Braille Monitor                          August/September 2018

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Convention Miniatures

Krafters Division:  

2018 is a year of celebration and a changing of the guard. This year, Krafters celebrate our tenth birthday! Isn’t that great? As we look back, we appreciate the effort put forth to grow an idea into a working division of the NFB. We applaud Joyce Kane for her initiative to partner with many others to create what we now lovingly call “Krafters Korner.” We are crafters who happen to be blind. We share alternative techniques which enable us to continue growing in our crafts.

During our time at convention, we shared our division with many others in the Exhibit Hall. We provided the opportunity for members to demonstrate our skills by bringing items to our Market Place. Many NFB members came, visited, and even did some shopping. We appreciate all of you who spent time with us and recognized our efforts by purchasing our items. We left this event with excitement for what we could do for the next convention.

We wrapped up our division activities with our business meeting, where elections were held. We now have Tammy Freitag serving as president. We have brought enthusiasm and new motivation into our new decade. We have a great group of women and men excited about the ability to make fun and beautiful things with our hands and imagination. We extend an invitation to anybody else that would like to come join the fun. We welcome those that know a craft and don’t mind teaching the rest of us. We also welcome those that have either the desire to learn or the curiosity about how we do our crafts. Our Korner has room for all who are interested; come join us! If you have questions, please contact President Tammy Freitag: 402-904-5105 or email: [email protected].

We hope you will join the fun!

Report from Communities of Faith:

The NFB in Communities of Faith held its annual meeting on Thursday, July 5, at 1 p.m. We first heard from publishers of Christian and Jewish literature. Craig Leeds, director of Braille Bibles International and also representing MegaVoice, spoke about these respective organizations as well as Aurora Ministries. Braille Bibles International sends out translations of the Bible in Braille as well as solar case speaker Bibles from MegaVoice. Aurora Ministries has several versions of the Bible and other Christian literature available on cartridges.

Jeri Lyn Rogge, director of The Christian Record Braille Foundation, spoke about the many and varied activities of this organization. They have a lending library, produce magazines, and conduct camps for various age groups. Antonio Guimaraes, from the Jewish Braille Institute also spoke to us about the valuable work of this organization. JBI has produced this important literature for many years.

Michael Smith, director of the International Christian Braille Mission, spoke about its move to Grayson, Kentucky, from West Virginia. Mike, a veteran of our movement, is training others to further the work of this ministry. Anil Lewis, executive director of the Jernigan Institute, shared about his faith from childhood.

Tom Anderson and Rehnee Aikens spoke about the importance of encouraging others to become people of faith.

We had several new members join the division. Tom and Rehnee had a Bible quiz as part of the NABS Olympics.

The speakers for devotions this year were: Ron Brown, president of the NFB of Indiana; Tom Anderson, Overland Park, Kansas; and Reverend Carolyn Peters from Dayton, Ohio.

The officers of this division are: president, Tom Anderson, Kansas; vice president Rehnee Aikens, Texas; secretary, Linda Mentink, Nebraska; and treasurer, Sam Gleese, Mississippi.

On July 5, the Science and Engineering Division of the NFB elected the following officers for two-year terms: president, John Miller, [email protected], 858-774-9286; vice president, Ashley Neybert, [email protected]; secretary, Louis Maher, [email protected]; treasurer, Alfred Maneki, [email protected]; and board members Purvi Contractor, [email protected]; and David Hertweck, [email protected].
Report from the Seniors Division:

On July 3, the seniors division hosted a seminar, “Emergency Preparedness—How to Prepare to Remain in Place or Evacuate when Necessary.” Ms. Georgianna Cherry, Health Emergency Operations Manager for Florida, North Central Area, was our presenter. She focused on knowing your surroundings and thinking about what you need to do to evacuate from wherever you are—the hotel, your home, visiting friends, wherever you happen to be. She advised having a “go bag” with items you think you will need plus comfort items that will get you through about three or four days in an unfamiliar environment. If you have special needs such as a pet or you use a guide dog, or if you take medicine that must be kept chilled, learn from your local area disaster relief officials where you should go, and plan a strategy to get there. What services will you need to get to the best designated shelter that can meet your specific needs?

Next, have a chain of people that you contact, and they in turn will let others know where you are and what needs you may have. She emphasized getting as much information about local resources and where and how to access them, and then plan, plan, and plan still further. The more prepared you are, the more control you have over where you go and what happens to you when you get there.

