_______________________________________________________________________________

Braille Monitor

Vol. 58, No. 5                              May 2015

Gary Wunder, Editor

Distributed by email, in inkprint, in Braille, and on USB flash drive (see below) by

The National Federation of the Blind

Mark Riccobono, President

telephone: (410) 659-9314
email address: nfb@nfb.org
website address: http://www.nfb.org
NFBnet.org: http://www.nfbnet.org
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Letters to the President, address changes, subscription requests, and orders for NFB literature should be sent to the national office. Articles for the Monitor and letters to the editor may also be sent to the national office or may be emailed to gwunder@nfb.org.

Monitor subscriptions cost the Federation about forty dollars per year. Members are invited,
and nonmembers are requested, to cover the subscription cost. Donations should be
made payable to National Federation of the Blind and sent to:

National Federation of the Blind
200 East Wells Street at Jernigan Place
Baltimore, Maryland 21230-4998

THE NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND KNOWS THAT BLINDNESS IS NOT THE CHARACTERISTIC THAT DEFINES YOU OR YOUR FUTURE. EVERY DAY WE RAISE THE EXPECTATIONS OF BLIND PEOPLE, BECAUSE LOW EXPECTATIONS CREATE OBSTACLES BETWEEN BLIND PEOPLE AND OUR DREAMS. YOU CAN LIVE THE LIFE YOU WANT; BLINDNESS IS NOT WHAT HOLDS YOU BACK. THE NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND IS NOT AN ORGANIZATION SPEAKING FOR THE BLIND--IT IS THE BLIND SPEAKING FOR OURSELVES.

        ISSN 0006-8829


Each issue is recorded on a thumb drive (also called a memory stick or USB flash drive). You can read this audio edition using a computer or a National Library Service digital player. The NLS machine has two slots--the familiar book-cartridge slot just above the retractable carrying handle and a second slot located on the right side near the headphone jack. This smaller slot is used to play thumb drives. Remove the protective rubber pad covering this slot and insert the thumb drive. It will insert only in one position. If you encounter resistance, flip the drive over and try again. (Note: If the cartridge slot is not empty when you insert the thumb drive, the digital player will ignore the thumb drive.) Once the thumb drive is inserted, the player buttons will function as usual for reading digital materials. If you remove the thumb drive to use the player for cartridges, when you insert it again, reading should resume at the point you stopped.

You can transfer the recording of each issue from the thumb drive to your computer or preserve it on the thumb drive. However, because thumb drives can be used hundreds of times, we would appreciate their return in order to stretch our funding. Please use the return label enclosed with the drive when you return the device.


Orlando Site of 2015 NFB Convention

The 2015 convention of the National Federation of the Blind will take place in Orlando, Florida, July 5-10, at the Rosen Centre Hotel at 9840 International Drive, Orlando, Florida 32819. Make your room reservation as soon as possible with the Rosen Centre staff only. Call (800) 204-7234.

The 2015 room rates are singles, doubles, and twins, $82; and triples and quads, $89. In addition to the room rates there will be a tax, which at present is 13.5 percent. No charge will be made for children under seventeen in the room with parents as long as no extra bed is requested. The hotel is accepting reservations now. A $95-per-room deposit is required to make a reservation. Fifty percent of the deposit will be refunded if notice is given to the hotel of a reservation cancellation before June 1, 2015. The other 50 percent is not refundable.

Rooms will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. Reservations may be made before June 1, 2015, assuming that rooms are still available. After that time the hotel will not hold our room block for the convention. In other words, you should get your reservation in soon.

Guest-room amenities include cable television; in-room safe; coffeemaker; hairdryer; and, for a fee, high-speed Internet access. Guests can also enjoy a swimming pool, fitness center, and on-site spa. The Rosen Centre Hotel offers fine dining at Executive Chef Michael Rumplik's award-winning Everglades Restaurant. In addition, there is an array of dining options from sushi to tapas to a 24-hour deli. The hotel has first-rate amenities and shuttle service to the Orlando airport.

The schedule for the 2015 convention is:

Sunday, July 5 Seminar Day
Monday, July 6 Registration Day
Tuesday, July 7 Board Meeting and Division Day
Wednesday, July 8 Opening Session
Thursday, July 9 Business Session
Friday, July 10 Banquet Day and Adjournment

NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND
National Convention Preregistration Form

Please register online at <www.nfb.org/registration> or use this mail-in form.  Print legibly, provide all requested information, and mail form and payment to:

National Federation of the Blind
Attn: Convention Registration
200 East Wells Street
Baltimore, MD 21230

Please register only one person per registration form; however, one check or money order may cover multiple registrations.  Check or money order (sorry, no credit cards) must be enclosed with registration(s).

Registrant Name _____________________________________________________
Address ____________________________________________________________
City ____________________________   State _____________    Zip ___________    
Phone ___________________   Email ____________________________________

___ I will pick up my registration packet at convention.
or
___ The following person will pick up my registration packet:
        Pickup Name ______________________________________

Number of preregistrations                                                    x $25      = ____________
Number of pre-purchased banquet tickets                          x $55     = ____________
                                                                                                        Total    = ____________

PLEASE NOTE:

  1. Preconvention registration and banquet sales are final (no refunds).
  2. All preregistration mail-in forms must be postmarked by May 31.

 

Contents

Vol. 58, No. 5                                                   May 2015

Illustration: STEM2U Hits Boston

Jumping the Fire
by Patti Chang

Improving and Augmenting the ADA, Rehabilitation Act, and IDEA—A Vision for the Next
Twenty-Five Years: Disability and the Law of the Poor
by Marc Maurer

Television Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow: The Way It Was,
the Way It Is, and the Way It Will Be
by Gary Wunder

My West Virginia Experience
by Donald C. Capps

Blind People and Talking Dogs
by Dick Davis

Highlighting the Innovative Work of Another Affiliate: The Illinois Internship Program
by Patti Chang

Is Literacy Really for Everyone?—The Numbers Tell a Different Story
by Donna W. Hill

Illiterate No More
by Ronald A. Owens

The Barrier of the Visible Difference
by Kenneth Jernigan

Go-Carts and Scholarships
by April Scurlock

My Journey Toward Winning Friends and Influencing Others
by Kelsey Nicolay

Crafting Your Diamond: The 2015 NOPBC Conference
by Carlton Walker

Federation Favorites
by Joe Ruffalo

Recipes

Monitor Miniatures

 

Copyright 2015 by the National Federation of the Blind

STEM2U Hits Boston

As an extension of the NFB’s National Center for Blind Youth in Science initiative, in partnership with museums and science centers, STEM2U offers participants the opportunity to engage in accessible STEM learning at some of the country’s largest museums and science centers. Students will also have the opportunity to provide feedback to staff and educators about how the museum could better meet their nonvisual learning needs. In this way participants will act as both learners and teachers. In March Boston welcomed twenty elementary students in grades three through six, and ten students grades ten through twelve for a weekend of science exploration.

The students enjoyed a variety of activities at the Boston Museum of Science, from careful laboratory work involving chemicals and equipment, to tactile examination of fossil and animal specimens. After a long day’s work, the group enjoyed the chance to walk around a bit as they headed out to dinner.

Jumping the Fire

by Patti Chang

From the Editor: Often when we talk about changing attitudes, we are embracing that large segment of humanity called the public, but, more often than we would like, one of our biggest challenges is changing the attitudes of people who make up our family. Has the sighted man who marries a blind woman sold himself short? Has the blind woman who marries the sighted man failed to acknowledge her betters as she pretends to be an equal in the family? These questions are difficult enough to answer in one culture where so many common values are shared, but what happens when, as in America, people of differing cultures and religions become couples, transcending the beliefs of those who raised them and, accepting as normal, people and situations never conceived of by their parents or siblings? How much more difficult is it when one must not only represent the capabilities of a blind person, but also prove herself as a foreigner who married into the family?

At one level what is offered here is simply a tale of a busy woman who finds herself even busier; but at a deeper and more emotional level, we see that there is a testing, a determination to see that blindness or its supposed limitations do not take center stage when what belongs there is the celebration of a life and the traditions that must be maintained to recognize the transition of the soul from this plane to another. Patti Chang chairs the NFB Scholarship Committee and is a member of the national Board of Directors. Here is how she tells this remarkable story:

\Our household is multicultural. I am from a small town in Northern Michigan and am truly named after a dairy company which used to haul our cows’ milk to market. My husband possesses dual citizenship--Belizean and American--but is of Chinese ancestry. He was born in Honduras. We raised our children and live in Chicago. This makes for some unusual circumstances.

In April of 2013 I traveled to Baltimore to chair our scholarship committee meeting. Everything was ordinary on my trip out: I used my cane to navigate from my home to the airport and checked flight status with VoiceOver on my iPhone. All went according to plan, and then the real work began. Lorraine Rovig, other National Center staff, and I prepared for the committee’s arrival by organizing and reviewing files. I used my handy slate and stylus to take notes to train our print readers.

But then everything morphed. My husband called to let me know that his ailing father had died and that the funeral would be on Sunday in Belize City, Belize, in Central America. Since our scholarship meeting ends on Saturday evening, I proceeded to book airline travel for my husband Francisco, our children Johnathon and Julia, and me from three different US cities to Belize.

My spouse and our daughter traveled to Belize on Wednesday. On Friday, as our scholarship committee work got into full swing, this email waited in my inbox:

On Apr 26, 2013, at 12:04 a.m., Francisco Chang wrote:

On Sunday Fabian, being the oldest son, and Robert, being the oldest of the grandchildren, will go with the funeral director and pick up Papi's body from the morgue at 8:00 a.m. They will bring the body to Fabian's house. Throughout the whole trip Fabian or Robert will need to talk to Papi's body in Chinese, telling him where he is going, especially if it is over a bridge as water is bad.

Up to 10:30 a.m., visitors can come to view the body. Family members can place something personal and special inside Papi's coffin. After 10:30 or 11:00 all the family members will gather together around the coffin in a horseshoe-shaped formation, gather hands, and Juan will lead a prayer. This prayer is not traditional Chinese, but Juan wants to have one. The reason for the horseshoe is because traditionally no one can stand at the feet of the body. Then we all sit together and have a meal with Papi.

At about 12:30 p.m. we all go to Holy Redeemer Church in the following order: Fabian family, Francisco family, Juan family, and then Wilfredo family. Mami will be in Francisco's car because we have more room. We will sit in church in that order too.

The coffin will be brought into church feet first, with Robert leading, carrying a picture of Papi. When mass begins, two family members will cover Papi's face with a white veil. Then the coffin cover will close.

All the male family members will have a black band around the left arm placed halfway. All the daughters-in-law and Mami will wear a small white circular cloth in shape of a flower in their hair that Sunday and for the next forty-nine days. You can sleep without it. The granddaughters will wear a blue one for the next twenty-one days. At the end of those periods the cloth is discarded.

After mass Robert will leave carrying the picture in front of the coffin. All the sons and Richard and Chris will be pallbearers. Lisa had hoped Johnathon would be a pallbearer.

We all will go to Homeland, a private cemetery up the Western Highway. All family members face away when the coffin is being lowered into the ground. Then all take some soil and throw it into the hole over the coffin. There will be two urns with incense, a pot of tea, and a pot with liquor. One of the urns will be left at the grave, and the other Fabian will take to his house as there is where Papi's spirit will reside as he has that special altar they brought from China for worshipping the ancestors. Fabian will take some of the soil from the grave in the urn.

Juan or I will make an announcement to everyone at the cemetery that there will be food at the hotel, but people need to leave after two hours. Then all family members will go back to Fabian's house. Along the way we will stop at the shop so that Fabian can remove the black ribbon that is tied over the entrance to the shop.

Before climbing up the stairs to Fabian’s house, there will be a small shallow bowl with fire going that everybody will need to jump over. This is meant to get rid of any bad spirits from the cemetery, and we don't want to bring them home. All the male members then remove their arm bands, cut a small piece, and throw away the rest into the garbage. The small cut piece is kept by the sons for forty-nine days and twenty-one days by the grandsons. At the end of these periods the piece of cloth is discarded.

Because Papi died on Monday, the following Monday, that is, after a week, Fabian needs to make sure to keep all the lights in the house on so that Papi's spirit can find the house. At 10:00 p.m. everyone needs to go to sleep because Papi is looking to make sure everyone is okay and sleeping before he ascends to the next level towards joining his ancestors. I believe there are three levels because Mami will place three sets of clothes in the coffin. One set Papi will wear in the coffin, and the others are there for Papi’s journey.

By the way, the coffin will be placed lower than the ancestor altar in Fabian's house because he has not reached the ancestors yet.

Francisco Chang
Sent from my iPad

Admittedly a couple of things in this email caused me concern. First, how was I, an attorney, going to be taken seriously with a flower in my hair for the next forty-nine days? And how was I supposed to “jump a fire"? My orientation and mobility training had left that one out.

I left our National Center by van at 4:00 a.m. for the trek to Philip S. W. Goldson International Airport by way of Miami International Airport. Anxious about my tight time schedule, I was relieved when we departed on time. My change of planes left me twenty minutes between flights, so, for the first time ever, I requested airport assistance in Florida. Of course, the first time I requested assistance, the help failed to materialize at the gate.

Thankful for my confidence that I could find the gate myself as an independent traveler, I proceeded, heart pounding, to the concourse. It would not be good for me, the only American daughter-in-law, to miss the funeral. It would be disrespectful in the extreme!

I asked a passerby if he was going my way. When I heard he was young, I explained my situation and begged him to “pleeease run with me.” He did: all the way from E16 to E1. The gate agents held the door when they saw me running, and I never even caught the full name of my Good Samaritan. I waved and jogged my way onto the plane.

When I arrived in Belize, an employee of our family business, Maria Chang & Sons Co., met me after I cleared immigration and customs. My mother-in-law, who is not generally demonstrative, hugged me as I arrived at the shop where the coffin rested before the funeral.

Self-conscious about my borrowed black dress and my tendency to stand out in the crowd, my nerves were on edge. I was the only Caucasian at many events, not to mention the only blind person.

Belize is not what you might call a disability-friendly country. There are no wheelchair ramps, and I have seen Braille on only imported elevator panels, so one must use the cane carefully to locate oft-present holes and barriers. But, since most people are unfamiliar with blindness, they tend to leave one to manage and are not overly solicitous.

The church service mixed Belizean, Catholic, and Chinese customs. A Garifuna band played and sang for us. The eulogies were touching. They helped to explain the complexity of Arturo Chang the businessman, the community volunteer, and the family man. The respect shown to my father-in-law was enormous. All of his sons, their wives, and all twelve grandchildren attended, despite the fact that five grandchildren were facing exams at various universities in the US.

We all processed to the cemetery in order of Papi’s sons’ births. Many of us dropped liquor and other items into the grave. My children comforted their father in the cemetery. The priest delivered a traditional message of resurrection. We all turned away from the burial site at the right moment.

Slides of Papi and the whole family played during the meal after the graveside service. People quietly left on cue after two hours.

