Braille Monitor                          February 2019

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News from the Federation Family

The NFB EQ for 2019:
Summer Opportunity for Teens! Explore and connect this summer, June 16-22. Join the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) at our NFB Engineering Quotient (EQ) program. NFB EQ is a weeklong adventure into engineering and problem-solving. No specific level of engineering experience required. Engage in activities designed to strengthen knowledge and grow interests. Connect with the twenty-nine other teen participants while also exploring the local community and participating in various recreational activities. Enriched experiences. New friendships. More independence. Apply for NFB EQ Now! Have questions? Email [email protected].

2019 AAF Free Braille Books Program Launches with Here’s Hank Book Series Produced by National Braille Press of Boston:
The American Action Fund (AAF) for Blind Children and Adults has partnered with the National Braille Press (NBP) to produce and ship free Braille copies of the best-selling twelve-book series, Here’s Hank, written by Henry Winkler, award-winning actor, director, comedian, and author, and Lin Oliver, writer and film producer. The Here’s Hank series, geared toward the younger reader, features the character Hank Zipzer, who may not be the best at spelling, math, or reading but always tries his hardest.

“Lin Oliver and I are bursting with pride that Here’s Hank was chosen to be in Braille,” said Henry Winkler. “Comedy requires only a sense of humor, not sight.”

This is the first-ever Braille edition of this series, distributed free of charge to approximately 4,000 blind and low-vision children by the AAF through its Free Braille Books Program. Each month, a new book in the twelve-book series will be distributed starting on January 4, 2019, the birthday of Louis Braille, the inventor of the Braille code. The NBP will transcribe and proofread each book in the Here’s Hank series followed by pressing each book into Braille and collating them by hand before shipping to children in the AAF Free Braille Books Program.

“We are proud to launch the first Braille edition of the Here’s Hank series and make it available for free on the two hundred tenth anniversary of the birth of Louis Braille,” said Mark Riccobono, executive director of the American Action Fund for Blind Children and Adults. “For one hundred years, the Action Fund has been dedicated to the advancement of Braille literacy, and we believe that these funny, inspiring books will delight young readers while enhancing their Braille skills and making the code a fundamental part of their lives.”

“National Braille Press is committed to promoting literacy for blind children,” said Brian MacDonald, president of National Braille Press. “We are very proud to work with the American Action Fund to produce the Here’s Hank series that will allow blind and low-vision children to experience these popular books just like their sighted peers.”

In the first book of the Here’s Hank series, Hank’s class is putting on a play, and he wants to be the lead role, Aqua Fly. After freezing during the audition, Hank is given the role of a silent bookmark. Although this role seems insignificant, when Hank’s enemy freezes during the play, it is up to Hank to save the day.

For more information on the AAF Free Braille Books Program visit:

About American Action Fund
The American Action Fund for Blind Children and Adults, a nonprofit organization founded in 1919 and headquartered in Baltimore, helps blind people throughout the United States through programs and initiatives emphasizing Braille and tactile literacy, education, and independence. For more information, visit

About National Braille Press
A nonprofit Braille publisher and producer of Braille products, National Braille Press promotes literacy for blind children through outreach programs and provides access to information by producing information in Braille for blind children and adults. For more information visit

Lee Martin Honored:
On Thursday, January 10, Lee C. Martin was awarded the twenty-eighth annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Indiana Holiday Celebration Freedom Award on behalf of the Indiana Civil Rights Commission, Indiana Black Expo, Inc., AFSCME Local 725, and the state of Indiana. The Freedom Award is granted to individuals or projects whose major societal influence includes breaking down barriers that have divided us in the past and/or building ongoing relationships that foster respect, understanding, and harmony in our community.

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.

The Secret Garden, Ramona Titles, and More Now in UEB:
Seedlings Braille Books for Children just added eight more titles to its Unified English Braille collection for independent readers, bringing the total to 148!

They are: The Secret Garden, Ramona the Pest, Ramona the Brave, Aliens for Dinner, Helen Keller from Tragedy to Triumph, If You Sailed on the Mayflower in 1620, Who Was Dr. Seuss? and Who Was Albert Einstein? Order at

All 310 of Seedlings' print and Braille books for younger readers are already in UEB! Order at

Seedlings is regularly adding more UEB titles for older kids. Keep checking our website to see what's new:

BANA Elects Officers for 2019, Welcomes New Board Member:
The Braille Authority of North America (BANA) held its fall 2018 meeting November 1-3 at the Utah Schools for the Deaf and the Blind in Salt Lake City, Utah. The meeting was hosted by the American Council of the Blind.

During its three-day meeting, the BANA Board reviewed semiannual reports from its eighteen general and technical committees, each of which works on specific charges from the Board—and acted on recommendations from these committees. Portions of the Thursday and Friday meetings were dedicated to further development of BANA's strategic planning and the steps that will implement this planning.

Cynthia Skandera, Horizons for the Blind representative, was welcomed as BANA’s newest Board member. The Board established the 2019 budget and elected officers for 2019. The elected officers are: chair, Jennifer Dunnam (National Federation of the Blind); vice-chair, Tamara Rorie (National Library Service); secretary, Dawn Gross (Alternate Text Production Center of the California Community Colleges); treasurer: Jessica Rivera (Associated Services for the Blind). Frances Mary D'Andrea serves as BANA's Immediate Past Chair.

BANA’s next meeting will be held May 2 through 4, 2019, in Toronto, Canada, and will be hosted by CNIB (the Canadian National Institute for the Blind).

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.

Introducing the First-Ever Waterproof and Shockproof Talking Watch:
Are you tired of investing in multiple talking watches each year because they always seem to die after being bumped or soaked—no matter how careful you try to be? Or have you given up on wearing a watch altogether, even though you miss the convenience of hearing the time at the touch of a button anywhere you go? Introducing the first truly shockproof and waterproof talking watch we’ve ever seen.

You can wear this wristwatch twenty-four/seven because water will not damage the electronics. Leave it on as you wash your hands, take a shower, or go swimming. And never worry about removing the watch again or trying to remember where you might have left it this time. The simplicity and durability of this watch make it the ideal choice for blind and visually impaired people of all ages. Whether you exercise and sweat a lot or get caught in a giant rainstorm, this timepiece won’t give in to the realities of daily life.

Our Waterproof Talking Watch is fully accessible to a blind person. Press the button on top to hear the time. Set and configure all functions by listening for spoken prompts or clearly-differentiated beeps. If you have some vision, activate the built-in backlight by pressing a single button (with or without the time-speaking feature).

Though both men and women can wear this watch due to its coloring and design, some ladies may find it too bulky for their liking. Packed into a reusable tin box with a large-print quick start guide, the watch makes an attractive, practical gift for anyone … including yourself. (The instructions are also available on our website in a fully accessible, text-based format.)

Our first-of-its-kind Waterproof Talking Watch costs $19.95 with free shipping. To order yours from Blind in Mind, LLC, visit or call 1-800-213-4567.

Optacon for Sale:
I have an Optacon in working order with case and charger. I’m asking $600 for the unit. If you are interested please email Ben Vercelone at [email protected] or call me at 417-755-5285.

For Sale:
HIMS Blaze ET, perfect condition, in original box with Braille manual. Asking $450 or best offer. Contact 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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