blind_html Re: [Fwd: Fred's Head Companion - American Printing House for the Blind]

  • From: "The Elf" <inthaneelf@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <blind_html@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Mon, 12 Jan 2009 20:26:19 -0800

Fred's Head Companionthat's some good information there, thanks, especially 
since I plan to do some out of the country travel this year or early next year, 
Tahiti here we come!

have a good one,
  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Nimer Jaber 
  To: blind_html@xxxxxxxxxxxxx 
  Sent: Monday, January 12, 2009 4:42 PM
  Subject: blind_html [Fwd: Fred's Head Companion - American Printing House for 
the Blind]

  -------- Original Message -------- Subject:  Fred's Head Companion - American 
Printing House for the Blind 
        Date:  Mon, 12 Jan 2009 09:25:19 -0600 (CST) 
        From:  Fred's Head Companion <fredshead@xxxxxxx> 
        Reply-To:  Fred's Head Companion <fredshead@xxxxxxx> 
        To:  nimerjaber1@xxxxxxxxx 

        Fred's Head Companion - American Printing House for the Blind   
        Accessible Breast Cancer Information 

        Posted: 12 Jan 2009 08:02 AM CST

        The National Braille Press is offering free copies (in braille or 
PortaBook) of the American Cancer Society booklet, For Women Facing Breast 
Cancer. The publication covers mammograms, biopsies, cancer staging, treatment 
options, and breast reconstruction as well as how to join clinical trials and 
where to find emotional support. 

        Each section includes a list of questions that individuals might want 
to ask their doctor or nurse. Copies are limited to one per customer 

        NBP has other health-related braille publications, including: 

          a.. After Diagnosis: Prostate Cancer, free

          b.. Menopause Guidebook, free

          c.. Simple Ways to Control Your Weight

          d.. Atkins Carbohydrate Gram Counter

          e.. Diabetes Cookbook: Desserts 
        NPB also offers a free four-week trial of Syndicated Columnists Weekly, 
a braille magazine that includes columns and editorials print and online 
newspapers such as the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and Washington 
Post. You can download a free sample (text or braille) on the National Braille 
Press website:
        Business Travel Tips for the Entrepreneur With a Disability 

        Posted: 12 Jan 2009 07:49 AM CST

        Into every disabled businessperson's career some travel must fall. Make 
the experience less stressful with these travel tips geared to people with 
visual impairments.

        Be Prepared

        Travel Advice From a Pro

        Traveling Abroad

        Other Tips and Tricks From Travelers With Disabilities

        These Are the Rules


        Be Prepared

        Business travel can be tense enough without the added hassle of being 
blind or visually impaired. I talked to some experienced visually impaired 
business travelers to see what they do to make the process more pleasant so 
they can concentrate on doing business. 

        Being prepared for your business trip that will lessen or eliminate 
headaches which commonly plague travelers but which are even greater hassles 
for people with disabilities. Here are a few tips for being prepared that I 
found specifically for blind or visually impaired travelers: 

          a.. Write down the names and addresses of all destinations, such as 
hotels, meeting places, and even airports. Don't assume taxi drivers and others 
will know where they are, and don't rely on your own memory. Bring the 
information in a form accessible to you. Include phone numbers you may need to 
get help at your destination, including hotels, ground transportation, business 
contacts, and tourist bureaus. 

          b.. Make it known to everyone you deal with (starting with your 
travel agency) what your disability is. Don't assume people will figure it out 
themselves. Tell them directly and specifically what help you need. If you keep 
it to yourself out of reticence or pride, you may discover that something you 
really need will be missed or that you will be overlooked, for instance, in an 
emergency. Believe me, it's not worth it. 

          c.. Don't hesitate to ask people for information or help. If you 
cannot see the departures monitor, just cheerfully ask someone standing near it 
if they can help you out. In my experience, most people are more than happy to 
help, especially if you are specific about what you need. Be courteous and 
grateful. It's called "positive reinforcement." 

          d.. Carry your white cane whether you are going to use it or not. At 
the very least, it will validate your requests for help, and you may run into 
situations, such as dark stairways, where you will need it. Bring an extra 
folding white cane in your luggage in case something happens to your regular 
cane or your guide dog. 

