June 2011 Chronicle
COMMITTEES, Tell us Your Story!
Susan Sanderson, Convention Coordinator
Thursday, October 13, 2011 in Joplin, MO we will start our annual convention with a board meeting. We have the Guide Dog Users Breakfast, Library Users of Missouri Breakfast, The President Luncheon, and The Alma Murphy BRL Luncheon. That is right, we all like to sit down and have food but there will be work too. We have our regular meetings Education and Welfare, Resolutions and Bylaws and new breakaway sessions. Door Prizes and Goody bags will be a great asset to this year’s convention. We have a room to display all the newest things in adaptive technology and our craft room too.
Registration will be on the MCB Website for your convenience. Early registrations will save you both time and money. If you register early you will save $10.00. Hospitality will cost $5.00 for Club Sandwich, Chips, Brownie, Fruit Cup and Tea or Coffee. Saturday Banquet will be $20.00 you can have your choice of Beef, Chicken or Vegetarian Dinner. Pre-registration fee $5.00 and deadline for that will be September 7, 2011
To make your room reservations call the hotel 1-417-782-1000; the rate is $89.00 and be sure to tell them it is for the MCB Convention. The deadline is September 7, 2011.
I am looking forward to this year’s convention and with the help of the Joplin Service Club, The Board and several other people we will have an outstanding time. Mark your calendar for October 13 to the 16 for this year’s convention.
PUBLIC RELATIONS REPORT
I have been very busy lately. My wife and I attended Power-Up at Columbia, Missouri on April 11 and 12. We met a lot of people and handed out a lot of PR products. We even had a few who want to join the MCB. We enjoy working for MCB in any way we can.
Then on April 15 we headed to Joplin for a Pre-Convention Committee Meeting at 2:00 and then April 16 was Spring Board Meeting. We handed out some products of PR to the different Board members. Also, a box of goods for Queen City.
I am to come down later with my wife and help a lady from Joplin collect door prizes for the convention in October. We will be attending Springfield Service Club White Cane Walk on May 21 and hand out some more PR products.
I want to thank Linda Burris for all her help in the past years on my PR Committee. She is a hard working and also a lovely lady. She is very much appreciated and has helped me a lot and also to my wife for the work she has done. We will write more later.
Leroy Welch, PR Chairman
Hello to everyone from the Missouri Guide Dog Users. These past few months have proved to be busy ones for our special interest affiliate, and we have a couple of exciting firsts to share with you!
In late March, we sent out our first edition of “Tails Across Missouri”, our brand new newsletter. We plan to send it out at least twice each year, and hopefully quarterly. As your editor, I do need your help, so please send suggestions, ideas, and articles to me at Basil05@sbcglobal.net or to my snail mail address which is: 220 Woodridge Rd., Kirkwood, MO 63122. Also, if you have a preference as to which format in which you would like to receive your newsletter, please let me know.
Our second first was a midyear conference call for the MGDU membership, which was held on April 25. A number of our members were present and a lot was accomplished on the call. We are looking forward to sharing more with you at convention in Joplin this October.
Also there are a couple of items in which you will be interested. We will shortly be announcing a fundraising activity for MGDU in which you will be invited to participate. A few of you will be lucky winners, too! But perhaps the most exciting news is that MGDU is looking into hosting its first ever conference for MGDU members and other interested guide dog users, as well as those who may be exploring the possibility of getting a guide dog. Stay tuned! More to come!
Until next time, give those good dogs lots of praise and we’ll see you again soon!
Dear all affiliates,
First, youth services would once again like to thank you for your outpouring of support of donating sweats and socks to be given to the Missouri School for the Blind. As you well know that was a smashing success.
Well, we are back at it again, but this year we are asking you to prepare to help fill a closet or a few. The kids need stuff for all kinds of reasons and we know that we are just the people to help. So this year when you come to join us on Friday night, we are asking you to bring one of these items with you: boys/men’s socks - all kinds, all sizes, including dark dress socks ladies socks (not girls) - white athletic socks sweat suits - both boys and girls, men’s and women’s, including larger sizes such as 1X and 2X.
Remember you only need to supply just one of these things if you like. We know that you can do this and look forward to being able to provide these items to the kids once again.
But wait, once again, there is more fun to be had! This year also the MCB Convention Kid's Club is back for a 3rd year! All sorts of fun to be had for children through age 12. Things such as a pizza party and all sorts of games and activities are being planned for your little one to look forward to doing while in under supervised care. If you would like to have your children be a part of the fun you must register no later than October 1, with the Youth Services Committee.
Thank you all and in both ways come ready to help. I hope we have a deal.
But Wait! There’s more!
In our continuing effort to increase member-ship in the organization it is that time again! The youth services committee is taking nominations for sponsorship to our annual state convention. The convention this year is being held at the Holiday Inn Hotel located in Joplin, Missouri from October 14 to October 16.
As in year’s past each affiliate is encouraged to submit the name and information of a person or persons that should be considered for sponsorship.
Thank you all so much for your continued support. The committee person should be between the ages of 18 and 35. The person does not have to be a current member of any affiliate and this should be that person’s first convention attended. Each person should be currently residing in the state of Missouri. If selected, each person will be responsible for completing assigned tasks while attending the convention. A meet and greet on the convention floor will be held to make the assembly aware of their presence. The committee will provide two nights in the hotel, with no more than two meals a day and a ticket to the banquet. Please be mindful that no more than four people will be selected.
Thank you all so much for your continued support. The committee looks forward to receiving all nominations for sponsorship. For more information you may contact James Hollins: email@example.com phone (816) 841-9206. Please submit applications to Linda Gerken: no later than August 9, 2011.
CAMP FOR YOUTH GUIDELINES:
The Missouri Council of the Blind has set aside funds for legally blind youth of Missouri under the age of 18 to attend a camp of their choice with the maximum of $600.00 per child.
This money shall be administered by the Youth Services committee.
Under this program each qualifying youth shall be allowed to attend one (1) camp annually.
The money shall be used on a first come first serve basis. A check shall be made payable directly to the camp of choice.
Youth Services Committee
The Health Benefits Committee has stayed busy processing applications.
As of this writing, the fund has been depleted until the start of the new fiscal year of September 1, 2011.
We are sorry no more applications can be processed until the new fiscal year begins.
Kenneth Carter, Chairman
Summer time is a wonderful time of the year. Time to spend a lot of time outdoors for barbeques with family and friends. However, there are many things we need to prepare for. Let me mention a few of them here. I don't mean to paint a picture of gloom and doom, I just want you to be healthy and safe.
Swimming: Whether you are swimming in a pool, river, creek or the ocean, never go in alone. Do not swim in swiftly flowing water. Work out a signal with your partner to let them know if you are getting a cramp. Stay away from water if it is storming. Lightening and water do not mix.
Sun tanning: The best time to sun bathe is early in the morning or just a few minutes before the sun sets. Sun strokes can cause a lot of physical damage, sometimes death. If you must be in the hot sun for a period of time be sure to drink plenty of water and wear something on your head. Enjoy the sun, but, respect it.
Please remember to lather yourself with plenty of adequate sun screen. Too much sun can cause cancer. But you know that, right?
