Dedicated to Improving the Lives of Blind and Visually Impaired People

RDPFS Resources for Partners January 21, 2022

Free Virtual “Dark Room Ballet” Class Starting Tomorrow

Are you or someone you know interested in ballet but have no prior experience? Beginning tomorrow, Saturday January 22, 2022, through March 12 from 4 – 5:30 pm, Dark RoomBallet offers its Introductory Level Class virtually and free of charge. Dark Room Ballet, hosted by Movement Research, is geared specifically to the educational needs of people who are blind or visually impaired. The classes introduce students to basic ballet vocabulary in preparation for participation in their "Open Level Dark Room Ballet Class." It covers “anatomical concepts” like torso stability, sightless balancing, and “the use of a taped floor for orientation.” To check out the class, or to register, go to Virtual Dark Room Ballet: Introductory Level Class.

Check Out the Australian Open Via A 3-D Audio Experience

There’s still time for tennis enthusiasts who are blind or have low vision to tune into enhanced audio-described live coverage of the Australian Open, which runs until January 30, 2022, through “a 3D spatial audio experience” provided through Action Audio by AKQA. This innovation uses “real-time ball monitoring technology and spatial design” to give its audiences increased awareness of what is occurring on the court. It offers spectators more information than they generally get, using data inputs including the speed and trajectory of the ball, how close it is to the line, and the type of tennis stroke (forehand or backhand). The Australian Open is the first major sporting event to introduce this technology to enrich the broadcast experience for fans who are visually impaired. Digital design studio AKQA has partnered with Tennis Australia and Monash University in creating this audio experience for live sports. Action Audio was created over a two-year period of “designing and prototyping” with volunteers who are blind or have low vision. Its development also included input from Blind Sports Victoria, an organization offering sports and recreation activities to people who are blind or visually impaired. Read more about this innovation and how it works in the Design Week article: Australian Open debuts Action Audio.

Keeping Your New Year’s Resolution to be Happier and Healthier

by Jaime Rodriguez, RDPFS Intern

New Year’s Day has passed and we are deep into January. By now, many people who made New Year's resolutions have abandoned their plans, which is probably why January 17th is known as Ditch New Year's Resolutions Day, as noted in the Days of the Year listing. However, for those of you who resolved to be happier and healthier this year and are still committed to that goal, some helpful exercises for your body and mind can be done from the comfort of your own home. The Blind Alive Eyes-Free Fitness Program was invented and recorded by Mel Scott, who was diagnosed with a degenerative eye disease at age seven. As an adult, she sought to create a fully accessible workout program for those with low or no vision. Ms. Scott worked with certified fitness instructors to create, test, and describe each exercise so that anyone listening may follow the simple step-by-step directions for an effective at-home workout. If you are interested in a free, at-home workout, check out the program on Youtube by watching the introductory video: What you need to know about the Eyes-Free Fitness channel and how it works. Playlists on the Eyes-Free Fitness YouTube channel cover everything from food education and healthy recipes, to different types of exercise such as balance, boot camp, cardio, and pilates. If you are new to at-home workouts or want to refresh your memory about them, there is a video containing sample workout and exercise descriptions to assist you. For more playlists featuring the exercises listed above, check out the playlists page of the Eyes-Free Fitness YouTube Channel here. For more information regarding the BlindAlive workout program, visit the BlindAlive Facebook page.

Study Scrutinizes Accessibility Challenges in the Workplace Faced by Those Who are Blind and Visually Impaired

by Jaime Rodriguez, RDPFS Intern

Despite the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requiring employers to create an accessible environment for workers with disabilities, many challenges and barriers remain that prevent workers with visual impairments from full workplace participation. A recently released American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) study analyzed the use of technology by workers who are blind or have low vision in their places of employment, and the accessibility issues faced during the hiring and onboarding process, during training, and how it affected productivity. The Workplace Technology Study followed 323 participants across the U.S. who are blind, have low vision, or are deafblind, and relayed their experiences using technology during various stages of work, their accommodations, and interactions with Information Technology (IT) staff. Findings concluded that employers and key staff need to improve workplace practices to achieve full inclusion. Most participants faced some form of accessibility challenges during the hiring process and work experience and reported issues with mainstream technology tools as well as with inaccessible documents prepared by sighted coworkers. There were a host of different experiences when it came to requested accommodations from employers, from easy and quick approvals to long waits, and even refusals, reassignments, and in some cases termination. Many participants also reported having positive interactions with IT staff and that telework enabled them to enjoy their work while maintaining productivity. The completed study included recommendations for employers to implement to ensure full accessibility to all workers such as implementing a policy to ensure that everything is accessible with assistive technology, from documents to workplace procedures. For more highlights of the study, read: American Foundation for the Blind Announces Workplace Technology Study, Examining Employment Experiences of Blind or Visually Impaired Adults). And read the full report here.

