Saturday, February 28, 2009

Visually impaired students bake cookies for U.S. Troops

The School for the Visually Impaired in Jacksonville bake cookies Tuesday, Feb. 24, 2009, to be distributed in care packages to U.S. troops overseas by the Franklin/Waverly Military Support Group.

Orientation to Family and Food Sciences will make the cookies through next week. They have a lot of things done for them," teacher Barbara Strang said. "But they also like to do things for other people." The School for the Visually Impaired has about 65 students from all over Illinois who live part-time on the campus and are either totally or partially impaired.

Visually impaired hairstylist still does a great job

Cathy Steed has learned during her 50 years of life that people see with more than their eyes.

Steed has macular degeneration, a condition that affects her central vision.

Although the condition has left her legally blind and unable to drive, Steed has enjoyed a 27-year career as a hairstylist and for the past five years has operated Cathy's Beauty Barn at 16. E. Jackson St.

"I had large-printed books but I was kind of determined not to use 'em, so I stuck my nose down to the book when nobody was looking," Steed says of her school girl days. "I didn't want people to know. I really had a real rough time with people knowing I couldn't see good, but at 50 years old, you look back that it's nothing to be ashamed of. Having a disability is nothing to be ashamed of. Basically, you just learn other ways of coping with it. Really, everybody has a disability in their own way."

Dr. Winston C. May, a 65-year-old retired optometrist who practiced for 33 years in Manassas and specialized in treating patients with low vision, recalls seeing Steed at Optometric Associates PC, which still exists and carries on his work.

Macular degeneration is being treated with some success with very recent medical advances.

May says he's not surprised that Steed has enjoyed a successful career as a hairstylist, "just because of the adaptation of the other senses, and that's extremely important for anybody that's visually impaired. They utilize their other senses to compensate for their loss."

Steed says she always wanted to become a hairstylist and learned the trade at the Front Royal Beauty School. She says she explains to customers who ask her about her disability how she overcomes it.

"Like being able to feel the texture of the hair," she says. "Touching the hair and those kind of things are just as important, but people usually who can see, usually they kind of do it by seeing. I do it by more like feeling it, texturizing it, things like that. It's just a different way."

Steed has a monitor that helps her read small print on items that she uses in styling hair.

"Anything you put under it, it magnifies it and it's like a bright light behind it," she says. "It can be a bottle or anything. It just comes out flat, and it comes up on the screen so you can read it. A lot of things I can't do, but you just gotta find another way of doing 'em."

Steed says she especially enjoys working with cancer patients who have lost their hair and helping them with their appearance. Both of her parents died with cancer, Steed says.

"I can probably relate to [cancer patients] better because basically I can kind of see that if their hair is real important to 'em and basically it's like I can tell that they're real down and things like that. I know how you can feel when your appearance looks bad and you know just by fixing 'em up and explaining to 'em even though they might not ever get their hair back completely, there's lots of things they can do that make 'em look really good. There's lots of people [who] wear extensions or add-ons or anything that completely make 'em look better than before."

Steed has had her share of adversity in life, including the loss of her husband, Clark Steed, who died four years ago at the age of 46 as the result of multiple sclerosis. The Steeds have two children, Travis, 23, and Charity, 18. She has two grandchildren.

"It's very hard for some people to realize that in life the most important things are right around us," Steed says. "I told my son when he went in the Navy, I said, there's certain things you just can't buy. It's sort of around us what really makes us happy, but we just don't see it till we lose it."

Steed says when her husband died, her son asked her why.

"I said, well you gotta feel lucky because all the years that you did have him because some people never have that," Steed says. "My husband was a good husband and some people never find that, so I feel lucky that I found it for that many years. Just like seeing things, some people don't see right what's in front of 'em."

Steed says she is grateful for her family and her extended family of customers. She says in its own way, her beauty shop is kind of like the one in the hit movie, "Steel Magnolias," which revolved around the lives of women associated with a small Southern beauty shop.