Some of us are totally blind. It is not hard for us to know when the sun goes behind a cloud because the air has changed and we don't feel the burning sun. But if lightening is in the area we won't know it until we hear the thunder. When you hear it get inside. More deaths are caused by lightening than any other weather related incident.
Picnics: Picnics are fun and we have the opportunity to fellowship and gossip with family and friends. However, there are some things we need to be cautious about. Be sure that all food is kept in a cooler if it needs refrigeration. If the day is really hot, drink lots of nonalcoholic - beverages.
Have a wonderful summer and please stay safe. We want to see you in October.
Remember, don't be scared. Be prepared.
This Just In! Your Affiliates Reporting!
Lake Stockton Area
Hello from Lake Stockton Area. We’re still alive and going strong. Beverly Robertson was elected as president during our March meeting. Linda Dawes accepted the duties as secretary. Harry Hickman and Charlene Wilson will continue as vice president and treasurer, respectively. Beverly attended her first board meeting in April. She found the experience to be enlightening and enjoyed meeting other MCB members. Her husband Eddie was the driver and guide. He is very supportive of his wife’s endeavors and active in our affiliate.
The Robertsons and Wayne & Linda Dawes traveled to Springfield the first part of March to visit a meeting of the Springfield Service Club. Service Club members were very gracious in welcoming the visitors. And, the visitors found a new great place to eat – The Cedars. What a great night it was!
Tim Erickson, investment representative with Edward Jones, was our guest speaker for April. Due to the economy and low interest rates, he spoke to the group about investing in some stocks that had proven their reliability for many years.
A welcome back to John and Aline Torbett. They renewed their membership at our April meeting.
A few of our members are planning to attend the White Cane Walk in May hosted by the Springfield Service Club. We are also making plans for our 25th birthday celebration in August with a dinner and auction.
Ellen Bell, member and friend, departed this world for her heavenly home on April 19. She left with us a wealth of fond memories, especially her laughter and song.
Wishing you all the wonderful gifts of spring and the warm sunshine of summer.
Linda Dawes, Secretary
JOPLIN SERVICE CLUB
Greetings to all of you from the Joplin Service Club of the Blind.
We at the Joplin Service Club are quite excited about the warmer weather, and many of us are looking forward to taking some trips, maybe to Branson, and wherever else we can find to land.
We had a pretty quiet January, mostly because of weather, although we did manage to squeeze in a couple of Tuesday lunches.
Our president Sandy Goettel keeps things pretty exciting for us, by dividing us into teams and playing Trivial Pursuit.
I keep hoping that someday, that game will help me live up to my last name of Smart, but it hasn’t happened yet!
Sometimes, Sandy even has us playing kazoos. We’re mighty proud of our kazoo band! If we can stop laughing, we all hum our favorite songs through them.
At other times, we just go around the room and talk about our favorite memory, or other favorite things. We all feel as though we know each other better after that.
One week a month, part of us play pass the trash, while others of us prefer playing bingo.
In February, we were blessed to have a local church provide us a buffet dinner and some entertainment in the form of southern gospel music.
We have several great volunteers who come every week to help serve lunch. We also have a fantastic cook named Tom Fortson.
In March, we were able to change things around, and provide a Tuesday lunch for them.
We purchased it from a barbecue place, and everyone was well pleased, and of course, very full!
Also in keeping up with St. Patrick’s Day tradition, the postman, Wayne, who delivers mail for the Joplin Association cooked corned beef and cabbage for us.
Sandy and Ken Goettel also invited their postman and his family to eat with us. That day we all shared our favorite postman memories.
In April, the Joplin Association for the Blind had their annual spaghetti red feed.
Several of us from the Service Club were there helping, and we had a great crowd.
The Service Club also sold $75 in candy bars.
We thought that was pretty good considering everyone gets so full from the spaghetti red and all the desserts.
We now have 68 members, 24 who are sighted, and 44 who are blind. Seven of our members are in their nineties.
On April 19th, we honored them with a party, and we had an Elvis impersonator for entertainment. He was a big hit, especially with the women! I believe they all felt young again. They got free certificates for a month for our Tuesday lunches. We feel so very blessed to have these people in our Affiliate!
At the end of April, the Delta Gamma Sorority cooked dinner for us, and we had a high school choir provide us with some fantastic jazz music.
One of our members, Robert Harwell, whom some of you know from June camp, has been having some problems with his heart. He has received a pacemaker, and is doing somewhat better. He and his beautiful wife Nancy have been married over sixty years, and she says she’s doing better now, too. Robert is in a nursing home for now, but we hope he will be home soon.
We were all saddened to hear about the passing of Rosario Mazella from the Queen City Council of the Blind in Springfield.
Our prayers are with all of you.
That is all I have for this time, but I will be anxious to write more in August.
Best wishes to everyone!
Hello to everyone of you and we wish the very best for all of you!!!!!!! We've pretty much had an uneventful spring thus far other than the big, big snow in the latter part of the winter. One fellow said his wife just stood and looked through the window while it was snowing for a long time but later he let her back in the house. I must tell you about one event though. One of our members was shopping at the Wal-Mart grocery section meat department. Now she has one of those special lenses at the bottom of her glasses to help her read the small print but she still has to hold the print very close to her eyeglasses She was reading the print on a big ol' rump roast which covered her whole face when another lady came up to her and said, "What's the matter, doesn't it smell good?" Now our Cathie being quick on her feet and with a sense of humor said well I'm not sure it ain't too whoopie!! Well that lady went to smelling her big ol' chuck roast. Now this thing caught on and there was 11 other shoppers checking the fragrance of their big ol' roasts also. Now these big ol' roasts covered all their whole faces. Now picture this 13 all at once. there's that 13 again. It looked like the boogies from a spook movie. Nobody wanted to take home a stinky roast. The meat department man came out through the swinging double doors and saw this and almost passed out. He went running back through the doors and Cathie, laughing so hard and blowing snot bubbles, just walked off to another department with her roast which was a fine roast and left them all standing there lookin' ignert!!! Only at Wal-Mart. Incidentally, we had our monthly dinner meeting at Gooches' cafe the other night, good fellowship and had 13, would you believe, present. Hope you all had a great Easter a good Mother’s day and Memorial day. Have a goodun' and laugh a lot. good for you!!! I remain AL PR MAANNN
RITE FOR THE BLIND
Hello from Rite. I can't believe that summer is upon us and 2011 is half gone. I sincerely hope that everyone escaped the tornadoes without a scratch. We had a lot of rain but were not effective by them otherwise. Our thoughts and prayers are with all the victims of the storms whether here in Missouri or all across the country.
It appears that Cobblestone will be full of Rite members this summer. When we received the camp applications in March it only took a minute for them to disappear into someone's hands. Five of us will be going to Reno for the ACB convention in July. We are looking forward to a nice long train ride.
Our annual picnic will be held in Wilmore park on Saturday June 18th. Members and guest are asked to bring a covered dish, with something in it, of course. If you plan to join us please call Larry at 314-725-7135.
We wish to welcome our newest member, Sherman Davis, who is blind. We are growing and that is wonderful. It seems like only yesterday we were practically begging for members.
We wish to congratulate Elton Thomas on his appointment as chairman of the Resource and Development committee. You're doing a bang up job, Elton. Keep up the good work.
In closing I would just like to say "thanks" to all my committees. You all do wonderful work for Rite and it is very appreciated. See you in next quarter Chronicle.
