Braille Monitor                                                 August/September 2007

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Convention Miniatures

News from the Federation Family

March Medallion Recipients:

Pictured here are the obverse and reverse of the 2007 March for Independence medallionAs described in the lead photo story in this issue, everyone interested in taking part in the NFB March for Independence on July 3 was welcome to join our march, and a number did so. Lisa Hamilton, president of the UPS Foundation, and several officials from Coca-Cola joined the ranks of convention attendees who were marching. Those who had raised $250 or more wore March T-shirts. Baseball caps went to those who raised at least $500, and those responsible for contributions of at least $1,000 received handsome medallions on red-, white-, and blue-striped ribbons for wearing around the neck. The medallions measure two inches in diameter. The front bears the March logo of marching Whozits with the words, “NFB March for Independence 2007.” The figures 2007 also appear in Braille. The reverse contains the words “National Federation of the Blind,” a picture of Whozit, and the letters “NFB” in print and Braille. Here is the alphabetical list of medallion recipients:

Paula Achter
Kimberly Aguillard
Sheri Albers
Charlie Allen
Pamela Allen
Cintra Booth Calder
Allen Bornstein
John Bowman
Kristi Bowman
Charles Brown
Debbie Brown
Denice Brown
Ron Brown
Amy Buresh
Bridgid Burke
Dan Burke
Donald Capps
Barbara Cheadle
Katie Colton
Kathy Davis
Marsha Dyer
Nicky Gacos
Bruce Gardner
Jan Gardner
Ron Gardner
James Gashel
Patti Gregory-Chang
Peg Halverson
Kirk Harmon
Allen Harris
Bill Isaacs
Mary Ellen Jernigan
Katie Keim
Jennifer Kennedy
Junerose Killian
Scott LaBarre
Ann-Marie Laney
Ken Lawrence
Jerry Lazarus
Anil Lewis
Lorraine Magnussen
Louis Maher
Kevin Maivelett
David Maurer
Marc Maurer
Patricia Maurer
LeAnne Mayne
James McCarthy
Emma McCready
Maryanne Melley
Kelli Meusel
Pat Miller
Pat Munson
Sherrill O'Brien
James Omvig
Cindy Paré
John Paré
Sachin Pavithran
Maurice Peret
Amy Phelps
Barbara Pierce
Jim Portillo
Dolores Reisinger
Mark Riccobono
Melissa Riccobono
Jordan Richardson
Elizabeth Rival
Eileen Rivera Ley
Frank Robinson
Joe Ruffalo
Dwight Sayer
Pam Schnurr
Art Schreiber
Cathy Schroeder
Fred Schroeder
Arielle Silverman
Karl Smith
David Stayer
Art Stevenson
Virgil Stinnett
Jacob Struiksma
Rita Szantay
Anne Taylor
Judith Tunell
Ed Vaughan
Ben Vercellone
Ramona Walhof
Kim Williams
Kevan Worley
Kate Worsham
David Wright
Brandon Young
Betsy Zaborowski
Karen Zakhnini


The following are the results of division elections and other brief division information sent to us by press time:

Writers Division
The following officers and board members were elected at our annual meeting: president, Robert Leslie Newman (Nebraska); first vice president, Loraine Stayer (New York); second vice president, Jerry Whittle (Louisiana); secretary, Tom Stevens (Missouri); treasurer, Helen Stevens (Missouri); and board members, Chelsea Cook (Virginia), Lucille Hemingway (South Carolina), Sean Moore (Georgia), and Kasondra Payne (Utah).

A change in leadership with its new blood is often a good thing. Since 1982 the Writers Division has had four presidents: the first was R. Plumstead, then Pam Taylor, Nancy Scott, and Tom Stevens, who is now retiring after years of faithful and dedicated service.

National Association of Blind Veterans
At the convention about thirty-five interested people gathered in the Affiliate Action Suite on Tuesday evening, July 3, to form the newest division of the NFB, the National Association of Blind Veterans, a division of the National Federation of the Blind. Officers were elected, and the group is meeting by email to write a constitution and get it to the national board for approval by September 1. The officers and board are as follows: president, Dwight D. Sayer (Florida); first vice president, Kirk Waters (Louisiana); second vice president, Leslie Bledsoe (Texas); secretary, Leslie Fairall (Connecticut); treasurer, Don Srail (North Carolina), phone (704) 638-5714; and board members Kirk Harmon (Florida), Deborah Waters (Louisiana), Allen Bornstein (Florida), Ken Mitchell (Georgia), Clarence Huggins (South Carolina), and Edwin Jackson (Maryland). We will have complete contact information for board members on our Web site, as well as a myriad of veterans’ resources as soon as it is up, but for now, if anyone wishes to join the NABV, please call treasurer Don Srail at the number listed after his name to give your personal contact information and get his address for sending your dues of a whopping $5 a year. The National Association of Blind Veterans is on the move and going to change what it means across the USA to be a blind veteran.

The Diabetes Action Network
The 2007 DAN board members are president, Lois Williams (Alabama); first vice president, Ed Bryant (Missouri); second vice president, Mike Freeman (Washington); secretary, Bernadette Jacobs (Maryland); treasurer, Joy Stigile (California); and board members Maria Bradford (Washington), LeAnne Mayne (Illinois), and Minnie Walker (Alabama).

The National Association of Blind Students
Ryan Strunk, retiring NABS president, reports the following election results: president, Tai Tomasi (Utah); first vice president, Terri Rupp (Nevada); second vice president, Arielle Silverman (Arizona); secretary, J.J. Meddaugh (Michigan); treasurer, Darrel Kirby (Iowa); and board members, Yolanda Garcia Texas), B.J. Sexton (California), Domonique Lawless (Tennessee), and Jennifer Kennedy (Ohio).

National Organization of Blind Educators
NOBE conducted elections with the following results: president, Sheila Koenig (Minnesota); vice president, Priscilla McKinley (Virginia); second vice president, Paul Howard (Indiana); secretary, Lisa Johnson (Wisconsin); and treasurer, Cheralyn Creer (Utah).

National Federation of the Blind Senior Division
The National Organization of the Senior Blind (NOSB) held its annual meeting during the NFB convention. Our not-so-silent auction raised over $500, and over a hundred people paid their dues. Our big news is that we are changing our name. We will now be known as the National Federation of the Blind Senior Division. Competition was hot and heavy in our election. We elected two board members, and our officers will serve for another year. Our board is as follows: president, Judy Sanders (Minnesota); first vice president, Ray McGeorge (Colorado); second vice president, Roy Hobley (Nebraska); secretary, James Willows (California); treasurer, Paul Dressell (Ohio); and board members, Marie Cobb (Maryland) and Don Gillmore (Illinois).

Don't forget that you can purchase our senior book from the Independence Market to share with seniors and their families in your community. It is called So You Don't See as Well as You Used To and costs $5 in 16-point print or on standard cassette.

Be Prepared:

Steve Benson of Illinois reports the following event and recollection from this convention:

During this year’s national convention one of my Illinois colleagues picked up and read a print copy of Over the Top in Darkness, the biography of Jacob Bolotin, MD, at the NFB literature table. She shared some of the text with me. The name “Bolotin” was familiar to me, for Jacob Bolotin founded Boy Scout Troop 300, a Scout troop for blind kids. Upon his death his brother Fred took over the troop and served as Scoutmaster into the early fifties.

I joined Troop 300 in 1952. Fred J. Bolotin taught us Morse code. He showed us how to build a crystal set and one-tube radio, which we had to build on our own, and they both had to work. He was the first blind adult I ever met. He retired shortly after I joined the troop, but his presence was definitely felt. In 1955 I received the Fred J. Bolotin Memorial Award for leadership and all-around Scouting activity.

I feel a strong connection with Over the Top in Darkness; the goals Jacob Bolotin set for the troop were still conveyed to us in the 1950s. We learned everything about camping: how to pack a pack frame or knapsack, erect a tent, and build a fire and cook over it. Moreover, we were expected to perform these tasks as well as our sighted peers. The ideas of independence and self-sufficiency were strongly etched in our minds. Some of us accepted all that was taught; others didn’t, and the difference between those who accepted the principles and those who didn’t was, and still is, stark.

For me Scouting was a wonderful experience, and it all dates back to a blind man who had the courage, the drive, the perspective, and the brilliance to become a successful doctor and blaze a well-defined trail for those who followed in his footsteps.

