Vol. 62, No. 3 March 2019
Gary Wunder, Editor
Distributed by email, in inkprint, in Braille, and on USB flash drive, by the
The National Federation of the Blind
Mark Riccobono, President
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THE NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND KNOWS THAT BLINDNESS IS NOT THE CHARACTERISTIC THAT DEFINES YOU OR YOUR FUTURE. EVERY DAY WE RAISE THE EXPECTATIONS OF BLIND PEOPLE, BECAUSE LOW EXPECTATIONS CREATE OBSTACLES BETWEEN BLIND PEOPLE AND OUR DREAMS. YOU CAN LIVE THE LIFE YOU WANT; BLINDNESS IS NOT WHAT HOLDS YOU BACK. THE NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND IS NOT AN ORGANIZATION SPEAKING FOR THE BLIND--IT IS THE BLIND SPEAKING FOR OURSELVES.
Each issue is recorded on a thumb drive (also called a memory stick or USB flash drive). You can read this audio edition using a computer or a National Library Service digital player. The NLS machine has two slots--the familiar book-cartridge slot just above the retractable carrying handle and a second slot located on the right side near the headphone jack. This smaller slot is used to play thumb drives. Remove the protective rubber pad covering this slot and insert the thumb drive. It will insert only in one position. If you encounter resistance, flip the drive over and try again. (Note: If the cartridge slot is not empty when you insert the thumb drive, the digital player will ignore the thumb drive.) Once the thumb drive is inserted, the player buttons will function as usual for reading digital materials. If you remove the thumb drive to use the player for cartridges, when you insert it again, reading should resume at the point you stopped.
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The 2019 convention of the National Federation of the Blind will take place July 7 to July 12, at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, 3950 South Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas, Nevada 89119. Make your room reservation as soon as possible with the Mandalay Bay Resort staff only. Call 877-632-9001.
The 2019 room rate of $99 per night applies to singles and doubles as well as triples and quads. Hotel and sales taxes are 13.38 percent and 8.25 percent, respectively. The resort fee (normally $37 a night) will be waived for NFB convention attendees. However, fees for internet access, local and toll-free calls, and fitness center access may apply. The hotel will take a deposit of the first night’s room rate for each room and will require a credit card or a personal check. If you use a credit card, the deposit will be charged against your card immediately. If a reservation is cancelled before Friday, June 1, 2019, half of the deposit will be returned. Otherwise refunds will not be made.
Rooms will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. Reservations may be made before June 1, 2019, assuming that rooms are still available. After that time the hotel will not hold our room block for the convention. In other words, you should get your reservation in soon.
Among its features is an aquatic playground called Mandalay Bay Beach which has real sand, a wave pool, and a lazy river. The hotel is also home to an aquarium with more than 2,000 animals including sharks, green sea turtles, and a Komodo dragon. Plus, it offers top-notch entertainment including Michael Jackson ONE by Cirque du Soleil.
The schedule for the 2019 convention is:
Sunday, July 7 Seminar Day
Monday, July 8 Registration and Resolutions Day
Tuesday, July 9 Board Meeting and Division Day
Wednesday, July 10 Opening Session
Thursday, July 11 Business Session
Friday, July 12 Banquet Day and Adjournment
Vol. 62, No. 3 March 2019
Illustration: World Braille Day: The World Acknowledges the Value of Literacy for the Blind
The 2019 Washington Seminar
by Gary Wunder
Legislative Agenda of Blind Americans: Priorities for the 116th Congress, First Session
Access Technology Affordability Act
Greater Accessibility and Independence through Nonvisual Access Technology
Disability Employment Act
We Will Not be Shut Down
by Mark Riccobono
How the Marrakesh Treaty Came to be Policy: The Perspective from a Longtime Legislator
by Senator Charles Grassley
National Federation of the Blind Celebrates Ratification of the Marrakesh Treaty
by Chris Danielsen
Growing Comfortable with the Uncomfortable
by Trisha Kulkarni
Leave a Legacy
Braille Readers Are Leaders Contest Results
by Deborah Kent Stein
Summer Youth Programs
A Network of Support
by Mary Lou Grunwald
Tactile Graphics in Education and Careers
by Stacie Dubnow
The Fifty-Year Perspective: An Interview with Ramona Walhof
TO-ed at the OT
by Lauren Merryfield
The Kenneth Jernigan Convention Scholarship Fund
by Allen Harris
Copyright 2019 by the National Federation of the Blind
Many desires unite the blind of the world: having a place to live, being able to enjoy that place as a palace and not a prison, getting an education and eventually some kind of job so that one's efforts are appreciated by getting something of worth for them. Not only are we united in our aspirations, but sometimes we also share a common belief in a technique. Braille is the most obvious example, and so it is that the World Blind Union worked to get the United Nations to designate the birthday of Louis Braille as World Braille Day. What an acknowledgement by a world body that Braille is the key to literacy and that literacy is the key to a better life for all who are fortunate enough to possess it.
As shown in the photos accompanying this text, we did some celebration of World Braille Day at our NFB Jernigan Institute. The cake in the photo nurtured the body, but what it symbolizes nourishes the heart and soul. Thank you Louie Braille, and thank you to all who continue to work to convince the world that the beauty of literacy should be shared by the blind.
by Gary Wunder
Second only to the excitement of the National Federation of the Blind national convention is what some people call our mid-winter meeting or the Washington Seminar. It is a time for learning a lot about laws affecting blind people and even more about what we need to do to see that those laws lead to real equality of opportunity. We are the faces behind the legislative proposals Congress will consider, and it is our lives that will be made better or worse by its action or inaction.
But before we brief one another and prepare to go to the Hill, we build our organization through other meetings. The first of these was the Parent Leadership Program whose gathering took place at the NFB Jernigan Institute on January 27 and 28. Parents learned about the laws affecting their children's education, got first-hand instruction in being advocates, and learned that the Federation goes far beyond individualized education plans and individual plans for employment. Working with the organization to change the environment for these young people will determine whether they have technology they can afford, appliances they can use, and remunerative employment. The message we try so hard to send is this: today your child is five years old, but you need to know more than what to do until she is twenty-one. You need to be a part of molding the world she will inherit, and we, as a part of your family, are here to help.
The noisiest and most enthusiastic meeting certainly comes from our students and their division, the National Association of Blind Students. These young people, who are often known for late nights and late starts in the morning, surprised everyone when they were anxiously waiting at 8:30 a.m. for the 9:15 registration and a 10:00 a.m. start of the meeting. The hubbub was wonderful, but what started as controlled chaos turned into a well-oiled registration system and a meeting that started within seven minutes of when the agenda said it would.
President Kathryn Webster gaveled the Learning Through Living 2019 Student Seminar to order, welcomed the students, and asked our social media coordinator Karen Anderson to talk with the group about social media and our Twitter hashtag #NFBINDC.
President Mark Riccobono was introduced, and he talked about unity in the National Federation of the Blind. We get things done because we are united, but we can only be united if everyone knows his or her voice matters. United doesn't mean the old guys and gals run everything; united means all of us decide the course we will take, and all of us make what we decide become the reality that we and other blind people come to experience.
Gabe Cazares, our manager of government affairs, was introduced. When he says "Howdy," you know that information is soon to come, and it is delivered with the poise, enthusiasm, and clarity that makes it stick. He briefly outlined each proposal, took questions, and left more detailed discussions for later in the seminar.
Everette Bacon came to encourage students to apply for scholarships, and the fruits of the program were made perfectly clear by Trisha Kulkarni, a 2018 winner, who delivered a presentation that appears elsewhere in this issue.
In the afternoon many of us came to hear about the issues we would take to Congress. Having the fact sheets in hand well before the seminar was helpful, but there is nothing like being able to ask questions of people who know our proposals inside and out and who exude the enthusiasm for what we are doing in coming to Congress.
When 5 p.m. arrived, the Capitol Ballroom was filled to overflowing, and the overflow Congressional Room had few unoccupied chairs. Together we had two rooms full of people ready to take the Hill. President Riccobono began by welcoming those in attendance and then delivered moving remarks which appear elsewhere in this issue.
As the next order of business, he observed that the Federation has been coming to DC longer than any member of Congress, and in the thirty-seven years we have been using this hotel, Diane McGeorge has been our Washington Seminar coordinator. On this evening she announced her decision to retire and introduced Buna Dahal as her successor. Buna is a fine member who lives in Washington state, but still identifies herself as a Coloradan. Buna said she would do the best she could to fill the big shoes Diane has given her but that we should remember that her real shoe size is a 2.5. The standing joke between Diane and Buna was that Diane wants someone to take her place who is shorter than she, so this posed a tall challenge. Through its applause the Great Gathering-In crowd thanked Diane and welcomed Buna to her new job. Before yielding the floor, Diane announced that once again she was able to get the hotel to make available the peanut butter pie which has been a tradition.
The President mentioned our newly remodeled website, NFB.org. The team working on the new site has dedicated the last year to making the beauty people see on the web as elegant as
what they see when they visit the NFB Jernigan Institute in person. As with any new site, we will find bugs and missing content, but your observations are wanted and should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anil Lewis next stepped to the microphone to speak in his capacity as head of blindness initiatives for the Jernigan Institute. Here are some of the points he made: first we dream, then we create programs, then we show people about the possibilities that await them. When we cried out for training in science, technology, engineering, and math, we were the first. Now others have taken up the chant, creating programs of their own. Whereas their idea of teaching the blind chemistry involves putting powder and water into a glass, mixing it, and calling it Kool-Aid, we teach children how to dissect sharks, launch rockets, and build things. And we do more than teach: we teach others how to teach through paid internships at our three training centers. From our Braille Enrichment for Literacy and Learning Academy to our seminars on tactile graphics, we are not only raising the expectations of blind students but providing them a path to walk in getting to places we know they can go.
President Riccobono reminded us that it is important to recognize innovation, and one of the ways we do this is through the Dr. Jacob Bolotin Award. Any individual or organization demonstrating innovation and hard work on behalf of the blind can be nominated, and those wishing to make nominations should do so before the deadline of April 15.
Monitoring the results of negotiation and litigation is a part of what we do, and the President thanked those who have participated in the Greyhound testing and have filed reports for our Uber and Lyft rideshare monitoring. Remember that with Uber and Lyft, we are interested both in good and bad experiences. It is also helpful if we report our challenges and successes in using websites for job seeking. Please report these to Valerie Yingling at email@example.com or by calling 410-659-9314, extension 2440.
The crowd was excited when President Riccobono talked about the national convention, which will be held in Las Vegas, Nevada, on July 7 to July 12, 2019. Rooms are going fast, so those who wish to attend and have not yet made reservations should refer to the convention information earlier in this issue. Registration for the convention will be open March 1, and every person who pre-registers will save money on both registration and the banquet.
Last year many of those attending the Washington Seminar went to the Newseum to celebrate the arrival of the tactile talking exhibit commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the Battle of Huế during the Tet Offensive. This exhibit was developed by John Olson of 3DPhotoWorks. This exhibit has been so popular that its time at the Newseum has been extended twice. Officials at the Newseum say that this exhibit has more dwell time (the amount of time that people spend looking at it) than any other object at the facility. The exhibit will remain at the Newseum until at least March 17, 2019.
The membership of the National Federation of the Blind is our most valuable asset, and the recruitment and retention of new members is essential to ensure that we continue to be the true representatives of blind people. Jeannie Massay is the chairman of our Membership Committee, and she briefly addressed the group about initiatives to strengthen our efforts in recruitment and retention. She said that each member of the National Federation of the Blind will get a membership coin to signify that they are a member and to provide something we can display with pride to show that we are a part of a unified group invested in improving the lives of the blind. A fuller discussion of our membership activities will be found in the April issue, the majority of which will be devoted to this most vital Federation activity.
Immediate Past President Maurer was introduced for the purpose of welcoming to the Great Gathering-In the distinguished senator from the state of Iowa, Charles Grassley. Senator Grassley has been involved in the legislative process as an elected official since the late 1950s. He served in the Iowa legislature and supported the programs of the Iowa Commission for the Blind. He then moved to the United States House of Representatives and later was elected to the United States Senate, where he has served for thirty-eight years. Senator Grassley was the chairman of the judiciary committee when the Marrakesh Treaty was considered and passed. He supported it and put forth tremendous effort to see that it was adopted. For his work in increasing the number of accessible publications this will make available both to the blind of the United States and the blind of the world, he was invited to deliver a keynote presentation to our gathering. What he said will appear elsewhere in this issue.
