[Greater-Baltimore] Fall 2018 Braille Spectator

nfbmd nfbmd at earthlink.net
Mon Oct 1 21:17:21 UTC 2018


A semi-annual publication of the National Federation of the Blind of

Judy Rasmussen, editor.

Published on www.nfbmd.org <http://www.nfbmd.org>  and on NFB Newsline by
The National Federation of the Blind of Maryland.

Sharon Maneki, President.

Comments and questions should be sent to  <mailto:nfbmd at earthlink.net>
nfbmd at earthlink.net.

In this issue:

Ocean City: A Paradoxical Convention. 

The Bells Continue Ringing in Maryland!

MSB Appoints New School Leader.

Going Grocery Shopping with Aira.

Perspectives on the National Convention.

Baltimore Orioles and NFB: A Winning Partnership.

Spectator Specs.


Ocean City: A Paradoxical Convention

By Sharon Maneki


Every state convention is paradoxical because we celebrate our
accomplishments from previous years but also plan for the future. The 52nd
Annual State Convention, which takes place from November 9-11, will have
more of an emphasis on planning for the future because we will be electing a
new President. 


The convention takes place at the Carousel Hotel, which provides many
paradoxical opportunities. At the Carousel, you can go ice skating, and also
walk on the beach. It is great to listen to the ocean, smell the salt water,
but you will not be doing it in your shorts or bathing suit. You probably
will be in a winter coat.

The convention activities offer interesting paradoxes. On Friday afternoon,
you will have the opportunity to learn about the NFB philosophy on blindness
by discussing stories from our Kernel book series. On a lighter note, you
will have an opportunity to play bingo. We will also offer a workshop on how
to keep more of your money for the good things of life by taking advantage
of changes to the Maryland Income Tax, and by setting up an ABLE account.
There will be lots of opportunities to spend money in the exhibit hall and
throughout the convention. You will also have the opportunity to learn about
GPS apps and hardware which will enhance your ability to either find places
you need or find uncharted territory. 


Friday evening also offers interesting paradoxes. Where else can you have a
picnic dinner, as you would in the summer, while getting in the Christmas
spirit? That is what will happen if you come to our picnic and a play. The
Braille is Beautiful Players will perform "Santa Rides Again," an original
play written by Jerry Whittle. Come to Spirit Night. Wear your NFB hats,
shirts, etc. You may win a prize for the most creative costume, learn new
cheers, while enjoying food and fellowship with NFB friends. You can be a
couch potato or take a hockey lesson with the Washington Wheelers. The
Washington Wheelers, a blind hockey club, will demonstrate  their audible
hockey puck and other equipment. Experience the fun of ice skating with the
pros. You can rent ice skates at the hotel for a special rate of $4. 


As usual we will work with our partners to ensure better services for the
blind. The convention will be a time to have fun and grow, a time to meet
new friends and renew old friendships, and a time of inspiration and
enthusiasm. Come to the convention to experience the love, hope and
determination we need to make our dreams a reality.  





The Bells Continue Ringing in Maryland!

By Judy Rasmussen


The BELL (Braille Enrichment for Literacy and Learning) Academy is one of
the most important programs held across the country by affiliates of the
National Federation of the Blind. Since Maryland was the first affiliate to
host the BELL program, we have a high tradition to uphold. In true
Federation fashion, we continued to make a difference in the lives of young
students across the state in 2018. A total of 25 students (nine of whom were
new) participated in our three BELL Academies. 


The theme for BELL Academies across the country was "Banking On Blindness
skills." Wells Fargo has been a financial partner with the NFB for the past
several years. In an effort to get staff of Wells Fargo banks where BELL
Academies are held to understand more about the program, the Baltimore and
Glenn Dale Academies were invited to visit a bank near the site of their
location. It was an education both for the bank staff and for our students.

One activity both programs participated in was a coin sorting contest.
Students, bank managers, adult volunteers, and some tellers were asked to
sort pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters into four bowls. All were under
learning shades, and were given 60 seconds to complete the task. I am proud
to say that our students usually beat the bank staff. You may think that of
course, the blind staff would win. The trick was to remember which bowls you
had designated to receive which coins. One bank manager stated that she
planned to use this activity as part of her training for new tellers.
Students also had the opportunity to visit the bank vault. How many adults
have been allowed to do that? The doors are very heavy, and the cabinets
where the money is kept were big. Alas, we were given lollipops and potato
chips, but no money!


