Gem State Milestones Editor

Gem State Milestones Winter 2014

Gem State Milestones EditorGEM STATE MILESTONES

Winter 2014

A Publication of the



Dana Ard, Editor


 President’s Report


My NFB of Idaho family,

I hope that your holiday season is wonderful and peaceful.  I would like to add my Christmas/Holiday wishes to you and your loved ones.  I hope you are all healthy and happy and that this continues into the delightful New Year of 2015.


Dana Ard has put in 36 years as a Senior Rehabilitation Counselor at the Idaho Commission for the Blind, and will retire on December 31, 2014. Her retirement party will be held December 9th at ICBVI.  Congratulations to Dana, we appreciate your example!


Our legislative dinner will not be held in January 2015, because we have no critical issues that would justify the expenditure.  I will be sending each of the legislators a letter briefly explaining the positions of and requests from our organization. Some of the items I will be touching upon will be statewide transportation, education of blind children, additional braille instructors as well as the technological needs of the blind.


Our 2015 State Convention will be held in Boise on May 8th and 9th, at the Boise Hotel and Conference Center on Vista Avenue. The room rates will be $57.00 per night plus 13 % sales tax for a total of $64.41. If you note the dates you will see the convention will only be held on Friday and Saturday. Sunday the 10th of May is Mother’s Day. If this causes an inconvenience for you please remember that there will be more Mother’s Day’s when Convention is not on the same weekend.  There are many factors that I have to take into consideration in booking and planning a convention. We avoid dates such as Palm Sunday, Easter, and the LDS conference. I worry about travel conditions.  In fact, after a serious accident in 2006 on the return trip from Moscow the Board voted to do everything possible to plan it as late as possible in April.  Since I have been President I have tried to take everything into consideration. First and foremost is the safety of our members and then the cost of the convention to the membership and the organization.  The dates planned represent the very best facility, cost, and time available in Boise.  The convention will conclude Saturday night with the Banquet.  It was announced in the newspaper that the Boise Hotel and Conference Center has been sold, but I made sure that this possibility was covered in the contract that I negotiated with and signed with the hotel. I have since personally called and talked with the hotel management and received assurance that our contract cannot be changed by new ownership.  In fact, the hotel will be under remodeling the first part of the year, and the good news is that since we will not be there until May the new construction should all be completed before we arrive. We will be among the first to enjoy this incredible newly configured hotel!!



Vickie BatemanMeet the Federationists

By Vickie & Larry Bateman


I was born and raised in Shelley, Idaho, the town that my great grandfather, John Franklin Shelley founded.  Larry was born in Gooding, Idaho.  He spent his early school years in Gooding and then moved to New Meadows where he graduated from high school.  We were married in 1982.  Larry adopted my son, Dustin and together we had two more sons, Ryan and Delynn and a daughter, Valerie.  Larry has another son, Dion and daughter, Michelle from previous marriages. We have seven grand-children, all in Utah.  We enjoy sports events, the theater, music, church activities, the outdoors, traveling and spending time with our children and grandchildren.  Larry has worked in road construction as a superintendant for over 35 years.  He was also vice-president of operations for Momentum Medical in Murray, Utah for five years.  At this time, we have and enjoy our own independent business on the side that we do together regarding residential and business services.  We have lived in Shelley, Idaho for most of our married life and lived in Sandy, Utah for five of those years.

In 1977, I was in an industrial accident where I lost my right leg up to mid-thigh.  I had an attitude that I could do anything I put my mind to with or without my leg.   But after losing my sight in 2000, I felt like I was truly being held back from doing everything I wanted to do.  The combination of being an above the knee amputee and being legally blind was scary for me.  Through the NFB, I have found a new strength in independence.  I still walk with caution on uneven or unfamiliar ground, because my knee can buckle and I may fall.  I know my limits and at times it is frustrating, but I take one day at a time and appreciate all that I still can do.  Deep down I still have that attitude that I can do anything I put my mind to and can be very stubborn at times.


Larry and I were first introduced to the NFB in August of 2003 when the NFB of Idaho, with Larry Streeter as president, came to Idaho Falls to develop a chapter.  During the election of chapter officers, there were two others who were nominated for the position of chapter president, but they declined.  Then I was nominated and even though I knew very little about the NFB, I felt that I could not decline.  I was very overwhelmed, but Larry Streeter was a great mentor to me.  Colleen McFadden lived in Pocatello, but was elected as our Treasurer and promised to help with our chapter for the first few years.  Kevin Pirnie had been in the NFB most of his life and I have appreciated his input and support in our chapter throughout my presidency.  My husband has always been there to support me. We feel like our chapter is like family.  We have some really great people that we have become very close to.


Through the years, we have had some great experiences because of the NFB.  Larry and I received the Frank Smith award in 2004 and were able to attend the National Convention in Atlanta, Georgia.  I have only attended two national conventions, and loved both of them.  I have been able to attend the Washington Seminar in Washington D.C. once and have gone to the Jernigan Center in Baltimore three times. I have learned many things to help me be a better leader and a better person.  I have met many people and made many friends because of this organization.  I appreciate the philosophy of the NFB.  It has helped me to be more independent and not rely so much on others. There are so many amazing people that I admire and I have gained from other people’s examples in this organization.  I served as president in the Snake River Valley Chapter for 11 years.  I was pleased to hand that position over to Sandy Streeter who is doing an excellent job!  I am holding the office of Treasurer at this time in the chapter and 1st Vice-President of the State Affiliate.



My National Scholarship Opportunity

By Alana Leonhardy


Hearing that I had been selected as a 2014 NFB scholarship winner was a huge shock.  I’d applied upon the urging of my VR counselor, but didn’t expect to win. After all, there are 500-700 applicants annually.  However, I worked hard on my application and hoped for the best.


Convention week was a whirlwind of new ideas and experiences.  Our days were packed full of scheduled and strongly encouraged activities.  We had a new mentor every day, who spent time with us and showed us the federation ropes. These mentors were also from the selection committee, whose function it was to select who got which amount of money.  It’s hard to be a shy recipient, because you are required to give three brief introductory speeches.  The mentors who don’t get to meet you only have your introduction to go by.


I’ll be honest, the money is a pretty exciting part of winning, but it wasn’t the most important thing I brought back home with me. I brought back a budding confidence that I had been lacking since I lost my eyes, and I brought back the ability and desire to help better the lives of blind people in my own community. The NFB took a chance on me, and I’m honored they did.


Sandy StreeterSummer program helps visually impaired children. IDAHO FALLS, Idaho

Information from: Post Register


In a quiet classroom at the Idaho Falls Activity Center, 8-year-old Mei Mei Hill plastered zebra-print sticky material, tie-dye duct tape and eyeball foam stickers onto her brand new cane. “I like the eyeballs because they make it look sort of scary,” said Mei Mei, who lives in Pocatello. Once her newly razzled and dazzled cane was complete, Mei Mei, along with the other campers in this year’s Braille Enrichment for Literacy and Learning BELLsummer program, practiced swinging, tapping and exploring the halls of the empty building with their brand new mobility tools. That was a cane decorating activity on the first day of the two-week summer program designed for blind and visually impaired children. The program, in its second year, is run by the National Federation of the Blind. This year, six students are enrolled, up from four last year. “(The camp) is important for the kids, just because of the socialization,” said Nancy Luth, who works with most of the children during the school year through the Gooding-based Idaho Educational Services for the Deaf and Blind. “For blind students, there really aren’t many of them. To get them together in a group where they can talk about things that are important to them, and challenges they (share), that’s super important. The eastern Idaho camp started last summer when officials in the Snake River Valley Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind identified a need. The eastern Idaho camp followed the successful debut of a Boise camp the year prior, spokesman Sean Malone said. “For a lot of these kids, by the time they’re in their teens or early 20s, they may be completely blind,” Malone said. “So this is confidence for them. They don’t feel so left out or behind because by the time they’re in their 20s, they can’t read regular print any more. When they finish high school, they’ll be a step ahead. Throughout the program, kids practice a variety of activities designed to help them in daily living. Those include reading and writing braille, using a cane and learning non-visual techniques such as pouring liquids into a ‘cup’ or making cookies. Structured learning is coupled with field trips, including a trip to iJump trampoline park, miniature golf and a visit to a nearby candy shop. Allison McCracken, 12, signed up for the camp with her brother, Ashton McCracken, 8, for the first time this year. Both live in Idaho Falls. Allison said she’s most looking forward to the group iJump outing. Ashton said he’s most excited for a self-defense activity on Wednesday, in which the campers will learn a series of self-defense techniques. While those activities are fun, the daily braille reading is also helpful, Ashton said, because it gives him more opportunity to practice. “Practicing helps,” he said. “(Because) braille is hard sometimes, I can’t (always) tell each letter apart. The camp is funded this year with money from the Idaho Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired as well as a $1,000 grant from the Idaho National Laboratory. Money goes toward pay for a certified braille teacher, as well purchasing supplies – each camper receives a free cane and a free slate and stylus (a braille writing tool). Costs last year ran about $3,500, and this year, are expected to run slightly higher, to accommodate additional students. Officials hope to see more students participate in coming years. They’re also looking into expanding the program to a third location in future years, which would likely be in northern Idaho. “We know these students are out there,” Malone said. “Hopefully next year and as we continue to do this, we’ll get more and more of them to come. Mei Mei is a returning camper this year. She recalls her favorite activity last summer was visiting a fire station when the group took an outing to Idaho Falls Fire Department Station 3 and met firefighters. She said daily practice reading braille last summer has also helped her better learn the written language. “More time to practice gave me more time to be a good reader,” she said. “It was easy at first, now, it’s getting a little harder, but after practicing, I’m doing great.


My England Experience

By Dana Ard


This past Summer I had the opportunity to visit England as a member of St. Michael’s Cathedral adult choir. We had a residency at Winchester Cathedral, which means that we would provide music for services during the week of August 4-10, while the resident choir was on holiday. We had known about the trip since 2012, and had raised half the needed funds for the trip largely through the generosity of the church congregation.  The goal to go to England had been a dream of the choir for several years.


