Thursday, March 26, 2009

Fewer than 10% of blind Americans read braille...

By BEN NUCKOLS, Associated Press Writer Ben Nuckols, Associated Press Writer – 2 hrs 36 mins ago

BALTIMORE – Jordan Gilmer has a degenerative condition that eventually will leave him completely blind. But as a child, his teachers did not emphasize Braille, the system of reading in which a series of raised dots signify letters of the alphabet.

Instead, they insisted he use what little vision he had to read print. By the third grade, he was falling behind in his schoolwork.

"They gave him Braille instruction, but they didn't tell us how to get Braille books, and they didn't want him using it during the day," said Jordan's mother, Carrie Gilmer of Minneapolis. Teachers said Braille would be "a thing he uses way off in the far distant future, and don't worry about it."

That experience is common: Fewer than 10 percent of the 1.3 million legally blind people in the United States read Braille, and just 10 percent of blind children are learning it, according to a report to be released Thursday by the National Federation of the Blind.

By comparison, at the height of its use in the 1950s, more than half the nation's blind children were learning Braille. Today Braille is considered by many to be too difficult, too outdated, a last resort.

Instead, teachers ask students to rely on audio texts, voice-recognition software or other technology. And teachers who know Braille often must shuttle between schools, resulting in haphazard instruction, the report says.

"You can find good teachers of the blind in America, but you can't find good programs," said Marc Maurer, the group's president. "There is not a commitment to this population that is at all significant almost anywhere."

Using technology as a substitute for Braille leaves blind people illiterate, the federation said, citing studies that show blind people who know Braille are more likely to earn advanced degrees, find good jobs and live independently.

"It's really sad that so many kids are being shortchanged," said Debby Brackett of Stuart, Fla., who pressured schools to provide capable Braille teachers for her 12-year-old daughter, Winona.

One study found that 44 percent of participants who grew up reading Braille were unemployed, compared with 77 percent for those who relied on print. Overall, blind adults face 70 percent unemployment.

The federation's report pulled together existing research on Braille literacy, and its authors acknowledge that not enough research has been done. The 10 percent figure comes from federal statistics gathered by the American Printing House for the Blind, a company that develops products for the visually impaired.

The federation also did some original research, including a survey of 500 people that found the ability to read Braille correlated with higher levels of education, a higher likelihood of employment and higher income.

The report coincides with the 200th birthday of Louis Braille, the Frenchman who invented the Braille code as a teenager. Resistance to his system was immediate; at one point, the director of Braille's school burned the books he and his classmates had transcribed. The school did not want its blind students becoming too independent; it made money by selling crafts they produced.

The system caught on, but began declining in the 1960s along with the widespread integration of blind children into public schools. It has continued with the advent of technology that some believe makes Braille obsolete.

"Back in about 1970 or so, I was heading to college, and somebody said to me, 'Now that you've got the tape recorder, everything will be all right. In the early 1980s, somebody else said, 'Now that you've got a talking computer, everything will be all right,'" said Marc Maurer, president of the federation.

"They were both wrong. And the current technology isn't going to make everything all right unless I know how to put my hands on a page that has words on it and read them."

Audio books are no substitute, said Carlton Walker, an attorney and the mother of a legally blind girl from McConnellsburg, Pa. Walker once met a blind teenager who had only listened to audio books; the teen was shocked to discover that "Once upon a time" was four separate words.

Walker also had to lobby teachers to provide Braille for her 8-year-old daughter, Anna, instead of just large-print books.

"At 3 years old, Anna could compete with very large letters. When you get older, you can't compete," Walker said. She once asked a teacher, "'What are you going to do when she's reading Dickens?' She said, 'Well, we'll just go to audio then.'

"If that were good enough for everybody, why do we spend millions of dollars teaching people to read?"

Gilmer, now an 18-year-old aspiring lawyer, worked on his Braille in a summer program when he was in middle school and can now read 125 words a minute, up from his previously rate, an excruciatingly slow 20 words a minute.

"Just try it," Carrie Gilmer said. "Go get a paragraph, get a stopwatch and try to read 20 words a minute. Try and read that slow and see how frustrating it is."

Fluent Braille readers can read 200 words a minute or more, the federation says.

Carrie Gilmer is president of a parents' group within the federation for the blind. She believes poor or haphazard instruction is largely responsible for the decline in Braille literacy, but she says sometimes teachers push Braille only to meet resistance from parents.

"They're afraid of their child looking blind, not fitting in," Gilmer said.

The report outlines ambitious goals for reversing the trend, including lobbying all 50 states to require teachers of blind children to be certified in Braille instruction by 2015. But its immediate goal is to simply make people aware that there's no substitute for Braille. It's not just a tool to help people function — it can bring joy, Maurer said.

"The concept of reading Braille for fun is a thing that lots of people don't know," Maurer said. "And yet I do this every day. I love the beautiful, orderly lines of words that convey a different idea that can stimulate me or make me excited or sad. ... This is what we're trying to convey."

