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RDPFS Resources for Partners July 21, 2023

Commemorating the 33rd Anniversary of the Passage of the ADA

On July 26, 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law by President George H.W. Bush. A federal civil rights law, the ADA prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in many aspects of public life and everyday activities. Employers, state and local governments, businesses that are open to the public, commercial sites, transportation providers, and telecommunication companies must follow the mandates of this legislation. As the 33rd anniversary of this landmark passage is celebrated this coming week, its foundations and continuing significance are being highlighted through communications and events throughout the nation. About the Legislation: Sections of the ADA The ADA is separated into five different sections, called titles. Each sets out requirements for different types of organizations. These include: –Title I: Employment: Employers with 15 or more employees must provide individuals with disabilities an equal opportunity to benefit from opportunities available to others, such as recruitment, hiring, promotions, training, financial compensation, and social activities. – Title II A: State and Local Government Services: All services, programs, and activities, such as education, transportation, health care, and voting, to name a few, must provide individuals with disabilities an equal opportunity to benefit from them. – Title II B: Public Transit: All transit systems must provide equal opportunity to all users. The ADA also covers private transit systems, if they are open to the public. – Title III: Businesses and Nonprofits that are Open to the Public: These organizations must provide those with disabilities an equal opportunity to access the products and services they offer. For example, the ADA Guide for Places of Lodging: Serving Guests Who Are Blind or Have Low Vision states that “Places of lodging, like other places of public accommodation, must provide their services to the public in a way that gives people who are blind or who have low vision a full and equal opportunity to enjoy the services that are provided to others.” – Title IV: Telecommunications: Telephone companies must provide services so that callers with hearing and speech disabilities can communicate. – Title V: Other Important Requirements: This section covers other requirements for how to implement the law. Examples include “prohibiting retaliation against a person who has asserted their rights under that ADA,” stating that an individual with a disability does not have to accept an aid or accommodation if they do not want to, and mandating that federal agencies issue guidance explaining the law. For more information about the legislation and its requirements, read the webpage providing an Introduction to the Americans with Disabilities Act. [...]

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Celebrating “ADA33”

A number of tools are available from the website for ADA33 to celebrate the occasion and highlight its importance. Social media messages, tweets, sample proclamations, and ideas provided can be used year round. Communications highlight messages about accessibility, such as the need for social media to include alternative text, captions, transcripts, and color contrast. For additional details, including sample Twitter tweets, Instagram captions, and other social media posts, visit the webpage featuring the ADA Anniversary Tool Kit. Timely Virtual and Free Events On July 26, 2023, beginning at 1 pm ET, the Office of Equity and Human Rights is presenting a “Celebration of the 33rd signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).” This event addresses issues relating to access to initiatives intended to benefit people with disabilities that “unintentionally created disparities” that impact individuals “who live at the intersection of marginalization and disability.” It will explore systematic solutions that can help to work toward a more inclusive society. The presenter, Reyma McCoy Hyten, is the first Black woman to serve as the Commissioner for the Administration on Disabilities of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Read more here about the Celebration of the 33rd signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Preregistration is required. To register, visit the eventbrite webpage here. On July 27, 2023, from 10 to 11 am ET, a Zoom webinar will ” Celebrate ADA! Learn About ADA Resources for Information, Guidance and Training.” Program participants will “explore, connect, and learn about resources, training, and information” regarding the ADA and disability rights. The event is hosted by the Southeast ADA Center, the University of Kentucky Human Development Institute (HDI), and the Burton Blatt Institute (BBI) at Syracuse University. Read more from the ADA National Network here about “Celebrate ADA! Learn About ADA Resources for Information, Guidance and Training.” And register here. Tune in anytime to an ADALive! program recorded earlier this month to “Celebrate the ADA! (and) Learn about ADA National Network and NIDILRR (the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research).” The ADA National Network, funded by the NIDILRR, serves as a resource to inform the public, businesses, and other organizations about their responsibilities and rights under the ADA. Congress created this national network of ten regional ADA Centers in 1991. To find out more details, and listen to the program, visit the ADALive! webpage here for Episode 119: Celebrate the ADA! Learn about ADA National Network and NIDILRR. ADALive1 is produced by the Southeast ADA Center. [...]

