Thursday, September 29

Press Release: Disabled Employees Sue RSA

Here's another lawsuit that has been filed against the Department of Education in response to the downsizing.

Sept. 23, 2005 Contact: Heather
For immediate release

Disabled Employees Sue Rehab Administration for Discriminatory
Job Termination

A group of disabled and older Rehabilitation Services
Administration employees sued Department of Education Secretary Margaret
Spellings on Sept. 20, 2005 in federal court in Washington, D.C., asking
the court to keep her from firing them when the new fiscal year begins
on Oct. 1. RSA distributes federal grant monies to state and local
organizations to provide job and independent living skills training to
severely handicapped adults.

The employees work in regional offices around the
country, where they help grant recipients comply with the law and help
them run the programs more effectively. RSA's programs assist millions
of disabled people in communities across the nation, and its employees
provide a valuable knowledge base and institutional continuity for State
VR agencies, which are often underfunded and have high staff turnover.

In February 2005, the agency announced it would close
the regional offices and terminate all the employees, including the 24
plaintiffs, seventeen of whom are disabled and five of whom are Blind.
Only the 65 RSA regional employees, within the 4,500-employee Department
of Education, were targeted for downsizing. According to RSA
Commissioner Dr. Joanne Wilson, who is blind, a Department of Education
official told her that RSA has "too many Blind employees." Dr. Wilson
resigned from the agency in protest of the closing of the regional
offices. In recent years the RSA parent organization, the Office of
Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, routinely made illegal
inquiries about job applicants' disabilities before approving their
hiring. The hiring of qualified Blind job applicants has been
either delayed or rejected on at least three occasions in the last two

RSA contends that closing the regional offices will cut
costs, and headquarters employees will take over the work that was done
in the regions. George Chuzi, who is representing the group, says, "RSA
apparently plans to help the local VR organizations by remote control."
He is with Washington, D.C. law firm Kalijarvi, Chuzi and Newman, where
associate Heather White also represents the plaintiffs.

The law suit notes that both Houses of Congress approved
RSA's budget and appropriated more than was requested for some programs.
The group questions why the Department of Education did not ask for
enough money to pay the salaries of all of its employees. "They are
motivated by equal parts dislike of people with disabilities and dislike
of federal assistance to people with disabilities," says Wilson. "The
agency is destroying (our) lives,"said Mike Evans, a visually impaired
Vocational Rehabilitation Program Specialist in Dallas, TX.

The law suit alleges that the decisions to close the
regional offices and terminate the employees was motivated by the
agency's culture of discrimination against people with disabilities,
especially the Blind. They also point to the agency's failure to offer
to transfer them to headquarters in violation of the law on "transfers
of function," which allow federal employees to move with their jobs
when the functions they perform are moved from one competitive area to

The agency claims that this action is not a transfer of
function, while simultaneously insisting that all functions that were
previously performed in the regional offices will now be performed from
headquarters. The duties performed in the regions will go on, but
without the regional employees and their expertise. According to the
law suit, however, headquarters employees are unfamiliar with the duties
of the regional employees, making even "remote control" impossible.

The group is seeking a temporary restraining order
preventing RSA from firing the regional employees, who allege that with
the high cost of health insurance and their preexisting conditions, once
they are fired they will not be able to afford health care for
themselves and their families.

The National Federation of the Blind has filed a related
lawsuit on behalf of blind vendors who will be affected by the RSA's
closing of regional offices. Both cases are now before the U.S.
District Court for the District of Columbia.

Press Release: NFB Sues Federal Education Officials

Greetings. As a result of the decision to downsize services through the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA), which was made by certain people in the Department of Education, the National Federation of the Blind is taking another proactive stance and filing a lawsuit against the Department, with respect to blind vendors and their place to receive vending facilities from the RSA. Read more below. I received this on an email list through the NFB Net group of lists. The release was dated 9/19/05.


CONTACT: James Gashel
Executive Director for Strategic Initiatives
National Federation of the Blind
(410) 659-9314, ext. 2227


Restructuring Plan Will Decimate Employment Program for the

Baltimore, MD (Sept. 19): -- The National Federation of the
Blind (NFB)
filed suit on Friday in the Federal District Court for the
District of
Columbia against Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings and
one of
her subordinates in anticipation of changes at the Education
that will harm an important program designed to increase
opportunities for blind Americans. The lawsuit contends that a
reorganization of the Rehabilitation Services Administration
which is housed within the Education Department, will violate a
Congressional mandate requiring that a minimum of thirteen
equivalent personnel within the agency be assigned to administer
Randolph-Sheppard Act. That law, passed in 1936 and amended in
1974 to
strengthen it and provide for its administration by the RSA,
that blind persons be given priority to bid for opportunities to
vending facilities such as cafeterias and concession counters on

The National Association of Blind Merchants (NABM), an
organization of
Randolph-Sheppard vendors affiliated with the NFB, and three
blind vendors were also listed as plaintiffs in the court
filing. The
acting head of the RSA, Edward Anthony, is named as a defendant
addition to Secretary Spellings.

Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind,
"It is unconscionable that the Education Department is planning
to all
but abandon its Congressionally-mandated responsibility to
oversee the
Randolph-Sheppard program, one of the most important and
employment initiatives for blind people in the history of the
The unemployment rate among the blind is in excess of seventy
per cent,
and the manner in which the callous bureaucrats in the Education
Department are handling this matter is a sign of utter disdain
disregard for the hopes and aspirations of blind individuals who
want to
achieve the American dream."

Officials of the NFB and other organizations concerned about the
rehabilitation of the blind have argued for months that the plan
close ten RSA regional offices, assign their functions to staff
at RSA
headquarters, and eliminate the agency's Blind and Visually
Division, will lead to a general reduction in the quality of
rehabilitation services. The lawsuit contends that the same is
specifically true with regard to the Randolph-Sheppard program,
monitoring of which will be assigned to a small team of workers
will also be responsible for overseeing rehabilitation programs
seasonal migrant workers, Native Americans, and others. The
reorganization, scheduled to take effect on October 1, will
violate the
1974 amendments to the Randolph-Sheppard Act, which give the RSA
specific duties to oversee the program and require that a
minimum of
thirteen full-time equivalent staff members be assigned to carry
those duties. The court filing asserts that the reorganization
will mean
that less than half of the number of staff required by law will
assigned to carry out responsibilities relating to the

The suit requests a court order requiring the Education
Department to
maintain the current personnel and organizational structure to
administer the Randolph-Sheppard program as mandated by
Congress. A
hearing is expected to take place soon.

About the National Federation of the Blind
With more than 50,000 members, the National Federation of the
Blind is
considered the largest and most influential membership
organization of
blind people in the United States. The NFB improves blind
people's lives
through advocacy, education, research, technology, and programs
encouraging independence and self-confidence. It is the leading
in the blindness field today and the voice of the nation's
blind. In
January 2004, the NFB opened the National Federation of the
Jernigan Institute, the first research and training center in
the United
States for the blind led by the blind.

