Braille Monitor                                             March 2016

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News from the Federation Family

Louisiana Center for the Blind Buddy and STEP Programs 2016:
Since 1989 the Louisiana Center for the Blind has offered an innovative summer program for blind children in grades four through eight. This summer, the Buddy Program promises to be full of learning opportunities, new friendships, and fun-filled activities.

Many blind children have misconceptions about their blindness due to the lack of positive blind role models and to the negative stereotypes about blindness in society. Unlike other summer programs for blind children, the Buddy Program is directed and staffed by competent blind adults. Classes in cane travel are taught to instill independence and self-confidence. The knowledge of Braille enables the blind child to compete on terms of equality with sighted peers in the classroom and provides a solid background in spelling and other grammatical skills. Computer literacy classes expose a blind child to available adaptive equipment. Classes in daily living skills promote equal participation in household duties such as cooking, shopping, and cleaning. In addition to learning valuable alternative techniques of blindness, children will enjoy participating in a wide variety of exciting activities such as swimming, camping, bowling, roller skating, and field trips.

The combination of hard work and fun activities will provide a rewarding experience that children will cherish. Involvement in the Buddy Program helps blind children realize that it is not blindness that holds them back. Rather, it is the negative attitudes and misconceptions about blindness that may prevent blind children from reaching their potential. At the close of the program, parents are required to attend a Parents’ Weekend. This weekend will allow them to interact with other parents of blind children and to learn what their children have discovered about their blindness and themselves. Friendship, training, fun, growth, and interaction between blind children and positive blind role models is how the Louisiana Center for the Blind is “changing what it means to be blind.”

The Louisiana Center for the Blind will sponsor one session of the Buddy Program in 2016. Program dates are July 17-August 6.

Perhaps we will have the opportunity to work with your child this summer. We know it will be a memorable experience for both you and them. All interested families should visit <> for more details and to apply. Please also feel free to contact our director of youth services, Eric Guillory before April 8. Please email Eric at <[email protected]> or call (800) 234-4166.

Due to limited space, we cannot guarantee that every applicant will be granted enrollment. Please note that the fee for students not from Louisiana is $1,000, which is all-inclusive save for transportation to and from the program. The fee for Louisiana students is $500.

2016 Summer Training and Employment Project (STEP) Program:
Since 1985 the Louisiana Center for the Blind has been changing what it means to be blind for adults from across America. In 1990 a program was created to address the needs of blind high school students. The Summer Training and Employment Project (STEP) Program is designed to introduce blind teenagers to positive blind role models and to provide participants with summer work experience.

The eight-week summer program will consist of two components. During the first part of the program, competent blind counselors will instruct the students in the alternative techniques of blindness. Classes in Braille, cane travel, computer literacy, and daily living skills will be taught by qualified blind instructors. In addition, seminars will be conducted in the areas of job readiness, job interviewing skills, résumé writing, and job responsibilities. The second part of the program will continue all aspects of training and expand to include an employment dimension. Students will have the opportunity to work fifteen to twenty hours a week at a local business for which they will receive the federal minimum wage. The staff will attempt to meet the job interests of the students. Instructors from the Louisiana Center for the Blind will be available to provide on-the-job assistance as needed.

The combination of work experience and blindness-related skills—along with fun-filled activities such as cookouts, swimming, and various other outings—will foster self-confidence and independence in young blind teenagers. During the week of June 30 through July 5, students will attend the national convention of the National Federation of the Blind in Orlando, Florida. This exciting conference will allow them to meet thousands of competent blind people from across the country. The students will also have the chance to participate in a wide variety of informative seminars. At the close of the program, parents will be required to attend a Parents’ Weekend, which will enable them to discover how much their children have learned throughout the summer. The STEP program is designed to provide invaluable work experience, friendships, opportunities for personal growth, and cherished memories.

Training will begin June 12 and conclude August 6. Please visit <> to learn about more program specifics and to complete an application.

Due to limited space, we cannot guarantee that every applicant will be granted enrollment, and applicants must have an open case with their state’s vocational rehabilitation agency or other funding entity to cover program costs.

Questions? Please call our director of youth services, Eric Guillory at (800) 234-4166 or email him at <[email protected]>. "Together, we are changing what it means to be blind." Check out STEP and find out how.

Braille Book Fair 2016:
Calling all Braille readers, teachers, and parents! It’s that time again to sort through all those boxes of Braille books and donate those gently used but no longer needed Braille books to the 2016 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:

Children are so hungry for their own Braille 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: 2016 Braille Book Fair, National Federation of the Blind, 200 East Wells Street at Jernigan Place, Baltimore, MD 21230.

Please note that you are shipping the books Free Matter for the Blind; you do not need to pay to ship Braille items. Handwrite, stamp, or affix a label to the upper right-hand corner of the box stating: FREE MATTER FOR THE BLIND. Take your package(s) to your local post office.

The NFB Greater Seattle chapter held elections on Saturday, January 16, 2016. The following officers were elected: president, Arielle Silverman; first vice president, Mike Mello; second vice president, Jacob Struiksma; secretary, Tanna Dieken; treasurer, Daniel Heathman; and board members, Ellen Farber and Mary Helen Scheiber.

At the  January meeting of the Capital Chapter of the NFB of New Jersey, the following were elected: president, Mary Jo Partyka; vice president, Ben Constantini; secretary, David Mostello; treasurer, John Lipton; and board members, Sue Constantini and Cindy Lipton.

