Updated on Friday, February 27th, this is the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind (MCB) Information Network. This information can be accessed on the MCB Voice Information System by calling 617-626-7660. You may also call 800-392-6450 and say either “tape” or “telephone tape” into the speech recognition menu. Lastly, this weekly update is also available on "Newsline," the accessible newspaper service by pressing number 2, the local Channel, and in the "Massachusetts Commission for the Blind" section of “Newsline”. This update is produced by Wayne Levy.

Believe it or not, tax season is here! There are plenty of resources that may be helpful to you as you prepare your 2014 taxes. People who are unable to complete their tax returns because of a physical disability or are age 60 or older may be able to get assistance through the IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) or Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) programs. Find out more or find a nearby VITA or TCE location by calling 1-800-906-9887. Publication 907, which explains the tax implications of certain disability benefits and other issues, can be accessed by visiting www.irs.gov/publications/p907/. Hundreds of accessible federal forms and publications are also available and can be downloaded from the IRS Accessibility web page. You can choose from large-print, text, accessible PDFs, e-Braille, or HTML formats that are compatible when used with screen readers and refreshable Braille displays. Please visit www.irs.gov for additional tax information.

The Carroll Center for the Blind will once again be hosting the 15th Annual New England Braille Challenge at their Newton campus on Saturday, March 7th from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM. This qualifying event is a regional program of the Braille Institute of America, and is open to all Braille students in grades 1-12 throughout New England. Students demonstrate their braille skills in reading comprehension, writing speed and accuracy, reading and interpretation of charts and graphs, proofreading, and spelling with the hope of becoming one of sixty finalists invited to compete in the final competition in Los Angeles in June. Parents and guests attend workshops, view exhibits, and make valuable connections to learn how to further their children’s education and lifelong success. Additional information can be obtained at www.carroll.org or by contacting Sue Malone at sue.malone@carroll.org.

You are cordially invited to attend the 7th Annual Blind Legislative Informational Networking Day, B.L.I.N.D., scheduled for Tuesday, March 10th from 11:30 AM to 2:00 PM, in the Great Hall at the Massachusetts State House in Boston. The purpose of B.L.I.N.D. is to advocate for legislative support of the Governor’s Fiscal Year 2016 proposed budget recommendations that acknowledge the importance of specialized blindness services and their critical need for funding in these difficult economic times. Your participation is critical! For questions, or to register, please contact Debby King, B.L.I.N.D. 2015 Registration Coordinator, at 617-972-7376, or debby.king@perkins.org. You can also learn more at www.perkins.org/get-involved/events/blind-legislative-informational-networking-day.

The Bay State Council of the Blind (BSCB) is announcing plans for their 2015 Spring Conference, scheduled to take place from Friday, March 27th through Sunday, March 29th at the Boston Marriott Burlington. The program Committee is finalizing the agenda and speakers, which will include a session, “Focus on Employment: a conversation with MCB Commissioner Paul Saner, Carroll Center for the Blind President Joe Abely, and Perkins School for the Blind President Dave Power. Exhibitors and an auction will again be highlights of the convention. Registration, which is required by Friday, March 20th, for BSCB members costs $65.00 and $80.00 for non-members and late registrants. For more information about the convention, please visit www.acb.org/baystate, call 781-944-3586, or email baystate@acb.org.

The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) recently announced that their "Breakthroughs" public service announcement (PSA) is now airing on Comcast and NBC cable channels, thanks to a generous donation from Comcast NBCUniversal. The media and technology company is providing $2 million in free PSA airtime to AFB from January 26 through March 29, 2015. Comcast NBCUniversal is committed to making its products and services accessible to the widest possible audience. Comcast involves people with disabilities in product design and development, and last year released the nation’s first talking cable TV interface. The company also has a dedicated customer support center to help people with disabilities get the most out of their entertainment experience. For its commitment to independence and inclusion, Comcast NBCUniversal was recently named a 2015 Access Award winner. Additional information about this announcement can be found at www.afb.org.

Are you frustrated with public transportation? If so, the Somerville-Cambridge Elder Services (SCES) would like to invite you to the launch of the Boston North Regional Coordinating Council (RCC), scheduled for Wednesday, March 11th from 10:30 AM to 12:30 PM. This winter’s problems with the MBTA and the transportation infrastructure in the Boston area have been especially hard on older adults and people living with disabilities in Cambridge and Somerville. At the March 11th meeting, which will be held at the Mystic Valley Elder Services, 300 Commercial Street, # 19 in Malden, you will have the opportunity to be heard. Additionally, there will be an open discussion about transportation needs and challenges in the Boston North area, and local providers will present on transportation services that are currently available for seniors, people living with disabilities, low-income individuals, and veterans. If you plan on attending, or to learn more, please contact Rachel Fichtenbaum at Rachel.fichtenbaum@state.ma.us.

The Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) invites you to join them on Sunday, March 1st for a Feeling for Form tour at the MFA: "In Like a Lion…" How appropriate given the current weather! The MFA is full of beautiful artworks from all parts of the world that are about animals. They range from realistic to symbolic. They are beautiful and funny. They decorate musical instruments and transform humans into powerful beings. The oldest piece in the Museum is a vessel in the shape of a hare. It is around 6,000 years old! This tour, which runs from 1:00 to 2:30 PM, will include art in a mix of materials and styles, representing different cultures. It promises to be fun and interesting. If you would like to attend, please call 617-369-3189 or email Hannah Goodwin at hgoodwin@mfa.org.

The Carroll Center for the Blind is seeking daily screen reader users to participate in a compensated user testing study. In this study of a new cell phone, the Carroll Center is seeking feedback from individuals who are totally blind or functionally blind — meaning that you must rely solely on the non-visual use of screen reading software such as JAWS, NVDA, VoiceOver, or TalkBack in order to interact with devices and web content. Some familiarity with a touch screen device such as a smart phone or tablet is essential, but you must be able to use that device without use of your vision in any way to qualify for participation in this study. The Carroll Center will select a total of 12 qualified individuals and each person must be willing to attend a 90-minute testing session scheduled between 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM during a 3-day period from March 10th through the 13th. User testing sessions will be held at the Carroll Center and you are responsible for your own transportation to and from the center. Compensation, if you are selected, is $120.00. Please email David Kingsbury at david.kingsbury@carroll.org to learn more information and confirm that you are eligible to participate. You may also call David at 781-974-2001.

How do you know if an egg is hard boiled or not? How do you know if an egg is fresh? There are ways! The Hadley School for the Blind will present, “That’s Eggs-cellent!” on Thursday, March 5th at 11:00 AM. Join Seminars@Hadley as their eggs-cellent presenters Patti Jacobson and Linn Sorge, joined by moderator/presenter Dawn Turco, discuss everything egg. It’s all about the “incredible, edible egg” as Hadley discusses this versatile food source: its facts, history, kinds, safety, recipes and more. This 60-minute seminar will include a question and answer session. Space is limited, so please register only if you know you will attend. To register, please go to http://hadley.edu/SeminarDetails.asp?sid=266. You can learn more about this and other seminars at www.Hadley.edu.

Thanks for reading this message and it will be updated again on Friday, March 6th.

This information is provided by the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind.