by Jaime Rodriguez, RDPFS Intern
The 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing China begin today, Friday, February 4, 2022, and continue until February 20, followed by the Paralympic Winter Games which start March 4, continuing through March 13. “This year’s Paralympic Winter Games is perhaps the largest in history. It will feature 736 Paralympians and will have 78 medal events across six different Paralympic sports, including Alpine Skiing, Biathlon, Cross-Country Skiing, Sled Hockey, Snowboarding and Wheelchair Curling.” Athletes who are blind or visually impaired will be participating in three sports: Alpine Skiing, Biathlon, and Cross-Country Skiing. NBCUniversal will cover the Olympics and NBCSports covers the Paralympics. Both will be airing with live audio description on the Secondary Audio Program (SAP) channel, provided by Descriptive Video Works. Viewers can give feedback to NBC regarding accessibility and audio description by tagging #NBCOlympicsA11y or #NBCParalympicsA11y on social media. To learn more about the 2022 Paralympic Winter Games, read the article, “2022 Paralympic Winter Games: What you need to know”. To learn more about the accessibility of the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games broadcasts, read, NBCUniversal Enhances Accessibility for 2022 Winter Olympic & Paralympic Games.
Project INSPIRE offers free courses to increase the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) potential of those who read braille. Funded through a five-year grant from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, Project INSPIRE (Increasing the STEM potential of Individuals Who Read Braille) will be adding new self-paced courses twice a year for TVIs (Teachers of the Visually Impaired), paraprofessionals, individuals who prepare braille, and others involved in supporting braille learners. The principal investigator for the project, Dr. Tina Herzberg, is Professor and Coordinator of the Visual Impairment Education Program at the University of South Carolina, Upstate. The project team has developed Nemeth in a Box for Middle School Students to help professionals and family members review or introduce symbols used in the Nemeth Braille code within UEB (Unified English Braille) for mathematical and scientific notations and “review math concepts in a fun way.” Offerings coming up soon are:
For Professionals: From February 14 through March 18, 2022, Course 5-Nemeth Code Symbols Used in the Middle Grades and Strategies for Supporting Math Learning will be available. The course requires a commitment of 12 to 15 hours over a period of five weeks and the registration deadline is February 10, 2022.
For Students: Beginning on Saturday, February 12, 2022 and continuing each Saturday through March 19, 2022, Project INSPIRE’s Nemeth in a Box offers middle school students across the country the opportunity to “play games and sharpen …Nemeth skills at the same time!” Materials needed for these one-hour sessions will be delivered free of charge in the “Nemeth Mystery Box.”
Read more about the project, the courses, and registration, from the Paths to Literacy article: Project INSPIRE: Increasing the STEM Potential of Individuals Who Read Braille Through Self-Paced Free Courses for Professionals and Materials for Middle School Students. If you have questions or need more information, contact Dr. Tina Herzberg at [email protected] or 864-503-5572.
The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) invites nominations for the 2022 Migel Medals, the “highest honor in the blindness field.” Established in 1937 by M.C. Migel, AFB’s first chairperson, the Medals honor professionals and volunteers whose dedication and achievements have significantly improved the lives of people who are blind or visually impaired and whose work affects services on a national level. Prospective candidates can be professionals in the public or private sector with training and expertise in education, rehabilitation, technology, vision rehabilitation, personnel preparation, health, administration, or related fields. Past honorees include legendary disability-rights advocate Helen Keller, Senator Tom Harkin, social entrepreneur and engineer Jim Fruchterman, and renowned educators Kathleen Mary Huebner, Ph.D., and Philip H. Hatlen, Ed.D., to name a few. “As colleagues in the blindness field, all of us work on a daily basis with others who strive to enable and empower people who are blind or have low vision to thrive in the classroom, the workplace, and in their daily lives,” stated Kirk Adams, Ph.D., president and CEO of AFB. “One of the most powerful affirmations we can bestow on our team members in the field is the gift of well-earned recognition. Please take a moment to reflect and nominate a deserving colleague.” Nominators should send a one-page description of the nominee and their accomplishments and two letters of recommendation. Nominations are due by February 28, 2022, and can be e-mailed to [email protected] with "Migel Medal Nomination" in the subject line. For more information, read the press release: American Foundation for the Blind Announces Call for Nominations for 2022 Migel Medals.
