Braille Monitor                                                 January 2011

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News from the Federation Family

Announcing the 2011 NFB Leadership and Advocacy in Washington, D.C., (LAW) Program:

Engaging the Voice of America’s Blind Youth
April 8-12, 2011

The 2010 LAW Program group poses outside the south entrance to the Capitol.This four-day experience provides blind and low-vision students in grades six to nine, or ages twelve to sixteen, a unique opportunity to explore the inner workings of our country’s government, its history, and its culture, while staying at the headquarters of the National Federation of the Blind in Baltimore, Maryland. While they learn about grassroots legislative efforts, passing resolutions, and creating blindness legislation, participants will become familiar with advocacy work for blind people and available resources for blind students and adults. Highlights of the program include visits to historic sites in Washington, D.C., meetings with influential government leaders, presentations by prominent leaders from the largest blindness advocacy group in the country, a tour of the National Federation of the Blind national headquarters, and opportunities to examine technology in the International Braille and Technology Center, the largest lab of Braille and speech products for the blind.

Twenty-four students will be accepted in the LAW program. Those chosen must be accompanied by a parent or guardian, teacher, or blind or low-vision mentor from their home states. The fee for student/chaperone pairs is $250. Transportation, room, and board will be provided for students and chaperones.

Apply now by going to <>. Applications are due by February 1, 2011. For more information contact Treva Olivero, education program specialist, at (410) 659-9314, extension 2295, or by email at <>.

Charlie Brown Honored:
Charles S. BrownFor many years Charlie Brown served as president of the NFB of Virginia and as board member and then treasurer of the national organization. He now works on Federation legal matters. At its convention in November, the Virginia affiliate recognized Charlie and our recently deceased friend and NFB leader, Seville Allen. In honor of Charlie and Seville, we reprint the text of the award presentation made by NFB of Virginia President Fred Schroeder:

Award Presentation

It is significant that we are meeting over the Veterans Day weekend. We have a long history of honoring those who have given their lives in defense of our nation. Veterans Day began with an observance of the signing of the Armistice on November 11, 1918, bringing World War I to an end. Yet more than a half-century earlier, another conflict had threatened our nation’s safety and ultimate survival as much as any struggle on a foreign battlefield.

On November 19, 1863, on the battlefield near Gettysburg, President Lincoln gave the following address:

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate--we can not consecrate--we can not hallow--this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us--that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion--that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain--that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom--and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

These were Lincoln’s words. He called on all Americans to renew their devotion to those principles on which our nation was founded: liberty, equality, and justice. But Lincoln’s words apply to many more people than those who fight and die on the literal battlefield of war. His words remind us that we have many heroes whose sacrifices must not be forgotten, people who give of themselves every day so that others will have the opportunity to live and work and contribute on terms of equality with others.

Today, November 13, would have been Seville Allen’s sixty-sixth birthday. Seville is one of those heroes who gave of herself freely and without reservation. She gave all she had to expand opportunities for blind people, children and adults, to help free them from society’s low expectations and unwitting prejudice. To paraphrase President Lincoln; the world will little note, nor long remember, what we say, but we can never forget what Seville did. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which Seville so nobly advanced. It is for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us--that from Seville’s example we take increased devotion to that cause for which she gave the full measure of devotion. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this--renewing our commitment--continuing in her footsteps until blind people everywhere enjoy the same rights and opportunities as others.

This evening I wish to present an award honoring Seville and her sacrifice and recognizing an individual who, like Seville, has given tirelessly of his strength, time, imagination, and resources to advance opportunities for all blind people. I have in my hands a plaque that reads:

National Federation of the Blind of Virginia
The Seville Allen Award
Presented to Charles S. Brown

In recognition of your dedication to improving opportunities for the blind of Virginia and the Nation. Your giving spirit, commitment to purpose, and tireless advocacy are an inspiration to all.
November 13, 2010

Congratulations, Charlie. I cannot think of anyone more deserving, and I know Seville would have agreed.

New Book by Carol Castellano Available:
Getting Ready for College Begins in Third Grade
Working Toward an Independent Future for Your Blind/VI Child
Pre-K to Middle School
by Carol Castellano
2010 Information Age Publishing/106 pp./$25

Through years of advocacy for families, author Carol Castellano has noticed that the education of many blind and visually impaired children went off track in third or fourth grade. She also observed that as the children fell further and further behind, no one was thinking about a plan to get the child caught up. If a child couldn’t do grade-level math and reading in third grade and he or she kept falling behind, how would that child ever handle algebra and college-prep English?

