As I write these notes on a cool October evening I would like to take this opportunity to reflect on activities of the past several months. Many of us have spent countless hours working on those projects that allowed the Association of Blind Citizens to come to fruition. The State and Federal government require extensive documentation to allow an organization like the Association of Blind Citizens to exist. I felt that it was very important that we jump through these hoops so that we are in a good position to expand and carry out activities and programs that our membership support. As I went through the mountains of paperwork and sat through the meetings with lawyers and accountants, the line from the movie Field of Dreams came to mind. "If you build it, they will come."
I am proud to inform you that the Association of Blind Citizens is built. We have a rock solid foundation from a legal and accounting perspective. ABC is incorporated and is a viable entity. Due very much to the efforts of Tim Cumings, we have a first-class web site. Brian Langlois has done an outstanding job communicating to our membership via e-mail and maintaining the membership database. A voice mail service, with many features that will be activated as we grow, is in place and operating. ABC has been producing a monthly information and interview show since July. This show is called "In Focus" and has allowed us to be heard in homes all over Massachusetts and put our name in the public arena. In Focus is also available on our web site and is broadcast world wide on ACBRadio.org. ABC has sponsored some recreational activities which were well received by members and nonmembers. We have been reaching out to the blind community via our web site, email, telephone information tapes and word of mouth. We have grown tremendously in the past three months, but I feel the continued development of our membership base is a top priority over the next several months.
Many of the activities, programs and benefits will be targeted to our members. The value of being a member will become self-evident in the future. I have invested time and personal resources over the past several months and now I am going to ask you to give five minutes to the organization. I am asking all of our members to tell three blind or visually impaired friends, and anyone else who they feel would be interested, in joining ABC's mission. ABC's web site contains a refer a friend link so you can visit our web site and make your three referrals. Just fill out the requested information and the system will do the rest. For those of you who have friends who do not have a computer, call them and tell them about ABC and ask them to call our voice mail system and join by phone. If each of you refer three friends, we will exceed the projected membership target by December. Do not put this off. Do it now while it is fresh in your mind. Be sure to remind them that we are the only consumer organization that currently does not charge a yearly membership fee. Talk about the events in which you have participated and our future activities. In closing I would like to publicly thank Brian, Tim and the other members of the Board who have worked so hard to establish the strong and solid foundation on which we will continue to build our organization and thank each of you for your commitment and referrals.
I and the rest of ABC's board of directors would also like to wish you and your family a happy and healthy holiday season. Remember, our organization is here for you it's members. I would love to hear your ideas on what projects your organization should be involved with in the blind community. Please email me at email@example.com or call 781-654-2000 and leave your suggestions and comments. I truly hope that you take this opportunity to join ABC so that we can work together in achieving maximum access, independence and equality for all blind and visually impaired people. Consider this a personal invitation and a challenge to join ABC today and start making a difference tomorrow.
In Focus, ABC's monthly interview and information radio show is available on demand at www.blindcitizens.org. You can hear the show at your convenience by visiting our web site at anytime. The show can also be heard on the Massachusetts Radio Reading Network on the second Thursday of the month at 8 PM. You can also hear a rebroadcast of this program world wide on ACBRadio.org. Join ABC's president and host for an interview with individuals or companies that are of interest to the blind and visually impaired community.
The Association of Blind Citizens will be offering a scholarship to blind or visually impaired individuals seeking a college degree. The scholarship will be offered for the 2001/2002 school year. The scholarship may be applied to tuition, living expenses or related expenses resulting from vision impairment. Potential applicants are encouraged to visit the announcements link on our website for more details. Winners must provide College course registration information and proof of legal blindness from a state agency serving the blind and visually impaired or an opthalmologist. A scholarship committee will be appointed to further develop criteria for eligibility. Watch our web site for more details and an application form.
Looking for money for school? Here is a list of some organizations who offer scholarships for blind and visually-impaired college students. All of the below organizations offer awards to both undergraduate and graduate students. Included is the name, address, telephone number(s), and URL (where available) of each organization. Check out the below web sites, or call or write for more information. Future editions of the ABC Newsletter will provide information on additional resources such as free scholarship search engines available on the internet, publications, and tips and tricks for winning those awards. Stay tuned, and good luck!
Please Note: If you have difficulty contacting any of the above organizations, please let us know. Also, if you would like to share the names, addresses, telephone numbers and/or URLs of organizations not included in the above list, please send them our way, and we'll pass them along!
Please circulate this newsletter to your friends.
On Saturday, August 19, 2000, I had the privilege of participating in the first recreational event sponsored by the Association of Blind Citizens. The event was an adaptive baseball game followed by a picnic lunch. The activities, which were held at a baseball field in Brookline, were well received by over 30 attendees.
The festivities began at noon when 20 or so baseball players, participated in batting practice. The pitcher, who was sighted, tossed the ball to home plate on a bounce, so that a blind player would know when to swing the bat.