          e.. Keep valuables and important documents on your person: keys, 
money, tickets, identification etc. You can get a small zippered pouch that you 
wear around your neck under your clothes where you can carry these items 
securely, but make sure you can get to them when you need to -- such as when 
going through security. 

          f.. Have small bills in your pocket for tips. Chances are you will be 
asking for more help than the average person. It is only right to show you 
appreciate rather than demand it. 

          g.. Find out ahead of time whether you can bring your guide dog. (See 
this article's Traveling Abroad section.) Don't assume just because you are 
traveling within your country that you will be able to bring it along. Hawaii., 
for example, limits the circumstances under which you can enter the state with 
a service animal. 

          h.. Find out if your health insurance will cover you when you travel, 
especially to other countries. And bring your medications with you in their 
labeled bottles so they can be identified as prescription drugs if you are 

          i.. Do your research. One handy tool for getting information about 
airports is International Airport Guide. For a review of what airport travel 
involves post 9/11, see Remaking the Airport.

          j.. Research hotels. A hotel is a hotel, right? No! If you have 
concerns about sharing of a bathroom, availability of toiletries, locations of 
transportation or availability of meals, find out about all of these services 
before you make your reservation. At a hotel I stayed in Paris the "toilet" in 
the room was not a toilet but a bidet -- the toilet was down the hall. And 
every morning there was a tray with coffee and a baguette on the floor in front 
of the door. I'm glad I did not find out about this by tripping over it! 

          k.. Search disability travel sites. While the dozen or so sites 
dedicated to accessible travel emphasize wheelchair users, it is wise to read 
every one you find. Use the words "accessible travel" in a search engine 
because there is plenty of helpful advice that is applicable to all 

          l.. Read general travel advice meant for the average traveler. What 
you learn may be even more important to you -- such as not assuming you will 
find a room with a vacancy when you arrive like my friend Ellen and I did when 
we spent a night in Juneau, Alaska, one August. One great resource on the Web 
is Rick Steve's Travel Tips, which has advice about packing, safety, 
communicating, using money, staying healthy and other potentially risky aspects 
of traveling. 

          m.. Read about your destination ahead of time. I can't tell you how 
many times I've come back from a business trip where I had extra time only to 
find out that something I would have loved to see or visit was down the block 
from my hotel! 

        The airline and other travel industries are slowly adapting to the 
disabled market, but, with each travel or hospitality worker you meet, there is 
the potential for running into unexpected problems. Other obstacles can come up 
from your own lack of knowledge (understandable enough) of the nuances of each 
industry. You can lessen the chance that an inconvenience will become a serious 
problem by learning a thing or two about the destination, the transportation 
and the services you expect to use. 

        Each aircraft, for instance, has emergency exits, some of which are 
right by passenger seats. People with disabilities are not allowed to sit in 
those seats because the person in them is responsible for the lives of every 
other individual on that flight. When you make your seat selection, be sure to 
tell the ticket agent you have a disability to prevent being given an 
emergency-exit row seat and then having to later haggle over who has to trade 
with you. 

        The Disabled Traveler suggests you choose an airline based on its 
record of accommodating disabled travelers.

        Go to Top of Page

        Travel Advice From a Pro

        Mika Pyyhkala, who travels more than 50,000 miles a year for business 
and pleasure, gave me several tips. In fact, they are so helpful that I'm 
giving Pyyhkala a whole section in this article! Here is advice from a pro: 

          a.. Join and get to know airline/hotel frequent travel programs. If 
possible, try to become an elite/prefered/premier member. You receive many 
published and unpublished benefits once reaching these levels. 

          b.. Get to know (at least by first name and face) people who work at 
the airports and hotels you frequent. These people can really make or break 
your travel. I just completed a trip where I ran into a ticket agent who just 
recognized my face, and she waived a $100 change fee for me, even in the era of 
supposedly no waivers and no favors. 

