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NEWSBREAK



Deaf Blind Assistance

 

Communication is essential for staying healthy, holding a job, managing a household and participating in the community. Modern technology has vastly expanded the way most people communicate through voice, data and video services. But for people who have combined vision and hearing loss, special equipment may be necessary to make a phone call, send an email or access the Internet.

The National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program will ensure that low-income individuals who have combined hearing and vision loss can access telephone, advanced communications and information services. This program was mandated by the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 and established by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

 

A brochure explaining all the features of this program is at ndbedg brochure.

 

And, an application form to obtain assistance from this national program is at iCanConnect Application Form.

Disability.gov Updat


National Disability Institute's Financial Wellness Series Begins September 5

The National Disability Institute at http://realeconomicimpact.tumblr.com/post/30103712466/national-disability-institutes-free-financial-wellness will present a webinar series featuring six, free 90-minute online programs. Each webinar will begin at 3 p.m. Eastern Time on select Wednesdays starting in September and continue each month through December 2012. The series will address personal finances, taxes and public benefits as they relate to people living with multiple sclerosis, their families and caregivers. However, the topics would be of interest to all people with disabilities. The first webinar, Being Money Smart, will be held on September 5, 2012 from 3 - 4:30 p.m. Eastern Time. Register online at http://www.realeconomicimpact.org/Financial-Education/Financial-Wellness-Webinar-Series.aspx for each webinar. Need help finding the information you’re looking for on Disability.gov? Visit


*** ACB Scholarship ***

Every year, the Alabama Council of the Blind (ACB) offers a
wonderful opportunity for all legally blind Alabama high school seniors and college students to apply for the ACB Byrd Bryant Scholarship Program. This coveted scholarship grant is offered for a student who strives to excel in academic or technical schools and maintains a high grade point average.

 

And now, drum roll please! The Alabama Council of the Blind proudly announces that the 2012 ACB Byrd Bryant Scholarship recipient is Vibhaas Basukala.  He is a 2012 graduate of the Alabama School for the Blind. Now he will be attending the University of Montevallo.

 

~ Debbie Culver, Scholarship Committee Chair, Talladega Chapter ACB

 

*** Joe Roeder Scholarships ***

 

Joe Roeder had 40 years of experience in the fields of design engineering, electronic information systems, training and business management, including experience as a mechanical and nuclear engineer at Bechtel Power Corporation. He was instrumental in the development of Section 508 of the Electronic and Information Technology Accessibility Standards, which requires all federal government agencies to provide accessible data and information for employees with disabilities.

 

Individuals that were considered for the scholarship are entering their third or fourth year of college or graduate school, or are changing careers to pursue a career in assistive technology.

 

The National Industries for the Blind (NIB) Joe Roeder Assistive Technology Scholarship Program proudly awarded two $2,500.00 scholarships. The 2012 recipients are: Jorge Hernandez from Miami, FL and Estin Talavera from Wichita, KS (meet Estin Talavera at:   http://www.envisionus.com/Rehab/Sidebar/Assistive_Technology_Camp_success_story.aspx)

 

~ Kathy Gallagher, National Industries for the Blind


 

*** Important Notice ***

The legislature has passed and the Governor has signed Act No. 2012-309 relating to the sale of insulin, insulin syringes, and related items to treat diabetes.  Act 2012-309 provides that in addition to any other exemption provided by law, any items used for the treatment of diabetes purchased by or on behalf of an individual pursuant to a valid prescription shall be exempt from state, county, and municipal sales and use taxes, including, but not limited to, any of the following: Insulin and insulin syringes, and any equipment, supplies, devices, chemical reagents, and any related items that may be used by a diabetic to treat diabetes or to test or monitor blood or urine.

This act shall apply retroactively to all open tax periods and to all periods for which a preliminary or final tax assessment of tax could be entered.  However, no refunds shall be due or issued pursuant to the exemption with respect to any period prior to the effective date of the act.
The sale of insulin is also exempt from sales tax pursuant to Section 40-23-4.1, Code of Alabama 1975,Certain drugs exempt. Act 2012-309 becomes effective August 1, 2012.

