Vol. 48, No. 2February, 2005

Barbara Pierce, editor

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[PHOTO/CAPTION: The Belle of Louisville]

Louisville Site of 2005 NFB Convention

The 2005 convention of the National Federation of the Blind will take place in Louisville, Kentucky, July 2-9, at the Galt House and Galt House East Tower. The Galt House West is at 140 N. Fourth Street, and the Galt House East Tower, or Galt House East, is at 141 N. Fourth Street, Louisville, Kentucky 40202. Our overflow hotel is the Hyatt Regency at 320 W. Jefferson Street, Louisville, Kentucky 40202.

The 2005 room rates are singles, doubles, and twins $59; and triples and quads $64 a night, plus tax. The hotel is accepting reservations now. A $60-per-room deposit is required to make a reservation. Fifty percent of the deposit will be refunded if notice is given to the hotel of a reservation cancellation before June 1, 2005. The other 50 percent is not refundable. For reservations call the Galt House at (502) 589-5200 or the Hyatt Regency at (502) 587-3434.

Rooms will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. Reservations may be made before June 1, 2005, assuming that rooms are still available. After that time the hotels will not hold their blocks of rooms for the convention. In other words, you should get your reservation in soon.

A covered pedestrian walkway connects the two hotels, and guest room amenities in both include hair dryer, coffee pot, iron and ironing board, and dataport. Those who attended the 2003 convention can testify to the gracious hospitality of both the Hyatt and the Galt House. Our headquarters hotel has excellent restaurants, first-rate meeting space, and other top-notch facilities. It is in downtown Louisville, close to the Ohio River and only seven miles from the Louisville airport.

The 2005 convention will follow what many think of as our usual schedule:

Saturday, July 2Seminar Day

Sunday, July 3 Registration Day

Monday, July 4 Board Meeting and Division Day

Tuesday, July 5Opening Session

Wednesday, July 6 Tour Day

Thursday, July 7 Banquet Day

Friday, July 8Business Session

Vol. 48, No. 2 February 2005


The Sixth Quadrennial Meeting of the World Blind Union:

An Incubator for Democracy

by Barbara Pierce

Springtime in December

by Barbara Pierce

The Instructional Materials Accessibility Act:

Reviewing the Long Road to Passage

by James McCarthy

Louisville: The Emphasis Is on Fun

by Denise Franklin

California Legislation and Accessibility Issues

by Nancy Burns

Birthday Honors

by Donald Morris

Crisis at the Big Box Store, Part 2

by Brad Hodges

Ask Miss Whozit

by Barbara Pierce

Imagine a Future Full of Opportunity,

and Take Pride in Creating That Future

by Kevan Worley

Convention Scholarships Available

by Allen Harris


Monitor Miniatures

Copyright© 2005 National Federation of the Blind

[LEAD PHOTO/CAPTION: The Convention Center meeting room in which the World Blind Union conducted its sixth quadrennium.]

The Sixth Quadrennial Meeting of the World Blind Union:

An Incubator for Democracy

by Barbara Pierce

What happens when representatives from organizations of and for the blind from more than a hundred countries gather to elect officers, report on organizational activities, and set policy? If it weren't for the miracle of simultaneous translation, the answer would be not very much. At the sixth quadrennium of the World Blind Union (WBU) held in Cape Town, South Africa, from December 6 to 10, 2004, delegates and observers had headsets that provided English, French, Spanish, Italian, Russian, and Arabic translation of the entire proceedings. But before we report on what those delegates said and did, a bit of history will put this meeting in context.

In 1984 two organizations, the International Federation of the Blind (for the creation of which Dr. tenBroek was largely responsible) and the World Council for the Welfare of the Blind (composed exclusively of organizations working with or on behalf of blind people), joined to form the WBU. In many countries no distinction could be made between groups of and for the blind, and resources for conducting international meetings were so sparse that the world community found it difficult and an unjustifiable expense to try to sustain two international bodies in the field. So in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in 1984, members of the two groups came together to adopt a constitution and elect the first officers of the new World Blind Union. In the intervening years the WBU has met every four years: Madrid in 1988, Cairo in 1992, Toronto in 1996, Melbourne in 2000, and Cape Town in 2004.

Beginning in 1996, a forum for blind women has taken place immediately before the general assembly. This has resulted in increasing numbers of women being named as delegates to the WBU meeting. This year ninety-two of the total two hundred fifty-two WBU delegates were women, and it seems clear that women are taking an increasingly active role in both national and international leadership in blindness organizations.

The first day of the conference was conducted with great expedition. Speakers used only their allotted time or less, with the result that the afternoon session actually ended early. Proxy voting is permitted in the WBU. After all, the financial burden of getting delegates to quadrennial meetings is staggeringly high for organizations in developing nations, so allowing one delegate to control the votes of his or her colleagues who do not have the funds to attend ensures that the national member can exert its full weight in the political process.

President Maurer chaired the WBU Credentials Committee, which met late Monday to attempt to determine which proxy votes would be recognized. According to the WBU constitution, national members have between two and ten delegates, depending on population--no country has fewer than two, and all countries with 250 million or more citizens have ten. The names of all delegates are supposed to be in the hands of the WBU president by October 1. If a delegate cannot attend the quadrennium, he or she may give his or her proxy to another delegate from that country who will be attending. The Credentials Committee's troubles began with the three official lists of delegates it received from the WBU president and treasurer, who receives member dues. These lists did not agree. In addition, in several cases delegates had given their proxies to delegates from other countries. For example, Afghanistan, not surprisingly, had no delegates in attendance, so they had given their proxies to delegates from other countries.

By Tuesday morning the stage was set for drama, if not chaos. Dr. Maurer read the list of delegates whom the Credentials Committee had recognized as holding valid proxies. Then the fun began. People rose to protest that they had sent their lists of delegates long before the deadline. Others explained that they had not been sure that funding for travel to Cape Town would be available until late November. Having come so far or having carried proxies in good faith, no one wanted to be disenfranchised. Eventually the chair ruled that the constitution absolutely prohibited delegates from one country giving their proxies to citizens of other countries, so such proxies could not be exercised. But the question of who was a delegate and which proxies they could exercise from their countries was open to passionate debate.

Fortunately conference organizers had secured the services of Judge Ismail Hussein as returning officer. Judge Hussein has devoted his career to ensuring that elections are conducted fairly. He undertook to talk with every national delegation and make a list of the delegates whom he determined to be eligible to serve. The group as a whole agreed that, regardless of which list, if any, a delegate's name appeared on, if he or she was present and deemed by the judge to be eligible to serve, that person would be recognized. This process took almost the entire remainder of the morning.

Luckily this survey could and did continue while Sir John Wall of the United Kingdom, who chaired this session, attempted to conduct other business. This involved consideration of a number of constitutional amendments. The WBU has been trying to amend its constitution for years. In Melbourne the Constitution Committee had worked very hard to prepare amendments to the document, only to have the assembly vote to send the amendments back for further consideration. Many people were convinced that if the organization did not deal definitively with the effort to revise the constitution during this meeting, it would have demonstrated that it was incapable of acting at all.

One of the most hotly contested amendments under consideration stipulated that the president could stand for election to a second four-year term. A second amendment concerning WBU officers would have eliminated the position of immediate past president as a WBU table officer. The third amendment in this first set would have changed the time when newly passed amendments would take effect from immediately following the close of the quadrennium to immediately following passage of the amendment. The executive committee had decided that this third amendment should be acted upon first since, only if the assembly voted to advance the time for amendments to take effect could Kicki Nordstrom of Sweden, the WBU president completing her term of office, have her name placed in nomination for a second term, assuming that the amendment permitting a president to run for a second term were to pass. Of course, only if the presidential-term amendment were to pass would changing the time when amendments take effect be important.

It was something of a chicken-and-egg problem, and every time the chair explained again that it really did not matter in which order the amendments were considered since all of them would be addressed before any voting took place, someone would seek the floor to argue that it made more sense to consider the amendments in an order different from the one chosen by the officers. If the discussion had not been so time-consuming and frustrating, the passion and pomposity of the arguments claiming that democracy demanded that things be done differently would have been funny.

Amendments require a two-thirds affirmative vote to pass in the WBU. Because of the passion surrounding these votes, Mr. Wall was not willing to conduct voice votes, so voting was postponed until the returning officer had identified all delegates and provided them with a method of casting a secret ballot--the original secret-ballot method having bitten the dust when the decision was made to permit the inclusion of more delegates than any of the official lists showed. Mr. Wall allowed discussion of all three amendments while the group waited to vote. But this process clearly confused some people, who kept jumping back to previous issues in the name of democracy. Mr. Wall did an admirable job of explaining what was and was not going on, allowing people to have their say, and trying to move the process forward despite the chaos.

Eventually the chair persuaded the assembly to postpone votes on these three amendments until secret votes could be taken. He suggested that the Constitution Committee could begin presenting other amendments for discussion. After a few noncontroversial ones passed on a voice vote, Mr. Wall actually persuaded the assembly to approve in one vote all the constitutional amendments that had never caused a single objection throughout the committee's work. The assembly had just become embroiled in debate on a more controversial amendment when the joyful word arrived that the list of delegates was now complete and every delegate had been given one envelope for each vote he or she controlled on all three of the original amendments. Delegates could submit a token of the correct shape to cast their votes for and against each amendment. The results of this amazing series of votes were announced after lunch. All three amendments failed: Amendments continue to take effect at the close of the quadrennium, the president of the WBU cannot run for a second term, and the past president is still a table officer and a member of the Executive Committee.

The North America/Caribbean Region introduced several amendments for consideration. The intention was to broaden participation and increase democracy in the workings of the organization. These passed following enthusiastic debate.

[PHOTO/CAPTION:Susan Spungin and Mary Ellen Jernigan chat at the reception hosted by the North America/Caribbean Region for WBU delegates and observers.]

The question of whether or not Kicki Nordstrom could run for a second term was not the only hotly debated electoral issue before the assembly. The North America/Caribbean Region put forward a candidate for treasurer, Dr. Susan Spungin, vice president for education and international programs of the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB). Opposing her was Geoff Gibbs from New Zealand, not associated at present with any blindness organization. Dr. Gibbs had already served two terms as treasurer and was seeking a third. Dr. Spungin was supported by the AFB, which meant that she could count on financial support getting to WBU meetings around the world, professional expertise in preparing financial reports and obtaining audits, and clerical assistance in circulating reports in appropriate formats with sufficient lead time for people to study them. In addition to these advantages, the WBU would easily save $100,000 over the next four years if the treasurer was no longer receiving financial support from the WBU. These funds could be devoted to programming during the next quadrennium. Still Dr. Gibbs had a good deal of support, and going into the Cape Town meeting, the North America/Caribbean delegation wondered if it would be possible to persuade enough delegates to support Dr. Spungin to elect an American woman as an officer.

[PHOTO/CAPTION: Convention Center employees pose together, wearing their Spungin for treasurer caps.]

The NFB brought along 500 white baseball caps with lavender text reading "Susan Spungin for treasurer." In addition "SJS" in raised Braille dots appeared below the other text. These caps proved to be popular with delegates, observers, volunteers, and Cape Town Convention Center staff. The AFB printed fans that said "Dr. Susan J. Spungin for WBU treasurer." Even those who weren't fans to begin with were happy to have the fans when things got a bit warm during the sessions. Our region hosted a reception Tuesday evening after the session, and Fred Schroeder and the Pierces made sure that every guest who wanted a cap had one.

Parts of both the Thursday and Friday sessions were devoted to the officer elections. As soon as the results of the votes on the electoral amendments were announced on Tuesday, William Rowland, retiring president of the South African Council for the Blind and first vice president of the WBU, was declared president-elect of the organization by acclamation.

[PHOTO/CAPTION: Newly elected WBU officers Susan Spungin and William Rowland]

Wednesday afternoon three candidates for first vice president, three candidates for secretary general, and two candidates for treasurer made brief presentations to the delegates. Votes were cast in a voting booth Thursday morning, and the results were announced before lunch that day. The same process was repeated Thursday afternoon and Friday morning for second vice president. Here are the results of the various electoral contests: first vice president, Maryanne Diamond (Australia); second vice president, Gloria Peniza (Venezuela); secretary general, Enrique Perez (Spain); and treasurer, Susan Spungin (United States). With Past President Kicki Nordstrom continuing to serve as a table officer, five of the six geographic regions comprising the WBU are represented. By any standard the WBU has achieved excellent geographic balance. Moreover, four women and five blind people among the six table officers demonstrate that the WBU leadership models gender equity and disability representation for the organization as a whole and for the world in general.