After batting practice, rules were explained by John Oliveira, the president of ABC, teams were selected and the teams were instructed to play ball!! If a player had little or no vision, he was awarded six strikes before he was called out. Anyone with a great deal of vision went by traditional baseball rules, and was called out after three strikes. The players were set up on the field so that those with sight backed up the infielders and also fielded the ball in the outfield. To assure that a blind player stayed on the baseline while running, the players who were on the bases were asked to call the runner to their respective base each time the ball was hit safely.
Captains were chosen for the game, who in turn picked their own players for their roster. We played five innings of hard fought competition. Everyone got into it, just like the Redsox and Yankees would.
The game was called after five innings, as the lunches were being delivered by a professional caterer. Each person had their choice of sandwich, chips, fresh fruit, cookies, etc.
The weather was perfect for an afternoon picnic. The sun was shining, the grass smelled like it had been freshly mowed and the sound of birds and the kids over on the ajacent playground made it a perfect setting for lunch in the park. New friendships were made, and old friends met again after many years. It was rewarding for me and also an inspiration, as this event helped me to implement my idea to form an adaptive baseball team in New Bedford. As of this writing, I am looking for ways to make my team competative, and perhaps go up against the well-known Lowell LAB Retrievers or any other teams available in the state of Massachusetts.
As a result of this special recreational activity in Brookline, several participants from New Bedford joined the ABC, due to their interest in what the organization is all about.
Many thanks to John Oliveira, Brian Langlois and anyone else who not only put ABC into motion, but for creating a general interest. If anyone has any input to offer regarding my new adaptive baseball team, please email me at
firstname.lastname@example.org or call
As the holidays approach please place the Association of Blind Citizens on your giving list.
On October 21 ABC's Renegades played their first beep ball game. The opponent was the well known Lowell Labs. The Labs had a 7 and 1 record and were ready for some good competition.
The teams arrived shortly before noon at the field in Brookline and after the equipment was unloaded and the baselines were drawn, both teams began the pre-game warm-ups. Both teams did some exercises to loosen the muscles, did a little running, took some batting practice and fielded some ground balls. The field was a fast surface and the ball was getting to the fielders very quickly.
The game began at 12:30 under sunny skies and a game time temperature of 72 degrees. The labs were the visiting team and took the first at bat. The Labs scored two runs in the first inning and the Renegades were prepared for a long afternoon. In the bottom of the second inning the Renegades scored one run. The top of the third inning saw the Labs score another run but the Renegades countered with a run in the bottom of the inning. The Renegades scored a run in the bottom of the fourth and the game ended in a tie.
After the game the Renegades visited a local restaurant for much needed food and beverages. The Renegade players were very enthusiastic about their performance against a team that was obviously much more experienced. Many passerbys stopped and watched the game. They had many questions about the organization and about how the blind players could hit that ball. ABC's members took this chance to educate the public on the abilities of blind individuals. ABC's goal of educating the public on issues concerning blind and visually impaired people is certainly well served by fielding and supporting this beep ball team.
The Renegades are looking to add four additional players for the 2001 season. If you are interested please contact John Oliveira at email@example.com. Expect to see and hear more from the renegades during 2001 beep ball season.
Do you have an interesting hobby? Do you have the latest high tech gadgets on the market? Articles relating to hobbies and interests or product reviews are welcome. The submission deadline for our Spring Summer edition is April 1 2001.
Twenty-five ABC members turned the clock back two hundred years by visiting Old Sturbridge Village to experience what life was like in a New England Village in the 1800s. We visited many of the villages merchants and spoke to residents of the village as they conducted daily chores. We visited some homes and learned about and smelled some of the cuisine of that period. After several hours back in time, we gathered at the village tavern for lunch.
We returned to the present and boarded our bus for a short ride to a brewery and apple orchard. Our members enjoyed free samples of various types of beer before taking a tour of the brewery and learning about the brewing process. Upon completion of the brewery tour our members boarded a wagon for a hay ride through the orchard. We topped off the day by listening to some live music and enjoying an outdoor barbecue and sampling many treats produced at the orchard.
Please join us on future ABC events and projects. If you wish to develop an activity or have a project that you would like ABC to assist you with please email John Oliveira at
firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our web site at www.blindcitizens.org.
If you write for fun or are a professional writer you may submit articles on any topic for publication or republication. Submisions for our Spring summer edition must be submitted by April 1 2001. Please submit them via email to email@example.com or mail them on disk to
P.O. Box 246
Holbrook MA 02343.
This article was originally published in the Spring 2000 issue of Artemis Magazine, and discusses the building of an accessible civilization using Lunar resources. Artemis Magazine is a science fiction and fact magazine that is published quarterly. You can obtain more information about Artemis Magazine by pointing your browser to their web site at http://www.lrcpublications.com.
