December 2011Chronicle

December 2011Chronicle

THE PRESIDENTS REPORT

As I begin my last year as your president, I am setting some goals I hope to reach by next November 1st.

My primary goal is to leave my presidency knowing that MCB is secure financially.  We are currently diligently working on several projects that hopefully will help us to attain this goal.

Number one is the establishment of at least one thrift store.  The one we are presently working on getting started is located in Springfield and by the time you read this report we should know one way or another if that has been accomplished.  The thrift store committee, chaired by William Hawkins, has been working over the past several months to have this store open by year’s end.  I can’t say enough about how much I appreciate all of the work and efforts that have been done by William and his committee.  His committee consists of Mike Keller, Eldon Cox and Jerry Annunzio.

We not only hope to have this store open and running by the year’s end, but we are also considering other thrift stores in Kansas City and St. Louis.  The possibility also consists of teaming up with other non-profit organizations in establishing other thrift stores around the state that both MCB and their organization will profit from.

If you are not aware of it by now, we have severed all ties with the Henderson Management Company.  Without going into a lot of details just let me say that this relationship has not worked out as we had hoped it would and it was necessary to make this move.  We believe that by managing our own thrift stores it will be more profitable for MCB and we will have more control over the public relation that comes from our own operation.

My next goal is to strengthen the affiliates we currently have and organizing other ones.  During the president’s luncheon at our 2011 convention, I gave all of the affiliates the chance to talk about their affiliate and to share with us their weaknesses and strong points.  As a result of that meeting, we are establishing conference calls for affiliates to participate in that are designed to help them in their areas of weakness.  More about this can be found later in this edition of the Chronicle.

My immediate goal is to have an Executive Director in place by the end of this year.  The search has been a long and exhausting process and I thank the personnel committee chaired by Patti Schonlau for working on trying to find someone to fill this position.  Along with Patti, Naomi Soule and Jesuita Tabor, we have gone through many applications but at the time of this writing we still haven’t found a candidate that we feel would be what we are looking for in an Executive Director for MCB.  I am establishing a new search committee in hopes of giving new life to our search.  Upon approval by the board, DeAnna Noriega, our first vice president will serve as the chair of this committee.  She has already indicated that she will ask Anne Murphy and Traci Hawkins to serve on this committee with her.  We have two applicants for the E.D. position that look promising and hopefully by the end of this year one of them will be in that position.

Whoever is selected to fill that position will have a great office staff to work with.  Virginia and Eleanor have done an outstanding job in managing the office in the absence of an Executive Director.  The new E.D. will be able to concentrate on doing what we need them to do in representing MCB throughout the state and not have to worry about the operation of the office.  They will of course, have responsibilities to the office, but a majority of the work is being done and will continue being done by our Administrative Assistant and Clerk.  Thank you ladies for a job well done!

I want to thank Susan Sanderson and the convention committee for a great 2011 convention.  It was one of the smoothest conventions I have ever attended and this was due to the organization and efforts done by all that were involved.  I know if I start naming names I will leave out somebody, so just let me say thanks to all of you.  The convention will be in Jefferson City next year and will be held at the Capital Plaza hotel.  It is being hosted by the Blind of Central Missouri.  If you have any suggestions as to what you would like to see at our next convention please don’t hesitate to let me know.

We did make several changes to our by-laws this year and all of those changes can be found on our web site.  You can find them at: http://moblind.org/membership/bylaws/#navor you may call the office and request a copy in the format of your choice.

Due to our financial situation, the board has made several changes in our 2012 budget.  The one change that will impact your affiliate most is the elimination of the affiliate grants.  The only affiliates that will be receiving a grant next year are the newly established affiliates.  The new affiliates will receive $500.00 each year for 3 years.  This grant is to help them get on their feet and get established financially as an affiliate.  As always, if you would like to have a copy of our budget you may call the office and request one in the format of your choice.

We added a new affiliate to MCB this year during our convention.  The affiliate is the Route 66 Council of the Blind and is located in Lebanon MO.  The president of this new affiliate is Samantha Blevins.  Welcome Route 66!  We are looking forward to working with you in the future and helping to meet the needs you have in that area of the state.

Congratulations to the new board members and officers we have on the MCB board.  Celita White was elected as our treasurer, Judy Burch as the public relations chair, Bunny Maginnis, Patti Schonlau and Leroy Welch as directors.  Congratulations to all of you and I am looking forward to working with you on the board.  My thanks to those that was serving in those positions over the past few years, William Hawkins, Steve Schnelle, Beverly Kaskadden and Gregg Hollins.

