March 2015 Chronicle

March 2015 Chronicle

PRESIDENT’S REPORT

By Denny Huff

 

Greetings,

      I hope that this finds all of you doing well and hopefully by the time you are reading this the weather has warmed up and you’re ready to plant your potatoes.

      There are several items I want to cover here beginning with something that will affect each affiliate and special interest affiliate.

      The MCB Board once again adopted an affiliate grant.  This grant will be in the amount of $500.00 for an affiliate and $250.00 for a special interest affiliate.  The grant will need to be applied for by April 1 of this year and by February 1 of each year thereafter.  Your president should have received a letter outlining the conditions of the grant but basically we want you to use the money to reach out to new people in your area as prospective members.  We hope that each affiliate has their 501c3 but if not, then the money can be applied toward making application for that status.  If your affiliate needs help in this process please call the office and they will be glad to help you.

      Chris Gray and I visited with the DFS office in Warren County to discuss with them about some of the problems people are having with their blind pension.  The Warren County office has been designated to be the office that exclusively handles the blind pension.  This will begin in April and hopefully this will take care of a majority of the problems people are having with that program.  If you still have problems with the blind pension, please call Chris at the office and as he has done with many others, he will be glad to assist you.

      Our legislative day in Jeff City is coming up on Tuesday, March 31.  Once again this year we will be joining with other disability groups to take some positions to our legislators.  The issues we will be talking to our legislators about include having accessible voting machines available in all elections.  At this time those machines are only available for federal elections and we would like to have them available for both state and local elections also.  Another position we are taking is a bill that will greatly improve the quality of life for the Deaf-Blind Community. The dual sensory loss of both vision and hearing greatly impacts daily lives.  This bill would set up a program that would enable the Deaf-Blind to be part of the community and accomplish things like shopping, medical appointments, church, banking, etc. in a safe manner and with the help of the communication assistance that is needed.

      Hopefully if you are planning to attend the legislative day this year you have already contacted the office and made your reservation.  If not, please do so as soon as possible.  As I told the Education and Advocacy committee members on our conference call, I believe this is one of the most important committees within MCB.  It is because of people like this on the committee that we have such good programs for the blind community of Missouri.  MCB is always advocating for the rights of the blind and we all need to take an active part.

      We have our spring board meeting coming up on April 18 in Kansas City.  We encourage as many of you as possible to come and listen to the proceedings.  If you are not able to attend, then you can listen to it being streamed via the internet by going to www.moblind.org/audio.

      That’s all I need to cover for this issue but we do have an active spring coming up.  If you have any questions or concerns about what is going on with MCB please don’t hesitate to call me at 636-262-1383 or 855-832-7172. Or you can email me at dhuff@moblind.org.

Until the next time be safe and God Bless!

 

Affiliate News

 

Allied Workers for the Blind

By Tracey Hawkins, Public Relations Chairman

 

      AWB has been busy raising money and helping our community.  Our president, William Hawkins, has encouraged each committee to plan new and innovative events and projects. He has pledged to support all new ideas.  Our fundraising committee has hosted a nut sale through December.  We are pleased with the support of MCB members at our State convention, as well as our members who supported the sale back in Kansas City.  Our fundraising chairman is gearing up for the next fund raiser.  Thank you!

      Following our tradition of giving back to the community, we adopted another family this year. We always choose families of those with visual challenges. This year's family was a young lady referred by Linda Coccovizzo. Adrian has two daughters. She provided a wish-list of what they wanted and needed for Christmas. Due to the generosity of our members, we were able to get everything on their list.        We had an opportunity to host the family at our December meeting/Holiday dinner. The girls opened their gifts in front of us and we got to experience their joy and appreciation. We cannot thank our generous members enough for caring and supporting our citizens each year.  We plan to have a video and photos on our website: alliedworkersfortheblind.org.  Thank you and be safe!

 

Blind of Central Missouri

By Joe Morgan, President

 

      Hello from Sedalia.  We have had a winter of up and down temperatures but so far not a lot of snow.  We had our Christmas party on December 7, 2014 at the Celebration Center.  President Denny Huff and his driver Darren were our special guests.  Denny said that he really enjoyed the food, and so did everyone else.  We didn't have a meeting in January due to the cold weather but maybe February will be better. We will be making plans for a pizza party for our March meeting.  Until next time keep smiling!

 

Delta Area

 

      Hello to everyone from Delta Area.  On November 25, our affiliate went to the Service Club for the Blind in St. Louis for a fun day of shopping.  The staff and volunteers are always so kind to show us all the great items that we can purchase.  It was also nice to see some of our friends that live in the area. 

Thanks to Wilma Chestnut for bringing the MCB Sweatshirt over to the Service Club so we could take a look before ordering.  After we left the Service Club, we went to Pietro’s Restaurant for lunch; great food!

Our Christmas party was held on December 22 at the China King Buffet.  We missed the River City Workers being at our party this year, but we did have a couple of special guests.  Pastor Wallenberg and his Daughter Stephanie were able to attend.  This year our affiliate was able to adopt two families for Christmas.  I think we should always remember that there are many needy families across the state who could use a little extra help.

      We had our monthly meeting on January 27.  Some of our goals for the new year are to increase membership, provide more services, and learn more about the programs and services that MCB has to offer.  Happy Spring to everyone from Delta Area

 

Tiger Talk

By DeAnna Quietwater Noriega

 

      The Tigers had a roaring good time at the Christmas party held at the home of member Hazel Fields. Then in January, the return to the Columbia area of former member Michael Evans had them all purring to welcome him back. Sadly, January also saw the passing away of a founding member, Mary Mellis. A bright loving spirit left us after making a difference for many in her 91 years. Farewell bright spirit. Now the Tigers are ready to spring in to spring with fundraisers, social events and working to grow bigger and better than ever!

 

Ozark Association of the Blind

By Yvonne Schnitzler

 

      OAB was delighted to welcome Executive Director, Chris Gray and President Denny Huff to our Christmas party held at the Café Genevieve in Ste. Genevieve. We thank them for taking time from their busy schedules to speak to us and help us celebrate. Everyone enjoyed plenty of delicious food and some took home doggie bags. We visited and played Rob Your Neighbor with everyone taking home a gift or two.

      OAB’s new officers are President Joe Dobbs, Vice-President Ida Scotti, Secretary Joan Meyers, and Treasurer Yvonne Schnitzler.  Joe Dobbs is our Board Representative, Greg Brown is Education and Advocacy, and Ida Scotti Resolutions.  We wish all good health and happiness.

 

Agape Council of the Blind

 

      Agape Council of the Blind is hosting our 4th annual Black History Program, “Hot Fish, Cold Beer, and the Blues.”  We will highlight some of the Blues singers that traveled the Chitlin’ Circuit and played the Juke Joints such as Etta James, Muddy Waters, KoKo Taylor, and B.B. King.

The date is February 20, 2015, and the location is the Overland Lions Banquet hall at 2853 Lackland Road, Overland, MO 63114.  From 6:00 p.m.-11:00 p.m.  If six people buy tickets together, you get a reserved table.  $20 includes food, drinks, and program.  For more information, contact any Agape member (314)873-9022 (Wilma) or go to our web page www.agape.moblind.org.

 

BRAILLE REVIVAL LEAGUE

By Judy Burch, President

 

      Hello to all.  By the time you read this, spring will be upon us.  The Braille Revival League celebrated Louis Braille’s birthday in early January with presentations about Louis Braille and the work of the Alliance for Braille Literacy, given by Judy Burch and Chris Gray, respectively.  There followed a reading contest in which five participants read the “Who’s on First” skit from that famous comedy duo, Abbot and Costello.  Three lucky winners walked away with prizes.  Then we had some very nice refreshments.  Thanks to Peggy Smith, June Lenk, and a number of other folks who helped out with this aspect of the celebration. 

