[Ohio-talk] {Spam?} FW: [Brl-monitor] The Braille Monitor, October 2016

richard rchpay7 at gmail.com
Wed Oct 26 09:06:08 UTC 2016

-----Original Message-----
From: brl-monitor-bounces at nfbcal.org [mailto:brl-monitor-bounces at nfbcal.org]
On Behalf Of Brian Buhrow
Sent: Wednesday, October 26, 2016 2:00 AM
To: brl-monitor at nfbcal.org
Subject: [Brl-monitor] The Braille Monitor, October 2016

                               BRAILLE MONITOR
Vol. 59, No. 9   October 2016
                             Gary Wunder, Editor

      Distributed by email, in inkprint, in Braille, and on USB flash
drive, by the

      Mark Riccobono, President

      telephone: (410) 659-9314
      email address: nfb at nfb.org
      website address: http://www.nfb.org
      NFBnet.org: http://www.nfbnet.org
      NFB-NEWSLINE. information: (866) 504-7300
       Like us on Facebook: Facebook.com/nationalfederationoftheblind
                      Follow us on Twitter: @NFB_Voice
            Watch and share our videos: YouTube.com/NationsBlind

Letters to the President, address changes, subscription requests, and
orders for NFB literature should be sent to the national office. Articles
for the Monitor and letters to the editor may also be sent to the national
office or may be emailed to gwunder at nfb.org.

Monitor subscriptions cost the Federation  about  forty  dollars  per  year.
Members  are  invited,  and  nonmembers  are   requested,   to   cover   the
subscription cost. Donations should be made payable to  National  Federation
of the Blind and sent to:

      National Federation of the Blind
      200 East Wells Street at Jernigan Place
      Baltimore, Maryland 21230-4998

ISSN 0006-8829
) 2016 by the National Federation of the Blind
      Each issue is recorded on a thumb drive (also called a memory stick
or USB flash drive). You can read this audio edition using a computer or a
National Library Service digital player. The NLS machine has two slots-the
familiar book-cartridge slot just above the retractable carrying handle and
a second slot located on the right side near the headphone jack. This
smaller slot is used to play thumb drives. Remove the protective rubber pad
covering this slot and insert the thumb drive. It will insert only in one
position. If you encounter resistance, flip the drive over and try again.
(Note: If the cartridge slot is not empty when you insert the thumb drive,
the digital player will ignore the thumb drive.) Once the thumb drive is
inserted, the player buttons will function as usual for reading digital
materials. If you remove the thumb drive to use the player for cartridges,
when you insert it again, reading should resume at the point you stopped.
      You can transfer the recording of each issue from the thumb drive to
your computer or preserve it on the thumb drive. However, because thumb
drives can be used hundreds of times, we would appreciate their return in
order to stretch our funding. Please use the return envelope enclosed with
the drive when you return the device.

Vol. 59, No. 9                                                       October


Illustration: Summer Interns Come to Contribute and Learn

That NFB Resolution
by Jonathan Mosen

Putting News First: Breaking Down Stereotypes as a Blind Journalist
by Gary O'Donoghue

A Community of Practice: The Federation in Science, Technology,
Engineering, Art, and Math
by Natalie Shaheen, Joseph Heimlich, Arianna Benally, Frances Hammond,
Cricket Bidleman, and Salvador Villa

Participating in the American Dream Means Paying Taxes: the Innovation of
Accessible Financial Tools at H&R Block
by Bret Reimer

The Roots of the Federation in the World: the Isabel Grant Story in Her Own
by Deborah Kent Stein

Eliminating Artificial Barriers: Civil Rights and Disability at the United
States Department of Justice
by Eve Hill

Educational Assessments, Math Innovations, and Real Accessibility: Progress
at Pearson
by Jon Twing


Monitor Miniatures

[PHOTO CAPTION: John Pari, Michael Ausbun, Mark Riccobono, Julie McGinnity
with her dog guide Bill in front of her, Jerad Nylin, and Anil Lewis pose
together in front of the Jernigan Institute.]
                 Summer Interns Come to Contribute and Learn

      From the beginning of June through the early part of August, the
Jernigan Institute hosted three interns who had demonstrated a commitment
to the organization, possessed leadership potential, and demonstrated
energy and enthusiasm in earlier Federation work. The purpose of the
internship was twofold: to build on this leadership and to tackle some much-
needed work that would challenge their creativity and their ability to work
as a team.
      The 2016 interns were Michael Ausbun of Nevada, Julie McGinnity of
Missouri, and Jerad Nylin of Iowa. Jerad and Michael worked together on
STEM EQ, and both say that working as mentors in the program was a
mountaintop experience. Jerad said that the experience he found most
valuable was learning his own strengths and weaknesses and how important
communication is in working as a team. Michael loved being a mentor and
found that contact with his own mentors and fellow interns was the most
valuable part of his experience. Julie thought that being an intern gave
her a wonderful view of the Federation nationally and enjoyed her work
planning for and executing a plan for affiliate building.
      All of the interns went to Capitol Hill to support the Federation's
legislative priorities. Not only do they learn more about the process, but
getting to know the senators, representatives, and the staff members who
play important roles for our public servants was enormously helpful.
      Perhaps Julie McGinnity best summed up their feelings as they move on
to new challenges, "The internship didn't lead me to a destination. It led
me to believe in the worthwhileness of our further journey."

[PHOTO CAPTION: Jonathan Mosen]
                             That NFB Resolution
                              by Jonathan Mosen

      From the Editor: Jonathan Mosen is well-known to many blind people
who follow technology. He was a prominent spokesman for HumanWare when they
introduced the BrailleNote and now hosts the popular FSCast sponsored by
the VFO Group, formerly Freedom Scientific.
      This article first appeared on July 7, 2016, in a blog entry on Mosen
Consulting's website. At the 2016 Convention this organization passed
Resolution 2016-04. It was controversial, not because anyone disputed the
truth of the assertions, but because it criticized Apple for quality
control. Apple is a company which is credited by anyone with brains with
breaking a barrier many of us feared would stifle technological progress
for the blind. They figured out a way to make a touchscreen usable by blind
people when it seemed that the very nature of the technology would preclude
any exploration to find the number or the button desired.
      No matter how much the NFB applauds Apple for its innovations through
the purchase of its products, favorable articles and user reviews, and even
granting them the most prestigious award we have for the developers of
technology, any word of criticism is regarded by some as blasphemy. Let the
Federation be a watchdog seeking to ensure fair treatment by a blindness
agency, an accrediting body, or a government policy or procedure, and the
organization is either applauded for taking a stand or criticized for not
taking a more forceful one. But let us speak about Apple, and suddenly we
are unappreciative, overly critical, and unduly demanding.
      Whether we like it or not, the controversy over the resolution passed
concerning Apple raises serious questions about what we who are blind think
about blind people. Are we full-fledged consumers with the right to say
when something we have purchased doesn't work as it should? Do we have real
rights when it comes to expressing our views, or must we confine ourselves
to saying only what those who rely on charity and goodwill have the right
to say? No matter how courteously or constructively our concerns are put
forward, if they involve Apple they cause a firestorm which inevitably
finds people questioning our motives, our reasonableness, and our record of
working constructively not only for access but for the ability to
efficiently use devices so important to our daily existence.
      It is refreshing to see that some who are not associated with us
share our opinion that calling for quality access is not a violation of
civilized behavior and that, in fact, we must exercise our rights as
consumers whose money is as hard to come by and every bit as valuable as
the money offered to Apple by people who can see.
      To help with a bit of translation, when Jonathan says "I do so fully
recognizing that I'm on a hiding to nothing," he means that he is engaging
in a bet which he is likely to lose and that the payoff is likely not worth
the risk. Here is what he says:

      In writing this post, I do so fully recognizing that I'm on a hiding
to nothing, and I should probably leave well alone. There is an ugly mob
mentality that can easily get going when social media turns on an
individual or organization, and it's a phenomenon that has been the
fascinating subject of entire books.
      But, after initially deciding to sit out the latest NFB Resolution
controversy, I decided I was being morally complicit in the mob mentality
by not having the courage to share my own story and views. I was also
encouraged to write this because of an amicable and reasonable Twitter
exchange I had with someone whose views are not identical to mine. It made
me realize that there still may be reasonable people who might appreciate a
different perspective on this issue. So, for better or worse, here goes.

The Resolution
      In case you've been fortunate enough to be under a rock and off the
grid, the National Federation of the Blind has just concluded its 2016
convention. NFB is a consumer organization that also provides services, now
extending to the development of assistive technology that runs on a range
of platforms including iOS.
      Resolutions can be proposed by any member. They are first discussed
at the resolutions committee. The resolutions committee then votes on
whether they should be discussed by the convention, which is the supreme
governing and policy-making body of the organization. So if you pay your
subscription [join the Federation], you too could propose a resolution next
      The following resolution was proposed and ultimately adopted by NFB:

      Resolution 2016-04
      Regarding Apple's Inadequate Testing of Software Releases

      WHEREAS, Apple Inc. has made VoiceOver, a free and powerful screen-
      access program, an integral part of many of its products, including
      the Apple Macintosh, iPhone, iPod Touch, Apple TV, and iPad; and

      WHEREAS, when a significant software update for one of these products
      is released, there are often accessibility bugs that impact the
      usability of the product by blind users, causing them to lose their
      productivity or their ability to perform certain job duties when the
      use of Apple devices is required; and

      WHEREAS, recent updates have included a large number of serious,
      moderate, and minor bugs that have made it difficult or impossible for
      blind people to perform various tasks such as answering calls,
      browsing the internet, entering text into forms, or adding individuals
      to the Contacts Favorites list; and

      WHEREAS, for example, after iOS 9.0 was released, some iPhones running
      VoiceOver occasionally became unresponsive when getting a phone call,
      and there was no way to choose any option on screen; and

      WHEREAS, although this issue was fixed in a new release of iOS, it
      would not have occurred if Apple had conducted more thorough testing
      with VoiceOver; and

      WHEREAS, another example of inadequate testing by Apple involves
      VoiceOver failing to render the contents of the screen when a user
      attempts to add a contact to the Favorites list in the phone app and
      has multiple contact groups from which to select; and

      WHEREAS, because Apple products and its accessibility tools are built
      by the same company, there is no need to share confidential
      information with partners that may affect the normal development of
      the software; and

      WHEREAS, we recognize the efforts made by Apple to inform developers
      about the accessibility features built into Apple products and
      encourage the company to keep working in that direction; however
      several accessibility issues still appear with new software releases
      even when they have been reported during beta testing; and

      WHEREAS, it is vital that Apple give priority to addressing bugs that
      have an impact on accessibility before releasing software updates:
      Now, therefore,

      BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention
      assembled this fourth day of July, 2016, in the City of Orlando,
      Florida, that this organization call upon Apple to make nonvisual
      access a major priority in its new and updated software by improving
      its testing of new releases to ensure that nonvisual access is not
      limited or compromised; and

      BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization call upon Apple to work
      actively to incorporate feedback from testers who use VoiceOver during
      the beta-testing phase of software development to ensure that
      accessibility for blind individuals is fully and properly addressed.

Quality Control
      Quality control problems are rampant within Apple, not just where
accessibility is concerned, but with software in general. If you take even
the most cursory of glances at the technology news, you'll have seen a
number of examples. Most recently, some units of Apple's latest pride and
joy, the 9.7-inch iPad Pro, were bricked by what was supposed to be a minor
software update.
      Some Sprint users couldn't connect to LTE after iOS 9.3.
      You may remember that a minor update to iOS 8 broke LTE
functionality, causing massive problems for those who were unfortunate
enough to upgrade before the update was pulled.
      The issues with VoiceOver and iOS 9 were just the latest in a series
of significant problems over the last few years. I could go back further,
but let's just look at iOS 8 on release day. There were serious issues
affecting the two-finger double-tap when an incoming call was received.
Answering a call would not always pause audio that was playing, and the
phone could get itself into a state where it was difficult to stop audio
without hanging up a call.
      Remember the dial pad bug in iOS 8? If you tried to do something as
simple as call a number using the phone keypad, it would often get stuck
emitting a DTMF tone. Each key you pressed would cause one tone to pile on
      On iOS 8 release day, Bluetooth keyboard support with VoiceOver on
was so unreliable that it was useless for practical purposes.
      If you had a Braille display and no Bluetooth keyboard, QuickNav was
stuck on, and there was no way you could disable it unless you were able to
borrow someone else's keyboard and pair it or buy a Bluetooth keyboard
expressly to get around Apple's bug.
      When VoiceOver was enabled, Siri would often be cut off in its
      And the really big one-VoiceOver was completely broken if you had a
Braille display and had chosen a particular configuration for status cells.
There was no way to recover from this one without sighted assistance.
      Let's move on to iOS 9. This was the release that the tech press said
would be lighter on features because there was a need to make the OS more
stable. Do you remember how flaky Bluetooth keyboard support was for some
of us only when VoiceOver was running? There were times when entering text
into an edit field did absolutely nothing. If you were really lucky,
turning VoiceOver off and back on again got things working for a while. If
you were a little less lucky, but still a bit lucky, rebooting the device
would get things working. Still others couldn't get Bluetooth keyboards
working at all, no matter what they did. I remember long, convoluted
Twitter discussions as many of us tried to find the variable that would
make Bluetooth keyboards work.
      Remember the famous iOS 9 focus bug? This was a particular problem in
apps where you'd want to return to your previous place, such as Twitter and
podcast apps. It made using apps like Twitterific, Tweetings, or Downcast a
miserable experience, because you couldn't pick up from where you left off.
      There were numerous other ones, but let me be clear that every piece
of software ever written has bugs. So I want to focus on the really big
      As the NFB resolution mentioned, there was the call-answering issue,
a showstopper if ever there was one. It saddens me that many of those who
were not affected by it trivialize the impact that it had on those of us
who were.
      To recap, when you received an incoming phone or FaceTime call,
VoiceOver became unresponsive. It wasn't possible to answer a call or
navigate the screen. I can tell you that as a business owner and a dad,
this was a very high-impact bug, and it was totally unacceptable that the
software was released in this state.
      Don't agree? Well, let's take blindness out of the mix for a bit.
What do you think would have happened if even 20 percent of the entire
iPhone user base found after installing iOS 9 that they couldn't take phone
calls anymore? It would be Apple Maps all over again. Apple would have been
a laughingstock for making a phone that doesn't even let you...answer the
phone! The blind business owner who relies on their iPhone to get their
sales leads, the blind attorney who needs to hear from their office, the
blind parent who needs to be able to pick up a call from their kid-they've
all paid exactly the same money for their iPhone as anyone else. And, if
it's unacceptable for sighted people to be unable to answer their phone,
not just occasionally but always, then allowing software to go out that
makes it impossible for numerous blind people to answer the phone is an act
of discrimination. It's not deliberate, it's not willful, but
discrimination need not be deliberate or willful for discrimination to have
taken place. We have enough barriers and ignorance to overcome without
these sorts of preventable barriers getting in our way. These devices
aren't toys; they're now an essential tool in our productivity armory for
many of us.
      I have seen it suggested that this serious call-answering bug was
introduced late in the beta cycle, too late for Apple to do anything about.
This is unequivocally false, and I'm going to give you dates to back that
statement up. First, a bit of background:
      I believe in trying to make constructive, positive contributions
where that's an option. All the way back in iOS 7, many of us had become
troubled by the dwindling quality control of Apple's accessibility
offerings. To try to make a positive difference, I set up a private email
list of registered blind Apple developers. The idea was and is that we
compare notes and try to find steps to reproduce a bug so we can lodge the
most accurate bugs we can with Apple. Incidentally, the very accessibility
of lodging bugs has varied a lot over the years from the excellent to the
      This email list means that I can tell you exactly when I became aware
of the serious call-answering bug. Bonnie and I were married on 27 June
last year. I therefore refrained from installing the iOS 9 beta on my main
device until we were back from our honeymoon. On 4 July I first reported
issues with answering calls. By that stage we were only at iOS 9 beta 3. I
suspect that if the bug was present early on in the cycle like that, it was
present from the beginning. Certainly it was present in early July, a full
two-and-a-half months before iOS 9 was officially released.
      When I lodged the bug, I gave it the highest priority I could,
stressing emphatically what a showstopper this one was. I was also able to
make it clear, because of the private email list I run, that it was
affecting some people, but not others. Some people with the same model
phone as I had were affected, while other users of the very same model were
not. I have huge empathy for the Apple quality-assurance folks, because a
bug like this that affects some people but not others is the absolute worst
to track down.
      Nevertheless, the software was released in the full knowledge that
there were going to be some blind people for whom a core function of the
device they paid for was useless. And I would be surprised if I had been
the first person to log the issue in early July.
      As the resolution also pointed out, Apple is in a unique position,
and it's something they market as a strength. They have full control over
all the hardware and the software. They're not trying to provide access
over the top of an operating system; it's part of the operating system.
      iOS 9 was also the first iOS release to go into public beta. As I
blogged when that move was announced, having more data to draw from isn't
going to help if quality assurance isn't resourced appropriately.
      And really, this is all the resolution is saying. I can't speak for
its drafters, but I can say that I'm not for one second suggesting that
Apple is lessening its commitment to accessibility-far from it. If you've
got your hands on iOS 10 already, you'll know that it's packed with some
cool new accessibility features, some of which I've been wanting for years.
      I don't question for a single second that everyone at Apple has a
deeply entrenched, profound commitment to accessibility, and through it, to
making the world a better place. They sure have changed my life for the
better, and chances are, if you're reading this, they've changed yours too.
      But surely dialogue in our community hasn't descended to the notion
that unless you're totally for Apple, you're against them? Clearly, Apple
continues to have quality-control issues across the board. You'd have to be
pretty blinkered not to acknowledge that. In my view, it's not that anyone
there isn't truly dedicated or competent, but there clearly seems to be a
resource shortfall in quality assurance.
      Many users of Apple's tech, from a range of perspectives, have said
similarly, and I for one am glad that the NFB has reminded Apple and the
wider public of how vulnerable we blind people are when quality assurance
is under-resourced. We're a small population, and bugs that have a tiny
impact on the user base overall can have a debilitating impact on us.

