Braille Monitor                                             October 2014

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News from the Federation Family

New Chapter:
On Tuesday, July 22, 2014, the San Diego chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of California was born. The elected officers are president, Lisa Irving; vice president, Kyle Woodard; secretary, Allison Depner; treasurer, Debbie Ciampoli; and board member, Joseph Burton.

The annual convention of the NFB of North Dakota was conducted on September 13. The board of directors elected was as follows: president, Amber Kraft; vice president and treasurer, Milton Ota; secretary, Caroline Congdon; and board members, Candace Rivinius and Duane Iverson.

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.

National Association of Blind Merchants Announces Lone Star BLAST 2014

Cheryl Gross
Merchant Relations
National Association of Blind Merchants
Phone: (866) 543-6808, extension 10

The National Association of Blind Merchants (NABM) announced today that the President of the National Federation of the Blind (NFB), Mark Riccobono, will provide the opening address at Business, Leadership and Superior Training (BLAST). NFB President Riccobono will bring his insight, humor, and inspiration to conference attendees at the leadership breakfast Wednesday morning, November 19. NABM, a division of the NFB, encourages you to place your hotel reservations and register now for the powerful BLAST training conference in November 2014. Lone Star BLAST 2014 will be held at the Austin Renaissance Hotel from November 18 to 20.

This year’s BLAST has expanded its scope. There is great excitement building around the Blind Entrepreneurs Succeed Today (BEST) mentoring program for blind clients of vocational rehabilitation who may be considering or embarking on a career of entrepreneurship, either within Randolph-Sheppard or other forms of self-employment. Many state agencies are providing stipends for clients to attend the BEST track at BLAST. Interested consumers and rehab counselors should get in touch with our office for details.

Nicky Gacos, president of the National Association of Blind Merchants, said: “In coordination with Business Enterprises of Texas and the elected committee, we are planning the biggest, boldest, most far-reaching training for blind entrepreneurs and state agency personnel. It will be a BLAST as big as Texas.”

NABM and the National Federation of the Blind Entrepreneur Initiative will jointly stage the conference. The group has already begun planning the biggest trade show in its history, working in conjunction with the RSA Buying Group and the Committee of Blind Operators of Texas. NABM is also pleased to announce that, in coordination with the National Counsel for State Agencies for the Blind, BLAST will again this year feature a day-long training event exclusively for State Licensing Agency staff. The association is also working with NCSAB to offer continuing education for attorneys working with state VR agencies and Business Enterprise programs. Those sessions will take place on Tuesday, November 18.

BLAST seminars will begin the morning of Tuesday, November 18, with business development training on the morning of Wednesday, November 19. The trade show will take place Wednesday afternoon. There will be a full day of targeted education related to personal and professional growth on Thursday, November 20. Thursday evening, BLAST will conclude with an all-star Lone Star BLAST banquet and celebration featuring guest speaker/performer, blind American Idol finalist Scott MacIntyre.

Room reservations at the luxurious Austin Renaissance are available now at the unbelievable rate of $129.00 per night plus applicable taxes. There are a limited number of executive suites available on a first-come, first-serve basis at $149.00 per night. Rooms are available from Sunday, November 16, through Saturday, November 22, 2014. Reservations should be made online at <>, or by phone at (800) 468-3571. Explain to the agent that you are registering for Lone Star BLAST under the National Association of Blind Merchants group. You must mention Lone Star BLAST to get the discounted rate. The Austin Renaissance is located at 9721 Arboretum Boulevard, Austin, TX 78759.

This year BLAST registration will be $200.00. Remember that the BLAST registration fee covers BLAST activities, excluding out-of-hotel tours or events that may be offered. Your registration fee covers training, training materials, welcoming reception, leadership breakfast, trade show and trade show reception, evening banquet, and a “lunch and learn,” featuring an address from Dr. Marc Maurer, Immediate Past President, National Federation of the Blind, on Thursday, November 20. Register now at <>. For questions or assistance with hotel reservations or Lone Star BLAST registrations, please call (866) 543-6808. 

Austin is the home of the most diverse and lively music scene in the world. NABM invites you to come for the high-caliber training, networking, and Texas hospitality. In an email to constituents, President Gacos said: “If you plan to attend any national training conference in 2014, make it the Lone Star BLAST!”

Think training! Think opportunity! Think Austin, Texas!
Think BLAST!

We Need Your Help:
The American Action Fund for Blind Children and Adults has back issues of books from the Free Braille Books Program that it would like to get into the hands of children who would love to have them. These books have been returned to us but are in excellent condition. All of the books are in contracted Braille, and they are at two reading levels. The first level is for children in grades kindergarten through second grade. The second level is for children in grades three through six.

If you would like to have some of these books sent to you from the Free Braille Books Program, please send an email to <> or <>. To sign up for the new books in the current year, please visit <>. You may also call (410) 659-9314, extension 2287. All blind youth, blind parents, teachers of the blind, schools, and libraries serving the blind are eligible to participate in this program.

Cherokee Braille Code Developed:
A Cherokee Braille code has been developed by Tamara Kearney of the Commonwealth Braille & Talking Book Cooperative. This code permits the reading and writing of the Cherokee syllabary in Braille for the first time. The Cherokee Braille code permits the "blind as well as the sighted to be able to read and write in their native language," Ms. Kearney said.

"It’s exciting that our Cherokee citizens who are visually impaired can now read stories in their first language," said Roy Boney, language program manager. "We provided copies of our Cherokee syllabary, sample text, and other items to make Braille in Cherokee a reality. We want to stay in the forefront by offering the Cherokee language on as many written tools as possible to preserve and protect our native tongue." The full description and use of the code can be found at: <> or <ᏣᎳᎩ>.