Presentation of the Fredric K. Schroeder Award:

The officers and directors of the National Blindness Professional Certification Board (NBPCB) were pleased to present the 2007 Fredric K. Schroeder Award for outstanding contributions to the field of travel training for the blind. This honor is not automatically presented each year but only as often as it has been earned through exemplary service in the field of work with the blind. The board felt that such a candidate was deserving this year, so the 2007 recipient was Dr. Edward C. Bell.

Dr. Bell earned a bachelor’s degree in human development with a concentration in children's services from California State University, San Marcos, a master’s degree in educational psychology with a concentration in orientation and mobility from Louisiana Tech University, and a Ph.D. in rehabilitation education and research from the University of Arkansas. He also holds a certificate in educational statistics and research methods and certification as a rehabilitation counselor (CRC) and as an orientation and mobility instructor (NOMC).

Currently Dr. Bell directs the Professional Development and Research Institute on Blindness at Louisiana Tech University. In this capacity not only does he administer the overall operations of the Institute, but he is also the coordinator of the orientation and mobility program, which prepares professionals to work as cane travel instructors. In addition to these responsibilities, Dr. Bell has also been instrumental in developing the National Orientation and Mobility Certification (NOMC). He has conducted significant research in the field of rehabilitation of the blind and lectured extensively on the subject.

This award was presented to Dr. Bell at the recent National Blindness Professional Certification Board luncheon in Atlanta, which was held immediately before the NFB national convention. The plaque was presented by Fred Schroeder, which made the honor that much greater, and reads as follows:

National Blindness Professional Certification Board

Fredric K. Schroeder Award

Presented to

Edward C. Bell, Ph.D., NOMC, CRC

For excellence in furthering Structured Discovery Cane Travel Methodology and the National Orientation and Mobility Certification. Because of your pioneering, dedicated, and exemplary contributions to the field of orientation and mobility, the blind of tomorrow will be enabled to walk independently through life with faith justified by self-confidence.

National Blindness Professional Certification Board

June 30, 2007
Atlanta, Georgia

Preparing for Meet the Blind Month:

Has your chapter begun to make plans for its 2007 Meet the Blind Month activities? A number of folks received the following good advice in detail at a workshop during the convention. You still have time to find opportunities to locate meet-and-greet venues and arrange to be at various retail locations, community fairs, or other neighborhood events; but you must begin preparation now. Planning and action equal success.

Many communities have fall festivals that provide an excellent opportunity for your members to talk to their neighbors about blindness. Sometimes festival organizers provide tables and signage for the exhibitors. If this is the case, your members just show up with handout literature. If you must bring your own table and chairs, ask a church friend or relative, Lions Club member, UPS volunteer, or coworker to provide assistance with set-up. Chapter members can do the rest.

An attractive sign with the NFB logo will help generate attention. Contact the national office for an electronic version of the logo or ideas to discuss with your local sign maker.

Meet the Blind Month chapter organizers have found Wal-Mart or other big-box stores to be an excellent weekend location to meet-and-greet hundreds of their neighbors in a short period of time. Saturdays and Sundays are the best days at these locations. Families come out together. There you have a chance to get the attention of both young and old to change their misconceptions about blindness and reshape the thinking of the next generation of employers about the abilities of the blind. At these venues a fundraising component can also be added to make the day both educational and profitable for your chapter. If you have Krispy Kreme in your area or a local bakery, speak with them about selling some of their specialties.

Our Braille Is Beautiful program is designed to be shared with a class of students or at a service club meeting like the Lions or Rotary. The Braille Is Beautiful video set is available at no cost to chapter leaders who make arrangements for members to present the program to children or adults.

Whatever setting you choose, remember to provide an opportunity for your members to demonstrate techniques that show how you accomplish everyday tasks, just in a slightly different way. Assistive technology such as the Kurzweil–National Federation of the Blind Reader or electronic notetaker can also be demonstrated to add a high-tech component to your display.

This year it is easier than ever to share your plans with the national office and order free literature at the same time. NFB materials, including Braille alphabet cards, are available again in predetermined packets to speed up the order process. Find 2007 Meet the Blind Month information and order forms on our Web site <>.

Because of the popularity and continued growth of Meet the Blind Month, the literature order shipment cutoff date this year is Friday, September 14. To guarantee your delivery of materials for October activities, be sure to place your order by that date.
In addition, for more information or to brainstorm about activities you can plan, contact our director of special projects, Jerry Lazarus, by calling (410) 659-9314, extension 2297, or by sending an email to <>.