But before he spoke, Dr. Maurer presented Senator Grassley with the Distinguished Legislator Award from the National Federation of the Blind. The award read as follows:
of the Blind
Charles E. “Chuck” Grassley
For championing the Marrakesh Treaty
to Facilitate Access to Published Works
for Persons who are Blind, Visually Impaired,
or Otherwise Print Disabled, and its
Your leadership, hard work, and dedication have
unlocked the door to expanded literacy
and access to the world’s knowledge.
Together with love, hope, and determination,
we transform dreams into reality.
January 28, 2019
Patti Chang was given the difficult task of following Senator Grassley to the microphone. Her request was that we look beyond the needs of today and think about how we will help the National Federation of the Blind for the generations who will come after us. The primary way we can do this is by joining the Dream Maker’s Circle, a program that lets us commit on our deaths some amount of money or percentage of our estate that we wish to give to the organization. Making certain that this happens can be as simple as creating a “payable on death” or POD account which instructs the bank to pay an amount that you specify to the Federation on your death. Patti is available to help in this or in more complicated arrangements involving wills, trusts, and other means through which one can make a gift to the Federation.
John Paré was invited to the podium to introduce the government affairs team and the issues we would take to Capitol Hill. He reminded us that last year witnessed the passage of the Space Available Act and the passage by the House and the Senate of the Marrakesh Treaty.
After John's presentation, President Riccobono interrupted to say that Scott LaBarre was on the phone with an important message. His message was that President Trump had, on this very day, January 28, 2019, signed ratification documents that would henceforth be sent to the State Department and officially transferred to Geneva, Switzerland. We understand that those documents have been deposited in Geneva, and after ninety days the United States will be a full participant in the Marrakesh Treaty.
Kimie Eacobacci was introduced to talk about the Accessible Technology Affordability Act, legislation that would provide a refundable tax credit when we who are blind wish to purchase the specialized technology that helps to make us even more competitive. She was followed to the podium by the newest member of the government affairs team, Stephanie Flynt. She briefly explained the Greater Accessibility and Independence through Nonvisual Access Technology or the GAIN Act. In this act we are looking for equal access in using medical devices, exercise equipment, and home appliances.
The last presenter to discuss our issues was the manager of government affairs, Gabe Cazares. He briefly explained the Disability Employment Act and its potential to revolutionize employment opportunities for the blind by reforming the ways in which government contracts for sheltered workshops are awarded, inviting the private sector to participate in creating job opportunities for the blind, and by ensuring that all people with disabilities will be paid at least the minimum wage. More about these issues can be found in the fact sheets which appear immediately after this article.
The last person to come to the podium was our longtime friend in the National Federation of the Blind and now an employee of Aira, Daniel Frye. He talked about two plans available only to members of the National Federation of the Blind: an introductory plan offering thirty minutes a month for twenty dollars, and a ninety-nine-dollars-a-month plan providing 140 minutes of Aira service. Dan stressed that Aira is not meant to replace the blindness skills we worked so hard to teach and evolve, but its job is to help with those aspects of our lives that require or are made significantly easier with the assistance of vision, be it human vision or artificial intelligence. He concluded by saying that anyone who wanted to try Aira for one week could sign up for service without charge.
President Riccobono closed the meeting with two short items. Traffic to the new NFB website was so heavy after his announcement earlier in the evening that the site crashed, but this kind of heavy testing is exactly what we need to provide a world-class example of what a website should look like and the way it should function with assistive technology. He went on to say that by long-standing tradition the District of Columbia affiliate would provide doughnuts in the early morning to those venturing off to Capitol Hill.
On Tuesday we began our visits with individual members of Congress and their staff. On Tuesday evening we hosted a congressional reception, and several members were invited to speak. The first presenter at the reception was Senator Chris Van Hollen of Maryland. He said that he was not surprised that when the blind decided to storm Capitol Hill, we quite literally brought with us an actual snowstorm. He said that he is proud that our national headquarters is based in Baltimore, that we have created the momentum to expand educational services and to make healthcare more inclusive, and that he looks forward to working with us, standing shoulder to shoulder, as we take the next steps in making competitive employment a reality for people who are blind. He is proud to be one of those who signed on to the Transformation to Competitive Employment Act which will phase out section 14 (c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act within six years. His goal is to round up one hundred cosponsors for this legislation in order to provide the help and resources needed to level the playing field so that blind people will transition into competitive, integrated employment. He concluded by expressing his continuing support for the Assistive Technology Affordability Act, and he believes that a refundable tax credit is an excellent way to put technology in the hands of those who need it.
Congressman John Sarbanes was enthusiastically welcomed to the podium, and he too expressed his pride in the fact that the headquarters of our Federation is located in the third District which he represents. He appreciates not only the work we do on behalf of blind people but the way in which we have worked to become integrated into the community and to be a real resource for it. For him this shows that we are not only interested in issues affecting the blind but have an interest in any work that makes better this country in which we live.
The last presenter of the evening came from District 18 representing the great state of Texas. We welcomed to the podium Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee. She was quick to acknowledge that thirty-six members of the National Federation of the Blind were present from her state, and her most immediate concern was whether she could get all of them into her office on the following day. Congresswoman Lee admires the Federation's dedication in pressing for the equality of all people, and she believes that our presence and participation in this constitutional form of government is a gigantic statement that we are here, we are equal, and we deserve the fullest of civil rights. She said that she was proud of George H. W. Bush for supporting the Americans With Disabilities Act, and now, as a member of the House Judiciary Committee, it is her responsibility to exercise oversight of the Department of Justice and to see to the vibrancy, the strength, and the power of this act. She concluded by saying that the reason that she came to our reception was to commemorate our stand against intolerance: to support our determination to change the minds of those who say we can't; to proclaim that those who say the task is too hard for us are wrong; to refute the belief of those who say a blind person can't do this job; to answer those who say that we who are blind cannot teach by showing them that we can and do; to challenge those who express doubts that we can become research scientists; to confront those who believe we cannot parent, adopt, or become foster parents; and for all of the other reasons we have formed to act in concert as the National Federation of the Blind.
After all of these stirring remarks, the congressional reception was adjourned, and those of us who witnessed its enthusiasm prepared for another two days on Capitol Hill.At last it was Thursday, January 31, and the blind had come and made our case to the lawmakers of our land. When it came time for canes on the ground to give way to wheels up as we headed home, all of us knew that we had taken a substantial step in addressing the needs of blind people. Our task is now well defined: to convert intention into action, action into policy, and policy into opportunity. This we will most certainly do, for as President Riccobono reminds us, “We are the National Federation of the Blind, and we cannot be shut down."
The National Federation of the Blind is a community of members and friends who believe in the hopes and dreams of the nation’s blind. Every day we work together to help blind people live the lives we want.
These priorities will remove obstacles to education, employment, and independent living. We urge Congress to support our legislative initiatives.
Find us on social media:
National Federation of the Blind | @NFB_Voice | @nfb_voice
The cost of critically needed access technology is out of reach
for most blind Americans
The high cost of access technology creates a difficult economic reality. Most access technology ranges from $1,000 to $6,000. For example, a leading screen reader is $900, a popular Braille notetaker is $5,495, one model of a refreshable Braille display is $2,795, and a moderately priced Braille embosser is $3,695. According to the United States Census Bureau 71 percent of blind Americans are either unemployed or underemployed. Consequently, most blind Americans do not have sufficient financial resources needed to purchase these items. These financial barriers can ultimately lead to a loss of employment, insufficient education, or even isolation from community activities.
Medical insurance will not cover the cost of access technology. Current definitions of "medical care," "medical necessity," and "durable medical equipment" within common insurance policies do not include access technology. These definitions were adopted in the 1960s “when medical care was viewed primarily as curative and palliative, with little or no consideration given to increasing an individual's functional status.” Many states’ Medicaid programs and individual health insurance plans have adopted similar definitions and likewise will not cover the cost of access technology.
Access technology enables blind Americans to participate in today’s workforce. Blindness is well-defined and measurable, but affects each person differently and at different ages. Since individual needs differ, manufacturers have designed various tools that enable each blind American to perform tasks that they were once unable to accomplish themselves due to their blindness. Braille notetakers are frequently used in schools, screen reading software allows workers to check their email at home, and screen magnification software can help seniors losing vision learn about community activities. Access technology equips blind Americans to seek employment and stay employed. For the 71 percent of blind Americans who are either unemployed or underemployed, it is a vehicle that facilitates the job-seeking process. Despite this critical need, however, public and private entities struggle to meet consumer demand. This leads to untimely delays in the delivery of necessary technology and ultimately harms the blind consumer.
Access Technology Affordability Act:
Makes access technology more affordable so that blind Americans can procure these items for themselves. It establishes a refundable tax credit for blind Americans in the amount of $2,000 to be used over a three-year period to offset the cost of access technology. The credit created by ATAA will sunset after five years, and will be indexed for inflation.
Provides flexibility for individuals to obtain access technology based upon their specific needs. Accessibility requires an individualized assessment of one’s own skills and needs. Therefore, blind Americans should be given the opportunity to procure access technology on their own to ensure that they are receiving the tools that are most useful for them.
Historically, Congress has implemented tax incentives (e.g., Disabled Access Credit) for business owners required to make accommodations, including access technology, for employees and patrons with disabilities. Even though Congress created these tax incentives to increase accessibility in the community, these incentives are underutilized. Meanwhile, blind Americans primarily depend on public and private entities to procure access technology for them.
Improve affordability of critically needed access technology necessary for employment and independent living.
For more information, contact:
Kimie Eacobacci, Government Affairs Specialist, National Federation of the Blind
Phone: 410-659-9314, extension 2441
Advanced digital interfaces create barriers that prevent blind individuals from independently operating essential devices that enhance quality of life.
Home use medical devices, home appliances, and fitness equipment are becoming less and less accessible for blind Americans. The rapid proliferation of advanced technology is undeniable. Most new stoves, glucose monitors, and treadmills now require that consumers interact with a digital display, flat panels, and other user interfaces. This new technology is inaccessible to blind individuals and creates a modern-day barrier. Inaccessibility is not a mere inconvenience; it can threaten the safety, health, and independence of blind Americans. Advancements in technology have the potential to transform how people live in a society but are designed for those with no functional limitations. This flaw in product design limits options for blind Americans who need nonvisual access to important devices that are available to people without disabilities.
Nonvisual access is achievable, as demonstrated by a number of mainstream products. Apple has incorporated VoiceOver (a text-to-speech function) into its touch-screen products, making the iPhone, iPod, and iPad fully accessible to blind people right out of the box. Virtually all ATMs manufactured in the United States are accessible, and every polling place provides a nonvisually accessible voting machine. Frequently, a simple audio output or vibrotactile feature can make a product fully accessible at minimal cost.
Current disability laws are not able to keep up with advancements in technology. Although the Americans with Disabilities Act and other laws require physical accessibility for people with disabilities (e.g., wheelchair ramps, Braille in public buildings), no laws protect blind consumers’ right to access technology such as home use medical devices, home appliances, or fitness equipment. The National Council on Disability concluded that accessibility standards lag behind the rapid pace of technology, which can interfere with technology access. This trend of inaccessibility will continue if accessibility solutions are ignored. Only a fraction of manufacturers have incorporated nonvisual access standards into their product design while others continue to resist these solutions.
Greater Accessibility and Independence through Nonvisual Access Technology Act:
Calls on the Access Board to conduct a nonvisual access standard review. The Access Board (an independent federal agency and leading source of information on accessible design) will review the current marketplace, consult with stakeholders and manufacturers, and will issue a report with findings and recommendations for a minimum nonvisual access standard for home use medical devices, home appliances, and fitness equipment.
Establishes a minimum nonvisual access standard for home use medical devices, home appliances, and fitness equipment. Six months after the Access Board publishes the above-mentioned report, the Board will begin a rulemaking period, not to exceed 36 months, to establish a minimum nonvisual access standard for home use medical devices, home appliances, and fitness equipment. The final standard will go into effect three years after the final rule.
Authorizes the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to enforce the nonvisual access standards for home use medical devices. Under its authority to ensure the safety, efficacy, and security of medical devices, the FDA will investigate and prosecute violations of manufacturers who fail to comply with the standard.
Authorizes the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to enforce the nonvisual accessibility standards for home appliances and fitness equipment. Under its authority to investigate and enforce consumer protection matters, the FTC will investigate and prosecute violations of manufacturers who fail to comply with the standard.
END THE DIGITAL DIVIDE FOR BLIND AMERICANS.
Sponsor the Greater Accessibility and Independence
through Nonvisual Access Technology Act.
