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The Advocate: Our Online Newsletter



THE ADVOCATE - SPRING/SUMMER 2002 EDITION

Table Of Contents


President's Notebook

by John Oliveira

It has been six months since I wrote this column for our previous edition of the Advocate but it seems like yesterday. I am happy to report to you that the Association of Blind Citizens continues to grow by leaps and bounds. The ABC membership list continues to grow from Massachusetts to California. Many new members indicate to me via email that this organization seems to have a different approach in relating to the blind and visually impaired community. Those comments make me and the ABC board extremely pleased since the objective in forming the organization was not to duplicate what other national organizations for the blind and visually impaired are doing. I believe that maintaining our difference is very important and we encourage members from any other organization to join us.

The deadline for our scholarship program has now passed and again this year we have many applicants from around the country. I reviewed several applicants applications briefly and it looks like our scholarship committee will have a big job in determining which applicants will be awarded the ABC scholarships. For those of you who applied, I wish you the best of luck and I vow to keep working hard to continue to expand this program so that ABC can create opportunity one step at a time.

ABC continues to show our support and encourage the use of braille in our blind community. ABC was proud to sponsor the braille production of the children's book Harry Potter the Goblet of Fire. Due to our sponsorship of the production of this braille book we know that 1000 copies will be available for purchase from National Braille Press in Boston at a reasonable price. We hope to be able to sponsor more projects such as this one in the future. I hope that these types of projects will encourage blind and visually impaired children to learn braille and read titles which their sighted peers are reading.

Another program that has been well received has been our sponsorship of camps for blind and visually impaired children. This summer millions of children will attend summer camp and enjoy many activities. ABC support for camps for blind children will give many blind and visually impaired children throughout the country a chance to participate in many activities that would not be available in their local community. ABC's camp sponsorship program has been able to assist an agency serving the blind and visually impaired by sponsoring some of their young consumers in attending camps after the funds they were using to sponsor camps were cut do to ongoing budget cuts

.

Another new program that has received overwhelming response has been ABC's Assistive Technology Fund. This program was announced several weeks ago and has received just over $50,000 in funding requests. This demand has certainly exceeded my projections. The deadline for applying for funding assistance is June 30th. ABC will continue to work hard to expand the funding for this project.

ABC continues to develop projects that will continue to expand our national presence. I am also working with several state coordinators to establish local and regional activities. If you wish to be a state coordinator for ABC please email me at president@blindcitizens.org. Developing local activities in individual states will be an ongoing project over the next several years.

ABC continues to operate a beep ball team in Boston the Boston Renegades. The Renegades are looking forward to an exciting beep ball season that will culminate with a trip to the beep ball world series in Glenview Illinois. This recreation program is giving blind and visually impaired athletes a chance to compete in a competitive team sport. I wish the Boston Renegades the best of luck in the upcoming season and world series and I am confident they will do their best to make ABC proud of supporting recreation programs for the blind and visually impaired.

Several other local activities are currently underdevelopment and ABC will release details soon. In closing, I would ask you to please contact me if you have any fundraising ideas, know individuals or companies that might financially assist ABC or have ideas on projects that you feel would benefit the blind and visually impaired community, please contact me. I do try to respond to every inquiry so do not hesitate to send any ideas my way. I would like to thank the board, our donors and supporters, community partner businesses and organizations and ABC's membership for ABC's successes.


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 Fall/Winter 2002 edition is November 1, 2002.


Dollars for Scholars

by Linda H. Bolle

Online Financial Aid Resources (A through M)

Absolutely Scholarships

http://apps.absolutelyscholarships.com/exec/scholarship

The free Absolutely Scholarships internet database contains 200,000 listings and also states that they allow users to search across two of the most comprehensive scholarship databases available. Users need to create a profile to use the database.

Academic Research Information System

http://www.arisnet.com/newstu.html

This information is provided free of charge to students by the Academic Research Information System (ARIS) and the organization subscribers. The site organizes scholarships by disciplines and then chronologically by deadline date.

Adventures in Education

http://www.adventuresineducation.org/sbase/index.cfm

You can visit the Adventures in Education (AIE) web database to locate scholarships. This site also provides career planning information.

American Chemical Society

http://www.acs.org/portal/Chemistry?PID=acsdisplay.html&DOC=minorityaffairs\indx.html

Scholarship, grant, fellowship, and internship information specifically for underrepresented groups who pursue professions in the chemical sciences.

Arts Deadlines Lists

http://www.xensei.com/users/adl/

Updated monthly, the Arts Deadlines Lists site contains approximately 40-50 competitions, scholarships, and funding primarily for humanities majors.

Club Scholarship

http://www.clubscholarship.com/

Club Scholarship boasts over 500,000 scholarship listings.

College Board Online

http://www.collegeboard.com/

A database of approximately 3,300 sponsors. College Board Online is similar to Fastweb.com, but does not retain personal information: you must reenter your personal data each time you search for scholarships. (See previous edition of The Advocate for information on Fastweb.com.)

CollegeQuest

http://iiswinprd03.petersons.com/ugchannel/ug-jump.asp

CollegeQuest, sponsored by the National Association of Financial Aid Administrators, provides free membership. This site contains in-depth profiles about college and universities, and allows users to search the Peterson's database http://www.petersons.com/ of more than 800,000 scholarships and awards.

College Xpress

http://www.collegexpress.com/

College Xpress site lists scholarships in various disciplines that you can browse, but does not save your profile.

Community of Science

http://fundingopps.cos.com/

Community of Science http://www.cos.com/ states that this site comprises "the most comprehensive source of funding information available on the Web, with more than 22,000 records, representing over 400,000 funding opportunities, worth over $33 billion." Listings include R&D opportunities from fields outside the physical and life sciences.

