The Braille Monitor                                                                                         July, 2002

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News from the Federation Family

Math Mentoring Needed:

A blind man in Arkansas recently called the Monitor editorial office to entreat the help of Braille Monitor readers. He described his situation as desperate but was clear that he was not seeking pity. He has been trying for many years to complete a high-school equivalency program, but the math component has proved to be a real stumbling block. He cannot for whatever reason get the help he needs in his state, so he is turning to the blindness community in the hope that several people will come forward to serve as mentors by mail for him. He is looking for people willing and able to correspond with him by tape and/or Braille and devise exercises for him to work on mastering his addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division facts. When he has mastered these skills, he can again try Hadley math courses.

If you have the time and talent to try helping a highly motivated student with serious problems that must be solved, please contact Mr. Robert Groff, Jr., 487 P. C. Circle, Quitman, Arkansas 72131, or call him at (501) 589-2886. Mail contacts should be on cassette or in Braille.


In Memoriam:

Captain Ronald Lewis, November 9, 1943, to January 26, 2002
Captain Ronald Lewis, November 9, 1943, to January 26, 2002

Donna-Lee Silba, treasurer of the Phoenix Chapter of the NFB of Arizona, writes in sadness to inform readers of the death of Captain Ronald Lewis, who died on January 26, 2002. Captain Lewis served as president of the Phoenix Chapter and as a board member of the NFB of Arizona. He will be missed.









The NFB of Georgia elected the following officers at its twenty-ninth annual convention: Anil Lewis, president; Robert Smith, first vice president; Thelma Godwin, second vice president; Rose Wheeler, secretary; Shirley Barksdale, treasurer. Five board members were also elected: Raj Mehta, Wayne High, Stephanie Scott, Barbara Turner, and Novice Allen. Roger Womble is completing a two-year term, which ends in 2003.


Wedding Bells:

Melissa and Mark Riccobono leaving their wedding ceremony.
Melissa and Mark Riccobono leaving their wedding ceremony


May 25, 2002, was the date of a true Federation wedding. Mark Riccobono, president of the NFB of Wisconsin, and Melissa Lehman, a Federation leader in her own right, were married in Madison, Wisconsin. Jennifer Lehman Wenzel, the bride's sister, was the matron of honor, and Jim McCarthy, Assistant Director of Governmental Affairs, was the best man.





Fred and Jennifer Blinsmon after their wedding.
Fred and Jennifer Blinsmon after their wedding

On June 15 Jennifer Kotaska, president of the NFB of North Dakota, was married to Fred Blinsmon in Grand Forks.







Gary and Debbie Wonder
Gary and Debbie Wonder

Then, on Monday, June 24, Gary Wunder, president of the NFB of Missouri and a member of the NFB board of directors, and Debbie Houchen, a leader in the NFB of Missouri, were married in an outdoor ceremony in Columbia's Bethel Park. Dinner and dancing followed the ceremony, and many Federationists were present to wish the Wunders well.

Congratulations to all the newlyweds.



New Student Division:

The Idaho Association of Blind Students (IDABS) is a membership organization composed of blind students of all ages, particularly high-school and college students. It is a division of the National Federation of the Blind of Idaho and an affiliate of the National Association of Blind Students.

The officers are president, Mike Mello, Moscow; vice president, Andrea Travis, Idaho Falls; secretary, Susan Bradley, Boise; treasurer, Al Spooner, Coeur d'Alene; and board member, Justin Brandis, Sandpoint.


The National Federation of the Blind of South Dakota elected new officers at its May 4 meeting. They are Karen Mayry, president; Mike Klimisch, vice president; Peg Halverson, secretary; Paul Schliesman, treasurer; and Ann Engberg, Bob Riibe, and Verlin Cavier, board members.


The Sno-King Chapter of the NFB of Washington was reorganized at a meeting on June 8, 2002. Eighteen people were present, and because we ran out of time, the all-important election had to take place in the library parking lot, Seattle-area rain and all. The new officers are president, Gary Mackenstadt; vice president, Duane Smith; secretary, Lauren Merryfield; treasurer, Jim Merryfield; and board member, Hy Cohen.

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.

USA Aniridia Network:

A group of people with the serious eye condition aniridia have recently started a new organization, the USA Aniridia Network. The term aniridia means "without iris." Besides congenital absence of irises, other conditions like cataracts, glaucoma, and corneal degeneration are associated with aniridia. WAGR syndrome also carries aniridia as well as serious medical conditions such as cancerous tumors and retardation.

