Thank you Volunteers! National Volunteer Week: April 18 – 24
Volunteers are at the core of so much of the work we do. National Volunteer Week, established in 1974, celebrates and recognizes those who lend their time to many, many causes and concerns, “Shining A Light on the People and Causes That Inspire Us to Serve.” Volunteers often work virtually now as well. For more about National Volunteer Week, volunteer opportunities and social media promotion, visit Points of Light.
It’s Free and Virtual: National Coding Symposium May 11 – 14
Knowing how to code can open many doors to careers in technology. Co-hosted by the American Printing House (APH) and California School for the Blind (CSB), the 2021 National Coding Symposium will bring together students, parents and teachers with professionals in the coding industry to provide insights into what coders do and career options available to those with this knowledge. “Through a series of inspirational speakers, panel discussions, presentations, and question and answer sessions, attendees will learn about the various pathways to careers in and/or related to coding.” And, “coding is inherently accessible.” For more information and to register.
Recruiting Teens for Study of Inclusiveness in Physical Education
Researchers from Old Dominion University, in Norfolk, Virginia, are recruiting participants in a study examining the physical education experiences of young people, ages 12 – 17, with vision impairment. The study goes from May 2021 through April 2022. All data collection will be virtual. Those who participate will be offered Amazon gift cards totaling $250 throughout the one-year study. For more information, or to participate, contact Justin Haegele, PhD, CAPE, Associate Professor, Health & Physical Education, Department of Human Movement Sciences, Old Dominion University, [email protected].
Camping Options Offer Recreation, Education, Cooking and More
Leader Dogs for the Blind is partnering with Triple AAA (The Auto Club Group) to present a free and Virtual Summer Experience Camp for teens 14-17. One-hour sessions at 12 and 3 p.m. each day will cover mobility options (including guide dog travel for sure), leadership skills training and developing relationships with peers. The interactive sessions will take place on Zoom and feature surprise guest speakers, games plus conversations about mobility. Teachers and O&M Specialists can sign up to attend as well. Camp dates will be announced today, April 16, so complete their survey to get news and updates.
The Michigan Department of Education rents its Camp Tuhsmeheta (Camp T), originally established to serve students with visual impairments but now open to all, to Michigan school groups from May through September each year. Camp facilities include lodges (one outfitted with an adapted kitchenette for teaching independent living skills), tent sites and primitive camping. Traditional camp activities like hiking, archery, swimming, boating and a climbing tower plus an amphitheater and sports field for outdoor theatricals and competitions make the fun. Camp T is open during the winter too, and currently offers online activities for children with visual impairments like making Muffins with Mom in May and Popsicles with Pop in June. Check out its menu of activities here.
In North Carolina, IFB Solutions has six different S.E.E. summer camp programs for children who are blind or visually impaired. Day Campers in grades K-12 with culinary interests can choose Foods and Cooking Camp, while those who like the great outdoors can don their pith helmets and join the Great Explorers. Animals All Around is this year’s theme for day camp at Tracy’s Little Red Schoolhouse (a young people’s center for daily living, tech and social skills). There’s even a virtual camp where those who prefer camping remotely can join activities for two hours in the morning and two in the afternoon via Zoom. Camp H2O has both land and water sports to offer, and SEE Adventure Camp is for teens who are ready to stretch their legs and hit the trail around the Nantahala Gorge in Western North Carolina. Get all the info here.
New Contact Lens Enhances Vision of Users with Low Vision
A new form of contact lens, Mojo Lens uses augmented reality to project images to a functioning portion of the retina of people with low vision. This makes it possible to “see turn-by-turn directions while walking, important steps for replacing an unfamiliar machine part, or talking points for a presentation…” It provides a wearable, hands-free way to relay information to users without blocking their view or limiting mobility. The creators involved the Vista Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired to obtain feedback in its development. Listen to an interview on the Mojo Lens on Blind Abilities here.