[PHOTO/CAPTION: South African President Thabo Mbeki addresses the World Blind Union.]

[PHOTO/CAPTION: WBU officials presented President Mbeki with the bag, jacket, and cap worn by WBU volunteers. He immediately put on the hat and wore it as he greeted delegates on his way out of the hall.]

The most exciting part of the general assembly came at 11:00 a.m. Friday morning, December 10, when South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki entered the ballroom to applause and spontaneous praise singing by a group of South African observers. The minister responsible for disability services was with him. President Mbeki addressed the rapt audience, following brief remarks and introductions by WBU President Nordstrom, president Elect Rowland, and African Union of the Blind President Paul Tezanou. Mr. Tezanou asked President Mbeki directly for his help in persuading other African heads of state to make helping blind people to become truly self‑sufficient a priority across the continent. The president said that he would and offered to speak personally to the three African heads of state whose countries have not yet joined the fifty African countries in the African Union of the Blind.

Setting aside the stumbling efforts of delegates from many cultures, levels of sophistication, and styles of political discourse, all trying to make difficult procedural decisions while speaking many languages, the WBU sixth quadrennium demonstrated growing organizational maturity. It heard reports from a number of committees, work groups, and international members about projects completed and work in progress. It considered thirty‑five resolutions and acted on many. And of course it elected a strong and committed group of officers to lead it during the challenging four years ahead.

No report of this quadrennium would be complete without a word about our South African hosts. They were tireless in their hospitality and their efforts to solve any problem that arose. They entertained the women's forum at a barbecue on the grounds of the Medical Research Facility at Stellenbosch University. On Wednesday they organized a celebration of African food and music and an address by the mayor of Cape Town. Finally they organized a festive farewell reception and dinner on the last evening of the conference. Under demanding circumstances they provided print, large print, and contracted and uncontracted Braille materials in English when required and almost at a moment's notice.

Were there problems with the program and the arrangements? Of course. This is still a young organization, and it was meeting in a country only ten years old itself. But here are two anecdotal measures of the importance of this meeting to many of the people who attended. One delegate was turned back at the Cape Town airport because his passport had too many stamps in it‑‑this man travels internationally as part of his job. He flew back to Johannesburg, where he could reach his country's embassy and obtain a new passport in order to attend the meeting. Another delegate traveled three days on a truck to reach an airport from which she could fly to Cape Town.

I am writing this report in an intercontinental jet flying me back to the United States in quiet comfort. These two delegates and many others have demonstrated how much democracy is worth. The WBU has not yet come of age, but it is clearly expanding and growing up. It is fitting that its sixth gathering was in South Africa, where an entire nation still struggles in the birth pangs of nation building.

During the opening ceremonies of the women's forum and again before President Mbeki spoke, a choir of blind women from Cape Town sang the new South African national anthem. Like so much else in South Africa today, it was created through negotiated compromise. The first half is a hymn in Choisa asking God's blessing on Africa, but its text is now sung in three indigenous languages. Then the mood and melody shift to the old national anthem, which was originally sung in Afrikaans, but now the final two lines are in English. Probably every South African citizen prefers one half of the song over the other, but using five languages and two melodies, it asks for Divine protection for one young country that dares to do a new thing. May South Africa be an inspiration to the World Blind Union during the next four years and into the decades ahead.

[PHOTO/CAPTION: Table Mountain in the heart of Cape Town as seen from Robben Island]

Springtime in December

by Barbara Pierce

To some international readers of the Braille Monitor the above title is nothing more than life as usual, but for the North Americans who traveled to Cape Town, South Africa, for the sixth quadrennium of the World Blind Union (WBU) one of the offsetting benefits of spending well over twenty hours in the air to get there was more than a week of brilliant sunshine and temperatures in the high seventies during the day and the high sixties in the evening.

While the women's forum and the general assembly were in session, we were, of course, seated indoors, taking part in the meetings, but we had evenings and two weekends in which to appreciate the beauty and diversity of this southwesternmost protrusion of the African continent, which culminates in the Cape of Good Hope. A mountain range stretches the length of the Cape, running through Cape Town. The most famous peak, if it can be called that, is Table Mountain, which is 1,086 meters high and looks from the streets of Cape Town as if a giant craftsman had simply sawed off the top of the mountain, leaving a flat surface of several square kilometers. Walking around on the top, one may question the concept of flatness; the walking is pretty rough in many places.

[PHOTO/CAPTION: Patricia Maurer stands on Table Mountain. Behind her part of Cape Town can be seen, including its newly renovated waterfront.]

More than two hundred different routes are available for climbing up or down the faces of the mountain, and Cape youngsters often make the two-hour climb on a Sunday morning and then ride the cable car back down. We soft Americans were happy to use the cable car in both directions. The views from the top are spectacular, and while up there one can examine large relief maps of both the top of Table Mountain and the entire Cape.

Perhaps the most effective effort the ten-year-old South African democracy has made to communicate to the world what it is learning about overcoming the past and forgiving one's enemies is its tours of Robben Island, eleven kilometers from Cape Town in the Atlantic. For over four hundred years Robben Island--its name is derived from a Dutch word for the seals that once inhabited the island--was used almost exclusively to imprison those that successive regional governments wanted to be rid of. In the early years this included Malay princes and other political enemies. But involuntary residents have also included lepers and those with mental illnesses. The apartheid regime that took power after the British vacated in 1961 used Robben Island to imprison convicted members of the ANC (African National Congress). Nelson Mandela, the first president of the new South African democracy, spent the majority of his twenty-seven years of incarceration on Robben Island. Among the most moving displays in the area where passengers wait to board the ferry for Robben Island is a giant photograph of prisoners, including Nelson Mandela, sitting in the courtyard of their prison block, using five-pound hammers to crush rock. The only purpose of this work was to exhaust and demoralize the Black, Colored, and Indian prisoners.

[PHOTO/CAPTION: The courtyard in Nelson Mandela's Robben Island prison block, where prisoners broke rock all day.]

The tour guides for both the bus tours of the island and the prison tours are themselves former prisoners and members of their families. Our guide explained that he was committed to doing this work to ensure that the world remembers what happened to the people fighting for freedom and equality in the South Africa of 1961 to 1993. He assured our group that they had forgiven their oppressors, but that they would never allow themselves to forget the experience of oppression for fear that, if they forgot those painful lessons, they might themselves be capable of perpetrating the same injustices on others. He sent us back to our ferry urging us to remember that the human spirit is greater than the evil of hatred.

From the earliest years colonizing the Cape, Europeans recognized that the rolling hills and valleys of the western Cape were ideally suited for growing grapes and making wine. Not until Huguenots were forced to leave the wine-making provinces of France, however, did farmers arrive with the expertise to grow grapes successfully and begin to develop South Africa's wine production. On the Sunday between the women's forum and the beginning of the WBU general sessions, President Maurer's secretary, Jessica Thompson, and the Pierces joined a small tour of the Stellenbosch wine region. The area was lovely, and one farm was even conducting a wine tasting. We can testify that the South African wines are truly excellent, even if they are not much imported by the United States.

[PHOTO/CAPTION: Barbara Pierce and Jessica Thompson smile as they kneel, poised to pet Joseph, a two-and-a-half-year-old cheetah. The trainer kneels, straddling the cat's head. Joseph relaxes with his eyes shut and tail and legs extended.]

But the most memorable part of the day was a stop at the Spier Cheetah Preserve, where a band of dedicated professionals are fighting to keep these smallest of the big cats from complete extinction. For a small fee visitors can watch and even stroke cheetahs, though only after they have been fed and a handler is present to keep them relaxed. Cats from this preserve are used in films and public appearances to educate people about their plight.

[PHOTO/CAPTION: Elephants browse twenty-two hours a day. This one was far more interested in lunch than our car.]

At the conclusion of the quadrennium the Pierces flew to Port Elizabeth, where we spent a day touring the Addo Elephant Preserve. This fenced park is home to about three hundred fifty elephant, eleven zebra, six lions, several cape buffalo, and many antelope of several kinds, ostriches, secretary birds (who hunt in pairs and kill snakes by kicking them), and innumerable lesser birds and beasts. Visitors are warned to leave citrus fruit behind when entering the park, since elephants think nothing of opening a car to help themselves to oranges and lemons. Our driver/guide also mentioned that, when it is cool, elephants are delighted to sit on the hood of a car to enjoy the warmth. We were relieved that the temperatures were well into the eighties that day.

[PHOTO/CAPTION: The sign behind the Pierces announces the latitude and longitude of the Cape of Good Hope. The Atlantic can be seen on the right.]

[PHOTO/CAPTION: A mother ostrich supervises several chicks. An ostrich can lay up to sixty eggs, though if they are not taken away from her by predators or by farmers to stimulate production, she will stop at about twenty-five--the number she or her mate can cover with their bodies and outspread wings. Male ostriches are black because they sit on the nest at night. The brown female has brooding duty during the day.]

[PHOTO/CAPTION: Mary Ellen Jernigan and Marc Maurer receive permission to climb to the top of the lighthouse at Cape Point. Here they stand on the platform, lighthouse keeper behind them, and enjoy what the keeper called a light breeze.]

The following day we drove to the Cape of Good Hope and enjoyed watching the penguin colony, ostriches and their chicks, and troops of baboon strolling along the road, eating berries and observing the visitors. We learned of one interesting hazard that we do not have to worry about in this country. It seems that, as civilization in South Africa encroaches on baboon habitat, homeowners risk break-ins by baboons. The first thing the invader does is to mark every room to keep other baboon from following into the promised land. This results in a particularly smelly clean-up job, which is then compounded by the additional damage done by the baboon. They cannot open jars, so they drop them on the floor and pick goodies out of the broken glass. They also can and do empty refrigerators. The damage they can inflict in a short time is staggering, but it is not covered by homeowners' insurance. It is comforting to know that American society is free from a few hazards.

We very much enjoyed our visit to Cape Town and admire what the South African people are attempting to accomplish. This experiment in democracy is very new, and the country still faces staggering problems. The poverty of many Blacks is almost inconceivable. The "informal" housing, as the hovels erected by millions of desperately poor people are euphemistically called, simply cannot be imagined unless they are seen. The continuing ignorance of many, many people in rural areas was symbolized for me by a statement made by a South African delegate to the women's forum. She told those of us seated at her table that in addition to the myth that intercourse with a virgin will cure AIDS, some rural men are now being told that sex with disabled women will cure them. As a result the incidence of AIDS among rural blind women is rapidly increasing. In addition South Africa is coping with an unemployment rate of more than 40 percent, despite many more service staff working in every area of South African life than one ever sees in the developed world.

We can only hope that this bold experiment with democracy and equality will succeed and that South Africa will learn to make the most of its many resources and its wonderful people.

[PHOTO/CAPTION: James McCarthy]

The Instructional Materials Accessibility Act:

Reviewing the Long Road to Passage

by James McCarthy

From the Editor: After four years of devoting much energy during the Washington Seminar to persuading Congress that it should pass the Instructional Materials Accessibility Act, it is fitting that this February we spend a moment to look back at exactly how we managed to get the provisions of this legislation enacted. In the following article NFB Director of Governmental Affairs James McCarthy describes the beginning of the effort. This is what he says:

With reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) last November and its inclusion of key provisions of the Instructional Materials Accessibility Act (IMAA), I found myself seeking to place this momentous occasion in perspective. The NFB has stressed the fundamental importance of ensuring that the blind read and write Braille in part because those who can do so have more opportunities in employment than those who cannot. Once implemented, the IMAA will speed up the process and diminish the cost of converting printed material into Braille. This will help foster greater Braille literacy among blind children, increasing their opportunities once they reach adulthood.

Since 2000 the NFB has worked for federal legislation, and earlier efforts by NFB affiliates in many states to pass Braille bills led (or perhaps drove) publishers to support a national approach. Throughout the 1990's the NFB campaigned for passage of model state Braille bills that we had developed. Texas was the first to pass Braille literacy legislation, with many states soon to follow.

Many of these laws required publishers to provide an electronic copy of textbooks upon request for use by blind children. Once serious discussions of federal legislation commenced, the Association of American Publishers (AAP) asserted that publishers were bound by differing standards in twenty-six states. The most common file type stipulated was ASCII, which, while readily accessible for the blind, was not used by publishers and was difficult to format properly. The publishers' desire to have only a single file format standard required of them and the development of more versatile electronic file types have finally helped lead to passage of the IMAA.

