The UCB Flier

A publication of

Utah Council of the Blind

November/December 2017

For the latest news updates call the Utah Connection 801-299-0670 or 1‑800-273-4569. (You may also leave a message at the end of the announcement.)

Mail correspondence to: UCB, PO Box 1415, Bountiful, UT 84011-1415. E-mail us at

In This Issue

Finishing Out 2017 and Looking Forward to 2018...................................... 2

Messiah Sing-Along................................................................................ 2

Christmas Party...................................................................................... 2

Name That Tune..................................................................................... 3

Valentine's Day....................................................................................... 3

St. Patrick's Day...................................................................................... 3

Weekly Technology Forums....................................................................... 4

Latest Calendar with Updates.................................................................... 4

UCB Office Open on Wednesdays............................................................. 5

Need for Team Teacher Teams and Sighted Drivers................................. 5

Free to Good Home.................................................................................... 5

Recipe Contributions Invited for UCB Cookbook........................................ 6

Hearing on Accessible Currency................................................................ 6

Tightening the Leash on Fake Service Dogs.............................................. 6

Social Security Going Up in 2018............................................................. 11

Movie to Look for: Dealt............................................................................ 12

Translating Text to Braille in Real Time.................................................... 12

DOT Enters Agreements with Airlines to Increase Accessibility............... 16

Disney Could Help Guests "Feel Fireworks"............................................. 19

George Shearing, His Guide Dog and the Airplane Captain..................... 20

Disney Code Phrases............................................................................... 21

New £10 Note Feature for Visually Impaired People................................ 21

Slow Cooker California Tamale Pie.......................................................... 23

General UCB Information......................................................................... 23

Upcoming Board Meetings.................................................................... 24

Disclaimer............................................................................................. 24

Finishing Out 2017 and Looking Forward to 2018

by TerriLynne Pomeroy

Messiah Sing-Along

Greetings, UCB members. Well, I have been working to put together activities to interest you and bring you out to enjoy yourself. As you may recall, the next activity is the Messiah Sing-Along at Abravanel Hall on the 26th of November, the Saturday evening immediately following Thanksgiving. Tickets are merely $10 per person, and we will be providing lyrics in braille or large print for anyone who buys a ticket. But there are only a few tickets left, and when they are gone, they will be gone.

Christmas Party

Our annual Christmas party is being held at the Division of Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired, 250 N. 1950 W. Salt Lake City on Saturday, December 2, 11:30 a.m. to about 2:00 p.m. This is a family affair. The cost for anyone twelve years old and up will be $6.00. Ages 3 to 11 will be $3.00, and no cost for those under age 3.

The activity kicks off with the bake sale at 11:30 a.m. with lunch beginning at noon. You will be pleased to hear that we will be eating turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry sauce, green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole, rolls and butter, and pie for dessert. It has become a tradition for the UCB to hold a Baked Goods Sale in conjunction with this party, and this sale will begin at 11:30 a.m. It would be very much appreciated if you would be willing to donate either homemade candy or baked goods for this sale. Funds raised at this time help support the programs of the UCB. Of course, you are also invited to shop for goodies during the Christmas Party. You may also find other items for sale along with the baked goods. Plan to be a part of this fund raiser as well as joining everyone for a lovely dinner and entertainment. Bring your donation to the party by 11:30 a.m. that day. Bring your funds as well and plan to shop.

The meal will be followed by Jordan High School's choir, who will entertain us with beautiful Christmas carols. There will also be activities for the children including that special person whom children love to see at Christmas time.

To make reservations, it is important that you send your check to: UCB, PO Box 1415, Bountiful, UT, 84011-1415. Your reservation and money must be received no later than November 20, 2017. You may call the Utah Connection at 801-299-0670 or 1-800-273-4569 and leave your information, but until we have your money, you have no reservation for Christmas dinner. Make sure you tell us how many are in your party and the ages of the children as well as if they are male or female for Santa's visit.

Name That Tune

To kick off 2018, join us at DSBVI on Saturday, January 6th, at 10 a.m. to play Name That Tune, hosted by Sandy Ruconich. We will have some great prizes, you will get to show your acumen with music, and lunch will be boxed lunches from KFC! So, of course, you need to get your $5 reservation into the UCB post office box or pay online by Thursday, January 4, 2018.

