Updated on Friday, August 15th, this is the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind (MCB) Information Network. This information can be accessed on the MCB Voice Information System at 617-626-7660 and 800-392-6450. You can say “tape” or “telephone tape” into the phone. This message 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 Laurie Korajczyk.

MCB will hold three public hearings on its proposed Comprehensive Annual Independent Living Social Services Plan for Fiscal Year 2015. When final, the plan will be in effect from October 1, 2014 through September 30, 2015. In order to solicit public comment on the proposed plan, MCB will hold public hearings on the following dates:

  • Friday, August 22, 2014, 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM, Massachusetts Commission for the Blind, 436 Dwight Street, Springfield, MA
  • Thursday, August 28, 2014, 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM, Massachusetts Commission for the Blind, Room 2092, 600 Washington Street, Boston, MA
  • Friday, August 29, 2014, 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM, Massachusetts Commission for the Blind, 390 Main Street, Suite 620, Worcester, MA

All interested individuals are invited to attend these hearings or submit written comments on the proposed plan. Copies of the plan updates are available upon request in large print, Braille, or text file. Please direct requests for copies, directions to the hearings, or accommodations to meet special needs to Patricia Hart at 617-626-7502 or Patricia.Hart@state.ma.us. Please send any written comments to: Patricia Hart, Policy Development Unit, MCB, 600 Washington Street, Boston, MA 02111 or Patricia.Hart@state.ma.us. All comments received on or before August 29, 2014 will be considered.

As an interim measure, in advance of issuing tactile-enhanced Federal Reserve notes (U.S. currency); the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) recently announced that they are providing currency readers, free of charge, to individuals who are blind and visually impaired. The U.S. Currency Reader program will launch in two phases; a pilot phase, and a national rollout phase. Beginning September 2, 2014, in partnership with the Library of Congress National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS), the BEP will initiate a four-month pilot program, where NLS patrons can pre-order a currency reader. The pilot program allows the government to test its ordering and distribution processes and gauge demand for currency readers. During the National rollout phase, currency readers will be widely available to all U.S. citizens, or persons legally residing in the U.S. who are blind or visually impaired, starting January 2, 2015. Individuals who are not NLS patrons must submit an application, signed by a competent authority who can certify eligibility, to request a currency reader. If you are interested in applying for a currency reader device or learning more about BEP’s meaningful access program, you can visit www.bep.gov.

The Massachusetts Association for Parents of the Visually Impaired (MAPVI) is also inviting you to Six Flags Picnic in the Park on August 23rd. You can enjoy all the amenities of Six Flags starting at 10:00 AM, with a group picnic in the park from 12:30 to 1:30 PM at the River’s Edge Picnic Grove. The cost for MAPVI members is $28.00 per person for the first 36 people who sign up, $42.00 per person after that (with a limit of five $28.00 tickets per family). The cost for non-MAPVI members is $42.00 per person. All kids under the age of 2 are free. Your tickets, which will be emailed to you in advance, will get you free parking, all-day admission to Six Flags New England and Hurricane Harbor Water Park, and “all you can eat” at the picnic (hamburgers/cheeseburgers, hot dogs, side dishes, ice cream, and beverages). You can contact Nancy Gunnard at ngunnard@charter.net or by calling her at 774-437-2994. Additional information can also be found at www.MAPVI.org.

The Carroll Center for the Blind’s Outdoor Enrichment Program (OEP) would like to invite you to join them for a “Weekend in New Hampshire”, scheduled to take place during August 22-24, 2014, at World Fellowship Center, a secular, non-profit education center at 368 Drake Hill Road,
Albany, New Hampshire. This is a relaxing, fun filled weekend in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Activities include hiking, swimming, canoeing, row boating, and fishing. Evening entertainment includes music, storytelling, etc. The cost to participate in this weekend is $170.00 (which includes double occupancy lodging, 3 meals per day, and activities). To register or learn more, please visit www.carroll.org.

Attention all blind and low vision iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch owners! Seminars@Hadley is presenting the seventh of its quarterly series of seminars designed for you. Whether you are a beginner or an advanced user, you won’t want to miss this latest installment. Join Seminars@Hadley as Hadley instructor and iDevice trainer Douglas Walker offers tips and training on: using zoom, pairing a refreshable braille device, setting a calendar event and checking voicemail. Larry Muffett, a member of Hadley’s Seminars team, will moderate this 90-minute seminar. A question and answer session will be included as part of the seminar. This seminar is an audio presentation and space is limited. To register, please go to: http://www.hadley.edu/Seminar_register.asp?sid=242. You can learn more about this and other seminars at www.Hadley.edu.

People with disabilities, their families, caregivers, seniors, wounded veterans and healthcare professionals are expected to attend Abilities Expo Boston on September 5th-7th, 2014 at The Boston Convention & Exhibition Center (Hall C). Admission is free and show hours will be Friday 11 am to 5 pm, Saturday 11 am to 5 pm and Sunday 11 am to 4 pm. Admission is free. Abilities Expo, Boston, is the newest in a series of Abilities Expos that take place around the country and have been doing so since 1979. Abilities Expo Boston features an impressive line-up of exhibits, celebrities, workshops, events and activities to appeal to people of all ages with the full spectrum of disabilities — including physical, learning, developmental and sensory disabilities. American Sign Language interpretation services, complimentary loaner scooters, wheelchair repair and a power chair charging station will also be available during show hours. Register at www.abilitiesexpo.com.

Perkins CEO and President Dave Power joined state and local officials on July 21 to break ground on Watertown's new Riverfront Park Braille Trail — a pioneering project that will make the tranquil beauty of the Charles River accessible to people with visual impairments.

The trail, part of the new Watertown Riverfront Park, is the result of seven years of planning between Perkins, the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) and numerous local organizations.

The quarter-mile Braille Trail is located in a swath of parkland along the riverbank at the east end of Charles River Road. It will have numerous accessibility features to help sight-impaired visitors navigate, including a guide wire fitted with beads to indicate seating, stations for texture and ecological zones and braille signage. The trail will circle a sensory garden that includes stone walls and a canoe-like boat that visitors can climb on. The trail is expected to open for the public by early spring 2015.

Thanks for reading this message and it will be updated again on Friday, August 22.

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