We have not at the time of this writing set a date for our legislative days in Jefferson City but by the time you are reading this we hopefully will not only have a date set, but will have had a conference call to talk about some issues we are looking at for our visit.  Our education and welfare chair, Jerry Annunzio and I have agreed to again this year work with the NFB of Missouri on certain issues.  These issues are ones that both consumer groups agree on.  I have spoken to Gary Wunder, president of NFB of Missouri and he is excited about our organizations working together.  Their legislative chair is Sheila Wright and she will be working with Jerry to go over some of those issues.  We are not sure at this time what those will be, but one item most likely will be utilizing the voting machines in all elections, not just federal elections.  We will also collaborate with Marty Exline of Missouri Assistive Technology to determine other issues we might want to address.  If you are an affiliate education and welfare representative please watch for announcements concerning conference calls and items concerning our legislative days in Jeff City.  Even if you aren’t an affiliate rep but have an interest in working with us, please let the office know.

We now have two new representatives to represent us at the state level.  The board has approved Rita Galbraith of the Joplin Friendship Council to be our representative to the RSB Advisory Council and Darrel Vickers, member at large from Washington MO to be our Wolfner Library representative.  Both of these will need to be approved by the governor to make it official, but in the meantime they will be attending the quarterly meetings of these boards to represent MCB.  I know that both of these people will do a great job in representing MCB.  I might also mention that Darrel is our key person in organizing a new affiliate in Washington MO.  Hopefully by our convention in 2012 we will be able to add this new affiliate to MCB.

I have said it many times before and I’ll keep saying it many more times, my thanks to all of our sighted members in MCB.  Without you we could not do the things we are doing.  I realize that sometimes you might feel that you don’t get the recognition you deserve, but believe me, you are truly appreciated.  I hope that all of you as legally blind members of MCB will take a minute and say thanks to our sighted members for the work they do in assisting us.

In closing I want to say that it has been my pleasure to serve you over the past 3 years as president.  It’s my hope that when I leave office next year that I will leave knowing I have made some kind of contribution to this great organization called the Missouri Council of the Blind.  I realize that some of the decisions that have been made during my tenure were not all popular ones with some individuals, but I always strive to do what I feel is best for MCB as a whole.

If you ever have any questions, comments or concerns don’t hesitate to let me know.  You can reach me by email at: dhuff@moblind.org, by phone 888-362-1383 or by postal mail at PO Box 515, St. Clair, MO 63077.

God bless each one of you and your families.  I hope this holiday season is truly a good one for all of you.

Denny Huff - President

 

AFFILIATE NEWS

YOU HAVE BEEN NOTIFIED.

Dear Affiliate Members,

I first want to thank the affiliate presidents for attending the President’s Luncheon at the convention or sending a representative in their place.  I was encouraged by the participation.

As I mentioned at the closure of that meeting, there are three names I need from your affiliate.  First of all, be sure to send the name of your legislative representative to the MCB office.  Jerry Annunzio is beginning to prepare for the 2012 Legislative Days in Jeff City and we want to keep your affiliate informed on what is taking place.  A list serve will be set up for faster communication so if your representative has an email address please share that with the office. That does not mean the rep needs to have access to email, but it would be helpful.

I also need a person from your affiliate to work with our Transportation Chair, Nick Whitney.  Nick will be looking into several different aspects of what MCB can do to improve not only transportation, but safety in pedestrian traffic, transportation for MCB meetings and other areas.  The more we have involved in this committee the more ideas and input we will have.  We have a list serve set up not only for the committee but for anyone that might be interested in this committee.  To join that list you can send an email message to: trans-join@moblind.org.

The third person I need from your affiliate will be someone to work with other affiliates in various areas.  As we heard from all of the affiliates at the luncheon, each affiliate has different strong points and weaknesses.  We will have a conference call with everybody soon and begin to break off into different groups depending on your area of needs.  Once that is established we will then have those groups meeting via conference calls to begin strategies to address the areas of need.  It is not absolutely necessary for your representative to have unlimited long distance calling, but it would be very beneficial.

If you could, please send the office the names of these three individuals along with their contact information.  Since some affiliates are rather small, it doesn’t have to be three different people.

Thank you for your cooperation.

Denny Huff – President

AFFILIATES! 
TELL THEM WHAT YOU’RE DOING
!

BRAILLE REVIVAL LEAGUE

Judy Burch, BRL Secretary

Greetings to all from the Braille Revival League.  The members of BRL hope you’re all enjoying a pleasant autumn season, and also want you to know that exciting plans are in the making for the upcoming year for the Braille Revival League.  We want you to be part of our special interest affiliate which is growing, and participate in these upcoming happenings and encourage you to join!  If you believe in Braille and want to help us to promote its use, BRL is definitely the “place” to b!  You can send your $15 dues to treasurer, Susan Pearce at 4914 Smart Ave., Kansas City, MO  64124. 