      The Braille Revival League of Missouri will continue to move forward with other activities particularly geared toward encouraging our youth to learn and use Braille.  Stay tuned for more details in upcoming issues of the Chronicle. 

From Your Committees

 

Adaptive Technology (ATI) News

By Darrel Vickers, President

 

      Hello everyone, it has been about six months since I became president and I want to update you on our progress.

We held a fund raising contest from December 1 thru January 30.  First place was a Walnut Regulator Clock.  Second place was a small handmade box.  Third place was two handmade wooden ink pins. 

And the Winners are: First Place, Denny Huff who raised $300.00; second place, Beverly Kaskadden who raised $112.00, and third place, Darrel Vickers who raised $84.00.  We raised a total of $565.00 with four members participating.  Congratulations and a big thank you to Bev and Denny. 

Visit our new ATI web site at http://ati.moblind.org.  Note, this is different from the link on the MCB web site.  The new ATI web site is taking shape, but it is a work in progress. Eventually it will contain helpful articles, tips and tricks and training to help members to get the most of their current adaptive technology, as well as learning new technologies as they become available.

I would like to ask anyone who may have information about any type of adaptive product or any adaptive techniques to share them with me for inclusion to the site.

What is Adaptive?  When we think of adaptive technology, of course, the first thing which probably comes to our mind is some kind of hi-tech gadget that talks and is most likely expensive. 

But let’s forget the word technology for a moment and just look at the word adaptive.  The dictionary definition defines it as serving or able to adapt. So let’s look at a couple of examples we all know developed by a French army captain, Charles Barbier de la Serre.  Barbier originally created a code of raised dots and dashes as a way to allow soldiers to write and read messages at night without using a light that might give away their positions.  Louis Braille worked with Barbier’s basic ideas to develop his own simplified system in 1824 that we know today as braille.

Large print is another example of adaptive technology.  So with the above in mind, I am broadening the scope of adaptive technology and I need your help. Not to worry, we will still keep members informed of the latest and greatest technology.

If you have techniques you have learned or invented for yourself that help you, I would like to hear about them so they can be shared with all persons in our blind community, e.g. things to help in the kitchen, keeping things organized, etc.  If you have a computer, please email me; if not, please call me and we will arrange a time to discuss them. My contact info is at the end of this article.

Another call for help.  I am looking for a couple of people who can write and / or edit articles. I can't do it all myself and keep the information flowing. So please help if you can. Remember, giving of one's self is a great feeling.

ATI lost its tax exempt status because the IRS reports were not being filed.  Barbara, Chris and I have been working on this.  Unfortunately, this will take time and it is quite expensive but it should be done in a couple of months.  We need this reinstated for fundraising purposes.

We will be having a conference call once a month. Among other things, we will, at some point, have more adaptive equipment available. We have some now and will be discussing how best to distribute it.  

I would like to hear from members what type of information you need and what you would like to find on our website. If you have no access to a computer, call me and we will try to get it to you some other way. If you are a member of an affiliate, talk to your president about helping you.

      I want to invite everyone who has a need or interest in any type of adaptive technology, from simple to complex, to join ATI.  If you have skills in computers, smart phones or other technology ATI needs you.  To join, click membership from our home page.

      If you are a member of the ATI chat list, this does not mean you are also a member of ATI. If you are a paid member of ATI, I send out information just to you. So watch your email for messages from me regarding meetings, events, etc., as well as, quick tips and training documents.  You can contact me via email at darrel@ww4b.org or by phone at 636-667-3176.

 

Education and Advocacy

By Chip Hailey, Education and Advocacy Chairman

 

      Hello MCB family and friends.  I trust everyone is experiencing a prosperous and healthy new year.  I would like to first of all thank our MCB president, Denny Huff, for appointing me to the position of MCB Education and Advocacy Chairman, and to the MCB Board of Directors for approving the appointment.  Thank you all for your confidence and I pledge to do my very best for MCB in this capacity.

The 98th General Assembly of our state legislature is fully underway and we will be watching very closely any legislative initiatives that could have an impact on the blind community.  There are generally about 1200 bills that get introduced with about 10 percent passing and reaching the Governor's desk for his signature.

With your help, we hope to maintain a strong force with our state legislators throughout the 2015 legislative session and also hope to maintain constant contact with key individuals who have their finger on the pulse on what's happening at our State Capitol.

Our MCB Legislative Days this year have been scheduled for Monday, March 30, and Tuesday, March 31.

We will once again be working in conjunction with Disability Rights Legislative Day (DRLD).  This means we will be working very closely with other disability groups You can expect around 600 or more people to be in attendance for this special event.

We will meet at the Capitol Plaza on Monday, March 30, at 3:00 p.m. to once again go over our legislative imperatives and to pass out the packets that we will be giving to our legislators.  If you are your affiliate's Education and Advocacy representative and haven't made your reservations to be in attendance, I strongly urge you to call the MCB office as quickly as possible to make your reservations.

If you're not an affiliate legislative representative but would like to attend, please feel free to either contact the MCB office or myself with your request.  We would like to take as many as we possibly can that would be willing to talk to our state legislators about our key issues.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns you might have regarding our MCB Legislative Days.

I would also like to thank all of you who participated in February’s Education and Advocacy teleconference.  I thought it was a very productive call and helped to set up our legislative days in Jefferson City.  I also hope you are maintaining a good repore with your state legislators so that when we meet with them on March 31, you will have a greater impact.       I will have lots more to report on in the June issue of the Chronicle about our MCB Legislative Days and about our attending the ACB Legislative Seminar in Washington D.C. But for now, all that I can report to you about the Washington event was that the ACB Legislative Seminar was February 22 and 23.  Details on issues taken to our Congressional leaders will be in the June issue of the Chronicle.  Thank you once again everyone for your wonderful support and hopefully and prayerfully we will have another great legislative year.  Contact me by phone at 417-540-9703 or email chip@gatewayfortheblind.com

Summer Camp

By Beverly Kaskadden, Chairman

 

      The winter in Missouri has not been too bad this year, but it sure is nice to be thinking about sitting around the pool or floating down the river while spending time at Cobblestone.

The dates for the 2015 are, May 31 through June 7, July 26 through August 2, and September 10 through 13.  The prices have not changed.  The full weeks for adults are $75 and the extended weekend in September is $50.  Applications and guidelines will be mailed out to all affiliate Presidents in February.  You can also obtain applications from the MCB web site or by calling the office to have applications mailed directly to you. 

I cannot emphasize enough the need for all who would like to attend camp to please read the guidelines.  This will make your time at Cobblestone more comfortable.  It always surprises me to hear a camper quote, “I didn’t know that” when it was noted in the guidelines.

Cabin placement is always a challenge.  We do the best we can when making cabin placement.  Just remember, not everyone can have a private cabin close to the lodge! 

If you have never attended Cobblestone camp, you are missing so much fun, and relaxation with good friends.  Not only do you have opportunity to spend time with friends, but also have the chance to make new friends.  If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.  My phone number is 636-561-6947 and e-mail bkaskadden@centurytel.net.  Come join in the fun at Cobblestone Lodge.

 

MCB Members with both Blindness and Deafness Need Your Help

By Mary Hale, Dual Vision and Hearing Loss Committee Chair

 

      The Deaf-Blind Community in Missouri needs your help. Please read the following information and consider helping by simply sending a letter to your legislators and sharing this with others to do the same.  THANK YOU.

 

A bill has been filed to the Missouri Legislators that will greatly improve the quality of life for the Deaf-Blind Community. The dual sensory loss of both vision and hearing greatly impacts daily lives.  This bill would set up a program that would enable the Deaf-Blind to be part of the community and accomplish things like shopping, medical appointments, church, banking, etc. in a safe manner and with the help of the communication assistance that is needed. We are reaching out to family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, etc.  We need your help!

