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The Movers and Shakers
For your reading convenients below you will find all the Movers and Shakers published in 2017
Since December is usually a very busy time for most people and organizations, I did not conduct an interview. Instead, I thought I would share some resources that you may find useful.
Vision Aware: A free, easy-to-use informational website for adults with vision loss, their families, caregivers, healthcare providers, and social service professionals.
Directions For Me: Your one stop source for accessible packaging information. Directions provides the information that’s on consumer packages or labels in a simple online format for anyone who has trouble reading the small print including people who are blind or visually impaired. This site provides a consistent, quality source of complete packaging information for everything from preparation or cooking instructions to ingredient lists to Nutrition and Drug Facts labels for many common grocery, health and beauty and general merchandise products.
Sight Loss Solutions: The scope of this website is awareness, availability, and accessibility as they relate to sight loss.
A T Guys
by Karen Santiago
I had the pleasure of conducting a Q &A with the president of A T Guys, J.J. Meddaugh. Please read on to learn more about A T Guys!
How and when did A T Guys come about?
A T Guys has been around since 2008. We started out as dealers for Mobile Speak, which was software to make early smartphones talk (this was before the iPhone was a thing). Our first major hardware product was the iBill, which was revolutionary for its time. Of course those are now available for free.
You call yourselves “Your assistive technology experts”, please explain.
We like to position ourselves as people who know about the latest in technology, whether it is products we sell or those of our competitors. We share much of this knowledge through our podcasts over at BlindBargains.com.
Speaking of Blind Bargains, what is your relationship with them?
We run both sites, and often will offer promotions that tie them to each other.
Are you and others affiliated with the site blind/visually impaired?
Yes, all of the people who currently work with us are blind/VI, and we aim to support employment for the blind wherever possible.
What products/services do you provide?
We specialize in affordable gadgets and tech, especially for mobile phones including iPhones and Android devices. Currently, we sell Bluetooth headsets, speakers, and keyboards, tactile screen overlays for the iPhone, computer software and games including high quality voices for screen readers, and other gadgets such as an iOS connected outlet switch and a vibrating pocketwatch.
What forms of payment do you accept?
We accept all major credit cards and PayPal, including PayPal credit. We also accept purchase orders from government organizations.
With regards to usability’s for websites, is that helping organizations/ individuals to make their website accessible for the blind community? If so, are many organizations/ individuals seeking your assistance?
The web is changing fast, and there is a huge need to make sure that websites keep up with the latest accessibility standards and guidelines. We have consulted on a variety of web and mobile projects with an emphasis on Android testing and consulting.
Do you attend any national blind related events/ conferences?
We often attend national blindness conventions as well as some state conventions and smaller events.
Do you have any upcoming events that you will be making an appearance at?
We're still working on our 2017 schedule but I anticipate we'll be announcing some events on our Twitter @atguys in the near future.
A T Guys links:
Address and phone number:
A T Guys
321 S Kalamazoo Mall, Ste 211
Kalamazoo, MI 49007
J.J. closed the interview with these words, “Thanks for the opportunity to share a little about our company and website. We aim to be an active part of the community and love hearing from our customers with feedback and ideas.”
By Douglas Sidialo firstname.lastname@example.org
I was recently contacted by DOUGLAS SIDIALO of Kenya. He asked if he could share a brief bio of himself. So read below to get a glimpse of his situation, accomplishments, and willingness and desire to help and motivate others. There are other links provided to learn more about this inspiring man.
Despite losing sight as a result of the devastating US embassy bombing in Kenya on August, 7, 1998, Douglas has picked up the pieces and bounced back to life with resounding courage and strength to become a great inspiration to a lot of people on this planet earth.
Douglas served as President of the Kenya National Paralympics Committee witnessing athletes with disabilities break barriers in their lives to become national heroes and celebrities in the World of sports. This has lifted them from ashes to become self-sufficient giving them a great sense of empowerment and high self-esteem. His lean Team of 13 athletes bagged 5 gold, 4 Silver and 4 Bronze medals for Kenya in the 2008 Beijing Paralympics Games. One of the most remarkable athlete in these Sports showbiz bagged Kenya 3 Gold medals and went on to be named as the 2009 United Nations Personality of the Year and UNDP, MDG Ambassador.
To set the pace for the Paralympics Games, Douglas received the honors to light the Olympic torch, racing to glory in the 2008 Paralympics torch relay on the outskirts of Beijing a night before the official opening of the World largest disability Sports extravaganza. Douglas has gone on to confront overwhelming challenges to become one of the most accomplished blind adventurers in the world, and has never let his blindness interfere with his passion for an exciting and inspirational journey.
Douglas is believed to be the first blind African to reach the top of Mount Kilimanjaro - Uhuru Peak, 5,895 meters above sea level in September, 2005. From January to May, 2007, he went on a bicycle marathon across Africa from North to the South, through 10 countries, on the Tour D’Afrique (riding from Cairo to Cape Town), successfully completing 12,000 Kilometers in 95 days, setting a World record for others to break! Ultimately, he went on for the second Year to complete the 2016 Old Mutual Joberg 2 C 900 Kilometers in over 9 days MTB stage race from Johannesburg to Durban. Moreover, Douglas has done 3 cycling majors on the slopes of Mount Kenya and the Great Rift Valley and this include: SC Rift Valley Odyssey: Laikipia Extreme Challenge and Fly 540, Mount Kenya 10to 4 Mountain Bike Challenge, a race in which Douglas and his talented partner John were involved in a grissly bike crash in 2015 and sustained life threatening head injuries losing consciousness and had to be rushed by helicopter to Nanyuki Cottage hospital for emergency treatment.