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.

HumanWare Victor Reader Talking Book Player for NISO and DAISY Books Available:

The New Victor Reader Talking Book PlayerOne of the most exciting pieces of new technology unveiled at this year’s convention was HumanWare’s Victor Reader Stream. At this writing (late July) it has not yet shipped, but everyone who ordered it is anxiously awaiting its arrival. Gerry Chevalier, HumanWare Victor Reader product manager, explains here just what this exciting pocket-size player can do:

At the NFB convention in July 2007 HumanWare, supplier of the Victor Reader line of CD-based digital Talking Book players, launched its first flash-based portable Talking Book player, the Victor Reader Stream. The Stream is the result of an NFB and HumanWare partnership in which the NFB participated in the design, usability, and user testing of the new player. The NFB also participated with HumanWare in the design of the new National Library Service (NLS) Talking Book player. The Stream is designed to play NISO Z39.86 2002 books, DAISY books, and MP3 books and music. NISO Z39.86 is the format that will be used for the new NLS digital Talking Books.

As Federationists know, NLS is transitioning its four-track cassette Talking Book service to a new digital format. At our convention NLS announced that in late summer 2007 it plans to expand its trial of downloaded digital Talking Books to include all NLS patrons who are registered with their local libraries and who have a computer and high-speed Internet connection to download the books. They must also have an NLS-authorized digital book player capable of playing the NISO books downloaded from the NLS server.

Only residents of the United States or American citizens living abroad who are unable to read or use standard print materials as a result of a temporary or permanent visual or physical limitation may receive NLS audio book services. Each individual must be certified first before accessing the NLS audio book services.

The new Victor Reader Stream will be able to play downloaded NLS NISO books as soon as NLS authorizes the player to do so. NLS NISO books are encrypted, and any digital player must be authorized by NLS with a decryption code to play the NLS books.

HumanWare has discussed the player-authorization process with NLS. The development of the Web form and NLS operational procedures is currently underway. As soon as NLS concludes this process, Victor Reader Stream users will be able to register for NLS download book service through a simple Web form on the NLS Web site. Once the patron is registered for NLS download book service, HumanWare will be able to supply the patron with the required software decryption code to install on the Stream. The decryption code will be sent from HumanWare in a simple email attachment.

NLS also announced that it will further expand its digital service in 2008 to begin sending digital recorded books on special cartridges mailed to its members. Included in the Stream package is a short USB cable to allow the future book cartridges to be connected to the Stream and copied to the Stream’s SD memory card. For users who prefer to play the cartridge directly on the player, HumanWare will sell an optional book cartridge holder that will clip to the back of the Stream. As with download books, the cartridge books may be played only on an authorized Stream player equipped with the decryption code.

As the newest member of the family of Victor Reader digital Talking Book players, the Stream offers the same powerful and simple-to-use user interface made popular by the Victor Reader Classic+ and Wave players used by thousands worldwide. Stream users will find the well-known four-arrow navigation keys of the Classic+ and Wave, allowing book navigation by chapter and section without the need to memorize complex key combinations. As well, the Stream’s telephone-style keypad provides advanced book navigation functions such as entering bookmarks or jumping directly to a specified page or heading. The Stream also has the popular Key Describer feature of other Victor Readers allowing you to press a key anytime to announce its function.

The Stream is an ideal companion to the future NLS player because it does everything the NLS player will do but in a pocket-size package. Once the player is authorized, not only will you be able to play and navigate the NLS books on cartridges, but you will also have access to the NLS download books. The Stream has a USB port to connect to your computer so you can transfer download books from your PC to the Stream’s SD flash memory card.

In addition to the ability to read NLS books, Stream will also play recorded DAISY 2.02 books from other DAISY producers, including RFB&D. However, every day more and more books and content are becoming available in nonrecorded, electronic text formats. Stream also has built-in computer text-to-speech to listen to the text portion of full text/full audio books or the text-only books such as those from Bookshare. The built-in speech also provides access to text files transferred from your computer. Indeed, the Stream combines the best features of the NLS player together with the award-winning Victor Reader CD and software players to make Stream the most powerful NISO and DAISY player in the HumanWare family. As an advanced player for recorded audio, e-text NISO and DAISY, and plain computer text, Stream is truly the complete solution in the palm of your hand for all your work-, school-, or leisure-reading needs.
But what about MP3 books and music? As an MP3 player, not only will Stream play your books and music but, using the built-in text-to-speech, it will also announce the book, album, and track names. And rounding out its versatile book-reading capabilities, Stream will support the popular commercial recorded books from Audible.

