We are definitely headed into the summer season around here with the temperatures rising daily.
I trust that all Out-Of-Sight members are doing well with everything going reasonably well in their lives.
Our news letter editor and the different contributors have been working diligently over the past month in order to ensure that the June edition will be another exciting and informative and entertaining issue for all of us to read.
I encourage our entire Out-Of-Sight family to continue to be the concerned, caring and helpful individuals that you are which consistently makes Out-Of-Sight the place to be!
As always, any ideas to make the newsletter more interesting and relevant to our readers, send your suggestions to:
We traveled 820.6 miles north from Houston, Texas to Columbia, Missouri to shine the bright member spotlight on Dacia Luck. She tells me that this city is smack dab in the middle of Missouri. She was born and raised here.
Dacia made her arrival 3 ½ months early, and weighed in at 1 pound 13 ounces! I cannot even imagine that! She was born blind with the condition of (ROP) retinopathy of prematurity. She has light perception, and can see shadows.
She has an older sister. Dacia got the nickname Daisy from her sister. Her sister was unable to pronounce Dacia correctly. Instead of Dacia, it came out as Daisy, and so Daisy it was, and still is!
Dacia was mainstreamed during her education. She did not like braille. At first, she thought it was too difficult and that she would never learn it. Then a teacher of hers asked her How she would feel if she could read all by herself and not have to rely on her parents to read to her. Well, that was the motivation she needed, and now she loves to read in braille.
In 2008 Dacia graduated from Columbia College with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Elementary Education. She has, and is currently looking for a teaching position. As a former early childhood teacher myself, Dacia has the personality to be a fun, creative, patient, and great teacher of young students.
In the meantime, Dacia is actively involved with the National Federation of the Blind. She is the corresponding secretary of her local NFB chapter. She is currently working to implement the Braille Enrichment for Literacy and Learning (BELL) in her state.
Dacia enjoys hanging out with her family and friends in her free time. She also loves to watch her adorable niece and nephew. Dacia spends a lot of time with a love of hers, Sebastian, a 22 pound cat!
But, now on to what has been occupying most of Dacias time! Her wedding plans. About five years ago Dacia was reintroduced to a former high school friend. He was dating a mutual friend of theirs, but that did not work out. Awe, too bad! So, not doing much one night, Dacia asked him if he felt like hanging out. That a way Dacia! You go girl! Well, Dacia told me the date lasted till 3:00 AM in the morning. They were supposed to go to the movies, but nothing was playing that either liked. So they had pizza and talked. They started dating on 9 02 10. Did you notice the date...90210, Beverly Hills zip code. There was a connection that others noticed before either one of them did. After just two weeks of dating, people thought that they were either engaged or , married.
Justin Cole, Dacias fiancé, asked her dad for Dacias hand in marriage before popping the question. Of course, her father said yes. Dacia says that her entire family loves him, and thinks he is just right for her. So, Justin recreated their first date, and at the end he proposed to her.
Dacia and Justin will be getting married on the afternoon of June 14, which also happens to be his grandparent’s anniversary. Here are some details to the upcoming wedding. The women will be wearing royal blue dresses. The men will be wearing hunter green vests, not the uncomfortable cummerbunds. Due to many people in the wedding having allergies, Dacia has chosen to go with silk flowers. The bouquets will be made of roses, blue hydrangeas, and of course, daisies! Want to know where they are going for their honeymoon? Well, we will have to wait. Justin has planned that, and he is not giving Dacia any information, other than it is out of Missouri. Hmmm, that leaves it wide open Dacia.
Dacia first found out about Out of Sight from an ad she heard on RS Games. She has been an OOS member since March of last year. She still remembers that the first game she played was Zilch. She loved it then, and now, is hosting it on Fridays at 11:00 AM. She enjoys all the trivia games, and says it makes her think! What she likes most about OOS is the sense of community, where everyone looks out for each other.
I know that I speak for most when I say we all wish you and Justin a long and happy life together. Congratulations!
It is my fourth time participating in the Easter Seals 5K Walk With Me event. I am counting on your support. Your donation, big or little will help Easter Seals to continue to provide a variety of services to adults and children living with disabilities (including visually impaired/blindness).
As you know, I work for Easter Seals, but what you may not know is all the great services we provide.*Technological assistance
Out of every dollar Easter Seals spends, 89 cents goes directly to services for adults and children with disabilities.
Your gift is tax deductible, and it makes a real difference.Please click on the below link to be directed to my online page.
The Marrakech treaty six months on- many signatures, but not a single ratification.
Six months ago governments put aside their differences and agreed an historic, ground-breaking treaty to help us end the Quote. book famine End Quote. in which just a few percent of books are ever available in formats we can read. But this treaty must be ratified by at least 20 countries come into force, so that we can actually benefit from it. An un-ratified treaty is just a piece of paper.
Below is our plea to all the worlds governments to finish the job they started in Marrakech, and allow us to start the job of getting books to people who so badly need them.Dear governments of the world,
I am writing this open letter to you in my capacity as President of the World Blind Union, on behalf of all the worlds estimated 285 million blind and partially sighted people.
Blind and partially sighted people the world over suffer from a Quote. book famine, End Quote, in which only a few per cent of books are ever made in accessible formats we can read such as braille, large print or audio. One of the barriers to providing a greater number of books is outdated copyright law. Where a book has been published, but not in an accessible format, two thirds of the world’s countries do not have copyright laws that allow blind people and their organisations to make accessible format copies of such a book.
Further, if a blind persons organisation has made such a copy, duplication would be avoided and more books made available if it could send that copy to a similar organisation in another country. However, to date that has not been possible due to outdated copyright law.