"Yeah, cause they all hang out here Friday night," Steed says. "We have quite a few ladies just come in. Sometimes we get pizza. It's almost like family if they come in and they become your friends. It's like you do their hair, but yet you know all about their life. It's like if the husband comes in or the wife comes in, you hear all what's going on in their family and stuff."

Steed tries to maintain a youthful appearance and doesn't feel sorry for herself because of her lack of vision. The thing she wishes she could do most is drive.

"I don't look at it like, what's gonna happen to me," she says. "None of us know what's gonna happen. I just look at it like something in time will fix the problem."

Charity Steed says her mother is like most moms.

"Yeah, she was pretty much like the basic average mom," she says. "We had to help her a little bit with different things that she couldn't do. But other than that, I mean I wouldn't trade her for nobody else."

And neither would Steed's customers.

"I have some customers that's been with me since I got out of beauty school," Steed says.

Vickie Wright, 44, of Front Royal, says Steed has been doing her hair for 15 to 20 years.

"She's pretty patient with the clientele," Wright says. "If have any I doubts, if I think there's a piece that's not right, 90 percent of the time I'm wrong. She's pretty good. I've had other people cut my hair, and she's done just as well as a person with vision. In my opinion, it takes a brave person to try to come out and do something like that who has a disability of that nature. Who would ever think somebody would cut hair who couldn't see? It really is inspiring. That's one person who really is amazing in my opinion. I've seen Cathy for years and she really is good."

Mary Potter, 65, of Linden, agrees.

"She's just a very pleasant person," Potter says. "I like the way she cuts my hair. We discuss hairstyles and what would be good and what would not be good. She makes you feel good. She makes you feel like family."

* Contact Ben Orcutt at

Circus makes changes to allow visually impaired children to enjoy the show!

An enormous Asian elephant stepped out from behind a big red curtain at the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus in Atlanta, Georgia.
Eli Hummer, 3, gets to try out an oversized motorbike at the circus.

Eli Hummer, 3, gets to try out an oversized motorbike at the circus.

An audience of 20 pre-schoolers clapped and squealed as the elephant was handed a tiny harmonica and started playing.

But, instead of sitting far away in the stands, the children, all visually impaired, were just a few feet away from the action.

Among them was 3-year-old Eli Hummer.

"He doesn't see, so to learn about it, he has to touch it and be close to it," explained his mother, Martha Hummer.

She said being able to use the sense of smell, touch and sound helps her son understand the concept of a circus.

Every year as it tours the country, Ringling Brothers sponsors a "Blind-Touch Tour" in about a dozen cities.

During a stop in Atlanta, Georgia, children from the Center for the Visually Impaired got more than a front row seat. After the show, they were invited into the circus ring to interact with performers and try out some of their props.

Eight stations were set up where children could touch and try on circus costumes, play with giant umbrellas and butterfly wings and sit on an oversized motorcycle.

Clowns roamed the ring juggling and trying to make the children laugh.

One clown dressed in a polka dot shirt and checkered pants took Eli's little hand and asked the boy if he wanted to touch the red clown nose.

Eli responded by trying to pull off the ball-like prop.

His teacher, Joyce Burnett, who is also visually impaired, spent two weeks before the circus visit preparing the kids in the classroom for the unique experience.

"We had clown shoes, a nose and a wig and we tried all of those on," Burnett said.

She said the students also listened to elephant sounds and drew the outline of the animals with chalk.

"Eighty to 90 percent of early learning comes through vision," Burnett said. "Our children are not using vision or (have) very little vision, so all of the other senses will make their world real."

Michelle Singleton, mother of 4-year-old Miya, said the experience is something the kids can't get anywhere else.

"The fact that she's on the floor now, she is really excited. She wanted to see the elephants so she's happy now," Singleton said.

Four-year-old Kristina Masta was fascinated with a trapeze swing that was hanging low to the ground.

One of the performers helped the girl climb on while her mother, Michelle Masta, stood nearby.

"Because of her visual impairment anything that is highly tactile and brightly colored helps out a lot," Masta said.