Instead of accepting a lower standard of education for blind and VI children, Getting Ready for College Begins in Third Grade empowers parents with a plan for getting and keeping the child’s education on track and for teaching the additional life skills necessary for an independent future. Written for parents of pre-K through middle school students, the book’s chapters include High Expectations, Academics, Independent Living Skills, Independent Movement and Travel, Social Awareness and Social Skills, and Developing Self-Advocacy Skills: the Pursuit of a Normal Life.

Highlights of Getting Ready for College Begins in Third Grade include:

Ordering information: Information Age Publishing, 23 Alexander Ave.; Charlotte, NC 28271; (704) 752-9125; <>

Parents of Blind Children-NJ; PO Box 79049; Madison, NJ 07940; (973) 377-0976; <>

National Center for the Blind, 200 East Wells Street, Baltimore, MD 21230; (410) 659-9314, opt. 4; <>.

Lucky Winners Please Come Forward:
At the 2010 convention Cheryl Echevarria of Echevarria Travel and Maurice Shackelford of donated gift certificates as door prizes to be used towards travel using their company. These gift certificates are worth $100 and are good through July 4, 2011. The winners must contact the donors well before the expiration date to take advantage of their prizes.

To reach Echevarria Travel, call (866) 580-5574 or email <>. To contact Maurice Shackelford of, call (888) 389-2723 or email <>.

The At Large Chapter of the NFB of Ohio had its business meeting at the state convention in Columbus, Ohio, November 6, 2010. The following officers were elected: president, Colleen Roth; vice president, Barbara Fohl; and secretary/treasurer, Tracey Sinkovic.

At its convention October 22 and 23, 2010, The NFB of Rhode Island elected the following officers to serve two-year terms: president, Grace Pires; vice president, John Pimentel; secretary, Rick Costa; treasurer, Anthea Cabral; and board members, Robert Pires and Jennifer Aberdeen.

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.

NASA STEM Internships Available:
NASA hopes to increase the number of blind and disabled students pursuing science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) careers through its internship programs. It has a 2 percent hiring goal. Students can apply between November 1 and February 1. They can register for an account and look for internships anytime at <>. Internships run for ten weeks from May 31, 2011, through August 5, 2011.

In order to be eligible to apply, students must at least be accepted as freshmen at an accredited college or university at the time of the internship. NASA has internships for rising freshmen through doctoral students in STEM fields. A minimum GPA of 2.8 is required to apply; however, the competition for internships is keen. The age limit for interns is eighteen years and up.

Internships are available at all NASA centers nationwide. Students can select a particular center by applying for a project or projects at that center. For example, a project having to do with the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) will be at Goddard in Maryland because SDO is here. If students simply apply without choosing any projects, their applications will be available for mentors to view at all NASA centers. However, not applying for specific projects may result in mentors’ not looking at their applications because they have not requested a specific internship.

For more information or help with applying, contact Federationist Ken Silberman at phone, (301) 286-9281; fax, (301) 286-1655; or email, <>.

Learning More about The Blind Doctor:
In The Blind Doctor: The Jacob Bolotin Story, Rosalind Perlman tells the fascinating story of a remarkable man who was born blind to poor parents in Chicago in 1888. Rejecting the conventional wisdom of his time, he was determined to “be of use” in the world. He learned Braille and developed an uncanny sense of touch and hearing that would later make him one of the top heart and lung specialists in the city. To pay for his education, Jacob sold brushes, matches, and then typewriters door to door. He fought his way into and through the Chicago College of Medicine, graduated with honors at twenty-four, and became the world's first totally blind physician fully licensed to practice medicine.

The voice of Dr. Jacob Bolotin was one of the first to raise the awareness of the world to the plight of the blind, while also showing that, with a positive attitude and a bit of opportunity, blindness did not have to keep those without sight down and out. His speeches about his own life and the need for treating people with disabilities as capable and productive citizens were in such demand that he often gave four talks a day while working fulltime as a doctor and teaching at three medical colleges.

This inspiring biography is based on the memories of the author's husband, Alfred Perlman, who was the nephew of Dr. Bolotin's wife and lived with the Bolotins for several years when he was a boy.

ISBN-13: 978-1-8834213-1, 256 pages, 9" x 6" paperback, $19.95

Large print edition available. ISBN-13: 978-1-8834214-8, 416 Pages, 9" x 6" Paperback, $24.95.

Just out—The Blind Doctor audio book. Dramatically read by actor Ed Giron, The Blind Doctor 7-CD audio book brings this fascinating and inspirational story vividly and unforgettably to life. ISBN-13: 978-1-8834214-8, 7-CDs, $29.95.

