Saturday, November 29, 2008

Make shopping easier for the visually impaired simply by using courtesy

Phil Pangrazio, executive director of Arizona Bridge to Independent Living, submitted this article.
While the holidays bring a lot of joy, they also bring pressure to get more done in a shorter period of time. Additional errands, shopping and appointments challenge us all to become masters of time management.

After battling traffic and repeatedly circling the parking lot, moving farther and farther from your destination, it may be tempting to take that accessible handicap spot. "I'll just be a minute, so it won't matter much. It's only for a minute, after all." Has this ever crossed your mind? Just for a minute?

Consider this: Aside from the risk of getting a hefty ticket for illegal use of these parking spaces, there's an even more compelling reason to preserve these spots. Knowing the hassles holiday shopping brings for the average American, think about the millions of Americans with disabilities who shop alongside them. Arizona has the largest population in the nation of adults with disabilities: 20 percent. And, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has a set of guidelines for retailers to abide by. It's important for consumers to know and respect these guidelines. The following are highlights of these guidelines.

• Accessibility. The ADA requires stores that own and operate parking lots to provide accessible parking. These spaces are reserved for people with disabilities who display the appropriate license plate or mirror tag. Stores controlling the sidewalk outside their stores also must provide curb ramps, if easily achievable. Mobility in the store also is essential. Many barriers to accessibility are overlooked and could be as simple as merchandise displays that block an aisle or doorway.

• Elevators. Elevator etiquette is simple. Escalators and stairs are for able-bodied individuals. Elevators should be reserved for those requiring their use. According to "Elevators and the ADA," a report prepared by John F. Mundt Jr., Sterling Elevator Consultants, LLC, stores should install raised letters and Braille on the control panels and outside the doors for customers who are visually impaired. The ADA also requires retailers to adjust door timers to allow adequate time to enter and exit an elevator. When elevators are not necessary, but stairs are present, ramps should be made available.

• Amenities. The ADA requires stores to have accessible facilities such as drinking fountains, dressing rooms and restrooms when easily achievable. This does not ensure they will always be available to people with disabilities. It's important, for example, to forgo using the accessible dressing room simply because it allows an able-bodied individual more room to dress. Please show appropriate consideration and reserve those facilities for people who need them.

• Communication. This needs to be considered when effectively communicating with a person with a disability. For instance, writing on a notepad to converse with a person who is hearing impaired, or reading signs to a person who is visually impaired, are simple accommodations.
Other simple solutions to make shopping accessible for all consumers, according to the Americans with Disabilities Fact Sheet Series, include:

• Placing lightweight items on higher shelves and heavier items on lower shelves. Aware and helpful sales clerks can also offer assistance in reaching items.

• Providing temporary storage areas for items selected by people who cannot use shopping carts, as it may be necessary for many of these individuals to make several trips to the checkout counter to complete their purchases.

• Using color-coded pictorial maps showing what and where products are sold in the store, and hanging a sign with a large question mark over customer service areas. These can be a benefit to people with cognitive disabilities.

The more accessible a store is, the easier shopping is for individuals with disabilities and their fellow shoppers. Awareness is key to accessible holiday shopping.

For more information on accessibility issues, please visit Arizona Bridge to Independent Living at

Established in 1981, ABIL advocates personal responsibility - by, and for, people with disabilities - as a means to independence. ABIL can be found on the Web at or by telephone at 800-280-2245.

Visually impaired students made some Christmas cards

Visual Impairment and Blindness Services of Bethlehem created its cards from the designs of four visually impaired students who attended a summer camp at the Greater Wilkes-Barre Association for the Blind. The cards cost $10 for 12 cards with three of each design and benefit programs and services for blind and visually impaired residents of Northampton and Monroe Counties.

Designs are ''The Christmas Tree,'' by Becca Trebat-Leder, 12, Bethlehem; '' Santa Claus,'' by Emily Wollum, 7, Bethlehem; ''Christmas Cadillac,'' by Warren Kolc, 14, Wilkes-Barre, and ''The Night Before Christmas,'' by Sierra Frantz, 18, Williamsport. To order, call 610-866-8049.T

he Make-A-Wish Foundation of Greater Pennsylvania and Southern West Virginia, based in Pittsburgh, offers holiday cards by four children with life-threatening medical conditions who have had wishes fulfilled, including a Lower Saucon Township boy.

The cards cost $10 for a package of 15 of one of the four designs. Designs are ''Thumbprint Angels,'' by Aaron Kuhns, 9, Lower Saucon Township; ''Holiday Ornaments,'' by Cassie Lombardo, 13, Allison Park, Allegheny County; ''Ho! Ho! Ho!'' by Larry Masucci, 14, of Pittsburgh and ''Snowman, Reindeer and Tree,'' by Jaren Tilford, 6, of Turbotville, Northumberland County.

To order, go online at .

Visually impaired students made some Christmas cards

Visual Impairment and Blindness Services of Bethlehem created its cards from the designs of four visually impaired students who attended a summer camp at the Greater Wilkes-Barre Association for the Blind. The cards cost $10 for 12 cards with three of each design and benefit programs and services for blind and visually impaired residents of Northampton and Monroe Counties.

Designs are ''The Christmas Tree,'' by Becca Trebat-Leder, 12, Bethlehem; '' Santa Claus,'' by Emily Wollum, 7, Bethlehem; ''Christmas Cadillac,'' by Warren Kolc, 14, Wilkes-Barre, and ''The Night Before Christmas,'' by Sierra Frantz, 18, Williamsport. To order, call 610-866-8049.T

he Make-A-Wish Foundation of Greater Pennsylvania and Southern West Virginia, based in Pittsburgh, offers holiday cards by four children with life-threatening medical conditions who have had wishes fulfilled, including a Lower Saucon Township boy.

The cards cost $10 for a package of 15 of one of the four designs. Designs are ''Thumbprint Angels,'' by Aaron Kuhns, 9, Lower Saucon Township; ''Holiday Ornaments,'' by Cassie Lombardo, 13, Allison Park, Allegheny County; ''Ho! Ho! Ho!'' by Larry Masucci, 14, of Pittsburgh and ''Snowman, Reindeer and Tree,'' by Jaren Tilford, 6, of Turbotville, Northumberland County.

To order, go online at .

