Dedicated to Improving the Lives of Blind and Visually Impaired People

RDPFS Resources for Partners July 22, 2022

Commemorating the 32nd Anniversary of the Passage of the ADA and Disability Pride Month: Webinar on July 28, 2022

This month marks the 32nd anniversary of the signing into law of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by President George H.W. Bush. The ADA prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all aspects of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private places that are open to the public. On July 28, 2022, from 10 to 10:45 am Eastern Time (ET), a virtual U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) event will celebrate Disability Pride Month and the anniversary of the passage of the ADA. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, Assistant Secretary for Disability Employment Policy Taryn Williams, and other DOL leaders will participate and discuss the efforts by the Department of Labor to realize the promise of the ADA with policies and programs for both workers and job seekers with disabilities. For more information and to register, visit the Eventbrite listing for Disability Pride: Celebrating 32 Years of the ADA Tickets.

A number of tools are also available from the website for ADA32 to celebrate the occasion and to highlight its importance. Resources include social media messages, tweets, sample proclamations, and ideas that can be used year round. For detailed background information on the legislation, read the items from the ADA National Network: An Overview of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Timeline of the Americans with Disabilities Act. To obtain more ideas and resources, visit the page on the ADA Anniversary Tool Kit.

Virtual Seeing Through Drawing Workshop: July 30, 2022

In conjunction with Disability Pride Month, the Metropolitan Museum of Art is offering a virtual workshop for adults who are blind or have low vision on Saturday, July 30, 2022 from 11 am to 12 pm Eastern Time (ET). Participants will have the opportunity to become familiar with the Museum’s collection and learn drawing techniques by experimenting with materials, verbal description, and “creative responses to works of art.” The program is free, but advance reservations are required and space is limited. To register and receive information for joining online, contact [email protected] or 212-650-2010. For more details, visit the webpage for Virtual Seeing Through Drawing.

Survey Underway to Highlight Experiences and Preferences for Virtual Access to Museum Programming

The Museum, Arts and Culture Access Consortium (MAC) invites museum visitors with disabilities to participate in a survey they are conducting to highlight the experiences and preferences of people with disabilities. The Consortium will then develop guidance for cultural organizations “about how to navigate virtual programming in the next phase of the pandemic.” MAC points out that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has affected cultural institutions across the nation and everywhere, causing “a massive need for change.” Many have connected with digital technology “that the disability community has been advocating for well before this crisis…and (MAC recognizes) that there is work to be done to make digital platforms accessible to all.” The deadline to complete the survey is July 29, 2022. Click here for more information about MAC. And to take the survey, visit the page for Mapping Virtual Access in Cultural Institutions.

Webinar to Address Expanding Apprenticeships for Youth and Young Adults with Disabilities: August 3, 2022

This upcoming program will focus attention on apprenticeships and the benefits to be gained from them and will outline what states across the nation can do to design and conduct apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs as effective “career pathways for career seekers with disabilities.” The Center for Advancing Policy on Employment for Youth will host the program on August 3, 2022 at 2 pm ET. For more information and to register, visit The Council of State Governments webpage on Expanding Apprenticeships as a Career Pathway for Youth and Adults with Disabilities.

Opportunity to Engage in National Online Dialogue Regarding Long COVID’s Workplace Challenges

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the U.S. Surgeon General invite the public to join in a national dialogue to understand the challenges related to long COVID-19 that impact workers and employers. Long COVID refers to new or long-term effects of the virus that can last weeks or months and can include issues such as shortness of breath, fatigue, heart palpitations, or headaches. Through this virtual event, the DOL “seeks to better understand workplace challenges of those experiencing new or lingering symptoms of COVID-19” and gain ideas to deal with the challenges and diminish the condition’s employment and financial impacts. Participants in the online discussion will share ideas, experiences, and possible solutions. For more information and to register to submit ideas, visit the webpage entitled "Understanding and Addressing the Workplace Challenges Related to Long COVID."

