Updated on Friday, July 25th, 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 Wayne Levy.

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 Justice Department announced on July 25th that Attorney General Eric Holder has signed a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to amend the Title III regulation for the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to require movie theaters to provide closed movie captioning and audio description in order to give persons with hearing and vision disabilities access to movies. The department is proposing to provide a consistent nationwide standard for movie theaters to exhibit movies that are available with closed movie captioning and audio description for all showings. The department is also proposing to require theaters to provide a specific number of closed captioning and audio description devices. Lastly, the department is proposing a six-month compliance date for movie theaters’ digital movie screens and is seeking public comments on whether it should adopt a four-year compliance date for movie theaters’ analog movie screens or should defer the rulemaking on analog screens until a later date. The department intends to publish the proposed rule in the Federal Register in the near future, and public comments on the NPRM will be due 60 days from the date the rule is published. The NPRM is available for review at www.ada.gov.

The MBTA recently announced information about a new smart phone app for commuter rail commuters. The official MBTA Commuter Rail app from Keolis Commuter Services, which began operating on trains on July 1st, features an alarm that can be set to activate from five to sixty minutes before a train’s real-time arrival at a station. The Android version of the app launched on July 1st, and the Apple version debuted on July 7th. The app provided access to commuter rail schedules and real-time countdowns to trains’ departure and arrival times, with updates on delays and other alerts. Users can see a train’s speed, its direction, trip distance, and remaining stops. The app also keeps a tally of the gas that commuters save by using the rail service instead of driving, carbon dioxide emissions avoided and “time spent working or relaxing” and not stuck in traffic. Additional information can be found at www.mbta.com.

The Commonwealth Shakespeare Company (CSC) will be presenting the 19th season of Free Shakespeare on the Boston Common’s production of Twelfth Night, starting on Wednesday, July 23rd and continuing through Sunday, August 10th. Twelfth Night, Shakespeare’s classic comedy of love in disguise, follows the journey of Viola and Sebastian, twins separated by a shipwreck, as they encounter loss and love in their homeland – the mythical and magical land of Illyria. Performance hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 8:00 PM; Sundays at 7:00 PM; and a special matinee performance at 3:00 PM on Saturday, July 26th. The July 27th performance will be audio described with a rain date of August 3rd. ASL interpreted performances will be on August 3rd and 8th, with a rain date on August 9th.

All performances are FREE and open to the public and will take place at the Parkman Bandstand on the Boston Common. More information can be obtained at www.commshakes.org or by calling 617-426-0863.

The Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) is inviting you to a Museum-trained guide for a “Summertime” tour at the MFA on Sunday, August 3rd at 1:00 PM. This tour will include audio description of paintings and original sculpture. Related tactiles and raised line drawings will also be used. This tour is free for art lovers who are blind or low vision and a sighted guide companion, but pre-registration is essential. For more information or to pre-register by Friday, July 25th, please call 617-369-3302 or email Valarie Burrows vburrows@mfa.org.

The Carroll Center for the Blind’s Outdoor Enrichment Program (OEP) would like to invite you to two upcoming events in July.

  • Every Saturday in July, and continuing through August 9th, recreation sailing will be offered. Participation will be offered weekly depending on available space and guides. Sailing will take place at Courageous Sailing Center, Pier 4, Charlestown Navy Yard in Charlestown from 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM and costs $5.00 per person. Contact Bob Costello at pinusstrobus92@gmail.com to register.
  • Every Wednesday in July, from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM, canoeing will be offered at Charles River Canoe and Kayak, located at 2401 Commonwealth Avenue in Newton. Participation is determined weekly depending on available space and guides. The cost to participate is $5.00 per person/per session. Please contact Jill Suarez at jill.suarez@carroll.org to learn more.

July 27, 2014

The Boston Renegades is taking their talents to Lowell. National Braille Press is inviting you to Braille Literacy Night at the Lowell Spinners baseball game on Sunday July 27th at LeLacheur Park in Lowell, MA. The Lowell Spinners game is at 5:00 PM, but come early for a special beep ball exhibition at 4:00 PM. To reserve discounted tickets for $6.00 (while tickets last); please contact Jennifer Gonyea at jgonyea@nbp.org or 617-266-6160, ext. 436.

August 2, 2014

The Association of Blind Citizens (ABC) will hold its Summer Luncheon on Saturday August 2, 2014 at the Fours Restaurant, located at 166 Canal Street in Boston. The restaurant is a two minute walk from the North Station MBTA station. Come and be part of an ABC summer tradition.

The luncheon will include a variety of hot sandwiches, entrees and a cash bar will be available. The sit-down Lunch will be served from 12:00 PM until 1:45 PM. Attending the luncheon at 2:00 PM will be WBZ's talk radio host, entertainer, and trivia expert Morgan White Jr. You have heard his trivia game on the radio, but this is your chance to test your knowledge live. Morgan's style and wit make him a unique and interesting individual. Morgan will have many prizes to reward you for your knowledge.

ABC's Summer luncheon is free to the blind community, family and friends. Bring a group of your friends and have some fun. Please be sure to make a reservation and let us know the number of guests in your party. Register by emailing president@blindcitizens.org and be sure to include your telephone number with your email reservation. If you are using the Ride, please ask to arrive at noon and pick you up at 3:30 PM.

August 6, 2014

MassMATCH (Maximizing Assistive Technology in Consumers’ Hands) and Easter Seals MA would like to invite you to an Assistive Technology Exposition and Conference, scheduled to take place on Wednesday, August 6th at Holyoke Community College in Holyoke, MA. Join more than 200 professionals, educators, therapists, consumers, service providers, and businesses to learn about the latest in assistive technology for work, home, school and community living. Workshop topics will be relevant to employment, education, community living, and communication. Exhibitors will also be on hand to demonstrate their latest products. The cost to attend the conference is $95.00, but scholarships are available. Through the efforts of MassMATCH and United Cerebral Palsy in Pittsfield, FREE transportation will be available from communities in and around Pittsfield. Please contact Jeff McCauslin at jmcauslin@eastersealsma.org to find out more about transportation. Additional conference information can be obtained by contacting Rufina Kennedy at rkennedy@eastersealsma.org or 508-751-6312.

August 9, 2014

The Massachusetts Association for Parents of the Visually Impaired (MAPVI) invites you to a fun-filled day of fishing on a private pond, scheduled for Saturday, August 9th at Riverside Gun Club, 16 Wilkins Street in Hudson. This event, which is limited to 50 participants, is open to any family who has a child with a disability, however children with a visual impairment and their siblings and friends will be given priority until August 4th, then it will be first come, first served. Rods and reels for the children will be provided by Wildlife and Fishery. Baiting and casting will be provided by Hudson Cub Scouts and Boys Scouts. This event is free for all MAPVI members, and $10.00 per family for non-members. Please RSVP by August 4th by emailing Sue Rawley or by calling 781-902-1413

Thanks for reading this message and it will be updated again on Friday, August 1st.

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