Over the next few weeks, a number of museums are providing tours online with verbal audio description for visitors who are blind or have low vision:
On April 12, 2022 from 3 to 4 pm Eastern Time (ET), the Brooklyn Museum’s virtual verbal description tour highlights their “recently reinstalled European Art galleries” in “Monet to Morisot: The real and Imagined in European Art.” The exhibition features nineteenth and early twentieth-century art by artists born in Europe or its colonies. The tour will be followed by a discussion. For details or to register, go to: Virtual Verbal Description Tour.
On April 21, 2022 from 2 to 3:30 pm ET, The Metropolitan Museum of Art is offering a virtual tour with descriptions of works of art in conjunction with the exhibition “Before Yesterday We Could Fly: An Afrofuturist Period Room.” The exhibition showcases Seneca Village, “a vibrant nineteenth-century community of predominantly Black landowners and tenants…” who “flourished in an area just west of The Met, in what is now (New York City’s) Central Park.” For more information and to register, click on: Picture This!—Before Yesterday We Could Fly: An Afrofuturist Period Room.
On April 28, 2022 from 2 to 3:30 pm ET, the Jewish Museum presents a “descriptive teleconference tour exploring The Hare with Amber Eyes." This program, which corresponds to a current museum exhibit, conveys the story of the Ephrussi family, who rose to prominence in the nineteenth century and Charles Ephrussi, an avid art collector and historian, through the loss of the family’s fortune and collection “to Nazi looting” during World War II. To learn more and register, check out: the teleconference tour exploring The Hare with Amber Eyes.
On May 5, 2022 from 5:30 to 6:30 pm ET, the Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM) is hosting a virtual tour with “rich verbal descriptions that invoke a multisensory experience.” The program, led by a docent, provides highlights from SAAM and the Renwick Gallery, which features “contemporary craft and decorative arts.” Sign up for America InSight Online: Verbal Description Tours here.
by Jaime Rodriguez RDPFS Intern
Tax Day 2022, the deadline for taxpayers to file their taxes, is coming up on April 18th. If you haven’t filed yet, here are some tax tips that may be helpful. Please ask a tax professional before applying these tips to your tax return.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has posted tips for taxpayers who are visually impaired. Through their Alternative Media Center, the IRS offers resources and accessibility services in several formats, for use with screen readers, braille displays, and screen magnifying software. Taxpayers may download hundreds of accessible tax documents online in text-only, braille-ready files, browser-friendly HTML, accessible PDF, and large print PDF. Accessible forms and publications can be found on the IRS webpage, "Accessible Forms & Publications". Taxpayers can call the telephone number 833-690-0598 for accessibility assistance. For more information, read “IRS resources and services for visually impaired taxpayers”.
TurboTax by Intuit has its own tips for taxpayers who are blind or visually impaired, whose visual field is at or below 20 degrees, or whose vision is 20/200 or less in their best eye. Box 12 on the 1040 tax-return form allows filers who are blind or visually impaired to subtract a bigger standard deduction from adjusted gross income, which equates to a larger tax break. These filers can also deduct medical expenses related to their blindness if those expenses are greater than 7.5 percent of their adjusted gross income. Disability-associated items applicable to include are braille print media, braille printers, eyeglasses, eye exams, eye surgery, guide dogs and all related costs, home modifications, braille instruction, nursing services, and phones with braille and/or audio features and any related repairs. For more information from TurboTax, visit their webpage, here.
by Jaime Rodriguez, RDPFS Intern
Natalie Trevonne is an actress, dancer, model, and fashion and entertainment accessibility consultant. She is also blind, having lost her vision at age 18 to Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis. An athlete and performer in high school, Trevonne studied Public Relations and Advertising in college, seeking to pursue a career in the field. However, when Trevonne graduated from California State Polytechnic University - Pomona in 2013, she was unable to land a job in the field despite holding a degree and being qualified. At this point Trevonne began using her LinkedIn profile to network with people and seek opportunities in the fashion world. Using her connections on the platform, she soon found an opportunity to design her first wedding dress, which will premiere later this month at the first meta-fashion week, along with pieces from famous designers such as Tommy Hilfiger and Levi's. The dress is unique, being the first Non-Fungible Token (NFT)* wedding dress on the market. Trevonne credits LinkedIn for allowing her to pursue her dreams, saying that without it, she never would’ve been able to accomplish what she has. She went on to say that she’s, “'building a platform to show the world, I’m so much more than my disability.'” For more information or for the full text, read the Essence Magazine article, “Natalie Trevonne Shares How She Became The First Blind Fashion Designer To Create Her Own NFT Wedding Dress”.
*An NFT, according to Merriam-Webster, is “a unique digital identifier that cannot be copied, substituted, or subdivided, that is recorded in a blockchain, and that is used to certify authenticity and ownership.”
