Celebrate the holiday season on December 18, 2021 from 1 – 2 pm ET with Holly Bonner of Blind Motherhood and her family and get “’crafty’” with VISIONS Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired. This workshop will demonstrate four tactile crafts that you can make at home, including Christmas Tree Fork Craft, Kwanzaa Necklace Craft, Paper Plate Menorah, and Popsicle 3 Kings. Donations of any amount are requested to support VISIONS services. For more information, including a list of materials you can stock up on to follow along during the workshop, read about the Holiday Crafting Event.
The Perkins School for the Blind is celebrating the season with their Annual Holiday Concert, on December 16, 2021 at 7:30 pm ET. Tune in on YouTube or Facebook to hear the choral and instrumental works of the Perkins Student Chorus, Music Makers and Handbell Ensemble.
A Virtual Holiday Showcase from The Blind Dance Company (BDC) takes place on December 18, 2021 from 5 – 6 pm ET. BDC “creates employment opportunities within the entertainment industry for the blind community.” They provide instruction to dancers who are visually impaired, who practice a variety of dance styles, such as ballroom, Latin, jazz, and ballet. This event is presented as a fundraiser, with a request for a donation to obtain tickets. For more information, check out how to Join The Blind Dance Company for an afternoon of dance and holiday cheer.
by Jaime Rodriguez, RDPFS Intern
The inaugural Audio Description Awards Gala 2021, sponsored by the American Council of the Blind, saluted eight organizations and individuals for being “the best-of-the-best in the field of audio description in media.” Premiering with the live airing on November 18, 2021 on NBC's Peacock TV as well as the Audio Description Awards Gala website, the AD Awards Gala will be available through the end of December. The new ACB Barry Award recognized the honorees for their contributions to the “’continued expansion of accessible media for our community,’” according to ACB’s Executive Director, Eric Bridges. Following are the award categories and the winners in each:
Outstanding Audio Description Visionary: The evening began with a tribute to the legacy of Barry Cronin, Ph.D., creator of the Descriptive Video Service, WGBH-TV. Dr. Cronin, the founder of the National Center for Accessible Media, received an award for his pioneering contributions to media accessibility.
Outstanding Achievement in Audio Description Impact for Live Events: ABC (a subsidiary of Disney), was saluted as the first company to add audio description, through their Disney+ mobile app. The award also recognized them for their Oscars telecast, where they hired blind influencers to engage with audio description audiences, in order to give live feedback to the announcers in real time, and for adding audio description to Disney’s entire catalog going back to the late 1920s.
Audio Description Game Changer #1: The first award in this category was given to Netflix in recognition of their efforts in using audio description in their hit show Marvel’s Daredevil. They were also recognized for having easily accessible audio description content across their platform and for their dedication to using human talent to narrate their content.
Audio Description Game Changer #2: The second awardee in this category, Apple+, was recognized for their efforts in audio description and accessibility, which stabilizes audio content in Dolby Atmos and offers audio description programming to their audience in up to 22 languages.
Audio Description Game Changer #3: The third and final “Audio Description Game Changer” award went to Procter & Gamble for their efforts in adding audio description to all of their commercial advertising content.
Outstanding International Accessibility Contribution: The awardee was Canal 22 International, a Spanish language cable television channel, recognized for their efforts in Spanish language audio visual accessibility. Their broadcasts of Spanish audio description programming to the United States originate from their offices in Mexico.
Outstanding Achievement in Audio Description Innovation: This honor was awarded to Spectrum for development of the app, Spectrum Access, the first of its kind in providing audio description that syncs with movies and TV shows as well as easily accessible content to audio description audiences.
Outstanding Achievement Audio Description Impact for Live Events: was awarded to Comcast NBCUniversal for their efforts in providing audio description for live events, such as theatrical performances and sporting events, most notably the Olympics.
Congratulations to all of the winners!
Holiday shoppers have the opportunity to make purchases with the new Mastercard Touch Card, designed to increase accessibility for people who are blind or visually impaired. With this new item, the shopper can detect by touch whether they are using a credit card, debit card, or prepaid card. Notches distinguish the differences: The Touch credit cards have a round notch, while the debit cards have a “broad squarish notch,” and the prepaid cards feature one that is triangle-shaped. This innovation was designed to work with “point-of-sale terminals” as well as ATMs. It was vetted and endorsed by VISIONS Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired in the United States and by the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) in the United Kingdom. Read more about how Mastercard introduces accessible card for blind and partially sighted people.