For more information, contact:
Stephanie Flynt, Government Affairs Specialist, National Federation of the Blind
Phone: 410-659-9314, extension 2210
An outdated approach to employment fails to adequately equip workers with disabilities for the challenges of the twenty-first century.
The Javits-Wagner-O’Day Act (JWOD) is a well-intentioned but obsolete law intended to provide employment for people with disabilities through specialized government contracts. Enacted in 1938, the Wagner-O’Day Act required that government agencies prioritize the procurement of products produced by blind people. In 1971 the program was expanded to become the Javits-Wagner-O’Day Act, and to include nonprofit agencies employing persons who are blind or have other severe disabilities. While the originally intended goals of the program are noble, the current structure administered under the AbilityOne Program falls short of those ideals by failing to equip workers with the necessary skillsets to compete in the twenty-first century workforce.
The work experience provided by the AbilityOne Program does not utilize or teach the skills required for today’s fast-paced digital work environment. Many workers with disabilities employed under the AbilityOne Program are assigned menial, repetitive tasks, which do nothing to equip them with the skills needed to succeed and advance in a modern workplace. As a result, many of these individuals find themselves trapped in these jobs for years, if not decades, with no real hope to advance or find new employment opportunities elsewhere.
The AbilityOne Program thrives on specialized contracts while at the same time paying employees with disabilities subminimum wages. Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act, passed in 1938, authorizes the Secretary of Labor to issue Special Wage Certificates to certain entities, permitting them to pay workers with disabilities subminimum wages. The vast majority of 14(c)-certificate-holding entities are nonprofit “sheltered workshops” (segregated work environments) that pay over 300,000 workers with disabilities, some as little as pennies per hour. Additionally, the failure of the AbilityOne Commission to adequately manage its own financial resources and display an appropriate level of transparency has eroded public confidence in the program.
AbilityOne sheltered workshops create a segregated work environment that is antithetical to competitive integrated employment. The current structure requires that the majority of the work performed on AbilityOne contracts is carried out by employees with disabilities at specialized nonprofits. These specialized nonprofits create an artificially inclusive work environment. Additionally, the current structure incentivizes excluding workers with disabilities from advancement to administrative, managerial, or supervisory positions. This results in people with disabilities stagnating in the same job for years or decades without creating opportunities for advancement to employers outside the program. This model also fails by not sharing best practices to employers outside the program in order to broaden its impact.
Disability Employment Act:
Will expand bidding opportunities within the program. The Disability Employment Act will allow for-profit as well as nonprofit entities to bid on contracts through a newly created commission.
Will ensure that workers earn at least the prevailing wage. The bill will prohibit the use of 14(c) certificates and will require employers to pay workers with disabilities at least the minimum wage, or if greater, the prevailing wage.
Will equip employers with the necessary tools and supports to integrate workers with disabilities. The bill establishes an Employment Integration Trust Fund to assist employers to meet reasonable accommodation requirements under Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Employers will have access to financial assistance to ensure that the technology they use is accessible; to train design, development, and manufacturing teams on best practices; and to provide the necessary supports required by individuals with other severe disabilities. This will improve disability employment practices across all sectors of employment.
Will better integrate with the Randolph-Sheppard Program. The bill will honor the Randolph-Sheppard Priority for all military dining contracts, including cafeterias.
Will eliminate the conflicts of interest and lack of accountability in the current program. The bill will change the composition of the commission, restructure the way the contracts are awarded, and create a trust fund to support the organic integration of workers with disabilities into the mainstream workforce.
Increase and enhance employment opportunities for people with disabilities.
Sponsor the Disability Employment Act.
For more information, contact:
Gabe Cazares, Manager of Government Affairs, National Federation of the Blind
Phone: 410-659-9314, extension 2206
by Mark Riccobono
From the Editor: President Riccobono opened the Great Gathering-In meeting with these remarks, setting the tone for our annual visit to our nation’s capital and emphasizing that who we are as a Federation is found not in one meeting, one program, or one division. We tackle all things blindness, and we do this with unity, optimism, and love. Here is what he said on the evening of January 27, 2019:
Martin Luther King Jr. said that progress is neither automatic nor inevitable. Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle—the tireless exertions and passionate concerns of dedicated individuals. Once again dedicated blind advocates have come to Washington DC to make progress and to secure for themselves equality.
We are not highly paid lobbyists carrying out an assignment from our clients. We are not an organized crew of partisan enthusiasts sent to support an entrenched political message. We are a diverse organization of everyday Americans with different backgrounds, perspectives, economic positions, political points of view, and characteristics that give us advantages and disadvantages. Most importantly, we are brought together by the characteristic of blindness and unified in our common bond as we march together to secure equality and opportunity. We are the blind, and we have come—not because someone has paid us to do so but rather because of our desire to be the masters of our own future.
We seek to live the lives we want and to enjoy full participation in this great nation. We come together to transform dreams into reality. We are the National Federation of the Blind, and we cannot be shut down. [applause]
We recognize that our progress is not inevitable. That is why we have made progress and enjoyed success for the last seventy-eight years. There is no injustice too large that we cannot move it; there is no freedom so insignificant that we are willing to ignore it. We say that we seek to live the lives we want. It is not a hopeful aspiration; it is a determined declaration of our intention for the future. We are the National Federation of the Blind, and you can’t shut us down.
Ten years ago we began seeking a worldwide treaty to secure access to all accessible books around the globe. As blind people we are only granted equal access to a small fraction of the world’s knowledge, and artificial barriers prevent sharing accessible works across borders. When we began, the government officials told us that the process of creating an international treaty, securing enough countries for it to be in effect, and then getting the United States of America to ratify and be a party to the treaty would take at least twenty years. They did not know the spirit and dedication of the members of the National Federation of the Blind. [applause]
In 2018 one of the only matters that both branches of Congress unanimously agreed to support was the Marrakesh Implementation Act. We are now just months away from the United States being a full party to the Marrakesh Treaty, and in half the time we were told it was possible. When it comes to living the lives we want, we come to get it done! We are the National Federation of the Blind, and we cannot be shut down.
Service in the United States military is one of the most significant commitments an American can make to his or her country. Yet, veterans with disabilities are denied equal access to privileges extended to non-disabled veterans such as access to the government’s Space Available Program. Again, we first came ten years ago seeking to fix a loophole in the law that prevented blind veterans from equal access to the Space Available program. Year after year Congress made excuses as to why this relatively minor change in the law could not be made. Maybe they thought we did not mean it. Maybe they thought we would get tired and go away. Maybe they thought we did not have enough votes to throw them out of office. Whatever the reason for their lack of action, we kept coming every January and to their local districts in the months in between. In August of last year our space available provision became law and granted equal access to blinded veterans. [applause]
So let’s just take a moment to salute our veterans, who also cannot be shut down. [applause and chants of USA, USA, USA.]
It is important that we show up not just in Washington DC. We are prepared to be in all of the places where equal participation of the blind is in danger. Some believe that the World Wide Web is not a place where the blind have a right to equal access as we do in businesses with physical locations. In California a case was brought on behalf of a blind person seeking access to the website and mobile app for Domino’s Pizza. The court ruled that Domino’s could not be required to make their digital domains accessible to the blind. While the case was not brought by the National Federation of the Blind, we were not willing to sit on our hands while our rights were taken away. We provided support in the appeal of the court’s misguided decision, and earlier this month the appellate court agreed that equality means nonvisual access to the website, to the mobile app, and that providing a telephone number is not providing the same benefits as the company and its technology does for the sighted. [applause]
Whether paying our bills, accessing our online bank accounts, or ordering a pizza with the toppings we want, we will continue to show up and to protect our rights to live the lives we want because we are the National Federation of the Blind, and we cannot be shut down.
Employers have exploited the sweat equity of workers with disabilities since 1938 when the Fair Labor Standards Act established a legal system for excluding these workers from the wage protections everyone else in America enjoys. We want to work, and we are not willing to accept the low expectations that drive a profitable industry that is based on the principle that our work is worth only a fraction of the minimum guaranteed to all others as a right of citizenship. Even if many of us have broken out of the slavery of the sheltered workshops, we have not forgotten our blind sisters and brothers. [applause] This is why we continue to fight the exploitation used against workers with disabilities in places like the workshops in Ohio, where we are using the courts to expose the systems that have held us back for decades. This is why we will show up year after year and decade after decade until the United States Congress gets the courage to support blind workers and eliminate section 14 (c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act. [applause]
Tonight we declare 2019 as the year of permanent phasing out of 14 (c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act. [applause] And just in case there is any doubt, we are the National Federation of the Blind, and you can’t shut us down.
Let us not be misunderstood. Our desire to work the jobs we want is not limited to gaining equality in our pay. We also seek to drive progress in the type and quantity of jobs available to the blind in the future. One of the largest employment programs for people with disabilities is the federal procurement contract program that operates under the name of AbilityOne. In July of last year the AbilityOne program, without any input from blind workers, without any opportunity for the blind to share their hopes and dreams for the future, without any public disclosure of any type impacting our future—it announced that the new caretakers for the blind of the twenty-first century providing great promise and hope for our jobs would not be the blind but would be the American Foundation for the Blind. On behalf of the blind people currently employed under this program and to protect the jobs of the future as defined by blind people, we filed suit against the AbilityOne program to block this illegal action. [applause] We want to work the jobs that we have in mind, and we are the National Federation of the Blind, and you can’t shut us down!
Whether it is educating the universities that equal access is our right not their burden, giving the American Chemical Society the formula to end their discriminatory practices toward test-takers, eliminating the virus that has spread in many healthcare facilities which apparently renders them unable to provide Braille materials or electronic healthcare records that are accessible, or working collaboratively with major companies like Kellogg and Procter & Gamble to innovate accessible packaging, joining together with the largest school district in the nation to make its website a model of accessibility, or demonstrating our full participation in society by having professional sports teams wear jerseys with Braille uniforms, a couple of things are clear: the policymakers have two choices. They can either take advantage of our understanding, perspective, and expertise, or they can ignore us and meet our ballots at the polls where we protect a secret, independent ballot for blind people. Progress is not automatic, but our persistence in the halls of power is inevitable. We are the National Federation of the Blind, and you can’t stop us. We recognize that Washington DC has enough problems. That is why we have come with solutions and a readiness to work with the leaders of our nation to be part of implementing the solutions of the future. We bring the diversity and power of a movement that is unparalleled anywhere else in the world, so if there is any doubt about our intentions, we are the National Federation of the Blind, and you can’t shut us down. That is the significance of our Washington Seminar, and that is the heartbeat of the National Federation of the Blind.
by Senator Charles Grassley
From the Editor: In a preceding article we noted that Senator Charles Grassley was given the Distinguished Legislator Award by the National Federation of the Blind. After that presentation, he was given the microphone and asked to speak on the topic of how the Marrakesh Treaty became the law of the land from the perspective of one of the senators who made it happen. With some modest editing, here are the remarks he made:
Thank you so much for this award and as for those kind remarks, I could’ve listened to those for a long, long time. [applause]
I really appreciate the opportunity to meet with you, and it means a lot to me that you folks have honored me with what you have said is a keynote speech to the Great Gathering-In meeting. I guess it is a great gathering by the large number of people who are here, and I especially want to say hi to the folks who came here from Iowa. A lot of you in this room know about the work of Ken Jernigan, and some of you knew him. It was exactly sixty years ago this month, my first month in the Iowa legislature, that I met Ken Jernigan. [applause] He was very well respected by legislators of both parties, and I don’t know how many times I went through his woodshop, where he was training people to run a circular saw with blinders on. My first thought was, “Ye gods, all I’m going to see here is blood.” But you know, in all of the years being in the legislature and touring there, I was blessed by seeing people who were so proud to be a part of that program and more importantly to be independent. This is what I learned year after year after year in serving my constituents.
So thank you very much for this award, and thank you also for all of the activities we have been involved in all these years. I’ve been asked to speak to you about something you probably know everything about, so what you will be hearing tonight is how it looked from my point of view. I will be talking with you about the Marrakesh Treaty and the implementing legislation.
In the last Congress, when I was the chairman of the Senate Judiciary committee, I worked on this issue. This legislation is something I felt strongly about. We were able to reach an agreement after several years of hard work. The treaty was finally ratified by the Senate, and the implementation legislation passed last year.
As many of you know, the treaty was negotiated and concluded under the auspices of the World Intellectual Property Organization. The treaty was concluded in the place where it gets its name, Marrakesh, Morocco, on June 28 of 2013. It was signed by the United States on October 2, 2013. The intent behind the treaty is to facilitate access to printed works for people with print disabilities. There is a global shortage of print material in accessible formats such as Braille, digital Braille, large print, specialized audio files, and other alternative formats. The treaty helps address this book famine, a problem for blind and visually impaired individuals all over the world.