About the National Association of Blind Merchants
The National Association of Blind Merchants, a division of the
Federation of the Blind, is a membership organization of blind
employed in either self-employment work or the Randolph-Sheppard
program. It provides information regarding rehabilitation,
security, taxes and other issues that directly affect blind
and serves as an advocacy and support group.

More Petra News and Fan Reaction

Greetings. I've been reading various stories/articles on the Petra site and some fan sites this week, and I was delighted to find out that Petra will do a farewell tour in select cities around the world, through the end of the year. Actually, I think there's talk of touring for a short time early next year in Europe, but nothing after that. If you'd like to go to a show, then check out They have all the information of where the band will be and you can order tickets through their site, or you can reach them by phone at (800) 965-9324, Mon-Fri.

Petra will be in the Dallas area on November 18, at Irving Bible Church. You can read more about the church and the event on their site.

After checking with one of my best friends (I've got two of them, :), I've got a friend to go with to the show.

In related Petra news, they will be making a recording during their show in Tennessee next Tuesday evening, to be released in a live CD (Nov. 22), and DVD form to be determined. Apparently there was enough of an outcry by their fans for them to decide to make the live album. Frankly, given that the first and currently only live disk was made back in 1986, I'll really be looking forward to this recording, and the DVD whenever that comes out.

For more fan reaction to the retirement, check out A Guide to Petra and Petra Rocks My World.

After reading some of the things on these sites, I was pleased that many people around the world felt much like I did when I heard the news. Also, its easy to see how much of a legacy Petra collectively, and the individual members at various times, have created for themselves and the Petra name.

Tuesday, September 27

Press Release: NBP to Offer Book Downloads

Greetings. Here's another press release, this time from National Braille Press. This is very exciting. Personally, I think that it's about time they offered something like this. Read more below. Enjoy, and when you're done reading, go to their site, order some books, and download them immediately!

Note: the term "Port-a-book" refers to Braille Formatted files (.BRF), which can be read on most note takers, with OCR programs like Kurzweil or OpenBook, or other Braille to Print translating programs. Refer to the Blindness Resources page of my site to learn more.

NBP is pleased to announce a new, much-anticipated feature - you can now
purchase and download our books and magazines instantly from our

Downloading is easy: Just log in to our website and purchase books as
you normally would - but when you choose the format, choose "PortaBook
(Download)" from the format menu. After you've completed the purchase,
your books will be available immediately on a new "My Downloads" page.

If you subscribe to one of our magazines, Our Special or Syndicated
Columnists Weekly, you can now receive them as downloads as well!

When you subscribe, the most recent issue will appear on the My
Downloads page after your online purchase. Each time a new issue is
available, you will receive an email alert. Depending on your
preference, the email will either have the issue attached to it, or will
give you a link you can use to download the issue.

If you are a current subscriber to either OS or SCW (or if you'd like to
subscribe) and would like to start receiving the magazine as a download,
call Customer Service at 800-548-7323 (or 617-266-6160 ext. 20) to make
the change.

Here are some links to get you started:

Log in to your NBP account at

After you log in, your downloads will be available on the following

You can also find the My Downloads link on your Account page after you
log in:

And finally, get more help on our Downloads FAQ.

Press Release: OcuSource AMD Conference Concludes

Greetings. I received this press release in my email today. As with the conference that OcuSource had back in June, you can still access archived material even though you might not have attended the conference. Read more below. Enjoy.

Macular Degeneration Awareness Event Concludes: Archives Available Through October 31, 2005

Placentia, CA - September 24, 2005 and the AMD Alliance International concluded their AMD Awareness Conference on Saturday September 24, 2005. Recordings of all presentations
and exhibitor information will be available on the site through October 31, 2005.

The AMD Awareness Conference enjoyed several thousand unique visitors to the live portion of the event, and successfully provided over 50 presentations
by industry experts on topics of prevention, treatment alternatives, and diagnosis of the sight-threatening disorder. Age-related macular degeneration
is a deterioration of the retina which affects millions of seniors worldwide, causing varying levels of vision loss. Through an accessible and easy-to-use
web-conferencing system, attendees were able to listen to speakers, view slide presentations, and ask questions of presenters, all from the comforts of
their home or office computer.

"OcuSource and the AMD Alliance International wish to thank all those who donated their time to make the event a success," stated Dr. Lou Lipschultz, CEO
of and host of the online event. "Now that we have accumulated all of these outstanding online presentations, we wish to remind all the organizations
to provide information to the individuals and families of those dealing with macular degeneration that all of the recordings are available on the conference
website throughout the month of October," commented Lipschultz.

This first-of-its-kind event prompted other forms of creativity. Multiple "group viewing locations" have been established around the country to allow seniors
without Internet access to gain from the presentations and exhibits provided online. Local blindness and senior centers converted meeting rooms into
miniature theaters for viewing the event. Also, many of these locations will continue to provide viewing opportunities through the use of the recorded
"archives" found on the site throughout the entire month of October.
All the presentations as well as special offers from exhibitors and sponsors can be found by following links at OcuSource at,
the AMD Alliance International at,
or the event site itself,

About the AMD Alliance International
The AMD Alliance International is a global non-profit coalition of 55 organizations in 21 countries working to raise awareness of age-related macular degeneration
(AMD), the leading cause of vision loss in the developed world. The Alliance promotes prevention, treatments, rehabilitation, and support services for
AMD, and advocates for ongoing medical research and health care policies that will make treatment and rehabilitation options accessible and affordable
for everyone.

About OcuSource
California based, LLC is the owner and operator of, an Internet portal dedicated to assisting the low vision and blindness industry with essential online resources. OcuSource's mission is to enhance access
to products, information, and services to individuals with vision impairment, as well as the professionals who assist them, through a set of integrated
web-based resources. Founded in 2003, the company launched its subsidiary,
LetsGoExpo in May, 2005. The accessible online conferencing system allows organizations in any industry to provide online tradeshows, conferences, and meetings, all
in an integrated accessible voice-conferencing venue.

Monday, September 26

Petra Retires

Greetings. I'm not sure when the announcement was made about this, for my long time favorite Christian rock group, Petra, is retiring, after 33 years as a band.

Having only just read the press release about this, I'm not sure what to say right off. Any band that last longer than 20 or 25 years has either done really well and left a legacy, or has not done as well but managed to stay afloat. I would guess though that those that are really good and last for that long out number those that aren't.

Petra had a great impact on my life personally. My first Petra album on tape was "On Fire," and on CD was "Unseen Power." I came across Petra when I was just starting to get into music and beginning to develop a craving for rock; in other words, when I was 12 or 13. As much of a fan as I am, I've only been to two of their concerts, in 1989 and 1993, both times at the Six Flags Ampla Theater, and they kicked butt!