Finally we returned to Fabian’s house after taking the ribbon down at the shop. But, remember I had to jump that fire. And, I was now wearing a long-past-my-knees black dress, which did not belong to me. I discouraged one relative or another from grabbing my arm. I managed to linger long enough that almost everyone in this large extended family preceded me. I stretched out my cane to figure out where this fire was, and I guessed based on the size of it as to how high it might be. I hiked up my dress, and I cleared it with room to spare. Juan or Willie made some wisecrack about my showing a lot of leg, but I was content--no burns on me or the dress. I could now recover from my three hours of sleep in the past forty or so hours.

Jumping the fire stands for me as a challenge no one could have prepared me for, but my independence and ability to believe that where there is a will there is a way can help in any situation. Those attitudes are attributable to my upbringing and the National Federation of the Blind. I know that blindness is not the characteristic that defines me or my future. I can live the life I want. Blindness will not hold me back.

Improving and Augmenting the ADA, Rehabilitation Act, and IDEA—A Vision for the Next Twenty-Five Years: Disability and the Law of the Poor

by Marc Maurer

From the Editor: This address was presented to the 2015 Jacobus tenBroek Law Symposium, held at the Jernigan Institute March 26 and 27, 2015. It is interesting that Former President Maurer is often asked to predict the future and to provide his thoughtful perspective about how we will make it better. Here is what he said:

In contemplating the shape of disability law twenty-five years in the future, two forces are primary. One of these is the attitude within society regarding the importance of people who possess disabilities. This attitude will inevitably be reflected within the statutes adopted by legislative bodies. The second is the attitude of those who have disabilities with respect to society and the decision-making which arises from this attitude. If this decision-making is sufficiently bold, the attitude of society will change, and the laws will be modified accordingly. People who have disabilities must be prepared to assume positions of leadership in shaping the law of the future. In other words, contemplation of the nature of the law in the future is more a matter for decision than prediction.

A principle of American law is that it applies equally to all people all of the time. The famous statement of John Adams is that ours is “a government of laws, not of men.”1 However, one of the characteristics of law is that it classifies and categorizes the people to whom it applies. If we know the classification to which you belong, we know what rights you have and how you may be treated. One of the classifications is poverty. Beginning in the 1500s, during the reign of Henry VIII, the British government (which gave the United States its form of jurisprudence) adopted laws directed toward the relief of the poor.2

In 1601, during the reign of Elizabeth I, Parliament adopted the Act for the Relief of the Poor, a compilation of many of the statements regarding the poor adopted earlier and a provision to institute a tax for the poor.3 The ostensible purpose of the act, as its title suggests, was to provide relief for the poor, but the mechanism of the law was to establish institutions in which those who might otherwise have been beggars on the streets, or vagrants, could be required to work—often at menial trades. Some writers have declared that the jail and the workhouse were the same place.4 Under Elizabethan law those who would not work could be punished for not doing so.5

In 1966 Dr. Jacobus tenBroek wrote, “Not all who are poor are physically handicapped; not all who are handicapped are poor.”6 However, the coincidence of poverty and unemployment of the blind is enormous. To illustrate this coincidence, Dr. tenBroek stated that under 10 percent of blind Americans receiving Aid to the Blind were employed.7 Furthermore, Dr. tenBroek also asserted that there are two forms of law: one for the wealthy and one for the poor.8 The law that applies to people with disabilities is shaped in part by the categorization arising from the law of the poor.

The Rehabilitation Act, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act are not based upon identical legal theories, but they have characteristics in common. Consider, for example, the Rehabilitation Act.9 The Poor Law adopted during the time of Queen Elizabeth I established the principle that poor relief would be based upon individual needs, individually determined by a parish official. Relief could be granted only if an official believed the persons receiving it deserved to get it. The statute did not offer an entitlement to the poor. The Rehabilitation Act takes the same approach. Each client is offered the opportunity to create an Individualized Plan for Employment,10 but the practice in most jurisdictions is to limit this plan by arguments that demand of each client that money be saved on every aspect of rehabilitation.11 Only the least expensive access technology can be provided; only the junior college can be made available because the expense will be less than that associated with a four-year institution; freedom of choice offers the opportunity to receive orientation and adjustment training at any center of the client’s choosing, but the least expensive state-run training program must be used to save funds. The test is not what will work best for the client, but what will be cheapest for the administration. The Rehabilitation Act authorizes the provision of many services but guarantees none of them. Clients do not have the right to training. Rather, they have the right to complain if the training program is inadequate. Requiring this process of the clients ensures not a successful rehabilitation outcome but a continuance of the client in poverty.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act has a similar philosophy.12 Each student is guaranteed an Individualized Education Plan, which offers the student a Free Appropriate Public Education. Although the language of the act suggests that this plan is to be tailored to the individual needs of the student, convenience for the administration is more often the standard employed than success for the student. Decisions interpreting the act declare that specific services are not guaranteed. Students get “appropriate” “educational benefits.” No standard of excellence is required. The law does not guarantee service. Rather, it guarantees the right to complain if the services wanted are not available.13

The Americans with Disabilities Act14 does guarantee something—at least in theory. Although it does not prohibit paying disabled workers less than the federal minimum wage, this act says that discrimination based on disability is prohibited, and it offers a method for challenging discrimination. However, the Supreme Court has declared that the protections of this act do not extend to compensation in the form of money damages paid by states.15 People who possess disabilities are not classified among those who may expect payment from state governments when discrimination occurs. Furthermore, the special classification of the disabled includes a heavy emphasis on safety. A person possessing a disability may be refused employment if there is a perception that the environment of the job will be a threat to that person’s safety.16 Disabled people do not have the same rights of participation that others possess.

I think the law must adopt the fundamental principle that, when you pay for something, you are entitled to get it. This principle should apply whether the individual pays directly or has somebody else make the payment. I think the law should abandon the practice of adopting rights for disabled people without creating a corresponding set of remedies. When I was in law school, I learned of the concept of rights without remedies, and I was shocked. What value is a right that cannot be enforced? I wondered. We are paying for rehabilitation; it seems to me that we have a right to get it. We are paying for education; I think we have the right to get that also. The educational experiences offered to disabled people in the United States are severely restricted. This is a form of discrimination. The Americans with Disabilities Act should apply, and the remedies should offer enough revenue to pay for an equal education. These remedies should apply not just to private entities but also to programs within government.

The law of the rich stands for the proposition that those who do not provide the goods and services for which payment has been made face substantial damages or go to jail. The law should be at least as useful to the poor as it is to the rich. We know that those who misrepresent in the securities industry, in banking, and in selling property must pay reparation for the damage they do. We need a change in classification for disabled people so that the law of the rich applies. Those with disabilities have talent, and we should have as much right to use it as anybody else. These are the objectives we must seek to have incorporated in the law within the next twenty-five years.

Footnotes

  1. John Adams, The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States, (Charles Francis Adams ed., Little, Brown & Co., 1856) 106, http://oll.libertyfund.org/titles/2102.
  2. Paul Slack, The English Poor Law, (Cambridge University Press, 1995) 1531-1782.
  3. The Poor Relief Act, 1601, 43 Eliz., c. 2 (Eng.).
  4. Jacobus tenBroek, California’s Dual System of Family Law: Its Origin, Development, and Present Status, 16 Stan. L. Rev. 257, 316 (1964).
  5. Jacobus tenBroek & Floyd W. Matson, Hope Deferred: Public Welfare and the Blind (University of California Press, 1959), 40.
  6. Jacobus tenBroek & Floyd W. Matson, The Disabled and the Law of Welfare, 54 Calif. L. Rev. 809, (1966).
  7. Jacobus tenBroek & Floyd W. Matson, The Disabled and the Law of Welfare, 54 Calif. L. Rev. 809, 810 (1966). (“[I]t remains a fact that only a very small fraction—perhaps five or six per cent at most—of those with serious physical handicaps are gainfully employed in ordinary open occupations, with an additional two or three per cent at work in specially subsidized sheltered employment.”); U.S. Census Bureau, American FactFinder, 2013 American Community Survey Table B18130, http://factfinder.census.gov/ (last visited March 11, 2015) (The Census Bureau’s 2013 American Community Survey contains a table which expresses a statistic that may indicate substantial progress from the time that Dr. tenBroek was writing. This document indicates that 28.7 percent of persons with disabilities aged 18 through 64 are below the federally-established poverty level.)
  8. Jacobus tenBroek, California’s Dual System of Family Law: Its Origin, Development, and Present Status, 16 Stan. L. Rev. 257, 258 (1964).
  9. Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. §§ 701-793.
  10. 29 U.S.C. § 722.
  11. See, e.g., Wasser v. New York State Office of Vocational & Educ. Servs. for Individuals with Disabilities, 373 F. App’x 120, 121 (2d Cir. 2010); Yochim v. Gargano, 882 F. Supp. 2d 1068, 1073 (S.D. Ind. 2012); Truss v. State, Dep’t of Human Servs., No. M199901317COAR3CV, 1999 WL 1072583, at 2-5 (Tenn. Ct. App. Nov. 30, 1999).
  12. Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 20 U.S.C. §§ 1400-1485.
  13. Bd. of Educ. of Hendrick Hudson Cent. Sch. Dist., Westchester Cnty. v. Rowley, 458 U.S. 176, 187-209 102 S. Ct. 3034, 3041-3052 (1982).
  14. Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101-12213.
  15. Bd. of Trustees of Univ. of Alabama v. Garrett, 531 U.S. 356, 360, 121 S. Ct. 955, 960 (2001).
  16. Chevron U.S.A. Inc. v. Echazabal, 536 U.S. 73, 76-87, 122 S. Ct. 2045, 2047-2054 (2002).

Television Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow
The Way It Was, the Way It Is, and the Way It Will Be

by Gary Wunder

\Since I was a young boy, people have reacted with astonishment when I say that I enjoy watching television. Sometimes this is because they are genuinely surprised, and at other times it is because they wish to point out to me that a totally blind person saying he watches television is absurd. To those who seem truly to be confused, I explained how sound and dialogue often provide enough information for me to enjoy the same shows they do: to fall in love with Jenna Elfman in her role as Dharma, to want to hug the aspiring actor who struggles to get his big break as the character Joey does on Friends, and, yes, to boldly go where no man has gone before (split infinitive and all) as I ride along on the Starship Enterprise.

Discussing television from the perspective of a blind person can lead down many paths. One can talk about the relative merit of television over books, about the great wasteland that television is versus what it might be, about the change in programming that relies more on spectacular visual effects and less on sound and dialogue to describe what is happening. All of those are things that are likely to interest Monitor readers, but in this article I want to focus on how usable the television is and the tendency of many to regard the process of dealing with the hardware to be so difficult that they have simply given it up, preferring other means of entertainment.

My earliest memory of the television came when my parents caused a stir among our neighbors by being the first on the block to purchase a colored television set. All of the electronics came in a nice wooden piece of furniture, and our RCA model had two knobs that figured prominently on the front: one knob turned the television set on and off and raised or lowered its volume; the other changed the television channel. To be sure, there were many other knobs and switches located behind a hinged panel that could be accessed to make changes in the picture, but these were knobs I was supposed to stay away from, and frankly I had little interest in them.

Once the newness had worn off the set and we were allowed to touch it, operating the television was an easy matter. There were three television stations in Kansas City, Missouri, that could be reliably watched. The National Broadcasting Company could be found on channel 4, the Columbia Broadcasting System on channel 5, and the American Broadcasting Company on channel 9. Moving from channel 4 to channel 5 meant rotating the channel knob clockwise one click. Going to channel 9 from channel 5 meant rotating four more clicks in the clockwise direction. When I came upon the television and didn’t know what channel it was on, rotating the channel knob made it easy to figure out. Channels on which no station could be received produced static, so rotating the knob through those channels, whether clockwise or counterclockwise, eventually got me to one of the watchable channels. But on cloudy days the television world expanded, and we could pick up a channel in the distant city of St. Joseph or even a station from Topeka, Kansas, a feat that seemed all the more spectacular because we were picking up a signal from another state. There were, after all, twelve channels one might get, the sets of that time being able to receive channels 2 through 13.

Like radio before it, television demanded a certain loyalty of its audience. Those who were dedicated to a program might set aside an hour every week when they would make every effort to be home, would decide to ignore the ringing phone, and would answer the door on the condition that the person they were allowing in would be quiet until the next commercial break. Missing a show was serious business for a real fan, the only equivalent today being a sports event one must watch live lest she be told the score before watching the game. Missing an episode of Bonanza meant a lost opportunity for conversation the next day, and the chance to see the show might or might not be possible until sometime in the summer if it made the rerun schedule.

The success or failure of a television show sometimes had less to do with its interest and value than it did with when the show was scheduled. Since there were only three television networks competing for the loyalty of viewers in prime time, a new show placed opposite an established one might not get enough viewers to test its worthiness. A show that enjoyed success and was thought to have loyal followers in a different time slot might be moved to one which was dominated by another show on a different network with the hope that it would draw off some of their viewers. Although the realist in each of us understood that success or failure was all based on market share, many a viewer’s heart was broken when their favorite show was canceled or when they had to decide among competing shows, all of which they liked.

Whether one had a colored television or a set that could display its picture only in black and white, every television received its signal through an antenna. Sometimes it was mounted on the roof of the house, but for most people a little gadget called rabbit ears, with a platform containing two antennas and a cable to connect to the television, was enough. It was a given that, beyond the purchase of the television, the electricity to run it, and the more-frequently-than-one-wished maintenance required to keep it in working order, watching television was something one could do free. The first time my family saw an advertisement for cable television, I remember the laughter that ensued. Why would people pay for signals they could easily grab right out of the air? These must be people who were long on money and short on sense.

Within a decade it was clear that those who really liked television were doing more than watching the three or four channels available in their communities. Cable companies began offering programs from stations one could not hope to get, no matter how sensitive his television receiver or how high the antenna. It was amazing to visit someone’s home and find that she was watching the superstation, WTBS in Atlanta, Georgia, when at our home the passing of an airplane or inclement weather could interfere with the television program we were attempting to watch from a station less than thirty miles away.

Over time television antennas began to disappear, and cable TV came to be regarded as one of the utilities one paid. Not only did the cable companies provide access to distant stations, but they began carrying networks whose only purpose was to provide cable content. Sometimes connections to the cable company still relied on using the channel selector of the television in choosing a program, although televisions changed to accommodate the larger number of offerings, since almost no one was satisfied with just receiving channels 2 through 13. Sometimes a cable provider would install a box that was used to control the selection of the channel, but normally these were required only if one wanted the extras—premium services such as movie channels or ones offering viewing of live concerts. Usually these boxes could be easily operated, with a button to move up, a button to move down, and a remote control that would allow direct entry of a channel using a number pad familiar to those who had a touch-tone telephone.

Each little advance made the television incrementally harder to use, and before long the addition of a videocassette recorder meant that the television lover had to understand the interaction among three remote controls, two externally connected devices, and an increasingly complicated television set. Most video recorders did not speak their menu choices, so setting up future recordings was difficult and a harbinger of what was to come.