The purpose of the USA Aniridia Network is to educate, to inform members of the latest information and research, to provide emotional support, and to assist researchers in finding new ways to preserve vision by collecting data from members. The group will hold its 2002 minimedical conference this fall. Expert physicians will be speaking on aniridia and its associated conditions. If you have aniridia or know of someone with this eye condition, please visit our Web site. To join the network, to register for the conference, or to receive more information, go to <>. You can e‑mail the organization at <[email protected]>. To fax your contact information to the group, dial (901) 757-4022, and someone will contact you.

GE Appliances Washer/Dryer Braille Overlay Kit Available:

General Electric Appliances has designed a special Braille overlay kit for specific GE washers and dryers. The kit consists of overlays for the washer and the dryer that provide both Braille nomenclature and buttons labeled in large black print on a yellow background. The kit also includes an audio tape version of the use and care instructions with installation instructions for applying the overlays to the units. For more information about ordering a Braille overlay, contact your local retailer or the GE Answer Center® at (800) 626-2000. You may wish to visit the Web site at <>.

Digital Talking Books Report Issued by Library of Congress:

An update report on the Talking Book Digital Conversion Project has been issued by the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS), Library of Congress.

"At this writing NLS has determined that digital services will begin to be offered in April 2008," says NLS Director Frank Kurt Cylke. "At that time approximately 20,000 audio titles will be available in a digital form, with full digital production of current titles to commence in 2004," Cylke noted.

The fifty-four-page report updates the digital project's first report, Digital Talking Books: Planning for the Future--July 1998. Articles by NLS senior staff include "Twenty Steps to Next-Generation NLS Technology-Update" by John Cookson, head of the Engineering Section; "Work Accomplished to Date" by Michael M. Moodie, research and development officer; "Nine Tasks to Implement the Use of Digital Talking Books" by Wells B. Kormann, chief, Materials Development Division; "Web-Braille Puts Braille Books on the Internet" by Judith Dixon, consumer relations officer; and a bibliography compiled by Linda Redmond, head, Reference Section.

Wells B. Kormann, who chairs the NLS Digital Audio Development (DAD) Committee, believes "NLS is on track to convert from an analog to a digitally based program by 2008. Great progress has been made in the twenty steps to digital technology. A reader of this updated report will readily comprehend the enormous task as well as the progress to date," he said.

Michael M. Moodie, who led the successful NLS effort to develop specifications for the digital Talking Book over the past four and one-half years, noted that on March 6, 2002, the standard (ANSI/NISO Z39.86-2002) was approved by the American National Standards Institute after members of the National Information Standards Organization voted their approval in December 2002.

In addition to building the ANSI/NISO digital Talking Book standard, NLS has completed a computer-based cost-analysis system that allows comparisons of costs for the current audio cassette program with costs likely in the deployment of a new digital technology. The system is called the Life-Cycle Cost Analysis Model. In 2001 NLS established a Digital Long-Term Planning Group made up of consumer representatives and network librarians, who with NLS staff will contribute to the planning for the deployment of digital information technology through the national network of 136 cooperating libraries in the years to come.

NLS has begun to create a digital collection with the development of digital recording systems, a low-complexity mastering system, experimental digital talking book production tools, and converting analog titles to digital. Finally, the NLS DAD committee has begun preliminary steps to design a digital player, beginning with a PC-based player. The group has also teamed up with the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA) to sponsor a contest for industrial design students, challenging them to design the shell of a digital Talking Book player. The contest will be judged in June 2002, and the winner will be announced in July.

On August 24, 1999, NLS inaugurated its Web-Braille on the Internet program which currently has grown to allow access to more than 4,000 digital Braille book files, twenty-five national magazines, five national sports schedules, and various music materials. Today more than 1,800 users have signed up for the new Internet service. The free online Braille program provides a direct channel to thousands of electronic Braille files for individuals, schools, and libraries with Internet connections and Braille output devices such as Braille embossers or refreshable Braille displays. NLS has linked its International Union Catalog for Braille and audio materials to Web-Braille. As a result Web-Braille books may now be accessed directly from the catalog by using author, title, subject, language, keyword, and other search parameters.

