Braille Monitor                                                 March 2011

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News from the Federation Family

The Omaha Chapter of the NFB of Nebraska has elected a new slate of officers. We have large dreams, strong intentions, and great talent. Our new board consists of president, Robert Leslie Newman; first vice president, Bridgit Kuenning-Pollpeter; second vice president, Carol Jenkins; secretary, Sandy Alvarado; treasurer, Ross Pollpeter; and board members, Bob Burns, Debbie Jensen, Chad Weber, and Henry Vetter.

Braille Books Available:
Ever go to a store and see the children's book you wanted and find yourself wishing that book were in Braille? Well, wish no more. Beulah Reimer Legacy, (BRL), has many of the most popular children's picture books such as Clifford, Corduroy, Curious George, Disney Princesses, Dora, and the Berenstain Bears in Braille at affordable prices. BRL's mission is to increase Braille literacy and reading opportunities by placing Braille in the hands of eager readers. Whether you are a child who wants Braille books that she doesn't have to return to the library; a blind parent, grandparent, or other blind adult who wants to share a book with a child; or a teacher of the visually impaired, BRL is dedicated to meeting your Braille needs.

All of our books are Brailled with clear plastic strips placed on top of the printed text. Our books are shipped free of charge. Please allow two weeks for delivery. BRL accepts checks, money orders, and purchase orders. We also accept payment online using PayPal.

To request the most recent booklist, place an order, or receive more information about BRL, contact April Enderton, 7758 Southeast 36th Street, Des Moines, Iowa 50320; phone (515) 282-0049; email <[email protected]>; Website <>. Happy reading in 2011.

New Chapter:
Larry Keeler reports that Ann Arbor, Michigan, now has a new chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Michigan. Elections were held on January 8, 2011, at Pizza Pino’s. The officers are president, Terri Wilcox; vice president, Nick Wilcox; secretary, Larry Keeler; and treasurer, Morry Nathan.

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.

2011 Hall of Fame Nominations Now Being Accepted:
Who should be the next inductees into the Hall of Fame for Leaders and Legends of the Blindness Field? If you are interested in learning more about the easy electronic process for submitting a nominee to join the forty-six inductees, visit <>. The nomination process closes Thursday, March 31.

The Hall of Fame for Leaders and Legends of the Blindness Field is dedicated to preserving, honoring, and promoting the tradition of excellence manifested by the specific individuals inducted into the Hall of Fame and through the history of outstanding services provided to people who are blind or visually impaired.

Visit the Hall of Fame Website and learn more about the Hall and those honored there <>. If you have questions, contact Jim Deremeik, chair, Hall of Fame Governing Board, at <[email protected]> or Bob Brasher, Hall of Fame curator, at <[email protected]>.

Coming This Month:
HeartSight Cards are handmade, print/Braille greeting cards using layers of patterned and textured papers and decorative buttons, ribbons, rhinestones, and other embellishments so that they can be enjoyed with both fingers and eyes. Each card has a simple, occasion-appropriate inside greeting that can be personalized with your own message. Current categories include birthday, thank you, kids, thinking of you, love and friendship, and all occasion. At present there are seventeen different card designs, and new designs will be added regularly.

At HeartSight Cards, owner Haley M. Dare believes that everyone deserves a beautifully designed card. Her cards are appealing to the blind as well as the sighted and are more than just a tactile shape on a monochromatic background. The artist combines patterned papers and other card-making supplies that used together create a lovely, tactile card. A detailed Braille description is included with each card. HeartSight cards are mailable and affordable, costing $2 to $3 less than the competition. Your card order will be sent directly to you or to your special person, usually within one to three days of order receipt.

HeartSight Cards was inspired by a special friendship. This friend, along with others in the National Federation of the Blind, encouraged and supported Haley when her young son was diagnosed with vision problems. Therefore she intends to help the NFB further its training and advocacy services by making a donation of 5 percent of the sale of each card.

To order, contact HeartSight Cards at 4794 Geneva Avenue, Portage, Michigan 49024 or phone (269) 779-2216. The email address is <[email protected]>, and the Website address is <>.

Because you don’t need sight to see into the heart.