Do not assume that services you believe you are entitled to will be available. Bring water, food, medicines, and change these in your go bag at least twice a year. Bring any important documentation such as bank and financial records, medical history, insurance policy, etc.

Finally, if you have others in your household that you are responsible for, make certain they know the plans you have made and know whom to contact and where to go.

Ms. Cherry distributed little emergency first-aid kits that can be packed in the go bag and added to with other items if need be.

In our annual business meeting of the seniors division, officers were elected as follows: president, Ruth Sager; first vice president, Judy Sanders; second vice president, Robert Leslie Newman; secretary, Shelley Coppel; and treasurer, Diane McGeorge assisted by Duncan Larsen.

Phyllis Chavez spoke about her first Washington Seminar experience and how she was able to put the training she has received from the Colorado Center into practice. She felt frightened and scared, but she learned that she could ask for help from others in her group or strangers as well. She enjoyed the meeting with legislators and the museum event held Tuesday evening of this four-day seminar. She stressed how important our legislative efforts are for all blind people across the country whether they are members of the NFB or not. She felt empowered and will be back again for many more Washington Seminars.

Ruth and Shelley spoke about the retreat, what its purpose is, and gave some details about the physical location of Rocky Bottom Retreat and Conference Center in South Carolina.

NFB members Nancy Yeager from Virginia and Carol Braithwaite from Alabama next informed everyone of upcoming events their senior divisions are in the process of exploring and noted what they have done this past year. These are newly formed divisions, and they are working on growing their memberships and fundraising activities as well as planning events for seniors in their states.

Theresa Gfroerer from Minnesota spoke about her experience losing vision and finding BLIND Inc. and their senior program. She also became an active member of the affiliate. She was proud of her accomplishments but wanted to also strongly encourage anyone who has the ability to get good training to take the opportunity and learn as much as you can. It will change your life for the better. Theresa is a tenBroek Scholar, and she was having a fabulous convention experience.

Michael Hingson gave a presentation on Aira, what it is, what it can do, and basic instructions on how to use it. And, as always, we had our "not so silent" auction. Come next year. We need you, and you need us.


At our business meeting on July 5, the Community Service Division elected a new board to serve for the 2018-2019 year. Board members are as follows: president, Jeanetta Price; vice president, Johna Wright; secretary, Kyra Sweeney; treasurer, Janae Burgmeier; and board members Chris Parsons, Jonathan Franks, and Sam Gates.


The NFB in Computer Science held its bi-annual board elections at its annual meeting on July 5. The results of the election are as follows: president, Brian Buhrow, [email protected]; vice president, Steve Jacobson, [email protected]; secretary, Louis Maher, [email protected]; treasurer, Curtis Chong, [email protected]; board members: Jeanine Lineback, [email protected]; Harry Staley, [email protected]; and Jim Barbour, [email protected].

Report from NAGDU:

On Tuesday, July 3, during the annual convention of the National Federation of the Blind, the National Association of Guide Dog Users held its second annual seminar. This dynamic seminar featured workshops on how to identify veterinary emergencies and creating wellness for our dogs, tips for solving the problem of counterfeit service animals, coping with the grief associated with the retirement or passing of our dogs, the process of applying for and training with a guide dog, and the ever-popular “Show & Tail.” The workshops were very well attended, and participants shared how much valuable information they received.

On Thursday, July 5, we held our annual meeting. We heard from our legal department about our rideshare testing program and from the Jernigan Institute’s Advocacy and Policy Department about our work with the Department of Transportation and the airline industry. We also elected our leadership with the following results: president, Marion Gwizdala (Florida); vice president, Michael Hingson (California); secretary, Sherrill O’Brien (Florida); treasurer, Linda O’Connell (Arkansas); board members, Aleeha Dudley (Louisiana), Raul Gallegos (Texas), and Jessica Snyder (Ohio).

Congratulations to our newly-elected board of directors and thanks to our membership for helping to make the National Association of Guide Dog Users the leading advocacy organization on the affairs of guide and service dog users in the United States.

Report from the Promotion, Evaluation, and Advancement of Technology Committee:

The exhibitors showcase was held the first night of convention, July 3, with over twenty companies presenting brief information about their products and services that they would show in the exhibit hall in the coming days.

