Thursday, November 22, 2007



My title reflects a perception that Thanksgiving, as well as the Holiday season it presages, has devolved into a capitalist celebration of excess rather than a day to count one’s blessings and express gratitude to our Creator for the gift of sentience.  That doesn’t mean I want to piss in your cheerios or denounce the traditional turkey dinner and family confab.  I just wish we could all focus more on what is really important in life, our ability to think and understand, our potential for becoming more than we are now, and the needs of others.  We do tend to focus too much on sales, stuffing ourselves and carrying on a rather hollow tradition that lacks meaning andprovides calories rather than sustenance.  I am thankful for the small number of readers who take the time to red what I write, and I hope you all have found something to rememger about this holiday.  Peace and long life to each and every one of you.


Chairman Mal

Power to the Peeps!



Friday, November 16, 2007

Accessible College Textbooks Saved!

Howdy Comrades!

Once again, we have won a battle in our war to achieve equality!  Thanks for helping with your phone calls and email.


Hartle, Jesse [mailto:JHartle@NFB.ORG]

Sent: Thursday, November 15, 2007 3:38 PM

To: undisclosed-recipients:

Subject: Legislative Alert HR 4137 Update



Fellow Federationists: 


I want to thank you all for your hard work in telling members of the House Education and Labor Committee about the concerns of the Blind relating to Section

766A of HR-4137.  Because of your hard work and many, many phone calls, a Manager’s amendment has been included to strengthen the consumer participation

of the Commission designed to study the problem of inaccessible materials in Higher Education, and to direct the Commission to develop a program that will

solve this problem.  This language was adopted by the Education and Labor Committee yesterday.  The National Federation of the Blind is now fully supportive

of Section 766A as established by the Manager’s amendment.   


Blind students in Institutions of Higher Education must have access to textbooks in the format of their choosing at the same time materials are made available

to their sighted peers.  This legislation will put us on the path to achieving this important goal.   


It is very important that we make follow-up phone calls to members of the Education and Labor Committee and thank them for passing an improved version of

Section 766A.  We should also contact Congressman Grijalva’s, Miller’s, and Petri’s offices.  These members worked hard to get this language into the Manager’s

amendment, and their staff members should know that the National Federation of the Blind appreciates their work.  I have included contact information for

these staff members below.  I think email will be the best way to reach them.   


We will continue to update you all on the latest information relating to this legislation as it moves towards a Conference Committee.  Thank you all once





Congressman Grijalva


Alethea Scally 


Congressman Petri


Tom Culligan 


Chairman Miller


Sharon Lewis


--Of course, we must remain vigilant in order to get this legislation to final passage.


Chairman Mal

Power to the Peeps!    


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

URGENT Save Accessible Textbooks for College Students

Howdy Comrades!

This is an urgent matter we must act on today!  Our effort to provide blind college students with access to electronic copies of textbooks is in jeopardy.  Below is the information you need to hehlp blind college students immediately. 


Hartle, Jesse [mailto:JHartle@NFB.ORG]

Sent: Tuesday, November 13, 2007 1:00 PM

To: undisclosed-recipients:

Subject: Urgent-Action Needed by 6 PM Today Regarding Accessible Textbooks

Importance: High



Fellow Federationists:            


We have an urgent need to defeat language proposed for a bill that goes to mark up Wednesday, November 14, 2007.  The language is Section 766A in H.R. 4137. 



On Monday, November 5, 2007, we received proposed bill language for a Commission designed to study issues concerning the accessibility of textbooks in higher

Education, and also charged with developing a model project that would be designed to support systems that were currently in place.  We expressed concerns

relating to the composition of the Commission.  First problem:  The membership as described by the legislation involved minimal input from consumers, while

being more favorable to the publishing community.  Second problem:  The pilot program is scheduled to last a minimum of one year longer than the Commission,

and, worse yet, could extend longer than one year if the Secretary of Education chooses to extend the pilot program.  This language, if included in the

bill, would continue to delay access to information for blind students in institutions of Higher Education, possibly for years to come. 