They've been a cool band, one that knew how to rock but also how to deliver a message without rocking out that hard. I wasn't really into the contemporary Christian scene in the late eighties and early nineties, composed of people like Wayne Watson, Sandy Patty, and others. I wanted to rock out, but there weren't a lot of Christian bands that really rocked, at that time. So I latched onto Petra almost immediately when I heard their music. And, looking back, I can see that Petra were real trail blazers in their style of music and for pushing the limits of what Christian music could sound like. I don't know this for a fact, but it would probably be fair to say that they influenced some of the other Christian rock groups that followed them in their methods.

I think my favorite album by Petra would be "Beyond Belief," boht in its music and the messages behind the songs. Its hard for me to pick favorites to begin with, but that would be right up there. Other good ones include: "Unseen Power," "On Fire," and "Wake Up Call."

Though I'm sad to see their music come to a close, their legacy will live on forever. Below you will find the official press release of their retirement, which can be found on Petra's official site. They have planned a farewell tour through the end of the year I believe, but no more after that.

So to Petra: "Farewell; you have greatly contributed, lead many to Christ in your music and really made some great rock tunes; and you will be missed."

Petra Retires
Christian Rock Pioneers Say Goodbye After 33 Strong Years
Nashville, TN - After 33 years of music and ministry, Christian rock pioneer PETRA will come to a close. December 2005 will mark the end to a ministry that
has boldly and consistently proclaimed the gospel in the United States and abroad. The decision to retire the band was mutual by all members.

"It has been a privilege and honor to represent our Savior and participate in His Great Commission. We have nothing but thanks to God for all He has done,"
says PETRA founder, guitarist and primary songwriter Bob Hartman.

"God used PETRA in my life in so many ways, as He did in so many other lives," says lead singer since 1986, John Schlitt. "I am truly thankful for having
been part of PETRA. We've had a good long run and have seen so much. We've seen God's hand at work in our music on every continent and in every language,"
he says.

The band has impacted generations of musicians and fans alike over the years with over seven million CDs sold, four Grammy Awards, 10 Dove Awards and an
induction into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame. PETRA, initially formed in 1972 by Hartman on vocals and guitars, paved the way for the rock genre perhaps
more than any other in the Christian music industry. Though a rotating cast of musicians comprised PETRA's lineup over the years, the band is closing 2005
strong with over 20 albums to its credit, the latest being the 2003 Grammy-nominated Jekyll & Hyde.

At present, Schlitt and Hartman have made no immediate plans for the future.

"I'm not sure what the future will bring for me," says Schlitt, "but when God chooses to show us His will, then we just go in faith and walk in faith toward
Him. He has never let us down, and He never will."

There are currently talks of a live album or box set to release in the future. Final PETRA tours in the United States and Europe are in the planning stages.
There will be no further concerts booked after this year.

"PETRA has always been one of the biggest names in Christian rock," says Inpop Records President Wes Campbell. "PETRA's contributions to our industry are
innumerable, and the band was very instrumental in the beginning stages of newsboys career. We are honored to have supported PETRA in its ministry and
music," he says.

Friday, September 23

JAWS 7 Details Posted

Yes, that's right. All the details of what's new and what's been fixed have been posted to the Freedom Scientific website today. Read about them on the JAWS 7.0 Coming Soon page.

Among the notable new features is:

  • Support for MSN Messenger 7.0 and 7.5. We'll see how good it actually is, but I know someone who will be very glad to hear this, :)

  • FS Clipboard: This is a new feature that builds on the Windows Clipboard, with a notable exception--you can append text to text you already have in the clipboard area! This is something that I've been waiting for someone to implement ever since I saw it on the KeyWord word processing application, introduced by HumanWare many years ago. Say what you want about HumanWare, but being able to append text to your already selected text is great.

  • Run JAWS from a USB thumb drive: This sounds like it really could be handy, but they're not completely there yet, at least as far as being able to use JFW with any computer, no matter if it has an authorization key on it or not. But it is progress, and progress is good.

  • Support for Mozilla FireFox: Granted, FS admits that they haven't gotten all of the bugs worked out yet, and that they're working on it. I say this could be a great thing though, since until now, blind people have been limited to Internet Explorer for their web browsing. Recognizing that not all people, blind or otherwise, are that satisfied with IE or Microsoft to begin with, giving another option for web browsing is good. Window Eyes beat them to the punch in their recent 5.5 public beta, with FireFox support, but that's ok. Competition is good.

  • And much more.

Word is, according to FS, that JFW 7 will be out by the end of September. I've heard rumors that it could be October. Either way though, its coming very soon, so I'd advise anyone who's mildly interested in it, to make sure that they're qualified to download and use it. In other words, it would be a great time to make sure your SMA is up to date.

Tuesday, September 20

A Necessary Evil

Greetings. It's nearly 6 in the evening as I write this and I'm still waiting for my PAC Mate to return via UPS. I've determined that I hate UPS. True, they're a necessary evil, since they're a big shipper of packages. However, I really wish they gave you more of a window of when said package would arrive, instead of the vague "... between 9 and 7." That reminds me of the old joke: a guy asks a girl out, and tells her that he'll pick her up sometime between 8 AM and 4 PM.

As I approach the final hour of waiting, since I've heard that they can be here until 7 tonight, I'm more jumpy and tense than ever. My dog, Tony, probably thinks I'm crazy since I will either be watching TV or listening to the radio; stop because I thought I heard something; and then rush to the door of my efficiency to open it and listen, even though he knows there's no one there. Frustrating!

A necessary evil, but I really, really, really wish that they'd give you more of a narrow time frame, or at least morning or afternoon. Gees.

Until later, this is the impatient, tense, and anxious Wayne, signing off.


Greetings. Well, let me first say that I'd normally be at work today, but I'm expecting my PAC Mate to be returned at some point today. So I was able to switch my days to be here to receive it. Since it has been gone for about 3 weeks or so, I am really going to be glad to have it back.

Anyway, staying home today gave me a chance to watch Monday Night Football last night. And, for the majority of the game, I was glad that I could watch it. That is until the last 4 minutes. I understand it was hot and the players on both sides of the ball, were getting tired, but come on guys! Dallas had a lead of 13-0 until the last 4 minutes, at which point Roy Williams missed some key coverage on Moss for Washington, and there you have the game. Dallas lost another game that went down to the final minute of play, but it didn't have to. As a result, we lost by one point. I guess the current players enjoyed the half time celebrations a little too much.

Oh well. Its only one loss in a 16 game season, but it hurts. The next game is San Francisco, which should be easy, but then again, this one was supposed to be. Just proves that the NFL of today is different than the NFL of years gone by.