Warm Blessings, Bunny Maginnis
St. Charles County Council of the Blind
Anne Murphy, Vice President
We are excited to announce our new President Julie Chinn. Julie has shown an extremely high level of devotion to the SCCCB and we are proud to have her as our new President. I was voted in as the First Vice President. Steve Baker is our new Second Vice President. Veva Wolbrecht is our new Secretary. Naomi Soule is our new Member at Large. Beverly Kaskadden continues in her important position as treasurer until April 2012. We are excited for the new officers to get busy in their jobs and to make SCCCB the best affiliate.
We are mainly focusing on our Trivia Night fundraiser on Saturday May 21st at the Elks Lodge in O’Fallon. Our 2009 Trivia Night was a huge success and we are expecting to have an even greater turn out this year.
We have developed a Resource Sheet of organizations serving the blind and visually impaired because we are committed to getting the word out about MCB as well as the SCCCB. As one of our most respected members, Bill Sass, has stated “MCB and SCCCB is the best known secret around when it comes to blind and visually impaired persons.” We are working on developing a true focus on specifically helping blind and visually impaired individuals. More importantly we are working on formulating a specific mission and goal for the SCCCB.
Our Installation Dinner will be in June hosted by the Key Club from Duchesne High school.
We will have our annual BBQ hosted by David White’s parents on Saturday July 30.
Our next business meeting is August 1, 2011 at the Delta Center for Independent Living at 7:00 p.m.
We still have cookbooks available at $12.00 a donation. This book is packed full of delicious recipes from our members as well as other MCB and ACB members.
In addition, we have recipes from the mayor of St. Charles , Jay Nixon, the Obama’s and John McCain. It is a nice book with nice card stock and nicely laminated so as easy to get wiped down when cooking. To order a cookbook please contact me at 314-434-4051 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a fun and cool summer. See you next time!
You Need To Know: From State To National
Education and Welfare Committee Report In Two Parts
By Chairman Jerry Annunzio
Washington DC Report
As usual we have had a busy winter and spring. Four of our MCB members went to Washington DC to talk with our two Missouri Senators and nine House Members on March first. Jerry and Edna Annunzio, DeAnna Noriega and Gretchen Maune all went to both Senator Blunt’s and Senator McCaskill’s offices together. After making our Senator visits we were escorted through the underground, which included a ride on the Senators train. That was the best and fastest way to the House office buildings. To cover all the representatives we formed two teams of two each. Among all the Senators and representatives there are six different buildings five of which we visited. This took a full day from eight in the morning to five in the evening to see all our house and senate members.
We had three issues to present. These included: access to prescription drug label information; Medicare coverage of low vision devices, and amendment of the Internal Revenue Code to promote charitable donations of qualified vehicles. Following is a summary of what was presented to our Senators and Representatives on these three issues.
At least 25 million Americans experience severe vision loss impacting their ability to independently read prescription labeling and related information. ACB calls on Congress to introduce and pass The Prescription Drug Accessibility Act. This legislation would grant the FDA clear authority to regulate this area and develop standards to ensure that prescription labeling is accessible to individuals with vision loss.
In November of 2008, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) promulgated a regulation that has had a detrimental impact on the lives of countless individuals who are blind or visually impaired.
To the dismay of the blind community, the Durable Medical Equipment, Prosthetics, Orthotics, and Supplies (DMEPOS) Competitive Acquisition Rule contains a provision entitled "Low Vision Aid Exclusion" which states that all devices, "irrespective of their size, form, or technological features that use one or more lens to aid vision or provide magnification of images for impaired vision" are excluded from Medicare coverage based on the statutory "eyeglass" exclusion.
ACB called on the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate members to introduce and pass the Low Vision Devices Inclusion Act of 2011. This critical legislation would overturn the CMS regulation barring coverage for low vision devices and establish criteria for their provision. Such criteria would acknowledge other distinctive features employed by the most valuable low vision devices, other than their mere use of a lens, such as a device's integration of a light source, use of electrical power, or other distinctive features.
Since its original authorization in 1986, charitable vehicle donation has become a critical fundraising tool for over 5,000 large and small charities like ACB and its state affiliates. ACB has felt the consequences of this regulation and has witnessed revenues from vehicle donations shrink by 85%, and the number of vehicles that have been donated plummeted by 94%.
Based on these reports and testimonials from charities, legislation was introduced in the 111th Congress to restore certainty to prospective car donors about the resulting deduction. That bill garnered 211 congressional co-sponsors from across the political spectrum. At the beginning of the 112th Congress, Senator John Ensign (R-NV), a member of the Senate Finance Committee, introduced the text of that bill as S. 110, a bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to promote charitable donations of qualified vehicles. The American Council of the Blind supports this legislation. At this time these bills are still in the process.
Jefferson City Report
It was a real pleasure to have nearly forty MCB members, drivers and guides at this year’s training and visit to talk with our Missouri Senators and Representatives in Jefferson City. Out of the one hundred and ninety-seven members that we had to visit this year, many were freshman. Therefore it was clear that our job was to educate them not only about the issues but also about who we are and what MCB does.
There were three bills in our packets that we talked with our house and senate members about:
1. Parental Rights Legislation SB 134, HB555
This bill modifies provisions relating to termination of parental rights as it relates to parents with disabilities. The act specifies that the disability of a parent shall not constitute a basis for a determination that a child is in need of care, for the removal of custody of a child from the parent, or for the termination of parental rights without a specific showing that there is a causal relation between the disability and harm to the child. In such cases involving termination of parental rights, the court shall consider the availability and use of accommodations for the disability of the parent, including assistive technology and support services.
2. Property Assessment Limit for the Elderly and Disabled HB 60
Beginning January 1, 2012, this bill limits the increase in assessed valuation of residential property to the percentage of increase in the federal Social Security benefits in the previous year for an individual who is 65 years of age or older or who is disabled, has a federal adjusted gross income of less than $72,380, and owns and lives in his or her principal residence.
3. Professional Therapy Dogs HB 203
This bill adds professional therapy dog to the definition of “Service dog” as it relates to crimes against these animals or crimes of impersonating a disabled individual. A “professional therapy dog” is defined as a dog which is selected, trained, and tested to provide specific physical therapeutic functions under the direction and control of a qualified handler who works with the dog as a team as a part of the handler’s occupation or profession but does not include dogs used by volunteers in visitation therapy.
The education and training sessions went very well. I heard several positive comments about the changes we made. There were some folks who could not attend because of illness. Even though they were missed we had a plan to cover that. To the best count I could make we were able to contact all the house and senate members or their staff. The result is that the bills we supported are currently either passed or in the process of being moved through the system. Although there are changes being made every week to these bills the prospects for passage are good as of this date.
Again I want to thank our office staff and all of you who were able to help with our campaign this year, for a good job well done.
ACB Presidents’ Meeting
By First Vice-President, DeAnna Noriega
As with many planned events, circumstances developed to change the order of the program. One of the presenters had lost her luggage. The resource development committee stepped in to give an overview of the three money making fund raisers that bring in money at convention. The affiliates are being asked to contribute items at the auction that are easily transported in people's luggage or that can be shipped directly to the lucky purchaser. The walkathon is being laid out and organized and some members are already beginning to collect pledges. The Monthly Monetary donation program is still a vital part of funding and will continue to be important. Vanda Pharmaceuticals sponsored the lunches and is still eager to have participants in their research sleep study.