The Missouri Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing has received the support and sponsorship of Rep Lyle Rowland, District 155 [R] for the House Bill No.469 that has been filed. We need your help now. Please contact your local Senator and Representatives encouraging them to pass this bill.  Below is a sample letter that you may want to use.  Here is a link to find your local Representatives and Senators: http://www.senate.mo.gov/LegisLookup/ZipLookup.aspx.  Please share this info with anyone who is willing to help support this bill. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me.  Thank You.  Mary Hale, Commissioner, Missouri Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. Phone 314-807-3072 or email meh331@sbcglobal.net.

 

(SAMPLE LETTER)

January 20, 2015

Dear Representative

We would like to direct your attention to a critical issue involving your constituents, namely, the need for Support Service Providers (SSP) in the Deaf-Blind community in Missouri and in your district.

Hearing and sight are the two senses that we depend on for communication, and visual and environmental information which enable us to carry on with our daily tasks. Without these two senses, we are isolated from the world around us.

The range of dual sensory loss of hearing and vision varies greatly from one individual to the next. Regardless of age of onset, people with hearing and vision limitations combined face unique challenges involving getting around, communicating and staying safe. The Deaf-Blind person must be able to make independent decisions. An SSP would provide services that allow this.

To assist in daily living and independence, the Deaf-Blind community in many states relies on SSP’s.  These providers are trained, sighted guides and providers of visual or auditory information. SSPs promote independence for Deaf-Blind adults with activities of daily living such as job interviews, meetings, shopping, medical appointments, banking, community and/or social events, on the job, as well as in-home activities such as placing phone calls, reading mail, and paying bills. SSPs also assist Deaf-Blind individuals to be involved in the community and to attend events by providing visual, auditory and environmental information. It is especially important for SSPs to give assistance in unfamiliar areas and may provide transportation when other options are not available.

The Medicaid Program has eligibility criteria not applicable to many Deaf-Blind adults.  There is also a Personal Care Assistance program available, but an SSP does not provide the personal care services (i.e. dressing, bathing, feeding, and administering medication).  SSPs provide entirely different type of assistance for the Deaf-Blind individuals for their daily living needs.  In Missouri, SSPs currently are volunteers, but they are very few and far between. To have the Deaf-Blind involved in the community and not be so isolated, we are asking for your help. The goal is to establish a statewide SSP Program with the Missouri House Bill No. 469.

There are many active well-organized SSP programs throughout the United States that serve as a model for our state. Ultimately, we hope to serve the many people who are Deaf-Blind throughout the state of Missouri. We are asking for your support to fund this through the Missouri Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, this important program will help decrease isolation among the Deaf-Blind.

      Funding of such a program will help them retain their independence by working with recruited, well-trained SSPs.  Without funding, we are unable to find and hire the well-trained SSPs and/or qualified SSP trainers. This limits the ability to train willing future SSPs who are in short supply. The state of Missouri is in dire need of stable funding to establish this life changing SSP Program.

Thank you for your attention to this critical issue and for your support of the Deaf-Blind Community. Please help support the Missouri House Bill No. 469.

Respectfully,

(your name)

*Note: The full report from the American Association of the DeafBlind (AADB) about SSPs can be read here: http://aadb.org/information/ssp/ssp.html

 

 

Wolfner News Winter 2015

By Darrel Vickers, Wolfner Advisory Board Chairman

 

Wolfner Library contact numbers are 573-751-8720 or toll free at 1-800-392-2614.

      Wolfpac is The Wolfner on-line library. It is a searchable listing of all the books you can get from the Wolfner Library.  It has all the Bard books but it also has all the books only available on tape as well as, all their Braille books.  This is also where you will find Shelf.  Shelf contains all the books Wolfner has recorded, as well as books recorded by other state libraries.  If you have not tried Wolf Pac or it's been a while, contact a reading advisor to get your username and password.

 

A Few Reading Suggestions:

Disability

Mannequin Girl: A Novel DB79485, Litman, Ellen. Reading time 10 hours, 12 minutes.  Read by Kerry Dukin.  Growing up Jewish in Soviet Russia, Kat Knopman worships her intellectual parents who teach literature. When Kat is diagnosed with rapidly-progressing scoliosis, she enters a sanatorium where she embarks upon a quest to prove that she can still be as exceptional as her parents. Some descriptions of sex. 2014.