The great news is that the Marrakech Treaty, which was agreed in June 2013, should remove these legal barriers.http://www.wipo.int/wipolex/en/wipo_treaties/details.jsp?treaty_id=843
The Treaty should increase the number of national copyright exceptions for blind people. It should also allow the sharing across international borders of accessible books.
This treaty is fundamental for the setting up and integration of accessible reading networks across the world.
However, for the Marrakech Treaty to actually help blind people, twenty countries need first to ratify it so that it can enter into force. Even then, only blind peoples organisations in countries which have ratified can share their accessible books. Therefore, for the Treaty to make a difference, a large number of countries from around the world must sign and ratify.
Our request to you now, on behalf of blind people everywhere, is for your country to lead by example. Please ratify the Treaty speedily, and use your diplomatic influence to urge others to do the same. In that way, we really can open a new chapter in the inclusion of blind and partially sighted people both in your country and across the globe.Yours faithfully,
Prime Minister Stephen Harper today announced the introduction of the Justice for Animals in Service Act (Quanto’s Law), legislation that would ensure that those who harm law enforcement, service and Canadian Armed Forces animals face serious consequences.
Our Government recognizes the special role that these animals play in protecting our communities and improving the quality of life of Canadians. The proposed legislation is aimed at denouncing and deterring the wilful harming of specially trained animals used to help law enforcement officers, persons with disabilities or the Canadian Armed Forces.
The introduction of this legislation fulfills a commitment made by our Government in the 2013 Speech from the Throne to recognize the daily risks taken by police officers and their service animals in their efforts to enforce the law and protect Canadians and communities. The legislation honours Quanto, a police dog who was stabbed to death while helping to apprehend a fleeing suspect in Edmonton, Alberta, in October 2013. Quanto had four years of decorated service and had participated in more than 100 arrests.Quick Facts
* The legislation proposes Criminal Code amendments that would create a new offence specifically prohibiting the injuring or killing of animals trained and being used to help law enforcement officers, persons with disabilities or theCanadian Armed Forces.
* Persons convicted of such an offence could face up to five years’ imprisonment, with a mandatory minimum sentence of six months in prison in cases where a law enforcement animal is killed while assisting a law enforcement officer in enforcing the law and the offence is prosecuted by indictment.
* If a law enforcement officer is assaulted or a law enforcement animal is injured or killed while on duty, the sentence for that offence would be served consecutively to any other sentence imposed on the offender arising out of the same event.
* The RCMP currently has 157 police service dogs in service across Canada: 135 are general duty profile dogs and 22 are detection profile dogs. They are used to help find lost persons, track criminals, and search for items such as narcotics, explosives and crime scene evidence. In addition to the RCMP, provincial and municipal police services across Canada have integrated police service dogs as part of their everyday service delivery in our communities.
* Canada Border Services Agency has 53 dog-and-handler teams that help to detect contraband drugs and firearms, undeclared currency, and food, plant and animal products.
* Correctional Services Canada uses dogs to help stop the flow of illicit drugs and contraband into federal correctional institutions. They have over 100 dog-and-handler teams across Canada.* The Justice for Animals in Service Act (Quanto’s Law) applies to law enforcement animals, service animals and Canadian Armed Forces animals. In practical terms, dogs would be the primary animals protected by this new legislation given they are the animals most often trained and used to assist law enforcement officers and persons with disabilities. However, horses are also used by some police forces. Also other kinds of animals can be trained as service animals to assist people with disabilities. They all would be protected under the Justice for Animals in Service Act (Quanto’s Law).
*The development of the Justice for Animals in Service Act (Quanto’s Law) is part of the Government’s Plan for Safe Streets and Communities. This Plan focuses on tackling crime, enhancing victims’ rights, and ensuring a fair and efficient justice system.Quotes
Quote, Quanto’s violent death is a powerful and sad reminder of the dangers that law enforcement animals often face in assisting officers to protect Canadians and communities. This legislation honours those faithful animals and emphasizes the special role that they play. Our Government is committed to ensuring that people who wilfully harm these animals face the full force of the law, end quote. – Prime Minister Stephen Harper
Quote, This legislation also recognizes the vital role that service animals, such as guide dogs, play in helping persons with disabilities benefit from a better quality of life and lead more independent lives. This sends the message that violence against service animals is unacceptable and those who commit such callous acts will pay the consequences, end quote. – Prime Minister Stephen Harper
A new adhesive gel could keep injured soldiers from losing their vision When soldiers or other people sustain eye injuries, retinal detachment and vision loss can result if the eye's vitreous gel isn't kept from leaking out. Given that BandAids cannot be placed directly on the eyeball, however, a team of scientists from the University of Southern California has created an alternative, reversible eye glue.
The solution is a polymer known as Poly(N-isopropylacrylamide), or pNIPAM. It stays in a non adhesive liquid state when cool, but becomes sticky and firm when warmed up by the body heat of the eye. This allows it to seal the wound while the patient is in transit, keeping the gel inside the eye.
Once the patient has reached a hospital, doctors simply apply a cool saline solution to the glue. This causes it to liquify again, so it can be harmlessly flushed out.
In tests performed on pig cadaver eyes, it was found to offer adhesion performance similar to that of cyanoacrylate, better-known as super glue ... which is definitely not something that should be applied to the eyes.
The USC scientists are presenting their research this week at the 2014 Annual Meeting of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology.
People who are blind or have vision disabilities could be the ultimate beneficiaries of a $421,125 grant awarded to Western Michigan University (WMU) researchers to improve the design and use of canes.