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Adaptive Open Golf Championship Expands the Reach of the Sport

by B.E. Lewis, RDPFS intern: Blind golf? The very concept may seem improbable in a sport so dependent on the eyes. And yet, at The U.S. Golf Association’s (USGA) 2023 U.S. Adaptive Open Golf Championship, blind golfers competed as well as athletes with a variety of other disabilities. The U.S. Adaptive Open is a national championship to showcase the world’s best golfers with disabilities. This competition was held for its second year at the historic Pinehurst (North Carolina) Resort and Country Club from July 10-12, 2023. Awards included 15 medals given to those who finished as the best scorer in their respective category, including one for players with visual impairment. This year’s recipients in the category for visual impairment were, for women, Amanda Cunha from Kaneohe, Hawaii, and, for men, Kiefer Jones from Canada. Participants play by a modified set of USGA rules in order to accommodate their needs. The U.S. Blind Golf Association explained how this works for players with vision loss: “Contrary to what one would initially perceive, blind golf is (played as) a team sport. The team consists of the blind golfer (player) and the coach. Simply stated, if there were no coaches in blind golf, there would be no blind golfers.”  adding that “The responsibilities of the coach include walking the player to the ball, describing the shot and the distance, helping with club selection, and positioning and aligning the player and the club to the ball.” This player/coach partnership makes blind golf unique. For more information, visit the U.S. Blind Golf Association website. Read additional details here about this year’s USGA Adaptive Open Golf Championship. [...]

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And the Winner in the Women's Blind Golf Category is…

by B.E. Lewis, RDPFS intern: This year’s 2023 Adaptive Open marked a second victory for 19-year-old Amanda Cunha. Cunha’s medal in the women’s visual impairment category marked her second time atop the women’s field in Pinehurst. She said: “I definitely want young people who are visually impaired, doesn’t matter if they’re boys or girls, to know that there are ways for you to have a lot of fun [in golf].” At 16, Cunha seemed on her way to a brilliant future as a sighted golfer. She was playing in the prestigious North and South Junior Championship at Pinehurst as one of Hawaii’s top juniors. Shortly after returning home, her future in golf veered toward a different course. In 2021, Cunha was diagnosed with Leber Hereditary Optic Neuropathy, a genetic mutation that causes nerve damage affecting central vision. Although it rarely progresses to full blindness, there is currently no cure. By pursuing blind golf, Cunha has been able to continue to excel in the sport, as her medal at this year’s Adaptive Open proves. For more about Cunha’s background and accomplishments, read the USGA webpage here on the U.S. Adaptive Open: 20/20 Foresight: Amanda Cunha is changing Adaptive Golf. [...]