Her daughter weighed 1 pound, 1 ounce at birth and suffers from retinopathy of prematurity, a disease in which the small blood vessels in the back of the eye grow abnormally.

Masta said other people may not realize the limitations and challenges of having a visually impaired child.

"Everything is ten times harder," she said.

Masta smiled as her daughter handed her a rainbow-colored lollypop to unwrap.

"The kids feel special because they get to actually do something that the other kids don't do, and it is a real treat," Masta said.

England: Talking lamp post are installed to help the visually impaired

IF YOU heard a lamp-post talking, you might think you were going mad.

But speaking signs have been springing up to help blind and partially-sighted people.

Newcastle is one of the first places in the UK to pilot the RNIB React Talking Sign System, which aims to help visually impaired folk get around.

Speaker units can be fixed to lamp-posts on popular routes and are triggered by an electronic fob which users carry.

When the speaker is activated, it tells the user where they are and what is around them, helping them decide where to go next. And it talks in a North East accent.

Emily Clark of Sight Service, a Gateshead-based charity supporting visually impaired people, said: “It can give people confidence knowing they are in the right place. For someone who doesn’t know the town centre, I would say it’s particularly useful.

“I would imagine it’s quite surprising for people who hear it, because the speakers make these announcements to the whole street. Most people probably don’t understand why they suddenly start talking.”

The speakers have an 8m range, and the technology can tell from which direction people are approaching the speakers and give them the right information.

When a user approaches they will hear a short description of where they are, followed by a “bing-bong” noise, before a longer announcement of what is around them.

The pilot scheme began last year and has been well received by users so far.

The React system can also be linked to information boards in train and bus stations and at bus stops. Work is being done to find out whether this could be possible in Newcastle

There are some speakers in Monument and Haymarket Metro stations to help partially-sighted passengers find their way to the right train.

More are on lamp-posts on Northumberland Street, Blackett Street, Percy Street and on the way to Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary on Queen Victoria Road, where the city’s eye clinic is held.

Forty have been installed altogether.

Coun David Faulkner, the city council’s deputy leader, said: “React is a very good system and I think people will find it a very helpful navigational tool. This is just one of the extensions to our services to help visually impaired people.”

The speakers have a vandal-proof casing and can go high up on walls or lamp-posts to stop them being damaged.

The units can handle up to 16 messages of varying lengths and in any language.

The scheme will be officially launched on March 11.

Training dogs for the visually impaired!

Two Clifton Park families are training the first dogs in the Capital Region that they hope someday will help disabled people lead normal lives.

Lee Sheldon of Jonesville said she has raised three other puppies over the years as part of program to train dogs to be guide dogs for the blind.

“We had two successes and one flunk-out, but they were all great dogs and my family and I wanted to do it again,” she said.

But, the puppy that couldn't meet the exacting standards required for a guide dog could easily have been shifted into specific training for the National Education for Assistance Dog Service, which trains the dogs to serve deaf or otherwise disabled children and adults.

Leslie Neely of Clifton Park is also raising and training a Labrador retriever puppy for NEADS. She said each dog has its own personality and that personality must match with the job it will be assigned.

“A guiding eyes dog must be ready to step out and lead without any distraction,” Neely said. “A NEADS dog may be trained to fetch a phone or pick something off the ground if it is dropped by a person in a wheelchair, which is less restrictive.”

She said other tasks performed by the dogs include alerting a deaf owner to a phone ringing or someone at the door.

Dr. Richard Germano, medical director of the Animal Health Center in Clifton Park, has donated his services to neuter the dogs for the program.

He said Labrador retrievers are often used as service dogs because they are normally even-tempered and quite easily trained.

The breed is loyal and motivated to please so they train readily, he said.

Germano said he agreed to help with medical care for the NEADS dogs because he and his wife, Christy Ann Coppola, had recently spent two years raising a puppy for the Guiding Eyes for the Blind, the nonprofit guide dog school in Westchester County that provides the blind and visually impaired with guide dogs, training and lifetime support services.

