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20/20 Access: Our Online Newsletter

20/20 Access

Published by the Association of Blind Citizens

Spring/Summer 2005

Association of Blind Citizens

P.O. Box 246

Holbrook, MA 02343

Phone: (781) 961-1023

Fax: (781) 961-0004

Web Site:

E-mail John Oliveira:

News-and-Activities Line:

(781) 654-2000

Vehicle-Donation Line: (888) 881-9090


President's Notebook

By John Oliveira

As I write this column, we have a very stormy day outside but summer is just around the corner and that means that many of ABC's activities are about to start again. ABC had a tremendous year in 2004 and we are prepared for many new challenges in 2005. Constantly changing conditions in the economy, in Congress and in our membership keep me on the move to find new sources of financial support to meet our program objectives and to look at meeting other needs in the blind and visually impaired community. I urge you all to please lend me a hand in growing the organization and I need your talents. If you have an interest in writing grants, fund raising, or editing ABC's newsletter, please contact me. If you have any ideas regarding programs that ABC could develop, please let me know.

Our programs continue to flourish, and the need for the activities in which ABC is involved continues to be evident to the blind and visually impaired community. During 2005 we will continue to sponsor children's camps. These camps give blind children a chance to participate in activities that they would not be able to experience in their communities. I received many notes of thanks and photographs from blind childrens' parents and children expressing gratitude for giving their children this opportunity. ABC is proud to continue this program.

Our commitment to braille literacy continues to move forward through the sponsorship of a reprint of a children's book in braille. "How Do You Know What Time It Is?" was released in October, 2004 as part of the National Braille Press children's book club. ABC will continue to support projects that promote the learning or use of braille.

The demand for college scholarships continues to grow. That indicates to me that the funding for educational services for the blind is needed and ABC will continue to do what we can to support the scholarship program. ABC will award $20,000 to blind students from around the country this year. These students are our future leaders, and ABC's financial commitment remains in their corner.

As the June deadline approaches for the close of our Assistive-Technology Fund, the online applications continue to arrive. The Assistive-Technology Fund continues to receive mention in a variety of publications for the blind. The word is spreading and it indicates to me that the need for this one-of-a-kind program to grow exists, and we must do what we can to make funds available for this program.

The notes of thanks and appreciation from people who have received ATF grants please me as they show the expectation that these recipients have for a brighter and more independent future with the new technology acquired.

The 2005 Beep-Ball season will begin soon. This year we will have more players involved than past years and the number of volunteer coaches has increased. The dedication of these players and coaches is extraordinary. Plans are currently under way to play a game in the Boston area in late June. This level of beep baseball competition has never been seen in the New England area. Please watch your email in early June for more details. The Association of Blind Citizens Boston Renegades are planning to play in two national tournaments this summer. On June 11 and 12 they will be in the Chicago area battling 7 other teams from around the country. The Renegades will be playing in a 16 team tournament in Houston in late July. The Renegades will be competing for the coveted world series championship. Good luck to the players and coaches. I am sure that all the players and the rest of the blind and visually impaired community join me in expressing our sincere appreciation for the dedicated ladies and gentleman giving up many hours and weekends to bring a competitive beep baseball team to national tournaments.

I enjoyed spending time with many of our members during some local events. ABC is currently developing day activities for the summer. We are going to suspend our described movies for the summer. Summer is a great time to be outdoors and enjoy the weather so we are planning activities that will promote the outdoors. If you have any suggestions on activities or trips you would like ABC to plan please call the news-and-activities line at (781) 654-2000.

ABC, in an effort to expand and diversify our fund raising program, has joined the Team with a Vision 5K Run/Walk. ABC has made a substantial financial commitment to being a part of this event and I now need your help. We need individuals to run or walk for ABC. If you want to build a ABC team or get information and pledge sheets please email me at Also, look at the programs that we offer and the opportunities that ABC is offering to the blind and visually impaired community. If you are reading this online, you will be able to donate on line by visiting I would like to wish the best to Chrissy Laws, this newsletter's former editor, from the Association of Blind Citizens'. Chrissy will be moving and will not have access to the Internet. It has been a pleasure working with her. If you or anyone you know would be interested in editing ABC's 20/20 Access, please contact me.