~ Joe Buck, Huntsville Chapter ACB



***

ALERT – Descriptive Programming on TV

 
ALERT!--Coming Soon to a TV Near You!
July 1st Starts New Era in Described Programming:
See If Your Favorite Shows are on the List!

For further information, contact:

Mark Richert, Esq.
Director, Public Policy, AFB
(202) 469-6833
MRichert@afb.net

Beginning Sunday, July 1, the landmark provisions of the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA) requiring the nation's leading networks to provide a combined total of at least 450 hours of described video programming per calendar quarter will come to life. Consumers are encouraged to begin asking their local broadcast stations and cable providers about accessing the described programming to be provided. In addition, given that information about which programs are to be described and the means for accessing description can sometimes be difficult to obtain, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has recently launched a web resource to help consumers navigate program choices, the technical means for accessing description via digital TV and/or cable set top box, and the FCC's complaint process for consumers to use to resolve network, station, or cable provider failure to put described programming in consumers' hands. Visit the FCC's web resource at:

http://www.fccgov/encyclopedia/video-description

An independent but more memorable web address can also be used to be directed to the FCC's site; this more user friendly address is:

http://www.VideoDescription.info

Congratulations to the many advocates and organizations who have labored so long for this historic expansion of TV programming accessibility. Our community's achievement in this area is an integral part of our ongoing effort to ensure that people with vision loss of all ages can enjoy full participation in American life.

~ Frank Marquette, Huntsville Chapter ACB

***

MSU RRTC Project

The MSU Transportation Research Project
Mississippi State University’s National Research and Training Center on Blindness and Low Vision is doing a research project about transportation issues for people who are blind or visually impaired who live in Alabama. The purpose of the project is to develop an intervention to assist consumers who are blind or visually impaired to secure transportation to and from work. The MSU staff will call you about the project, describe it to you, and you can determine if you would like to participate. Your name must be submitted by your rehabilitation counselor, so if you are interested in learning about or participating in the transportation project, please contact your counselor and discuss this matter. Your services through the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services will not change in any way whether you participate or not.

This initiative could be of great benefit to individuals who are blind or have low vision seeking employment. Thanks.

Norman Culver
President, Alabama Council of the Blind,
American Council of the Blind

***

Free Directory Assistance
-- Issac Beavers, AIDB Huntsville Region

Residential 1-800-935-5697 (some ads);
Businesses 1-800-246-4411 (Connects calls and gives directions; some ads)
Business 1-800-500-0000 (asks for email)

***
Greyhound Service Returns to Talladega
-- Mary Garrett, ASB Alumni Correspondent

This was an article in the Talladega Daily Home, April 10, 2012.

Greyhound service returns to Talladega by Chris Norwood

TALLADEGA — For the first time since 2005, Greyhound buses are available in Talladega. Company spokesman Troy Hawkins told the City Council Monday night that Talladega had been included in the new Greyhound Connect program, which is being funded with state and federal transportation grant money. The bus will stop at the McCaig’s Motel in Talladega every day at noon and carry riders to Birmingham, where they can get bus tickets to pretty much anywhere else in the country. Other stops along the route include Gadsden, Anniston, PellCity and several other cities in between.

Tickets are available online or by phone at 1-800-231-2222. They can also be purchased at the terminal in Birmingham after the first leg of the trip is over. Tickets are either $12 each or $17.50, Hawkins said, but couldn’t say with more certainty due to a recent fare adjustment. Service from Talladega to Birmingham resumed April 1. City Manager Brian Muenger said the return of bus service was “a great opportunity for Talladega. After all, not everyone has a car.” Mayor Larry Barton commended Muenger for facilitating the return of Greyhound. “This service is especially important here, at the home of the Alabama Institutes for Deaf and Blind.”