At the convention in October, members of BRL enjoyed a nice luncheon.  We honor our beloved Alma Murphey every year at this luncheon, appropriately called the BRL Alma Murphey Luncheon.  This year we were honored to have member Marie Thompson speak to us about what Braille means to her and how she uses it in her everyday life. 

Elections were held at the luncheon meeting, with the following officers now serving terms:  Laura De Vries, president; Sabrina Fowler, first vice-president; Rhonda Dycus, second vice-president; and two members-at-large, Bessie Reece and Marilyn Tusso.  Secretary Judy Burch and Treasurer Susan Pearce are serving their last year of their second terms in their positions. 

We will have more news for you in upcoming issues of the Chronicle.

 

From the Joplin Service Club

Cindy Smart

We hope you all are enjoying the nice fall weather.  Our Affiliate is staying quite busy.

Along with selling candy bars for a fund raiser, we have now added beef jerky, and some really cool pins.  Linda Russell came up with a terrific design for a club shirt, and even though we only had two weeks before Convention by the time we made our decision, her friend from Omaha Nebraska managed to get them all done so we would have them in time.  I have often accused Linda Russell of being a witch, a very good witch, of course!

But it seems as though all she has to do is wiggle her nose just as Samantha did on Bewitched, and the things get provided or taken care of somehow. Quite appropriate for Halloween, don’t you think?  No, really, Linda works very hard for us, and we appreciate her very much!  If I don’t get the next article in, you’ll know after my comment, she wiggled her nose and I just disappeared!  Smiles!

Quite a few of us went to Bolivar to help Lake Stockton celebrate their 25th anniversary. We thoroughly enjoyed it.  As usual, Lake Stockton group, you did a wonderful job!  Five of us went to September camp.  This was the first time for Janice Jackson and Joe and Sue Verhaar, and they loved it!  Some of us were accused of wanting to play Pass the Trash 24/7!  Imagine that!

We have had 3 monthly Thursday night functions hosted by different local churches.  They provided great food and very enjoyable entertainment.

A few of us helped Susan Sanderson and the MCB Board prepare for the Convention.  Linda Russell worked especially hard getting door prizes and some great stuff for the gift bags.  Janice Jackson was busy also, contacting people and lining up some things for the youth.

Thanks so much to the volunteer drivers and to the Joplin Association for providing their bus for people to get to restaurants.  Way to go, Susan, and all the others involved in the hard work of putting together the Convention!  It was great!

On October 25th, for our Halloween party, we had food brought in from one of our favorite barbecue places.  The goblins were all well fed!

We are very sad to report that we lost one of our members on the 25th of August.  Fran Morris passed away of complications from cancer.  She and her daughter were very active in our club. They were so much fun on the trips we took.

One of our members, Helen Hopper, fell and broke her leg. She is with family, and is recovering. Also, as a result of a fall, our member James Moore has a broken hip.  He, too, is recovering.

I have nothing more for this time, but I will look forward to writing again next February.  All of us wish all of you a blessed and happy Holiday season!

St. Charles County Council of the Blind

Anne Murphy, First Vice president

At this year’s annual MCB Convention in Joplin, Anne Murphy, 1st VP, filled in for our wonderful president Julie Chinn.  Julie was unable to attend at the last minute due to illness.  She is better now and will be continuing her dedication and hard work with SCCB.  

Affiliate members who attended were the Jovial Jim Murphy; the Vivacious Veva Wolbrecht; the Remarkable Randy Wolbrecht; the Stupendous Steve Schnelle; the beautiful Flower Lady Beverly Kaskadden; and our Delightful Denny Huff MCB president.  We were also joined by the Smart and Sensational Sam Murphy who served as our 8 year old mascot.  He had a great time at youth services and said he wants to go to “Jefferson next year” for the party again.  He wanted to know if they have a party like that every Saturday for kids in Joplin and if so he is going!  Thanks to Linda Gerken from Blind of Central Missouri, Chairperson for Youth Services, who organized this!

St. Charles County Council of the Blind won the Membership drive which ran from May 1, 2011 to August 31, 2011 since we had six new members.  We will receive $300.00 from MCB for this drive.  Much thanks goes to our dedicated President Julie Chinn for making this happen.

Stay safe and warm this winter.  See you next time!

Hello from Rite

Bunny Maginnis, President

If the weather had cooperated I would be listening to the World Series tonight rooting for the Cardinals. But, since it didn't I guess I'll get some work done. Go Cards tomorrow.