Music Appreciation and History-Bestsellers

I'm with the band: confessions of a groupie DB29211, Des Barres, Pamela. Reading time 10 hours, 54 minutes. Read by Madelyn Buzzard. After graduating from high school, the author became totally immersed in the rock-and-roll culture. For more than ten years she was the ultimate groupie, a member of a rock band, and friend, lover, and confidant to some of the biggest names in rock and roll. Some strong language and some descriptions of sex.

      The following is part of a series that chronicles most of the Indian wars after the civil war. Historically accurate it is told thru the eyes of a fictional character, Seamus Donegan.

Western Stories - Historical Fiction

Red Cloud's Revenge: Showdown on the Northern Plains, 1867 DB40640, Johnston, Terry C. Reading time 14 hours, 11 minutes.  Read by John Polk.  In this sequel to Sioux Dawn (DB 40639), Johnston recreates the two battles that took place less than twenty-four hours apart in August of 1867. Seven months after the Fetterman Massacre, Sergeant Seamus Donegan of the Army of the West watches the proud leaders of natives and whites as they battle at Hay Field and Wagon Box. Violence and strong language.

Suspense Fiction

The Escape DB80178, Baldacci, David. Reading time 14 hours, 53 minutes.  Read by Orlagh Cassidy; Ron McLarty.  U.S. Army special agent John Puller is the man they call to investigate the toughest crimes facing the nation. But he is unprepared to hunt the most formidable and brilliant prey he has ever tracked-his own brother. Imprisoned for treason and national security crimes, Robert has now inexplicably escaped. Unrated. Commercial audiobook. 2014.

Suspense Fiction; Romance; Bestsellers

The crush DB55058, Brown, Sandra. Reading time 11 hours, 14 minutes. Read by Martha Harmon Pardee.  Upon acquittal, hired killer Ricky Lozada becomes obsessed with the jury forewoman, Dr. Rennie Newton. Meanwhile Fort Worth detective Wick Threadgill, on leave from the department, seeks to avenge Lozada's murder of his brother. The policeman also falls for Rennie. Explicit descriptions of sex, violence, and strong language. Bestseller. 2002.

Adventure

Havana storm DB80075, Cussler, Clive; Cussler, Dirk. Reading time: 11 hours, 3 minutes.

Read by Scott Brick.  While investigating a toxic outbreak in the Caribbean Sea that may threaten the United States, Dirk Pitt becomes involved in something even more dangerous--a post-Castro struggle for the control of Cuba. Meanwhile, Pitt's children are chasing an Aztec stone that may lead to a vast historical treasure. Unrated. Commercial audiobook. 2014.

Stage and Screen

This Life DB63615, Poitier, Sidney. Reading time: 16 hours, 44 minutes.  Read by Fred Major.        Autobiography of Academy Award-winning black actor Sidney Poitier (born 1927). The Miami-born son of Bahamian farmers, Poitier chronicles his childhood on the islands and moves to New York City as a teenager. Describes his marriages and hard-fought journey overcoming racism and stereotypes to find success on stage and screen. 1980.

Classics

Great Expectations DB53991, Dickens, Charles. Reading time: 17 hours, 25 minutes. Read by Graeme Malcolm.  An encounter with a convict in a cemetery will have long-term consequences for Pip, a poor orphan boy. But before he grasps their full significance, he is to live with the strange spinster Miss Havisham, to be tormented by her ward Estella, and to move to London. For grades 6-9 and older readers. 1861.

(Warning! I really debated with myself about including this book. It is an autobiography of a Psychopathic serial killer told in his own words. It is a very emotionally tough book to read and very violent and sexually explicit.)