The Moon is a brand new land, one that the Human Race will eventually develop for habitation, hopefully with compassion and common sense. Luna represents a clean slate for our species a way to start fresh not to mention a basis for becoming a true space-faring culture. The concept of space settlement is not new to science fiction, but the principles of Universal Design (UD) are likely to be unfamiliar to most readers. UD speaks of creating a civilization that includes the widest possible group of citizens, no matter their abilities. UD is a methodology for creating devices, structures, and even information-access, all without barriers. Settling the Moon offers a unique opportunity to apply UD at the planning and early construction phases of the project, as opposed to retrofitting existing structures.
Artemis readers don't need convincing about the importance of space exploration and settlement. Most will agree that the destiny of Mankind resides among the stars, and that we will eventually begin this great exodus by first returning to the Moon this time to stay! The first lunar base is likely to be a cylindrical habitation module covered with lunar soil to harden the structure against cosmic radiation. It will likely house only a handful of crew members. This is no more a lunar settlement than was Admiral Byrd's shack at the South Pole. Access to this first settlement is likely to be through a small hatch, similar to those used on submarines and spacecraft. It goes without saying that the first inhabitants of this fledgling base will have to be physically fit, robust individuals. It's unlikely this first generation base will be accessible to mere mortals like you and me, so it is beyond the scope of this article. The period we're concerned with is the interval ten to twenty years into the Lunar settlement cycle, when the first-generation bases are ready to spawn towns capable of supporting several thousand inhabitants. Again, we're concerned with the time when average citizens migrate to the Moon to work and live. Few actual settlers are likely to be astronauts or explorers. They are more apt to be storekeepers, plumbers, bakers, electricians, fast food workers, construction engineers, teachers, medical practitioners, security guards, social workers, machinists, artists, farmers, computer programmers. . . ordinary folks pulling a 40-hour week for a paycheck. With all this in mind, let's look more closely at how UD can be applied to building Moonbase Artemis.
uD recognizes that we are not all exactly alike; that we come in different sizes, shapes, and abilities. In the United States, we often assume that everyone is about 6 feet tall, and about 175 pounds. We also assume that everybody is able-bodied, with perfect vision, hearing, motor skills, and cognitive abilities. If we dig a little deeper, we find that most folks do not quite fit this model. UD, if we will embrace it, can help the human race accommodate all people, and forge a truly accessible and equitable civilization both on and off the Earth. When we ultimately return to the Moon for keeps, we're going to have to design workable communities for ordinary people, not short-term bases for super-heroes on high-stakes scientific and military missions. We'll need settlements where plain folks can freely move about, unhampered by architectural obstacles.
I'm sure that someone out there is asking how much all this is going to cost. The good news is that implementing UD is not expensive, so long as it is applied in the planning stages of a project. If we construct a settlement, and then decide to make it compliant with UD after it has been set in stone, we will have to tear down much of what has been constructed. Clearly, this is much more expensive than building the settlement right in the first place.
According to Pat Hill, Adaptive Technology Information Specialist for the Massachusetts Assistive Technology Partnership, "It can cost about 50 percent more up front to make an existing facility compliant. This is because you have to rip out walls, floors, pipes, wiring, etc., and then build it back again. It's always cheaper to build it right the first time, once and for all!"
Creating accessible computers, appliances, and machines can be accomplished relatively inexpensively, especially when you consider that computer technology keeps getting cheaper and more powerful. For example, if you wanted to configure a talking computer just a few years ago, it could cost as much as $1500 for a Dectalk PC speech synthesizer (considered the state of the art in speech technology at the time). The very same technology is now available via software for about $150 one tenth the cost and it doesn't take a college education to figure out that prices are continuing to fall.
There are numerous spinoffs from UD. If we can configure computers that can be used by the blind, they can also be used by persons whose eyes are busy, say, in driving a lunar rover across the surface, working on a machine mill, or flipping a hamburger. Correspondingly, if we design devices that can be used without hands, they will likely prove useful for a much wider group of users. The wheelchair curbcut, found in most cities, is a commonplace example of an adaptation initially designed to assist persons with disabilities that now has widespread, mainstream appeal and application. Wheelchair ramps now empower far more than just wheelchair users. They are useful for delivery persons, bicyclists, baby carriages, rollerbladers, the elderly, and the list goes on. Thus, by applying UD, we lose nothing, and gain a great deal in return. With all this in mind, let's look at the basic principles of UD. This list was provided by Adaptive Environments. For more information, point your web browser at http://www.adaptenv.org or http://www.trace.wisc.edu.
The Built Environment is a broad term that can be applied to almost any man-made structure. It is obvious that building design can greatly impact those who use and occupy it. From our UD point of view, there is a right way, and a wrong way, to design a moonbase. If we apply UD to the planning and eventual construction of Moonbase Artemis, we will wind up with a facility that everybody can enjoy to the fullest. Again, applying UD in the design stages of this project is what makes it cost effective. If we choose to go the other route and build the base without UD retro-fitting it to be UD-compliant will likely be at least 50 percent more expensive, in terms of dollars and manpower.