Over time the television devotee has been transformed from a passive watcher who was told when to show up and how often, into a television consumer who now decides what he will watch and when. At least this is so if one can see. Unfortunately the blind of America have come to find the television more frustrating than rewarding. Options that we watch others exercise simply are not available to us, and, although most of us believe in interdependence as well as independence, it is hard to stomach being the breadwinner of the family but having to ask a grandson to turn on the television so that Grandma and Grandpa can enjoy an evening of entertainment.

The magic this article wishes to be revealed can be found in the work of Comcast to make its set-top boxes accessible for blind people. This does not require the use of special equipment for the blind but special programming that can be turned on or off from any state-of-the-art Comcast cable box. In the same way that one buys an iPhone from the same store as the sighted and turns on the features he needs, the Comcast box that sits near the television of the blind person is the very box that can be found in the homes of millions of Comcast subscribers. Information that makes the box talk is requested using a special key sequence, and any updates that are made to the talking set-top box are made not with hardware changes but with changes in software communicated from the cloud.

When someone who has a Comcast set-top box decides that she likes a program, she can search for that program using on-screen menus and select it for recording. She doesn’t have to be home for the recording to commence, and she doesn’t have to be there to turn it off at the conclusion of the television show. Of course, she can be home watching something else, no longer being restricted to one favorite television show in a given time slot. Given that most services that bring entertainment into the home have hundreds or even thousands of offerings, it is possible that she might wish to record more than one show, and this she can do with a Comcast set-top box, which will allow her to record up to four shows simultaneously. Even if she does not wish to record the show she is watching, the set-top box is making a temporary copy of that show, which means that she can pause it to take a telephone call, rewind ten seconds if she misses a key phrase or event, and, woe to the advertisers, even skip past commercials if she has paused long enough that the show is significantly ahead of where she is watching.

Most of the features we have discussed assume that our Comcast subscriber has exercised the forethought to determine what it is he would like to watch. No longer is this required. Using a service which Comcast calls “On Demand,” he can search back through previously-aired television shows, select the ones he wishes to watch, and have them presented as though they were live. The on-demand service offers not only television shows, but movies, documentaries, and music. Some of this is free (paid for by the monthly subscription), and some of it is available for rent or for purchase. A rented movie will cost less than one that is purchased, and, once it is rented, one must watch it within twenty-four or forty-eight hours. A television season, movie, or concert that is purchased is available any time from the service and may be watched as often as one wishes.

In deciding what one wishes to watch or record, the Comcast set-top box provides several options. A person who knows he likes content on the Disney Channel can scroll through the offerings of that network and either watch past episodes or make selections for ones to be recorded in the future. Alternatively, if one knows that he is going to be home on Tuesday night, he can scroll through a list of that evening’s television shows and decide what to watch. If he has heard about a television show people are discussing at work but has no idea what time it comes on or which channel will broadcast it, he can do a title search using the keys on his remote control pad. If a blind watcher wishes to find shows that are audio described, Comcast has a category for these, and soon described video will be announced while scrolling through any category one wishes to browse.

In an interview with Ray Foret, a particularly enthusiastic customer, he told the Braille Monitor, “In my opinion this will totally revolutionize the way that blind Comcasters experience TV.” When asked what drawbacks he’d encountered in this newfound accessibility, he said, “When you’ve been denied something for so long, and then you find that you can do it, you will do as I did for a couple months, and you will really go overboard with it.” The lure of an on-demand service which allows renting or purchasing favorite movies and TV shows can quickly become an expensive indulgence to any new user of such a service.

As impressive as all of its gains in accessibility thus far have been, Comcast intends to take the business of accessibility even further. Some people have limited use of their hands and do not have enough dexterity to handle the remote controllers that are filled from top to bottom with buttons. Others have difficulty cognitively navigating the menu structure required to make selections. To help more of its subscribers, Comcast is developing a remote control with larger buttons--ones that are dedicated to the most commonly used features. The company is also anticipating an upcoming release of a remote control that will contain a microphone so that one can make his wishes clear by voice. This function will do more than recognize speech; it will also employ artificial intelligence that will allow for complex searches. A person will be able to say “give me a list of all movies about baseball,” and the artificial intelligence will scan not only the title of each movie but its description to determine whether or not it should be on the list from which the television watcher can select a movie. Some of this functionality is already available if a Comcast subscriber has an iPhone, since it can be used to control the set-top box and can even be used when the subscriber is away from home to watch previously recorded movies from wherever he may be.

The remarkable thing about what Comcast has done isn’t just that it has given its blind customers what they are paying for. Its import goes far beyond areas of the country in which it is licensed to do business. It clearly shows that programming made available by cable, satellite, and other methods of long distance transmission can be made accessible to the blind, that the concept of a talking set-top box to verbalize on-screen menus is not unknown or impossible to do, and that it does not impose an unfair burden on those who are paid a significant monthly premium to bring entertainment into our homes. It also demonstrates the benefit of collaborating with the National Federation of the Blind in discussing the design and development of the interfaces and the speech that makes this possible. Television plays far too important a role in our society for blind people to write it off or for the industry to write off blind people. Thanks to those at Comcast who understand this and who have risen to the challenge of making television once again accessible and enjoyable for the blind.

My West Virginia Experience

by Donald C. Capps

From the Editor: As we prepare to celebrate the National Federation of the Blind’s seventy-fifth anniversary, this article from Donald Capps captures what it was like to be poor, blind, and a citizen of West Virginia almost sixty years ago. When we see a man who has enjoyed extraordinary success in marriage, in raising a family, and in getting and holding a job as an executive in one of the nation’s premier insurance companies, the question naturally arises as to why he would choose to give so much time and energy to helping his fellow blind. The answer emerges when we look at the importance of key experiences in his life that helped in forging a solid commitment to change. No one in the National Federation of the Blind represents this long-term commitment better than Dr. Donald C. Capps. He was the longest-serving member of the NFB Board of Directors and the president for many years of the NFB of South Carolina. Here is his story about being asked by Dr. tenBroek to serve on a Federation taskforce, what he saw, and the role it played in helping him decide that working for the betterment of his fellow blind would be a major life calling:

I first met our NFB founder and first president, Dr. Jacobus tenBroek, at the 1956 convention in San Francisco, but it really was in 1958 that I got to know him. In November of that year he called me to ask if I would participate in a week-long survey of programs for the blind in West Virginia. Colonial Life granted me the time, and we were off to be a part of the survey team.

Governor Underwood wanted the NFB to conduct a survey in his state, and it was our pleasure to meet him at the capitol in Charleston, where he provided me with a statement giving us authority for the team to do its work. We were assigned the Beckley area, with the responsibility of calling on low-income individuals and families, people who would now be covered under the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. At that time the program recipients we surveyed were on the Aid for the Needy Blind program.

We found ourselves visiting with blind people who were in terrible poverty. The most devastating involved a visit with three blind brothers who lived in an abandoned coal mine shack. It was cold, since our visit was in November. When we knocked, one of the brothers came to the door and advised us that all three had pneumonia, and, of course, they appropriately denied our entrance. Asked about what assistance the three of them were receiving, he replied, "No assistance of any type." He also stated that each of the three brothers owned only one set of overalls, which required washing the clothes at night for wearing the next day. A chill went up and down my spine because I knew these three blind men would probably die if I did not get them some help. I returned to Beckley, called upon the welfare department, and forcefully told them to get help for these needy blind men. I later checked to verify that a doctor had called upon them, providing medicine and other much needed help.

Almost invariably, blind welfare recipients lived under horrible conditions. We traveled to where we were told that a blind teenager lived with her grandparents. Upon arriving at the mountain shack where the ground served as a floor, we met with the teenager and her grandparents. We were also greeted by a goat which lived in the shack. This was a most troubling case, and again I returned to the welfare department in Beckley to get help for them. After making calls all day long, we returned to our hotel each evening and did a memorandum on every case we worked that day. Betty cried every night at what she witnessed. Adding to her sadness was the fact that Beth was only three months old and Craig only three years of age, and she and I missed them terribly.

While I have related here two of the dramatic instances of poverty and squalor we saw and reported, there were many, far too many. I knew about the inequity faced by the blind, but, if I needed any experience to cement my commitment to a life of work for the blind, the West Virginia experience certainly accomplished that mission. While this was at times frustrating and heart-wrenching, I thank Dr. tenBroek for giving me a life-changing experience that still remains vivid in my mind more than fifty years later. His faith in asking me to go, Betty’s commitment, my commitment, and the approval of my employer helped me answer again and again the question of why I should give so much of my life and my energy to the National Federation of the Blind. Anytime I found my energy starting to flag, the answer why I should keep on giving rang clear when I visited those memories of that week in West Virginia. There I could make visible the warmth, the love, and the caring of the National Federation of the Blind in the lives of people who needed what we had to offer. Before he ever chose the title for his 1979 banquet speech, I knew that part of my life’s work was to help Dr. Kenneth Jernigan help other blind people on our journey to "the top of the stairs," and, as we approach our seventy-fifth anniversary, it makes my soul rejoice to know that Betty and I have been blessed to have done some of the work that has shaped what the National Federation of the Blind is today and what it will be for the blind of tomorrow.

Consider a Charitable Gift

Making a charitable gift can be one of the most satisfying experiences in life. Each year millions of people contribute their time, talent, and treasure to charitable organizations. When you plan for a gift to the National Federation of the Blind, you are not just making a donation; you are leaving a legacy that insures a future for blind people throughout the country. Special giving programs are available through the National Federation of the Blind (NFB).

Points to Consider When Making a Gift to the National Federation of the Blind

Benefits of Making a Gift to the NFB

Your Gift Will Help Us

Your gift makes you a part of the NFB dream!

Blind People and Talking Dogs

by Dick Davis

From the Editor: Dick Davis chairs the National Federation of the Blind’s employment committee and will soon retire from BLIND, Incorporated after a long and distinguished career in work with the blind. He is the assistant director for employment at BLIND, Inc., and as a sighted advocate he wrote a response to the question of why there aren’t more blind executives. Undoubtedly many issues come into play when talking about employment and advancement, and I hope that this piece will start an in-depth discussion about what we can do to realize the dream of Dr. Jacobus tenBroek and other founders who believed that a job, a home, and the right to participate in the community were the reasons for the creation of the organization and the movement it represents. Here is Dick’s take on the issue:

I like the article Michelle Clark recently posted on the NFB Jobs Listserv, “Where Are the CEOs and Executive Managers with Disabilities?” by John D. Kemp, president and CEO of The Viscardi Center. You can read it at <https://usodep.blogs.govdelivery.com/2015/03/13/where-are-the-ceos-and-executive-managers-with-disabilities/>.

Mr. Kemp, who has four prostheses, asks a valid question: why are disabled people being left out of executive and management jobs?

I think it is because most people look at blind and disabled individuals as “talking dogs.” What do I mean by that? There is an old saying, sometimes attributed to Mark Twain, that the remarkable thing about a talking dog is not what it says but the fact that it talks at all. Public expectations are so low that anything a person with a disability can do is thought to be remarkable. But “talking dogs” never make it to the higher echelons of any organization. They are curiosities at best.

A few years ago one of our local television stations did an article on Disability Employment Awareness Month. It featured an enclave of developmentally disabled people who were able to get part-time jobs cleaning the equipment in a local gym. The anchors were so touched that they almost cried. I didn’t throw a shoe through our TV screen, nor did I attempt to explain to the station that what they had done was worse than if they had done nothing at all. Weren’t those disabled people remarkable? No, they weren’t. They were “talking dogs,” trotted out once again so that people could marvel at the little things they could do.

We must really ditch this charity thing. No employer hires a person because it feels sorry for him or her. And the ADA, although helpful from a legal sense, has not been the employment panacea that many people thought it would be. In my opinion the diversity movement has more potential, because employers have not been trained to hate the diversity movement like they have the ADA. The healthy thing about the diversity movement is that it teaches that difference is not a weakness but a strength, and blind people are definitely perceived as different.

My belief is that blind people are stronger than sighted people, because what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Dealing successfully with blindness through effective training makes a person more creative, more organized, more persistent, tougher, a faster computer user (no mouse to slow you down), and better in a whole host of other ways. Blind people are definitely the better hire. If you really think about it, you will come to realize it is true. Many sighted people lack those mind-and-character-building experiences and in my opinion are weaker as a result. So instead of thinking of blindness as a disability, maybe we should think of sightedness as one instead. In my opinion blind people belong at the top.

Highlighting the Innovative Work of Another Affiliate
The Illinois Internship Program

by Patti Chang

From the Editor: In the April issue we highlighted several programs of the National Federation of the Blind of South Carolina and asked that other affiliates with programs they thought worthy of note send us an article or encourage us to do an interview for one.

Patti Chang is the past president of the NFB of Illinois and a member of the NFB Board of Directors. She also chairs the NFB's scholarship committee. She has risen to the challenge and has identified a program we definitely need to know about. It is an example of hands-on service, giving students job experience, offering important mentoring, and clearly demonstrating for them the value of the National Federation of the Blind. Here is what she says about something special that’s happening in Illinois:

Since we are spotlighting innovative affiliate programs, I can’t resist telling you about our internship program. As far as I know, Illinois is our only affiliate hosting sponsorship of students to work. We sponsor high school and college students by funding summer internships for up to six weeks. We will pay $250 per week. A mentoring component enhances the value of the work experience.

Students apply by filling out an application which is very similar to our state scholarship form. They submit the same sort of essay and letters of recommendation. This program puts less emphasis on academics and allows us to assist non-college-bound students as much as those who are academically inclined.

The scholarship committee is responsible for choosing our winners and for mentoring the internship recipients. Once winners are chosen, they can find their own placements, or we can assist. Emphasis is placed on finding placements which relate to career goals and finding mainstream employers. Students are expected to file regular reports that analyze their employment and discuss any blindness-related adaptations or issues. Mentors discuss the reports with the students. One recipient, Michelle Wesley, received a job offer from her employer to continue after her internship in a veterinarian’s clinic. Another, Casandra Certeza, is studying for her graduate degree now.

The most recent recipient of an internship stipend, Ms. Ashley Griggs, wrote as follows to the donor who sponsored this program:

Dear Mr. Lanston:

This internship has meant a great deal to me. I would like to thank you sincerely for your assistance in this endeavor. I chose to intern at a Montessori school in the three-to-six-year-old classroom. The children and staff were lovely people, and I think we all learned from each other. The teachers and students learned a little about working with a blind individual, while I learned more about myself and my career path. This may sound overly dramatic, though I don’t mean it to sound that way; however, I have truly discovered what I am meant to do in life as a result of the eight weeks I spent working at the Montessori Academy of Chicago.

I am currently pursuing a music degree, but I am cognizant of the fact that I will need some form of supplemental income while I am establishing myself as an artist, in other words, a day job. I have been interested in the Montessori method of education for a few years now. I thought teaching young children in that setting would be perfect because many of the learning materials are tactile, but also because I approve of the behavior this method instills in children. The other aspect of this is that I also write songs for children. Before this internship I thought of a career in children's music as a side career, and my music geared toward adults would be the more prominent aspect of my artistry. After playing music for these children and seeing how happy it made them, I knew this was what I was actually meant to do.