Braille Edition Available. A three-volume Braille edition has been expertly transcribed by the Kansas Braille Transcription Institute (KBTI) and is now available from Blue Point Books. The cost for the three volumes is only $29.95. For more information about the Kansas Braille Transcription Institute, go to <>.

Make Plans Now for National Convention Travel:
Cheryl Echevarria of Echevarria Travel and treasurer of the Greater Long Island Chapter of the NFB of New York would love to help you with travel to and from the national convention in Orlando, Florida. The convention dates are July 3 to 8, 2011. If you need air, bus, train, or even shuttle or limo service, please give her a call.

Since we will be in Orlando this year, you have a chance to visit the Disney facilities, the Kennedy Space Center, and Sea World. She can also arrange package tours before or after the convention since Port Canaveral is one of the major cruise line hubs in the area. Don't wait to get your tickets or book a cruise. Our convention is near a holiday weekend, so good airfares and tours won’t be available long. Call (866) 580-5574.

Blind Woman Engineer Honored:
SWE president Siddika Demir presents a plaque to Chieko Asakawa.It is always gratifying to see a blind person recognized for outstanding achievement in a strong and competitive company. International Business Machines (IBM) brought to our attention the recent recognition of Dr. Chieko Asakawa by the Society of Women Engineers and invited us to print information about her award. Here is the article, which we are pleased to print:

The Society of Women Engineers (SWE) is pleased to announce IBM’s Chieko Asakawa, PhD, as the recipient of the 2010 SWE Achievement Award. She is honored for challenging conventional ideas about how people with visual impairments use technology and for pioneering research and technical advances in Web accessibility.

“Dr. Asakawa is recognized worldwide for her expertise and research in information technology accessibility for individuals with visual impairments,” said Siddika Demir, SWE president. “Her groundbreaking work developing tools and frameworks helps solve accessibility problems, allows those with special needs the same Internet capabilities, and will influence the next generation of cutting-edge technologies.”

Dr. Asakawa is the chief technology officer of accessibility research and technology at IBM Research. In this role she provides technical guidance to the accessibility research team worldwide. Dr. Asakawa is also an international thought leader in the field of information technology accessibility for people with disabilities, the elderly, and others with special needs.

“The tremendous achievements of Dr. Asakawa have opened the wonders of the World Wide Web and other technologies to thousands of people around the world who have vision and other disabilities,” says Linda Sanford, senior vice president at IBM. “As an IBM Fellow Asakawa-san serves as a wonderful role model and inspiration to the next generation of technologists who aspire to make the world a better place.”

Having lost her sight at age 14, Dr. Asakawa has a deep understanding of people with special needs. She began her career with IBM 25 years ago and has focused on accessibility research ever since. In the 1980s she drove development of the first Braille editing system and in 1997 developed the innovative voice browser, Home Page Reader, a program that reads aloud words on a Webpage, opening up the new information resource for the blind. Dr. Asakawa has also managed the development of numerous other accessibility tools and frameworks for developers and users with visual impairments as well as a transcoding technology that improves Webpage readability among the aging population. In 2009 she and her team launched the Social Accessibility Project, a research experiment using a social computing approach to solve real-world accessibility problems.

Dr. Asakawa has received numerous recognitions from her peers and IBM, including being named an IBM Fellow, the company’s highest technical honor. She is one of only 218 Fellows in company history and the first Japanese woman to receive the honor. Dr. Asakawa was also named an IPSJ Fellow by the Information Processing Society of Japan, inducted into the Women in Technology International Hall of Fame in 2003, and has been granted 20 patents for her work. She holds a BA in English literature from Otemon Gakuin University and a PhD in engineering from the University of Tokyo, Japan.

The Achievement Award is SWE’s highest award. Criteria are based on the significance of the nominee’s lifetime achievements and on her sustained contributions to the field of engineering. The Achievement Award was presented Friday, November 5, at WE10, the Society’s annual conference, in Orlando, Florida.


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 would like to sell my classic PAC Mate from Freedom Scientific. It is one of the original models. The device has a 40-cell display. It has had very little use, and it will come with the necessary cables and a leather case that was purchased separately. I am asking a thousand dollars or best offer.
You can reach me by phone, by email, or in Braille. My phone number is (480) 615-3347. My email is <>, and my postal address is 155 West Brown Road, Apt. 125, Mesa, Arizona 85201.

For Sale:
I am selling an unused I.D. Mate Omni, in original box. Contains case, extra memory card, power adaptor, and extra bar code labels. Asking $800. Contact Renee Abernathy at <> or at (704) 263-1314. (Leave a message.)

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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