In closing, I ask for your support so that we can continue to expand our services to the blind community. If you can make a cash contribution or donate your time we would love to hear from you. If you would like to be in our 5K run/walk please let me know. I have outlined some of the activities that we have sponsored, but we are also working hard to make sure that these activities will be funded in the future.

Enjoy the newsletter, and remember that we welcome articles from our readers.

Plain in Maine

The greatest joys in life often come from the simplest things. Something as basic as a book, for example, can take us to faraway lands or fill our minds with knowledge difficult to gain in any other way. Some of us, though, miss out on this simple pleasure; only a tiny percentage of published books ever appear in large print. But now a solution exists.

Abhay Patel, who was diagnosed at age 13 with juvenile macular degeneration, and his partners at Huge Print Press customize books and other text-based material according to their customers' needs. Whether you want "Little House on the Prairie" in 24-point print, or the King James Bible in 36-point print, this Dallas-based company makes this simple joy available to every large-print or e-text reader; the service especially benefits students.

"Every student should be given every opportunity to maximize his or her potential," says Patel. "If a student can maximize his or her potential with 24-point books, then he or she should get 24-point books. There is no place in our society for inferior alternatives when better solutions are readily available."

Huge Print Press offers that solution by creating an accessible version of the original book. And no matter what you want customized, this company delivers it to you quickly.

"Our inventory is globally infinite," Patel explains. "You tell us the book you want, and we'll get it to you in as little as two weeks, often even sooner. Since we customize our books to the individual reader's needs, it's rare that we sell the same book twice. While a particular title may be purchased multiple times, the font size varies; binding preferences vary; the color of the paper varies; even the desired spacing in between sentences varies. As a result, we don't have a warehouse of books. Instead, our books are stored in the minds of our readers."

Patel's parents always told him, "Education is the key to opportunity, and reading is the key to education." Now Patel offers that key to the blind and low-vision community.

Huge Print Press (866) 484-3774



I had been sitting next to my husband when a man walked toward us and drawled, "Is your wife blind?" I felt a wave of heat flood me and in an irritated tone I said, "No, she isn't." That's what we're supposed to say, right?

Another time I had been standing near my husband with my nose practically on the page of a book. A man we knew walked up and asked, "Are you smelling it?"

This time I chuckled and explained that I had actually been reading it, although I do sometimes smell books to see if they have that inky, new-book smell I love so much. He told us about some musty old books he has and how he would rather keep his nose far away from them. Then we talked about other things. Would that have happened if I had snapped at him?

I think most people mean well with their questions. And even when they don't, by smiling and giving a kind answer, things usually go well. I could have laughed in the first situation and explained how I see. He still would have gotten the point, and maybe he would be kinder the next time he met someone with a visual impairment.


The Association of Blind Citizens announces products, services and events for the benefit of its readers. ABC lists these for free and assumes no responsibility for the quality of the products, the reliability of the services nor the legitimacy of the events.

ACB Radio broadcasts all kinds of shows for a blind and visually impaired audience. See what's playing now at

Candle in the Window holds annual conferences of interest to blind and visually impaired adults, and this year it takes place August 24-28 near Louisville, KY. Contact Peter Altschul at (202) 234-5243 or for more information.

The American Council of the Blind convention starts on 2 July and ends on 9 July in Las Vegas, NV. Visit for details.

The National Federation of the Blind holds its annual convention on July 2-8 in Louisville, KY. Check out for more information.

The Salvation Army summer camp runs August 15-19 in Leonard, MI. Call (313) 870-6843 to find out more about this camp. And check out other camps for blind and visually impaired people at

S'mores in Seconds

Place two graham crackers on a microwave-safe plate. Stack a piece of a Hershey's chocolate bar and a marshmallow on each, and heat the s'mores on high in your microwave for about 20 seconds. Then squish both marshmallows with another graham cracker for each.

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