It’s Not Too Late

You can still register for this year’s Trolley Run!  Come join us as we support the Children’s Center for the Visually Impaired this coming Sunday, April 27th, for the 26th Annual Trolley Run.  Did we mention that everyone who registers–even as a couch potato–is entered to win a brand new car? 

No, it’s not a self-driving car, but it would make a lovely donation to the NFB if you won and weren’t able to drive it, would it not?

1620762_10201447192802125_1352203348_n[1]You can learn more about CCVI here:

You can learn about and register for this year’s Trolley Run here:

We hope to see you on Sunday!!



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The Ewing and Muriel Kauffman Memorial Garden

Location: 4800 Rockhill Road, Kansas City, MO.  The garden is at the back of Theis Park, across from the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.

Cost: Free!

Web site:

imageWhen we think of gardens, we think of vegetables and visual delights.  We think of plants we can eat and flowers we can admire.  We don’t always realize that there are wonders in a garden that don’t require eyesight to be appreciated.

The Ewing and Muriel Kauffman Memorial Garden is an excellent example of a garden that delights the senses.  There is the sound of several fountains; the texture of the brick pathways, the cool water if one reaches into the pool, the textures of the plants themselves; the rich scent of the blooming flowers.  The smell of the flowers, assuming they survived our recent snow (!), is reason alone to visit:  I have never encountered an open space as rich with the scent of flowers as the Ewing and Muriel Kauffman Memorial Garden was this past Saturday.

The garden includes an orangery, or greenhouse.  It’s air conditioned, which was lovely as a break from the heat on Saturday, and I assume it’s heated as well, making it a worthwhile visit even if the weather turns nasty.  The flowers here were stunning in their brightness:  I was amazed with the bright blue of the hydrangeas and the yellow of the daffodils.

The Ewing and Muriel Kauffman Memorial Garden is a small but beautiful formal garden.  If you are in the area, it is definitely worth checking out, regardless of how well you see.


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NFB Free Slate Program

From the April 2014 Imagineering Our Future :

Do you need a new slate and stylus?  Are you learning Braille and need to practice writing?  Are your old labels looking a little shabby?  We have the answer!

The NFB has started a new program whereby you can receive a free 4-line, 28-cell, Whozit metal slate and a round plastic stylus.  The slate and stylus is the only device you can fit into your pocket/purse to take down notes, phone numbers, and the names of people you meet as readily as a person using a pen and paper.  We believe Braille is vital to all blind individuals and should be available in every facet of a blind person’s life.  You can order your free slate by visiting  If you have questions, please e-mail us at   

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Jacobus tenBroek Disability Law Symposium, “Disability Rights in the 21st Century: Creative Solutions for Achieving the Right to Live in the World

From the April 2014 Imagineering Our Future :

The seventh annual Jacobus tenBroek Disability Law Symposium, “Disability Rights in the 21st Century: Creative Solutions for Achieving the Right to Live in the World,” will take place at the Jernigan Institute on April 24-25, 2014. This year’s symposium will examine cutting-edge strategies and arguments developed by disability rights advocates to achieve Dr. tenBroek’s vision of equality of opportunity. Highlighting the 2014 symposium will be theme keynote speakers Jenny Hatch and Jonathan Martinis who will talk about “Justice for Jenny,” the landmark case in which Ms. Hatch won the right to make her own decisions through supported decision-making, rather than being forced into a guardianship that she did not want and that would make all decisions for her. The luncheon keynote will be given by Catherine Lhamon, assistant secretary, Office for Civil Rights, United States Department of Education. With a format that includes workshops in addition to plenary sessions, the 2014 symposium will provide disability rights advocates opportunities for discussion, collaboration, and networking. The symposium agenda, link to online registration, and information about sponsorship opportunities can be found at

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Help the NFB Find Its New Song

From the mailbag:

Glory, Glory, Federation; Our Cause Goes Marching On

Since 1969, “The Battle Song of the NFB,” or “Glory Glory Federation,” as its most popularly known among Federationists, has been our battle cry from the convention hall to the picket line. Now, on the cusp of our seventy-fifth anniversary, the National Federation of the Blind is launching a contest to discover a new NFB song! The goal is to find a song that encompasses our history while at the same time embracing  the bright future that lies ahead.  The exciting part is that you have the opportunity to be a part of it!

What: The new NFB Song Contest
When: March 1 through July 13, 2014
How: Send us a simple recording of yourself, or with a group, performing a new song that could potentially be used as the NFB’s new battle song. Submissions must be received at no later than July 13 to be considered. The song must be original, no copyright infringement permitted. The finalists will then be voted upon by our membership to determine the winning song, details on that to come!

In addition to having the opportunity to impact the history of the Federation, the person that submits the winning song will receive a complimentary registration and banquet ticket for our seventy-fifth anniversary to be held in July 2015, as well as have the lyrics to the winning song printed on the anniversary convention program.

Help us show the world that with love, hope, and determination, we transform dreams into reality!