My preparation for the trip actually started at a chapter meeting.  We had been told that we would have to bring our choir robes, shoes, music, and black pants in a carry-on.  This was to insure that they wouldn’t get lost.  If we didn’t have these items, we couldn’t sing.  When I learned this information, I became concerned. I couldn’t imagine trying to keep up with everyone wheeling a suitcase and trying to use my cane.  I don’t walk straight with my cane, and I was afraid I might slow people down or worse, trip someone.  I brought up my concerns during a chapter meeting discussion that we were having.  Mary Syms-Pollot spoke up and advised me to get a back pack, pointing out that people backpack around Europe all of the time. That was all the help I needed. I borrowed a great backpack from one of our chapter members. It proved very useful, not just for a carry-on, but to transport music to and from the cathedral for my roommate Molly and me. I got some great wardrobe advice from a close friend in my Chorister group, who has taken many trips to Europe.  I was ready to go.


The trip to the U.K. takes over 7 hours from Minneapolis.  It was made much more enjoyable, when I found out the woman who sat next to me, was the daughter of a good friend from my days as a student at St. Olaf College.


We arrived in London around 9:00 A.M. We got our luggage and boarded our tour bus for Windsor Castle, which was one of three castles we visited. The others were Carisbrooke castle, and Arundel castle.  I found it difficult to visualize these castles as a totally blind person, whose concept of a castle is what you made in the sandbox at age five or six. All castles have walls and places where weapons can be fired to protect the castle. We bought a pastry from a side walk vendor for lunch. After the tour, we boarded our coach for Winchester.


Each day, we had some type of a tour.  In addition to the three castles, we visited Salisbury cathedral and Chichester cathedral in addition to having a full tour of Winchester Cathedral.  Each cathedral had a tactile model so I could see the differences among them.  Although all cathedrals are built in the shape of a cross, they are different from each other. My roommate, who was usually my tour guide, explained architecture and other visual information by using items that I could feel. My favorite tour was Stonehenge.  There were models of Stonehenge showing different periods of development.  There was a huge stone roped to a sled-like device, showing how the stones were moved from their original location to become part of this monument.  We were able to visit the Isle of Wight, where we toured Osborne House, which was the summer home for Prince Albert and Queen Victoria.  I visited the museum at Carisbroke castle, where I heard a recording of a reed organ built in 1602, and saw a short movie about Jack Sealy and his horse Warrior, who was the last horse to be involved in a war effort.


Food in England was wonderful, contrary to what I had heard.  I had the best chicken pot pie I’ve ever eaten with cheese in the crust, wonderful Indian food, excellent pizza, and of course, fabulous fish and chips.


Singing in the cathedral was amazing.  There was a seven second reverberation.  I had to listen to the choir members around me and not to the organ to avoid getting behind the director.  In addition to singing the eight services, I attended a service at the cathedral honoring England’s entrance into World War I.  They entered the war on August 4, 1914.  The music, prayers, and presentations were very moving.

This was truly a trip of a lifetime and an experience I will treasure forever.


Voting Independently with the Auto Mark Ballot Marking Device

By Dana Ard


I have been voting independently in federal elections since the AutoMark was introduced in Boise. I usually vote at our neighborhood location, but have voted at locations offering early voting options. Since I use a computer with a screen reader, I have found using the AutoMark quite easy and intuitive. Poll workers have always been able to help with problems.  I greatly appreciate the opportunity to vote in private.  Considering the cost of these machines, I would like to see them used in all elections. Even if a person had to go to a designated location to use the machine,  I believe privacy in voting is an American right and it should be for everyone, including the blind or disabled. I believe that some people with disabilities may be intimidated by the machine. Perhaps more opportunities to try it out should be available prior to election time.  Events, such as our county fair, could provide opportunities for people to try the machine and educate the public about its availability.


We are Still of Value

By Vel Slotten

President, NFBI Senior Division


We are senior citizens so we are told,

But we have something that youth do not;

Something that over time was begot;

Wisdom and knowledge planted within;

Watered by trials that seed did begin

To grow and mature taller each day

As we live our lives along the way.

We are not born with this in full bloom;

It takes a lifetime for it to be groomed.

Listen well and to this hold fast;

Our value, unlike our youth, has not passed.

Like good wine and beautiful art,

We, like they, have a lot to impart.

So until we are able,

Until our strength is gone,

We will move forward;

We will march on.

God is with us. Bless you all.




Every year, I try to feature recipes in our winter newsletter. This year Shelley Newhouse has provided recipes that she grew up with. I will add a couple of dishes that I enjoy as well. Happy eating!


Cheese, Pineapple, Marshmallows, and Bananas

By Shelley Newhouse

Shelley says that her father used to serve this on Sundays as an accompaniment with pork roast.

2 c. grated cheddar cheese

Place the cheese in a salad bowl. Pour over the cheese either 1 20 oz. can pineapple chunks, or pineapple tidbits. Add 2 c. miniature marshmallows. Just before serving, add 2-3 sliced bananas. Stir and enjoy.


Sauer Kraut and Sausage

This comes from Shelley’s mom’s side of the family

Crumble 1 lb. bulk sausage in a skillet and brown. Drain 1 15 oz. can of sauerkraut and add to sausage. Add 1 Tbsp. brown sugar and stir together. Cook until kraut is warmed through.


Carrots and Hamburger

Peel and grate 4 carrots and set aside. In a skillet, brown ½ lb. hamburger. Salt and pepper to taste. Add carrots and add more salt and pepper. Place 1 Tbsp over carrots. Add ½ c. water. Turn heat down and cook, stirring occasionally until mixture is done.




Crockpot Creamy Chicken and Barley

By Jeanne Corcoran, modified slightly by Dana Ard

I found this recipe in a taped publication I receive called the Newsreel. I did one slight modification. This recipe gets better the more it sits. It freezes well too.

1 c. uncooked barley

4 celery stalks chopped

1 onion chopped

Sliced fresh mushrooms to taste (I used 8 oz. sliced)

23 oz. can cream of chicken soup

14 oz. can chicken broth

½ c. white wine, (optional)

5 meaty drumsticks

Put barley on the bottom of the crockpot or slow cooker. Add remaining ingredients, except drumsticks. Stir to combine. Lay drumsticks on top. Cover. Cook, covered, on high 4-5 hours. Remove meat from drumsticks. Return to crockpot and stir to combine.


Yula’s Brownies

Yula Austin was a long-time friend who recently died

Yula gave me this recipe when I needed a different brownie recipe for a chapter bake sale. These are easy, and most of the time, you have the ingredients at hand.

1 c. butter (no substitutions)

2 c. sugar

1 6 oz. package semi-sweet chocolate chips

2 t vanilla

4 eggs

¾ c. cocoa

1 c. flour

½ t baking powder

¼ t salt

1 c. chopped nuts (optional)

Heat oven to 350. Grease a 13 by 9 by 2 inch baking pan. In a microwave safe bowl, melt butter on high in the microwave. Add sugar, chips and vanilla. Add eggs one at a time beating well. Add remaining ingredients, except nuts and beat well. Add nuts if desired. Bake 30 to 35 minutes until batter pulls away from the pan and looks dry. Cool. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Cut into 36 squares.



Romona WalhofMini Gems

By Ramona Walhof


Senior Division and Central Idaho Chapter Picnic:  August 9 the Central Idaho Chapter and the Senior Division got together at Rock Creek Park in Twin Falls for a pot luck picnic.  Grace Jacobson drove over from Pocatello, but most of the picnickers came from the Magic Valley and the Treasure Valley.  Co-chairs, Shelley Newhouse and Chris Jones planned a delightful afternoon so that people who don’t know each other well had a chance to eat and play together.


Elections:  Several chapters held elections this fall.  Central Idaho Chapter: President, Chris Jones; Vice President, Donalyn Jorgenson; Secretary, Judy Jones; Treasurer, Jacque Whiting.  Snake River Valley Chapter: President, Sandy Streeter; 1st Vice President, Kevin Pirnie; 2nd Vice President, Carla Teczon; Treasurer, Vickie Bateman; Secretary, David Jolley; Board Members; Sylvia Bernert and Wanda Jolley.  Treasure Valley Chapter: President, Dana Ard; 1st Vice President, Susan Bradley; 2nd Vice President, Earl Hoover; Secretary, Jennie Facer; Treasurer, Mike Gibson; Board Members: Susan Ford, Jan Gawith, Vel Slotten, Daniel Solis, Alison Steven, and Ramona Walhof.


Scholarship:  Alana Leonhardy from Moscow was selected by the scholarship Committee of the NFB as one of 30 winners of 2014 national scholarships.  She won $4000 cash plus several electronic items that will be useful in her college education and an expense-paid trip to Orlando, FL to attend the NFB Convention.  She is a sophomore at the University of Idaho where she is majoring in psychology.


New Job:  December 1st Susan Bradley began a new job as Technical Records Specialist I at the Commission on Aging.  She is relieved to be finished with the job search and begin real paid work.


New Chapter:  November 1st was the beginning of a new NFBI Chapter in Canyon County.  Members of the Treasure Valley Chapter traveled to Nampa and assisted with the adoption of a Constitution and the election of officers.  The President is Mike Gibson; Vice President Joe Grover; Secretary-Treasurer, James Nealey.  This group plans to meet at Smokey Mountain Pizza on the 2nd Thursday of each month.  A snowed-out meeting on November 13 will not discourage them.


Saturday Kids Club:  Alison Steven is leading a Saturday Club for blind and visually impaired kids the 2nd Saturday of each month.  They call it Braille Enrichment and Skills Training or BEST Club.  It is being held at the Boise activity Center at 690 Robins Road.  Blind adults and parents of these children are assisting.  There will also be some activities for parents separate from the kids.  In September the kids made kites, and in October they made clay dishes and dogs.  In November they glazed these creations.



