Association of Blind Citizens
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Published by the Association of Blind Citizens

PO. Box 246, Holbrook, MA 02343

Telephone: 781 961-1023

Fax: 781 961-0004

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President's Notebook

By John Oliveira

The board and I hope you all had a happy holiday season. We had a very successful holiday luncheon and I attended two holiday concerts with many members to keep us in the spirit of the season.

ABC's programs for the blind and visually impaired community continue to flourish. I welcome your feedback on what programs you would like to see ABC develop. As I have said in the past, ABC is not looking to duplicate what other organizations are offering but is looking to offer new opportunities. ABC will only develop programs if the need in the blind community is not sufficiently met. In the coming year ABC will be looking for opportunities to partner with other organizations and businesses to strengthen our programs. If you have any contacts that you feel would be helpful to ABC's growth and expansion, please call the office and let us know how we can contact your friend, family member or associate.

In closing, I ask you to make a much needed contribution to help keep our programs alive and growing. ABC does not receive income from membership dues so we count on you to determine your level of membership and donate accordingly. We know that it is difficult to help every organization you would like in this tough economy. However, we hope when you sit down to determine your charitable giving, you will remember all of the lives we at ABC have enriched through our programs. Please help us continue to serve our community with your generous donation.

Blind waiters in a pitch-black restaurant



By: Danielle Gusmaroli

We have been treated to bacon-and-egg ice-cream and the £100 pizza, but the latest culinary experiment on offer to British diners will have them rubbing their eyes in disbelief. For it is a blind tasting like no other. Despite a bizarre approach to haute cuisine, the restaurant Dans le Noir has won over Parisian diners, and next month it opens in London. Guests will be led to a pitch-black dining room and served food that they cannot see. Guiding them will be a team of 10 blind waiters. A clamour for tables is expected when the restaurant starts to take bookings this week, for Dans le Noir is being hailed as a crucible for the culinary craze of 2006. It has already sparked a debate over the role of sight when it comes to eating. Those supporting the dining-in-the-dark concept, including charities for the blind, say it will open up diners' other senses and liberate their tastebuds. Traditionalists, on the other hand, insist that looking at a stunning creation before eating it is a fundamental part of haute cuisine. Edouard de Broglie, the man behind the British venture after launching the Paris restaurant, said his interest was in the sensory, not the social aspect of dining. "The preconception of what food tastes like because of how it looks is gone," he said. "All your other senses are abruptly awoken and you taste the food like you have never tasted it before." But other top chefs were scathing. Marco Pierre White, who has opened a string of London eateries and was the youngest chef to be awarded three Michelin stars, said: "For me, the eyes must be used as well as the palate. It's all part of the show. "And seeing top waiters in action is a key element of the service. I think this is conceptual more than real. It is not fine dining. But I guess it saves a few pounds on electricity. "Part of a wonderful dining experience is seeing Mother Nature's creations on a plate. I think the critics will have a field day." Other novelties that have seduced metropolitan diners in recent years include a £100 pizza topped with white truffle shavings at Gordon Ramsay's Maze Restaurant in London. And Heston Blumenthal impressed critics with incredible creations such as bacon-and-egg ice-cream and snail porridge at the Fat Duck in Bray, Berkshire, voted the world's best restaurant last year


Mr Blumenthal said he was interested in trying out blind dining. "I will have to give it a go," he said. "But I don't think we are ever going to get to the point where people will be flocking to restaurants in the dark." Yet Dans le Noir, which opened in Paris more than a year ago, remains packed most nights, serving three courses for £39 per person, without wine. The Independent on Sunday visited it last week to discover what the attraction of eating under cover of darkness is. We made our choices from the menu before shuffling into the blacked-out room in single file, hands placed on the shoulder of the person in front. Immediately, the world felt both infinite and claustrophobic, as we found our seats. But with a gentle reassuring touch, the waiter, Benoit, explained that there was a napkin, knife and fork and an unbreakable glass on the table. Then he disappeared. You cannot signal your waiter, but calling his name brings him back to your side. Soon, the food arrived. With our hands, we discovered that the vegetables and scallops had been neatly presented, which all seemed rather pointless. The pudding - chocolate fondant and ice-cream, apparently - left us perplexed. It could have been anything mousse-like.

Our tastebuds may well have been aroused, but they were confused. After an hour and a half, we were desperate to return to the people and colours outside. But the owners of Dans le Noir are confident that it will be a huge success in the UK. And it has already won praise from the Royal National Institute for the Blind and Action for Blind People for creating jobs for the blind. The chef, his team of three, and a handful of front-of-house staff can see.

But the 10 waiters are all officially registered blind, and have been subjected to a rigorous training regime. Nicolas Chartier, project manager of the London branch, insisted that diners would have nothing to fear from blind waiters carrying hot dishes. "It may seem, at first, a recipe for disaster, but the waiters are highly skilled," he said. He added that diners would learn about life as a blind person. "The waiters show us what it is like to experience their world," he said. "When you cannot see, you depend on the waiter to guide you, so a special relationship develops between customers and the blind.