The grant, from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, was awarded to Drs. Dae Shik Kim and Robert Wall Emerson, associate professor and professor, respectively, of blindness and low vision studies, and Dr. Koorosh Naghshineh, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering. The research team will study how to improve the ergonomic design and cane-use biomechanics to see what has the greatest impact on detecting obstacles and drop-offs in the walking environment.
Kim, the project's principal investigator, says the long cane and how it is used was developed during the 1940s during World War II and has changed little since then, partly due to lack of research. Kim and his team hope to do something about that.
"Use of a long cane provides a preview of the environment, allowing people who are blind to detect drop-offs and obstacles on their walking paths," Kim says. Quote, Failure to detect drop-offs or obstacles may result in falls and consequent fall-induced injuries. But the current long cane design and cane-use biomechanics do not seem to be adequate to provide reliable protection from such hazards, end quote.
Researchers will test whether cane rigidity, length, weight and weight distribution impact the ability to detect obstacles and drop-offs. Part of that will involve experimenting with different materials. Kim says aluminum was initially a popular material for cane shafts. Manufacturers then introduced graphite and fiberglass shafts.
"But no empirical research has shown the advantages and disadvantages of using different cane shaft materials," Kim says. Quote, So one of the things we plan to do is systematically manipulate the rigidity, weight, weight distribution and length to see how those variables affect how well the person can detect drop-offs and obstacles, end quote.
How the cane is wielded is also a main focus of the three-year project, which began Feb. 1. The team will study employing the two-point touch technique, where the user lifts and taps the cane from side to side, bending at the wrist, and the constant contact technique, which keeps the cane tip in contact with the walking surface using a sweeping motion. Kim says the two-point touch technique may miss spots or shorter obstacles as the cane moves from side to side.
The study is actually a continuation of others Kim and his associates have conducted over the years. Kim decided to investigate canes and cane techniques after first noticing differences in the detection of obstacles and drop-offs with different cane techniques among his clients as an instructor at the Cleveland Sight Center. Since 2008, he has conducted a series of long cane studies with his colleagues at WMU.
In previous studies, Kim has experimented with different cane tips. Plain pencil-type tips can catch or snag in cracks and crevices, while "marshmallow" tips resembling the sweet snack, especially those equipped with a roller, can sweep more easily over a surface. Kim has found marshmallow roller tips are just as effective as marshmallow tips in detecting drop-offs.
Kim says the research has a wide application to the lives of those with vision disabilities.
"Some individuals with vision disabilities use a guide dog for their mobility," Kim says. Quote, But that is a relatively small percentage of individuals. The vast majority use the long cane to get around. So by redesigning and improving its design, and also improving how the cane is used, we hope to improve the safety of people who are blind, which will obviously improve their quality of life, end quote.
Retirement remains a major issue for Americans of all ages, especially as the baby boom generation leaves the workforce in large numbers and changes the country's economic landscape.
According to the Pew Research Center, about 26 percent of the total U.S. population were baby boomers as of 2011. And about 10,000 members of that group are reaching age 65 every day, between now and 2030. Along with ongoing concerns about not having enough money once they reach retirement age, a growing number of boomers are also looking for places where they can get the most value for their money once they do retire.
At the same time, a recent national survey of boomers reports 57 percent expect to move out of their current homes, while 70 percent expect the house they retire in will be the best home in which they have ever lived.
And while many people think of Florida and Arizona as among the best places to spend their golden years, new research from Bankrate.com (RATE) suggests some alternatives, when looking at states with the best quality of life for seniors.
Bankrate.com compiled a variety of statistics and scored all 50 states on factors such as crime rates, weather, healthcare, tax rates and overall cost of living. The top state for retirees? South Dakota, according to the personal finance site. It was followed by Colorado, Utah, North Dakota and Wyoming. The five states at the bottom of the list as places to retire: New York, West Virginia, Alaska, Arkansas and Hawaii.
quote, While the states that ranked highly may not be thought of as typical retiree havens, seniors should consider more than sunshine when choosing a place for their golden years, end quote, Bankrate analyst Chris Kahn said in a statement. quote, The Dakotas both ranked in our top 10 for the second year in a row due to their low cost of living, low crime rates, good health care quality, low taxes and excellent satisfaction scores from residents. end quote.
Kahn acknowledges that choosing an ideal retirement spot is a very personal decision, and that the Dakotas might not spring to everyones minds when first thinking of the best places to settle down as a senior.
Quote, "For some, the best place to retire is simply anywhere there's year round warmth and sunshine, end quote, he continued. quote, For others, it's where family and friends live. Retirees are best off deciding what factors matter most to them and checking the relevant statistics before making a final decision. end quote.
A portable toilet that can expand by four times the usual size to make life easier for people in wheelchairs, but can shrink for easy transportation, is this years winner of the Council of Ontario Universities (COU) annual Innovative Designs for Accessibility (IDeA) student competition.
The E-Paw, or Expandable Portable Accessible Washroom, designed by Carleton Universitys Jasmine Yeung, took the top prize in the IDeA competition in which Ontario university students compete to come up with inventions that help remove barriers for people with disabilities.
Quote. This expandable portable washroom is one of those wonderful inventions that will improve the quality of life for many people, End Quote, says Max Blouw, COU Chair and President of Wilfrid Laurier University.
The first runner-up was a team of Western University students that invented a sensor that emits a sound when swimmers with visual difficulties near the edge of a pool. Tied for second runner-up was a McMaster University student who created a mapping system that rates the accessibility of campuses, and a student from Carleton who created a wristband that vibrates to alert those with visual impairments that friends are nearby.
