Future Reflections Spring/Summer 1993, Vol. 12 No. 2


Western Union will send Braille telegrams (Braillegrams). The cost is $2.00 for the first 25 words and $1.00 for each additional 25 words. Call 1-800-325-6000, extension 16. Braillegrams may be charged either to your telephone bill or credit card.

Braille AT&T Calling Card
We have been asked to carry the following announcement: AT&T has introduced a newly redesigned, easy to read, Braille AT&T Calling Card that offers several new features and access to a myriad of services available through the AT&T Worldwide Intelligent Network. The cards have permanent calling card numbers which enable users to keep the same card, even if they move. This new AT&T Braille card allows customers to place local, long-distance, and international calls quickly and easily from any phone, without the need to use change. The card also protects customers from higher costs charged by other operator services companies. AT&T customers also may obtain the Braille AT&T Custom Calling (TM) Card, which allows users to call up to ten pre-selected telephone numbers, area codes, or countries. Calls placed via this card are charged to the person who established the card account. With this new card, users can reach the most important people in their lives anytime, from almost anywhere, without the need for change.
AT&T's Braille Calling Cards are printed in Type II text. "AT&T" is printed in the upper right corner so users can easily identify the card. Instructions, card information, and selected promotional materials, provided in Braille print, are included with each new Braille AT&T Calling Card. Customers who would like more information or wish to order a Braille AT&T Calling Card for the first time can call 1-800-924-6021.

Braille Menus
We have been asked to print the following announcement: Ruby Tuesday has recently introduced Braille and large print menus in all of its restaurants throughout the United States. The menus were produced by the Tennessee School for the Blind. ‘We recognize that there are a number of people in the areas where we do business that are visually impaired in some way,” says Robert McClenagan, president of the Ruby Tuesday Group. “It is extremely important to us to provide the same opportunity for good food and good service to everyone.” The Ruby Tuesday chain has more than 150 locations in major cities and suburbs across the Northeast, Southeast, and Midwest.

Assistive Technology
The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) has available free copies of “Assistive Technology: A Selective Bibliography.” The following description is taken from the introduction to this bibliography: “This bibliography cites books, articles, and pamphlets, published since 1985, that present the advantages and limitations of adapting technology for use by individuals who have visual or physical disabilities. Publishers' addresses are included when they are not readily obtainable through libraries and bookstores. This bibliography includes resources to help locate funding for the purchase of assistive technology, but does not offer guides for the selection and evaluation of specific equipment and devices. Product reviews and comparisons can be obtained by contacting the sources for information.” This bibliography, as well as other bibliographies and Reference Circulars, are available free on request from: Reference Section, National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, Library of Congress, Washington D.C. 20542.

New Braille Spelling and English Program:
We have been asked to print the following information: The American Printing House for the Blind introduces Patterns: The Primary Braille Spelling and English Program. This extensive program is designed to teach language skills to primary grade students who will use Braille as their primary writing medium. This is a companion program to Patterns: The Primary Braille Reading Program. Like the reading program, this new program is comprised of textbooks, worksheets, posttests, and teachers' editions (including Braille teachers' editions). There will be four levels, A through D. Level A of Patterns: Spelling and English Program will correspond with the Readiness, Preprimer, and Primer Levels of Patterns: Reading Program. For a brochure and price list, contact: American Printing House for the Blind, Inc., 1839 Frankfort Avenue, P.O. Box 6085, Louisville, KY 40206-0085; (502) 895-2405, or toll free (800) 223-1839.

Braille Book for Kids 5-10
The National Braille Press is making available a Braille edition of the award winning children's book, The Cay. The Cay is about a young boy, Phillip, who is blinded by a crack on the head after the Germans torpedo the freighter on which he and his mother are traveling. He is stranded on a Caribbean island with Timothyþa huge, very old, and very stubborn black West Indian. The story centers on Phillip's struggle for survival, adjustment to blindness, and his efforts to understand his wise and dignified companion. This two-volume Braille edition is geared to readers age 5-10. To order your copy, send $13.95 (prepaid) to: National Braille Press, 88 St. Stephen Street, Boston, MA 02115.

New Tactile Maps
The following information is taken from an article in the July-September 1992 issue of the NEWS, a publication of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped:
NLS has added maps of the Middle East and the former Soviet Union to its circulating tactile-map collection. Joseph Wiedel, a geography professor at the University of Maryland, designed the embossed maps in response to the interest of NLS patrons in recent developments in the two regions.

Wiedel created the map of the Middle East during the opening days of the Persian Gulf War. ‘The war started on Wednesday,” says Judy Dixon, NLS consumer relations officer, “and I talked to Joe on Friday; the maps were on my desk the following Tuesday morning.”

The map of the emergent independent states that once formed the Soviet Union was similarly produced as a result of the requirements of patrons for graphic representations of territories in the news. The rapid pace of much recent history is reflected in the fact that some place names in the region (Byelorussia, now Belarus, and Moldavia, now Modova) have been changed since the map was issued-but this is a problem common to all maps, not just tactile ones.