The President’s lunch speaker was our Director of Governmental Affairs, Eric Bridges. He delivered a lively account of the behind the scenes events leading to our successful legislative year in 2010. The passage of the 21st Century Telecom-munications and Video Description Bill was particularly convoluted in making its way through the process from inception to passage. The pedestrian safety bill also had some interesting detours.
The next committee report dealt with convention based and regional leadership training plans. Each Affiliate is being asked to send two delegates to a pre-convention all day training on the Friday before the 2012 convention. These delegates should be chosen from those with future national level leadership ability. The affiliates are asked to shoulder the cost for sending their two delegates to this training. After this phase, six regional leadership trainings for affiliates will be held around the country. The focus of these trainings will be to aid in developing local affiliate leaders. It is suggested that the regional trainings will be paid for by in kind or cash donations from the affiliates in each region.
The next presentation was concerning the development of a membership database. Some beta testing has been done to determine the kinds of information that should be included. It is the goal of the organization to develop a database that will not only meet our needs to track membership information, but also give us the kind of demographics that can be used to guide our programming. Our next year membership should be loaded and then each affiliate will be asked to fill in the additional information requested. We don’t really know at this time such important things as how many braille users we have. We don’t know the average income levels, ages, or email addresses. This kind of information will not only help us know more about our members, but also help us with statistics to use in our fundraising, policies and programs. We should be ready with the database for our 2012 certification process.
Then we heard a panel discussion about online registration. Paul Edwards described an online registration company that could accept payment by PayPal and credit card. They handle all of the details including everything from generating the form to processing the material so that convention committees can have detailed information about numbers of meals, attendees for sessions etc. Another panelist described an in-house computer registration that included ambassador members who were scheduled with specific times that other non-computer users could reach someone to aid them in filling out a form online.
The committee charged with looking at how ACB votes are taken talked about using a secret ballot to replace the standing vote. The affiliate roll call vote will still be a part if how convention votes are done, but the ballot test done at last summer’s convention was actually faster and more accurate than trying to take a standing count. A resolution to eliminate the standing vote in favor of a secret ballot will be presented at the next conference.
The Board of Publications presented their concerns and efforts to come up with a means of delivering an audio version of the Braille Forum and the desire to change the name of our magazine to something like the ACB Forum. Audio cassettes are rapidly disappearing and we need to be ready with another form of audio production. The NFB has been approached with a request to join us in asking the National Library Service to produce both national magazines for us. The concern is the high cost of the cartridges to record digital audio magazines.
Sarah Conrad and Rebecca Bridges presented on how to gain and retain younger members. They suggested hosting once a month conference calls for younger members with a couple of mentors to moderate the calls. They thought that setting up social networks for younger people might also work as a means of connecting them to each other and to the affiliate. They had made a CD for each affiliate with some resources on it.
The first presentation on Sunday morning was on the ACB response to the Department of Justice advance notice of proposed rulemaking. Presenters who developed the ACB response felt that it was no longer appropriate to talk about making a few models of exercise equipment or a percentage of such equipment in each gym a regulation. They felt that it is long past time to make all equipment useable by blind and low vision people. They decided that simply asking that video description equipment be installed in a few theaters is no longer enough. They want set boxes, DVD players cell phones and other entertainment devices to be accessible without requiring a sighted person to set them up. Full web access should be a given without our needing to pay for an expensive software package in addition to the device we want to use.
The next subject of discussion was getting our members to run for office and to take their jobs seriously. The president opened the floor for leaders to discuss affiliate problems as he does on his office hours conference calls.
After lunch, the legislative seminar began. Janine Worden, Deputy Chief, Civil Rights Division, of the U.S. Department of Justice talked to the group about the recent rules regarding ADA enforcement and when they will begin. She broke down changes to all three titles of the ADA and the adopted rules regarding Service Dogs.
Donald Kahl, Executive Director of the Equal Rights Center talked about ACB’s collaboration with his organization to work on access issues such as the collection of data regarding taxis failing to pick up blind people using guide dogs. He talked about the need to gather data regarding inaccessible websites, instances of denied access to the same fares because the website for travel is inaccessible and the blind person must make reservations by phone. Next there was a review of some of the advocacy efforts that have led to settlements and changes
On Monday Morning, we began with a presentation by Emily Kehry of Rep. Towns' office. She talked about some of the uncomfortable ways that people have interacted with her as a legislative Assistant. She tried to prepare us for our hill visits.
Then we were given an overview of the three legislative issues we were going to present to our legislators, Authority for the FDA to begin developing rules and guidelines for making prescription labels and accompanying materials accessible to people who are blind or have low vision. This wasn’t a bill, but proposed language for one. This led in to the need for low vision aids coverage under Medicare. The final priority was a revision to reverse the negative impact of tax regulations that have made the car donation program virtually useless. This has had a devastating impact on all nonprofits that used this as a revenue stream. ACB lost 85 percent of its car donation volume and 96 percent of the monetary value of funds generated.
The lunch speaker was Karen Peltz Strauss, Deputy Chief, Consumer and governmental Affairs Bureau, Federal Communications Commission. She talked about the landmark 21st Tele-Communications and Video Accessibility Act.
After lunch we heard from Blane Workie about the Air Carriers Access Act and our rights under it. She talked about how to lodge complaints and get assistance if we are treated badly while traveling.
We then heard a presentation concerning the NCD. The National Council on Disability advises the president and Congress on disability policy. They hold open forum meetings around the country to gather facts and hear from the public.
The president of the Randolph Sheppard Vendors Affiliate talked about the need for ACB members to get on their state Rehabilitation councils and boards to protect the rights of visually impaired people to locations to run their businesses.
The next morning our four delegates, Mr. and Mrs. Annunzio Gretchen Maune, MCB Membership Committee Chair and myself, DeAnna Noriega, First Vice President of MCB, set out for the hill. We made our visits to Missouri’s senators together. In Senator Blunt’s office, we met with his legislative aid, Jack Smedile. He indicated that the Senator, when he was a Congressman, had worked on the original tax bill. He felt sure that the aim at that time was to curtail fraud and that it was never intended to harm nonprofits in the way it has. He was cautious about committing to the other initiatives until actual bills were introduced and he could review the language with the senator.
In McCaskill’s office, we met with two fellows, working for the senator on loan from universities and foundations. Janelle McClure assured us that they would present the material we brought to the senator, but were unwilling to commit her to any positions.
We then crossed over under the capital on the small train used by members of congress and their staff. Two interns escorted us since this vehicle is unavailable to the public unless they are escorted. We arrived under the Longworth building and worked our way underground to the Rayburn building. We found the muster room and split up with the Annunzio’s handling the four congress members located in Longworth. Gretchen and I set out to our appointment with Rep. William Lacy Clay. Although he said he was short of time, he sat down with us in his office and after we presented our three priorities, he agreed to support all three. He wanted us to contact his aid Marvin Steel as each bill is introduced to remind him to review and do what he could to get them passed. He was very warm and friendly. Next we met with Christina Lucas, the aid in Rep. Emerson’s office. She wouldn’t commit her congress woman to anything because they are so swamped trying to get budget things dealt with that she thought it would be a minimum of two to three weeks before she would be able to sit down to discuss the issues with her. She asked for us to get back in touch with her then. She thanked us for bringing the materials we were leaving with her to look at. We then met with Phyllicia Woods, the legislative Aid in Rep. Carnahan’s office. She thought the IRS bill would be of interest to the Congressman and again was unwilling to commit until a bill has been introduced and actual language was available on the prescription and low vision aids initiatives. However, she thought the ideas made sense.