The three Maryland BELL Academy sites were Salisbury, Baltimore and Glenn
Dale. Each program was held for two weeks.


Salisbury BELL.


The Salisbury program focused on "What's In our Community?" Every day the
students went to the mailbox and each found a Braille letter from someone
they were going to visit. Students took field trips to the Post Office, the
Mayor's office, the sheriff's office, a police department, and a bank. A
paramedic came and showed students items they use to help save lives.


A blind mobility instructor helped kids improve their cane technique and
everyone had lots of fun walking on a big trail that runs around the
location of the BELL Academy site.

The Salisbury students had a lemonade stand where they made and sold
lemonade and cookies to the workers at Blind Industries and Services of
Maryland. This activity reemphasized money skills, and instilled confidence
that a blind person could sell items to the public. 


We appreciate Mindy Demaris, who is a certified teacher and gave of her time
to teach Braille reading and writing to the Salisbury students. Amy Kraus,
Danielle Earl, Heather Guy, and many other volunteers made the Salisbury
program a success.


Baltimore BELL.


We were pleased that Treva Olivero returned to be the teacher of the
Baltimore BELL Academy again this year. She is very creative and knew many
of the students from previous years.

Expanding on the "Banking On Blindness skills" theme, the Baltimore program
focused on blindness skills needed to achieve your dreams. After choosing a
career, students traced their bodies. The skills needed to achieve the
career were written in Braille and placed on various body parts. One
requirement was that all participants must have a cane in their hand.


Students could earn dream bucks by completing required assignments. The
dream bucks could then be used to buy cool prizes. Earning dream bucks gave
students an opportunity to be rewarded for their efforts in reading and
writing Braille. 


One day was designated science day. Students made a diet coke geyser, paper
cup telephones, had a water balloon fight, and swung a bucket in a circle as
fast as they could. The idea is that if they swung the bucket fast enough,
the water stays inside. Engineering and magic days were also a big hit.


Making yummy Carmel nut sticky buns, dipping vegetables, fruits and pretzels
in chocolate, and playing goal ball were other highlights of the Baltimore
BELL Academy.


In addition to all the fun, serious time was spent doing a wide variety of
Braille activities. On the first day of the program, one student was heard
to comment, "When are we going to start reading?"


Glenn Dale BELL.


Rene Donalvo, who had been a volunteer with the Glenn Dale program for the
past several years and is a certified teacher of blind students, agreed to
be the teacher this year. Rene has been a Braille reader all her life, so
she was excited to impart her knowledge and experience to a younger
generation of blind students.


This year, the Glenn Dale students took a field trip to NASA where they got
to feel parts of a space suit, tried on space gloves and helmets, played
with robots, heard planet sounds, bounced gravity balls, and made ice towers
out of Legos. They ate space ice cream (it isn't that good) and learned many
things about planets based on Braille materials provided to them.


The students drew bells with their Perkins Braillers, made shakers and
tamberines, as well as bird callers. The Glenn Dale bell band made loud,
joyous music. 


The Glenn Dale students enjoyed singing their new Braille song to the tune
of "I Want To Be an Oscar Meyer Wiener." 


One student, who had become blind just prior to last year's BELL academy and
therefore knew no Braille at that time, this year read a story to the other
kids during story hour. 


Parent Activities.


Every BELL program ends with a parents seminar and student graduation
ceremony. The last day is always a fun time for parents and students to come
together. This year the parents got to practice some of the skills their
children were learning during the program. All parents were under learning
shades. They practiced making popcorn for the students' snack, pouring
liquids and making sandwiches. Parents appreciated the experience of doing
it together. Some felt clumsy at performing tasks at first but gained
confidence as they continued practicing, just as their students did.


Thank you.


None of the BELL Academy programs would have been possible without the
dedication of the many wonderful volunteers who put in countless hours to
ensure that things were prepared ahead of time and were flexible when
changes had to be made on the fly. All of our teachers deserve a hearty
thanks for their dedication and persistence.


Contributions received from the Baltimore Orioles, Friends of the Library
for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, the Central Maryland, Greater
Baltimore, National Harbor, TLC and Sligo Creek Chapters were very much
appreciated. The BELL Academies are the most expensive program our affiliate
runs. However, we will not stop doing it because investment in the future
generation of leaders is essential to ensure that blind children grow up to
work, serve others, and teach the next generation the skills they learned. 