The feelings of happiness were definitely reciprocated as well. Their reactions filled me with so much joy, more than I ever got playing for adults. Yes, the teachers were great about showing me around the classroom and explaining all the learning supplies; and yes, I am going to pursue Montessori teacher training because of this internship, but that is not why I am thanking you. It is that reciprocated joy I spoke of that will stay with me for years to come. Adults feel strange asking questions about blindness. Adults won’t give you a straight answer about a song you played. They’ll say it’s great no matter what so as not to hurt your feelings. Not kids! They say what is on their minds, which is why I love working with them. This experience marked a turning point in the way I think about my future and my career. I will never forget it. Again, I am truly thankful for your financial assistance.

As Ashley’s letter shows, this program doesn’t just give the interns experience to put on their resumes. It can change the direction of their careers. Finding a job requires diligence and persistence, developing a good resume, and interviewing well. Our applicants gain valuable experience in these areas. We all know that sometimes blind people find it especially hard to get a foot in the door to gain that all-too-valuable work experience. This is a bridge which works to help students help themselves earn that first reference from an employer. Please feel free to contact Debbie Stein, who administers our Illinois program at <dkent5817@worldnet.att.net>, or me at <pattischang@gmail.com>. We are happy to brag about its success and give you tips based on our experiences.

Is Literacy Really for Everyone?–The Numbers Tell a Different Story

by Donna W. Hill

From the Editor: This article was originally posted on November 10, 2014 by Donna on her blog. Some of our readers will know Donna Hill as the author of The Heart of Applebutter Hill, a young adult novel which prominently features a blind character. Others will recognize her as an active member of the National Federation of the Blind who lives in Pennsylvania. Here is what she has to say about literacy and the blind:

Which minority has the greatest disparity between literacy, unemployment, and income on the one hand and intellect, talent, and willingness to work on the other? Why are a few of its members medical doctors, engineers, scientists, and lawyers, while most have never had a full-time job? The answer is able-bodied working-age blind Americans.

When I started developing my “Libraries and Literacy” page for this site, my intent was to thank some of the libraries that carry The Heart of Applebutter Hill. I collected photos from my library visits and quotes about literacy from famous people. As I proceeded, I realized that I couldn't help looking into the disparity between the situation of blind Americans and that of the general population and how literacy and the availability of books in accessible formats affect that disparity. This article is based on my research. You will find links to sources cited in this article under the References heading at the end.

Literacy: What It Is and What It Is Not

To understand what is happening to blind Americans, it is important to know what literacy is. It is commonly defined as the ability to read and write—a definition that raises more questions than it answers. What is reading? What is writing? To hone in on the essence of literacy, however, we need only look to its Middle English roots, which—according to Merriam-Webster—mean "marked with letters." Literacy is an understanding of and fluency in language based on its primary building blocks—letters, punctuation, and sentence structure.

The parents of a sighted child would be justifiably horrified and outraged if their child was denied education in reading and writing print. "Johnny is a wonderful listener. He doesn't need print," just doesn't fly in the sighted world.

But, for a variety of reasons (most of which boil down to a lack of understanding and low expectations), blind children are routinely steered to audio learning. Recorded books and synthesized speech have their place in a blind person's toolbox, and they are essential for the vast majority of students with print disabilities—including sighted students with learning disabilities such as dyslexia. Nevertheless, Braille is the only alternative giving true literacy on a par with print.

Braille provides immediate access through the fingers to what sighted readers see with their eyes. Punctuation, spelling, paragraph markings, and other essential components of the written word are apparent through touch, since Braille is read by characters, words, and lines just like print is for sighted readers. Braille, which is now available in downloadable digital formats for high-tech refreshable Braille reading devices, is also the only option for people who are deaf and blind.

Here are a few numbers that demonstrate how literacy and access to books affect blind people:

Income and Poverty: Blind Americans Are Twice as Likely to Live in Poverty

Literacy: Blind Students Are Three Times More Likely to be Illiterate

As you read this section, keep in mind that, of the less than 40 percent of blind American adults who are employed, 90 percent read Braille (NBP).

Books: What's Available for Print Readers and What's Accessible for Those with Print Disabilities

NLS provides professionally-recorded books as downloads, on digital cartridge, and (until the entire collection is digitized) cassette tape. Some books are available in hard copy and downloadable Braille and in large print. NLS chooses books based on the New York Times bestsellers list and books with significant national press coverage. Regional NLS libraries record some titles of local interest. Borrowing from the NLS is free to all Americans with print disabilities.

According to the World Blind Union (WBU), over 90 percent of published books cannot be read by people who are blind or have other print disabilities. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 39 million people worldwide, including 1.4 million children under fifteen, are irreversibly blind. This does not take into account the visually-impaired and learning-disabled populations for whom reading print is not possible. Only 320,000 people with visual impairments and other print disabilities in approximately fifty countries have access to Bookshare's collection.

Easy Ways to End the Book Famine for People with Print Disabilities

Send an email, make a phone call, or write a letter to support the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired or Otherwise Print Disabled. The Marrakesh Treaty is an effort to update international copyright laws pertaining to reading materials in accessible formats. Urge your national senators to support ratification of the Marrakesh Treaty, which will facilitate access to published works for people with print disabilities.

A project of WBU and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), it was signed by seventy-two nations including the US in 2013. But a signed treaty is just a piece of paper. It needs to be ratified by twenty nations to become international law. So far only India and El Salvador have ratified it (WBU and WIPO).

Join the DAISY Planet

Follow what's going on worldwide in the struggle for accessible books by visiting the DAISY (Digitally Accessible Information System) Consortium. The DAISY Consortium is a global group of organizations working towards creating the best way to read and publish. Read their awesome newsletter, The Daisy Planet <http://DAISY.org/newsletters>.

References

National Braille Press: <http://www.nbp.org/ic/nbp/braille/needforbraille.html>

National Federation of the Blind: Blindness Statistics: <https://nfb.org/blindness-statistics>

CNN on 2012 Income and Poverty Statistics:
<http://money.cnn.com/2013/09/17/news/economy/poverty-income/>

Eleven Facts about Literacy in America | DoSomething.org:
<https://www.dosomething.org/facts/11-facts-about-literacy-america>

Library of Congress: <http://www.loc.gov/about/fascinating-facts/>

Bookshare: <https://www.bookshare.org/cms/about>

Learning Ally: <http://LearningAlly.org>

National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped: <http://www.loc.gov/nls>

World Blind Union: <http://www.worldblindunion.org/English/our-work/our-priorities/
Pages/right-2-read-campaign.aspx
>

World Health Organization: <http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs282/en/>

WIPO - Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired, or Otherwise Print Disabled:
<http://www.wipo.int/wipolex/en/wipo_treaties/text.jsp?file_id=301016>

Illiterate No More

by Ronald A. Owens

From the Editor: Ron Owens is a member of the Board of Directors of the National Federation of the Blind of Arkansas. His state president describes him as a quiet man, but this quietness only enhances the power of his words when he chooses to speak. She says she would like a hundred more like him, and from our brief conversation I am inclined to agree. Here is what Ron has to say about his introduction to blindness, the technology he has learned to use, and the skills that have played an important part in his once again finding independence:

I am legally blind with the eye condition retinitis pigmentosa (RP). As a person whose vision has deteriorated over time, I have come to appreciate the tools that are available to us as blind people. Adaptive technologies have greatly improved my life. Screen-reading technology allows me to access computers as well as an iPhone, and with my stick (white cane) I am able to navigate around in unfamiliar places. While these technologies allow me to venture out from my own little world, perhaps the best tool I’ve come across is Braille. I believe that the learning of this skill is probably the most useful. To illustrate my point, I would like to relate an experience I went through at the beginning of my walk with blindness.

Over two decades ago, when I was starting to lose my vision, I accompanied my wife to a conference that she had to attend for work. Since the conference was on multiple days, we were staying in the hotel where it was being held. On the last day we checked out of our room, and my wife was going to attend the last of the seminars as I waited in the lobby of the hotel. Before the meetings that morning, my wife showed me to the door of the men’s room in the lobby so that I could use the facilities. Afterward I settled in to wait out the morning. The day wore on, and as Forrest Gump said, “I [had] to pee!” So I headed to the restroom. I found the door, pushed it open, walked in, and turned left, just as I had done earlier that morning, but this time the way was blocked by a wall. I felt around, thinking perhaps that I was just not in far enough; feeling along the wall, I was completely confused, because I knew that another door had been there a few hours ago. I just could not understand how a full wall had been erected. I got my answer in a few seconds. A door behind me opened, a woman walked out, saw me, and went out the door I had just entered through a moment before. I was in the foyer of the women’s restroom! I exited very quickly and found the chair I had been sitting in before I had gone to the restroom. I was completely embarrassed. A couple of minutes later a security guard walked by. He did not say anything to me, but I was reasonably sure that the woman reported that a pervert was in the ladies’ room. I waited for my wife to come back to the lobby before returning to the men’s room. I guess I did not need to use the restroom as badly as I thought.

You are probably wondering what this has to do with reading Braille; well I did not know how to read it at the time. If I had been able to read those little dots on the wall, I would have saved myself some embarrassment. It took several years before I finally learned to read, because I simply had no idea where to go to learn. A couple of years ago I attended World Services for the Blind, where I was taught the fundamentals of Braille. Learning this form of communication was not easy for me, and, while I am still a novice at reading Braille, I am of the opinion that it is a must-know skill to live a fulfilling life as a blind person. Even though I am still not an efficient reader (I have calluses on my fingers from working with my hands and playing the guitar), being able to read is as liberating and rewarding as when I learned to read print as a child.

The development of new products and the advancement of adaptive technologies will continue to make life more enjoyable for the blind, but the learning of Braille should remain in our box of tools. I do not know if an app exists to tell people which restroom they are about to enter. It is conceivable that there is one, but there are times that it would not be practical. Can you imagine rushing up to the restrooms, about to break out into “the pee pee dance,” fishing out your phone, unlocking it, scrolling through all the apps until you find the right one, opening it up, waiting for it to load, getting the sign in the frame, and praying that you’re at the right door? Running a finger along a line of Braille is a lot more straight-forward and incredibly faster.

If you or someone you know is facing blindness, I would encourage serious consideration be given to learning Braille. Finding resources may seem daunting, but the reward is worth the effort. A good place to start is with the National Federation of the Blind. I wish I had learned earlier. If I had, many times I could have enjoyed outings to places, such as a trip to Washington, DC, where plaques on the monuments are written in Braille. Some restaurants also have Braille menus that allow us as blind people to have a more independent life. Braille resources can be found and used in our daily life to help in our quest to “Live the lives we want!”

In conclusion, I would like to thank Mr. Jeff Weiss, my Braille teacher, for being patient as I struggled through the lessons. I would also like to leave you with a quote from a very intelligent woman with whom I was briefly acquainted, who has been an inspiration to me. Her name was Mrs. Gracie Jackson, and her gift to me was this quote: “I was not illiterate as a sighted person, and I will not be illiterate as a blind person.” This was and is my vow. Let it be yours as well.

The Barrier of the Visible Difference

by Kenneth Jernigan

From the Editor: This article is taken from the Kernel Book entitled Gray Pancakes and Gold Horses, published in 1998.

Catchy titles and clever phrases are the stuff of big business. As every advertising agency knows, fortunes are made or lost by the way the public reacts to a jingle or a slogan.

Once I heard a liquor distributor say that his company had a thoroughly mediocre wine that was going nowhere, and then somebody got the bright idea of giving it a sparkly name (I think it was Wild Irish Rose). After that, he said they couldn't make enough to meet the demand, operating three shifts a day.
 

Whether that story is true or false, the underlying message is right on target. It is not just what a thing is but how it sounds and feels that sets the tone and gives the value.

When most of us come across the term "visible difference," we think of the trademark of the beauty expert and cosmetics manufacturer Elizabeth Arden. "Visible Difference" is the brand name of moisturizers, lotions, and other products. But for the blind the term means something else. It represents a barrier and a hurdle to be surmounted. Let me illustrate.

When I was a boy of about four, my mother and I were sitting in the front bedroom of our home. Even though more than sixty-five years have passed, I still remember every detail. It was a summer evening just after dark. My father and brother were sitting on the porch, and the night sounds (the frogs and crickets) were coming into full chorus. It was oppressively hot with a lot of dust in the air.

In those days we didn't have electricity, so my mother had just lit the oil lamp. The smell of the burning kerosene began to blend with the regular odors of food and plant life that permeated the four-room house. Of course, all of the doors and windows were open.

When my mother finished lighting the lamp and adjusting the wick, she sat down and put her arm around me. Then she kissed me on the left side of my face. Since she was sitting on my left, this was a natural (almost an automatic) gesture. Then she said:

"Do you like for mother to kiss you?" Now, this put me into a real dilemma—for I very much liked for mother to kiss me, but I felt shy and embarrassed to say it.

Hunting a way out, I thought perhaps I could say yes by shaking my head. From conversations I had heard, I knew that other people shook their heads to mean yes or no, but I didn't know which way the head should move to indicate which meaning. It had never before occurred to me to wonder about the matter since I had never needed to know. My mother or anybody else around the house would undoubtedly have been perfectly willing to tell me if I had asked, but that didn't help in the situation I was then facing.

Using the best logic I could muster, I thought that since my mother was sitting on my left, maybe if I moved my head that way, it would indicate yes. Unfortunately it didn't, and my mother (not understanding my embarrassment and lack of knowledge) thought I was saying no. She was hurt and cried, and I didn't know how to explain.

So what is the moral of that little story, that minor tragedy of childhood? It is not that blind people are less competent than others of their age and circumstance. It is not that blind persons are slow learners or inept. It is that sometimes something that can be seen at a glance must be learned a different way by a blind person. The learning can be just as quick and just as effective, but it won't happen unless somebody thinks to explain, to help the blind child cross the barrier of the visible difference. There is no great problem in knowing how to shake one's head or in doing a hundred other things that sighted children learn without ever knowing that they have done it. It is only that the blind child must either be unusually persistent and inquisitive or have somebody constantly at hand who thinks to give information. Otherwise, insignificant details will multiply to major deficits.

And this is not just a matter of childhood. After seventy years I keep learning new things about the barrier of the visible difference. Recently when I told a blind friend of mine who is a lawyer about my head-shaking episode, he asked if I knew how you are supposed to hold your hand in a court when you are told to raise your right hand. I said that I had never thought about it but had always assumed that you simply raise your hand about your head, which is what would seem logical in the circumstances.

"No," he told me, "that isn't the way it is done. You raise your hand to shoulder level with the palm out." He went on to tell me that when he was being sworn in to be admitted to the Bar, he had raised his hand above his head and that later, one of his classmates had told him how the customary ritual is performed.

It is important to understand the significance of this incident. There is nothing better about raising the hand to the shoulder than over the head. It doesn't make one a better lawyer or a better witness in court. My friend is an excellent attorney, and I have testified in court on more than one occasion. We are simply dealing with a custom of society, a visible difference.