Picking Apples
      It's been said by some that NFB seems to be picking on Apple, perhaps
because Apple doesn't engage with our community in the same way other
companies do. I don't always succeed at this, but I find that not much good
comes from attributing motive and that it's best to take an argument on its
merits if possible. As someone very badly hit by the phone-answering bug, I
felt heard, understood, relieved that finally someone was speaking up for
me. It's also natural that with Apple having done so well, more blind
people are using Apple mobile devices than any other type. With that
success inevitably comes greater scrutiny.
      However, I'd like to have been spoken up for in other ways as well.
I'm an Android user now and would use Android more if it weren't for the
abysmal state of support for my primary medium, Braille. NFB has championed
Braille over the years, and a resolution letting Google know in no
uncertain terms that they must do better would be both welcome and overdue.
      Technology plays such a big part in all of our lives now that I
suspect there are a number of cases where we'd like to see tech companies
do much better. Perhaps Americans who feel this way will put forward their
own resolutions next year. I don't believe that the absence of these
resolutions in any way invalidates the strength of the resolution that was
adopted, but when we as blind people call for truly equitable access, I do
think that such calls should also be equitably distributed.
      NFB said something that clearly needed to be said. The impact of
unresolved accessibility bugs has been dire for three consecutive major
releases now and is symptomatic of a wider software QA [quality assurance]
issue. In constructively pointing out the need for meaningful dialogue and
timely resolution, that doesn't preclude us from celebrating the revolution
Apple has brought about, for which they deserve warm congratulations.
      And despite the strong market share of mobile devices Apple enjoys in
our community, it is critical that we also focus on other players who are
not doing so well so that like everyone else, we as blind people truly can
choose the technology we use based on preference and need.
[PHOTO CAPTION: Gary O'Donoghue]
     Putting News First: Breaking Down Stereotypes as a Blind Journalist
                             by Gary O'Donoghue

      From the Editor: Gary O'Donoghue is the Washington correspondent for
the British Broadcasting Company (BBC). Being a successful blind journalist
in the position he holds requires extensive travel, the ability to turn an
event into a story, and the flexibility to see that blindness does not get
in the way of being where the action is and turning out an article that
catches the attention of readers and is worthy of the most prestigious
broadcasting service in the world. Here is what Gary O'Donoghue said to the
2016 convention:

      Well, it's great to be here, and I'm very grateful for the invitation
from the president to come and speak to you and to tell you a little bit
about what I do in my work as a journalist. As the president was saying,
this isn't my first NFB convention; I was lucky enough to be here last year
to witness that famous record-breaking umbrella mosaic-an amazing moment,
of course. Now I have to tell you that I've been to one or two Donald Trump
rallies this year, and they are no more frightening than 3,000 blind people
waving umbrellas around, let me tell you.
      What I want to do today, at the invitation of your president, is to
give a bit of an insight into my work as a BBC correspondent and how I go
about doing that as a visually-impaired person. First of all, perhaps the
potted life story: I was born with poor eyesight, which led to me having
one eye removed when I was a baby. I retained some useful vision in the
other eye until I was eight years old. But after the retina kept detaching
itself, admittedly once after going headfirst over the handlebars of a
bicycle, there was nothing more to be done, and I've been totally blind
ever since then. As was the norm in those days, I was immediately packed
off to a couple of boarding schools for blind people, and, as luck would
have it, it got me a much better education than I could have hoped for if
I'd been sighted. From boarding school I headed off to Oxford University to
do a degree in philosophy and modern languages. Shortly after that I joined
the BBC as a reporter, and I've been there ever since, so I'm about as
institutionalized a blind person as you can get [laughter].
      Now when I started in this field there were only very basic forms of
computers, mobile phones were only just getting going, and access to
research materials and daily newspapers as a blind person meant getting
hold of other colleagues and getting them to take time out of their
schedules to assist. One could, of course, take all the bits of paper home
for a girlfriend to read, but I'm pretty sure one left because asking her
to read a wedge of newspaper cuttings in bed wasn't the most alluring offer
she could have from a guy-right? [laughter]
      I worked at first producing reports from our Parliament for the BBC's
network of local radio stations. From there I got a job on a national daily
news program called The Today Program, which is a bit like NPR's Morning
Edition here, which is a significant force in setting the political agenda
in Britain each day. During those five years I did a range of stories,
really. Traveled to Africa several times, here to the US a few times, the
Far East during the handover of Hong Kong back to the Chinese, and I spent
a couple of nights on the Macedonian border while NATO bombed Serbia-
thousands of Kosovan refugees flooded out of the country, many of them
driven out by their Serb neighbors.
      I did lots of lighter things as well. I had to cuddle a koala in
Australia-now apparently they pee a lot, but fortunately this one did not
pee. I had to drink lots of strong lager for a piece on alcohol content-all
in the line of duty, of course. And I had to talk to people about the shape
of tea bags on Oxford Street, would you believe. I must say, I did draw the
line when I was asked to do a bungee jump off a bridge over the river
Thames-I thought that was just a little step too far for me.
      For a stint at the BBC World Service I became one of the BBC's
political correspondents, ending up as the chief political correspondent
for our main news network, and that, my friends, is what brought me here to
the United States. Since I arrived here, I've spent a lot of time chasing
presidential candidates across the country as they eat their corndogs at
country fairs, plate loads of beef at cookouts, and do their fifteen
flipping burgers or serving behind diners the length and breadth of this
country. I've been chilled to the bone in New Hampshire; I've been so close
to Canada in Vermont I could almost touch it; Texas was pleasant in spring,
but I have to tell you that I'm relieved not to be there today because
apparently it's going to be 102, which kind of makes Orlando seem fine,
doesn't it? And you only need to listen to Americans talking to realize how
big this place is. Even just a couple of hours west of DC it almost sounds
like you're in a foreign country. Donald Trump did actually divert to a
foreign country ten days ago when he made a speech at his golf course in
Scotland. I have to say, sitting at the ninth tee at Turnberry, surrounded
by Secret Service agents, was one of the most bizarre places I've ever
attended a press conference. Not only does the presidential election
campaign reach every person in the US, it also seems to go on forever-
doesn't it? I was with Hillary Clinton in Iowa when she launched her
campaign in the spring of last year-shout out for Iowa there-and today
we're still four months away from the general election and six months away
from election day. Compare that to the process going on in Britain in the
moment: ten days ago the Prime Minister David Cameron announced he'd be
standing down after his side lost the EU referendum vote. Today, as I'm
speaking to you, conservative MPs (members of parliament) are voting on who
their next leader should be. Of course it won't be decided today; there'll
be more votes among MPs, and then conservative membership of the country
will get their say, but Brits will have a new conservative leader and a new
prime minister by the beginning of September. So I'm afraid our political
chaos is at least a little bit shorter than your political chaos
      But, whether standing outside a diner in Iowa waiting for Hillary
Clinton to show up, or in corridors of Westminster waiting for the results
of a vote among conservative MPs to be announced, one thing is absolutely
crucial to my job: information. As you all know, information and access to
it is one of the central challenges to a blind person's life, both personal
and professional. Technology has done wonders in this field for us, whether
it's the accessible iPhone that allows me to read the New York Times each
day and to keep up with the endless twittering and bloggings in the
politisphere, or the Braille display that allows me to read out my radio
and television scripts when I'm delivering a broadcast-I'm reading from a
Braille display right now, and can I just say in this forum how much I rate
the NFB's NEWSLINE service? Scott White and his team who run it: I can't
thank you enough; it makes my job infinitely easier, and, for all of us who
rely on the ability to read a daily newspaper quickly and efficiently, I
simply don't know what I'd do without it, so thank you very much
      A word about Braille here: Braille, I know, isn't for everyone. It's
especially hard for those to learn when they lose their sight later in
life, and I'm all for encouraging people with useful vision to maximize
their use of it-sight is, after all, the most powerful sense whether we
like it or not. But Braille, to me, is an absolute necessity [applause]. I
simply couldn't do my job without it, and I'm convinced that Braille
displays and notetakers have given it a new lease on life that we should
spread to as many of our blind youngsters as possible [applause, cheers].
      Another thing I believe we have to impart to the young people with
visual impairments is some sense of what you might call resilience. It's a
very difficult subject, because by that I mean the kind of sophisticated
toughness it takes to live an independent life as a blind person. It's
about the strategies to overcome barriers when they present themselves and
live an independent life that takes on the world, doing those challenging,
high-profile jobs that people who could see traditionally thought might not
be for us. Now what I don't mean is being thick-skinned. We don't want our
young people to become hardened or unable to empathize with others, but
it's crucial we give them the confidence to believe in themselves and to
pick themselves up after the world has knocked them down, and most
importantly the skills that will allow them to function in a world that-
let's face it-is not designed for blind people [applause]. They'll also
have to learn that even when they've built up years of experience they'll
come across people who treat them like novices when they move into a new
      I got quite a lesson in resilience a few years ago. I had some
difficulties in my work and had to make a decision about whether to
confront a situation that had developed. I'm afraid for legal reasons I
can't go into great detail, but it was an incredibly hard decision to make,
and it took an awful lot out of me, those around me, and my family in
particular. But I'm glad I did, and some good did come from it, but more
importantly, I could live with myself for going forward. We can't fight
every battle there is, but when the real ones come along, it's our duty to
stand up, not just for ourselves, but for those who come after us
      But back to the practicalities of the job. There's a pattern I've
noticed over the past twenty years or so: technological leaps forward have
unquestionably helped us as blind people to do a much wider range of
things, but each time we seem to catch up, a new innovation threatens to
reverse the advance. The old DOS computers--they had screen readers
developed for them that worked just fine-then Windows came along of course,
and we were back to the drawing board. We get that sorted, and a bit later
the touchscreen comes into vision over the horizon, and it looks like there
will be a problem yet again. My point here is that we must continue to
focus on what's next, and ensure that the digital divide doesn't open up
for blind people, because we know what that will mean for the already-poor
chances of getting a job and leading an independent life. In the realm of
journalism there are some big challenges ahead for young blind people
wanting to get into that field. Most notably in my view is the ever-growing
importance of multimedia journalism that requires the reporter not just to
get the story but also to gather her own pictures and video. Couple that
with the speed of which one has to work in the newsgathering field now.
It's going to require someone with high levels of technical skills and
personal resilience to make it in this trade when they have a disability.
One word of encouragement-I don't want to sound like I'm discouraging
people-journalism, at heart, remains the business of telling stories. So
for blind people, who inevitably rely on verbal communications and verbal
skills, it's still a very, very good fit. Conducting an interview still
only requires a conversation take place, and the means to record it or film
it. Visually impaired people are all well-accustomed to having to go the
extra mile to understand others, and that again is a hugely useful skill in
the realm of journalism.
      Now I've rambled on for long enough, so let me just say this to you:
I feel hugely privileged with how life has panned out for me. Most of the
time I see my blindness as an inconvenience, and that's the extent of it
[applause]. I'm not naove as to believe that blind people don't face huge
barriers to overcome, some natural, some put in our way, but the truth is
that there is no other option than to get out there and do it. Some days it
will be hard: walking into lampposts-if I may borrow one of your American
idioms-some days that just really sucks, doesn't it? Some days we have to
deal with a world that doesn't really get it, and worse, stands in the way
of one making the most of oneself. But we have to-I think-in the words of
Winston Churchill, "keep buggering on," and that's all there is to it.
Thank you very much.
       A Community of Practice: The Federation in Science, Technology,
                         Engineering, Art, and Math
by Natalie Shaheen, Joseph Heimlich, Arianna Benally, Frances Hammond,
Cricket Bidleman, and Salvador Villa