Also in 1996 the NFB advocated for congressional enactment of the Chafee amendment, named for John Chafee, the senator from Rhode Island who introduced it. The basic objective of this provision was to permit certain entities to convert printed materials into specialized formats for use by the blind and others with print disabilities without seeking prior permission of the publisher. Before the Chafee amendment it often took several months for this permission to be granted. Progress came more quickly because the group of eligible individuals was readily determinable as those who are certified by the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped of the Library of Congress. This small piece of legislation marked the first collaboration between the blind and the publishers, serving as a confidence builder for both.

Until recently I would have ended my little report at this point. However, a couple of questions remain to be answered. How did we establish deliberations with the publishers in the first place? How did the idea of a national repository for collecting, cataloging, and distributing electronic files emerge? To answer these questions, I turned to past issues of the Braille Monitor, where I regularly look to learn about issues requiring NFB involvement.

I recalled that at my first NFB national convention at the Chicago Hilton in 1995, one program item was a publisher panel chaired by Dr. Jernigan. Like many first-timers I found so much to consider that I did not pay enough attention to this panel discussion. I knew this subject was important to the blind, and I recall thinking that Dr. Jernigan was a tough questioner, but little else. I would encourage readers to look back at the 1995 convention issue, because much of what we now know as the IMAA can be traced to that panel discussion, as readers will see.

Dr. Jernigan's objective is clear: "I want to emphasize to you that, whatever else comes, Braille must and will be made accessible and available to blind students in the schools throughout the country ... [I]n the same way that sighted children in this country would fight, their parents would fight for the right for them to have textbooks, we intend to have textbooks; and we have the clout to make it happen."

Prior to the 1995 convention the blind and the publishers had talked around each other rather than to each other. Dr. Jernigan said, "This is an important item on our program, perhaps as much for the fact of its occurrence as for what any of us who are making presentations will say. It is long past time that we and the Association of American Publishers, Inc., got together and tried to see if we can make common cause."

President Maurer followed up by saying to the AAP representatives, "You have an interest in the copyright law, and so do we. We were asked recently to provide proposed language to amend that law to make it much more readily and easily available to have Braille made available for us. We did provide that language. You provided language having to do with a national repository. We didn't discuss ours with you. You didn't discuss yours with us. If we keep on that way, I suspect there is going to be conflict. I'd rather there weren't, but if we don't change, I see no alternative."

Robert St. Claire, the first of the AAP representatives to speak, first suggested the national repository, which supporters of the IMAA believe to be a critical component. "One of the primary missions ... is to promote the development of a national repository for electronic files for Braille textbook production. Such a repository ... would enable publishers to send electronic files to one location instead of to fifty different locations. Through the state's own identification and assessment of blind students, the repository then could determine state requirements and provide files to states only as needed.

"It could also serve as a clearinghouse to advise states of prior requests from other states and to avert duplication of effort among state agencies. A national repository could not only eliminate unnecessary waste and duplication, it also could provide a much needed service to the many state and regional agencies faced with the formidable task of guaranteeing accessible educational materials for blind students."

As proponents of the IMAA deliberated, it became clear (for many of the reasons Mr. St. Clair suggested in the preceding quotation) that a national repository was a critical component in any solution that would get books to blind children on time. The battle to ensure that the repository would be included in IDEA turned out to be the final legislative struggle. With the active support of the blind and the publishers, Congress finally included the repository at the eleventh hour.

After the Chicago convention of 1995, the blind and the AAP negotiated with each other to create mutually beneficial legislation. The Chafee amendment was the first, setting the stage for future legislation. We have now finally achieved the IMAA to ensure that blind elementary and high school students receive their books on time.

The next step is to ensure that college students receive access to printed materials that will allow them to succeed. While it will take time to achieve this objective, the AAP has come to the NFB prepared to work on the solution. Over the last ten years the NFB and the AAP have gained trust negotiating with each other, so I have confidence that in time college students will have the enhanced access to printed materials they deserve.

Throughout the history of the NFB, access to printed information has posed one of the greatest barriers faced by the blind, and Dr. Jernigan led the fight to eliminate it. Six years after Dr. Jernigan's death it remains a barrier. However, today we can actually imagine a time when printed material will be widely accessible to the blind, and the relationship developed between us and the publishers is an important reason this actually may come to pass.

[PHOTO/CAPTION: Fourth Street Live!]

Louisville: The Emphasis Is on Fun

by Denise Franklin

From the Editor: Denise Franklin and her husband Dennis are leaders of the Kentucky affiliate and residents of Louisville. When it comes to what's going on in Louisville, they know what they are talking about. Here are some good ideas about what to do with your free time during convention:

If you have visited Louisville during previous national conventions, you became acquainted with our heat, haze, and humidity. A few minutes outdoors in the downtown area was enough to send you scrambling for the air-conditioned comfort of the Galt House Hotel.

As I am writing this article, the temperature is twelve degrees Fahrenheit, and our city is buried under eleven inches of snow. Officials have urged us to stay home unless the trip is an emergency. What a contrast! Don't despair. I can predict with a certain degree of confidence that all that uncomfortably hot weather will be back to greet you when you return in July for the 2005 national convention.

While the weather may be familiar, you'll find that downtown Louisville has undergone something of a metamorphosis. Louisville's metro government has launched a no-holds-barred effort to bring people back into the downtown area. With that said, let me introduce you to Fourth Street Live!

Fourth Street Live! is Louisville's premier entertainment and retail district, located on Fourth Street between Liberty and Muhammad Ali Boulevard, in the heart of historic downtown Louisville. It is just a short walk from the Galt House Hotel and other area attractions. You'll probably want to plan on more than one visit since you will find so much to do and see. Here is an overview of some of the offerings.

Parrot Beach is our version of the party bar atmosphere. It offers great menu selections in the early evening and then transforms into one of the city's hottest nightclubs. If Top 40s music in a beach environment is what you seek, look no further.

Sully's Restaurant and Saloon is a cozy Irish pub with a vibrant nightlife. It is equipped with state-of-the-art technology, including digital surround sound, a thirteen-foot projector screen, and seven plasma televisions on which you can enjoy a wide variety of sports events. Offering lunch and dinner, Sully's boasts some of the best DJs and bartenders in town.

If you happen to be in the market for a true rock 'n' roll saloon, you are in luck. Saddle Ridge is the ultimate place to party. The western décor provides the background for both rock and country music. Through the week you'll hear prerecorded music, but local bands and nationally known performers take the stage on Friday and Saturday nights.

Fourth Street Live! is home to the very first Makers Mark Bourbon House and Lounge. Upon entering, guests are met by an entire wall of backlit Makers Mark bottles and the trademark Makers wax dripping from the ceiling. The lounge is highlighted by warm, rich woods, luxurious black leather banquettes, bourbon brown furnishings, and a dramatic double fireplace. The fifty-seven-foot-long wood-topped bar is outlined in glass and underlit in soft white illumination. At the request of Makers Mark management, bourbons from each of Kentucky's distilleries are showcased. Public seminars are held regularly so that visitors can take away a better understanding of one of Kentucky's most famous exports.

Felt is an upscale billiards club with ten tables at which you can test your skills or learn how the game is played. Sit-down dining is available with an eclectic menu from which to choose. Don't forget to say hello to the jellyfish residing in the thousand-gallon aquarium.

Need a good laugh? Rascals Comedy Club features well-known comedians from HBO, Comedy Central, and The Tonight Show.

Lucky Strike Lanes is a cutting-edge combination of dining, bowling, and multimedia art. The facility boasts fourteen state-of-the-art lanes with 120 feet of projection screens serving as the backdrop. If bowling is not your thing, relax and enjoy something delicious from the full-service restaurant.

Howl at the Moon is a singing, clapping, stomping, dance-on-the-piano rock 'n' roll show, centered on audience participation and the world's most dangerous piano players dueling it out on two baby grands. The musicians offer witty discourse while encouraging the audience to sing along to songs almost everybody knows by heart. It is the perfect place to discover friends you haven't met before.

On May 31, 2004, the 117th Hard Rock Café opened its doors at Fourth Street Live! Here you will find over 250 pieces of rock 'n' roll memorabilia as well as those burgers and thick shakes that have become the chain's claim to fame.

Fourth Street Live! offers two other full-service restaurants. Both T.G.I. Friday's and Red Star Tavern feature menus ranging from steaks and seafood to chicken and pasta. Both are open for lunch, dinner, and late-night dining.

For those occasions when time is at a premium, you can grab a quick meal at Fourth Street Live!'s food court. Choose from Rocky Rococo, which boasts pizza, pasta, and gourmet salads; Taipei Café, specializing in Asian cuisine; or those familiar standbys, Subway and Wendy's. Before you leave the food court, a visit to Cold Stone Creamery is an absolute must. They serve yummy ice cream concoctions that can become addictive.

Fourth Street Live! doesn't have the corner on good food, however. Just a short bus ride from downtown you can find dozens of restaurants providing many types of cuisine. Bardstown Road and Frankfort Avenue are two areas where pedestrians can browse antique shops and specialty boutiques. Numerous eateries are also located in these areas.

If you have access to an automobile and feel adventurous, take some time to explore southern Indiana. This section is often referred to as "the sunny side of Louisville" and has lots to offer the visitor. Let me mention two which are outstanding. Derby Dinner Playhouse is a dinner theater where excellent performances and delicious food go hand in hand. Dramas and musicals are staged here, and you can choose from matinee or evening performances.

Nestled in the rolling hills of southern Indiana is Huber's Restaurant and Winery. Allow plenty of time for this outing because more than food is waiting here. After stuffing yourself on delicious homestyle cooking (don't skip the fried biscuits), visit the duck pond (these birds are always hungry), and take the kids to the petting zoo. At the market you can purchase fresh produce raised on the property. Handmade items are available at the gift shop, and the winery boasts several fine vintages from Indiana-grown grapes. You are encouraged to try the free samples. The Huber family takes pride in its accomplishments, and many family members still participate in the day-to-day operation of the business.

The snow has begun to melt from my front door. Could this be the July heat and humidity moving in early? No such luck. But during the cold days ahead Kentuckians will be hard at work planning the 2005 national convention. We're making our plans; hope you're making yours. See you this summer.

California Legislation and Accessibility Issues

by Nancy Burns

From the Editor: Nancy Burns is president of the NFB of California. Here she reports on the affiliate's recent legislative activity. Some of the things they have accomplished would be useful projects for other states. This is what she says:

For the past several years the NFB of California has had a successful legislative agenda. Both Braille literacy issues and nonvisual access to technology legislation have passed. AB-2525 was signed by Governor Davis in 2002. This legislation mandated nonvisual access to voting machines. Assembly member Hannah-Beth Jackson, from Santa Barbara, authored this bill. Members of the Santa Barbara South Coast chapter visited her district office and were influential in her decision to author this legislation. AB-467 was authored by assembly member John Dutra, who has been a supporter of NFB of California legislation in the past. This bill provided nonvisual access to ticket-vending machines for public transportation and was signed into law in 2003.

On February 14, 2004, Federationists, community leaders, and Ryan Spencer, principal consultant from Dutra's office, gathered at a Burbank Metrolink station to acknowledge installation of audible ticket-vending machines. Don Burns, NFB of California legislative representative, presented Ryan Spencer with a certificate of appreciation to be given to assembly member Dutra. Federationists used the ticket-vending machines, and one member assisted a sighted couple to purchase tickets.

[PHOTO/CAPTION: Federationist Racquel Decipeda uses the new talking ticket-vending machine.]

[PHOTO/CAPTION: Don Burns presents a certificate of appreciation to Ryan Spencer, principal consultant from Assembly member John Dutra's office. Federationist Joy Stigile and NFB-C President Nancy Burns look on.]

The legislation which created the most controversy and opposition in the governor's office was AB-2312. It provided nonvisual access to point-of-sale machines and was authored by our friend John Dutra. Over a year ago the NFB of California office began receiving calls from Federationists throughout the state complaining that point-of-sale (POS) machines were now using touch-screen systems and were no longer accessible. As a result of these concerns, we passed a point-of-sale resolution during our 2003 convention. It urged the NFB of California to seek legislation to provide access to POS terminals. This resolution resulted in AB-2312, which created an incredible amount of controversy and opposition. Retailers, grocers, and the hotel industry insisted that changing these point-of-sale machines would be too expensive.

I requested that a flood of emails and letters, both print and Braille, be sent to the governor once the legislation had reached his desk. Our troops responded, and apparently the governor's office was deluged with emails and letters in support of this legislation.

