst agencies serving the blind in the nation, according to the Mallas Report. Under the leadership of Kenneth Jernigan as director and Dorothy Kirsner as Commission chair and employing the philosophy of the National Federation of the Blind, the Commission transformed itself and its programs until in 1968 a federal official said in an award presentation, “If a person must be blind, it is better to be blind in Iowa than in any other place in the nation or the world!”

As a young woman in the early forties, Mrs. Kirsner qualified as a Braille transcriptionist. These volunteers were so highly prized that her certificate was actually signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Early in her career she transcribed a long textbook for Kenneth Jernigan, then a college student in Tennessee. That was the beginning of a long association between the two.

In 1958, when Dr. tenBroek and his chief lieutenant Kenneth Jernigan were looking for a larger platform than a regional adult training center on which to demonstrate convincingly the effectiveness of the NFB’s rehabilitation ideas, the Iowa agency’s director’s job opened, and Dr. Jernigan noticed that his old friend, Dorothy Kirsner, was chairing the commission that would hire the new director. With extraordinary energy and creativity Dr. Jernigan contrived to get himself to Des Moines with a majority of the Commission for the Blind ready to vote for him as the new director. Thus began the most exciting transformation of a rehabilitation program for the blind that this country has yet seen.

In 1966 the conference room beside the director’s office at the Commission was officially named the Dorothy Kirsner Conference Room. In addition to transcribing books into Braille herself, Mrs. Kirsner and a friend established a program at the Fort Madison Penitentiary to record and transcribe books into Braille for the blind. For a number of years she was a member of the board of the Iowa Radio Reading Information Service. She is survived by Alvin, her husband of seventy-two years, her four children, four grandchildren, and one great-grandson. Federationists everywhere salute the life and work of Dorothy Kirsner and offer our sympathy to her family and friends.

Son of Longtime Federationists Honored:

Steve Benson is a former member of the national board of directors and served for a long time as president of the National Federation of the Blind of Illinois. He and his wife Peg are the proud parents of Patrick, who teaches music in a Chicago high school. Recently Steve sent along this note about an honor Patrick has received:

Patrick has made a significant difference in the music program at Hubbard High School, and it has been recognized by a number of people, including the president of his college. At Hubbard's spring concert the senior class paid tribute to his effectiveness by presenting him a snare drum with the signature of each band member on the drum head. The formal presentation brought tears to Patrick’s eyes, and several of the band members began crying. As Patrick described the scene while driving home, I could tell that he teared up again. It was very moving for Peg and me—I guess one could say we're just a little proud of that young man. He is only in his fifth year of teaching; it is all quite remarkable.


Denise Brown making remarks after she received her awardAs we were going to press, we learned that Denise Brown, president of the Greater Philadelphia Chapter of the NFB of Pennsylvania and a member of the affiliate board of directors was selected by the Quaker City Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., as its awardee at the eighth annual Greek Gala on Friday, May 3, 2013. The award was for outstanding social action in the community. Congratulations to Denise.

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.


In the May 2013 issue we published an article entitled "My Constant Search for Accessibility" by Robert Kingett. In it the author says his research while in high school led him to believe the cost of Window-Eyes was $1,250. The good folks at GW Micro have requested that we explain that this figure represents the cost of Window-Eyes when purchased on a payment plan with a concurrent Software Maintenance Agreement. They correctly state that they have always charged less for their screen-reading program than their competitor, JAWS for Windows, developed and marketed by Freedom Scientific.

In response to the same article we have also received a note of concern from the developers of NVDA suggesting that the use of Eloquence through the plug-in that the article referred to may constitute a violation of copyright. Short of a finding by a court, we have no way to verify this opinion, but we pass along their cautionary note.

New iOS/iPad User Guide Available:

iOS technology is a game changer. School districts across the country are purchasing and deploying iPads to students across grade levels—even integrating them into classroom curricula. But how many teachers and parents are ready to ensure that their blind students have equal access to all the iPad has to offer?

iOS Success: Making the iPad Accessible—A Guide for Parents and Teachers, written by Larry L. Lewis, a blind iPad user and instructor, gives step-by-step instructions for every pertinent accessibility feature the iPad has to offer—including getting acquainted with VoiceOver and Zoom, setting accessibility options, pairing external devices such as keyboard and refreshable Braille displays, setting up Apple accounts to buy apps, use iBooks, the Cloud and Dropbox, and much, much more. The last chapter includes tips from blind students who use their iPads daily and one very committed parent who is mastering iOS technology alongside his blind sons.

The book assumes that the reader has never used an iPad. Although it is geared to parents and teachers, there is plenty of useful advice for blind users as well. Join the iOS revolution! Order online from National Braille Press at <>, or call toll-free (800) 548-7323. Large-print edition costs $28; in Braille, eBraille, DAISY, ASCII, MP3, or Word, cost is $20.

Video about Inaccessible Websites Available:

We recently received the following announcement from Dr. Jonathan Lazar, a Shutzer Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University who is currently on leave from his duties as a professor in computer science in the Department of Computer and Information Sciences and Universal Usability Laboratory at Towson University. He has worked closely with the National Federation of the Blind to study and highlight access problems that limit opportunities for the blind. Here is his announcement:

I am pleased to announce that the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University has posted a video (fully captioned) of my fellowship presentation on February 13, 2013, titled "Locked Out: Investigating Societal Discrimination Against People with Disabilities Due to Inaccessible Websites." The video is at <>.

BANA Accepts Two New Member Organizations, Approves Addition to Nemeth Code:

We recently received the following press release from the Braille Authority of North America:

The Braille Authority of North America (BANA) held its 2013 spring meeting April 11 to 13 in Washington, DC. The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS), a BANA member organization, hosted the meeting at the Library of Congress. During its three-day meeting the BANA board reviewed and acted on semiannual reports from its eighteen committees, considered committee recommendations, and deliberated issues and challenges facing Braille users and producers.

The UEB Task Force reported on the development of a plan for the transition to UEB in the United States as well as the collaborative steps that have been taken to initiate dialogue and planning among the various Braille communities that will be affected.

Actions taken at the board meeting included the following: the review and approval of a major revision of the organization’s entire set of bylaws and policies as recommended after intense study by the BANA Bylaws Committee. Approval of the applications for two new member organizations: the Council of Schools for the Blind (COSB) and the Hadley School for the Blind. BANA welcomes both of these organizations and looks forward to working with them. Approval of a recommendation from BANA’s Braille Mathematics Technical Committee that the following be added to the Nemeth Code:

Rule XIV, §86c.
When the expression being modified is a single digit or a letter, lower-case or capitalized, from any alphabet, and in any type form, and when the modifier is the horizontal bar directly under such a single digit or letter, the digit or letter, followed by the directly under symbol and the bar, serves to express the modification. This construction should be regarded as a contracted form of expression and must be used whenever applicable. If the modification includes a superscript, subscript, or prime, the five-step rule of “a” above must be followed. The five-step rule may be used in conjunction with the contracted form without fear of confusion.

On Saturday morning BANA hosted an open forum at the Arlington Public Library, Arlington, Virginia. The forum was quite well attended by DC-area Braille readers, students, and teachers. Participants also traveled from West Virginia and Maryland to attend. BANA board members and forum participants engaged in a dialogue that centered on the characteristics of UEB and the coming transition. The tone of the forum was extremely upbeat with numerous questions and comments about the importance and future of Braille; the well-spoken students added their individual and open-minded perspectives. For additional resource information visit <>.

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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