      From the Editor: What we say about blindness is significantly
different from what others say about it, but what we do to give credence to
our words is what changes people's lives, what makes them better, and what
sets them free. Nowhere is this better demonstrated than in our programs
for young people. What follows is a panel discussion introduced and guided
by Natalie Shaheen. As you read these remarks, consider how life might have
been different for you had there been a STEM2U program when you were young
enough to have benefited from it. This was a treat to behold, and hopefully
we can bring it to life in these pages. Enjoy:

[PHOTO CAPTION: Natalie Shaheen]
      As a kid I really liked math, and I was pretty good at it too. In
high school I took extra math just for fun, and I loved it! Science class,
on the other hand, wasn't as interesting to me in my freshman and sophomore
years. I found the subject matter rather straightforward and the pace of
the classes too slow; I was bored because I wasn't challenged. In my junior
year I decided to take advanced chemistry, hoping for more of a challenge.
Well, ask and you shall receive.
      Chemistry presented a significant intellectual challenge, one that,
at the time, I felt was beyond me. I put 110 percent into chemistry class,
but I could never quite grasp the concepts. I ended up getting a C in that
class, one of two Cs I have received in my entire educational career. I was
devastated. It sounds sort of goofy, but, for sixteen-year-old-
perfectionist Natalie Shaheen, the bad chemistry grade was traumatic. I
left that class angry, embarrassed, and fed up with science. I concluded
that I just wasn't smart enough for hard sciences.
      It wasn't until I came to work for the National Federation of the
Blind and was assigned to make a wide variety of STEM subjects accessible
for blind students that I realized what had happened in chemistry class all
those years ago: in chemistry I didn't do the experiments. In order for me
to see what I was doing, I would have had to get dangerously close to toxic
substances and fire. The teachers, of course, didn't want me to get hurt.
They didn't know how I could do chemistry if I couldn't see what I was
doing. And I certainly didn't have any answers for them. I couldn't even
phone a blind friend to ask for advice-I didn't have any blind friends. I
didn't have a community of practice of blind people who could help me
figure out how to do science nonvisually.
      So I suffered through chemistry class as the notetaker for my group,
trying to understand the content without having full access to the
activities. The C that I received in chemistry did not, as I once thought,
reflect my lack of capacity for doing chemistry; rather, it reflected my
lack of access to the subject matter.
      Thanks to the work of the National Federation of the Blind, today
blind high school students have a community of practice of blind people who
can share wisdom and advice about how to do all kinds of STEM subjects
      Well what exactly is a community of practice? So as not to bore you
with the long academic definition, I'll give you the twitter-style
definition-140 characters or fewer. Is it possible? A community of practice
is a group of people who organize themselves, share information, and
apprentice novices to become experts.
      Our community of practice, the National Federation of the Blind,
organized itself in 1940. To this day we share information and advice with
each other about how to be successful in the world, and we apprentice
novice blind people to become expert blind people. Though we do not
commonly use the term apprenticeship, we practice apprenticeship every day
in the Federation. If you all will help me, we can demonstrate the
prevalence of apprenticeship in our organization. Are you all listening?
      If you have been mentored by an older, more experienced blind person
in the Federation, say "aye." [Many affirm they have.] If you have mentored
a younger less experienced blind person who was just entering the
Federation, say "aye." [Again a significant response from the crowd is
heard.] That's our community of practice, all over this banquet hall and
all over the country.
      My first mentor in the Federation was Dr. Larry Streeter, who is
unfortunately no longer with us [Applause for the work and dedication of
Larry Streeter]. That's right-give it up for Dr. Streeter. Today I am
mentored by numerous people in the Federation, including President
Riccobono. Just as more experienced blind people mentor me, I, in turn,
mentor the young blind students who walk into my classroom or bump into me
out in the world. That's how a community of practice works, that's how the
Federation works, and that is why this organization is such a powerful
resource for blind students of all ages.
      As you listen to the other speakers on this panel today, take note of
how our community of practice is referenced both explicitly and implicitly.
All of the speakers on this panel have participated in one way or another
in our National Center for Blind Youth in Science programs, which are
currently funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation. This
three-year grant is comprised of three intertwined components. The first
component is our regional STEM programs, called NFB STEM2U, which serve
blind students, parents of blind children, and teachers of the blind. The
second component is NFB EQ, a weeklong advanced engineering program for
blind high school students. The third and final component involves working
with six science museums across the country to increase accessibility for
blind visitors. Today our speakers represent each of those three components
of the grant.
      Our first speaker is Dr. Joseph Heimlich, the executive director of
the Center for Research and Evaluation at COSI and the principal researcher
at Lifelong Learning Group. Dr. Heimlich has donned many hats as a part of
this project. He has been a great advisor with respect to navigating the
museum world, and he has been a tremendous resource as our external
evaluator, giving us advice about how to make our programming even more
effective. Here is Dr. Heimlich.

[PHOTO CAPTION: Joseph Heimlich]
      Joseph Heimlich: Thank you, Natalie. As President Riccobono said
yesterday, this program is exciting, it's innovative, and it's powerful. My
role and my team's role in this project is a fun one: we get to help the
National Federation of the Blind succeed. Our goal-our role-is to make sure
that the good programs get even better and that we can give critical
feedback and watch how Natalie and her team turn that into better and
better programming for the benefit of the youth.
      There are several things we've learned on this project; one of them
is that these programs are working. They're working for the youth, they're
working for the parents, they're working for the educators, and they're
working for the museums. One major learning is that the NFB is strongly
committed to STEM learning, and this is important for the National Science
Foundation. And finally, we're learning that parents want and need tools to
help their children do science at home.
      So I'm going to take just a moment and make you do some work for me.
I want you to take one minute and talk to the people next to you, and
identify three reasons why you think these programs are important. You've
got one minute; go [audience starts talking].
      All right, so what are some of the reasons these kinds of programs
are important? Shout them out. Equity, education-shout loud, I'm deaf-yes,
career choices, problem-solving, empathy, raising expectations-absolutely,
these programs are doing all of those things and more. Oh man, that's a big
one, learning about themselves and who they are.
      What we are seeing-number one thing we're seeing-is an increase in
confidence in the youth, a discovery of what they can do and how they can
do it and how they can be engaged in making their own decisions for the
      A second is an exposure to skills. They've not been given, in many
cases, the opportunities to manipulate, to learn tactilely and haptically
around these various issues. And finally they're receiving tools to help
them perform in the classroom and beyond.
      Most STEM we learn, and almost all the STEM-science, technology,
engineering, and mathematics-we use, we do not use in the classroom. We use
them in daily life. This means that museums and other informal
organizations also need the support to work with youth who are blind and
blind adults. This program is taking the traditional educational approaches
used in blind education into museums and beyond, where we are seeing a
transformation. The reason is that access and accessibility is the real
issue for a lot of these youth in science. We're seeing that these are
amazing young people who really need the opportunity to succeed, and this
program, and programs like this in the future, will continue to give them
opportunities to succeed [applause].

      Natalie Shaheen: Thanks, Dr. Heimlich. Next up is Arianna Benally,
one of our younger blind students. She participated in two NFB STEM2U
programs. At NFB STEM2U Phoenix, Arianna told me she was writing a story
about our program for her school newspaper. Now she's going to share her
story with us! Let's give it up for Ari:

[PHOTO CAPTION: Arianna Benally]
      Arianna Benally: Hello. My name is Arianna Benally. I'm eleven years
old and going into the sixth grade. I went to two NFB STEM2U programs. STEM
means science, technology, engineering, and math. We did a lot of
engineering. Engineering taught us to make something new with recyclables.
It inspired us to build and imagine.
      At the NFB STEM2U program in Columbus, Ohio, the museum was called
COSI. COSI has exhibits about the human body, the ocean, and electricity.
One exhibit was a timeline from when we did not have electricity until
present day when we have a lot of electronics. COSI was a lot of fun!
      I met a lot of kids in Columbus, and we built many projects together.
We built racers, brush bots, and a flash-card tower. I learned that even
though a person is visually impaired or blind, they can still build
anything [applause]. I also learned how to work in a group. With our
parents' help, we tried to build the tallest tower out of big blue blocks.
My group won. These activities helped me learn more about STEM.
      At the NFB STEM2U program in Phoenix, Arizona, the museum was called
the Arizona Science Center. That museum has exhibits about the human body.
One exhibit was about a woman having a baby. Another exhibit was about the
wind. In that exhibit you had to stand on a platform, and you could feel
the wind and see the lightning. The Arizona Science Center was interesting.
      We built racers and a flash-card tower. Making these things made me
use my creativity. We also played with big blue blocks. We pretended to
build a machine. It was fun and imaginative. With our parents, we learned
how the digestive system works. The museum brought out a bowl with food in
it. We smashed the food with a potato masher, which is like our teeth chew
food. Then we put the mashed food in a plastic baggie, which was like our
stomach. The museum brought out tubes that were the same size as the small
and large intestines. We got to look at them. Finally, we learned what
happens to our food [what it turns into] after we digest it. It was gross!
The program was fun, creative, and it helped me to understand that I can do
and accomplish anything, even though I am blind.
      So, there you have it. Now you know that the NFB STEM2U program is
great for children and their parents. Blind people can accomplish anything.
It is great to be connected with the National Federation of the Blind
because their programs help us live the life we want.

      Natalie Shaheen: Thanks, Ari. Francis Hammond is Arianna's mother, a
board member of the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children and
an NFB STEM2U parent participant. Francis is going to tell us what it was
like to be a parent at the program. Here is Francis:

[PHOTO CAPTION: Frances Hammond]
      Frances Hammond: Thank you, Natalie. My eleven-year-old daughter
Arianna and I live in Albuquerque, New Mexico. We have been members of the
NFB of New Mexico since 2012, and since then I have been in awe over the
amazing work you have been doing to support each other and blind adults and
children across the country. With the support of the NFB, our NFB of New
Mexico, and our Parents of Blind Children of New Mexico, we were given the
opportunity to attend two of the NFB STEM2U programs. We attended the
program in Columbus, Ohio, at the Center of Science of Industry in May of
2015, and we attended the Phoenix, Arizona, program at the Arizona Science
Center in November of 2015.
      I learned leaps and bounds about how to make science, technology,
engineering, and math more accessible for Arianna. I tried to make our
attendance at the Columbus program a learning experience from the
beginning, because Arianna and I had never been to Ohio before, and we had
never traveled alone with each other before. I let her guide me through the
airports, which she quickly found is not always an easy task. She found out
that rather than roam around aimlessly to read signs too small for her to
read, she had to ask for help-this was a big step for her. Then we had our
first ride in an Uber. These small, simple transportation details are steps
that Arianna had never taken before. We were learning leaps and bounds, and
we had not even arrived at the NFB STEM2U program yet.
      When we arrived at the hotel for the program, we met our facilitators
and other parents and children from across the country who, like us, were
searching for ways to make the STEM fields more accessible for our blind
children. We all came from very different experiences in regard to our
children's educations. Over the course of the next couple of days I heard
about instances where services for blind students were extremely limited
and examples of technology not being accessible to blind students. I
learned that it is a struggle for our students to be as proficient as their
sighted peers, simply because of accessibility issues. I also learned how
blessed Arianna has been to have blind teachers who are NFB members for
four of the five years she was in elementary school. The NFB and the NFB
philosophy make a difference in accessibility for our children.
      At the Columbus program, we learned about advocacy and what tools are
available to blind children in the STEM fields. We talked about our
children's Individualized Education Plan (IEP) and how much of an impact
they have on a child's education. We were given a crash course on ways to
make tools in the STEM field more accessible. We learned about how to use
tactile calipers and how to tactilely mark a plastic milliliter syringe for
measuring. We were shown an audio pen/book combination that could read the
periodic table and all of the information it displays. Dr. Cary Supalo
showed us his wonderful talking LabQuest that makes taking measurements in
a scientific setting as accessible as accessible can be. I was surprised
that I had never even heard of any of these tools before, and I was
grateful that the NFB had put the STEM2U program together to help us
sighted parents understand more about accessibility issues.
      Before the program I thought I had a good understanding of what
Arianna needed, but I was amazed at the wealth of information I had
received. After the program Arianna and I went home with a new outlook on
what Arianna's education would look like. I started wondering about her
future. Then we heard about another NFB STEM2U program much closer to home
in Phoenix. I was overjoyed because the proximity meant that my husband
Bryce could attend. I had originally planned for him to take her alone, but
I could not resist another weekend of attending an NFB program-after all,
this is why we're Federationists. We were able to drive to Phoenix, and
upon our arrival, I was expecting the program to mirror the Columbus
program. I was excited to learn that a fellow National Organization of
Parents of Blind Children board member, Pat Renfranz and her husband Dave
had come to facilitate most of the parents' activities. Pat and Dave are
scientists, and learning from them was a much different experience because
they have a deeper understanding of the STEM fields. Bryce and I were in
for a long weekend of learning.
      For this program we were asked to bring Arianna's latest IEP. We
talked about IEP advocacy, and then we really delved into the IEP and what
should be in it. We were told to highlight words like technology, science,
math, and measure. Our IEP was the most highlighted in the whole room. This
meant that our IEP team must be doing a good job, but there were other IEPs
that were less than adequate. I am thankful that the NFB shed light on this
problem through the STEM2U program. Now there are so many more informed
parents out there who can more effectively advocate for their child's
educational needs.
      As the program continued I once again found myself with inadequate
knowledge of how to make things more accessible for Arianna. Pat and Dave
gave us specific examples of how to make science accessible. I had never
considered how to explain lunar cycles, the relative size of planets in our
solar system, or the distance between planets to our daughter. Pat and Dave
showed us how. We used a very long piece of string and beads to show the
relative distances between planets. Using this method, it was easy to
deduce that Mercury, Venus, and Earth are much closer in distance than
Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. Then we were paired in teams of two to tour
the Arizona Science Center, armed with different tools to make the museum
more accessible to our blind children. At each exhibit one partner would
wear sleepshades while their partner would explain the exhibit to them
while using some of the tools to make it more tactilely accessible. One of
the tools we found most useful was the Sensational BlackBoard. We were able
to use it to sketch a tactile representation of an exhibit. Bryce and I
took turns. We learned more about the dynamics of helping our daughter get
the most out of future trips to museums than we ever had before.
      The NFB STEM2U programs educated us in the importance of making the
STEM fields more accessible for Arianna to succeed in her future
educational endeavors. I am thankful that the NFB shared with us how to
approach accessibility issues within the STEM fields. Now I know that even
though she has had great NFB teachers, I still need to raise my
expectations of her educational needs in the future. This coming year
Arianna will not be assigned a full-time teacher of the visually impaired
because she is starting middle school. All of her teachers will be sighted.
I am worried about how they will help make things accessible for Arianna,
but I know that I can help where they lack. The NFB STEM2U program has
given us knowledge that we would not have obtained otherwise. Thank you NFB
for providing a program that empowers parents with the knowledge to help
their children succeed in the future [applause].

