Friday, January 7, 2011

National Organization of Parents of Blind Children

The NOPBC is an organization of parents with blind children. This group of parents considers blindness as a characteristic of their child, not a defining disability.  We support the efforts of this group to encourage the  climate of opportunity and understanding for parents. 

In the coming months it's our goal to provide 1000 braille flags to the children as they learn about the history of the United States and the meaning behind our nations symbol of freedom and unity.  

If you haven't seen our braille flags, they are not simply a piece of paper with braille description, instead these are fully tactile flags of high-quality, weatherproof thermoform paper. Thermoform light-weight textile plastic material commonly used in the industry to the blind for reproduction of tactile graphics as it retains the raised images and Braille dots better than standard Braille paper.

The flag is unique in that it permits a person who is non-sighted to fully see (via touch) the raised stars and stripes, but the colors of the flag as well. The flag also features the American Pledge of Allegiance in print and raised Braille dots in grade one Braille. (Grade-one Braille was chosen as it is can be read by both novice and seasoned Braille readers.)

Children who are blind are consistently taught the Braille color code. The color code is made up of an arrangement of three dots, very easily learned. However, for any person who is blind that may not have learned the color code or Braille, a separate "key" was created located at the lower portion of the flag that conveys that the smooth stripes are red, and the raised-grainy stripes are white stripes. Also within the key, a smaller raised graphic depicts the orientation of the fifty white stars on its blue canton (field).

We feel it's important for children to know and understand the place our flag holds in history. What better way than to let them "see" it.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Braille Handbook for Boy Scouts

Not too long ago KBTI was contacted by a local Boy Scout troop that wanted to include a visually impaired boy.  Apparently there are no copies of the Boy Scout Handbook in braille which makes it difficult for blind boys to follow and achieve without great assistance.  

So we've created the first official Braille Boy Scout Handbook. 

Earlier this year our Institute teamed up with the National Headquarters of the Boy Scouts of America to produce a Braille version of one of their handbooks.  Next week we will begin mass producing them and assisting with getting them into the hands of current blind boy scouts, and young boys that are blind and are wanting to become a boy scout.

We're exited about this and can't wait to present the handbook to the the local Boy Scout who inspired this journey and we know it will open doors to young men across the United States. 

Watch here for upcoming photos and videos about this exciting event!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Although Blind, this Veteran Keeps Giving

Today, the day that would live in "infamy" when Pearl Harbor was bombed, we at KBTI launch our blog with a wonderful story of sight beyond what can be seen and service beyond the call of duty.
Retired Sergeant 1st Class Walt Peters served 3 tours in Vietnam and was doused with Agent Orange on several occasions but thought nothing of it. But in 1977 his eyesight began to deteriorate and was diagnosed with chemical diabetes.  Thirty surgeries later his eyesight has been reduced to mere silhouettes. Click here to view the video by CBS on YouTube.

Despite being visually impaired, Sgt Peters still takes the time to say hello and good-bye to troops at Hunter Air Force Base in Georgia.  He's there three hours before flights arrive or leave and organizes volunteers to greet the troops, make coffee and hot chocolate and hand out American flags to the troops.  View the video

Attired in his Red Cross vest, one of his many volunteer activities, Sgt Peters works tirelessly to make the troops feel welcomed and loved, unlike the greeting he received upon return from Vietnam.  Peters does this with enthusiasm and love in his heart telling people that there is a lot of love and kindness in the world, he's doing his part to pass that along.

Several years ago, a stranger asked Peters, “Now that you are losing your eyesight, what are you going to do?” Peters replied, “If I can’t see with my eyes, I’ll have to see with my heart!”

It is the active and retired military service men and women that we honor today and say "thank you" for your gift of service.

Read more about Sgt. Walt Peters on the Red Cross website: "Retired Veteran Keeps on Serving"