It makes you rethink everything." We have been treated to bacon-and-egg ice-cream and the £100 pizza, but the latest culinary experiment on offer to British diners will have them rubbing their eyes in disbelief. For it is a blind tasting like no other. Source


Blind coach instills vision for success


From: Hannibal Courier Post - Hannibal,MO,USA

By: Danny Henley

ST. LOUIS - Eugene "Deke" Edwards is in his 44th year as wrestling coach at the Missouri School for the Blind in St. Louis. Part of what keeps Edwards coaching is the challenge and enjoyment of helping his sightless athletes develop a vision for success.

"Just because you don't see, I don't think that makes any difference," said Edwards, who grew up approximately 15 miles south of Bowling Green in the small community of Corso. "I would like to think I've given them an opportunity to compete against all kinds of kids - blind, sighted, deaf. That's the way it's going to be in life."

While many of the wrestlers under the tutelage of Edwards have gone on to compete in the state tournament, that's just a small part of the reward he has derived from his years of coaching.

"What's so rewarding is to see how many of the kids I have coached that have done well. When I say 'well,' I mean they've made their own living. They're not on welfare, depending on some check," he said. "The kids that worked hard in wrestling apparently have worked hard in life, because they've done well."

Sound instruction is not the only thing that Edwards, who was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame last June, provides his young grapplers.

He also represents a role model, since he too is blind.

At least for some of his athletes, Edwards believes having a coach who is sight-impaired serves as an inspiration.

"They know I've been there and done it," he said.

Youngsters joining the Missouri School for the Blind's wrestling team quickly learn their coach is a straight shooter.

"I try to tell them the way I think it is and the way it's been. I don't lie to them," he said. "If I compliment them, it's a real compliment. Maybe I'm a little out with things today with all this positive reinforcement when it's really not warranted."

To give his wrestlers an accurate assessment of their skills, Edwards, who will turn 67 on Feb. 5, still resorts to hands-on instruction.

"I wrestle almost every one of the kids every day for a few minutes," he said. "It would be difficult if I had big groups."

Squaring off against his athletes is not the only way Edwards assesses their wrestling technique.

"A lot of times you can tell by the sound when a guy does a move. When it's done right there's a certain way it sounds. There's a splat on the mat when a move is done a certain way. Really, you can tell," said Edwards with a laugh.

For some youngsters, athletics come naturally. For blind wrestlers, success is rarely achieved easily, according to Edwards.

"Blind kids, even if they have athletic ability, it takes them longer to learn the basics of wrestling. Once they become a decent wrestler, they learn just as fast (as a sighted wrestler) I think," he said.

Edwards, who continues to say each year is going to be his last as the school's wrestling coach, relishes in the improvement his athletes make each year.

"It's fun to see those kids grow," he said. "It's kind of frustrating right now. These are young kids (on his current team) and they make mistakes, but they're learning good work habits.

"Then when you see them as juniors in high school, and how far they've come and how much they've changed, that's a big reward."

Edwards is thankful that his sight-impaired athletes have an opportunity to compete.

"To grow and mature I think it's essential for some kids, not all kids maybe, to have physical competition," he said.

Unfortunately, not all blind athletes have that opportunity.

"So many of those (sight-impaired) kids are going to public schools. To me, I think it's a mistake for a lot of them. They don't really get the opportunity (to compete in athletics). I can't blame the schools. If you're a coach and have 40 kids, you can't spend the time (working with blind athletes)," said Edwards.

Edwards joined the Missouri School for the Blind staff following his graduation from SIU Carbondale, where he was a standout wrestler. During his four-year collegiate career, Edwards amassed a 45-6 record. He served as team captain for the nationally-ranked Salukis his senior year.

"I did pretty well," is Edwards' modest assessment of his college career.

A three-time conference champion, Edwards might have won a fourth title had it not been for a separated shoulder suffered a month before the conference tournament his freshman year. As it was he wound up a 6-5 loser in the conference tournament - his only loss of the year - to a wrestler he'd previously beaten.

"If we had been in the same position my senior year, I would have won. I'd have been a little meaner," said Edwards, laughing.

A high school wrestling official, along with an assistant wrestling coach on his high school team, both encouraged Edwards to give the sport a try at the college level.

"I knew blind guys could do it," said Edwards. "I wasn't sure I could, but I guess nobody is sure when they go from high school to college. It's so different."

Not everyone can take the step athletically from high school to college, according to Edwards.

"You'd see guys come in who were state champions from Illinois and different states. They were used to beating everyone up in the (practice) room and instead they're getting beat on as a freshman because you've got some guys about as good as anyone in the country," he said. "Some people couldn't take that, not being on top right away. A lot of them quit after a semester. They'd be there a year and be gone."

Like many youngsters growing up in the late 1940s, Edwards dreamed of being a Major League baseball player.

"I played baseball all the time. I did pretty well at baseball as a kid," he said.

In November 1950, Edwards' dreams took a detour when a rifle misfired during a hunting trip, costing the then-11-year-old his eyesight.

"I had to alter my goals a little bit," he said.

Despite the loss of his sight, Edwards still played baseball as best he could.

"I loved to throw. My brother and I'd play catch a lot. He'd roll the ball back and I'd field it," he said. "Kids would come over and I'd take my turn at hitting. They'd let me pitch.

"While I couldn't really play on a regular team or anything, the neighborhood kids would still come over. We had a lot of good ballgames and a lot of fun."