Audible crossings make life easier and much safer for the visually impaired

Often vehicular sounds are sufficient for the visually impaired to determine the onset of the WALK interval and the direction of a crosswalk. However, there are some intersections where geometries, acoustic conditions and traffic control systems make it very difficult for persons who are visually impaired to obtain the cues necessary to cross streets independently and safely. At these intersections, handicap accessible traffic signals can be helpful to pedestrians.

Audible traffic signals work in conjunction with the standard WALK/DON'T WALK visual signals. The intersection will have speakers which project two different sounds, one of which is projected when the walk signal flashes to safely cross the street. The other sound is heard when the perpendicular street can be crossed.

Thanks to collaboration between the NYS Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Chautauqua Blind Association (CBA), additional audible traffic signals have been placed at four new locations in Chautauqua and Cattaraugus counties since spring.

With joint efforts from Regional Traffic Engineer Thomas Messana, P.E., Angelo Borgese, P.E., Regional Traffic Operations, and Sally Minchener, CBA's Orientation and Mobility Instructor pedestrian and motorists' safety has been improved.

The new signals in Chautauqua County are located in the city of Dunkirk at the intersections of Route 5 (Lake Shore Drive) and Central Avenue and Route 5 and Brigham Road; and in the village of Silver Creek at the intersection of Route 20 (Main Street) and Central Avenue. In Cattaraugus County in the city of Salamanca, a signal has been installed at the intersections of Route 417 at North and South Main streets.

The first audible crossing signal was placed in Chautauqua County in 1996 in the Village of Falconer at the intersection of Routes 394 (Main Street) and Route 380 (Work Street). Since then, two audible signals have been installed in the village of Fredonia: one at Route 20 and Eagle Street and the other at Route 20 and Water and Temple streets.

Mayville, the County seat of Chautauqua County, has an audible crossing at the intersections of Routes 394 and 430.

The city of Olean hosts Cattaraugus County's first audible crossing at the intersection of Routes 16 (Union Street) and 417 (State Street).

Minchener and the Chautauqua Blind Association are currently working with the DOT and the City of Jamestown to place numerous audible signals within the city limits. Chautauqua Blind Association is a United Way funded program.

Lions Club donation help visually impaired man

Reading to his son, working with his coin collection: These are just some of the things Chris Collard could do using closed-circuit TV equipment in his home.

However, the $3,000 price tag for the magnification device -- whose computer display offers different color, background and text options and will zoom from four to 60 times -- is prohibitive. Even after the Traverse City resident's insurance company kicks in a third of the cost.

So Collard turned to the Traverse City Lions Club for help, which pledged another $1,000. He currently has a small, handheld magnifier that helps with his duties as a department manager at Glen's on Eighth Street. That equipment is good for reading only a small amount of information at a time and does not facilitate writing.

A home-based, larger magnifier would open new doors.

"I have a 2-year-old son and I'd like to be able to read to him," said Collard, who is legally blind but does not read Braille. "I have a coin collection and haven't been able to work on it for 10 years. I can't see the mint marks or dates."

To make up the remaining funds needed, Collard is also contacting other regional Lions Clubs for assistance. He learned about the volunteer service organization from the person selling the adaptive equipment and decided to apply for a grant.

"I never have done anything with the Lions Club before," he said. "I know they granted me a lot more than I was expecting to get. It makes a big difference."

With one of their missions to help visually impaired people, the international Lions Club was just the organization for Collard to call, Dr. Paul Hanrahan said.

A club member for 20 years and chairman of the local Sight and Hearing Committee, Hanrahan is an audiologist with the Hearing Clinic at Munson. The local Lions Club considers special targeted requests such as Collard's in addition to its other work, which includes providing 55 people with glasses so far this year.

"Some services will not be covered by normal rehab services or social services agencies," Hanrahan said. "We act as a last resort."

Also this fall, the Traverse City Lions Club received a request for adaptive equipment from Fran Schneider of Grawn. Visually impaired as an adult due to hereditary retinitis pigmentosa, Schneider applied for funding for JAWS software, which will verbalize e-mails and documents on a computer.

She also learned that her 10-year-old computer system was too outdated for the memory-intensive software. Throw in a hardware upgrade and the bill climbed to well over $1,000.

The Traverse City Lions Club granted $700 toward her request and Schneider has contacted other Lions Clubs for help. She has also applied for an assistive technology loan from the Michigan Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired.

Schneider is patient but persistent as she pursues technology to boost her quality of life and ability to communicate with friends. The new software and hardware will also help her in her new part-time network marketing job.

"Right now I can't read e-mail and a lot of the time I can't see the screen," said Schneider, who also has a Leader Dog. "My vision fluctuates."

Both Schneider and Collard were invited to speak at a recent Lions Club of Traverse City meeting. They told members about the equipment they were seeking and its potential impact on their lives.
"The requests were something unusual for us," Hanrahan said.

Schneider is an active volunteer for the Leader Dog for the Blind School in Rochester Hills, which was founded in 1939 by three Lions Club members. Already familiar and a recipient of the support from Lions Clubs, which raises money for the school and attendees, she is an enthusiastic proponent of the charitable group.

"Oh, it's nice, it makes me feel good, (the Lions Club) was there to help me and now I can go out there and help them," said Schneider, who talks about Leader Dogs and the school to area schools and youth groups.

"I think it's one of the best organizations as far as running on donations that I've ever seen or heard of. They do an excellent job."

Illegally parked bicycles, an inconvenience for the visually impaired

Beware where you park your bicycle.

Utah State University is considering impounding bicycles illegally parked at the university.
School officials say a lot of people are chaining their bicycles to handrails, making it difficult for visually impaired students to access buildings.

The university already has a policy prohibiting bicycles from being secured on shrubs, trees, handrails or any architectural structures.

Utah State's Risk Management Office says it will begin actively enforcing the policy because of an increased number of student complaints.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Diabetes vs. visual impairment

Each year thousands of Americans are diagnosed with diabetes.

Not only do they have to learn how to manage their disease, they also need to be concerned about vision.German Martinez has a doctor check his eyes regularly, because he doesn't want his vision to get any worse.

He's already considered legally blind.

"I no longer drive, because I'm visually impaired and I can no longer pass the DMV eye test," said Martinez.

Doctors say diabetes caused his vision problems.

"With diabetes, the disease process has to do with blood and the blood vessels start becoming leaky and can clog up also so what will happen in the eye is the blood vessels start leaking, they can leak fluid or blood or lipids and that can cause huge vision damage," Optometrist Dr. Karin Meng said.