More than anything else (at least, unless one is aware of it and thinks about it) meaningless visible differences can lead to confusion and misunderstanding, and sometimes even to misplaced feelings of superiority or inadequacy. A thing that looks beautiful to the eye, for instance, can feel ugly and dirty to the touch. Again, let me illustrate. Once when I was four or five, my mother and father took me to the county fair. This was a big event.

We lived about fourteen miles from the county seat, and we didn't have a car. Very few people did in those days, so friends and neighbors pooled their transportation and helped each other with rides.

On this particular occasion my mother and I were standing at one of the booths at the fair. In retrospect it must have been one of those places that give prizes for throwing darts, tossing rings, or something of the sort. Regardless of that, the woman in charge gave me a small statue of a horse. As I think back on it, she may have done it because I was blind, or simply because she thought I was a cute kid. For purposes of my story, it doesn't matter.

The horse must have been quite pretty, for both the woman and my mother kept exclaiming about it. It was apparently covered with some sort of sparkly gold paint. To the eye I assume that it was extremely attractive, but to me it just felt dirty and grungy.

Now, I had never before had a small gold horse or, for that matter, any other kind of horse, or very many nice toys of any kind—so I was pleased and ecstatic with my treasure. But I thought I ought to clean it up and try to make it look nice.

Therefore, while my mother and the woman were talking, I busily scratched all of the rough-feeling gold paint off of it. It was quite a job. By the time I had finished, my horse felt clean and attractive. I was proud of it. Imagine, then, my disappointment and chagrin when my mother and the woman noticed what I had done and were absolutely dismayed. I couldn't understand why they were unhappy, and they couldn't understand why I felt that the horse was better for my effort. Again, I had bumped head-on into the barrier of the visible difference.

Unlike the head-shaking incident, this was not exactly a matter of learning correct information. If a thing looks better to the eye and feels worse to the touch, that doesn't make it better or worse. It simply means a different point of view, a visible difference.

I thoroughly understand that we live in a world that is structured for the sighted, so if a blind person intends to get along and compete in society, he or she must learn how the sighted feel and what they think is beautiful and attractive. But this has nothing to do with innate loveliness or quality. It is simply a visible difference.

As a matter of fact, although I wouldn't scratch the paint off of it if I met it today, that horse of my childhood would feel just as dirty to me now as it did then. A few years ago when I went to Athens, I was invited (no, urged) to handle a variety of sculptures. They may have looked beautiful, and I have no doubt that they did; but they didn't feel beautiful—at least, not to me. They felt dirty, and I wanted a good hand-washing after feeling them. Hopefully this does not mean that I am either a barbarian or a boor, only that my way of appreciating beauty may have something to do with the fact that I touch instead of look.

Do not make the mistake of thinking that it is only the blind who get stuck on the barrier of the visible difference. The sighted do it, too—repeatedly, every day. Recently when I was in the hospital, I was being taken to the x-ray department for tests. On the way I had to stop to go to the bathroom. As I came out, a hospital official (I think she was a nurse) saw me and exclaimed, in what I can only describe as panic:

"Catch him! He's going to fall. His eyes are closed."

My wife explained to her that I am blind and that my eyes are usually closed. It made no difference.

"It doesn't matter," she said. "Hold him. His eyes are closed. He will fall." This woman is not abnormal or unusually jumpy, nor (at least, as far as I can tell) is she stupid. She is simply so accustomed to the fact that sighted people look about them to keep their bearings that she cannot imagine that sight and balance have nothing to do with each other. If I had thought it wouldn't have upset her, I would have asked her if she believed she would be unable to stand up in a totally dark room.

During that same hospital stay, when I stepped into another bathroom, the nurse turned the light on for me even though I told her in a light and pleasant tone that I didn't need it. She said she would turn it on anyway. It was clear that she felt uncomfortable to have me in the bathroom in the dark. Obviously this is not a major matter. It simply shows that we feel uneasy when something violates (even benignly) our routine patterns.

And these are not isolated instances. Every day letters and articles come to my attention to prove it.

A journalist from Ohio writes to say that the blind need special fishing facilities—and he will lobby the government to help make it happen. He doesn't say why we can't fish in the regular way like everybody else, which many of us do all the time.

A locksmith from Wisconsin believes the blind would benefit from specially shaped door knobs (oval and textured, he thinks), and he is willing to design them. A pilot from Pennsylvania thinks we should solve any problems we have with the airlines by setting up an airline of our own, and he will help fly the planes.

A man from Minnesota believes that blind alcoholics cannot benefit from regular programs used by the sighted and suggests separate services. Some years ago the Manchester Union Leader, one of New Hampshire's most prominent newspapers, said that the governor of the state was so bad that only the deaf, dumb, and the blind could believe that he was competent.

These few illustrations are not a complete list, of course, but only a sampling. Moreover, I am not talking about all of the sighted. An increasing number are coming to understand and work with us. They give us some of our strongest support. Nor am I saying that the sighted are hostile toward us. Quite the contrary. Overwhelmingly the members of the sighted public wish us well and have good will toward us. It is simply that they are used to doing things with visual techniques, and when they look at a blind person, they see something to which they are not accustomed—what I call the barrier of the visible difference.

Most sighted people take it for granted that doing something with eyesight is better than doing it some other way. Visual techniques are sometimes superior to nonvisual techniques, and sometimes not. Sometimes the nonvisual way of doing a thing is better. Usually, however, it isn't a matter of better or worse but just difference.

This brings me to my experience with the National Federation of the Blind. I first became acquainted with the Federation almost fifty years ago, and it has done more than anything else in my life to help me gain balance and perspective--to understand that the barrier of the visible difference need not be a major obstacle, either for me or my sighted associates.

With more than fifty thousand active members throughout the nation, the National Federation of the Blind is leading the way in making it possible for blind people to have normal, everyday lives. We of the Federation seek out parents and help them understand that their blind children can grow up to be productive citizens. We work with blind college students, giving scholarships and providing successful role models. Blind seniors make up an important part of the organization, helping and encouraging each other and exchanging ideas and information. We develop new technology for the blind and assist blind persons in finding jobs.

All of this is what we of the National Federation of the Blind do to help ourselves and each other, but the chief value of the organization is the way it helps us look at our blindness and the way it helps sighted people understand and accept. We who are blind know that with reasonable opportunity and training we can earn our own way in the world, compete on terms of equality with others, and lead ordinary, worthwhile lives. We do not feel that we are victims, or that society owes us a living or is responsible for our problems. We believe that we ought to do for ourselves and that we also should help others. These attitudes are the heart and soul of the National Federation of the Blind. They constitute its core beliefs and reason for being.

We go to meet the future with joy and hope, but we recognize that we need help from our sighted friends. If we do our part, we are confident that the needed help will be forthcoming. We also know that both we and the sighted can surmount the barrier of the visible difference and reduce it to the level of a mere inconvenience.

Go-Carts and Scholarships

by April Scurlock

From the Editor: April Scurlock lives in Mount Ida, Arkansas, and she teaches fifth and sixth grade mathematics at the Mount Ida Middle School, where she has worked for eleven years. She is the president of the Arkansas at-large chapter and the second vice president of the affiliate. She won a national scholarship in 2012 and works hard to support the organization that granted it to her. Her state president says she is indispensable, and those who know her wish she could grace every affiliate. Here is what she has to say about winning an NFB scholarship:

As a teacher I get to take my class on a field trip at the end of the school year. My class always goes to the local go-cart track, where we play putt-putt golf, ride bumper boats, and drive go-carts. Many of the parents in our community are aware of my blindness, so it is funny to watch their reaction when they see me get in a go-cart to race against my students. Even the students are shocked to see me in a go-cart. The funniest part of the entire experience is that I usually end up winning the race. I am not sure if I win because they feel sorry for me or because I am so competitive.

I do not believe I would have had the courage to continue teaching and racing go-carts if it were not for the National Federation of the Blind. I came to know the NFB back in 2012 when my DSB (Division of Services for the Blind) rehabilitation counselor gave me an NFB scholarship form and told me I should apply. After researching this scholarship, I knew there was no way I could win it—the previous winners were so impressive, and this was my first time applying. For goodness sake, I had never even heard of the NFB until that moment. So, with hesitation, I set out on the journey to fill out the application and compete in a process I was certain would eliminate me. Once I had everything completed and mailed in, I forgot all about it…again I knew I had no chance of winning.

One night the phone rang while I was cooking dinner. I was hesitant to answer because the caller ID was some crazy number that I didn’t recognize. When I answered, I was thinking, should I pretend to be someone else? When the gentleman on the other end of the line asked to speak to me, reluctantly I replied that it was I.

He said, “My name is John Halverson, and I am a member of the National Federation of the Blind scholarship committee. I just have a few questions to ask you.” So he asked me some questions, and after my replies he informed me that I was indeed a 2012 winner of a NFB scholarship. I was so stunned that I was screaming and accusing him of lying, and he kept reassuring me that I really was a winner. My husband and boys ran into the kitchen, thinking I had burned myself. Finally, Mr. John congratulated me on my winning and said he would see me in July in Dallas.

For anyone who does not believe that first-time applicants can win this scholarship, I am here to show you that what you believe is wrong. Do not doubt yourself; you can do it. You have to believe in what you are doing and know you are bettering yourself as a blind person.

The National Federation of the Blind is one of the most outstanding organizations for blind people anywhere. I am thankful to my DSB counselor for introducing me to the NFB. I have many close friends that I made while being in Dallas for a week at the national convention. It is amazing what the NFB can do for you. It helped me believe even more in myself as a blind person. Instead of hoping that I can do great things in my life, I know I can do great things in my life.

Thank you, NFB, for changing my life for the better. Happy seventy-fifth anniversary!

My Journey Toward Winning Friends and Influencing Others

by Kelsey Nicolay

From the Editor: In the April 2013 issue we ran an article by Shawn Mayo entitled “An Ordinary Sort of Courage.” It is difficult to acknowledge that doing some things as a blind person does require courage without blowing out of all proportion the small things we do and making them look fantastic or heroic. It takes a bit of courage to venture into a setting where people tell you they have never been around a blind person or that you are the first blind person to ever attempt to participate in their organization. Kelsey Nicolay demonstrates such courage, and here is her story:

As a college graduate with a degree in communication, I thought I was prepared for the workplace. Over a year out and still unemployed, I decided to listen to my cousin who is a training consultant for Dale Carnegie when he suggested I go through their program. He told me that, even though I had solid communication skills, I would still benefit from the course. It was a difficult decision, partly because I would have to depend on my family to transport me.

After much thought and discussion my dad and I decided that I should go through the program since I would acquire skills to prepare me to handle the stress and challenges of the workplace. In addition, the course served as an opportunity to network with the other participants in order to help me gain employment.

Prior to the talk with my cousin, I did not know much about the program, only that it had something to do with public speaking. From the very beginning the staff felt they would be comfortable having me in class. “I can handle it,” said Elaine Dwyer, Dale Carnegie instructor, when informed by my cousin that I would be enrolling in her course. Due to company policy, I was not given the name of my instructor, so I was not able to communicate with her ahead of time. The training consultant had to facilitate the entire enrollment process, including the initial discussion with the trainer. Still, I felt confident that my instructor would be able to explain my learning needs and the accommodations I might need.

The first class was an orientation. The participants were introduced to the Dale Carnegie program, the areas of instruction, etc. Our activities involved demonstrating some basic communication skills such as self-introduction techniques. Each student was then asked to practice these skills in front of the class. My classmates were willing to help me move around when needed.

During the first few classes students were introduced to fundamental communication skills such as name recognition, conversation starting, etc. The majority of this instruction was oral, therefore all the participants were expected to memorize the sequences or sayings without having them written down. However, at times a participant manual was used. I was able to obtain an electronic copy, which I could pull up in class as needed. I was able to locate the other books on Bookshare, so I could read them independently between classes. At times, when materials were not available electronically, I asked a family member to serve as a reader. As the course progressed, there were some aspects which presented challenges. For example, during one class the instructor made up actions to go with a story in the book with which the students were asked to become familiar. The purpose of adding the actions was to help students add enthusiasm to their communication. Neither I nor the instructor considered how I would participate. Therefore, she asked one of the graduate assistants to try to describe what the instructor was doing, but the graduate assistant could not describe the actions fast enough. Once the class learned the actions to go with the story, the students were asked to perform it in small groups. I did not do the physical gestures. Instead I was able to participate by helping recite the words. “I realized I should have followed up with you,” Ms. Dwyer said after class that night. From this experience we learned that it is important to anticipate challenges and plan accordingly.

During a later class the students were asked to learn several silly skits to demonstrate being flexible in response to change. This time the instructor and I talked about the best way to handle the situation. We both agreed that having me work with another person would be the way for me to participate fully. The person I worked with verbally described what the instructor was doing while she was demonstrating the skit to the class. When the class was learning the skit, my partner would physically guide me through the routine. Once again the class performed in small groups. My partner helped me perform my skit with my group. Since I had more than words to go on and had actually rehearsed the motions and knew how they felt to perform, I was more comfortable with learning the actions.

As part of the course each participant was required to give a weekly talk. The talks focused on gaining the cooperation of others, demonstrating leadership, and enhancing relationships. During my speeches I focused on dealing with the vocational rehabilitation agency and how I had applied the principles learned in class to help me get the service I needed. My classmates were not familiar with the system, but, after listening to my talks, they had a better understanding of some of the difficulties I face. Although I had difficulties in some areas, I was much more comfortable in others, particularly learning things by rote. For example, during one class period the instructor wrote a saying on the board. I asked my neighbor what the instructor was writing, and she quietly whispered it to me. The instructor went through the saying out loud, but having my neighbor whisper it to me ahead of time helped to solidify it in my memory. Therefore, it was easier for me to recite the saying when students were asked to do so later in the class period.

Before I knew it, it was graduation night, a night in which all our accomplishments would be recognized. Each student was required to give a final talk in order to receive his or her certificate. Prior to each student’s speech, the instructor talked briefly about him or her, mentioning a highlight from his or her talk. I was a little nervous at first, but, when it was my turn to speak, I stood up and confidently gave my speech. When I finished speaking, my family came up to present me my certificate, just as the other participants’ families had done. In the end my family and I decided that the process was worth it, even though they had to drive me there and back every week. My advice to readers is that, if a Dale Carnegie class is offered in your area, do not hesitate to participate. The skills you learn will help you in every aspect of your life.

Crafting Your Diamond: The 2015 NOPBC Conference

by Carlton Walker

As the president of the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children (NOPBC), a division of the NFB, I have the privilege of writing this essay inviting you to the NOPBC’s Annual Conference which will be held at the NFB National Convention Sunday, July 5 through Saturday, July 10, 2015, at the Rosen Centre Hotel in Orlando, Florida. In addition to serving as the NOPBC president, I am employed as a teacher of the blind and visually impaired in Cumberland and York counties, Pennsylvania, and I am an attorney with my own solo practice. But, by far, my heart and mind are dedicated to the NFB and the NOPBC—I relish the opportunity to share with others and learn from friends.