As you know, the United States enjoys a significant production of accessible format copies for America’s blind people. However, the ability to share such copies across borders expands opportunities for blind people in America and all around the world. This is particularly valuable for blind and visually impaired Americans who read and learn in languages other than English, as well as those who need specialized works such as scholarly texts for graduate work at universities.
The treaty addresses this problem by making clear that copyright protections shouldn’t impede the creation and distribution of such accessible format copies. It does this while including safeguards that protect the rights of material creators and distributors, because we want to encourage innovation and, equally important, the treaty fosters the international exchange of accessible copies of printed materials.
According to the treaty, every country is required to provide an exception or limitation in their national copyright laws for the creation and distribution of accessible format copies for the exclusive use of blind and other print-disabled persons—subject, of course, to international obligations. The treaty also requires countries to permit the exchange across borders of accessible format copies made under such national law exceptions for the use of the blind in other countries that are parties to the treaty. At the same time the treaty provides assurances to authors and publishers that the system won’t expose their published works to misuse or distribution to anyone other than the intended beneficiaries. It’s also very much reiterating the requirements that the cross-border sharing of accessible format copies of works will be limited to certain special cases which don’t conflict with the normal use of the work and also don’t unrealistically prejudice the legitimate interests of the rights holders. Everyone would agree with the Marrakesh Treaty’s worthy goals. Consequently, the treaty and its implementation would have a glide path to getting things done quickly. Right? Well, unfortunately not.
There was much discussion among the stakeholders, but agreement couldn’t be reached on how to implement the treaty. Finally, in February 2016, the previous administration submitted the treaty and its implementation to the United States Senate. But there were still obstacles and no consensus on the legislative package to implement the United States’ obligation under the treaty. Concerns were expressed by stakeholders with the approach taken by the previous administration. There were concerns that there wasn’t enough accountability and that the rules would be gamed. There were concerns that the rules would change and libraries would be burdened with additional regulatory requirements. There were concerns that the interests of rights holders were not adequately protected. Others saw an opportunity to bring issues beyond what the treaty was trying to accomplish. So the bottom line was that with these concerns, the two sides simply couldn’t agree. Senators were concerned with moving the treaty before an agreement had been reached on implementing legislation. You need to have a pretty widespread consensus in order to move a bill in the United States Senate, and I’m sure the last thirty-five days have convinced you of that. [A thirty-five-day government shutdown had been concluded just days before this presentation was given.]
It is sometimes hard to get things done, and of course I was concerned. But this is such a worthy endeavor that the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, encouraged by your organization, the National Federation of the Blind, along with the Library Copyright Alliance and the Association of American publishers continued to negotiate and propose language that could be supported by all interested stakeholders, including the copyright community, public interest groups, the United States Patent and Trade Office, and the United States Copyright Office. It may sound like your concerns weren’t being taken into consideration, but let me tell you the National Federation of the Blind made sure your concerns were addressed. [applause]
So the National Federation then sprang into action at the federal level and also at the state level. To credit a number of individuals: John Paré, Scott LaBarre, Gabe Cazares, as well as a professor at the Loyola Law school, Prof. Justin Hughes. The National Federation of the Blind was instrumental in bringing all this together. Your engagement helped to creatively reach a consensus not just with respect to the legislative text that implements the treaty but also the important legislative history that goes along with the bill’s committee report so the courts know exactly what we are trying to accomplish. This effort was supported and ultimately succeeded because of the close relationship between the chairman and ranking members of both committees of jurisdiction in the Senate: foreign relations, with jurisdiction over treaties, and judiciary with jurisdiction over copyright law. We worked hand-in-hand on a bipartisan basis (I know you don’t believe that) to move this bill. The staff worked with the House to ensure that there weren’t any problems. The State Department, the US Patent and Trade Office, and the US Copyright Office were informed and were available for consultation to avoid any last-minute hiccups.
So, on March 15, 2018, we introduced Senate Bill 2559, the Marrakesh Treaty Implementation Act, which was the consensus product of these negotiations and the vetting with stakeholders who were the publishers, the libraries, and the print-disabled community who is best represented by the National Federation of the Blind. The bill made modest adjustments to the United States copyright law. The treaty is based on current US copyright law that provides an exception or limitation for the creation and distribution of accessible format copies for the exclusive use of the blind or other print-disabled people. The implementing legislation broadens the scope of accessible works to include previously published music and musical works. It also refines the definition of eligible person and creates a new section in the copyright act to deal with the export and import of accessible format copies. Both the Foreign Relations and Judiciary Committees then moved swiftly and in tandem on the treaty from Foreign Relations and the implementing legislation from the committee on Judiciary.
In May of last year, the Judiciary Committee reported the bill out by a vote that I know you won’t believe. It was twenty to zero. [applause] The Foreign Relations Committee marked up the treaty shortly thereafter.
You know, I can’t help but think of something that I tell my town meetings. When I say that you can’t believe it was a twenty-to-zero vote, this is because everybody thinks that nobody in Washington gets along ever. The people who get along you never read about in the paper [laughter], but every time there’s a disagreement, it is what you read about. If I can brag for a minute, sixty-one bills came out of my committee. Every one of them were bipartisan bills, and thirty-four of them were signed by either a Republican or Democratic president. [applause] Of course, this was one of them, but all you ever heard about that the committee did in the last two or three years was fight about judges.
On January 28, 2018, the treaty and the bill passed the Senate, and on September 25, the House of Representatives passed the bill and the president signed it on October 9, 2018. [applause]
Now if you hadn’t labeled my speech a keynote address, it wouldn’t have to be so long. So I have just a few more words to say. We are waiting for some last steps; the treaty still needs to be deposited in Geneva, and I am hopeful this will happen soon. I cannot stress enough that this treaty and this bill wouldn’t have become law but for the incredible efforts on the part of all of you of the National Federation of the Blind at both the national and state levels. You worked tirelessly to bring together the Association of American Publishers and the Library Copyright Alliance. Your work raised the profile of this issue and gained the attention of your representatives here in the House and the Senate, and we would not be here today without your efforts. I think that this treaty and this bill are a model of how we can accomplish great things [applause] and get legislation done at a time when partisan logjams have taken over a large part of our government.
In conclusion, let me just thank a lot of people. I’m not very good at pronouncing their names, but I assume that they will understand that I was talking about them and that I in no way intended to overlook anyone who participated in this process. Listen now: I get an award, and it’s got all this nice stuff on it that I just love to read, but I hope I say this every time I get an award: we get an award for stuff you folks at the grassroots level work so hard to do, so I think you ought to applaud yourselves for what you did to get this bill passed. [applause] Again, I say thank you.
by Chris Danielsen
From the Editor: Chris Danielson is the energetic and creative director of public relations for the National Federation of the Blind. He has the unenviable task of chronicling all of the important things that we do in press releases that must be interesting enough to be published and simple enough to be understood by the lay reader. Here is another example of his fine work:
Geneva, Switzerland (February 8, 2019): Today, the United States government formalized its ratification of the Marrakesh Treaty by depositing the US instrument of ratification with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). This action begins a ninety-day waiting period, after which the treaty will officially be in force as US policy, throwing open the doors to expanded literacy for the blind of America and the world.
“The National Federation of the Blind seeks the removal of all artificial or unnecessary barriers to access to knowledge by the blind,” said Mark Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind. “That is why we championed the Marrakesh Treaty and fought for its signing and ratification by the United States. Today’s deposit of the US ratification instrument represents the culmination of that effort, but even more importantly, it represents greater access to the world’s literature and knowledge for blind people in America and across the world. We are therefore pleased to celebrate this historic moment with our blind brothers and sisters everywhere.”
Read more regarding the Marrakesh Treaty in the following articles:
Marrakesh Express Rolling Home
US House of Representatives Passes Marrakesh Treaty Implementation Act
United States Senate Greenlights Marrakesh Treaty and Implementing Legislation
Senate Committee Votes to Advance Marrakesh Treaty
The National Federation of the Blind Applauds the Introduction of Legislation Implementing the Marrakesh Treaty
by Trisha Kulkarni
From the Editor: On January 28, 2018, I sat through one of the finest presentations I've ever heard. It was not from an elder in the movement, though we have many who do credit to writing and delivering good speeches. This presentation was made by a student, a 2018 national scholarship winner, and in her remarks we find so many of the reasons why we have a National Federation of the Blind, the fears that can put an end to our dreams, and what happens when we dare to embrace the uncomfortable. Here is what she says:
Hi, everyone. [crowd yells "hi" back] I am so excited to have the opportunity to speak to you today and to share some of my story. For those of you who don't know me, my name is Trisha Kulkarni, and although I've been a longtime contributor and leader in my community, I'm a new member of the National Federation of the Blind.
As Kathryn mentioned, I had the privilege of being part of the 2018 national scholarship class. It was through my trip to Orlando that I gained exposure to the incredible efforts of this organization. I encourage all of you to apply because that experience really did change my life.
To be perfectly honest, it is quite a humbling experience to be standing in front of you today, not only because of the long journey that has brought me to this moment, but because of the novelty of my work with the NFB. Seven years ago I did not know a single blind person, and I was convinced that Braille was simply decorative artwork on signage. Now I've moved across the country with my guide dog Liberty to seize life's opportunities in a new and exciting place independently.
Of course I have fallen both literally and figuratively in the pursuit of my dreams, but I have realized that pushing past the boundaries of what is comfortable is the only way to see how far your capabilities stretch. Today I want to share with you a series of experiences that have defined my character and purpose within and beyond the NFB. But more importantly, I want to challenge each of you to embrace the power you have to create meaning in all aspects of your life. In order to fuel the NFB forward into a new generation of leaders and advocates, we need to continue growing as individuals. Only then will we best be able to break down the barriers of expectations that stand between us and our dreams.
My first story begins at a time in life that most people like to forget: middle school. [chorus of groans and laughter from audience] At the start of seventh grade, I not only had to deal with pimples and the start of puberty, but I also had to face a new challenge. A few months prior I had faced a retinal detachment that left me completely blind and face-down in bed for months to recover from surgery. When it was finally time to return to school, I had no orientation and mobility training, no knowledge of Braille, and no access to assistive technology. I was still trying to learn how to get around my house, and it seemed impossible that I would ever learn how to match my clothes again. However, I did have my academic ambitions. I worked hard still to reach my goals in the classroom, and with lots of support I finished middle school with good grades and a determination to continue finding success.
When I got to high school, however, it was harder to ignore the barriers that stood between me and my sighted peers. People began hinting that continuing on the advanced track in school created too much work for my teachers and loved ones. When I sat in meetings fighting for my right to take honors coursework, I was told that the reason my Braille materials were coming in months late was that I was an anomaly for wanting to pursue a rigorous course of study. What was being suggested was that perhaps there was an easier way to graduation?
But I refused to lower my standards. I started taking honors classes and sought involvement in extracurricular activities. Despite the resistance I faced, I sought not only to find success in these endeavors but also my independence. What I came to realize is that there are a lot of preconceived notions about students with disabilities. The expectation is to bring these students up to average, but to excel seems unnecessary. I was often called an overachiever, as if I was striving to accomplish more than I should be.
If you have a goal, do not let other people’s skepticism deter you from reaching it. Stay grounded in the values and missions that are important to you, and do not limit your scope. Sometimes you will find that your actions change minds better than words.
Of course changing expectations came with many hard nights. But in the end the sleepless nights and sacrificed lunch periods were for a greater goal than just getting my high school diploma.
The idea of college started entering conversations in tenth grade, and coming from a competitive high school, it didn't ever seem to leave. My sighted peers and I all worried about what university would best fit our personalities and our academic interests. But I also had to think about my blindness. It wasn't going to deter me from reaching my dream schools, but I did devote many hours to orientation and mobility training, and I received my guide dog before my senior year of high school.
There was just one problem: I didn't know where I wanted to go to school. On a vacation to the west coast, I finally found Stanford. I fell in love with the people and the talent that occupied every aspect of the campus. But as I walked the paved sidewalks listening to the tour guide describe the beautiful scenery and rich history, I couldn't help the doubt that crept into my mind. It was thousands of miles away from home; eighty-eight hundred acres, and had the lowest admission rate in the country—it felt crazy. I remember going home that night, after my parents fell asleep, and I stayed up for hours. It was easily the hardest night of my life. It was the first time that I felt like my blindness would deter me from reaching what I wanted most.
