Braille Monitor                                                             February 2007



Monitor Miniatures

News from the Federation Family

Extreme BLAST 2007:
More than ever, the deliberation, focus, and legislative and regulatory planning happen at BLAST. Extreme BLAST is coming. What is Extreme BLAST? It�s what happens when you add BLAST at a whole new level with a good, old-fashioned, down-home training, networking, and entertainment experience in the Mile High City. Think of a Tennessee carnival moving to the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. Think targeted classroom training taught by Harvard MBAs designed specifically to meet the educational needs of the blind in business and the agency personnel who partner with us. Think of successful blind role models in and out of Randolph-Sheppard, inspiring and teaching high-octane strategies for success. Think of world-class music and entertainment to include surprise special guests. Think of excursions for skiing, snowmobiling, and snowshoeing. Think of tours to the Colorado Center for the Blind, one of this country�s leading training and rehabilitation centers. Think of traveling to the mountains with friends and colleagues for an evening of gambling in an historic mountain town. Think of special deals for blind vendors found only at a newly expanded tradeshow on Thursday afternoon, March 8.

Extreme BLAST will take it to the limit with a full range of curriculum designed to heighten awareness, teach new concepts, and inspire each of us to reach for greater achievement, teamwork, progress, and profit. Talented instructors will make BLAST 07 worth your time and money. Experts in Randolph-Sheppard, top government officials, financial planning seminars, business opportunities beyond Randolph-Sheppard--Extreme BLAST will have more options and be more hands-on, more engaging, and more interactive than ever before. The National Association of Blind Merchants BLAST organizers paid close attention to evaluation forms and comments submitted after past BLAST events.

Come, enjoy the competition of the Pepsi machine challenge, the customer service slam, the indoor rock climbing wall. Go bowling with us (human bowling, that is). The coach is back. Many have asked that we bring back Coach Joe Gilliam. In 2004 Coach Gilliam taught one of the most informative, funny, and motivating sessions we have ever had at BLAST. His sessions teach coping and succeeding, powerfully motivating strategies for business and life. Coach Joe will wrap up our Extreme BLAST with an important three-hour training session on Saturday morning, March 10. But why not stay on Saturday and into Sunday and enjoy all that the Mile High City of Denver has to offer?

We are at a critical time in the history of Randolph-Sheppard. Extreme measures and coordinated effort by all of us are necessary to protect our roadside rest businesses, our GSA and USPS vending and food services, as well as our DoD facilities. BLAST has indeed served as an information-sharing and planning conference. The Business, Leadership, and Superior Training, the networking, the socializing, the camaraderie found at BLAST lead to greater collaboration in defense of our priority and help to focus our commitment to expand not only Randolph-Sheppard but other business opportunities for the blind. Extreme BLAST can be an extremely important networking and training tool for you and your business associates and partners, and it�s extremely good fun in the Mile High City. For more information call (866) 543-6808 or visit <>. Preregistration is only $100 prior to February 15. After that date and at BLAST it�s $175. We accept credit cards, checks, and purchase orders. Registrations for Extreme BLAST are being accepted now at the Adam�s Mark at the low rates of $76 a night for singles and doubles, $89 for triples and quads. Call (800) 444-2326. Make your commitment now.

In Memoriam:
Karen Mayry, April 30, 1942, to November 28, 2006We are deeply saddened to report the death of longtime NFB leader Karen Mayry on Tuesday, November 28, 2006, at the age of sixty-four after more than a half-century struggle with diabetes. She is survived by her devoted husband Marshall and her niece Gail Wagner, both committed Federationists for many years, as well as one brother and several other nieces and nephews. Karen was raised in Hibbing, Minnesota, and graduated from Hibbing High School in 1960 and Hamline University in St. Paul in 1964.