For the next sections, I've adapted some of the regulations provided by the Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines, which provide a blueprint for creating accessible spaces. The current Guidelines discuss how to retro-fit existing structures, and how to deal with historic preservation sites. These exceptions to UD do not apply in our special case, as we are starting with a clean slate. The ADA Guidelines specify how many accessible entrances, exits, phones, bathrooms, etc., must be available to meet code requirements. We're assuming that the whole of Moonbase Artemis is going to be made accessible from the ground up, so some of the ADA Guidelines and exceptions may not apply to our purposes. For example, the existing ADA Guidelines discuss specifications for stairways, but I suggest using ramps instead of stairs, to accommodate a broader user base.
Let's begin at the beginning, at the entrance. Moonbase. Artemis is likely to be an under-ground lava tube, sealed to contain an atmosphere. The settlers will gradually expand the tube with additional corridors and chambers, connecting with other underground caverns and tunnels.
The settlement needs several entrances and exits to the surface. To stick with the spirit of UD, we should build pedestrian entries at least 60 inches wide, to support both foot and light-wheeled traffic. All main interior entrances and exits should also be at least 60 inches wide, to maintain an accessible route and ample passing space throughout the settlement. Corridors should provide at least 80 inches of headroom for a clear and unobstructed pathway.
What will Moonbase Artemis look like once we get inside? I suggest building the settlement like an underground mall, with a wide central corridor containing public and merchant space. This main area will be like the Main Street of a small town, with side corridors to serve other areas of the settlement. Corridors serving other parts of the settlement will branch off from this central tunnel. All main and branching corridors will need to support both pedestrian and wheeled mobility, and UD can show the way. UD states that appropriate size and space should be provided for all approach and use of the corridor space. A narrow corridor with insufficient leeway to turn around would certainly not accommodate wheelchair users or persons operating wheeled vehicles.
Avoiding the use of stairs is one of the best ways we can make Moonbase Artemis comply with UD. It costs a pretty penny to gut an existing building and install ramps and elevators after the fact, but it's inexpensive to build them into the initial design. Ramps are an effective way to support all users of the settlement for both foot and wheeled traffic. Because of the lower lunar gravity one-sixth Earth-normal ramps can be steeper, occupying less physical space, while still accommodating the widest possible group of users. Ramp surfaces should be stable, firm, and slip-resistant, with a level landing at the top and bottom of each ramp. These landings should be at least as wide as the overall ramp, and at least 60 inches long. If the ramp changes direction, there should be a clear space at least 60 by 60 inches at the landing. Ramps with drop-offs should have a minimum 2-inch curb, a wall, railings, or projecting surfaces to prevent falls.
Public facilities such as telephones, drinking fountains, automatic teller machines, information kiosks, etc., should be positioned to support all users, regardless of their posture and height. These facilities should have at least 30 by 48 inches clear floor space to allow either a forward or parallel approach, and be mounted so the highest operable part is no higher than 48 inches. They should have clear knee space underneath, or at least 30 by 48 inches of clear space on all sides to allow those on foot or using wheelchairs to make a parallel approach.
Kitchen and bathroom facilities represent a special challenge for UD, as they are so important for everyday life and activity within the settlement. Cabinetry should accommodate folks of any stature, including wheelchair users. Appliances should be within reach of the user, no matter their posture or position. A good rule of thumb is to have at least 30 inches by 48 inches provided for a front or parallel approach to cabinets, counters, sinks, and appliances. Counter tops and sinks should be mounted no more than 34 inches above the floor. The shelf space in cabinets or refrigerator/freezers should be within the reach ranges of between 15 inches and 48 inches for a front approach and between 9 inches and 54 inches for a parallel approach. Adjustable cabinetry and shelving will allow us to customize living space according to the special needs of the immediate user.
Let's look at something as common as a bathtub or shower. Most tubs today require the bather to climb over the edge and inside. This is obviously a barrier to persons with limited mobility, or somebody with a temporary or permanent disability. This can be easily solved by building a seat at the head of the tub to permit transferring from a wheelchair or other mobility aid. This is useful for children, the elderly, and anyone having difficulty entering the tub. But take this one step further: a truly accessible bath and shower facility can be constructed below the level of the floor, permitting users to walk or roll down a short ramp into the tub space. This is a clear example of applying UD in the planning stages to keep costs to a minimum, while at the same time recognizing that our moonbase is, at this early planning stage, a tabula rasa, which need not precisely recapitulate the environment on Earth.
