Collaboration Provides Specialized Equipment for Blind Student

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The Braille Sense U2 QWERTY device at right includes a keyboard to streamline braille writing and an integrated computer to translate to and from braille.

ADAMS, Mass. — The Adams Lions Club, Hoosac Valley High School Leo Club, Lions District 33-Y Emergency Sight and Hearing Fund, and BART Charter Public School have joined forces to provide a specialized device that is helping a BART 10th grader, who is blind and has significant hearing loss, learn more efficiently and productively.

The collaboration enabled the purchase of a Braille Sense U2 QWERTY device, which cost $5,800. The device allows users to read and write Braille and translate it to enable communication with sighted persons. The Perkins School for the Blind provided one of the devices for a trial, and Perkins special education teacher Amy T. O’Brien worked with the BART student during the trial.

O'Brien explained that the Braille Sense U2 QWERTY is better for blind users with hearing loss because it provides auditory and tactile feedback to users. The increased feedback helps the student identify and correct mistakes in his work. During the trial, the student said he found the menu-driven device easier to use than screen-reading software with a computer that he had been using.

The student also noted that the Braille Sense device provides downloadable books, saving paper, and allows him to access the Internet.

BART Special Education Director Susan Lubell knew that Lions Clubs help blind and hearing- impaired people, so a BART representative contacted the Adams Lions Club over the summer to see if it could help buy the Braille Sense. Local clubs assist people in need with purchasing items such as glasses and hearing aids, though the cost for the Braille Sense is beyond the means of most clubs.

Adams Lion Art McConnell brought the need to the Lions District 33-Y Emergency Sight and Hearing Fund Committee, on which he serves. The 40 Lions Clubs that make up District 33-Y, including Adams, contribute to the fund so that Lions can help in cases such as this one. The emergency fund’s contribution, along with donations from the Adams Lions and Hoosac Valley Leos, covered half the cost of the Braille Sense, defraying the impact on BART.

“All of us at BART appreciate the assistance provided by the local and district Lions and Leos in obtaining the Braille Sense device for our student,” Lubell said. “The device is making a real difference for him.”

Adams Lions President Jim Dynes said that, as service organizations, Adams Lions and Hoosac Valley Leos raise funds through events such as food sales from the Lions trailer at downtown events. Community support of these initiatives makes it possible for Lions and Leos to help the blind and hearing-impaired as part of their mission of community service.  

“We are pleased that our organizations and BART were able to get together to purchase this much-needed device that is helping a student succeed at school,” he said.


Tags: BArT,   Lions Club,   

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Suffrage Centennial Committee Kicks Off Yearlong Celebration

By Jeff SnoonianiBerkshires Correspondent

Cassandra Peltier as Alva Belmont Vanderbilt, a prominent figure in the suffrage movement.
ADAMS, Mass. — About 75 people filled The Manor on Saturday afternoon for the kickoff event of a yearlong celebration of Susan B. Anthony and the 100th anniversary of women winning the right to vote.
The event at St. John Paul II Parish's Italianate mansion was organized by the Adams Suffrage Centennial Celebration Committee. The committee serves as an advisory committee to the Board of Selectmen. 
Anthony was born in Adams and was a social reformer best known for spearheading the women's suffrage movement. She was also involved in the anti-slavery movement, collecting signatures for petitions as a teen, the temperance (prohibition of alcohol) movement, and women's financial rights.
Retired school teacher Mary Whitman, committee member and host for the day, shared why Anthony's work was so important. 
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