Future Reflections Convention Report 1997, Vol. 16 No. 3


Hear Ye! Hear Ye!

New Toy Line: Miss Ochie

Linda Zani Thomas of New Jersey, which some readers may recognize as the author of several articles on blind multiply handicapped children, wrote and asked us to print the following information:

A friend of mine created a toy line that is not only appropriate for all children, but is especially good for children with visual impairments. Will you please run a paragraph (below) in your publications?

Attention Parents! Did you know there's a new toy that's a wholesome role model that literally and figuratively embraces all children, including those with visual impairments?

Introducing...Miss Ochie and her Circle of Friends. This friendly plush octopus stuffed animal has Braille messages on her many arms. She teaches kids that there's a place where differences don't matter; where cooperation, caring, and sharing are part of every day. That place is the Circle of Friends, featured in the accompanying book Julie's Beach Adventure: The Friendship Circle.

Miss Ochie and the book are available for $24.95 plus $4.95 shipping and handling by writing to: Miss Ochie and Book Offer, 766 Knox Court, Yardley, PA 19067. Personal checks and money orders accepted. For more information, call 800-289-0009.

Award-Winning Video

Myra Lesser, a former member of the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children Board and a leader in the Pennsylvania parents organization, has voluntarily filmed, edited, narrated, and/or co-written two videos for the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children, and is in the middle of working on a third video. The videos—"It's OK to be Blind" and "White Canes for Blind Kids"—are wonderful educational tools, and the NOPBC deeply appreciates the time Myra devoted to these projects. But we are not the only ones who appreciate Myra's talents. Myra sent us the following information about a video documentary she did independently on her son, Alex:

A clip from my video, "What's It Like To Be A Kid Who's Blind," was included as part of the awards entry by the Access Tucson TV Station to the Alliance for Community Media—Hometown Awards. This entry won first place for Overall Excellence in Programming for an Access Center. The same clip from my video is also included in the video brochure, "Access Tucson, Where Tucson's on TV."

My video is also recommended by Kids on the Block, the Pittsburgh Children's Museum, and NOPBC, as well as by many parents, and educators throughout the U.S. and Canada.

Math Aids

The following information is reprinted from In Touch, the newsletter of the New Jersey Parents of Blind Children:

Many easy-to-use math-teaching aids are available in toy stores, educational supplies stores, and catalogues. Some of these items can be used by blind children as they are, without adaptations, and others can be easily adapted with self-stick textures and self-stick Braille. The items below are available from Summit Learning. Call 800-777-8817 to get a catalogue.

Unifix Cubes are a wonderful math teaching aid. These stackable cubes stay put when interlocked. This allows the child to examine and count them. Many blind children who had difficulty before, learn math concepts with ease when the concept is demonstrated in their own hands. Unifix Cubes can be used to teach the basics—one-to-one correspondence, counting, tens and ones, etc.—and more advanced math concepts, too. The cubes are color-coded and can easily be coded for tactual use with snips of Wikki Stiks and self-stick textures such as felt, cork, and velcro.

Multilinks are interlocking, snap-together cubes and triangles which children can use to learn and explore math concepts. They are also fun to use as a building set because the triangles have connectors on many sides; interesting shapes and angles can be created.

Fraction Stax and Rainbow Fraction Tiles are two fraction sets which contain pieces that can be held in the hands. Fraction Stax have pieces that stack up over spindles and Fraction Tiles form bars across a holding tray. Both can be adapted with self-stick Braille. Fraction illustrations in math books show fractions expressed in various shapes: pie shapes, bars, parts of objects, etc. It is important that blind students have the opportunity to see fractions expressed in many different ways, too.

Learning Pillows

Jane K. Kronheim sent us the following information about her internationally known "Learning Pillows":

Each pillow is approximately 8 ½" by 11". The pillows are made of felt and feature raised bumps, lines, shapes, strong visual and tactual images, and objects. They are colorful and provide strong contrast. Excellent for eye-hand coordination, tactual and visual discrimination, memory, pre-reading including pre-Braille skill development, buttoning, zipping, etc. There is so much you can learn with a Learning Pillow! Each pillow has a written story/text inserted inside the packaging.

Here is a description of one of the ten pillows available:

Bumpedy Bumps is a pre-Braille experience to help your child or student learn about the world of bumps. Bumps are designed in a variety of places in order to encourage tactual exploration. The prices for learning pillows range from $20 to $40 plus shipping costs. For further information contact: Jane K. Kronheim, P. O. Box 345, Greenfield, NH 03047. Telephone/fax: (603) 827-3859. E-mail:

[[email protected]].

Adam Emerson Honored

Adam Emerson is the son of long-time leaders in the Parents of Blind Children Division of the NFB of Michigan. Sunny, Adam's mother, was also a national leader in the NOPBC. She organized and developed our Homeschooling and Blindness Network when she began homeschooling Adam several years ago. Adam, who is legally blind due to albinism, has become an active member of the NFB in his own right as a young adult. We were, therefore, tremendously pleased to receive the following announcement regarding Adam's selection as a Calvin College Scholarship recipient. Congratulations, Adam! Here is the announcement:

Below you will find the name of a Calvin student from your circulation area with his or her address, high school, and parents as well as the scholarship(s) earned this year to Calvin, a Christian, liberal arts college with a 1997-98 enrollment of approximately 4,100. One of the largest christian colleges in the nation, Calvin regularly is honored by U.S. News & World Report as one of the best colleges or universities in the midwest.