However, after listening to my motivation mix on Spotify and talking to my family, I began to fill out the application anyway. Suddenly all the steps that I had taken forward to reach that moment didn't seem like enough progress. I worried how I'd measure up. But December 8 came sooner than anyone could have expected, and as I sat in my living room with my family, with my finger hovering over the "view status" button, my heart began to pound. I read the word "congratulations" and began to scream. [cheers, applause]
That night meant so much more than just getting into college for me. It was the first time I'd realized how much there is to lose by not going after what you want. I was so close to not applying because of my fear that I was not good enough. Do not let your fear of failure be bigger than your dreams. Only you have the power to determine your self-worth.
Today I am in my second quarter at Stanford University. Of course my transition to college has not all been comfortable, as a broken tooth, many countless nights of no sleep, and many lost days on that 8800-acre campus can speak for. But I have learned so much about myself and my aspirations since moving to California last September. Being away for school has shown me that I can venture out and find my own way. I discovered a new outlet for my voice by writing for The Stanford Daily and have taken on leadership positions in my dorm government. I survived my first computer science class and have applied to get some of my research published. I have explored the social scene of college life and have spent many late nights talking with my friends and eating way too much junk food.
College has shown me that every day is an adventure, and with every step that you take outside of your comfort zone you learn more about yourself and what is important to you.
I am a Federationist, but I am also a sister, a daughter, a friend, a writer, a black belt in Taekwondo, a chocolate lover, a Harry Potter enthusiast, a social advocate, and a terrible dancer. [laughter] My purpose in the NFB is not defined by my blindness, but by all the other intersections that I bring to the table.
As I leave you today, I want to encourage you to grow comfortable with the idea of the uncomfortable. Life will throw many adversities and opportunities at you that you will not be able to control, but they will define your character and purpose more than you realize. If you do not let your fear of failure stand in the way of what you want and do not limit your potential, the world will be a better place with your contributions. Thank you so much for the opportunity to speak to you today, and go make your dreams a reality. [cheers, applause]
For more than seventy-five years the National Federation of the Blind has worked to transform the dreams of hundreds of thousands of blind people into reality, and with your support we will continue to do so for decades to come. We sincerely hope you will plan to be a part of our enduring movement by adding the National Federation of the Blind as a partial beneficiary in your will. A gift to the National Federation of the Blind in your will is more than just a charitable, tax-deductible donation. It is a way to join in the work to help blind people live the lives they want that leaves a lasting imprint on the lives of thousands of blind children and adults.
With your help, the NFB will continue to:
Creating a will gives you the final say in what happens to your possessions and is the only way to be sure that your remaining assets are distributed according to your passions and beliefs. Many people fear creating a will or believe it’s not necessary until they are much older. Others think that it’s expensive and confusing. However, it is one of the most important things you will do, and with new online legal programs it is easier and cheaper than ever before. If you do decide to create or revise your will, consider the National Federation of the Blind as a partial beneficiary. Visit www.nfb.org/planned-giving or call 410-659-9314, extension 2422, for more information. Together with love, hope, determination, and your support, we will continue to transform dreams into reality.
The National Federation of the Blind knows that blindness is not the characteristic that defines you or your future. You can live the life you want; blindness is not what holds you back. A donation to the National Federation of the Blind allows you to invest in a movement that removes the fear from blindness. Your investment is your vote of confidence in the value and capacity of blind people and reflects the high expectations we have for all blind Americans, combating the low expectations that create obstacles between blind people and our dreams.
In 2018 the NFB:
Just imagine what we’ll do next year, and, with your help, what can be accomplished for years to come. Below are just a few of the many diverse, tax-deductible ways you can lend your support to the National Federation of the Blind.
The NFB now accepts donated vehicles, including cars, trucks, boats, motorcycles, or recreational vehicles. Just call 855-659-9314 toll-free, and a representative can make arrangements to pick up your donation—it doesn’t have to be working. We can also answer any questions you have.
General donations help support the ongoing programs of the NFB and the work to help blind people live the lives they want. Donate online with a credit card or through the mail with check or money order. Visit www.nfb.org/make-gift for more information.
Even if you can’t afford a gift right now, including the National Federation of the Blind in your will enables you to contribute by expressing your commitment to the organization and promises support for future generations of blind people across the country. Visit www.nfb.org/planned-giving or call 410-659-9314, extension 2422, for more information.
by Deborah Kent Stein
From the Editor: Deborah Kent Stein is a writer of such renown that she hardly needs introduction here. She is the author of many children’s books, and she edits Future Reflections, a publication aimed at parents who want to get the most for their blind children so they will become adults living the lives they want.
In addition to her work nationally, Debbie Stein is active in her chapter and affiliate. In this article she writes as the coordinator of the Braille Readers Are Leaders Program. Here is what she says:
From December 1 until January 19, K-12 students across the country were busy reading and counting up their pages for the Nationwide Braille Readers Are Leaders contest (Nationwide BRAL), sponsored by the American Action Fund for Blind Children and Adults and the NFB Jernigan Institute in partnership with the NFB of Illinois. Twenty-six states signed up to participate in this year's competition, and seventy-four students from seventeen states submitted reading logs. Students are awarded prizes based on the number of Braille pages they read during the reading period, certified by a parent/guardian or teacher.
This year Virginia led in participation, with twenty-six students taking part. The Virginia School for the Blind (VSB) took an active role in encouraging students to get involved.
The top reader in this year's competition is Holly Connor, an eighth grader from Clayton, Missouri. Holly read a whopping 4,001 Braille pages!
The first-place winners in each grade category will receive a check for $25. Second-place winners receive $15, and third-place winners and honorable mentions receive $10. Each participating student will receive a packet of Braille-related gifts.
Below is a list of the 2018-2019 nationwide BRAL winners:
First Place: Victor Turner, Romeoville, IL, 419 pages
Second place: Cole Fish, Vancouver, WA, 132 pages
Third Place: Rebecca Butler, Boaz, AL, 118 pages
Honorable Mention: Christian Lopez, Mesa, AZ, 114 pages
First Place: Aisha Safi, Chevy Chase, MD, 1,995 pages
Second Place: Preston Rose, Eagan, MN, 1,479 pages
Third Place: Zanyiah Bell, Bowie, MD, 1,099 pages
Honorable Mention: Clara Scelsi, Pell City, AL, 1,020 pages
First Place: Noa Hottin, Alexandria, VA, 2,503 pages
Second Place: Milo Sherman, Brooklyn, NY, 734 pages
Third Place: Jonah Rao, Columbia, MD, 721 pages
Honorable Mention: Isaiah Rao, Columbia, MD, 690 pages
First Place: Holly Connor, Clayton, MO, 4,001 pages
Second Place: Nicholas Tarver, Many, LA, 1,780 pages
Third place: Mercy Rao, Columbia, MD, 850 pages
Honorable Mention: Noah Kano, Pingree Grove, IL, 827 pages
First Place: Samuel Thurston, Chesapeake, VA, 1,657 pages
Second Place: Josh Greer, Medical Lake, WA, 949 pages
Third Place: Aaliyah McKethan, Galloway, NJ, 757 pages
This award is given to a student who has shown exceptional improvement in reading since the previous contest. This year's most improved reader is Mercy Rao, grade 6, Columbia, MD.
Kelly Doty Awards are presented in memory of Kelly Doty, a longtime member of the NFB of Illinois who was a dedicated promoter of Braille literacy. These awards are given to students who have coped with extra challenges in order to become proficient Braille readers. Such challenges include, but are not limited to, having disabilities in addition to blindness or being an English language learner. Here is the list of the students who received this year's Kelly Doty Awards:
Katra Abdi, grade 3, St. Cloud, MN
Sadie Ainsworth, grade 3, Parker, CO
Noa Hottin, grade 4, Alexandria, VA
Benjamin Shambarger, grade 9, Lisbon Falls, ME
Samuel Thurston, grade 9, Chesapeake, VA
Victor Turner, grade 1, Romeoville, IL
Kollin Uttech, grade 12, Watertown, WI
Congratulations to all of these winners, and to the families and teachers who encourage and support them in their reading. Braille readers are leaders!
The National Federation of the Blind, together with the country’s premier training centers for the blind, offer a variety of summer programs for blind and low-vision children and young adults that build blindness skills and encourage independence.
NFB BELL Academy—NFB BELL Academy is a two-week-long summer program that prepares blind and low-vision children to be confident and independent adults. They learn Braille and nonvisual skills through fun, hands-on activities in a daytime or residential setting.
Ages: 4 to 12
More Info: https://nfb.org/bell-academy
NFB EQ—NFB EQ is a week-long summer engineering program for blind and low-vision teens. Participants forge new friendships while increasing their engineering knowledge, problem-solving abilities, self-confidence, and independence.
Grades: 9 to 12
Dates: June 16 to 22, 2019
Location: Baltimore, MD
More Info: https://blindscience.org/nfbeq
NFB National Convention Youth Track—The NFB National Convention is the largest gathering of blind people in the world. Every year, blind youth can participate in a variety of seminars and social activities designed to provide a meaningful convention experience, foster independence, and promote positive attitudes about blindness.
Dates: July 7 to 12, 2019
Location: Las Vegas, NV
More Info: https://nfb.org/convention
Buddy Program—The Buddy Program is an innovative three-week-long program that pairs blind children with positive blind role models, teaches them alternative techniques, and includes fun activities such as swimming, tandem biking, and horseback riding.
Grades: 4 to 8
Dates: July 21 to August 10, 2019
More Info: https://www.louisianacenter.org/buddyprogram
STEP Program—The eight-week-long Summer Transition and Empowerment Program (STEP) introduces blind teens to the alternative techniques of blindness and workplace readiness skills through a paid internship. By interacting with mentors and peers (including during the NFB National Convention), students acquire the skills and attitudes necessary for living independently and productively.
Grades: 9 to 12
Dates: June 16 to August 10, 2019
More Info: https://www.louisianacenter.org/step-program/
Buddy Program—In the Buddy Program blind children learn important skills, embrace the empowering attitudes and philosophy of the National Federation of the Blind, and explore the wonderful and fun Twin Cities.
Ages: 9 to 13
Dates: June 9 to 29, 2019
More Info: https://www.blindinc.org/programs/youth-programs/buddy-program/
PREP—The Post-Secondary Readiness and Empowerment Program (PREP) is an eight-week-long summer program for blind teens where they learn new skills and become better prepared to attend college and transition into the workforce.
Grades: 9 to 12
Dates: June 8 to August 3, 2019
More Info: https://www.blindinc.org/programs/youth-programs/prep-program/
STYLE—The Summer Transition Youth Learning Experience (STYLE) program offers three separate five-day-long sessions for high school students where they learn new skills, gain confidence, and have fun throughout the summer. Attend one, two, or all three sessions.
Ages: 14 to 21 - Session 1: July 15 to 19, 2019; Session 2: July 22 to 26, 2019; Session 3: July 29 to August 2, 2019.
More Info: https://www.blindinc.org/programs/youth-programs/style/
Summer College Comprehensive Program—This program is designed with the busy college student in mind. Participants enhance their blindness skills and increase their confidence during one or more summer programs at BLIND, Inc.
Ages: High school graduates (18 years and older)
Dates: June 1 to August 10, 2019
More Info: https://www.blindinc.org/programs/college-programs/
Challenge and Adventure—In this program, students can run in a 5K race, play goalball and hockey, learn self-defense, and go canoeing. They can also try yoga, gymnastics, and develop an exercise routine. They learn how to prepare delicious foods and how to maintain a nutritious diet.
Ages: 11 to 21
Dates: June 21 to 30, 2019
More Info: https://cocenter.org/our-programs/summer-youth/
Confidence Camp—This two-week-long day program is filled with learning, challenges, and fun. Children meet blind role models and focus on cooking, cleaning, Braille, independent travel, and technology. They also have fun swimming, rock climbing, making a tactile art piece, and going on exciting field trips.
Ages: 5 to 10
Dates: June 10 to 21, 2019
More Info: https://cocenter.org/our-programs/summer-youth/
Cracking the College Code—In this program, blind students develop the skills they need to be successful in college. They learn about accessible tools and strategies for chemistry, biology, statistics, robotics, and more. In addition, they learn how to practice self-advocacy and learn how to navigate the landscape of higher education.
Ages: 16 to 21
Dates: July 18 to August 2, 2019
More Info: https://cocenter.org/our-programs/summer-youth/
Module Madness—For those interested in a shorter program, the Colorado Center offers three different modules throughout the summer. In all three modules, students live in an apartment with other students and a counselor, and build core skills in Braille, technology, home management, and cane travel.