Monday, September 19

Another Option for Watching the Ceremonies

Hi again. I just heard on the local ABC affiliate, WFAA Channel 8, that the full ceremonies tonight will be available in video form, on their website immediately following the game. Go to

HonorsNo One Will See

Greetings. Tonight, the Dallas Cowboys will honor 3 of their own, and arguably three of the best to play the game locally, and perhaps even nationally. That being Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin, and Emmitt Smith; the triplets. They will be inducted into the Cowboys' Ring of Honor. Aside from their individual accomplishments, if they had not been apart of the Cowboys of the early nineties, then its very likely that Dallas might not have gotten as many Super Bowls in those years.

Yes, they will be honored. However, for whatever reason, the NFL won't allow the local ABC affiliate to show the ceremonies during half time. I haven't heard the "actual" reason for this, but I think it has to do with the fact that not everyone wants to see the ceremony. I heard the main sportscaster, Dale Hanson, for the ABC affiliate, say on his radio show earlier this afternoon, that the local affiliate offered to have the ceremony or whatever ABC was airring, on another local channel, to try and please everyone. However, the NFL said, "No." Heck, the ceremony could even be shown on the NFL Network or any one of the many channels for ESPN, but this hasn't happened either. Though I hope that it will be replayed at some point down the road. At least give us that experience. Some have argued that the ceremony could have even been shown on the Dallas Cowboys channel that Comcast Cable had, but Comcast was told to end the channel, that it conflicted with coverage from the NFL Network. Never mind that if you look across the digital Cable and satellite fronts, you will see 5 or 6 channels that cover the same things but are named different, like Discovery, the Science channel; Nicalodeon, Disney, Nick 2, Nick JR.; and the list goes on. But, that's another topic all to its own.

I realize that not everyone will want to see, or perhaps even cares about, the ceremony honoring the triplets. What's really sad though is that pretty much the only people to witness the ceremonies will be the ones that are at Texas Stadium, and that's unfortunate. If you're interested in hearing the proceedings and can't get to the stadium, then I'd encourage you to tune into whatever local radio station carries the Dallas Cowboys Radio Network, with the great Brad Sham as play-by-play man, in your area. You can be sure that the radio network for the team will likely (though I'm not positive on this), carry the half time ceremonies in their entirety. It would really be unfortunate if the NFL told the radio network that they couldn't broadcast the events.

Again, I know you can't please everyone all the time, but let's have a little leadway for the community of the local team and at least allow them to watch their own ceremony. If you do tune into the radio network and listen to the proceedings, then I hope you enjoy them. I know I will. If however you miss them, well, I hope they will be repeated at some point somewhere on TV.

Sunday, September 18

Blog Searching Just Got Easier

Greetings. I've had quite a bit of tech related articles in my Inbox, so I thought I'd attempt to catch up this evening.

Anyway, here's another one that talks about a new feature from Google regarding searching in blogs. It comes from the San Francisco Chronicle, and is called New Google feature sorts through blogs.

Self-Driving Car May Be Closer Than You Think

Yes that's right, the self-driving car might be closer than you think. GM is working on one that they plan to have out by 2008. Read more from The Economist, Changing Gear. Though I'm sure they're not making it for the blind, it does wet my appetite for a car that I can confidently drive in the future.

New York Times to Charge for Web Access

This article intreagued me, not just because it involves a big name in media, but also because of the decision that they've made. For the record, they're only going to charge for access to certain columnists, but this could still greatly hurt the number of people that read or link to articles on their site. Read more from My Way News, Times to Charge for Access to Columnists. For those wondering, this will start tomorrow.

Beware of Cell Phone Marketing

Greetings. Here's a way of marketing/advertising your product that only took a matter of time to happen: companies sending advertisements as text messages to your cell phone. As with other things, they say that you can choose whether or not to accept the message, and gradually they will customize the ads that they send you. Personally, this sounds like those pop-up ads that sites tried to use several years ago, and they said that the ads you watched would be gathered from your surfing habbits. However, there's no cost to viewing an ad on your computer, and there is a cost with sending/receiving a text message, so I'm not sure how well this will work for them.

At any rate, here's the article from Yahoo, called Mobile' Marketers Eye Ways To Connect With Wireless Users.

AOL and Microsoft in Talks

Greetings. I saw this a few days ago. If AOL and Microsoft did merge, then it would definitley be interesting to see how Google would react, since as stated in this article, Microsoft is chasing Google in services provided. Not to mention the impact it could have on the current instant messaging software that they both have, and how that might change. Anyway, read it for yourself, from the International Herald Tribune, the article entitled, In AOL, Microsoft sees a mate for lonely MSN.

Thursday, September 15

Traditional Media Outlet Branches Out

Greetings. Here's an interesting story from a traditional media outlet that is going to branch out in a few days. Read more about AP Plans Multimedia Wire Aimed at Younger Readers, from the International Herald Tribune.

Another Use for Camera Phones

Greetings. I saw this on an email list that I'm on. It seems that all the pieces are coming together to have an optical scanning program run on a camera phone. Now if we can just put a speech engine on them, then perhaps the blind can scan and hear the text of signs, menus, and other printed items that you might come across in your daily travel. This would be especially helpful since you can't always carry a laptop and scanner with you to scan a menu. Enjoy.

Camera phones will be high-precision scanners

List of 3 items
• 16:12 14 September 2005
• news service
• Duncan Graham-Rowe
list end

The software, developed by NEC and the Nara Institute of Science and
Technology (NAIST) in Japan, goes further than existing cellphone camera
by allowing entire documents to be scanned simply by sweeping the phone
across the page.

Commuters in Japan already anger bookstore owners and newsagents by using
existing cellphone software to try to take snapshots of newspaper and
articles to finish reading on the train to work.

This is only possible because some phones now offer very rudimentary optical
character recognition (OCR) software which allows small amounts of text to
be captured and digitised from images.

But with the new software entire documents can be captured. As a page is
being scanned the OCR software takes dozens of still images of the page and
merges them together using the outline of the page as a reference guide. The
software can also detect the curvature of the page and correct any
so caused, enabling even the areas near the binding to be scanned clearly.

Copyright furore

Using the new software with a 1-megapixel camera held at least 20centimetres
away, an A4 sized page takes about 3 to 5 seconds to scan. This produces
21 and 35 images which the software merges together to extract the text and
record any images.

"The goal of our research is to enable mobile phones to be used as portable
faxes or scanners that can be used any time," an NEC spokesman told New

But the concern now is that this technology will catapult the publishing
industry into a copyright furore similar to that which has gripped the
industry in recent years.

"There's no easy solution," says Andrew Yates, intellectual property adviser
to the UK's Periodical Publisher's Association in London.

"The music industry has been struggling with this for some time," he says.
But with music the issue is whether or not you allow people to copy music
have already purchased, says Yates.

Cause for alarm

With print publishing the situation appears to be even more intractable
because the new software will make it possible to make copies without even
the original, he says.

Licensing agreements may be one option he says. But also people will have to
learn that certain rules of conduct still apply. "It is true that this
may cause copyright issues if it were to be used in an unorthodox way," says
the NEC spokesman. But NEC would never encourage such behaviour, he adds.