First of all, let me thank Susan Sanderson and the Joplin affiliate for a wonderful convention. They did a terrific job. The goodie bag was so heavy with so many good things I could hardly lift it.  Eight of our members attended the convention and had a great time.

On Saturday, November 12th, we will take a chartered bus to Sikeston to eat at Lambert's restaurant. Afterwards we will do some shopping at the strip mall. I plan to do some Christmas shopping there. They have a leather shop and a kitchen store that we like to visit every time we go there. Several people from other affiliates in the St. Louis area will be joining us. It promises to be a fun filled day.

We will be caroling at the Mary Culvert home again this year on December 3rd, just before our Christmas party at Brazie's restaurant. David Upton, chairman of the Christmas party committee has a wonderful evening planned for us.

We are growing in leaps and bounds. It seems that nearly every month we vote in another member. Some of our new members attended camp at Cobblestone during the summer. Dr. Terence and Rachel Crowley were accepted in October just before the convention. We are very pleased to have them.

One of our main priorities this coming year will be researching ways to improve transportation in Missouri. We will help the transportation committee in any way possible. As everyone is aware, transportation is a major problem for the blind. I feel certain if we can find ways to solve this problem our membership in MCB will grow rapidly.

Let me take this opportunity to wish each and every one of you a safe and happy holiday season. Don't eat too much, don't drink too much, and above all, don't think too much. See you in April. Warm blessings.

 

WAGGIN TAILS

Judy Burch, MGDU Secretary

These past several months have been busy for the Missouri Guide Dog Users, culminating at the October MCB convention.  Highlights include the MGDU breakfast, which this year boasted a delightful omelet bar, thanks to MGDU member Melvin Smith, who put it all together; and a delightful skit, authored by MGDU member DeAnna Noriega and presented to the membership by a cast of “dog” characters who discussed under the table the foibles of their first afternoon with their new blind human partners with whom they had been matched and who they were supposed to guide.  The skit was entitled “School Days” and everyone loved it!  In addition, Missouri Governor Jeremiah (Jay) Nixon proclaimed October 14, 2011, Guide Dog Day in Missouri, and this proclamation was read at both the breakfast and on the convention floor as well.  We also held a raffle, and the lucky winners received a $100 Walmart gift certificate first place prize, a $50 Walmart gift certificate second place prize, and a $50 Walmart gift certificate third place prize.

Finally, we’ve had a number of new members join in recent months, and we welcome all of them!

So, as you all can see, we’ve been busy, and have plans for more fun, as well as work, slated for the upcoming year.  Stay tuned!  Until next time, take care, and keep on praising those good dogs for jobs well done!

 

COMMITTEES! What ARE YOU DOING?

YOUTH SERVICES

Linda Gerken

I would like to THANK YOU all very much for all the socks, sweats, and other items for my kids at M S B.  You also showed my First Timers on Friday night, that we can have a lot of fun.  In the spring I will be telling you what to bring next year.  Thanks again.

EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS

Bunny Maginnis

Although we have had a glorious autumn, soon the leaves will start to fall and we have to turn those furnaces on again. Now is a good time to have that furnace checked out to make sure you will stay cozy and warm this winter. Now is also a good time to change the batteries in your smoke detectors. We want to stay warm, but, not hot. Another way to prepare for the coming snow and ice, and, cold winds is to stock up on furnace filters. A smooth running furnace can save a lot of on your heat bill. .

You may also want to check your water pipes just to be sure they don't have cracks and are wrapped properly.

Another thing to do is prepare your family car for the coming weather. Have the tires rotated. Have the antifreeze checked. Have the battery checked. Don't forget to change the oil. Of course, always make sure your insurance is up to date.

And of course, one of the most important ways to prepare for winter is to make sure you have given your home a good cleaning. Use Lysol to clean door knobs and light switches. These are things that everyone touches several times a day, and although we wash our hands thoroughly when using the bathroom, we often forget to wash them frequently.

These are just a few reminders to remember in preparing for the coming winter. I realize we still have a few weeks before bad weather really sets in, but, the weather is rather unpredictable at times so it is always be better to be prepared. Remember our slogan, "Don’t be scared. Be prepared."

SPECIAL SERVICES

Anne Murphy, Chairperson

We began this fiscal year with$5000 less than last fiscal year meaning we have $10,000.  A motion was made at the convention to increase the budget by $4000 and this will be taken up at the board meeting in November.  I have personally asked for money from corporations and am awaiting a response from them. So far we have used $3,253.40.

