Updated on Friday, January 13th, 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”. Wayne Levy produced this update.

In observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, all Massachusetts Commission for the Blind offices will be closed on Monday, January 16th. MCB is proud to join in the celebration of the life and achievements of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

MCB would like to take this opportunity to remind everyone that January is National Braille Literacy Month. January was chosen to coincide with the birthday of Louis Braille, the inventor of the system of raised dots. Although it has been more than 175 years since the first book was published in Braille, millions of people who are blind or have low vision are communicating more effectively with its use today. Braille literacy has allowed these individuals to read and write for themselves with independence and freedom.

January is also National Glaucoma Awareness Month, which presents a perfect opportunity to learn more about glaucoma, a leading cause of vision loss that affects more than three million people in the United States. Glaucoma is often called “the sneak thief of sight” for good reason: Many people are unaware that glaucoma has few symptoms or warning signs in its early stages. Early treatment for glaucoma can usually (but not always) slow the progression of the disease. However, as of yet, there is no cure for glaucoma. Because glaucoma has no obvious initial symptoms, a comprehensive dilated eye exam is critical to detect early glaucoma changes. People who are over the age of 40 should have a dilated eye examination from an ophthalmologist or optometrist at least every two years. African Americans; people who are over the age of 35 and have a family history of glaucoma; and everyone over the age of 60 or older should schedule a comprehensive eye examination every year.

The Bay State Council of the Blind (BSCB) is soliciting your assistance to help them honor the achievements and contributions of individuals and/or organizations which are positively impacting the lives of people who are blind in Massachusetts. The members of the Award Committee are asking you to nominate candidates for the BSCB awards. Please consider the three types of awards which are given at the BSCB Spring conference. The first is the Outstanding Service Award, which is given to an individual or organization that provides products or services of particular value to individuals who are blind. This award is presented annually. The appropriate candidate is usually a company or individual who provides a tangible product or service. The second award, the Community Access Award, goes to an individual or an organization which has demonstrated a commitment to increased access for individuals who are blind and visually impaired. This could be access to the printed word, transportation, the arts, employment, etc. This award is presented at the discretion of the BSCB Board of Directors. The third and final award, the Betty Gayzagian Advocacy Award, goes to a BSCB member who has performed exemplary advocacy work. This can include those who have worked on national, statewide or local issues. This award is also given out at the discretion of the BSCB Board of Directors. To nominate an individual and/or an organization for an award, please send your nomination to the Awards Committee Chair, Cheryl Cumings at cscumings@comcast.net. The deadline for nominations is Friday February 3rd. You can also learn more about these awards as well as the BSCB Spring Conference at www.acbofma.org.

The next Perkins School for the Blind’s Library Without Walls presentation will be taking place over the telephone on Tuesday, January 17th from 2:00 PM to 3:00 PM. Library Without Walls is a program at the Perkins Library where patrons can join in a presentation or book club by telephone. The January book to be discussed will be “We Are Market Basket: The Story Of An Unlikely Grassroots Movement That Saved A Beloved Business” by Dr. Daniel Korschun and Grant Welker. This book investigates the family-owned grocery store and the shifting balance of power between corporate executives and individual employees. The book tells the story of the family owned grocery chain and how droves of Market Basket employees rallied and went on a community-supported worker strike to reinstate their ousted CEO. Co-author Daniel Korschun will join the call. Dr. Korschun is an Associate Professor of Marketing at Drexel University and a fellow at the Institute for Strategic Leadership and the Center for Corporate Governance at Bennett S. LeBow College of Business. “We Are Market Basket”, was ranked in the top 15 books of 2015 in Forbes Magazine. To RSVP or listen to the upcoming Library Without Walls schedule held over the telephone each month, please call the voice mailbox system at 617-972-7852.