Shortly after losing his sight, Edwards, who had been attending classes in Silex, switched schools.

"I immediately went to the Missouri School for the Blind, which was a blessing. Now they might have kept me there (Silex), but I would not have had the opportunities I had at the Missouri School for the Blind. We did things that you just couldn't do in a public school. We had wrestling, track and a swimming team," he said.

Edwards was guided into wrestling by the school's superintendent and PE coach, who coincidentally also happened to be the wrestling coach.

"They were pretty slick about getting you involved in wrestling," said Edwards with a chuckle.

During his high school wrestling career, Edwards amassed a 75-2 record with 58 pins. He twice won state wrestling titles and was the state runner-up another time.

Unlike today, when a blind wrestler is allowed to touch the fingertips of his opponent when starting in the standing position, Edwards had to compete like a sighted wrestler.

"We had to cross a 10-foot circle then," said Edwards, who was given verbal cues from his coach regarding what direction his opponent was approaching. "Guys tried all kinds of stuff, like sneaking around. The guys who did that really were taking themselves out of the way they wrestled. I practiced against that stuff every day."

Edwards admits he would have liked competing under the current wrestling rules used at the high school level.

"It would be a lot easier to wrestle now no contact because they start about a meter apart. Back then we started 10 feet apart, which made it a little tougher.

Heck, you can smell a guy 3 feet away. Some of these guys (Edwards wrestled) you'd smell 10 feet away," he said with a hearty laugh. "It was tougher I think then, but everything worked out fine. I never really thought of it as a disadvantage."

Neither does Edwards look back on his loss of sight with great regret.

"Maybe if you had to lose your sight, that (11 years old) was a good age to lose it," he said. "I'd seen long enough to know what things looked like and I had a good memory. I wasn't quite old enough that I was dating and I wasn't driving, so cars weren't that important.

"That's the way I look at it."

Considering all that he has accomplished during his life, does Edwards consider himself handicapped?

"Not if I'm doing what I'm doing," he said. "I guess things would be easier (with sight), but I don't know if I'd have the same passion.

"I don't think that I've accomplished anything really. I just did what I liked to do. I've enjoyed wrestling. I still have fun. I've also enjoyed seeing kids make progress."

Legally blind man has knack for rubbing people right way


From: The Columbus Dispatch

By: Suzanne Hoholik

Massage therapist Earl Palmiter, who is legally blind, works on client LaJetta Ferrell at Unique Beautique Day Salon in Pataskala.

PATASKALA, Ohio - The room is like any other at a day spa: soft lights, mood music and a massage table. But behind the cabinet that holds the compact-disc player, oils, lotions and hot rocks, there's a dog cage. That's for Nell, a standard poodle that often falls asleep while her master, Earl Palmiter, works.

He's a licensed massage therapist. Palmiter, who is legally blind, said his disability helps him focus more on touch, which translates into better massages.

"I think it helps people be more comfortable, because I can't fully see and people are more comfortable with their bodies," he said.

Palmiter said he hadn't planned to become a masseur.

The Pennsylvania native worked for Continental Airlines in Newark, N.J., driving equipment on the ramps and runways. After he transferred to Columbus, he began to lose his vision.

In 1989, doctors diagnosed macular degeneration, in which the part of the retina responsible for central vision deteriorates.

Unable to drive anymore, he had to quit his job.

Palmiter, 39, isn't completely blind. He can't make out the features on people's faces, but their heads are a blurry outline.

At home, he sits inches from the television and writes on his computer using type almost as big as the screen. He wears a powerful magnifying glass around his neck for reading forms.

He doesn't want to learn Braille just yet.

"If the vision gets worse, I'll have to, but Braille books are so big," he said.

After a short time on disability, Palmiter enrolled at the American Institute of Alternative Medicine in Columbus, where he used books on tape to earn his license.

He started giving massages in his Pataskala home, but business was slow.

In 1999, he asked Pam Parkinson at Unique Beautique Day Salon for a job. The place is a 10-minute walk from his house.

Convenience was one reason Parkinson hired Palmiter. She knew he would bring something special to her spa, she said.

"He has a very soft touch. He's more in tune with the feeling and touch," she said.

Palmiter, who is divorced and has a 12-year-old daughter, gives about 25 massages a month and sometimes as many as five a day. He combines techniques from Swedish and deep-tissue massages.

One of his clients is LaJetta Ferrell. She had never had a massage until her doctor recommended the treatment for the shoulder she injured in a fall.

She found her twice-monthly massages so beneficial that she asked her family to buy additional visits as Christmas and birthday presents.

Recently at Unique Beautique, Ferrell lay on her stomach, her face cradled in the table's headrest. Her eyes closed as Palmiter rubbed his hands with massage oil and lowered them to her skin.

His hands slowly went up and down her back. As he continued, he pushed a little harder, gently knocking out the toxins that create knots.

"I treat the tissue based on what I feel," he said. "Each massage is slightly different."


By Amy Herdy, Denver Post Staff Writer

Denver Post, Colorado (Nov 2005)

This is a story of chance meetings and second chances, of love and honor, discipline and respect. And taekwondo.

Asked to speak at a fitness convention in Longmont in 1999, Hung Tran, the owner of Tran's Martial Arts & Fitness Center there, talked to the crowd forcefully.