Once our bill reached the governor's desk, there were three possible courses of action. The governor could veto it, and we were concerned this might happen. He could do nothing, and it would automatically become law at the end of September. We thought this was likely to be the only possibility for enactment. The third option, of course, was for the governor to sign the bill. On Friday, September 24, Don Burns received a call from Ryan Spencer advising him that Governor Schwarzenegger had just signed AB-2312. The NFB of California office quickly spread the word and celebrated another victory.

Ryan Spencer worked long and hard on this piece of legislation. He became the liaison between the governor and the NFB of California office. The opposition met with the governor's aide almost daily. And Mr. Spencer met with the same aide to counter the opposition and to restate the NFB of California's position. During the 2004 NFB of California convention Mr. Spencer was presented with a resolution of appreciation that recognized and commended him for the professional manner in which he worked with the NFB and for bringing this legislation to a successful conclusion, resulting in new laws benefiting the blind and visually impaired. Mr. Spencer played a critical role in these negotiations.

The NFB of California has long been concerned about the quality of education received by blind and visually impaired students. Because of these concerns this organization has sponsored Braille literacy legislation. Our first effort to mandate Braille instruction was vetoed by Governor Davis in 2000. Since Federationists don't give up and go away, we returned to the legislature and were successful in getting AB-306 signed by the governor in 2001. This Braille literacy bill, authored by assembly member Dario Frommer, mandated Braille instruction for functionally blind students. This was followed by AB-2326, establishing a task force given the mission to create Braille reading standards, since none existed. Three Federationists served on this task force and worked on what proved to be a formidable assignment. These Braille-reading standards were carefully aligned with the print-reading standards for sighted students in public schools. These standards can be accessed at the California Department of Education Web site at <>.

We hope other affiliates will be successful in creating similar Braille literacy legislation. The state superintendent of public instruction, Jack O'Connell, has acknowledged the task force for this accomplishment and is pleased that the state of California is a leader in the effort to recognize the importance of Braille instruction.

Continuing with our effort to educate the sighted world about the existing crisis in Braille-literacy instruction, our legislative team, Don Burns and his assistant Chad Allen, were successful in bringing about Assembly Concurrent Resolution (ACR) 195. This ACR is not a law, but it articulated the joint concerns of the California senate and assembly regarding literacy instruction for blind and visually impaired students. This ACR was beautifully framed and presented to Don Burns during a recent trip to the capitol. It now hangs in the NFB of California office. The coming legislative year will bring new challenges, and we are ready to meet them.

If you or a friend would like to remember the National Federation of the Blind in your will, you can do so by employing the following language:

"I give, devise, and bequeath unto the National Federation of the Blind, 1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21230, a District of Columbia nonprofit corporation, the sum of $__________(or "______ percent of my net estate" or "The following stocks and bonds: ________") to be used for its worthy purposes on behalf of blind persons."


[PHOTO/CAPTION: Shirley and Don Morris at Dick Edlund's birthday party]

Birthday Honors

by Donald Morris

From the Editor: Those of us who go back a few years know Dick Edlund as one of the most colorful and hardest-working Federation leaders ever to grace the organization. He has been retired from national leadership for more than a decade now, and many people have joined the Federation family during these years. These folks may not have done more than hear Dick's name. The following report by Don Morris of Maryland will bring a smile to the faces of those who know Dick and should pique the interest of those who have not yet met him. This is what Don says:

For thirty-five years I've been waiting for Dick Edlund to get old. Based on his vitality and good health, which he demonstrated at his eightieth birthday party, I guess I will just have to keep waiting. More than one hundred well-wishers (Federationists, friends, family, and neighbors) gathered at the Delaware Lodge Masonic Hall in Kansas City, Kansas, to share memories and good wishes with Dick on Saturday, December 4, 2004.

Born December 5, 1924, Dick can boast a Federation career that spans five decades. He was long-time president and mentor of the Kansas Federation of the Blind, which he helped organize. Following the pattern established for state affiliates, this organization became the NFB of Kansas. Dick joined the NFB board of directors as NFB treasurer in 1974 and served until 1988. He returned to the board for two terms, beginning in 1992.

During his many years as owner and proprietor of Edlund's Hardware, Dick could be found behind the counter or, just as likely, on top of a ladder, or measuring and cutting custom glass for his customers.

Dick has also owned his own airplanes and an airport to go with them. He owned and managed a consignment auction barn at which he alleges to have sold the very hatchet with which George Washington cut down the cherry tree. Dick said the hatchet was so old that it had had four new heads and eleven new handles. The auction barn was as much entertainment as ongoing garage sale. Upon his retirement Dick decided to take it easy by running for and winning a seat in the Kansas legislature. Representative Edlund defeated an incumbent opponent by a vote margin of three to two. In his next two elections Dick ran unopposed. He served in the Kansas House of Representatives with distinction. He chaired many committees and was the successful sponsor of the Kansas Braille bill. Dick's oversight of services for the blind in Kansas helped to bring about many necessary and positive changes.

Several of the well-wishers at Dick's surprise birthday party were legislative colleagues. Among the many congratulatory and laudatory letters and cards Dick received, two of the most heartwarming were letters from Governor Kathleen Sebelius, whose note follows this article, and NFB President Marc Maurer. Here is the text of President Maurer's letter:

November 17, 2004

Dear Dick:

It is a great joy for me to wish you a happy birthday on your eightieth. We have traveled many miles together, and we have fought side by side on many battlefronts. We looked the director of the Utah workshop right in the eye, and we went together to pound on the governor's desk. We have given NAC a piece of our mind, and we have used up a lot of shoe leather in the process. We have shared stories and felt together the awe that the Federation can bring.

We have shared joy and sorrow; we have encountered the bitter wind on the picket line; we have endured the heat of a Washington summer. Through it all we have found strength and commitment in each other, and I am proud to call you a colleague and a friend. You have been a member of this movement for more than three decades, and my life and the lives of many others have been enriched by your presence and your heart. I look forward to the decades to come, and I wish you the happiest of birthdays.

With love and affection,

Marc Maurer, President

National Federation of the Blind

[PHOTO/CAPTION: Dick Edlund and Pila Mahoney cut a giant birthday cake.]

Dick and his well-wishers enjoyed a sumptuous dinner. And of course the meal was topped off with a huge birthday cake. The only down side was that the fire department would not permit us to light all those candles. Thanking all who attended and who had sent cards and letters, Dick extended an open invitation to join him at his ninetieth birthday.

To further the celebration of his birthday, the next day Dick and Pila (Mahoney) flew to Buenos Aires, Argentina, to tour and to enjoy a visit with Pila's sister. Congratulations, Dick, and best wishes for your next decade.

Here is the text of the note from the governor of Kansas. She and Dick were in the legislature together. This is what she says:

November 16, 2004

Dear Dick,

Happy eightieth birthday, Dick.

It is my honor and pleasure as Governor of the State of Kansas to send you warm congratulations on this, your eightieth birthday. I send you best wishes for a day filled with joy.

I join your family and friends in wishing you a happy birthday, and many more happy years to come.


Kathleen Sebelius, Governor of the State of Kansas

[Handwritten note] I enjoyed our time in the House together. You are a great Kansan, and I hope you live for another eighty years.

[PHOTO/CAPTION: Brad Hodges]

Crisis at the Big Box Store, Part 2

by Brad Hodges

From the Editor: In the December 2004 issue Brad Hodges, technology accessibility manager at the Jernigan Institute's International Braille and Technology Center, reported on the accessibility of stoves. In the following reports he completes his assessment of kitchen equipment (dishwashers and refrigerators) and moves on to the laundry room to look at washers and dryers. He will tackle microwaves and home electronics in a few months. This is what he says:


In comparison to the refrigerator, washing machine, and clothes dryer, the dishwasher is something of a Johnny-come-lately on the appliance scene. The first dishwashers intended for home use arrived as America rebounded from the limited availability of consumer goods after World War II. The dishwashers of the 1950's were more novelty and gadget than practical, labor-saving devices. They were top-loading units which were integrated into an entire kitchen cabinet.

The 1960's was a decade of change in America, and the dishwasher was not immune to this trend. The top-loading designs of the first generation gave way to the front-loading dishwasher we now recognize. For many American households in the sixties the installation of a dishwasher and perhaps other kitchen remodeling signaled the arrival of that family as solid members of the middle class, very much as the arrival of a subzero, built-in refrigerator fulfills the same aspiration for today's family.

Because practical and effective methods for washing dishes are available, the dishwasher is an appliance viewed by many people as a purely optional luxury. For those who grew up with them, however, these appliances may seem indispensable. Regardless of your viewpoint, there is no question that these simplest of appliances differ radically in their accessibility for those of us who are blind.

Unlike stoves, washing machines, and dryers, there is almost no variation on the basic technology and control setup for the dishwasher. Measuring a standard twenty-four inches in width and designed to install under an industry-standard cabinet base, all units have downward swinging doors with a locking mechanism.

Controls for these appliances are placed along the top of the door. At this point a little variation enters. Some controls are on the top front surface of the door (facing out into the room when the door is closed), while others are on the top edge of the door (facing upward as the door is opened). This latter design is often referred to as concealed or hidden controls.

As with other categories of appliances, accessibility is influenced by those perennial factors--manufacturer and price. As you would expect, a few brands dominate the industry: Whirlpool (with Sears Kenmore and KitchenAid), Maytag, Frigidaire, GE, and more recently Bosch and Siemens from Germany.

As this article was being prepared, we observed some significant changes in the characteristics of the controls on several brands and a change in the availability of brands from LG and Samsung. This demonstrates that accessibility is a moving target, and the machine that is accessible today may disappear tomorrow.

The controls of today's dishwashers can be divided into three categories. We will refer to these as "pushbuttons," "touch pads," and "bubble buttons." Regardless of the location--on the front of the door or on the top--the behavior of these controls was the same for all brands and models we investigated.

Pushbuttons, either alone or with a timer dial, are found on the simplest offerings from all brands, except for the German Bosch. The status of each button and position of the timer dial can be easily observed by touch. In addition to simplicity and good value, these units are also attractive for installation in rental properties, according to a number of members we talked with.

When considered on a scale of pure accessibility, units with pushbuttons are the first choice. At the same time their noise, lack of advanced features, and appearance may count against them for use in your home.

At the other end of the price/performance spectrum, many top-of-the-line units use touch pad or membrane controls. These offer the sleek appearance of high technology and, like the smooth surface of a microwave control area, are easy to clean.

Touch-pad controls are inaccessible nonvisually. While they can be labeled with Braille or other tactile markings, it is our experience that the requirement to access advanced menus and make other choices disqualifies these machines from consideration for most people. For example, knowing whether the "top rack only" mode is on or off is important. You must be able to determine the status of the control for this option before starting the cycle. Touch pads, even labeled ones, cannot disclose their status nonvisually. If a control is accidentally activated, returning to the previous values may be difficult or impossible.

The third control category is the bubble control. These controls are like touch pads with one exception, a change in the texture for each pad. Most often, in the Whirlpool models for example, a quarter-sized bubble in the membrane identifies each separate control. These discrete controls can be easily identified by touch.

For Bosch and Siemens models as well as Sears Kenmore and KitchenAid, the same principle applies for models with concealed controls. Easy-to-identify buttons are placed in a logical arrangement on the top edge of the door.

The behavior of these controls differs among brands. It is very important to take the time to evaluate types of controls and their functions before making a purchase. The first judgment is in the tactile characteristic of the controls. Whether they are located on the front or top of the door, can you feel them and easily orient yourself to them? Do they click, or will they beep to let you know that you have made a choice?

Once you have selected one or more models for purchase, learn the purpose of each control. Some units, like the middle-of-the-line Whirlpool, require that you make just one choice of a cycle, and then press the start button. This design prevents unknown options, such as "top rack only" or "no dry cycle," from being accidentally selected.

Other machines, including the Bosch and Sears Kenmore and KitchenAid with hidden controls, have what we will call "on/off" choices such as "heat dry on/off," or "top of rack only yes/no." If on/off controls are used, is there a clear/reset button or other way to set all controls to a known state from which you can select the options you want?

The Bosch units have a traditional on/off control which starts the machine. At first glance this would seem a good sign; on/off should clear the choices. Unfortunately this is not the case, resulting in a situation in which you can choose "top rack only," and, if you are not able to identify the small red LED for this choice, you will not know its status.

As with all other appliance shopping, finding a salesperson who understands the kinds of questions and concerns that arise when accessibility is involved is critically important. For this series of articles I have visited over twenty firms selling appliances, representing both appliance specialty dealers and big box stores. I am often asked if there is a relationship between the higher prices and presumably better service at the kitchen centers. The answer I must give is that the only pattern is no pattern. The most understanding and truly helpful sales associates I found were at a Best Buy in suburban Baltimore and a Sears in Wilmington, Delaware. At the same time a well-known ultra high-end purveyor of Wolf and Viking appliances ignored me and another customer for over half an hour in a wealthy northern Virginia suburb, an experience I also encountered at a Sears in suburban Washington, D.C.