Biography - True Crime

Final Truth: The Autobiography of a Serial Killer DBC00074, Gaskins, Pee Wee; Earle, Wilton. Reading time: 7 hours, 17 minutes.  Read by Chris Yates. A production of South Carolina State Library, Talking Book Services.  Author-journalist Wilton Earle spent fifteen-months eliciting from Donald 'Pee Wee' Gaskins this graphic version of Gaskin's life. Gaskins talks about his childhood in rural South Carolina, his adolescent crimes and the brutality of Reform School, and his adult crimes and violence in prison and on the streets. Violence, strong language, and explicit descriptions of sex.

See you this Summer,--Darrel

 

From the Lower Left-Hand Drawer

By John Weidlich

 

      I hope 2015 is going well for you so far. Here are a few new items from the Lower Left-Hand Drawer presented for your information. If Santa left you any nifty new gadgets for Christmas and you want to tell your fellow readers about them, please contact me at my email address which is jdweidlich@charter.net and I will share the information in the next column.

      Well, are you ready to start learning and using the new Unified Braille code UEB? UEB will officially go into effect on January 4 of next year but it’s not too soon to start learning about the new Braille symbols and the changes in Braille as you now know it. The Braille Authority of North America BANA has a free booklet you can order called the UEB Reader, a resource designed to introduce Braille readers to the Unified English Braille code. The Braille volume, which is 46 pages long, lists and explains the new symbols and rules and includes some examples of documents written in UEB, including the Gettysburg Address and the first chapter of the Wizard of OZ. It is available free by request. By contacting Kim Charlson at kim.charlson@perkins.org. Just include your name and address. The Reader can also be ordered by calling the UEB Information Line (617) 9972-7248. There are already some books transcribed into UEB on the BARD site and the magazine Syndicated Columnists Weekly from National Braille Press is now being transcribed into the new code. Is there a lot to learn? Probably not for the average reader. There are quite a few new symbols but I think most of them will not be of much importance to most readers. There are symbols to indicate things like bold print, and new symbols to indicate Underlined material. There are also some new symbols to indicate plus, minus, equals, opening and closing braces and opening and closing angle brackets.(Show of hands. How often do you use braces and brackets when you write? Do you even know what they are for? Didn't think so, but since these mysterious things are used in print by someone, we now have symbols for them in Braille, just in case.) The period, dots 2-5-6 will now also be used for the decimal point in numbers instead of dots four-six. There will be a new sign to indicate opening and closing parenthesis. There are new capitalization rules. The biggest change that you will notice is the elimination of several contractions: to, by, com, ble, dd, ation, into, and ally. The dollar sign will be dot four-s, and the percent sign will be dots four and six followed by dots three five six. Word combinations like of the, with the, for the, and the, will no longer be written without spaces between the words. Those are not all of the changes but they are some of the changes that you will likely notice when you read UEB.

      The 4X Pendant Magnifier lets you wear your magnifier on the go. It is worn on a 33 inch chain. The magnifier costs $18.95. It is available from LS&S at (800) 468-4789. The website is www.lssproducts.com

      The Blaze EZ is a pocket-sized media player about the size of a deck of cards, which plays text in several formats. It gives speech access to printed documents and it can read or play ebooks, Daisy books, word documents and pdf files. It also has Internet radio. The unit  contains stereo speakers, a built-in microphone Wi-Fi, fm radio and a talking clock. Don’t ask me how all of that can be contained in a device this small. It retails for $749. Purchase the Blaze EZ from HIMS, Inc. the phone number is (888) 520-4467 and the HIMS website is www.hims-inc.com

      The American Printing House sells Braille beads for making jewelry. The beads are small rectangles with Braille letters on one sideand print letters on the other. Each bead has two holes through which a wire or cord can be threaded. The Braille Beads Starter Kit, which includes an instruction manual in Braille, Large print or CD costs $195. For more information, contact APH at (800) 223-1839. The web site is www.aph.org

      Cosmo is a portable electronic brailler which may be used as a Braille embosser or a Braille input device for a computer using Duxbury. It costs $2,495. It is sold by eBraillerLLC. Phone: (585) 413-4401. Visit www.ebrailler.com

      That’s it for this time. See you in June