Signage is so commonplace that we hardly even notice it. But if all the signs suddenly disappeared, you would find yourself completely unable to navigate. Printed signs present barriers for persons with vision impairments, but there is a technological way around this obstacle. Talking Signs are an electronic method of making all manner of printed signage accessible to all users. Standard print signs can readily be converted to talking signs by bolting a talking sign transmitter to the front edge of the sign itself. A talking sign broadcasts its presence and location via a directional infrared beam to a hand-held receiver. The receiver accepts the transmitted signal, and plays back a corresponding audio message through a built-in speaker or headphones. Because the beam is focused and highly directional, the transmitter can be used to identify the location of the sign transmitter and thus, the object it is attached to. Talking Signs were originally developed at Smith Kettlewell Eye Research Institute as a way for blind persons to navigate office buildings, shopping malls, airports, subway stations, or entire cities.
Let's look at talking signs from the user's perspective. As was indicated above, the receiver is directional and hand- held and can be used to explore the environment. When entering the lobby of a building, the receiver can be used to scan back and forth to locate objects in the environment. As the user moves the receiver from left to right, they might hear "elevator", "reception desk", "ATM", and so forth. Again, the receiver is highly directional and can be used to locate any object in space that possesses a sign transmitter. The potential for talking sign technology is endless.
On a grand scale, the technology can be used to announce the names of shops, telephone booths, information kiosks, emergency exits, ATMs, street signs, the public pool, rest rooms, door numbers, entrances and exits, seat numbers, anything we need. Talking Sign technology can also be expanded, to provide more than just a short burst of information; it can provide detailed information on request. Say you're walking down the main corridor of a shopping mall. You move your sign receiver from left to right, and locate your favorite eatery. You press a key on the sign receiver and receive more detailed information, such as the specials for that day, spoken aloud in crisp clear speech.
Talking signs are somewhat expensive, costing about $1000 per installation. This consists of a transmitter and receiver. The individual receivers sell for about $265, and transmitters cost about $350. The company expects that this price will drop by an order of magnitude with mass production.
For more information on Talking Signs, point your web browser at http://www.talkingsigns.com.
The lines separating computers, telephones, televisions, and even appliances are steadily and constantly blurring, and the trend shows no signs of slowing. The good news is that there is already a well-established arsenal of adaptive technology on which to draw to make these systems universally accessible. Computers will bring news, information, entertainment, and communications to the settlement.
In order to comply with UD, we must begin at the beginning and configure these systems with expanded input and output capabilities. In order to stay on the UD path, systems should incorporate UD in the planning stages of the project. We should always keep one basic law in mind: information content should be forever separate from the delivery mechanism. This will allow users to view data in virtually any desired format: enlarged type, speech, braille, or any other medium. There is already an established mechanism in place for computers and the web that accomplishes this. Cascading Style Sheets are a way to have our cake and eat it, too. Cascading Style Sheets allow information to be poured through a multitude of viewers to suit the special requirements of virtually any user. This is useful for folks using adaptive technology, as well as mainstream users, to show different views of a page or document.
We can adapt the Moonbase Artemis computers by implementing alternative input and output methodologies, by going beyond the traditional keyboard and video screen paradigm. This means that reliance on only the traditional keyboard and monitor should be shunned. For example, we can use voice recognition to bypass the traditional keyboard for data entry for as little as $150.
Some technologies are becoming part of computer operating systems, and are virtually free. Microsoft Windows contains a built-in suite of accessibility options that include screen magnification for low vision users, and utilities to help users with physical disabilities drive the keyboard and mouse. Speech synthesis technology is one of the least expensive assistive technologies, and such systems provide help for both disabled and able bodied alike. You can add speech hardware to an existing computer system for as little as $50 by plugging in a sound card equipped with stereo speakers. These are only a few examples of inexpensive adaptive computer technology, and prices are dropping through the floor.
The seeds of the adaptive interface are already here, in the form of hand-held computers and personal assistants. The PalmPilot is only one example of such a portable computer. The Adaptive Interface (AI) is a small computer, actually a hand-held remote control, fitted to the user. The AI may be built into a palmtop computer assistant, making its use less stigmatizing and more universal. Many different forms of adaptive technologies can be applied in the Adaptive Interface: speech, braille, enlargement, language conversion; almost anything you can put on a chip set. The AI can also receive signals from Talking Signs and information kiosks, and function as an all-purpose interface to cyberspace for the user.
A single AI would have the power to control a wide range of devices if a standard operating system can be agreed upon. There are many to choose from: Windows, Macintosh, UNIX, and so on. Since we don't expect every gadget manufacturer to be an instant expert in adaptive technology and UD, they can comply with UD specs by building AI ports into their equipment. Let's use a common VCR as an example. The AI port will reside on the front panel of the VCR so it can be seen by the transmitter of the AI itself and it will accept commands from any remote AI, similar to an infrared television remote control. Of course, the AI will be fitted with adaptive technology that is appropriate for the user.
As is the case with any city or town, Moonbase Artemis will require short- and long-range transportation. If we apply UD, we will reap the rewards in this sector as we have in the built environment and information systems.