"I spoke about how they can take action in their life, that they are never too old to do things," Tran, now 37, recalled recently. "I told them I'd be willing to give a free membership for a year to anyone willing to take their life back."

Soon, he had two new clients: a married couple, Tom and Barb Fletcher. Both were hitting 50. Both were out of shape. And both have been blind since birth.

Today, the Fletchers are working with Tran toward achieving their black belts. For now, Barb Fletcher sports a blue sash around her waist, two colors away from her goal.

Tom Fletcher, who wears red, is one color away. Both of them say taekwondo changed their lives.

"This is more than martial arts and being fit," Tom Fletcher said. "You're more calm about your surroundings and your world."

The best part, his wife said, "is being able to feel safe and having a way of defending yourself. I think everybody should take some type of self-defense. You put on a confident air, hold your head up."

They didn't always feel that way. Nor did their instructor. "We came to this country in 1975, refugees from the Vietnam War," Tran said of his family. His father raised all five children as a single parent, working as a bagger at King Soopers near their home in Fort Collins. The family lived on food stamps and in government housing, Tran said, and he often encountered hostility.

"I got picked on and beat up almost all my life in this country," he said. Then an older brother invited him to watch taekwondo. The brother had been taking classes from an instructor who taught him in exchange for him cleaning the school. Soon, all five children, three boys and two girls, were taking classes, all in exchange for cleaning the school.

"That's a gesture I remember to this day," said Tran, whose siblings own four other locations of Tran's Martial Arts & Fitness Center. "So we have a scholarship program." And that's how he met the Fletchers.

His first day of class, Tom Fletcher recalls, "I literally got sick to my stomach. I walked out on the mat and thought, 'What am I doing here?"'

Growing up, he said, "I was very short, very timid, and the object of scorn from some classmates". He also struggled with a brutal reality: "I was a ward of the state and molested by a foster parent."

Slowly, deliberately, Fletcher said, Tran worked with him and his wife, painstakingly maneuvering their hands, arms, feet and legs to form every move required to learn taekwondo.

"He's so patient," Barb Fletcher said, "and he teaches us step by step, and we go over it and over it. He has so much discipline and respect." The combination, they said, empowered them.

"As a child, I wouldn't fight. I would just freeze," Tom Fletcher said. "Now, I have enough confidence to do something, but I'll do my best to make sure it doesn't get to that point."

The students are also teachers. "I'm learning, too, as we go," Tran said. For his advanced red belt, Tom Fletcher is required to run 2 miles in 20 minutes, Tran noted, so they are learning to run together using a tether.

"The best thing I've learned is patience," Tran said. "They're always positive. If I say, 'No, you need to do it this way,' they'll smile at me. I can't get frustrated with them."

Others speak of that same energy. "They're always there with that positive attitude," said Monica Hall, an instructor at the Longmont Tran's location and owner of Active1 Self-Defense. Hall, 42, who has worked with the Fletchers at Tran's in the past, said she considers them role models. "They always have a smile, an encouraging word."

Tran agreed that others can learn from the Fletchers. "If those guys are willing to step out of their comfort zone and do things they are not comfort zone.



Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL (Nov '05)

If Starbucks has its way, its future work force will look more like Michelle Penman. Thirty-six-year-old Ms. Penman, who has cerebral palsy, spends three hours getting ready for work every morning. Because she has trouble speaking and has limited mobility, customers must write down their orders and place them on her wheelchair. She returns with their coffee and food on a tray or in a backpack affixed to her motorized wheelchair.

The Seattle-based coffee giant has already turned Ms. Penman into something of a company icon. The Starbucks CEO mentions her in his speeches as an example of the devotion of the company's work force, and says he keeps her picture in his office.

Now, StarbucksCorp wants to make Ms. Penman a literal model employee. As the company expands its outlets, it is trying to tap into the growing pool of job seekers with disabilities. The goal: to make its stores more inviting to customers with disabilities, as well as their caretakers, family members and friends.

"This is a group that most businesses have not addressed," says May Snowden, Starbucks' Vice President of Global Diversity. "As I look at changes in demographics, it is one of the groups that are very important."

Indeed, people with disabilities have discretionary spending power of $220 billion annually, according to the American Association of People with Disabilities. Of the 70 million families in the U.S., more than 20 million have at least one member with a disability, according to the Association.

For Starbucks, the equation is simple. "Customers tend to patronize a business that is like them," says Jim Donald, President and Chief Executive Officer.

The Starbucks effort, which is still in its early stages, is proceeding on a couple of fronts. The company recently hired Marthalee Galeota, who worked with Seattle-area nonprofits on disability matters, as Senior Diversity Specialist in Charge of Disability Issues. The job goes beyond making sure Starbucks complies with the Americans With Disabilities Act, the law that mandates equal access to jobs and services for the disabled. Ms. Galeota focuses on establishing companywide etiquette for a range of issues. For instance, she has changed the labels on tables designated for wheelchair users to read, "For a customer with a disability," instead of "Disabled customers." The company also has designed its counters at a height that is easily reached by customers in wheelchairs, and the majority of its roughly 10,000 stores around the world have at least one handicapped-accessible entrance.