Douglas has exemplified the spirit of servant leadership, holding various community positions over time. These include President of the Kenya National Paralympics Committee, Board member of the National Council for People with Disabilities , United Nations Habitat Goodwill Ambassador for Safer Cities. Currently, he is serving as a Founder and Board member of Kilimanjaro Blind Trust Africa whose key objective is to unlock the potential of blind and Visually Impaired children for independent living through Braille literacy and appropriate Technology.
Douglas as a motivational speaker has inspired thousands of people around the world, by sharing his positive message of overcoming adversity through his profound resilience, determination and boundless confidence. Douglas’s presentations engage and inspire audiences by capturing lessons from his life experiences and adventures around the World. His illustrious speaking enterprise has spanned through Africa, Asia and the USA, delivering his sparkling and unique message focusing on: Triumph over adversity, unleashing Your True Potential by harnessing the power of adversity, Every cloud has a silver lining and our every endeavour to achieve our dreams to institutions such as United Nations, Unilever, Proctor & Gamble, Standard Chartered Bank, Old Mutual Africa, World Agro-Forestry Research Centre, Universities, Non Profit and Religious Organizations.
Douglas keynote message resonate on the fact that we all have challenges that want to knock us flat to our backs but we can confront those challenges head on breaking them and living a life full of purpose. His inspiration story has been widely covered and has featured on Top World TV channels and magazines. Clearly Douglas’ accomplishments demonstrates that one does not need to have perfect eyesight to have an extra-ordinary Vision.
Go to Douglas Sidialo’s website at: www.sidialo.com, where you can learn more about him, and about two books that illustrate his story.
When Blood and Tears United a Country
This book humanizes the bombing of the American Embassy in Kenya by highlighting Individual stories of families affected by the Bombing. In this book Douglas' story is told about his lifelong journey towards healing.
The story about Douglas' journey through tragedy. Douglas tells his story: how he has risen above the ordinary to promote peace through speaking engagements, writing, and sporting adventures.
To read Douglas’ lifestyle story go to: mobile.nation.co.ke
American Action Fund for Blind Children and Adults
by Karen Santiago email@example.com
I had the pleasure of conducting a Q&A with Chris Danielsen, About the American Action Fund for Blind Children and Adults. Please read on to learn about this wonderful organization.
Tell me a bit about yourself.
I currently serve as director of public relations for the National Federation of the Blind, a sister organization to the American Action Fund for Blind Children and Adults, for which I also perform some communications functions. I have held this position for eight years and have been involved with the NFB for twenty-eight years. I was born totally blind with very limited light perception, most of which is now gone.
What is the American Action Fund for Blind Children and Adults?
The American Action Fund for Blind Children and Adults is a not-for-profit organization incorporated under the laws of the state of Maryland. It was established in 1919 to provide blind people with reading material, to educate the public about blindness, to give aid to the deaf-blind, to provide adaptive equipment to the blind, to offer expertise to governmental and private agencies serving the blind, to help older Americans adjust to vision loss, to offer services to blind children and their parents, and to do any other lawful thing that it can to improve the quality of life of blind people. The AAF also partners with organizations of blind people to create and enhance innovative and imaginative programs and services that allow blind people to achieve their dreams. For example, the organization supports groundbreaking education programs that teach blind children and youth that they can participate fully in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields, which have traditionally and falsely been thought to be closed to the blind. The organization also supports programs to introduce Braille to blind pre-school children so that they can experience the independence and joy that Braille brings while their peers are discovering print. This helps children understand that Braille is a reading medium that is equal to print and that will allow them equal participation in education and employment. The organization also provides direct personal and financial assistance to blind and deaf-blind individuals when needed. We know that when blindness comes upon an individual or a family, it can seem like a devastating blow. However, the Action Fund also knows that blindness is not the defining characteristic of a blind person’s life. Therefore, the organization gives blind people a fundamental belief in their value, their capacity for contribution to our society, and their ability to live an exciting and fulfilling life through education, training, and alternative methods of accomplishing the tasks that this exciting life demands. For over ninety-five years the Action Fund has been developing programs to support the blind, and the principal message we have is that the right perspective about blindness gives hope and provides opportunity. The Action Fund is not the only organization serving the blind, but we provide hope to blind people, and hope is the most critical element in transforming the lives of blind people.
What services do you provide?
Our Kenneth Jernigan Lending Library distributes Twin Vision® books, which are picture books with side-by-side print and Braille so that sighted and blind family members can share them, free of charge throughout the United States, to state schools for the blind, regional Braille libraries, blind children and blind parents, institutions serving the blind, and schools and libraries in many foreign countries. The organization also funds a scholarship in Kenneth Jernigan's name, honoring his leadership in the blind community and his legacy. Each year the American Action Fund for Blind Children and Adults produces tens of thousands of Braille calendars and sends them to blind individuals free of charge. The AAF has developed a series of books, “The Shape of Things,” so that blind children can enjoy pictures they can touch, just as sighted children enjoy pictures they can see. Also, in an effort to help young blind Americans become more aware of our nation’s history and traditions, Braille copies of great American documents are published and distributed free to schools and libraries by the AAF. The organization also produces and distributes a popular series of Braille books geared towards children and young adults. It makes an ongoing effort to get Braille versions of current, popular books into the hands of these readers so that they are reading what their sighted peers are reading. These books are delivered by mail and can also be downloaded from our website, www.actionfund.org. While the Braille books are meant for children to keep, since Braille books can be hard to find and expensive to purchase, they are sometimes returned when the children outgrow or no longer wish to read them. The American Action Fund donates these gently used Braille books to an annual Braille Book Fair conducted by the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children, or sends boxes of them, upon request, to blind individuals or to entities serving the blind in foreign countries. Recently books were sent to Bangladesh, India, Nigeria, and Uganda.
