News & Events :: News

GPS Helps a Blind Man Navigate the Appalachian Trail

Click on the link for a fascinating story about how a blind man used GPS technology to navigate the Appalachian Trail.

http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/doers/2013/01/mike_hanson_s_big_hike_how_a_blind_man_used_technology_to_conquer_the_appalachian.html

Categories :: Events · News
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Petition to End Sub-Minimum Wage

People with disabilities can legally be paid LESS than the minimum wage. It is past time for this injustice to be remedied.

https://nfb.org/civicrm/petition/sign?sid=1.

for more information and to sign a petition to end this exemption to the Minimum Wage Law.

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When It Comes to Hiring, Blind Workers Face Bias

When it comes to hiring blind employees, many employers remain skeptical. Bosses often assume blind workers cost more and produce less, according to a new study. They also believe blind workers are more prone to workplace accidents and less reliable than other workers

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2013 CALENDARS FOR SIGHTED FRIENDS

Although Sandy and other events have held things up, the 2013 calendar is in the mail. If you would like to receive one, let us know and we will send it to you at no charge.

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Windows 8 Has A Good Feature for Blind Users

NY Times - Saturday, January 19, 2013 - David Pogue

You already know my overall opinion of Windows 8: that it’s two very good operating systems — one for touch screens, one for mouse and keyboard — idiotically superimposed on each other. You wind up with duplicate everything: two Web browsers, two help systems, two search features, two control panels (actually three, but never mind). It’s very confusing.

But for the last few weeks, I’ve been up to my neck in writing a how-to book on Windows 8, and that means mucking around in its deepest, darkest corners. That means learning its idiosyncrasies and quirks. That means getting to know its most embarrassing lapses and its most unsung brilliance.

Maybe Microsoft will somehow fix what’s wrong with Windows 8. Maybe people will get used to the duality. (With the addition of free programs like Classic Shell, which restores the Start menu, you can almost get away with using only the desktop mode on your PC, as before. Almost.)

In the meantime, I thought I’d share three completely overlooked gems that I’ve unearthed in my explorations.

Xbox Music. Don’t be confused — in Windows 8, the term Xbox has nothing to do with the game console. It’s now just a generic term that Microsoft puts on its online stores.

Anyway, Xbox Music is a completely great music service. It combines elements of Pandora, in that it can play endless free music in a style you choose; Spotify, in that you can listen to any song or any album or any performer, on command, free; and iTunes, in that you can buy songs to download. It’s a Windows 8 exclusive; it doesn’t work on Windows 7. And it’s free.

The free version has occasional interruptions in the form of audio/video ads. Music streaming is free and unlimited for the first six months; after that, you can listen free for 10 hours a month. If you’re willing to pay $10 a month (or $100 a year), you can get an Xbox Music Pass, which lets you (a) also listen on a Windows 8 phone and an Xbox 360 (provided you also have a Gold membership), (b) download songs for offline listening, (c) sync your playlists across multiple gadgets, and (d) eliminate the ads.

When you’re listening to one type of music, Pandora-style, you can click the Skip button to pass over a song you don’t care for. In theory, the free version offers only a limited number of skips a month, but Microsoft has confirmed that, for now, it’s still unlimited.

Bing Magazines. In TileWorld (my name for the second operating system, the full-screen, colorful, tappable tiles), you get a handful of brilliantly executed, full-screen, perpetually self-updating “magazines” for news, sports, finance and travel.

This is a fantastic feature. Each, behind the scenes, is simply grabbing articles from hundreds of big-name news Web sites. For example, the News magazine gets its articles and photos from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The New Yorker, CNN, Huffington Post, and so on.

But each re-formats everything into one uniform, attractive, screen-friendly design. No hard-to-read color schemes or ugly fonts. No blinking ads, banners or obnoxious animations.

They all work essentially alike. You open the app (Internet connection required). You see a huge cover photo. Tap or click it to read the associated article.

Or scroll horizontally to see headlines and teaser blurbs for other articles.

Each magazine is customizable; you pick the sports league to follow, the stocks you track, the news topics or news sources you prefer. The Travel magazine is integrated with Bing Travel, so you can actually book hotels and flights on the spot. Flipboard is an obvious predecessor, but it’s nice that these magazines are built right in and ready to go.

Narrator. If you’re blind, computers are hard enough to use without the introduction of touch screens.  In Windows 8, without any fanfare whatsoever, Microsoft has followed in the footsteps of Apple’s VoiceOver technology. It has turned Narrator, a weird, sad old feature that would read your error messages to you out loud, into a full-blown screen reader.