In addition, Ms. Galeota is working to incorporate disability etiquette into employee training. For example, employees should ask a customer with a disability if he or she would like help, rather than automatically lending a hand; they should also refrain from petting a working service dog for the blind. Then there are day-to-day matters. Ms. Galeota fields calls from employees with disabilities as well as store managers to give advice about potentially tricky situations -- for instance, what a manager should do if an employee goes deaf.

In terms of recruiting, the company has joined the National Business Disability Council, which provides a national database of résumés of people with disabilities. "We have to make sure we are sourcing at every source that is available," Ms. Snowden says. On average, the company hires 200 to 300 people overall every day.

Exactly how much progress Starbucks is making in hiring people with disabilities is difficult to measure. The company doesn't keep statistics on how many employees with disabilities it hires because employees are not required to record that information on an application.

The Starbucks effort comes as a number of other large employers are reaching out to disabled workers. International Business Machines Corp. (IBM) offers internships for students with disabilities and runs sessions for managers to meet potential hires with disabilities. It also has put together a video for hiring managers that addresses questions they might be afraid to ask, such as how much it will cost to accommodate these employees and how they can ensure that these employees will be able to do their jobs properly.

"It's sending a message that we are a company that wants the best talent and we are inclusive of everyone," says Millie DesBiens, an IBM Program Manager who focuses on disability issues.

Verizon Corp., meanwhile, sends employees to conferences and conventions hosted by nonprofit groups working with the disability community. It also informs disability advocates about certain job openings, says Jeff Kramer, Verizon's Director of Public Policy and Strategic Alliances.

But Starbucks faces a higher hurdle than most companies when it comes to recruiting people with disabilities. Its workers are constantly interacting with the public in its fast-paced, high-volume stores. Some Starbucks employees with disabilities acknowledge the challenges -- but also the rewards.

Since she started at Starbucks in 1998, Cindy Rogers, 50, has lost much of her vision. She uses special tactile pads on the cash register and takes her guide dog along to work. She can no longer do much work behind the fast-paced espresso bar, so she focuses on the pastry case and register.

Sometimes, she means to take a credit card and instead grabs the customer's hand. She once called out to say she could help the next person in line only to be told by a colleague that there was no line.

At times, "customers are not the nicest they could be," Ms. Rogers says. "Customers will say, 'Isn't that nice that Starbucks will let people like you work there.' "One man, commenting on her antiglare glasses, said, "'Cool, I'll put on my sunglasses so we can communicate,' " she recalls.

But she says her co-workers at the Mesa, Arizona, outlet have been extremely supportive. "I am sure they get frustrated," she says. "I try to use humor, and if I didn't laugh I would cry."

And she says many customers are tactful and kind. She's gotten to know the regulars by the sound of their voices and knows exactly what they are going to order. On her days off, she runs a Braille reading group at the store for local children and their parents.

Corey Lindberg, a deaf 46-year-old senior business systems analyst working at Starbucks headquarters in Seattle, says he's less prone to distraction around the office. If he needs to concentrate, he can just close his eyes. In some ways, he says, his hearing impairment -- which he developed later in life -- makes him work harder.

He relies on instant-messaging software and writing notes on paper to communicate, and the company supplies a sign-language interpreter when he attends meetings. When he speaks on the phone, he uses a device that captions the conversation on a computer screen or a videoconferencing service with an interpreter.

Before Michelle Penman joined Starbucks, she worked at a restaurant where the owner insisted that she sit out of sight of customers, according to her mother, Renee.

"He made her sit back behind the kitchen where she would not be in anyone's way," Renee Penman wrote in an email. "Sometimes she sat there for four hours without anyone even speaking to her. I talked with the owner several times about finding another place for her to sit while she waited for an order to come in, and he would not budge."

At Starbucks, the younger Ms. Penman sits in the front of the store, and "there are times when customers have to go around her to get in the coffee line," her mother says. But the manager has never suggested that Ms. Penman move out of the way, according to her mother. When Ms. Penman is out sick, customers ask where she is.

Mr. Donald, the CEO, attended her 10th anniversary party at the store. Michelle has been the subject of a local newspaper story and television news spot, her mother says.

"People talk about Starbucks in such a positive way, they say, 'That's where Michelle works,' " Renee Penman says. She says she knows her daughter is giving the company a wealth of positive press, but she doesn't mind. "If they want to be selfish and do it for themselves that is OK. The person with the disability is winning, too."


Bentonville, AR November 7, 2005

In a move applauded by members of the blind community nationwide, Wal-Mart announced that it has begun installing state-of-the art point of sale devices to protect the privacy and security of Wal-Mart shoppers with visual impairments. The new devices have tactile keys arranged like a standard telephone keypad and will allow Wal-Mart shoppers who have difficulty reading information on a Touchscreen to privately and independently enter their PIN and other confidential information.

Today's announcement is the result of collaboration between Wal-Mart and major blind organizations including the American Council of the Blind and the California Council of the Blind. Speaking for the organizations, Melanie Brunson of the American Council of the Blind and Jeff Thom of the California Council of the Blind commended Wal-Mart's actions: "Wal-Mart has taken a leadership role in ensuring that persons with visual impairments do not have to disclose confidential information when purchasing products and services."