Cornell

http://www.cornell.edu/Student/GRFN/

Cornell University Graduate School Fellowship Notebook provides a fellowship database (a majority from non-Cornell sources). This database does not save profiles and provides listings either by searching or browsing specific disciplines.

Embark

http://www.embark.com/

Embark.com requires that you establish an account to use the scholarship search. This search service allows users to find awards based on year of study, minimum award level, areas of study, and applicant criteria.

FASTaiD

http://www.fastaid.com/

Dan Cassidy's FASTaiD, another comprehensive scholarship resource, advertises over 400 pages of scholarship listings, as well several other links to scholarship sites.

Financial Aid Resource Center

http://www.theoldschool.org/

This search service, also known as "The Old School," lists several well-organized financial resources, and includes international student links.

Foundation Center

http://fdncenter.org/onlib/orient/intro2.html

The Foundation Center, an online orientation to the grant-seeking process, provides links to corporate and non-profit funding sites.

Free 4-U

http://www.free-4u.com/

Free 4-U lists approximately 40,000 nicely organized scholarship listings. This site is frequently updated, and allows users to browse listings by specific criteria, search databases, or browse the most currently available scholarship listings.

Free Market

http://www.free-market.net/directorybycategory/contests/

This Libertarian-sponsored site provides a directory of contest and scholarship information.

FreSearch

http://www.freschinfo.com/index.phtml

FreSearch allows you to fill out a personal profile, and saves a personal "Scholarship Home Page" for you. This link also provides several college-related resources.

FundsNet

http://www.fundsnetservices.com/finaid07.htm

FundsNet contains an alphabetical listings of scholarships that you can browse. At the bottom of each page, be sure to check the "More Scholarships" links for additional listings.

Go College Scholarship Search

http://www.gocollege.com/

This search service lists more than 8,000 funding sources comprised of more than 600,000 individual awards, and selects those matching the student's profile. You must choose a user ID and password to use this service. An added bonus of this web site: "Every month we have a lucky draw where we give away many prizes: 1st Prize: a $250 Scholarship, 2nd to 12th prizes: Cool GoCollege T-Shirts. Fill out [the] form [which appears when accessing the web site] for a chance to win and click on the Register button."

Graduate & Postdoctoral Extramural Support

http://jasmine.gdnet.ucla.edu/gdnet/grapes/

UCLA's Graduate & Postdoctoral Extramural Support database search lists scholarship, fellowship, and grant opportunities for graduate students.

Grant Net

http://www.grantsnet.org/

Grant Net provides program search and a funding directory with contact information.

Kachina Technologies Inc.

http://scholarships.kachinatech.com/scholarships/scholars.html

Excellently organized graduate listings you can browse. Contains information for nationally coveted awards, Science & Engineering, Human Health, Women, Minorities, Hodgepodge, and Multiple Sources. This resource links to the University of New Mexico, and lists several graduate scholarships, grants, and fellowships. Users can either browse listings or access the database.

Look Smart

http://www.looksmart.com/eus1/eus317836/eus317912/eus61972/eus53727/eus54199/r?

The Look Smart search engine lists several scholarship sites classified by discipline.

Mach25

http://www.collegenet.com/mach25/

The Mach25 database contains over 600,000 awards totaling over $1.6 billion. Mach25 includes both undergraduate and graduate listings, but does not save your profile.

The following "GUERRILLA TACTICS" are listed in Benjamin Kaplan's book "HOW TO GO TO COLLEGE ALMOST FOR FREE"

  • GUERRILLA TACTIC #1: Conduct multiple searches in each database by varying your personal characteristics. Doing this helps you locate scholarships that may be misclassified.
  • GUERRILLA TACTIC #2: Raid the scholarship libraries and guidance offices of other schools in your area to tap their scholarship resources.
  • GUERRILLA TACTIC #3: Use internet search engines to "electronically" visit other high school and college guidance offices and check out their scholarship listings.
  • GUERRILLA TACTIC #4: Plan on creating reusable application materials that bridge multiple contests. Recycle and rethink past essays on perennial themes.
  • GUERRILLA TACTIC #5: Use class-related writing assignments as an opportunity to flesh out essays for scholarship applications. Search old schoolwork for hidden scholarship treasure.
  • GUERRILLA TACTIC #6: Use independent study course credit to pursue self-initiated projects that enhance your record for scholarship contests.
  • GUERRILLA TACTIC #7: Talk to past winners of scholarship contests you are planning to enter.
  • GUERRILLA TACTIC #8: Try to convey each of the Ten Golden Virtues somewhere in your context application. [Note: The Ten Golden Virtues are as follows: (1) Hard Work; (2) Overcoming Obstacles; (3) Teamwork; (4) Perseverance; (5) Individual Initiative; (6) Passion & Enthusiasm; (7) Responsibility; (8) Civic Duty; (9) Purpose; and (10) Character.]
  • GUERRILLA TACTIC #9: Find painless ways to fill in your resume gaps.
  • GUERRILLA TACTIC #10: Define each scholarship's ideal applicant, and emphasize personal attributes matching this definition.
  • GUERRILLA TACTIC #11: Get others to read your essay out loud, and listen for trouble areas.
  • GUERRILLA TACTIC #12: Obtain more recommendation letters than you need, then pick and choose the best letters to include with each application.
  • GUERRILLA TACTIC #13: Get electronic copies of recommendation letters on disk to reduce the burden on recommendation writers and gain better control over obtaining additional copies.
  • GUERRILLA TACTIC #14: If you don't have enough credentials to fill up a form, expand the descriptions of what you do have.
  • GUERRILLA TACTIC #15: To sidestep space limitations and highlight your most compelling achievements, include an awards & honors addendum as part of your school transcript.
  • GUERRILLA TACTIC #16: Leave sample work with interviewers to highlight your talents and remind them to consider you when it's time to award the money.
  • To order a copy of Benjamin Kaplan's book, visit: http://www.waggledancer.com

    For more scholarship advice from Benjamin Kaplan, visit: http://www.scholarshipcoach.com


    If you write for fun or are a professional writer you may submit articles on any topic for publication or republication. Submissions for our Fall/Winter edition must be submitted by November 1, 2002. Please submit them via email to president@blindcitizens.org or mail them on disk to ABC
    P.O. Box 246
    Holbrook MA 02343.