Within the settlement itself, foot traffic may be all that Is required for point-to-point transportation, depending on the size of the colony. For longer-range transit, the settlement will require powered vehicles for hauling goods and people, similar to those used in airports to move luggage and passengers. All vehicles should be easy to enter and exit, no matter the user's ability. If we design our vehicles wisely, we can comply with UD fairly easily. We won't need complex and expensive lifts to accommodate wheelchair users if we build the transportation vehicles with UD in mind.
I'll assume that the main method for long distance transportation is via an electric bus system, with bus pads stationed at convenient intervals. The busses can be made much more accessible if we use ramps instead of stairs to enter and exit. The ramps can be built into the busses themselves, or in the bus pads that serve them. Pathways within the busses should be at least 36 inches wide to support users on foot and wheelchairs. A cleverly designed bus system that supports UD will be accessible through wide ramps and corridors, not narrow, winding stairways that lead to a dark, narrow boarding platform.
We can get to this bold new world if we expand our definition of the word accessibility, and with a little common sense. Isn't it logical to build a civilization where all can interact on a level playing field? We can build Moonbase Artemis with off-the-shelf technology, and the knowledge base of Universal Design, to blaze a new trail in the wilderness. Settling the Moon is an attainable goal, offering a whole new world of opportunity for all mankind. The Moon is a place where people from all walks of life can find a new beginning, where lower gravity makes life easier and, in some cases, possible. As Robert Heinlein said, you can choose a burial vault on Earth or a retirement community on Luna. Is it far-fetched to assume that the Moon may be settled by aged and disabled Baby Boomers?
There is already a web of government regulations designed to support Special Needs individuals: the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Television Decoder Act, Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, and there is more such legislation on the way. How long before we pass the Universal Design Act? I think it's just over the horizon.
According to Valerie Fletcher, executive director, Adaptive Environments, "We need to be mindful of human abilities when designing space. Universal Design talks of creating great space, but with users in mind first!"
Special thanks to Adaptive Environments and the Trace Research & Development center for providing the basic principles of Universal Design. Special thanks also to the World Wide Web Accessibility Initiative at http://www.w3.org/wai.
Joseph Lazzaro is project director of the Adaptive Technology Program at the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind, a program that provides rehabilitation engineering services and consulting on assistive technology and Universal Design. He is also a contributing editor for IEEE Spectrum and Absolute Magnitude. His publications have been in Byte, The New York Times, Analog Science Fiction & Fact, and other technical periodicals. He can be reached by electronic mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or on the web at http://www.world.std.com/~lazzaro.
The announcement of new products and services in this column should not be considered an endorsement of those products and services by the Association of Blind Citizens, its staff or elected officials. Products and services are listed free of charge for the benefit of our readers. "The Advocate" cannot be responsible for the reliability of products or services mentioned.
Dot's Right! is an inkprint-to-braille transcription service. The company transcribes a variety of materials, including menus, personal documents, training/technical manuals and much more. One to 10 copies of a document cost $6.50 per copy; 11 to 25, $4.50 per copy; 26 or more copies, $3 per copy. Menu preparation costs $50 per job, and 10 cents per page. Scanning text and/or images costs $50 per hour and includes layout and editing. California sales tax (8.25 percent) will be added to the cost. Information is available in print and braille. Call or write for a free estimate and more information. The address is:
Liz Conejo, Dot's Right Transcription Service,
1864 N. Avenue 51,
Los Angeles, CA 90042;
phone (323) 254-9213;
or e-mail email@example.com.
Katchina Internationale Inc. has available several different types of carved art puzzles -- puzzles with raised pictures. The concept behind the puzzle is to memorize the puzzle pieces by touch, and put it together. These puzzles are not recommended for children under age 3. Puzzle pictures are: a decorated candle; an eagle; a tulip; a butterfly; a hummingbird; a maple leaf; a hot air balloon; a lighthouse; and the Statue of Liberty. The candle and eagle cost $5 each; the tulip, butterfly and hummingbird, $11.90 each; the maple leaf, hot air balloon and lighthouse, $15.60 each; and the Statue of Liberty, $25.80.
Prices do not include shipping or taxes. For more information, call (819) 775-6181, or write to
Katchina Internationale Inc.,
J8P 7K8, Canada.
AFB recently launched "AccessWorld: Technology for Consumers with Visual Impairments." This 32-page periodical will be available bimonthly in large print, braille, on tape and via the World Wide Web. A preview issue is available at http://www.afb.org/accessworld.html.
AccessWorld will cover developments in assistive technology, government policies mandating accessibility, and industry efforts to provide accessible products and services. To subscribe, or for more information, call (888) 522-0220;
e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit AFB's web site, http://www.afb.org.
"A Capital Idea! Successful Strategies for Getting What You Want from Government" is a guide to successful advocacy, which is now available on AFB's web site via http://www.afb.org/gov.html.
This manual takes you step by step through defining an issue, identifying the players, planning a strategy, forming alliances, meeting and communicating with legislators or regulators, and following up on contacts.