MSB Appoints New School Leader 


(Editor's note:  The following press release, issued by the Maryland School
for the Blind, gives background on the school's new superintendent.
Congratulations to Mr. Rob Hair.)


The Board of Directors of the Maryland School for the Blind (MSB) has
announced that W. Robert Hair will assume leadership of the school effective
September 1, 2018.  


Since 2016 Mr. Hair has been the Superintendent of Student Services at MSB.
Prior to coming to MSB, he served as the Lower School Principal and later as
the Deafblind Program Principal at the Perkins School for the Blind in
Watertown, Massachusetts.  Previously he was the Principal and music teacher
at the South Carolina School for the Deaf and the Blind.    


Mr. Hair will replace Dr. Michael J. Bina, who has served as MSB's President
since 2008. Under Dr. Bina's leadership the school has seen tremendous
growth and improvements in both programming and facilities.  In 2016, Bina
received the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) Migel Medal Award, the
highest honor in the blindness field.  


Marion Mullauer, Board of Directors Chair stated, "Dr. Bina has been a
transformational leader for MSB.  During his tenure, he led the campus
master plan to fruition and the students now have buildings, cottages, and
resources appropriate to their needs.  In addition, educational and
functional programs have been greatly enhanced to enable improved student
independence and achievement.  We thank Dr. Bina for his many contributions
and wish him and his family much happiness in his future.  We are confident
that Mr. Hair, as the new Superintendent, will continue to build upon the
terrific work of the past 10 years."


Mr. Hair stated, "I am honored to have the privilege to serve Maryland's
students with visual impairments as MSB's new Superintendent. My
predecessor, Dr. Bina, built a legacy of high expectations for student
academics and independence, beautiful new learning facilities and excellent
itinerant services for students in local schools around the state.  I look
forward to building on MSB's rich history, to help our school continue to
thrive well into the future."

The title of the new leader was changed from President to Superintendent to
align more closely with similar positions in the State of Maryland. 


Founded in 1853, The Maryland School for the Blind is a private, statewide
resource center providing outreach, educational and residential programs to
children and youth from infancy to age 21 who are blind or visually
impaired, including those with multiple disabilities.  Annually the school
serves 56 percent of the 1,700 students identified in Maryland who are blind
or visually impaired through its on-campus and outreach programs.  




Going Grocery Shopping with Aira


(Editor's note:  We are reprinting the following article because it
describes new uses for Aira.)


The Baltimore Sun, September 12, 2018, by Lorraine Mirabella


"Visually Impaired Customers can use App to Grocery Shop at Wegmans"


Paul Schroeder strode through the aisles at Wegmans in Columbia, tapping a
walking cane in front of him and reaching for the iPhone in his shirt
pocket. The 55-year-old Silver Spring resident, who has been completely
blind since infancy, was shopping for cherries, cereal and some frozen
dinners, and had just discovered the store was selling sugar melons, a type
of cantaloupe. He typically shops with his wife, who is sighted, or, when
alone, asks store employees to help. But that's not always ideal. "What that
takes away is that sort of serendipitous fun of just kind of wandering and
browsing and looking," Schroeder said.


Wegmans offers Schroeder another option, free access to a new mobile app
that helps visually impaired people live more independently. Aira, the
brainchild of San Diego-based tech entrepreneurs, uses smartphones or smart
glasses to connect people using the app to trained agents, who can see what
the blind or low-vision person cannot. Agents offer round-the-clock
assistance using live camera streams, GPS, maps and web-based information.

Agents guide Aira users through shopping, traveling, cooking, reading mail
or documents or countless other activities or tasks. Aira sells the service
as a subscription with plans ranging from 100 minutes for $89 a month to
unlimited for $329 a month.


Wegmans, which has eight stores in Maryland, is the first U.S. grocer to
offer free access to Aira.


Any customer, with or without a monthly subscription to Aira, can access the
service for free in all 97 Wegmans stores in six states, said Linda Lovejoy,
a spokeswoman for the Rochester, N.Y.-based grocer.


The access complements other services Wegmans offers customers with
disabilities, Lovejoy said. The chain installed hearing loops in stores
three years ago, enabling people using hearing aids to hear more clearly at
the store pharmacy and at checkout.


"Anytime you provide more access for people who have disabilities, they
realize it and they want to go use that place, whether it's a park or a mall
or a grocery store," Lovejoy said. "It creates more access for people to
enjoy their lives. . This opens another tool for those who are blind or low
vision to have a great experience in our stores."