This has been used by ten people. Six people were assisted with utility bills, three with rent payments and one appliance replacement. 

The committee also revised the application and guidelines for this program to make it easier for the applicant to provide the necessary information and to hopefully make the process go faster.

TRANSPORTATION

Nick Whitney

Hello MCB members, are you ready to roll?  Let’s get our transportation committee on the move.

As I write this article it is late October and we are just starting to form our committee. As most of you no transportation can be a challenge for all blind people but we are up to the challenge.

For members who don’t know me I live in Jefferson City.  I am President of the Capitol City Council of the Blind.  I also serve as President of the Missouri Guide Dog Users with guide Cherub.  President Huff asked me to chair the committee because of my experience in transportation.  In my career, I have worked as a certified transit manager in Florida, and also in Charleston SC as General Manager/Executive Director.  I managed door-to-door ADA service, sometimes referred to as Dial-A-Ride.

I hope each MCB Affiliate will have a representative on this committee.  We want this to be a statewide project.  We have problems in both big cities and rural areas.

Some of the things we should take a look at are:

  • Safety in pedestrian traffic
  • Transportation to MCB meetings and summer camp
  • Para-Transit issues
  • Talking Signals

This is just a few ideas to get you thinking.  Now I would like to hear your ideas.  You can email me at Nickcherub@aol.com or phone me at 573-893-8888.  We also have a list serve set up and you can join that list by sending your email to trans-join@moblind.com.

Join us for our first conference call Dec. 19th at 7pm.  The call in number is 712-432-6100 enter pass code 124337 followed by the # sign.  I look forward to working with all of you.  If you have questions please feel free to contact me.

Craft Room Report

Loretta Welch

I was so glad to be the Chairman of the Craft Room.  We had a room full of crafts this year.  I want to thank Phyllis Lovett for assisting me again.   She is a wonderful person and helps so much.  We love her and want her help in the future.

Thanks to the Joplin Service Club for some afghans, hats and gloves to sell.  I also want to thank Angelo and Janet Trapasso for selling knives and candy bars in the craft room.  Thanks to Ted Jeffries for a lot of wood products to sell in there also.  He does a wonderful job in making these products. Also, special thanks to Samantha Blevins for her crafts and Virginia Pierce for the raffle of her quilt.  Phyllis and I sold Library Users tickets and Phyllis had some crafts also. I enjoy this thoroughly and I love everyone and look forward to next year. Love and Prayers.

Public Relations Report

Leroy Welch

This is my last Public Relations Report but I have thoroughly enjoyed all of the 14 years I have served as the PR Chairman. 

We arrived at Joplin on Wednesday evening for the convention.  We had Missouri Council Pens and insulated bags to give out.  This was the last of my PR products left.

We wish Judy Burch, the new Public Relations Chairman, the best and hope she can do a good job in this capacity.

I am now on the Board of Director’s for the Missouri Council and I will try to make everyone proud of me.  I will think everything through thoroughly.

I want to thank all my many friends who have given me a chance to serve as PR Chairman and now Board of Directors.  I love you all and wish everyone the best in the future.  Love & Prayers

Membership Madness!

Gretchen Maune

Greetings from your Membership Committee Chair!  We hope you’re all doing well.  Here’s the news we announced in brief at the convention in Joplin:

The winners of the Summer Membership Contest were:

1st Place, St. Charles County Council of the Blind, with 6 new members.

2nd Place, Joplin Service Club of the Blind, 5 new members.

And 3rd Place, Capital City Council of the Blind, 4 new members.

As of September 1, MCB has 683 Total Members; 424 Blind or low-vision, 249 Sighted, and 10 with unknown vision, (we’ll try and find out).

Last year we had 645 total members, so we gained 38 this year!

We have 547 members in regular affiliates, 18 members who are only in Special Interest Affiliates, and 118 members-at-large.  Because of this huge number, we will be working to direct these folks to affiliates in their area, (and if there isn’t one nearby, hopefully we can help start one up!)

Finally, we are working on establishing a Life-Time MCB Membership that would be able to be purchased to honor someone as a gift, or for oneself.  We’re still working on this one, so be on the lookout for updates!

 

PUBLIC RELATIONS

Judy Burch

Hello to all fellow MCB members.  My name is Judy Burch, and I was honored to be elected to the position of public relations chair at this year’s convention in October.  Since some members may not know me, I want to tell you all a little about myself.