Martinez has diabetic retinopathy, abnormal blood vessel changes in the eye's retina.

It can cause patients to see the world like this, experience blurriness, and in some cases blindness.
Hispanic Americans like Martinez are especially at risk for the condition because they're at higher risk of developing diabetes.

Optometrist Dr. Karin Meng says the best thing diabetics can do for their eyes is to get regular checkups and effectively manage their disease.

"The best thing you can do is take care of your diabetes: follow your doctor's instructions, exercise is a big component, the correct diet is a big component, take the medications," said Dr. Meng.
The first signs of vision problems related to diabetes include fluctuating, blotchy or blurred vision.
Diabetics are also more likely to develop glaucoma, a disease that damages the optic nerve.
A laser treatment prevented Martinez from further vision loss.

He may not be able to drive any longer, but he's the driving force behind encouraging other diabetics to get their eyes checked.

Pyjama Pary raises funds for the visually impaired

They dressed in plaid flannel PJs, feather boas, bunny slippers and tiaras. More than 300 women munched on hors d'oeuvres, danced and perused vendors offering everything from acupuncture to gourmet dipping sauces.

The occasion for getting all "dressed down": the second annual Girls' Night Out Pajama Party, a sold-out benefit Thursday evening for the Little Lighthouse for the Blind.

"Most times, women are the nurturers, the heath care providers. We thought, let's let the women have a night off and a night out, while raising money for a great cause," said organizer Dr. Keith Stolte.

An ophthalmologist and founder of Stolte Eye Center, Stolte said he was looking for a way to raise awareness for children's eye issues and raise funds for the Little Lighthouse for the Blind, the youth division for Lighthouse for the Visually Impaired and Blind. Dressed a little like Hugh Hefner, he was all duded up in a red-checkered smoking jacket and cowboy hat for the pajama party, which took place at the Knights of Columbus hall on Spring Hill Drive.

"What a wonderful event. This has been so much fun," said Debbie Burge, 53.

Donning a blue fleece robe, curlers and a cucumber facial mask, Burge was at the event representing the Florida Cancer Institute — there to network and help raise money for a good cause. Grinning from ear to ear, she said she had her husband drop her off so she wouldn't be driving alone in such a getup.

"Who loves children more than women?," said Valerie Ciaccio, marketing director for Stolte Eye Center. "So we came up with the idea (of a pajama party) and focused on a night for women that was something novel, fun and comical."

And this night of girl talk, dancing and shopping resulted in a donation of $7,000 from Stolte to the Lighthouse, with checks still coming in. Last year a donation of $8,000 was made.

"What if your child was born blind? Where would you turn? Your child could lead a normal life given the right training," said Sylvia Stinson-Perez, executive director of Lighthouse for the Visually Impaired and Blind, 6492 California St., south of Brooksville, a nonprofit group that serves Pasco, Hernando and Citrus counties.

The Little Lighthouse is a program that helps parents and children from birth to age 5. The proceeds from the pajama party go to support the agency's early intervention services, said Stinson-Perez, who explained that visually impaired children need to learn to rely on their other senses to help them navigate the world.

"Children learn to crawl because they are going after a toy. Visually impaired children need to be motivated by their other senses such as sound and touch," Stinson-Perez said, adding that the agency's services teach moms and babies to learn together.

And the money is desperately needed.

The Little Lighthouse programs for families are funded with a grant from the state of about $20,000 per year — and that's for all three counties.

"This is such an area of need, and with budget cuts across the state, Dr. Stolte's efforts are so appreciated," said Stinson-Perez, adding that his donation will keep their project afloat, perhaps even enabling them to start a play group so that babies can reach out to other children, and moms can reach out to other mothers.

"Our goal is to bring (visually impaired children) to the level of other children by the time they start school," Stinson-Perez said.

The fun Thursday night was nonstop.

Spring Hill hellion Jeanne Dawson, 74, dressed as a "rebel granny," wearing a shocking pink do-rag tied on her close-cropped hair, skull-and-crossbones patterned sweat pants and a tank top emblazoned with the word "rebel." She accompanied her daughter, Barbara Dawson, 45, who was clad in a floor-length leopard, silk nightie and matching leopard slippers. They both heard of the event and decided that "it sounded like fun."

Watching from the edge of the dance floor, they applauded the night's entertainment. Female impersonator Alexis Collins, who is legally blind and a father of five, wowed the crowd with a Liza Minelli performance. Swooner Louie Fortunato, with a sound similar to Engelbert Humperdinck, had everyone singing. Women elbowed onto the dance floor for the "Cha Cha Slide" and other line dances. And the night ended with conga lines, belly dancing and an abundance of door prizes and raffles.

The shocker of the evening was a serious introduction to thank several prominent men in the community — County Commissioner John Druzbick; former commissioner Chris Kingsley; recent School Board candidate Gene Magrini; recent supervisor of elections candidate Gus Guadagnino, and Stolte — all of whom then broke into a raucus rendition of YMCA by the Village People, complete with full costume.

"Last year was so good, I had to find a way to top it," Ciaccio said.

Asked why the event was a women-only affair, Stolte smiled.

"Most men have to get dragged to a fundraiser. They don't want to go," he said. "Tonight is all about letting the women have a good time and leaving the husbands home."

Visually impaired musician plays by...memory!

Camon Tackett’s friends know that he doesn’t like them because they’re wearing the coolest designer fashions or sporting the latest hairstyle. That’s because Camon Tackett’s friends know that the 14-year old eighth grader is blind.What Camon Tackett’s friends also know is that Camon is one great musician.Even though he’s only in the eighth grade at Madison Middle School, Camon began playing the trumpet in the Scott High school band this summer.And not just any band – the marching band.

For Camon, who uses a cane for mobility and reads and writes using Braille, playing the trumpet is not quite the challenge that many might assume.That’s because Camon has almost perfect pitch, according to Scott High School Band Director Gene Mills.“We don’t have music sheets in Braille, so he learns the music by ear and then memorizes it,” Mills said.When Mills learned that one of his young musicians was unable to see, he gave Camon the option of either participating with the marching band on the field or sitting on the sidelines.