According to NEC, their software is designed to sound an alarm when being
used, to avoid any copyright conflicts. The company claims that any attempts
mute the device somehow or plug in headphones will not affect the audibility
of this alarm.

NEC and NAIST say they do not plan to commercialise their software for three

Monday, September 12

Recommendation for Remembering

Greetings. I didn't post this yesterday due to the emotions that I remembered and felt during the show, so pardon my tardiness. I saw a great show on the National Geographic Channel covering the terrorist attacks on 9/11/01. They did a great job of weaving all the events together that led up to the attacks and during the attacks. The show ran about 2 hours with few commercials, and will be available on September 23 I believe. The National Geographic Channel has set up a website with much of the information from the show, and more, including: timelines, audio and video sound clips, and much more. The site is called Inside 9/11, and as I said, the show had the same name. The show will be made available on both video and DVD. Actually, the DVD version is set to be a 2-disk set, so there's bound to be lots more information than just the show itself.

I'm not sure that I'd want to have a show like that in my collection. However, it was remarkable how well put together it was, with audio clips woven in from the pilots of the F-15 and the F-16 fighter planes, as well as some clips from the actual American and United planes used in the attacks. They also had what sounded like horrific images of the two towers, the Pentagon, and other things that I'm guessing weren't immediately made available from the government directly after the attacks. There was also lots of brief segments where the spouses of some of the people on the planes, spoke about the time leading up to the attacks, and what they went through. There were many segments with government officials, like the Speaker of the House, the Press Secretary, members of the press, and even the Vice President, and President Bush himself at the end.

Like I said before, it brought back many of the emotions that I and others had during that time. While I'm not sure I could stand to have that show in my video/DVD collection, it was so well produced and put together, how can I not? They would constantly say, "New York, 9:15 AM," and then talk about what happened at that precise moment in New York. There were many people profiled and mentioned, and even ordinary citizens that did what needed to be done. And I'm not just talking about the people on United Flight 93.

Again, I thought of putting this up yesterday, or even what I went through, but the emotions got the better of me. Besides, the Dallas Cowboys had their season opener, and that provided a nice distraction after the show was over.

I will say something that I did think yesterday though: even though Hurricane Katrina is still very much fresh in our minds and hearts, let's not, no, let's never forget about the horror; the tragedy; and the ultimate triumph that happened on and around 9/11. Its been 4 years since the events, and while I'm much more comfortable with them, its shows like Inside 9/11 that bring it all back, and help me remember all that happened, which is not a bad thing.

I may yet post what I went through on that day, and I might not. The bigger point that I want to make here is not to forget. Just like the hurricane and all the lives it has touched: "Donate, and don't forget."

Wednesday, September 7

My Church is Stepping Up

Greetings. This article appeared in the Dallas Morning News over the weekend, and is about the church that I attend. It would kind of cool to go to church on Sunday and hear about how it made into the paper. Anyway, here's the article.

September 4, 2005

Church ready to help - however and wherever it can

Lake Highlands: Volunteers aid those in South and in Dallas

Author: LAUREN D'AVOLIO; Staff Writer

Edition: WEST
Section: METRO
Page: 2B

Images of wholesale destruction along the Gulf Coast hit too close to home for many parishioners at Lake Highlands' Scofield Memorial Church.

Like Wanda Campbell, who works in the office at Scofield.

"I have family down there - and I have family I can't find," Ms. Campbell said, choking back tears.

"You just want to hope for the best. With our Bay St. Louis family, we fear the worst. They were very near the coast. We just don't know."

So Ms. Campbell and several other church members plan to head to Louisiana on Monday bearing truckloads of donated supplies to help those hurricane victims
in the most dire need, primarily infants and the elderly.

All conceivable items, especially for nursing home patients and babies, are being collected at the church, 7730 Abrams Road from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. today
. By Monday night, the donations will be in the hands of those in need in Baton Rouge, she said.

Scofield Senior Pastor Matthew St. John said that $100,000 poured into the church to aid in hurricane relief, but the church will need more to help house
up to 140 evacuees at the church's camp, El Har, in Dallas. As of Saturday afternoon, some individuals had started to trickle in, he said.

"We're working on being sure the camp can stay a shelter for as long as is necessary," Mr. St. John said. "The Lord calls us to stumble on these things.
We're taking the bull by the horns, if you will. ... We all need to do something, and we're all working hard to do our part. We're trying to focus our
attention on Louisiana and Texas. There's plenty of opportunities [to help] in both places."

Ben Killerlain, student ministries director at Scofield, said the church has "adopted" about 220 people staying at La Quinta and the Best Western hotels
near Central Expressway and Midpark Road. Mr. Killerlain said a coalition of churches is willing to provide meals for an indefinite period. Moreover, the
church is using donations to purchase $50 gift cards to Wal-Mart and is soliciting restaurants to provide food for those in the hotels, Ms. Campbell said.

"There are people who have needs. God has given us gifts," Mr. Killer lain said. "It's our responsibility to love them and meet their needs as best we can."


PHOTO(S): (MEI-CHUN JAU/Staff Photographer) Matthew Gilpin loaded donations into a truck Saturday at Scofield Memorial Church. They will help nursing home
residents and infants in Baton Rouge, La. CHART(S): E-MAIL US

Copyright 2005 The Dallas Morning News

Blind Woman Becomes Judge

Blind Woman Becomes Judge

Law: Justice can be blind; The blind have a future on the bench

By Grania Langdon-Down
The Independent (London), November 26, 1998

When Diane Cram takes her place today on the magistrates' bench, a
gentle squeeze on her hand by the chairman will warn her when to
bow as she can see nothing - neither light nor dark. But, with her
nine-year- old German Shepherd guide dog, Prudence, at her feet, Mrs Cram
is determined to maintain the dignity of the court and dispense justice
clear-sightedly as her fellow Justices of the Peace (JP).
Mrs Cram, 43, who has been totally blind for 15 years after
suffering penicillin poisoning as a teenager, is the first blind
fully-fledged JP to hear cases in the magistrates' court. She
admits to being very nervous before her first day on the Exeter and
Bench last Thursday. Her main concern by the end of the day was how she
could manage the magistrates' heavy chairs.
Today is her second day on the Thursday bench and her last for the year -
a new rota will start in the New Year, when she will sit regularly.

"I was terribly nervous. But I didn't feel that there was anything
I could not cope with, or missed, during the day's hearings. The
solicitors were aware of the situation, so they clarified points
verbally rather than just referring to notes or reports. "We heard
a variety of cases - bail being broken, a combination order of
probation and community service not being kept, and I wasn't out of
line with what the others on the bench were thinking." In fact, she
admits, the only concession that there was anything unusual, or
that any change had to be made in court to cater for her lack of sight was
that a bowl of water was put in court for Prudence.