    Book Review

    by Cheryl Cumings

    Title: All the Daring of the Soldier, Women of the Civil War armies

    Author: Elizabeth D. Lennard

    Book number: RC 52080

    I picked up this book and immediately thought, "thank God for multiculturalism. Although some people dismiss Multiculturalism as a late twentieth century social ideology, which can lead to cultural relativism and political correctness, I value it for the new perspectives it can bring into my life. As an avid reader of history I believe that Multiculturalism has made it possible to learn more fully about the role of different people in shaping the past, the present, and the future.

    I recall the American history I was taught in school. Betsy Ross sewed the American flag but the significant acts of building and fighting for the country were done by men. Women as vibrant, educated, actively involved people do not appear until the abolitionist movement.

    In All the Daring of the Soldier, we learn that in the Revolutionary and in the Civil war, women played an active role. We read about women who defied prevailing social beliefs about the role of a woman and actively shaped the future of their nation. This book relates in an engaging manner the eventful stories of these women.

    Early in the book, we read about a woman in Philadelphia whose house the British used to meet at and plan upcoming battles. Although the soldiers thought she was asleep, she listened to their conversations and later recounted their battle plans to Washington. Later we read about women whose personal convictions led them to spy for the Union or for the confederacy, women who went with their husbands to the battlefields and in some cases took over their duties when their husbands were injured, women who disguised themselves as men in order to join the army.

    Unlike the other books I have reviewed, this is a straightforward recounting of the lives and activities of ordinary women doing extraordinary things. I was impressed by the extent to which the women understood the constraints their society placed on them and in some instances used that to their advantage and in all instances refused to accept their socially prescribed roles. The stories are supported by newspaper articles that were written about these women during their time and other historical materials.

    There are many footnotes, which are read when, noted. Although the reading of the text of the footnotes interrupts the stories and is sometimes distracting, in most instances the footnotes add more information.

    If you enjoy reading American history, then I strongly recommend you read this book. In its retelling of the role of women in the revolutionary and in the civil war, we gain a new understanding of the contributions of women to American history.


    Your donations are always welcome to help in supporting the programs and the services of the Association of Blind Citizens. Donations should be made payable to Association of Blind Citizens
    PO Box 246
    Holbrook, MA 02343.

    Association of Blind Citizens expands programs

    The Association of Blind Citizens has established the Assistive Technology Fund. The Assistive Technology Fund (ATF) will provide funds to cover 50% of the retail price of adaptive devices or software. The ABC board of directors believes that this program will allow blind and visually impaired individuals access to technology products that will have a significant impact on improving employment opportunities, increase the level of independence and enhance their overall quality of life.

    The products covered by this program must retail for a minimum of $200 with a maximum retail price of $6000. Persons eligible to apply for assistance must have a family income of less than $50,000 and cash assets of less than $20,000. Applications will be reviewed by the Assistive Technology Committee (ATC) and recommendations will be submitted for board approval. If applicants are selected to receive a technology grant, applicants will be asked to provide documents such as tax returns, bank statements and any other documents that the ABC board or it’s designee would deem necessary to assess financial need for the grant.

    Applicants must be legally blind and the grantee must be a resident of the United States. Applications must be submitted by June 30, September 30 and December 31 for each grant period (three per year). Applicants will be notified if their request for a grant is approved. Applicants may submit one request per calendar year. All applications must be submitted via e-mail in accordance with the procedures outlined on the ABC website. You will be notified by ABC within 45 days after the application deadline.

    To learn more and obtain your application please visit www.blindcitizens.org and click on the Assistive Technology Fund application link.


    This article was published in a recent issue of Science Fiction Chronicle Magazine at WWW.DNAPublications.Com.

    ELECTRIC BOOKS

    SCIENCE FICTION PUBLISHERS EMBRACE ALTERNATIVE FORMATS SUCH AS AUDIO, LARGE PRINT, BRAILLE, E-BOOKS, AND DESCRIPTIVE & CAPTIONED VIDEO

    BY JOE LAZZARO

    Joe Lazzaro is the Adaptive Technology editor for Absolute Magnitude Magazine, and maintains a web site at http://www.joelazzaro.com

    The dominance of the dusty hard cover is slowly waning as a wide variety of alternative book and video formats gain acceptance among publishers and consumers. Print is no longer the only game in town, as new formats evolve and expand to support a wide variety of consumer preferences. In this article, I'll spotlight publishers offering books and magazines in audio, large print, braille, and digital formats. I'll also describe sources for descriptive and captioned video that increases the accessibility of movies and television programming.

    The subject of alternative formats is very near and dear to my heart. I tend to gravitate towards alternative formats for very personal reasons. Because I am legally blind, audio and e-books are more accessible to me than traditional printed books and magazines, allowing me to read and access information independently. Yes, I can use a scanner to read printed material, but that takes time, and there is only so much time in the day with work, writing, and drinking single malts. Why go through a conversion process if you don't have to? It goes without saying that we are experiencing an explosion of information, but too much of that information is unfortunately inaccessible to consumers with visual, learning, or other disabilities. But the good news is that alternative formats can help you overcome this artificial barrier in a single bound.

