Future Reflections Fall 1994, Vol. 13 No. 3


I.E.P Question/Answer
This item is reprinted from the January, 1994, issue of Pacesetter, a publication of the PACER Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

I called the school and asked my daughter's teacher, who is her IEP manager, to set up an IEP meeting so that we could review her goals. Today, he called me and said that the meeting was set up for Wednesday at 8 a.m., even though I told him I couldn't make it then. He said they needed to go ahead with the meeting because it was the only time the staff could meet. I can't take time off work unless I give a week's advance notice, and I really cannot make it to school at 8:00 because I have young children, and the sitter doesn't arrive until 9:00. What can I do?

The school district is required, by both federal and state laws, to schedule the meeting at a time convenient to both the parent and the school. The IEP manager should have checked with you to find an agreeable date before setting up the meeting. But at this point, you can call and ask that the meeting be canceled, and give him two or three dates that would work for you. If he is reluctant to change the meeting time, you may want to follow up on your request by sending a letter to the principal asking for the change.

We have been asked to publish the following:

Find out why blind people are raving about CD-ROM technology. The CD-ROM Advantage explains everything-what you need, how it all works with speech and Braille, what it costs, who to call for help, and where to buy all those nifty CD titles, plus a listing of over 100 titles that work with speech and Braille. Other questions addressed in this book are: Is it difficult to install CD-ROM hardware and software? Can you access graphics-based CD's? Do some screen-access programs work better than others? How can you tell if a title is accessible? Why should a blind person care about CD-ROM?

The CD-ROM Advantage is available from National Braille Press. The print edition is $11.95 plus $3.50 for postage; the Braille edition is $11.95 shipped Free Matter, or $3.50 extra for UPS; and the disk edition (specify 5.25" or 3.5") is $11.95 shipped Free Matter, or $3.50 extra for UPS. For complete ordering information contact National Braille Press, 88 St. Stephen Street, Boston, Massachusetts 02115. Telephone (617) 266-6160. FAX (617) 437-0456.

Golden Sounds
We have been asked to print the following information:

"My Calendar" is an educational cassette tape for children ages 2 to 8. The tape covers all of the months of the year in sequential order and portrays musical and verbal metaphors that are unique for each month of the year. The tape may be purchased for $10.00 each from Golden Sounds, Inc., 4811 North Market, Shreveport, Louisiana 71107.

Michigan Braille Leadership Conference
On March 15, 1994, the Michigan Commission for the Blind (MCB) held the first Michigan Braille Leadership Conference. The purpose of the conference was to bring together Michigan's top Braille experts to discuss the crisis of Braille literacy among Michigan's blind population. MCB Commissioner, Steve Handschu, a legally blind Detroit sculptor, explained that the conference was a call to action. "Fully 90 percent of Michigan's 50,000 blind people are Braille illiterate. For thousands of people annually, pervasive Braille illiteracy exacts a horrible toll in lost educational achievement, unfulfilled individual creativity, and massive unemployment."

"`Fail then Braille' sums it all up," says Sunny Emerson, a Sterling Heights mother of a blind child and national board member of the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children. "In too many school districts, Braille is used as a learning tool of last resort-when all else fails, the teacher turns to Braille."

     The luncheon keynote speaker was Representative Joe Young, Jr. (D-Detroit), who, following in the footsteps of his father, the late Representative Joe Young, Sr., has supported and sponsored efforts to pass Braille literacy legislation in Michigan.

     Speaking on the "Endless Possibilities and Necessities of Braille" was Dr. Abraham Nemeth, Professor Emeritus, University of Detroit, and creator of the Nemeth Code of Mathematic and Science Braille Symbols. Other presentations included "When to Facilitate Braille Learning" and "Using Braille in the Work Place." Conference participants included representatives from the fields of education and rehabilitation, members of the National Federation of the Blind of Michigan, the Michigan Association of Blind and Visually Impaired (MABVI), and NFB of Michigan Parents of Blind Children.

Vision and Reading
The following information regarding the vision skills required for successful reading of print is reprinted from the brochure, "A Look at Vision and Reading" published and distributed by the American Optometric Association.