Camon chose what most young men his age would – to experience the camaraderie of his fellow musicians on the field.“When he made his decision, I then spent many restless nights that summer trying to figure out what to do. How was I going to do this? I called around and asked other band directors I knew,” Mills said.The advice he received included a few opinions that it would be better to have Camon “sit out” from field shows.This led Mills to doing something usually reserved for his students – Mills did a bit of research.

And what he discovered online was a possible solution to his conundrum.He found a school in the eastern United States that had a blind student participating in their marching band.“I came across this school’s web site, I think it was somewhere in Connecticut, and the students of the school – not the school itself – but these students who were so proud of their fellow band member, posted the story online,” Mills recalled.Camon has his own story which begins right here in Boone County, and he is not shy or awkward in sharing it with others.

Camon says he was born blind and with many medical complications and has learned how to navigate through the school using a cane.Camon took this reporter on a walk through the halls of his school, lightly moving the cane back and forth along the floor while stopping at times to run his hands along the wall to get his bearings.“We’re almost there,” he said, as he leads us to the water fountain.When you get a chance to sit down to speak with Camon, it is evident that this young man truly enjoys music.“I also play the piano and the autoharp,” he says, sharing that he often plays the piano in church.

“I play by ear because I can hear it. My dad taught me. I was about 3-years old when I started,” he said.“I also like to sing songs by the Eagles,” Camon shares, smiling as he says, “Me and Mr. Miller, we both like to sing the Eagles.”With the 70s in their respective place, it is the music of Kenney Chesney and Brad Paisley who has captured this young musician’s ears.“I got to go see Kenney Chesney and went backstage,” the 14-year says enthusiastically.Adventure seems to be Camon’s middle name, as he shares stories about his many trips. One memorable trip was to Space Camp in Alabama.“The best part was riding the simulator. There was no gravity at all. I went to space camp for a week and that was a lot of work. It was 7 to 3, 3 to 11, 11 to 7,” Camon says, quoting one of his favorite singers.

Like most eighth graders, when asked what he wants to do when he grows up, he said he wasn’t sure, adding at the last moment, “I know I’m not working in the coal mines.”Humor is not lost on this 14-year old young man who has overcome many challenges in his young life.Camon’s daily routine consists of core subjects, such as Social Studies, Math, Keyboarding, Reading and Writing.Unlike other eighth graders, Camon learns a few of these subjects using a Braille machine that he calls, “the brailler.”“I read with my fingers, like this,” Camon says, as he gently runs the tips of his fingers over raised dots on a piece of paper.

He also marches a bit differently than the other students.“The director discovered a technique where the student who is blind touches raised elbows with fellow band members as they perform,” teacher Rebecca Grubbs stated.“I march with my elbows up and its a little bit hard but I can still hold them up,” he said.The next time you are at a Scott High school sporting event and the band is performing for you during their half time show, take a moment and try to spot Camon.

Odds are you may not be able to find him.“The director discovered a technique where the student who is blind touches raised elbows with fellow band members as they perform,” teacher Rebecca Grubbs stated. “After Camon dons his uniform and hat, it is almost impossible to distinguish him from other band members on the field.”

Contact Joanie Newman at or 304-369-1165.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Visually impaired students receive help from United Kingdom

Visually impaired students from the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) were yesterday presented with an assistive device known as the Dolphin pen. The assistance came from the British High Commission which collaborated with Sightsavers International.

The presentation took place at the British High Commission in Dar es Salaam and marked the visit to Tanzania of the former British Education and Home secretary David Blunkett. The Sightsavers Dolphin pen is a lightweight pen drive with a screen magnifier and reader. The pen will provide students with the same access to computers as their sighted colleagues.

Mr Blunkett, who is also blind, said he was glad and honoured to be in the country as it was a great chance to learn more about the opportunities for blind and visually impaired students in higher learning institutions of the country. "I am glad to be here in Tanzania since it is a country that has shown great efforts in assisting the disabled. Your Government has really impressed me by talking about the physically disabled in parliamentary proceedings," he said.

He said he was ready to offer his experience and example to the disabled in Tanzania as a way of inspiring them. He said the society should seek to inspire and support the disabled in becoming self-reliant in order to reduce dependency and promote equality.

Mr Blunkett is also expected to visit Zanzibar and meet with Government and civil society leaders working to protect and promote the rights and interests of persons with the disability. About 40,000 Tanzanians are thought to be irreversibly blind from birth, 10,000 being children. A total of 1,050,000 Tanzanians are also believed to suffer from low vision.

By Noela Oyugah

Teacher received scholarship to teach the visually impaired

Licking Heights teacher Alyssa Pagano recently received a $2,000 scholarship from the American Council of the Blind of Ohio.

She is a graduate student at Ohio State University and is studying to get her master's degree, which would prepare her to teach children who are blind and visually impaired.

In 2007, the American Council of the Blind of Ohio established an endowment with a $50,000 gift to Ohio State University so that each year, a student working toward a Teacher of Visually Impaired certificate is eligible for a $2,000 scholarship.

Touching art, an experience for the visually impaired

A small girl handed her cane to her friend for safekeeping and climbed a ladder to touch the cool, bronze face of a giant.

Blind and visually impaired children from Las Cruces elementary and middle schools got a special tour of the Rodin exhibit Wednesday at the Las Cruces Museum of Art.

Valley View Elementary School students Yasmine Mansouri-Rad, 7, and Raquel Pierce, 6, donned gloves and explored several masterpieces, from larger-than-life towering sculptures to tiny tableaus and bronze body-part fragments.

"Now he's happy. He feels better now," said Yasmine, giving a reassuring pat to "Andrieu d'Andres" after touching the head-in-hands, grief-stricken figure and inquiring, "Why is he so sad?"
Raquel eagerly touched all accessible surfaces, from hats to feet and pedestals, with the help of volunteer docent Toby DeVoss and her teacher Sharon Thummel.

"I like this. This show is good," said Raquel, who perked up when she heard the exhibit includes an angel.

The exhibit features more than 30 works by world-renowned French sculptor Auguste.

Rodin, (1840-1917), in a traveling show, "Rodin: In His Own Words; Selections from the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Foundation," which runs through Saturday at the museum.

Wednesday's tour also included visually impaired and blind students from Vista, Camino Real, Picacho and Lynn middle schools. Earlier, a group from the New Mexico School for the Blind and Visually Impaired in Alamogordo also enjoyed a special touch tour.

