Jumbo braille library opens in Massachusetts

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: [email protected], or on the Internet at www.perkins.org. To volunteer, e-mail Lynne Laird, BCBG Jumbo Braille Coordinator, at [email protected]

Norma Schecter on APH Wall of Tribute

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.

Bernard and Norma Schecter

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.

Unified English Braille Code becomes international standard

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.

Putting a dollar value on volunteer time

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.

Volunteer group promotes joy of reading

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.

Volunteers master new skills

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

New Jersey

Diane K. Kastello, Morristown

New Mexico

Lillian M. Maestas, Albuquerque

New York

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

South Carolina

Donna L. Bailey, Greenwood

Rebecca R. Viggiano, Greenwood

South Dakota

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

Braille student-instructor dialog

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
(585) 427-8260
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
(323) 666-2211
Visual Aid Volunteers of Florida (VAVF)
For more information about upcoming meetings, contact:
Susie Coleman
VAVF President
1826 Bartram Circle West
Jacksonville, FL 32207-2294
(904) 725-2427 (voice mail)
[email protected]

Local news available on cassette

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 by

National 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


2004 2003 2002 2001 2000

Library of Congress Home      NLS Home      Comments about NLS to [email protected]

About this site      Comments about this site to the NLS Reference Section

Posted on 2011-01-10

Posted on 2011-01-10