Those who are blind or have limited sight can use Narrator to describe every item on the screen, either in TileWorld or the desktop. It can describe the layout of a Web page, and it makes little sounds to confirm that you’ve performed a touch-screen gesture correctly.

Even if you’re not blind, Narrator is still handy; it can read your e-mail back to you, or read Web articles as you’re getting dressed in the morning.

When you open Narrator, you wind up at its Settings dialogue box — and the voice of Microsoft David (no relation) starts talking, reading everything on the screen.

Like VoiceOver, Narrator takes a lot of time and patience to master; it’s almost like another operating system unto itself.

But the basics are easy enough: on a touch screen, drag your finger around the screen; Narrator speaks everything you touch, so that you can get a feel for the layout of things. You can also tap to hear a single item identified. When Narrator is running, it takes two taps to open something instead of one.

To see the master cheat sheet of touch gestures in Narrator (and hear it read to you), tap the screen three times with four fingers.

If you have a keyboard, the Caps Lock key becomes specially dedicated to Narrator. Press Caps Lock and V, for example, to make Narrator repeat whatever it just said. Caps Lock and the plus or minus sign makes the voice speed up or slow down. Press Caps Lock and Esc to exit Narrator.

So yes, there’s a lot of good in Windows 8, and a lot that’s getting no press. Here’s to the unsung engineers who came up with this stuff — and to the hope that Windows 8’s split-personality problem somehow improves.

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Calendars - Braille and Large Print

It’s the time of year when people are looking for calendars. Here is a list of some resources, places that provide calendars, some for free, some that you have to pay for. If you know of any we have missed, please let us know and we will add it.

Categories :: Bulletins · News
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UEB will eventually replace the current English Braille American Edition and that the U.S. will retain the Nemeth Code for Mathematics and Science Notation.

BANA Adopts Unified English Braille (UEB) for United States

On November 2, 2012, the Braille Authority of North America (BANA) set a new course for the future of braille in the United States (U.S.) when it adopted Unified English Braille (UEB). The motion, which passed decisively, specifies that UEB will eventually replace the current English Braille American Edition and that the U.S. will retain the Nemeth Code for Mathematics and Science Notation.

The transition to UEB will not be immediate and will follow a carefully crafted timeline. Implementation plans will be formulated with the input and participation of stakeholders from the consumer, education, rehabilitation, transcription, and production communities. Plans will take into consideration the various aspects of creating, teaching, learning, and using braille in a wide variety of settings. The plans will be designed to provide workable transitions for all involved in braille use and production and to minimize disruption for current braille readers.

UEB is based on the current literary braille code and was developed with input from many people, primarily braille readers, who worked to achieve an optimal balance among many key factors. Those factors include keeping the general-purpose literary code as its base, allowing the addition of new symbols, providing flexibility for change as print changes, reducing the complexity of rules, and allowing greater accuracy in back translation.

Letters and numbers will stay the same as they are in the current literary code. There will be some changes to punctuation, but most will remain the same. Some rules for the use of contractions will change. Nine contractions will be eliminated, and some contractions will be used more often. A FAQ providing more detail about changes is available on the BANA website.

After implementation, the official braille codes for the United States will be Unified English Braille; Nemeth Code for Mathematics and Science Notation, 1972 Revision and published updates; Music Braille Code, 1997; and The IPA Braille Code, 2008.

More detailed information about UEB and the motion that BANA passed can be found on the BANA website at http://www.brailleauthority.org.

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National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program

Perkins School for the Blind, along with Helen Keller National Center for Deaf-Blind Youths & Adults and Fablevision, Inc., has been chosen to conduct the outreach efforts across the country to promote the National Deafblind Equipment Distribution Program (NDBEDP) pilot.

The idea behind the NDBEDP is that people with combined hearing and vision loss should have access to modern telecommunication tools (and the training necessary to use them) so that they can interact, communicate, use the internet and contribute more to their community. Access to these tools shouldn’t be seen as a luxury, but as a right.
The program provides outreach, assessments, telecommunications technology and training free of charge to those who meet federal eligibility guidelines. Of course, the issue then becomes identifying who is eligible for the program and getting the technology and training out to them.

If you think you or a loved one would be eligible for this program, visit the website www.iCanConnect.com  and look up your state to find out who your contact person is.

You do have to meet an income threshold to be eligible for this program. You must have an income that does not exceed 400 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines (FPG). To look up the 2012 Federal Poverty Guidelines (FPG), go to http://www.familiesusa.org/resources/tools-for-advocates/guides/federal-poverty-guidelines.html

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Review for Religious Available Online

Review for Religious, a journal published by the Missouri Province Jesuits from 1942 through January 2012, has made its complete archives available online.

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New Aid for Prescription Drugs

Blind people get better access to prescription drug information.

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