To See to Read: Reading [print] requires the integration of eight different vision skills: Visual acuity; visual fixation; accommodation; binocular fusion; convergence; stereopsis; field of vision; and form perception. Only one is checked by the typical school eye chart test. Quick eye exams may cover only one or two. And symptoms of reading-related vision problems are often not noticeable to parent, teacher, or child. A comprehensive optometric examination, however, does cover these eight vision skills. It is a must for every child who is having trouble reading.
Visual Acuity: The ability to see objects clearly. It is sometimes measured in a school vision screening. The typical school eye chart is designed to be seen at 20 feet and measures how well or poorly the child sees at that distance. If a problem is discovered in the screening, the child should be referred for a thorough optometric examination.
Visual Fixation: The skill utilized to aim the eyes accurately. Direct fixation is the ability to focus on a stationary object or to read a line of print accurately, while pursuit fixation is the ability to follow a moving object with the eyes. These complex operations require split second timing for the brain to process the information received and to track the path of the moving object.
Accommodation: The ability to adjust the focus of the eyes as the distance between the individual and the object changes. Children frequently use this vision skill in the classroom as they shift their attention (and focus) between their book and the chalkboard.
Binocular Fusion: refers to the brain's ability to gather information received from each eye separately and form a single, unified image. A child's eyes must be precisely physically aligned or double vision may result. If that occurs, the brain often subconsciously suppresses or inhibits the vision in one eye to avoid confusion. That eye may then develop poorer visual acuity (amblyopia or lazy eye).
Convergence: is the ability to turn the two eyes toward each other to look at a close object. School desk work is one instance in which a child depends upon this vision skill.
Stereopsis: is a function of proper binocular fusion. It allows a critical judgement of the relative distance between two objects. If an optometric examination reveals poor stereopsis, it is an indication of incomplete binocular fusion.
Field of Vision: is the area over which vision is possible. It is important that a child be aware of objects on the periphery (left and right sides, and up and down) as well as in the center of the field of vision.
Perception: is the total process responsible for the reception and cognition of the visual stimuli. A child must integrate all the perceptual skills for successful school achievement. Form perception is the ability to organize and recognize visual images and specific shapes. The shapes the child encounters are remembered, defined, and recalled when development of reading skills begin.

Seedlings Braille Books for Children
We have been asked to announce the following:

SEEDLINGS BRAILLE BOOKS FOR CHILDREN announces their new 1995 catalog which will be available beginning September 1, 1994. This catalog contains over 200 low-cost Braille books for children ages 1-14. Thirty-two new books have been added this year, including (for preschoolers) print-and-Braille books with "sound buttons" to push! For beginning readers there are print-and-Braille easy-readers like Nate the Great and the Sticky Case. For older children, award-winning fiction is included like Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli and Matilda by Roald Dahl. SEEDLINGS is a non-profit corporation dedicated to providing high-quality, low-cost Braille books for children. To receive their free catalog, or for more information, call 1 (800) 777-8552, or write to SEEDLINGS, P.O. Box 2395, Livonia, Michigan 48151-0395. FAX 1 (313) 427-8552.

Technology for the Deaf-blind
We have been asked to print the following information from Blazie Engineering:

Blazie Engineering, manufacturers and distributors of innovative technology for blind and visually impaired people, introduces the Lite Touch telephone communicator. Designed for use by the deaf-blind community, Lite Touch consists of the Braille Lite personal data assistant, the Super Print-E TDD and a tiny signal detector. Battery-operated Lite Touch is simple to operate and designed for take-along use anywhere. Together, its three components weigh less than six pounds and fit easily into a briefcase or backpack. The Lite Touch telephone communicator is a joint venture of Blazie Engineering and the Enabling Technologies Company of Stuart, Florida. For more information about Lite Touch, or to receive a free catalog featuring Blazie Engineering's complete line of products for blind and visually impaired people, contact Blazie  Engineering,  105 East  Jarrettsville Road, Forest Hill, Maryland 21050, or call (410) 893-9333.

