Jumbo braille readers nationwide have a new library available to them. The Beach Cities Braille Guild has made its collection of books in jumbo braille available to readers through the Perkins Braille and Talking Book Library in Watertown, Massachusetts.
Known as the Harold Luther Memorial Jumbo Braille Library, the collection contains recreational books produced by the Braille Institute Press with funding from the Beach Cities Braille Guild. The Guild plans to add recreational children's books to the collection. Jumbo braille is an alternate form of reading for those who are learning braille or who have decreased sensitivity in their fingertips.
"This collection enables people who are blind with an impaired sense of touch, such as those with diabetes, to read more easily," said Kim Charlson, director of the Perkins Library.
The Guild is acknowledging donors to the jumbo braille collection by including decorative bookplates inside the donated books that bear the names of the donors or the people being memorialized. Robyn Ready Voth, a California art student, designed the bookplates for the Guild.
To borrow a book from the jumbo braille library, contact the Perkins Talking Book Library at 175 North Beacon Street, Watertown, Massachusetts 02472-2751, by phone: (617) 972-7240, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, or on the Internet at www.perkins.org. To volunteer, e-mail Lynne Laird, BCBG Jumbo Braille Coordinator, at email@example.com.
After nearly 50 years of dedicated service as a braille teacher and advocate, Norma Schecter's name will be engraved into stone and placed on the American Printing House (APH) Wall of Tribute. The Beach Cities Braille Guild of Huntington Beach, California, sponsored Schecter's inclusion in the Wall of Tribute as a way of honoring her significant contributions to the blind community of California. This honor was announced at a luncheon hosted by the guild in December 2003.
"We had a good crowd, about 30 guests and members, and messages were sent by absent friends and admirers," said Dixie Heins, guild president. "When we gave Norma the replica of the Tribute Stone for leaders and legends in the blindness field, there were lots of smiles and a few tears. She has taught so many people how to help the blind community. Norma will always be my hero."
During the luncheon, Schecter shared some of the artifacts she has collected throughout her extensive travels as a champion for braille. She has produced hundreds of books in her many years of braille transcribing, including novels, textbooks, religious scriptures and myriad miscellaneous items.
Photo Caption: Bernard and Norma Schecter
Schecter's interest in working with blind people began when she met her first blind person, Jim Burns, while studying at the University of California, Los Angeles. Burns, a fellow student, charmed her into reading for him. Schecter saw braille for the first time while reading for Burns but couldn't see how anybody made sense of all those dots.
Years later she attended braille transcribing courses taught by the Braille Institute of Los Angeles, and in 1959 received her certification in literary braille transcribing from the Library of Congress. "I fell in love with it right away," Schecter said of transcribing. "It was very satisfying. Can you imagine having literacy in your own two hands?"
Demand for braille soon grew in California as blind children began enrolling in public school during the 1950s. Schecter became an early proponent of braille in southern California. In 1974, she founded the Beach Cities Braille Guild, an organization that offers transcribing classes and services.
"Norma Schecter is an amazing woman. She has touched so many lives, both sighted and visually impaired," said Norma Emerson, a former braille student of Schecter.
In recent years, Schecter's declining health has not permitted her to continue transcribing braille, but her work for blind people continues. Schecter teaches braille over the phone, connects with transcribers who need help, and is known as the go-to person for nearly anything to do with braille.
At age 84, even with hands trembling from Parkinson's disease and failing eyesight, Schecter is still giving of her time. Her next task is to persuade the U.S. Postal Service to issue Louis Braille commemorative stamps in 2009, the 200th anniversary of Braille's birth.
The International Council on English Braille (ICEB) recognized the Unified English Braille Code (UEBC) as an international standard at its Third General Assembly held March 29-April 2, 2004 in Toronto, Ontario. Member countries of the ICEB may now consider UEBC for adoption as their national braille code. The delegation from the Braille Authority of North America (BANA) participated in the assembly vote and agreed unanimously to allow implementation of UEBC in countries that choose to use the new code.
However, BANA has not taken a stand on the adoption of UEBC in the United States. The Canadian Braille Authority will make the decision on UEBC in Canada. BANA will monitor UEBC activities around the world and make a decision on implementation of the code only after due consultation with braille readers and other stakeholders.