Valentine's Day

On Saturday, February 3rd, at DSBVI, 10:00 a.m., we will be doing something delicious for Valentine's Day. The presenter isn't firm yet, but mark your calendar for that morning. The activity will run from 10:00 to 12:00.

St. Patrick's Day

On March 3rd at 10:00 a.m., we will be welcoming back the Dunmore Lassies, that great group we heard from several years ago with their great music, fun information, and various instruments which they are glad to let you touch. And, to add to the fun, we will be having a catered lunch of Irish food in celebration of St. Patrick's Day. And, just to add to the enjoyment, the Dunmore Lassies will be staying for lunch to answer more of your questions. This musical program and catered lunch will be $10.00 per person, so plan on it and get your money in early in February so that we know how many to count on for the caterer.

Weekly Technology Forums

All are invited to participate with Tina Terry and Vicki Flake at DSBVI, Conference Room A for fun and informative discussions at the Wednesday afternoon technology forums sponsored through the UCB Teacher/Trainer Program. In order to allow more individuals to attend, the time has been changed to 4:00-6:00 p.m. This "class" quickly evolved into an open forum, including discussions and comparisons of various smart phone apps; adaptive devices, both old and new; open market devices, such as Amazon's Echo Dot and the Google Home Mini, which are relatively inexpensive and have many fun and helpful features; and computer apps and websites that provide information and entertainment. Everyone is welcome to join us for just one or two sessions or as many as you would like. If there is something specific you would like us to cover, give Tina a call or text message at 801-245-9264 or email her at; or, come to one of the forums and ask your questions. We also encourage you to bring ideas to the group about things you have found particularly helpful.

Latest Calendar with Updates

Mail checks or money orders for any activities to UCB, PO Box 1415, Bountiful, UT 84011-1415. They need to reach us by dates given. Unless otherwise noted, classes and activities listed below are held at the Division of Services for the Blind, 250 N 1950 W, Salt Lake City.

·       Monday, November 20: deadline for Christmas party reservations.

·       Saturday, November 25, Abravanel Hall: The Messiah sing-along with the Utah Symphony

·       Saturday, December 2: UCB Christmas party

·       Saturday, January 6, 2018, 10:00 to 12:30 p.m.: Name that Tune and KFC!

·       Saturday, February 3, 2018, 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.: Valentine deliciousness!

·       Saturday, March 3, 2018: the Dunmore Lassies with catered lunch, $10 per person

·       Saturday, March 24, 2018: Easter egg hunt

UCB Office Open on Wednesdays

A big thanks goes to Donni Mitchell for her dedicated donation of time manning the UCB office at the Division of Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired, 250 N 1950 W, Salt Lake City. The office is open from 12:00 to 3:00 p.m. on most Wednesdays. If you need to check to be certain someone is there before you make your travel plans, please call 801-520-3766 and speak with Donni.

Donni can sell you cab coupons, the UCB t-shirts and the braille measuring spoons and cups. There are also the famous small hammers with screw drivers packed in the handle. You can pay your membership at the office and make reservations for the activities. Of course, these purchases can also be made by calling Anna at 801-654-3772 to pay by credit card.

Need for Team Teacher Teams and Sighted Drivers

The UCB is seeking two people who can drive and who would like to be part of the Teacher/Trainer Program. A driver is needed in northern Davis County as well as one in Salt Lake City. We are also looking for two-person teams in Utah County. The position is by contract. Mileage is paid for the use of the vehicle. This is very much a part time job. It is an excellent opportunity to meet great folks, help make life a little easier for someone, and earn some extra spending money doing it. If you know someone who would like to learn more about this position call 801-292-1156.

Free to Good Home

The UCB has several narrated movies on VHS and books on CD and cassette. If you would like any of these please leave your contact information on the Utah Connection, and you will be called and provided with more details. If you would like a list of these items, leave your address and it will be mailed to you. There are also many narrated movies for loan if you have a VHS players. Once again, leave your contact information on the Utah Connection and someone will get back with you.

Recipe Contributions Invited for UCB Cookbook

If you have recipes you would be willing to share in a UCB Cookbook, we would appreciate hearing from you. Please email your recipes to Tina Terry at If you would rather send your contribution in print, it can be mailed to: UCB, PO Box 1415, Bountiful, UT 84011-1415. Thanks for your participation in this fun project.