As I write this essay, I am enjoying a much-anticipated and long-awaited vacation with my husband, Steve, and our daughter, Anna Catherine. I am stretched out on a comfy sofa in a lounge area on our cruise ship, the Norwegian Sun. We enjoy getting away on vacation, and a cruise offers us just what we like: lots of choices and few demands. On these cruises we cannot help but learn about all the shopping opportunities in the Caribbean—and chief among these is shopping for diamonds.

This seemed quite apropos, given that we will be celebrating the seventy-fifth anniversary of our National Federation of the Blind this year. From the gem-buying workshops I have attended, I discovered that the “Four Cs of Diamond Buying” apply to our blind children as well. While the diamond’s four Cs are cut, carat, color, and clarity, the four Cs of rearing a successful blind child are competence, confidence, creativity, and community. Competence requires the acquisition of, practice with, and mastery of nonvisual skills and tools, such as Braille, the long white cane, and access technology. Confidence provides a platform upon which these skills may be used. Creativity brings in the beauty of the individual—a diamond unlike any other who uses these skills in new and exciting ways. Community represents giving back—competent, confident, creative blind children and adults are full members of their communities and contribute to the growth and strength of them.

While I cannot afford to purchase a diamond, I believe that our children, blind or sighted, are the most precious gems we will ever encounter. Like diamonds, they are strong and possess qualities that some might not expect. Diamonds are known for their beauty, but they are actually quite valuable for industrial uses that have no relation to their physical appearance. Similarly, even though outsiders may not understand it, our children help us and others to experience and see our world in ways we would surely have missed without them. And, like rough, uncut diamonds, our children’s beauty and value cannot be fully realized until they experience the empowerment of nonvisual skills that let them shine.

Please join us at the Rosen Centre in Orlando, Florida, July 5 through 10, for our annual NOPBC conference. As noted above, we will also be celebrating the seventy-fifth anniversary of the NFB. Learning and fun, friends and family, love and laughter—you will find each of these in abundance throughout the convention, both with other parents of blind children and with blind adults—our children’s role models. Come meet us in Orlando as we learn the tools, techniques, and philosophies that will allow our diamonds to sparkle now and throughout their lives.

Schedule of Events for Adults, Children, and Youth

Please visit <www.nopbc.org> for activities, updates, and registration information

Sunday, July 5

9:00 AM to 4:45 PM             Full-Day Seminar—General Session and Workshops

7:30 AM to 8:45 AM             Registration
Parents, children, and youth are invited to start the morning together at the “Crafting Your Diamond” Seminar. At 10:45 a.m. children preregistered with NFB Child Care will be escorted to the children’s activity in the child care rooms and youth ages eleven to eighteen will be escorted to the Youth Track activity rooms.

9:00 AM to 10:45 AM           General Session
Welcome with NOPBC President Carlton Walker, Kid Talk with NFB President Mark Riccobono, keynote address, student panel, and more!     

10:45 AM                            Children and Youth Are Escorted To Activities

11:00 AM                           NOPBC Children’s Activity (ages five through twelve) in NFB Child Care
Please visit <www.nopbc.org> for activity details.

11:00 AM                               NOPBC Youth Track Activity (ages eleven through eighteen)

11:00 AM to 12:15 PM       NOPBC Concurrent Workshops for Parents and Teachers

Session 1

Additional workshops sponsored by Professionals in Blindness Education (PIBE) and the National Blindness Professional Certification Board (NBPCB) will be available during each time slot for parents and teachers to attend.

Learn to Play and Play to Learn
Facilitating your child’s learning and play. Instructor: Heather Field, Special Educator

The National Reading Media Assessment (NRMA) and the National O&M Assessment (NOMA)
What’s in these new, cutting edge assessments? Will they benefit your child? Instructors: Sheena Manuel, TBS, NOMC, Outreach Specialist, Professional Development and Research Institute on Blindness (PDRIB); Casey Robertson, TBS, Faculty, PDRIB

Using Readers
Learning the critical skill of using a human reader for academic and personal tasks. Instructor: Carol Castellano, Director of Programs, NOPBC

The ABCs of Braille
A hands-on workshop that will teach the beginning of Braille reading and writing. Instructor: TBA

12:15 PM                               Lunch on your own. Pick up children from Child Care.

1:30 PM                                 Child Care Reopens
                                               
2:00 PM                                NOPBC Children’s Activity (ages five through twelve) in NFB Child Care
                                                Check <www.nopbc.org> for details.                       
                                                To participate, child must be signed up for child care for this day.

2:00 PM to 4:45 PM           NOPBC Youth Track (ages eleven through eighteen)
                                               
2:00 PM to 3:15 PM           NOPBC Concurrent Workshops for Parents and Teachers

Session 2

Ages and Stages
Facilitating the child’s progress toward the next logical step in development. Instructor: Natalie Shaheen, Director of Education, NFB Jernigan Institute

Standardized Testing and Testing Accommodations: What You Need to Know
What are the issues with Smarter Balanced and PARCC? What testing accommodations will work for your child’s success? Instructors: Mehgan Sidhu, General Counsel, NFB; Valerie Yingling, Paralegal, NFB; Carlton Walker, TBS, President, NOPBC

Independence Skills for Real Life
What skills does your child need for an independent future and how can you cultivate them? Instructor: TBA

Technology: Accessible Apps
What’s new in accessible apps? Instructor: Jeremiah Beasley, Blindness and Low Vision Assistive Technology Specialist, Wisconsin Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired; Board Member, NOPBC and NFBWI

3:30 PM to 4:45 PM              NOPBC Concurrent Workshops for Parents and Teachers

Session 3

Additional workshops sponsored by PIBE and the NBPCB will be available for parents and teachers to attend.

Independent Movement and Travel for Very Young Children and Children with Additional Disabilities
Working toward maximum independence and self-determination for your child. Instructor: Denise Mackenstadt, NOMC

Make-and-Take Graphics
Learn the basics of making tactile graphics for children and create one to take home. Instructor: Carlton Walker, TBS, President, NOPBC

Independent Living Skills and Independent Movement and Travel for the School-Age Child
High expectations, real-life goals, and how to achieve them. Instructor: Mary Jo Hartle, NOMC, TBS

Using College Disability Support Services (DSS)
How DSS offices provide accommodations and how to access and use them effectively without losing your independence. Instructor: TBA

5:30 PM                                  Pick Up Children from Child Care Promptly!

5:30 PM to 7:00 PM              NOPBC Family Hospitality
Relax, snack, chat, meet new families and teachers, and connect with old friends. Veteran attendees will be on hand to welcome you and provide information. Co-sponsored by PIBE.

7:30 PM to 9:00 PM              NOPBC Board Meeting

8:00 PM to 11:00 PM            NABS Student Social (ages fourteen to eighteen)

Monday, July 6

Child Care is CLOSED on this day.

8:45 AM to 10:30 AM           Cane Walk Session I

11:00 AM to 12:45 PM         Cane Walk Session II
Wondering if your child should use a cane? Curious about how a cane works? Learn and experience the Discovery Method of travel at these special workshops. Parents, teachers, blind/VI children, and siblings are welcome. Coordinator: Jeff Altman, NOMCT, CVRCB

11:00 AM to 12:30 PM         Tween Room Open (ages eleven to fourteen)
Text or call Penny Duffy at (603) 892-6355 for location. Feel free to bring your lunch.

2:45 PM to 4:00 PM              NOPBC Youth Style Show (Rehearsal begins at 1:00 PM)
Our young blind models and NFB stars strut their stuff on the runway. Come enjoy the fashions and music and support NOPBC, tickets $5 at the door. Coordinator: Kim Cunningham, second vice president, NOPBC

5:45 PM to 6:15 PM              NOPBC Breaking Barriers Funathlon
Swim through shark-infested waters, race through an alligator-infested swamp, shoot down barriers to independence (on hotel grounds—no danger involved). Join us for this fun-filled family fundraiser, $5 to participate. Raise money for NOPBC by collecting pledges—please bring pledge sheets (at end of this article) and donations to the event.

7:30 PM to 9:30 PM              Parent Leadership Program (PLP)
Has the NOPBC helped you and your family? Would you like to get more involved? Come learn about leadership opportunities in your state. Coordinator: Carol Castellano, director of programs, NOPBC

Tuesday, July 7

In the morning visit the Exhibit Hall and the Independence Market; attend the NFB Board of Directors meeting—it’s open to all. In the afternoon, drop the kids off at their activities early and come to the NOPBC annual meeting.

12:45 PM                                Child Care Will Be Open Early This Afternoon
Give your child lunch, then drop him/her off early at child care so that you can attend the NOPBC annual meeting which begins at 1 PM.

NOPBC Children’s Activity (ages five through twelve) in NFB Child Care
Takes place during Child Care afternoon session. To participate, child must be signed up for child care for this day. Visit <www.nopbc.org> for details.

1:00 PM to 4:00 PM              NOPBC Youth Track Session (ages eleven to eighteen)

1:00 PM to 4:00 PM              National Organization of Parents of Blind Children Annual Meeting:
Options and Opportunities

Attention parents and teachers! Be sure to attend this important meeting featuring the 2015 Distinguished Educator of Blind Children; an update from the NFB Jernigan Institute; the latest information on accessible textbooks, art, games, and technology; writing contest winners, Parent Power, Kid Power; and NOPBC business and elections. Special bonus: meeting attendees receive a priority entrance ticket into the Braille Book Fair.

5:00 PM to 7:00 PM              Braille Book Fair
To celebrate the NFB’s seventy-fifth anniversary, the American Action Fund has generously donated 750 print-Braille books to this year's Braille Book Fair! A book lover's dream! Browse tables of new and used Braille and print-Braille books. Volunteers will box your books and deliver them to the post office for Free Matter shipment to your home. Books are free; donations are encouraged to support our Braille programs. Co-sponsored by NOPBC and NAPUB. Coordinator: Krystal Guillory, teacher of blind students, NFB of Louisiana BELL Coordinator.

7:30 PM to 9:00 PM              Dads’ Night Out
All dads, sighted and blind, are welcome at this NOPBC-sponsored event. Call Bill Cucco at (201) 602-6318 for location.

Wednesday, July 8

7:00 AM to 9:00 AM             NOPBC Board Meeting

9:30 AM to 12:00 PM           NFB Convention Opening Session
Be there for the bang of the gavel and the roar of the crowd. See the NFB Convention Agenda for program details. NFB general sessions take place all day Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Many additional events and meetings take place before the morning session, at lunchtime, and in the evenings.

12:15 PM to 1:45 PM            Tween Room Open (ages eleven to fourteen)
Text or call Penny Duffy at (603) 892-6355 for location. Feel free to bring your lunch.

7:00 PM to 9:45 PM              NOPBC Concurrent Workshops
                       
7:00 PM to 8:15 PM              Adopting a Blind/Visually Impaired Child
A look at the adoption process from initial considerations to real life at home from experienced adoptive parents. Instructors: Sandy Bishop, adoptive parent, POBC of MD; Merry-Noel Chamberlain, TBS, NOMC; and Marty Chamberlain, adoptive parents, POBC of NE
           
7:00 PM to 8:15 PM              IEP Workshop for Parents of Blind/VI Students
The basics of IEP development and how to be an active and effective participant. Instructor: Dan Frye, attorney, executive director, NJ Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired

7:00 PM to 10:00 PM            NOPBC Craft and Game Night (ages five to twelve)
This activity is for children whose parents are attending NOPBC evening workshops.

7:00 PM to 10:00 PM            NOPBC Youth Track Activities (ages eleven to eighteen)

8:30 PM to 9:45 PM              Staying Calm
How to get through an IEP meeting without raising your blood pressure and losing your cool and your mind! Instructor: Sharon Maneki, advocate, president, NFB of MD

Thursday, July 9

12:15 PM to 1:45 PM            Tween Room Open (ages eleven to fourteen)
Text or call Penny Duffy at (603) 892-6355 for location. Feel free to bring your lunch.

7:30 PM to 9:30 PM             Parent Leadership Program—PLP
Has the NOPBC helped you and your family? Would you like to get more involved? Come learn about leadership opportunities in your state. Coordinator: Carol Castellano, director of programs, NOPBC

Friday, July 10

12:15 PM to 1:45 PM            Tween Room Open (ages eleven to fourteen)
Text or call Penny Duffy at (603) 892-6355 for location. Feel free to bring your lunch.

12:30 PM to 1:45 PM            NOPBC Brainstorming Session
Come share your ideas and help to plan next year’s conference.

Insider Information

The NFB National Convention is a complicated week of events. This insider information can help you stay organized and take advantage of the many opportunities that will be available. The NOPBC Conference takes place within the NFB National Convention. The NOPBC conference, the NFB National Convention, and NFB Child Care have separate registration fees. To receive our special hotel room rates, you must also register for the NFB National Convention.

Informal Trip Day—Saturday, July 4

A group of parents will be meeting informally in the hotel lobby to take a trip to Wonder Works, an interactive indoor amusement park a short distance from the hotel. All are invited. Please visit <www.nopbc.org> for details.

Seminar Day Information—Sunday, July 5

On Seminar Day, Sunday, July 5, adults, children, and youth are invited to start the morning together at the “Crafting Your Diamond” Seminar. Children will have the opportunity to chat with NFB President Mark Riccobono. At the end of the general session (10:45 AM) children preregistered with NFB child care will be escorted to the children’s activity in child care and youth ages eleven to eighteen will be escorted to the Youth Track activity while adults attend workshops. At the lunch break pick up your child from child care for lunch on your own. After lunch there will be workshops for adults, a children’s activity in the child care rooms, and a Youth Track activity.

Activities for Children and Youth, Child Care Information

Special Events and Activities All Week Long

Many activities will be going on at the same time. You and your child might have to make choices. Read both the NOPBC agenda as well as the NFB agenda so that you don’t miss out!

REGISTRATION
NOPBC 2015 CONFERENCE—CRAFTING YOUR DIAMOND

Register online at www.nopbc.org or make check payable to NOPBC and mail with form to:
Pat Renfranz, NOPBC Treasurer
397 Middle Oak Lane, Salt Lake City, UT 84108
Save money by preregistering! Preregistration must be postmarked by June 15.
After June 15, please register on-site in Orlando.

FEES

By June 15

On-site in Orlando

1 Adult
2 or more Adults

$30
$50

$40
$70

Child/Youth (up to 18 years)

FREE
Children are free, but please list names and ages below

FREE

Adult Name ____________________________________________________________________
            [ ] parent of blind child          [ ] professional                        [ ] other___________________

Adult Name ___________________________________________________________________
            [ ] parent of blind child          [ ] professional                        [ ] other___________________

Please list additional adults on a separate sheet.

Address ___________________________________________ City ________________________
State ________________ Zip _________________ Phone _______________________________
Email ___________________________________ Alt. phone ____________________________

Child/Youth 1—Name (first and last), age, brief description of vision and any additional disabilities: ______________________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________________
Child/Youth 2: _________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________________
Please list additional children/youth on a separate sheet.

How many people?

Prereg. by June 15

On-site reg.