He said although he loved the dog, named Darren, and misses him still, he feels a sense of pride that he participated in helping a blind person to gain some independence.

“If Darren were to fail in school, we would want him back,” he said.

Sheldon said she doesn’t want the lifetime commitment of owning a pet, but she does like to have a dog in the house and to help in its training.

Her 6-month-old trainee, Willow, runs through the house and last week spent an hour playing with Neely’s puppy, Jerri.

The women said training the NEADS dogs includes playtime and games like hide-and-seek with people or objects.

“You can teach commands with the games,” she said. “I will hide, and then I say my name until Willow finds me.”

Sheldon is the coordinator for NEADS in New York, and she and Neely have the first dogs in the program locally.

She said there are also NEADS programs in Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine and Massachusetts.

An orientation class is held at the NEADS headquarters in Princeton, Mass., before people and dogs are matched for the initial training program, which lasts about one year, Sheldon said.

“When you get a dog, NEADS pays for everything from the food to the medical bills,” she said, adding that donated medical services are sought whenever possible.

“The dogs and their costs are also tax deductible,” she said. “If you take them in the car for a doctor’s appointment, that mileage is deductible.”

Besides looking for families and individuals who are interested in a full-time training situation, NEADS also needs backup families to take dogs and continue the discipline and training when the main family is on vacation or otherwise unable to care for the dog.

She said anyone interested in participating in the program may write to her by e-mail to: and she will respond with the program’s expectations and opportunities.

School for the visually impaired are forced to sell part of their land to pay for renovations

THE Drumcondra-based St Joseph’s Centre for the Visually Impaired has been forced to sell part of its land to fund a much-needed refurbishment project after Government cash promises failed to materialise.

A new National Centre for the Visually Impaired was earmarked for funding as part of the 2002 Programme for Government.

But after seven years of fruitless waiting, officials at St Joseph’s have finally run out of patience and have decided to try and raise the money by selling part of their land.

Northside People has learned that the centre is now preparing to lodge an application for planning permission with Dublin City Council as part of the move to sell off over seven acres of its 25-acre site.

Brian Allen, CEO of St Joseph’s, explained why the centre is vital to the future of the facility.
“The centre was purpose built in the 19th century; it’s institutional and a totally unsuitable environment for the children,” he told Northside People .

“More and more we are working with people with multiple disabilities with specific health-care requirements. Very often these barriers are now health driven, for example the need for walkers or toilet training. Our current classroom space and learning facilities don’t provide adequately for the children and are hampering the education process.

“We need new premises so we can provide the right environment for learning – it’s our job to ensure these children reach their full potential. The new centre will more adequately provide the visually impaired of Ireland with appropriate accommodation for the current and future delivery of services.”
He added: “The new centre will also mean that we can aid parents in their assessment of a child from as young as six-months.”

A planning application for the 7.5-acre plot includes the proposal to build 356 residential units, a crèche, a public park and the new Centre for the Visually Impaired.

The Rosminian Fathers, who own the site, have commissioned Coady Architects to work on the project and it is expected that the application will be lodged with the council in the coming weeks.
St Joseph’s currently caters for 110 children with visual impairment on a pre-school, primary, secondary and vocational level.

The centre also currently operates the National Large Print and Braille Production Centre as well as providing training for those in direct contact with people who suffer from visual impairment in Ireland.

Local councillor Aodhan O’Riordain (Lab) launched a scathing attack on the Department of Environment for the situation St Joseph’s now finds itself in.

“Despite the fact that St Joseph's serves some of the most vulnerable children in the State, the department has repeatedly frustrated the management board's attempts to redevelop the schools and they have now been forced to turn to the property market in order to provide the kind of service they feel their students deserve,” he said.

“It is an absolute scandal that some of the most needy children in the country cannot have their needs directly met by the State.

“What message does it send to the families of those suffering from a visual impairment when this excellent educational facility is forced to gamble in the property market to secure the future of the centre?”

The school now finds itself in the unenviable position of trying to sell land in a depressed market. Two years ago developers would have been falling over themselves trying to secure the valuable site, but it could now take a considerable length of time before an acceptable offer is secured.