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Prayer for Stellan...

I have posted about this blog before...this is where I got the idea of putting snow in the sink to let the kids play with it.

Well, when this mom was pregnant her unborn baby was diagnosed with a fatal heart condition. He was miraculously cured in-utero, and has not had any heart issues since. He went into the ER the other night with some respitory issues, not related to his heart at all, and when he got his second dose of albuterol, his heart went into SVT (Supraventricular Tachycardia). His heart rate went to over 300 bmp, and has jumped everywhere since. This family and little boy need your prayers now!

Please go to the blog to find out more, and pray for little Stellan!!!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Good News...

Good news is actually trickling out of the Haiti adoption process... This was a message on our Orphanage board today:
For those of you who have been stuck in the dispensation stage, hold fast!! They are finally starting to issue dispensations. We have been waiting since the middle of November for our file to receive the pardon and we finally just got word that our file has been approved!!! Hooray, we are so excited!!

We also went into dispensation the middle of November along with another family from our Orphanage. Maybe we will get our news tomorrow! Here's for hoping!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Dainty Couture...

DeLynne, a sister not by blood, but through our circumstances, the Ronald McDonald House in Chicago, and our share of Spina Bifida, is an AMAZING seamstress, designer, creator, jewelry maker, etc... She has an online company, through ETSY, called Dainty Couture.

For this week, if you leave a comment on her blog, and if you are randomly chosen; you will get to select a necktie for the little boy in your life. I have 3 matching ties for Micah, Jonas, and Luca and they are great!!! No detail is too small or missed with her products. She also specializes in party hats, and so much more... They are soooooooo cute!!! She will also custom monogram anything, if you request. Go and check her out and maybe you will win's just that easy!

Presidential Dispensation...

This is what we are waiting for to move forward with Jonas's adoption. Without the President's signature on our dossier, we are just sitting in a holding pattern.

Here is the latest adoption news from GLA. Hopefully our file will be signed out soon. We went into dispensation in November 2008. I think they have had enough time to look our file over...don't you think!!! :-)

Adoption News
17 March 2008

Good News today! One of our dossiers received a dispensation! Hopefully, this is just the first of many that will signed in the next few weeks. We heard that there are around 200 dossiers waiting for dispensation and so far 19 have been given dispensations in the last 2 weeks. I really need my families to be praying that our dossiers will be given the dispensations needed in the next few weeks and that they can then move on to Parquet.

We only have a couple of dossiers in Parquet. Parquet is signing dossiers quickly as soon as we bring the biological parents in for their interview. Parquet is requiring us to bring the parents in. I know that some orphanages are not taking all of their parents in but it is supposed to be required for everyone and we want to make sure and do this right. The US Embassy especially is checking to see that the orphanages are doing what is required.

MOI has returned to taking about 3 months to get the authorization to print the passports. It had gone down to 6 weeks but since Christmas has taken more time. If they could do them in 6 weeks before Christmas why is it taken twice that amount of time now?

Our lawyer said that someone from the French Embassy made inquiries with all of the different sections of Haitian government concerning adoptions and why it was taking so long. She was acted like the government did not think the process was so long but I told her that I am HAPPY that someone finally is stepping in and making inquiries of why IBESR is taking more than a year to approve some dossiers, Parquet was taking more than 6 months, MOI more than 3 months! That is way too long for an adoption is ANY country! Thank you, French Embassy personel!

I would like to ask everyone to pray for adoptions in Haiti every morning for the next month and ask God to take control of the situation and put the children and their needs first!

Please pray with me that these files get signed out and that these children get to go home in 2009!!!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

What is your purpose???

I read "The Purpose Driven Life" about 3-4 years ago. I loved the first sentence of the book, "It's not about you." That is so true!!!! Life is not about is about what we are doing for eternity, and who we are being 'the hands and feet of Jesus' to on earth. This is where our passion has come for helping 'the least of these'. It truly is a burning passion in my heart! This is an interview with the author of "The Purpose Driven Life", and I wanted to share it with all of you.



Interview with Rick Warren , author and pastor of Saddleback Church in California .

In the interview by Paul Bradshaw with Rick Warren, Rick said:

People ask me, What is the purpose of life? And I respond: In a nutshell, life is preparation for eternity. We were made to last forever, and God wants us to be with Him in Heaven.

One day my heart is going to stop, and that will be the end of my body-- but not the end of me.

I may live 60 to 100 years on earth, but I am going to spend trillions of years in eternity. This is the warm-up act - the dress rehearsal.

God wants us to practice on earth what we will do forever in eternity. We were made by God and for God, and until you figure that out, life isn't going to make sense.

Life is a series of problems: Either you are in one now, you're just coming out of one, or you're getting ready to go into another one.

The reason for this is that God is more interested in your character than your comfort.