If you have any questions about the contest, please feel free to contact the chairman of our song committee, Gabe Cazares, at  The new federation song contest is an effort of the 75th NFB Anniversary Committee with support from the Performing Arts Division of the NFB.
Jordy Stringer, President
NFB Performing Arts Division

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75 Years of Oz, Oh My!

Location: The bottom floor of Crown Center by the Coterie Theater. Crown Center is at 2450 Grand Boulevard in Kansas City, Missouri.

Cost: Free! They can validate parking for the parking garage, too.

Web site:

If you are a fan of The Wizard of Oz and want your little one to be a fan, you must check out the current exhibit at Crown Center, 75 Years of Oz, Oh My!  The designers and builders have outdone themselves, making it so every major location from the movie is available to be climbed on, admired and explored.

The entrance to the exhibit.

The entrance to the exhibit.

The entrance to the exhibit is designed to look like Dorothy’s farm house.  There’s even a mailbox with “Auntie Em” written on it at the right that you can open and check for mail.

Once you enter the exhibit, you’ll find the farmhouse at your left.  You can push a button to make the cyclone whirl and the wicked witch circle it on her bicycle–this was hard for me to see as a sighted adult, so it would be a challenge for anyone with a vision impairment.  There is a spot where the Wicked Witch of the East’s legs and ruby slippers peek out, but it’s roped off so you can’t actually touch it.

Sprout forgoes the yellow brick road to wade through the "river" in Munchkinland.

Sprout forgoes the yellow brick road to wade through the “river” in Munchkinland.

Munchkinland, with the yellow brick road in the background.

Munchkinland, with the yellow brick road in the background.

The space immediately ahead of you is a brightly-rendered munchkin land.  There are two houses that children can climb into; Sprout thought these were delightful.  There is also the bright gold yellow-brick road, and the river through Munchkinland is represented with small green lillypads.  The river and bridge are a good depth/flooring challenge:  there is a step down into the river, and the river is covered with blue carpet rather than smooth floor like the rest of the exhibit.  The lillypads are slightly raised, so you could have a cane user sweep to find the pads if you liked.  The bridge is curved, so you get to feel the elevation of the floor change beneath you.

The Scarecrow and the Tin Man.

The Scarecrow and the Tin Man.

Follow the Yellow Brick Road past Munchkinland, and you’ll find three enormous cut-outs of the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion.  Here, as in many other spaces in the exhibit, pushing a bright red button will play a sound clip from the famous film.  Sprout loved pushing the button and singing along to “We’re Off to See the Wizard!”

To your right, you’ll find the Emerald City.  Inside, there’s a slide, several stairs, and the Wizard of Oz himself.  The buttons here activate the Wizard’s eyes–you can make them flash on and off–and, of course, the voice of “OZ, the GREAT and POWERFUL!.”

Oz, the Great and Powerful

Oz, the Great and Powerful

Sprout, frankly, was terrified.  I sat with her and Peanut on the steps to show them the Wizard–Peanut would not have noticed it, or several of the other exhibit features behind Plexiglas, if I had not pointed them out–and pushed the buttons for them.

Peanut and Sprout play in the control room.

Peanut and Sprout play in the control room.

I calmed Sprout down by explaining that there was a control panel behind the curtain–and, when I’d showed her the controls on the other side of the wall, it became one of her favorite places to play in the exhibit.

Peanut and Sprout head into the witch's castle.

Peanut and Sprout head into the witch’s castle.

Next to the Emerald City is the castle of the Wicked Witch of the West.  There’s a bit of a maze in the castle for kids to find their way through, and another flooring challenge in the form of a soft foam mat that lines the bottom of one of the hallways.  The main room has an electric globe–one of the ones where, when you touch it, the “lightening” inside is attracted to your fingers, cut outs of three flying monkeys, and a model broom that you can climb on to “ride.”  There’s also a Wicked Witch of the West, again behind Plexiglas, who’s held up by wind.  One button will get her to scream, “I’m melting!,” and the other will cut off the wind and make her actually “melt.”  This was Peanut’s favorite part of the exhibit.

Sprout on the uneven stairs out of the Wicked Witch's castle.

Sprout on the uneven stairs out of the Wicked Witch’s castle.

There’s another flooring challenge to get out of the castle:  the steps are dark gray and aren’t standard-sized.  It took Peanut and Sprout both a few tries to master them.


Peanut, next to the last slide.

Peanut, next to the last slide.

After you exit the Witch’s Castle into the spooky woods, you’ll find a model hot air balloon and a big slide.  The slide is your way “home”:  when you hit the bottom, your feet will land on two ruby slippers painted on the floor.  The slide was a huge hit with both of my kiddos.

The exhibit has a wall of Oz memorabilia and, as always a big table with Oz-related books for parents and children to read.

There are lots and lots of sound elements from the movie to interact with, and the exhibit is really nicely designed.  While both Peanut and Sprout loved their time in Oz, I think it’s an exhibit that’s more fun if you have at least some usable vision:  there really aren’t tactile elements to make the exhibit fun for children who cannot see.  An involved parent could make it work, though:  the spaces in the “buildings” are big enough for a parent to climb through with their child.  You could definitely give the sense of a journey, and some of the sense of size, with going through the exhibit, and you could bring in elements from the movie with the different sound buttons.  For a totally blind child, it may be better to watch the movie first, then go to the exhibit to enhance that experience, rather than the other way around.