Guide Dog School Free Summer Camp Programs for Youth Announced
Submitted by Jane Flower, MSG, Youth Outreach Specialist, Guide Dogs for the Blind
Guide Dogs for the Blind (GDB) recognizes that the human-animal bond is unique; we want to give young adults with visual impairments the opportunity to experience its life-changing potential. With that in mind, now that it’s becoming safer to gather, we are excited to announce our two in-person Guide Dog camp programs, for youth ages 14 to 17 and 18 to 24, being held this summer at the Hull Foundation and Learning Center in Sandy, Oregon. At Camp GDB, which is open to young adults throughout the United States and Canada, campers explore the companionship, independence, and responsibility of having a guide dog. They will receive hands-on instruction with an emphasis on understanding the specific orientation and mobility skills required to be a successful guide dog handler, as well as the fitness and endurance needed for guide dog travel. We have a lot of fun too, with campfires, swimming, a hike or two, and a few other surprises. We will stay in the Lodge, everyone will have their own room, and all meals are provided. Each free Camp GDB session is open to campers who are: considering a guide dog for mobility; physically capable of participating in all activities; emotionally ready for a residential summer program; proficient enough in Orientation and Mobility skills for independent travel around the camp; self-sufficient in daily living skills; and fully vaccinated. The application packet can be found by visiting our website Camp GDB page. For more information, please contact Jane Flower at [email protected].
Summer Camp Opportunities for Children and Adults
by Jaime Rodriguez, RDPFS Intern
Spring is here, and before you know it, it will be summer. For many people, summer is the time to seek out new and exciting experiences. Summer camps are one option, in particular those designed specifically for people with physical disabilities. Here are two camping opportunities for summer 2022:
Camp Abilities educational sports camps are for children and teens, and sometimes adults, who are blind, visually impaired, or deafblind. They focus largely on sports and recreation activities, with several locations that provide a one-to-one instructor for each participant. Camp Abilities programs offer a variety of activities for campers, such as canoeing and kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, gymnastics, rollerblading, tandem biking, beep baseball, goalball, high ropes courses, swimming, track and field, showdown, and horseback riding. Each of the more than 20 Camp Abilities locations in the United States runs on a different schedule with different eligibility criteria and pricing. However, most offer programs between May and August. Spots are limited in many locations, so apply or register as soon as possible. In the United States camps are in Alaska, Arizona, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Puerto Rico. International locations are in Bangladesh, Canada, Costa Rica, Ghana, Ireland, Portugal, South Africa, and Switzerland. For a complete list of Camp Abilities locations and programs, please visit the “Other Camps” page of the Camp Abilities of Pennsylvania website, here.
Another summer camp opportunity comes from Easterseals, the largest provider of recreation and camping services for children and adults with disabilities in the United States. Easterseals provides extracurricular, educational, and personal development activities for participants to discover and explore their interests, values, and talents. Their summer camps offer a variety of activities for campers, such as archery, arts and crafts, swimming, water sports, dancing, and outdoor sports. Each of their more than 20 camps runs on a different schedule with different eligibility criteria and pricing. Most offer programs between May and August. Spots are limited, so apply or register as soon as possible. Easterseals summer camps operate in Alabama, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin. For more information, check out the Easterseals webpage, “Camping and Recreation for People with Disabilities”, here. For a complete list of their summer camp locations and programs, please visit their “Camp and Recreation Directory” on the Easterseals website, here.
To find out about more camp opportunities, please check out the FriendshipCircle.Org resource profile, “25 Summer Camps For Individuals With Special Needs”.
As the Easter holiday approaches, many families gather to decorate or hunt for eggs. Here are a few ideas for Easter egg enthusiasts who are blind or have low vision:
If you’re hosting a hunt for Beeping Easter eggs, WonderBaby.org has a list of where to find them. Beeping Easter eggs usually are large, made of plastic, and battery operated, with a beeper inside that produces a loud sound so that children can locate the egg by listening. They generally cost $8 to $18 and are available online, from sources like Amazon and MaxiAids. Check out WonderBaby.org’s piece by Hillary Kleck: Buyer's Guide to Beeping Easter Eggs. You can also make beeping eggs, by placing key finders, available online, in plastic eggs. The key finder beeps by pressing the button on its remote control. Detailed instructions for creating beeping Easter Eggs are also offered on the FamilyConnect website. They list the materials needed and how to design and assemble these audible eggs. Read David Hyche’s full Instructions for Beeping Easter Egg Hunt for Visually Impaired Children.
Another option is to create tactile Easter eggs, which makes them more accessible to anyone who is blind and can “add interest and creativity to any Easter basket!,” according to Amber Bobnar in an article on WonderBaby.org. Bobnar details materials needed and instructions to make eleven different eggs, from edible Jelly Bean Mosaic Eggs to Pom Pom Eggs to Button Eggs, to name a few. Read about the 11 DIY Tactile Eggs for Kids with Visual Impairments. More ideas for enjoyable tactile egg decorating are covered in a FamilyConnect Blog post by Shannon Carollo. The finished product can look beautiful, although the main purpose is “for them to be tactually interesting.” Hard-boiled or plastic eggs can be adorned with feathers, felt, stickers, beads, and other textured materials. Read more about Tactile Easter Egg Decorating For Your Child Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired.
Whichever method you choose can lead to an enjoyable and creative family holiday activity. Happy creating and happy hunting!
In getting ready for the Passover holiday, families can include children with vision loss in many of the preparations and rituals. For example, prior to the holiday, when families rid their homes of bread and other “leavening agents,” tactile markings can be placed on leavened foods so that they can be identified easily for disposal. In preparing for the Seder, the ritual holiday meal, “invite your child to meal plan with you, shop…and cook together.” Check out safe cooking techniques from the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB). At the Seder, older children can use a braille or large-print Haggadah, the booklet that tells the story of Passover. Younger children can be given a story bag or box (link). For more details and tips, read Shannon Carollo’s Family Connect piece: Including Your Child Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired in Passover Traditions. These suggestions can make the holiday a richer and more inclusive celebration.
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