Consumer Reports is considered by many people the gold standard for accuracy and comprehensiveness in ratings and evaluation of household appliances. Consumer Reports is available on cassette from the Library of Congress Talking Book program and can be ordered from your cooperating network library. <> is an official Web site of Consumers Union, the magazine's parent organization. I think it is accurate to say that the usability and accessibility of <> falls woefully short of even the minimum standards of nonvisual accessibility, to say nothing about setting a gold standard as with their magazine. While the promise of looking up information on the Web and browsing the details of reports and ratings is tantalizing, the poorly constructed report layout and completely inaccessible table layout deny the blind the full promise of this technology.

An alternative that is quite interesting and significantly more accessible can be found at <>. This surprisingly comprehensive site is a distillation of ratings information gathered from Consumer Reports and other well-established ratings sources. In addition to the traditional ratings for appliances, electronics, and household goods, other ratings for software and high-tech services are offered. The narratives provided with each topic can often reveal details of a model or models that indicate whether accessibility may be more likely.


The comedian Rodney Dangerfield was fond of observing, "I don't get no respect." In the world of major appliance design the same may be true for the refrigerator. This most important and least control-laden member of the kitchen appliance family performs its vital service beautifully twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year.

It is safe to say that the most complex control in the average refrigerator may be the turn knob for the temperature setting. This situation is, in the minds of some manufacturers, a critical problem in search of a high-tech solution.

Taken to its ultimate potential, Samsung envisions the refrigerator as a family communications center. Top-of-the-line models now offer a flat-screen display in the door. The fridge is networked on your home network and can be used to browse the Web, watch TV, and leave messages for the entire family.

Technology will soon be introduced that will allow you to automatically create shopping lists as you use up items in the refrigerator and automatically transmit the list to services such as Pea Pod. The system will give you an opportunity to add items of your own.

While this is the future taken to its ultimate, electronic controls are finding their way into mid-line, side-by-side models from several manufacturers. LG side-by-sides offer a digital readout of the temperatures in the refrigerator and freezer compartments. Buttons to change the temperature and receive status reports are becoming more common.

While we have not evaluated these kinds of controls, it is safe to say that they will differ in behavior from brand to brand. It is also safe to say that the complexity of these systems will increase and that the ways of choosing one appropriate for you will require the methods we have already described.

Washers and Dryers

Ever since our earliest ancestors began beating clothes on rocks in the river, laundry day has been an important part of almost everyone's life. Since those first efforts to clean and dry clothes, methods to increase the effectiveness of cleaning and shorten the time it takes have been constantly under development.

The Industrial Revolution made doing the laundry indoors with hot water a practical reality. Electricity automated and greatly shortened the process by providing predictability. With the advent of the electric clothes dryer, clean and dry clothes were available on even the wettest day.

While much of the computerized technology we take for granted today would not be recognized by a visitor from the past, the laundry room would be immediately familiar. Whether washing clothes in a drum or cylinder on its side, the twenty-first-century washing machine is not significantly different from those of the middle of the twentieth century. Similarly the clothes dryer uses the same basic set of pulleys, burner or electric element, and drum housed in a cabinet as the first dryers did.

If you have visited the home improvement center near you or shopped at an appliance store, you might conclude that the average washing machine is akin to a supercomputer according to the manufacturer's literature. Electronic controls, automatic dirt sensors, high-efficiency, direct-drive DC motors are the new must-have technologies, and according to GE your washing machine and dryer must be able to communicate.

In order to separate the reality of finding a useful and effective washing machine and clothes dryer from the marketing hype, many Monitor readers, like many other Americans, may turn to Consumer Reports magazine. For almost seventy years this publication has tracked trends and evaluated home appliances as well as countless other products and services. For our adventure in laundry land I have turned to the ratings of Consumer Reports and to our observations about the behavior and characteristics of today's washing and drying equipment. Our purpose is not to endorse one publication; rather it is to illuminate the findings of Consumers Union (CU) with our observations about accessibility.

The High-efficiency Trend

Over the past several years a significant change has taken place in the design of washing machines. Increasingly strict water-use restrictions have driven the trend toward front-loading, high-efficiency washing machines. Most recently some top-loading machines which also meet the high-efficiency standards have been introduced. An important characteristic of these units is the use of electronic technology in combination with the new physical design. Automatic load sensors and dirt monitors control the exact amount of water and the temperature of the water used. New high-speed motors extract more water from the wet clothes, reducing the electricity required to dry the load. GE has introduced a high-tech laundry pair that communicate with one another.

As one might expect, electronic controls have become the norm in these machines. Preset combinations of speed, water temperature, and wash times are provided for a variety of clothing types--towels, jeans, woolens, etc. In addition to controls that select the desired cycle, controls that change the preset values are provided.

Three brands of front-loading washing machines dominate the highest ratings group in the most recent Consumer Reports ratings. These are models from Whirlpool (including KitchenAid and Sears Kenmore), LG, and Bosch. The Whirlpool brands and LG each offer two models, with Bosch represented by just one offering.

Of the three manufacturers only Whirlpool machines are accessible in our opinion. These units are recognizable by the control layout. While each brand (Whirlpool Duet, Sears Kenmore Elite, and KitchenAid Superba) have different control designs, we believe that all are accessible if one receives a good orientation to the functions of the buttons and knobs.

Orienting yourself to the largest control cluster (found in the middle of the front surface above the door) you will encounter either a circular array of buttons or a large turn knob. These controls select the kind of wash load you intend to clean. The fabrics and the corresponding settings range from delicate/hand washables to jeans and, for some models, a sanitary cycle.

As you turn the knob, you feel a distinct click, and the pointer or a distinct mark on the control indicates the position of the control. If you wish, you can press the start button and accept the preset values for wash/rinse temperatures, wash-cycle time, and spin speed.

If you want to modify these settings--lengthening the wash cycle, for instance--various push buttons located on either side of the controls allow you to adjust these values. It is important to note the default settings and to learn the order of the changes for each control. For example, choosing the jeans setting will result in a high-spin speed, while choosing delicate will cause the indicator to display a low-spin speed. In order to change from high to low for the jeans setting, you need to press the button and count the number of presses required to move from high to low. This explanation may appear complex, but it's easy to master this method.

Sears Kenmore offerings use electronic controls rather than the knobs found on their Whirlpool and KitchenAid cousins. But each choice is easy to identify by touch. The resulting settings and method for changing options are the same as outlined above.

LG and Bosch units appear to be accessible at first glance. Thanks to a very helpful salesperson at a Baltimore-area Best Buy, we were able to determine definitively that the LG uses what I would call an endlessly turning knob. When you wish to select values, you must turn the dial and watch for the lights next to each value to illuminate. This excludes the LG from consideration because there is no way to predict the beginning point for the series of option lights.

Despite the use of easy-to-identify buttons and a tactilely useful dial, Bosch washers rely on an options menu to make changes to values which most people want to control. For this reason they join LG on the inaccessible list.

Less complex and expensive front loaders from Frigidaire and Sears round out the ratings in Consumer Reports. These units use traditional turn knob controls. They are, in our opinion, accessible in the classic way and do not require mastery of any particular skills to recall and count button presses.

Top-loading units are also rated by Consumer Reports. The top-rated Maytag Neptune TL FAV9800A[WW] ($1,300) is equipped with electronic controls. Controls for many Maytag units can be used nonvisually. If you are considering Maytag washers, you should audition the controls for yourself. The press-and-count method required for adjusting preset values in the front loaders above is taken a step further with Maytag machines. In addition, control layouts also differ depending on the cabinet style of the particular appliance.

When we think of New Zealand, images of sheep grazing contentedly in vast pastures may come to mind. We associate this country's exports with kiwi fruit and the BrailleNote. You can add major appliances to this list. Fisher & Paykel is a newcomer to the U.S. market, and its unique, high-efficiency washers garnered the number three and five spots on the CU ratings chart for top-loading washers.

After examining these machines at length, I would suggest that they rate as among the most accessible devices using electronic controls I have encountered.

As with other electronically controlled washing machines, you select a cycle. For Fisher & Paykel machines a clearly identifiable button corresponds to each of four or more cycles, depending on the unit. These buttons are located to the left of a small screen and a number of other buttons. Each of the basic functions, such as spin speed, wash/rinse temperature, and water level is selected with an up/down button pair. When you press the up button and reach the top of the list, you can hear a double beep. Similarly, when you have moved to the bottom of the menu list, you hear a double beep.

Turning the unit off clears all settings. Turning on the unit results in a distinct sound which allows you to navigate the menus and make choices, knowing that you are where you think you are. If you are interested in a high-efficiency unit which is also a top-loading machine, the Fisher & Paykel units are worthy of top consideration.

Beyond the high-tech offerings we have described here, conventional models abound. As with their ancestors, these machines use dials and easy-to-feel turn controls. The Maytag controls are particularly pleasant to use. A smoothly rotating motion interrupted by positive clicks makes using these dials especially pleasant. A clear pointer allows quick verification of the control position.

Clothes Dryers: Now that you have pulled the load of wet laundry from the washing machine, it is time to get it into a usable dryer to finish the job. As with washing machines, recent Consumer Reports ratings have evaluated dryers. Here are several observations about the usability of some of the highly rated units and other, similar models.

The top-rated dryers: GE Profile DPSB620EC[WW] and Profile DPSB620GC ($580) are among the most inaccessible appliances we have encountered. A vast array of touch buttons clutter a totally flat screen. For this reason we cannot recommend these models.

The highly rated dryers share a common manufacturer, Whirlpool. With the exception of the Sears Elite conventional front-loading dryer with electronic touch controls, the other Sears Kenmore units are all accessible. Conventional turn knobs and controls are easy to use nonvisually.

The dryers that match the highly rated front-loading washers are also accessible, whether from Sears Kenmore or Whirlpool. The controls on these top-of-the-line machines resemble the controls of their washing machine partners. A central control cluster selects basic fabric cycles with buttons modifying the settings. Two units were identified as CU Best Buys. These are a Whirlpool model in the $330 price range and a $310 Frigidaire. Both of these machines use conventional turn knob controls.

Bosch and LG dryers match the front-loading washers for each brand. Like the washers these dryers are not accessible, using the same control systems that exclude the washing machines from consideration.

A new style of dryer, the Maytag Neptune clothes center, has gained much attention lately. This dryer is twice as tall as a conventional dryer and features an upper cabinet, in which delicates and sweaters can be placed on shelves for drying. In addition, hanging clothes can be placed in the unit and a steam cycle activated. The controls of this top-of-the-line machine appear to be accessible, although you will want to confirm that they meet your needs and that you find them convenient before making a purchase.

As in shopping for other accessible large-ticket appliances, finding a good and knowledgeable sales person is the first step on the journey to a useful and accessible laundry room. As with other appliances, finding and auditioning the washer or dryer in the store can be almost impossible. Washers and gas dryers can be connected to a standard outlet, and the controls will be activated. Most dryers have both gas and electric models, which share the same controls, so you can be quite comfortable buying an electric model after auditioning the gas model's controls. Good luck.

[GRAPHIC DESCRIPTION: The graphic accompanying this column shows an elegant place setting with a rose lying on the plate and a place card above it. On the place card are a Whozit graphic and the words "Miss Whozit."]

Ask Miss Whozit

by Barbara Pierce

From time to time readers have come to me with the insistent request that I create a periodic Monitor column devoted to the consideration of the sorts of topics that Miss Manners discusses in her widely syndicated columns and best-selling books. Actually the demand has been for a monthly column, but I have rigidly resisted tying myself or anyone else down to the discipline of such a schedule. But the request has been so broad and constant that I have been persuaded to stick a journalistic toe into the waters of good manners, etiquette, and the social graces. But whether or not this experiment develops into a frequent feature will depend entirely on audience response.

I have assembled a small panel of experts whom I intend to consult about the subjects raised. They have agreed to assist me in producing this column as long as I am willing to protect their anonymity. So, if you have a question or an issue that you would like to have us address, please contact me. Miss Whozit will take all such requests under advisement. In the same way, if you wish to take issue with something said in this column or if you have found another solution to the blindness-related topics raised in this space, scribble down your thoughts and send them to me as well. It would help if you indicate that the matter is one for Miss Whozit's attention.