Schroeder and other Aira "explorers," as subscribing customers are called,
describe the app as life-changing. Schroeder has called on Aira agents to
read menus at restaurants, help with computer problems, read labels on
canned food in his pantry, find exhibits at conferences, direct him to a
precise building or just describe the shops he passes walking down a block. 


When he first used Aira, "it just blew me away," he said.


Schroeder, who used to work for the American Foundation for the Blind,
recently became employed by Aira, where he develops programs and policies to
make the app more accessible.


Aira was launched about three years ago by Suman Kanuganti, an entrepreneur
looking into augmented reality applications that could help a friend who was
losing vision. He teamed with tech entrepreneur Larry Bock, and they
launched Aira in 2017. It has grown from 200 beta testers to thousands of
users in the United States, Australia and Canada.


The service has nearly 60 access partners like Wegmans, including
universities, airports, municipalities, tourist destinations and individual
employers. In Maryland, the Baltimore-based National Federation of the Blind
is also a partner. Aira is in talks with Baltimore-Washington International
Thurgood Marshall Airport to offer access there.


In such partnerships, the business or organization agrees to pay for Aira
services within a certain geographic area. The company employs several
hundred agents in all 50 states. Agents start at $15 an hour and work in
scheduled shifts from their homes.


"We're about building an accessible world," said Amy Bernal, Aira's vice
president of customer experience. "Our goal would be that we work to make
every place accessible for everyone, providing that instant access to visual


The app does compete with other service, including the free Be My Eyes,
which connects users via video calls with volunteers. 


Ronza Othman, an attorney at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
in Woodlawn who has had limited vision since birth, has been using Aira for
about two years. The Baltimore resident recently has relied on it more after
losing some of the useful vision she'd had for much of her life.


"Aira in general has absolutely changed my life and has made it much easier
for me to interact with the world and independently access things that
people who are not blind can access with ease and take for granted, like
shopping," Othman said.


Aira doesn't replace in-person assistance, she has found, but "it does make
the shopping much easier and expands the options for me when I need to be
able to get things like a gallon of milk or a head of lettuce," she said.


Before Aira, she said, "routine things people who did not have disabilities
would not think twice about would be a tremendous challenge."


Besides helping her buy groceries, Aira agents read mail or documents,find
the proper size clothing at stores and navigate airports. Agents have guided
her to airport departure gates and to empty seats at the gates. In the past
she would have asked someone around her.


"The problem is you don't always know if people are willing to help or can
help you appropriately," she said. "You're interrupting people in their
lives. . This way, I can get assistance without being disruptive to other


For grocery shopping, Wegmans has become an attractive option because, she
said, "Wegmans has invested in my using Aira at their business."


During Schroeder's trip to Wegmans, he used the VoiceOver accessibility tool
on his iPhone to open the Aira app and was connected with agent Joanne
McIntyre. He has gotten to know McIntyre, who lives in Bangor, Maine,
through the app. 


"She is calm and doesn't get ruffled by what's going on," he said.


Starting in the produce department, McIntyre described the cherries'color
and packaging.


"Take two steps to your right," she said, leading Schroeder next to bananas
and helping him choose a bunch that were not overripe. She then directed him
to the cereal aisle, describing a multi-grain variety with oats and honey.
"There's whole grain that's right in front of you. If you reach your left
hand out."


In frozen foods, Schroeder used his phone camera to capture an image of
frozen lasagna. McIntyre could study it more closely that way and read
ingredients. The agent said she has worked for Aira for more than a year.


"My friends ask me what I do and what kind of calls I take, and I say, 'I
don't know, what did you do today? Think of everything you did today and I
could have helped somebody with that,' " she said. "We do a lot of mail. We
do a lot of travel - trains, buses, airports. I do a lot of grocery


Schroeder said the partnership between users and agents is one of his
favorite aspects of Aira.


"It's not about a sighted person telling a blind person everything that's
around them," he said. "It's about the blind person saying, 'This is what I
need information about.' "




Perspectives on the National Convention

By Judy Rasmussen


Attending your first national convention can seem a little overwhelming when
you first arrive. The cacophony of so many canes and maybe a dog brushing
your leg makes you feel both afraid and excited at the same time. The hotel
seems endless, you wonder how you will find your way around, and you don't
really know what to expect, no matter how much people try and tell you ahead
of time.