Check Mate Plus is a DOS-based, voice-friendly double-entry bookkeeping system that has a quick and easy amortization table that computes the answers to mortgage and loan questions. It has full documentation and is for IBM-compatible computers only. Contact
11330 Quail Run,
Dallas, TX 75238
phone (214) 340-6328.
Chuck Martin of Ko Am International Trade Co., Tacoma, Wash. has available a new kind of belt called a Ratchet Belt. Instead of holes, it has a ratchet type of device which adjusts easily to different sizes. It has 5 1/2 inches of ratchets, compared with 4 inches of holes. The belt is leather, with a metal buckle. You may view the belt on the web at http://www.ratchetbelt.com. For more information, visit the web site, or write to
Ko Am International Trade Co.,
9332 S. Steele St., Suite U-444,
Tacoma, WA 98444
phone (253) 535-9261, or e-mail Ratchetbelt@aol.com.
Ever been out in the sun and wished your sunglasses could do a better job? Or have you been biking and wished for some better protective gear? Wish no more. DIGI has available several types of SportLens. You can wear them over glasses and with contact lenses, and do a variety of activities with them, including sailing, fishing, biking, and more. The SportLens comes in visor and cap bill styles, and in a variety of colors. The lens is scratch resistant, adjustable, easy to remove (thanks to Velcro) and clean, and fully ventilated.
For more information, call toll- free (800) 750-3444.
Resources for Rehabilitation published the third edition of its popular resource guide, "Meeting the Needs of Employees with Disabilities." It provides information to help people with disabilities retain or obtain employment. Chapters cover visual impairment and blindness, hearing and speech impairments, describe organizations, adaptations, assistive devices and services, as well as suggestions for a safe, friendly workplace. It costs $49.95 (including shipping and handling).
For a complete list of publications and prices, contact
Resources for Rehabilitation
33 Bedford St., Suite 19A,
Lexington, MA 02420
phone (781) 862-6455; or e-mail email@example.com.
Easier Ways sells a new mini perma notebook for brailling telephone numbers, addresses, birthdays, appointments, etc. It is flat and fits easily into a pocket or purse. It comes with 50 sheets (3 by 5 inches, two-hole punched) of clear Perma plastic filler. It makes sharp braille. You can add or remove a sheet easily, and make quick entries without having to remove a sheet. For more information, contact
Easier Ways Inc.
2954 Shady Ln.
Highlands Ranch, CO 80126;
phone (303) 290-0987 or e-mail EasierWays@aol.com.
The Louis Braille International Cultural and Educational Center of Blind People needs your help. LBICEC needs books, office supplies and finances for distribution and sponsoring blind children in Bangladesh. If you have any spare math instruments, braille reading materials, braille writing equipment, braille and talking watches, canes, eyeglass frames, or anything else that could be used in teaching blind children and adults, please send it to
Louis Braille International Cultural and Educational Center of Blind People
P.O. Monno Nagar, Tongi, Gazipur, Bangladesh.
Braille readers take note! The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped has developed technology that will allow you to read a book on the Internet. It's called Web- Braille, and it gives you access to more than 2,700 electronic braille books recently placed on the Internet. Each year numerous new titles will be added. The new service began August 24. For more information, contact Robert Fistick, head of NLS' Publications and Media Section, at (202) 707-9279 or via e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Scanacan will allow users to identify their groceries and any other item with a standard bar code. Scanacan, in conjunction with an omnidirectional handheld or mounted bar code scanner, keeps an inventory of what you have on hand. Simple commands will allow you to check what you have in your pantry, cleaning closet, music or video collection, and much more. You can add, change, delete, look up or print your records. Adding records allows you to create your own database of favorite items. Changing records allows you to edit any existing records to update price changes or enter new information about the item. Deleting the records will not delete the bar code from the database, so you can re-enter it at any time. Hardware and software sold together or separately. Contact
104 Anderson Ave.,
Manchester, SD 57353-5701
phone (605) 546-2366.
Technologies for the Visually Impaired has a new reading machine available called the Portset Reader. It is a stand-alone scanner with speech built in.
All you do is turn it on, wait for the announcement, lift the lid and place your print on the glass. Press the start key and within a short time the document will be read to you. You can select either a male or female voice for the reading function. The scanner can read a page size up to A4 (slightly larger than U.S. letter) with a type size as small as eight points. It weighs less than 13 pounds and measures 18 3/4 inches by 10 3/8 inches by 5 5/8 inches. For more information, contact the company at (516) 724-4479;
e-mail email@example.com or write to
9 Nolan Ct.,
Hauppauge, NY 11788.