Volunteer docents and staff had special training to lead the tours and found the experience moving, said Julia Hansen, volunteer coordinator for the city's museums.

"These kids have such insight. Some of us were almost in tears by the time the kids left. Really, these kids "see.' They just have a different language," Hansen said.

She said several students from regional elementary, middle and high schools have visited the exhibit.

"The Cantor Foundation required that touch tours occur outside of regular gallery hours, I guess so that no other patrons get the idea that they can touch the pieces," Hansen said.

Unlike the students in Wednesday's special tour, the general public is not allowed to touch the sculptures, but you still have time to feast your eyes on the show, during its last three days, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. today, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at the Las Cruces Museum of Art , 491 N. Main St., on the north end of the Downtown Mall. Admission is free.

S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at

If you go

What: "Rodin: In His Own Words; Selections from the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Foundation"

When: Today through Saturday

Where: Las Cruces Museum of Art, Downtown Mall

Cost: Free

Information: (575) 541-2137,

New resource centre for the visually impaired!

A NEW resource centre for visually-impaired people has been unveiled at Weston College. The facility, based at the Knightstone Campus, has been developed in partnership with the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB).

It includes features such as special lighting to improve readability, zoom functions on computers to magnify text, speech-based software that records text and dictates it, high-tech scanners and large print on keyboards.

Each person using the facility will be assessed so individual support programmes can be compiled.The centre was officially opened by principal Dr Paul Phillips and RNIB south west regional employment and lifelong learning manager Rob Kail-Dyke on Monday.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The importance of a service dog in the life of a visually impaired person

Excitement swept over the crowd of children as “Miss Ginger” entered the room.

It is no wonder considering that Miss Ginger is a dog. This sweet golden retriever and her handler, Len Quinn, were at Heart of the Lakes Elementary School informing students of how dogs, like Miss Ginger, are trained to guide visually impaired people.

Leader Dogs for the Blind is an organization that has been providing guide dogs since 1939. With funds provided by organizations such as Lion Clubs, Leader Dogs give fully trained guide dogs free of charge to the visually impaired. Even the elementary school children exclaimed “whoa” when they were informed that each trained dog costs $38,000. About 14,000 dogs have been donated to those in need. That is equivalent to $532 million dollars.

Perham Elementary School Principal Kari Yates with Len Quinn and “Ginger.”

Leader Dogs has a large training facility in Rochester, Michigan. According to Quinn, the dogs “go into training at 8 weeks,” when they are very young, and it takes them 20-24 months to train. Part of the training process is to take the dogs wherever there is a crowd: the mall, airport, and restaurants. This tests the dog’s ability to behave in a stimulating environment, such as a crowd.

Visually impaired people all the way from Taiwan, Korea, Argentina, Mexico, and Spain go to Leader Dogs for the Blind. The organization teaches how to rely on the dogs. The people take 26 days to acquire blind trust. “It’s hard when you’ve made decisions all your life. You have to learn how to trust,” says Quinn.

A harness, which is attached to the dog, allows a person to feel the dog’s movements.

“Ginger talks to me by the way she moves her legs, neck, chest, and head…I listen with my fingers. She can tell me hundreds of different things when we’re walking down the street… If there is a car or pole… If there is danger,” he said.

Quinn described to the children how there are different signals that the dogs make. For example, big steps means a curb is ahead. When the dog steps down on the curb, a person can feel how high the curb is.

The Perham school presentation was one of several in the area during Quinn and Ginger’s visit.
They were also guests at the Perham Area Rotary Club meeting last week, and at the New York Mills Lions meeting. There was also a presentation at the New York Mills school.

Guide dogs have changed the lives of the visually impaired. The dogs have provided independence and mobility.

Quinn described how Miss Ginger would go to K-Mart with him. After the fourth time going to the same location, Miss Ginger was able to lead Quinn to K-mart by memory. Thanks to Leader Dogs for the Blind, so many opportunities are open to the visually impaired. They have the freedom to buy their own groceries, get jobs, and go to school.

Fire safety for the visually impaired

A Clear Fire Safety Message

Over 10 million Americans are visually impaired. During a fire emergency, the senses that visually impaired persons rely upon have a high probability of being overpowered.

The United States Fire Administration (USFA), a directorate of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), encourages the visually impaired population to practice the following precautionary steps to help protect themselves, their home and their surroundings from the danger of fire.

Install and Maintain Smoke Alarms

Make sure working smoke alarms are installed on each level of your home. You may want a family member or friend to assist you.

Remember to test smoke alarms monthly and change the batteries at least once a year. You may want a family member or friend to assist you.

Audible alarms should pause with a small window of silence between each successive cycle so that blind or visually impaired people can listen to instructions or voices of others.

Don’t Isolate Yourself

It is important that older adults speak up - 55% of the visually impaired population is over the age of 65.

Speak to your family members, building manager, or neighbors about your fire safety plan and practice it with them.

Ask emergency responders to keep your special needs information on file.

Contact your local fire department’s non-emergency line and explain your special needs. They will probably suggest escape plan ideas, and may perform a home fire safety inspection and offer suggestions about smoke alarm placement.

Live Near an Exit and Plan Your Escape

You’ll be safest on the ground floor if you live in an apartment building. If you live in a multi-story home, arrange to sleep on the first floor.

Being on the ground floor and near an exit will make your escape easier.

If necessary, have a ramp available for emergency exits.

Unless instructed by the fire department, never use an elevator during a fire.

If you encounter smoke, stay low to the ground to exit your home.

Once out, stay out, and call 911 or your local emergency number from a neighbor’s house.
Be Fire-Safe Around the Home

When cooking, never approach an open flame while wearing loose clothing and don’t leave cooking unattended. Use a timer to remind you of food in the oven.

Don’t overload electrical outlets of extension cords.

Never use the oven to heat your home. Properly maintain chimneys and space heaters.
Keep a phone near your bed and be ready to call 911 or your local emergency number if a fire occurs.

Know Your Abilities

Remember, fire safety is your personal responsibility …Fire Stops With You!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Visually impaired teen lives dream as broadcaster!

Laurel Wheeler knows that when she offers commentary during Birdville Hawks football games, she must be careful not to criticize the players.

They are, after all, her classmates.

"You have to separate being a fan from being a broadcaster," said Wheeler, 17, a senior at Birdville High School. On Friday nights, Wheeler teams up with her dad to do radio broadcasts of Birdville football games over the Internet. You’d never know by listening that Laurel is blind.