Hearing on Accessible Currency

The American Council of the Blind (ACB) presented the morning of October 19th before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, following ACB’s appeal concerning a recent District Court ruling that upheld last year’s determination by the Department of Treasury to push back the first accessible U.S. currency to 2026, almost double the anticipated projected time from when ACB won its case against the government in 2008. The hearing focused on concerns raised by the Department of Treasury’s inability to provide an adequate solution that provides meaningful access within a reasonable timeline.

To access audio from the oral arguments, visit:$file/17-5013.mp3.

ACB will continue to update members on the progress of the current appeal before the Court.

Tightening the Leash on Fake Service Dogs

Article Link:

WASHINGTON — Chris Slavin was in an elevator a couple years ago with Earle, her yellow Lab service dog, sitting calmly beside her wheelchair. The elevator doors opened and in walked a woman holding a purse. In the purse was a teacup poodle the color of apricots.

The doors closed just as the poodle spotted Earle. That's when the trouble started. In an instant, the poodle leaped from the purse, flung himself at Earle, and clamped his teeth into the bigger dog's snout, leaving Earle bleeding onto the elevator floor.

"As soon as this occurred the woman said the poodle was a service dog," said Slavin, who has a severe spinal injury that requires use of the wheelchair. "She then said he wasn't a service dog but an emotional support dog. Finally, she admitted he was a pet she just wanted to bring in the building with her."

Incidents like that one in Reading, Massachusetts, not far from where Slavin lives in Danvers, have spurred 19 states to enact laws cracking down on people who try to pass off their pets as service animals. The push has been gathering steam in recent years: Virginia implemented its new law in 2016, and Colorado followed suit this year. Massachusetts is now considering a similar proposal.

"Today, any pet owner can go online and buy a vest for a dog to pass it off as a service animal to gain access to restaurants, hotels and places of business," said Republican state Rep. Kimberly Ferguson, who introduced the Massachusetts bill. "Their animals aren't trained and end up misbehaving in these public places, which gives real service dogs a bad name."

Service dogs, which are trained to perform tasks for a person with a disability, were first used by people with vision and hearing impairments. They are now also used by those who use wheelchairs or have other impairment in mobility, people who are prone to seizures or need to be alerted to medical conditions, like low blood sugar, and people with autism or mental illness. The American Humane Association, which promotes the welfare and safety of animals, says there are 20,000 service dogs working in the U.S.

Supporters of the new laws compare those misbehaving dog owners to people who acquire handicap signs so they can park in spaces intended for disabled people. The laws make it a misdemeanor to represent an untrained dog as a service animal, and usually come with fines of no more than $500 for an incident.

But because there is no certification or official national registry of legitimate service dogs, there is no way to verify whether a dog has undergone rigorous training to become a service animal.

That makes it hard to enforce the laws, said David Favre, a law professor at Michigan State University College of Law and editor of its Animal Legal and Historical Center website, which follows public policy issues related to animals. He said he's not aware of anyone who has been prosecuted anywhere for violating them.

Rather, he said, the laws are largely symbolic, and meant to educate dog owners as well as people who let pets into spaces where they don't belong. "Maybe you can scare some people into being honest."

People who pass off their dogs as service animals in order to take them into stores, restaurants, libraries, sporting events and offices are a real problem, he said, for the proprietors of those establishments, their customers and disabled people who genuinely rely on the help of their service dogs.

"A service animal is trained to be in public and to be under control and non-intrusive and not bark," Favre said. "They are trained not to be a nuisance in any way. You should hardly even know they are there."

Because of Earle's training as a service dog, Slavin said, when the poodle attacked him, "My dog never moved, never retaliated, never barked." He did nothing. That is the way a service dog is trained. They are not going to ever be aggressive. Ever."

Earle performs many functions for Slavin. He picks up items she drops, retrieves keys, opens doors, puts objects like library books on counters that Slavin can't reach, and returns change or credit cards to her after purchases. She credits Earle with "enabling me to truly become part of my community."