This is the ultimate in portable accessibility! Once again, Premier Assistive introduces true innovation in assistive technology. The Key to Access is not much bigger than a car key - yet still opens the world of computer information to individuals with print-related disabilities. A device not much larger than a pack of gum contains a collection of tools designed to make your entire computer accessible.

"It is like carrying an assistive technology tool box in my pocket!" says Susan Rivers, of District 107.

Dr. Steve Timmer, Chairman tells us "The Key to Access enables you to take your Assistive Software with you on a portable USB MP3 Player. By just inserting the MP3 Player into any USB Port, the floating tool bar will appear and then just select any of the 8 powerful tools. The software NEVER needs to be installed on your computer. All your personal settings are saved on your Key to Access so that no matter which computer you use, your access will be the same."

Finally Assistive Technology students will want to use it, because it does not lock them down to a special room, or make them look any different. The built-in voice recorder even allows you to dictate notes or record lectures and listen to them later. Plug it into the USB drive and you have access to a 250,000-word Talking Dictionary. The Universal Reader is Ideal for reading emails and web pages and E-Text Reader is a tremendous study tool that allows you to highlight, bookmark, search and extract text from a document. The Talking Word Processor has talking word prediction and the world's most powerful talking grammar check. Scan and Read Pro is compatible with most flat bed scanners. Just place a book on the scanner and within a few seconds Scan and Read can be reading it to you. PDF Magic is outstanding for converting inaccessible PDF files to accessible formats. Text To Audio application will take documents from your computer convert them to MP3 and put them right on your Key to Access player so that you can listen to them away from your computer.

Ken Grisham, President, further explains "Since the tools are built into the 1 Gigabyte USB MP3 Player, you will always have ample space for your own files too. Each Key to Access even comes with its own personal set of earphones. Our Live Update technology keeps your software up-to-date with the latest software features and functions simply by connecting to the Internet. Employing Key to Access can significantly help organizations overcome the burden of having to install, update and manage assistive software. With Key to Access, students and teachers can take their reading /writing tools wherever they need to be without waiting for their Technology Staff to load and setup software. It couldn't be easier".

The Key to Access specifications are:

  • * MP3 Player
  • * Digital Voice Recorder
  • * 1 GB Flash USB Drive - 512 MB Free to hold up to 16 Hours of audio books.
  • * Ear Bud Headphones
  • * 18-Month Warranty
  • * Requires only 1 AAA battery that lasts about 16 hours of listening
  • * Requires Windows 2000 or XP with 128 MB of RAM

The price of Key to Access is $349.95. For more information about this and our other products, order online at or call us at 517-668-8188 or 815-722-5961.


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 officials. Products and services are listed free of charge for the benefit of our readers. "20/20 Access" cannot be responsible for the reliability of products or services mentioned.


Baechler Productions, a leader in the transfer and restoration of high quality Vintage Radio shows available on DVD and audio CD announced today that in association with, a leading provider of digitally accessible books for the disabled, funding has been donated for the purchase and scanning of nearly two dozen books related to Vintage Radio. If you are a member of, you can already download several titles which have been processed, with more titles going online over the next several weeks. We regrettably are unable to make these books available to non-members. All titles can only be downloaded through the web site.


Associated Services for the Blind & Visually Impaired in Philadelphia, PA, is pleased to announce the Grand Opening of our Online Braille Bookstore, For the first time Associated Services for the Blind & Visually Impaired (ASB), has opened up its archives and has created a bookstore to give worldwide access to our vast collection of Brailled Books.

The ASB Braille Bookstore currently has 9 categories and over 100 books ready for immediate sale. With updates every week, we plan on having over 300+ books in our catalogue.

The ASB Braille Bookstore currently contains classics like Lord of the Flies and The Call of the Wild, to Cajun Cooking, and several books from popular authors like Stephen King, Clive Clussler, Dean Koontz, and by Romance Queen, Sandra Brown.

With most books ranging from $15.00 - $35.00, bound and shipped via free matter, our collection of books is affordable. All books are proofread and transcribed by certified Braille transcribers and proofreaders. If you have any questions regarding this announcement please feel free to write ASB at


By Playthings Staff

The Toy Industry Association (TIA) is introducing the 2006 edition of Let's Play: A Guide to Toys for Children with Special Needs. Let's Play is an educational family resource, developed by the TIA, in cooperation with the American Foundation for the Blind and the Alliance for Technology Access.

The guide features a wide variety of toys that appeal to children with special needs such as visual, physical, speech and hearing impairments, as well as learning disabilities and attention deficit disorder (ADD). The guide can also be referenced by retailers interested in expanding their stock of toys for children with special needs.

"TIA is proud to work in conjunction with the Toy Industry Foundation, along with the ATA and the AFB, to produce Let's Play, a guide that serves as a resource for so many families with special needs," says TIA president Tom Conley." The guide supports the North American toy industry's mission to bring the joy of play to all children."