          c.. Keep a person's direct telephone number when you have a complaint 
or problem -- when you want to issue a compliment. These key people can help 
you. Last summer, I had to change a trip. I called a friend of mine who I have 
dealt with over the years at Boston Logan, and she said, "Usually there is a 
charge for this, but I will waive it for you since I know you have had problems 
in the past." Also, this past summer, I needed a two-bedroom suite at a major 
hotel but wanted to pay just the standard room charge. I got a contact name 
from someone I had worked with, and presto, I got the two-bedroom executive 
suite for the price of an economy room. 

          d.. Use the internet as a resource. An excellent web site is, which has forums or chat areas about all major airline and hotel 
companies. There are countless tips and useful undocumented sources of advice. 
For example, on, I learned of a deal where I could fly the BA 
Concorde for $1,200 round-trip (usual price is $10k -- give or take a few k). 

          e.. Try to get bumped from over-sold flights in order to get free 
tickets, upgrades, and other benefits. 

          f.. Ask the venue for a tour of the facilities at a convention 
center. I recently did this at the Orlando Convention Center, and it worked out 
very well. 

          g.. Get a laptop with an ethernet connection, and an 802.11 (wifi) 
wireless connection, so you can stay connected wherever you might be. Look at 
an ISP called for dial up and other connections around the globe. 

          h.. Learn to get around by yourself at the airports you use most 
frequently. It is easier than you think. This way, you do not have to wait for 
or be dependent on others for connecting flights etc. 

          i.. Rethink your need for special assistance. I prefer not to request 
special assistance from the airlines. I find that this type of service gets in 
my way more than it helps. 

          j.. Trade favors. If you frequent a particular hotel, ask for guest 
service information in braille. Offer to publicize this fact for the hotel and 
help the facility find a vendor to do the work. 

          k.. Be careful when checking into hotels because many front desk 
agents think a person who is blind needs either a room near elevator or one 
equipped for people in wheelchairs. 

          l.. File a complaint if you encounter disability-related issues. You 
would be surprised at the compensation you might receive for your trouble. Plus 
you may help the company in its service efforts. 

          m.. Plan for computer access. I bought a very thin and small Cannon 
scanner to do OCR on the road. There may be difficulties if you need to go to a 
client site, for example, and access a lot of paper files etc. 

          n.. Try to get the materials ahead of time in electronic format when 
you go to conferences. 

        Thank you, Mika!

        Go to Top of Page

        Traveling Abroad

        Access laws and customs for people with disabilities are far from 
universal. Your "rights" where you live may not be what they are in another 
country. They may be more limited. They may be stronger. Further, the age of 
buildings, roads and other public places may affect their potential for 
accessibility. A 13th century cathedral is not likely to be as accessible as a 
21st century hotel and so forth. 

        Customs vary as well, and these include attitudes towards people with 
disabilities. My husband tells me that tourists from overseas often look with 
shock at me as we walk by them in malls -- white cane in my hand and all. I 
have noticed that some immigrants appear to be unaware of what my cane even 
means and make no effort to move out of my way. On my part, I'm sure that, if I 
were in a part of the world where "the crippled" sit on the street and beg, my 
very American look of reproach would not be appreciated. 

        In particular, attitudes towards service animals, whether regulated or 
cultural, can cause blind or visually impaired people some problems. The United 
Kingdom has strict rules about admitting dogs because, being an island, it can 
prevent the spread of rabies in do so. In some countries, dogs fall into the 
same category as rats and, as a result, are regarded as unclean. My friend, 
Bern, has had rotten fruit thrown at her when she ventures out with her guide 
dog, Hazey. 

        It is critical that you do your homework before you travel abroad, 
whether for business or pleasure. Fortunately, AccessAble Travel Services has 
made this rather easy. In its "World Destinations" database, you can select the 
country or countries you will be visiting and obtain information (including 
links about local access issues, laws and customs. 

        Definitely look at foreign travel advice intended for every type of 
traveler to get information about communicating, money exchanges and so forth. 
Rick Steve's Travel Tips is very thorough.