Over 25 Marylanders attended the 2018 convention in Orlando for the first
time. Each first timer was assigned a mentor to ensure that, especially at
the beginning of the week, people didn't feel so lost. It is always
encouraging to see the number of people who return again and again to
conventions because they know how essential it is to keep learning and
growing. Below are the impressions of three people from different
backgrounds and ages who attended the 2018 convention for the first time.


Suzanne Penn was diagnosed with rod/cone dystrophy at the age of five.
Growing up, she did not know any other people with a visual impairment. She
began losing her color vision when she was 21. Not deterred by her extreme
near-sightedness and worsening vision, She pursued a nursing degree at Johns
Hopkins Hospital. She worked as a registered nurse at a psychiatric hospital
for several years. She worked her way up until she became a supervisor over
five departments. 


After leaving the hospital, she began selling Beauty Counter products
online. She is also a faith-based yoga instructor, and teaches a Revelation
Wellness exercise class. 


Suzanne says she has always been a researcher. She had a desire to meet
other people with visual impairments, so she began searching for information
about blindness. She found an article by Chris Nusbaum, who is a member of
the Carroll County chapter of the NFB of Maryland. She went to her first
meeting and has been going ever since. 


Regarding attending her first convention, Suzanne said she enjoyed the
diverse culture of the federation. She was very impressed with the number of
exhibits to view in the exhibit hall. She joined the Sports and Recreation
Division, enjoyed the fund raising seminar she attended, and appreciated the
fact that people were trying new things. She especially enjoyed seeing how
the resolutions process worked. She looks forward to continuing the work of
educating others about the capabilities of blind people.


Brian Holly is a most interesting and determined individual. Many of us
learned about Brian at our 2017 state convention when he won the Anna Cable
award. The Anna Cable award is given to someone who learns Braille at an
older age. Anna was a spunky lady who lived to be 108. 
She learned to read and write Braille in her late 60's and was very proud
that she did it. 


To remember Anna, the affiliate gives a Braille award in her honor each
year. Brian was most surprised and pleased that he won the award. 


Brian was a truck driver for Entenmann's Bakery for nearly 30 years. He
enjoyed his job and would have continued to drive, had not a rare eye
disease caused him to lose all his vision in 2010. He did not want to
retire, so he asked Entenmann's staff to place him in their warehouse. He
was sure he could do many jobs there. However, the Human Resources
Department wasn't so sure. For two years, they kept giving him various
tests. Brian passed all eight tests, and therefore was allowed to return to
work in the warehouse, where he remained for the next five years. He won
several safety awards, and proved that with determination and persistence,
he could live the life he wanted.


Brian retired in 2016. He said his wife told him he had better learn some
more independent living skills, because she wanted him to take care of the
house while she continued working.


Brian did just that. He began receiving intensive independent living skills
training at the Senior Adult Independent Living program sponsored by Blind
Industries and Services of Maryland, where he recently completed all of his
graduation requirements.


Serving others is an important part of Brian's life. He continues to operate
the sound board at his church, and volunteers for other charities. 


Brian said that some of the things he enjoyed most about convention were the
roll call of states, seeing the 30 students receive their scholarships,
attending some of the technology and money management seminars, but most of
all, meeting so many people from everywhere. He said that age should not
make a difference when considering whether to attend a convention.


TeQuisha Francois is a busy mother of two. Three years ago, she was doing
normal activities with her children, and thinking about blindness was not on
her radar.


Then her daughter was diagnosed with retinal blastoma, or cancer of the
eyes. One eye was removed, and the other had very little sight left.
TeQuisha knew that her daughter would need help if she was to succeed in
school. Being resourceful, she went looking for information about blindness
on the Internet. She found the National Federation of the Blind, and learned
about the BELL Academy. She was very excited for her daughter to attend.


For the past two years, we have watched Zanyiah blossom as she learned to
read and write Braille and use a white cane.


Regarding her first convention experience, TeQuisha said she enjoyed meeting
parents of students of all ages. She said she enjoyed getting to know young
adults in their 20's who were helping parents. She especially enjoyed
meeting Conchita Hernandez, who grew up as a blind student in the DC school
system, and is now a teacher of blind students. TeQuisha stated she really
enjoyed attending the Google and Amazon seminars, as well as the banquet.
She said her daughter made many friends as well, and is still texting them.


Whether you are a teenager or grandparent or somewhere in between, the
national convention has something to offer for everyone.