Retirement:  Dana Ard has been employed first as a teacher and for the last few decades as a rehabilitation counselor for the Idaho Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired.  She is planning to retire at the end of 2014.  She will be missed by her customers and colleagues at the ICBVI, but she is looking forward to new and old projects in her next life.


Holiday Parties:  Treasure Valley Chapter is planning its Christmas luncheon and party Dec. 6.  Snake River Valley Chapter is planning their Christmas party on December 13.  Other chapters are planning holiday parties for members, friends, blind children and their families.


Death:  Brek Erickson has been an active member of the NFBI for nearly 20 years.  Although he experienced some health problems in recent months, his death last August came as a shock for his friends and family.  At the memorial service for Brek, many spoke of his determination to help friends and church colleagues learn about the abilities and techniques of the Blind.


Programs for Rotary Clubs:  Al Schneider has led an effort of the Treasure Valley Chapter to provide a program on blindness to each of the six Rotary clubs in Boise.


Luggage Straps:  The Treasure Valley chapter is selling bright orange luggage straps which show the NFB whozit logo for $7 each.  New members receive one when they join as long as the supply lasts.


Summer Buddy Program:  11-year-old Emilia Lane traveled to Minneapolis to participate in a three-week summer program for kids conducted by Blind Inc.  She gave a great presentation to the Treasure Valley Chapter about her experience.


State Convention:  The National Federation of the Blind of Idaho will hold its next Convention May 8 and 9, 2015 at the Boise Hotel and Convention Center.  It is time to begin planning to attend.


Learning about Birds:  Steve Bouffard is offering to lead blind people on hikes along the green belt and to help them learn about the sounds made by local birds.  Watch for dates and times for these events.


Barnes and Noble:  The Snake River Valley Chapter distributed information about blindness at Barnes and Noble again this year.  A small percentage of each purchase was donated to the chapter, and they were quite pleased with what they received.  They express their thanks to Barnes and Noble for inviting them back.


Interview:  Chris Jones, President of the Central Idaho Chapter, has accepted an invitation to be interviewed on News Radio 1310 at 9:00 a.m., December 29.


BELL:  Two two-week Bell programs (Braille Enrichment for Learning and Literacy) were held in Idaho last summer.  One was in Boise, and the other was in Idaho Falls.  A total of 14 children participated.  Blind adults and several certified teachers of blind children worked together to make this a wonderful program.  Alison Steven led the Boise BELL program, while Vickie Bateman and Sandy Streeter co-chaired the one in Eastern Idaho.  Many others helped in both locations.  Watch for further information about Idaho BELL next year.


Seven’s Hero:  Joe Grover, Elementary School teacher in Caldwell Public Schools and Vice President of the new Canyon County Chapter of the NFBI, was recognized by KTBV Channel 7 the week of November 17, 2014.  Joe supervises a lunch group for young boys to help them learn formal and adult behaviors for situations that are not casual.  We add our congratulations to Joe for this work and this recognition.


Graduation:  Earl Hoover will receive his Associate degree in Multidisciplinary Studies on December 19, 2014 from Boise State University.  He will be continuing on with his bachelor’s degree next semester.





TEACH ACT Progress REport

What Does The TEACH Act Mean To The Blind IN 2014?

TEACH ACT Progress REportLauren McLarney, Government Affairs Specialist at the  National Federation of the Blind has included a progress report bilow on the TEACH ACT. So, before I share  her progress report it may be helpful for some who may not be aware of the TEACH ACT to learn a little more about what it is and why it is even significant to the blind population.


What Is The TEACH ACT?


According to Wikipedial tthe TEACH ACT is described as follows:


The Technology, Education and Copyright Harmonization Act of 2002, known as the TEACH Act, is an Act of the United States Congress. The importance of the TEACH Act stems from the previous copyright laws that allow educators to copy documents or use copyrighted materials in a face-to-face classroom setting. Because of the growth of distance education that does not contain a face-to-face classroom setting revisions to these laws, particularly sections 110(2) and 112(f) of the U.S. Copyright Act, needed to be made.

It was signed into law by President George W. Bush on November 2, 2002. The TEACH Act clarifies what uses are permissible with regard to distance education. Furthermore, the TEACH Act outlines what requirements the information technology staff and students of a university must abide by in order to be in compliance with the TEACH Act.

While in some cases Fair Use Doctrine covers compliance to copyright law, the TEACH Act clarifies what compliance measures must be implemented with regard to distance education. This Act permits teachers and students of accredited, nonprofit educational institutions to transmit performances and displays of copyrighted works as part of a course if certain conditions are met. If these conditions are not or cannot be met, in order to be lawful, a use would arguably have to qualify under another exception, such as fair use or the de minimis rule, or be permitted by the copyright holder.


The Progress Reprt…

This afternoon we released a video, “A Lesson on the TEACH Act,” which can be found on NFB’s YouTube page.  It features a few recognizable NABS members, a school rep, an industry rep, a senator, even some NCB staff, you name it!  Our hope is that you will circulate this video to your friends, family, and networks to spread the message about the problem of inaccessible instructional materials and the amazing solution that is the TEACH Act.



This problem hits home for many of you, especially those of you in high school or higher ed, and yet so many people have no idea what it is like for blind college students or why this problem exists in the first place.  We tried to answer those questions in the video, and used a fun style to sell our solution and inspire others to help.  We are also experimenting with different forms of video description, so here is a short description of “A Lesson on the TEACH Act”:

Beginning segment:  LM is sitting in the auditorium.  First, four random people from the street give their perception of technology and the impact it has had on students with disabilities.  Next, four blind students describe their reality over video conferencing software.  During introductions, cartoon sun rays in different colors swirl behind their head.

Second segment:  LM discusses the TEACH Act.  Towards the end, a ticker runs along the bottom length of the screen repeating “guidelines!…guidelines!…guidelines!” followed by a flashing ticker that reads “no mandates!” and another that reads “no new requirement!”

Third segment: A clip of Lucy France from the University of Montana addressing the 2014 NFB National Convention about the need for more information, and Allan Adler in the Association of American Publishers conference room discussing the importance of guidelines.

Fourth segment: LM narrates checking items off of a checklist.  Pictures of six senators spiral onto the screen.  At the end, LM asks: “Since when have these two ever seen eye-to-eye on anything?” and a giant red question mark appears on the screen.  The checklist is displayed and bipartisan support is checked.  A list of groups that endorse the bill is read, while those names fall from the sky into a pile at the bottom of the screen.  LM says: “That’s pretty much everyone,” and a giant red explanation point appears on the screen.  The checklist reappears and endorsements is checked.  The AIM Commission Report cover page is displayed, and then recommendation #1 is read aloud while the words are highlighted.  LM says: “Not just any recommendation, recommendation #1,” and a giant red #1 appears on the screen. The checklist reappears and data is checked.  Finally, a screenshot of the petition is displayed and the number of signatures is circled.  LM says: “That’s a lot of people,” and a giant red WOW appears on the screen.  The checklist reappears for a final time and public support is checked.

Fifth segment: LM makes a call to action.  Blind students describe why they want Congress to pass the TEACH Act.  Senator Warren appears.  She is seated at a table, filmed from the side, and seems to be in front of an audience speaking into a microphone.

Right now is a critical time:  students just got back to school, Congress just got back to session, and the higher education lobby just came out against our initiative. This video is part of the momentum, so view, share, and TEACH!

Additional Information


NFB President Riccobono’s blog post about ACE’s opposition to the bill?  It summarizes ACE’s position, NFB’s reaction, and our hope for common ground.  You can find it HERE.


Kyle Shachmut’s op-ed that ran in the online version of the Boston Globe?  The NFB of MA President calls out the presidents of institutions of higher education in MA that serve on ACE’s board.  You can read that HERE.





NFB Protests College In New Jersey

Federation Members to Protest College’s Actions

NFB Protests College In New JerseyAtlantic Cape Community College Discriminates Against BlindStudent,  Bans Him from Freely Accessing Campus


Mays Landing, New Jersey (April 15, 2014): Members of the National Federation of the Blind (NFB), the nation’s oldest and largest organization of blind people, and its New Jersey affiliate, will hold a protest at the Mays Landing campus of Atlantic Cape Community College (ACCC) on Thursday, April 17, from 11:00 AM to 12:30 PM. Blind people from New Jersey and surrounding areas are gathering to protest discrimination by ACCC against Anthony Lanzilotti, a blind student studying criminal justice and cyber-security there.


Mr. Lanzilotti has been denied even the most basic accommodations and at times has not been allowed on campus or to use campus facilities unless he is accompanied by a sighted person. He has also been prohibited from using campus laboratories because ACCC claims that this violates the fire code. ACCC has also refused to procure or create accessible copies of Mr. Lanzilotti’s textbooks and course materials, a service routinely provided to blind students by other colleges and universities. If he wants his print textbooks to be scanned and converted to electronic files that can be read aloud by text-to-speech software or on a Braille display, he must do the scanning himself, and he cannot use campus facilities to do so unless he meets the requirement of having a sighted person with him. Mr. Lanzilotti is planning to file suit against the college.

Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind, said: “Blind students sometimes face challenges in the college setting, including lack of access to textbooks and course materials, but the vast majority of institutions of higher education make at least some effort to accommodate these students. Atlantic Cape Community College has not only refused to make the minimum effort to accommodate Mr. Lanzilotti, but has added insult to injury by segregating him from his fellow students and restricting his access to the campus and its facilities. Mr. Lanzilotti is not a child and does not need a chaperone.


The National Federation of the Blind intends to make ACCC’s outrageous discrimination against Mr. Lanzilotti known to the public and to do everything else in our power to assist him in fighting this discrimination. The laws of the United States and the state of New Jersey are firmly on Mr. Lanzilotti’s side, and we will see that they are followed.”