God is more interested in making your life holy than He is in making your life happy.

We can be reasonably happy here on earth, but that's not the goal of life. The goal is to grow in character, in Christ likeness.

This past year has been the greatest year of my life but also the toughest, with my wife getting cancer.

I used to think that life was hills and valleys - you go through a dark time, then you go to the mountaintop, back and forth. I don't believe that anymore.

Rather than life being hills and valleys, I believe that it's kind of like two rails on a railroad track, and at all times you have something good and something bad in your life.

No matter how good things are in your life, there is always something bad that needs to be worked on.

And no matter how bad things are in your life, there is always something good you can thank God for.

You can focus on your purposes, or you can focus on your problems.

If you focus on your problems, you're going into self-centeredness, "which is my problem, my issues, my pain."

But one of the easiest ways to get rid of pain is to get your focus off yourself and onto God and others.

We discovered quickly that in spite of the prayers of hundreds of thousands of people, God was not going to heal my wife or make it easy for her.

It has been very difficult for her, and yet God has strengthened her character, given her a ministry of helping other people, given her a testimony, drawn her closer to Him and to people.

You have to learn to deal with both the good and the bad of life. Actually, sometimes learning to deal with the good is harder. For instance, this past year, all of a sudden, when the book sold 15 million copies, it made me instantly very wealthy.

It also brought a lot of notoriety that I had never had to deal with before. I don't think God gives you money or notoriety for your own ego or for you to live a life of ease.

So I began to ask God what He wanted me to do with this money, notoriety and influence. He gave me two different passages that helped me decide what to do, II Corinthians 9 and Psalm 72.

First, in spite of all the money coming in, we would not change our lifestyle one bit. We made no major purchases.

Second, about midway through last year, I stopped taking a salary from the church.

Third, we set up foundations to fund an initiative we call The Peace Plan to plant churches, equip leaders, assist the poor, care for the sick, and educate the next generation.

Fourth, I added up all that the church had paid me in the 24 years since I started the church, and I gave it all back. It was liberating to be able to serve God for free.

We need to ask ourselves: Am I going to live for possessions? Popularity? Am I going to be driven by pressures? Guilt? Bitterness? Materialism? Or am I going to be driven by God's purposes (for my life)?

When I get up in the morning, I sit on the side of my bed and say, God, if I don't get anything else done today, I want to know You more and love You better ...

God didn't put me on earth just to fulfill a to-do list. He's more interested in what I am than what I do. That's why we're called human beings, not human doings.

Happy moments, PRAISE GOD.

Difficult moments, SEEK GOD.

Quiet moments, WORSHIP GOD.

Painful moments, TRUST GOD.

Every moment, THANK GOD

Thursday, March 12, 2009



Dear Ms. Hubley,

We heard this morning that your family’s pre-approval request to adopt Chun Yan has been approved! Congratulations. We will now remove her photo from the website, and you can proceed full speed ahead!

--------------------------------------------- to make dinner...

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Coffee Anyone???

Please, come on over and we can enjoy some coffee together. We have the best service in town... You will never complain of there not being enough coffee in your cup either! ;-)

Seriously though, thank God this coffee was not freshly brewed and hot!!!! That makes me sick to think about it!!!! This pic was taken a couple weeks ago. I don't know how he got it down...The coffee pot is WAYYYYYYY at the back of the counter.

We have a lot of Angels on patrol here at the Hubley household! I am convinced that there is a whole army of Angels that are specifically assigned to LUCA!!!

Thank you God for protecting this boy that you gave me, when my eyes are off of him for 10 seconds!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Handsom Haitian boy...

Still Alive...

Yes, I am still alive! Just really busy lately, and I have gotten out of the habit of blogging. I promise I will get back to it soon. I have enough stuff to blog for like a month...

Here is a low-down in bullet points...


-Might be buying a house???

-Hannah lost her 3rd tooth...
-Jonas got Botox injected into his left leg and left arm.
He was taking steps holding onto my one hand today.

-Witlene has been staying with us since last Wednesday. (Hands that Heal)
She flies back to Georgia on Wednesday.

-Luca is crazy as always... He bit Jonas today...

-Hannah started playing the Cello at school...

-Micah is VERY excited about Make a Wish...

-Micah had strep throat last week...

-No news from China yet...

-Ryan has 2 more classes and then is DONE with his Masters of Education... He has maintained a 4.0!!!!!!!!! Go Ryan!!!

-I worked tonight...
-I have been spoiled by Witlene cooking Haitian food this past week. I told Ryan not to get too used to all of these elaborately cooked meals!!! :-)

-It is already tomorrow, so I should probably go to bed!!! Stories, pics, and videos coming soon...

Thanks for hanging in there with me through this unplanned blog break!!!

Here are some random pics...

FYI...Her teeth are not dirty...She gets iron deposits on them...

Thanks Jess for the great Valentine's Day Weekend!!!