How are you funded?
We are funded entirely through individual donations, which we solicit primarily via our website and through a mass mail campaign.
Is there a membership?
There is no membership in the American action Fund for Blind Children and Adults except for service on our Board of Directors, which governs the organization.
How does one become a volunteer?
Contact us using the information below.
Where do you provide these services?
We have offices in Baltimore, Maryland and Tarzana, California, from which we provide our services throughout the United States and occasionally to foreign countries.
Are there plans to expand internationally?
We contribute Braille and Twin Vision books to foreign organizations, agencies, and libraries as we can, but we primarily serve individuals and entities in the United States.
Who do you serve?
Blind and deaf-blind children and adults, and schools, libraries, and agencies that also serve them, throughout the United States and sometimes internationally.
What qualifications must one have to obtain services?
For individuals, there is no qualification for our services other than being blind or deaf-blind.
Tell me about your braille book programs.
Recently we have produced Braille books in two very popular children's book series, Pete the Cat and The Thirty-nine Clues. We are also including in this year's mailings two books about a blind cat, Oskar, and his feline pal Klaus, whose adventures highlight that blindness does not prevent a cat, or a person, from having adventures. We also sponsored the production of Braille labels for the print versions of the books, available at www.oskarandklaus.com. The AAF is also currently sponsoring the Braille production of the popular National Geographic for Kids magazine, which children who participate in our Braille program are receiving along with their regular books this year.
Can you share your thoughts on learning Braille?
We have been concerned for a while about the decline in Braille literacy. We feel that Braille is the key to literacy and success for blind children, including those with low vision, and that at the very least it should be in every such child's toolbox.
What format are the Braille books?
The books are produced in Unified English Braille. The Braille books for older children are embossed in double-sided Braille, while the Twin Vision books have print and Braille on facing pages but without double-sided Braille embossing.
How do people find out about you?
Often people find out about us through other entities serving the blind, such as schools and libraries. As a child I remember receiving books from the American Action Fund; my mother had learned about it from a case worker we had when I was in preschool.
American Action Fund for Blind Children and Adults
1800 Johnson Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21230
(410) 659-9315 www.actionfund.org
Non 24 with Eric Oyen firstname.lastname@example.org
Circadian Sleep Disorder Network (CSD-N) is a not for profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of people with chronic circadian rhythm disorders. Their objectives include:
*Increase awareness to the medical profession, and the general public
*Provide emotional support
*Provide practical ideas for those living with these disorders
*Inform patients and medical providers of treatment options
*Encourage research in the circadian rhythms
*Advocate for accommodations in education and employment for those living with circadian rhythm sleep disorders
Circadian rhythm sleep disorders are neurological disorders in which the sleep/wake cycle is out of sync with the day/night cycle.
Non 24 is a condition in which a person’s day length is substantially longer than 24 hours. Therefore, causing sleep time to get later each day, cycling around the clock in a matter of days or weeks. For example, if Erika goes to sleep at midnight and wakes up at 8:00AM, she may not be able to go to sleep the next day until 1 or 2 in the morning. This will cause her to sleep late the following morning. This delay doesn’t stop at 1 or 2 in the morning but continues to get worse with each day; sleeping at 4AM, then 6AM, 8AM, 10 AM etc.
Eventually she will come around the clock again to the starting point and the process continues. The length of one’s cycle varies from day to day, and they cannot predict their sleep/wake schedule.
It is believed that more than half of all totally blind people are affected by non 24. Forty percent of partially sighted people have some degree of non24.
I conducted a Q&A interview with Eric Oyen, a totally blind person with non 24. Please read below to learn more about this disorder, and how it affects Eric.
(Q) What is non 24?
(A) N-24 describes a specific set of sleep/wake patterns that are either shorter than or longer than 24 hours. Mine varies, but is typically longer than 24 hours. In fact, earlier this week, I had a waking day in excess of 30 hours. Because I am totally blind, the mechanism by which my brain would normally synch to a proper schedule does not work. This can also happen in normally sighted individuals and the mechanism behind that is yet to be fully understood.
(Q) What are the effects of it?
(A) The effects of non-24 are legion. The most common are: sleepiness at odd hours, overwhelming need to sleep during the day and being awake at night. A sliding sleep cycle that is either longer than or shorter than 24 hours, often resulting in one feeling tired during the day, during a portion of the month or over the course of several months. Lack of proper sleep because of this condition can also cause changes in mood, depression, weight gain (or loss) and a host of other physical or mental issues. so much of what we are and do are tied up in sleeping (and the lack of it at times).
(Q) How were you diagnosed?
(A) well, it took me making a sleep log over the course of several months. I had to initially self-diagnose as I had no real evidence of an issue other than feeling tired at inappropriate times. after submitting my sleep log to the doctor, I was then sent to several sleep studies. The results came back and the diagnosis was made official.
(Q) Is there a treatment?