Idaho Falls Mayor Proclaims National Federation of the Blind Day

Rebecca Casper, mayor of Idaho Falls, proclaimed that March 29, 2014 is to be National Federation of the Blind Day. This announcement was to be made in person at the Idaho state convention of the NFB on this date, but unfortunately she was unable to attend due to illness.


The state affiliate of the National Federation of the Blind thanks Mayor Casper for this proclamation and appreciates her support of the blind in Idaho Falls.




National Federation of the Blind Day Proclamation0001

NFB Idaho Bell Program

Idaho NFB BELL Program

Idaho Braille Enrichment for Literacy and Learning


NFB Idaho Bell ProgramThe NFB BELL Program is designed to provide intensive Braille instruction to blind and low vision children during the summer months. This program is meant to serve students who are not currently receiving enough Braille instruction in school or who could benefit from Braille enrichment over the summer. This program is modeled after the successful 2008 BELL Program led by the NFB of Maryland. Nineteen affiliates — California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Virginia — hosted the NFB BELL Program in the summer of 2013.

Text BRAILLE to 41444 to pledge a gift! We need your help to ensure blind and low-vision children, like those in your life, have access to much-needed Braille enrichment in the summer of 2013 and beyond!

Details of the Program
Parent Testimonials
Program Contact Information
Past NFB BELL Programs
Bell in the News

Jacob works on his Braille reading under sleep shades.Details of the Program

The goal of this program is to provide children ages 4-12 with two weeks of intense Braille instruction through fun, hands-on learning activities. The program will target blind and low vision children who are not currently receiving enough Braille instruction in school or who could benefit from Braille enrichment over the summer. The program is designed to run Monday through Friday for six hours a day. In addition to Braille crafts, games, and other engaging projects, children may also enjoy field trips to sites related to the NFB BELL curriculum.


Here are the dates and location of the program taking place in Idaho…

  • Boise: June 16-27, 2014
  • Idaho Falls: July 21-August 1, 2014

How are lunches handled for the NFB BELL program in Idaho?

  • The Boise program is able to provide snacks and lunch.
  • In the Idaho Falls program will provide snacks. However, students should bring a lunch.

Is transportation provided?

For each location, parents provide transportation. If parent transportation is prohibitively difficult, contact coordinator who will help with other arrangements.

What is the registration fee for the NFB BELL program in Idaho?

  • Registration for the Boise program is $25.
  • Registration for the Idaho Falls program is $4.25.

Who should I contact if I have questions about the NFB BELL program in Idaho?

  • For the program in Boise, ID:
    Alison Steven
    Phone: 208-761-6286
    Mail: 7300 Highland Valley Rd.
    Boise, ID 83716
  • For the program in Idaho Falls, ID:
    Vicki Bateman
    Phone: 208-357-7403
    Mail: 760 Aspen Ave.
    Shelley, ID 83274


Thank You For Your 2014 Donation th the NFBI

2014 Donors To The National Federation of the Blind of Idaho

Thank You For Your 2014 Donation th the NFBIThank You For Your Generous Supoort to the NFBI

We appreciate all contributions given to support the National Federation of the Blind at both the local level and nationally.  The following donors have made a significant contribution to the National Federation of the Blind of Idaho. These go directly to the education, training, and work for the blind of Idaho. Please take the time to do business with these fine Idaho businesses who have given so generously and thank them for all they do to support opportunities for blind Idahoans.


  • Mountain View Hospital in Idaho Falls, ID


  •  Bingham Memorial Hospital in Blackfoot, ID
  • Basic American Foods Inc. in Shelley & Blackfoot, ID


  •  Melaleuca Inc. in Idaho Falls, ID
  • Town & Country Gardens Inc. in Idaho Falls, ID
  • HK Contractors Inc. in Idaho Falls, ID
  • Rocky Mountain Artificial Limb & Brace Inc. in Idaho Falls, ID
  • April Hernandez ( Insurance agent from Liberty Mutual Insurance) in Shelley, ID





Contact Us Today…

Idaho Falls Hosts the 2014 National Federation of the Blind of Idaho State Convention

2014 NFB Idaho State ConventionWe would like to invite you to our annual state convention of the National Federation of the Blind of Idaho. It will take place at the  Hotel on the Falls in Idaho Falls, Idaho on March 28, 29, and 30, 2014

You will have an opportunity to explore the technology and other items on exhibit Friday. Additionally, there will be meetings for Senior citizens, students, and parents of blind children. Please also join us Friday evening for a time of socializing and fun activities.

Saturday’s agenda will be filled with interesting guest speakers as well as a wonderful banquet Saturday evening. The keynote address will be given by Mr. Anil Lewis of Baltimore, Maryland. This is an event you really don’t want to miss.

Sunday morning will be reports, elections, and other NFBI business. All are welcome.

Registration is $10. per person but not required. Anyone wishing to attend the banquet will need to purchase a $25. ticket by March 20th. Click Here for registration and banquet information.

This is a fun and informative event that brings together information, resources, and opportunities for those who may be blind or visually impaired, or for those who work with or have family members who are blind. See for yourself how the NFB is changing what it means to be blind.

For more information please contact Sandy Streeter, Convention Chair at 208-643-0764, cell# 317-414-1952 or Viickie Bateman, Snake River Valley Chapter President at 208-357-7403, cell# 208-709-1311.






The Technology, Education and Accessibility in College and Higher Education Act (HR 3505)

p_003The Technology, Education and Accessibility in College and Higher Education Act (HR 3505)

I am proud to say that today after ten months of anticipation; Congressman Tom Petri introduced the Technology, Education and Accessibility in College and Higher Education Act (HR 3505)! The TEACH Act creates long-overdue accessibility guidelines for electronic instructional materials and related information technologies used by institutions of higher education.

The law currently prohibits the use of inaccessible technology in the classroom because it is a form of discrimination that leaves blind students behind, and yet the overwhelming majority of digital instructional material is unusable by blind students. The guidelines created by the TEACH Act will give direction for manufacturers of educational technology to increase commercial availability of accessible materials, a prescription for institutions of higher education for how to best serve their disabled students and meet their legal obligations, and a promise that all students, disabled or not, will have equal access to high-quality education in the twenty-first century classroom.

Blind people have been waiting for at least five years (much more, in reality) to see something done about the needless burdens blind college students face because of inaccessible technology. With the introduction of the TEACH Act, we are done waiting for the process of change to start.

The creation of the TEACH Act was the result of a collaboration between the National Federation of the Blind and the Association of American Publishers. The introduction of the TEACH Act is the result of many months of networking and nuanced language tangling. However, the passage of the TEACH Act will solely be the result of the passion and power of the NFB. I have heard from so many of you about how personal this issue is, and I am always, always, always impressed at how willing and excited you all are to get going. Now we can finally stop chomping at the bit and get started! The advocacy for this bill will start with targeted meetings with Republicans on the Education and Workforce Committee. The legislative directors in the applicable states have already begun planning pre-Washington Seminar conference calls. I urge the rest of you to reach out to your members of Congress today, bringing this to their attention while it is still a brand new bill, giving them background for your upcoming Washington Seminar meetings, and even urging them to co-sponsor now.  Please be advised that this is a delicate political climate – all co-sponsors are welcome, but we want this bill to be as bi-partisan as possible.

The text of the bill and an updated fact sheet are attached. If you have any questions, give me a ring at the National Center at 410.659.9314 ext. 2207 or email me at I’m looking forward to working with everyone to make this thing move!


Lauren McLarney
Government Affairs Specialist
200 East Wells St.
Baltimore, MD 21230
(410) 659 9314 ext. 2207

Idaho Needs To See

Idaho Needs To SeeResources for the Blind and Visually Impared

Oct 31, 2013 Posted by haligoodrich In News    Comments (0)

Published by The Arbiter

There are 285 million people in the world who are visually impaired.

In the United States alone, there are four million people who face life with blindness.

October is World Blindness Awareness Month and the world’s largest non-profit organization for the blind and visually impaired, the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) is raising awareness.

There are six chapters of the NFB in Idaho which are working toward educating the public and raising awareness for the blind

“The problems that we see stem from a lack of education and awareness.  So I took it upon myself to change that,” said Sean Malone of the Snake River Valley Chapter.

Malone lost his eyesight four years ago and is doing his part to bring to attention the many programs for families, children and Idahoans to further their education on the subject.

According to Malone, giving back to a population that is in need of a little extra support is accessible and easy once people become aware of the situation.

Louis Braille created the 6-dot code known today as the Braille system alphabet in 1823. This was the first movement for blindness advocacy and assistance.

Fifty-eight years later, Helen Keller brought national recognition to the everyday struggles of the blind

“Currently less than 10 percent of all blind children are being taught braille in school. One of the missions of the NFB is to promote the use of braille,” said Mike Gibson the assistive technology coordinator at the  Boise State Disability Resource Center.

The Treasure Valley Chapter of the NFB, puts on a fundraiser every spring called Cycle for Independence. With a  successful 2012 ride of 480 riders total, the NFB has announced the 2013 ride  has been scheduled for
May 18.

Riders can choose either 10 mile or 25 mile distances and the proceeds go to
the NFB.

A community race that is an easy way to get involved for citizens of Boise, students of Boise State and people from all around Idaho.

For children that are blind or becoming blind, the Snake River Valley Chapter holds a summer camp called BELL, Braille Enrichment for Literacy and Learning.

This camp is for children ages 4 to 12.

“The kids learn how to read and write Braille, walk with a white cane and function in society,” Malone said.

The first year of the BELL program was this past

With a total of four students, it is the start of a program that will continue to grow and give children the tools and confidence to live with blindness.

The Boise community supplies many other tools that students can take advantage of that haven’t been taught to read Braille.The NBB is not just concerned with Blind Awareness Month but every day and month in between.

“I want to bring awareness to everybody, to people in this area that are visually impaired or blind and those that aren’t,”
Malone said.

The volunteer opportunities on campus through the Disability Resource Center and in the community with the NFB are endless.