Cofounder of Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation Dies:
On February 2, 2011, the New York Times carried the following obituary:

Charles Kaman, Helicopter Innovator, dies at 91
by Motoko Rich

Charles H. Kaman, an innovator in the development and manufacture of helicopter technology and, following a wholly different passion, the inventor of one of the first electrically amplified acoustic guitars, died on Monday in Bloomfield, Connecticut. He was ninety-one. Mr. Kaman, who had suffered several strokes over the last decade, died of complications of pneumonia, his daughter, Cathleen Kaman, said. He lived in Bloomfield. Mr. Kaman (pronounced ka-MAN) was a twenty-six-year-old aeronautical engineer when he founded the Kaman Aircraft Company in 1945 in the garage of his mother's home in West Hartford, Connecticut. By the time he retired as chairman in 2001, he had built the Kaman Corporation into a billion-dollar concern that distributes motors, pumps, bearings, and other products as well as making helicopters and their parts. Within the aerospace industry Mr. Kaman is best known for inventing dual intermeshing helicopter rotors, which move in opposite directions, and for introducing the gas turbine jet engine to helicopters. The company's HH-43 Huskie was a workhorse in rescue missions in the Vietnam War.

Mr. Kaman, a guitar enthusiast, also invented the Ovation guitar, effectively reversing the vibration-reducing technology of helicopters to create a generously vibrating instrument that incorporated aerospace materials into its rounded back. In the mid-1960s he created Ovation Instruments, a division of his company, to manufacture it. The Ovation allows musicians to amplify their sound without generating the feedback that often comes from using microphones. It was popularized in the late 1960s by the pop and country star Glen Campbell, who played it on his television show, The Glen Campbell Good Time Hour, and who appeared in advertisements for the company. A long roster of rock and folk music guitarists began using it as well.

With his second wife, Roberta Hallock Kaman, Mr. Kaman founded the Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation, which trains German shepherds as guide dogs for the blind and the police. Since 1981 Fidelco has placed 1,300 guide dogs in thirty-five states and four Canadian provinces, said Eliot D. Russman, the foundation's executive director.

“It came down to the helicopters, guitars, and dogs,” Mr. Kaman's eldest son, C. William Kaman II, said in a telephone interview. In addition to his daughter Cathleen, an artist who is known professionally as Beanie Kaman, and his son William, Mr. Kaman is survived by another son, Steven; four grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

Born on June 15, 1919, in Washington, Charles Huron Kaman was the only child of Charles William Kaman and Mabel Davis Kaman. As a teenager he loved building model airplanes from balsa wood and tissue paper and flying them in indoor competitions. He had once hoped to be a professional pilot but abandoned that ambition because he was deaf in his right ear. He received his bachelor's degree in aeronautical engineering from the Catholic University of America in 1940. After graduating, he went to work at Hamilton Standard Propeller Corporation, a unit of United Aircraft. He soon met Igor Sikorsky, another pioneer in helicopter design, who ran United's helicopter division and who inspired Mr. Kaman to begin developing his own parts. One of his first inventions was the servo-flap, which could be added to the edges of a rotor blade to help stabilize a helicopter. But one of his greatest contributions was to introduce jet engines to helicopters. “It gave them more power,” said Walter J. Boyne, chairman of the National Aeronautic Association and the author of numerous books on aviation. Helicopters really moved into their own.

Terry Fogarty, who worked closely with Mr. Kaman for nearly a decade developing the K-MAX aerial truck, said Mr. Kaman, who developed the first remote-control helicopter in 1957, envisioned an unmanned cargo helicopter that would take over the “dull, dirty, and dangerous missions.” The company is developing such a helicopter, based on the K-MAX, and has a contract to deploy it to the Marine Corps for use in Afghanistan.

Mr. Kaman married Helen Sylvander in 1945; they divorced in 1971. Later that year he married Roberta Hallock, who died last year. Ms. Kaman recalled her father strumming different versions of the Ovation in a studio at home, trying to figure out how deep or shallow to make the rounded back to produce the best sound. “That was his big gift to the three of us,” she said. When he would come home, he would play guitar.

Free Home Fire Safety Booklets Available:
We have large quantities of our free large-print, regular-print, and Spanish editions of “Home Fire Safety For People who are Blind/Low Vision.” If state conventions or other organizations would like copies in quantity of any of these versions, please email Jan Lavine at <[email protected]>.

Summer Camp Sessions for the Blind:
Announcing the twenty-ninth Oral Hull Foundation for the Blind four one-week adult vacation programs and four-day family get-away. Mark your calendar: Adult High Adventure I: July 16–22, Adult Adventure II: July 25–31, Adult Friends and Alumni: August 5–11, Adult Moderate Adventure: August 15–21, and Family Get-Away: August 25–28. The Oral Hull Park's twenty-three-acre campus is located in the foothills of Mt. Hood, Oregon. The average summer temperature is in the low eighties. The costs are adventure I or II, $450; moderate adventure, $425; and friends and alumni, $395. Free round-trip transportation provided to the Portland Airport. Payment plans are available.

If you are new to the Oral Hull Foundation for the Blind or are a returning participant, feisty or shy, artistic or athletic, an adventurer or one who just wants to sit in our formal gardens or fourteen-seat spa and relax in the company of friends, you do not want to miss our 2011 season—a summer of excellence.