"I don’t remember a time I didn’t like football," she said. "Ever since I can remember life, I can remember football. It’s not always easy to announce because I can’t see what’s going on on the field, but it’s not difficult to come up with things to say because I’ve been watching football for so long."

Tonight, Laurel and her father will be at the Boswell High School stadium, where the Hawks will take on Denton Ryan in the opening round of the Class 4A Division I playoffs.

"There are some times that we’re sitting there in the booth and we just give each other elbows and say, 'Can you believe we get to do this together?’ " said her father, Larry Wheeler. "For me, this is something we’ll look back on the rest of our lives."

'Always smiling’

When Laurel was born, her eyes were not completely formed.

Doctors performed surgery to create a right pupil, and she can see light, color and some shapes and movement with that eye.

She writes and reads in Braille and uses a cane to get around the hallways of Birdville High.
But in no way does the visual impairment slow her down.

"She is an independent student," said Laura Hampton, her visual-impairment teacher, adding that she’s in Advanced Placement classes and participates like everyone else. "It takes her a little longer to do some things. She has to work a little harder. But even with the visual impairment, she stays on top of her course work."

Laurel also writes for the school newspaper, plays drums, and speaks Spanish, French and Russian.

Her classmates are impressed with her attitude and work ethic.

"She retains so much more information than I do," said Katie Waldrip, 17, also a senior at Birdville. "There are things I have no recollection of the teacher saying, and she remembers it all. I help her some, but she probably helps me more. She’s actually smarter than most of the kids at my school. And she tries a lot harder."

But Waldrip said Laurel’s personality is what sets her apart from other students.

"I love how she’s always herself," she said. "Everyone needs to get to know her, but they don’t. And I love that she’s always smiling."

After graduating, Laurel plans to major in French and Russian at the University of Texas at Arlington. After that, she’d like to earn her master’s degree in linguistics.

"I believe God will heal me someday," she said. "And when he does, I want to join the Navy maybe and become a linguist. Until then, I plan on working as a government translator and trying to do something to help the military."

Family affair

Laurel’s blindness has had an impact on other family members. The Wheelers were living in Fort Hancock, near El Paso, when Laurel was younger, and the small school district did not have a strong program for the visually impaired.

So Laurel’s mother, Jamie Wheeler, already a teacher, went back to school to learn how to teach visually impaired students.

"When she was little, I got to teach her how to read and write and help her with developmental skills," Jamie Wheeler said.

The Wheelers moved to North Richland Hills in 1997, and Jamie Wheeler now teaches visually impaired students — but not Laurel — in the Birdville school district.

"I’ve been a part of the community support for her in the school district," Jamie Wheeler said. "It’s been wonderful."

The father-and-daughter team started doing the radio broadcasts this year.

Larry Wheeler said the family was going to be at all of the Hawks games because his 15-year-old son plays in the school’s band, so why not do a radio broadcast?

Mostly, he saw it as a way to do something special for Laurel.

"She faces a lot of challenges in life," he said. "There’s no way in the world I’d want to walk into that high school every day blindfolded, finding my way around with a cane. So I have a lot of admiration for her."

He contacted Live365, the Web site that broadcasts the games, and approached school officials, who approved the plan.

Laurel looks right at home in the press box, wearing a green polo shirt with a Birdville Hawks Radio logo, microphone in hand.

When she wants to say something, she taps her dad’s arm and jumps right in, talking about the importance of a well-rested defense to explain why a team can defer the option to kick off to the second half.

She says she will never forget these Friday nights.

"Just the fact that I can broadcast these games on the radio has meant a lot to me," she said. "It’s going to be my No. 1 high school memory."

The challenges of a Paralympic skier

As a visually impaired competitive downhill skier, Chris Williamson has won the World Cup title the last three years and six times in his career.The 36-year-old Markham resident also captured an Olympic gold medal in slalom at the 2002 Paralympics in Salt Lake City, Utah.But there’s one honour that eludes Williamson — a World Championship gold medal.

With the World Championships taking place in South Korea Feb. 19 to March 2, Williamson hopes to attain his goal after being recently named to this season’s 18-member Canadian Para-Alpine ski team.As the lone male visually impaired member on the team, Williamson intends to compete in six events at the World Championships: downhill, giant slalom, super G, slalom, super combined and a team event.

Goal is gold“I’ve never won a World Championship gold before. That’s my goal,” Williamson said. “But I’d be happy if I can reach the podium in all of them. Any medal you can win at the World Championship is the result of hard work.”Diagnosed with toxoplasmosis, which limits him to just six-per-cent peripheral vision, Williamson’s selection to the team was based on a point system on how he performed last season.

During that campaign, he won 11 World Cup races and reached the medal podium in 14 en route to his third straight overall title.Chosen to the national team, Williamson will be in his 11th season. That makes him one of the senior members on the squad.At the same time, he’s the oldest alpine ski racer in Canada, able-bodied or disabled.“It sure feels good to be able to last that long,” Williamson said of his longevity with the national team.

“It’s one of the dubious distinctions I have. But it shows I’ve been performing well for a long time. I’m not a flash in the pan.”Visually impairedVisually impaired since birth, Williamson said he hasn’t untapped some unknown youth elixir or discovered the fountain of youth. He attributed his longevity to his passion for the sport. This began when he put on his first set of skis at age three in Manitoba on the encouragement of his father and uncle, who were also avid skiers.

A recreational skier up until 1990, Williamson was introduced to competitive skiing during his time in Winnipeg when someone informed him of the paralympic movement and the national team. Upon graduating from university and moving to Ontario, Williamson made the provincial team in 1997 and the national team in the fall of 1998 where he’s been a fixture since.

Back from injuries“I’ve had lots of success and it’s been great with the help the coaches that I’ve had through the years,” he said. “I’ve always mentally looked at my sport and how I perform positively. “At times I’ve had injuries and couldn’t race, but was able to come back and have a positive outlook.”Jean-Sebastien Labrie, Canadian Para-Alpine ski team coach, acknowledged Williamson’s positive outlook in the sport is a major factor in his success.

“Chris’ intensity in training and the love for skiing makes him a good racer,” Labrie said. “He has a naturally competitive personality that makes him go hard and fast all the time. He’s not afraid to let the skis go despite being visually impaired. That gives him a good advantage for speed events.”