(A) They have to be tailored to the individual. In my case, the use of medication (hetlioz 5mg) and an over the counter food supplement work reasonably well. It also doesn't hurt to get out in the sun and expose my skin during the day. For some others, light therapy (light box, full spectrum lighting, etc.) work reasonably well. Also, wearing blue blocking lenses in the evening and turning down bright lights will also help in some cases.
One last item that helps in treatment of Non-24 is to maintain strict schedule patterns. this may force the brain to resynch to a set schedule. some of these schedule items include meal times, wake time by alarm, physical exercise, etc. In some cases, (usually severe), none of the above will work at all.
(Q) do blind people only have this?
(A) no. It is, however, far more common amongst the blind than in any other group.
(Q) How do you manage your day to day living with this condition?
(A) Now, as for managing my day to day activities, the medication and strict schedule makes it easier. still, there are times when my body ignores the medication and schedule and I end up in a very long day situation. When those happen, I just continue trying to work around the clock until I feel tired again. Usually, after the first 24 hours, I cease doing anything that would require a lot of concentration, as my cognitive abilities tend to decline the longer my day goes.
(Q) Are there any support groups for non 24?
(A) there are several support groups for those who suffer from non-24. 5 or 6 of them happen to be Facebook groups. There is also the circadian rhythm disorder support network (of which I am a part). it can be found here: www.circadiandisorders.org They also have an associated mailing list
the niteowl mailing list is for those who suffer from the delayed sleep phase disorders (including N-24). You can join this mailing list by signing up on the website just previously mentioned.
(Q) Is there anything else you would like to add?
(A) Now, as for anything else I might add. N-24 is the extreme end of an entire spectrum of sleep related disorders. Some of these include shift workers syndrome, delayed sleep phase disorder (also known as nite owl or lark sleep types). Even Narcolepsy is considered a sleep disorder on this spectrum. The biggest problem anyone has with sleeping disorders is the fact that society has attitudes toward those of us who suffer. I have often been accused of being simply lazy. It takes a lot of education in order to overcome this.
The NFB Krafters Division
By Cathy Flesher
The NFB Krafters Divisions’ goal is to share our love of crafts with other visually impaired and blind persons. In 2008, our first and current president Joyce Kane had the thought that she would like to get to know others who were blind or visually impaired so she could learn from others and share her own knowledge about crafts. The group is affectionately known as krafters Korner, the K’s in the name reflecting the group founder’s last name.
First, a listserv was created, where crafters from all around the country and later those from other countries as well, began to share just how it was they were able to make the crafts they could. It is a busy list to this day, and topics focus on a wide variety of crafts.
If you are interested in joining our list, go to sign up at:
Krafters Korner offers craft lovers another way to connect with one another through our Monday night chats, held every Monday via conference call. Each week features a different craft-related topic where one person hosts the chat and others join in to ask questions and/or share. Anyone is welcome to join our chats, which are held at 8:30 PM eastern time.
Simply call 605 475 4000, Participant Access Code 966659#.
Joining the NFB Krafters Division allows a visually impaired or blind person to take advantage of the many classes we offer taught by and for our members. Over the past four years, we have offered over 60 classes per year to our paid members. Membership is only $20 per year, beginning in July. Once you are a member, you can take as many of the classes offered, as you would like. We offer both conference call as well as email classes. Some of the many crafts covered in our past and current classes include: knitting, crocheting, loom knitting, beading and jewelry-making, soap making, macramé, latch hooking, kumihimo, origami, safety pin beading, sewing by hand and by machine, quilting, plastic canvas, and crafts for the holidays. If you are interested in trying a class before joining the division, you can try your first class free.
To sign up for a free class or to look at the full list of past classes taught: go to:
Click on the archive class’s link for a list of past classes. Click on the current class’s link to get a list of classes currently being offered for sign up. Click on the class of your choice and use the sign up form at the bottom of the page to join the class. All information you will need for that class including date, time and supply list are listed on each class page.
By the way, Krafters Korner will be selling hand-made braille greeting cards with tactile pictures on them at the NFB convention. Please stop by our table in the exhibit hall on Tuesday or Wednesday to see the cards and to ask us any questions you may have about our group.
In summary, I have been a member of Krafters Korner for over 5 years and I simply love the group. I have learned so very much from others, learned to make things I never believed I could, and just as enjoyable is teaching others what I have learned myself. Our motto is: Krafters Korner is for everyone and everyone makes KraftersKorner what it is.”
National Braille Press
The National Braille Press is a non-profit braille publishing company located in Boston, Massachusetts. They promote braille literacy for blind children through braille, and provide access to information that enables blind individuals to engage in work, family, and community opportunities. Earlier last month I had the privilege and the pleasure of having a guided tour of the National Braille Press.
Hannah, the Executive Assistant to the President met my daughter and I in the nearby parking lot. She escorted us into a large conference room to wait to speak with Brian MacDonald, the NBP president. Brian gave me a brief overview of NBP which included the following.
NBP is celebrating its 90th anniversary: NBP was founded in 1927 by Italian blind immigrant, Francis Ierardi. Francis was in pursuit of creating a braille weekly newspaper to enable the blind and deafblind to read information about what was happening around the world. With the support of individuals, and state and local agencies the first newspaper was published on March 17,1927. There was such a demand for this braille publication across the states, that just three months after the first edition, they went national.
Funding: The National Braille Press is a non-profit organization. Its main sources of funding are from foundations and corporations, earn revenue, and individual donations. Earn revenue is mission based, meaning that they are paid for contracted jobs.