    Alternative formats only increase the consumer base for products by meeting diverse preferences and needs. You don't have to be a person with a disability to take advantage of books and magazines in alternative formats. For example, audio books let you read while driving, exercising, relaxing with the lights out, working in the shop, or cleaning the house. E-books give you immediate gratification because you can browse through titles on the net and download them immediately without having to take a trip to the brick and mortar bookstore. In the next sections, I'll explore the different formats in more detail.

    Audio Books

    The publishing industry has been producing fact and fiction on audio cassettes and compact disks for some time. The Library of Congress, as well as other organizations, also produce audio books and other formats for readers who have difficulty reading printed material. There is a wide selection of SF audio titles from numerous sources if you know where to look.

    The audio cassette and CD are certainly not new technologies, but they have gained wide consumer acceptance, and have stood the test of time. You can listen to audio books whenever your eyes are busy or just want to relax. Audio books are also practical for persons with visual, learning, or other print related disabilities. while not intended for the disability market, mainstream publishers are marketing their audio titles squarely at the mainstream market. It's just a serendipitous spin-off that the books also empower persons who may have difficulty reading print.

    In addition to their practical benefits, audio books bring the pleasure of reading out loud to your automobile or living room. You only need a cassette or CD player, and a decent set of speakers or headphones to get started.

    The American printing House for the Blind in Louisville Kentucky offers the Louis database that brings together many different producers of audio books, as well as books in other formats. The Louis database can be found at http://www.aph.org. Louis provides a listing of publishers and distributors that produce books in audio tape, large print, computer disk, and braille for consumers who are blind or visually impaired.

    The Louis site also offers a listing of books that can be downloaded into talking hand-held readers. The Roadrunner is a speech-enabled book reader that can store e-books, and play them back using its built-in speech synthesizer. The Roadrunner plugs into headphones or external speakers, similar to a cassette or CD player.

    Recording for the Blind and Dyslectic (RFBD) offers books on audio cassette and computer disk. They are also working on the next generation of digital talking books with the DAISY Consortium described later in this article. You can obtain a listing of the extensive RFBD catalog from their web site at http://www.rfbd.org.

    The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically handicapped produces talking books and magazines on cassette for readers who are legally blind or who have disabilities that impact their ability to read printed material. The books and magazines are available without charge to qualified patrons, and most titles are offered on loan by postage-free mail to library patrons. The NLS web site offers resources for those seeking books and periodicals in alternative formats, and also includes a list of the various regional libraries. The NLS site also includes library resources to assist patrons who have visual or physical disabilities, as well as other organizations that produce audio, large print, or braille books and magazines. The NLS offers a wide selection of Science Fiction and fantasy titles to their patrons. For more information, point your web browser to http://www.loc.gov/nls or at http://www.loc.gov/nls/reference/directories.html for a resource guide.

    The National Library Service offers two of the largest SF magazines free of charge to its patrons: Analog Science Fiction and Fact, and Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine. The books are published monthly on audio cassette tape, and require a special machine to play back the cassettes. The modified cassette player runs at half the speed of a standard cassette, and are capable of recording four tracks per tape, allowing about six hours of playback time on a standard ninety minute cassette. The cassette players are provided free of charge to NLS patrons.

    Frequency is an audio Science Fiction magazine offered bimonthly on compact disk. The magazine is professionally narrated, and includes sound effects to enhance the presentation. You can obtain more information, or order a subscription, by pointing your web browser to the Frequency Audio web site at http://www.frequencymagazine.com.

    There is a growing selection of sites on the web that offer audio books on cassette and CD. To locate additional sources, point your web browser to one of the search engines and search for "audio books" or "books on tape". The following sites offer e-books from their web sites:

    • http://www.audiobooks.com/
    • http://www.booksontape.com/
    • http://www.audiobooksonline.com/
    • http://www.audiobookclub.com/
    • http://www.abcdinc.com/
    • http://www.talkingbooks.com/
    • http://www.audiobookworld.com/
    • http://www.bestbookbuys.com/
    • http://www.northstaraudio.com/store4/

    Large Print

    If you're a reader with a visual disability, or have eye strain from too much recreational reading or web surfing, you may benefit from large print texts. Large print books are easier to read because they present an expanded image on the retina. You can purchase large print editions of books and magazines from numerous sources. Check with your publisher for the availability of available titles. Doubleday provides a web site of their large print titles at www.doubledaylargeprint.com.

    E-books can be displayed in large print using a computer or other device. Do this by increasing the font size in your computer's operating system or applications software. A font size of 18 points or higher is considered large print.

    The accessibility options built into the Macintosh and Windows platforms support large print, allowing you to magnify both text and graphics. You can use the CloseView magnification software package if you're a Macintosh user, or utilize the Magnifier program for the Windows platform. If you read e-books on your desktop or notebook computer, you may benefit from using either of these magnification solutions to make reading more comfortable and accessible.

    The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically handicapped offers a reference circular called "Reading Materials in Large Print: A Resource Guide". The booklet is available free of charge from NLS or cooperating regional libraries. NLS itself does not provide large print books, but does offer talking books and books in braille. NLS also offers resource directories from their web site at http://www.loc.gov/nls/reference/directories.html. Now, who can say that size no longer matters?

    Braille titles

    Braille is a writing system used by persons who are blind or visually impaired, and consists of raised dots that represent alpha-numeric characters, punctuation marks, mathematics, and other symbols. Braille characters consist of six raised dots, and various dot combinations distinguish individual characters. Books can be printed in braille using a computer equipped with a braille printer and braille translation software. See http://www.freedomscientific.com for a listing of braille printer and display products. Also see http://www.aagi.com for additional braille products.