Baltimore Orioles and NFB: A Winning Partnership


(Editor's note: On June 29, 2018 President Sharon Maneki was recognized for
community advocacy by the Baltimore Orioles through its Birdland Hero
program.  The Orioles also donated $2500 to the NFB of Maryland, which we
used for our BELL Academy programs. But there was more to come! 

On Tuesday, September 18, The Baltimore Orioles held NFB night at the
stadium.  The publicity for this event was terrific.  Read the article from
the Baltimore Sun, which describes the planning for this event, followed by
Jim Hunter's description of President Riccobono throwing out the first
pitch, then an article the day after the even from the Washington Post
outlining the special activities held that evening.)


>From the Baltimore Sun, September 5, 2018, by Mike Klingaman

"Sight to behold: Orioles to wear Braille lettering on jerseys on National
Federation of the Blind Night"

Merle Caples has followed the Orioles for nearly 60 years - first with her
eyes, and now with her ears. Caples, 95, is blind. Yet the Orioles remain
her team, sight unseen.

"It doesn't stop you from rooting for them," she said of her disability.
Caples listens to every game on the radio from her home in Ambler, Pa. She
hangs on every pitch - and on every word of announcers Joe Angel and Jim

"They are my eyes; they paint a picture for me," Caples said. "It's like I'm
sitting behind home plate."

In tribute to Caples and others like her, the Orioles will host National
Federation of the Blind Night on Sept. 18, when they play the Toronto Blue
Jays at Camden Yards. That night, Orioles players and coaches will wear
first-of-their kind big league jerseys with their names spelled in Braille,
and the first 15,000 fans will receive Braille alphabet cards. Carlos Ibay,
a blind singer/pianist, will perform the national anthem and Mark Riccobono,
president of the NFB who is also blind, will throw out the first pitch.
Established in 1940, the National Federation of the Blind is celebrating its
40th year based in Baltimore. It's the nation's oldest and largest
organization run by the blind, with about 50,000 members.

The club broached the NFB last winter about paying homage to the visually
impaired, said Greg Bader, Orioles vice president of communications and

"We've made a conscious effort to create an environment where everyone feels
welcome at the ballpark," Bader said. "We take our role as entertainer very
seriously, but we also want to serve as an escape for some people, and as a
platform to highlight the causes and morals that we feel strongly about. A
'blindness awareness night' puts it into perspective that there's more going
on out there than just wins and losses."

After the game, the Orioles' jerseys will be autographed, authenticated and
auctioned off online at orioles.com/auctions. All proceeds will benefit the

"It's a great idea," said Chris Danielson, public relations director for the
association, which will have about 25 members handing out the Braille cards
to sighted fans before the game.

Danielson, who has been blind since birth, has a partial Orioles
season-ticket plan himself. While neither he nor the Orioles know how many
such followers the team has, he said, "We appreciate their spirit in
reaching out to our community and letting the public know that blind people
are sports fans, too - and that Braille is a simple yet elegant way for them
to learn to read."

Time and again, Angel said, he'll hear from sightless listeners, including
Caples, and invite them into the radio booth "for an inning or two" when
they attend games.

"I'm just grateful that they feel what I'm doing is important to them,"
Angel said. "When they say how much you mean to them, it's like a wake-up
call. It makes my focus that much sharper."

Their words also keep him going in this, perhaps the Orioles' most dismal

"Though the losses pile up, every game is still worthwhile to the blind,"
Angel said.

In truth, he conceded, "I assume that anyone listening doesn't have the
ability to see the game, and that it's my job to put them in the ballpark.
As a 10-year-old kid in Chicago, I remember listening to Cubs games while
lying in bed with a transistor radio and my eyes closed. In fact, I was
blind, and just pretending I was there. Do that, and your imagination runs

That's what Merle Caples does, night after night, listening to the Orioles
through earbuds in her room at the assisted living facility where she lives.

"If [the nursing staff] sees your lights on after 11 o'clock, they are at
your door to make sure you haven't died," she said. "I tell them, 'I'm OK,
I'm just listening to the ballgame.' "

A Marine who served during World War II, Caples contracted macular
degeneration and lost much of her vision 10 years ago. Fiercely loyal, the
longtime Westminster resident could name every Oriole until the roster

On July 3, Caples' family took her to Citizens Bank Park in nearby
Philadelphia, to see the Orioles play the Phillies. Beforehand, she met
manager Buck Showalter, players Adam Jones and Caleb Joseph, and Angel, who
gave her his floppy Orioles hat and a big kiss. Though she is legally blind,
Caples' eyes glistened.