While ICEB accepted the current design of UEBC as outlined in the reader and transcription rules, it did not adopt specific braille format guidelines. Instead, it has directed a working group to study various format systems and identify the best principles and practices for effective tactile navigation.
The ICEB General Assembly has directed its Executive Committee to set up a mechanism for UEBC development, implementation, research, and promotion. The General Assembly acknowledged that additional research was needed on the impact of UEBC on writing in general and math and foreign languages in particular. Additional research on contractions was also identified as a priority.
The General Assembly also addressed information sharing among the member nations of the ICEB Tactile Graphics Committee, barriers to information sharing, outreach to developing countries, and the establishment of the World Braille Council by the World Blind Union.
For more information on the ICEB visit www.iceb.org. For information on the BANA visit www.brailleauthority.org.
Excerpted with permission from, "Dollar Value of Volunteer Time: A Review of Five Estimation Methods," published in the Journal of Volunteer Administration, v. 21, no. 2, 2003.
Americans are volunteering in record numbers reported the authors of an article published in the Journal of Volunteer Administration. The authors cited a survey published by the Points of Light Foundation in 2002 that showed 83.9 million people volunteered their time in the year 2000. The services provided by these volunteers were equivalent to the work of more than 9 million full-time employees or $239 billion in labor costs.
In "Dollar Value of Volunteer Time: A Review of Five Estimation Methods," researchers Anderson and Zimmerer noted that the surge in volunteer activity challenged nonprofits and government organizations to choose a method to assess the monetary value of volunteer time for use in financial reports and grant proposals. Currently there are no established guidelines for calculating the dollar value of volunteer time. Anderson and Zimmerer identified five popular valuation methods: comparable worth, minimum wage, average wage, living wage, and the independent sector formula. Each of these methods produces a different financial result, so the authors advise managers to keep the mission of their organization in mind when selecting an assessment process.
The comparable worth method assumes it is possible to closely match the work of a volunteer with that of a paid employee. Supporters of this approach posit that it is the volunteer coordinator's responsibility to match volunteer responsibilities with salaried positions within the organization. Critics say the goal of finding perfect substitutes for volunteer and paid positions may be elusive at best.
Though many organizations use the federal minimum hourly wage as a basis for calculating volunteer dollar-value estimates, the authors report that some researchers feel this method is a trap, as the minimum wage does not adequately reflect the value of volunteer activities. A more middle ground approach uses the average wage in the local metropolitan area to estimate the dollar value of volunteer time.
Another option is the living wage rate, a measure that is tied to the federal poverty rate for a family of four, approximately $17,800 annually or $8.23 per hour. The living wage formula provides a value that is intended to be more indicative of the actual cost of living. This method is considered to be best suited for basic-skill volunteer tasks, as it would undervalue more complex tasks.
An extensively used procedure for estimating the value of a wide range of volunteer services is the independent sector formula. The formula takes the average hourly earnings of nonsupervisory and nonfarm payrolls, increases that rate by 12 percent to account for benefits, and arrives at a dollar value of $16.05 per volunteer hour.
These methods give volunteer coordinators different options for estimating volunteer time value. Anderson and Zimmerer note that establishing a dollar value for volunteer time ignores the qualitative and long-term gains an organization receives from service donations. They suggest that organizations seek to account for the comprehensive value of volunteer hours when the service donated is more meaningful than the hourly wage equivalent.
by Sue Scheible
Originally published in the Patriot Ledger of Boston, Massachusetts, August 16, 2004.
Joe Joyce is one of the few remaining volunteers at the Quincy, Massachusetts, chapter of the TelecomPioneers. "Some days, we're down to four men and we used to have nine," Joyce said. "We need people badly."
The four regulars are Weymouth residents Joe Joyce, 75; Americo Rico Speranzo, 75; and James Walsh, 81; and Norman Collier, 81, of Holbrook.
Joyce is one of the steadfast TelecomPioneers of America, a national organization of volunteers who repair talking-book machines. The service group's motto is Answering the call of those in need. Some 6,000 people in Massachusetts borrow the machines each year from the Perkins Braille and Talking Book Library in Watertown to listen to books and magazines on audiocassette.