***

Blinded Veterans Initiative

-- Frank Marquette, Huntsville Chapter, ACB

We are pleased to announce the launch of a new Blinded Veterans Initiative.
According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, there are an estimated 158,300 legally blind veterans and 700,000 veterans with low vision. In addition, approximately 7,000 veterans become newly blind or visually impaired each year from non-combat related causes. Compounding the problem is that approximately 70 percent of working age Americans who are blind or visually impaired are unemployed or underemployed.
In response, Hadley's Blinded Veterans Initiative will educate and inspire blind or visually impaired veterans to pursue their personal and professional goals and help support their families. Veterans coming to Hadley as a result of this new initiative will be able to enroll in any of 100+ distance education courses. Core subject matters emphasized through this new initiative include business and entrepreneurship, technology, independent living skills, adjustment to blindness and braille literacy.
The program is tuition-free for all visually impaired veterans and their family members, thanks to the support of Goldman Sachs Gives, a donor-advised fund. The gift was made at the recommendation of John Willian, a managing director at Goldman Sachs and Winnetka native whose family has shown a legacy of support for the Hadley School.
For more information about this new initiative, or to enroll, please visit: www.hadley.edu/veterans.  If you know of any blinded veterans who would benefit from Hadley's distance education courses, please tell others. 
The Hadley School for the Blind, Lifelong Learning, since 1920, 700 Elm Street, Winnetka, IL 60093
800-323-4238 www.hadley.edu.

***

New Law Change Increases Insurance Coverage for Veterans

-- Frank Marquette, Huntsville Chapter

WASHINGTON (Jan. 10, 2012) – Some Veterans covered under the Veterans Group Life Insurance program (VGLI) now have the opportunity to increase their coverage to the current maximum coverage under the Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI) program. 
“Currently, 70 percent of the Veterans covered under VGLI are under age 60, have less than $400,000 of coverage, and will greatly benefit from this law change,” said Allison A. Hickey, Department of Veterans Affairs under secretary for benefits.  Under the Veterans’ Benefits Act of 2010, enacted on Oct. 13, 2010, Veterans can increase their coverage by $25,000 at each five-year anniversary date of their policy to the current legislated maximum SGLI coverage, presently, $400,000.  To date, approximately 21 percent of eligible Veterans have taken advantage of this opportunity, resulting in nearly $113 million of new coverage being issued.

The VGLI program allows newly discharged Veterans to convert their SGLI coverage they had while in the service to a civilian program.  Before enactment of this law, Veterans could not have more VGLI than the amount of SGLI they had at the time of separation from service.  For example, those who got out of the service prior to Sept. 1, 2005, when the maximum SGLI coverage was $250,000, were limited to $250,000 in VGLI coverage.  Now on their first five-year anniversary, these Veterans can elect to increase their coverage to $275,000.  On their next five-year anniversary, they can increase the coverage to $300,000, and so forth. 
The additional coverage can be issued regardless of the Veteran’s health.  To be eligible to purchase this additional coverage, the Veteran must:
•Have active VGLI coverage,
•Have less than the current legislated maximum coverage of $400,000,
•Request the additional coverage during the 120-day period prior to each five-year anniversary date, and
•Be less than 60 years of age on the five-year anniversary date of his or her coverage.

Eligible Veterans are notified of this opportunity a week before the start of the 120-day period prior to their anniversary date, and twice more before the actual anniversary date.

For more information about VA’s Insurance Program or other VA benefits, go to www.va.gov or call 1-800-827-1000.   Veterans are also encouraged to visit VA’s web portal  eBenefits - Insurance.

***

TIME Large Print
-- Frank Marquette, Huntsville Chapter

TIME, the weekly news magazine familiar to all Americans, is now available in large print. TIME Large Edition is responding to a growing population of aging Americans and other adults who need to remain informed and connected with the changing world. The editorially rich, folio size, weekly issues ship during the same week as TIME's regular edition. TIME is the first newsmagazine to produce a weekly large print edition.

TIME Large Edition features 16-point type with a minimum of 80% of the editorial content of the regular edition. From the matte finished paper to the integrated graphics and photos – changes recommended by Lighthouse International - the new edition is formatted specifically for people with vision impairments and for people on the go.

The subscription price is $79.97 for 54 issues, and may be ordered by calling (800) 282-0079. You may want to ask them to send you a sample issue to review before ordering.