Quote. Ontario universities are committed to creating an accessible environment and to supporting the government’s goal in this area, End Quote, says Bonnie M. Patterson, COU President and CEO. Quote. We are teaching innovation on our campuses our graduates will take this knowledge with them wherever they go and make the world a better, more accessible, place.End Quote.
This year, 20 of Ontario’s 21 publicly assisted universities participated in the competition, which is funded by the Ontario government’s EnAbling Change program, through the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario in the Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Employment. Finalists included students from Brock, Carleton, Guelph, McMaster, Ryerson, Western and York. The winner and three runners-up will receive prizes of $1,500, $1,000 and $500 respectively.
COU is a membership organization of 21 publicly assisted universities in Ontario. It works closely with the provincial and federal governments to shape public policies that help universities deliver high-quality programs for students and advance the research and innovation that improves the social, cultural and economic well-being of Ontarians.
Start spreading the news: New Yorkers are not the most stressed residents in the United States. That title goes to Washington, D.C., according to realestate blog Movoto, which published its list of the 10 most stressed cities in the United States on Wednesday.
quote, For all the cracks about politicians never really working, it turns out that the more than 601,000 people who call D.C. home are putting in plenty of hours on the job, end quote, wrote Movatos Randy Nelson, who added that a lengthy average commuting time helped put the nations capital at the top of the list.
Movoto measured stress by creating a set of seven criteria it felt best captured the roots of stress for most people. They include commuting time, unemployment, high cost of living, crime, hours worked, population density and cost of rent.
New York City ranked number two on the most stressed list, followed by Miami, San Francisco and Jersey City.Here is their top 10 list:
For anyone who’s been a patient or a family member attending a loved one in hospital, the expectation — or at least the hope — is that doctors, nurses and other care providers are empathetic to what ails them and respectful of their needs.
But away from the bedside, perhaps in hallways or at nursing stations, there may be quick and quiet conferences among hospital staff that suggest they are anything but.
In his new book released Tuesday,The Secret Language of Doctors, Dr. Brian Goldman reveals a veritable dictionary of verbal shorthand used by many physicians, nurses and other health professionals to discuss — and often diss — various types of patients and even their own colleagues.
Patient-directed slang includes such terms as: “Yellow Submarine,” referring to an obese patient with cirrhosis of the liver; “frequent flyer” or “cockroach,” for a patient who repeatedly comes to the emergency department with one health complaint after another; and “status dramaticus,” used to describe patients who noisily magnify their symptoms to get quicker medical attention.
Despite its title and contents, Goldman maintains the book isn’t meant to be just about the jargon that medical personnel trade amongst themselves. Quote, It’s a book about what the language reveals about the culture of modern medicine and what’s inside the heads and hearts of physicians and allied health professionals, but also the problems that they face, the challenges end quote, he says.
Goldman, a longtime emergency medicine specialist at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, says disparaging slang used by some doctors and nurses often reflects the frustration they feel when faced with certain types of patients. For instance, bariatric patients, who could weigh anywhere from 400 to 800 pounds, can pose difficulties for health providers who don’t have size-appropriate stretchers or mechanized lifts to transfer obese patients from the bed to a surgical gurney. Quote, And I didn’t know until I spoke to surgeons how challenging it is to operate on a patient who is morbidly obese end quote, he says, explaining that it takes more time to get through layers of fat to reach an organ or other operating site, there are higher complication rates, and patients often need to recover in hospital longer.
Goldman, host of the CBC Radio program White Coat, Black Art, interviewed doctors and nurses across Canada and the United States for Secret Language. He found slang was often used about certain groups of patients — the economically disadvantaged, those with a psychiatric illness or addiction, the chronically ill, the frail elderly, and people with dementia. Quote, I was really surprised to hear that in some institutions that kind of slang still exists end quote, he says.
Still, Goldman admits he has favourites when it comes to medical argot. He thinks he may even have invented one term — dyscopia — referring to a patient or family member who has difficulty coping. Another one he learned during his research from an obstetrician is “caesarean-section consent form,” which is slang for a multi-page birth plan presented to birthing staff by a woman prior to delivery. Such a plan may comprise inclusion of the woman’s midwife or doula, certain music in the delivery suite, instruction that there be no epidural but all-natural child birth, and even no fetal heart monitoring.
“On the one hand, I should be outraged — it’s a terrible thing to say — but it reflects a certain truism,” he says. Quote, A birth plan is a misnomer, because you can’t plan everything that’s going to happen, end quote.
There is a movement afoot, called medical professionalism, that would try to stamp out the use of often-disparaging slang. But Goldman believes that would only send the patter — and the problems in the health-care system that it reflects — underground. While he concedes there may be some colleagues who will knock him for pulling back the curtain on doctors’ jargon, he hopes the book will spark discussion about how to fix the problems that generate the slang in the first place.
More than 700 printed pages, “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” is a very big book to convert into Braille. “The Joy of Cooking” is even bigger, topping out over 1,000 pages.
But never in its nearly 90-year history had the National Braille Press undertaken a project as large as the one it completed in 2011. Creating a Braille edition of the 1,600-page “New American Bible,’’ with its freshly approved revisions by the US Catholic Bishops Conference, was something else entirely.
It took nearly 4,500 two-sided zinc plates for the National Braille Press to make that Bible — each edition composed of 8,846 thick pages in 45 volumes.
Commissioned by New York’s Xavier Society for the Blind, the full run, destined for private homes, consisted of 150 copies.
To mark the occasion, a set was presented to Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican in 2011.
The nonprofit publisher, tucked away in Boston’s Fenway neighborhood, had never before drawn so much attention. Its current president, who had worked in the local business world for 25 years, had no idea of the organization’s existence before he was recruited a half-dozen years ago.