When the machines are sent to the Quincy chapter from the Perkins library, the volunteers figure out what is broken, install new drive kits, change tape heads, and replace amplifiers. The talking-book service is part of the Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown and serves people who have difficulty reading regular print due to physical disability from eye disease, stroke, dyslexia, or other conditions. The Perkins Library has been affiliated with the NLS network of cooperating libraries since the talking-book program began in 1931.
More than 18,000 people across Massachusetts use the library, including 225 in Quincy; 192 in Braintree, 135 in Weymouth, and 150 in Plymouth. There are five other TelecomPioneers chapters in the state, including chapters in Hyannis and Fall River.
"Quincy is one of the most active chapters in the state," said Kim Charlson, director of the Perkins Library. "Last year, the Quincy Pioneers repaired 2,449 talking-book machines and they have done more than 20,000 repairs since 1982."
"Four of us now can do four machines a day but we really need more people," Joyce said. "Some of our regular volunteers are caring for disabled spouses."
Joyce, a retired phone company equipment supervisor, volunteered in 1999 when he read a column about George Wilson, who had started the Quincy chapter in 1979 and was still going strong at age 90.
"You want to know what my secret is?" asked Wilson in 1999. "You've got to keep doing things. So many men I see, they say, 'I've worked all my life,' and all they want to do is sit down and take it easy. All they do is go to pieces. I've seen it happen."
That statement struck a nerve with Joyce, who left the phone company in 1985 at age 56 on a buyout, worked for eight years at Atlas Hardware in Quincy, and then retired. "I read that and it hit home because I was at the house, hanging around," Joyce recalled. "I was thinking, 'What the heck can I do?' and I saw the write-up and called George."
Americo Rico Speranzo also responded when he saw the column. After retiring as a captain in the Quincy Fire Department in 1984, he and his wife, Claire, spent winters in Florida, where both volunteered.
"I believe in helping people," he said. "It makes you feel good at the end of the day and it's all for a good cause. We're so fortunate."
Once a year, the TelecomPioneers are invited to the Perkins School to meet some of the blind and low-vision clients who use the machines. That always impresses Jim Walsh. "You can't believe what they can do even though they have no vision," he said.
From April through September 2004, 109 people received certificates in braille transcribing, 102 of which were awarded in literary braille transcribing, 3 in literary braille proofreading, 2 in mathematics braille transcribing, and 2 in music braille transcribing.
Literary Braille Transcribers
Zoanne Castro, Phoenix
Carroll D. Haddock, Douglas
Beth Ann S. Harris, Scottsdale
Rodney G. Jackson, Phoenix
Joanne M. Lyzinski, Phoenix
Rhonda S. Roberson, Phoenix
Carl E. Jackson, Wrightsville
Christopher D. Smith, Wrightsville
Frank S. Cheung, Folsom
Mark Dorn, Folsom
Steve M. Horcasitas, Folsom
Pamela K. Knudsen, San Diego
Barbara D. Moore, Hemet
Mary L. Pollard, Azusa
Deirdre C. Walker, Los Angeles
Monet V. Wright, Culver City
Marianne S. Arnold, Colorado Springs
Mary B. Rupp, Colorado Springs
Edward Brown, Cheshire
Christopher J. Hafford, Cheshire
Jose Lopez, Cheshire
Patrick Weeman, Cheshire
Curtis E. McAllister, Wilmington
Rebecca C. Canonico, Winter Springs
Margareth L. Douglas, St. Petersburg
Kathleen M. Weisfeld, Jacksonville
Jesse Brantley, Sugar Hill
Dwight Jones, Hardwick
Don D. Gerber, Boise
Donald A. Young, Boise
Thomas C. Richardson, Park Ridge
Charmaine E. Shettleworth, Evanston
Harriett Wolf, Wheeling
Vadim V. Barannikov, Lafayette
Theresa M. Dawson, Lafayette
Melissa J. Hanafee, West Lafayette
Velda M. Miller, Aurora
Carmela Morrison, Indianapolis
Rebecca J. Olszewski, Lafayette