Visually impaired Paralympic athlete is back in action

With two Paralympic gold medals already in her collection, Viviane Forest decided she needed another challenge. Not just a simple challenge, but a change of life as well.

So she turned her world upside down - moving from Quebec to Edmonton and switching from a summer Paralympian to winter and chasing gold medals in alpine skiing - a sport she not only hadn't tried since a young child, but knew very little about.

``I had no knowledge about skiing,'' the petite blond said recently. ``I tried it only a little bit as a child . . . I knew nothing about racing.

``I didn't know what was a slalom or a gate.''

Just months into her first season on the World Cup circuit, Forest has already won two gold medals, three silvers and one bronze in seven races to establish herself as a gold-medal contender for the 2010 Paralympics in Vancouver.

``The luck of the beginner,'' she said modestly. ``My first year on the World Cup so I have no experience, not much ski experience about strategy, the right line and all that, so I can't ask for a better year.''

Born visually impaired, the 29-year-old native of Brossard, Que., won gold medals in goalball in the Sydney and Athens summer Paralympics in the visually impaired B2 classification. She has about four per cent vision - she can't read menus in restaurants, has to move close to even read the huge E on eye charts and sitting across a table she can tell what colour shirt her interviewer is wearing, but not much more.

``The only thing I struggle with is not being able to drive a car,'' she said. ``Every day I complain about it because it's so much freedom, just to be able to transport yourself somewhere, to do the grocery shopping.''

And her peripheral vision has been getting worse since she was 14, shrinking to where it's now about 10 per cent in front, tunnel vision.

Which made skiing a real challenge. She skis with a guide - Arnaud Rajchenbach of Montreal - immediately in front of her because she can't see the gates and they communicate through headsets in their helmets.

She took up skiing in January 2007 with the local Canadian Association of Disabled Skiers that taught her to ski, found her a compatible guide and convinced her to go racing.

``She is a natural athlete, picks things up rapidly,'' said Andreas Donauer, CADS ski school director in Edmonton.

She was hesitant because she wasn't confident enough and being a proud Paralympian, didn't want to embarrass herself.

She need not have worried.

Using borrowed equipment, she impressed the Alberta coaches and by the end of that season was selected for the Canadian development team.

``The first year I borrowed all the equipment, even the pants,'' she said with a smile. ``I had wrong equipment. My boots were three sizes too big. I was wearing four pairs of socks and I was complaining it hurt. When (coaches) saw my equipment they were like, `Oh my God.' ''

A year later she was on the national team after winning the 2008 slalom and giant slalom Canadian championships. Now halfway through the season, she is getting ready for her first world championships in Korea beginning Feb. 21 and then the World Cup finals at Whistler, B.C., from March 9-15.

She's quick to give credit for her rapid success to those coaches who have helped her, from the local CADS program to her development coach of last year ``who taught me everything.''

She picked up her first major sponsor last month - The Weather Network - to help offset some of the nearly $38,000 she figures it costs her to ski last year, when lost salary is taken into account.

She works with Aroga Group Inc., working with blind and visually impaired people, teaching them to use braille computers and helping them adjust to life.

``I love the teaching part,'' she said. ``Often it will be people who lost their vision, it's to give them the autonomy they think they will never have again. Or the young children born blind, teach them that they can read and write just like every other kid.''

She uses her own experiences of being born visually impaired and overcoming obstacles to win Paralympic gold medals.

``I always talk about different sports . . . tell them to find a passion and engage yourself in it.''

Edmonton Journal

Visually impaired student from Tampa was picked for Grand Canyon trip

McKenna Murphy will spend two weeks this summer rafting and hiking in the Grand Canyon, studying ecology and Native American culture and restoring a house.

The 14-year-old is one of 10 blind or visually impaired students from the United States and Canada chosen for the "leadership adventure" excursion, offered by Global Explorers, a nonprofit organization that arranges educational and service trips for students.