    The Library of Congress offers braille books free of charge for patrons who are blind, and these can be obtained from any regional NLS office. For more information, point your web browser to their web site at http://www.loc.gov/nls. NLS also offers Web-Braille on the Internet, a site that allows qualified patrons to download books that can be read on a braille display, a device that generates braille in real time using mechanical dots that pop up and down in various combinations under software control.

    The National Braille Press (NBP) in Boston offers a selection of braille books and magazines. Their selection of Science Fiction is currently limited to fantasy titles, but their inventory is constantly expanding. They also offer a braille production service for a nominal fee. NBP will transcribe book titles into braille using their in-house production facilities. For more information, or to arrange braille transcription services, point your web browser to their site at http://www.nbp.org.

    E-Books

    If you're a consumer with a visual disability, or prefer using a hand-held device for reading, you can take advantage of the growing list of e-book titles. Some books are even being released free of charge! The e-book market is gaining ground, and the number of reader platforms is expanding. These include the Microsoft Reader, Palm, Pocket PC, Ebookman, Windows CE, Rocket, and PDF formats. E- books satisfy the need for immediate gratification, letting you browse through bookstores on the web, and then download titles on demand. Some e-book formats assist users with limited vision, letting you access titles in large print, audio, or braille. Search the web for the phrases "electronic books" or "e-books" and you'll get thousands of hits.

    One of the legendary sites offering free e-books is Project Gutenberg. They offer a wide variety of books both fact and fiction in standard ASCII computer text files. ASCII files are readable across diverse computer platforms including Macintosh, Windows, Unix, etc. You can search the Gutenberg sites free of charge by pointing your web browser to http://www.gutenberg.org.

    Barnes and Noble offers a large selection of Science Fiction e- books in various formats. You can search their site and order online at http://www.barnesnadnoble.com.

    Peanut Press publishes an e-version of Analog Science Fiction and Fact Magazine. The magazine is compatible with the Palm platform. You can download the magazine by first going to the Analog Science Fiction and Fact site at http://www.analogsf.com which leads to the Peanut Press site at http://www.peanutpress.Com.

    Fictionwise offers a selection of e-books and supports a wide variety of platforms. See their site at http://www.fictionwise.com. Embiid Publishing offers a selection of e-books and related resources from their web site at http://www.embiid.net.

    The DAISY Consortium is developing a new set of standards for a new generation of digital talking books. The DAISY standard combines the characteristics of audio and e-books into a single format. DAISY books thus play like a talking or audio book, but can also be searched like an e-book. You can browse the table of contents, start and stop the book at will, spell words, and search the index for specific words or terms. DAISY also has rational methodologies for dealing with constructs like tables and other more complex print formats. The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically handicapped and Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic are both working on books that comply with the DAISY standard, and DAISY might become popular in the mainstream world if it gains a foothold. You can find out more about the DAISY Consortium at their web site at http://www.daisy.org.

    Descriptive & Captioned Video

    The motion picture and entertainment industries have forever changed the way information is disseminated and experienced, and this trend shows no sign of slowing whatsoever. If you have good vision and hearing, video programming does not present a barrier to access. But if you have a hearing or visual related disability, you may only be receiving a portion of the information inherent in video programming.

    Because I am legally blind, I find most movies and videos only partially accessible at best. While I have no problem perceiving the audio component, the visual content is something I simply cannot access on my own. Let me furnish a short example using one of my favorite SF movies -- Alien! The beginning of Alien is totally devoid of dialog, and relies solely on the visuals and audio soundtrack to set the stage. I was a blind man watching a silent movie for those first few minutes. Bummer!

    But I was in luck. The technology known as Descriptive Video lets film-makers add "narration" to video programming, making it more accessible for persons with visual and other disabilities. Unfortunately, descriptive video is not yet available for every title, but the list of described videos is growing.

    Just prior to writing this article, NCAM overnighted a copy of Alien with descriptive video to me. I truly "saw" the film for the first time that day. The video cassette is mastered to include a Secondary Audio Program track containing the visual descriptions of the film. This overlays the audio soundtrack, similar to a narrator doing a voice-over, and was indispensable for comprehending the story. The descriptions included the scenes as they were set, the facial expressions and body language of the performers, and even their costumes and special effects. You can turn the descriptive video track on or off using the SAP button on your television's remote control. In a movie theater, you use headphones and a pocket receiver to access the description track.

    Descriptive Video was pioneered by the CPB/WGBH National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM) in Boston. NCAM develops technologies that increase access to mass-media programming, and does outreach to diverse communities to spread the benefits of the technology. The center offers a selection of video programming that has been professionally described and captioned. For more information, or for a list of described and/or captioned titles, point your web browser to http://www.wgbh.org/ncam. The Narrative Television Network also offers information on descriptive video, and their web site is located at http://www.narrative.org.

    Captioning is another important technology that makes video programming accessible for persons with hearing related disabilities. Captioning provides text in parallel with the audio track of a program, and appear on screen in sync with the dialog.

    There are two basic types of captioning: open and closed. Open captions means they're always visible, and closed requires a decoder to view the captions. While captioning was originally intended to assist persons who are deaf or hard of hearing, the technology can benefit a wide range of consumers. These include persons learning English as a second language, individuals with learning disabilities that impact the processing of audio information, or fans watching the game in a noisy tavern.

    The National Association of the Deaf operates the Captioned Media Program and offers extensive resources at their web site at http://www.cfv.org. The site provides a listing of organizations that perform captioning or to answer questions.