For  volunteer opportunities, contact Mike Gibson directly at or Vickie Bateman at .

For more information on the individual chapters and upcoming events put on by the NBP in Idaho visit
– See more at:


The United Nations Treaty On Disability for People Around the World

National Federation of the Blind
National Federation of the Blind

The United Nations Treaty On Disability for People Around the World


The United Nations Treaty On Disability for People Around the World
This morning I participated in a meeting with Vice President Joe Biden and
senior members of his staff. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the
importance of the United Nations treaty on disability for people around the
world. The treaty is known as the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons
with Disabilities (CRPD).

Last December, President Obama sent the CRPD to the United States Senate for
ratification. Ratifying a treaty requires a two-thirds majority vote,
meaning that it takes 67 Senators voting in favor of a treaty for it to be
ratified. Unfortunately, we fell short of the 67 votes needed to adopt the

As you may have heard, the Senate is considering voting once again on the
CRPD. Vice President Biden believes that we have a good chance of getting
the two-thirds majority needed for ratification this year. Many of the
members of the Senate who did not support the treaty last year said that
they did not believe that it was appropriate to vote on a treaty during a
lame duck session, which is the period following an election before new
members of the Senate officially take office. This year’s vote would not be
during a lame duck session, so we hope a number of Senators will support the
new effort to ratify the CRPD.

I am writing to ask for your help. Below is a list of the members of the
U.S. Senate who have indicated that they are undecided on how they will vote
on the disability treaty during this session.  If there are any Senators on
the list who are from your state, please take the time to write them and
encourage them to support the CRPD disability rights treaty.

It is vital that you tell your personal story and include why the treaty
will benefit you individually. While it is true that the CRPD will not
require any change to existing federal law, the treaty will have an impact
on blind people and others with disabilities from the U.S. who wish to study
or work abroad, or for that matter, wish to travel or live abroad. This is
where your personal story is important. Let your Senator or Senators know
that the disability rights treaty matters to you and explain why. Then, get
other blind people or other people with disabilities to write their Senators
as well. The members of the Senate who are weighing the value of the
disability treaty need to know that the treaty is important to blind people
and to all people with disabilities.

Please do what you can, and please send a copy of any letters you write to
Mr. Jesse Hartle at so we will have a record of the number
of letters that have been sent in.

Thank you for your help. This is why we have been so successful in the past;
it is all of us working together and combining our individual efforts to
change what it means to be blind.

Sincerely yours,

Fredric K. Schroeder
First Vice President

Undecided Senator List

Senator Alexander, Tennessee
Senator Blunt, Missouri
Senator Boozman, Arkansas
Senator Chambliss, Georgia
Senator Coats, Indiana
Senator Coburn, Oklahoma
Senator Cochran, Mississippi
Senator Corker, Tennessee
Senator Fischer, Nebraska
Senator Flake, Arizona
Senator Isakson, Georgia
Senator Johanns, Nebraska
Senator Johnson, Wisconsin
Senator Portman, Ohio

For the first time ever, write your math on an electronic Braille device!

For the first time ever, write your math on an electronic Braille device!p_014

October 24, 2013 – If you are a blind student walking in to a math class, this process may sound familiar to you. You probably came from a previous class where you did all your work on your electronic Braille device. You now put that powerful and expensive tool back in your back pack, and use the trusty Braille Writer to complete your math assignments for that day. When you are finished, you probably hand your brailled hard copy homework to your teacher of the visually impaired, and they then proceed to spend countless hours transcribing your Braille into readable print for the classroom teacher to grade. But by the time that the classroom teacher has received your assignment, your sighted piers have already received back their grades, while you sit wondering how you scored.

With the upcoming launch of KeySoft 9.4, the BrailleNote Apex will revolutionize how you complete assignments in your math class. You have been using KeySoft’s word processor in all of your other classes for years, and now that same word processor is ready for Nemeth Braille entry. By simply doing one keystroke, you can type in Nemeth Braille, and hear exactly what symbols you are typing. And what’s more, if you are a teacher of the visually impaired, go ahead and connect the Apex to a standard computer monitor and watch, in readable print, as your blind student does their homework.

“Since taking over as product manager for the BrailleNote Apex last year, this has been the most requested feature by teachers and students, and we at HumanWare are so excited to see how it changes the way blind students and their teachers work in the classroom,” says Greg Stilson, Technical Product Manager of Braille and GPS products for HumanWare.


KeySoft 9.4 will be a free software update for all BrailleNote Apex users launching later this fall but if you can’t wait to hear more about this revolutionary new feature, HumanWare will be releasing a series of snapshot videos outlining just how this new Nemeth feature will work. Click on the below link to be introduced to doing math on the BrailleNote Apex:

October is World Blind Awareness Month

Published by the Gem County MessengerBlindness Awareness


October is World Blind Awareness Month


Posted: Tuesday, October 22, 2013 11:56 am

Few blind Gem County residents, but numbers growing

Blindness awareness began with Louis Braille in 1824 when he created a six dot code to teach Braille and then again with Helen Keller in 1882 when she became deaf and blind. Over the years, her advocating brought national recognition to the hearing and visually impaired community.

There are approximately 285 million people who are visually impaired and of that, 39 million who are blind worldwide. Of that number, approximately 4 million Americans are blind and 47,000 go blind every year. That’s one person going blind every 11 minutes. In Gem County, a few people are impacted by blindness with the possibility of many more who are unknown.

Helping Those With Low Vision

Published in CPA Press


Helping Those With Low Vision


Blindness Awareness Month Posted: Wednesday, October 23, 2013 12:00 am | Updated: 12:42 am, Wed Oct 23, 2013.

By GEORGE KINGSON/Staff writer | 0 comments

There are many important community issues that most of us will go a lifetime without encountering – issues you’ll rarely, if ever, find on an election ballot.

October is Blindness Awareness Month and Jackie Paulding, vocational rehabilitation counselor for the Idaho Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired, estimates there are close to 1,000 blind or visually impaired residents in Kootenai County.

“The attitudes of people here toward understanding those with disabilities are very positive,” she said. “But people who don’t have disabilities don’t always understand just how much societal acceptance can affect a person’s ability to function independently in their community.”

So how can we improve?

“It’s so frustrating when people don’t shovel their sidewalks in the winter,” said Paulding, who is visually impaired and walks to work on Ironwood Drive.

“You’d think a street like that would be shoveled, but frequently it’s not. That’s a universal problem for both businesses and personal residences that can make it treacherous to do something as ordinary as getting to work.”

And here’s another concern you might not have considered: guide dogs – those canine angels with the beautiful eyes, just begging to be petted.


According to Russell Smith, president of the Panhandle Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind in Idaho, “We need to respect these service animals. If a dog is with someone with a white cane, leave the animal alone – both physically and verbally. Don’t try to play games with him.

“Recently some guy started barking like a dog to distract my dog. Most of the time, I’m just praying my dog is paying attention so I can make it through a crowd. Someone acting like a jerk can cause a person to be injured.”

Larry Kimble, who is visually impaired, facilitates a monthly Blind and Low Vision Support Group in Coeur d’Alene. Recently, in large part due to his efforts, the four-way traffic light at Government Way and Kathleen Avenue now emits an auditory signal as well as a visual one.

“The city needs more of these audio crosswalk signals,” Kimble said.

His advice on coming to the aid of someone with a white cane standing at an intersection is to approach them politely, let them know the traffic light is green, and ask if they need help.

“It’s Basic Blindness 101,” he said. “I know, though, that most people do mean well.”

Another impediment for blind or visually impaired people is the lack of public transportation.

“It’s one of the biggest barriers to employment,” Paulding said. “Citylink bus routes have a fixed route system. Paratransit – door to door service offered to people who have difficulty accessing the regular fixed-route bus system – will only pick up passengers who live no more than three-quarters of a mile from a fixed bus route.

The power to resolve many of the concerns of blind persons lies with public agencies. But there are other issues the rest of us can help with.

“Respect the person with the cane,” Smith said. “We’re all human beings, whether we have a physically apparent disability or an inside disability. Simply put, we need to respect each other.”

Helping Those With Low Vision

Audible Teleprompter for Public Speaking

Audible Teleprompter for Public Speaking

by Norm Gardner


Click Here to download audio file of training.


This audio file is a 40 minute presentation by Bruce Gardner. The presentation contains an enhanced explanation and tips for success on how to use the Victor Reader Stream as an audible teleprompter for 1) public speaking, 2) reading fluently aloud, and 3) reading to oneself for personal comprehension. In fact, this entire presentation is a demonstration of the process, since I am reading the entire speech.

As a brief background, in several division meetings at the 2013 NFB National Convention, I demonstrated using the Victor Reader Stream as an audible teleprompter for public speaking and reading fluently aloud. Later in the week, I conducted a workshop containing a complete explanation, and tips for success, on how to use the Victor Reader Stream as an audible teleprompter.


That workshop was recorded, and the recording was posted here on blindhow.


As a result of positive feedback and questions received, I have prepared an enhanced presentation. The enhanced presentation explains just how easy it is to use the Victor Reader Stream as an audible teleprompter for 1) public speaking, 2) reading fluently aloud to others, and 3) reading to oneself for personal comprehension. The enhanced presentation has now been posted here in place of the original workshop.


I strongly encourage everyone to listen to the enhanced presentation, and learn just how easy it is for anyone (including those who did not learn Braille as a child, and therefore cannot read Braille fluently aloud) to develop the ability to give public speeches, read fluently aloud, and read to oneself for personal comprehension, using the Victor Reader Stream as an audible teleprompter.


I believe that countless blind and visually impaired individuals could greatly benefit from this alternative technique for reading aloud. Please share information regarding this presentation to anyone you think might benefit.