Service dogs receive up to two years of training, which can cost more than $40,000. Before they are placed, their new owners are often required to live at the training center for a week or two to learn about caring and interacting with their dogs. Many training centers provide the dogs free of charge to disabled clients, defraying their costs through fundraising. The waiting time for a service dog is often two years or longer.

But for people who want to pass off their pet as a service dog, it's easy enough to be convincing. Anyone can go online and purchase for about $20 the types of vests that legitimate service dogs usually wear.

The vests may help the fake service dogs gain entry, but their behavior, and that of their owners, often gives them away. Trained service dogs don't go off-leash, bark, knock things off shelves, jump on people, play or fight with other dogs, or grab food off tables, trainers say.

And owners of real service dogs don't carry them in shopping carts or purses. "The rule is four on the floor," with all four feet on the ground except when a dog is performing a task, said Katelynne Steinke, a paraplegic in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, with her own yellow Lab service dog.

The problem is that the proprietors of establishments where people bring their dogs have no way of determining whether a dog is a real service animal.

The American with Disabilities Act requires all places open to the public, such as businesses, government agencies and entertainment venues, to give access to service dogs and their owners. And it permits them to ask only two questions: whether the dog is required because of a disability and what tasks the dog is trained to perform. It is illegal to request documentation for the dog or to ask the nature of the owner's disability.

There's another complication: the growing use of "emotional support dogs," which are intended to provide comfort to those with anxiety or other emotional problems. Some of them may have received special training, although nothing as rigorous as the training for service dogs. (Emotional support dogs are not covered under the ADA and can legally be denied access.)

Some service dog owners say many businesses, unable to tell fake service dogs from real ones, allow all of them in. Many owners of service dogs avoid those places for fear of exposing their animals to danger from untrained dogs. Other businesses, they say, simply bar all dogs from the premises, even if it violates the ADA.

The National Disability Rights Network, which advocates on behalf of people with disabilities, is sympathetic to those who want to crack down on pet owners who misrepresent their dogs as service animals. But Ken Shiotani, a senior staff attorney with the organization, said the laws should aim to educate, rather than punish, and the penalties for violations should be minimal. "We want to have a positive impact on people to help them realize that what they've done has this very negative effect."

Advocates for the laws agree.

Cathy Zemaitis, who helped draft the Massachusetts bill and is director of development for National Education for Assistance Dog Services, a Massachusetts group that says it has trained over 1,700 dogs since 1976, said the laws should launch a national effort to teach people not to put dogs in situations they are not trained for — and to educate the public on the need for legitimately trained dogs.

The long-term goal, Zemaitis said, is the creation of a national certification program and registry for legitimately trained service dogs. "This is the beginning of a much larger conversation we need to have."

Social Security Going Up in 2018

A recent Social Security fact sheet states that social security disability thresholds for the blind will go from $1,950/month in 2017 to $1,970/month in 2018. Please see the press release below for more information.

Press Release
Friday, October 13, 2017
For Immediate Release
Mark Hinkle, Acting Press Officer
Social Security Announces 2.0 Percent Benefit Increase for 2018
Link to Press Release:

Monthly Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for more than 66 million Americans will increase 2.0 percent in 2018, the Social Security Administration announced today.

The 2.0 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) will begin with benefits payable to more than 61 million Social Security beneficiaries in January 2018. Increased payments to more than 8 million SSI beneficiaries will begin on December 29, 2017. (Note: some people receive both Social Security and SSI benefits) The Social Security Act ties the annual COLA to the increase in the Consumer Price Index as determined by the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Some other adjustments that take effect in January of each year are based on the increase in average wages. Based on that increase, the maximum amount of earnings subject to the Social Security tax (taxable maximum) will increase to $128,700 from $127,200. Of the estimated 175 million workers who will pay Social Security taxes in 2018, about 12 million will pay more because of the increase in the taxable maximum.

Information about Medicare changes for 2018, when announced, will be available at

The Social Security Act provides for how the COLA is calculated. To read more, please visit

Movie to Look for: Dealt

Sixty-two-year-old Richard Turner is renowned as one of the world’s greatest card magicians, yet he is completely blind. The remarkable magician tells his life story in the documentary DEALT, open in select theaters!

Richard traces his journey from his troubled childhood, when he began losing his vision, to present day as he relentlessly pursues perfection while struggling with the reality that his biggest weakness might also be his greatest strength. DEALT is a compelling life story about overcoming challenges in a courageous way that will inspire anyone who dares to dream.