I am a graduate of the Georgia Academy for the Blind and have a B.A. degree in English from Mercer University.  I am married and am employed as a rehabilitation teacher with Rehabilitation Services for the Blind.  Over the past thirty-nine years, I have engaged in many public speaking events, have been on local Georgia and Missouri radio and television shows, am a published author and have been featured in a number of newspaper articles.  I love to write, and currently am the editor of our Missouri Guide Dog Users newsletter, Tails across Missouri.  I also am serving as secretary for both Missouri Guide Dog Users and the Braille Revival League.  In addition, I hold a member-at-large position on the United Workers for the Blind board. 

As my term has just begun, there is not a lot yet to report.  However, on November 1 president Denny Huff and I participated in an engagement, where we spoke to three groups of second and third grade students at Westridge Elementary School in Ballwin.  The presentations were lots of fun, and the students had lots of good questions.  I’m sure that they and their teachers went away with a better understanding of blindness, and they also learned about the Missouri Council of the Blind.  I am looking forward to more presentations like this one, as well as many other activities to come, not only here in St. Louis but all over the state of Missouri! 

I look forward to working with all of you to promote the name and mission of the Missouri Council of the Blind.  

CONVENTION COORDINATOR

Susan Sanderson

The 2011 MCB Convention is over and I had a blast and I hope all of you did too.  Thanks to the team work we got it done.  I could not have put it all together without all the great people in Joplin gathering the door prizes, getting items for the goody bags and boy were they the best goody bags ever!  As you can see the team work is what it takes, all of us working for the betterment of MCB.

Now is the time to mark your calendar for October 4, 5, 6 and 7, 2012.  The Blind of Central Missouri will be your host affiliate for next year and they will be planning lots of surprises for us all.  Room rates at the Capitol Plaza Hotel, Jefferson City are $79 singles and doubles $99 Jr. Suite and $119 King Suite.  Look for more information coming your way after the first of the year.  Thanks again for everyone’s help.

HE ASKED, YOU ANSWER

Mark Laird, Deputy Director for RSB, spoke to us during our convention and had three questions he would like to have feedback on.  Those questions are:

  1. What RSB services and outcomes do you most value?
  2. What are the barriers to access those RSB services?
  3. What direction would you like to see RSB take in the future?

We are asking as many people as possible to give him some input on these questions.  It doesn’t have to be for every question, but maybe for only one or two of them.  I encourage each member to participate in this survey.  By doing so we can all have a say in how RSB can better serve their stakeholders.

You can contact Mark by sending an email message to: Mark.Laird@DSS.MO.Gov or by writing to him at:

Mark Laird - Deputy Director

Rehab Services for the Blind

615 Howerton Ct.
P.O. Box 88
Jefferson City, Missouri 65103-0088

Thank you for your participation.

Denny Huff - President

 

FIRMWARE?

A new version of the firmware in the digital talking book machines offered by your local talking book library has just been released.

Q: What is firmware?

A: Firmware is the programming that tells your player what to do when you press buttons or insert or remove a cartridge or flash drive.

Q: Why should I care that the firmware has been updated? My player works just fine already.

A: The update includes several new features that you might find helpful.

Q: What are these features?

A: Here is a list of the features we think most people will find the most helpful.

More flash drives should work with the player. In the past, NLS used a power-saving mode so your player would play as long as possible on battery whether you used a cartridge designed for the player or a standard flash drive. Unfortunately, many flash drives aren't compatible with this power-saving mode, as we mentioned in a previous post. So this mode has been switched off for flash drives that you connect to the Assistive Technology

(AT) port on the side of your player. Most drives, as well as SD cards in card readers, should now work just fine with your player. The down side is that your player will work on battery about 2/3 as long as it does when you use a cartridge inserted into the cartridge slot. Since this means you'll still be able to use your player on battery for 20 hours or more on a fresh charge, this shouldn't pose a problem in most situations. If you need the longer battery life, however, use a cartridge designed to work with the player.

Books are now sorted alphabetically on your cartridge or flash drive. If you put each book in its own folder and copy that folder to your cartridge or flash drive, you'll find that all the books are sorted alphabetically based on the names of the book folders. This means that you can control the order in which books are displayed on the bookshelf by changing the folder names.

For example, you could put a 1 at the beginning of the folder name for the book you want to play first. You can also categorize books into folders, such as fiction and nonfiction. If you do this, you won't see the names "Fiction" and "Nonfiction" when you move through the bookshelf, but all the fiction books will be listed first in alphabetical order, followed by all the nonfiction books, also in alphabetical order. Note that folder names starting with numbers appear first, then those beginning with upper-case letters. Those beginning with lower-case letters are listed last.

If you have books on your cartridge or flash drive that are in DAISY 2.02 format, such as books from Learning Ally (formerly Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic), those books will be listed before books you download from BARD. If you have an Audio+Podcasts folder containing MP3 files, that folder will be treated as a book and will be the last item listed on your bookshelf.