Now that the World Series is over, you can obtain version 14 of the World Series Baseball Game and Information System. This game comes with 269 teams, including the 1999 Yankees and Braves and the all-star teams. You can play baseball on your computer using all the great teams of the past, Negro and Japanese teams, and many all-star teams. You can also review the history of baseball, find out who's in the Hall of Fame, check out all the baseball records, and test your knowledge of the game on a 1,000-question quiz. The price is $15 for new users, $5 for updates. Send your check to
692 S. Sheraton Drive
Akron, OH 44319;
phone (330) 644-2421; or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have you ever fallen asleep while reading a book on tape, and wished you'd had a bookmark so you could find your place? Wish no more. The Talking Book Marker is a simple switch that plugs into your cassette player's REM jack. While you are listening to the tape, you hold down the switch. When you relax your grip, the switch releases and the talking book stops playing. If you are interested in learning more about the Talking Book Marker, or would like to order, call Jim Daily at (406) 782-2202, or send your name, address and telephone number along with a check for $27.95 per book marker ordered to:
The Talking Book Marker
Butte MT 59701.
If you have Internet access, check the web site, http://www.angelfire.com/mt/jdaily, or e-mail email@example.com.
Vision Tape Ministry is a free bimonthly mailing of three cassettes containing church, Christian conference sermons and special music. For more information, call Jack or Gwen Kinly at (334) 297-6432, or write to
Vision Tape Ministry
34 Ramsy Rd.
Phenix City, AL 36869.
The Association for Retinopathy of Prematurity and Related Diseases (ROPARD) recently announced the availability of a new videotape, "Retinopathy of Prematurity for Parents, Educators and Nurses." This 90-minute tape addresses a variety of topics, including a historical overview of RLF/ROP, the stages, zones and clock hours of ROP, treatment modalities, long-term considerations and research. It is geared for both the non-medical professional and family members, and contains slides that illustrate the stages of ROP, medical procedures used, and explains the more complex and technical aspects of ROP and its treatment. It costs $25 payable by check or credit card (sorry, no purchase orders). Michigan residents must add 6 percent sales tax. For shipping outside the United States, add $5. For more information, write to
P.O. Box 250425
Franklin, MI 48025;
phone (800) 788-2020, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Full Life Products is a company approximatley 3.5 years old that actively seeks and offers products that enhance independent living for people with vision and hearing loss, and the community at large. Specializing in electronics with an emphasis on telephones and related accessories Full Life Products is located in central New Hampshire and can be reached at
800-400-1540 or www.superproducts.com
Dialogue JV-35 by Ameriphone
IT TALKS !! For Visually, or Hearing Impaired, the Best Big Button, Braille Enhanced, Amplified Phone Available; THAT SPEAKS!!
$129.99 plus s and h (MSRP $139.95) Buy 2 or more on same order = $119.99 each. plus s and h
Order #AM76560 Dialogue JV-35
Following is a list of features. If you have questions or would like to order, call today toll free 1-800-400-1540.
Note: Dialogue JV-35 Audio Instruction Tape (AM-76559, (msrp $4.95)) and Braille Quick Reference Guide (AM-05001) Available FREE upon request when ordering Dialogue JV-35.
If you have questions or would like to order, call today toll free 1-800-400-1540.
Henter-Joyce and IBM Japan recently announced a joint development effort to produce a Japanese-language version of JAWS for Windows. This development is set to take place at IBM's Accessibility Center in Japan. The product may be released around the end of this year. Stay tuned for further developments!
The Presidential award winning Wheelock Family Theatre, recipient of the Nationally coveted Rosetta LeNoire Award for 2000, presented by Actors Equity Association in recognition of WFT's outstanding contributions to increasing diversity in American theatre, is launching its 20th anniversary season with three new and exciting productions.
November 3 - 26, 2000
Fridays at 7:30, Saturdays and Sundays at 3:00
ASL: November 17th & 19th, Audio Description: November 24th & 26th.
Tickets are $10, $15, $17
Winner of a record ten Tony Awards, Hello, Dolly!, with its brilliant musical score, gorgeous costumes and dazzling dancing waiters, is the quintessential American musical.
The Prince & the Pauper
February 2 - 25, 2001
Fridays at 7:30, Saturdays and Sundays at 3:00
February 20, 21, 22, & 23 at 1:00
ASL: February 16th & 18th, Audio Description: February 23rd & 25th.
Tickets are $10, $15, $17
This exciting adventure based on Mark Twain's classic gallops through the villainous courts of Tudor England and the rough and tumble back streets of London.
Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse
April 6 - May 6, 2001
Fridays at 7:30, Saturdays and Sundays at 3:00
April 17, 18, 19, & 20 at 1:00
ASL & Audio Description: May 4th & 6th.
Tickets are $10, $15, $17
Sparkling with witty and eccentric characters, Lilly (the irrepressible heroine of Kevin Henkes's Chester's Way and Julius, the Baby of the World) is a whirlwind of fun for the very young and the young at heart!
For tickets, call the Box Office at 617-734-4760 TTY 617-734-4426
As the holidays approach please place the Association of Blind Citizens on your giving list. Donations should be made payable to
Association of Blind Citizens
PO Box 246
Holbrook MA 02343.
This is a New England classic. Great with cream.