by Jaime Rodriguez, RDPFS Intern
President's Day, established to honor the first George Washington, the first U.S. President, is coming up on February 21, 2022. This holiday, which has evolved to include all Presidents, is an important time to celebrate their lives and accomplishments. And what better way to learn about historical figures than by reading? For children ages five to eight, two print and braille “easy readers” are George Washington: Our First President, a biography, and Barack Obama: Out of Many, One, about the life of the 44th and the nation’s first black President. You can check your library for these books or purchase George Washington: Our First President for $7.75, here, and Barack Obama: Out of Many, One for $7.75, here on Seedlings.Org. For children ages eight to 14, two books available in braille that would be timely are Mr. President: A Book of U.S. Presidents, featuring short biographies of all Presidents, and Lives of the Presidents: Fame, Shame (and What the Neighbors Thought), with short biographies and fun facts. Check the library or purchase Mr. President: A Book of U.S. Presidents for $17, here, and purchase Lives of the Presidents: Fame, Shame (and What the Neighbors Thought) for $15.50, here on Seedlings.Org. For older teens and adults, the American President series of 43 books on Audible.Com spans Presidents George Washington through George W. Bush. Many are available as audio and can be read for one credit each (which subscribers receive every month), with a monthly $14.95 subscription to Audible. Access the list of “American Presidents” on Audible.Com, here. Many can also be obtained from Learning Ally and BARD (Braille and Audio Reading Download) of the NLS (National Library Service) for the Blind and Print Disabled, Library of Congress. Happy President’s Day everyone! And happy reading!
“Introduction to Amazon Alexa” Online Workshop
by Jaime Rodriguez, RDPFS Intern
On February 23, 2022, the Braille Institute of America will be hosting an online workshop, "Introduction to Amazon Alexa." The program will focus on teaching participants all of the tasks that they can accomplish using their Amazon Echo Dot or Amazon Echo Show! as well as how to use the devices to access information and entertainment using simple voice commands. The workshop is free to attend and is hosted by the Anaheim Center Braille Institute from 1:30 pm Pacific Time (10:30 am EST) to 3 pm Pacific Time (12 noon EST). If you would like to attend, RSVP to the "Introduction to Amazon Alexa" Online Workshop, here. Be quick, spaces are limited. For more information, call 1-800-BRAILLE (272-4553).
“A Conversation about Vision Rehabilitation” on February 23, 2022
The National Eye Institute (NEI) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is hosting “Function at the Forefront: A Conversation about Vision Rehabilitation,” a free online event, also February 23, 2022 from 5:30-6:15 pm EST (Eastern Standard Time). Participants will have the opportunity to “discuss vision rehabilitation with experts in the field.” NEI invites people who are interested to join through the NEI Facebook or LinkedIn page in this live, online event, which is available to “Anyone on or off Facebook.” To sign up to attend, and get the link to join in the discussion on February 23, go to either of these links to the listing for “Function at the Forefront: A Conversation about Vision Rehabilitation:” here for LinkedIn and here for Facebook.
“A Breast Cancer Webinar for Women Who Are Blind” on February 25, 2022
Accessible Pharmacy Services for the Blind is hosting “A Breast Cancer Webinar for Women Who Are Blind” and family members on Friday, February 25, 2022 from 12 – 1:30 pm EST. Presenters will discuss accessible information about breast cancer as well as for detection and prevention. Among the topics to be covered are how to do self-exams, accessible resources from the American Cancer Society, and medications. Those attending will also have the opportunity to download and save an audio description of a breast self exam, provided by Kim Kubek, MD, who is board-certified in Diagnostic Radiology, a member of the Society of Breast Imaging and the Pennsylvania Radiologic Society and a board member of Breastcancer.org. To find out more about the presenters and program, or to register for free, check out the listing: Breast Cancer Webinar for Women Who Are Blind.
Manage medications safely and accurately, no matter your level of vision, with the new Hadley Medications series of workshops. Finding the right medication and taking the precise amount “doesn’t need to be tricky.” Learn some time-tested techniques and tips and eliminate the guesswork. Workshops include: Measuring Liquid Medicine, Labeling Medications, and Using Eye Drops.
Although the number of people with disabilities in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) careers is relatively low, the success stories of those who do engage in them “demonstrate that opportunities do exist for those prepared to meet the challenges they encounter.” This is explained in the Forward of a comprehensive book, Perspectives of STEM Students with Disabilities: Our Journeys, Communities, and Big Ideas, available from the University of Washington. The publication organizes essays into three main themes: “journeys and pathways into STEM, the importance of a supportive community, and student reflections about how STEM fields can change the world.” Michael, one of the contributors, shares that he became interested in computers at a young age and began to learn how to program them in high school. Majoring in computer science at Binghamton University, where he thinks he was “the first blind CS major,” he launched an online gaming network, later interning with Amazon and then pursuing his career as a software engineer with the company. Aspiring mechanical engineer Shawn seeks work in the automotive industry, using “STEM to design new vehicles—ones that are safe, more efficient, and more reliable.” He was always interested in automobiles, but since he could not be a “race car driver due to my vision impairment,” Shawn decided to study what made cars, planes, and other mechanical objects work. He plans to continue using the “support and services available to me in my quest to achieve my goals.” Read much more about these and other journeys in Perspectives of STEM Students with Disabilities: Our Journeys, Communities, & Big Ideas.
by Jaime Rodriguez, RDPFS Intern
As readers may know, it's currently Black History Month in the United States. As such, we continue to highlight Black Excellence. Here are two more notable people from the blind and visually impaired community.