If you have a lot of books on your cartridge or flash drive and you've entered the bookshelf, you can hold down the Fast Forward button to move to the last book, or hold down the Rewind button to move to the first one.

You can reduce the amount the player says (verbosity) when you are rewinding or fast forwarding through a book. If you'd like your player to speak less as you move through a book with these keys, make sure no cartridge or flash drive is attached, and hold down the Fast Forward and Speed Down buttons together until the player says, "Reduced verbosity." If you try this mode and decide you don't like it, remove all cartridges and flash drives and hold down the Fast Forward and Speed Up buttons together until the player says, "Normal verbosity."

The key describer and user guide now include detailed information about how to use Bookshelf mode. To hear the key describer message about this mode, make sure no cartridge or flash drive is attached, and press the Play button. After describing how this button starts and stops book playback, the player will tell you how to use Bookshelf mode. There is also detailed information about this mode in section 3.16 of the built-in user guide.

This firmware update includes many other more technical changes as well. You can read about them at http://www.loc.gov/nls/DTBM/index.html

Q: Why did you refer to the USB port on the side of the player as an AT port?

A: This port was built into the machine so that patrons who don't have the physical ability to use the player's standard controls can operate the machine by attaching accessories such as a remote control device (currently under development). Additionally, it was provided in order to make it easier for technicians to service the player. Fortunately, this port can also be used for attaching flash drives.

Q: How do I get the update?

A: You can download it from

http://www.loc.gov/nls/DTBM/index.html

Another way to find it is to log into BARD and choose the link called "Latest DTBM firmware and installation instructions."

As the installation instructions indicate, you should unzip the file you download, much as you would unzip a book. When you do, you will find a folder called "Upgrade." Copy this folder to the root of a cartridge or flash drive. In other words, don't put it in a folder on the drive. Then insert the cartridge or connect the flash drive, and turn on the player. You will be told that the player's firmware is being upgraded, and the player will beep every few seconds until the update is done. Don't turn off your player while it's upgrading; your player will turn off automatically when the upgrade is complete. Note that if you leave the Upgrade folder on your cartridge or flash drive, your player won't try to update itself again; it will ignore the folder from then on.

Q: This sounds complicated. Is there any other way to get the update?

A: You can ask your library to send you a cartridge that has the upgrade folder on it. Eventually, libraries will add this folder to all the books they send out, so if you order books from your library, your player will get updated eventually even if you do nothing.

That's about it. We hope you found this information helpful and will enjoy the update.

Sincerely, The BARD Technical Support Team, NLS BARD Technical Support,
e-mail: NLSDownload@loc.gov

Read the BARD FAQ at: https://nlsbard.loc.gov/NLS/FAQ.html=

Introducing THE LOGAN® BRAILLECOACH™

The BrailleCoach teaching device is a unique way to learn Braille enabling the student to work independently between lessons enhancing the progress.

Just Pick a Braille Tag, Place it on the button and Press.

The BrailleCoach teaching device will say what is on the tag to support the learning of Braille.

Easy to use - BrailleCoach comes with an alphabet set of pre-programmed Braille tags making it useable out of the box.

Easy to progress - there are three modes of learning which allow progression through grades 1 and 2 - Mode 1 Letters and Dots: Mode2 Letters only: Mode 3 Letters and single-letter contractions.

Features

  • Recording capability for extension of use
  • Easy to customize own tags with Braille Labeler (not included)
  • Powered by 4 AA batteries (up to 2months battery life in use)
  • Headphone capability for privacy (headphones not included)
  • Available in American and British English
  • Programming Tags

 

Options

• Sets of blank tags for customization

The Logan BrailleCoach teaching device supports independent practice of Braille.  Visit www.braillecoach.com for more information.

 

From the Lower Left-Hand Drawer

By John Weidlich

Once again, the drawer is a bit slim, but I think I have some good items to pass along so let’s go. As usual, I remind you that none of these items are being endorsed by MCB nor does anyone offer me any compensation for passing product information along to you. My reward is in giving you information that you may find useful.

Most of you probably are aware of this resource and may have used it but for those who are new, the St Louis Service Club for the Blind sells Folding canes, Braille paper, slates and styluses, signature guides, talking clocks, bold line paper, 20/20 pens, games and other items. You don’t have to live in St Louis to order. They may also be able to direct you to other sources if they don’t carry what you are looking for. To order, call 314 647-3306 or send email to sc4theblind@sbcglobal.net.

Lori Kirsop offers Braille transcription and tutoring. Her web site is www.abcbraillereaders.com and her phone number is (623) 293-0401.