    In closing, Science Fiction is the undisputed genre of diversity, and it's only fitting that it can be enjoyed in many alternative formats. Sooner or later the publishing world will follow the music and entertainment industries, and fully embrace a wider selection of formats including digital publishing. But some say that people will never part with their beer money for a device to read mere books. I don't believe it. the technology is just too damn tempting! Consumers frequently fork over hundreds or thousands of dollars for sound and video equipment. Is it such a stretch to assume that in a few years we will be willing to pay fifty or a hundred bucks (or even more for high end gear) for a reader device that can hold a small library in the space of a paperback book or smaller? The evolution process is far from over, and there is still no single recognized digital book standard that has risen to the top of the food chain. But it is only a short matter of time before the leap in evolution occurs. It has all ready taken place in the music and video industry, and is steadily growing in the publishing business. Stay tuned for further developments!

    Bio

    Joe Lazzaro is the Adaptive Technology editor for Absolute Magnitude Magazine, and maintains a web site at http://www.joelazzaro.com


    Please remember that our relationship with White Flower Shop is ongoing and they are available to you whenever those special occasions arise. You can reach them at 781-767-3283 or nationwide at 1-800-788-1427. Be sure to tell them that you are being referred by ABC so that we may receive a donation.


    Couple brings computer expertise to area blind

    BY ADAM RODINA, Black Hills PioneerJune 04, 2001

    SPEARFISH - Two special local people are sharing their talents to help those who need it. Lou and Arianna Calesso, of Spearfish, have just recently completed their first computer for a South Dakota blind person, but not without overcoming hurdles of their own.

    Both Lou and Arianna are blind themselves. Arianna has been blind since birth and Lou lost his sight at age 65. The couple moved to Spearfish in 1997, after participating in summer classes for the blind at Black Hills State University. "We fell in love with this area," said Arianna. "We love the climate and the people here."

    With the help of BHSU professor Al Sandau, they found a house and were living here permanently by November 1997.

    Before they moved to Spearfish, they refurbished slightly-outdated computers for more than two years in Morristown, N.J. According to the enthusiastic couple, they gave away more than 60 computers to the blind in those years.

    "How does a blind person use a computer?" is a common question the Calessos receive. When they refurbish a computer, they install specially-designed programs which read aloud everything that comes onto the screen. The computer's keyboard is used to select certain texts that are read aloud. "We have to go through a lot to find where we want to go," Arianna said.

    In Morristown, the Calesso's used computers with 386 processors. Those computers allowed them to use a word processor to organize data. "It ran on DOS (an operating system)," said Lou. Most people with personal computers are familiar with Windows, but not its disk operating system, DOS.

    "Then came the Pentium (computer chip)," said Lou. "We started getting calls from savvy people who wanted to use the Internet."

    Software that allowed Internet browsing, at the time, was costly. All they could do was continue distributing the older computers for word processing and other tasks.

    Before moving to South Dakota, the Calessos had no experience with Windows. Two years ago, the couple were asked by the State Division of the Blind to teach other blind people how to use Windows.

    "(Because of our experience) they thought that we could be of some use," said Arianna. Before they could teach Windows, though, they had to learn it themselves. "They gave us a two week crash course (in Windows)."

    Recently, a new screen-reading program, Connect Outloud, came on the market. The difference with this software is its price. The $249 price tag is a deal compared to other similar programs. Because many blind people are on limited incomes, most text-reading software was too costly for them to purchase. According to the Calessos, unemployment rates for blind people are very high.

    The Calessos, with help of Sandau, have been installing Connect Outloud to a Pentium computer. It took a long time, according to Sandau, a good friend of the Calessos. The new software's low price tag has given the Calesso's a chance to give Internet capable system's to blind people.

    The couple, along with Sandau, are members of Communicating Computers for the Blind Foundation Inc. Three associates in New Jersey are also members. The organization is in the process of becoming a 501 (c)(3) organization, so that when computers and other gifts are given to the organization, they may be written off as tax deductions, according to Lou.

    Now that the organization's computer is done, the Calessos are willing to take in a blind person for two weeks to teach them how to operate the system. "We will give free room and board, free classes, and a free computer," said Lou. "The student only has to pay the $249 for the program, be completely blind, in good health and can be from age 8 to 80."

    The Calessos themselves love using their own computers. "Arianna has never been in a store by herself," Lou said. "Now she can shop all she wants by herself and not have someone next to her telling her where she wants to go."

    The programs can be really time-consuming, but is only a small sacrifice. "Sometimes it gets frustrating," said Arianna, "It takes a lot longer, a lot of patience and a lot of hunting around." If there was consistency in the way web-sites are built, they said, it would be easier to search around.

    "There are not a lot of blind people in South Dakota," Arianna said. They don't let this fact discourage them and are confident that they will have a good home for the computer they just refurbished. They are also accepting any donations, so they can continue the project as they did in New Jersey. I'll even take an older computer, said Lou. "At least it could be used for word processing."

    For more information about the Calessos' computer, call 644-0445.

    ©The Black Hills Pioneer, Newspapers, South Dakota, SD 2001


    Increasing accessibility to public documents

    By John Oliveira

    HANOVER 2001 ANNUAL REPORT NOW AVAILABLE IN ACCESSIBLE FORMAT FOR BLIND, LOW-VISION, DYSLEXIC READERS

    HANOVER, MASS. March 26, 2002 Hanover's Annual Report for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2001 is now available in an accessible, self-voicing, electronic format for blind, low-vision and dyslexic readers using personal computers equipped with Microsoft Windows® operating systems.