Mrs Cram says that before she was appointed to the bench, she went
with a friend to listen in on a case in court. Her friend remarked that
the defendant was filthy, whereas Mrs Cram said she thought
that he sounded quite respectable. She says: "Appearances shouldn't make
difference, but some people might have thought that he was
guilty because of the way he looked. I wouldn't choose to be blind, but
there is some advantage in not being judgemental
for its own sake."
Andrew Mimmack, Clerk to the Justices at the court, says they did
not intend making any reference to Mrs Cram's blindness when she was in
court. "It would be embarrassing for her and would make the court somehow
extraordinary when it shouldn't be." The court would make sure that she
not listed to hear certain types of cases such as those involving video
identification evidence or a large amount of documents, he adds.
Three other visually impaired candidates, who will start hearing
cases in the New Year, were selected with Mrs Cram during the
summer to take part in a pilot scheme to see whether the requirement of
"satisfactory sight" should still apply to the magistracy.

The Royal Commission on Justices of the Peace concluded 50 years
ago that blind people should not be allowed to become JPs because
they could not read documents, examine plans or observe the demeanour of
witnesses, and they would not have the confidence of the public. However,
the Lord Chancellor, Lord Irvine of Lairg, has argued that, with the
exception of a minority of cases, blind people should be allowed to
become magistrates. He will review their progress after a year.

The prospect of blind magistrates has not been universally welcomed. Sir
Michael Ogden QC, who retired last year after 33 years as a part-time
judge, argues that "a zeal to avoid discrimination may in this instance
result in injustice to either prosecution or defence, in some cases
because the blind JP will not be able to observe the demeanour of a witness."

Sir Michael says he has received support for his views from magistrates
around the country. He dismisses the Lord Chancellor's
argument that blind magistrates would not be sitting alone but as
members of a bench of three which would pool its assessments. He
considers it is wrong to have anyone on the bench who is not fully
effective. Blind people do many remarkable jobs, he concedes, but
they should accept that it is not possible in a courtroom.

Lynda Belton, who will be sitting in Leicester, has no truck with
Sir Michael's objections. "No one will be disadvantaged by having
me on the bench hearing their case. "A magistrate's main job is to
listen, apart from reading the odd report, and I can listen as well
as anybody else. What other people pick up from body language, I can get
from the intonation in someone's voice."

Mrs Belton, 49, has no central vision but some peripheral vision, so
while she cannot read, recognise people or drive a car, she can
walk around "perfectly normally". Nick Watson, who is Clerk to the
Justices in Leicester,
believes that her training has gone very well. He is pressing the Lord
Chancellor's Department for authorisation for a pounds 3,000
optical character reader which scans printed documents and reads them
over headphones. This would enable Mrs Belton to consider
pre-sentence reports or doctor's certificates along with her colleagues on
the bench. Handwritten letters would have to be read out to her.

Mr Watson says: "I was led to believe that there would be no
difficulties, because of the importance the Lord Chancellor was
placing on the subject. However, wheels grind slowly. But I am confident
will get the equipment before she starts sitting." In Wiltshire, David
Brewer is the Clerk to the Justices at Swindon Magistrates' Court where
Giles Currie and Peter Carr will be sitting. He was candid about his
initial views about the ability of blind magistrates to cope.

"It soon became clear my preconceptions were absolutely ridiculous
and that blind magistrates could operate in a very effective way - it was
quite a conversion," he said.

Mr Brewer says that the principal difficulty would arise over cases
with a high element of visual evidence, such as a dangerous driving
case which hinged on a video filmed from a police helicopter. "In a
case like that, the magistrate would disqualify themselves from
hearing it, something magistrates do quite often for a variety of

There is also the concern that magistrates need to see witnesses
and defendants so they can read their body language," said Mr
Brewer. "But, first of all, body language is a fairly unreliable
measure of truth. Secondly, sighted magistrates are not trained in
any structured way about reading body language, so arguing that it
is an essential element of their decision-making is pretty curious.
And thirdly, it is open to blind magistrates to judge someone's
truthfulness from clues other than visual ones."

Mr Currie, 64, suffers from a deteriorating eye condition diagnosed
40 years ago. He cannot read but has scanned the 200-page Magistrates'
Handbook into his computer which can read it back to him. This provides
guidance on offences and penalties, given aggravating or mitigating
factors, to ensure consistency of sentencing.

"It is fair to say that if I was involved in a motoring case and the whole thing hinged on a photo of a double-decker bus wrapped around a lamp-post, I
wouldn't be very good. But they understand this at the court. They know in advance roughly what the evidence is going to be
and can steer one away from cases where it is very visual.

"It is also inconceivable that I would sit with my good friend
Peter Carr, so in a bench of three, there will always be two sighted

Mr Currie also points to another benefit: "The legal establishment
is totally mesmerised about whether people are Freemasons. If
someone starts making semaphore signals from the dock, it's not
going to influence me."

Sunday, September 4

Beware of Katrina Scams

Well, it was only a matter of time I suppose, and now the various people wanting to take advantage of Hurricane Katrina, are beginning to scam others. I have even heard that the F.B.I. is looking into Katrina email scams. If you want to give, I'd recommend the Red Cross, a local church, a radio/TV station that might setup a "Katrina drive," or other similar outlet. If you get an email or see a website that wants you to help with hurricane victims, and you're unsure if it's for real, then check with the Better Business Bureau. They've setup a page especially for Hurricane Katrina.

Journal: Tuesday August 23

I’m writing this portion a couple of days after it actually happened, just because this is the first time that I’ve gotten to compose.

Tuesday morning started very early for me, at about 4:30. Now I can better understand and relate to what my parents go through when they come to Dallas from Guatemala and have to get up early. For an 8:00 flight, we had to leave the house by 5:30, since we had to be at the airport by 6. And, since I value my showers, and since I’m sure my fellow passengers also value it when I take showers, I got up at 4:30. Anyway, getting ready went fairly smooth.

We got to the airport by 6 and made it to the check-in line for American. That line was moderately long, so it was about half an hour before I made it to the actual check-in desk. This time though, I asked the check-in person for an English speaking assistant. To my surprise, this woman, named Ingrid, ended up volunteering to walk me through to the gate.

The next part I’m a little ashamed to admit, mainly because I wasn’t thrilled how things ended up going, but pleased. Ingrid suggested that if I were to ride in a wheelchair, that it would be lots easier in going through security. I wasn’t convinced of this until my parents told me that the security line was very long, and that it might have taken easily an hour to go through normally. So, I took the wheelchair, under protest.
And, it was quicker and easier. I almost blew my cover though when a security man was feeling around me in the chair. I thought of offering to stand up, but then I remembered my situation, and said nothing. If I had stood up, then that would have messed up my chair image I suppose. Anyway, my parents couldn’t go with me through security and we had to split up. That was hard. I’m not sure I realized just how hard until my Mother leaned over me and was crying. My Dad didn’t cry, but he was sad as well. As I was being pushed off, I kind of felt like I do when going to surgery in the hospital. Since in that situation, there’s a point when you’re separated from your loved ones, and you are pushed onto the O.R. This left me with the same feeling. It was then that I was filled with sadness, but I knew I couldn’t be with them forever.