She taught school for one year before marrying Marshall Mayry in 1965. She taught in various schools for three more years, and in 1968 the Mayrys moved to Rapid City, where Karen was employed for several years as a juvenile probation officer. She began losing vision in 1965, and she was legally blind by her late twenties. Because of her strong determination and positive attitude in dealing with diabetes, blindness, and other health problems, she became one of two founders of the NFB�s Diabetes Action Network and the president of the National Federation of the Blind of South Dakota, a position she held for twenty-five years.

It would be impossible to list Karen�s contributions to blind South Dakotans and diabetics across the country. Her energy and determination were legendary. When she decided that something needed to be done, she simply did not stop until she had convinced or worn down the opposition. She gave generously of her wisdom, experience, and passion for equality and justice for all blind people. We have all benefited from her contributions.

Karen received countless awards, including recognition in the U.S. Senate by South Dakota Senator Tim Johnson on April 8, 2004, and the Jacobus tenBroek Award from the National Federation of the Blind in 1984. The family has established a memorial to benefit the National Federation of the Blind of South Dakota. Contributions can be sent to the NFB of South Dakota at 901 S. Chicago Street, Hot Springs, South Dakota 57747. Our deepest sympathy goes to Marshall, Gail, Karen�s hundreds of close Federation friends, and those in the blindness community in South Dakota who will miss her mentoring spirit.

The National Federation of the Blind of Illinois recently held elections. The board members elected are as follows: president, Patti Gregory-Chang; first vice president, Debbie Stein; second vice president, Joe Monti; secretary, Carmen Dennis; treasurer, Kelly Doty; and board members, Bob Gardner, Annette Grove, Bill Reif, and Anthony Thomas.

NFB Makes MATHCOUNTS Materials Accessible:
The NFB circulated the following press release in early December:

As part of its continuing effort to improve math education for blind students, the National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute has partnered with the MATHCOUNTS Foundation to produce challenging mathematics materials in accessible formats. Through a contract with gh, LLC, the National Federation of the Blind has prepared Braille-ready files of the 2006-2007 MATHCOUNTS School Handbook, which is used by teachers across the nation to supplement the middle school math curriculum and prepare students to participate in MATHCOUNTS competitions.

The Braille files of the MATHCOUNTS handbook contain both the full text of the book and tactile representations of the graphics contained in it, which can be printed with Braille embossers. Students or their teachers can download the Braille-ready MATHCOUNTS School Handbook from the Web site of the MATHCOUNTS Foundation at <>.

�The greatest challenge for blind students who want to excel in math is obtaining materials in accessible formats,� said Mark Riccobono, director of education for the Jernigan Institute. �By producing the MATHCOUNTS School Handbook in Braille, we are filling a need for supplemental math study materials and paving the way for blind students to participate in local, state, and national MATHCOUNTS competitions. Our goal is to help prepare blind students to pursue and excel in careers relating to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.�

Larry Jacobson, executive director of the MATHCOUNTS Foundation, said: �We are very grateful to the National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute for helping us fulfill our mission to increase enthusiasm for and enhance achievement in mathematics among all U.S. middle school students. The NFB provided the expertise necessary to make these materials accessible to blind students, making a valuable contribution not only to the education of the blind but to the advancement of mathematics education throughout society.�
Dr. Marc Maurer, president of the National Federation of the Blind, said: �Blind students have traditionally been discouraged from pursuing the study of mathematics or hampered unnecessarily in their studies by the lack of accessible materials. We are committed to removing the barriers that limit the participation of blind students in math and science, and making the MATHCOUNTS School Handbook accessible is a manifestation of that commitment.�

New Baby:
Melissa and Mark Riccobono with son Austin James.We are delighted to report that on December 13, 2006, Melissa and Mark Riccobono became the parents of Austin James, who weighed seven pounds, five ounces, and measured twenty-and-a-half inches. Everyone is doing well. Melissa is president of the NFB Human Services Division, and Mark is director of education at the Jernigan Institute. Congratulations to the entire Riccobono family.