Tap technology spoke about its wearable keyboard that lets your fingers send letters or commands to a connected Bluetooth device. It has a unique alphabet, but their fastest typist types sixty-two words per minute. It also has a set of VoiceOver commands to make it more efficient.

Universal Low Vision Aids Inc. (ULVA) talked about its OCR and magnifying devices.

WayAround spoke about its non-camera device that gives information about the world around you. It can identify colors, appliance information, and even the date your milk expires. It uses tags for your personal information that is stored in the cloud, and the app is free.

A.T. Guys has a new, more powerful battery pack, new AfterShokz headphones that weigh just over an ounce, an updated audio recorder that can store ninety-six hours of recordings, and a new wireless speaker that will do Alexa through WiFi and Bluetooth.

NReach has an app that helps one understand the world around you through Bluetooth beacon technology. When in range of its transmitter that a business can obtain, you can get details about the location of a store, such as the stores in a mall, and, for as little as $100 a year, they say they can put a unit at the business location.

Envision America has improved ScriptTalk with a new app for iPhone 7 or higher that will read your prescriptions for you. Also, it says its ID Mate Galaxy barcode scanner will prove that apps just don't cut it for barcode information.

OrCam has a new wearable device that weighs about an ounce and is about the size of one’s finger that will read currency, identify colors, and even allow facial recognition.

Sprint talked about its desire to work with the blind, just as it has done with the deaf. It says it now has a fully accessible website and a toll-free help line.

Bookshare spoke about its 625,000-book collection that is available the same day as you can get them from Amazon or a bookstore. You can download books in Braille, in audio, or as a Word file. It's only $50 a year, and for many a membership is free.

Amazon talked about its new totally accessible TV and about its accessible Echo device.

VOTEC asks for help from the NFB in creating a new fully accessible pollbook. This will enable a blind person to sign in to the voting location completely on their own to assure voter verification.

VFO and Freedom Scientific spoke about its new magnifier and notetaker. The company talked to us about Fusion, which fuses JAWS and ZoomText together for the best of both worlds.

Project RAY has a new eyes-free user interface for Android that it says can be learned in fifteen minutes and makes operating touchscreen phones easier for Android 4.0 or higher.

HIMS discussed with us its new QBraille, a Braille display with all the modifier keys that are on a normal QWERTY keyboard, so there will be no need to learn workaround Braille entry keys. The new QBraille will also have a few built-in notetaking applications and is due out this fall. The company also has a new low-vision device with better full-page OCR called the GoVision PRO.

Zoomax is a new company specializing in low-vision magnifiers including the Snow 10 which is a ten-inch magnifier with OCR and speech in ten different languages.

Open Access has a core focus of document accessibility. It helps clients find and make accessible the documents that are on websites that are not currently accessible. It says it can make PowerPoints, Word documents, and PDFs accessible.

Duxbury Systems now has version 12.3 out for MAC systems. There are improvements for its translator for Nemeth and Perky Duck. Also, there are new improvements to JAWS scripts, and you can download tactile graphics from the company’s website.

Bristol Braille Technology is an English company that is introducing a new multiline Braille display. It's called the Canute, and many got to see it first at the end of our program. The company says this display will cost less than a forty-cell display when it comes out.

Sunu has a wearable band to detect objects around you using radar and augmented reality to reflect objects above the waist and overhead like tree branches. It also has a built-in compass and a GPS app. It's an all-in-one multitool to augment the cane and dog.

American Printing House for the Blind said that now Nearby Explorer, its GPS app, can do some indoor navigation. It now has a forty-by-sixty grid tactile graphics display and are again taking orders for the Orbit Reader, the $450 twenty-cell Braille display.

Microsoft came to talk about improvements to its Windows 10 screen reader called Narrator. The company also discussed a new magnifier that will have new features this fall.

Tactile street maps of your neighborhood are available now from LightHouse for the Blind of San Francisco. So anywhere in North America, you can get a map of the street around you that’s tactile with Braille Identifiers with a key.

There were well over a hundred people in the audience who came to learn about what they could see in the exhibit hall and particularly where to find it once there. The showcase continues to be a popular item that helps the committee promote and advance technology that can be of help for the blind. Whether a sponsor or a consumer, join us next year.

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