A comprehensive bibliography in the report outlines these and other NLS digital research and development efforts over the past ten years. Free copies of the report are available in large print, Braille, and recorded cassette from the Reference Section, National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, 1291 Taylor Street, N.W., Washington, DC 20542. To expedite requests, use fax (202) 707-0712; phone (202) 707-5100; or e-mail <[email protected]/ref>. The report is also available on the NLS Web site at <[email protected]>.

Announcing New Listservs for Tandem Cycling and Skiing:

Here is your chance to learn about or share your knowledge on the topics of tandem cycling and skiing. USABA‑ski is a list created to promote cross-country and downhill skiing opportunities for people who are blind or visually impaired. We welcome everyone interested in getting involved as a blind skier or guide, experienced skiers and guides, representatives from adaptive ski programs, and anyone who is interested in skiing opportunities for blind people. Topics that may be discussed include getting involved; recruiting guides and skiers; announcements about recreational and competitive events; equipment; and general information about cross-country skiing, downhill skiing, and other winter sports.

To subscribe to the list, send a message to <USABA‑ski‑[email protected]>.

The USABA‑cycling list has been created to promote tandem cycling and to connect people interested in getting involved in tandem cycling. We welcome anyone who has an interest in tandem cycling or would like to support tandem cycling. All levels of cyclists from beginners to Paralympians will have the opportunity to engage in discussions on topics including how to get involved, locating captains and stokers, equipment, announcements of recreational opportunities, training camps, and competitive events. All disciplines of cycling (for example, road cycling and track and mountain biking) are potential subjects to be discussed.

To subscribe to the tandem cycling list, send a message to <USABA‑cycling‑[email protected]>. If you have any additional questions, please contact Lori Miller at <[email protected]>.

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.

For Sale:

Brand new, unopened copy of Kurzweil 1000 version 5.0 scanning and reading software with Classic Literature CD included. Comes with built-in speech synthesizer and several voices, or you can use your current synthesizer. I love this software package and use it regularly (especially as a student), but I ended up with two copies. I will sell for $600 or best offer. Contact Robin at (303) 379‑8434 or by e-mail at <[email protected]>.

For Sale:

Inline CCTV system made by Magnisight, Inc., like new, only about two or three months' use. Uses a twenty-one-inch JVC television monitor, black and white output on screen, has line markers and various other settings, asking $1,200 or best offer. Contact Monty Cassellius at (804) 353-1128, or e-mail <[email protected]>.

Piano and Guitar Lessons Available:

Music courses on cassette tape are now available through your regional National Library Service library. Intro to the Guitar for the Visually Impaired, a beginning guitar course, and Intro to the Piano for the Visually Impaired, a beginning piano or keyboard course that talks the student through basics of playing the piano using no written or Braille materials or visual references, are now available. The courses are published by Valdosta Music and Publishing and can be purchased for $39 each, or you can borrow a copy through the Library of Congress by contacting your regional Talking Book library. A wide selection of tapes of individual songs for study by this method is also available for borrowing from NLS. To purchase a copy of either the guitar or the keyboard instructional program with a credit card or for more information, call (229) 249-0628. A complete list of the songs available appears on the Web site <>.


CCTV for Sale:

I have an Optelec Clear View video magnifier-‑five-to-fifty-times magnification. Ideal for reading newspapers and books and viewing photos. It includes video camera and seventeen-inch high-resolution B/W monitor. Like-new condition, still in original carton. Asking $1,375. Contact Nick Morris at (502) 587‑8273 in Louisville, Kentucky, between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., EDT.

For Sale:

We have two Braille Lite eighteen‑cell units, recently upgraded and fully serviced. They are like new, hardly used in the past. Asking price is $1,500 each including shipping and handling. Also available for sale is Optacon II R2B-‑latest model before it went out of production; never used. Original price was approximately $3,500, now asking $750, including shipping and handling. Please contact Jeffrey Bohrman by e‑mail at <[email protected]> or call Lisa Mclaughlin at (614) 261‑5792 during regular business hours.

For Sale:

Perkins Brailler with dust cover, good condition. $300 or best offer. Versa Braille II, with cables, Braille and print manuals. Good condition, in original box. $500 or best offer. Contact Henry Osborne, Jr., at (203) 876-1696, 127 Platt Street, Apt. D, Milford, Connecticut 06460-7542.