To give you an idea of the sort of issues that have come up in discussions on this subject, let me choose almost at random several topics that I have addressed with NFB members at their request. I recently received a note from someone asking how I manage to eat spaghetti neatly. In public it almost always appears in very long strands, cloaked in bright red sauce just yearning to decorate one's blouse or necktie. I answered this plea for help by agreeing that, if it did not taste so good (or maybe because it does), spaghetti would clearly be recognized as an invention of the devil.

I know that sighted lovers of droopy pasta of all kinds have mastered the art of using a spoon in the nondominant hand to wind the pasta around a fork in the dominant hand, which has scooped up a bite. I see no reason why a blind person cannot master this skill. To do so, I would practice in private, wearing an old T-shirt or maybe even a rain poncho. If I faced pasta often in public, I would do exactly this.

But pasta of all kinds is pretty calorie-laden, so I do not indulge very often. Usually when I do, I have been the one to cook it, and I freely admit that, even though I am married to an expert pasta twirler, I break the raw spaghetti several times so that I will not be embarrassed at my own table. I may pretend that this will prevent my young grandchildren from making a mess, but....

You will not be astonished to learn that,when I was in Rome two years ago for a committee meeting of the World Blind Union,  I faced pasta in public on several occasions. I could have pretended that I was not interested in that course, but the Italians really do know how to prepare delicious sauces for pasta, so I was not about to miss the experience. I simply used my fork to cut across the plate of pasta several times. Then I rotated the plate about an eighth turn and cut across the mass of pasta again multiple times. I repeated this process till I trusted that I had managed to cut every strand at least a couple of times, thereby rendering it incapable of embarrassing me. Of course I inevitably missed some strands, but at least I did manage to keep my suit clean.

I will say in passing that broccoli and asparagus spears can also be cut into much shorter lengths in order to get them to your mouth in manageable pieces. The problem with asparagus, of course, is that often the first time you know you are facing it is when you taste it. Chefs love to sneak skinny little asparagus spears onto your plate as a garnish when you have no reason to expect them. I always listen carefully to the menu item in the hope of being tipped off that asparagus is going to appear. I am lucky to have a personal early-warning system for asparagus since my husband does not care for it and is always ready to offer me his when we face it at a banquet.

Quietly asking a dinner companion for information about hazards such as giant lettuce leaves, very long green beans, lemon or orange wedges with peel, and the like can alert the blind diner sufficiently to avoid unpleasant surprises. The easiest solution in these situations is usually cutting them into small pieces or removing them to the butter plate. Developing the skills to manage raw onion rings, hot peppers, olive seeds, etc., in private is always a useful investment of time.

Let me now turn to a subject that used to be classified as etiquette but which I would now call social graces. I refer to opening doors. When my brother and I were growing up, my father laid down the law that a gentleman always opened a door for any lady. Feminists have jostled that precept out of its place as a law of nature among the mannerly, but many women secretly continue to appreciate such gestures of civility. In fact today lots of women who consider themselves completely liberated freely admit to enjoying having doors opened for them.

The additional layer of confusion surrounding this point of social interaction is that almost any generally courteous person of either sex will hurry to open a door for a disabled person, a mother struggling with a baby and its paraphernalia, or an elderly person who may not have strength enough to hold the door open while passing through it. Anyone using a white cane or dog guide automatically falls into the first of these categories, even when we actually have a hand free to do the job for ourselves or someone else.

Being a woman, I can comfort or delude myself with the notion that the door has been opened for me because I am a lady, but I suspect that most blind men who think about the matter feel marginalized by having anyone and everyone in the area gallop forward to "get the door for you." It's rather the same feeling one has when elderly people offer their seats to us on buses and light-rail trains. I find myself steadfastly refusing these gestures of courtesy because I know that I am perfectly capable of standing and better able to do so. When the time comes that I am unsteady on my feet, I trust that I will have both the grace and gumption to take the proffered seat with a smile of thanks and a feeling of genuine gratitude.

But the problem with doors is that blind people cannot take a single and unvarying stand about opening them for ourselves. What we can do--all of us--is not to make the assumption that someone else will always scurry forward to open the door for us. We should all assume that in fact we can get the door for others. If we are quick to move forward and search for the knob, we will be the first to get there some of the time, and we can have the fun of noting others' surprise at having a blind person actually doing something for them. The experience will be good for their souls and will remind them and us as well that blind people are an integral part of the social order and not just a good deed waiting to happen.

I will close this discussion with a word about personal space, which I consider a matter of etiquette. Different cultures expect adults to preserve differing amounts of personal space. I would say that in the United States it is at least eighteen inches. With exceptions such as very small children or mutually agreed intimacy, no one should make a habit of intruding on that distance. Exceptions occur--elevators at convention, crowded commuter trains, massed observers at public events are several that come to mind.

But blind people, and often it is blind men, sometimes seem to think that they constitute an exception that no one will object to. I am here to announce that people may not say anything because they assume that the poor, unconscious blind guy doesn't realize what he is doing, but people do mind and will thereafter try to keep their distance from all blind people, an outcome that causes us all grief. So I will simply say that we can all help each other by maintaining a proper distance and reserving our tactile exploration and observation for inanimate objects.

If you would like to join this conversation in the months ahead, contact me at <> or by writing to Miss Whozit c/o Barbara Pierce, 1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21230.

[PHOTO/CAPTION: Kevan Worley]

Imagine a Future Full of Opportunity,

and Take Pride in Creating That Future

by Kevan Worley

From the Editor: Kevan Worley is president of the National Association of Blind Merchants, first vice president of the NFB of Colorado, and chairman of the Imagination Fund Committee. This is what he says as the NFB Jernigan Institute begins its second year of operation:

Albert Einstein said, "Imagination is man's most powerful tool." That very well may be true, and I'm not one to argue with Einstein, but imagination must be combined with understanding and hard work to create the kind of future we envision. Throughout our history the National Federation of the Blind has effectively used the tools of imagination, understanding, and hard work to build the best organized, most enlightened, and most effective organization of the blind that has ever existed. We, the members of our National Federation of the Blind, rightfully take great pride in what we have accomplished. But one of the great unifying sources of satisfaction for members of our movement is our constant quest to improve the lives of the blind people who will follow us--the next generation. Firmly established on the bedrock of our strong Federation philosophy of and about blindness which has freed so many, we continue to build using the tools of imagination, understanding, and hard work.

With the completion of our NFB Jernigan Institute, we have embarked on the next phase of our journey toward full inclusion in society on terms of true equality. We will advance our goals. More than ever before, we will reach blind people with the truth about blindness. Drawing on the NFB's perspective, potential, and philosophy, we enter an exciting and imaginative time. It will become even more exciting and dynamic as each of us participates actively and helps make it all come alive. In order to make it happen, we need everyone's tools at the ready. We need your imagination, your understanding, your hard work, and your pride in the NFB.

At the grand opening of the NFB Jernigan Institute we launched the Imagination Fund. Now it is time to build that fund because it is vital to realizing the tremendous possibilities we will create together. The goal of the Imagination Fund is to provide support for the work of the Jernigan Institute and advancement for the entire National Federation of the Blind. Each year a financial goal will be set, and members, friends, colleagues, and supporters of the Federation will be asked to make a gift or pledge ensuring that the initiatives of the Jernigan Institute and NFB affiliates are advanced.

The National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute has a number of important goals toward which it has already made significant progress, including opening science and math to blind students. Last summer the Jernigan Institute sponsored two unique science academies for blind youth. One of the sessions, called Rocket On! enabled a group of high school students to design the payload and launch a rocket from NASA's Wallops Space Flight Facility. Before the NFB Jernigan Institute, such an ambitious project would have been only a dream; we have now made it a reality.

The third annual Possibilities Fair for seniors losing vision was held in Members Hall in the Jernigan Institute. A number of NFB affiliates were represented by members who came to learn how to produce an event like the Possibilities Fair back in their home communities. Furthermore, the new Institute attracted the largest number of seniors ever to attend our seniors fair.

We are now creating a state-of-the-art library on blindness, the Jacobus tenBroek Library, within the Institute. This library will be a resource center for researchers, educators, and others interested in the field of blindness. Our IBTC, the International Braille and Technology Center, is now a part of the Institute and will continue to advance technology to assist blind people.

Following the grand opening, the first event held in the Jernigan Institute was "Technology Training for Technology Trainers," a hands-on workshop for blindness professionals from across the country. This two-day training conference held in partnership with Mississippi State University was extremely successful, thanks to our new facility and technology trainers from the Jernigan Institute, our NFB Residential Training Centers, and partners like the Iowa Department for the Blind.

We are now offering innovative training through the NFB Jernigan Institute online education program. Four courses are now available. They have been designed to teach critical information about blindness from the perspective of blind people. Educators, blindness professionals, family members of blind children or adults, and anyone else interested in blindness-related subjects can now benefit from the courses in this blindness education program. All this is exciting--training for seniors, technology development, useful research, and online courses--and blind people and our organization have made it all possible.

We are perfecting the new Kurzweil-National Federation of the Blind Reader, which is slated to be released sometime in 2005. In the not-too-distant future hand-held reading devices will enable all of us to access print information in a way not thought possible just a few years ago.

Once we secure funding, additional initiatives will include mentoring programs to encourage young blind people to achieve to their utmost potential. The Institute will also help create new technologies to improve information access for blind people and develop training programs based on NFB philosophy. The NFB Jernigan Institute brochure distributed at the 2004 National Federation of the Blind Convention outlines these programs as well as plans for the next five years. Copies of this brochure are available through the Materials Center in print and Braille and on cassette and computer disk.

To continue all of these one-of-a-kind innovative research and training initiatives, it is critical that we raise awareness and money. All of us have family, friends, associates, and acquaintances who know how important the National Federation of the Blind has been in our lives. It is vital to our future work that we inform those people of the great work we are doing at the NFB Jernigan Institute and throughout the Federation. Our friends and family members want to know about the cutting-edge training and research projects on which we have embarked at our beautiful state-of-the-art facility. The people who know us won't know about our work, our effort, and the wondrous opportunities we are creating unless we tell them. The purpose of the Imagination Fund is to raise public understanding and gain financial support for the programs and initiatives of the National Federation of the Blind. To achieve these goals, we need your help.

President Maurer has conceived of a plan whereby the funds generated through the Imagination Fund will be shared with affiliates.

At the end of the first year of the Imagination Fund, May 31, 2005, 25 percent of the funds raised will be distributed equally among all state affiliates. This will help us strengthen our activities throughout the country. Another 25 percent of the money raised will be allocated for special projects proposed by state affiliates.

An Imagination Fund Projects Committee will be appointed to review brief proposals and award grants based on merit. Funds might be used for Meet-the-Blind-Month activities, for travel to NFB conventions, or to help members attend programs and training at the NFB Jernigan Institute. We will develop specific guidelines and a brief proposal form in the near future and circulate them to all state affiliates. The remaining funds raised through our vigorous effort to build the Imagination Fund will support the operation of programs and services of the NFB Jernigan Institute.

Each state affiliate president has appointed a state coordinator for the Imagination Fund. Some states are using more than one state coordinator to help organize and bring energy and commitment to this effort. State presidents, chapter presidents, and state coordinators will be working closely with the Imagination Fund steering committee. State coordinators and others will encourage members to make contributions whenever possible and to supply the names, addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses of friends, family members, and colleagues to the Imagination Fund database. Everyone referred by members for inclusion in our database will receive a mailing briefly detailing and highlighting the imaginative work we are undertaking at the NFB Jernigan Institute. Your family, friends, co-workers, and other acquaintances will want to know about our organization's imaginative efforts. In the mailing we send out, we will invite them to contribute to our Imagination Fund.

The Imagination Fund was launched in January of 2004. We spent considerable time discussing it at our national convention. State coordinators have been appointed. Many Federationists have made cash contributions and pledges, and some have provided lists of family, friends, co-workers, and others for inclusion in the database. But the time to build in earnest is now. Please provide us with the names of people you know and who know you. The people we would like to contact include those to whom you send holiday cards and who send cards to you. Why not gather all the envelopes from the holiday cards you received this season and give them to your state coordinator. He or she will be happy to have the gift. Or you could send them directly to our national office at 1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21230, c/o the Imagination Fund. Be sure to include your name as the source of the list of names and contact information.

Perhaps you could make this a family activity. Gather around the dining room table and share ideas about people who need to have the information about the great work we are doing. Include relatives, friends, and providers of goods and services for your home and business. Stick to individuals who will recognize your name and who have some idea of how important the NFB is to you. Start immediately, please, by providing your state coordinator with the contact information from your holiday card list or address book.