Activity Balls
Jingle, beep, ring, vibrate, or smell-the Spring, 1994, Special Populations catalog from Flaghouse features a wide assortment of balls for children and youth of all ages and for a variety of activities. Among this assortment of balls in the catalog are jingle balls of athletic size and construction in three styles and prices (basketball, $16.95; volleyball, $14.95; and soccer ball, $18.95); beeping foam basketballs, soccer balls, and frisbees priced at $42.75 and $35.00; scented 10" inflatable play balls, set of 4 $14.95; and thunder balls which vibrate slightly when the noise-making device is set off by a hard bounce or kick, three styles and two prices-$6.95 and $7.25; and many more. Also available is a mini-beeper ($28.95) which can be attached to any surface with velcro or double stick tape. For more information contact Flaghouse, 150 North MacQuesten Parkway, Mount Vernon, New York 10550; 1 (800) 793-7900; (914) 699-1900 outside U.S.A. FAX 1 (800) 793-7922; (914) 699-2961 outside U.S.A.

Greeting Cards
We have been asked to publish the following information:

Prophecy Designs now offers the only retail line of full-color greeting cards with both print and Braille. Vividly colorful designs by artist Kristina M.L. Nutting grace the front of each of the 30 various cards, making them appealing to the sighted as well. Messages range from "Just a note to say `Hello' and that I'm thinking of you," to "Sending you wishes for a very joyful holiday season." Many include inspirational quotes from sources such as famous people, the Bible, or the Talmud. Cards are also available in large print. For more information or to place individual or wholesale orders, contact Kristina M.L. Nutting at (207) 529-5318; or write Prophecy Designs, P.O. Box 84, Round Pond, Maine 04564.

Youth Novel
We have been asked to publish the following announcement from Jack Wilkinson, author and publisher of Eyes Front:

Eyes Front retails for $9.95. However, a special offer of $7.95 is available for all members of the National Federation of the Blind and all subscribers to Future Reflections and the Braille Monitor. They need only to order these books by writing to: Maine Heritage Books, P.O. Box 1462, Scarborough, Maine 04074.

The following is a newspaper advertisement for the book from the Portland Press Herald:

A New Family Novel: Eyes Front, by Jack Wilkinson: A dramatic novel about a blind youth and his courageous efforts to compete on his high school track team.

"This beautifully written, heartfelt story vividly rekindled the years of courage, determination, and perseverance I witnessed daily as the coach of a former blind runner." -Paul Brogan, South Portland High School's boys' track and cross-country coach.

"This novel reminds me of when Jack Wilkinson coached me. The main character is laden with the genuine belief in man's ability to rise above any obstacle and succeed." -Danny Paul, Coach of Greely High School's boys' and girls' track and cross-country.

"It has so far proven to be an excellent literary and educational endeavor." -Robert Leblond, President of New England Parents of Blind Children.

"The author draws upon a lifelong involvement with kids and the sport of track and field to develop this story." -George Towle, University of Southern Maine's women's track and cross-country coach.

Screen Enlarger
The following item is reprinted from the Winter, 1993/94, issue of the Braille Spectator, the NFB of Maryland newsletter.

The Coat Hanger Screen Enlarger -by Lorette S.J. Weldon: From the Editor: Lorette Weldon is the Coordinator of the Study Room for People Visually Impaired at the University of Maryland College Park. Although we have no personal experience with the screen enlargers she describes, she assures us that this screen enlarger is installed and in use in her study room at the University of Maryland.

In the advent of on-line catalogs being used in libraries, many people may have trouble seeing the print on the computer monitors. They need a screen enlarger. Companies such as Gaylord (Box 4901, Syracuse, NY 13221-4901) sell screen enlargers, but the prices can start from $319 to $2,800. These screen enlargers can be an attachment to the front of the monitor or they can be a program, like Zoomtext.

This type of device can be developed by anyone at a cheap price. By using a coat hanger, a clothes pin (or paper clamp), a size 52 belt (velcro), and a magnification sheet (which can be obtained at an office supply store like Office Depot), a screen enlarger can be in your possession for under $2.