Survey Assesses Impact of COVID-19 on Individuals with Vision Impairment
A recent study published in the American Journal of Ophthalmology considered the implications of COVID-19 on eye care, general and mental health among groups of individuals with varying levels of visual impairment as well as caregivers. “Ophthalmologists lost more patient volume than any other specialty during the acute phase of COVID-19 in the United States, and possibly worldwide.” What does this mean for the health and well being of people who are blind or visually impaired? While conclusive evidence is not fully known, the study found that concern for developing COVID varied, and that “Overall, groups with greater proportions of irreversible blinding disease, including those with moderate and severe VI, as well as blindness, reported greater challenges associated with COVID-19 and its shutdown. These included difficulty in seeing the eye doctor …, lack of transport …, and financial burden…” In addition, delays in accessing care for treatable conditions, such as cataracts and retinal disease, have compounded the problem. Read more here.
Hand Sanitizer and Eye Injury: Risks Greatest in Children
A study published in JAMA Ophthalmology reports that the use of hand sanitizers during the pandemic has been connected with growing numbers of eye injuries, particularly among children. Increased exposure to alcohol-based hand sanitizer has shown “a corresponding increase in surgeries required to manage severe injuries resulting from these exposures. Chemical injuries vary in severity, from mild …to severe and vision-threatening…” Dangers can be abated with increased awareness and public safety measures to keep sanitizers away from children, as well as public education about first aid measures following exposure (i.e., irrigating the eye) and the importance of an eye exam, to diagnose and treat any impact of chemical injury to the eyes. Read more about it.
Sexual Harassment at the Workplace – In Person or Virtually – and What To Do
Vanita, a woman who is visually impaired, wrote “I would earlier think that men harass me because I can’t see. But when I spoke to other blind and sighted friends I came to know that all women face this. Only that we blind are more prone. Then I understood that I should be confident, strong, and use my wits in such a situation.” Another reader wrote to sexualityanddisability.org, “a website that starts with the premise that women who are disabled are sexual beings – just like any other woman,” about the discomfort she experienced when the person helping her cross the road kept brushing against her. In a focus group, visually impaired women who had similar experiences most often did not speak out. Although based in India, the website speaks to issues women with vision loss face around the world. Their answer: “You can ask the person to take off his hand. Speak loudly, so that the people nearby can hear it. Someone will …help … Be confident and assertive, follow your instincts and be assured that you are in the right.”
In the Virtual Workplace: “Sexual harassment does not always occur face-to-face or by touch; video conferences, emails and texts, and collaboration platforms like Slack are also delivery methods,” states Talent Culture in a #Work Trends podcast on Sexual Harassment in Virtual Workplaces. While Forbes magazine reported that incidents of sexual harassment have decreased while people work remotely, the number of hits from an online search indicate that sexual harassment is certainly a consideration in virtual work. Requests, comments, and jokes from supervisors or coworkers in emails, video chats or company messaging apps all constitute harassment. Actions to take: state your objection to the harasser immediately; turn off the camera if it’s not required; make sure the meeting is secure; interrupt the meeting and tell the host harassment is occurring; record the meeting, take a screen shot, or document the video and report to HR.
Prevent Connect, funded by the CDC (among others) is hosting a national teleconference on April 27 titled “Questions and Conversations Around Preventing Sexual Harassment in Virtual, At-
Home Workspaces and Educational Settings.” While the conference is primarily aimed at practitioners in the field of violence and harassment prevention, the topic should be of interest to many in vocational rehabilitation regarding sexual harassment of blind workers as well. For information and registration.
Learning Ally’s 2021 Great Reading Game Achieves Record-Breaking Totals
Competitors from schools across the nation read a record-breaking total of 17 million pages during Learning Ally’s recently completed Great Reading Games. This nine-week event is “designed to encourage students—particularly struggling readers—to read and build habits that will help them succeed in life.” Engaging students and increasing regular reading habits have been “shown to lead to improved academic and social-emotional outcomes.” More than 51,000 students from 2,700 schools joined this year’s competition. Students as well as teachers reap the benefits: top student performers receive digital gift cards and teachers win prizes and recognition for the schools. Read more about the competition here. Check out one of the award-winning schools: The New York Institute for Special Education.
“Seeing Funny” – Stand Up Comedienne Who is Visually Impaired
“I’m blind and so is love…so get over it.” So states Nidhi Goyal, comedienne from India and star of the first episode of “Bad Girls with Aditi Mittal,” which appears on You Tube. Ms. Goyal uses her talents to dispel many myths about what people who are blind can do, from pursuing careers, to managing a home, to being married, to name a few. Catch her act here.