Announcing the Independence Market:
The latter half of 2006 brought some significant changes to what was formerly known as the NFB Materials Center. First, as you might have heard, is the name change: we are now called the Independence Market because we provide literature and products that enhance the independence of blind people. With the name change comes a new email address: <[email protected]>. We also have a new manager, Ellen Ringlein, who joined the staff last July. When you call us at (410) 659-9314, extension 2216, your call will most likely be answered by Justin Shroyer or Sharon Ray, our customer service representatives.

The physical store location of the Independence Market has also changed since we have completed our move into the Jacobus tenBroek Library on the third floor of the NFB Jernigan Institute. We now have a dedicated space in which to display much of our free literature, which is available in various formats. Visitors are encouraged to take any literature of interest to them. We also have an attractive store area, where customers can browse and shop for the aids and appliances we have for sale. All items, both sale products and free literature, are labeled in Braille and large print to accommodate blind and sighted visitors alike.

If you would like to take a brief video tour of our modernized Independence Market, check out the second episode of our new Web video series, "Straight Talk about Vision Loss with Doctor Z,� at <>. In this episode Ellen Ringlein introduces the Independence Market and gives a brief overview.

In addition to these name and location transformations, we have just completed the revision of our catalog; it now has a totally new look and feel. The previously separate literature and aids and appliances catalogs have been combined into one handsome, magazine-style publication called the Jacobus tenBroek Library Resource Guide. Now you will have a complete listing of all the literature and products available through the Independence Market at your fingertips. The resource guide is available in print, Braille, and two-track cassette, as well as electronically as a Word document on CD-ROM and on our Web site at < JTB%20Library%20Resource%20Guide%202007.doc>. The Word �document� on our Web site will always be the most current version of our catalog because we will update it whenever changes are made. Of course, you can always browse and shop our products online at <>; click on the link to �Products and Technology� and then on �Product Catalog.� You can also search our literature online by clicking on the link to �Publications� and then on �Literature.� The text of many of our publications is already available online, and we are adding more as quickly as we can. Moreover, look for announcements of new literature and products in future issues of the Braille Monitor.

The final change for the Independence Market will happen behind the scenes. We are in the process of getting a new inventory management system which will streamline the way we process your orders. Through these alterations we are striving to improve the sale and distribution of our products and literature through the National Federation of the Blind.

As always, if you wish to order products or literature or if you should have any questions, concerns, or comments, please contact us. We will be happy to hear from you by phone, email, or standard mail at Independence Market, National Federation of the Blind, 1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21230.

Although we attempt to answer as many incoming calls as possible, our two representatives are occasionally busy at the same time. Therefore, if your phone call is not answered in person, please do leave a message with your name, state, and phone number so that we can return your call. We look forward to serving you.

A Letter to Louis Braille

Paul Dressell writes a monthly update for members of the NFB of Cincinnati, Ohio. We have deleted the chapter news in the most recent �Suds Review,� but here is the rest for your enjoyment:

Dear Louis:
On behalf of the officers and members of the Cincinnati Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind, I want to wish you a happy birthday. How does it feel to be 198 years old? We are really planning big things for your two-hundredth birthday: a commemorative coin will be minted in your honor along with one for Abraham Lincoln. His name may not be familiar to you, since his fame began a few years after your death. But, believe me, you're in very good company.

Today Braille is universally accepted in all English-speaking countries; but, as a comedian of the mid-twentieth century [Phil Harris] put it, "It wasn't easy, Clyde!" In the early years of that century a mighty battle took place. You should have seen it! On second thought, maybe not. Some folks are still tinkering with your system and discouraging blind youngsters with limited vision from learning Braille, but it remains the most viable means of reading and writing for the blind. All literate blind people owe you a tremendous debt of gratitude. We face a 70 percent or more unemployment rate among blind and visually impaired Americans, but the vast majority of those who are successfully employed owe their jobs to your invention.

I thought you would be interested in learning about the National Federation of the Blind. It was formed in 1940 and is now the largest organization of blind people in the United States, with over 50,000 members. Our members were the ones who campaigned in the United States Congress to have your commemorative coin minted.