by Jaime Rodriguez, RDPFS Intern
February 2022 marks the 58th consecutive American Heart Month in the United States. “First commemorated by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964, American Heart Month serves the purpose of highlighting the importance of cardiovascular health and raising awareness of the risks associated with heart disease,” which is currently the leading cause of death in the nation. Many people know that the eyes can be a window into a person’s health, however, what people don’t realize is that poor cardiovascular health can also be a major contributor to vision loss. “Thanks to medical innovation, we have a better understanding of heart disease risk factors, such as hypertension, bad cholesterol, smoking, being overweight or obese, and type 2 diabetes. High blood pressure and high blood sugar in the eyes are among the leading causes of retinopathy which can damage the blood supply to the eyes, and can cause vision loss.” Moreover, “To stave off hypertension and diabetes it is important to engage in regular physical activity, maintain a healthy diet and weight, avoid smoking and vaping, lower stress levels, and get adequate sleep…” It is also important to schedule regular visits with your primary care physician to monitor your cardiovascular health. To test your blood pressure at home, talking blood pressure monitors that can read results in English and Spanish and other related items are available for purchase on the MaxiAids website. To learn more about the risks of heart disease and stroke and how to prevent them, read the article What Can Your Eyes Tell You About Heart Disease? or visit the Million Hearts website, here. To read President Biden's views on American Heart Day, read "A Proclamation on American Heart Month, 2022" on the White House website.
The month of February also is known as Low Vision Awareness Month, as noted in last week’s “Bulletin,” with resources from the National Eye Institute (NEI) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). It also recognizes the importance of increasing public knowledge about age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of low vision in older adults. Vision loss from macular degeneration generally affects central vision, where the sharpest vision is experienced. This can result in difficulties reading (discerning print and other fine details), faces, and doing activities involving close work. For individuals who have been diagnosed recently with AMD, Prevent Blindness offers a free GuideMe app. The app asks users questions about themselves and their diagnosis and then sets up a “customized guide with helpful information, tips, resources and suggested steps to take to be proactive about protecting vision.” This resource works with a smart phone, tablet, laptop, or desktop computer. Read more about this and other offerings for people with macular degeneration and low vision in the press release: Prevent Blindness Declares February as Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) and Low Vision Awareness Month.
Researchers in the United Kingdom have reported findings that people who are at risk of developing AMD can show signs of AMD before experiencing vision loss and prior to it being detected clinically. Their results “open the door for research into earlier treatment that could help slow down the onset of the condition,” according to the Macular Society. The scientists involved in the study include researchers at the University of Southampton, King’s College London, and Moorfield’s Eye Hospital. They reviewed records of 30,000 patients, including some with genetic risk factors and some with no known risks. Their findings indicated that those with “healthy eyes and no history of AMD had thinner retinas if they carried genes that put them at risk of the disease.” Currently, treatment for AMD does not begin until patients notice problems with their vision. The study’s authors assert that this new information could lead to catching the condition at an earlier stage and help to “identify which cells should be targeted in further research.” For additional details, read New study could help identify AMD before sight loss occurs.
by Jaime Rodriguez, RDPFS Intern
With Valentine’s Day swiftly approaching, you may find yourself in need of accessible Valentines or gifts for your loved ones with vision loss. It can be quite difficult to locate such items in stores; however, there are plenty of ideas online if you know where to search. Following is a list of accessible Valentines and gifts:
If you are looking for greeting cards, check out InBraille’s "hugs and kisses" greeting cards which come in a pack of six and are written in both English and Braille. Get a pack of "Hugs and Kisses" greeting cards by InBraille for $22 from The Chicago Lighthouse.
For school-aged children who want to participate in valentine exchanges, consider the Wikki Stix "Valentine Box & Fun Favors," which consists of 50 packaged valentines, each containing a valentines activity sheet, to and from cards, and 8 Wikki Stix to decorate them. It also comes with a plain white box to store valentines, which can be decorated using the 24 additional Wikki Stix included in the pack. Find out more about the “Valentine Box and Fun Favors” by Wikki Stix for $25 on the Wikki Stix website.
And if you are in the market for something more personal, such as cosmetics, fragrances, or home products, check out L’Occitane, whose products have accessible external packaging featuring Braille descriptions or tactile symbols, and also sport convenient click-to-close and magnetic-close packaging. To browse their vast selection of products, visit the L'Occitane website.
For more Valentines' gift ideas such as Braille children's books, magnets, and jewelry, visit the “Valentine’s Day Card, Craft, and Gift Ideas for Children Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired” on the Family Connect website or the “Gifts for Valentine’s Day” page on the National Braille Press website. Have a Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!
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