The rest of the airport time went fine, up to when I boarded. The plane trip coming back went smoothly as well. I found that I was more tired that I had realized though, since by this point, I had been up for 3 and a half hours. The in-flight movie was actually one I recognized and had seen before, “Hitch.” But, since I was tired, I slept for an hour or so, and then did a little work on my PAC Mate note taking device. The rest of the flight was uneventful.
The plane arrived about 25 minutes early at DFW Airport though, so we taxied around the airport until we could go to our gate assignment. Since we arrived early, there was still another plane there. Anyway, when I finally deplaned, I discovered that whoever had been called to assist me through immigration and customs, was not there. I ended up waiting about 20 minutes for the proper person to be called. My older brother Neil, who came to pick me up, later told me that he was wondering where I was and was about to check out where I might be, even though he couldn’t go too far in the airport since he didn’t have a ticket. Anyway, the man who was to help me finally came and we were off. What I liked about this guy was that he had dealt with blind people before, and was very good in giving me information about the immigration/customs process.

Going through immigration wasn’t that hard, though it was far more information rich than it was in Guatemala. After answering a few simple questions about my visit and if I had brought anything back, and what, I was on my way to baggage and then to customs. Customs was even simpler than immigration, where a woman basically just looked over my papers and then said, “Welcome back.” And then my escort and I were on our way to meet Neil, which we did soon after that.

And that’s my trip. I saw a lot, learned a lot, and got to spend some good time with my parents. I’d like to go back to Guatemala at some point, but it may not be for another 2 or so years, since it does cost quite a bit. Though I bought my tickets a month ahead of leaving. If I had purchased them even further in advance, I might have actually paid a reasonable price. Oh well. That’s all I have to say about the trip. Hope you enjoyed reading it.

Journal: Monday August 22

This morning, we had breakfast outside on one of the patio areas near the restaurant. I had a ham and cheese omelet, but the cheese was, though prepared, not melted like in omelets that I've had in the States. It was quite good though. My Dad offered me his watermelon juice, or sandia, which means "watermelon." After breakfast we returned to our rooms and my Mom and I changed into our swimming suits and we all went to the swimming pool, which had a 20 to 25 foot tall water slide, along with some caves and a fountain. I should say that none of the pools in Guatemala seem to be very deep. Even the hot springs never got more than 4 or so feet deep. The swimming pool here was about 3 and a half to 4 feet all throughout.

The "caves" were basically cut outs in the rock, but the cut outs went up really high, like as much as 8 feet inn places. There was a fountain that came down over those openings with different amounts and speeds of water at different places. It was fun to explore that area. We then swam around for awhile and explored how big the pool was, which was pretty big. After awhile, we went to the water slide. The slide was big, but not too big. Even my Mother went on it, each time that I did, which equaled about 4. I had the most fun probably listening to her come off the slide. The description can’t do it justice, but all I would hear would be her short scream, and then a splash. It was terribly funny, and each time I heard this, it caused me to double over with laughter. Then when she asked what was so funny, it took me a few minutes before I could catch my breath. We later found out that the Guatemalans go down the slide sitting and land on their feet when they come off the slide. I can’t imagine going down a water slide sitting sstraight up. That seems to go against the “rules of sliding” for me, : There are some interesting pictures of us going down the slide and landing.

We went down the slide several times and then explored the fountains and caves some more. We went down the slide once more before finally getting out and drying off. We then went back to our rooms and changed and packed up our stuff to check out. While my Dad was loading the car and checking out, my Mother and I walked around the hotel grounds, admiring the landscape and taking quite a few pictures of the trees, the birds, and other landscaping.

The landscape around the hotel grounds was beautiful! It had many palm trees, vines around some of the trees, pretty flowers, different kinds of birds, other trees, ferns, tropical plants, and more. It's hard to describe the lush environment. We took quite a few pictures, but I'm not even sure those can capture the beauty. Many of the trees were very large. In the States, you might buy a small crocus plant for $7, that might only be 10 or so inches tall. Here, since they have the tropical environment going year round, their crocus trees are 9 feet tall. Plus, some of the palm trees with tactile circles going around their trunks every couple of inches, were 15 feet tall. My Mother said that I wasn't missing much though since this beauty is only a fraction of what I'll see in Heaven, but that fraction was pretty awesome!

When we finally pulled out of the hotel area and left Irtra, it was about 12:30. Guatemala is a country of contrasts. Even though Irtra was beautiful, as soon as we left its limits, we saw some poor people, many with no shoes, walking along the roadway. To further explain the contrast, there was several ordinary houses right by the nice city of Irtra.

We stopped for lunch at about 1 at a place that looked like a nice Denny’s restaurant. I had the special, which was a chicken sandwich, fries and an ice tea. We were on the road again by 2 and home by about 4:15.

Monday evening

After my Mother got dinner started, she took me on a tour of their neighborhood, which was in a large rectangle shape. We met some of her neighbors and chatted with them for a little while. We had to cut our tour short though, since there was the rumble of distant thunder. The neighborhood consists of about 47 lots, 30 of which have houses on them. The other 17 lots are empty and there are these empty lots every few houses throughout the rectangle neighborhood. In fact, my parents’ house even sits by an empty lot. Across the street from their house is a moderately sized field where the neighborhood kids often play soccer in the afternoons. My parents left the front door to their car port open Monday afternoon, and we heard the sounds of boys playing games in that field. That was kind of cool to hear, and for me anyway, gave it a real “neighborhood feel,”

I spent much of Monday evening packing, which my Mother helped me with, which I greatly appreciated. Especially since I brought backa few things and had to arrange everything in my suitcase just so. After we packed and got everything squared away, my Mother and I played a few last games of the Mexican Train dominos game. This seemed to go on forever, mainly because in the last game, we couldn’t find the proper dominos to end the game. Anyway, we had lots of fun. My Dad was watching TV this whole time, “vegging out” as he calls it. We had to get to bed at a decent hour since we would be getting up really early the next morning.