    The accessible edition of the familiar 197-page printed booklet with the photograph of the flag-raising ceremony at B. Everett Field on the cover was donated to the town by AccessBooks Limited, a Hanover nonprofit corporation specializing in print-to-electronic conversion services for blind, low-vision and dyslexic readers.

    AccessBooks has packaged the report in a vinyl CD case with the same color cover as the printed edition and a Braille label. The case holds a CD of the AccessBooks software reader and a 3-1/2-inch floppy disk containing the actual report and complete instructions, which are also available on line once the program is installed.

    AccessBooks has already installed the report at the Town Offices and copies will soon be available at the town library. Library patrons can check out a copy, install it on their own personal computers and return the CD package to the library after installation just like a book on tape. Installed copies are also available for use by patrons in the library's reference room. But unlike books on tape, this accessible edition can be stored on the patron's computer indefinitely for future reference, and has a table of contents that is hypertext-linked to each department heading, as well as an alphabetical index. Readers can also perform full text, keyword and page number searches. An automatic bookmark feature was added so the report can be closed and reopened later at exactly the same place. Readers can also add marginal notes associated with the bookmark, in anticipation of town meeting. Financial tables and charts have been converted to text items with appropriate headings inserted before each item.

    AccessBooks uses its own text-to-speech software and a voice synthesizer that allows readers to choose from a selection of male or female voices and adjust reading rate and pitch. Low-vision readers can also display the text in large print with contrasting background colors and a moving highlighter that illuminates each word as it is read.

    Readers navigate by individual keystrokes (hot keys), two-keystroke combinations, or by drop-down menus, which are voiced. Low-vision users can also navigate with a mouse. The program is easy to use and can be learned in about 20 minutes by blind computer users, according to Neil Duane, president of AccessBooks.

    Duane says that there is a growing need for accessible public documents as the baby-boomer population ages. Although the company works primarily with schools and public agencies for the blind to convert textbooks for schoolchildren to this unique format, blindness, he says, is increasingly becoming a disease of aging.

    "Diabetic retinopathy, retinitis pigmentosa, cataracts, and macular degeneration are the leading culprits," Duane says. "Once people begin to lose their sight, they also begin to lose their independence. But, older people still vote and still pay taxes, even though visually impaired, and they deserve to have access to public documents in fact, its required by law under Section 508 of the Americans with Disabilities Act. We feel that we're very much a part of the Hanover community and, since we have the technology, we're happy to do what we can to contribute," Duane says.

    Additional public documents can be converted to the AccessBooks format if requested by Hanover residents through the Town Offices, library or council on aging. Duane, who is a consultant to the Perkins School for the Blind and Northeastern University, is also available for free consultation with any visually impaired town resident, caregiver or parent of a visually impaired child or college student needing textbooks in an accessible format. He can be reached at 1-800-233-5119.

    AccessBooks, which is located at 193 Rockland Street, developed this program in conjunction with blind software engineers when Duane was consulting with the Royal National Institute for the Blind in England three years ago. Duane says the need was driven primarily by the fact that less than five percent of the blind community read Braille, which is also expensive and time consuming to produce, and that most blind readers get their information from either scanned-in and computer-generated plain text or recorded books.

    Duane says each of these mediums has shortcomings. Plain text displayed on computer screens, such as word-processing files or scanned pages, cannot be searched for keywords, and hyperlinks cannot be followed or retraced. Neither can this text be voiced or read without connecting costly voice synthesizers and specialized screen readers to the basic computer. Books on tape have many of the same problems and are not suitable for reference material since they lack tables of contents and alphabetical indexes. Low-vision readers can sometimes get along with large print editions, but these are seldom available from publishers at any price, because the economics of production are prohibitive, he says.

    Contact: Neil Duane at neild@accessbooks.org
    800-233-5119


    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.


    Market Place

    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, Inc. 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.

    Books by Telephone

    We are pleased to announce today another platform for the Blind, Visually Impaired and the Disabled that accesses any digital information using the most common of all tools, - the Telephone.

    Although there are voice-enabled telephone systems currently being used, VoiceBooks is the only platform that allows the user complete control within a document. Until now the user has had to listen to the complete document to retrieve information. For instance, if the need is to garner information from one chapter in a text book, now, one can select any chapter, sentence, go back/forward, and skip etc., with the added benefits of a speller, dictionary and other features ¦all with voice commands.

    We feel since many are without computers*, VoiceBooks is their solution to access information. Only our imagination limits that information, whether ADA Sect. 508 accessibility, newspapers, textbooks, magazines, Email, government notifications, medical information, Q&A testing, ¦the list goes on. Even Complete Libraries

    a demonstration is available at 1-416 736-9731, when asked for the extension, say 24580. Three books are featured, follow the instructions and after making your selection, the computer takes a few seconds to "pull the book" off the shelf. At any time you can say "Tutorial" and the help menu will be spoken. This demonstration features AT&T's Natural Voices.

    *For those with computers, Colligo offers other alternatives, such as VoiceBooks on CD-ROM, or downloadable from the web. VIP Scanners, and soon, navigable MP3 files for portable players.

    For more information, call us at 360 647-3404 or VoiceBooks@aol.com
    Doug Powles
    Colligo Corp

    New talking text editor

    "SayPad" (PADXML)(freeware)

    SayPad is a freeware talking text editor that can read you a good book or help you write one, using the latest speech technology. It carefully installs the SAPI 5.1 Text To Speech engine from a compact 8.2 megabyte download. This is a quick and painless way to get the SAPI5 TTS onto your system, plus it does cool things like read to you with natural phrasing as a person would. You can fit huge files into it like the whole Bible, for instance. In fact it has a filter you can turn on that skips over verse numbers to let you hear it like a story. SayPad can now convert Text to MP3, even a whole book in one run, splitting off chapters into separate, well named MP3 files you can burn onto a CD.