While Williamson is gearing up for the World Championships, he can’t help but look down the road since the 2010 Winter Olympics and Paralympics will be staged in Vancouver.That, Williamson said, is another incentive for him to continue with his competitive career.“With Vancouver just around the corner, it would be great to see if I can make the team because the Games will be near home,” he said.

School for the visually impaired is under investigation

The state education department is looking into allegations of improprieties at the Louisiana School for the Visually Impaired.

Superintendent of Education Paul Pastorek says changes will be made, similar to the types of revamped security plans made at the Louisiana School for the Deaf, which has faced a sexual misconduct scandal.

Pastorek says the situations reported at the visually impaired school - which he wouldn't describe - don't rise to the level of accusations at the deaf school. But he says they require attention and plans for security and communication improvements.

Pastorek closed the deaf school last month after charges that a 16-year-old student with a history of behavioral problems raped a 6-year-old student on a school bus. The school reopened last week after new security measures were enacted.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Life stories of 4 visually impaired people

More than 21 million people in our country suffer from vision loss and about a hundred and 20-thousand of them live right here in Wisconsin.

This week NewsChannel 7 is bringing you a series of special reports called “Out of Sight,” where we’ll share the struggles four visually impaired people in our area have overcome, how they’ve done it and why the goal they are constantly striving for is independence.

“The one about blindness, it doesn’t pick one age over another and you don’t know when and you don’t know why, Joe Mielcarek, a counselor for NTC’s Visually Impaired Program.

Four people Joe introduced to NewsChannel 7 proved that statement to be true. All four of them were visually impaired for different reasons, and starting losing their vision at different ages.
Jim Unter was born with an atypical type of heredity retinal dystrophy that caused him to progressively lose his vision.

He lost his ability to read any sort of text during his college years and now has virtually no sight left.
“I have peripheral vision, but if I look straight at somebody, I don’t see them at all or they are just a big blur,” Jim said.

Unlike Unger, LeRoy Wolf had good vision most of his life. He just started experiencing problems about seven years ago. LeRoy has diabetic retinopathy.

"Slowly things are getting dark and darker to the point that I have no sight at all,” LeRoy said. “I can see a few shadows. That's all I have left."

Others are little more fortunate than Jim and LeRoy.

"There's only a small percentage of individuals who are totally blind,” said Jim, who also teaches the visually impaired at NTC. “Most people are all the way from light perception all the way up to people being able to read small magnification of print."

Sandra Volhard is one of those able to read magnetized print, but she's had vision problems since she was a baby and had cataracts removed.

"Then I developed glaucoma,” Sandra said. “It was undetected until I was about five and then it had done damage to my optic nerve, which is why I have the limited vision."

And Todd Rasmussen basically has tunnel vision. After recovering from the removal of a brain tumor in 2001, he lost part of his sight three years later, during the removal of a non-cancerous cyst.

"After that surgery, we found out that I lost considerable sight on my right eye on my peripheral look, vision."

All four of these people, for four different reasons, have something most of us take for granted every single day.

Tune into NewsChannel 7 at 6 Monday to see the struggles each of these visually impaired people face every day because of their loss of sight.

Visually impaired employees go on strike!

By Hazel Sambo

Casual workers and visually impaired employees at the Itireleng workshop for the blind in Ga-Rankuwa have gone on strike in protest against unpaid salary increases.The group claimed on Monday that they were promised that their salaries would be increased in April this year.But this had not happened.

Only a few of the casual workers and visually impaired employees received their salary increases last Friday.Casual worker, Emily Matsemela said she had been working at the workshop for more than 20 years and management now wanted to get rid of her without a valid reason.In addition to this, claims Matsemela, management also refused to pay her.

Another casual worker, Mapule Morekhu, said: "We've been working for such a long period at Itireleng, but we are being ill treated."We don't have medical aid, bonuses or any benefits and know management wants to chase us away".

She further explained that they wanted their full increment back-dated to April and not July. Dikeledi Matloba said, "We are being exploited and ill-treated as part time employees."This is despite the fact that we've been working for years at the institution."Management at the workshop claimed the workers had alreadybeen paid their increases in full and on time.

Teacher for the visually impaired received distinguished award

Jacqueline Otwell, a teacher of the blind and visually impaired who works from Liberty High School, recently won the Distinguished Educator of the Blind Children award from the National Federation of the Blind of Maryland. She will be recognized at the organization’s state convention held Friday through Sunday in Ocean City.

Otwell, who has worked for Carroll County Public Schools since 2003, talks about her experiences teaching students who are visually impaired.

Q: How did you decide to become certified as a teacher of the visually impaired?

A: It’s kind of an interesting story. I was a special education resource teacher at Hampstead Elementary and had the opportunity to work with a student there who was a Braille reader and Ray Peloquin, a teacher of the visually impaired as well.After working with him and [the student] for a few weeks, [Peloquin] had told me about a scholarship opportunity, because there was a shortage of teachers of the visually impaired in Maryland.

I applied for the scholarship and received it, and actually, the day I finishedhe program — Dec. 15 [2006] was the day the program was finished — there was a job posting for a position for a teacher of the visually impaired in Carroll County.

Q: Do you teach students of all ages?

A: Birth to 21. Right now I work with infants and toddlers, elementary and high school students.

Q: How many students would you say you work with on a regular basis?

A: Right now I work with seven students. But that can always change, because case loads fluctuate.

Q: Why were you interested in teaching students who are blind?

A: I like working with kids, and I had enjoyed the experiences I had working with this student, and I saw a scholarship opportunity. It’s just like any other position and they feed off motivation.

Q: So what are some of the differences with teaching a student who’s visually impaired?

A: You have to use more senses to help them learn. You’re going to use tactual senses, auditory senses … versus with a lot of students, they learn visually. And with that particular population, that’s not going to be your emphasis.

Q: What are some of the new technologies that have assisted with teaching students who are blind?

A: There’s a wide range of technologies available. They keep coming out.There’s the BrailleNote — that’s like a PDA. And that’s a really powerful tool because it can be used like a word processor [and] they can access the Internet.Some of the other technologies are the Victor Stream, which is like an MP3 player for someone, and that allows you to take notes, play books and listen to music. So that’s a really powerful tool as well.

Q: What would you say is the most rewarding thing about your job?