When we arrived in Congressman Luetkemeyer’s office, he and his legislative aid Ally Gabel took us in to his office. He listened carefully to our presentation and said he thought he could support the three priorities if the language in the car donation bill was the same as that offered last year and if there were no serious problems with the language in the other two issues once they were written up as bills. He indicated that he would want to have some idea of the costs of adding the low vision aids to the durable medical goods coverage. Our final meeting was with Lauren Ellis in Rep. Akin’s office. She said that he had been a co-sponsor of the car donation bill last year and would sign on again when it was introduced. She said the other issues were ones she thought would interest the congressman if the language presented no problems. He would want to read them before he could commit himself. She said she wanted us to check back in three or so weeks and to let her know when legislation was introduced.
MISSOURI STATE REHAB ADVISORY COUNCIL
February 24, 2011
SRC Members Present: Beverly Kaskadden, Gene Fleeman, Phyllis Lovette, Mary Kay Savage, Ceil Callahan, Patty Yocum
RSB Staff Present: Mark Laird, Kevin Faust, Randy Custer, Lindy Pierce, Darlene Kanel, Sue Fain, Carl Powers, Sue Phillips, and Sharon Burch
Non-Members Present: Dr Chris Craig, Denny Huff, Pat Powers, Marissa Clary, Jackie Cutler, Earl Cutler, Donna Gieger, Leo Gieger, Vivian Marshall, Carolyn Sue Alflen, John Norm, Tamara Haverick, Jaime Bridges
Phone Attendees: Darlene Johnson and Bryan Schultz
Beverly Kaskadden welcomed everyone, opening the Public Forum.
Deputy Director of RSB Mark Laird introduced the speaker for the night, Dr Chris Craig, director of School of Education and Child Development at Drury University.
Dr Chris Craig opened with sharing his background with MO State University and Drury University. He considers his current position with Drury one with great opportunities. When he started as Director of School of Education and Child Development at Drury University he was presented with the concept that Springfield did not have the services for visually impaired infants and toddlers that was needed. They developed the Drury University Children’s Vision Center (DU CVC). However; since the building was located on the campus it was not convenient for mothers with small children. The family of the late Dr. Don Beisner donated the building at 1661 Elfindale. They now have a beautiful facility located in the Beisner Vision Rehabilitation Center of the Ozarks at 1661 W Elfindale St in Springfield. It is a good place for children and orientation and mobility with good connectivity to other programs. The grand opening will be March 11, 2011.
Dr Craig went to Drury U to concentrate on young people. They have built some wonderful programs for different ethnic backgrounds. Drury has a philosophy that “no matter the background if you work hard you can go to college and be somebody,” there are no limitations. With that approach Drury has developed program that enables young people to have a structured experience to learn about college. As students take classes in the Arts and Sciences taught by college professors they experience what social skills, social confidence and advocacy skills are required in college. It is not a replacement for the compensatory training required but a companion to experience college life. After their week at college Drury talks to their counselors and ensures they are taking the right college prep classes. We invite them to spend multiple summers with us at Drury which will lead to career success.
Questions for Dr Craig.
Are volunteers needed? Yes
How are the youth located? Through the counselors who work with youth we are able to identify those who will benefit from the program. If you know someone please contact Drury Univ.
What age range? The program is open to any child from middle school to a senior in high school. Screening is done to see if it fits the needs of the child.
Mark Laird: I think it is great that you are working with the Math and Sciences. That opens different doors for young people, to know what they have available to them, such as mathematics, engineering and architecture. Will it expand to other majors?
Dr Craig: Yes, we would do a needs assessment to see what areas would be most appropriate.
Is there a cost? No, funding is from private foundations, internal sources, and donations.
Are there any other programs like this one? Others could do this. This could be a model that could be replicated in other areas.
Patty from the MO school for the Blind added that last summer they had a 4 week transition skills program. It works with IEP transition goals. They partnered with Lighthouse for the Blind, the students went to work every other day and earned a paycheck. They were also responsible for making their own breakfast and lunch as well arranging transportation. We also have MSB LIFE which is acronym for Learning Independence From Experience for students 18-21 years old.
Dr Chris Craig added, This is not about Drury but about planting a seed and helping these students to achieve.
Carolyn Alflen asked Dr Craig how could a child with hearing impairments as well as vision impairments be able to experience this program? Dr Craig responded stating that there are resources at MO State and through the community that could assist. He expressed that the children who attend these programs are a diverse group, they have different goals, different disabilities and their individual needs are looked at.
The council thanked Dr Chris Craig for his presentation and opened the meeting up to any questions.
Caroln Alflen asked about RSB’s ability to hire counselors who have hearing impairments or specialized skills in sign language.
Mark Laird responded by explaining that as a state agency there is a specific recruitment process required. Mark asked Carolyn for specific organizations that could be contacted when there were openings. We would provide that information to our personnel department.
Jackie Cutler suggested that in today’s market, if we could give people with disabilities an edge, allowing for a points system or something to help them.
Marisa shared her success story and wanted to thank RSB for their unwavering dedication in helping her to realize the beginning of her dreams.
Beverly closed the meeting.
State Rehabilitation Council for the Blind
February 25, 2011
Council Members Present: Clay Berry (Chairman), Donna Borgmeyer, Ceil Callahan, Brady Clevenger, Gene Fleeman, Beverly Kaskadden, Phyllis Lovette, Mary Kay Savage, Patty Yocum.
Non-Members Present: Denny Huff
RSB Staff Present: Mark Laird, Kevin Faust, Randy Custer
Clay called the meeting to order. The minutes were discussed and accepted as proposed.
Area District Report: Randy Custer-District Supervisor gave the South West area district report. They have met about 50% of their production goals for the year. SW has the 2nd highest case load in the state with 210 VR clients, 275 OBS clients, and 40 ILR clients. The current economy has created challenges in the job development and job placement programs. Randy shared the different strategies his office has been using to encourage more businesses to hire visually impaired people. He shared several success stories, including being able to place a client in her chosen field as an architect. They worked with the company to get her office set up with the assistive technology needed.
Randy is on the board of directors for the Vision Rehabilitation Center of the Ozarks. This center has a strong community representation Randy brings the vocational aspect to the group as well as representing RSB. Randy compared this program to the Joplin Association for the Blind program and the work that has been done in Joplin for many years, which includes a low vision clinic, support groups, a small children’s library and some technology. Christian county will be having a transition fair in March at the Ozark high school. SW gets a lot of referrals from Christian Co.
Mark Laird-Deputy Director of RSB attributes some of the success of the South West district to Springfield and Joplin having 2 universities with vision programs, and the new Beisner Rehab Center as well as RSB developing good relationships with employers in the area.
This led to a discussion of the Reader/Driver contracted hours, Denny Huff from the MO council for the blind expressed concern that the counselors did not have enough hours allotted to them to meet the needs of Kthe consumers. It was explained that at the start of the contracts there was concern for the amount of hours, but all the districts feel they have enough hours available and are able to see clients as needed.