Evolution: The National Braille Press has evolved over the years. They have moved from the initial newspaper to an educational focus. NBP produces a great deal of text, textbooks, standardized test, and graphics including raised and tactile graphics.
Their center for Braille Innovation program collaborates with volunteers from around the world including universities, Disney research, China, and India to try to find ways to make lower cost techno braille; eBraille. They are not just focusing on braille displays, but full page tactile graphic displays, that can produce real time, high quality, resolution graphics for text, textbooks, magazines, or whatever you want it to read.
Braille & the Future: Braille production has decreased in the last 30 years. Such reasons for this include technology, only about 15% of blind children read braille, and some braille materials are not in demand anymore, let alone in regular print (for example magazines). Brian stated that full page braille graphics is the future of braille technology. Yes, there will always be braille produced in print, but the demand and the cost is higher. He has seen an increase in the eBraille option they offer.
The Legacy Lives On: In 1965 Nancy Amick started creating tactile graphics for math and science textbooks. In 1980 she and Ruth Bogia, a certified braille transcriber, took over the non-profit company; The Princeton Braillist. In 1996 she created tactile maps of North and South America. By 2016 the Princeton Braillist created 35 books covering Europe, Asia, Africa, North and South America, and 18 individual United States. Nancy passed away last year and her family wanted her legacy to continue. The National Braille Press was chosen to receive the Princeton Braillist collection. NBP plans to maintain and reproduce the current catalogue. In addition, they would like to update geographical information, transcribe the text to UEB code, and create additional volumes of other countries and states.
Hannah then showed me a sample of some of their products. They produce print/braille board books which have the braille stickers directly on the book. They have soft spiral bound books which have a clear plastic overlay with the braille on it. She showed me the print/braille book, “Just Enough to Know Better” which is a guide for parents of blind children to start learning braille with their child. They produce tactile books, menus in braille and large print, sport schedules, step by step books for iPhones, and Androids soon to come. They can produce braille copies of whatever is in print, and there is no job too small or large. All braille books are the same cost as the printed books you would find in your local stores.
Then Hannah told me about the Louie Braille Touch of Genius Prize for Innovation. This is an annual contest for people around the world to submit different ideas or proof of concepts, or prototypes for device, a software, or a hardware that promotes accessibility specific to braille.
This year’s winner is the device called BELLA, Braille Early Learning and Literacy Arcade. This device, about the same size as a refreshable braille display allows the user to program different games in order to learn braille. It has both audio and tactile feedback, as well as different recordable reading story times. The two brothers that created BELLA are trying to start up their own business with the help of NBP.
Next, it was on to the tour of the National Braille Press. We started with the transcribing department where I met Julia. All transcribers and proofreaders are certified by the Library of Congress and have ample expertise in all BANA-approved guidelines, including English Braille American Edition, Unified English Braille, Nemeth Code for Mathematics and Science Notation, 1972 Revision, and Guidance for Transcription Using the Nemeth Code within UEB Contexts (June 2016). When a book is received, the pages are stripped of its binding. Then the pages are scanned. The transcriber creates a draft transcription in Duxbury Braille Translation Software, following all applicable BANA codes or guidelines, as well as client-specific styles and/or formatting.
Next, we moved onto the proofreading department. Here I met Chris who has been with NBP for nearly 41 years. The first thing that happens here is that the Material (Example a library of Congress book) will be read onto a recording with all the spelling, punctuation marks, paragraphing, etc. The proofreader will then listen to the recording while reading from either a note taker or embossed sheets. If an error is found, the page and line number, and what the error is will be noted on error sheets. Then the error sheets are emailed to the transcriber for correction.
Next, one of two things will happen. If, for example, it is a Library of Congress book, which they do not need many copies of, it will be reembossed. It will then be read again, by a different proofreader to ensure that all corrections have been made. The alternative method is the Plate Embossing Device (PED). This device puts the braille onto metal plates. The proofreader reads the paper copies, making sure all corrections have been made. Once the embossed files or plates are ok, then the job is ready to go. The average book may take a couple of weeks to go through the whole proofreading process.
Next it was on to the operations department where I met Bill who has been with NBP for 37 years. If they are able to get the braille, it is especially easier if they get it on a digital file, which is then transferred onto a floppy disk. The disk is inserted into the computer and then the braille is pressed onto the metal plates. Then the braille pages are pressed, creating the first initial proof that would be sent back to proofreading to make sure that the project is ready to go into production.
NBP also creates plating items such as plaques, name plates, signage, etc. This is done with a machine that can be best described as an oversized Perkins brailler. Brass sheets are fed through and then embossed.
Next, I met Kesel, who is the Editor and Program Manager for NBP. I asked her to tell me some things that are up and coming, and she told me the following. They just came out with their latest Summer Picks catalogue. Within this catalogue, new products are highlighted. For example, two of Anna Dresner’s latest books; “10,000 Steps, Cane Not Included”, is a health and fitness book, and “Computers You Can Talk To”, is about voice digital systems. Their new Great Expectations book is “Measuring Penny”, which has free online activities to go with it. They are working on expanding their Spanish books, with at least one new one annually. They try to keep updated in the technology world. Kesil stated that many ideas come from people asking and/or suggesting topics. She added that she encourages people to give feedback and suggestions, as this is her way of knowing what people are interested in.
Next Hannah took us to the production area. Some of the presses that they use were originally ink presses that have been converted to braille. They have three of these pressing machines called, Heidelberg Presses. In addition, they have two Braille-o Presses for smaller jobs.