      Natalie Shaheen: Thanks, Frances. Cricket Bidleman was an apprentice
in our NFB STEM2U San Francisco program and a participant in NFB EQ 2015.
She is going to share her NFB EQ experience. Here's Cricket:

[PHOTO CAPTION: Cricket Bidleman]
      Cricket Bidleman: Good morning, fellow Federationists. I'm Cricket
Bidleman, a twelfth grader from Morro Bay, California, and I am incredibly
honored to have the opportunity to share my experiences with the National
Center for Blind Youth in Science initiative regarding the National
Federation of the Blind Engineering Quotient program. A man named Edward
Prescott once said, "The only man who can change his mind is a man who's
got one." This is true, but how much impact can just changing one's mind
really have?
      Before ninth grade I thought about a career in law. Since then,
however, and no offense to the lawyers out there, I have wanted to go into
science, technology, engineering, or mathematics, also known as STEM. The
only problem was that I didn't think such a career would be practical due
to my blindness. That all changed after I attended NFB EQ.
      After arriving at the Jernigan Institute-having flown independently
for the first time-I met nineteen other blind high schoolers. I was then
assigned to a team with three other students. After everyone had been split
into teams, each group was given a marshmallow, dry spaghetti noodles, a
paper bag, string, and a piece of tape. We were challenged to make the
tallest structure possible, using only the materials we had. My group taped
the tips of our canes to the ground in a square, then stood them all
upright and tied the paper bag over the handles to keep them together-
imagine a square pyramid kind of shape. Then, we put the marshmallow on top
and waited for the verdict. Though we did stretch the rules just a little,
our creativity had allowed us to make the tallest structure, using only the
materials we had. I do want to point out that no one said anything about
using only the materials we were given.
      The next day, we began our project, which took four days to complete.
Each group constructed a boat and oars out of PVC pipes, wood, a tarp, and
duct tape-and they weren't those little model boats that people put on
shelves and forget about. We learned safety techniques for using drills,
saws, and other tools. We also learned to make charcoal water filters out
of recyclable materials, and each group was responsible for designing their
own filter. At the end of the week, we raced the boats in the nearby
reservoir. Thankfully, all of them floated, and although my team did not
win the race, we did our best and learned a lot about engineering in the
process, and in the end we won the award for the best filter design
      The NFB EQ program taught me a lot. I learned independent travel
skills by navigating multiple airports. I learned about the engineering
process, about water filtration, and about how to use sharp tools safely.
Most of all, the program developed my passion for the STEM field.
      As I mentioned earlier, Edward Prescott once said, "The only man who
can change his mind is a man who's got one." I changed my mind in ninth
grade and am now interested in going into some area of the STEM field.
However, just changing my mind was not enough. At the National Federation
of the Blind Engineering Quotient program, I was able to gain the
experience that allowed me to realize that science is a practical career
for me and that with certain techniques I can be just as independent as my
sighted peers. In other words, NFB EQ taught me that I can live the life I
want. Thank you, NFB [applause].
      Science, technology, engineering, and math is so much more than
numbers and equations. STEM is about sharing how each person's individual
perspective allows them to see and explain the world differently. As a
blind person I definitely see things differently, and thanks to NFB EQ, I
now have the courage to share my perspective. And this is why we need more
programs like NFB EQ-to inspire blind youth to pursue careers in STEM and
to give young blind people the skills and confidence to share their
perspective with the world [applause]. Thank you.

      Natalie Shaheen: Thanks, Cricket. Salvador Villa just participated in
NFB EQ 2016, and he was an apprentice at NFB STEM2U Phoenix. Sal is going
to tell you what it was like to be an apprentice at NFB STEM2U.

[PHOTO CAPTION: Salvador Villa]
      Salvador Villa: Good morning, my Federation family. How are you all
doing this morning? My name is Salvador Villa, but everybody calls me Sal.
I am from McAllen, Texas, and I will be a senior in high school this
upcoming August.
      Last fall I participated in the NFB STEM2U program. At the program I
learned leadership skills, had the opportunity to mentor younger students,
make friends from different parts of the country, and travel across the
country to new places.
      The aspect of the program that was most meaningful to me was being an
apprentice at my regional program in Phoenix, Arizona. I enjoyed this part
of the program the most because I was able to use the leadership skills I
have gained from working in the NFB of Texas BELL Academy and put into
practice the new skills I learned at the NFB STEM2U Leadership Academy in
      When I was a kid, many people helped and mentored me. Being an
apprentice at STEM2U allowed me to finally give back to my community. To
me, nothing feels greater than watching a child be successful and reach
their goals, and NFB STEM2U gave me a firsthand experience of this feeling.
      In this program I was in charge of a small group of children, and my
job was to mentor them as they learned about science. I remember teaching
them different cane skills as we walked around the museum looking at
exhibits they were interested in. I was also able to share my story on what
I have done in order to reach my goals and give them advice on how they can
reach their goals.
      I am thankful and grateful that I was given the privilege to be a
part of NFB STEM2U, and I hope that other teenagers like me can have the
same experience I had last November. [Music begins] Yo, this one goes out
to the NFB of Texas, my mentors Daniel Martinez, Michael Ausbun, and Jared

      [Rapping]Check it November 5th through 8th 2015
      Phoenix Arizona was the place to be
      I was an apprentice at STEM2U
      Mentoring young blind children was all I had to do
      Watching them be successful while working together
      They thanked me for everything, and I couldn't've felt better
      Making wine glasses ring was pretty cool
      I say it's like jumping into an ice cold pool
      We learned about fossils and the anatomy of starfish
      I remember someone said that they smelled like their goldfish
      Walking with our canes and looking at exhibits
      I remember telling them that the sky is the limit
      Not everything was all fun and games
      Eventually, leadership came into play
      Thank you [applause, cheers]

      Natalie Shaheen: How about these kids? Our last presentation is a
virtual presentation of sorts. We had participants from all of our NCBYS
programs send in tweets about their experience, and we pulled a selection
of them together to share with you. Here is our spoof on the Jimmy Kimmel
skit "celebrities read mean tweets."

Anil Lewis reads and inserts some of his own comments into these tweets;
his comments are in parenthesis:

@CuriousKid: At the Museum of Science in #Boston, I picked fake boogers out
of a really huge model of a nose in the Hall of Human Life. :) #Yucky
(absolutely) #STEM

@ProudMama: (It's a great handle) Overheard my son saying, "I want to be
more independent at home." (big mistake, Kid) That spoke volumes to me.
(I'm sure it did.) #Grateful #AwesomeOpportunity #NCBYS (And I'll add
#NowYou'llHaveToMakeUpYourBedAllByYourselfAllTheTime. Good luck.)

President Riccobono reads: @ScientistSarah: I asked a child at NFB STEM2U
#Bmore to watch the experiment... "don't forget, I'm blind!"

@apprenticeSTEM2U: piano keys on the floor, 'Do Re Me,' give me more!
#science museum #NCBYS

@aoates: Favorite overheard #Exploratorium #STEM2U moment: "I'm having so
much fun, I'm forgetting about growing up! Does this make you forget about
growing up?"

Anil narrates: @allieykatt13: Dissecting starfish was amazingly spongy at
Arizona Science Museum #NCBYS #STEM2U (I just learned something; starfish
are spongy.)

@DuctTapeKing: I used 10 million rolls of #DuctTape to build my boat at NFB
EQ #Engineering #STEM (Hopefully that was an over exaggeration of the
amount of duct tape.)

President Riccobono narrates: @PatriotsFan29: All the boats floated!
#WeDidIt #OhSnap #WeAreAwesome

@nlshaheen: 2 years, 6 states, 11 programs, 400 participants (students,
parents, teachers), hundreds of volunteers, 1 awesome @NFB_Voice team!

@riccobono: Great job, @NFB_Voice #whatsnext

      Natalie Shaheen: In closing I would like to thank each and every one
of you for making our education programs possible. Everyone in this room
contributes to our community of practice, and without that community of
practice our education programs would not be successful. Pat yourselves on
the back, and give your neighbor a high five. Together with love, hope, and
determination, we transform young blind students' dreams into reality.
Thank you.
Leave a Legacy
      For more than seventy-five years the National Federation of the Blind
has worked to transform the dreams of hundreds of thousands of blind people
into reality, and with your support we will continue to do so for decades
to come. We sincerely hope you will plan to be a part of our enduring
movement by adding the National Federation of the Blind as a partial
beneficiary in your will. A gift to the National Federation of the Blind in
your will is more than just a charitable, tax-deductible donation. It is a
way to join in the work to help blind people live the lives they want that
leaves a lasting imprint on the lives of thousands of blind children and

With your help, the NFB will continue to:
    . Give blind children the gift of literacy through Braille;
    . Promote the independent travel of the blind by providing free, long
      white canes to blind people in need;
    . Develop dynamic educational projects and programs that show blind
      youth that science and math are within their reach;
    . Deliver hundreds of accessible newspapers and magazines to provide
      blind people the essential information necessary to be actively
      involved in their communities;
    . Offer aids and appliances that help seniors losing vision maintain
      their independence; and
    . Fund scholarship programs so that blind people can achieve their

Plan to Leave a Legacy
      Creating a will gives you the final say in what happens to your
possessions and is the only way to be sure that your remaining assets are
distributed according to your passions and beliefs. Many people fear
creating a will or believe it's not necessary until they are much older.
Others think that it's expensive and confusing. However, it is one of the
most important things you will do, and with new online legal programs it is
easier and cheaper than ever before. If you do decide to create or revise
your will, consider the National Federation of the Blind as a partial
beneficiary. Visit <www.nfb.org/planned-giving> or call (410) 659-9314,
extension 2422 for more information. Together with love, hope,
determination, and your support, we will continue to transform dreams into
[PHOTO CAPTION: Bret Reimer]
  Participating in the American Dream Means Paying Taxes: The Innovation of
                   Accessible Financial Tools at H&R Block
                               by Bret Reimer

      From the Editor: Paying taxes is not something many of us are excited
about doing, but the experience is frustrating enough without the added
stress of being unable to do so because of the technology used in preparing
the forms that report income, deductions, and the bottom-line number that
will reveal whether we pay more into the system or get some back. H&R Block
is a leader in tax preparation, providing human assistance for those who
wish to pay for it and computerized assistance for those who do not.
      It was Mr. Reimer's challenge to follow Jordyn Castor on the agenda,
and those who have read her remarks will understand why he began his
presentation by acknowledging hers. But before we get to his remarks, here
is what President Riccobono said in introducing Mr. Reimer. "This is an
important agenda item because getting access to the tools that are needed
to file our taxes and independently manage our finances is an important
topic, and over the last few years, with our work, H&R Block has come to be
a model in moving accessibility within an organization. Here to talk to us
about the work of H&R Block, where, over the last year, twenty-three
million people have filed their taxes online, is the director of technology
who leads a team of accessibility experts in changing the paradigm of
accessibility and improving the tools at H&R Block. Here is Bret Reimer:

