Future Reflections          Fall 2007

(back) (contents)

Odds and Ends

Close to Home
News from the NOPBC and the NFB

Washington Seminar
The Hill Will Be Alive: with the sounds of hundreds of advocates, both blind and sighted, voicing their concerns to their congressmen and women. The 2008 Washington Seminar is slated to run from January 28-31 and promises to be another great opportunity to enjoy the benefits of democracy: personal access to our elected officials. Keep your calendar clear and check the NFB Web site, <www.nfb.org>, in the coming months for updated information and legislation that will affect you and your blind child.

Shop for Independence
Independence Market: Now that you’re finished with the back-to-school shopping rush, it’s time to start thinking about that ever-expanding Christmas list. Even though Christmas is still a couple of months away, it’s never too early to browse the NFB store, Independence Market. Here you will find all kinds of accessible products including canes; activity books; raised line coloring books; talking crayons; talking watches; soccer balls, volleyballs, and basketballs containing bells for audio cues; playing cards; blocks; magnetic letters and numbers; alphabet placemats; a colorful, take-apart, topographical puzzle map of the United States; magnetic backgammon and many more fun, accessible products for the whole family. Simply visit <www.nfb.org/nfb/Independence_Market.asp> or visit <www.nfb.org/nfb/JtBLibrary.asp> to view the Jacobus tenBroek Library Resource Guide and browse the catalog. You may also call (410) 659-9314, extension 2341, to order or to request a catalog.

Go Green Safely
National Federation of the Blind on Clean Car Acts: It’s hard to argue against saving money at the pump and saving the environment at the same time. And the National Federation of the Blind will not be making that argument. However, as many blind leaders, educators, scientists, and people with common sense have pointed out, the current push towards cars that rely on silent electric power could prove deadly to pedestrians--especially blind pedestrians. One solution would be for the cars to emit some kind of sound to allow all pedestrians to use audio cues to travel safely. President Maurer recently said, “The National Federation of the Blind is not opposed to more efficient and environmentally friendly automobiles. Pedestrian safety, however, must be taken into account when these vehicles are designed and manufactured.”

K-NFB Reader
The Revolution is [still] Here: And it’s more affordable than ever. The Kurzweil–National Federation of the Blind Reader is accessible, portable, and available for a reduced cost of $2,595. The Reader converts the content of printed documents into clear synthetic speech. It reads most printed documents, address labels, package information, and instructions with ease, storing thousands of printed pages at a time. Scan, read, and discard pages; store them for later reading, or transfer to a computer or Braille-aware PDA. It also has the ability to differentiate between different U.S. currency denominations, no matter how the bill is facing. So join the thousands that have already benefited from this life-changing device. Visit <www.knfbreader.com> or call (877) 547-1500 for information on how to purchase the device.

Blind Science Strengthens Its Foundation for the Future
The First-Ever NFB Youth Slam: This August, two hundred blind youth and seventy-five blind mentors arrived in Baltimore for a week of science, engineering, and fun. Students from all over the country launched weather balloons and rockets, dissected sharks, and built bridges, windmills, astronomical models, and even a functional hovercraft. Some students even experienced journalism first-hand, as they collected stories, interviews, and podcasts of the events for the week. You’ll find those and more information about this innovative and life-changing event at <www.blindscience.org>.

Some Tonic for Those Growing Pains
Useful Teen Advice: While every parent may look for that miracle solution to help guide them through the teenage years, some sighted parents feel they have an even harder time relating to their blind son or daughter as they enter into these crucial years. This is when advice from other blind people proves especially useful as teens develop social skills, begin dating, and develop more and more independence. Check out some past issues of Future Reflections that sought to address some of these concerns. Of special note are “About Dating, Blindness, and the ‘Little Things’ of Life” (Volume 3, Number 1); “Fitting in Socially” (Volume 13, Number 3); and “The Summer of Independence” (Volume 18, Number 1). All of these back issues can be found online at <www.nfb.org/nfb/Future_Reflections.asp>.

Around the Block
Helpful Items from Here and There

Please note: The NOPBC is not responsible for the accuracy of the information; we have edited only for space and clarity.

Channel Your Inner Perry Mason
Represent Your Child: Recently the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Ohio parents who sued their school district over their blind child’s special education needs under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). This decision was a landmark case where the Court decided that parents can represent their children in court and are not required to hire a lawyer for the child. As a result, parents are no longer denied access to fair legal proceedings if they cannot afford legal representation. You can read the decision at <www.supremecourtus.gov/opinions/06pdf/05-983.pdf>.

New Course Offered at the Hadley School for the Blind
This Notice Comes Courtesy of Hadley School for the Blind. “Hadley’s new course ‘Parenting Children with Multiple Disabilities’ presents skills and techniques for furthering development in a child with multiple disabilities. This course is available in large print and online. Topics include an examination of basic concepts of learning; a description of professionals who may work with their child; a discussion on communication, social development, and behavior issues; and an exploration of self-help skills and orientation and mobility. This course is tuition free and open to students in Hadley’s Family Education Program. To enroll in this course, visit us on the Web at <www.hadley.edu>.” You may also contact the Hadley School for the Blind by calling (800) 323-4238.