If you have any questions or comments, you can reach me at

Papa John’s Sponsers Fund Raiser for Idaho Falls Chapter of the NFB November 14th

Papa John’s Sponsers Fund Raiser for Idaho Falls Chapter of the NFB November  14th



The Snake River Valley Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind would like to thank PapaJohn’s of Idaho Falls for sponsering this fund raiser on Thursday, November 14, 2013. Simply primt the flyer below and show it to thePapa John’s employee when you purchase your pizza. Take advantage of the great coupons on the flyer and save on your order.

Print or Show This Flyer on Nov 14th


HumanWare sees its global development expand through a partnership with Essilor

slider1-610x315HumanWare sees its global development expand through a partnership with Essilor

October 17, 2013 — HumanWare announces a major strategic partnership with Essilor, the world’s leading ophthalmic optics company, which becomes the majority shareholder of the company specializing in assistive technologies for people who are blind or have low vision.

This new alliance offers greater global visibility for HumanWare products while promoting access for a larger number of people with visual impairments. The alliance will also accelerate investment in research and development to offer new and innovative high quality products for both blindness and low vision.

For HumanWare, this partnership represents an opportunity to confirm its leadership in assistive technologies for the visually impaired. Along with the recent introduction of the new range of ProdigiTM digital magnifiers, HumanWare will significantly increase its market share in the rehabilitation sector and among eyecare professionals.

“We are very pleased to be partnering with Essilor, whose knowledge in optics and access to optician distribution networks will accelerate innovation to help people with visual impairments. Together, we will contribute to developing the notoriously under-penetrated global market,” says Gilles Pepin, CEO of HumanWare.

The new partnership has already enjoyed its first success with the awarding of the prestigious Silmo d’Or to HumanWare for its new 2-in-1 Prodigi electronic magnifier, which features an installation wizard developed with the collaboration of Essilor. Prodigi is an entirely digital personal vision assistant for people living with visual impairment caused by macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and other eye diseases.

Commenting on the partnership, Hubert Sagnières, Essilor Chairman and CEO, explains, “Helping visually impaired or blind people regain greater independence is a natural extension of the group’s mission to help more than 4.2 billion people see better to live better. This partnership with HumanWare allows Essilor to take a fundamental step in the development of a range of effective and accessible vision tools for the greatest number of people.”


About HumanWare

HumanWare ( , who is celebrating its 25th anniversary, is the global leader in assistive technologies for people who are blind or have low vision. HumanWare offers a wide range of innovative products, including the BrailleNote® Apex, the leading productivity device for the blind in education, business and for personal use; Victor Reader®, the world’s leading family of digital audiobook players; the unique ProdigiTM family of desktop and portable vision and reading systems, and Trekker® Breeze, the all-in-one handheld talking GPS.


About Essilor

The world’s leading ophthalmic optics company, Essilor designs, manufactures and markets a wide range of lenses to improve and protect eyesight. Its corporate mission is to enable everyone around the world to access lenses that meet his or her unique vision requirements. To support this mission, the Company allocates more than €150 million to research and innovation every year, in a commitment to continuously bring new, more effective products to market. Essilor’s flagship brands are Varilux®, Crizal®, Definity®, Xperio®, OptifogTM and Foster Grant®. It also develops and markets equipment, instruments and services for eyecare professionals. Essilor reported consolidated revenue of approximately €5 billion in 2012 and employs around 50,700 people. It operates in some 100 countries with 22 plants, more than 400 prescription laboratories and edging facilities, as well as several research and development centers around the world. For more information, please visit The Essilor share trades on the NYSE Euronext Paris market and is included in the Euro Stoxx 50 and CAC 40 indices. Codes and symbols: ISIN: FR0000121667; Reuters: ESSI.PA; Bloomberg: EI:FP.


Media contact HumanWare
Nicolas Lagacé, Marketing Communications
(450) 463-1717

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Presidential Proclamation Blind Americans Equality Day, 2013

Office of the Press SecretarySnake River Valley Chapter of the NFB
For Immediate Release
October 11, 2013
Presidential Proclamation — Blind Americans Equality Day, 2013


– – – – – – –

Blind and visually impaired persons have always played an important role in American life and culture, and today we recommit to our goals of full access and opportunity. Whether sprinting across finish lines, leading innovation in business and government, or creating powerful music and art, blind and visually impaired Americans imagine and pursue ideas and goals that move our country forward. As a Nation, it is our task to ensure they can always access the tools and support they need to turn those ideas and goals into realities.
My Administration is committed to advancing opportunity for people with disabilities through the Americans with Disabilities Act and other important avenues. In June of this year, the United States joined with over 150 countries in approving a landmark treaty that aims to expand access for visually impaired persons and other persons with print disabilities to information, culture, and education. By facilitating access to books and other printed material, the treaty holds the potential to open up worlds of knowledge. If the United States becomes a party to this treaty, we can reduce the book famine that confronts the blind community while maintaining the integrity of the international copyright framework.
The United States was also proud to join 141 other countries in signing the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2009, and we are working toward its ratification. Americans with Disabilities, including those who are blind or visually impaired, should have the same opportunities to work, study, and travel in other countries as any other American, and the Convention can help us realize that goal.
To create a more level playing field and ensure students with disabilities have access to the general education curriculum, the Department of Education issued new guidance in June for the use of Braille as a literacy tool under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. This guidance reaffirms my Administration’s commitment to using Braille to open doors for students who are blind or visually impaired, so every student has a chance to succeed in the classroom and graduate from high school prepared for college and careers.
We have come a long way in our journey toward a more perfect Union, but we still have work ahead. We must fulfill the promise of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness and expand the freedom to make of our lives what we will. On this day, we celebrate the accomplishments of our blind and visually impaired citizens, and we recommit to building a Nation where all Americans, including those who are blind or visually impaired, live with the assurance of equal opportunity and equal respect.
By joint resolution approved on October 6, 1964 (Public Law 88-628, as amended), the Congress designated October 15 of each year as “White Cane Safety Day” to recognize the contributions of Americans who are blind or have low vision. Today, let us recommit to ensuring we remain a Nation where all our people, including those with disabilities, have every opportunity to achieve their dreams.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim October 15, 2013, as Blind Americans Equality Day. I call upon public officials, business and community leaders, educators, librarians, and Americans across the country to observe this day with appropriate ceremonies, activities, and programs.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this eleventh day of October, in the year of our Lord two thousand thirteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-eighth.



Access to Kindle Books For the Blindis Here

Kindle App Gives Access To BlindAccess to Kindle Books For the Blindis Here

By Laine Amoureux

Recently Amazon released an App for IOS devices that adheres to the accessibility guidelines for Apple products.  This may be the first step to Kindle access.  Access to titles is still dependent upon the publisher’s willingness to enable the text-to-speech features of the electronic texts they sell through Amazons virtual store front.  Read Dr. Maurer’s comments at


Amazon Kindle is a large textbook service provider.  Amazon has pushed for the use of Kindle e-books in classrooms around the country.  The Amazon virtual store front offers, from what I can tell, the largest number of publishers to users.  I have been following Kindle books for many years, envisioning the potential for blind and visually impaired AT users.


A year ago I found the Kindle app in the Apple App store on my iPhone and downloaded it.  The app was free and downloaded at the touch of a button in the app store.  When the app was downloaded and installed I activated the icon for it and was immediately disappointed.  The app froze my phone.  I not only was unable to hear items that were displayed on the screen, but I was unable to return to the home screen, lock my phone or shut it down.  I was forced to manually reset my phone. When my phone rebooted I promptly deleted the app from my home screen and did not return to the app until May 1, 2013, at which time I was pleasantly surprised, and excited with the result of my App Store download.


How to get the App:  To locate and download the IOS app on your mobile apple device follow the same steps you would to locate and install any other app.  Launch the app the same way you would launch any other app.  When the app loads you are prompted to log into Amazon.  Use the same credentials you use if you already shop on Amazon or Audible.  If you do not have an existing Amazon account you will need to create one.  All fields, buttons, and text instructions were spoken by VoiceOver with no guess work.  My bookshelf appeared immediately and provided me the ability to browse the title and author information.  VoiceOver also announces whether the title has already been downloaded or not.


Introduction to the App and Screen orientation: Along the bottom of the screen there are four buttons that are announced.  A button to switch the view of titles from a list to a grid, the settings button, and a Cloud button to view my virtual bookshelf of books that have not been downloaded and a device button that displays which books have been downloaded.  I was pleasantly surprised to find a “Welcome to Kindle” document.


To improve familiarity with the app the surprise document should be the place to start. When the document opened VoiceOver made an announcement to swipe two fingers down to begin reading the document, double tap and hold to display the menu and tap and hold text to begin highlight.  This worked, and I listened to the short document explaining how to get started with the App.  The instructions were for the general user, not the VoiceOver user, but this is not an uncommon thing, and typically easily interpreted and overcome.  It is encouraging that the VoiceOver instructions are automatically spoken when the app recognizes VoiceOver is running.  Personally, I would like to see that feature as a setting that can be toggled on and off. If I frequently use the app the announcements will eventually become more annoying than helpful. There is a book available in the Kindle store that provides instruction on how to use the Kindle App as a VoiceOver user.  At this time, the title is not included in the initial App download, but the suggestion has been made to the developers to include this title, as well as the default “Welcome to Kindle” document.


How it Works:  You will need to use an Internet browser to navigate to the Amazon Kindle store.  Apple charges companies like Amazon a large fee if they develop an app that would permit the customer to shop in the respective Kindle store.  The fee would be passed on to Kindle customers, and in an effort to keep the app free Amazon has chosen the slightly more complex shopping option.

To purchase a book, or put a free book in your virtual bookshelf, you must go to, search the Kindle store for a title, and proceed through the Amazon checkout process.  The process does require you to have an Amazon account with username and password.  As you shop for a title in the Kindle store I strongly suggest you look for the phrase “text to speech enabled”.   If the publisher has disallowed text to speech, and you purchase the title, VoiceOver will announce that “VoiceOver does not support this content” when you download and open the title on your IOS device.