The film will also be available with Audio Description technology for the visually impaired in the LA Theatre, as well as on iTunes!

Movie Trailer Link:

To learn more about this film, please visit:

Translating Text to Braille in Real Time

Team Tactile hopes to create an inexpensive and portable device that can raise text right off the page

Read more:

In the wee hours of Valentine's day last year, a team of six women, all MIT engineering undergraduates, sat exhausted but exhilarated. Their table strewn with colorful wires, post it notes, food wrappers, scraps of papers, shapes cut from cardboard. This was no craft project gone awry. The team had just competed in MakeMIT’s hackathon—a competition in which teams of students spend 15 hours designing, coding, constructing, testing and debugging ambitious projects.

The women, competing under the team name 100% Enthusiasm, had set out to tackle a big challenge: accessibility for the blind. Their idea: a portable, inexpensive device that could scan text and convert it to braille in real time. It was something with potential to transform the lives of some of the 1.3 million Americans who are legally blind.

This first iteration was rough. Nearly the size of an adult’s hand, the mechanics of the device were sandwiched between two panes of plastic—wires and circuit boards exposed. Six pins poked up through the top of the device to display a single braille character (letter, number or punctuation mark). It imaged each character of text using an external computer’s webcam, rather than an internal camera as the team had hoped, explains Chen “Bonnie” Wang, one of the team members who is currently a senior majoring in material science and engineering. It was slow and not particularly portable. But it worked, translating text to braille. Team 100% Enthusiasm won.

The win was just the beginning of their work with the device, which they dubbed Tactile. Now, many prototypes later, the team has received another accolade. Tactile is one of nine winners for this year’s Lemelson-MIT Student Prize, which celebrates the translation of “ideas into inventions that improve the world in which we live,” according to the contest’s website. The winning inventions—a folding electric drone, proteins to fight superbugs, and a solar-powered desalination system for off-grid water production, to name a few—tackle a wide range of problems.

“We were super honored to be chosen as one of the winners of the award,” says Wang. The title came with a $10,000 prize that they are hoping to put back into the project to continue to improve how the device works.

The team’s latest prototype, about the size of a candy bar, can display six characters at a time (the average English word is roughly five characters long) and has a built in camera. Users can place it down on a line of text and with a push of a button, the device takes an image. Optical character recognition then takes over, identifying the characters on the page using Microsoft’s Computer Vision API. Then the team’s software translates each character into braille and subsequently triggers the mechanical system in the box to raise and lower the pins. They have applied for a patent for the integration of the system through Microsoft’s #MakeWhatsNext patent program, which supports women inventors.

“Currently the camera only takes a picture of its field of view,” Chandani Doshi, one of the team members who is majoring in electrical engineering and computer science, explains via email. “We are aiming to make the device similar to a handheld scanner that allows the user to scan the entire page in one go.” The idea is to make it as easy as possible to operate, preventing the user from needing to keep track of where they are on the page.

Though this is not the first real-time text to braille device, most products are based on digital text, like ebooks or pdfs—and they are extremely expensive. For example, the HumanWare Brailliant can connect to mobile devices and computers, allowing the user to type on the six-keyed braille keyboard and read using the one-line display of 32 characters. Prices for the device start at over $2,500. Also popular are what’s known as braille note-takers. These are like mini-computers, allowing word processing, the use of excel and powerpoint, and internet browsing. But these, too, retail in the thousands.

And a lot of text is not readily available in electronic format—menus, brochures, receipts, business cards, class handouts and more. Tactile would raise the text of these inaccessible documents right off the page. The team hopes to eventually sell the device for a maximum cost of $200.

One of the many challenges in development, however, is figuring out a better way to raise and lower the pins. In similar devices on the market, this has long been done using piezoelectronics—an expensive method that harnesses the properties of crystal structures. The team hopes to use microfluidics (differences in either liquid or air pressure) or electromagnetism (interactions of electric currents and magnetic fields) to move the pins. They are now testing both systems to figure out which is the least expensive, but most responsive and shrinkable for their final prototype.

Ultimately the team hopes that the final product will be slightly smaller than their current prototype and display two lines of 18 characters each. They hope to get it to market within two years.