Kevin Faust-Fiscal manager added, the hours are looked at monthly and discussed quarterly to insure that all services are being provided. At current we are under our projection of hours available.
Director’s Report: Mark gave a commentary on Dr. Chris Craig’s presentation. Stating he gained a better insight into the program at Beisner Rehab. Dr. Craig has taken the job “try out” concept and used it for the college experience, allowing visually impaired students to experience college prior to enrolling. Mark is appreciative that Dr Craig had the insight to start with math and science. Our clientele tend to hone in on the social services jobs. Concentrating on the sciences gives the young blind encouragement and opens more doors to see what they can do.
Statewide programs: as of the end of the first quarter FFY 2011, we are at 22% of our production goal for the year, which is very comparable to 1st quarter FFY 2010 and 1st quarter FFY 2009. Our closure success rate is 76% also very comparable to past years. We have been watching the success rate to insure that the implementation of System 7 does not affect the services provided to our clients. South West district has a success rate of 84% with 22% of closures being self-employment. SW has a counselor who is very active with self-employment, which is very time and service intensive. In all the programs we continue to look at referrals, the orientation of new clients and ensuring that RSB’s presence is known in the community.
St Louis North Ben Elliot retired and Lisa Randolph has accepted the offer of D.S. of the St Louis North district office. RSB will be able to backfill the VRC position vacated by Lisa.
System 7: has been implemented in the VR and CS programs. The staff is learning the intricate details of the system. ILR, OBS, POB, and BEP will begin their implementation after their training in March. We hope to be operational in all programs by the end of May.
BEP: Mark shared the impact that the BEP has on the MO economy. There are 924 jobs created through the BEP. A payroll that is 29 million a year with a gross income of 2.3 million, with 4 million paid to SS taxes, 2.3 to Federal taxes and 900 thousand to state taxes. BEP is a small program that makes a big impact. They continue to look at other opportunities for new locations and ways of utilizing the Randolph Sheppard act. They are also looking into ways of getting into the private businesses, which includes supporting managers for other career opportunities such as retail sales or restaurants.
Federal Report: Mark reported on a couple of House and Senate bills, which affect the community we serve. Mark is also watching a bill that affects work force training which could make a major impact on RSB. Clay commented that he has been watching a bill that could provided more business opportunities for those with disabilities.
Fiscal Report was given by Kevin; he reported that RSB was in good fiscal standing because RSB has almost no General Revenue Funds. The majority of the funding is from federal funds. Federal funds are matched with Blind Pension funds. Whereas other states and programs depend on the GR funds which are in short supply. We have a budget that we work hard to stay within, tracking salary, expenses and equipment and programs.
Children’s Program: Clay Berry, Chairman, led the discussion regarding Children’s Services. In 2008 there were 253 14-24 year olds served, in 2009 205 served, in 2010 there were 268 14-24 year olds served. With the number of overall people served up in 2010 our percentage of youth served went up from 12.5% to 12.8%. Of the successful closures in 2009 there were 31 or 11% in the 14-24 year old range; in 2010 there were 28 or 11% of successful closures. After much discussion regarding children’s services it was decided that there are several questions that need to be answered. The council agreed that at our May meeting we would invite Keith Roderick to give us an overview of the Children’s Services program and at the Aug meeting Patty Yocum and Donna Borgmeyer would present us with information regarding the role of the Blind Task Force.
Survey Reviews: Cindy Bitterman, Liaison; reported on the Survey’s. For the FFY 2010 there were 267 successful closures all of which were sent surveys, 75 surveys were returned, a return rate of 28%. RSB received a client satisfaction level of 85% for questions 1-11. Question 12-14 pertains only to those who were not employed prior to receiving services. The satisfaction level for questions 12-14 was 73%. There were 96 cases closed prior to reaching their goal, all of which were sent a survey, 9 surveys were returned, a return rate of 9%. RSB received a client satisfaction level of 86%.
Program Policy Committee: Gene Fleeman gave a report on the expense of the SRC meetings compared to the attendance of the meetings. Although some locations had higher expenses they also brought in more attendance. It was agreed that we would try to keep expenses in mind as we plan the SRC meetings but not let the expense deter from the locations that would have a large public attendance.
This led to a discussion of how we are promoting the public meetings. Clay Berry made a motion to expand the list of people who are notified of our meetings. Ceil Callahan seconded it, and all were in favor. It was also suggested that we emphasize the information being provided at these meetings in the announcement.
Planning Committee: will be meeting in July to work on the state plan.
Evaluation Committee: Beverly Kaskadden reported that the annual report was completed on time. Bev suggested that we use Marissa’s testimony from last night’s public forum in the 2011 annual report. There were suggestions to providing the annual report to different committees. It was decided that the important aspect of RSB is the client stories and letting them tell about RSB.
Membership Committee: Mary Kay’s paperwork is in process. After Mary Kay is appointed the SRC will be fully constituted. There are a number of committee members who may be reappointed. Anyone who would like to be reappointed should turn in an application several months in advance to the state office. The council is looking at the terms that will expire later this year. All suggestions should be made to Mark and the membership committee, specifically needing an NFB representative, a parent with a child who is disabled and cannot represent themselves and a Business and Industry.
Statewide Events: Legislative days March 7 & 8 at MCB. March is disability month. Legislative Disability Rights Awareness Day is March 9 at the Capital.
Mary Kay commented there is no date for the fall Transition Summit yet.
April 11th/12th Power-Up - Missouri Assistive Technology.
April 9th St Louis Society for the blind, founded in 1911, celebrated its 100th year with a gala.
Alphapointe also celebrates its 100th anniversary in November. The Blind Boys of Alabama will perform. Clay shared that Alphapointe has 2 new programs a day-camp for 10-14 year olds and a 1/2 day assistive technology day-camp for 12-16 year olds.
Lighthouse for the blind in conjunction with the Fox Theatre is testing audio description on select movies.
Missouri School for the Blind is celebrating 160 years February 27th having Lions Appreciation night.
The 2nd Saturday of each month the Nelson Atkins Art museums is increasing accessi-bility to items. Identifying objects that can be touched also increased their auditory descriptions of items.
Old Business: Mark is taking a look at how RSB codes referrals and training staff for a new process. Council will look at it again in November.
New Business: Suggested postcard was presented. Council members are to give feedback on the post card. At the next meeting will discuss the cost basis.
Next Meetings: Ceil moved to have the May meeting in Jefferson City, August in St. Louis, November in Kansas City, and research available opportunities and locations to have Feb meeting, second by Mary Kay. All in favor.
Our hats are off to Doug Geoffray, co-founder of GW Micro for his contribution in giving access to computers for the blind.
Focused and User Friendly: Doug Geoffray
By: Deborah Kendrick
You never know where a teenager's interest may lead. In one instance in Fort Wayne, Indiana, a high school student's fascination with technology 20 years ago led to the formation of a leading company in assistive technology for blind people.