Florida Affiliate Holding Raffle:
The Florida affiliate has started the 2016 fundraising campaign, and this is something that you do not want to miss out on.

The raffle for the Shingle Creek is well on its way, and the Florida affiliate welcomes your participation. The raffle is a two-night stay at Shingle Creek, plus $50 per diem, or $300 cash (which is the value of the package.) The tickets are one for $5.00 or three for $10.00. This raffle will run through March 31.  The winner will be contacted by telephone the day of the drawing (March 31 at 7:30 p.m.). Also, the video recording will be posted on YouTube. Once again the Florida affiliate thanks you for supporting the work of the Federation.

You can pay by sending a check or money order to the NFB of Florida c/o Jorge Hernandez, 201 NW 56th Ct., Miami, FL 33126. You may also pay by PayPal by clicking on the link <PayPal.Me/

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Jorge Hernandez, fundraising chair, at <[email protected]> or by phone at (305) 877-2311.

Looking for Alumni of Residential Schools for the Blind:
My name is Ken Lawrence, and a couple of years ago I got inspired by an attempt to start a division of the NFB. My enthusiasm was renewed by the Seventy-Five Days of Action, but as I tried to find old friends who attended various schools for the blind and other residential schools, I kept hitting the same issue: the loss of the accomplishments achieved in the schools for the blind by students my age. These accomplishments range from athletics to performances in plays and recitals to participation in programs like vending stands. When the residential schools for the blind became institutions for multiple handicaps, some of the facilities were repurposed. For example, I attended the Oakhill School for the Blind in Hartford from 1974 to 1979. Six months after I left Oakhill, the auditorium where I played Mayor Shinn in The Music Man was turned into a playroom for younger kids. The swimming pool where we won Eastern Athletic Association of the Blind Championships is also gone. The acorn shop which I helped launch is gone also. Even finding alumni of my era is very difficult.

I’m asking readers of the Braille Monitor for help. I’d like alumni of residential schools for the blind to write down their memories of their days at school, of the awards they won, the competitions, the activities they participated in, and the wonderful memories they made there. I would like to see these memories preserved as the schools themselves change and evolve into much different institutions than the ones we attended and remember. Send your written memories to the Monitor at <[email protected]>.

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.

Download Accessible Tax Information:
            Get ready for the tax season! Hundreds of the latest accessible federal tax forms and publications are available for download from the IRS Accessibility Web page at <>. You can choose from large-print, text, accessible PDFs, e-Braille, or HTML formats that are compatible with screen readers and refreshable Braille displays. The IRS also provides American Sign Language videos with the latest tax information at <>.

IRS Tax Return Preparation Help is Available:
Tax assistance is available to people with a physical disability or are age sixty or older through the IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) or Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) programs. You can find a nearby VITA or TCE location by using the available locator tools at <> or by calling (800) 906-9887. Publication 907, Tax Highlights for Persons with Disabilities, explains the tax implications of certain disability benefits and other issues and is available at <>.

Information about NASA Internships Available:
Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) initiatives have been a focus of the Federation in the last few years, and we have enjoyed a long and fruitful relationship with NASA. Their interest in seeking and growing qualified blind employees is unquestionable. If you would like to subscribe to an announcement-only list about NASA internships for persons with disabilities, please send an email to <[email protected]> with 'subscribe' in the Subject field, or by visiting the list page at <>. This is an internship program, not an employment program. For NASA jobs, please go to <>.

Registration for 2016 No Barriers Summit Now Open:
From June 23-26 No Barriers will host its annual signature event, the Summit, this year at Copper Mountain in Colorado. Thousands of people of all abilities from across the USA and around the world will embark on exhilarating adventures in over fifty adaptive activities in sports, adventure, arts, and education; be motivated by phenomenal speakers and celebrities; and be inspired by some of the most creative and innovative technologies, products, and services helping to transform lives.

Your four-day Summit Pass includes:

For more information check out our webpage at: <>.

Spoken Word Ministries Debuts New Christian Resource Library:
Spoken Word Ministries Inc., serving blind people since 1988, announces the national launch of BrailleAudio, an internet-based Christian resource library. BrailleAudio currently contains books in a DAISY format similar to the format used by the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS). BrailleAudio makes books available for download by its members, or the member can choose to participate in its read-by-mail program if downloading is not an option. Any visually impaired or blind person living in the United States or a patron of NLS is invited to apply to join BrailleAudio. To apply for a free membership to BrailleAudio, visit <> and click on the join link. You may also apply by telephone by calling (919) 635-1000. We encourage family members, friends, and professionals to assist those who request assistance to help them apply for BrailleAudio membership. Please help only at the request of the prospective member.

We thank the Lord for enabling us to launch BrailleAudio and invite you to visit <>, where blind people read.

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.

I want to purchase a Parrot Voice Mate. I am willing to pay premium price. Please contact Ray Hicks at (269) 429-8676.

HumanWare Apex for Sale:
I have a BrailleNote Apex for sale. The unit includes a Braille keyboard, a thirty-two cell Braille display, up-to-date software, an Executive Products case, the Oxford Dictionary and Thesauras, the Sendero GPS, and the AC adapter. I am asking $4,000 or best offer. I will accept PayPal or checks for payment, and I will pay for shipping.

Contact Robert Stigile at (818) 381-9568 or by email at <[email protected]>.

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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