Ella Jane Fitzgerald, a 13-time Grammy award winner, dominated the Jazz scene as "The First Lady of Song" for more than 50 years. Traveling around the world performing, Fitzgerald sold out venues to diverse audiences from all walks of life. After the death of her parents in the early 1930s, Fitzgerald's name was drawn from a lottery to participate in Amateur Night and she chose to sing. The crowd was impressed and demanded an encore performance. This marked the beginning of her reign as the most famous female jazz musician for half a century. In 1936, when her mentor, bandleader Chick Webb, passed away, Fitzgerald assumed his role and the band was renamed "Ella Fitzgerald and Her Famous Band." During her career she worked with many of the Jazz greats, including Duke Ellington, Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, and Dizzy Gillespie. After many years of performing, Fitzgerald was diagnosed with advanced diabetes and developed diabetic retinopathy, which damaged her sight and would result in the amputation of her legs below the knees. Despite these complications, Fitzgerald continued to perform until her death in 1996. To learn more about the life and accomplishments of Ella Jane Fitzgerald, check out her biography on EllaFitzgerald.Com.
Another person of note, Allan Pineda Lindo, better known as Apl.de.ap, is a famous Afro-Filipino rapper, songwriter, producer, DJ, and founding member of the American musical group the Black Eyed Peas. Born in the Philippines with congenital nystagmus, myopia, and color vision deficiency, Apl.de.ap aspired to be an engineer or nurse but was discouraged “due to the jokes made by his teachers and classmates…” about his visual impairment. “’I knew it was going to be hard to do something on my own, but music gave me the way to achieve my dreams, I do not need to see well to create music but connect all my senses and have passion for what I do,’” explained Apl.de.ap. He developed a penchant for music and, upon moving to the United States at 14-years-old in 1989, he began to pursue a career in music. Practicing rapping and dancing for years, he eventually formed the Black Eyed Peas along with friends Will.i.am (William Adams), Taboo (Jaime Gomez), and Fergie (Fergie Duhamel), achieving commercial success in 2003 when the band dropped their album “Elephunk.” Over the years, Apl.de.ap has been recognized for his dedication to his culture as well as for his philanthropic work in the Phillippines and around the globe. He’s received multiple awards for his work and created “The Apl.de.ap Foundation” and his own music label called “Jeepney Music” to support people in the Philippines and around the world. To learn more about the life and accomplishments of Apl.de.ap (Allan Pineda Lindo), check out his biography on the official Apl.de.ap blog on Tumblr.
by Jaime Rodriguez, RDPFS Intern
On March 4, 2022, approximately 600 of the world’s best Paralympic athletes will come together to compete in the 2022 Paralympic Winter Games. In preparation for the games, we are highlighting some of the athletes with vision loss. Up first is Max Nelson, a 17-year-old teenager from Minnesota. The youngest member of Team USA’s Nordic Skiing team, he is legally blind, with no vision in his left eye, and limited vision in his right eye. Nelson was diagnosed with an eye disease at two years old, but never allowed it to slow him down. At age seven, his father introduced him to skiing, and he was skiing professionally by high school. “He is the first visually impaired skier in Minnesota to win an individual conference title, and has also competed in two World Cups, last year in Slovenia and this year in Canada.” Nelson uses a sighted guide who skis in front of him, wearing bright colors and a microphone, to give directions and communicate potential obstacles or turns. Nelson's coach, Dave Bridges, describes him as "indestructible" with "spirit and a can-do attitude." Bridges stated "he is impressed with Nelson’s athletic ability and attitude, despite the challenges he has faced." Nelson is set to race in the Paralympics Nordic skiing classic sprint March 9, the 12.5-kilometer skate on March 12, and possibly the relay the following day. To find out more about Max Nelson’s journey to the 2022 Winter Games, Watch the ABC News story “Legally blind teenager to compete in Beijing Paralympics”. You may also read the ABC News article “Legally blind Mahtomedi HS teen to compete at Beijing Paralympics as youngest on U.S. Nordic skiing team”, here.
We can all help to create a kinder world every day, especially this week, which has been deemed “Random Acts of Kindness Week” by the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation and goes from February 13-19, 2022. Reach out to a friend or neighbor you haven’t heard from in a while, pick up groceries for someone who can’t get out, praise a local business online, let a colleague know that you admire their work; these are just a few ideas to consider. The key is to #MakeKindnesstheNorm – this week and year round.
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Would you like to spread the word about a program, webinar, other news, or information? The RDPFS Resources for Partners Bulletin offers an opportunity to share offerings of interest to people of all ages who are blind or have low vision as well as professionals, representatives of organizations providing services, advocacy, education and career opportunities, and more. If you would like to reach our readers or have suggestions for upcoming issues, please email [email protected].