More Info: https://cocenter.org/our-programs/summer-youth/
No Limits to Learning—In this eight-week-long residential program, students live in an apartment and meet blind people who work in all kinds of jobs. They participate in rock climbing, goalball, whitewater rafting, and more. They build core skills in Braille, technology, home management, and cane travel. They also attend the NFB National Convention.
Ages: 14 to 21
Dates: June 7 to August 2, 2019
More Info: https://cocenter.org/our-programs/summer-youth/
World of Work—In the World of Work program, students travel to the Denver metro area via bus and light rail to meet with blind people who work in a variety of professions. They develop confidence, practice their interviewing skills, and put together a résumé.
Ages: 11 to 21
Dates: June 7 to 21, 2019
More Info: https://cocenter.org/our-programs/summer-youth/
From the Editor: Longtime NFB of Illinois member Mary Lou Grunwald delivered the following presentation at the joint luncheon for vendors and students on October 27, 2018.
I'm so excited to be at an event like this. It's kind of a dream come true for me. I'm up here because I was asked to speak about one very specific reason why I'm in the NFB. There are many reasons why I'm involved, but this is a story many of you may not know.
For a little background, one of the early successes of the NFBI was that we, along with our national office, advocated with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to reclassify sheltered workshops as factories and not as rehabilitation institutions. As a result, the NLRB took jurisdiction over union organizing efforts at the Chicago Lighthouse for the Blind.
In 1976 I was in my early twenties. I wasn't able to go to college, so my first stop in my career journey was the Chicago Lighthouse for the Blind. At that time it was not the place that it is today. They paid subminimum wages, and they had substandard working conditions. I worked in the factory making big ones out of little ones, a shorthand for assembling chemistry sets and switchboard plugs. It was tough work for very little money, but my mom and I needed that money desperately.
I had recently gotten to know the NFB and had become involved with the Chicago chapter. Through our involvement with the NFB some of us at the Lighthouse started trying to form a union there. We worked very hard on it with the support and the guidance of the chapter and of the state and national NFB, and also the help of the Teamsters Union. Unfortunately we lost by only a couple of votes because of some ugly scare tactics that were going on.
I'm not at all sorry I did it. It was wonderful experience that prepared me for things I did later on. But when I got home, the reality set in. I had done something that I thought was very important, but now I had no job, and Mom and I had very little money. My mother was very upset with me because I had done all of this advocacy. I started trying to figure out my next career move. And while I was working on that, something started happening. I started getting envelopes in the mail. These envelopes had people's names on them, people I didn't recognize. When I opened them I found checks, checks from people, and I didn't know who the heck they were. I thought, who could this be? What is this? Then I recognized a couple of the names, and I realized that these checks came from Federationists all over the country who were supporting me! People I had never met in my life were sending me money to help support me!That experience solidified my desire to be helpful in this organization at whatever level my talents would allow. That's one of the reasons I'm in the NFB. Thank you!
by Stacie Dubnow
From the Editor: Stacie joined the staff of the National Federation of the Blind two years ago after working as a trial attorney in private practice with her father for thirty years. In her previous work she represented plaintiffs in complex business litigations ranging from securities fraud to illegal malpractice. She was also active in filing and pursuing consumer protection class actions.
As readers will observe, Stacie not only possesses a fine legal mind, but her energy and intellect take her into new fields where she learns quickly and is able to share that information in a way all of us can understand. Here is what she says:
On October 11 through 12, 2018, the National Federation of the Blind hosted a symposium on the use of tactile graphics by blind and low-vision individuals in education and careers. Experts from across the United States, the Netherlands, Canada, and Italy gathered in Baltimore at the Jernigan Institute to share their knowledge, innovative products and technology, and ideas for future development on the tactile graphics frontier. The educators, scientists, museum professionals, artists, and others who presented and facilitated workshops during the symposium demonstrated creativity and exciting innovation in the field of tactile graphics. This article discusses five cutting-edge products either in existence or development that have the potential to significantly improve the everyday lives of blind and low vision people in travel, education, careers, and their enjoyment of the arts.
Sighted people typically do not recognize the importance of tactile graphics because vision is their primary means for consuming information. The sighted are able to access most information through their eyes—paintings and sculptures in a museum, the pages of a book on a Kindle device, graphs and diagrams on a computer or page of a textbook, or a map on their phones. However, when tactile art or graphics are added to the visual representations, the multimodal experience enhances their ability to interpret the information. For the blind and low vision, tactile graphics are the primary means for consuming information. Tactile graphics allow the blind to access the same information as the sighted, experience arts and culture, travel independently, learn independently in school, and otherwise live their lives fully.
Brian MacDonald, president of the National Braille Press (NBP), aptly explains:
In the digital world that we are living in today, there is still a significant gap to solving accessible needs for digital Braille and digital, refreshable tactile graphics.
Having a high quality, low-cost, full-page Braille and tactile graphic display would revolutionize the world by providing blind and low-vision people instant access to digital tactile content at an affordable price. This would be extremely helpful for adults in the workplace and for students needing accessible STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) materials that often need multiple lines of Braille to more effectively read complex equations or problems and tactile graphics to supplement the information.
During the 2018 Tactile Graphics in Education and Careers Symposium, Mr. MacDonald previewed exciting research in which he is engaged with the National Braille Press to develop a full-page Braille/tactile graphic tablet—a Kindle-like device with a tactile surface that can be read by a blind person using Braille. NewHaptics—a company with connections to the University of Michigan, reports it is working toward the first truly affordable technology that can display multiple lines of Braille and/or high-quality tactile graphics in a single format. Current refreshable Braille displays limit access only to a single line of Braille, making it impossible to use these devices to show relationships such as columns and indentation, which is particularly important in mathematics. Think about adding two four-digit numbers if you couldn’t have read it a column at a time.
However, the new display in development will be a full-page tablet that allows for tactile graphs, diagrams, spreadsheets, and other spatially displayed information. Unlike the traditional refreshable Braille displays now on the market—which rely on piezoelectrics to raise Braille pins—this new Braille tablet is driven by microfluidics, which uses fluid—air or liquid—to inflate small bubbles that in turn push tactile pins up and down. This approach leverages unique manufacturing techniques that will be considerably more affordable than existing technologies and, once available, useful in school and the workplace.1
The American Printing House for the Blind (APH) and Orbit Research have collaborated to develop an additional groundbreaking technology. The Graphiti is a dynamic tactile display that consists of an array of moving pins of varying heights that can be touched with the user’s fingers to access graphics such as diagrams, bar charts, floor-plans, and topographical maps. Dr. Gina Spagnoli, the founder of Orbit Research, explains: “The variable-height capability [of] our Tactuator technology will allow blind users to experience and interact with graphics like never before—live and in three dimensions. For the first time, a blind user will be able to create graphics in digital form, enter them into a computing device, review and edit them, and exchange such graphics with others.”2
During the National Federation of the Blind’s 2018 symposium, Ken Perry, a software engineer with APH, and Venkatesh Chari, president and CTO of Orbit Research, demonstrated the Graphiti software and hardware features that enable users to view and edit graphics by touch, scroll and zoom images, and use the touch interface to draw and erase graphics. By connecting the Graphiti to a laptop, they showed how it was possible to create 3D objects using the laptop’s software. Not only can the Graphiti be connected to computers, tablets, smart phones, and the Orion TI-84 Plus Talking Graphing Calculator, but an HDMI port lets the user connect the Graphiti to any device that has a video display output, which then identifies the Graphiti as a display monitor.
What this means is that a blind student can connect a tactile monitor—the Graphiti—into instruments like telescopes, microscopes, computers, or talking calculators and see in real time whatever is at the other end of that device, whether it is a planet in an astronomy class, a specimen in a biology class, or a graph in a math class. The product provides blind and low-vision individuals with access to the same information in real time as their sighted peers. Offering “real time depiction of dynamic content … students will be able to immediately see the graph on the tactile screen. Textbooks in math and science contain thousands of graphics. Graphiti provides a path toward delivering textbooks with graphics, electronically.”3 Other valuable features include a haptic, or vibrating, feedback interface, an SD-card slot, and the ability by the user to “draw” on the display of pins using fingertips, which raise the pins along the path traced, as well as push an object created by raised pins on the display to physically move it.
Additionally, Dr. Luca Brayda, a researcher at the Robotics, Brain and Cognitive Sciences Department of the Italian Institute of Technology, is also investigating the use of tactile feedback using an array of movable pins to display spatial information to blind and low-vision individuals. Dr. Brayda presented research at the 2018 symposium on a product in development called a BlindPad, a portable tablet that translates visual information into tactile representations using a grid of magnetically controlled bumps that lock in an up or down position and can vibrate or animate. The tactile display becomes a bas relief that can be understood using the hands and allows for both static and moving patterns. Not only can it display spatial information such as the layout of a room, neighborhood, or intersection, but it also makes accessible through touch information such as in-class diagrams, graphs, or geometry problems for students.
During the symposium, Dr. Brayda described recent research investigating the effectiveness of the BlindPad for blind and low-vision participants for orientation and mobility tasks. Study participants haptically explored a pin-array map of a room that marked a target destination. A control group and experimental group then entered the room on three consecutive occasions and attempted to reach the target destination. The control group used a static map (the original tactile map), and the experimental group used a changing tactile map that not only showed the original map and target destination, but also the position the participant reached each prior occasion. The group using the animated map significantly out-performed the group using a static map, demonstrating “that learning spatial layouts through updated tactile feedback on programmable displays outperforms conventional procedures on static tactile maps. This could represent a powerful tool for navigation, both in rehabilitation and everyday life contexts, improving spatial abilities and promoting independent living for VI people.”4 Although the BlindPad is still in development, it represents an exciting breakthrough in the creation of an affordable, portable tactile tablet for the blind.
Ultraviolet (or UV) printing is another technological innovation that rapidly is improving the accessibility of spatial information to blind and low-vision individuals. The raised nature of UV print is making possible low-cost museum and gallery signage, descriptive labels, and illustrations in Braille books. During the NFB Tactile Graphics in Education and Careers symposium, Steve Landau, president and founder of Touch Graphics Inc., a company that produces tactile graphics and touchable 3D models, explained how large format flatbed UV printers are replacing vacuum thermoforming as the most efficient way to produce high quality tactile graphics like raised line and textured maps and diagrams to explain spatial concepts to blind and low-vision students. UV printers create tactile signage, Braille, and other raised or textured images by dispensing ink that cures immediately when exposed to bright ultraviolet light, producing precise three-dimensional effects.
Steve Landau expounds:
These printers can produce precise, consistent, and durable raised lines, textures, and Braille directly on paper or plastic substrates, rigid boards, and flexible sheets. Most importantly, these printers make it possible to print over the tactile image with high resolution visuals that are perfectly aligned and registered with the raised lines, textures, and Braille. Since the new generation of UV printers can produce both tactile and visual images on the same machine, the difficult problem of lining up vacuum formed and in-print images is now solved.
As a result of the newest UV printers, Mr. Landau reports that universally accessible floor plans, signs, and tactile interpretations of visual art are being produced that can be used by everyone. By way of example, using UV technology, Touch Graphics has produced two new tactile map units installed at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, a ledger-sized foldable tactile map for the opening of the new Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, and a tactile museum guide for the recently opened New York Transit Museum. Some of these tactile maps, as well as various museum exhibits, also include audio in tactile-bas relief, speaking when touched. A tactile replica of a painting at the San Diego Museum of Art, interpreted by Touch Graphics with the assistance of tactile artist Ann Cunningham, describes the still life Quince, Cabbage, Melon, and Cucumber by artist Sánchez Cotán; the audio captures in words what is visually depicted in vivid detail as the visitor’s hands move across the raised and textured surfaces. As a result of innovations like these, blind and low-vision individuals not only are able to orient themselves and travel independently through museums and other venues, but also they can experience art and culture on an equal basis with all other visitors.
Similar to the paintings and sculptures that are becoming more accessible to blind and low-vision visitors at museums, techniques are being developed to increase access to archaeological artifacts in museums. Advances in 3D printing (additive manufacturing technology)5 are making it easier to produce replicas of artifacts that can be experienced through touch as well as vision.