    SayPad is Freeware. If you like it, please let people know about it.

    For more information and a free download please visit
    http://InspiredCode.net/4VisImp.htm

    New Yahoo Group

    There's a new Yahoo! Group! It's called Bought And Sold By The Blind! If you're blind, visually impaired, or sighted and have an interest in blindness related items, and you want to buy, sell or trade something, this is the place to post your ad for no charge! Your message remains at the group site for visitors and new members to read until you're ready for the group owner or moderator to delete it! No need to be a member to post messages! (But you must be a member to receive messages from the group.)

    Check out one of Yahoo's! newest groups for the blind and visually impaired today!
    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/boughtandsoldbytheblind/

    Bobbie - group owner

    ITEMS FOR SALE:

    Brailler, Braille 'n Speak Scholar, Computer with Magnification and Speech.

    Perkins Brailler for sale. Refurbished and in excellent condition! Will accommodate paper up to fourteen inches long. It will emboss 25 lines with 42 cells on a standard 11" x 11-1/2" sheet of Braille paper. A vinyl dust cover is included. $300.

    Braille 'n Speak Scholar. One year old, but used very little. Extra software, leather carrying case, battery charge, A/C adapter, serial interface cable for connection to PC, parallel printer cable PC disk and large print user manual, braille and large print reference guide, audio tape tutorial. $400.

    IBM NetVista Desktop Computer with Magic 8.0 Magnification and Speech already installed!. One year old. Excellent condition! It has an intel celeron 667 MHz CPU. 64 Megabytes of RAM. 10 gigabyte hard drive. 56Kbps V.90 Modem 48x CD ROM Drive. 3.5 inch 1.44 megabyte floppy diskette drive. Comes with matching IBM 17 inch monitor, Keyboard, Speakers and mouse. Magic 8.0 Magnification with Speech is made by Freedom Scientific for those with low vision or partial blindness. It magnifies up to 16X and has a choice of children's or adult voices. $300.

    Shipping costs for each item is the actual cost, or I'll mail the Brailler and Braille 'n Speak Scholar as Free Matter if you prefer. Insurance, if desired, is extra.

    For more information on any of these items please call or email Bobbie at
    309-755-0828, evans545@peoplepc.com.

    Products for the blind and visually impaired

    Please take some time to visit our WEB Site at www.bugz-eye.com to see something different for the visually impaired. I suggest the Mates category for the Magnified Ink Pens. Thank You
    Gary D. Gilman, Pres.
    BUGZ-EYE Int'l Corp.
    P.O. Box #19990
    Denver, CO 80219
    Phone/Fax 1-888-284-7393
    Email bugzeye1@cs.com


    Jan's Tasty Tidbits

    by Jan Doremus

    CLASSIC BAKED ZITI

    • 8 ounces ziti
    • 1/2 pound bulk Italian sausage, cooked and drained
    • 1 26-ounce jar pasta sauce, any flavor
    • 8 ounces (2 cups) shredded mozzarella cheese
    • Chopped parsley
    • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
    • Cook ziti as package directs; drain.
    • In large bowl, combine ziti, sausage, sauce and 1 cup cheese; mix well.
    • Turn into lightly greased 2-1/2 quart shallow baking dish.
    • Cover; bake 35 minutes or until hot and bubbly.
    • Uncover; top with remaining 1 cup cheese and parsley.
    • Bake 10 minutes or until cheese melts. Makes 6-8 servings.

    POOR MAN'S HOME FRIES

    • 2 medium potatoes per serving
    • 1 tablespoon butter
    • Garlic powder
    • Onion powder
    • Paprika
    • Salt and pepper
    • Boil potatoes until cooked but still firm. Remove potatoes from water; slice.
    • In frying pan, heat butter. Add sliced potatoes seasoned to taste with garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, salt and pepper.
    • Heat potatoes until slightly warm. Serve with breakfast foods.
    • You can sauté onions and/or green peppers along with the potatoes. You can also substitute frozen French fries for the boiled potatoes.

    PEPPERONI-CHEESE PIZZA LASAGNA

    • 1/2 of 1 pound package curly lasagna, uncooked
    • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
    • 1 tablespoon oil
    • 2 15-ounce cans pizza sauce
    • 1/2 cup water
    • 4-1/2 ounce can sliced mushrooms, drained (optional)
    • 15-16 ounces ricotta cheese
    • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
    • 1 egg
    • 12 ounces (3 cups) shredded mozzarella cheese
    • 2-1/2 ounce package sliced pepperoni
    • Cook lasagna according to package directions; drain.
    • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
    • In large saucepan, cook garlic in oil over medium heat until lightly brown.
    • Stir in sauce, water and mushrooms if desired.
    • Bring to boil; simmer 5 minutes.
    • Combine first two cheeses, egg and 1 cup mozzarella cheese; mix well.
    • In lightly greased 13-inch by 9-inch baking dish, spread 1/2 cup sauce; top with half of each of the following:
    • lasagna, cheese mixture, sauce, pepperoni and mozzarella cheese; repeat layers.
    • Cover; bake 50 minutes or until hot and bubbly.
    • Uncover; let stand 10 minutes. Makes 6-8 servings.

    THYME ROASTEDTED CHICKEN BREAST

    • 4 chicken breast halves
    • Olive oil
    • 4 tablespoons fresh or dried thyme
    • 4 garlic cloves, minced
    • Pepper to taste
    • Rub chicken breasts with oil; sprinkle thyme, garlic and pepper over chicken breasts.
    • Place any extra thyme under chicken breasts. Bake at 375 degrees 1 hour or until juices run clear.