The plates come down here where they are first cut and then there are holes punched on either side. The plates are fed into the machine, and the paper is fed through the top to produce two sides of a page with a seam pressed into it. She showed me four individual plates, which brailled one full page with the seam in the middle. Therefore, creating four pages of a book.
Typically, it takes a week or two to create a full volume book, which is generally 40 press pages; 80 braille reading pages. Deadlines, work load, and volume sizes are factors that can alter the amount of time to complete a project. Hannah told us that when Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallow came out the windows were blocked out, no tours were given, nor were any deliveries made. NBP had contacted J. K. Rowling’s publisher, and they sent the material early so that it could go into production and be available at the same time and cost as the printed version.
Next we went to the collating and Binding area. Here we met Elizabeth and Josh. She was working on collating the National Geographic Kids magazine. NBP is producing 4,000 copies which is being funded by the American Action Fund. Each stack for this project contained 500 pages at a time, and there were seven stacks. She had already completed the first run of two for this book. The second half was labeled as the cover section. She stood in front of a long table and worked her way from right to left collating the 7 pages. She then aligned them so they were all straight, and folded them on the score line in the center. Then she put the two collated stacks together and checked to make sure that the pages were all in the correct order. The binding for this project was done with wire. She sat at the saddle stitcher table which has a pedal underneath it. After lining up the book, she pressed the pedal and created a couple of stitches, and the book was complete. Other books such as those for the Library of Congress, test, and textbooks are bound by using plastic binders. Then finally the books get put into envelopes and mailed out.
I had a wonderful time touring the National Braille Press. I must say I have a greater appreciation for braille books after learning about all the work that needs to be performed in order to create them. As a former preschool teacher, I am impressed with their book programs geared for children.
Great Expectations: bringing picture books to life for young blind children, using a variety of sensory components.
Read Books! encourages families with blind children to read books together
Book Bags: NBP distributes braille book bags to families with blind children between the ages of birth to 7 years, throughout the United States and Canada. These bags contain such items as an age appropriate braille/print book, Guide for assisting parents on how and why to read to children, tactile ball, print/braille alphabet card, and tactile alphabet or number sheets.
Note: Limited to one braille book bag per blind child.
Bumpy Basics: geared for toddlers, these board books are adapted with braille so the child can locate and feel the bumps; beginning a foundation for braille literacy
Children’s Braille Book Club: Children can receive a new print/braille book. Sign up for either a six or one year subscription.
National Braille Press has developed the B2G, for Braille 2 Go. This device is a portable 20 cell refreshable braille computer, featuring an 8 dot keyboard, space bar, forward and back buttons, and an intuitive interface for the student, professional, and home user alike. The B2G was created to be a cost effective and affordable device to promote braille literacy.
Business Services: NBP can produce a variety of items in large print and braille, whether you need 1 or 1,000 copies. Such items that can be transcribed include business cards, menus, programs, schedules, catalogs, magazines, maps, and many many more!
Bookstore: On the third floor of the National Braille Press is a warehouse where everything is stored. They have a virtual bookstore where you can order their products by phone, through their catalogue, or online. You can find a wide selection of books to choose from in English and Spanish. Such categories include computers, health, poetry, just to name a few. NBP provides their books in various formats; braille hard copy, Daisy download, e braille, word file, or you can have them downloaded onto USB drives. Besides books, there are magnets and jewelry items you can purchase. As for the magnets, NBP puts the braille stickers on top of the magnets. All the jewelry is made of pressed metal.
To contact the bookstore directly call: (800) 548-7323
Contact & Links:
National Braille Press
88 St. Stephen Street
Boston, MA 02115
By Mollie Cole, Community and Content Manager
From exploring new museums to wandering around a convention center, it’s easy to get lost even if you know the street address of where you are. While sighted people can wrestle with a map or posted signs to navigate once inside a building, this isn’t an option for those who are blind and visually impaired.
RightHear aims to fix that.
RightHear is a comprehensive indoor orientation & mobility solution based on a free mobile app for both Apple and Android. The app automatically notify users when they are near an Accessible Zone (a venue equipped with the RightHear solution). Once inside, the app automatically connects to tiny, smart Bluetooth sensors that are strategically installed around the venue. The Bluetooth sensors, called Accessible Spots, push out helpful, relevant information about points of interests near that particular Accessible Spot. To hear real-time information about points of interest in a certain area, users simply have to point their phone in the direction they would like to go in. While much of this information is related to orientation and mobility, it also includes details such as opening hours, special sales, or menu items in a restaurant or cafe. Common points of interest include restrooms, elevators and escalators, store entrances, or ATM’s, but the app and platform are flexible enough to be installed and used inside of nearly any venue.
Each RightHear Accessible Spot is professionally installed and then customized by the organization in that location, so specific and updated information is always available. The information is written according to the Wayfindr Open Standard for audio navigation, so it is clear, detailed, and designed for orientation and mobility. Wayfindr is a non-profit organization that is setting standards for digital navigation. Basically, they are working to create an international standard for navigation apps for people who are blind/visually impaired. This includes an accessible interface, how navigation instructions should be phrased, and what kinds of instructions need to be included in navigation software. We worked with them at, Enabling Summit recently in Washington, DC to provide input on their recently released guidelines and further develop the standard.