Research Participants Needed:

Educators Invited to Join Research Study on Data Sonification

Oceanographer Amy Bower’s career spans 25 years of studying ocean currents as well as creating educational lessons. Bower, who is legally blind, is now seeking input from teachers who work with students with visual impairments to “make oceanography more accessible using sonification.” She and the research team are recruiting educators in subjects that include data, such as science, math, statistics, or social science. Participants will be asked to share how they use sound in the classroom, including for conveying “quantitative information.” Sessions will be held via Zoom. The data sonification research study is part of a National Science Foundation (NSF) collaboration between Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Georgia Institute of Technology, the University of Oregon, and Your Ocean Consulting, Inc. For more information, including how to participate, read the Perkins School for the Blind Paths to Technology post: Participants Needed for Research on Data Sonification.

Men with Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) Sought for Research Survey

Are you or someone you know affected by X-linked retinitis pigmentosa (XLRP)? A research survey of males with XLRP aims to gain a better understanding of the impact of vision loss on activities of daily living and insights into “the risks and benefits of potential treatments.” The study seeks male participants because this form of RP is more common and the vision loss it causes is more severe in boys and men. The Foundation Fighting Blindness (FFB) is collaborating with the Applied Genetics Technology Corporation (AGTC) and Biogen to enlist participants in this survey. Survey results will “inform a Patient-Focused Drug Development Meeting” set to occur in mid-2022, organized by FFB and including representatives of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and adults and parents of minors with the condition. Participants in the survey need to be at least 18 years old with XLRP, live in the U.S. and be registered in FFB’s My Retina Tracking Registry (MRTR). MRTR is a research database of individuals affected by rare inherited retinal disorders and their family members. Membership in MRTR is free. For more details about the study and how to enroll, read the article: Foundation Seeks My Retina Tracker Registry Members with X-Linked Retinitis Pigmentosa for Research Survey.

Blind Athletes Association has Become the National Governing Body for Two Paralympic Team Sports

by Jaime Rodriguez, RDPFS Intern

The United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC) has certified the United States Association of Blind Athletes (USABA) as the national governing authority of two Paralympic sports teams, blind soccer (known internationally as blind football) and goalball. Team USA for blind soccer is slated to make its Paralympic debut at the Los Angeles 2028 Games. The USABA “’has successfully proven itself as the high-performance management organization for goalball since 1976,’” stated USABA CEO, Molly Quinn, and looks ahead to “’accept the challenge of developing the exciting sport of soccer in the United States.'” USABA has hosted blind soccer camps and clinics to build up the sport in communities across the nation.   It is hoped that blind soccer will have as much success as blind goalball as “blind soccer is the fastest growing Paralympic sport in the world.” Goalball’s Team USA has achieved renown through the years in garnering many Paralympic game and world championship medals. USABA’s work in developing goalball and the international success of the sport “directly contributed” to their being granted this new certification. Board Chair for the USABA and RDPFS Board Member Mark Ackermann noted that “’These two Paralympic sports provide Americans who are blind or visually impaired greater access to a healthy lifestyle as well as the camaraderie that comes with participating in a team sport.’” For more information regarding this topic, read the press release: USOPC Selects USABA to Oversee New Team USA Sport: Paralympic Blind Soccer.

Select Editions, Easy-to-Read Large Type: 2022 Title Highlights

Enjoy the best in current fiction, romance, mystery, biography, adventure, and more by subscribing to Reader’s Digest Select Editions Large Type. Offerings for 2022 continue to provide expertly edited versions of best-selling books in a format that is pleasurable and comfortable to read. Check out these upcoming titles for this year:
The Noel Stranger by Richard Paul Evans;
The Light Over London by Julia Kelly;
Not Our Kind by Kitty Zeldis; and
Love at First by Kate Clayborn.
If you are not yet a subscriber – and are having trouble reading standard print -- Subscribe to Reader’s Digest Select Editions Large Type today or Give a Gift Subscription. To order your subscription by phone, call 1-800-877-5293. You get a full year of exciting reading (five volumes in all, each with two titles), for the low nonprofit price of $20. Indulge your love of great reading in a format that is comfortable and pleasurable to read. A portion of the proceeds from each subscription helps to support Reader’s Digest Partners for Sight Foundation’s work and dedication to improving the lives of blind and visually impaired people.

Note to Readers: Please Share Your News

Would you like to spread the word about a program, webinar, or 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 visually impaired 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].