You should consider one more key piece of information. We have created a system of numbered designations reflecting the affinity of your relationship with the individual whose contact information you are providing. Ask yourself, "How close is this person to me?" We want your subjective judgment of how the individual you are referring for inclusion in the Imagination Fund database feels about you.

The number 1 indicates that you are extremely close to the person you are referring for inclusion: a brother, sister, or other relative; your best friends; or others with whom you are in frequent contact.

The number 2 denotes someone to whom you are close, but not quite as close as a number 1: other friends, relatives, and business acquaintances with whom you associate somewhat regularly.

The number 3 applies to someone to whom you are only moderately close, such as your physician, hairdresser, or other service provider.

Remember, however, that the contact information itself is what is most important. Please do not feel reluctant to submit contact information if you are uncomfortable assigning an affinity number at this time. You can certainly give us the contact information without assigning affinity numbers to the names on your list.

While it is not required, your inclusion of this affinity number, even though subjective, will be extremely helpful. It will help us to build, develop, and hone our educational and fundraising efforts. To make our Imagination Fund really succeed and grow, we need this contact information for our database. Remember, we do not want the names of the rich and famous in your home community, unless you have a relationship with them that they would recognize, and one to which you may be able to assign an affinity number. If you do not save the envelopes from the Christmas and other holiday cards sent to you, please begin doing so.

Once we have names, contact information, and affinity numbers, they will be added to our database mailing list along with your name as the source of the information. Prior to mailing to the contacts on your list, we will notify you and your state coordinator, indicating the individuals who will be receiving an Imagination Fund mailing. At that time you will be asked to make a phone call to those on your list, alerting them that they will soon be receiving the Imagination Fund mailing and urging them to consider a positive response. The information provided in the mailing will explain in detail how they can help. Even so, it is essential that you make this contact. By making this phone call, you will increase the importance of the Imagination Fund mailing that is coming. Without your call, our envelope may be viewed as a piece of junk mail. Since those on your list will now be expecting it, our letter and brochure are more likely to be read carefully, considered, and acted upon, resulting in a more positive outcome for our Imagination Fund.

As we have considered and developed this unique, targeted education and fundraising campaign, some have asked what information, and what type of language will be in the letter. Letters will be sent with information about our new Institute, and in the future other information about our organization. The letter accompanying this material will be personalized and will mention how important the NFB has been to you and your life.

We hope that those receiving this mailing will then be more inclined to contribute to our forward-thinking, imaginative, and dynamic efforts. We all know that many people know us and are aware of the way our lives have been strengthened through the National Federation of the Blind. If they receive information about everything we are doing and if they are asked, many of them are likely to help. The initial mailings will contain the new NFB Jernigan Institute brochure, which includes the targeted goals and objectives of the Institute and information about our organization and the Imagination Fund. A response card and envelope will also be enclosed, making it possible to make a pledge or send a gift. Future mailings will include updates on the progress within the Institute, upcoming programs, and events of interest.

Your assistance will ensure that blind people everywhere receive the helpful, hopeful message of our organization. Start immediately, please, by gathering your lists of names, addresses, phone and fax numbers, email addresses, and affinity numbers, and get that information to your state coordinator. If you don't know who your state coordinator is, ask your state or chapter president.

If you want more information or want to devote some of your personal time and effort to the Imagination Fund, please contact your state coordinator, your state president, or our Special Projects Department at the National Center for the Blind by calling (410) 659-9314, extension 2297. You can also send an email to <>.

President Maurer has appointed an active and engaged Imagination Fund Steering Committee. Each of us on this committee will be working closely with a specific group of states. You can certainly get in touch with me, Kevan Worley, chairman of the Imagination Fund. I can be reached at (303) 306-7122, or by email at <>.

Friends and colleagues, let's have some fun building our Imagination Fund! Many chapters are developing creative and exciting activities to encourage members to bring their lists of contacts to meetings. Let's use our imagination. Do the hard work, and take pride in your effort. Have fun, get everyone involved, and be creative--as we always are in this organization. This is the work we must do to build the Imagination Fund to create a future full of opportunity for all blind people.

[PHOTO/CAPTION: Allen Harris]

Convention Scholarships Available

by Allen Harris

From the Editor: Allen Harris chairs the Jernigan Fund Committee. He has an important announcement for those who would like to attend this year's national convention but find themselves short of funds. This is what he says:

The Jernigan Fund Committee has established criteria for the Dr. Kenneth Jernigan Convention Scholarships for 2005. These factors will be considered when awarding Jernigan Convention Scholarships:

*Attendance at previous national conventions

*Activity at the local, state, or national level

*Recommendation from the state president (A formal letter is required. The president must provide a letter to the committee on an applicant's behalf. If you do not know who your state president is, contact Allen Harris at (515) 274-2256.)

*Amount of assistance requested

When applying for a convention scholarship, please write a brief paragraph on why you wish to attend the convention. Submit your application letter and statement to Allen Harris, 524 4th Street, Apartment 502 B, Des Moines, Iowa 50309, phone (515) 274-2256.

Applications are due by April 1, 2005. Every effort will be made to notify scholarship finalists by May 15, 2005. The National Federation of the Blind annual convention is in Louisville, Kentucky, beginning on July 2, 2005, and adjourning on July 8 at 5:00 p.m. If you have questions or need additional information, contact Allen Harris.


This month's recipes come from the NFB of Alabama.

Enchilada Casserole

by Daphne Johnson

Daphne Johnson chairs Parents of Blind Children of Alabama. The Johnson family are members of the Huntsville Chapter.


1 can enchilada sauce

1 can Rotel

1 can cream of celery soup

1 can cream of chicken soup

1 16-ounce box Velveeta cheese

4 chicken breasts (boiled, drained, and diced)

1 package large burrito tortillas

Method: In medium saucepan mix the first five ingredients and simmer till cheese is melted. Then add diced chicken pieces. In greased 13-by-9-inch baking dish layer chicken mixture and tortillas until both are used up. Bake in a 300-degree oven for thirty minutes. Allow to cool ten minutes. Cut into squares and serve. Delicious topped with sour cream, black olives, and salsa.

Sour Cream Pound Cake

by Daphne Johnson


1/2 pound soft butter (two sticks)

3 cups granulated sugar

6 eggs, room temperature

3 cups cake or presifted flour

1/4 teaspoon soda

8 ounces sour cream

1 1/2 teaspoons flavoring (I prefer vanilla)

Method: Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Cream butter and sugar well with electric mixer; add eggs, about two at a time, thoroughly mixing them into the sugar and butter. Sift the soda and flour together into a separate bowl. When the eggs have been completely incorporated, gradually fold in the flour mixture. Then beat at high speed for about five minutes. (Mix well, but do not overmix). Fold in the sour cream at low speed for about three minutes. Then add flavoring and beat on low for about ninety seconds. Pour mixture into greased, floured tube or bundt pan, making sure that the cake batter is as level as possible. Bake for one hour and fifteen minutes. If oven temperature is correct, the oven door should not be opened during baking time. Remove from oven when a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool slightly on rack before removing from pan.

Jaybee's Oven Fried Chicken

by Jesse B. Johnson

Jesse Johnson is a blind vendor and a longtime Federationist. He is an officer in the Huntsville chapter.


1 3 to 4 pound fryer, cut in pieces

2 cups flour

3 teaspoons salt

1 tablespoon paprika

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 cup shortening or cooking oil

1/4 cup butter or margarine

Method: Place all dry ingredients except chicken in a paper bag and shake until well mixed. Add chicken and shake well, making sure each piece is well coated with the mixture. While chicken is being prepared, put shortening or cooking oil and butter or margarine in a 9-by-13-by-2-inch baking dish, and place in a preheated 425-degree oven. When chicken is ready, remove hot pan from oven and arrange chicken, skin side down, in the hot fat. It will be a tight fit, but you can do it. Cook for about fifty minutes, remove from oven, turn each piece of chicken, and return to oven. Cook for twenty-five to thirty minutes more. Place paper towels in a bowl or on a platter and remove chicken to them to drain. Delicious!

Green Bean Casserole

by Robert Kelly Jr.

Robert Kelly is treasurer of the NFB of Alabama.


1 10 3/4-ounce can cream of mushroom soup

4 cups cooked green beans

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

3/4 cup milk

1 1/3 cups French fried onion rings

Method: Mix soup, milk, and black pepper in a 1 1/2-quart casserole dish. Stir in green beans and 2/3 cup of the fried onion rings. Bake for about twenty-five minutes at 350 degrees. Top with the remaining 2/3 cup fried onion rings and bake about five more minutes, until onions are lightly browned. Serves six.

Corn Pudding

by Robert Kelly Jr.


1 8 1/2-ounce box Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix

1 16-ounce can whole kernel corn with juice

1 16-ounce can of cream corn

1 cup sour cream

2 eggs

Method: Mix all ingredients until blended. Pour into a large, flat baking dish. Bake uncovered in a 350-degree oven for forty-five to fifty minutes or until lightly browned.

Sweet Potatoes

by Robert Kelly Jr.


3 cups sweet potatoes, mashed

1 cup white sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 stick butter or margarine, melted

1/2 cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Topping Ingredients:

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup flour

1 cup chopped pecans, optional

1/3 stick butter or margarine, melted

Method: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine potatoes, sugar, salt, beaten eggs, margarine, milk, and vanilla extract in a large casserole dish. Combine topping ingredients and sprinkle over sweet potato mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for thirty-five minutes. Serves eight.

Monitor Miniatures

News from the Federation Family

Braille Book Flea Market:

Donate your gently used but no longer needed Braille books to the 2005 Braille Book Flea Market, sponsored by the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children and the National Association to Promote the Use of Braille. Books should be in good condition. Cookbooks, Twin‑Vision books, and books suitable for children are needed.

In a few months we will pass along a local address in Louisville to which you can send the Braille books you wish to donate. Begin your search through the boxes in your basement and spare room and get them ready for shipping. If you have any questions, contact Peggy Chong at (515) 277‑1288 or email her at <>. Look for a Braille Book Flea Market update in the Braille Monitor very soon.

[PHOTO/CAPTION: Anahit, Emily, Scott, and Alexander LaBarre]

New Baby:

We are delighted to report that on Wednesday, December 1, 2004, at 11:32 a.m. Emily Catherine was born to Anahit and Scott LaBarre of Colorado. She weighed seven pounds, nine ounces, and was nineteen and three-quarters inches long. Older brother Alexander is very proud of his baby sister. Congratulations to the entire LaBarre family.


The National Federation of the Blind of New Hampshire held its annual convention on November 19 and 20, 2004, at the Holiday Inn in Concord, New Hampshire. The date marked the forty-eighth anniversary of the New Hampshire affiliate. Dr. Fred Schroeder was the national representative. At the business meeting held on Saturday, November 20, 2004, the following officers were elected: president, Bruce Gillis; first vice president, Edmund Meskys; second vice president, Donald Little; treasurer, Lucille Lynch; and secretary, Judyth Leavitt. Bette Ann Coy and John E. Parker were elected to one-year terms on the board.


The Parents of Blind Children of New York conducted its election on December 15 with the following results: president, Maria T. Garcia; vice president, Victoria Murganti; and secretary, Jennifer Aquino. Additionally two members were elected to represent the boroughs of Queens and Manhattan: Queens Borough representative, Vilda Walker; and Manhattan Borough representative, Annemarie Lawson.

[PHOTO/CAPTION: Several of the New Jersey literacy award recipients seated in the audience listen to welcoming remarks.]

Braille Literacy Leaders Honored:

Carol Castellano recently sent us this brief report:

The New Jersey Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired and the New Jersey Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped jointly held a ceremony to promote Braille literacy at the library's headquarters in Trenton. Human Services Commissioner James Davy, Labor and Workforce Development Deputy Commissioner Janet Zatz, Associate Vice President of Thomas Edison State College Carron Albert, and State Librarian Norma Blake were on hand to award certificates to students and adults.

"Braille skills are integral for the blind and visually impaired to have full, independent, successful lives," said Venetia Demson, director of the library. "Braille literacy is such a necessity and yet is little recognized for the importance it carries in the lives of the blind and visually impaired."

Introduced and specially recognized by the New Jersey officials were Kristen Diaz, Rocco Fiorentino, Ever Lee Hairston, and Sarah Weinstein. Also honored as Braille literacy leaders were Alexandra Acain, Manuel Aguero, Christina Brino, Ann Burns, Lauren Casey, Kenneth Cossaboon, Serena Cucco, John Ferry, Anthony Gilio, Eileen Goff, Michael Halm, James Jasey, David Loux, Ed Lucas, Ottilie Lucas, Connor Mullin, Sean Mullin, Kristin Panaro, Robert Rindt, James Ryan, Jessica Scannell, Alicia Ucciferri, and Margaret Winchester.