Another feature of RightHear is its connectivity outside of Accessible Zones. The RightHear app is connected with BlindSquare, Google Maps, Uber, Gett, and Moovit so that users can literally go door-to-door with whatever mode of transport they prefer. RightHear also allows users to call for assistance directly from inside the app with just the touch of a button. They will be connected with the venue’s designated accessibility staff (or other assistant) to answer questions and provide personalized support.
For example, when it comes to Uber, as well as our other transportation options, essentially the RightHear app will directly open those apps. Users who are sitting at home can open the RightHear app and then select a nearby Accessible Zone that they would like to travel to from a list provided. Once selected, they will be presented with a menu of transportation options, Uber included, to take them to their chosen Accessible Zone. Once the user chooses which mode of transportation they would like to use, RightHear will automatically open the app and fill in the destination information. From there, it is very easy for a user to simply call the Uber or use whichever other mode of transportation or navigation they have chosen. Once inside of the venue, the focus of RightHear is orientation and mobility - we don't provide turn-by-turn directions to a certain point of interest, but rather act as a "verbal directory" that allows users to hear all of the relevant, helpful information they need to find their way independently and confidently just like any sighted person would.
RightHear was co-founded in 2015 by Idan Meir and Gil Elgrably. Originally, they were working with the same Bluetooth technology for a different application, but it wasn't really going anywhere. Once they brainstormed and continued working with the system, they had an idea: apply it to the blind/visually impaired community to help support orientation & mobility. They reworked their system and their app for this concept, got some feedback on it, and realized they were really onto something special that hadn't been done before indoors.
At RightHear we believe that inclusion, starts with accessibility and therefore our aim is to access public spaces (mostly indoor) for people who are blind or visually impaired. Our dream is to see more and more people who are blind or visually impaired traveling independently and acquiring orientation by themselves in public spaces.
RightHear is based in Ra’anana, Israel and rapidly expanding around the world. It has already accessed hundreds of venues in Israel as well as dozens more in the US, Canada, and Europe. Within Israel, RightHear has made major universities, shopping malls, and municipalities fully accessible through their solution and hopes to follow the same model in other countries.
For those who are blind and visually impaired, the future of independent and comfortable travel is right now, RightHear.
To learn more, visit: Right-Hear.com
Like RightHear on Facebook at: RightHearApp
A Beautiful And Unique Experience
I used to dream about this: Getting to the mall by myself with a taxi, walking into the mall and knowing exactly what's around me. I want to purchase something and I don't have to wait for someone to come with me! I don't even have to wait until a sighted person comes by to ask for help! How exciting is that?
So two years ago, two guys called me and said they invented something that sounded a lot like my dream. They let me try the prototype and then sat me down for an interview that would have made any police officer proud! They asked questions and took notes and wanted to know about the tiniest preferences I had. And I found they really listened and they continue to do so.
This is a company that listens to its users and tries to improve its product constantly. They are committed to the product and their personal vision is truly to make our lives better.
I have used the app whenever possible and love it. It gives me a clear map of my surroundings and the fact that I can point my phone in any direction around me to get a 360 degree perspective is very exciting.
I hope this solution will become available in more countries as time goes by and allow more blind people to enjoy its benefits. The one thing I am certain of is that the app will only get better!
Tali Sarnetzky, Israel
Charles Bonnet syndrome (CBS)
Who is Charles Bonnet?
Charles Bonnet was a Swiss philosopher and writer who lived in the 17 hundreds. He was the first to write about this condition. He described the experiences his grandfather was having after losing his sight due to cateracts. His grandfather began “seeing” birds, buildings, people, and patterns that weren’t really there. In 1760, Bonnet described his eponymous syndrome, in which he documented a range of complex visual hallucinations that occurred in seemingly psychologically intact people.
What is Charles Bonnet Syndrome?
Charles Bonnet Syndrome is a condition that usually causes vivid, complex, and recurring visual hallucinations, although they can be very simplistic as well. Usually it is more common among older adults with later-life vision loss. Many vision professionals believe that a significant number of adults with vision loss from a variety of eye conditions, including macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, and glaucoma experience CBS. However, anyone of any age, including children, may develop this condition as any eye condition that causes sight loss can trigger CBS.
It is estimated that as many as 30% of adults with vision loss are affected by this syndrome. However, the numbers may be greater since many people who experience these symptoms rarely talk about it with family members, friends, or physicians.
What Causes Charles Bonnet Syndrome?
The main cause of CBS is loss of vision and how your brain reacts to this loss. This syndrome is sometimes referred as phantom vision syndrome, and can be compared to phantom limb syndrome. In the latter, a person can continue to receive sensation signals from a limb that has been amputated.
Ophthalmologist, Jonathan Trobe, M.D., from the University of Michigan, explained CBS this way:
“The brain is a mash-up of stored visual memories. When visual cells in the brain stop getting information, which happens when your rods and cones stop working, the cells compensate. If there's no data coming in, they 'make up' images.”
In other words, when you lose your sight, your brain is not receiving as much information from your eyes as it used to. Your brain can sometimes fill in these gaps by releasing new fantasy pictures, patterns or old pictures that it has stored. When this occurs, you experience these images stored in your brain as hallucinations. CBS tends to occur in the weeks and months following a deterioration in vision.
Charles Bonnet Syndrome is generally determined if there are no other neurological diagnosis to explain the hallucinations. If an individual is suffering from added symptoms such as memory loss, weakness, or tremors, then seeking a neurologist to rule out other conditions that could be contributing to the hallucinations, is greatly recommended.