Keep the Fridge Closed!
LeapFrog Fridge Phonics™: This toy from LeapFrog Enterprises, Inc. is recommended by a reader as a great way for young blind children to recognize print letters. The toy consists of a battery operated reader that is attached to a surface via magnets, as well as magnetic letters that can be identified tactilely. When the letters are placed on the reader and a button is pressed, the reader announces the letter’s name and plays a song about the sound the letter makes. An extension of the basic Fridge Phonics™ set, the Word Whammer™ uses the same basic concept, but instead of single letters, allows children to place three letters into a magnetic reader to form words. The reader recognizes over 325 words and then encourages the child to make rhyming words. The Fridge Phonics™ Magnetic Letter Set sells for a price of $19.99 and contains the reader and twenty-six letters. The Word Whammer™ sells for $24.99 and contains the expanded reader and thirty-two letters. More information can be found at <www.leapfrog.com> or by calling (800) 701-5327. To help your child associate the print letters with Braille, simply place a Braille label on the large magnetic letters.

Sifting Through the IEP Process
The following advertisements are courtesy of Nolo legal books and software. The Complete IEP Guide maps the process from start to finish, providing support for dealing with bureaucratic difficulties and helpful advice for custom-fitting your child’s IEP. Whether your child needs six months of speech therapy, or special education ‘K through 12,’ this book will help you steer clear of pitfalls and get meaningful results.

Nolo’s IEP Guide: Learning Disabilities is specially designed for the parents of children with learning problems such as dyslexia, aphasia, dyspraxia, and visual or audio processing disorders. You’ll learn how to identify a learning disability, qualify your child for an IEP program, and choose the best programs and services down the line.” To order, visit <www.nolo.com> or call (800) 728-3555.

Braille Resources
**Editor’s Choice**

Everythingbraille: A Resource Guide for Parents and Teachers: A one-stop Braille resource compilation, Everythingbraille lays out all the agencies, organizations, and companies that produce Braille, and adaptive technologies or have some sort of interest in Braille advocacy. Topics covered include an overview of Braille, Braille publications, adaptive technology, tactile graphics, Braille fun and games, and Braille music. The print book is $5.00 and can be ordered from National Braille Press, but you may also access it for free online at <www.everythingbraille.com>. To order, call (888) 965-8965, or write to National Braille Press, 88 St. Stephen Street, Boston, Massachusetts 02115.

American Action Fund for Blind Children and Adults: Another Braille resource you shouldn’t miss, the American Action Fund provides two important programs through which you can receive Braille books free of charge. The first program is the Kenneth Jernigan Lending Library, headquartered in Tarzana, California. The library contains over forty-thousand Braille books that are available on loan for a period not to exceed three months. This program offers books ranging from those at the preschool reading level to young adult readers. The other program is the American Action Fund Free Braille Books program, based in Baltimore, Maryland. Through this program, you can choose any combination of three popular book series. The books are free, and are yours to keep. You make your selections on the application and then mail the application to the address provided. These books cater to readers at a second to fifth grade reading level.

Both programs make use of free matter for the blind postage, so you don’t even have to pay shipping costs. Simply visit <www.actionfund.org> and find the program in which you wish to enroll. Both applications are available online, or you may call the relevant program headquarters to receive an application by mail. For the Kenneth Jernigan Lending Library, call (818) 343-2022 and for the Free Braille Books Program, call (410) 659-9314, extension 2361.

Braille-A-Wear: This fall, be sure to wear your Braille on your sleeve and check out this clothing line begun by a mother and her blind daughter early last year. In an attempt to raise Braille awareness and at the same time make fashionable, durable clothes, Deb Kersey-Tagoe and her daughter Bronwen created Braille-A-Wear. Using 3-D embroidery, Braille-A-Wear produces not only short and long sleeve t-shirts, but also baby bibs, hats, totes, pins, and pottery.

Visit <www.braille-a-wear.com> or call (717) 671-1184 to order, or for more details about products and about Braille in general.

Accessible Testing Materials: Before you begin to think about the accessibility issues of college, make sure that your children have the testing materials they need to get into the school of their choice, with the best opportunity for financial aid and scholarships. Visit <www.collegeboard.org>, click on “For Students,” “College Board Tests,” and then click on “Students with Disabilities.” Be sure that you look into these options well in advance--some materials may take up to a year to pass through the process.

Braille Slate Pals

“I have a student who is transitioning from print to Braille. If he could exchange letters with another Braille reader I think that would greatly motivate him to learn.”

“My 12-year-old daughter is the only blind child in her school. She would very much like to correspond with another blind girl her age who may share some of her concerns about fitting in.”
“Ever since my son read about Louis Braille he has been fascinated with the Braille system. He wants to find a blind boy his age (ten) so they can write Braille letters back and forth. Can you help us?”

These are only a few examples of the Slate Pal requests we receive throughout the year. Slate Pals is a program for children in grades K-12 that matches students who want Braille pen pals. The program is sponsored by the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children (NOPBC) of the National Federation of the Blind (NFB), and is available, free of charge, to children around the world.

Slate Pals enables children who are blind to correspond with one another in Braille. It also finds blind pen pals for sighted children who are interested in learning the Braille code.

Slate Pal requests have come to us from all fifty states and most of the Canadian provinces. We have also received requests for Slate Pals from many nations overseas, including Taiwan, South Africa, Denmark, Hungary, Uganda, El Salvador, Germany, Australia, and Great Britain. In matching Slate Pals the primary considerations are age range, gender, and interests. We also try to match each prospective Slate Pal with someone who lives in a distinctly different geographic locale.

For more information, or to request a registration form, call (410) 659-9314, extension 2361. You can also register online at <www.nfb.org/nfb/NOPBC_Slate_Pals.asp>.

(back) (contents)