Would you like to know about our chapter officers? Kelly Prescott, our vice president, is a computer consultant. "What's a computer?" you ask. Well, it is a machine that simultaneously enriches, complicates, and frustrates our lives. Come to think about it, you really don't want to know. Our secretary, Deborah Kendrick, is a syndicated columnist and wrote an excellent article entitled "Louis Braille Touched Us All" in the February 2006 Braille Monitor. Our treasurer, Cindy Conley, is the parent of a blind teenager; as you might imagine, he is an avid reader and writer of Braille. Oh yes, the Braille Monitor is our monthly magazine and is the most influential publication in the blindness field.

Bear with me, Louis, while I take time out for some chapter news: I've just returned from City Hall, where I left a sample proclamation for Braille Literacy Week, two alphabet cards, a medallion/keyring, and a reprint of Deborah's article reviewing your newest biography and collection of photographs and engravings, �Louis Braille: A Touch of Genius.�

Well, Louis, I could mention much more: modern modes of independent travel used by blind people--white canes and guide dogs, various types of Braille embossers, the expanding range of occupations for blind people, and on and on. But you will be having other birthdays, so I will fill you in then. Besides, my chapter members are perfectly content for me to send periodic newsletters, but books they will not tolerate. Best wishes, and I expect to correspond with you next January 4.

--Paul Dressell, president, NFB of Cincinnati, National Federation of the Blind of Ohio

In Memoriam:
With sadness we must report that after a long illness Doris Schaaf, Patricia Maurer�s mother, died on January 4, 2007, in Dexter, Iowa. She was a devoted wife and mother and a warm and generous person who will be deeply missed by all those who knew and loved her. We extend our sympathy to Pat Maurer and the entire Schaaf family.

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.

Reunion Planned:
The Alumni Association of the New York State School for the Blind will hold its annual reunion at the Holiday Inn in Batavia, June 8 to 10, 2007. Room rates are $66 per night, singles or doubles. This rate is also applicable on Thursday night, June 7, for those who wish to come early. Deadline for registration and payment is May 1, and those who pay by that date will not have to pay tax. Funds are available to help someone who has never been to an alumni reunion or who has not been to one in many years. Application for this aid must be made by April 1, 2007. To have the entire agenda read or to learn whom to contact with specific questions, call Tim Hendel, (256) 650-5212. To arrange payment or to pay dues if you can't come to the reunion, contact Sukosh Fearon, treasurer, at (315) 363-4460. This is like a family reunion; everyone come.

Attention Blind Parents:
Dr. Sunggye Hong, Northern Iowa University; Dr. L. Penny Rosenblum, University of Arizona; and Ms. Beth Harris, University of Arizona, are seeking parents who have visual impairments to participate in a telephone interview. The purpose of the study is to learn about the strategies, concerns, and experiences these parents have as they raise their children. Parenting partners of participants who have them will also be invited to participate in the study.

Who qualifies as a parent with a visual impairment for this study?

Who qualifies as a parenting partner for this study? A husband or wife, an ex-husband or ex-wife, a same-sex partner who is sharing in the raising of the child or children, a roommate or family member who is living in the home and sharing in the raising of the child or children.

How to participate: Visit <> and read a letter of invitation and complete an online information form. Or contact Dr. Sunggye Hong at (319) 273-7954 or <[email protected]> to request an information form. Complete the information form and return it to Dr. Hong in the stamped, self-addressed envelope.

After you complete the information form, Dr. Hong or a member of the research team will contact you to schedule a one-hour interview. Participation is voluntary, and there is no monetary compensation. For more information contact Dr. Sunggye Hong, University of Northern Iowa, Department of Special Education, College of Education, 150A Schindler Education Center, Cedar Falls, Iowa 50614.