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Vision Loss and Dementia

by B. E. Lewis, RDPFS intern: Older adults with vision loss may be more likely to develop dementia, according to a new study published in JAMA Ophthalmology. The study found that “distance acuity, near acuity, and contrast sensitivity impairment are each associated with a higher prevalence of dementia among older US adults.” It concluded that the risk could be reduced for Alzheimer’s and other forms of  dementia by getting vision problems corrected, through methods such as eye exams, eyeglasses, and cataract surgery. Investigators from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, analyzed data from the NIA (National Institute on Aging)-funded  University of Michigan Health and Retirement Study (HRS), a longitudinal study tracking changes in health and economic circumstances. This research found that about 100,000 cases of dementia were associated with visual impairment, and projected that by 2050, that total would rise to around 250,000. The findings add to growing evidence that fading eyesight is a risk factor for developing dementia. “We hypothesized that visual impairment would be associated with dementia because prior studies found an association,” lead study author Olivia Killeen, M.D., clinical lecturer for Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences at the University of Michigan, commenting on the newly released research. “Eye health and brain health are closely linked in older adults,” she added. “This study is unique because it used up-to-date, objectively measured visual acuity (meaning participants had their vision tested),” she continued. “This allowed us to analyze the associations between visual acuity and dementia.” The good news is that most vision problems are treatable, Killeen concluded. Although the number of people with dementia is growing with an aging population, currently, cures and effective drug treatment remain elusive. Therefore, public health experts and researchers are emphasizing the importance of addressing modifiable risk factors, including untreated high blood pressure, hearing loss, and most recently, vision loss. Eye exams, eyeglass prescriptions and cataract surgery are relatively inexpensive — and more accessible — compared to other interventions or the long-term care people with dementia often require. For more information on this study, read the article in JAMA Ophthalmology/JAMA Network here on Objectively Measured Visual Impairment and Dementia Prevalence in Older Adults in the US as well as the Yahoo News piece on Vision problems could mean higher dementia risk, study finds: ‘Eye health and brain health are closely linked.’ More demographic information is included in the NIA article entitled Vision Impairment is Associated with as Many as 100,000 U.S. Dementia Cases. and one about the NIA-funded Health and Retirement Study     [...]

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Collaborating to Expand Low Vision Assistive Technology

A partnership between the Johns Hopkins Disability Health Research Center (JHDHRC) and ReBokeh, an assistive technology startup, has resulted in the creation of Low Vision Connect, a digital platform for individuals with vision impairment. The primary objective of the platform is to facilitate “authentic connections rooted in personal experiences,” with the goal of improving the quality of life and advancing independence for people with low vision. Dr. Bonnie Swenor, founder and director of JHDHRC, elaborated on the project’s intent, noting that “’We hope Low Vision Connect will provide a much-needed space for those with low vison to share their lived experiences, find support and build lasting relationships.’” The developers are seeking feedback and involvement to test and refine the platform. Actual development of the community platform is slated to begin this summer, with plans calling for user testing to be introduced early next year. Read more here about how ReBokeh partnered with Johns Hopkins to expand low vision assistive technologies. [...]

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Reaffirming a Commitment to Provide Accessible Credit Reports

The three major consumer credit reporting companies in the nation have “reaffirmed their commitment to provide access to important credit information for people who are blind or have low vision.” An initiative crafted with the American Council of the Blind (ACB) and several blind consumers will help to protect credit information of individuals who cannot read a credit report in standard print.  Access to credit reports allows consumers to avoid identity theft and protect the privacy of financial information. Under the new plan, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion will make online credit reports and related information accessible through, the website they jointly operate to help consumers obtain free credit reports. This initiative builds on a long collaboration among the credit reporting agencies and ACB. It “includes a renewed commitment to provide credit reports in braille, large print, and audio formats, and to design online credit reports and related web pages in accordance with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines… of the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).” These guidelines help to ensure that websites are accessible to individuals with vision loss. For more details, read the full ACB news release entitled “National Credit Reporting Companies and the American Council of the Blind Announce Reaffirmed Commitment to Provide Accessible Credit Reports.” [...]

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Having Trouble Reading Standard Print? Enjoy today’s bestsellers in easy-to-read large print: Select Editions Large Type Books

Enjoy the best in current fiction, romance, mystery, biography, adventure, and more. Reader’s Digest Select Editions Large Type features expertly edited best-selling books in every volume. You get a full year of exciting reading (five volumes in all), for the low nonprofit price of $25. Indulge your love of great reading in a format that is comfortable and pleasurable to read. A portion of the proceeds from each subscription supports Reader’s Digest Partners for Sight Foundation’s work and dedication to fostering the independence of people who are blind and visually impaired. Each subscriber also receives a large-print calendar free of charge. 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. [...]

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