The Cherokee syllabary stands as one of the major advancements in literacy among the native peoples of North America. It was invented by Sequoyah (c. 1770-1843) between the late 1810s and early 1820s. The creation of the syllabary is noteworthy in that Sequoyah could not previously read or write in any script. It remains today the only example of a modern writing system developed independent of a previous background in an existing writing system. The Cherokee Braille code was developed by Tamara Kearney, who is also the developer of the Inuktitut Braille code used by the First Nations people of Canada's far north.

Cherokee Braille is supported in version 2 of Braille2000, a commercial Braille production system offered by Computer Application Specialties Company of Lincoln, Nebraska. This computer program permits the publication of Cherokee Braille from existing and future Cherokee texts. In addition translation tables have been developed for the open source Liblouis computer Braille translation system. It is hoped that other Braille translation systems will also include Cherokee as an option.

For more information write Commonwealth Braille & Talking Book Cooperative, 605 Robson Street, Suite 850, Vancouver BC V6B 5J3, Canada, or email <>.

2015 Writing Contest Theme Announced:
“75 in 75” is catching on everywhere within the Federation family. We all want to live the life we want, to build the Federation, and to take our part in the cause. Some of us are getting pretty creative as to how we do this. The Writer’s Division has found its own way to honor the anniversary of the National Federation of the Blind. The yearly writer’s contest is making a major change, at least for 2015, so start getting those fingers limbered up and those creative juices flowing. Details will come later in the year, but prepare yourself now for what is to come.

Are you ready for this? The yearly writing contest will, for the first time ever, have a required theme. All submissions will need to somehow incorporate the theme of seventy-five in the piece. It does not necessarily have to be about the anniversary of NFB. It could just be the number; or perhaps the diamond anniversary, seventy-five steps to your destination; or even seventy-five balloons. Thinking of past entries, I might even add that seventy-five aliens would work. Seriously, let your imagination take over. Write the piece you want. Just remember to include the theme of seventy-five, and remember that this is inspired by the seventy-five years of the great work that has been happening within and because of the National Federation of the Blind.

Ski for Light to Celebrate Its Fortieth Anniversary in Colorado; Applications Being Accepted:
Ski for Light (SFL) will return to one of its favorite venues to celebrate its fortieth year in 2015. The SFL International week will be held in Granby, Colorado, from Sunday, January 25, through Sunday, February 1, 2015. Join over two hundred active blind and sighted adults from across the US and around the world who pair up for what many have called the experience of a lifetime.

We will stay at the Inn at Silver Creek and ski at nearby Snow Mountain Ranch. We have returned again and again because the combination of great skiing and the comfortable event hotel is hard to beat. The Inn at Silver Creek offers more than two hundred rooms, an indoor/outdoor swimming pool, both indoor and outdoor hot-tubs, and plenty of convention and meeting space. Snow Mountain Ranch, near Winter Park and part of the YMCA of the Rockies, has 100 kilometers of wonderfully groomed trails. It is consistently rated one of the top Nordic venues in the country.

Ski for Light Inc. is an all-volunteer nonprofit that teaches the basics of classic cross-country skiing to adults who are visually- or mobility-impaired, while giving participants who have already learned the basics of the sport the chance to improve their skills or to just have fun skiing with a trained guide. The total cost of the week per person is $850 for triple-occupancy, $900 for double-occupancy, or $1,225 for single-occupancy. This includes room and all meals for the entire week, round-trip transportation between the Denver airport and the Inn at Silver Creek, all trail fees, and all afternoon and evening activities. Skis, boots, and poles will be provided free of charge to first-time blind or visually-impaired participants. Partial stipends based on financial need are available for guides and first-time and second-time participants.

Apply early for our exciting fortieth anniversary event. Applications are due by November 1, 2014. Those who apply after November 1 will be accepted only if space permits, with priority given to first-time applicants. For more information and to submit your application, please visit the fully accessible website at <>.

If you do not have web access or need more information, please contact the chairman of the Visually Impaired Recruitment Committee, Bob Hartt, Alexandria, Virginia, by phone at (703) 845-3436, or by email at <>.

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.

Brooks Technology Talking Infrared Thermometer Now Available:
The Brooks Technology model IRT-1 Talking Infrared Thermometer is a new and unique device designed for use by the blind. Because it uses infrared technology the user can measure temperatures of many different objects without contact and from a safe distance. The user can now do things with much more confidence. It's essential when cooking to make sure oil and food temperatures are in a safe range, something you can only guess at without this device. Do you have a flat cooktop stove? How do you know the pan is centered over the burner or even where the burner is located? Many folks will use their hands to feel the heat from the burner, which may be adequate for some, but people with diabetes and peripheral neuropathy cannot feel heat and risk serious injury in attempting to do so. The IRT-1 has a scan mode to safely do this for you! Simply hold the SCAN button while moving the thermometer a safe distance above the cooktop, a beeping tone will vary from slow to fast as you zero in on the source of the heat. The fastest beeping is the location of the burner. So, what are people using the device for? Here's a quick list: cooking oil in the pan, locating burners, refrigerator and freezer temperatures, air conditioning vents, heating vents, outdoor grills, bath water, coffee, tea, soups, stews, and bread rising in the oven. There is even a blind auto mechanic that uses his to check engine temperatures. Your imagination is the limit!

For more information check out our webpage at <>, email at <>, or call (408) 781-4577.

Braille Micrometers for Sale:
I have a set of Braille micrometers for which I no longer have a need. There are four in the set: sizes 0 to 1 inch, 1 to 2 inches, 2 to 3 inches, and 3 to 4 inches, and they are zeroed in.

I would like to find a new home for them. They are valued at $800. I will take $400 or best offer. If interested, please call Al Hicks at (801) 595-8078.

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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