Accessibility:  The menus and all of the controls within the menus were accessible. The menus allow the user to change the font type, size, and colors.  At this time the user choices for the visual enhancements are limited to a few font types, only 12 different sizes, and only 3 color schemes.  I found the options in the “go to menu” to be a little complicated.  Depending on the structure of the book the user can go to different elements or electronic tags.  The user can also go to personal book marks and highlights. The confusing option is the “go to location” option.  The app prompts the user to type a number.  My initial thought is to type the page number; however location and page number is not the same thing.  I discovered the difference when I found a menu slider that allows the user to move through the book by percentages.  The slider announces things like, “30% location 3967 of 13,264.”  My book does not have 13,264 pages.


Navigating the text of a book:  Sighted users are granted inherent benefits of viewing a screen visually.  For example, the special fonts and large typefaces that visually denote a chapter or section.  Attaching electronic tags that denote these same features for a screen reader user is no different than the fact that the visual attributes were applied to the font in the first place.  The font attributes were applied to help a sighted reader skim the text as the electronic tags permit a screen reader user to skim text in a similar fashion.


In one demonstration title it is possible to set the VoiceOver rotor to an element or electronic tag like character, heading, or word, and navigate the text by that element or electronic tag.  In another demonstration text it is possible to adjust the rotor setting but not navigate by that setting.  Each title is a little different, and the reason for the differences varies, but is likely to be related to the publisher that created the electronic text and tags.  The Kindle app is only one of many methods of accessing the text and is not responsible for creating the electronic text and tags; only displaying it.


Highlighting text is the single disappointing feature of the app.  VoiceOver announces “double tap and hold to begin highlight”.  As I move my finger across the screen the word beneath my finger is spoken.  When I raise my finger I am provided with options for different colored high lights or to create a note.  In order to locate the highlights and notes at a later time the user returns to the “go to menu.” The user is unable to tell what was selected until the “go to menu” is used to return to the highlight.  The fact that each word under the users finger is helpful, but does not notify the user when his or her finger slid down a line or two in the text, consequently highlighting more than may have been intended.  When the user recognizes the finger did not slide in an exact horizontal line and try to slide back up to the beginning line, there is no indicator that text has been un-highlighted.


Sighted users have an inherent advantage when using and referring to highlighted passages in text.  The eye is drawn to the color differences.  Additionally, the sighted user is better able to use color coding to categorize information.  For example, the individual may use blue to highlight vocabulary words, pink to highlight passages designated relevant to a research paper, and orange for passages that need more attention to understand.  The way that the highlighting currently works for a VoiceOver user is not as efficient or functional.  The VoiceOver user has no indication of a highlight in the text being spoken.  The only method of knowing something is highlighted is to access the “go to menu.” When accessing highlighted items in the “go to menu,” VoiceOver users have no way of identifying, other than context, what was highlighted.  The color the VoiceOver user chooses is irrelevant because VoiceOver does not indicate what color the highlight was, creating no method for the user to categorize information using highlight.


Conclusion:  The Kindle App for IOS is a large step forward in accessibility to Kindle books.  As with anything, the first version is never perfect, and the Kindle developers are working hard to provide access to the Kindle library.  The larger disappointment, than the app, which biggest downfall is confusing “locations” and difficult to use highlights, is that all electronic texts are not created equal.  This cannot be attributed to Amazon.  The company is a virtual store front, selling the accessible and inaccessible products manufactures, in this case publishers, provide to them to sell.  There are still titles like the Anatomy and Physiology book I need for my summer class that cannot be accessed by a blind user in the accessible IOS App because the publisher has opted to leave the text to speech functionality of the App out of the books feature list.  I am excited to see what the App developers, and Kindle player developers have in store for us in the future.


The App does require the user of the IOS device enable VoiceOver screen reader to access the app just as the “Kindle with PC with Accessibility Plug-in” requires the computer user to have a third party screen reader like JAWS, NVDA or Window Eyes installed. Without the text to speech feature of the IOS device the remainder of the device would be inaccessible to the user.  Without NVDA or JAWS the rest of the computer remains inaccessible to the user.  It is natural that App developers would take advantage of the built in accessibility features of a device.  If the IPad was not accessible, but the App for the Kindle books was, I still wouldn’t buy an IPad just to listen to Kindle books. I would want all of the features of the IPad made accessible to me.  When App developers do include self-voicing controls and text in the Apps they develop, whether for PC or for mobile devices, the consistency of use varies among Apps, but more importantly, the size of the App is increased when extensive programming, like text to speech, is added.  If the App is larger it takes up more storage space on the device, further limiting the other things you, as the user, might want to download and use as well as the number of titles you can download.  The IOS devices and your PC do not have unlimited storage space to accommodate everything one might need or want.  When critics of Kindle, Nook, or other text book providers make the argument that the company should include text to speech and Braille access, at all levels, from the inception of the product, they don’t consider that many times the developers are writing add-ons to the mobile device or computer the user might use to access the content.  Those who argue for built in text to speech in add-ons should be directing their efforts toward the developer of the device they are using to access the add-on, like Microsoft, which until recently, did not include a functional screen reading solution in their computer operating system.  With that said however, I do agree with these critics when it comes to the Amazon Kindle standalone devices.  Amazon has a long way to go with the accessibility of the Kindle players.  The players are not add-ons, but standalone devices, and accessibility needs to be included from inception of the device.


With the introduction of the accessible Kindle App I feel as though Amazon and Kindle developers made a good faith effort in hopes that we, the organized blind, would recognize their commitment to us, and all print impaired, and be willing to provide constructive feedback to aid in improvement and future development.



Barnes and Noble hosts NFB of Idaho Falls Book Fair

Click To Watch The BideoClick Here to watch the KIDK News 8 interview with sandy Streeter.


The Idaho Falls Snake River Valley Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind held their fifth annual book fair at Barnes and Noble Saturday.

The federation took donations and gave information to the public. The group said they want to spread awareness in the community.

They say they want to encourage others who are blind to join the Snake River Chapter. Group members said that parents and newly-blind citizens in the area are uneducated on their options. Local NFB Vice President Sandy Streeter says braille is becoming a more important technique, bringing the blind community together.

“I have been reading and writing braille since I was in the second grade and I cannot imagine what it would be like to not have my braille. To me, it would be like taking your pen and pencil away and making you only depend on technology.”

The group made braille bookmarks for customers and read braille books to children. A percentage of all Barnes and Noble sales will go toward scholrships and other activities for the federation.

Guide Dog Dies Trying To Protect Family

Simon, an 80-pound Boxer and guide dog, died Monday, Sept. 23, 2013, after trying to protect his owner’s child.

Compare hotel prices and find the best deal -

Idaho Falls Blind Man Pitches For Awareness

Snake River Valley Chapter Members of the NFB with Chukar's Mascot

Sean Malone hadn’t thrown a baseball since he lost his vision to diabetes in 2009. That changed Saturday at the Idaho Falls Chukars baseball game. It was like Malone had never taken a break. As the ball came over home plate, spectators erupted into cheers. Malone described the experience as “awesome.”It was cool to be out there to (throw the first pitch),” the 45-year-old said.

The Chukars lost the game to the Orem Owlz 9-4 but already had clinched a spot in the Pioneer League’s playoffs earlier that week. The Idaho Falls native wasn’t just throwing the pitch for fun, though. He was raising awareness for the National Federation of the Blind, a nationwide nonprofit organization. Founded in 1940, the> group advocates civil rights and equality for the blind. It also develops education, technology and training programs to help the blind, as well as those losing their vision, to become independent. Malone is an active member the federation’sSnake River Valley chapter.

Earlier this year, the Chukars> contacted the federation about having an wareness> day, a part of the Fred Meyer> Community Spotlight Program,> Chukars general manager Kevin Greene said. Through the program, Fred Meyer sponsors a local nonprofit for 19 of the 38 home games, Greene said. “It gives are non-profits an opportunity to come out, set up a table, throw out the first pitch and romote awareness ( of their organizations)”, he said.

Marissa Korth, Chu- kars promotions coordinator, said Malone did a great job. “He was an awesome sport,” Korth said. “He made it to the catcher and had a really great time.” The fed- eration Malone said he’d do it again in a heartbeat, especially since he was allowed to keep the baseball

Summer camp for blind children begins in Idaho Falls

Idaho Falls NFB CAmp for Blind Children two-week summer camp for children who are blind or have low vision kicked off at the Idaho Falls Parks and Recreation Department today.

The camp is a part of the Braille Enrichment for Learning and Literacy program sponsored by the National Federation of the Blind of Idaho. Children ages 4-12 are taught skills that will help them for the rest of their lives.

Program coordinator Vicki Bateman started the camp after another BELL camp saw success last summer in Boise.

“Whatever level they are at, we’re teaching them more,” said Bateman.

Monday, the children practiced reading and writing Braille, but Bateman says there are many other important skills to learn.

“Things that lots of times most people do for them,” said Bateman. “Like cooking.”

The campers also designed their own canes and learned to walk with them. Many of the children have low vision, but Bateman encourages the kids to use sleep shades.

“It’s a way to help them master the skill and feel confident,” said Bateman.

Organizers are hoping the children enjoy the camp, and there is still a demand for it to continue next summer.

Hotline For Blind Voters

Blind Voters Hotline

Blind Voters Hotline

Individuals who have experience in the operation of accessible voting technology will be manning the hotline to provide assistance to blind voters, election officials, and voting rights advocates.
Following the November 6th elections, the NFB will conduct an online survey to determine the experience of blind voters. A link to the online survey will be available from the NFB home page following the election.
Questions about the blind voter hotline or the blind voter survey may be directed to Lou Ann Blake, HAVA project manager, by e-mail at or by telephone at 410-659-9314, extension 2221.
Be sure to make your voice heard by exercising your right to vote!