The Vermont Country store sells cassette tape players and machines that will convert tapes into mp3 files. Phone: (802) 776-5731, web site: www.vermontcountrystore.com/shop.

The i-vu is a portable electronic magnifier from Clarity. The two-foot screen enlarges text or photos by five to twenty times. Visit www.clarityusa.com for more information.

Rehab teacher Lisa Salinger offers training in using screen readers, note takers, talking book players, PDA’s and iPods and iPhones. She also offers free podcasts on technology-related concepts. Phone: (570) 955-3547, email: lisasali@ptd.net. Her web address is www.lisasalinger.com.

Who doesn’t like chocolate? I don’t see any hands raised. A company called Sweet Tooth sells Braille chocolate bars, chocolate clusters, and guide dogs with Braille on them. They also have fudge and truffles. The Braille messages include “thank You,” “Have a nice day,” “Happy Birthday,” “love you” and Merry Christmas. The bars are 4.5 ounces and come in milk chocolate, white chocolate, dark chocolate or sugar-free. The dogs come complete with a chocolate harness. Here is the contact information: Judy Davis, judydavis12@rochester.rr.com, (585) 544-1853, www.acsu.buffalo.edu/laurabai/sweettooth. Just order me one of everything.

Refurbished computers with a monitor, keyboard, speakers, a cd-rom, and a demo copy of Window-eyes and Zoomtext are available from Lee Mann. Call him at (214) 340-6328. I don’t know anything about price so you will have to ask.

Two Hundred movies with descriptive video in VHS or DVD format can be ordered from Ken Mann. For a list, call him at (972) 530-2949.

Unity’s Message of Hope Ministry offers free spiritual publications and resources to people who are blind. The Daily Word is a bimonthly magazine of inspirational articles, poems and a message for each day. It is available in Braille or audio CD. There is also a lending library of Braille and audio books. Phone: (866) 421-3066, email: message-of-hope@unityonline.org. The web site is www.unityonline.org.

Elegant Insights Braille Creations sells Braille Jewelry and Accessories made from brass, copper, stainless steel and sterling silver. They have dog tags and charms that can be attached to canes, purses, luggage and cell phones. There are a variety of shapes including hearts, stars, guitar picks and geometric shapes. Customized Braille embossing is available. I have no pricing information but I do have contact information if you want to know more. Elegant Insights Braille Creations: www.elegantinsightsjewelry.com, (509) 264-2588.

I have mentioned before that many blind folks are very successfully using iPhones with the touch screens and the built-in voice prompts. A new California-based company, operated by blind people, is now selling Speeddots screen protectors with tactile dots that they claim allows blind people to operate  iPhones and  other similar Apple devices more quickly and efficiently. The tactile dots provide easier navigation and orientation to the touch screen. The dots give locations to keys on the virtual keyboards along with some of the most commonly used buttons and controls. Two versions are available, a standard model and an advanced model. The only contact information I have is the web site which is http://www.speeddots.com.

A while back, I mentioned an online publication called Magnets and Ladders, consisting of fiction, memoirs, essays and poetry by blind writers. Well, I have a little more information.  It is published twice a year by an organization called Behind Our Eyes. The Fall/Winter 2011 issue is now available. I checked it out and I was impressed by the talent of these writers. The issue contained around forty-five selections on various themes, some but not all of them blindness-related. One of the contributors is our MCB First Vice President Deanna Noriega.  It can be read or downloaded from the web site www.magnetsandladders.org or you can subscribe to the email edition.

Finally, I would like to share some information from an article about a woman with a disability who is trying to do what she can to   lower the high unemployment rate for people with disabilities. Joyce Bender worked in the field of executive search until she developed epilepsy in 1985. This diagnosis followed a serious fall that required her to undergo brain surgery. In 1995, she founded Bender Consulting Services, a company focused on finding jobs for people with disabilities. She works with private sector employers, placing people in such fields as software development, finance, human resources, and communications. She operates like any job recruiting firm, working with employers to identify positions to be filled and then tries to find the best candidates to fill those spots. All of her candidates have some type of disability. But here’s the difference: Bender offers employers an interesting proposition. For the first six months of any placement, Bender Consulting provides full salary and benefits, including health care. If the employer is satisfied with the new employee’s performance, the company agrees to hire the employee. So far, 90 percent of Bender’s placements have been hired by their employers. Bender Consulting operates in 19 states but I don’t know if Missouri is one of them. But it is an interesting concept and it seems to be working well both for the company and the job seekers for whom she is finding employment.

That’s it for this time. I’ll be back in March, 2012.