A: Promoting independence, I think, and watching them grow, just like all of the other students I’ve ever taught. That’s the exciting part.Primarily, I work with the high school students, so it’s a little bit different. Before I was in elementary school and you could get really excited just because of their maturity level and seeing independence and growth.

Q: What are some of the biggest obstacles for your students?

A: I don’t know if you even want to say obstacles. I just think it’s different learning styles. And they need to educate others as to what their needs might be.I think sometimes teachers will refer to, for their visual learners, as papers being ‘Oh, get out your yellow paper.’ You just really need to read the title for that [visually impaired] student. So I just don’t want to say it’s obstacles. It’s just a different way of thinking.

Reach staff writer Karen Kemp at 410-857-7890 or

Saturday, November 08, 2008

When budgets goes beyond the needs of the visually impaired

AROUND 50 visually-impaired children have been left without a visiting teacher due to spending cutbacks.

The service was provided to children across Mayo -- some of whom are totally blind -- but was withdrawn by the
Department of Education last month due to "growing pressure nationally".
Fine Gael TD and Mayo football manager John O'Mahony said he had spoken to the frustrated parents who were "up in arms" after their children had lost out on the service.

"It is hard to explain to them that we could sit in the House all night a week or two ago to provide billions to bail out banks yet we cannot provide a few buttons, as it were, to maintain a service such as this," he said.

Previously, a visiting female teacher travelled down from
Dublin and shared her expertise with each child at least once a term. Those who benefited included six pre-schoolers, 23 in primary schools, eight at second level and 14 in special schools.

The 51 visually impaired children are now dependent on a telephone advisory service for two hours per week.

But when the issue was raised by Mr O'Mahony in the Dail,
Junior Education Minister Sean Haughey said alternative arrangements for a visiting teacher for Mayo were being examined.

China: Digital Library now open!

Nearly 17-million visually impaired people in China will now be able to enjoy barrier-free access to information via an online library. The China Digital Library for the Visually Impaired officially opened on Tuesday.

The website uses software to transform written words into sound, allowing visually impaired users to access digitized information.
The website uses software to transform written words into sound, allowing visually impaired users to access digitized information.

The contents of the online library include e-books, music, online lectures, and other digital materials provided by the National Library of China.

The library also receives support from the China Disabled Persons Federation and China Braille Publishing House.

Bills written in Braille?!

Cebu City, Philippines - Eric Abella is excited.

He will finally get to “read” his electric bill starting this week even though he is blind.

“Finally, mabasahan na gyud nako pila akong bayranan (I can read my bill). Mas maayo man gyud na nga mabasahan nato para dili ta ilaron (It's better that we can read it so we won't be fooled),” Abella said.

Abella, 29, has been blind since he was five, the result of a medicine overdose.

Today, he runs his own sari-sari store and e-load station in Barangay (village) Guadalupe, Cebu City.

He was one of seven visually impaired individuals chosen to be the first to get their electric bill from Veco in Braille this week.

The recipients were identified by the Resources for the Blind Inc. (RBI), which assists visually impaired Filipinos. Veco, with BRI as its partner, is the first utility firm in the country to adopt this system.

Braille, which uses a pattern of raised dots that represent letters, numbers or punctuation marks, is a writing system for the blind developed in 1821 by French teacher Louis Braille.

This allows visually impaired individuals to read and write through touch.To produce the special bill, Veco sends RBI Cebu office the word format of the bill through e-mail.

The RBI “feeds that in an embossing machine available in their office,” said Sebastian Lacson, Veco vice president for administration and customer services.Veco's electric bill in Braille will be attached to the regular printed bill. The special form will no longer itemize fees and charges that are part of the 23 unbundled components of the regular bill.

“The Braille bill contains a summary of information pertinent to the consumer such as the billing period, nature of the bill and amount,” Lacson said.

Jaime Jose Aboitiz, Veco chief operating officer, said the partnership with RBI should serve as an eye-opener for all power distributors in the country. He said Veco's sister companies - Davao Light and Power Company Inc., Cotabato Light and Power Company Inc. and Subic Enerzone Corp. - will also adopt a Braille bill system.

Aboitiz said Veco will urge fellow members of the Philippine Electric Plant Owners Association (PEPOA) to follow suit.

“I don't think it will be hard for us to convince them,” he told reporters during the signing of the memorandum of agreement between RBI and Veco on Monday.

Rustica Padasa, RBI Cebu branch director, said this is the first time a company approached RBI for this kind of project.

“Normally, we are the ones who approach a company. This is a remarkable project because it will really help the visually impaired,” she said.

“We don't want the public to always pity us; we can manage (to carry out daily activities) given opportunities,” she added.

Abella was smiling when Veco officials asked him to demonstrate the Braille system by reading dots embossed on a piece of white cardboard.

Abella said he hopes newspapers will take the cue.

“Your newspapers contain a lot of information I'd like to read,” he said.

For now, Metro Cebu electric bills will be available in Braille to those who request Veco for the special form.

Software for the visually impaired

THE National Council for the Blind Malaysia (NCBM) recently presented a new software known as ‘Save As DAISY XML’, which allows the creation of documents with contents that can be accessible by people who are visually impaired.

‘Save As DAISY XML’ is an add-on, designed specially for Microsoft Word 2007, Word 2003 and Word XP. It will allow users to save Open XML-based text files into Digital Accessible Information System (DAISY) XML – the foundation of the globally accepted DAISY standard for reading and publishing navigable multimedia content.

NCBM president S. Kulasegaran said: "Through this software, the visually-impaired will have a better opportunity to access books, texts, literature and poetry."

Previously a variety of assisting technologies such as screen readers, refreshable Braille and text-to-speech synthesisers were used.

"But it was not possible to navigate complex page layouts. ‘Save As DAISY XML’ makes it possible to navigate quickly through a document by heading or page number as well as the use of indexes and references. And by burning the content into CD, the visually impaired can play it on the CD player, computer or notebook," he said, adding that he hopes a Bahasa Malaysia engine will be developed in the future.

Microsoft Malaysia National Technology Officer Dr Dzaharuddin Mansor said: "Because Microsoft Word is a commonly used tool, this add-on allows for content creators in different fields to produce accessible digital material by and for Malaysians, especially individuals with assisting needs."

For more information on the ‘Save As DAISY XML’ tool, visit the NCBM website at