Upon completion of the massive Bible job, the NBP had the metal plates recycled. Though the company is located in a four-floor building big enough that it once housed a piano factory, storage of so many stamped plates would’ve been a major headache.
So NBP president Brian MacDonald could only shake his head and smile when the Xavier Society requested a second printing of 100 copies. The company would have to re-create the plates. Quote, We kick ourselves now, end quote he said recently, sizing up the last days of the monumentally labor-intensive, two-month-long print run for the Bible. This time, said Jackie Sheridan, vice president of production, they’re hoping to store the plates.
For the National Braille Press, facing challenges has become a way of life. Amid a decline in Braille literacy and shifts in technology, the company remains one of the oldest and largest printers for the blind in America.
Besides printing Braille editions of hundreds of titles available to the sighted, NBP specializes in publishing works written by blind authors for blind readers. Kim Charlson, director of the library at Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown, says NBP is one of the top five Braille presses in the country. Whereas Perkins itself produces about 200,000 pages of Braille a year, Quote, they’re doing in the millions of pages. They’re a major producer, end quote.
Given the methodical process of setting printing plates and the fact that Braille coding, with its cells of raised dots on heavier paper, takes up so much more space than the printed word, the percentage of books that get printed in Braille is Quote, a drop,” says Charlson. Of an estimated 300,000 books published annually in the United States, “we’re lucky if we can add 500 new braille titles to our collection every year, end quote.
Perkins had a distinct role in the founding of the National Braille Press. After losing his eyesight in a boyhood accident, Italian immigrant Francis Ierardi attended the school. Two decades later, he founded the Weekly News, a Braille newspaper, and the National Braille Press was born.
The NBP is well known in the blind community for its own Braille primer for parents of blind children, “Just Enough to Know Better.” For decades the company has published Our Special, a Good Housekeeping-style periodical for sightless homemakers.
In recent years, said MacDonald, they’ve moved into more lifestyle-oriented books, such as “Wine for Dummies” and books that provide useful knowledge such as how a sightless person can use her iPhone camera or Twitter. Last week, a long wooden table was stacked with pages from Quote, Froggy’s Day With Dad end quote, the next monthly release of the Children’s Braille Book Club, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary. Out front by the reception desk, visitors can thumb through copies of a Red Sox 2014 season schedule.
All told, the company has about 45 employees. Many are proofreaders whose painstaking tasks would perhaps rival those faced by the legendary copy editors and fact-checkers at The New Yorker magazine. In one dimly lit office room, four proofreaders sat quietly at their respective desks, each scanning Braille proof sheets with their fingertips. Filling the shelves of two bookcases were all 72 volumes of Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary. Most of the press’ revenue comes from various types of Braille material. The firm also raises about 30 percent of its operating budget through fund-raising, said MacDonald, a large chunk of which comes from its annual A Million Laughs for Literacy gala, headlined in recent years by comedians including Jay Leno, Lily Tomlin, and Dana Carvey.
Last fiscal year, the nonprofit posted nearly $4 million in operating revenue. In addition to its commissioned work, the company donates some of its materials to advocacy groups, many in Third World countries. Quote, Sometimes [the press sends] inventory that isn’t moving,” explained MacDonald. “They don’t ask for specific titles. They’re starving for material, end quote.
The Xavier Society paid about $1,400 per copy to produce The New American Bible, says Margaret O’Brien, the organization’s operations manager. The books are given away to families with a certified sightless person in the household.
“There was a waiting list of people who were interested” after the initial printing ran out, O’Brien said in an interview. “We have people all over the country, clients who’ve been with us for many years.” In June, the National Braille Press will be honored at the annual Xavier Awards dinner in New York.
The era of real cyborgs has begun. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave its first approval for the sale and marketing of a prosthetic arm that translates signals from a person’s muscles on Friday.
Informally known as the Quote. Luke End Quote. arm (a reference to Luke Skywalker’s robotic arm in Star Wars), the Deka Arm, which is controlled by electrical signals from electromyogram (EMG) electrodes connected to the wearers muscles, can now move from research experiment to full-fledged commercial product. That is right, bionic limbs are about to go mainstream.
Quote. The Deka Arm System may allow some people to perform more complex tasks than they can with current prostheses in a way that more closely resembles the natural motion of the arm, End Quote, said Christy Foreman, the director of the Office of Device Evaluation at the FDAs Center for Devices and Radiological Health in a statement.
In a demonstration released on Friday, Fred Downs, one of the recipients of the Deka Arm, is shown using the prosthetic hand to delicately pick up and move a carton of eggs. Like the devices nickname, the demonstration is indeed reminiscent of the dexterity exhibited by Luke Skywalkers robotic hand, a technology that was pure science fiction just a few decades ago, when the movie was first released.
The Deka Arms electrodes, which are attached to the muscles of the wearer, transmit signals to a processor in the prosthesis, which then interprets those signals and turns them into up to 10 distinct movements.
In yet another video, Downs is shown using the Deka Arm to open up a piece of mail, a seemingly simple demonstration that is nevertheless indicative of the device’s precision. And while the project was sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the U.S. Army Research Office, Dean Kamen, the inventor of the Segway, and his team at Deka Research were instrumental in its development, hence the name.
While the U.S. has become a safer place for workers since the Occupational Safety and Health Act became law more than 40 years ago, there is still work to be done as employees in some states and industries remain at higher risk for injury and death, according to a new report from the AFL-CIO.
According to the AFL-CIO, the most dangerous U.S. state for workers is North Dakota, which the report calls an exceptionally dangerous and deadly place to work. Its fatality rate, almost 18 deaths per 100,000 workers, is five times higher than the national average. It is also double the state's 2007 rate, when it stood at 7 deaths per 100,000 workers.