New digital technologies are profoundly changing the way people interact with ancient treasures. … 3D scanning, printing, and carving technology has made it possible to recreate objects and architecture with a high degree of precision, but in a form that allows visitors to have a tactile experience with these materials. While useful and interesting to everyone, these technologies are especially significant for sight-impaired visitors. For the first time, artifacts from archaeological sites, large and small, can be encountered directly through the sense of touch.6
During the 2018 symposium, archaeologist and independent museum professional Dr. Cheryl Fogle-Hatch described a recent case study involving the creation of high-quality 3D printed replicas of stone spear tips that are part of the collections of the Maryland Archaeological and Conservation Laboratory. Among other topics, she discussed design considerations relating to scanning original artifacts to obtain accurate information about them to produce high-quality replicas, as well as the importance of attaching a QR (quick response) code to replicas, which allows visitors to scan the code on their smartphones to obtain electronic Braille, audio, and text descriptions about the original artifacts. This case study provides promise for future applications of 3D scanning and printing, which already is successfully being used to create human tissue and organs in design and manufacturing, and—as discussed here—in the arts. The application of 3D printing in the field of education is particularly exciting since both sighted and blind children now should be able to learn subjects such as chemistry and biology through the use of tactile representations (printed molecule models and organs such as the human heart).
The field of tactile graphics is rapidly evolving in an effort to keep pace with emerging technology and society’s increased dependence on that technology in virtually every facet of our lives. Although technological advances sometimes create accessibility barriers for blind and low-vision people, such advances also sometimes hold the solutions for breaking down accessibility barriers. As the overview of the above-described products demonstrates, innovations in software and hardware, digitization, pneumatics, UV printing, and 3D printing are enabling blind and low-vision people to meaningfully experience art and culture in museums, travel more independently, and access the same learning as sighted children in school. Although significant progress has been made on the tactile graphics front, we must continue to work together to promote not only the further development of tactile graphics materials and production methods, but tactile fluency by our young blind and low-vision children so that they learn at an early age how to effectively interpret and use tactile graphics both in the classroom and the world at large.
2. American Printing House for the Blind, 2016, American Printing House for the Blind and Orbit Research Announce the World’s First Affordable Refreshable Tactile Graphics Display [Press Release], https://www.aph.org/pr/aph-and-orbit-research-announce-the-worlds-first-affordable-refreshable-tactile-graphics-display/.
3. American Printing House for the Blind, 2016, American Printing House for the Blind and Orbit Research Announce the World’s First Affordable Refreshable Tactile Graphics Display [Press Release], https://www.aph.org/pr/aph-and-orbit-research-announce-the-worlds-first-affordable-refreshable-tactile-graphics-display/.
4. Brayda, L., Leo, F., Baccelliere, C., Ferrari, E., & Vigini, C. (2018). Updated Tactile Feedback with a Pin Array Matrix Helps Blind People to Reduce Self-Location Errors. Micromachines, 9(351), p. 1.
5. “3D printers print objects from a digital template to a physical 3-dimensional physical object. The printing is done layer by layer (Additive manufacturing) using plastic, metal, nylon, and over a hundred other materials.” Mpofu, T., Mawere, C., & Mukosera, M. (2014). The Impact and Application of 3D Printing Technology. International Journal of Science and Research 3(6).
6. Accessible Archaeology for the Blind and Partially Sighted. (n.d.). Retrieved January 3, 2019, from http://digitalarchaeology.org.uk/accessible-archaeology.
From the Editor: Some anniversaries are special. Fifty is one of these, and it is a real pleasure when one of our affiliates can celebrate half a century of progress and even more rare when we can have people who were at the original founding to relate what was done and what it was like to be a part of it. This article is taken from the Illinois Independent, the newsletter of the National Federation of the Blind of Illinois. Here is the article:
On the morning of Friday, October 26, 2018, NFB of Illinois board member Cathy Randall interviewed Ramona Walhof, one of our special guests at this year's convention, the fiftieth held by the NFB of Illinois.
Cathy Randall: I'm talking to Ramona Walhof about the beginning of the National Federation of the Blind of Illinois fifty years ago.
Ramona Walhof: The National Federation of the Blind organized a student division in 1967 in Los Angeles. Jim Gashel was the president, and I was the secretary. My future husband was second vice president. After the convention we were invited to go to Montreal and organize students in Canada. Jim Gashel and I did that, and we succeeded in organizing a group up there. There was a lady named Lucy Sienkowicz who wanted it to happen. If you come across Paul Gabias, he will tell you he was at that meeting. He's active in the Canadian Federation of the Blind, and so is his wife, Mary Ellen.
Somewhere during the winter between the 1967 and the 1968 national convention, I met Rami Rabby in Des Moines. Dr. Jernigan invited him to come to Des Moines to visit. I was working there for awhile, so I met Rami. We didn't talk about Illinois when I met him, but he was interested in the student division. He was working on a graduate degree at that time. After the 1968 convention, which was held in Des Moines, Dr. Jernigan planned that we would go to Illinois and organize an affiliate. We students had no clue how to do that, but he got six of us together, and he said, "I want you to go to Illinois." He said we would go one Saturday and organize an affiliate the next Saturday. We said, "How will we do that?" He said, "We've got a list of people." I don't know where that list came from, but they did indeed have a list of people, and Dr. Jernigan gave the names to us. Rami knew a few people also. By that time he'd been in Illinois for a few months.
So we drove into Chicago and met with Rami and Mrs. Hastalis, Steve's mother. We might have met Steve that first day, but we didn't see much of him until the next week.
Cathy Randall: So you spent the week calling people?
Ramona Walhof: First we would call, and we would ask people if we could go and visit them. We spent a lot of money on cabs. We took cabs all over Chicago! I took a train down to Galesburg, Illinois, and met with a woman who had adopted three children. She was blind, and it was rare in 1968 for a blind person to be an adoptive parent.
Gwendolyn Williams, who was a very dedicated volunteer, drove us some places, but of course she couldn't drive us to all of the places we needed to go. We went two by two into people's homes. We would talk about why we had joined the Federation and what we thought the Federation could do for them personally. We'd talk a little bit about legislation and making better vending programs and better rehab.
At that time the programs in Iowa were unique in the country. We learned to travel independently. We were not afraid to travel in Chicago by ourselves. We had enough training that we knew how to do that, and we felt comfortable. We would talk about how we got that training and how we wanted other people to get it too. We would talk about what we did in college and what our majors were. We'd talk about the people we met at convention.
I met a man named Gaspardus Belhuysen from Wisconsin. I met him at the Washington, DC, convention in 1965. He said, "Ken Jernigan always wants me to go down to Des Moines and get some training, and I'd love to do it, but I can afford to get what I need." I thought that was the craziest thing I'd ever heard! I asked one of the people I knew in the Federation what he knew about Belhuysen, and he said, "Oh yeah! He's a millionaire!" He was not in the vending program, but on his own he had gone out and found places where he could put machines, and he hired a full-time driver to help him. I had never met a blind millionaire before, and I was impressed. That's one of the reasons I joined the Federation—because I heard about what Belhuysen and other blind people were doing.
We told people about Belhuysen and other people we had met. Dr. tenBroek was a lawyer, and there were a whole bunch of blind lawyers in California. There were a whole bunch of blind chiropractors in Iowa.
We talked about our experiences, but we also listened to what the blind people wanted. We would say to them, "If you had your choice about what kind of service you could have, what would it be?" Then we'd try to help them figure out how an organization of blind people, locally and statewide, could address something like that. We'd stay for about an hour talking.
We spent about five days, maybe six, and we talked to a lot of people. A lot of them said, "I just can't do anything, and you can't do it for me. I don't want to help." But we found some who were responsive. Jim Gashel went into Steve Benson's home and met him. I think Steve went to the organizing meeting.
On Friday evening Dr. Jernigan came, and we met all together. All six of us who had been pounding the pavements met with Dr. Jernigan. He said, "Who have you met who has leadership capacity?" There was no trouble with the presidency; we thought Rami Rabby should be president, and he was willing. (Dr. Jernigan probably would have twisted his arm if he wasn't!) I don't remember who the other board members were. We may have elected Steve Benson to an office.
Steve Hastalis still had a year of high school to finish. He was very young. His mother was the spokesperson at the time. Steve was kind of quiet, but he was there. Anyway, that Friday night we planned what we were going to do about leadership. The next day Dr. Jernigan introduced himself. He explained what the Federation is. There were a few hostile people in the audience, and he said, "If you pay your dues, you can vote. If you don't want the Federation, you should leave the room." A couple of people did.
Dr. Jernigan presided at the meeting. After he answered questions he said, "We need to adopt a constitution before we elect officers." He had a model constitution, and he read it article by article. A few changes were made. I believe that at first the affiliate was called the Illinois Congress of the Blind. Rami was very interested in politics, and since this was America, he thought we should have the Illinois Congress of the Blind, so we did.
After that meeting everyone dispersed, and it was up to Rami to keep it going. I'm sure he was in telephone contact with Dr. Jernigan every day. I went off to Idaho because I was engaged to a man from there. I actually delayed my move from Des Moines to Boise to come to Illinois and organize.
When I came to Illinois, we still had fewer than forty affiliates. When Dr. Jernigan was elected president in 1968, he set the goal that we would have affiliates in all fifty states. By about 1974 we did. We organized very vigorously. I went ahead and organized in Kansas, Oregon, Washington, Tennessee, and Michigan, and a little bit in North Carolina. Other people did other states. We organized Nebraska and several of the southern states and the smaller states. We still have to reorganize from time to time, but we've had affiliates in all of the states for about forty years now.
I remember one person who said, "I'm in college, and I'm working for the summer. I can't afford to take a week off work to go organize." Dr. Jernigan said, "We'll take care of that. We need you, so we'll take care of your salary for the week." We didn't have very many people available, and Dr. Jernigan knew that if we sold the Federation for a week to as many people as we could, we would become stronger Federationists ourselves. He was absolutely right!
by Lauren Merryfield
From the Editor: Many of us have stories about dealing with healthcare professionals and social workers that rankle us. As we get older and often see more of these folks, the occasional inconvenient comment and the possible threat represented by it grow frequent and even more threatening. This is not a comfortable topic, but it is one well presented by Lauren. Here is what she says:
I remember as a young Federationist how we would laugh so hard we couldn't stop during our banquet speeches. The one giving the address would bring up totally ridiculous things about blindness that someone wrote in to the National Center or mentioned to someone over the phone. What they said was so absurd it was humorous because all of us blind people were gathered in one room where we supported each other—so we could laugh. It happens every year. I know, because even when I am unable to attend our national conventions, I listen to the banquet speeches after they've been delivered.
But when you are living through one of these anecdotes on your own, it can be totally frustrating and even maddening. The usually patient person I am can, after so much low expectation talk, want to throw in the towel. So far, I've always hung in there when I am well enough to do it.
Now that I am an older blind person with medical issues, over and over again I am reminded that healthcare professionals just are not being trained in how to work with blind people. What's more, the problem is pervasive. I've had similar experiences in several different states where I've lived. Though I sometimes feel frustrated by some of the repeated experiences, at least I hope I am helping to educate one person at a time. Sometimes they just don't get it, but now and then they do.
The other day there were four healthcare professionals in my apartment with me. I was outnumbered in a major way. Three of them were pounding me with expressions such as: "Lauren, you have to be able to see to cook the right food." "You have to see to manage your medications." "You have to see to safely move from one room to the other in your apartment. There are fall risk situations in here, and you need someone with you who can see ..."
One of them even asked, "Are you the only adult in this home?" to which I answered "No, there is me, and there are two adult cats."
I'm not kidding about the things they pummeled me with that day. How one has the audacity to tell me what I need vision to do is beyond me. It smacks of disrespect toward me. It is negativity brought into my happy home with just me and the cats.
I finally felt quite ticked off about the things the OT (occupational therapist) was saying. So I said, "Well now wait a minute," and I asked Vicki where she got all of that information about blind people, and was it really fair for her to come into my home and dump all of that on me? At least she shut up for a few minutes.
I wonder again what closet they think I've been in all these years. I also wonder why more of them can't be humble enough to admit that they have no idea how I manage, and simply respond by saying "Please tell me. I'll listen and learn from you." I haven't heard that one yet. They all assume the worst for me.
During this onslaught of healthcare professionals, I was also informed that I needed someone to coordinate my clothing and help me get dressed. I couldn't see which clothes were clean and which were dirty. What?
I was told that it was a fall risk for me to hurry to the bathroom and that I needed someone to take me there because it would be faster and less of a safety risk. I'm not kidding!
I was told that I couldn't do my own showers because I wouldn't know where my shampoo, soap, etc. were, and I'd have trouble locating the hand-held shower head. At one point the OT said I'd have trouble locating the handheld shower head when I had it in my hands. I would have trouble figuring out what it was because you had to see to do that. She further said I wouldn't know when I was clean because you have to see to know that. Again, I am not kidding.