      So, Jordyn, this is going to be a tough act to follow-my gosh, great

On behalf of H&R Block, congratulations on another successful convention
and all of the outstanding work that you've done this year to make the
world a more accessible place.
      I personally want to thank the organizers of this conference for
inviting me to speak today. This has been a tremendous personal opportunity
for me to be here for the last couple of days. I've really enjoyed speaking
with a few of you, listening, learning a lot. I really enjoyed going to the
exhibit hall and hearing about all of the amazing innovation that's going
on. I mean there is a lot of innovation going on, and it's just really
exciting to be a part of that. I cannot wait to take that all back to
Kansas City and bring back even more knowledge and enthusiasm to H&R Block.
      This is the second year that H&R Block has been a part of this
national convention. We were here last year for the world-record-breaking
umbrella mosaic-that was incredible. And, as I was preparing for my speech
today, it really stuck out to me about what can be achieved when you really
rally around a goal, and it was just an amazing accomplishment that you all
made. I really want to take that rally, that attitude towards accessibility
into H&R Block, and I think we've done that over the past few years, and
we're very excited to move forward with that [applause].
      Now I know I work for a tax company, and I may think taxes are the
most interesting thing in the world [laughter], but that's probably not
what you want to hear about today. My topic today is going to be all about
innovation. It's going to be about how H&R Block over the past few years
has been innovating and reinventing how we deliver products to market. We
have integrated web accessibility into our product-development lifecycle,
and I'm going to tell you a little about the journey that we've been on the
past few years, and how that's come to life at H&R Block.
      Today we've only got a short time, but I'm going to give you a brief
overview of the history of H&R Block, as well as what we do and then take
you along that journey that we've been on the past few years.
      H&R Block really started out as an innovative company from the very
beginning. They were founded in 1955 when Henry Block and Richard Block had
a small bookkeeping business in downtown Kansas City. One day a salesman
from the Kansas City Star newspaper came to them and asked them if they
ever thought about doing tax preparation for individuals. They talked about
it a little bit and decided to run an ad in the Kansas City Star to offer
tax preparation for $5. Literally the next day he had an office full of new
clients, and they basically had invented the tax preparation industry.
      You can see that we started out as a very innovative startup company
back in 1955. Fast-forward all the way to today. We've done over 650
million returns; we have around 12,000 offices throughout the United
States, and we typically have an office within five miles of every
American. Not only do we have all of those 12,000 offices, but we also have
our do-it-yourself product suite. We have software that you can buy in the
retail outlets, we have an online and mobile solution that you can go
online and do your taxes yourself, and that's really what we're going to
focus on discussing today. We're going to talk about how we're reinventing
the way that we develop those online and mobile products to build in web
accessibility from the very beginning.
      Our accessibility journey started a few years ago with a cooperative
consent decree. Now this may seem adversarial, but the relationship between
H&R Block and the NFB has truly grown into a strategic partnership over the
past several years. Now there have been many people within your
organization that have helped us achieve this, but there are a couple
people that I want to acknowledge today: Karl Belanger and Gary Wunder have
been instrumental in how we have formed our accessibility program. They
have offered tremendous guidance, knowledge, and leadership over the past
few years. Gary has actually helped recruit consultants from your
organization that we have hired on to test and help guide us to make our
products accessible. It's been a great partnership that we've formed
through the past few years, so thank you Karl and Gary [applause].
      Now we were really challenged with this challenge of web
accessibility a few years ago, and the challenge was to make our online tax
product accessible by the next tax season. This challenge seemed daunting;
it really was going to take a team to rally around this idea and make it
happen, and that first year was critical. What we did was we formed an
accessibility program. We formed a program and a committee that not only
defined process, but also acted as champions, because we needed to
integrate this knowledge and this enthusiasm throughout the entire company,
because it really took a team effort and a company-wide effort. That also
took partnerships with a third-party web accessibility consulting firm, as
well as the NFB.
      There are really three areas that this committee focuses on. I think
about it in terms of training awareness, the software development lifecycle
or product development lifecycle, and then the strategic planning and
strategic partnerships we make. We've come a long way in the past three
years. Like I mentioned, the first year was daunting. We came from a very
reactionary organization to a much more proactive, strategic organization
in how we think about accessibility, and I'm going to walk you through that
      The first is around training and awareness. At the very beginning we
really focused on the technical training that was required. We had an
existing website that was built over several years. We have literally
thousands of webpages and forms to become compliant. We really focused our
training efforts on how do we remediate what we have today, and how do we
test that. But we have broadened that significantly in the past three
years. Now our training efforts go all the way into our marketing
organizations, our graphic design, and we have moved this knowledge and
education to the very beginning of our product development lifecycle to
where we are thinking about web accessibility from the very beginning.
      The other way that we think about training is our hands-on training.
There are new industry standards, new expertise is always coming out. One
that we've really seen mature in the past couple years is around mobile
accessibility. Last year we sent several of our developers out to
California with our consulting firm, and we did a three-day hands-on
training session working with our mobile apps, and coming out of that we
had many of the issues identified and many of them remediated by the time
they came out of that. This was a tremendous opportunity for us to sit side-
by-side with real users, understand their own client experience, and
remediate those issues.
      The second area is around the software development lifecycle. Like I
mentioned, we brought web accessibility up to the very beginning of that
lifecycle within how we design our products. We recently redesigned our tax
estimator, which almost ten million people use each year to estimate their
refund. We redesigned that in a way where we thought about web
accessibility. We had design reviews at the very beginning. We thought
about color contrast, user experience, technical requirements-all of that
was done up-front. But, after we move into the development stage of the
product development lifecycle, we really have to make sure that all of the
developers are developing in a consistent way. We have developed over the
past three years a robust knowledge base. We have developed over two
hundred articles about how we develop at H&R Block. We've taken industry
best practices, we've mapped those to very specific requirements for H&R
Block design, and we have a robust knowledge base that each one of our
developers can access.
      After we have developed the product, we move into the testing phase.
We not only functionally test our products now; we have to test for web
accessibility. We do this in three different ways: the first one is around
our automated testing. Over the past three years we've formed a really
robust automated testing solution in partnership with our consulting firm.
We can not only test the new products that we're developing, but we can
also regression test the rest of the products we have as new industry
standards and best practices come into play. The second way we test is
really around leveraging assistive technology at H&R Block. We use this to
walk through the client experience and validate the product. The third way
we do this is like I mentioned before-we're partnering with the NFB and
others; we're reaching out, and we're engaging with the user community and
really trying to make an optimal user experience [applause].
      The third way that our committee really reaches out is around our
strategic planning and partnership. Like I mentioned, we were here last
year. We've also engaged with the CSUN conference as well. We sent numerous
people there last year, and these are just great opportunities to listen
and hear from everyone. It's a great opportunity to understand what
different vendors are doing to innovate. It's also a great opportunity for
us to connect with other companies that are on their own web accessibility
journey. It's an opportunity for us to hear from them, and also let them
know what we are doing within our organization.
      In conclusion, we have made tremendous progress over the past three
years, but we are not done. This is something that is not start and stop.
This is something that has to be integrated into the culture and all of the
processes you have within product development. We look forward to
continuing to improve on our products. Once again, on behalf of H&R Block,
thank you for inviting me to speak today. It's been a pleasure [applause].
Thank you.
[PHOTO CAPTION: Deborah Kent Stein]
  The Roots of the Federation in the World: the Isabelle Grant Story in Her
                                  Own Words
                            by Deborah Kent Stein

      From the Editor: Debbie Stein is an active member of the National
Federation of the Blind who, like many of us, wears a number of hats. She
is an officer in the National Federation of the Blind of Illinois, the
chairman of its scholarship committee, a member of the national scholarship
committee, and the editor of Future Reflections, our magazine for the
parents of blind children. She is a well-known author of children's books,
and she also makes great presentations as can be seen from what follows:

      "I almost heard their eyebrows arch, the silence was so great. A
blind woman going around the world? What would she see? Nothing!

      "'And where do you plan to go?'

      "'Oh, to see the Acropolis, the Taj Mahal, the Angkor Wat, the Blue
Mountains of Australia, the Maori huts of New Zealand, and perhaps a visit
to the Fiji Islanders if my money holds out.'

      "'Going alone? India? What if a cobra jumps out at you?'

      "'It would be a trifle late to do anything then!'

      "'What if some pickpocket takes your purse, with your passport and
all your money?'

      "'That would be more probable than the cobra jumping out at me. But
I'm a match for any pickpocket.'

      "'Well, you couldn't  see him.'

      "That was true-but just let him try, I thought."

      This little excerpt from the  opening chapter of Crooked Paths Made
Straight gives you a taste of Isabelle Grant's  approach to life. She was
one feisty lady! She didn't fold up when people told her no! And she
certainly didn't see blindness as a barrier. When she wanted to go
somewhere or do something, she went there and did it. When she retired from
teaching after thirty-two years, she launched a brand-new  career as an
international ambassador promoting opportunities for the blind in education
and the workforce. Her achievements were recognized throughout the world,
and in 1972 she was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize [applause].

      Isabelle Grant was born, fully sighted, in a fishing village on the
Scottish coast in 1896. In 1924 she and her husband immigrated to the
United States and settled in Los Angeles, where Isabelle launched a highly
successful teaching career. She had a gift for languages, and she was
fluent in Spanish, French, and German. In 1940 she earned a PhD in
comparative literature from the University of Southern California.

      In 1946 Isabelle's husband died, and she was left a widow with a
young daughter to raise. Soon after, she developed acute glaucoma. She took
a leave of absence from teaching to pursue medical treatment, and endured
eight painful eye surgeries in an effort to save her sight. Nothing worked,
and by the fall of 1948 she was totally blind.

      At first she sank into despair. She believed she couldn't cook,
couldn't sew, and certainly couldn't teach. Most of the people around her
were quick to agree. As she said later, "They treated me as though I had
lost my wits as well as my eyesight."

      Finally a friend took her to meet a blind man named James Garfield,
who was a member of the California affiliate of the NFB. As an aside,
Garfield wrote a very popular children's book called Follow My Leader. Dr.
Grant arrived unannounced at Garfield's door, and in true Federation
fashion, he sat down with her and began to mentor her. After he listened to
her story, he told her she should learn Braille and learn to use a long
white cane. He also introduced her to NFB president Jacobus tenBroek. Dr.
Grant and the tenBroeks became life-long friends.

      Isabelle Grant was  a quick study. She threw herself into the work of
learning the skills of blindness, and within a few months she was ready to
go back to work. But the Los Angeles school system had other ideas. A
county ordinance said that any teacher in the public schools had to have a
visual acuity of 20/70. Dr. Grant was told she would have to retire on
disability. At that point her colleagues pitched in to help. Sixty-three
teachers signed an impassioned letter demanding that Dr. Grant be retained.
The superintendent of schools finally gave  in, but Dr. Grant was never
allowed to teach sighted students again. She was assigned to teach blind
children, although she had no training or experience in that field.

      Dr. Grant hadn't planned on teaching blind kids, but it quickly
became her passion. In 1956 she went to Norway for an international
conference on the instruction of blind students. That conference inspired
her in two ways. She discovered that blindness need not stop her from
traveling overseas and enjoying it immensely, and it taught her about the
limited opportunities for blind students in most parts of the world. She
determined to travel more widely and to learn all she could about the
world's blind children and adults.

      In 1959 Dr. Grant was eligible for a sabbatical leave. She spent that
year taking a solo trip around the world, the trip she recounted in Crooked
Paths Made Straight. She visited twenty-three countries, beginning in Great
Britain-and yes, she did get to Fiji. This was at a time when it was highly
unusual even for a fully sighted woman to travel alone to exotic places.
For a blind woman to do so was unheard of!

      She writes: "I sallied forth from California, laden with enough
impedimenta for one of Caesar's soldiers on the march through Gaul. My
suitcase balanced the scales at forty-four pounds. Besides a sheaf of
tickets, a thick passport, health records, and a fat book of traveler's
checks, I carried a heavy camel-hair coat and a velour hat. My typewriter,
weighing ten pounds, was suspended from my left arm." The farther she
traveled, the more impedimenta she collected.

      In Rome Dr. Grant attended a conference of the World Council for the
Welfare of the Blind, an organization founded in 1949. It was made up
mostly of blindness professionals from various countries. At the conference
Dr. Grant noticed that few blind people were present, and nearly all of
them came from Europe and North America. She asked herself why weren't
blind people from Africa and Asia represented? She also observed that
sighted professionals were speaking for the blind, explaining what the
blind should do and what would be best for them. She had been a
Federationist for ten years, and she knew that blind people can make
progress only when they speak for themselves. She wrote, "I believe that
self-acceptance, independence, and action, underwritten by equality of
opportunity, are the birthright of all blind people, just as they are for
the sighted."

      Of all the countries Dr. Grant visited on her first trip, Pakistan
affected her most profoundly. On her sabbatical she spent six months in
Karachi, studying the Urdu language and training teachers to work with
blind students. She traveled the world until the end of her life in 1977,
but Pakistan was her adopted home. Here's what she says about riding to an
Urdu class in a motorized rickshaw. "I do not remember ever going to my
lesson without the rickshaw stalling. The driver would jump out, pick up
formidable pieces of iron lodged under my feet, and give a few hard knocks
to the machine. On we went.

Some rickshaw drivers took joy in their speed. They had no mercy on the
fare. We rattled along, dipping into every pothole. At every dip I bounced
up to the canopy, and my head invariably bumped against the metal bar
across the top. Hanging on grimly by the supporting bars at the side, I was
like a ball bouncing inside an iron cage."

      Everywhere she went, Isabelle Grant made friends and influenced
people. She talked with teachers, social workers, doctors, government
officials, and beggars in the street. Always she talked about the untapped
potential of blind people and the contributions they could make to their
countries if only they were given the chance.

      Though Dr. Grant was a person of boundless warmth and generosity, she
wasn't afraid   to speak her mind. Once the director of an agency for the
blind in Uganda wrote and asked her how he could improve his program. She
wrote back, "I find your plans admirably ambitious and comprehensive, but
they are still of the old custodial care type-planning things for the
blind, and as I see it, doing or trying to do something better, which
should not be done at all."

      The key to developing blind people's potential was education. And
education was not possible unless blind people had books. After she
returned to California, Dr. Grant launched a project to send used Braille
books to individuals and schools, first in Pakistan, and later in dozens of
other countries. She organized Federationists around the country to send
her used books. She and her team of volunteers then packed the books into
15-pound cartons and shipped them overseas, along with slates and styluses,
Braille paper, and other equipment. She helped blind students obtain
scholarships, and she encouraged them to persevere despite every obstacle.
She searched constantly for leaders and potential leaders, women and men
who could develop organizations modeled upon the NFB.

      Throughout the 1960s and much of the 1970s Dr. Grant traveled almost
constantly. As she was about to set off on another trip, Dr. tenBroek
remarked, "I feel you are like a lone eagle, flying off alone." "No," she
said, "I'm not alone, for I have always the Federation behind me."

      In 1964 Dr. Grant helped to found the International Federation of the
Blind, or IFB, an organization that allowed blind people from around the
world to share resources and ideas. Dr. tenBroek served as its president
until his death in 1968. Dr. Grant served as treasurer of the IFB and
edited its quarterly Braille magazine, which was published in English,
French, German, and Spanish.

      Crooked Paths Made Straight and Dr. Grant's other writings are filled
with stories of her adventures. She did indeed encounter a pickpocket, who
managed to steal some cash on a Paris street but didn't get his hands on
her papers. And while she was visiting a school in the Congo a teacher
suddenly screamed, "JUMP!" She didn't ask questions. She jumped and avoided
stepping on a cobra.

      Isabelle Grant's legacy lives on today in the lives and work of
thousands of blind people whom she inspired and mentored. Nearly forty
years after her death, blind people in Pakistan and India, Kenya and
Ethiopia and dozens of other countries are studying and working and
mentoring the next generation, following the paths that Dr. Grant made
straight for them.