North Dakota's spike in workplace deaths illustrates the dark side of the state's booming energy industry, which has brought both high paying jobs and problems such as rising crime rates and homelessness, thanks to a lack of housing. The rising rate of workplace deaths suffered in the oil and gas industry was called unacceptable by Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez last year.
Quote, A particular focus is needed on the oil and gas industry, end quote, said Peg Seminario, director of safety and health for the AFL-CIO, on a conference call with reporters. Quote, With that industry growing and expanding, we have seen an expansion of fatalities not just in North Dakota, but in other states. It needs much more attention by employers, OSHA, and other state and federal agencies. end quote.
While workers in the oil and gas industry face higher risks overall, North Dakota's rate was far larger than that of other states with large energy industries. Texas, the country's top oil producing state, had a fatality rate of about 5 workers per 100,000 in 2012, for instance.
So what is driving North Dakota's spike in workplace deaths? It could be tied to inexperienced workers, as well as a lack of proper training from employers, given that the states energy industry is not as established as those in Texas and Oklahoma, Seminario said.
North Dakota was not alone in seeing a spike in workplace deaths in 2012, the most recent year for which there's data on fatalities and injuries while at work. Twenty-one states saw jumps in either the rate or the number of fatalities between 2011 to 2012, with New Hampshire posting an 83 percent rise, followed by North Dakota at 43 percent, and Vermont with a 35 percent increase.
Renewed activity from construction projects could be driving workplace fatalities higher in some states, Seminario said. Quote, The construction industry has a high fatality rate, end quote, she noted. quote, With that industry coming back from the recession, we have seen an increase in the numbers from that sector. end quote.
Still, the number of workplace deaths overall have declined since 1970, when the country registered about 13,800 on the job fatalities. In 2012, the number of deaths about one third of that, at about 4,600 fatalities.
While the Obama administration has stepped up enforcement and increased the number of OSHA inspectors, the AFL-CIO report called the efforts slow and disappointing, coming after what it described as eight years of neglect and inaction under the Bush administration.
The numbers of OSHA inspectors may not inspire confidence in some critics, given that there are fewer than 2,000 state and federal inspectors to review 8 million workplaces, or what the AFL-CIO says is one inspector for every 68,000 workers.
It is not just fatalities that are a problem for American workers, either. Occupational diseases and workplace injuries and violence continue to plague employees, the report noted. More than 3.8 million workers suffered from work related injuries and illnesses in 2012, which the union said is likely underreported and could be as high as 11.4 million employees.
Quote, The cost of these injuries and illnesses is enormous, estimated at $250 billion to $330 billion a year, end quote, the report said.
Violence and assaults impacts women while on the job more than men, with female workers suffering two thirds of all such injuries, the report noted. Some of those female workers are victims of assault by healthcare patients or social work clients.
Quote, Workplace violence is the second leading cause of workplace death in the country, end quote, Seminario said. Quote, Injuries are coming from patients and clients. quote, You do not have the staffing or resources in some institutions, such as psychiatric hospitals, to protect workers, end quote, she added. quote, It is a growing issue, particularly for women. end quote.
Blindfold Racer was created for blind and visually impaired folks with help from the students in the app club at Cushman School, Miami FL. Thanks to the students at Lighthouse for the Blind Miami and Broward, and the veterans at the VA Med Center for their suggestions. And thanks to the dozens of children and adults that told us that Blindfold Racer is a great game for everyone.
This game does not require iPhone or iPad accessibility turned on, and everything in the game is spoken to you.App Details:
Beyond being really fun, the game helps with auditory processing and can serve as a rehabilitative tool for the newly blind.You can download BlindFold Racer for free here:
For years, advocates have been trying to make mainstream television more accessible to the visually impaired. TalkingFlix may be on the verge of doing just that.Coming soon to a TV near you…
We’ve all been there: you’re hanging out with friends when the conversation suddenly turns to the latest episode of House of Cards or the recent Jennifer Lawrence blockbuster. You haven’t seen this particular television show or film, so for the next fifteen minutes, while your friends dissect the plot and recount that hilarious moment, you’re left finding creative ways to stir your coffee.
Television shows and movies constitute an enormous part of our culture, and not being in on the story can feel isolating. This is especially true for people with visual impairments. Sure, the blind and visually impaired can listen to a movie or television show, but so much of what happens in the story from a character’s subtle glance to a car exploding is visual.
Crossway Media Solutions is an online entertainment service working to make films and television shows more accessible for people with disabilities. This year, the company will launch TalkingFlix, the first audio-described, on-demand entertainment service for those with visual impairments.
Quote, Our main goal end quote, TalkingFlix head of content Ellen Pittleman tells The Week, Quote, is accessibility. We want to help sighted and non-sighted populations have a shared social experience, end quote.
According to Pittleman, who was a Paramount executive before joining TalkingFlix, broadcast networks for years have been making audio tracks that describe programming visuals. In April 2002, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) began requiring major networks to provide 50 hours of described programming per quarter. Disability advocates saw this new legislation as an opportunity to approach film studios and encourage them to provide this service as well. They quickly realized that the cost of creating these tracks was difficult to justify. Quote, We were just about to release Titanic when I was at Paramount and we were approached, end quote, Pittleman explains. Quote, It was an important move for the studio to participate in providing this service because Titanic was to be our biggest DVD release ever. Unfortunately, in retrospect we found that the cost of creating these tracks was often not being recovered by the sales, end quote.