Friday, September 2

Winamp 5.1 Surround Sound

Yesterday, Winamp 5.1 Surround Sound edition was released. There are several notable features included in this version. I am posting the list of what's new and what's been fixed from the What's New.txt file included with any Winamp version. Here it is:

Winamp 5.1 Surround Edition:
* New: CodingTechnologies AACPlus encoder!
Awesome at low bitrates too!
* New: Grand Prize Winner of the Internet Surround Music Project!
KAJE - Hey Buddy (featuring Afrika Bambaataa)
* New: SHOUTcast Wire - A Media RSS Browser and Subscription Service
* New: Predixis Smart Playlist Generator
(Mix your tracks based on what they sound like!)
* New: AOL Radio featuring (((XM))) Free Sampler!
* New: CD Ripping now available at 8x in free version!
* New: Microsoft WMA encoder
* New: Over 200 new Milkdrop presets!
* Update: in_vorbis now returns bitrate in getextendedfileinfo
* Fixed: WMA stuttery playback
* Fixed: out_ds copy button on status tab now works all the time
* Fixed: Much improved ripping and playback with Sonic engine
* Fixed: Video window now resizable regardless of Sidecar
* Fixed: Length of long mp3's now reported properly
* Fixed: Silent install switch now works properly
* Fixed: Simultaneous CD Playback and Ripping

Personally, I'm having lots of fun playing with the different XM Radio stations. Granted, there aren't many of them and they are in mono, but hey, where can you hear free samples of a few XM stations at all? Also, the play list bug with screen readers (which is not the fault of screen readers), has not been fixed. This bug first appeared in Winamp 5.093 and 5.094. However, if you don't create any play lists, then this may not be a big deal to you. If you do, then just install the new version to a different directory, and either rename the shortcuts on the Desktop, or put them in different locations.

If its true that Winamp is capable of picking up podcasts, then that will be a huge boost to Winamp itself and podcasting fans. The only thing Winamp is lacking in my humble opinion is support for playing DVD's, but perhaps that's coming.

Anyway, you can get the new Winamp from the White Stick Downloads site. Enjoy!

Another Plea for Help

Greetings. I received this late last night on several NFB related email lists that I am on, and thought it worth putting here. Here's another option to give your money to in this time of need. The note speaks for itself.

I have spoken with the Federation of the Blind people in Louisiana and the stories are as bad as one may imagine. If those of you can and want to make a donation please send to the address below.
I have been assured that the money will go 100% to the families. Currently the Louisiana Center for the Blind is caring for 4 dozen refugees who are blind, every however the Red Cross is bringing people to them as they can, there are blind people who are stranded in parts of the area that the Federation of the Blind people are trying to get to them. I know that all kinds of people are stricken in the same way, blind or sighted. However, this is one organization that you can give to and know that your monetary contribution directly goes to the
Thank you

Pam Allen
National Federation of the Blind of Louisiana
101 South Trenton Street
Ruston LA 71270
Phone: 318 251 2891

Thursday, September 1

Bloggers Seek, and Some Find

Here's an interesting article about people posting on blogs, attempting to look for friends or family affected by the hurricane. The article comes from USA, and is entitled, Cyberpleas for help: Katrina triggers a tsunami of blogs.

Preparing for a Disaster

Greetings. Even though the following article is directed mainly to diabetics, it can apply to anyone. It's easy to say, "If only....," after the fact, but these are things that are worth thinking about and planning ahead of time. And, if you're a diabetic, then you would be wise to consider and follow these instructions. I saw a story this week on CNN where the interviewer was talking with a man who was a diabetic, and all he had eaten in two or three days were potato chips. That's not good.

With that, here's the article, obtained from a diabetes email list.

The following article comes from the American Diabetes Association's "E-News Now":


11. Are You Prepared for a Disaster?
By Kathleen Kissane, RN, MSN, CDE, and Debra Rogan, RN, BS

"The screaming of the wind and the crushing sound of falling trees had ended. I felt water falling on my head and looked up at the closet ceiling and saw
cloudy sky. Part of the roof of my house had blown off. I left the closet and walked into darkness. There was no electricity, no power. I stumbled around.
I couldn't find my phone, there was no water, no food. Furniture and tree limbs were strewn among the rooms... Where were my medications, my insulin and
syringes, my glucose meter??

"I can't go anywhere...a tree has smashed my car...I can't find my car keys... roads are flooded, bridges are washed out, power lines are down...

"I wish I would have listened to my diabetes educator when she said I should always be prepared for disasters..."

Are you prepared if you are caught in a hurricane or other disaster? The first 72 hours are most critical. Planning ahead can save your life.

What To Do

* Have key emergency information available.
* Know the safest places to go, depending on the type of disaster.
* Pick a meeting place in case family members are separated. * Have a local emergency contact. * Have one out-of-town contact that everyone will call.
* Make a list of medical providers, insurance numbers, and pharmacy numbers.
* Keep a list of medications and doses.

Most healthy people can eat just half what they usually eat for a long time, if they aren't active. They can even go without food for a few days if they
have to. Not so for people with diabetes. You need a balance of food groups and enough food, especially if you take insulin or oral agents.

Suggested Food Supply for 7 days Put these food items in a rubber tote or duffle bag. Replace yearly.

Large box of crackers
1 jar of peanut butter
Small box of powdered milk
1 box dry, unsweetened cereal
1 jar soft cheese, or 2 packages of 6 cheese crackers
6 cans regular soda
6 cans diet soda
6-pack canned orange or apple juice
6-pack of Parmalat milk
6 cans lite or water-packed fruit
1 can of prepared meat
1 gallon of water per day
eating utensils
mechanical can opener
disposable cups and plates

Build a Disaster Kit

* Medications
Have at least a two-week supply of medications available (the pharmacy may not be open, or may have been destroyed).

* Medical Supplies
- syringes
- alcohol swabs/anti-bacterial wipes
- cotton balls and tissues
- glucose meter
- blood glucose log
- urine ketone sticks
- insulin pump supplies (if a pumper)
- lancing device and lancets
- Sharps disposal container (hard plastic detergent bottle)
- first aid kit
- quick-acting carbohydrate (glucose tablets, hard candy, OJ)
- glucagon emergency kit

* Other supplies
- cell phone
- flashlight
- whistle/noisemaker (so rescuers can hear and find you)
- extra pair of eye glasses
- female sanitary supplies
- heavy work gloves
- dry socks
- comfortable shoes
- tools
- cooler with dry ice or freezer packs
- radio (NOAA weather radio recommended)
- extra batteries
- pad/pencil
- watch
- clothing and bedding

Kathleen Kissane, CRNP, MSN, CDE, is an inpatient diabetes clinician with Frederick Memorial Healthcare System in Frederick, Md. She is a National Disaster
Response Volunteer with over 20 years of Red Cross experience. She currently serves as the American Red Cross Nursing Coordinator for her local chapter
in Frederick County. She participated in the Florida hurricane disaster response in the summer of 2004, after Hurricanes Charley, Frances, Jean, and Ivan
devastated the state. This past year she traveled as a volunteer with Project HOPE aboard the USNS Mercy, providing tsunami relief in Southeast Asia.

Debra Rogan, RN, BS, is employed by American Healthways as director of the diabetes program for Frederick Memorial Healthcare System in Frederick, Md. She
was previously employed by the Washington, D.C. Chapter of the American Red Cross as head nurse of the Charles Drew Blood Center. She has served as a Red
Cross volunteer in Washington, D.C., Prince William County, Virginia, and Knox County, Tennessee. She lived in Florida for seven years, where she personally
experienced preparing for hurricanes.