Let's Play: A Guide to Toys for Children With Special Needs, is produced and distributed by the TIA on behalf of the Toy Industry Foundation, the industry's philanthropic organization. Consumers and others may access Let's Play on the TIA website by visiting

Larry Johnson has written a book about his travels called Mexico by Touch, True-Life Experiences of a Blind Deejay. It is available on five CDs for $25, plus $3 for shipping. Order from: Larry Johnson, 10863 Lake PATH Drive, San Antonio, TX 78217

George Foreman's Indoor Grilling Made Easy: More Than 100 Simple, Healthy Ways to feed Family and Friends by George Foreman and Katheryn Kellinger, in two Braille volumes for $19.95. The book contains breakfast foods, entrees, side dishes, desserts and snacks all made on the grill. The book also contains flavor-enhancing ideas and instructions for using the George Foreman grill. Order from National Braille Press, 88 St. Stephen Street, Boston, Ma 02115, (800) 548-7323, > e-mail

The DJB Tape Club offers recipes on tape every other month on a different food category. The cost is $6 per tape, or $30 for a year's subscription. Contact Delma Bliss, 1191 Bedwell Street, Heblin, AL 36264-1259. Phone: (256) 525-1835.

Beyond The Stares is a book produced by the Delta Gamma Center for Children with Visual Impairments. It consists of reflections by the brothers and sisters of blind children, ages 9-15 on topics like embarrassment, jealousy, reactions of others and the lessons they have learned from living with a blind family member. The address of the Delta Gamma Center is 5030 McRee, St. Louis, MO 63110; (314) 776-1300. Their web site is

Arc and Bark and Blindcites are two new magazines being published quarterly in large print and on tape. Arc and Bark is for Guide Dog Users; Blindcites features high quality poetry and fiction by blind writers. Subscription for each of these new publications is $25 per year. To subscribe or submit material to either of these magazines, contact Dennis Holter, 1000 Kiely Blvd., Apt 21, Santa Clara, CA 95051, or e-mail

TV listings are available online at This is an online TV guide for blind people that tells which network and cable TV shows and movies have audio description. At you can watch an audio description of the AFB film What Do You Do When You See A Blind Person?

new blindness related humor magazine

Receive your free subscription to Silliness, a humorous collection of blindness related short stories, poems, and articles available by e-mail.

Subscribe for free by sending a blank email to:

New Website a Boon to PARENTS AND Teachers of Vision Impaired Children

Quantum Technology has announced the launch of a new website devoted solely to the Mountbatten Braille Writer and braille literacy. The Mountbatten is now recognized around the world as the leading tool for helping young children achieve braille literacy and the technical literacy they will need to compete in our increasingly electronic world. This site contains a world of information and resources for parents and educators, as well as stories from people who currently use the Mountbatten.

"After 20 years spent developing technology solutions for vision impaired children, I still believe one of the biggest barriers they face is a lack of expectations" stated Tim Connell, Managing Director of Quantum Technology. "We need to have higher expectations and provide more powerful tools to students just setting out on the road to literacy. Braille skills combined with technology skills will be the keys to the future for many of these children" he says.

The site contains links to research work undertaken using the Mountbatten at SET-BC in Canada and at the Texas School for the Blind, copies of papers and presentations, links to sources of curriculum materials, information that may help in fundraising and much more.

You can find the site at and we welcome your stories and ideas.

Braille Paper

We produce and sell only *top quality* Braille paper, with or without GBC holes!!! We also sell other tractor fed sizes of paper, see

The same top quality Braille paper is shipped each and every time.

  • ***At a GREAT PRICE
  • ***Shipped as FREE MATTER same day (We also ship daily via UPS & truck.)
  • *** In a CRUSH PROOF box.


  • Wide paper (11 & 1/2 by 11), box of 1000 sheets is $31.73.
  • Narrow (notebook size) paper (8 & 1/2 by 11) box of *1500* sheets is $36.62.
  • * Note this is 1500 sheets. (Price per thousand is $24.41).

Remember, this is with or without the binding (GBC) holes, your choice.

And our paper is 100 pound tag, not 36# ledger. (100# pound tag has much less "ash content" than 36# ledger which means less paper dust to clog up your embosser.)

What more could you ask for? How about lower pricing for greater quantities? We have that too.

Please go to our "just launched" web site at for quantity pricing.

We are VERY prompt in shipping!!! Please note, for instance, that we have watched our free matter shipments to our customers in California and they have taken 7 business days. Really!!! (It surprised us too how well it actually went.) AND none of that crushed box problem either!!! None. (We use "crush proof" boxes.)

We also make many other sizes and colors of tractor fed cards. See more at our website,

Call or fax us to request information or to receive free samples.

A Robust Screen Magnifier that Reads the Text to You.

Ease of use makes Magnify OutLoud ideal for the occasional user in a library, or those with minor computer skills at home, office, resource lab, or classroom. With an Introductory Price of $249.00... a price that is half of the leading text zooming package for software alone.

The Features and Benefits are superlative

  • A wireless mouse and keyboard are included with preprogrammed accessibility -
  • No complicated software to learn as all controls are at your finger tips.
  • li>[] Zoom the text with a sliding bar on the keyboard
  • 20+ preprogrammed keys for instant access to: My Docs, Messenger, Mail, Calendar, Web, Calculator, Log Off, Sleep, Help, Undo, Redo, New, Open, close, Reply, Fwd, Send, Spell, Save, Print and more.
  • [] 5 programmable keys for most used programs or files
  • []
  • Text reads back to you with 2 keystrokes. AT&T Natural Voices used exclusively.
  • Left and right sideways scroll with mouse (not available in a multi-user forum)
  • Tap the mouse for changing back and forth between open programs.