Doug Geoffray never knew a blind person before he met Bill Grimm, who walked into a local computer store where the Geoffray was working at the time. Grimm owned a company called Computer Aids Corp. (CAC) and had written a talking word processor for the Apple II, the then-current phenomenon in personal computing products. He hired Geoffray part time at first to help with programming projects. By 1982, Geoffray was a full-time employee and wrote a suite of talking products that ran on Apple computers. Term-Talk, File-Talk, and Braille-Talk will be familiar names to blind and visually impaired consumers who entered the world of technology in the 1980s, and Geoffray was behind them all. One of his proudest accomplishments, he recalls, was to work on an early laptop computer, an Epson HX-20, to make it talk as well. Small-Talk, as the product was called, had a regular keyboard, built-in microprinter (resembling an adding machine tape), and additional storage capabilities on microcassette. With a modified speech synthesizer and "cut-down" version of Word-Talk, Term-Talk, and Calc-Talk, the unit became one of the first portable computing devices capable of word processing, telecommunicating, and calculating functions. Though its memory is laughable by today's multi-megabyte standards, Geoffray is proud to say that he still has a unit today in working order "although I never use it," just as he still own his first personal computer, an Apple II with a rousing 8K memory. "Writing programs for the Epson was much more challenging," he reflects. "You had to write code very, very small, not like today's applications that are memory hungry and not always efficient. Everything then was burned into firmware, so it took longer sometimes to get it just right."
Geoffray continued to work on talking products for CAC while he was getting his college degree from Purdue University. An entire independent study course, in fact, centered on developing the Small-Talk computer. He completed his B.S. degree in mathematics with a computer option and continued to work at CAC.
In 1988, he began writing Vocal-Eyes, one of the first DOS screen-reading programs for PCs. A year later, in November 1989, the program was near completion when CAC went out of business.
"I'd spent my whole working life on adaptive technology," Geoffray reflects, "and I was suddenly out of a job." He and Dan Weirich, a CAC coworker who specialized in hardware, began talking about combining their expertise and futures in a new business venture. Weirich had developed most of the hardware in CAC's product line to date, and Geoffray had created the software. They didn't know much about running a business, but they thought that together they had a solid base in understanding what blind computer users needed and wanted.
A Company Is Born
In February 1990, GW Micro was born. For all practical purposes, Geoffray and Weirich are equal partners. They are co-owners of the business, and their business cards refer to each of them as "vice presidents." For official documents of incorporation, Geoffray laughs, someone had to be president. "So, Dan said, 'Well, since you get the first letter, G, in GW, how about I get to be president?" And that's what we did." The way responsibilities of management have always been divided, however, clearly indicates the 50-50 spirit with which the two men launched GW Micro a decade ago.
In the early years of GW Micro, the leading products were the Vocal-Eyes, the Sounding Board speech synthesizer, and continued support for the earlier talking products. With the advent of Windows, however, it became clear that a new product was needed.
A Team Effort
While Geoffray worked solo on the popular DOS screen reader, a team effort is needed for programming these days. GW Micro's current flagship product, Window-Eyes, is a far more complicated venture. "Back in the days of DOS, I could keep up with changes needed to Vocal-Eyes and maintain the product by myself. Today, it takes a team of four of us to keep Window-Eyes current. It's amazing, in some ways, that we have surpassed other products in some areas and remained competitive overall. We are only four people, but are all very focused."
"Our initial philosophy," Geoffray explains, "was to keep Window- Eyes similar to Vocal-Eyes. Obviously, there are major differences between DOS and Windows, and we had to deal with those differences, but for the most part, we felt the ideas and concepts could remain the same. Vocal-Eyes had proved itself as being powerful yet easy to configure. We still believe this is possible in Windows and will continue with this approach."
Focus may well be the key word that defines Geoffray and his entire company. "We have listened to our users and tried to give them what they want," Geoffray explains. Sometimes, that takes a little longer than it would with greater resources, but the attitude is that it's better to get it right than to do it quickly.
The addition of braille support to Window-Eyes is one example. GW Micro recognized the importance of braille support in a Windows- based screen-reading program, but decided to take the extra time needed to make it the best possible. Ultimately, braille was made a priority, and Geoffray and his team focused until they had it right.
"We talked to braille users and built good relationships with all of the braille display manufacturers," he explains. The payoff? "We believe ours is them best braille support now available."
The company has grown to and stabilized at a staff of 13. Despite its small number, customer satisfaction and delivery remain the priorities.
In an era when more business calls are answered by voice mail than by live human beings, GW Micro has resisted the call. "Our tech support is second to none," Geoffray says. "When you call, you get a live person for tech support right away. If you happen to call to place an order, your call will then be forwarded to an order person, not the other way around."
Managing from a Distance
Three years ago, Geoffray moved from Indiana to Silicon Valley, where he now lives with his wife and 2-year-old daughter. The move, he says, has both advantages and disadvantages. He is able to concentrate longer without interruption, but recognizes the inconvenience of being 2,500 miles from the office. On the other hand, certain advances the company has made might never have occurred had he not been situated in Silicon Valley.
In a collaborative effort with Adobe, GW Micro has been instrumental in making access inroads with Acrobat 5.0, rendering those irksome PDF files readable by consumers with screen readers. "There's not a day that goes by without communication between their [Adobe's] engineer and ours," Geoffray says. While Adobe access is by no means perfect, he says, GW Micro is making progress all the time.
Eyes on the Prize
The assistive technology industry for blind consumers has seen a number of changes in the past year or two, and Geoffray says that GW Micro has had to take a serious look at its particular niche. "Our philosophy is based on cooperation and building partnerships with other companies," he says, "not on mergers and buyouts." In keeping with that philosophy, many participants at conferences in fall 2001 were seen sporting T-shirts with the logos of GW Micro, Pulse Data, Kurzweil Educational Systems, and Ai Squared, and the combined visual images are a good representation of the spirit of collaboration that is emerging among these leaders of different segments of the assistive technology pie. "Nobody can be an expert in everything that blind computer users need," Geoffray believes. "We've decided to focus on one major product at this time, Window- Eyes. It's an out-of-the-box type of installation, and tech support is always available." His parting shot of confidence to agencies who are unfamiliar with GW Micro's Window-Eyes is simply: "Just take a look at it!"
Reprinted with permission from:
AccessWorld, Copyright (c) 2003 American Foundation for the Blind. All rights reserved.
Excuse ME? I’m Trying To Sleep Here!
Blind Individuals With Recurrent Sleep Problems Needed for Research Study.
Individuals who are totally blind with recurrent sleep or napping problems are needed for a survey and/or clinical study.
For each completed survey, a donation of $25 will be made to organizations that support people with blindness.
Participants in a clinical study will be compensated for their time and effort and will receive study medication, study-related medical evaluation and transportation at no cost.
Sleep problems and napping occur in some individuals who are totally blind. This can be caused by the lack of light needed to reset the “body clock”. The result is recurrent sleep problems similar to jet lag.
Individuals may qualify for the survey or the clinical study if they:
- are between 18 and 75 years of age
- are totally blind
- have recurrent trouble sleeping at night or experience daytime sleepiness or napping
If you are interested, call toll free 1-888-389-7033 from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM M-F ET or email email@example.com
From the Lower Left-Hand Drawer
By John Weidlich
It’s not a real packed drawer this time but you will find some new CCTVs, new money identifiers, software and some books that may be of interest to you. So let’s open it up and see what comes out. Our usual reminders here: none of these items are being endorsed by me or MCB; they are offered for your information. And more important, if you have something to share with other readers of this column, please pass them along to me by email, regular mail or a phone call.