Tina S. Patel, West Lafayette
Jerry Lee Cole, Anamosa
Elmer Moore, Anamosa
Larry D. White, Anamosa
Yew Kai Wong, Wichita
Monica M. Coffey, Louisville
Dwayne Banks, Jackson
Deborah Hanson, Royal Oak
Danelle Renee O'Dette, Norway
Linda D. Erwin, Joplin
William A. Erwin, Joplin
Michael J. Keeves, Las Vegas
Tarz D. Mitchell, Lovelock
Jesus F. Perez, Las Vegas
Diane K. Kastello, Morristown
Lillian M. Maestas, Albuquerque
Janice S. Brewer, Rochester
Anthony L. Leslie, Napanoch
Joan H. Purvee, Holley
Carolyn T. Sillars, Clarence
Lois Spritzer, Green Lawn
Karen M. Buelter, Hamilton
Jeanne E. Gallagher, Cleveland
Dee C. Eason, Portland
Tamie L. Gates, Cambridge Springs
Irene K. Hofstetter, Pittsburgh
Donna Johnson, Cambridge Springs
Patricia D. Kerber, Pittsburgh
Avis Lee, Cambridge Springs
Linda S. Sarno, Pittsburgh
Jean K. Simpson, West Chester
Donna L. Bailey, Greenwood
Rebecca R. Viggiano, Greenwood
Colin G. Bos, Yankton
Madore L. Schenk, Sioux Falls
Warner R. Sebree, Yankton
Danny T. Whiting, Sioux Falls
Rose Bontrager, Chilton
Angela K. Burley, Gatesville
Marsha J. Burnett, Gatesville
Katy L. Dumdie, Gatesville
Barbara L. Faulk, Gatesville
Angela C. Garrett, Gatesville
Carmen R. Gilchrist, De Soto
Lisa E. Hall, San Antonio
Ivy J. Harbour, Gatesville
Michelle M. Miller, Garland
Estella L. Mosqueda, San Antonio
Gloria Pena, Lampasas
Jennifer J. Ramsey, Gatesville
Lisa G. Robinson, Kopperl
Irene Rojas, Houston
Wendy R. Seelke, Gatesville
Thelma Smith, Gatesville
Carla E. Williams, Gatesville
Beth C. McNeal, Chesapeake
Shonda Foster, Vancouver
Tina L. Jensen, Maple Valley
Cassandra Scott, Vancouver
Yvonne Wood, Vancouver
Kathleen J. Bruening, Milwaukee
Violet O. Bunge, Elkhart Lake
Cheri McGrath, Wauwatosa
Literary Braille Proofreader
Linda Bobo, Hyattsville, Maryland
Literary Braille Proofreaders/Letter
Michael William Phillips, Phoenix, Arizona
Elizabeth Gensler, Wooster, Ohio
Mathematics Braille Transcribers
Janis Hynd, San Diego, California
Theresa Thorpe, San Antonio, Texas
Music Braille Transcribers
Lyale R. Shellman, Folsom, California
Victoria Scarborough, Danville, Kentucky
The Braille Development Section receives numerous questions concerning a variety of problems in braille transcribing. This article addresses some of those issues. The question-and-answer format is intended to provide clarity.
Student: I am about to begin working on my 35-page trial manuscript for Library of Congress certification, and I have a few questions about the title page and the contents page. I have studied Section 19.2B2 of the Instruction Manual for Braille Transcribing, fourth edition, 2000, concerning the grouping of items on the braille title page. I understand that two lines may be left between groups of items to fill out a full title page when there are fewer lines of information than usual. However, I have found it necessary to leave three blank lines between some of the groupings. Is this permissible?
Instructor: This is a very good question. The grouping of items on the braille title page is a common problem for many students. Ideally, the items on the braille title page should be grouped into units with one blank line between each unit. However, it is often necessary to add more blank lines between units to fill out the braille title page. If more blank lines are required, start at the bottom of the page and add one line per unit. For example, if two lines are left between groupings and one extra blank line is still needed, insert it before the volume and page information, which is the last unit.
Student: On the print title page, the ISBN number is shown with a space between two of the numbers and a decimal point between another. Should I follow the print copy, or should I insert a hyphen between each number? I think the hyphen is more commonly used.
Instructor: Since ISBN numbers are written in a variety of ways in print, follow print spacing and punctuation for the ISBN number on the braille title page.