In the first step, take the hook of the coat hanger and have the curl of the hook turn so that it is facing you. Position the coat hanger so that the body of the hanger is above the monitor's screen.

For the second step, place the belt over the top of the monitor so that the neck of the hanger is under it and that the hook hovers over the belt. Tighten the belt. The tightness should constitute enough pressure to hold the hanger in place and allow the hanger to be slid across the monitor.

The third step consists of putting the magnification sheet in the clamp and attaching both to the hanger's body (hang it on the wire that is closest to you.)

In the fourth step, move the hanger from side to side to adjust it to the location that you wish to look at on the monitor's screen. Focus the magnification sheet by moving it back and forth with your hand. For more information, call me (Loretta Weldon) at (301) 270-5803.

Large Print Appointment Calendar
We have been asked to print the following information:

Announcing a "Visually Unique" daily appointment calendar designed specifically for people who would like to have large, easy-to-read dates and times, as well as bold lines and plenty of room to write. The letters (35 pt) and numbers (26 pt) are easy-to-read without low vision aids. Bolded lines are spaced 3/4" apart to accommodate large handwriting. Show through is not a problem when using an easy-to-read black pen such as a 20/20 pen. This 312-page calendar fits in a 2" or 3" standard 3-ring binder (not included), and measures 11" x 17" when open. Order by calling or writing for current pricing information: Visually Unique, P.O. Box 2841, Dallas, Texas 75221-2841; (214) 416-5568.

MegaDots Users
The following notice comes from Debbie Day, a parent and a member of the Parents of Blind Children Division of the NFB of Washington:

I am looking for other parents who are using the MegaDots print-to-Braille transcription software to prepare Braille material for their children. Anyone interested in sharing materials, as well as information on how they are utilizing this program, please contact Debbie Day, 2604 St. Clair, Bellingham, Washington 98226; telephone (206) 733-8159.

Braille Product Packaging Directions
We have been asked to print the following information:

National Braille Press: Have you ever bought a packaged food product, taken it home, and then had to find a sighted person to read the directions to you? Now, General Foods USA has solved that dilemma by putting package directions for its many fine food products into one easy-to-use reference booklet in Braille, called Product Packaging Directions. Included are directions for products such as Kool-Aid- and Tang- beverages, Jello-O- brand desserts, Shake'n Bake- coatings, Stove Top- stuffing mixes, and many more. Plus, the booklet comes with an assortment of General Foods product coupons with a value at least equal to the purchase price of the book. The booklet, Product Packaging Directions, comes in one Braille volume and is available for $10.00 from National Braille Press, 88 St. Stephen Street, Boston, Massachusetts 02115; (617) 266-6160.

Blind Children's Fund Has Moved
We have been informed that the Blind Children's Fund has a new address. The BCF publishes the VIP Newsletter and numerous other pieces of literature (see the article on page 26 in this issue), sponsors national and international conferences and distributes the innovative materials of Lili Neilsen, Ph.D. The new address and telephone number are Blind Children's Fund, 2875 Northwind Drive, Suite 211, East Lansing, Michigan 48823-5040; (517) 333-1725

Missouri Reader Fund Increased
The following item comes from the May, 1994, issue of The Blind Missourian, the newsletter of the NFB of Missouri:

Governor Signs Reader Fund Bill. -Rita Lynch: I am happy to report that we were very successful with this session of the state legislature. Our Reader Fund for Blind Students, SB 619, introduced by Senator Caskey, passed this time with four weeks to spare in the session and was signed on Tuesday, May 10. This will, of course, increase the yearly funding for reader services for blind students from $300.00, which it had been for over 20 years, to $500.00. It will also enable us to access federal funds for this service. The third thing this legislation does is to change the process of applying for funds. One will now be making application for this service through Rehabilitation Services for the Blind instead of through the county clerk's office. Passage of this bill was a big achievement for us [the National Federation of the Blind of Missouri].  We are especially grateful to Senator Caskey and Representative Maxwell for their help.