Wanted to Buy:

For many years I have had a 9:00-opening Braille watch, which is operated from a spring in the winding stem at 3:00. I have finally run out of parts to repair this old watch, so I would like to buy a similar one from someone who no longer has use for it. I could also use any parts of watches of this type to try to have my old one repaired. Please contact Phillip Fougere, P.O. Box 217, Thompson, Connecticut 06277, (860) 923-3115.

For Sale:

TeleSensory Vantage CCD, Model Number ER2A-W, fourteen-inch non-glare, black-and-white screen, three-to-forty-five-times magnification. This item is seven years old and very little used. Asking $600. If interested, contact Tom Ritch, 2068 Celestial Drive, N.E., Warren, Ohio 44484, (330) 609-6111.


I pledge to participate actively in the effort 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.

Have you made your Campaign pledge yet? We need everyone’s help.  Please take this opportunity to complete your pledge form. Without you our job will be just that much harder.

The Campaign to Change What It Means to Be Blind

Capital Campaign Pledge Intention


Home Address:___________________________________________

City, State, and ZIP:_______________________________________

Home Phone: _________________Work Phone:_______________________

E-mail address:___________________________________________


Work Address:____________________________________________

City, State, ZIP:___________________________________________

To support the priorities of the Campaign, I (we) pledge the sum of $________.

My (our) pledge will be payable in installments of $ __________ over the next ____ years (we encourage pledges paid over five years), beginning _____________, on the following schedule (check one):

          __ annually,   __ semi-annually,   __   quarterly,    __  monthly.

I (we) have enclosed a down payment of $ ________________.

___ Gift of stock: _____________________ shares of _____________.

___ My employer will match my gift.

Please list (my) our names in all Campaign Reports and on the Campaign Wall of Honor in the appropriate Giving Circle as follows:   _____________________________________________________________                 

__ I (We) wish to remain anonymous.

Signed: ________________________________ Date: __________________


National Federation of the Blind

1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21230


Name _____________________________

Address __________________________________

City _______________________  State _________    ZIP __________

Home Phone (     ) ___________________ Work Phone (    ) _____________                    

I am registered with a state or private vocational rehabilitation agency for the blind. 

          °Yes          ° No

If yes, please give name: ____________________________

I am enrolled in a public school special education program for the blind or state

residential school for the blind.              °Yes          °No

If yes, please specify: _________________________

I am registered with a cooperating regional library under the program of The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, Library of Congress.

                    ° Yes            ° No

If yes, please specify: ________________________

If you answered no to all the above questions, you must include with this application a letter from one of the following certifying that you are blind.

°Your doctor

°Social Security Award letter

°President of a local chapter or state affiliate of the NFB

I certify that I am blind or visually impaired and unable to read a printed newspaper. 

SIGNATURE _______________________         DATE _______________


ID# _______________   SEC# ______      DATE NUMBERS GIVEN __________



The Bridge to Braille

Reading and School Success for the Young Blind Child

                                   Carol Castellano                                      Dawn Kosman

Illustrated by Lynne Cucco

The Bridge to Braille is a practical, step-by-step guide that shows parents and teachers how to help blind children progress from early literacy experiences all the way to full participation in the classroom.  This book demystifies the education of blind children and enables parents and teachers to give ordinary help with spelling, homework, reports, and projects to children who happen to be blind.  Topics included in the book:

Adapting Materials            Beginning Braille Reading                       Doing Math in Braille

A Quick Braille Lesson     Braille Writing in the Classroom               Resources

Using Technology             Independence in the Classroom               About Braille Books

“Now I understand what to do to get my son off to a good start in school.  Parents need this information right from the beginning, when their blind child is a baby.”

Amy Kaiser,

Parent of a blind child

“A much-needed adjunct to the information shared by a busy Braille teacher . . .The Bridge to Braille should be in the hands of every teacher who is going to have a blind student in class!”

Debbie DeHaven,

First Grade Teacher

The Bridge to Braille is available from:

National Organization of Parents of Blind Children

Order Form

Name________________________                    Phone (     )_______________

Address ____________________________     City______________________   

State _______________    ZIP __________________

The Bridge to Braille __________ Quantity @12.00 +$5.00 (S&H) = ________(Total Due)

Make check or money order payable to NFB and mail with this form to:

Materials Center, National Center for the Blind

1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore, MD  21230

Phone: (410) 659-9314    E-mail:  [email protected]     Web site:

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