On each certificate were the words "Certificate of Achievement as a Braille Literacy Leader; in recognition of your use of Braille for the attainment of education, independence, intellectual freedom, and equal opportunity; October 25, 2004," and the signatures of Vito DeSantis, executive director of the New Jersey Commission, and Library Director Demson.

Ever Lee Hairston is a leader of the NFB of New Jersey, while Kristen Diaz, Sarah Weinstein, Alexandra Acain, Kenneth Cossaboon, Serena Cucco, John Ferry, Anthony Gilio, Michael Halm, Connor Mullin, Sean Mullin, Kristin Panaro, James Ryan, and Jessica Scannell are all kids active in Parents of Blind Children of New Jersey. In addition, Kristen, Serena, John, and Michael have all been recipients of NFB of New Jersey scholarships.

Congratulations, one and all.

In Brief

Notices and information in this section may be of interest to Monitor readers. We are not responsible for the accuracy of the information; we have edited only for space and clarity.

Attention Aspiring Leaders in the Education of Blind Children:

The National Federation of the Blind is serving as a public advisor to an important new initiative enhancing the doctoral studies of those interested in focusing on blindness--the National Center for Leadership in Visual Impairments (NCLVI). Recently established through a grant from the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), the NCLVI's purpose is to develop a collaborative model for training leadership personnel in special education with an emphasis on blindness. The plan is to establish a national consortium of doctoral institutions.

Through this project the NCLVI will assist in increasing the numbers of doctoral graduates available for positions in one or more areas of emphasis, such as higher education teaching and research; public policy; administration at national, state, and local levels; curriculum development; and general research. The NCLVI Fellows Program will bring together doctoral students for a unique set of enrichment activities that will deepen their understanding of issues in the field and strengthen their commitment to family, consumer, and professional partnerships.

The National Federation of the Blind encourages those with a master's degree to seriously consider this creative opportunity to spark innovation and new leadership in the blindness field. Through the NCLVI, with the support of the NFB and our Jernigan Institute, we have another avenue to imagine a future full of opportunities.

Potential NCLVI Fellows must be accepted by one of the participating universities prior to applying for NCLVI Fellowship funding. The first cohort of NCLVI fellows is slated to begin their graduate programs in September 2005, so those interested in getting into the program during the first year should act fast. Learn more about the NCLVI on the Web at <>. For more information write to one of the NCLVI codirectors: Dr. Kathleen Mary Huebner ( or Dr. Diane P. Wormsley ( or call (215) 780-1360.

Participating universities include California State University; Teachers College, Columbia University; Florida State University; Northern Illinois University; Ohio State University; San Francisco State University; Texas Tech University at Lubbock; University of Arizona; University of Louisville; University of Northern Colorado; University of Pittsburgh; University of Utah; Vanderbilt University; and Western Michigan University.

Field Testers Needed:

Money Talks is an accessible bank account management software package now available for field testing. Whether you work for a rehabilitation agency or in the schools, you are a savvy blind computer user or are just beginning to learn, you are experiencing vision loss or have had no vision changes for years, you are studying budgeting and money management in high school or are managing three bank accounts and two credit cards, you are knowledgeable in the blindness field or work in a senior center or other facility where people experience vision loss and low vision, field testing this program may be for you.

Money Talks works without other computer access software; it has built-in speech and reads everything that you need. You can also enlarge the font and use both voice and large print. You can turn off the built-in speech and use your own screen reader if you prefer.

The final version of Money Talks will have clear speech, but we weren't able to have it in our field-test versions. The beta speech is Microsoft. Though it is pretty clear, many people find the voice unpleasant to listen to. Remember that the final version will have really nice‑sounding speech.

With Money Talks you can do the following and more: record all details of bank transactions--including categories, subcategories, and memo information--in the electronic check register; mark individual transactions as cleared in the register; import QIF-format bank files into Money Talks and reconcile them with your check register if you can download them from your bank's Web site; read cleared and total balances at any time; edit transactions to correct errors, set up recurring transactions, add categories and subcategories, and pull up a previously used payee name by typing the first few letters; examine totals and specific transactions in any of the categories and subcategories; and tell the program to check for program updates. When you are connected to the Internet, the program will tell you if there is a new version and ask if you want to download it. The program will print or Braille-emboss check registers (not yet implemented). It will also allow you to use your computer and printer to write three types of checks: Quicken three‑to‑a‑page checks; business‑size checks; and raised‑line, large‑print checks (the last two types available for purchase in checkbooks from most banks). Check printing is not fully implemented yet but will be very soon.

To field test, you must make a commitment to download and use Money Talks; join our Money Talks field-testing email list; share any questions, problems, or suggestions about any aspect of the program or documentation on the email list; not discuss Money Talks outside the email list; download and use new field test versions of the program as they are posted (downloading and installing them is very easy). Technical support will be provided on the email list only, not by phone.

We will give final versions of the software to up to twenty field testers who have offered significantly helpful suggestions. Everyone will receive the satisfaction of learning a new program and participating in its development.

We will post frequent updates to the program based on bugs you find, suggestions you make, and implementation of a few features that aren't quite finished yet. Please join us in working with this exciting program. To field test, go to <> and follow the directions. Read the general license information and click yes. On the next screen click the link for Money Talks. Then click the download link.

Join the Money Talks email list by sending an email message to <moneytalks‑> and write the word "subscribe" in the subject line. Email Terrie Terlau at <> if you have questions about field testing.

College Scholarships for Children of Parents with Disabilities:

In recognition of the more than nine million parents with disabilities in the U.S. and their families, Through the Looking Glass (TLG), a nonprofit organization, is pleased to announce the 2005 College Scholarship Fund specifically for high school seniors who have parents with disabilities.

Scholarship funds are available to students who (1) demonstrate academic and personal achievement; (2) have grown up with at least one parent with a disability who lives in the U.S.; and (3) will be a high school graduate or graduating senior by summer 2005. Up to four separate $1,000 awards will be given in summer 2005. (A new round of awards will be given in 2006.) These awards are one of several projects of Through the Looking Glass's National Resource Center for Parents with Disabilities. This National Center is funded by the National Institute on Disability Research and Rehabilitation (NIDRR), U.S. Department of Education.

To be eligible, a student must be a high school graduate (or graduating senior) by summer 2005 and have at least one parent with a disability. Parents with disabilities include a broad spectrum of mothers and fathers--blind parents, parents with physical disabilities, deaf parents, parents with psychiatric disabilities, parents with intellectual disabilities, and parents with medical conditions. Some parental disabilities are lifelong, while others are more recent. A parent's disability can be stable, progressive, or varying.

These scholarships are limited to individuals pursuing a post‑secondary college or university degree program in the U.S. Individuals may submit only one application per award period. Employees and board members of Through the Looking Glass and their families are not eligible for these scholarships. All application materials must be completed and postmarked by May 1, 2005. Complete applications must include:

*A completed application form

*A typed two‑page essay describing the experience of growing up with a parent with a disability

*Transcript(s) of all high school academic records

*Two letters of recommendation.

A panel of parents with disabilities, advocates, and professionals will evaluate these applications and determine the award winners. Awards will be announced in July of 2005 and published on our Web site. Application forms are available on Through the Looking Glass's Web site: <>. Forms may also be requested by calling (800) 644‑2666.

Online Technology Newsletter Available:

Top Tech Tidbits for Thursday is a concise, free summary of the week's news about adaptive technology, technology in general as it relates to the blind, and Internet audio. Each newsletter contains from seven to twenty news items, and most items are three sentences or shorter in length. Subscriber addresses are not used for any purpose other than distribution of the free newsletter. To subscribe, send a blank message to <tttt‑>. Readers can see a sample copy by sending a blank message to <>.

Attention Secondary Science Teachers of Visually Impaired Students:

We invite you to participate in the national field testing of our ACE Evolving Universe materials for visually impaired students. Please take the time to go to the ACE Web site, <> to examine the free-for-downloading materials available there.

These materials were developed by Mid-continent Research and Learning (McREL) with funding from a NASA IDEAS grant and were pilot-tested at the Colorado School for the Deaf and Blind. We are asking for your help in national field testing all or any part of them by May 1, 2005. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to email Donna Bogner, senior consultant, McREL, at <>.

Music Lessons Available:

Learn to play a musical instrument without using written or Braille music notation. Bill Brown, creator of Guitar by Ear, has created courses for the guitar, piano, bass, drums, banjo, saxophone, and ukulele, specifically for blind people. These are high-quality courses on tape or CD designed for beginners as young as ten. Most courses are $39. For more information on what is available and how to obtain a copy, call Bill at (229) 249-0628 or go to the Web site at <>. These courses are also available through the National Library Service of the Library of Congress.

International Association of Assistance Dog Partners Membership Benefits:

For a $20 membership in the International Association of Assistance Dog Partners, a consumer advocacy organization, you and your guide, hearing, or service dog are eligible to receive free: Advantage or Advantix; Avid microchip and registration in lost-dog-recovery systems; Cosequin, a glycocyamine product; rebates on vaccines; and discounts for various corporate veterinary hospital groups. If you meet eligibility requirements and your assistance dog needs high-cost veterinary intervention, the Veterinary Care Partnership fund can help. Please visit <> or phone Carol at (760) 439-9544, Pacific time.

Call for Papers:

This is an active call for papers for the Getting in Touch with Literacy Conference, a conference dedicated to the literacy needs of individuals of all ages with visual impairments that will be held in Denver, Colorado, December 1 to 3, 2005. The conference theme, Living Literacy, reflects the role of literacy in all facets of life and includes such topics as academics, horticulture, physical education, art, self-help, recreation, maps, computers/technology, math, sports, drama, movement, entertainment, and music.

Proposals for concurrent or poster sessions should address some aspect of Living Literacy in conjunction with any of the following: people with visual impairments of all ages (infants to adults), children with additional disabilities, federal requirements and laws associated with literacy, contracted and uncontracted Braille, low-vision-related literacy, and special literacy materials and equipment.

Individuals who are blind, parents, and professionals are invited to submit presentation proposals to the conference. There is so much to learn and share with one another!

Proposals are due by February 21, 2005; authors of accepted presentations will be notified by May 31, 2005. To learn more about the content and requirements of a proposal and to submit your proposal, please fill out the online form found at <>.

Computers for $100:

Computers are once again available to blind people for $100. Use your Talking Book playback machine to listen to a seven-cassette step-by-step tutorial on how to use Windows, from Bryan Hartgen. It includes using email and reading Web pages. The computer comes with a demo copy of Window-Eyes. Keep track of your tax and insurance files. Write letters and email to your friends and family. Keep your own recipes and family genealogy records. An email service, Juno, and a shareware screen enlargement program are provided.

Contact Bob Langford at Texas Center for the Physically Impaired, 11330 Quail Run, Dallas, Texas 75238; (214) 340-6328 during CST business hours. His email address is <>.

Brailler Repair Shop:

Richard Heigh has recently become certified to repair Perkins Braillers. His business is at 412 West Monroe Avenue, Linwood, New Jersey 08221. His phone number is (609) 601-0557.

Monitor Mart

The notices in this section have been edited for clarity, but we can pass along only the information we were given. We are not responsible for the accuracy of the statements made or the quality of the products for sale.

For Sale:

I am selling the following equipment: a BrailleNote 32, asking $2,950; a PowerBraille 80 Braille display, asking $2,700; a Juliet double-sided Braille embosser, asking $1,100; and a Braille Blazer embosser, asking $750. Call CJ Sampson at (801) 367-2559 or email <>.

For Sale:

PowerBraille 80 Braille Display that hasn't had much use and needs a home. Don't have room for it in my apartment. Would like $2,000 plus $35 for shipping, etc. Please call (772) 219-4479, email <>, or write to David John Fee, 1081 S.E. Monterey Road, Apt. C-5, Stuart, Florida 34994.

For Sale:

DECtalk Express in perfect working order and in very good condition cosmetically. Comes with powerpack, serial cable, and protective sheath. I will charge the battery before sending. Asking $275, exclusive of shipping. Will charge an additional $10 for priority shipping in the continental states, $15 to Canada, and more to be worked out to other countries. Contact Steve Johnson, email <>, phone (512) 380-9585.


I pledge to participate actively in the efforts of the National Federation of the Blind to achieve equality, opportunity, and security for the blind; to support the policies and programs of the Federation; and to abide by its constitution.