***

SAMNet
-- Joe Otts, North Central Chapter

On November 11, Serotek announced that its popular System Access Mobile Network (SAMNet) service would be made available as a lifetime subscription for all eligible veterans on December 15. Click here to read the press release. http://www.serotek.com/blog/165-serotek-conquers-a-new-frontier-for-blind-veterans
We are proud to announce that the program, entitled “SAMNet Vets”, is now live and we are ready to begin receiving applications from qualified veterans.

What is SAMNet?
SAMNet is Serotek's renowned Internet Community that delivers the widest and most complete content ever assembled for the blind. With access to email, news, described video service for thousands of movies,  blogs, podcasts, streaming radio and much much more, you'll have everything you need right at your fingertips. With access to SAMNet, you can connect with like-minded individuals who share your interests. To learn more about SAMNet, click here to read the SAMNet help documentation.
http://samobile.net/help/samn/

How do I know if I am eligible for the SAMNet Vets program?
If you are a veteran who has served on active duty with the U.S. military and you are now eligible for services through the VA Blindness Rehabilitation Services division, you qualify for the SAMNet Vets program. You will need to work with a Visual Impairment Services Team (VIST) professional in order to complete the paperwork verifying your eligibility for this service. Click here to find a VIST professional in your area. http://www.va.gov/BLINDREHAB/VIST.asp

How do I apply for the SAMNet Vets program?
Applying for the SAMNet Vets program is easy. Click here to read all the information you'll need to know to get started with the SAMNet Vets program. http://www.serotek.com/samnetvets

You’ll need to fill out an online application, providing basic contact information for yourself and the VIST professional who will verify your eligibility. When you’re ready to begin the application process, click here to apply for the SAMNet Vets program. https://secure.samobile.net/vets/signup_form.html

If you have any additional questions, please call us at (612) 246-4818, or email us at info@serotek.com mailto:info@serotek.com

The Serotek Team
Activate this link to stop receiving Serotek announcements.
https://secure.samobile.net/user/disable_mass_mail.html?user_id=e2a4c4ce02f7bea9d3acae41ddde7c6e
 
Email services provided by the System Access Mobile Network.  Visit www.serotek.com to learn more about accessibility anywhere.

***
Veterans and Agent Orange 
-- Frank Marquette, Huntsville Chapter, ACB

Agent Orange related information on non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, and small-cell lymphocytic lymphoma.  If you have questions about a particular claim related to Agent, please contact your local VA Regional Office.

Background:
This is an Agent Orange issue and a clarification on non-Hodgkins Lymphoma.   NHL is currently the only presumptive disease for those veterans who served off Vietnam (Blue water navy veterans).   Some veterans have additional presumptive conditions based on where their ships were in relation to the coast and rivers of Vietnam.  But, you could be anywhere in theater on a ship and be considered presumptive for NHL.
Change:

This was reinterpreted  earlier this year - diseases linked to NHL were included – though the actual regulation (at the end) does not reflect the change – yet…

This is from the VA’s C&P Bulletin (an addendum to the May Bulletin)

Grants of Service: Connection under the Provisions of 38 CFR § 3.313
Under the provisions of 38 CFR § 3.313, Veterans who served in Vietnam, including service in the waters offshore, are entitled to a presumption of service connection for
non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

We have received questions about the connection between non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, and small-cell lymphocytic lymphoma. Discussions with medical professionals at the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) and with our attorneys at the Office of General Counsel (OGC) led to the conclusion that these diseases should all be considered the same disease for purposes of § 3.313. We will update the manual to reflect this determination.

This is the current CFR citation – it has not been updated yet §3.313  Claims based onservice in ietnam.
(a) Service in Vietnam. Service in Vietnam includes service in the waters offshore, or service in other locations if the conditions of service involved duty or visitation in Vietnam.
(b) Service connection based on service in Vietnam. Service in Vietnam during the Vietnam Era together with the development of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma manifested subsequent to such service is sufficient to establish service connection for that disease.

I am providing this additional information:
http://www.nccn.com/cancer-treatment/nonhodgkinslymphoma/cllsll.html.