McKenna was born with a condition called ocular albinism, which makes it hard for her eyes to process bright lights and glare. She cannot see in bright sunlight but sees well enough to read and take notes in a dimmer room. She reads without Braille. She has trouble with overhead projectors, but her eyes can adapt well enough to computer screens for her to work on a computer. She is also colorblind.

None of that, though, does much to slow down the Adams Middle School eighth-grader. McKenna helps her mother make decorative tiles, practices tae kwon do, loves to read, works in her school's media center and hopes to get accepted into the academically intense International Baccalaureate program at Hillsborough High School.

She wants to go to college but isn't sure what she wants to do.

"That's why I try my best in every area," she said. "So I have options."

Her drive to succeed and positive attitude made her a good fit for the Grand Canyon trip, said vision teacher Teresa Martinkovic, who works with McKenna weekly at school.

Martinkovic heard about the Grand Canyon trip and thought it would be perfect for McKenna.

"She's adventurous, and she likes to try new things," Martinkovic said. "She's just a cool kid."

McKenna has participated in other activities for visually impaired students, including two trips to Space Camp at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala.

The 16-day Grand Canyon Trip in July will be part fun, part leadership training. It's one of two that Global Explorers is organizing as part of its "Leading the Way" program for visually and hearing-impaired students. The other is an April excursion to Costa Rica for deaf and hearing-impaired students.

McKenna's group will spend half its time rafting the Colorado River and hiking trails accessible only from the water. The students will meet scientists who will teach them about the ecosystem and discuss how tourism affects the environment.

The second half of the trip will focus on service and culture. Students will study Native American history and traditions. They also will join a service project, working on a house, and get guidance on individual projects the students will work on once they get home.

"I think this is going to be a really fun time," McKenna said.

Preparations for the trip have already started.

Each month, the students take part in a conference call so they can get to know one another, learn about the area and what they will be doing there. They also get homework. Meeting the other students has been fun, and they talk online regularly, McKenna said.

In April, they will spend two days in Colorado with Erik Weihenmayer, the first blind climber to scale Mount Everest. He has written two books about his experiences – one of which McKenna read -- and speaks to students about leadership.

The other aspect of the trip is fundraising, which Global Explorers requires as a leadership exercise. McKenna must raise $2,300 for the trip. She and Martinkovic are planning a raffle, where they are offering to clean the winner's house as a prize.

"M&M Housecleaning," Martinkovic said, joking.

McKenna's main project is selling decorative tiles that her mother, Nolia, an artist, makes. Normally $40, the family is selling them for $10 through her parents' e-mail address,

McKenna's mother developed the design -- a tree with high branches and winding roots wrapped around an acorn – and McKenna came up with the message in the middle: "Never underestimate the power inside of you."

Reporter Courtney Cairns Pastor can be reached at (813) 865-1503.

Beeping Easter eggs make an egg hunt fun for visually impaired children too!

What better way for children to celebrate Easter than with an Easter Egg Hunt? Now, specially designed Beeping Easter Eggs, available from Maxi-Aids Products for Independent Living, allow Blind and Visually Impaired kids to join in on the fun! Instead of going by visual cues, kids locate these eggs by following the loud, clear beep they emit.

"We are happy to offer our Beeping Easter Eggs," says Elliot Zaretsky, president of Maxi-Aids, leading supplier of products for the blind, low vision, deaf, hard of hearing and those with other special needs. "They give children who might otherwise be excluded the opportunity to participate in the special spring tradition of the Easter Egg Hunt."

Beeping Easter Eggs can also be used on Easter morning to provide an audible alert as kids with low vision experience the excitement of locating their Easter baskets. In addition, they're great for use at disability awareness functions as well as senior homes and assisted living facilities to bring the joy of Easter to all ages.

The beeper assembly and batteries are housed in the bottom half of each egg. The beeper is easily operated using a built-in ON/OFF switch and drilled holes allow sound to be transmitted more loudly. Each egg measures 3" Long x 2-1/4" Diameter and uses 2 replaceable and readily available type "N" batteries, which are included.