      From the Editor: Crooked Paths Made Straight is available to purchase
in EPUB or PDF from iUniverse, Kindle, and the Apple store from iBooks. It
is available in standard print from Amazon and from the NFB Independence
        Eliminating Artificial Barriers: Civil Rights and Disability
                 at the United States Department of Justice
                                 by Eve Hill

      From the Editor: It is no accident that Eve Hill has become an annual
fixture on the National Federation of the Blind's annual agenda. She is
passionate, articulate, and informed. She is able to communicate all of
these, and for this reason it is always our pleasure to put her remarks in
the pages of the Braille Monitor. Here is what she said to the 2016
National Convention:

      Good afternoon, and thank you, President Riccobono, for that really
nice introduction and for your work in making the NFB such an impactful and
powerful organization and for all of you for contributing to that.
      For decades NFB has brought stakeholders together to safeguard
justice, advance opportunity, and defend the rights of blind people. In
doing so, you help blind people live meaningful, enjoyable, productive
lives; you enable our communities to reach their full potential, you
advance America's founding dream as the land of equal opportunities, and
you make the promise of our laws a reality for everybody [applause].
      President Riccobono told me that they saved some space in the agenda
for friends of NFB and for fresh meat. He didn't say which one I was, so
I'm very glad that he introduced me as a friend of NFB, and if there's a
fresh meat section, I'm going to save it for the end because he also told
me that I have four minutes less than I had planned on.
      Not that long ago for blind people and people with other
disabilities, this dream and this promise of America-the land of equal
opportunity-felt really distant and out of reach. Discrimination was often
built into our laws and into our public services, and because those laws
and service systems were based on faulty assumptions about the capabilities
of people with disabilities, they made those mistaken assumptions into self-
fulfilling prophesies. But the beauty of America's story and the promise of
its legal framework shows us that we, as a country and as a people, can
change. We can progress-not always perfectly, but unyieldingly. As Dr.
Maurer used to say, we don't lose the war because we don't stop fighting.
      We can pass new laws and enforce the ones we already have to make
sure that the freedoms our constitution guarantees and the opportunities
that all people deserve are actually reached by everyone. So the arc of our
nation's progress in the disability rights arena highlights this. In the
1960s and 70s around the country, the exposure of the inhumane treatment in
institutions sparked public outrage. Outrage fueled advocacy, and over time
advocacy drove legal change, resulting in part in our 1999 decision by the
Supreme Court in Olmstead vs. LC that segregation of people with
disabilities is discrimination. But of course laws and rulings alone don't
vindicate rights; people do. People like you, organizations like NFB, and
organizations like the Justice Department-particularly, I'd say, the civil
rights division. We all know, unfortunately, that there's a lot of tough
and really important and urgent work that lies ahead to vindicate those
rights. Even seventeen years after the Olmstead decision and more than
twenty-five years after the enactment of the Americans with Disabilities
Act, far too many people with disabilities continue to see a real gap
between what the law promises on the one hand and what people really
experience on the other. We see this gap in transportation as people with
disabilities face unlawful barriers when traveling to work or on a plane,
as we heard earlier; barriers to vacationing with their families, areas
where the Justice Department has tried to take on these issues
aggressively, including from Amtrak's rail stations to Greyhound's bus
fleet, where I must note that we have secured an uncapped damages fund--if
you have been treated badly by Greyhound because of a disability, you
should be filing a complaint through this process-and all the way to
Carnival cruise ships.
      We see this gap in the electoral process. Too many people with
disabilities trying to participate in our democracy find themselves turned
away by unnecessary barriers to a private and independent vote. Through the
ADA voting initiative, the department continues to address these barriers
with open investigations of polling places, voting registration, and ballot
accessibility all around the country. We see this gap in employment as
450,000 people with disabilities spend their time in segregated sheltered
workshops or day programs, with some payed just pennies an hour.
      We see this gap in technology as new technologies are developed and
older technologies-I must say that websites are now an older technology-as
these are deployed and rolled out in ways that don't include people with
disabilities and thus exclude them even more than the old paper-and-pen
world did. We see this gap in education as schools deny children with
disabilities the opportunities they deserve to learn and thrive alongside
their non-disabled peers. And we see this gap in the justice system as too
many people suffer from policies that criminalize mental illness and other
      Right now I'm reading this new book; I was reading it on the plane.
It's called The Boys in the Bunkhouse, which chronicles the story of the
men with disabilities in Atalissa, Iowa, who worked for decades for Henry's
Turkey Service for $65 a month and lived in an abandoned schoolhouse where
cockroaches infested the kitchen, the heater didn't work, and the fire
doors were padlocked shut. That story demonstrates the many ways
institutions can ruin people's lives: by separating them from their
families; by putting a profit motive on their care; by making them
outsiders, someone else's responsibility to their neighbors; and by taking
away choice and the ability to grow and learn. That story also highlights
the people who tried to raise the alarm and were thwarted by bureaucratic
silos and pretty lies and such an ingrained assumption that the men there
were so different from the rest of us that it just wasn't even necessary to
ask them about their experience. It makes me furiously angry and
inconsolably sad, and even after the lawsuits by the heroic Robert Canino
of the EEOC--you may not think of government lawyers as heroic, but some of
them are--he's one of them. Even after the rescue and resettlement of those
men, it's still not right. Many of them have been moved to nursing homes in
Texas because they were given no other choice. None of them have gotten the
damage-$240 million dollars in damages-that the jury awarded them because
the money is gone. And those damages were awarded not for back pay alone,
but for the loss of enjoyment of life for decades, and that strikes me as
the real harm from institutionalization. It's not okay; it has to stop; I
have to stop it; we all have to stop it [applause].
      In partnership with many of you here today, the Justice Department
works to make sure that people with disabilities-our friends, our families,
our neighbors, our colleagues-can live and work and learn in their own
communities with everyone else. For the last eight years the Obama
administration, in partnership with you, has lead vigorous Olmstead-
enforcement efforts that breathe new meaning and real life into the Supreme
Court's findings.
      Since 2009 we've taken action and filed briefs in fifty Olmstead
integration matters in twenty-five states. And, because of our Olmstead
work, today more than 53,000 people with disabilities-53,000 people-will
have meaningful opportunities to receive services in integrated community-
based settings that they choose [applause].
      In Oregon and Rhode Island in the past three years the department's
enforcement efforts have led to statewide commitments to transform their
employment services systems from ones that enforce the tyranny of low
expectations in sheltered workshops to ones that support people with
disabilities to pursue their goals and their dreams in real jobs at real
wages in their communities. Throughout our Olmstead work we see close
connections between barriers to education and limited opportunities in
employment and other aspects of life. When students capable of learning in
integrated classrooms don't get the opportunity to do so, they just don't
get access to the full set of skills, resources, and experience they need
to reach their potential in the classroom, in the workforce, or in life.
      Last year the Justice Department took on the unnecessary segregation
of students with behavior-related disabilities in so-called special schools
in Georgia. Our letter of findings about the Georgia Network for
Educational and Therapeutic Support (GNETS) makes clear that the ADA
prohibits states from unnecessarily placing students with behavior-related
disabilities in separate and unequal schools. Some of these were the black
schools from the days of legal segregation of schools. They cannot put them
in those separate schools when they can learn in regular education
      Our Olmstead community integration efforts span an array of areas.
Last month we released findings that South Dakota unnecessarily relies on
nursing facilities to provide services for people with disabilities of all
ages. Thousands of people who rely on South Dakota for their services must
live in nursing facilities in order to receive those services, isolated
from their communities, often surrounded by people with very little in
common with them. For example, one of the people we spoke to is a seventy-
seven-year-old man with diabetes who's lost his vision and went to a
nursing home after a toe amputation. All he needed was some help to check
his feet regularly. He's been living in an institution for five years.
      As part of our efforts in this area to address the rights of people
with disabilities to live in their communities, under the leadership of the
attorney general and the deputy attorney general, we launched a new
initiative just recently to look at the interaction between mental health
and the criminal justice system. Make no mistake: the community integration
mandated in Olmstead applies not just to some but to all public entities
[applause]. That includes the public entities in our criminal justice
system. And the Justice Department's efforts in this space focus on four
key areas: on the streets we want police officers to de-escalate tense
encounters with people with disabilities and reduce the need to use force;
in our courts, where appropriate, we want to divert individuals with mental
illness from incarceration and connect them with community-based services;
in our jails and prisons we want to ensure that people get connected with
the services they need to successfully reintegrate into their communities
and stay there; and in order for the criminal justice entities to meet
their obligations and address the needs of the whole community, states and
localities need to meet their ADA obligations to provide community-based
services. We cannot truly achieve fair and smart criminal justice reform
until criminal justice entities and local jurisdictions fulfill their
Olmstead obligations.
      We've recently entered into a number of settlement agreements in
Portland and Seattle and Cleveland and in Hinds County gotten these
jurisdictions to interact with their local mental health systems and with
people with disabilities in their communities. In addition to working on de-
escalation and crisis intervention programs, these jurisdictions have
created committees to advise them on how to better keep these silos
interacting in ways that get people to the right services, instead of into
a jail where they won't get them [applause].
      We're also focusing our efforts on ensuring that people with
disabilities have full access to all the basic activities that people
without disabilities take for granted and that form the basis for the
enjoyment of life, from parenting to learning to using the internet to do
whatever you want and whatever you can afford when and where you want it,
including at home in your bunny slippers (that's the way I do it.)
      Let's start with parenting. We recently made a finding that the state
of Massachusetts discriminated against a parent with a disability by taking
her child away from her in the hospital and failing to provide the full
range of reunification services that it offers to everybody and by failing
to provide reasonable modifications in those services specifically to
accommodate her disability. That state kept that child away from her mother
for two years [boos]. But recognizing that this was happening all across
the country, last year we and the Department of Health and Human Services
issued a technical assistance document entitled "Protecting the Rights of
Parents and Prospective Parents with Disabilities." That document makes
clear that the ADA applies to child welfare agencies and courts making
decisions about child custody and placement, neglect, and abuse [applause,
cheers]. The ADA prohibits these agencies from basing their decisions on
incorrect stereotypes about people with disabilities, requires them to
provide reasonable modifications to their policies when needed to allow a
parent with a disability to fully participate, and it challenges the
stereotypical assumptions that child welfare agencies have too often made
about parents with disabilities and requires people with disabilities to be
treated as the individuals they are [applause].
      Technology: We are becoming more and more a technology-dependent
society. And we at DOJ are enforcing the ADA in ways that ensure that
technology is designed and implemented so it actually achieves equally
effective communication for people with disabilities, both in educational
institutions and everywhere. We've been enforcing the ADA requirements for
accessible instructional technology and content against educational
institutions and others since 2010, when the NFB said, hey, what about
these six colleges that are implementing an inaccessible e-book reader that
I won't name-I could but I won't. We reached agreements with those six
colleges-I'm in there somewhere, not necessarily where I am now-that
required them to agree not to purchase, require, or use inaccessible e-book
readers [applause] and to ensure that a student who is blind or has low
vision can acquire the same information, engage in the same interactions,
and enjoy the same services as sighted students with substantially
equivalent ease of use-and you can thank Dan Goldstein for that standard
[applause]. And we in the Department of Education followed that with Dear
Colleague letters to colleges, universities, and elementary and secondary
schools, saying that the use of inaccessible emergent technologies in the
classroom violates the ADA. We also followed that with a settlement
agreement with the Sacramento Public Library, which had purchased a bunch
of inaccessible NOOK e-book readers to lend to its patrons. The settlement
in that case requires them to buy at least eighteen accessible e-book
readers to lend [applause]. Web-based, even online-only instructional
technology and content providers themselves have ADA obligations to make
their services accessible if they offer them to the public. We've made
clear that providers of educational and entertainment services online can
be covered as public accommodations under Title III of the ADA, so we and
NFB have also been enforcing the accessibility requirements against those
entities. We've made that position clear against Netflix, who I'm sure was
thrilled about that. We've reached agreements to make websites accessible
with the Peapod Grocery Delivery Service and with H&R Block, and we've been
very active in enforcing the ADA in the context of online education and
instructional technology and content. In 2013 we reached a settlement
agreement with Louisiana Tech University for using a version of an online
learning product that was inaccessible. One blind student was unable to get
the course materials for a month into the university quarter, at which
point he was so far behind he had to withdraw from the course. Under the
settlement agreement, the university has to adopt a number of disability-
related policies including: they have to require themselves to deploy
learning technology, webpages, and course content that is accessible in
accordance with WCAG 2.0 level AA all across the university setting;
they'll make their existing webpages and materials created since 2010
accessible; and they'll pay that student $23,543 in damages [applause].
      Then we get into MOOCs (massive open online courses). Last year we
reached a settlement with edX, which operates a MOOC platform with content
from sixty colleges and universities. Under that settlement, within
eighteen months edX will make its website, mobile apps, and learning
management system all comply with WCAG 2.0 level AA. It will make sure its
websites, apps, and LMS don't interfere with accessibility features of any
content providers using WCAG math ML, WCAG 2ICT, ARIA, DAISY, and EPUB3.
Eighteen months after that edX will make its content management system
accessible-WCAG 2.0 level AA; it's a theme. In future contracts with
content providers edX will notify them of accessibility requirements and
encourage them to make their content accessible and require them to certify
it before they post content that it is accessible [applause].
      And the big boys: Harvard and MIT--we filed a brief in a suit by the
National Association of the Deaf challenging Harvard and MIT's failure to
put captioning on their online videos and audio files. Our brief made clear
that enforcement of the ADA's effective communication requirements does not
need to wait for our rule-making efforts to be completed [applause], that
has become more important than I thought it was.
      We recently joined NFB in a suit against Miami University, which is
still proceeding, about its failure to ensure that its educational
technologies are accessible. We've also focused on making accessibility of
websites and technology part of all of our accessibility work. So our
employment enforcement: we in the past year have incorporated making online
job application and job testing material systems accessible, with six local
governments in the past year having agreed to do that. And we've made
accessible websites a key component of every single one of our Project
Civic Access compliance reviews of state and local governments.
      And that's just DOJ. The Department of Education has also been
active. Just last week they reached settlements with education
organizations in seven states and one territory to make those websites
accessible for people with disabilities.
      Honestly, we've been following on the NFB's coattails in many of
these actions, and I can't wait to hear from Jamie, who's really a hero to
me. Am I done yet, have I run out of time?

      President Riccobono: "Oh, long ago."