Finally, I stood up (which is very painful now), and I said it was time for show and tell.
I showed them that I could walk around by myself in my apartment with my cane or a walker. I showed them my talking items. I typed a note on my computer which they couldn't understand, but at least they saw me doing it. I showed them how I cook, clean my dishes and sink, and so on. I didn't mind explaining to them or showing them. On some occasions I do not have the luxury of being able to show healthcare professionals how I function, especially when I am in the hospital. But in my own home! They were going to hear from me whether they liked it or not!
What I had trouble with were two things—1) that they were so very uneducated about how blind people function and 2) how the OT Vicki was not convinced. Neither was Judy, the nurse.
Lisa, the caregiver, did speak up on my behalf. She said, "I had no idea what to expect the first day I started working with Lauren, but she does a lot of things by herself, and she does them well. I could have walked in here deciding she couldn't do anything, but I didn't do that. I decided to wait and see what she needed me to do and what she didn't."
The social worker, Carol, sat typing away on her computer. I was concerned about what she was typing, but I did not ask. She hadn't said anything quite so ridiculous as the others yet.
While I was up demonstrating blindness skills, I did remark that it seemed odd and out of place for all of them—the OT, the nurse, the caregiver, and the social worker—to be there in my home all at the same time; I doubted that this would be happening if I could see.
Now I just have to say this: my cats never come up with all of this negativity. They know I can't see, and they just work around it, like the caregiver I currently have. I appreciate their having the confidence in me to realize that if I can't do something one way, I'll do it another, but I'll still do it.
It has occurred to me that "live the life you want" isn't exactly what is happening in my life; however, I am going to do it to the best of my ability when and while I can. I realize I'm slowly winding down toward the end of my time here (aren't we all?) However, I'm not going to let these people cut into my living the life I want in my own home! Even in the hospital, I'm going to say something as long as I can. When my time is up, if one person gets it, that will be good.
I am writing this so that when or if similar things are said to you, you can gain the confidence to speak up when you can. Remember that you have people—other blind people and some sighted people—who do get it, and this is something for which we can be very grateful. As we support each other, it is much more likely that we will "live the life we want."I was quite ticked off at the occupational therapist when she was here, but after they all left, I thought I was going to cry. Instead, I laughed. I thought about those banquet speeches, and how we're all in this together, and I laughed!
by Allen Harris
From the Editor: Allen Harris is the chairman of the Kenneth Jernigan Fund Committee and was one of the people who came up with the idea of honoring our former president and longtime leader by establishing a program to promote attendance at the national convention, where so much inspiration and learning occur. Here is Allen’s announcement about the 2019 Kenneth Jernigan Convention Scholarship Fund Program:
Have you always wanted to attend an NFB annual convention but have not done so because of the lack of funds? The Kenneth Jernigan Convention Scholarship Fund invites you to make an application for a scholarship grant. Perhaps this July you too can be in the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada, enjoying the many pleasures and learning opportunities at the largest and most important yearly convention of blind people in the world.
The three biggest ticket items you need to cover when attending an NFB national convention are the roundtrip transportation, the hotel room for a week, and the food (which tends to be higher priced than at home). We attempt to award additional funds to families, but, whether a family or an individual is granted a scholarship, this fund can only help; it won’t pay all the costs. Last year most of the sixty grants were in the range of $400 to $500 per individual.
We recommend that you find an NFB member as your personal convention mentor, someone who has been to many national conventions and is able to share money-saving tips with you and tips on navigating the extensive agenda in the big hotel. Your mentor will help you get the most out of the amazing experience that is convention week.
Who is eligible?
Active NFB members, blind or sighted, who have not yet attended an NFB national convention because of lack of funding are eligible to apply.
How do I apply for funding assistance?
Your letter to Chairperson Allen Harris must cover these points:
The body of your letter should answer these questions:
How do you currently participate in the Federation? Why do you want to attend a national convention? What would you receive; what can you share or give? You can include in your letter to the committee any special circumstances you hope they will take into consideration.
When will I be notified that I am a winner?
If you are chosen to receive this scholarship, you will receive a letter with convention details that should answer most of your questions. The committee makes every effort to notify scholarship winners by May 15, but you must do several things before that to be prepared to attend if you are chosen:
How will I receive my convention scholarship?
At convention you will be given a debit card or credit card loaded with the amount of your award. The times and locations to pick up your card will be listed in the letter we send you. The committee is not able to provide funds before the convention, so work with your chapter and state affiliate to assist you by obtaining an agreement to advance funds if you win a scholarship and to pay your treasury back after you receive your debit or credit card.
What if I have more questions? For additional information email the chairman, Allen Harris, at firstname.lastname@example.org or call his Baltimore, Maryland, office at 410-659-9314, extension 2415.
Above all, please use this opportunity to attend your first convention on the national level and join several thousand active Federationists in the most important meeting of the blind in the world. We hope to see you in Las Vegas.
Recipes this month have been provided by the National Federation of the Blind of Missouri.
Easy Chicken Chili
by Robin House
Robin is currently the chairperson for the National Federation of the Blind of Missouri Sports and Recreation Division and is coordinating the 2018-2019 Anthem/USABA National Fitness Challenge in Missouri. Robin is currently working as a school counselor at Stix ECC in the Saint Louis Public Schools.
1 pound ground chicken
1 white onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can tomato sauce
1 can red kidney beans for chili
1 can black beans
1 package frozen corn
2 tablespoons brown sugar
Chili powder, cumin, and sriracha to taste
Method: In one tablespoon of olive oil, cook chicken, onions, green pepper, and garlic until chicken is cooked thoroughly and vegetables are soft. Use Dutch oven and any excess liquid. Add canned tomatoes, tomato sauce, kidney beans, black beans, and frozen corn. Add one can of water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, add brown sugar and chili seasonings, cover, and simmer for thirty minutes, stirring occasionally.
Top with cheddar cheese, sour cream, corn chips, or crackers to your taste. You can also serve over rice or noodles to make a chili mac. Recipe can be doubled. Substitutions can be made for chicken and types of beans. This recipe serves four to six, but leftovers freeze well.
Zucchini and Tomato Bake
by Pam Nestlehoff
Pam Nestlehoff is a longtime member of the Jefferson City Chapter.
1 onion, chopped
1/4 cup of butter
4 unpeeled zucchini, finely sliced
salt and pepper
celery salt, or use celery—1 to 2 cups, chopped
three large tomatoes, or use 1 can diced tomatoes
Method: Brown onion in butter, add zucchini, and cook until soft. Season with salt, pepper, and celery salt to taste. Add tomatoes and bring to a boil. Place in one-quart casserole dish. Sprinkle generously with parmesan cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour.
Note: I added browned hamburger to ours. We really enjoy it. There is so much you can do with this.
Sesame Pork Ribs in the Crockpot (AKA Chinese Ribs)
by Cari Ford
Cari Ford is a Missourian who came to us from Wisconsin. She did so in the name of love, and this is why she prepares this recipe.
1 slab boneless country-style pork ribs
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 of a small onion, diced
Method: Trim the fat from the meat and break up the slab of ribs. I usually break them so each rib has one bone to make for easier handling. Mix the rest of the ingredients in the crockpot, then mix in the ribs. Cook on low for five to six hours. Remove heat and serve over rice. Top with toasted sesame seeds and green onions if desired.
Makes four smaller servings or two larger servings as is. This recipe is flexible, and it doubles nicely. Use a 3.5 qt. or larger crockpot. Beef ribs can probably be substituted, though I have not tried it that way.
Whole-Grain Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
by Melissa Kane
Melissa is president of our Jefferson City Chapter and serves on the NFB of Missouri State Board. She really enjoys baking. Melissa is involved in most activities and projects of the NFB of Missouri which has her balancing healthy baking with her participation in the 2018-2019 Anthem Blue Cross/Blue Shield United States Association of Blind Athletes National Fitness Challenge. She adapted this recipe to incorporate more whole grains.
1 cup raisins
1 cup water
3/4 cup butter
1-1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1/2 cup flax seed
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
2 cups old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Method: Pour water over raisins in a saucepan and simmer over medium heat until raisins are plump, this takes about ten minutes. Drain raisins, reserving the liquid. Add enough water to raisin water to equal 1/2 cup; usually, I don't have to add any additional water. Beat together butter and sugar. Add eggs, vanilla, and raisin water and beat until smooth. Next, stir in all ingredients from above list starting with the two types of flour through the ground cloves. Then stir in raisins, oats, and nuts. Drop by the spoonful onto greased baking sheets. Bake at 325 for ten to twelve minutes.
Shianne’s Fruit Salad
by Shianne Ramsey
1 apple, cored and chopped
1 orange or 2 Cuties® (clementines), peeled and sectioned
juice from 1 orange
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup coconut
Method: Chop apple finely with food chopper or knife. Peel and section orange and chop. Add juice from one orange, sugar, and coconut. Mix and serve.
You can add other fruit you like such as blueberries and sliced banana. Delicious for any meal or healthy snack!
Shianne’s Peanut Butter Balls
by Shianne Ramsey
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup instant powdered milk (more or less)
Washington State At-Large Chapter Elections:
The Washington State chapter-at-large held its elections January 10, and officers are as follows: president, Kris Colcock; vice president, Jenelle Landgraf; secretary, Judy Jones; treasurer, Niki Palmer; board member, Chris Jones.
The chapter is growing, and we have also had out-of-state attendance. We were successful in our fundraiser, held at our state convention in October, and Kris and Jenelle did much to make that happen. Our state president, Marci Carpenter, continues to be wonderful support and help to the chapter and each of us as individuals. We all have been working together to help this chapter succeed and are looking forward to a great 2019.
Thanks for Here’s Hank:
Matthew Jepsen wrote to tell us: “Just thought you would like to know that my 10-year-old daughter Elizabeth (an avid Braille reader) has been loving the new Here's Hank books she's been getting in the mail from the American Action Fund these past few weeks. She reads them everywhere, including our local coffee shop.”
Great Radio by Blind People:
Hello friends. I am Ken Lawrence from the New Jersey affiliate. Would you like to listen to some great radio made by blind people with all musical tastes in mind? Well, why not try Out of Sight Radio. This is a radio station linked to the out-of-sight.net voicechat site where some of the members are hosts of radio shows. We have among others two great oldies shows, plus specific shows for the 60s, 70s, and 80s. We have country and jazz standards and much, much more—including my regular show the Rock and Soul Review. And when there’s no live show, there’s great music in the automated stream. To listen to our station just visit www.out-of-sight.net/radio, and click the high quality stream if you are on a computer, or if you are away from Wi-Fi the lower bit rate mobile stream. We are also on TuneIn radio so you can listen on the Amazon Echo or a Google Home speaker. Just ask Alexa or your Google Home to play Out of Sight net radio. Since we are also on the ooTunes database, you can even hear Out of Sight Radio on a Victor Reader Stream. So come in and tune in anytime for the best mix of music anywhere whether on terrestrial radio or internet. It’s like I say on my show, Out of Sight Radio, your blind spot on the internet is your hot spot on the internet.
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.
New Year, New Titles in UEB from Seedlings!
Seedlings Braille Books for Children just added seven more books to its Unified English Braille collection for independent readers, bringing the total to 155! One is a new title, Magic Tree House #34: Season of the Sandstorms.
The other six are books converted from the old Braille code: Ramona and her Father, Ramona Forever, Charlie & the Great Glass Elevator, Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, Harriet Tubman: The Road to Freedom, and Walking the Road to Freedom: A Story about Sojourner Truth.
To see all 155 of Seedlings' books in contracted UEB for older children, go to goo.gl/oHp4X9. Check back often as we are regularly adding additional titles to our UEB collection for independent readers.
All of Seedlings' 310 print-and-braille books for younger readers are already in UEB. See our online catalog at http://www.seedlings.org/order.php
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.
Two Freedom Scientific Braille Blazers for sale. They have the following features: serial or parallel connections to a PC (A USB-to-Serial cable may be used with these embossers on machines which don't have serial or parallel ports); carrying case (built-in); standard computer power cord; embosses on 8.5-by-11-inch fanfold tractor-feed paper; embosses standard Braille in portrait or landscape mode; embosses graphics; is supported by most Braille translation software, including Duxbury Systems; configuration is accomplished through voice-guided instructions; may be used as a speech synthesizer as well as a Braille embosser. The user manual is available at:
https://www.edvisionservices.org/Manuals/BrailleBlazerUserManual.pdf. We are asking $400 each. Contact Sheryl Pickering at 830-743-7655.
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.