...NLS hopes to offer more tactile maps in the near future. The regions to be represented are still under consideration. Both maps are available on loan to NLS patrons through network libraries and may also be purchased directly from Professor Joseph Wiedel, Department of Geography, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742.
Each map is $10 and is accompanied by a large-print paper map of the same territory. Checks should be make payable to Joseph Wiedel.

The Oregon Project
We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

The Oregon Project for Visually Impaired and Blind Preschool Children (OR Project) is a comprehensive curriculum designed for use with children age birth to six who are visually impaired or blind. It can be used by teachers or counselors in home or classroom settings, by regular classroom teachers who are mainstreaming young blind children, or by parents, nurses, psychologists, or paraprofessionals who wish to provide instruction to preschool visually impaired children.

The OR Project has also been used with children having other handicaps other than blindness or visual impairment.

The OR Project consists of a “Manual,” “Skills Inventory,” a “Reference Section,” and “Teaching Activities.” The complete set is $119.00, including shipping and handling, for orders within the U.S.A. Packets of five “Skills Inventories” are $40 per packet. For an order form and more information about the OR Project contact: Jackson Education Service District, Attn. Or Project, 101 North Grape Street, Medford, Oregon 97501; (513) 776-8550.

Newsletters for Parents
The following information and offer comes from The Institute for Families of Blind Children, Mail Stop #111, P.O. Box 54700, Los Angeles, CA 90054-0700; 213-669-4649:

August 31, 1992

Dear Editor,
We would like to offer our Newsletters to the subscribers of Future Reflections... We publish two quarterly newsletters for families of blind or visually impaired children: Retinoblastoma Support News (specifically for families of children with retinoblastoma), and Parent to Parent for families of children with all other blinding conditions. Subscriptions for both newsletters are available to parents, educators, and health care professionals free of charge upon request. ...If you would like any further information about our newsletters or other services, please contact us.
Julee Collins, Administrative Assistant

Girl Wants Letters
The following letter came from a sighted girl who wants to learn more about blindness:

Lindsay Spencer
21 Colonial Terrace
Pompton Plains, New Jersey

Dear Barbara,
I am a twelve year old girl who is very interested in blindness. I myself am not blind, but want to learn more about it. I have read the book, What Color is the Sun. ...I would like it very much if you could put something in the magazine Future Reflections, telling any child who wants to write me, to go ahead. If something does get in, please send me a copy. Thank you for all your help.
Lindsay Spencer

Blind First Aiders
The following information appeared in the Spring, 1992 issue of Towers, a publication of the Overbrook School for the Blind.

Overbrook First Aid Squad
Places Sixth in Competition

Proving that even with impaired vision they can treat various medical emergencies, four students from Overbrook recently placed sixth out of 19 area teams in the American Red Cross National Youth First Aid Competition. Teams from Pennsylvania, New York, and Maryland participated in the local competition held in March at Gwynedd Mercy College. The students-Rebecca Ilniski, Joey Lugo, David Hoppman, and Brian Bauer-also tied for 17th place in the national results. The students were trained by house parent Toney Whitner, who is a cardiopulmonary resuscitation instructor, first aid instructor, and instructor trainer for the Red Cross in Philadelphia. For the competition the students were required to demonstrate their proficiency using various first aid techniques. The teams were given mock scenarios by the judges-featuring victims of a stroke, dog bite, and car accident-and then had to determine how to help the “victims” and implement the first aid. The Overbrook team is the only team of people who are blind or visually impaired to ever participate in the competition. The Overbrook team garnered 1575 points out of a possible 1700. The local winner, a team from Northeast High School, scored 1650 points. This year's achievement showed progress for Overbrook, which last year placed 7th in the local competition and tied for 30th place nationally.

Blind and Gifted?
Blind children possess the same range of physical and mental characteristics that other, non-disabled children, possess. This means that a certain number of blind children will also be gifted, or even highly gifted. Pat Estes is a blind leader in the NFB of Maine. She is also the parent of highly gifted children. Here, from her, is part of a letter and some information about a resource for highly gifted children (including those who are blind) and their parents:

Dear Barbara:
Recently I was elected to the board of the Hollingworth Center for Highly Gifted Children. I am on the board not as a representative for my own highly gifted children, but as an advisor and advocate for the handicapped and gifted child. I am telling you this and enclosing a pamphlet for your information. I know that we have gifted blind youth in Maine, and I feel they need programs that meet their needs as whole individuals for their academic careers to be successful. ...As we have taught people not to fear being labeled blind, we must also label the gifted child “gifted” when in fact that is what he/she is!