“This opens up the world, really. What limitation is there if you have a device that would transcribe any document into braille?” the team’s adviser Paul Parravano, who has been visually impaired since he was three, inquires in a video about the device. “Suddenly the library is open.”

The question, however, is how many people will be waiting and ready to read the library. A commonly cited statistic is that less than 10 percent of people who are legally blind can actually read braille. Many people prefer to use text-to-speech technology and other audio-based programs, says Marion Hersh, a researcher who specializes in assistive technology at the University of Glasgow. Braille is challenging to learn and given the option, she says, many instead choose audio or even magnification (if they have limited eyesight).

It is important to note, however, that the braille literacy numbers are based on an outdated mode of measurement: supply of braille books from American Printing House for the Blind, explains Ike Presley, National Project Manager for the American Foundation for the Blind. “We definitely want to stifle that misconception that braille is dead and technology is putting braille out of business,” he says. “If anything, technology is making braille more accessible.”

The women of team Tactile are well aware of the statistic, but believe that part of the problem is the lack of inexpensive devices to make braille more available. The market for such devices is small, so few companies venture in with innovative ideas. “We don't have a Microsoft or an Apple ... the tech companies that make the tools for people who are blind or visually impaired are relatively small,” says Presley.

This means less competition, less innovation and higher prices. “It really drives up the cost, which limits access to braille even more. It's just a bad cycle,” says Wang.

“Whether this could encourage people who don’t already know braille to use it is open to questions,” says Hersh. But she notes that any new accessibility technology that combines low cost with ease of use could be extremely helpful in the market.

Learning braille means literacy for the blind community, says Presley, who helps train service providers so they can more effectively work with the visually impaired. Audio systems don’t provide the same understanding of language. “Auditory is great ... but it doesn’t give you the literacy,” he says. “When you listen to [text read aloud], you don't know how to spell the words, you don't see the grammar, you don't see how text is formatted... But when you read it in braille, you do.”

Studies also suggest that braille literacy increases both likelihood of being employed and an overall higher earnings potential for the blind and visually impaired—a group that has historically suffered high rates of unemployment.

These factors have only made team Tactile more determined to keep working on their product. All six engineers will graduate this June. But that isn’t going to slow them down. Three plan to continue working on Tactile, says Wang, and the others will continue part time.

“These women are on a great path, and as young as they are, if they can devote the next 20 years of their career to this, wow,” says Presley. “There's no telling what they might come up with."

DOT Enters Agreements with Airlines to Increase Accessibility

Link to press release:

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) announced today that it has reached agreements with Alaska Airlines/Virgin America and Spirit Airlines to expand greatly the availability of airport kiosks that will be accessible to individuals with disabilities. DOT also reached an agreement with All Nippon Airways (ANA) to make the airline’s mobile website accessible for individuals with disabilities.

“The Department is committed to making transportation more accessible for everyone,” said Secretary Elaine L. Chao. “These agreements will ensure greater accessibility and improve the flying experience for individuals with disabilities.”

Under DOT rules, airlines are required to ensure that any automated kiosk they install after December 12, 2016 at U.S. airports with annual enplanements of 10,000 or more is an accessible model, until at least 25 percent of the kiosks in each airport location are accessible. DOT mandates that 25 percent of kiosks must be accessible by December 12, 2023. Airlines are also required to ensure that their websites are accessible, but there is no requirement for airlines to ensure that their mobile websites are accessible.

Alaska Airlines/Virgin America, Spirit Airlines, and ANA self-reported their temporary inability to comply with these rules and offered to instead adopt measures providing greater accessibility to individuals with disabilities than required under DOT rules. The Department reached agreement with these airlines to not take enforcement action against them for their temporary noncompliance with the Department’s kiosk/website rules in return for the airlines undertaking measures to make air travel more accessible for persons with disabilities.

Under the agreement, Spirit Airlines will make at least 50 percent of its kiosks at U.S. airports accessible by December 31, 2017, almost six years before it would be required to do so under DOT rules. Alaska Airlines/Virgin America agreed to ensure that at least 50 percent of its kiosks at U.S. airports are accessible to passengers with disabilities by December 31, 2019. This is significantly more accessible kiosks than required under DOT rules at a much earlier date. In addition, under both agreements, the airlines will install only accessible kiosks in the future, so that ultimately 100 percent of the airlines’ kiosks will be accessible to passengers with disabilities. Kiosks installed at U.S. airports are used for a variety of functions, such as printing boarding passes and baggage tags, scanning passports to check-in, and canceling or rebooking tickets.