Totals

1 Adult                 _____

@ $30

or @ $40

= $______

2 or more Adults _____

@ $50

or @ $70

= $______

Child/Youth         _____

FREE

FREE

= $__00__

Total Registering _____

 

 

Total enclosed: $______

For parents/teachers of blind children:

_____ I would like to receive the NOPBC free national magazine Future Reflections.
            _____ in print  _____ as an e-file
_____ This is my first national convention. If not, how many have you attended? _____
_____ I am a member of my state NFB/POBC.
_____ I would like to receive more information about my state NFB/POBC.

PLEASE NOTE: Preregistrations postmarked after June 15 will be returned. Also, remember that registrations for the NOPBC Conference and NFB Child Care are separate and must be mailed to different places.

NATIONAL ORGANIZATION OF PARENTS OF BLIND CHILDREN (NOPBC)

Second Annual
BREAKING BARRIERS FUNATHLON
at the National Federation of the Blind National Convention
July 6, 2014, Orlando, FL

SPONSOR PLEDGE SHEET

Please make checks payable to NOPBC and bring to the event. Donations are tax-deductible.

FUNATHLETE NAME: _________________________________________ Goal: $___________

ADDRESS: __________________________________________________________________

PARENT’S EMAIL: ____________________________________________________________


Sponsor Name: __________________________________ Pledge/Donation Amount: _______

Address: ____________________________________________________________________

Email: ______________________________________________________________________


Sponsor Name: __________________________________ Pledge/Donation Amount: _______

Address: ____________________________________________________________________

Email: ______________________________________________________________________


Sponsor Name: __________________________________ Pledge/Donation Amount: _______

Address: ____________________________________________________________________

Email: ______________________________________________________________________


Sponsor Name: __________________________________ Pledge/Donation Amount: _______

Address: ____________________________________________________________________

Email: ______________________________________________________________________


Sponsor Name: __________________________________ Pledge/Donation Amount: _______

Address: ____________________________________________________________________

Email: ______________________________________________________________________


FUNATHLETE NAME: _________________________________________ Goal: $___________

Sponsor Name: __________________________________ Pledge/Donation Amount: _______

Address: ____________________________________________________________________

Email: ______________________________________________________________________


Sponsor Name: __________________________________ Pledge/Donation Amount: _______

Address: ____________________________________________________________________

Email: ______________________________________________________________________


Sponsor Name: __________________________________ Pledge/Donation Amount: _______

Address: ____________________________________________________________________

Email: ______________________________________________________________________


Sponsor Name: __________________________________ Pledge/Donation Amount: _______

Address: ____________________________________________________________________

Email: ______________________________________________________________________


Sponsor Name: __________________________________ Pledge/Donation Amount: _______

Address: ____________________________________________________________________

Email: ______________________________________________________________________


Sponsor Name: __________________________________ Pledge/Donation Amount: _______

Address: ____________________________________________________________________

Email: ______________________________________________________________________


Sponsor Name: __________________________________ Pledge/Donation Amount: _______

Address: ____________________________________________________________________

Email: ______________________________________________________________________

Federation Favorites

by Joe Ruffalo

With the seventy-fifth anniversary approaching, we at the Monitor thought this extra-special recipe was worth sharing in addition to the usual recipes. This unique treat is best served as an appetizer, but it can be used as a dessert. No matter how you serve it, it’s one that every Federationist can prepare, share, and enjoy.

Ingredients:
A full cup of each of the following:
Desire
Determination
Positive attitude
Involvement
Philosophy
History

Method: Pour all of the above into a chapter and/or division. Stir with love, hope, and determination to transform dreams into reality. Spread on high expectations. Serve to all that are striving to live the life they want. Serves the entire affiliate.

Recipes

This month’s recipes are offered by members of the NFB of Texas.

Coconut Candy

by Macarena Pena

Macarena Pena is the president of the Rio Grande Valley Chapter of the NFB of Texas. This is her first year in that role, and under her leadership, the chapter is thriving. Macarena works for the Division of Blind Services, in Brownsville, Texas.

Ingredients:
2 cups of coconut
1 cup of crushed pecans
1 cup of finely crushed graham crackers
1 butter stick
1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
1 can of sweetened condensed milk
2 eggs

Method: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl mix the coconut, pecans, and graham crackers. Melt the butter and add to the mixture. In a separate bowl mix the milk, eggs, and the vanilla. Add the coconut mixture to the milk mixture. Stir all ingredients together. Place in a greased rectangular Pyrex dish. Bake in oven for thirty minutes. Allow to cool, and cut into square pieces approximately two inches each. Enjoy!

Crockpot Lasagna

by Stacie Hardy

Stacy Hardy is a member of the Houston chapter of the NFB of Texas. Here is what she has to say: I received this delicious recipe from my guide dog’s puppy raiser. It is sure to feed an army and will win the hearts of everyone who tries it! It is especially good as leftovers and freezes great.

Ingredients:
2-3 jars of pasta sauce (I’ve typically used 2 16-ounce jars)
1 16-ounce box lasagna noodles, uncooked
24 ounces (approximately 3 cups) shredded mozzarella cheese
8 ounces ricotta or cottage cheese (I’ve only used the ricotta)
1 pound ground beef, ground turkey, or Italian sausage (I’ve used ground sirloin along with pepperoni)

Note: To make vegetarian lasagna, substitute spinach for meat

Method: In a large crockpot (at least six quarts), place one jar of the pasta sauce. Begin making the lasagna layers starting with the noodles followed by the meat and finally the cheese, I recommend breaking the noodles in half. I’ve typically been able to make three layers. Once the final layer has been made, cover with the second jar of sauce and grated cheeses. Cook on low for four to five hours. Note: A smaller crockpot can be used, but I recommend the larger one.

Corn Casserole

by Stacie Hardy

This quick and easy recipe will be the talk of any pot luck dinner. It is especially good as leftovers. You can be sure people will want the recipe.

Ingredients:
1 box of Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix (only Jiffy will do)
1 cup (8 ounces) grated cheddar cheese
1 stick butter, melted
1 16-ounce can cream-style corn
1 16-ounce can whole kernel corn, undrained
1 8-ounce container sour cream

Method: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Mix thoroughly. Pour into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish, bake for forty minutes.

Lucy Cake

by Stacie Hardy

This cake can be a refreshing dessert during the summer time or included in traditional holiday meals. This recipe has become a family favorite thanks to my aunt Linda.

Ingredients:
1 box Duncan Hines Golden Butter Recipe Cake Mix
4 eggs
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 4-ounce can mandarin oranges, undrained

Method: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Mix thoroughly. Pour into a lightly greased and floured 9-by-13-inch cake pan. Bake for thirty to thirty-five minutes.

Frosting:
1 8-ounce carton Cool Whip
2 cups chopped pecans
1 16-ounce can crushed pineapple, undrained
1 4-ounce can mandarin oranges, drained
1 small package of Jell-O instant vanilla pudding

Method: Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl, mix thoroughly. Refrigerate overnight; this will allow the flavors to blend together. The frosting is definitely my favorite part of this cake.

Lara’s Chili

by Lara Sowell

Lara is president of our Lone Star Chapter (at-large). She is active in her community, her church, and the NFB. She teaches Latin at Regents Academy, in Nacogdoches, Texas.

Ingredients:
3 pounds ground beef, browned and drained
1/3 cup chopped onions (optional)
2 cans RoTel
2 cans diced tomatoes
1 can beef broth
2 beef bouillon cubes
1 15-ounce can of tomato sauce
1 6-ounce can of tomato paste
2-3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed (I mostly use the kind that is already chopped up)
2-3 tablespoons ground cumin
2-3 tablespoons chili powder
Salt and pepper (to taste)

Method: Brown and drain the beef. If you like, you can add about 1/3 cup chopped onions and a dash of salt and pepper for added flavor as you do it. Combine beef with rest of ingredients to cook. I like to put it in the crockpot on low all day while I am at work, but in a pinch I cook it on the stovetop and simmer for thirty to forty minutes. I like to serve it over rice. Jasmine fragrant is my favorite; it is in the Asian section at Wal-Mart. I top with grated sharp cheddar cheese. Makes twelve servings of about one cup each.

Milagro Meat Loaf

by Norma Crosby

Norma Crosby is president of the NFB of Texas, and a proud charter member of the Lone Star Chapter. This recipe is one of her family’s favorites. It is named after the small Milagros “miracle” charms that are often sold outside major churches in Mexico. This is no ordinary meat loaf.

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 cup minced onion
1/2 red or green bell pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin
1 pound of lean ground beef
1 pound of lean ground pork
1 1/2 cups of dry bread crumbs
1/4 cup of tomato-based barbecue sauce (I use Stubb’s Original)
3 tablespoons of sour cream
1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce
Milk (as needed)     
Additional barbecue sauce (optional)

Method: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter in a heavy skillet. Add onions, bell pepper, and garlic. Sauté until the vegetables are softened. Stir in the salt, cayenne, cumin, and black pepper. Sauté for an additional two to three minutes. Pour the mixture into a large bowl, and add all the other ingredients, except for milk. Mix thoroughly with your hands. The meat should feel moist, but not soupy. If it feels too dry, add milk a tablespoon or two at a time until the consistency seems right. Mound mixture into a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan. Bake uncovered for forty minutes. Then, raise the oven temperature to 400 degrees, and bake for an additional twenty to thirty minutes. If you like, brush the top of the meat loaf with additional barbecue sauce during the last ten minutes.

Braggin’ Rights Chicken Fried Steak

by Norma Crosby

Ingredients:
2 pounds of round steak, cut about 1/2 inch thick, and tenderized twice by the butcher
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 egg
1 tablespoon Tabasco (or other hot sauce)
2 garlic cloves, minced
Vegetable shortening for deep frying

Method: Cut the steak into four equal portions. Pound the portions until each is about 1/4 inch thick. Place the flour in a shallow bowl. In a separate dish, stir together the baking powder, baking soda, pepper, and salt. Then mix in the buttermilk, egg, Tabasco, and garlic. Dredge the steaks in flour. Then dunk them in the buttermilk mixture. Then dredge them in the flour again. Pat the flour into the steaks until the surface feels dry. Add enough shortening to an iron skillet or heavy Dutch oven to allow for deep frying (about four inches deep). Bring the oil to a temperature of about 325 degrees. Deep fry the steaks for about seven to eight minutes. Push the steaks down or turn them as they bob to the surface. Serve with cream gravy (following recipe).

Cream Gravy

Submitted by Norma Crosby

This is a must-have with your chicken fried steak.

Ingredients:
1/4 cup of pan drippings
3 tablespoons of flour
2 cups evaporated milk
1 cup unsalted beef stock
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper (or to taste)
Salt (to taste)

Method: After cooking your chicken fried steak, use a strainer to pour off most of the fat left in the pan. Leave about 1/4 of the drippings in the bottom of the pan. Return any browned cracklings that remain in the strainer to the skillet. Place the skillet over medium heat, and stir in flour. Stir constantly to avoid lumps. Add evaporated milk and beef stock. Simmer until the liquid is thickened and the raw flour taste is gone (about three minutes). Stir the gravy up from the bottom frequently, scraping up any browned bits. Add salt and pepper to taste. The gravy should have a peppery taste. Add more if needed. Spoon over chicken fried steak, and enjoy.

Easy Cowboy Cornbread Casserole

by Barbara Shaidnagle

Barbara is a member of the Houston Chapter of the NFB of Texas.

Ingredients:
Corn Bread 
2 packages of Mexican-style cornbread mix
1 can of cream style corn
Eggs
Milk

Center
2 pounds hamburger meat
2 cans RoTel
1 can ranch-style beans
Chopped onions (as desired)
Bag of shredded cheese
           
Method: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Brown the ground beef, drain the grease. Add RoTel, onions, and ranch style beans, simmer for ten minutes. Make the cornbread according to directions on the back of the bag, add can of cream of corn, and half of the bag of cheese. Grease the bottom of a 8-by-12-inch casserole dish. Pour half of the cornbread mix to the bottom of the pan. Add the meat mixture, then put the other half of the cheese on top. Cover the meat mixture with the other half of the cornbread mixture. Cook for forty-five minutes, or until you can poke a toothpick in the middle and have it come out clean.

Carrot Salad

by Una Lau

Una Lau is a member of the Houston Chapter of the NFB of Texas.

Ingredients:

2 10-ounce bags shredded carrots, available from the produce department
1 cup (or approximately 3 handfuls) raisins
2 tablespoons poppy seeds (available in the spice aisle)
1 lemon, juiced
2 oranges, juiced
1/2 cup (or approximately 2 handfuls) light brown sugar
Salt (to taste)

Method: Combine all ingredients well, using your fingers to toss and coat the carrots thoroughly. Transfer to a travel container or serving dish. As the salad sits, the raisins will plump a bit and carrots will take on a citrusy taste.

Monitor Miniatures

News from the Federation Family

Child Care in Orlando 2015:
If you are a child between the ages of six weeks and twelve years, NFB Camp is the place to be during convention sessions. We have qualified child care professionals providing activities, games, field trips, and a variety of fun experiences for the children. Michelle Chicone, teacher of blind children, will also be working with children and consulting with parents throughout the week.

More information and registration details can be found on the NFB website at <www.nfb.org>, or you can call Carla McQuillan at (541) 653-9153.

Braille Book Fair 2015:
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 2015 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 Avenue, Orlando, FL 32824.

This note comes from this year's coordinator, Krystal Guillory. If you have any questions, contact her at (318) 245-8955 or <kguillory@lcb-ruston.com>.

The Braille Book Fair has become one of the highlights of the convention for many teachers, parents, blind kids, blind parents, and adult beginning Braille readers. But the event could not take place without the help of many dedicated, talented volunteers. And that's where you come in. As a past worker, or simply interested supporter of the Braille Book Fair, I hope you can either volunteer, or give me the contact information for someone that you recommend.

You do not need to work the entire afternoon or evening, but I do ask that you try to work an entire shift. We especially need for people who help customers to come before we open the doors at 5:00 p.m., and to commit to staying until at least 6:30 p.m.

We need volunteers throughout the afternoon and evening for the following shifts and work responsibilities:

10:00 AM to Noon: Open boxes, sort boxes, unpack boxes. Sort and clean-up empty boxes for re-use, tape together new boxes.

Noon to 2:00 PM: Open boxes, sort boxes, unpack boxes. Sort and clean-up empty boxes for re-use, tape together new boxes.

2:00 to 3:30 PM: Sort books, pair up volumes, weed out and/or toss unusable books or other materials. Some good Braille readers are especially needed for this shift. We also need runners to take boxes, books, etc. to other locations in the room as they are needed.

3:30 to 4:30 PM: Continue sorting, display books on tables, store overflow books on floor and under tables. Some good Braille readers are especially needed for this shift. We also need runners to take boxes, books, etc. to other locations in the room as they are needed.

4:30 to 5:00 PM: Choose a section of tables to work, familiarize yourself with the titles, and shift volumes around if needed. Some good Braille readers are especially needed for this shift. We also need runners to take boxes, books, etc. to other locations in the room as they are needed.