"We are pleased with the response we have received not only from blind and low vision groups, but also from community centers, church groups and even some individuals," notes Mr. Zaretsky. "Many people are planning to make these beeping eggs part of their Easter traditions for years to come."

For more information on Beeping Easter Eggs (Item #402733), product pricing or to order, visit, call 1-800-522-6294 or email Quantity discounts are available: email

About Maxi-Aids

For nearly 25 years Maxi-Aids, under the guidance of founder and president Elliot Zaretsky, has been at the forefront of the independent living industry, supplying an extensive range of aids and devices to improve the lives of the Blind, Low Vision, Deaf, Hard of Hearing, Diabetic, those with mobility and other special needs, as well as a growing number of senior citizens and baby boomers. Maxi-Aids is the exclusive distributor of the Money Talks Money Identifier for the Visually Impaired and Reizen products for special needs. Visit, call 1-800-522-6294 or email us at to learn more about our products.

Crawford Technologies translate documents for the visually impaired

Crawford Technologies announced the availability of a service to provide transactional documents for visually impaired customers in alternate formats. Crawford Technologies uses existing customer communications data to produce the requisite alternative formats for its clients’ visually impaired customers.

This is a clear example of how intelligent content delivery technology can be used to re-purpose content for a variety of business purposes.

In the case of Crawford, the value of the content is increased and customer loyalty and satisfaction is increased to a targeted audience (the visually impaired), without much added effort. Content is not re-authored, but re-purposed, published in alternate formats to meet specific business needs. CrawfordTech’s DAS accepts most common print files, including AFP, Xerox Metacode, PCL, PostScript, PDF, EBCDIC, ASCII Text and other data types such as XML, and produces the required format, including braille (grades One and Two), large format, audio and e-text.

Said Ernie Crawford, President and founder of Crawford Technologies, “Beyond the raft of regulatory requirements to provide these alternative formats to their customers, many of our clients recognize that this significant demographic is largely underserved. They have an opportunity to not only reduce their own risk and costs, but to attract and retain the visually impaired as loyal customers by promoting independence.”

Mr. Crawford is right on, and his logic and proposition is easily expanded to fit any number of other targeted communication paradigms. And yet, as a recent study showed, most organizations are not leveraging content delivery functionality to any significant manner, despite the availability of many technology options. This is an issue I have blogged on many times. What Crawford Technologies provides is an excellent example of one approach to intelligent content delivery - but it is just that - one example. The ECM industry has done a poor job in educating the market on the value associated with intelligent content delivery. Intellignet content delivery technologies and services potentially represent the next big movement in ECM.

Computer classes for the visually impaired are now available!

Before checking out those jobs in Manhattan, please take time to read about these helpful courses for those who are visually challenged. ATRIEV, a computer school for the blind and visually impaired, will conduct the following computer training courses in the first half of 2009:

PC Operations with Access Technology (Low Vision)
Trains students in basic computer literacy, especially in the use of a screen magnification software in tandem with Microsoft Office applications including Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, plus Internet, email, instant messaging and basic trouble shooting. The course also includes
competencies in work ethics and quality standards.

Digital Early Intervention Training for Kids
Teaches blind and visually impaired kids grades IV to Vi the Windows environment and Word Processing software in tandem with a screen reader or screen magnification software.
Class Schedule: 04 to 29 May 2009
Mondays-Fridays, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.


  • Completely filled up Application Form available for download or at the ATRIEV office
  • 2 pieces (1-by-1) ID photo
  • Personal interview by a member of the ATRIEV training team
  • Photocopy of diploma / certificates (whichever is applicable)
  • Photocopy of report card or transcript of records (whichever is applicable)
  • Consent of parent or guardian (for minors and those supported by parents)
  • Medical certificate for visual acuity

Registration fee: Php200.00 only

Tuition fee sponsorships are also available. Limited slots only!

For more information, click here or visit ATRIEV at 1680 E. Rodriguez Boulevard, Barangay Immaculate Concepcion, Cubao, Quezon City, Philippines, or call them at +632-725-4191.