The Department’s agreement with ANA specifies that the airline’s mobile site must conform to the World Wide Web Consortium (WC3) Mobile Web Best Practices (MWBP) and that the airline must consult with individuals with disabilities regarding the mobile site’s accessibility and usability no later than November 2018. This agreement will increase access to individuals with disabilities as many individuals use mobile devices even more than traditional computers for web browsing.

DOT is committed to using all tools available to improve the flying experience of individuals with disabilities. Today, in addition to the issuance of these agreements, the Department is posting on its website two interactive guides designed to supplement disability-related trainings that airlines are required to provide to their personnel and contractors under DOT rules. DOT worked closely with disability-rights organizations, airlines and airports to ensure that these guides are of optimal use. The interactive guides and other helpful disability-related information can be found on DOT’s website at:

The Department also meets regularly with disability rights organizations to better understand the air travel experiences of passengers with disabilities and to provide information to individuals with disabilities about their rights under the Air Carrier Access Act and the Department’s disability regulation. The Department is committed to finding solutions to barriers that may make travel difficult for persons with disabilities including taking enforcement action if appropriate. The most recent enforcement action was in July 2017 against a U.S. airline assessing a $400,000 civil penalty for violating the Department’s oversales and disability rules. Additional information on the Department’s commitment to providing passengers with disabilities with equal access to air transportation can be found at:

The agreements are available at The agreement with Alaska Airlines and Virgin America is in docket DOT-OST-2017-0168. The agreement with Spirit Airlines is in docket DOT-OST-2017-0169. The agreement with ANA is in docket DOT-OST-2017-0167.

Disney Could Help Guests "Feel Fireworks"

Article/Video link:

Scott Greenblat lost his vision after a car accident in 1993. He was just a teenager. Now, at the age of 41, the news of Disney’s newest research project could help him relive some of his favorite childhood memories.

“I remember gigantic displays,” he said, recalling his trips to see fireworks at Walt Disney World in Orlando as a child. “I went from everything to nothing after the accident.”

The fireworks displays are some of the most memorable and recognizable moments for visitors to the iconic theme parks. Guests who are visually impaired may not get to feel the full breadth of the experience.

They soon could get a better feel for what the light show is all about.

Disney is developing technology that is multi-sensory and could help visually impaired people to feel the rhythm of fireworks. According to the Disney research lab report, “Tactile effects are created using directable water jets that spray onto the rear of a flexible screen, with different nozzles for different firework effects.”

“This would at least give them a tactile way to explore and find out what is going on,” said Tampa Lighthouse for the Blind’s Chelsea Bridges.

“At this point in my life it would definitely help me relive those moments and help me recapture those exciting times that I’d been able to share with my kids,” said Gary Watson, who is gradually losing his visual due to complications with diabetes.

A YouTube video shows what Disney’s hope is for “feeling fireworks” plan. There is no timetable for when this technology could arrive in Disney theme parks. It is in the developmental stage now.

George Shearing, His Guide Dog and the Airplane Captain

By Tom Schnabel, May 8, 2012, Rhythm Planet

Charlie Haden has travelled millions of miles around the world on airplanes going back to the late 1950s, when he was bassist in Ornette Coleman's group. He's told me some funny and ribald stories about those days, which are best kept private. But he did tell me a funny story about George Shearing, the British pianist who was born blind and studied classical and later jazz piano in Braille at a music school for the blind.

I should mention that Shearing is one of the most understated, elegant pianists in jazz. It's no wonder he was always so popular. He put his classical training to good use in his jazz improvisations. Check out, for instance, how he quoted Poulenc's lovely 3rd Mouvement Perpetuel in his version of "On the Street Where You Live" from the cd The Shearing Piano: (Capitol).