The visual hallucinations associated with CBS can vary and can range from simple shapes and dots of colors, simple patterns, to detailed pictures of people, animals, buildings, and everyday things. Individuals who “see” these visions know, or hopefully will learn to know that they are mirages, of sorts. They are illusions, not delusions. The difference is that a person with delusions is convinced that what he sees is real. While on the other hand, a person with CBS may initially second-guess themselves but ultimately accept that their perceptions are not real. although it may appear vivid. CBS hallucinations only affect one’s sight, which means that you don't hear, smell or feel things that aren't there.
The hallucinations people see with Charles Bonnet Syndrome seem to fall into two broad types: simple repeated patterns or complex hallucinations of objects, people, and landscapes. Both types can either be in black and white or color, or move around or stay stationary.
Simple repeating pattern hallucinations:
*Grids, shapes, or lines
*Quite vivid in color, i.e. bright green dots surrounded by vibrant pink squares
*complicated brickwork or mosaic patterns that enlarge to cover more of your vision
*patterns that look like roots from a tree, growing over everything you see
*Distorted faces, which appear in your vision and can change shape or move towards you
*People, places, insects and animals
*Whole scenes appear, such as landscapes with waterfalls, mountains or a garden full of flowers
*Individuals or groups of people
People dressed in costumes, like Roman soldiers or small children in hats
How long does Charles Bonnet Syndrome last?
When initially affected with CBS, it can be quite distressing. You may experience hallucinations daily, and for long periods of time. Your CBS may stay like this for a number of months, but over time the hallucinations may become less frequent and they may eventually stop. It was initially thought that hallucinations resolved within 12 to 18 months, but a recent study found that most people still have occasional hallucinations five years after onset.
There is no known medication to stop Charles Bonnet Syndrome. However, some strong drugs typically used to treat epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, dementia or mental health problems Have been successful in helping some people. All these drugs can have serious side effects and should only be used under proper supervision.
Some common medications people take as they get older can interact when they're taken together. This can make your CBS hallucinations more frequent. Please be sure to consult with your doctor to review your medications.
Coping with Charles Bonnet Syndrome:
Individuals experiencing Charles Bonnet Syndrome may feel anxious and overwhelmed, and the hallucinations can be disturbing and worrisome. While there is no cure for CBS, talking about the hallucinations and working out a plan to deal and manage them can help a lot.
One of the most effective form of treatment can come from knowing that the condition is not a mental health problem or a symptom of another disease but is due to sight loss. Knowing that CBS usually improves with time (even if it doesn't go away completely) may also help put your mind at ease.
For most people, there is more than one technique for coping with their hallucinations.
Many people experience their hallucinations when they are quiet, inactive, alone, stressed, tired, and in dim lit surroundings.
Helpful techniques to deal with hallucinations; remember not all of these will work for everyone:
*turn on the television or radio for a distraction
*stand up, or move around a bit
*look directly at the hallucination
*close your eyes and try to relax
*move your eyes or blink rapidly
turn on a light
A recent study has shown that a specific eye movement exercise can help. When a hallucination starts, look from left to right about once every second for 15 to 30 seconds, without moving your head. The distance moving from side to side should be about three feet (1 meter). In addition, you should be five feet (1 ½ meters) away from a wall, and looking straight ahead. If the hallucination continues, close your eyes and rest for a few seconds. Then repeat the process of moving your eyes from side to side for 15 to 30 seconds.
If the hallucinations do not subside or stop after four or five periods of looking left and right for 15 to 30 seconds, this exercise is unlikely to work and you can stop. However, it wouldn’t hurt to try it again on another occasion.
It’s natural to be worried, confused or frightened when you see things that are not really there. Until you know what's happening, you may be concerned that seeing things is a sign of a mental health problem, or you might think that you have Alzheimer’s disease. However, it's important to remember and be reassured that CBS is caused by sight loss only and not by any other health problem.
If you have sight loss and are experiencing these types of visual hallucinations, talk with your general physician and eye professional. In addition, talk with family members, friends, and other people who have sight loss. You may just find that it is more common than you think.
Reader’s Personal Experiences:
Veronica: “I saw birds, trees, and flowers. I actually thought I regained my sight.”
Paul: “I see patterns, letters, tiny letters with a bright green and pink background.”
Brianna: “Shortly, after losing my sight, I began seeing hallucinations. I saw mostly people and animals. I didn’t, or couldn’t recognize the people or buildings. I learned to cope with them. I made a journal of each time I had a hallucination. I kept a record of how I was feeling and where I was just before it happened. I then noted the type of hallucination. This helped me in managing them. I can say it has been a very long time since I had a hallucination.”
Meagan: “My best advice to others experiencing CBS is to talk with others; family, eye doctor, and other people who are blind or have low vision. This helped me in knowing I was not alone.”
Allen: "My visual hallucinations started as soon as I lost my sight. I can remember the first hallucination I had. It was of many plush toys marching right along in front of me, like the energizer bunny. I was in the hospital for several months and would actually welcome these images, as it occupied my time. From the very beginning, 11 years ago, to date, I wake up every morning seeing a pattern of semi circles. The hallucinations don’t last as long, nor are they as frequent. That is, unless I am on some medications or very tired.
Some other things I have seen are: Tudor houses with the lights and people inside, Bridges, bicycle racks with hundreds of bikes on them, and men, women, and children dressed up as if it were the eighteen hundreds.
I have learned to manage and cope with my hallucinations throughout the years. However, it wasn’t until recently that I learned that there was a name, and a real diagnosis for this, and I really wasn’t going crazy after all!"