Our solutions are for individuals with: Low Vision Dyslexia Print Disabilities Literacy Challenges ELL and ESL.

Demonstrations are on our web site , or if you wish a CD-ROM demo please e-mail or call.

Larry Tingley
Colligo Corp


"Cooking in the Dark" offers a special discount on aprons for ACB members. Aprons come in a natural color and have the "Cooking in the Dark" logo screen-printed on the front. From the waist they measure 23 inches long and are about 28 inches wide. They include ties at waist and neck.

The logo features Bart B. Cue, a plump little gray mouse wearing dark sunglasses and a chef's hat, with a spatula in his left hand. On his vest are the words "Cooking in the Dark" in black letters. Beneath the mouse, the show's slogan, "You Don't Need Sight to Make Dinner Tonight!," is printed in cartoon lettering. To view the logo, go to and enter "apron" in the search engine; click on the product when it comes up.

Aprons retail for $26.95 on the show and on the web site. "Here and There" readers can purchase aprons for only $18.40 apiece. To purchase an apron for yourself or a friend, e-mail your order request to Dale Campbell at or call (713) 876-6971. Shipping cost will depend on location and number of aprons ordered.


AllinPlay Crazy Eights now joins AllinPlay Poker as the only completely accessible online games that blind and sighted people can play together. AllinPlay has faithfully reproduced the classic game of Crazy Eights so that blind and sighted people can play together as equals. Be the first to get rid of all of your cards. Play special cards to stymie your opponents. Play the wild "crazy eight" and pick the suit to your best advantage. And, even better, make new friends and enjoy the camaraderie with players from around the world with our in-game, real-time text chat. Both AllinPlay games, Crazy Eights and


Book Port (TM) is a flexible book reading device that consists of a small, portable unit with a keypad and earbuds, plus accompanying software. It features both text-to-speech capabilities for electronic text or braille format files and digital audio support for electronic audio books. The unit contains a universal serial bus (USB) connector and a CompactFlash card slot for removable mass storage. The device works only with computers with a Windows 2000 or later operating system. Book Port also acts as a recorder, letting you take audio notes on the material you read.

The included software and cable lets you use your PC to transfer material to Book Port. You can then disconnect Book Port and take it anywhere you go. The Book Port is available from the American Printing House for the Blind for $395. To order, call 1- 800-223-1839.


Premier Assistive Technology recently released the Ultimate Talking Dictionary, a comprehensive PC-based dictionary combined with a powerful thesaurus that actually reads definitions aloud. The dictionary contains more than 250,000 words, including people, places, slang and common phrases; and it includes a spelling feature; a "power search" feature; a thesaurus; hot-key word lookup; a "zoom" feature that allows users to enlarge the print; word history; and it works with screen readers and magnifiers.

The Ultimate Talking Dictionary sells for only $29.95. You can purchase it online at or call (815) 722-5961.


The Computer Science Department of the College of Staten Island in conjunction with the Computer Center for the Visually Impaired of Baruch College has designed a Graphical Calculus Course for Blind Students. This project was funded by the National Science Foundation to help make college-level courses accessible to people with visual impairments. This self-pacing course was designed to enable blind students to master calculus concepts without the assistance of sighted readers. Course materials consist of audio presentations of text specifically worded for blind students and supplemented with easily interpreted tactile graphics.

Audio files and graphic files for transfer to swell paper are freely downloadable from our web site. Audio-tactile files for use with a NOMAD touchpad are also available. Or we can supply ready-made plastic graphics sheets. For more information or to view the materials, please visit our web site at Or you may e-mail us at: or call us at (718) 982-2350.

Jan's Tasty Tidbits


  • 6 medium potatoes (2 pounds), peeled and quartered
  • 4 tablespoons margarine, divided
  • 4 cups coarsely cut cabbage
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 cup sliced green onions
  • 3/4 cup warm milk
  • Chopped parsley for garnish
  • In large saucepan combine potatoes with water to cover. Bring to a boil; cover and cook until fork-tender, about 20 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, in skillet melt 2 tablespoons margarine; add cabbage and pepper.
  • Cook, stirring until tender, 10 to 12 minutes.
  • Add onions; cover and set aside.
  • Drain potatoes.
  • Using electric mixer or potato masher, mash until smooth.
  • Add remaining margarine; beat in warm milk until fluffy. Fold in cabbage and onions. Makes about 6 cups, 100 calories per 1/2 cup.

This is a St. Patrick's Day standby; serve with corned beef.


Heat brown gravy; add pineapple and meatballs. Simmer 30 minutes. Serve over rice.


  • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 4 garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 4 chicken legs
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt (I omit it)
  • 2 teaspoons rosemary
  • 1 16-ounce can sliced peaches in juice or slice your own
  • In 13-inch by 9-inch pan, toss squash with garlic and oil.
  • Arrange chicken in pan with squash.
  • Sprinkle with brown sugar, salt and rosemary.
  • Bake, uncovered, at 400 degrees for 1 hour, basting occasionally.
  • Remove from oven; skim off fat; baste with pan juices.
  • Add peaches and juice.
  • Bake 15 minutes more. Makes 4 servings.

To serve, let each person cut through a garlic clove and spread soft garlic on chicken and squash.