5:00 to 7:00 PM: The Event, Job A: Assist customers with locating books, and make sure customers take all volumes of a title. Act as a “talking sign” for categories on your tables. Serve as a mentor to those who look as if they need assistance. Place more books on the tables as space becomes available. Some good Braille readers are especially needed for this shift. We also need runners to take boxes, books, etc. to other locations in the room as they are needed.

5:00 to 7:30 PM: The Event, Job B: Pack books up for customers for shipping to their homes. Write labels, stamp "Free Matter" on boxes, tape up boxes, and stack boxes.

6:30 to 8:00 PM: (We are frequently done by 7:00 PM.) Clean up trash. Toss or box up leftover books. Label boxes for shipment back to NFB. Stack boxes and/or move them for later pick-up by UPS.

If you are interested in volunteering for the Braille Book Fair, email Krystal Guillory at <kguillory@lcb-ruston.com> or call (318) 245-8955. In your message, please give your name, your cell phone number that you will have at convention, the state you live in, the shift you would like to work, and your Braille skills (including if you read by touch or by sight as a sighted person). If you are a parent of a blind child under the age of eighteen (or still in high school or below), we know that you will want to attend the NOPBC Annual Meeting which takes place just before the Braille Book Fair, but we would welcome your help either during the event or on the clean-up shift after the event.

Cancer Survivors, We Are Here:
The National Federation of the Blind Cancer Survivors Support Group’s purpose is to help all cancer survivors get well, stay well, provide preventive measures, create a platform for cohesive dialogue and help provide accessibility to information that may enhance the lives of cancer survivors.

Our primary goal is to make sure that blind cancer survivors have information in accessible format, i.e. Braille, large print, or electronic format. Membership is free so join today by emailing Isaiah Nelson at <isaiahn57@icloud.com> or call (803) 735-0821.

The National Federation of the Blind Cancer Survivors has launched a mailing list. The list is sponsored by the National Federation of the Blind. To join the list, go to <http://www.nfbnet.org/ mailman/listinfo/nfb-cancer-survivors_nfbnet.org> or send an email to <nfb-cancer-survivors-request@nfbnet.org> and put “subscribe” in the subject line. If you have technical problems, please contact David Andrews at <david.andrews@nfbnet.org>.

Stay in the know on cancer information, conference calls, events, resources etc. A monthly prize will be given to the NFB Cancer Survivor who participates on the mailing list.
Participants may win only once per year.

The first twenty-five members of the National Federation of the Blind Cancer Survivors Support Group to register for the National Federation of the Blind 2015 National Convention in Orlando, Florida, will receive a special gift at the meeting of the NFB Cancer Survivors Support Group. To redeem your gift you must show your 2015 National Federation of the Blind National Convention registration badge at the meeting.

Show your support for the NFB Cancer Survivors by joining us at our “Fiesta Table” at the 2015 National Federation of the Blind Banquet, Friday, July 10, 2015. Banquet tickets are only $60 each. If you can't attend, sponsor a Federationist by donating $60 to the National Federation of the Blind. If you want to join the NFB Cancer Survivors at the “Fiesta Table,” be sure to get your banquet ticket to Isaiah Nelson for the exchange by 12:00 PM on Tuesday, July 7. NFB Cancer Survivors who RSVP by June 5  to dine with us at the “Fiesta Table” will receive maracas to shake and let the world know “We Are Here!” RSVP by emailing <isaiahn57@icloud.com> or call (803) 735-0821.

The NFB Cancer Survivors Support Group will host its annual meeting, date and location to be announced, so be sure you are signed up for the NFB Cancer Survivors mailing list. The first fifty attendees of the NFB Cancer Survivors meeting will receive gift bags. We will customize your bag with your choice of Braille or large print literature if you RSVP for the annual meeting by emailing <isaiahn57@icloud.com> or call (803) 735-0821.

We want your "Fighting Cancer Story" to create a book of support for those walking the cancer journey with us. Forward your story today to <issiahn57@icloud.com>. We want to meet you.

The 6 Dot Dash Comes to Your Community:
On June 7, 2015, the National Federation of the Blind will once again be holding its 6 Dot Dash: A 6K to Advance Braille Literacy! Although not everyone will be able to join us at our headquarters in Federal Hill to participate in our third annual 6 Dot Dash through the Inner Harbor in downtown Baltimore, anyone can still participate as a virtual runner to assist members and friends of the National Federation of the Blind by making a donation to ensure that blind students have access to the necessary services and supports to cross the literacy finish line. Just follow these simple steps to register as a 6 Dot Dash Virtual Runner or to become a member of a team.

First, go to our Dot Dash webpage at <www.nfb.org/dot-dash>, and read the information about our event. Click the "Register Today!" link to begin the registration. Rather than completing the runner registration information, go directly to the "Enter donation" edit field, and enter the amount of your donation. Then click the "Order Now" link.

On the next page you should enter your name, email address, credit card information, and billing information so that we can process your donation. Then, under the "Ticket 1 - Donations/Additional Donation" heading, enter the name, phone, email, and mailing address of the virtual runner. If you are a member of a team, be sure to enter or select your team name in the dropdown box after supplying the information requested under the "Other Information" heading.

Finally, you should check the "I agree to the above waiver" checkbox in order to authorize payment on the credit card. Then click the "Pay Now" link to make your donation and register as a virtual runner to help blind students cross the literacy finish line.

Research has demonstrated that blind people who know and use Braille have higher rates of employment, self-confidence, and general social integration. Yet, only 10 percent of blind children are receiving instruction in Braille in public schools. Additionally, there are not enough programs to teach Braille to blind adults. We need to move quickly to reverse this trend and establish stronger literacy programs. The 6 Dot Dash is one means of ensuring that we do not leave the blind behind.

For decades the National Federation of the Blind, the country's oldest and largest organization of the blind, has been the leading champion of Braille literacy. Offering a wealth of resources and knowledge, the NFB's Braille literacy program is the most comprehensive of its kind. Every day the NFB raises the expectations of blind people, because low expectations create obstacles between blind people and our dreams.

Assistive Technology Trainers Division to Meet at National Convention:
The Assistive Technology Trainer’s Division will meet on Tuesday, July 7, from 6:30 to 10 p.m. Join us for lively discussions about the current state of Google Docs, NVDA, Windows 10, working with people who have multiple disabilities, and other subjects of interest. Dues are $5.00. Registration will begin at 6:30 p.m., and the meeting will start promptly at 7:00 p.m. We look forward to seeing you there.

Video Educates Policemen in Albuquerque:
During the 2014 White Cane Banquet in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Police Chief Gordon Eden agreed to the creation of a video explaining the White Cane Law which will be shown to rookie officers. Don Burns, co-chair of the White Cane Committee and the person who arranged for the police chief to attend the banquet, was the spokesperson on the video. Because of scheduling problems the video was not created until March 12, 2015. During this meeting Don went through the law in detail, outlining how it was first passed in New Mexico as the result of efforts on the part of President Lyndon Johnson and New Mexico’s then-Governor David Cargo. This was a bipartisan effort and was the beginning of annual acknowledgements by the president, most governors, and many local mayors.

The National Federation of the Blind has perpetuated the annual observation of this important law. October 15 has been designated as White Cane Safety Day, and numerous efforts by Federation chapters throughout the country describe how the law protects the rights of blind people using either white canes or guide dogs as they traverse public streets. It also protects the right of such individuals seeking entrance to restaurants or other public facilities.

The video will be shown not only to officers in training but will also be seen in all substations twice a month. Chief Eden also supports us and joins in our concerns about quiet cars. Another issue addressed at the banquet was the lack of a question about the white cane in the current drivers’ manual. He has agreed to work with us to see that this manual is updated.

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.

GE Works to Design Braille Kit for Artistry™ Electric Range:
The simplicity of GE’s Artistry™ series of appliances—an affordable suite of appliances targeted to first-time homebuyers and millennials—lends itself to a unique market segment: the visually impaired. Working with students from the Kentucky School for the Blind, GE engineers and designers in Louisville, Kentucky, developed an accessory kit of Braille overlays for the new Artistry electric range controls that allows the visually impaired to use its cooktop and oven functions.

According to an American Foundation for the Blind article, stoves are the least accessible class of appliances. Many ranges today have smooth push buttons on a back control panel. The ADA-compliant Artistry range offers front-control knobs that are within reach and a straightforward design that lends itself to a Braille accessory kit for the blind or visually impaired.

“Both my parents taught special education,” says Lee Lagomarcino, a GE product manager who initially championed the project and observed Kentucky School for the Blind students interacting with ranges. “As we developed the Artistry electric range, we knew its simplicity made it more universally appealing and ideal for a Braille application.”

Students from the Kentucky School for the Blind helped the GE team determine what was needed—a high, medium, and low heat setting for the cooktop, and a low, 350 degree, and broil option for the oven. With those readily accessible features to serve as a baseline, the oven can be adjusted to a recipe as needed.

A focus group of students at the school came up with ways to make ranges more user friendly—using puffy paint and brightly contrasting colors to showcase their ideas. GE took those ideas and turned them into the custom-designed Braille kit. Students also tested the initial designs for ease of use.

Kentucky School for the Blind Program Coordinator Paula Penrod said, “Many times, manufacturers will introduce a new product, then seek comments from consumers with disabilities. Consumers who are blind and visually impaired have unique needs when using appliances. By working with GE during the production stage, our students were able to demonstrate the type of Braille modifications that would be most helpful. We appreciate GE for seeking our students’ input on the front end of GE’s Artistry range project.”

As a thank you to the Kentucky School for the Blind and its students for their help, GE donated a full suite of Artistry kitchen appliances to the school’s campus on Frankfurt Avenue in Louisville, Kentucky.

The GE Artistry electric ranges and Braille kits are available in black and white and can be purchased nationwide where GE appliances are sold. For help locating a dealer, go to <www.GEAppliances.com> and use the Dealer Locator tool or call the GE Answer Center at (800) 626-2000. The estimated retail price of the Artistry electric range is $599, and the Braille kit is $15.75, however, prices may vary by retailer.

In addition to the Braille kits for ranges, GE offers a standard Braille kit for common buttons on its microwave ovens. The kit can be ordered where GE appliances are sold.

Department of Education Improves Accessibility of Student Loan Process:
Paragraph 3(b) of the agreement entered into between the US Department of Education and the National Federation of the Blind provides as follows:

The department shall, beginning as soon as practicable, but no later than ninety days after the effective date of this agreement, start to conduct outreach to blind and visually impaired borrowers. Through these efforts the department shall provide information about and solicit input concerning the accessibility of its websites and those of its servicers, the procedure for requesting alternative formats for student loan-related materials, and how to report problems with accessibility. The outreach shall be conducted using the department’s websites, as well as by posting notices in such publications as the Braille Monitor, as well as through other publications for blind, visually impaired, and large-print readers and newsletters published by the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped.  Copies of all draft outreach materials shall be provided to counsel for complainants for prior review and comment no later than sixty days after the effective date of this agreement. Counsel for complainants shall provide any feedback within forty-five days.

The department, consistent with its commitment to making its student loan resources and services accessible to all borrowers, has begun the implementation of its new standards for web accessibility; telephonic access; Word, PDF, and hard copy documents, forms, statements, and publications. The new standards are designed to:           

Students and borrowers are encouraged to contact their loan servicers to obtain information regarding the availability of alternative formats.  To locate loan servicer information on your federal student loan, log in to the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) or contact the Federal Student Aid Information Center (FSAIC) at (800) 4-FED-AID—(800) 433-3243—Monday through Friday, 8:00 AM to 10:00 PM Eastern time.  For additional contact options and other general information, visit <https://www.StudentAid.gov>.

To report problems regarding the accessibility of student loan websites, documents, forms, statements, or publications, borrowers may either: submit a complaint through a link on the department’s website; or file a formal complaint with the department pursuant to 34 C.F.R § 105.41.

New National Library Service for the Blind and Handicapped Website:
That All May Read is the long-standing motto of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS), Library of Congress, a free library service. People with temporary or permanent low vision, blindness, or other physical disabilities that prevent them from reading or using printed materials are eligible to enroll in the Braille and Talking Book program, which offers a wide variety of reading materials at no charge.

The new NLS website, <www.loc.gov/ThatAllMayRead>, has information about the service and features a video with nine NLS patrons talking about their experiences with the program. The website will be updated regularly, so check back frequently to see what is new. Encourage those who may be eligible for NLS services, or who know people who are, to visit the site and learn more. Spread the word so that all may read.

<#ThatAllMayRead>, the motto of the NLS, <@The Library of Congress>, is the new campaign theme describing NLS's Braille and Talking Book program. Follow us on Facebook or Twitter as well as using the main website to keep informed about what’s new with the NLS.
 
Computers for the Blind Receives Grant from the Delta Gamma Foundation:
Computers for the Blind (CFTB) a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization located in Richardson, Texas, is pleased to announce the receipt of a generous grant from the Delta Gamma Foundation to provide seventy-five accessible desktop computers and monitors for $40 to people who are on SSI due to their blindness. The regular fee for a desktop is $110. Laptops are $160.

For more information about the machines distributed by Computers for the Blind, see the April 2015 issue of the Braille Monitor.

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.

Spread the Word with The Heart of Applebutter Hill:
Please purchase the educator-recommended novel The Heart of Applebutter Hill, which features a fourteen-year-old blind heroine, for your local public and school libraries and as gifts. Doing so will help in several ways: it will raise awareness about the capabilities of blind people, the challenges we face, and the common humanity we all share; if we sell enough copies to garner some significant national press coverage, NLS will include it in their collection; if not, every dime I receive from sales is going to a fund to have it Brailled and distributed to blind students to encourage Braille literacy.

The Heart of Applebutter Hill is available in print and Kindle from Amazon: <http://www.amazon.com/books/dp/1483948226>, or through most online ebook outlets, including: Nook Book <http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-heart-of-applebutter-hill-donna-w-hill/1115426305?ean=2940016415000&itm=1&usri=2940016415000>; Apple iTunes <https:// itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-heart-of-applebutter-hill/id651693834?mt=11>; and Smashwords (7 formats including .epub, .rtf, .mobi and .pdf) <http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/ 313071?ref=DonnaWHill>.

Readers with print disabilities can find The Heart of Applebutter Hill on Bookshare: <http://www.bookshare.org/browse/book/639304>.

Audio Described Workouts:
Descriptive exercise routines are now available from BlindAlive. Current offerings include two levels of cardio, two sculpting with weights, a boot camp-style workout classes, and a stability ball workout, with others planned for the near future. Workouts can either be downloaded to your computer or purchased on CD. For more information, you may visit BlindAlive on the web: <www.BlindAlive.com>, send email to <support@BlindAlive.com>, or leave a message for a return call at (570) 212-9979.

For Sale:
HIMS Braille Edge 40-cell Braille display and a HumanWare BrailleNote QT 32-cell Apex with compatible Sendero GPS. Both come with AC adapters, have been used sparingly, have excellent Braille cells and batteries, can work independently as notetakers, have the latest firmware, and work very well with Voiceover and most Windows screen-reading software. Asking $1,700 for each, including shipping. Email David Van Der Molen at <dvm975@gmail.com> if interested.

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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