The Orioles lost the game.

"Yes, the team is doing terrible, but you know what?" she said. "I'm still a
fan and you can't change an old gal like me."


President Riccobono threw out the first pitch.  Here is the link to the
youtube.com video as described by Orioles announcer Jim Hunter.




>From the Washington Post Wednesday, September 19, 2018, by Des Bieler.

"Orioles become first U.S. pro team to incorporate Braille on uniforms"


The Orioles are having a season that local fans will try their hardest to
forget, but on Tuesday the team commemorated a Baltimore event in
history-making fashion. The O's became the first U.S. professional team,
they claimed, to use Braille lettering on their game-day uniforms.

During a game against the Blue Jays at Camden Yards, Braille dots spelled
out the word "Orioles" on the fronts of players' jerseys, and the lettering
was used to denote their names on the backs. In addition, Braille alphabet
cards were handed out to fans at the ballpark.

The occasion was the 40th anniversary of the move to Baltimore of the
National Federation of the Blind's headquarters. According to an account on
the team's website, the O's had initially discussed honoring the NFB on July
26, to mark the 28th anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act, but
when they learned of the upcoming date, they came up with a new, and
unprecedented, approach.

In addition to the uniforms and Braille lettering in the O's lineup graphic,
the team invited a blind concert pianist, Carlos Ibay, to sing the national
anthem, and NFB President Mark Riccobono threw out the first pitch.
Riccobono described throwing out the first pitch as "a little bit
nerve-racking," but he said it helped that he'd "done a lot of nerve-racking
stuff" in his life.

"It really means a lot that the Baltimore Orioles are acknowledging [the
anniversary], and not just in a way that says, 'It's nice to have you,' but
in a real way that's authentic to blind people, by including Braille, which
is the means that blind people use for literacy all across the world,"
Riccobono said before the game.

He added that when the team said it could use the lettering on its uniforms,
he and others at his organization thought it was "a fantastic idea" and
suggested distributing the alphabet cards to help fans learn "what Braille
is, and how to recognize the characters."

"We enjoy visiting the parks," said Chris Danielsen, the NFB's director of
public relations (via MLB.com). "For a totally blind person like myself,
there are different things to enjoy about the ballpark other than the
visuals of it.

Of course, it's important that baseball and all sports were broadcast on
radio before they were broadcast on television, and both blind and sighted
fans have always enjoyed baseball games on the radio when they could not
come to the ballpark."

"They're acknowledging that you're there," Erik Rodriguez, a visually
impaired baseball player, told ABC News before the game. "Sometimes that's
the biggest step."

Unfortunately for all the O's fans in attendance Tuesday, the team could not
avoid notching its 108th loss of the season, the most in the club's 65-year
history in Baltimore, breaking a dubious mark set in 1988. In its previous
incarnation as the St. Louis Browns, the franchise lost 111 games in 1939
and 108 in 1937.

The Braille-adorned jerseys are set to be auctioned off, with the proceeds
benefiting the NFB, while one of the jerseys will go to the Baseball Hall of





DEATHS:  We are sorry to report the death of Renee Douglas.  Renee lost her
battle with the complications of diabetes in July.  Although she was a
relatively new member of the Greater Baltimore Chapter she had great
enthusiasm and interest in learning about blindness.  May she rest in peace.


GRADUATIONS:  Brian Keseling, president of the Greater Carroll County
Chapter, received his AA degree from Carroll Community College.  He plans to
become an entrepreneur after obtaining his bachelor's degree in business.


ACHIEVEMENTS: Sherria Young published her first book entitled, "God Ain't
Done with Me Yet Uniquelyblessed!"  Contact Sherria directly if you wish to
purchase this book. 


Congratulations to Meredith Day and Khloe DeLeon, who were finalists in the
National Braille Challenge contest.  In June 2018, they went to Los Angeles,
California to compete with students across the nation in Braille reading and
writing.  Khloe was in the Apprentice level (1st and 2nd graders), and
Meredith was in the Freshman level (3rd and 4th graders).  Keep up the good


Sharon Maneki, President

National Federation of the Blind of Maryland



The National Federation of the Blind of Maryland knows that blindness is not
the characteristic that defines you or your future. Every day we raise the
expectations of blind people, because low expectations create obstacles
between blind people and our dreams. You can live the life you want;
blindness is not what holds you back.


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