Most DVDs don’t include an audio menu, and movie theaters and streaming services are often set up for audio-described content. As a result, it didn’t make sense for studios to invest the time or money into making these tracks available. Now, Pittleman is in the process of working with these production companies to recover some of those old tracks from studio libraries, while giving content providers a market for creating such tracks. By bridging the gap between studios and consumers, TalkingFlix aims to offer hundreds of popular titles that customers will be able to access on their televisions or mobile devices.
The idea behind TalkingFlix has a long backstory. The company’s CEO, David Timar, is not blind, but is visually impaired and has close ties to the blind community. He built a career in the tech world, but he’s no stranger to the film industry. His father, Peter Timar, is a well-known Hungarian director and tireless advocate for media accessibility.
Quote, Growing up, end quote, David Timar tells The Week, Quote, I realized the problem my father was trying to solve was not a local problem, but a global one… My dad’s work with [the visually impaired] community help me understand the need, end quote. Timar came up with the idea to market audio-described tracks years ago, but the project only took off last year when an investor encouraged Timar to apply for seed funding.
Finding a consumer base should not be a problem. According to the FCC, there are approximately 25 million Americans and 289 million people worldwide with visual impairments. The bigger obstacle and the reason many companies have failed to tap into this niche market involves getting investors and the studios to sign up. Quote, The biggest challenge, Timar says, is telling investors we are going to get the content and being able to strike a deal with studios based on an unprecedented market. It’s a back-and-forth game, end quote.
TalkingFlix is in the process of closing its first deal, and if it succeeds, it will be the first company to overcome this hurdle, gaining access to a pool of consumers that even bigger names like Netflix and Hulu haven’t reached. The program plans to launch later this year, but you can sign up for the service now at the link below.
Gearing up for the launch, Timar and his team have several goals. In the first year, they hope to grow the library and make TalkingFlix available to the English-speaking world as soon as possible. Long term, Timar says he wants to make audio-described content available to Spanish-speaking countries, India, and China.
Eventually, Timar says, I would like TalkingFlix to be a household item worldwide.Check it out at:
this is the first time that the blind have had OCR built into a digital book player.
Blaze EZ, a new device available from Austin, Texas-based HIMS Inc. is likely to become a favorite among those with visual impairments. Those who are blind now have independent and fast access to printed materials from a digital book reader without the need for a laptop, camera, scanner or personal assistance from a relative or friend. This new device, aptly described by its makers as a ‘multi-player’ is about the size of a deck of cards, and in addition to OCR text-to-speech access to printed text has the capability to read and/or play a host of digital document and media formats including eBooks, DAISY books, Word documents and PDF files, music, internet radio and more.
This new device was announced just this spring at the CSUN International Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference in San Diego, California yet already the Internet and assistive technology (AT) community are buzzing with anticipation. Teachers of the visually impaired (TVI’s) and occupational therapists (OT’s) have been very vocal about their excitement about what this could mean for their students and clients. Students will now be able to listen to their textbooks in DAISY and other digital formats, and then take their Blaze EZ into the library for instant access to printed text with the touch of just a single button. Professionals can scan and sort mail, review interoffice memos and even browse an Applebee’s menu independently while at lunch with their coworkers.
Blaze EZ features high-quality stereo speakers for high quality audio output and a built-in microphone for recording school lectures or business meetings. Built-in Wi-Fi adds easy access to podcasts, internet radio and downloadable content such as DAISY and eBooks. An FM radio and talking clock round out the features of this tiny yet powerful device for the blind.
HIMS Inc. Education Business Development Manager, Dave Wilkinson, who is blind himself shared Independent access to printed text while away from a personal computer, is something that very few devices have been able to do really well and this is the first time that the blind have had OCR built into a digital book player. Apps for iPhone and Android devices have claimed to have this ability but anyone who’s blind who has tried them knows that it’s just not an optimal solution. Blaze EZ delivers an excellent result in a variety of lighting and environmental settings - even when the document itself is upside down or sideways!
Blaze EZ, introductorily priced at $695, includes a ten-hour rechargeable battery and is expected to begin shipping in late June 2014.To learn more about HIMS and their full line of products for those with low vision or who are blind, please visit their website at:
London-based firm OwnFone has released what it says is the world's first Braille phone.
The front and back of the phone is constructed using 3D printing techniques and can be customised. Other companies have designed Braille phones in the past, but OwnFone says its device is the first of its kind to go on sale.
For those who can't read Braille, the company can print raised text on the keypad. The phone, currently only available in the UK, retails for £60 and according to its inventor Tom Sunderland, 3D printing the front and back of the device helped to keep the costs down.3D printing... provides a fast and cost-effective way to create personalised Braille buttons, he says. The device is designed to provide an instant connection between blind users and their friends and family.
In 2012, OwnFone launched what was one of the world's first partially 3D printed phones. A year later, the company developed a special child-friendly version called 1stFone, a credit-card sized device with programmable buttons for crucial contacts. OwnFone's new Braille phone is based on these previous two devices, keeping its small form factor and colourful design.
Quote, The phone can be personalised with two or four Braille buttons which are pre-programmed to call friends, family, carers or the emergency services, end quote. Mr. Sunderland told the BBC. Quote, This is the first phone to have a 3D printed keypad and for people that can't read Braille, we can print texture and raised text on the phone. Our 3D phone printing process is patent pending, end quote.
Those who wish to buy the phone can create a custom design on the company's website. However, at £60 it's the most expensive of the three available options, with their previous models selling for £40 and £50.
While this may be the first Braille phone available to consumers, the idea is not an original one. India-based start-up Kriyate built a prototype Braille-enabled smartphone in 2013, featuring a repressible Braille display and feedback controls (known as haptic touch) that beep or vibrate after receiving certain commands.