The Audio Internet Reading Service of Los Angeles (AIRSLA) produces and distributes podcasts for people who cannot read print, including articles from popular magazines and educational programs that encourage folks with vision loss to live independently. There are interviews with people with low vision and with technology experts, as well as seminars on blindness and visual impairment. You can listen to them on your computer or download them to an MP3 player like the Victor Stream. Just go to www.airsla.org. And did I mention they are free?
Do you remember that old novelty song from the fifties by the Four Lads that said “It’s Istanbul, not Constantinople?” It was about cities that changed their names. Well, we have two examples of name changes of agencies serving the blind. First, as the old song might say, It’s Learning Ally, not RFB&D. First, it was Recording for the Blind, then it became Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic, and now it is Learning Ally. Its mission is still to record textbooks for blind students, something they have been doing for fifty years or more. They have 300,000 members and hundreds of thousands of books which can be borrowed or downloaded. Their slogan is Making Reading Accessible for All. Their new web site is www.learningally.org. They also have an application for playing the recorded books over Apple devices like the iPhone.
The other company with a new name is Ferguson Enterprises, which is now Ferguson Technologies. They sell the Scanacan Barcode reading software, Olympus recorders, and mobile Speak software, among other products. Their web site is www.fergusontechnologiesinc.net and the phone number is 905 854-9280. So now you’re up to date with all of the new names. And it’s still Istanbul, not Constantinople, as least as far as I know.
Adaptive Voice offersCDesk for Media, a software program designed to make it easier to download books from the NLS BARD site. I haven’t used it, but the information I received says you type a book title or author, choose the book you want from the results list, and start the download process. The software logs onto the BARD site, finds the book and downloads it to a digital player. I believe there is a charge for this software, but I don’t remember how much it costs. To find out more, go to www.cdeskforbooks.com.
Accessible Electronics sells MP3 players with fully speaking menus and internal memory up to 8 gigabytes. The players also have fm tuners and can record. The company also sells memory cards, speakers, carrying cases and other accessories. Here is the contact information: Phone: 727 498-0121, web site www.talkingmp3players.com.
The Hadley School has a new course for individuals who want to learn about self employment with a minimal investment. It covers idea evaluation, budgeting, marketing, business planning, and resources available to blind entrepreneurs. This is an online course and, like all Hadley courses, it is free. Contact Student Services at 800 526-9909 or firstname.lastname@example.org to enroll in the course.
New from National Braille Press: Our Special Readers Favorite Recipes, a compilation of sixty recipes from readers of the Our Special Magazine for Women. Included are appetizers, breakfasts, salads and sauces, side dishes, main meals and desserts. They are written by blind cooks and use common ingredients. It costs $9.00 in Braille or CD or it can be downloaded. You can order by going to www.nbp.org or you can call Customer Service at 800 548-7323.
Two Plus Two Equals One: Celebrating the Partnership of People With Disabilities and Their Assistance Dogs is an anthology of one hundred stories and poems about people who use service dogs. It is edited by Kathy Nimmer, a writer, teacher, and motivational speaker who is blind. It is available in Standard print, CD, Word file or a PDF document. To order, contact www.servicedogstories.com.
RoboBraille is a free online service that converts electronic documents into Braille or audio files. Upload a file to the RoboBraille web site and the accessible file is delivered to your email inbox. It can convert twenty different file types, including PDF image files. To find out more visit www.robobraille.org.
New CCTVS from Bierley and Clarity: Bierley has introduced its latest hand held portable electronic magnifiers, the Maggie-pro and the Maggie-md. They weigh just 2.5 ounces, and offer brightness control, true color images, zoom, freeze frame, with 4X to 11X magnification. The MD version has an option for white text on a black background to reduce glare. The battery life is three and a half hours. I don’t have a price on this but you can find out more by contacting Bierley at 800 985-0535 or going to www.bierley.com.
Clarity has introduced the Lynx portable magnifier for enlargement of near and distant images. You can use the mouse camera to read print or the unit’s camera to view distant pictures, objects or images. It weighs eight pounds and has a ten inch view, three hours of battery time and adjustments for brightness, background, color and magnification. For more information, contact Clarity at 800 575-1456. The web site is www.clarityusa.com.
En-Vision America has begun a new program to help people to obtain the ScripTalk Station, which is a device to make prescription labels accessible. ScripTalk uses text to speech technology to provide people who cannot read print with the information found on prescription medicine labels. Under their new Pharmacy Freedom Program, individuals may get a ScripTalk Station Reader free. Participating pharmacies attach a small label to each prescription containing all of the printed information which can be read using the ScripTalk Station reader. The system is currently being used by Veterans Administration Pharmacies and is being considered by other pharmacy chains. To find out more about this program contact Anna McClure at En-Vision America, 1845 Hovey Avenue, Normal, IL 61761, 800-890-1180, e-mail: email@example.com.
There are now two new applications for the Apple iPhone that will identify money. The first, called the LookTell Money Reader can be downloaded from the Apple App store for $1.99. You wave your iPhone, iPod or iPad over the bill and a voice quickly announces the denomination of the bill. Other uses for the Look Tell are being developed, which will apparently include the ability to read labels. Meanwhile, The US Bureau of Engraving and Printing has developed a similar free app to read US currency. It is called the EyeNote and can be used with the iPhone and other Apple devices. It can be downloaded through the Apple iTunes store. The camera requires 51 percent of a bill’s image, front or back to do the reading and the amount can be read with speech or vibration. The Bureau says that free downloads will be available whenever new US currencies are released. This is one of the Treasury Department’s responses to the recent court ruling on making currency accessible to the blind. Other programs will include couppons for obtaining a currency reader, large, high contrast numerals on bills and raised tactile features on new currency. For more information, visit www.eyenote.gov.
Blind Mice Mart has described movies available for free download. They are in an MP3 format and can be played using the Windows Media Player. Go to www.blindmicemart.com for more information.
Direction for Me is a web-based service which provides accessible packaging information and preparation for a variety of grocery, health, and beauty products. Type a product name in the search box or browse product categories to find what you are looking for. The service is free from Horizons for the blind. The web site is www.directionsforme.com.
Finally, The Lighthouse for the Blind here in St Louis has just released St Louis Arts and Entertainment, Exploring St Louis From a Blind Person’s Perspective, by Stephen Kissel, a 48 page booklet that assesses the accessibility of local attractions. Stephen is the Blind Community Enrichment Associate for the St Louis Lighthouse and he is totally blind. The book is a tour guide for blind and visually impaired people who want to visit such local attractions as Powell Symphony Hall, the Fox Theater, The Muny, the St Louis Zoo, the Missouri Botanical Gardens the St Louis Art Museum, Grant’s Farm, the Laumeier Sculpture Park, the Old Courthouse, and the Science Center and Planetarium. Sixteen popular St Louis attractions are covered with ratings of accessibility based on such criteria as overall accessibility, staff help, audio description, and transportation options. It can be viewed or downloaded from the Lighthouse Web site www.lhbindustries.com or you can obtain a copy by contacting Angie Yorke (314) 423-4333, Extension 132. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
That does it for this time. I hope you found this information useful and that you will keep in touch and share items with me for inclusion in this column. Enjoy the summer.