        Go to Top of Page

        Other Tips and Tricks From Travelers With Disabilities

          a.. Be selective when it comes to seating. In my own travels, I try 
to take an airlines such as Southwest Airlines which allow me to choose my own 
seat. When I can't go Southwest, I always take the airline's offer of priority 
seating so I can get help finding my seat and get settled before the rush of 
boarding really gets started. 

          b.. Don't kid around when talking to travel and security personnel. 
Sure it's tempting to respond "Always!" when the airline check-in person asks 
you if your luggage has been out of your sight for any period of time or to 
hold your white cane like a sword when going through security. We use humor to 
deal with others' awkwardness, but these people are required by law "not to 
take a joke." You may be detained or even jailed for your witticism. 

          c.. Don't assume being disabled means travel and security people will 
cut you slack. You must be as much or more serious and responsive. 

          d.. Ask about discounts when planning to visit entertainment venues 
such as amusement parks. Many charge people with disabilities the same lower 
rate they do seniors. 

          e.. Ask about companion fares. Some modes of transport charge lower 
fares or allow you to bring a companion at no extra charge, if you are 
disabled. When my husband and I took a bus across country, we only had to pay 
for one ticket. It was worth it to the bus company not to have to have drivers 
and station staff helping me out. 

          f.. Make hotel card keys accessible. Kathy Blackburn suggests, "For 
hotel key cards, ask the desk clerk to place a piece of tape on the side of the 
card that should be toward you when you insert the key into the slot. Make sure 
the clerk doesn't place the tape on the end of the card in such a way that some 
of it is on both sides." 

          g.. Make luggage tags accessible. Blackburn also recommends the large 
plastic luggage tags which can be brailled with a slate and stylus. 

          h.. Book your hotel yourself. Vicki Ratcliffe says, "When traveling 
alone, I always book the reservation for the hotel rather than have the agency 
book it for me. By doing this, I can choose a hotel that meets my needs such as 
one that has a restaurant for meals or one with interior corridors to get from 
place to place." 

          i.. Select gift shops which allow you to touch. AccessAble Travel 
Services offers this advice: "Enhance your sensory experience by going on tours 
and visiting gift shops. Some tour groups allow travelers who are visually 
impaired to experience an exhibit by touching objects otherwise off-limits. 
Gift shops often sell small scale replicas of monuments you can touch." 

          j.. Don't forget your tape recorder. On Rick Steve's Travel Tips, a 
site visitor writes, "When a blind friend of mine travels, he takes a small 
tape recorder. He tapes all sorts of things -- from pub conversations to train 
announcements to the sounds of nature. These tapes are his 'photographs.' It is 
so much fun listening to the sounds of places he has visited. I think I'll take 
a tape recorder on my next trip!"

        Go to Top of Page

        These Are the Rules

        Wonder about a specific rule or regulation while traveling? Check these 
          a.. Steps Taken to Ensure New Security Requirements Preserve and 
Respect the Civil Rights of People with Disabilities - USA. Post September 11 
security measures affecting air travelers have been developed to improve rather 
than hinder people with disabilities. 

          b.. State Department Travel Warnings - USA. The U.S. Department of 
State monitors traveler safety issues around the world and issues these 
advisories, called Travel Warnings (updated promptly) about whether it is safe 
to travel in certain cities, countries or regions of the world. The web site 
gives safety advisories for each country as well as some other very significant 
information about conditions for travelers, entry and exit requirements, 
incidence of crime, air travel and traffic safety, health concerns, customs 
law, and a lot more -- even disaster readiness advice. For example, I 
discovered that, if I should plan to travel with my child to Papua, New Guinea, 
I need to bring her birth certificate and other legal documents that prove she 
is not being abducted. This site is fascinating reading, even if you are only 
armchair traveling! 

        Article Source: 
        Accessible Everything: An Accessible and Inclusive Travel Blog for 
People with Disabilities
        Accessible Everything is a blog about accessibility for disabled people 
with a special focus on the tourism industry. From the author: 

        "I have travelled quite extensively and indepedently in Europe and I 
think it's important to share these experiences, both good and bad, with other 
disabled people." 

        "I worked for several years with the Spinal Injuries Association in the 
United Kingdom which gave me many opportunities and broadened my knowledge of 
Spinal Injury. I also volunteered for other disability associations which 
helped me understand other types of disabilities." 