By the 1960s Shearing was a world famous jazz pianist, with many cd's out and fans all over the world (he was later to get a knighthood from Queen Elizabeth). Once, when boarding a flight from Heathrow to New York City for an engagement there, he arrived at the airport and pre-boarded in first class with his guide dog. The pilot and co-pilot in the cabin just in front of first class noticed their famous passenger and exclaimed their pleasure in having him aboard their flight. The captain asked Shearing if he could do anything for him. Shearing told the captain that he had to rush to the airport and that his guide dog could use a bit of a walk before the flight. The captain happily obliged.

Imagine the sight of an airplane captain, with four stripes on his epaulets to indicate his rank, walking down the course with aviator's glasses and a seeing-eye dog. People waiting to board in economy were horrified and began canceling their flights.

Disney Code Phrases

Disney Has a Secret Name for Rude Visitors

Disney theme parks might be a place where dreams come true for guests, but they can also be a nightmare for the staff. The behavior of some visitors is so high-maintenance that staff has a special name for them. If a visitor is particularly rude or disruptive, staff will refer to them as a "treasured guest."

Disney has rules against employees using negative or insulting language in front of customers. So, cast members are constantly beaming beacons of joy and patience and they are trained to maintain that sunny countenance under all circumstances. But reportedly, if you have been a particularly rude or difficult customer, you may hear someone tell you to "Have a Disney day", the staff's subtle way of saying "You're annoying me".

It isn't the only code used by employees, though--they also have a secret phrase for other incidents, including vomit and the scattering of a dead person's ashes. For instance, if a guest vomits somewhere in the park--a common occurrence when fast rides and fast food are combined--it is called a "protein spill." If a protein spill takes place, staff will be called to a "Code V" situation.

On the Disney cruise line, staff also have a phrase for when a kid pees in the pool--it's called a "Code Winnie."

But one of the most unsettling phrases is used when a guest illegally tries to scatter someone's ashes. As Disney theme parks are often sentimental places, there are several instances every year of visitors spreading a loved one's ashes either on a ride or elsewhere on site. If that has happened, a "white powder alert" is announced and a staff member is immediately sent to clear up the ashes while the ride is halted.

New £10 Note Feature for Visually Impaired People

Article link:

Visually impaired people (in Great Britain) have praised the new £10 note for a special feature built in to help tell notes apart.

The new polymer tenner, which will be released on 14 September, features raised Braille-style bumps in the top left-hand corner. It was developed in conjunction with the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB).

Ian Morris, who is partially-sighted, told HuffPost UK that he thought the new feature was "absolutely fantastic".

He said: "It's part of the evolution of what I'd call inclusive money, so a number of people who are sighted wouldn't realise that the old paper notes - the five, 10 and 20, were three different lengths. So if you had a reference note, say you knew you definitely had a £10 note, then the fiver was slightly shorter and the twenty was slightly longer. But you basically had to stand there and line up edges and feel along the note.

"When the new £5 note came out then for me that was splendid. It was much smaller, very tactilely different. So it was very easy for you to organise your wallet in terms of 'that's a fiver and that's not'. So I was very interested to see what the new £10 note felt like."

He added: "I travel a lot with work and take my faithful guide dog with me. Euros aren't too bad but when we find ourselves in the US, that is an absolute nightmare. All their notes are the same size, the same shape and the same colour. The ability to differentiate a $1 from a $100 note, you've really got to rely on technology to help you out there, which is doable but you can imagine if you're stood at the till somewhere and with every note you've got to pass in front of the camera on your iPhone to tell you what note it is, the queue behind you tends to get very bored very quickly, So it's a case of our money is much more accessible.

"From a visually-impaired person's perspective, it's that ability to independently organize yourself, which is what you're looking of from these things.

"I think the Bank of England deserve a really big pat on the back for building this into the design of their new note."

Slow Cooker California Tamale Pie

Submitted by Tina Terry

1 pound ground beef
3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1-1/2 cups milk
1 egg, beaten
1 pkg chili seasoning mix
1 tsp seasoned salt
1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 can whole kernel corn, drained
1 2-1/4-ounce can sliced olives drained
1 cup grated cheddar cheese

Cook meat in skillet until crumbly. Drain if necessary.

Mix cornmeal, milk and egg together in a large bowl. Add cooked meat, dry chili seasoning mix, seasoned salt, corn and olives.

Pour into slow cooker. Cook 3 to 4 hours on high. Sprinkle cheese over the top and cook for another 5 minutes.

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