      Eve Hill resumes: Oh, darn, then I can't go into the fresh meat part.
We have not yet issued a rule. We have issued a supplemental advanced
notice of proposed rulemaking. Please tell us what you think; be honest-I
dare you [laughter]. But we're going to continue to enforce the law that
already requires that the communications of covered entities, including
those communicated through technology, must be accessible. We don't need to
wait for rulemaking, and we won't [applause].
      So I continue to look forward to working with you. This is my
favorite conference to come to, and thank you very much.
     Educational Assessments, Math Innovations, and Real Accessibility:
                             Progress at Pearson
                                by Jon Twing

      From the Editor: Getting a fair shake in education means the
opportunity to learn, and often that opportunity is conditioned on how the
blind do on standardized tests. Sometimes the blind have been forbidden
from taking them, the argument being that any accommodations made to the
test would invalidate it. Accommodations which have been opposed by the
industry include putting the test in Braille, making it available so it can
be read using a screen reader, or increasing print size so it can be viewed
by those who rely primarily on remaining vision to read and write.
      One of the largest companies involved in creating and administering
standardized tests is Pearson, so the progress we have made with them is
significant. In his introduction President Riccobono said that Pearson has
taken accessibility so seriously that they have not only done what we have
asked of them but have worked hard to use their knowledge of test taking to
enhance the accessibility experience. Here is what Jon Twing has to say
about his job, the value of testing, and the commitment he has to

      Thank you, Mr. President, thank you, Federation. I am responsible for
assessments at Pearson, so naturally I live in Iowa City, Iowa, the Mecca
of assessments. I'm glad to be here today to talk a little bit about some
of our activities. I'm a trained test-builder. I'm something the field
calls a psychometrician. People often ask me, "How do you choose such an
occupation?" And I have a little secret for you, with no disrespect
intended to my good friend at H&R Block, but we all start out as
accountants. Those of us with a sense of humor become psychometricians
      I've been building assessments for over thirty-five years of all
types and shapes, both domestically and internationally. So I have to be
honest with you: if you don't enjoy assessments, it's probably my fault.
There's not an assessment in North America that I haven't touched. I'm
happy to talk to you about any concerns you might have, just look up Jan
McSorley or Sam Dooley or even Cricket, and they'll put you in touch with
me. I'm going to be here the rest of the day; we can chitchat about that.
      I am delighted to talk about some of the innovation we make. I'm
going to point out that I'm going to talk about assessments and the strides
and changes and innovation we've driven into assessments. I'm happy to talk
about other aspects of Pearson whose accessibility track record is not that
great, but I am the assessments guy, so I plan to talk about assessments.
We're already seeing, however, generalization of our efforts to make our
tools accessible in our assessments going to the other parts of Pearson, so
I'm optimistic that we've turned the corner, and we're making that trek.
I'll leave that for you to decide once you've heard my talk.
      Being a subject matter expert in assessments means that most of my
life has been focused on what researchers call variance decomposition, or
specifically something known as construct-irrelevant variance. Now I know
that sounds really important, but all that really means is that when we
build measures, a piece of our measure is error, and we want to get it out
of our measure, and a piece of our measure is true, and we want to keep it
in our measure. That's almost by definition what psychometricians do when
they build measures. Now before your eyes glaze over and you fall asleep
and you dream about lunch and you really do think I'm an accountant, let me
try to explain this whole issue of construct-irrelevant variance in a very
specific and relevant, concrete example.
      In the early 1970s AT&T was notorious for discriminatory hiring
practices. They often hid behind a rare exception to Title VII of the 1964
Civil Rights Act called "Bonafide Occupational Qualification." Basically
this exception claimed that if a job could only be performed by one gender,
for example lifting a ladder to the top of a panel van, then accommodating
that job for the other gender would be outside normal operations and not
required [growls and grumbles]. Well I think the EEOC took your point of
view, because they essentially went to court in what is now known as the
landmark AT&T sex discrimination case and rejected this claim outright. The
essence of their victory was claiming that the placement of a ladder on top
of a panel van was irrelevant to the skills needed to perform that job. If
you reaccommodated that by placing that ladder down on the van, anybody
could have access to it.
      If you think about the simplicity of this and the power of that one
simple example, now we understand a little bit better about construct-
relevant versus construct-irrelevant variance. The placement of the ladder
had nothing to do with the job skills, and yet it was being used as a
barrier for entry. AT&T-not because they were evil people-did the same
thing a lot of people did: they didn't think about how the tool was going
to be used by the end user. Arguably, according to the EEOC, they did hide
behind that bad decision and tried to defend themselves, but ultimately
that case was provoked, and accommodations were allowed, and the panel vans
were changed.
      In measurement and in testing, such accommodations are equally
obvious. For example, providing a Braille version of a test for a blind
person is a reasonable accommodation because it is obvious that the loss of
sight has nothing to do with the cognitive skill in answering the question
[applause]. Similarly, then, extended time for a Braille user is a good
accommodation because it takes longer to use that tool. Supporting graphics
for text items should not become an undue burden to test-takers,
particularly those with varied visual needs. As such, accommodating tables
and graphics in assessments has become quite routine. However, what is not
so obvious are the rules that govern the accommodations or the evidence for
just what constitutes undue burden. For example, in the Americans with
Disabilities Act of the 1990s, federal law now required testing
accommodations for cognitive disabilities such as dyslexia as well as other
physical disabilities. But such accommodations might actually impact the
validity of the measures. The court has been very wishy-washy on where the
line is drawn on this issue of cognitive accommodations.
      Now you might say that this is all well and good, but what have you
done for me lately? Aren't these things that the assessment industry has
been doing and should be doing as we evolve to make goods and services more
and more accessible? I agree they are, but don't forget that it was in my
lifetime where we used to have the nonstandard administration flag-a flag
on a student's report card that any student that would engage in assessment
in any nonstandard fashion would get-a flag that my friends at the Arc of
Texas would call "the scarlet letter of assessments in the day." Just like
when the Bell Lab engineers in Murray Hill, New Jersey, put the ladder on
top of the van, they were not thinking of the final solution-how it would
be used by the end users, just like how my predecessors in assessments did
not anticipate the many diverse needs of their users when they came up with
this idea of no exceptions. It reminds me of a wonderful book that I've
read that for all intents and purposes is a primer on what is known as user-
centered design. It's called The Psychology of Everyday Things by Don
Norman. I'd like to quote that for a second: "Humans, I've discovered, do
not always behave clumsily. Humans do not always err. But they do when the
things they use are badly conceived and poorly designed. Nonetheless, we
see human error blamed for all of society's pitfalls . . . While we all
blame ourselves, the real culprit-faulty design-goes undetected."
Accessibility is all about good user-centered design and making products
and services fit for purpose for everyone. We can no longer ratchet
something onto an assessment at the end and call it accessible [applause].
      Now under NCLB [No Child Left Behind]-and we could have a debate
about the value of NCLB, but we'd have to agree that a lot of light and
focus was spent on students with disabilities. I recall testifying at a
Senate education hearing in Texas. I was making the usual argument about
how we're the constructing on-grade-level multiple choice assessments
aligned to curriculum standards, but I was doing so for what was known as
the 1 percent population at the time. These would be our most significantly
cognitively-impaired students. The purpose of the law was to engage with
them more than life skills, to teach them subject matter knowledge. I felt
proud that we had done such a good job building scaffolding for the
teachers, having teacher support and training, having peer tutoring in
online interactive qualifications for teachers. I remember thinking how
well the rubrics were crafted that helped the teachers decide how much
independence the students would have in engaging these tasks.
      When I was done, a teacher from one of the schools in Texas, who
never took her eyes off me-it was a dagger stare straight at me-wanted to
talk about how invalid, unreliable, and useless the assessments were
because everybody knew that these children with these cognitive
disabilities could not learn, and they certainly could not learn on grade
      Now what struck home for me wasn't the obvious. It wasn't the bias or
tyranny of low expectations that this teacher held or even the notion that
this teacher was maintaining a status quo in a school district. What struck
home for me was that the very product I thought was good failed to meet the
criteria because it wasn't really used and implemented to improve
instruction in the classroom.
      If I could make that teacher see what those assessments might have
done for those children in her classroom had they been challenged to reach
that level, it would be an interesting thought experiment to see today. In
many ways the current evolution of accessible assessments is the same.
Building a Braille test, following the principles of universal design,
ensuring that existing technologies work is just not good enough. We
started behind in making assessments accessible, and we need to do more to
catch-up and to close the gap, particularly as we evolve into more and more
of a digital age.
      We're making some progress in this regard, as President Riccobono
reflected. We need to go faster, but we are making some progress. First and
foremost, we hired a dedicated group under Jan McSorley to pay attention to
nothing but accessibility inside assessments [applause]. And what she did,
which was quite controversial to my management, was she immediately engaged
the National Federation of the Blind [applause]. We're working toward a
better understanding of what access barriers are faced by people with
disabilities. For example, we've sent our developers, our content authors,
our user experience professionals into the classroom to observe students
with disabilities and to talk with them and their teachers about how to
improve accessibility of our products. What a brilliant idea; too bad it
was an afterthought-you'd think you might talk to the people who are using
your products before you design your products.
      Hiring subject matter experts who understand the best design
principles with the flexibility needed to respond to individual needs of
people with disabilities-again you'd think that would be a no-brainer, but
we're doing that in assessments now.
      Investing in innovation by tackling the long-standing problem of
limited access, particularly in math for students who are blind, we're
developing an Accessible Equation Editor that can be used on assessments
and in the classroom. This equation editor can do now what has never been
done in the history of math: it dynamically translates printed math in the
Nemeth code and the Nemeth code into printed math, does it accurately and
in real time. I do hope you got a chance to engage with the Accessible
Equation Editor in the vendor hall or during the user studies at the
convention. If not, no worries: we'd be happy to set up a demo site. We'd
be happy to give you a tutorial. Again, probably the right person to
contact is Jan McSorley. That's <jan.mcsorley at pearson.com>, and she'll be
happy to set up a time to walk you through the equation editor.
      But here's a simple story I want to tell that came from the
convention this week that's both moving and powerful, though it leaves me
sad. Sometime while at the Convention this week, Sam Dooley (one of Jan's
team) was demonstrating the Accessible Equation Editor. As Sam was showing
the editor, a seven-year-old blind girl walked up to the table with her
parents. They said that she was a Braille reader and that she was learning
Nemeth Braille, which is the Braille code for math. Sam introduced himself
and asked, "Would you like to type some math on the computer?"
      She asked, "Are you going to be my math teacher?" For those of us
who've taught children of that age, that's a penetrating question, isn't
      Sam said, "Tell me if you can read what I type," and Sam typed the
number 1 on his laptop. "One," she said, as her face started to brighten.
Sam typed the plus sign, then the number 2. "One plus two," she exclaimed
with pride. Then, "One plus two plus three," as Sam continued to type.
      At this point Sam said, "Now let's make it harder," as Sam typed the
equal sign.
      "Equal sign," she said with anticipation, starting to see what was
coming next.
      Sam asked her, "Do you know what one plus two plus three is?"
      "Mmmm, three plus two is five, plus one is six," she replied.
      Sam said, "That's correct. Do you know how to type six in Braille?"
She put her tiny fingers on the keyboard on the Braille keys and searched
around to find where they should go. Then the sounds of dots two, three,
and five went down, and the numeral 6 appeared on the screen in front of
her parents.
      "That's right," Sam exclaimed, with her parents looking on.
      "Mommy, mommy," she said, "You can read my math." [applause, cheers]
She cried, and she jumped up and down as only a seven-year-old can when
they discover how big the world is.
      This story is very simple, it's moving, yet it's powerful. Answering
a simple math question should not be a big deal. It was simple, though not
easy to build a mathematics accessible equation editor. The power was
really in the empowerment the young girl felt, perhaps the same empowerment
we felt when we learned to read independently. My enthusiasm to enjoy the
story, however, is tempered. I simply can't help but think, that's as it
should be. That shouldn't be an exciting day in a child's life to do what
everybody else is doing [applause]. This is perhaps where my passion lies,
though being a former accountant it's hard to claim I have passion. But by
utilizing simple user-centered design principles to build accessibility
into our products and services, such that all students will benefit from
their use, and not added as an afterthought-that is my goal. So as we
evolve into the future, we'll continue to evolve our thinking, we'll
continue to work with the NFB, and we hope we can generalize such small
successes to the rest of the realm of the great Pearson enterprise. Thank

      This month's recipes come from the NFB of California.

                              Potato Casserole
                            by Charlotte Carroll

      Charlotte Carroll is the president of the NFB of California Senior
Division and the first vice president of the Pathfinders Chapter of Los
Angeles. She joined the NFB in March 2014 because she truly believes in our

1/3 cup coconut oil
1 pound ground turkey
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 large red bell pepper (or color of your choice)
1 large onion
6 celery stocks
2 pounds potatoes, peeled and sliced
1 can cream of celery soup
1 can cream of mushroom soup

      Method: In a skillet, melt coconut oil. Brown ground turkey with
garlic and set aside.
Chop the bell pepper, onion, and celery into small pieces. Add the sliced
potatoes. Mix cream of celery soup with cream of mushroom soup. Combine all
of the ingredients into a baking dish; cover with aluminum foil.
Bake at 350 degrees for one hour or until potatoes are done. Serve with
your choice of meat, vegetable and/or salad (serves eight).
                         Crispy Honey Barbecue Wings
                             by Rochelle Houston

      Rochelle Houston is the treasurer of the National Federation of the
Blind of California and the president of the Pathfinder Chapter of Los
Angeles. She created this recipe because she enjoyed eating the wings at a
fast-food establishment.

3 pounds chicken wings
1 bottle of Sweet Baby Ray barbecue sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 cups flour
Lemon pepper to taste
Garlic powder to taste
Onion powder to taste

      Method: Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Wash chicken well. Place chicken
in a large bowl and lightly season with lemon pepper, garlic powder, and
onion powder. Coat chicken with flour. Lightly grease a cookie sheet or
baking dish with cooking spray. Place chicken on baking dish. Cook for
thirty minutes, turning chicken over after twenty minutes. Remove from
oven. Place barbecue sauce and brown sugar in a sauce pan, stir, and simmer
on medium heat for ten minutes. Dip each piece of chicken in sauce, coat
completely. You can fry chicken instead of baking. Serves six.
                          Chicken Tamale Casserole
                               by Joy Stigile

      Joy Stigile is a member of the San Fernando Valley Chapter of the NFB
of California, president of the Diabetes Action Network of California, and
treasurer of the Diabetes Action Network division. She says, "I made up the
recipe because I wanted to eat tamales, but I wanted to have some
vegetables and more protein with them."

2 cups cauliflower
4 stalks celery, diced
1/2 purple onion, diced
12 ounces chicken, cooked and diced
2 cups frozen corn kernels
1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
1 cup jack cheese, grated
1 cup chunky salsa (I prefer Pace Picante Sauce)
2 chicken tamales, diced

      Method: Steam the cauliflower with two teaspoons of water in the
microwave with lid for two minutes on high. Set aside. When cool, dice the
cauliflower. Place the diced celery and diced onion with one tablespoon of
water in the microwave for three minutes on high. Place the first eight
ingredients in a two-quart microwave-safe casserole dish and stir well.
Then dice the two tamales and stir into the casserole dish. Cook on high
for twenty minutes, covered. Let it rest for five minutes uncovered and
then serve. Enjoy!
                        Jana's Peanut Butter Cookies
                              by Bill Passmore

      Jana Littrell is a member of the California board of directors and
our philosophy expert. Bill bakes these cookies for her as a treat after a
long week teaching Braille at the Orientation Center for the Blind in
Albany, California.

2 1/2 cups white flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter
1 cup crunchy peanut butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs

      Method: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a medium-size bowl sift
together white flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a large bowl
cream together the peanut butter, butter, and sugars. Next add the eggs and
beat well. Add the dry ingredients and stir to combine. Place in
refrigerator for at least one hour. Roll into one-inch balls and place on
an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for seven to ten minutes. Let cool before
removing from cookie sheet. Enjoy with a big glass of milk.
[PHOTO CAPTION: Mary Willows]
                   Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
                               by Mary Willows

      Mary Willows has served as president for the California affiliate for
the past seven and one-half years. Over the past forty years, Mary has held
positions in many state and national divisions. In 2006, she was presented
with the Blind Educator of the Year Award. Mary loves to bake and
entertain. Here is what she says about this banana cake recipe: "If you
grew up on Sara Lee Banana Cake and frosting, this recipe will take you
back. It is said to be a copycat of the original. Everyone loves it!"

