Braille Monitor                                                    February 2009

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News from the Federation Family

The National Federation of the Blind Youth Slam, a 2009 STEM Leadership Academy:

Observe, Discover, Evolve!

Launch rockets, perform astronomy, examine new technology, learn about engineering, solve crimes like those on CSI, design environmental solutions, meet new friends from all over the United States, play goal ball, watch movies, dance, make podcasts, meet blind role models, and experience many other adventures at the NFB Youth Slam.

From July 26 to August 1, 2009, two hundred blind and low-vision high school students will live at the University of Maryland, College Park, being mentored by blind role models during fun and challenging activities that build confidence, expand leadership and advocacy skills, and increase science literacy. Participants will also attend social events and workshops on topics like leadership, career preparation, and advocacy. The NFB Youth Slam will culminate in an inspiring rally in Washington, D.C.

Those interested in being students or mentors should complete an application by March 1, 2009. After an initial screening process, eligible students will be accepted into the program through random selection. Students and mentors need not have a strong interest in science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM) in order to participate, enjoy, and benefit from this academy.

If you are interested in being a student or mentor participant or if you'd like to learn more about the NFB Youth Slam, visit <>. Email questions about the NFB Youth Slam to <[email protected]>.

New Chapter:

Sam Gleese, president of the NFB of Mississippi, wrote to announce that on Saturday, November 15, 2008, the NFB of Mississippi established a new chapter in Starkville, Mississippi. Twelve members were present for this grand event. The officers and board members are president, Candice Chapman; vice president, David Bouchard; secretary, Marissa Humphreys; treasurer, Matthew Ford; and board members, Kevin Pitchford and Wingfield Bouchard. Congratulations to this new chapter.

New Chapter:

Pictured above (from left to right) are David Dawson, Gerry Leary, Arielle Silverman, Chris Foster, Angela Long and her daughter Virginia, Curtis Willoughby, Duncan Larsen, Doris Willoughby, Jim Wolcott, and Maryann Gilliard.Boulder, Colorado, NFB members have always been a vital part of the Colorado affiliate. As a young woman living in Boulder, Betsy Zaborowski was a founding member and leader in the chapter. Like other chapters, however, the Boulder chapter became inactive when key members were no longer able to assume leadership. That was then, but this is now.

We are happy to report the reformation of the Boulder chapter, renamed the Boulder Valley Chapter. It was reorganized in March of 2008 with Booth Calder as president, Gerry Leary as vice president, Curtis Willoughby as treasurer, and Maryann Gilliard as secretary. The more than ten chapter members in attendance were pleased to receive the chapter charter at the November 2008 NFB of Colorado convention in Colorado Springs. For personal reasons Booth Calder had to step down this past fall and return to her home state of Tennessee. Gerry Leary became president, and Jim Wolcott was elected as the new vice president.

Book for Grandparents Available:

Joan and Ed Vaughan have been Federationists for thirty years. Joan’s career has been in early childhood development. She has worked on a book for the last several years, Let’s Grandparent: Activity Guide for Young Grandchildren, which was published in December 2007 by Information Age Publishing, the same company that published the Critical Issues in Blindness series, produced by the Institute on Blindness at Louisiana Tech University. This book is aimed at the general public.

Grandparents and others who enjoy games and activities with children during their crucial early years are the target group for this book. It also includes developmental insights about why certain activities work at certain stages of child development. If you are interested, you may order directly from Information Age Publishing at <> or from any major online vendor. When purchased directly from the publisher, the price is $20.

Stewart and Debbie ProstVirginia Federationist at Work:

The following article appeared in the December 16, 2008, edition of the Virginian-Pilot. The teacher featured is Debbie Prost, a longtime Federationist and an NFB Distinguished Educator of Blind Children. Notice the frequency of instructional contact and also the pattern of less and less student dependence on the teacher. Both these characteristics are hallmarks of effective blindness education. Here is the story:

Teacher and Student, Both Blind, Learn from Each Other
by Alicia P.Q. Wittmeyer

At first it was about learning Braille. MarChé Daughtry was in kindergarten, and she and Ms. Prost spent an hour every day together, going over which combinations of dots make up which letters, how to capitalize words, and how to form contractions. They’d play War and Go Fish, using cards with Braille words instead of playing cards. MarChé was quick to pick up on it, and, when she did well, they’d play a tape that Deborah Prost’s husband had made: “MarrrrChé Daaaughtry,” he’d say menacingly. “This is Captain Hook!” and MarChé would get to go pick out her treasure.

MarChé called Prost, a special-education teacher who is also blind, her “second mommy,” because “sometimes she understands things my real mommy can’t.” The summer after MarChé’s kindergarten year, Prost’s mother passed away, and she found herself looking forward to the hour she’d spend every day with MarChé, who cheered her up. As MarChé got better at Braille, they cut back to forty-five minutes a day. MarChé started coming to their sessions with stories: of times classmates asked her if she had special powers or how she’d tell friends hello and a few minutes later hear them whisper, “How does she know it’s me?”

“It’s like, honestly, I’m right behind you,” MarChé would say. Prost would murmur sympathetically and tell MarChé about the time someone asked her how she navigated a bathroom.