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BISM Seeks Summer Employees

From the mailbag:

Blind Industries and Services of Maryland (BISM) is accepting applications for our Work to Independence and Independence 101 summer staff positions!  We are looking for confident and independent blind individuals who exhibit leadership qualities and enthusiasm.  If you fit this description, please consider becoming a staff at one of our summer programs!

Work to Independence
Staff dates: June 14 – August 10, 2014
The purpose of this program is for blind and low vision high school students to develop the life skills and confidence necessary to smoothly transition from high school to college, vocational training, or employment.

Independence 101
Staff dates: July 14 – August 8, 2014
This three-week comprehensive life skills program is designed for blind and low vision middle school students to focus on building confidence.

For more information on these summer programs, please visit our website at

All interested applicants must have great blindness skills, especially in the fields of cane travel, braille, technology, and independent living.  Staff should also be comfortable with instructing or working with students in two or more of these areas.  Lastly, staff must be able to reside with students on a college campus for the entire duration of the program (excluding days/nights off).

If you are interested in applying, please send your resume to Melissa Lomax at or Sarah Baebler at  Please contact us with any questions you may have!

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Onkyo Braille Essay Contest

From the mailbag:


The Onkyo Corporation is again sponsoring a braille essay contest for
people of all ages.  Contest winners receive cash prizes valued from
$500 to $2,000. The link for full information and application for the
contest is below, but here are the basics.  Please help us spread the word!

Onkyo Braille Essay Contest
Sponsored by Onkyo Corporation
and The Braille Mainichi

The Onkyo Braille essay contest is being administered by the National
Federation of the Blind (NFB) on behalf of the North
America-Caribbean Region of the World Blind Union.

Essays must be written by contest participants, in English or their
native language, in Braille on paper, and must be completely original
in nature. Participants are also asked to submit their essays in
electronic format.  Entries should be no fewer than 800 words and no
more than 1,000 words in length.  There will be two groups of
competitors-one Junior group, aged 25 and under; and one Senior
group, aged 26 and up, and prizes range from $500-$2,000.

All essays must be received by April 30, 2014. In the US, they should
be sent to the NFB, and in Canada, they should be sent to Braille
Literacy Canada; the contacts are listed on the application.

Essay topics:
1. How do you acquire knowledge and information through Braille or
audio devices? (Illustrate with some interesting personal stories/episodes.)

2. How can blind persons become independent by learning Braille or music?

3. Individual concept about world peace from the viewpoint of persons
with disabilities.

Visit for more
information and an application.  The application is also attached
here, in PDF and BRF format. Note that the BRF is in Unified English Braille.

Please use the following contacts if you have questions:
in the US: Trisha Tatam at
In Canada: Jen Goulden at

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Unified English Braille Workshop – Louisiana

From the mailbag:

Save the Date:

What:                    Unified English Braille Workshop
When:                  Friday, May 16, 2014, at 1:00 p.m.­5:00 p.m.
Saturday, May 17, 2014 at 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Where:                  The Louisiana Center for the Blind, 101 South Trenton Street, Ruston
Teachers, instructors, consumers, and all those whose work involves the teaching, production, and/or use of braille are aware that the United States has adopted the Unified English Braille code by January 4, 2016 as the standard code for literacy.
The purpose of this workshop will be to familiarize participants with the changes to the braille code introduced by UEB, and to provide hands-on training in order to provide a solid working knowledge of Unified English Braille. Information will also be presented on the new National Certification in Unified English Braille (NCUEB) which will be available later this year.
Cost:      Participation in the workshop is $50 for professionals and free to consumers and students. Continuing Learning Units (CLU) will be provided to workshop participants.
For more information, contact Edward Bell at or 318-257-4554 .

Housing may be available on a limited basis. Contact Eric Guillory for details: Or 318-251-2891 .

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Learn to Read Braille in 3 Days at NBA’s 2014 Conference

From the mailbag:


Seems impossible but it’s true. Learn to read braille by sight in just  3 days. This is an amazing opportunity for anyone who is involved in the blind and visually impaired community in any way:
* Educators, family and friends will gain the knowledge and tools necessary to support the braille readers in their lives.
* Literary Braille Instructors will learn a different approach to teaching braille and will have a wealth of reference material to use with their own students.
* Transcribers will have the opportunity to brush up on their proofreading skills.
* For anyone interested in becoming a braille transcriber or just wanting to learn more about braille, attend all three days, or take advantage of the special one-day registration.
Whether you’ve never seen a braille dot in your life or you have been reading or transcribing braille for years, you will benefit from this amazing opportunity. Gaeir Dietrich will be presenting her “Braille Boot Camp” at NBA’s Conference, May 1-3 in Cleveland, Ohio. For more information and conference registration please go to the National Braille Association’s website at:

Spread the word! Let’s fill the room! Hope to see you there!

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