Some visually impaired users of mobile phones may not see the need for this device however, with features such as Apple's VoiceOver becoming more sophisticated. VoiceOver is a "screenreader" that allows users to navigate their phone using gesture-based controls. There are also a number of apps on both the Apple Store and Google Play that allow for an easier reading experience for the visually impaired.
Hello everybody, this month I thought I would offer some info on mindful living.
Life can be a challenge. There are times when we can get frustrated, fearful and depressed.
I have found that most of us do the same thing when things go bad in our life. We expect things to turn out great with no effort from ourselves.
If we change how we react, we can often change the outcome but it takes practice and learning how to be more mindful will help.
The internet is full of information on mindful living and I would start with the following 3 Questions.
ToMindfulness is a hot topic in Western psychology, increasingly recognised as an effective way to reduce stress, increase self awareness, enhance emotional intelligence, and effectively handle painful thoughts and feelings.
Although mindfulness has only recently been embraced by Western psychology, it is an ancient practice found in a wide range of Eastern philosophies, including Buddhism, Taoism and Yoga. Mindfulness involves consciously bringing awareness to your here and now experience with openness, interest, and receptiveness. Jon Kabat-Zinn, a world authority on the use of mindfulness training in the management of clinical problems, defines it as: Quote, Paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non judgmentally. end quote.
Mindfulness is about waking up, connecting with ourselves, and appreciating the fullness of each moment of life. Kabat-Zinn calls it, Quote, The art of conscious living. end quote. It is a profound way to enhance psychological and emotional resilience, and increase life satisfaction.Definitions of Mindfulness:
Quote, Bringing ones complete attention to the present experience on a moment to moment basis. end quote. (Marlatt & Kristeller)
Quote, Paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non judgmentally, end quote, (Kabat-Zinn).
Quote, Consciously bringing awareness to your here and now experience, with openness, interest and receptiveness. end quote. (The Happiness Trap)
Be the change you want to see, make one healthy mindful choice at a time.If you have any questions for Lawrence, or would like a certain topic covered, please write to:
Thanks so much for everyone who filled out our survey and for those who submitted a comment. Remember that all submissions are anonymous and comments are optional. Judging on how many people responded to the survey, I can see that you like the new format, that is, going to an accessible form online to select either Yes or No. Cool, simple always works and I will stick to this new format for subsequent surveys.
First off, let me remind you about the Survey question from last month and I will give you the results. Be sure to keep reading on to get the Survey Question for June. As always, results will be published in the next newsletter.Survey Question from May:
In light of Malaysian Flight 370 missing since March 8th, will you think twice about airline travel? Its disappearance launched the worlds most thorough investigation, including teams from right around the world, and nothing yet has been discovered.Results: Yes 27.78%, No 72.22%
Personally, I would have thought that the majority of respondants would have voted yes, but, I am glad that these things do not sway or scare you from airline travel. Here are some of the comments people submitted.Comments:
Thanks again for everyone who participated in the survey and thanks for all the comments. Now, here is this months survey question:
In Nigeria, Muslem extremists kidnapped over 300 girls on April 14th from their school dormitory. 53 of those girls have since escaped despite great risks. Assistance from many of the worlds countries to find the girls was offered to Nigeria, yet, to date, the girls are still held captive. The terrorist group is opposed to girls getting an education. So, if you were kidnapped in similar circumstances, would you try to escape? Please vote Yes or No. It is understood that the girls who escaped had a tremendous amount of courage while facing such a danger to their lives.Please go to the following website to place your vote:
That banana you are eating is actually a herb. Did you know that bananas are technically a herb? Many people have no idea that bananas are technically both a herb and a fruit, grown on a banana plant not a tree. Here are some more weird fruit facts you probably didn’t know.
The Oxford Dictionary defines fruit as being developed from the ovary of a flowering plant, containing the seed of the flower. The term ‘vegetable’ refers to the edible parts of plants, such as the roots, stems and leaves (think potatoes, celery and lettuce) and which are not strictly the fruit of the plant from which they come.These common veggies are actually fruit:
Guys are constantly talking about a so-called man card. What is it and why do guys even need one?Sincerely,
Anytime a guy does something that is understood to be unmanly by his peers, he is said to jeopardize losing his man card. Guys have it because they, I guess, forget that they are men. They have an awful memory problem, always forgetting to get you flowers on Valentines Day, forgetting your birthday, and of course, forgetting your anniversary. So, the man card is a printed record to remind them of who they are. It is a crock of bull! As women, they need to take a page out of our play book because we are totally sure of ourselves, and we do not need a piece of paper to boost us up. No, not paper, but, only plastic so lets go shopping girls!Insincerely,
It is getting that time of year when I will need to book time off for a vacation. Yet, it is so busy at work and I really do not want to go on a vacation anyways but my old lady keeps hounding me to book the time off. Where do you think we should go to?Sincerely,
OK, so you are a busy body, making dough for your honey to buy her lots and lots of jewels. Good boy! So, stay home and let her live it up with the girlfriends as they go on vacation together. Keep your dumpy self and attitude at home, yet, do not come crying to me when Dexter is dancing with your girl on a tropical beach, showing her around town as they have fun together because you are such a party pooper!Insincerely,
Thank you to everyone who submitted answers to last months brain teasers. Many of you were very close, but close only counts in horseshoes! Congratulations to Debbie Granger for answering both brainteasers correctly!
In case you missed them, here are the May brain teasers and their answers:1. There is a man on an island prison. He cannot swim. One day he escapes using nothing but himself. There is no bridge. How did he do it?