Today, MarChé is in sixth grade. They are down to twenty-five minutes a day together, and they spend that time working on more specialized skills, like making PowerPoint presentations using special software, reading Braille music, and learning Spanish Braille. The day lies ahead when the academic time will be cut down to fifteen minutes a day, and then none, because MarChé has come so far. But they’ll keep in touch, they say. It’s not about learning Braille anymore. “We’ll see each other,” MarChé said. “We’ll make sure of that.”

In Memoriam:

Paul Kay, February 22, 1937, to January 7, 2009Harold Snider reports with great sorrow the untimely death on January 7, 2009, of Paul Kay, a longtime leader in the National Federation of the Blind. Paul Edward Knisbacher was born on February 22, 1937, in Vienna, Austria. He is survived by his only sibling, Elizabeth Kay Goldstein. Paul’s early life was traumatic. His family fled from the Nazi takeover of Austria in November 1938. They lived in Belgium for about a year, but, when the Nazis invaded Belgium in 1939, they fled to England, where they survived the London Blitz and immigrated to the United States in early 1941. On arrival, Paul’s father changed the family name from Knisbacher to Kay and his own first name from Norbert to Norman. He thought the family was more likely to flourish with Anglicized names.

Paul grew up in the Riverdale section of the Bronx. In high school he was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa and later with Usher’s syndrome, which causes both blindness and deafness. He graduated from Taft High School in 1956 and attended Pace College in Brooklyn, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration in 1961.

In the 1960s Paul worked as an independent insurance broker in New York City. He also obtained training and was licensed as a masseur. But neither career truly satisfied his ambitions. With encouragement from his family, blind friends, and his rehabilitation counselor, he entered law school at New York University in September 1970. It is not coincidental that during the previous summer he had joined the New York City Chapter of the NFB and attended his first national convention in Minneapolis. This experience changed his life. After graduating from law school, he moved to Washington, D.C., to accept a position as staff attorney with the U.S. Maritime Administration, an agency of the Department of Commerce. He was employed by the government for eleven years, leaving to enter private law practice in 1985. In 1993 he and Federationist Larry Povinelli became law partners.

On arrival in Washington, Paul immediately became part of the leadership of the newly reorganized NFB of the District of Columbia. He was an active leader, board member, and officer for the remainder of his life. He served two terms as president of the D.C. affiliate, from 1977 to 1981, distinguishing himself for his advocacy and leadership in educating the D.C. city council about blindness. Paul was also actively involved in the Sligo Creek Chapter of the NFB of Maryland and the Arlington County Chapter of the NFB of Virginia.

In 1981 Paul revisited his family home in Vienna, which had been confiscated by the Nazis. He met his old nanny, and the reunion was both happy and tearful. On his seventieth birthday members of the D.C. affiliate gave him a great surprise, a return visit to his old home in the Bronx and a game at Yankee Stadium, where he was able to cheer for his beloved New York Yankees. Although he lived in Washington for thirty-five years, you could never mistake him for anything other than a New York Yankee. Though some people found Paul gruff at times, he had a heart of gold and was loved by his friends, who will miss him.

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.

Maps of Alaska Now Available:

Maps of Alaska is a single volume of seventy-four pages including twenty-one maps. The first half of the book consists of overall maps showing land regions, cities, towns, rivers, mountains, national parks, native corporations, boroughs, and climate. In the second half of the book the state is divided into seven regions: Brooks Range and North Slope; Fairbanks and the Interior; Anchorage and South Central Alaska; West Coast, Kodiak, and Alaska Peninsula; Aleutian Islands; and the Panhandle. Each region has a page of introductory information followed by a detailed map, either on facing pages or on a foldout page. Maps are labeled with key letters identified in Brailled key pages that face the maps. The maps are created by hand in metal foil and copied by Thermoforming.

Maps of Alaska is bound with cardboard covers and a multiring binder. The price is $14; shipping is by Free Matter if eligible. Please send check, money order, or invoice to the Princeton Braillists, 76 Leabrook Lane, Princeton, New Jersey 08540. A number of other atlases and maps are also available. For further information please visit our Website: <> or call (215) 357-7715 or (609) 924-5207.

In Memoriam:

We recently learned that Sir John Wall died on Sunday, November 30, 2008. Sir John was an officer in the World Blind Union (WBU) by virtue of his service as secretary general and president of the European Blind Union from 1994 to 2003. Following his retirement from office, Sir John continued to be active on behalf of the WBU, particularly in development of the organization's constitution and in negotiation as a representative of the WBU with the Universal Postal Union. Most recently Sir John edited Changing What It Means to Be Blind: Reflections on the First Twenty-Five Years of the World Blind Union, the WBU's silver anniversary publication presented to the organization at the seventh general assembly in August 2008 in Geneva, Switzerland.

Sir John was chairman of the Royal National Institute of the Blind, Great Britain's primary service provider, from 1990 to 2000. in 1990 he was appointed a deputy master of the High Court of England and Wales. His personal and professional accomplishments and contributions were significant and noteworthy. He will be missed.

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.

Magnasite Explorer for Sale:

This sophisticated magnification system was purchased a few years ago but rarely used. Cost at time of purchase was $2,400. Will accept best offer. Contact Wilma Cater at (410) 715-4434. Please leave a message, and she will call you back.

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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