Summer Braille Music Institute:
The National Resource Center for Blind Musicians is accepting applications for its seminar for blind college-bound musicians, which will be held July 15 to 21 at the Overbrook School for the Blind in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Designed for serious Braille-reading music students preparing for or already in college (average age seventeen to twenty-one), the program tailors instruction to each person's need to develop Braille music and theory skills and to learn to use technology to submit music assignments in print notation. Applicants must have already studied some music theory, have had several years of music lessons, and be able to present a polished and pleasing performance. They must be willing to put effort into Braille-music study and demonstrate a commitment to use the Braille music and computer skills they will learn at the institute when they return to school. Applicants must also show they have begun thinking realistically about reachable goals and that they have the independence skills, social readiness, and maturity to be a contributing part of a close-knit group. Contact the Resource Center regarding tuition, scholarship criteria, and the application and audition procedure. Deadline for requesting applications is April 13; all application materials must be in the Resource Center office by May 9.
Other options: Please contact the Resource Center if you:

Visit <>, which is also a music information resource. If you have questions, contact David Goldstein at (203) 366-3300, extension 229, or <[email protected]>.

Braille Books Available:
The following Braille books are now available for a donation. The dollar amount listed is the suggested donation:

The Very First Easter (children) by Paul L. Maier, 1 vol., $8

Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God by Dr. Henry Blackaby and Claude V. King, 5 vols., $40

The Very First Christmas (children) by Paul L. Maier, 1 vol., $8

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis, Book 2 in the Chronicles of Narnia series, 2 vols., $16

Prince Caspian: The Return to Narnia by C. S. Lewis, Book 4 in the Chronicles of Narnia series,
2 vols., $16

All books, except Experiencing God, include tactile graphics. These books are also available for borrowing. Experiencing God is available for download at <>. For details contact the Assemblies of God Center for the Blind, 1445 N Boonville Avenue, Springfield, Missouri 65802; (417) 831-1964; <[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:
PAC Mate QX440 with qwerty keyboard and forty-cell Braille display. Latest version and little use, with wireless and memory cards in retail boxes. Manuals included. Asking $2,850, or will sell display and QX separately. Also selling PowerBraille 80 Braille display, asking $1,350. Also selling a Papenmeir Braillex 2D eighty-cell Braille display, asking $1,850. Both displays work with any computer and are in great condition. Call CJ Sampson at (321) 282-6376.

For Sale:
PAC Mate BX400, twenty-cell Braille display, comes with warranty, carrying case, manuals on CD ROM, computer cables, battery charger, and hard-copy documentation. Features include Bluetooth, MS calculator, calendar, stop watch, clock, and others. Asking $3,500, price negotiable. Call Annamarie Huie after 4:00 p.m., CST at (870) 365-8477.

For Sale:
Perkins Braillewriter with dust cover and a thousand sheets of paper. Used only once. Asking $400 or best offer. Call Michael Robles, (909) 854-0397, or email <[email protected]>.

For Sale:
Mint condition Freedom Scientific BrailleLite M20 notetaker with 8-dot Braille keyboard, twenty-cell Braille display, modem, programmable whiz wheels, and speech output. Comes with print and tape manuals, 512-MB compact flash, carrying case with shoulder strap, AC adapter, and serial port connector cable. Ships in original box. Retails for $3,700; selling for $2,000 or best offer plus $15 shipping. Interested buyers should contact John Hammond at (804) 275-6676 (no calls after 8:00 p.m., EST).

For Sale:
Optelec Clearview 317XL CCTV with black and white 17-inch monitor, electronic controls and line or window markers. Excellent condition. Two years old, asking $575, payment options available. UPS ground shipping within the continental U.S. included. Contact Bill at (847) 342-7155 between 1:00 and 8:00 p.m., CST or email <[email protected]>.

Creative Papers without Sight:
Touch samples are still available free upon request. Choose from stick-on labels, bold-line textures, big bold prints, dots, flags, hearts, flowers, and more. Contact Eyepatch Studio 5, C.T. Walker, operator, 305 S. Telegraph Road, Pontiac, Michigan 48341; phone (248) 874-0049.

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.