We submitted revised language to the Committee asking that a majority of the Commission be composed of individuals with print disabilities.  We told them

that if the Commission was not consumer-driven, then little significance would come from this legislation.  We also urged the Committee to strengthen the

purpose of the Commission, from merely studying the problem, to developing legislation to be enacted by Congress.  When bill H.R. 4137 was introduced,

however, we learned that none of our suggested changes to improve this legislation for blind people were included.   


This bill is scheduled to be marked up tomorrow, Wednesday, November 14, 2007 so you need to call immediately.   


We need you to make two calls:


1.      Call Chairman George Miller’s office at (202) 225-2095.  He is the Chairman of the House Committee on Education and Labor.  Tell him that section

766A will not help blind college students and urge him to have it removed.


2.      If your Representative is on the below list of Education and Labor Committee members, you need to call him or her.  Tell your representative that

section 766A will not help blind college students and urge him or her to vote to have it removed.   


I have included a list of the members of the House Education and Labor Committee below with their phone numbers.  You can also be connected with Congressional

offices by calling the Capitol switchboard at (202) 225-3121.  Please find your state in the lists below and call now, then get your neighbors to call. 

Ask relatives and friends who live in other states to make these calls as well. 


Thank you all very much for your help on this urgent matter.  If you have any questions, please call me at (410) 659-9314, extension 2233, or e-mail me



House Committee on Education and Labor


Full Committee




Rep. George Miller (D CA–7), Chair 


Majority (27 D): 


Rep. George Miller (D CA–7) 202-225-2095


Rep. Dale E. Kildee (D MI–5) 202-225-3611


Rep. Donald M. Payne (D NJ–10) 202-225-3436


Rep. Robert E. Andrews (D NJ–1) 202-225-6501


Rep. Robert C. Scott (D VA–3) 202-225-8351


Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D CA–6) 202-225-5161


Rep. Rubén Hinojosa (D TX–15) 202-225-2531


Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D NY–4) 202-225-5516


Rep. John F. Tierney (D MA–6) 202-225-8020


Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich (D OH–10) 202-225-5871


Rep. David Wu (D OR–1) 202-225-0855


Rep. Rush Holt (D NJ–12) 202-225-5801


Rep. Susan Davis (D CA–53) 202-225-2040


Rep. Danny K. Davis (D IL–7) 202-225-5006


Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (D AZ–7) 202-225-2435


Rep. Timothy H. Bishop (D NY–1) 202-225-3826


Rep. Linda Sánchez (D CA–39) 202-225-6676


Rep. John P. Sarbanes (D MD–3) 202-225-4016


Rep. Joe Sestak (D PA–7) 202-225-2011


Rep. Dave Loebsack (D IA–2) 202-225-6576


Rep. Mazie K. Hirono (D HI–2) 202-225-4906


Rep. Jason Altmire (D PA–4) 202-225-2565


Rep. John Yarmuth (D KY–3) 202-225-5401


Rep. Phil Hare (D IL–17) 202-225-5905


Rep. Yvette Clarke (D NY–11) 202-225-6231


Rep. Joe Courtney (D CT–2) 202-225-2076


Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D NH–1) 202-225-5456 


Minority (22 R): 