        "In January 2002, I moved to Barcelona and taught English as a Second 
Language for several months. During this time I travelled independently in 
Germany for over a month, going from town to town by train. I had some problems 
in Berlin due to the lack of information for disabled travellers, such as 
accessibility in museums, hotels and restaurants." 

        "When I returned to Barcelona, I decided to help disabled people that 
wanted to visit the city by writing a short access guide. This guide, 
AccessibleBarcelona is available on the internet at and I hope that it helps many people to 
travel more confidently." 

        "I still live in Barcelona and I should imagine that much of this blog 
will be related to my experiences both here and whilst travelling in other 

        Click this link to visit the Accessible Everything blog at 

        British Website Lists Accessible Rentals in More than 20 Countries is a one-stop shop for accessible bookings (it 
guarantees level-access showers) to vacation home and apartment rentals from 
England to Indonesia. 

        The site bills itself as "the only website in the world advertising 
only accommodation with at least one room with a level access shower." 

        The company's goal is to make life accessible for mobility impaired 
people wishing to travel the world, regardless of one's physical limitations. 
The website provides detailed information covering all aspects of accessibility 
for its property listings, located in twenty countries around the world, 
including the United Kingdom, continental Europe, Turkey, Indonesia, and the 
United States. 

        Most properties are high end, such as a Normandy farmhouse that 
includes a private heated pool fitted with an Oxford Dipper Hoist (there's one 
in the house, too), or the Cotswold cottage with an electric bed, shower chair, 
and teletext; Canary Island bungalows, Turkish hotels, Italian resorts, all can 
be booked through AccessAtLast. 

        Each AccessAtLast listing includes enough information for a disabled 
traveler to determine if the house, apartment, or villa meets their 
accessibility needs. Listings specify such details as: 

          a.. Width of doorways

          b.. Bed, toilet, and clothes rack heights

          c.. Availability of electric beds

          d.. Level-access showers (guaranteed)

          e.. Manual shower chairs and grabrails

          f.. Teletext

          g.. Pool and indoor wheelchair lifts

          h.. Availability of accessible transportation. 
        Disabled travelers seeking getaway ideas can find inspiration in the 
site's Accommodation of the Month. Bargain hunters might search the site's 
"Last Minute Offers" section for even greater deals! 

        AccessAtLast's WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) compliant 
website, which supports screen readers used by the blind, also includes 
customer reviews, a mobility shop featuring wheelchairs and accessories, and a 
signup for an accessible travel newsletter. A recently added feature is an 
advanced-search capability for multi-room accommodations sorted by country or 

        Click this link to visit
        AbilityPLUS: Adaptive Snowsports and Recreation 

        Posted: 12 Jan 2009 07:30 AM CST

        Since 1997, AbilityPLUS has sought to make year-round recreation, such 
as snow sports and cycling, accessible to those with physical, emotional, and 
sensory disabilities. 

        AbilityPLUS, located in Waterville Valley in the heart of New Hampshire 
ski country, is dedicated to availing the disabled of opportunities to 
experience adaptive sports, including Alpine and Nordic skiing, snowshoeing, 
sled hockey, kayaking, hiking, bicycling, and therapeutic horseback riding. 

        Executive director Kathy Chandler founded AbilityPLUS in 1997 with the 
help of a small group of volunteers who were inspired by the athletic 
achievements of the region^D>'s disabled skiers. 

        The organization now runs affiliate and partner program with major New 
England ski centers, Attitash-Bear Peak (Bartlett, Mount Snow, VT, and 
Wachusett Mountain, Princeton, Mass) and over 250 volunteers who have helped 
thousands of individuals and their families experience the joy of outdoor 

        AbilityPLUS serves people from every demographic, including a growing 
number of disabled veterans in the Wounded Warrior Disabled Sports Project, 
which it coordinates with the Walter Reed Army Medical Center. The program, now 
in its fifth year, pairs veterans with specially trained instructors at 
Waterville Valley to learn the use of mono- and sit-skis.

        Click this link to visit the AbilityPLUS website to learn more about 
their programs.
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