Of Note


Vanda Seeks Survey Help


Vanda Pharmaceuticals, a bio-tech company located in Rockville, Maryland, is searching for adults with “no light perception” blindness to participate in a survey about problems they may face with sleep and wakefulness.

The purpose of the survey relates to an investigational new medicine called tasimelteon, a drug the company believes is particularly well-suited to treat the disorder of the sleep/wake cycle experienced by many people with “no light perception” blindness. The condition is often referred to as non-24-hour sleep wake disorder.

Survey participants must be over 18 years of age and blind with no light perception, and have sleep problems and/or daytime sleepiness.

Those surveyed will take a brief phone survey (approximately five minutes) and possibly participate in a future clinical study.

Non-24-hour sleep wake disorder occurs in some individuals who are totally blind and lack the light sensitivity necessary to reset the “body clock.” This can lead to problems with sleep and/or daytime excessive sleepiness.

All data collected from the phone survey will be kept strictly confidential. To participate, call toll-free 877-708-1935 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, Monday through Friday.

APH Secures FSS Contract Number


The American Printing House for the Blind now has a VA Federal Supply Schedule (FSS) Contract, according to John Spiegelhalter, Business Development Manager for APH. The contract became official on December 15, 2009.

As a result, APH is now listed on the Internet as a government supplier. The contract number is V797P-4266bb.

“We have constantly been asked by people visiting us in the Exhibit Hall at the BVA National Conventions if we are on contract,” he said. “We are very excited about this news and look forward to serving our veterans!”

Spiegelhalter said that APH worked on securing the contract for approximately five years.

“In Memory Day” Offers Healing


An estimated 700 family members, friends, and veterans honored 97 American heroes from the Vietnam War era posthumously at the 12th annual In Memory Day Ceremony on April 19 at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC.

In Memory Day was created to pay tribute to the men and women who died prematurely from noncombat injuries and emotional suffering caused directly by their service in the Vietnam War but who are not eligible to have their names inscribed on the Memorial’s Wall.

Family members read aloud the names of their loved ones and placed tributes at the panel of The Wall that corresponds most closely with the honorees’ dates of service. Throughout the ceremony, volunteers and friends also read the names of the 1,874 past honorees.

Noted speakers at the event, hosted by The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, included Brigadier General George Price, USA (Ret), Non Commissioned Officers Association Executive Director for Government Affairs Richard Schneider, and Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK). TV Worldwide filmed the ceremony and posted it on its website, www.usvets.tv.

“Cooking Without Looking” Shares Useful Techniques


A 30-minute show that airs twice monthly in Palm Beach, Florida, is currently being prepared for national distribution on PBS.

“Cooking Without Looking” is the first TV show ever produced especially for blind and visually impaired individuals. Three hosts, Celia Chacon, Tom Fox, and Annette Watkins, are all blind or visually impaired themselves. They moderate the show and welcome guest similarly blind and visually challenged “chefs” who create their culinary specialties.

Past recipes have included “Easy Cheesy Potatoes;” “Strawberry Cheesecake Chacon;” “Jamaican Jerk Chicken and Pork;” and “Phil’s Fabulous Gourmet Meatloaf.”

The guests also give tips on how to cook, stay safe, and have fun in the kitchen. The final segment of the program, entitled “Food for Thought,” introduces viewers to people and community organizations who work with the blind and visually impaired. This includes guide dog puppy raisers; a blind pilot who received two corneal transplants and regained his sight; a blind psychologist who gave tips on preventing depression with sight loss; and new vision technology.

Help Available for Vet Student Loans


Veterans who are 100 percent service-connected and/or permanently disabled can apply to have their student loans paid off as a result of the Higher Education Opportunity Act passed in August 2008.

Veteran borrowers will be considered totally and permanently disabled for purposes of the loan discharge if they provide documentation from VA showing that they have been determined to be unemployable due to a service-connected condition.

The permanent and total disability discharge applies to Federal Family Education Loans, Perkins Loans, William D. Ford Federal Direct Loans, or Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grant service obligation.

For more information, go to http://ed.gov/disabilitydischarge/va/html.

NBP, APH Offer Braille Constitutions


Recent inquiries to BVA have asked if any entity makes available the U.S. Constitution in Braille. Both the American Printing House for the Blind and National Braille Press, in fact, offer the product.

For more information, visit the websites of the two organizations. For phone orders or customer service information, call APH toll free at 800-223-1839 and NBP at 800-548-7323, Ext. 520.

Survey Seeks to Support Caregivers


The National Alliance for Caregiving is undertaking a study to determine how caregivers of veterans are faring and what community and VA services, resources, and programs would support and assist them with their caregiving activities.

The project, funded by the United Health Foundation, will utilize telephone interviews, focus groups, and an online survey of caregivers of veterans from World War II through the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Caregivers are defined by the assistance they provide in activities of daily living such as bathing, dress, and feeding. Also included are assistance with taking medications, transportation to the doctor’s appointments, housekeeping, and helping veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury. Cash incentives will be available for study participants and veterans who refer them.

Information obtained from the focus groups, telephone interviews, and Internet survey will be confidential.

Family caregivers or veterans who know of one who may wish to take part in this study may sign up www.gwsurvey.com/caregiversofveterans.html. Please contact Kathy Cameron at kathleen56@caregiving.org or at 703-585-6607.

“Blind Corners” Offers Resources


A new website offers information and links to other accessible sites that could be of particular interest to the blind and visually impaired.

“Blind-Corners.com” consists of a Country Music Corner, a “How To” Corner, a Dog Corner, a Talking Book Corner, and a Blind Favorites Corner. Each of the aforementioned sections leads to individual webpages with dozens of additional links to sites of interest.

To visit the site, go to www.blind-corners.com