Rep. Howard P. Buck McKeon (R CA–25) 202-225-1956


Rep. Thomas E. Petri (R WI–6) 202-225-2476


Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R MI–2) 202-225-4401


Rep. Michael N. Castle (R DE–At Large) 202-225-4165


Rep. Mark Souder (R IN–3) 202-225-4436


Rep. Vernon J. Ehlers (R MI–3) 202-225-3831


Rep. Judy Biggert (R IL–13) 202-225-3515


Rep. Todd Russell Platts (R PA–19) 202-225-5836


Rep. Ric Keller (R FL–8) 202-225-2176


Rep. Joe Wilson (R SC–2) 202-225-2452


Rep. John Kline (R MN–2) 202-225-2271


Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R WA–5) 202-225-2006


Rep. Kenny Marchant (R TX–24) 202-225-6605


Rep. Tom Price (R GA–6) 202-225-4501


Res. Comm. Luis G. Fortuño (R ) 202-225-2615


Rep. Charles Boustany Jr. (R LA–7) 202-225-2031


Rep. Virginia Foxx (R NC–5) 202-225-2071


Rep. Randy Kuhl (R NY–29) 202-225-3161


Rep. Rob Bishop (R UT–1) 202-225-0453


Rep. David Davis (R TN–1) 202-225-6356


Rep. Tim Walberg (R MI–7) 202-225-6276


Rep. Dean Heller (R NV–2) 202-225-6155 


Question:  “How do you eat an elephant?”  


Answer:  “One bite at a time.”


--A little philosophy from Dr. Kenneth Jernigan


   --Comrades, I have made several calls and urge you to follow suit.  Never mind about the elephant: Just pick up the phone right now!


Chairman Mal

Power to the Peeps!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

CAPTCHA Excludes Blind Activists

Howdy Comrades!

Here’s what I wrote to

On behalf of blind people who insist on inclusion with respect to the Internet.  I have also posted this message to the Blind Access Journal Discussion Group.  I could be mistaken, but I believe that the so-called “instant petition” offered by Go Petition is associated with Yahoo.  The Blind Access Journal has a CAPTCHA free petition for those of us who are tired of being excluded by Yahoo.  I will have more to say about the corrupt folks running Yahoo in a future post.

Hello Petition Help,


I am a blind human rights activist who has been trying to help to  Free human rights activist chen-guangcheng.  Because I use a screen reader to access your petition, I am unable to participate because signing your petition requires entering the characters in your CAPTCHA.  Be advised that screen readers cannot read these CAPTCHA's, excluding an entire class of people who want to help.  Your petition should have

An option to use an audio CAPTCHA or a way to get assistance without the discriminatory use of a CAPTCHA.  Please advise me and other blind activists on

how we can participate effectively with this cause.  Many blind people would be eager to sign a CAPTCHA free petition to help  chen-guangcheng.

Thank you for helping with this important issue.

PS:  For members of the Blind Access Group, here is the link to this petition:

Copy the following code to your site: 

<a href="

I will apprise readers of the Little Red Book of any response from the Go Petition folks.


Chairman Mal

Power to the Peeps!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

CAPTCHA Hurts Blind Chinese Activist

Howdy Accessibility Comrades!

I’m so mad I could fight a circle saw, as we say here in Texas.  For quite some time, I’ve been agitating to free a blind activist in China, Chen Guangcheng.  He was imprisoned for exposing forced abortions by local officials in China on trumped up charges of running a criminal gang that damaged government property and delayed traffic.  I’m not kidding.  As you may know, China has a “one child” policy, a policy to discourage families from adding to an already overcrowded population.  While the policy may be good for China, sports heroes, popular entertainers and even some government officials often violate the official policy and suffer no consequences or pay a modest fine.  When ordinary, poor Chinese women violate the policy, local officials resort to persecution, even forcing them to have abortions or sterilizations.  Chen Guangcheng sought to expose this injustice, and he rots in jail for daring to challenge these serious human rights violations.  Recently, a Human Rights organization has started a petition to pressure the National government of China to free Chen Guangcheng.  I applaud their efforts.  What makes me so angry is that there’s a CAPTCHA that one must solve in order to sign the petition.  Consequently blind supporters of Chen Guangcheng can’t help him by signing the petition without sighted help.  I seek your advice on what to do.  Should I attempt to start a separate petition, one that blind people can sign without a CAPTCHA?  Should I ask the International Rights group to change their petition?  This CAPTCHA hurts both Chen Guangcheng and his blind friends around the world.  I have provided a link below to the current petition.  I urge those of you who can manage to do so to sign it.  In the meantime, I will explore other ways to help free Chen Guangcheng.


Chairman Mal

Power to the Peeps!