Kathi Koarney (founder of the Hollingworth Center for Highly Gifted Children) has spoken at our NFB state convention. She understands the needs of the gifted as well as handicapped children and their families. She is currently studying at Colombia Teachers College for her doctoral degree in gifted education. The Hollingworth Center for Highly Gifted Children is a unique national organization of consumers, not professionals!
This is, in part, what Pat Estes wrote. More information about the center may be obtained by writing to: The Hollingworth Center, P.O. Box 464, South Casco, Maine 04077. Pat Estes would also be happy to communicate with parents of blind and gifted children. Contact Pat Estes at 790 Pownal Road, Auburn, Maine 04210, (207) 783-3025.

Kentucky Passes Braille Bill
The following information comes from Kid-Bits, a newsletter of the Kentucky School for the Blind:
At the completion of the 1992 Kentucky General Session, a new law was signed having direct impact on teachers and visually impaired students across the state. House Bill 370, also referred to as the Braille Bill, is now a reality. Similar legislation in several other states has influenced the design and enactment of such a law here in Kentucky. Basically, the bill has three components: 1. þThe purpose of this Act shall be to assure, to the maximum extent possible, that all blind students shall be instructed in the use of Braille.þ 2. that Braille will be taught by competent teachers, and 3. as determined which textbooks will be used by the state, publishers will be required to release information in computer readable form to the American Printing House for the Blind so that books can be transcribed into Braille.  

Braille instruction will be specified on the IEP including: assessment of Braille skills; whether Braille will be the primary mode of communication; the date to begin instruction; length, frequency, and duration of instruction and expected level of competency. The law also addresses the issue of Braille instruction and use not being required. If members of the Administrative Admission and Release Committee concur that the student shall not be required to learn Braille, it must be explained on the IEP. Competency testing shall be required prior to certification for new teachers as well as “any teacher who teaches a blind student Braille, or monitors a student's Braille usage, shall demonstrate competency in Braille.”

Illinois Passes Braille Bill
The following information is from the Winter, 1992, issue of The Braille Examiner, the newsletter of the National Federation of the Blind of Illinois:

On Sunday, September 13, 1992, Governor Edgar implemented Public Act 87-1071, the Braille Literacy Act of 1992. Now, Illinois along with over a dozen states, has enacted this piece of legislation. The Act required that Braille teachers pass a Braille reading and writing competency test, beginning in 1994. This test, designed by the Library of Congress, will be administered by the State Board of Education. The Act also mandates that all blind or severely visually impaired children who cannot read print competitively be taught Braille upon parental request. Furthermore, the Act states that children with an eye condition that will ultimately result in blindness shall be entitled to Braille instruction. In addition, the Act mandates that publishers doing business in Illinois must immediately, upon publication of literary books, grant permission for Braille production and produce an ASCII disc of each book. If a person puts in a request for a particular book, publishers must make these discs available for Braille production within a specific time period. Public Act 97-1071 remedies a twenty-five-year trend to de-emphasize Braille. This is a dramatic boost for the literacy of blind and severely visually impaired children.

NFB /SC Sponsors Teachers Seminar
On January 22, 1993, the NFB of South Carolina sponsored a seminar for teachers of the blind and visually impaired. The morning began with a panel discussion of “Braille Literacy: Legislation, Regulation, and Implementation.” Panel members included Senator Warren K. Giese, S.C. General Assembly; Suzanne Swaffield, Education Associate for Visual Disabilities, State Department of Education; and Parnell Diggs, member, Braille Skills Assessment Task Force, State Department of Education.

The day also included a “Braille Teaching Techniques Workshop.’ The guest keynote speaker at the day's luncheon was Joanne Wilson, educator and Director of the Louisiana Center for the Blind, which, in addition to its regular program for blind adults, runs a summer Buddy Program for blind youth.

Resources for the Deaf-Blind
Deaf-blindness: National Organizations and Resources, compiled by Freddie Peaco, is a new reference circular available free of charge from the Library of Congress, National Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. For a copy of this 22-page resource list, send your request to: Reference Section, National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. 20542.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
Many families of blind children are unaware that their blind child may be eligible for SSI benefits. There are two criteria for eligibility: the family's income and other resources, and medical evidence that the child's best corrected vision is 20/200 or less or has a visual field of 20 degrees or less. It is vital to note that this criterion differs from the requirements for children with other disabilities. Children with physical or mental impairments must demonstrate that their condition is severe enough that it would prevent an adult with that same impairment from working; and the condition must be expected to last at least 12 months or result in the child's death. Blind children, like blind adults, need only to document evidence of legal blindness. Of course, all families must meet the same financial and resource criteria. If you have a blind child and you think you might meet the financial and resource limitations, contact your local Social Security office and ask for information about how you might apply for SSI benefits. Be sure to point out that your child is blind and therefore the family does not need to answer questions about the child's functioning (dressing themselves, feeding themselves, etc.) or daily living activities. If your child meets the definition of blindness and your family is financially eligible, but your child has still been denied SSI benefits, you may call the NFB Parents of Blind Children Division for further information and support. Call Barbara Cheadle, President, POBC/NFB, (410) 747-3358; or (410) 659-9314.