Updated on Friday, February 5th, 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.

Starting in October of last year and continuing through March of this year, MCB will be hosting a series of listening sessions across the Commonwealth. These listening sessions will seek to solicit consumer, provider and community perspectives on the range of services provided by MCB, as well as allow for input and feedback on other topics of importance. MCB is inviting consumers, their families and all key stakeholders to attend sessions nearest them. MCB Commissioner Paul Saner will be on hand to hear your insights. For those individuals unable to attend in person, comments may be submitted in writing to Office of the Commissioner, MCB, 600 Washington Street, Boston, MA 02111 or by email to Stephen.Berdos@state.ma.us. There are three remaining dates and locations for February. The first session will be held on Thursday, February 11th at Fore River Club House, 16 Nevada Road in Quincy from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM. The second session will be held on Friday, February 19th at the Worcester Senior Center, 128 Providence Street in Worcester from 10:00 AM to 11:00 AM. The final February session, which is being hosted by the Perkins School for the Blind, will be held on Thursday, February 25th at the Grousbeck Center on the Perkins Campus, from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM. Please note that this session is free, but requires registration by February 11th. You may register online at www.perkins.org, over the phone at 617-972-7335, or through the mail. Dates for the month of March will be released in late February.

The City of Boston recently launched the Vision Zero Boston Safety Concerns Map, an online tool that allows people to identify locations where they have concerns about transportation safety. Residents of the city of Boston and visitors are encouraged to visit www.visionzeroboston.org/input, select the location of your concern, and add it to the map. You will also have the opportunity to enter additional comments or concerns reported by others. Please note that this map is not a substitute for 3-1-1, which is used to report non-emergency issues to the city, such as broken street lights. The data from the Safety Concerns Map will be used collectively by the Vision Zero Task Force to identify patterns in behavior and street design to help set priorities for future Vision Zero efforts. For more information, please visit www.cityofboston.gov.

With the winter upon us, the MBTA would like to inform you of what steps will be taken by the T to remove snow from bus stops. Once the snow has stopped falling, MBTA staff will begin removing snow at subway stations. This includes station platforms, stairs, ramps, and busways. After clearing the snow at rail stations, MBTA staff will begin removing the snow from bus stops that are part of the “Key Bus Routes” program. According to MBTA officials, it takes approximately one to three days to remove snow from “Key Bus Route” stops. The MBTA will remove snow from stops that are not “Key Bus Route” stops. You may call 617-222-3200 or email snowandice@mbta.com to report a stop that has not been shoveled. When reporting a stop that has not been shoveled, please indicate that you are a person with a disability, state the bus route that serves the bus stop, and include the intersection where the stop is located. More information on snow removal can be found at www.mbta.com/winter/bus_status.

The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) Board of Trustees recently named Kirk Adams, currently the president and CEO of The Lighthouse for the Blind, Inc., as its next president and CEO after a nationwide search. Adams will succeed longtime President and CEO, Carl R. Augusto, who is retiring after 25 years of distinguished service. Adams will begin his new position in May 2016. Adams, the sixth chief executive of the AFB, is being hired as the organization approaches its 100th year in operation. Since 1921, the American Foundation for the Blind has been breaking down barriers and expanding possibilities for millions of people with vision loss. You can visit www.afb.org to learn more about this announcement.

With Valentine's Day right around the corner, there's still time to share the love with beautiful Helen Keller-themed jewelry that helps support the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) and its programs. You can choose from a sterling silver ribbon-heart necklace inscribed with Helen Keller's quote "The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched, they must be felt with the heart" or a striking silver cuff bracelet with the same quote. Both pieces are designed by Laurel Elliott of DVB New York. How about an accessible, low-vision-friendly Helen Keller eCard? AFB’s Helen Keller eCards are high contrast and large print, featuring beautiful archival photos with quotes from Helen. These electronic cards are accessible for people who are blind or have low vision, and allow you to type in your own personalized message. You can visit www.afb.org to learn more.

The Bay State Council of the Blind (BSCB) is announcing plans for their 2016 Spring Conference, scheduled to take place from Friday, March 4th through Sunday, March 6th at the Boston Marriott Burlington, located at One Burlington Mall Road in Burlington. The program Committee is finalizing the agenda and speakers, which will distributed as the conference dates approaches us. Exhibitors and an auction will again be highlights of the convention. Registration, which is required by Friday, February 26th, costs $75.00, but attendees also have the option of paying $30.00 for a single day at the conference without access to the banquet and $55.00 for access to the banquet only. For more information about the convention, please visit www.acbofma.org/events.

While reading books using braille seems the most obvious and best way to make use of braille, there are lots of additional easy ways you can put braille to work for you. Markers for cooking and measuring; keeping your calendar and appointments at work every day; and lots of leisure ideas make the possibilities for using braille endless. And if you develop skills to read braille using different fingers, the possibilities to put braille to work are infinite! Join the Hadley School for the Blind’s Seminars@Hadley on Thursday, February 11th at 11:00 AM for a seminar titled, “Braille Exchange: Braille -- Put it to Work for You!” Sharon Howerton and Vileen Shah will share all sorts of potential with those 6 dots to make your life easier, more comfortable and organized. Instructor Kim Walker will moderate this 60 minute seminar. A question and answer session will be included as part of the hour, which is an audio-only presentation. Space in this seminar is limited. To register, go to www.hadley.edu/SeminarDetails.asp?sid=306. You can learn more about this and other seminars at www.Hadley.edu.

The American Council of the Blind (ACB) annually awards approximately twenty scholarships ranging in amounts from $1,000 to $3,500 to vocational, entering freshmen, undergraduate, graduate and full-time employees (32 hours or more per week who are attending college part time) students who are legally blind, maintain a 3.3 GPA and are involved in their school/local community. Applications and all supporting materials must be received by 11:59 PM Central Standard Time on March 1, 2016. To read the scholarship application instructions and complete an on-line application, please visit: www.acb.org/scholarship.

Attention theater fans! The Arts Emerson Production Company at the Paramount Theater is offering some of its 2016 productions with audio descriptions. On Sunday, February 28th, there will be a special audio described performance of “The Wong Kids,” at 1:00 PM. Using a mix of action-driven storytelling, puppetry, and visual magic, The Wong Kids transports its audiences into the far reaches of the galaxy. Violet and Bruce Wong just don't fit in with the other earth kids. But when an evil beast appears, intent upon universal destruction, they must travel to outer space in order to stop it. Robbin Sitten will be the Primary audio Describer and Jill Robbins will be doing Secondary description of preshow and intermission. To order tickets, please call the Emerson/Paramount Center at 617-824-8400.

The Boston Opera House, located at 539 Washington Street in Boston, wanted you to know that there are still great seats available for Stephen Schwartz’s Pippin, which opens next week. Hope you're ready to join the most magical and unforgettable troupe in all the land! The 2013 Tony Award-winning musical production will open on February 2nd and close on February 14th. Directed by Tony winner Diane Paulus, Pippin tells the story of a young prince on a death-defying journey to find meaning in his existence. Will he choose a happy but simple life? Or will he risk everything for a singular flash of glory? The show is noted for many Broadway standards including “Magic To Do,” “Corner of the Sky,” “Glory,” “No Time at All,” “Morning Glow” and “Love Song.” An Open Captioned Performance will be on Saturday, February 6th at 2:00 PM. An ASL Performance will be on Saturday, February 13th at 2:00 PM. And an Audio Described Performance will be held on Sunday, February 7th at 1:00 PM. You can learn more and purchase tickets at www.bostonoperahouse.com.

Thanks for reading this message and it will be updated again on Friday, February 12th.


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