  • On September 11, 2001 I was employed by a Fortune 500 company to lead and manage the mid-Atlantic region sales office for our firm. This office was located on the 78th floor of Tower One of the World Trade Center. At 8:45 AM I was in my office preparing to conduct a training seminar when our building was attacked by terrorists. I escaped along with many thousands of other people while 3000 others perished in the collapse of the towers.

    Within a day the news media heard about my particular story and the clamor for interviews began. Although my escape from the terrorist attacks was not really any different than any story told that day, first the media than others became intrigued about my story. The difference between me and most anyone else who was in the World Trade Center that day is that I happen to be totally blind and use a guide dog. Most people think that it is incredible that a blind person could even be in the World Trade Center much less escape from it on 9/11.

    Shortly after the terrorist attacks I began receiving invitations to travel and tell my story. What I soon realized was that people were looking for something positive to take away from what happened that day. I also discovered that people were looking for lessons they could use in their lives – lessons from someone who survived the most horrific attack ever to be perpetrated on Americans or anyone else in the world for that matter. Of course, I know that people were intrigued about a blind person being in the World Trade Center. It didn’t hurt that I always travel with a cute dog who batted her lashes and hammed it up whenever she could.

    Since 9/11 I have traveled throughout the world speaking and telling my story as well as helping people to move on after the attacks and sometimes after unexpected changes in their own lives. Among my travels I have had the pleasure and joy to visit many colleges and universities, high schools, and even some elementary schools. I still am not sure who is gained more from these visits – me or the students and faculties who have heard me speak. Either way, I think the most important take away I have imparted and continue to address is Tolerance and Inclusion.

    The terrorist attacks of 9/11 occurred in part because our government did not take the time to understand or truly address the issues of people who live a different lifestyle than we. Before 9/11 few of us knew anything about Al Qaeda, the Muslim lifestyle, or the issues faced by most people in the Middle East. Oh yes, some of us remember the Iranian hostage crisis of 1980. Some of us also remember the Israeli wars with its neighbors. Even so, we did not spend much time understanding the people.

    Likewise in this country, we do not spend enough time understanding our own citizens who may be different than we. For example, no matter how much I have talked about 9/11 and my story, no matter the fact that I have published a book, “Thunder Dog”, which has become a number one New York Times bestseller, and no matter how much I and others worked to educate people about the fact that we who have so-called physical disabilities can live as meaning and productive a lifestyle as anyone else I am still asked the question “what were you doing in the World Trade Center?”. This morning, September 11, 2012, during a nationally syndicated radio interview about “Thunder Dog” and my story the reporter expressed amazement that I could be in the World Trade Center because I was a blind person. I explained that in reality the true “handicap” that I face is not blindness, but rather it consists of the misconceptions and lack of education that people have about blindness.

    Whether a person is blind, uses a wheelchair, is deaf or hard of hearing, is of a different race than we, or has some other difference that stands out to us I think it is important that we learn to be more tolerant and find ways to work together. On this day which has come to represent one of the most traumatic times in our history let us take a step back from the divisive political campaigns depicted by the media and encouraged by the politicians, let us take a few moments to think about and better understand those who may be different than us, and let us work together to revitalize our national spirit of unity for all people in this country so that we can be a true positive example for the rest of the world.

    Question: what do you do and how do you feel when you encounter someone with a physical disability? What assumptions do you make which may or may not be true? I would love to read your answers. Please comment and leave your though

Amazon Blocks Accessability To Blind Patrons

New Amazon Kindle Not Accessable To Blind Patronsational Federation of the Blind Comments on New Kindles

Baltimore, Maryland (September 6, 2012): The National Federation of the Blind, the nation’s leading advocate for accessible technology and content, commented today on Amazon’s press conference announcing new Kindle e-readers and tablets.
Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind, said: “The U.S. Department of State has just withdrawn a single-source contract proposal involving the Kindle family of devices, possibly due to our concerns about the lack of accessibility in virtually all iterations of the Kindle.  Despite the State Department action, our repeated encouragement of Amazon to incorporate accessibility, and the fact that companies like Apple and Google are actively engaged in the incorporation of accessibility features into their devices, there is no evidence that these new Kindles are accessible.  It seems abundantly clear where Amazon stands.  The National Federation of the Blind will continue to fight for access to all manner of devices and content and to oppose the deployment of inaccessible devices and content by entities that are covered by our nation’s disability laws.”


About the National Federation of the Blind
With more than 50,000 members, the National Federation of the Blind is the largest and most influential membership organization of blind people in the United States. The NFB improves blind people’s lives through advocacy, education, research, technology, and programs encouraging independence and self-confidence.  It is the leading force in the blindness field today and the voice of the nation’s blind.  In January 2004 the NFB opened the National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute, the first research and training center in the United States for the blind led by the blind.

Michael Hingson Guest Speaker July 1st In Dallas for the National Association of Blind Veterans

Michael HingsonThe National Association of Blind Veterans will hold it’s annual meeting in Dallas Texas at the Anatole Hilton Hotel  on Sunday Night July 1, 2012 at 7PM thru 10PM (1900 – 2200) Fleur delei  A room.
Our guest speaker will be Michael Hingson author of the Best Selling book Thunder Dog. Here is a little about Michael.
When the World Trade Center was attacked on 9-11, it was as though the world stood still. It was a day that captured our full attention. Michael Hingson and his Guide Dog Roselle were on the 78th floor of Tower One that day, and were able to make their way to safety and survive the attack. The duo was immediately thrust into the international spotlight, becoming well-known representatives of the strength of the human/animal bond and a living example of the powerful partnership that exists between a blind person and their Guide Dog. In 2002 Michael joined the Guide Dogs for the Blind team as the National Public Affairs director, to share his story  throughout the world on behalf of the school.  In June of 2008 Michael left Guide Dogs to form The Michael Hingson Group to continue his speaking career as well as to serve as a consultent for corporations and organizations that need assistance with Inclusive and Diversity training as well as adaptive technology training.
Michael Hingson is available for speaking engagements, public appearances, consulting and training contract positions and media interviews.
In his own words:
I lived through the 9-11 tragedy and have much to say about my experiences leading up to and escaping from the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. Since that day, I’ve traveled the world with Roselle and her successors; at first to help people heal and hope, and now, to help them find meaning and purpose. As a blind person living in today’s world I want people to see that while there are many different kinds of people, each with their own different gifts, we all can live and work together if we choose to open our minds and hearts and become a more inclusive world. There are positive lessons to be learned from every tragedy, and 9-11 is certainly no exception.
Because I am blind, I have a unique perspective. Because I believe in the power of partnering with my Guide Dog, I can speak from the heart about teamwork and trust. I’ve been a guest numerous times on Larry King Live, have been interviewed on Regis and Kelly, and have appeared on the CBS Morning Show.
Come meet and hear Michael as he engages all our fantastic veterans.

Volunteers Needed to Help With Braille Book Fair

nfb bRAILLE bOOK fAIRThe Braille Book Fair (formerly called the flea market) needs
enthusiastic, hard-working volunteers throughout the afternoon and
evening on Monday, July 2, at the NFB Convention in Dallas, Texas.  We
need Braille and print readers; teens and kids (kids under 12 must
be accompanied by an adult) are welcomed, too.

Volunteers are especially needed for the following shifts: Noon-2:00 pm; 1:30-3:30 pm;
3:00-5:00 pm and 6:30-8:00 pm (or until we have finished cleaning up).

If you are interested, e-mail me and/or call my home phone below and
I will answer your questions, and send you the information you will
need for that day.


Barbara Cheadle,

Video Description Focus Group Participants Needed: 2012 NFB National Convention

NFB Descriptive Video Focus GroupThe National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute is collaborating with the Smith-Kettlewell Video Description Research and Development Center to host a stakeholder focus group on advanced concepts in video description. The focus group will be held during the 2012 NFB National Convention in Dallas, Texas. This session will include demonstrations of innovative description technologies, discussions about the changing role of video in education and training, and opportunities for participants to provide detailed structured input to Smith-Kettlewell’s technology-development process. People who should consider attending include students, educators, parents, media professionals, and other consumers of video description. There is only space for twenty attendees in this session, and participants must register in advance for this important meeting.

The focus group will be held from 1-4 p.m. on Sunday, July 1 (the exact meeting room will be announced prior to the convention). Those interested in participating in this focus group should send an e-mail to Beth Braun at the NFB Jernigan Institute ( with the following information:


Guide Dog NFB IdahoThe National Association of Guide Dog Users (NAGDU) – the leader in service animal policy & advocacy – sponsors an innovative public service. The NAGDU Information & Advocacy Hotline not only offers information about the training and use of guide dogs and the legal rights of individuals who use service animals, it offers the option to speak with an advocate who is trained to mediate issues of discrimination. The regulations concerning service animals follow this release.
            “We find that most access problems are the result of a lack of information,” says Michael Hingson, the Association’s Vice President who serves as Project Manager for the hotline. “This hotline is an invaluable resource for accurate information.”
            The NAGDU Education & Advocacy Hotline currently offers general information about service animals under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA),   as well as specific guidance concerning restaurants, taxicabs, and health care facilities. Future plans for the hotline include summaries of each of the state laws concerning service animals, more industry specific information, and guidance in a variety of languages, such as Mandarin and Arabic. The Hotline is available anytime by calling, toll-free, 888-NAGDU411 (888-624-3841). Members of the media wishing to experience the hotline in advance of stories are encouraged to do so.
            The NAGDU Education & Advocacy Hotline was created by a grant from the National Federation of the Blind’s (NFB) Imagination Fund, as well as with contributions from the California and Florida Associations of Guide Dog Users. The National Association of Guide Dog Users is a strong and proud division of the NFB. NAGDU conducts public awareness campaigns on issues of guide dog use, provides advocacy support for guide dog handlers who face discrimination, supports sound policy and effective legislation to protect the rights of service animal users, offers educational programs to school and civic organizations, and functions as an integral part of the National Federation of the Blind. For more information about the National Association of Guide Dog Users and to support their work, you can visit their website at
Or send an email message to