Ingredients for the cake:
1 1/2 cups ripe bananas
3 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter, room temperature
2 1/8 cups sugar
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla (I use banana extract)
1 1/2 cups buttermilk

Ingredients for the frosting (a double batch for crumb coat and finishing
1 cup butter, room temperature
2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla (again, I use banana extract)
7 cups powdered sugar
2 to 3 tablespoons milk

      Method: Preheat your oven to 275 degrees, 250 degrees if using a
convection oven. Grease and flour two nine-inch round cake pans. In a small
bowl mash ripe bananas until almost smooth; use dark brown/black ultra-ripe
bananas if you have them. In a medium bowl combine flour, baking soda, and
salt. In stand mixer with paddle attachment cream together butter and
granulated sugar on medium-high speed for five minutes, until the mixture
is light and fluffy. Reduce the mixer speed to medium and add the eggs, one
at a time, beating well after each addition and add vanilla. Reduce the
mixer speed to slow and slowly add in the flour mixture alternately with
the buttermilk, starting and ending with the flour mixture. Add in mashed
bananas. Pour batter into prepared pans and bake for sixty to seventy
minutes, or until toothpick inserted into center of the cakes comes out
clean. As soon as the cakes are done, immediately remove them from the
oven, and place them directly into the freezer for forty-five minutes. This
will make the cake very moist.
      While the cakes are cooling mix together the frosting crumb coat: in
stand mixer with paddle attachment, combine 1/2 cup soft butter and 1
package soft cream cheese; cream together on medium-high speed for three to
five minutes until the mixture is light and fluffy. Turn mixer to slow and
add in 1 teaspoon vanilla. Turn mixer off and add in 1 cup of powdered
sugar; be sure not to over-pack measuring cup with powdered sugar. Turn
mixer to its slowest setting and mix until sugar is incorporated. Do this
step two more times, and on the last time add in an extra 1/2 cup powdered
sugar for a grand total of 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar for one full batch.
      After cakes are cool remove them from the pans and level the tops if
necessary. Add a dollop of frosting to the base of your cake plate and
place the first layer; add parchment paper under edges of bottom layer to
catch any frosting drippings. Frost top of bottom layer, be generous, and
then place second layer on top of the frosted bottom layer. Frost top of
the second layer and the sides of both layers with a thin coating of
frosting, this will lock in the crumbs. Place cake into the refrigerator so
the crumb coat will firm up, about sixty to ninety minutes.
      While cake is firming up whip up the finishing coat of frosting by
repeating the process you used to make the crumb coat, on the last step
adding enough milk to loosen up the frosting until it drops in large clumps
off of a spatula.
      Remove cold cake from the refrigerator, and start frosting from the
center of the top of the cake to the sides and then down the sides.
Depending on how much frosting you like, you might have some left over.
After you get the frosting to your liking, slowly remove the parchment
paper from the bottom of the cake. Store the cake in the refrigerator or in
an airtight cake container; it should keep for three to five days.
      Notes: I have made this cake in both a nine-by-thirteen-inch size and
in cupcakes, and it works great every time. I only make one batch of
frosting when I make these sizes.
                             Monitor Miniatures

      News from the Federation Family

Voter Information Available on NFB-NEWSLINE:
      The best tool for voters is information! In an effort to help our
subscribers become more informed voters, NFB-NEWSLINE has added candidate
information for the upcoming presidential elections.
      Just in time for the November 8 election, you can log into NFB-
NEWSLINE and get up-to-the-minute information about the leading candidates
for the 2016 Presidential Election.
      To hear about the candidates using the telephone-access method, press
five on the main menu for "Newspapers in a Different State," then five for
2016 "Presidential Election." From there you can choose "Breaking News,"
"Daily Newspaper," "International," or "Magazine" search results for
Clinton or Trump. You will be able to read articles from today's and
yesterday's publications.
      To read about candidates for the 2016 Presidential Election using NFB-
NEWSLINE Mobile, choose "Publications," then "Publication Options," then
"All Publications" and look for "Breaking News Search Results" or "Daily
Newspaper Search Results" or "International Search Results" or "Magazine
Search Results" for Clinton and Trump to read the most current information
      In order to obtain this information, we have performed a Global
Search for the candidates under "Breaking News" or "Daily Newspaper" or
"International" or "Magazines" and created the articles listed in this new
section called "2016 Presidential Election." To obtain further information,
you can use the Global Search function to search under additional topics.
      Additional election information will be added as it becomes
available. Don't forget to get out and vote!

A Report from the PEAT Committee:
      The Promotion, Evaluation, and Advancement of Technology Committee
met June 30, 2016, and gave most of the technology exhibitors a chance to
talk about what was in their booths when the exhibits opened on Friday.
There was lots of emphasis on Braille this year, and much interest was
stirred by the new video remote assistive services soon to be available. A
good crowd was on hand to hear our speakers, and at the end of the program
Clara Van Gerven explained how the committee could help the Jernigan
Institute. She would like to know what barriers are affecting our lives the
most, and we discussed one on which the institute needs immediate input:
inaccessible home appliances. For those wishing to give me information on
either of these points, I'll be glad to hear it. The best way to reach me
is at (601) 529-8629 or email me at Mark Jones <mark at vicksburgv105.com>.
      The program began with OrCam, which has new and better software for
its camera-equipped glasses which allows reading and face recognition. Then
Bookshare asked the question "Why can't books be born accessible?" Ai
Squared mentioned its merger with a parent company that now also owns
Freedom Scientific and Optelec.
      Anne Taylor, now with Microsoft, talked about significant progress
with Microsoft's screenreader, Narrator. Darrel Templeton of MegaVoice
talked about the first solar-powered audio recorder-player called the Envoy
EZ that's smaller than a cell phone, has lots of onboard memory, and costs
just $60. Dolphin, which has been doing screenreading for thirty years, has
its new Bookshelf, which allows access to several content providers such as
Bookshare, NFB NEWSLINE, and NLS BARD directly from its Super Nova product
that will transfer information to a Windows computer or Victor Stream with
just two keystrokes. Mike Tindell of HumanWare talked about their new
BrailleNote Touch, the first Google-certified Braille tablet. Amanda Tolson
of En-Vision told us about the new i.d. mate Galaxy with more grocery
product descriptions than ever before and their ScriptTalk that has a new
and better scanner.
      Our program continued with Aira speaking about their video remote
assistance solutions, allowing a person wearing the company's glasses
containing a built-in camera to receive real-time help from a live human on
the other end of a mobile connection. The VTSECURE folks also have a new
product called the Lantern, which detects objects from as far away as 200
feet and contains a haptic compass. When worn on the wrist, the device can
greatly enhance cane travel. NCR and Cardtronics talked about their
accessible ATM touchscreen solutions. Then the American Printing House for
the Blind discussed its new scientific calculator with accessible
scientific and math options and discussed the new Nearby Explorer Android
mapping application that works with a GPS device for finding your way to
anywhere. Additionally, the APH folks talked about the new 20-cell Braille
display that will sell for $500 or less when released in October. It's
called the Orbit Reader.
      Stephen Baum of Kurzweil was next on the program and mentioned his
twenty-two-year career at Kurzweil working with the Kurzweil 1000. He's
looking for input from users for the new Version 15 that he's currently
working on.
      Then Ron Miller with the VFO Group, formerly Freedom Scientific, spoke
about the new ElBraille that's being released soon, which is a Windows 10
computer with a small Braille display. Lloyd Rasmussen told us that NLS is
working on Braille output for BARD Mobile for Android. A T Guys talked
about many new products including a switch-connected plug that would enable
Siri to turn on and off different devices in your home from afar.
      Clara Van Gerven closed the presentation portion of the program with
news about the new comprehensive Technology Resource List now being made
available in an updateable form by the NFB's International Braille and
Technology Center.
      I'd like to remind everyone who plans to be in Orlando next year that
this meeting is open to all and is a great way to find out what's going to
be in the exhibit hall before the exhibits open.
We also took questions this year from the audience. You don't have to be on
the committee to attend, and this is a wonderful way to get answers to your
most pressing technology questions.

                                  In Brief

      Notices and information in this section may be of interest to Monitor
readers. We are not responsible for the accuracy of the information; we
have edited only for space and clarity.

Adult Rehabilitation and Employment Survey:
      We are looking for you! If you are blind or visually impaired, reside
in the United States, and are at least eighteen years of age, we cordially
invite you to participate in this survey. Its purpose is to gain a better
understanding of your experiences as an adult who is blind or visually
impaired, including your experiences with education, employment, training,
and vocational rehabilitation.
      This survey should not take more than ten minutes of your time. If
you complete this survey, you will be entered into a drawing in which five
individuals will win a $100 VISA gift card.
      We offer you three ways to complete the survey: Go to
<www.pdrib.com/ares>, email <pdrib2016 at gmail.com>, or call (318) 257-2029.
      Thank you for taking the time to better help us understand the lived
experiences of adults with visual impairments. Questions or concerns about
this survey may be directed to Edward Bell, principal investigator,
Professional Development and Research Institute on Blindness, by calling
(318) 257-4554 or by sending him an email at <ebell at latech.edu>.

The 2017 Ski for Light International Week:

      The forty-second annual Ski for Light International Week will be held
from Sunday, February 5, through Sunday, February 12, 2017. The event will
take place on the grounds of Snow Mountain Ranch in Granby, Colorado, near
Winter Park. Snow Mountain Ranch is a 5,100 acre year-round recreational
complex that includes a 100-kilometer cross-country trail system
consistently rated as one of the top ten Nordic venues in the country. This
year we will be housed right on the grounds of Snow Mountain Ranch, so
participants will be able to access the trail system just a short distance
from their front door. Also on the property are a lighted tubing hill, a
covered outdoor ice skating rink, fat bike, snow shoe and hiking trails, an
indoor pool and sauna, a roller skating rink, an indoor climbing wall, a
craft center, a horse stable, and much more.
      Cost for the week-long event this year will be a choice of $690 or
$775 per person for double room occupancy. Other options will range from
$550 for a four-person room to $1,125 for a single room. The room rate you
choose will also cover all meals, as well as transportation to and from the
Denver airport to the ski site and trail passes. Partial financial stipends
based on need for first- and second-time participants will be considered
upon request.
      Applications are requested by November 1. Applications received after
this date will be considered on a space available basis. Full details about
the event and the accessible online application, which can be completed on
the Ski for Light website, can be found at <www.sfl.org>.
      If you are a novice and want to learn how to cross-country ski, or if
you have skied before and just want to be matched with an experienced guide
and meet new friends for a wonderful week of fun in the snow, this is the
event for you!
      Individuals interested in attending can also contact visually
impaired participant application coordinator, Tim McCorcle, at (206) 522-
5850 or <T_McCorcle at comcast.net>.

Seedlings Braille Books for Children Offers Free Books:
      Seedlings Braille Books for Children invites Braille readers and pre-
readers from ages zero to twenty-one in the United States and Canada to
register to receive two free Braille books per year. This amazing program
called the Book Angel Program was originally called "Anna's Book Angel
Project" and was named in memory of our director's 19-year-old daughter who
was tragically killed by a drunk driver in 2001. Each year, blind children
who were registered received one free book in Anna's name, but now we're
doing even more.
      Thanks to Seedlings' generous donors, blind children in the US and
Canada can receive two free Braille books per year! Seedlings offers 1,300
titles, from contemporary literature to well-loved classics and continues
to add new titles each year so that visually impaired children have the
opportunity to read the same books their sighted peers are reading.
      The Book Angel Program is a wonderful way to introduce a visually
impaired child to the marvel of Braille literacy. Here's a testimonial from
a parent who ordered her first Braille books for her son from the Book
Angel Program: "Alex has always been a curious boy and loves to read
anything he gets his hands on. He received his first Braille book from
Seedling's Book Angel Program when he was a baby, and the print/Braille
format allowed me to read to him while he could touch the Braille just as a
sighted child would look at the words as he listens to bedtime stories.
Thank you!"
      To order free books for your child or student, fill out the form
located on the Seedlings website:
      Note: This is a continuing program, but registration is required each
year to participate since book choices must be communicated to Seedlings.

Computers for the Blind Lowers Price on Laptops:
      In an effort to make accessible laptops more affordable to students
and others, Computers for the Blind is dropping the price from $160 to
$130. These laptops come loaded with powerful software that will enhance
the education, employability, independence, and quality of life of those
who can least afford them.
      No age or income requirements. We also honor this price for
organizations. Join the 9,000 consumers who have benefited from our
      Talking Typing Teacher is still available on CFTB computers for $10
(90 percent of retail) through Marvelsoft. 
      For more information visit <http://www.computersfortheblind.net> or
email <info at computersfortheblind.net>.

Resource Handbooks Available:
      I have created seventeen screen-reader-friendly resource handbooks
containing resources pertaining to the blind and visually impaired for use
by consumers and professionals. This handbook is for the residents of
specific states and includes the many organizations for the blind and
visually impaired covering areas such as employment, housing,
transportation, and more. Currently the handbooks are for Alabama, Alaska,
Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii,
Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and
      The handbooks include contact information on the local, regional, and
national level. For more information on pricing and formats, please contact
Insightful Publications by email at <insightfulpub at gmail.com>, by phone at
(808) 747-1006, or by visiting <http://www.in-sightful.com/orderpage.html>
for more information on pricing, formats, availability, and state resource
handbook order form.

Braille Candy Calendar Available:
      We are very excited to announce the arrival of a beautiful Braille
Christmas Advent Calendar. This unique and special calendar is produced in
Germany by Kampmann International and has been distributed throughout
Europe for the past five years. Each of the twenty-four windows,
representing the twenty-four days in December leading up to Christmas, is
embossed in Braille, and behind each window is a piece of premium European
milk chocolate-not only wonderful for someone who is blind, but also
wonderful as a learning tool for anyone and at any age. There is a limited
quantity available and will only be sold through November 10, 2016.
      The calendar is $14.95 with free shipping, and calendars are mailed
the same day as the order is received. To order please use the following
link to Alex's Pantry: <http://www.alexspantry.com/holiday-pantry/braille-
      If you have questions or wish to discuss a large quantity order,
please contact the exclusive importer, JSI Importers and Distributors, at
(800) 422-2595, Extension 1 and ask for Nancy!
                                 NFB Pledge
      I pledge to participate actively in the efforts of the National
Federation of the Blind to achieve equality, opportunity, and security for
the blind; to support the policies and programs of the Federation; and to
abide by its constitution.

-------------- next part --------------
An embedded and charset-unspecified text was scrubbed...
Name: ATT00401.txt
URL: <http://nfbnet.org/pipermail/ohio-talk_nfbnet.org/attachments/20161026/a62c0d69/attachment.txt>

More information about the Ohio-Talk mailing list