by Ellen Ringlein
The National Federation of the Blind Independence Market is the conduit through which our organization distributes our empowering literature to our members, friends, and the general public. As a service we also operate a blindness products store, which sells mostly low-tech items designed to enhance the everyday independence of blind people.
We would like to extend a big thank you to all who volunteered in the Independence Market during our 2017 National Convention in July. We would not be able to run the Independence Market at convention without the assistance of our numerous volunteers. Because of their work our many customers had the opportunity to examine all our demo products and purchase the items that caught their interest.
We are frequently asked about what is new in the Independence Market, so here is a brief description of some of the items that were new at this year's convention. We now carry 8-1/2 by 11-1/2 inch medium weight Braille paper in both unpunched and three-hole punched versions. It is great to use with a slate and stylus if you need to take rapid notes. We also sell a thinner, flat, saddle-shaped stylus which easily tucks into a small pocket. This stylus is a nice accessory to our business card slate and mini Braille notepads. We now have added a smaller 5-1/2 by 8-1/2 inch dark line notepad to our low vision product offerings. It is just the right size to keep on the kitchen counter or the nightstand for some quick notes.
The market has some new labeling stickers which may help those with severe vision loss or those who have just lost their sight and cannot read Braille yet. The stickers are individual letters and numbers. The three-quarter-inch high black symbols can also be identified by touch, and the corresponding Braille letter or number is below it. One sheet has 176 letters and numbers on it. When combining these stickers with our Braillable food labels, which consist of little plastic cards with an attachable elastic band, one can make practical, reusable print/Braille labels for cans, packages, and other household items.
The Independence Market is repeatedly asked if we carry a talking caller ID. The model we used to sell was unfortunately discontinued quite some time ago. However, we identified a talking phone with a nice, built-in talking caller ID, the Serene CL-30 Cordless Phone. This phone is designed with the needs of users who are experiencing vision and/or hearing loss in mind. The high definition sound technology makes incoming calls sharp, clear, and intelligible. The talking caller ID feature announces incoming numbers twice in a clear voice for those users subscribed to the caller ID service through their phone company. When enabled, each keypad button audibly repeats the number pushed. The phone amplifies incoming calls up to forty decibels, and the ringer is amplified up to ninety decibels. The handset is hearing aid compatible. The phone features easy-to-see large and brightly back-lit keys; eight one-touch speed dial buttons; one-touch call-for-help button for hands-free emergency calls; audible and visual indicators for voice mail and missed calls; high performance speakerphone; bright visual ring flasher and super loud ringer on handset and base; and more.
We will introduce the remaining new products in a later issue of the Braille Monitor. If you would like a detailed description of the new items, you may request a Braille or print copy of the document which lists the Independence Market products that were new at this year's national convention. Please contact us by email or phone and be sure to specify the format you would like.
It’s that time of year when many are starting to look for next year’s calendar. Since not everyone is using digital calendars yet, the Independence Market still offers the following Braille and large print calendars for 2018. Many continue to find the free, pocket-sized American Action Fund Braille calendar very useful. Each calendar page includes the days of the month and lists major holidays. It's a great way to get a tactile overview of each month. We have carried our spiral-bound, large print appointment calendar with inside pockets for many years. Each month is displayed on two facing 8-1/2 by 11 inch pages and features two-inch blocks for each day of the month. The months are tabbed and include a section for monthly notes as well as a three-month calendar overview. More recently we have started selling the Easy2See Large Print Planner, an organizer designed with low vision professionals in mind. The spiral bound planner with plastic-coated covers, measuring 8-1/2 by 11 inches, features a page for each month as well as two-page weekly views from the end of December of the previous year through the beginning of January of the following year. Major holidays are listed on both the monthly and weekly views. The weekly pages have individual unlined writing areas measuring 3-1/4 by 8 inches, and the font on these pages is at least forty point. Dark boarders on all the pages make it easier to see the writing area.For more information about the products and literature available from the Independence Market or to request a catalog in Braille or in print visit us online at https://nfb.org/independence-market. You may also contact us using email at [email protected] or by phone at (410) 659-9314, extension 2216, Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time. Our staff will be glad to assist.