Student: I am aware that on the braille title page, Arabic numerals are used to indicate the number of a particular volume and the number of volumes in the book. However, when a book consists of only one braille volume, how is this shown in braille?
Instructor: When a book consists of only one braille volume, the volume number is not written on the braille title page. Instead, the words In One Volume are used. (See Section 19.2B12 of the instruction manual.)
Student: The book that I have chosen for my 35-page trial manuscript for Library of Congress certification does not contain a printed table of contents. If I submit my trial manuscript without a contents page, will it be automatically disqualified?
Instructor: Yes. Section 20.2 of the instruction manual says that when choosing a print book for your trial manuscript, it must contain both a title page and a table of contents. Therefore, if your trial manuscript does not include both a title page and a contents page, it will be returned to you ungraded. Also, remember to include either a copy of the print book used for your trial manuscript or a copy of the pages transcribed, including all of the preliminary pages contained in the print copy.
Student: I am assuming then that I should not create a table of contents even though my print book contains chapter headings in the actual text.
Instructor: That is correct. Never create a contents page in braille if there is none in print. In addition, do not add items to the braille contents page that do not appear in print.
Student: When preparing my 35-page trial manuscript, should I braille the entire print contents page?
Instructor: No. When transcribing into braille the contents page for your trial manuscript, you should include only those items that you transcribe for your manuscript.
National Braille Association (NBA)
- NBA Fall Professional Development Conference
- DoubleTree HotelSeattle, Washington
- Thursday, October 20-Saturday, October 22, 2005
- For more information about this meeting, contact:
National Braille Association
Three Townline Circle
Rochester, NY 14623-2513
- California Transcribers and Educators of the Visually Handicapped (CTEVH)
- For more information about upcoming meetings, contact:
741 North Vermont Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90029-3594
- Visual Aid Volunteers of Florida (VAVF)
- For more information about upcoming meetings, contact:
1826 Bartram Circle West
Jacksonville, FL 32207-2294
(904) 725-2427 (voice mail)
National and international news is often readily available to visually impaired people through radio and television broadcasts, but the local news may be harder to come by. To fill the information gap of hometown stories about everyday people, the Talking Newspaper has provided a free service to people with visual disabilities and other handicaps for more than forty years. The all-volunteer organization records local newspapers on audiocassettes and sends them to people around the world.
Founded by Jacques Saphier in 1959, the Talking Newspaper is incorporated in New Jersey as a non-profit, charitable service. A host of local clubs and media outlets provide support to the charity including the Lions Club of Wayne, NJ; The Record, of Hackensack, NJ; and the North Jersey Media Group.
Saphier was inspired to launch the Talking Newspaper in 1955, while working as a freelance photographer. He had been hired by the Ridgewood News to get photos of a house that was damaged by fire. Inside the house, he met a survivor of that fire, a blind woman, who impressed him with her capabilities and knowledge of current affairs and the world. Yet when he asked her how she kept up with events in Ridgewood she said, "I don't."
That simple statement nagged at Saphier. Several days later, he borrowed her bulky reel-to-reel tape recorder and read the Ridgewood News into it. He returned to the woman's house and presented her with a tape filled with local news. That was the beginning of the Talking Newspaper.
Today, a cadre of 50 volunteers reads and reproduces tapes for the Talking Newspaper. Every week, volunteers record the local news on cassettes, and then mail the cassettes out to those who register with the Talking Newspaper.
Saphier takes pride in being able to provide people with news about the communities in which they live and that could affect them in their day-to-day lives. The Talking Newspaper is Saphier's raison d'être and he wants to expand the project both domestically and internationally. Currently there are local Talking Newspaper branches in the United Kingdom, Scotland, New Zealand, and Australia.
"You can start a branch of the Talking Newspaper in your county or town, and we'll give you all the help you'll need," said Saphier.
To learn more about the Talking Newspaper, go to www.TalkingNewspaper.org.
To speed delivery, send your address label from Update along with your new address to:Publications and Media Section
National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped
Library of Congress
Washington, DC 20542
Update is published quarterly byNational Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped
Library of Congress
Washington, DC 20542
Correspondence should be addressed to the Publications and Media Section.
Publications editor: Lina Dutky
Coordinating editor: Freddie Peaco
Braille student-instructor dialog: John Wilkinson