Gifts for Young Children
Gifts for the holidays bring joy to children and can, at the same time, “enhance your little one’s tactile and other sensory skills” year round. The Braille Institute provides recommendations for young children who are blind or visually impaired. Wikki Stix, for example, are bendable and reusable wax sticks that can add texture to books or be used to create tactile drawings, maps, shapes, and more. Another offering, Suction Kupz, fosters the development of fine motor skills, spatial reasoning, and creativity. The SmartNoggin NogginStik Developmental Light-Up Rattle lights up in three colors and has a tactile feature, with bumps on its stem. For more information on these and other gift possibilities, including how to purchase and prices, read about Perfect Holiday Gifts for Young Child with Visual Impairment.
Guides to Gifts That Are Practical, Healthy, and Fun
A “Holiday Gift Guide” from the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) provides a wide variety of offerings, from a Beeper Box that audibly identifies landmarks to a motion-detecting alert system to talking scales, voice-controlled home assistants, and traditional games available with added accessibility featues, to name a few. Those traveling with a guide dog who wish to carry a cane for emergencies can check out The Adaptations Store of the San Francisco Lighthouse for the Blind for options, such as a lightweight, telescoping cane and a carbon fiber folding cane. These and other creative gift offerings are covered in two AFB articles: Holiday Gift Guide: Unique and Affordable Gifts for People with Visual Impairments and More Holiday Gift Ideas for People with Visual Impairments.
The National Federation of the Blind (NFB) provides suggestions for children and adults among their “12 Gift Ideas for This Holiday Season.” The first “and most important” idea they offer is to let gift-givers know that “the blind people in your life probably enjoy the same gifts that you do.” Everyone appreciates a warm sweater, fun toys, a good e-book, and other useful items. Among the specific suggestions are a Letter from Santa, which can be sent in Braille if the request is submitted to NFB by December 17. Other recommendations include the Orbit Reader 20 refreshable Braille display, text reader and notetaker, the InTACT Sketchpad interactive tactile drawing tool, and PenFriend2 Voice Labeling System. For the full list and descriptions, check out 12 Gift Ideas for This Holiday Season.
Braille by Luca, a small business based in Sydney, Australia, features the work of Luca Weber, a 19 year-old whose blindness resulted from a brain tumor. He produces braille inserts for greeting cards for many occasions as well as event invitations and books. “The aim is to open up the world for people with limited vision, as well as help Luca earn an income and gain independence.” Read more about this young entrepreneur in the article from SBS News: Luca lost his sight as a child. Now he makes braille greeting cards to help others. You can find out about Weber, including the cards he sells with prices, at the website, Blind by Luca.
The 2021 Braille Holiday Card from the Hadley Woman’s Board features the greeting “’Wishing you peace, happiness and the spirit of the season’” in print and embossed braille. Its artwork shows a snowy sky above a colorful village. Embossing of a few of the buildings and an evergreen tree add a tactile effect. A pack of 25 cards is available for $35. For more information or to order, go to 2021 Braille Holiday Card 25 Pack.
A “Merry Wishes Braille Christmas Card” is among the offerings from Hallmark this year. The card features a design of embossed gold and silver foil trees and stars, with a message in large print and braille. The card is sold for $3.99 and can be personalized. For more information or to purchase, go to Merry Wishes Braille Christmas Card.
New Board member Mark G. Ackermann comes to RDPFS with more than 40 years of experience in non-profit management, including senior management positions in healthcare, vision, and education organizations. Currently he is the principal of his own management and fundraising consulting firm that works with not-for-profit institutions. Previously Mark served as the chief executive of Lighthouse International and as executive vice president of its successor organization Lighthouse Guild, a leading not-for-profit organization addressing the needs of people who are blind or visually impaired. During that time, he was also chair of the VisionServe Alliance, the Vision 2020 Foundation, and the Macular Disease Alliance International. Mark currently serves as Chairman of the Board of Directors of the United States Association of Blind Athletes (A member organization of the Team USA Paralympic Organization). Mark holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree from the Catholic University of America and a Master of Science Degree in Not-For-Profit Management from New York University. He has served as an Adjunct Professor at Long Island University; the Graduate School of Management and Urban Professions of the New School University; a Clinical Instructor in the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of New York University; and a Visiting Professor at Drew University. He is currently on the boards of Foundation for Justice and Peace in the Vatican and is a special advisor to the Path to Peace Foundation at the Vatican’s Mission to the United Nations. Welcome Mark!
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