A researcher is seeking to partner with the Carroll Center for the Blind to test a new navigation system for safe blind travel inside buildings. The Carroll Center is seeking up to 10 individuals to come to the Carroll Center on two different Saturdays in March for 2-3 hours on each day. Study Participants are required to be: totally blind (completely blind with no light perception); at least 18 years old; be unfamiliar with The Rachel Rosenbaum Technology building on the Carroll Center’s Newton campus; and must regularly use an iPhone or Android smart phone. The selection process states that if the researcher believes you may be qualified to participate in this study, he/she will call you to hold a phone interview with you, which may take up to 30 minutes. If you are selected, the researcher will let you know which two Saturdays in March you will be required to come to the Carroll Center at 770 Centre Street in Newton, MA for your sessions. Again, each of the two Saturday sessions is expected to take 2-3 hours. Compensation, if you are selected to participate, will be $75.00 for each of the Saturdays that you participate in this study. Travel expense reimbursement is also available. If you would like to be considered as a candidate to participate in this study, please send an email with the following information about yourself: your name, best phone number to reach you, best days/times to reach you, your age, confirmation that you are not familiar with the Technology Center building at The Carroll Center, and confirmation that you are completely blind with no light perception. Interested parties should send your email to Bruce Howell at bruce.howell@carroll.org.

The Museum of Fine Arts Boston (MFA) would like to invite you to its Martin Luther King, Jr, Open House, scheduled for Monday, January 16th. The MFA will be having two free Feeling For Form tours for visitors who are blind or have low vision, both offered twice. Ancient Egyptian Sculpture Touch Tour is scheduled for 10:45 AM and 1:45 PM, and a descriptive tour (with some tactile materials) of two African-American artists, John Wilson, and Eldzier Cortor, also at 10:45 AM and 1:45 PM. Lastly, there will be a performance by the Boston City Singers at 11:00 AM and 12:30 PM. Sighted guides available for most of these tour, as well as other events. You can RSVP to hgoodwin@mfa.org or via phone at 617-369-3189. If there is an area of the Museum you would like to explore on one of the Sunday monthly tours, please contact the MFA. As a reminder, you can request a tour of any exhibit or collection in the Museum, any day the MFA is open. A few days’ notice or more is appreciated.

Macular Degeneration Support is a world-wide, non-profit public service organization founded by retired educator Dan Roberts. Since 1995, its mission has been to provide information and support for people who are affected by macular degeneration and similar retinal diseases. Known more simply as MD Support, it is internet-based, and also offers a public awareness program designed to reach people who are without Internet access. The Hadley Institute for the Blind and Visually Impaired’s Seminars@Hadley is inviting you to join them on Thursday, January 19th at 4:00 PM for “MD Support: The Eyes of the Macular Degeneration Community”. Dan Roberts, founder of MD Support, will talk about the organization and the many contributions it has made to the low vision community. These include a large and successful affiliation of support groups, multiple publications and a new partnership with the Society to Prevent Blindness. Ed Haines, Hadley instructor and member of the Seminars@Hadley team will moderate this 60-minute discussion. A question and answer session will be included as part of the seminar, which is an audio-only presentation. Space in this seminar is limited. To register, go to www.hadley.edu/SeminarDetails.asp?sid=347. You can learn more about this and other seminars at www.Hadley.edu.

The Huntington Theatre Company/Boston University Theatre, located at 264 Huntington Avenue in Boston, has announced two Audio Described performances of A Doll’s House. These special performances are scheduled for Thursday, January 19th at 10:00 AM (student matinee) and Saturday, January 28th at 2:00 PM. Nora loves her husband above everything. But when she risks her reputation in order to save him, the consequences test the limits of her devotion, and she finds herself struggling for her own life. In an acclaimed new translation, Henrik Ibsens classic remains as fresh as ever with an unfading capacity to shock. To purchase tickets, please contact Meg O’Brien at 617-273-1558 or MOBrien@huntingtontheatre.bu.edu. Tickets are $20.00 for each patron, and one additional guest. You can also learn more by visiting www.huntingtontheatre.org.

The Boston Opera House, located at 539 Washington Street in Boston, has announced the date for an Audio Described performance of Something Rotten. This special performance will take place on Sunday, January 22nd at 1:00 PM. Tickets, which start at $44.00, can be purchased via email at mdoyle@bostonoperahouse.com, in person at the Boston Opera House Box Office from Monday through Friday, 10:00AM to 5:00PM, or by phone at 617-880-2419. Set in 1595, two brothers, Nick and Nigel Bottom are desperate to write a hit play. When a soothsayer foretells that the future of theatre involves singing, dancing and acting at the same time, they set out to write the worlds very first musical. More information can also be obtained by visiting www.bostonoperahouse.com.

Thanks for reading this message and it will be updated again on Friday, January 20th.

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