Weighing in at only six ounces and measuring 4.5-by-2.75 inches, this little player does it all. Consider a player that is not much bigger than a pack of cards that will have the ability to play NLS-downloaded books and book cartridges and will also play RFB&D books, Bookshare books, MP3 books, Audible books, computer e-text, and MP3 music files.

Finally, the Victor Reader Stream also has voice-recording capability for students and professionals who may want to record audio notes, meetings, or lectures. Recording is possible using a built-in microphone or external microphone connection. For listening versatility the Stream will allow the user to vary the playback speed and listen through headphones or a small built-in speaker.

The best news of all--priced at only $329, the Stream is your best buy for a NISO and DAISY player offering so much performance and functionality at such a low price. And don’t forget all NFB members receive a 5 percent discount. Visit <>. This site has complete product information and the opportunity to be first in line to purchase your Stream. Product and sales information is also available by calling HumanWare toll-free at (800) 722-3393.

HumanWare is confident that you will find the Victor Reader Stream is one of the most exciting products introduced in recent years.

And Away We Row!

Pat Maurer (left) watches while David Maurer and President Maurer engage in a friendly rowing competition.Aerial Gilbert, outreach manager at Guide Dogs for the Blind, provided the following report of one of the more physically demanding activities at this year’s convention:

Though no water was in sight, Dr. Marc Maurer and his son David rowed as though their lives depended on it. They were engaged in a friendly father-son competition on stationary rowing machines at the NFB convention. Although still in their white shirts and ties, they gave it their all. To the delight of spectators, David emerged victorious. Ever the good sport, Dr. Maurer commented that this was a great opportunity to promote exercise and activity. It was a way for blind people of all ages to compete on an equal playing field with those who have sight.

For Guide Dogs for the Blind it was an opportunity to introduce participants to an active lifestyle, as well as an active guide dog lifestyle. Guide Dogs for the Blind coordinated efforts with the NFB Sports and Recreation Division as well as with the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children to host the successful three-hour rowing event and tournament. The event drew over a hundred participants and spectators.

The guide dog lifestyle workshops gave people of all ages the opportunity to have a hands-on experience with a guide dog and get their questions answered about our free services. We were thrilled to speak with interested family members about our school and give people an understanding of the responsibilities and rewards of having a guide dog.

In addition we unveiled our new GDB Swiss Guide Dog harness. The sleek design provides a good physical connection and communication between the dog and person. As the dog pulls, its movements are transmitted from the strap on the dog’s chest to the handle. The white handle is a good safety feature; it also removes in a snap to make travel in confined spaces easier and more comfortable for the dog.

We were honored to be a part of this year’s convention, and we look forward to attending again in 2008.

A Word of Thanks to Our Sponsors:

Jim Halliday, vice president for advocacy, demonstrates low-vision equipment to a mother and daughter.The National Federation of the Blind once again thanks our many sponsors of this year’s national convention. Your continued support and interest in our work are important to us and deeply appreciated.

Sponsors of our 2007 national convention included the following:

Title—Freedom Scientific, HumanWare
Platinum—Independent Living Aids, Intel, UPS
Silver—Guide Dogs for the Blind, IBM, Marriott Global Reservation Sales
Exhibit Hall—Diagnostic Devices, Inc., GW Micro, Optelec, Sendero Group, Solutions Radio, Tenacity, Inc.

Jerry Marindin, regional accounts manager, Blind/Low Vision Group, (right) demonstrates Freedom Scientific equipment to two people.We appreciate the wide variety of services and products offered by these fourteen sponsors. Most participated in our annual special evening for sponsors in the exhibit hall, at which their products only were displayed and demonstrated. In addition, quite a number of our members became raffle winners of prizes donated by sponsors.

A number of representatives from these organizations participated with us in our first March for Independence. These sponsors' support for our efforts to achieve equality in the workplace, independence in the voting booth, and the general use and availability of Braille encourages us in our struggle for equality. Thank you again to all the sponsors for your financial support, your continued efforts to provide the latest technology and services to blind people, and your strong commitment to the National Federation of the Blind. We salute you.

NFB Pledge
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.

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