Workplace Recruitment Program Seeking Federal Employees to Enlist Students with Disabilities

The Workforce Recruitment program (WRP) is seeking volunteers to serve as recruiters in its efforts to connect college students and recent graduates with disabilities with federal and some private sector work opportunities, including internships and permanent positions. A recruiting and referral program, WRP serves as the primary pathway bringing individuals with disabilities into federal employment. Recruiters must be employees of the Federal Government who can commit to conducting up to ten to twelve virtual informational interviews with applicants. The upcoming recruitment session goes from October 24 to November 16, 2022. Recruiters need to complete an on-line training during the summer.  The registration deadline is August 26, 2022. Learn about serving as a recruiter or sign up on the WRP Rules of Behavior Page. Read more about this opportunity here in the News Brief from the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP).

Traffic Safety Regulations Will Not Allow Owners of Electric Vehicles to Pick Alert Sounds

Because electric vehicles are more difficult to hear at lower speeds than gasoline-powered engines, rules mandated by Congress and finalized by the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) require that manufacturers add sounds to hybrid and electric vehicles when they travel at speeds up to 18.6 miles per hour to “help prevent injuries among pedestrians, cyclists and the blind.” A proposal issued in 2019 by the NHTSA would have allowed automakers who manufacture electric vehicles to offer various sound choices for “electric vehicles and other ‘quiet cars.’” NHTSA has indicated that the proposal will not be adopted due to lack of data to support it, stating that it would have allowed manufacturers “to make more obscure sounds that only appeal to a small minority of (hybrid electric) owners.’” Noise, wind, and other issues preclude the need for a separate sound alert at higher speeds, according to the NHTSA. Read more about it from the Reuter News article: U.S. auto agency will not allow EV owners to pick alert sounds.

AI-Powered Websites Designed to Fix Accessibility Problems May Be Problematic

“Companies say their A.I.-powered tools are the best way to fix accessibility problems online, but many blind people find they make websites harder to use.” So states a recent article in The New York Times. Automated web accessibility services have grown in popularity over the past few years, due to advances in AI (Artificial Intelligence) and legal demands for companies to make their websites more accessible. However, according to some users who are blind or have low vision, these changes may not yield the intended results. The addition of coding and other features has resulted in such issues as reformatting pages and hiding some items from screen readers, like checkout and shopping cart buttons which were mislabeled. Numerous companies provide these automated tools, with clients that include major corporations, hospitals, and local governments. Part of the goal in introducing automated web accessibility is to help their clients avoid litigation if websites are not accessible. Despite their intent, some of the clients using these products have faced lawsuits, and “more than 400 companies with an accessibility widget or overlay to their website” have been sued over accessibility, according to "data collected by a digital accessibility provider.” Leading AI companies, while affirming their goal to increase web accessibility, have acknowledged “that their products aren’t perfect” and that they are working to improve them with investments in research and development. Still, while these improvements remain a work in progress, some people who are blind or have low vision say it is not reasonable to expect them to wait for automated products to improve when internet use is so essential, particularly in the workplace. Read more about how For Blind Internet Users, the Fix Can Be Worse Than the Flaws.

Beta Testers Needed for Development of Accessible Game

Gamers may be interested in knowing about a new accessible game being developed based on the fantasy series, Anvaya Feats. The 3STech and Talent Team is designing the “first Accessible Online Game for Anvaya Feats: Shadow Rush!” The Team is seeking BetaTesters with disabilities to join their Premier Access Program. Beta Testers will use assistive technology to help test new features, provide feedback and recommendations, and receive “Free and Early Access to the game” and merchandise. Players will help the story’s main character, Joseph, navigate the world of “magic and danger.” Along the way Joseph is injured and needs to gain new skills to adjust to vision loss “while still helping to defeat the Shadow.” To learn more about signing up to be a tester and to join in the program, check out the webpage on Anvaya Feats: Shadow Rush Premiere Access Program.

Partner News: Interim Executive Director Named by American Foundation for the Blind

AFB (American Foundation for the Blind) has announced that Howard Sitron is serving as interim executive director, working with the organization’s leadership and constituents on their many ongoing initiatives, including advocacy, public policy research, leadership, and their technology training lab. Sitron will work with AFB as the Board of Trustees conducts a search for their next director. He has extensive experience in nonprofit executive leadership roles, including positions with JCFS Chicago, the Breast Cancer 3-Day, and MossRehab, and other organizations. Sitron has also served as a voluntary board member with several local and international groups and provides pro bono consultation to nonprofits in Chicago and Philadelphia. For more information, read the press release: AFB Welcomes Howard Sitron as Interim Executive Director.

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