Calvin College Recipient, Adam C. Emerson, Mr. & Mrs. Charles and Sunny Emerson Sterling Heights, Michigan High School: Home School Scholarships: Calvin Presidential Scholarship--$5,500.00

A Spelling Dictionary for Beginning Writers

By Gregory Hurray, this wonderful little reference book for young readers and writers (elementary grades) has been Brailled by the National Braille Press, Inc. Only one volume, each spelling word entry is written first in grade 1, then in grade 2. When a word has no contractions, it is written only once. In addition to the spelling entries, which are words commonly used by young children just beginning to write, there is a Mini-Thesaurus for eight basic words used in a child's vocabulary: Then; Big; Small or Little; Good, Nice, or Great; Went or Ran; Asked; Answered; and Said. There is also a section elaborating on 12 different Theme Words—Words by Subject: such as The Calendar, Geography, Colors, Body Parts, and so forth.

The National Braille Press, Inc. is selling both the print and Braille editions for the same price: $7.00. Order from: The National Braille Press, Inc., 88 St. Stephen Street, Boston, MA 02115. Phone number: (617) 266-6160.

Unlock the Treasures

We have been asked to print the following announcement from the American Printing House for the Blind:

Unlock the treasures that make learning concepts fun! Help is on the way with Tactile Treasures: Math and Language Concepts for Young Children with Visual Impairments, a new informal assessment and training tool for preschool, kindergarten, and early elementary children designed by the American Printing House for the Blind. It helps students gain an understanding of basic concepts and vocabulary that are prerequisites for reading and math.

Over 90 concepts related to shape, size, comparison, amount, position, and page orientation are presented and reinforced with the use of this kit which includes 79 thermoformed sheets and a teacher's guidebook with fun scripts and stories that bring the tactile images to life. Objects encountered on the tactile pages are numerous; from pretzel, button, and rings, to zippers, scissors, and shells. This adds interest, encourages exploration, and broadens vocabulary for young children. The entire kit includes 3 binders and both a print and Braille Guidebook. Tactile Treasures: 1-08842-00...$120.00. To order or for more information call 800-223-1839.

Website: http://www.aph.org

Blazie Engineering Catalog

We have been asked to print the following announcement:

Blazie Engineering, manufacturers and distributors of technology-based products for blind and visually impaired people, announces publication of their 1998 catalog.

The new catalog features more than 70 items. Included are Blazie Engineering products, printers and Braille embossers, screen reading software for both Windows and DOS, speech synthesizers, Braille graphics software, Braille translation software, computer accessories, and more. In addition to Blazie Engineering's own products, manufacturers represented include Duxbury, Raised Dot Computing, Henter-Joyce, Franklin, Digital, G.W. Micro, Syntha-Voice, and others.

Blazie Engineering's catalog contains product warranty and service information, as well as details about special seminar and product training. The 64-page catalog is available at no cost in large print, Braille, on audiocassette and by accessing blazie.com on the World Wide Web. For more information, contact Blazie Engineering, 105 East Jarrettsville Road, Forest Hill, MD 21050, or call (410) 893-9333.

Beautiful Kids Modeling Agency

The following information comes from an article published in Photo District News, an international publication. Anyone interested in getting more information about how a child might become a model or how to hire models from this agency may contact Ginnie Cummo, President, Beautiful Kids, Inc., P.O. Box 506, Ironia, NJ 07845, phone: (973) 927-7759.

Beautiful Kids, Inc. is a modeling agency that represents differently abled children for all types of print advertising. Ginnie Cummo, who started the agency in October 1994, has 300 models, ranging in age from 16 months to 14 years..."My husband is an advertising executive with Toys 'R' Us and they've used disabled children in their advertising but they always had difficulty finding them." Cummo started out in advertising and knows the modeling business because her children and now her grandson have modeled.

"I've had quite a few children working so far," notes Cummo, whose clients include Scholastic Books; Parent Guide magazine; Toy Works, a division of Kay Bee Toys; and several rehabilitation catalogues. Beautiful Kids models earn the standard $75 an hour.

"With 49 million disabled people in this country," says Cummo, "I think clients are beginning to understand that not only is it good for business to see them represented, it's also good for people to see that they're represented."—Susan E. Davis

Leadership Training for Blind Youth:

The following information is reprinted from a recent issue of the Braille Monitor, the monthly publication of the National Federation of the Blind:

Do you know a future leader in the blindness community—a young man or woman, blind or visually impaired, who has the intelligence, energy, and determination to make a difference in the lives of visually impaired persons in your country? The International Program at Overbrook School for the Blind in Philadelphia is open to candidates from throughout the world who demonstrate these leadership qualities and who are interested in participating in a one-year academic and training program.

Now in its twelfth year, the Program announces the start of the admissions process for the 1998-99 academic year. You are invited to nominate candidates who meet the qualifications required for admission and who would benefit from taking part in the program. To qualify, a participant must 1) be blind or partially sighted, 2) be between the ages of sixteen and twenty-one at the start of the program, 3) be in good academic standing, 4) have a basic knowledge of English, 5) be interested in adaptive computer technology for the blind, and 6) demonstrate independence and leadership skills.

The Admissions Committee reviews all nominations and invites appropriate candidates to complete a full application.

The International Program is designed to develop leadership capabilities of young blind and partially sighted individuals from around the world, to provide them with the skills they will need to succeed in higher education and the work place, and to help improve the situation of other blind and visually impaired persons in their countries.

Courses in adaptive computer technology, English as a second language, and leadership development form the core of the curriculum, while emphasis is also placed on learning in an intercultural environment. Educational field trips, music programs, and sports activities are also offered.

For information and admissions materials, contact Lawrence F. Campbell, Admissions Committee, International Program, Overbrook School for the Blind, 6333 Malvern Avenue, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19151-2597, United States, (215) 878-8700, fax (215) 878-8886, e-mail: [[email protected]].