Registration is now open for all of our 2011 summer vacation programs. Oral Hull's four one-week adult sessions provide high-quality programs and activities that appeal to a wide array of tastes. This summer participants will dine on fine cookery, enjoy ideal weather, and have a choice of participating in traditional summer experiences with plenty of opportunities for exciting adventure activities, including whitewater rafting, windsurfing, skydiving (additional fee), horseback riding, archery, hiking, rock climbing, swimming, and more. Last year our participants came from across the United States and beyond, enjoying a few weeks of activity, peer support, and personal growth. As described by one participant from the Midwest, "An Oral Hull is something all blind individuals with an interest in living life to the fullest should experience." For information about Oral Hull's summer programs, year-round weekend retreats, and other special events, contact Jeff Lann, executive director, (503) 668-5195, email <[email protected]>, Website <>.

Refurbished Braillewriters:
In an effort to promote Braille literacy, AT Guys is pleased to offer refurbished, like-new Perkins Braille writers. All Braillers are thoroughly examined and refurbished by an experienced technician and come with a one-year warranty against defects. The cost is $299, including shipping by Free Matter. Money orders and all major credit cards are accepted. For more information or to place an order, call (269) 216-4798 or visit <>.

Descriptive Videos Available:
Now you can enjoy 150 movies with added audio information on the soundtrack making it easier for visually impaired people to know what is going on in the movie. The movies are on VHS and DVD. Call Ken Mann at (972) 530-2949 for information and a print or audio-cassette list of the movies available. A contribution of $25 gets you started on years of enjoyment. This service is provided by the Texas Center for the Visually Challenged, 3101 High Plateau, Garland, Texas 75044; (214) 340-6328.

Music Lessons by Ear:
Learn to play your favorite musical instrument without having to read printed or Braille music. At Bill Brown's Music for the Blind there are beginner courses for over a dozen instruments, including piano, guitar, harmonica, violin, banjo, saxophone, and flute. These courses are taught totally by ear in all-audio format so there is no print or Braille to read. Each course contains at least four tapes or CDs and costs as little as $39. As well as these beginner courses, over eight-hundred individual song lessons are taught in the same all-audio format. These individual lessons start at only $11.95 each. For more information go to the Website at <> or call (888) 778-1828.

Frank Kurt CylkeFrank Kurt Cylke Honored:
In a tribute to the advent of digital Talking Books and players for blind and physically handicapped readers--and to the man who ushered in the new medium—Braille Institute Library Services (BILS), Los Angeles, presented the first Frank Kurt Cylke Digital Platinum Awards during its annual open house on October 22, 2010. BILS director Henry C. Chang and Open House Committee Chair Tina Herbison presented Cylke, director of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS), Library of Congress, with his own Digital Platinum Award "for thirty-seven years of unwavering leadership and commitment to the blind and visually impaired communities throughout the United States."

The new award recognizes the NLS transition from cassette books and machines to digital Talking Books on flash memory cartridges and two models of digital player. "I thank Dr. Chang and the Braille Institute Library Services for the recognition," says Cylke. "But the real reward is seeing the joyful reception of this new equipment by blind and physically handicapped readers."

The Digital Platinum Award, which replaces the BILS Golden Cassette Award, is given to individuals and organizations who are standouts in the library community. Congratulations to Kurt Cylke for this well-deserved honor.

New Website for Disabled Travelers:
People with visual handicaps can now plan their trips while exploring a broad range of travel opportunities at <>. The site is designed to serve a huge and growing American market. According to the most recent U.S. Census Bureau figures, 51.2 million people report some level of disability, and for 32.5 million of them the disability is considered severe. This number will only rise as the US population ages. But the numbers alone do not explain the impetus of the new site. Marlene Wechselblatt, who has MS and uses a wheelchair, put it this way: “There’s a common belief that people with disabilities can’t do very much, but we know that’s simply not true. We created this new site to promote creative thinking, expand travel options, and live as free from our disabilities as we can. All visitors will receive up-to-date information about all aspects of traveling with disabilities, including a directory of resources. Members will discover exciting ways to enjoy the world and will share their own experiences and knowledge to help others make their travels easier and more meaningful.”

NFB Members can join free of charge when they sign up for a free eBook, 10 Hidden Gems. Among the sites listed: a small fishing village in Ecuador, a town in Nova Scotia near the Bay of Fundy, an ancient mountain resort town, and a university town in the midwestern US guarded by a black angel. NFB members are also invited to contribute guest posts to Steve Wechselblatt at <> about their experiences traveling or advice for other sight-impaired travelers. An ebook on mini-vacations in the US in 2011 is also available on the site.

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.