Dedicated to Improving the Lives of Blind and Visually Impaired People

RDPFS Resources for Partners July 8, 2022

More Accessible COVID-19 Tests Now Available at No Cost to People Who Are Blind or Have Low Vision

Since the beginning of the pandemic, advocates have been calling on the federal government and manufacturers to develop at-home COVID-19 tests that can be accessed independently by people with vision loss. Now USPS has announced a new initiative to distribute, via mail, more accessible at-home rapid antigen COVID-19 tests free of charge. One order consisting of two tests may be requested for each residential address. These tests work by using Bluetooth to provide step-by-step instructions and provide audio test results. Users need a smartphone that is Bluetooth-enabled and also must download and install an app from the App Store (for iOs) or Google Play (for Android). Orders are shipped free of charge, while supplies last.  Although, according to disability groups, the free tests “are a step in the right direction,” advocates have noted that the requirement to use an app excludes users who may not be skilled in assistive technology, those with limited tactile or fine motor skills, or individuals who do not have a smartphone. For additional information or to receive the tests, go to the USPS.COM webpage on how to Place Your Order for Free At-Home COVID-19 Tests More Accessible to People Who Are Blind or Low Vision. To learn more about the initiative and the response from disability groups, visit the GBH website article entitled USPS to send free, accessible at-home COVID tests to people who are blind or low vision.

The Impact of COVID-19 as Students Returned to In-Person Learning

The third “Access and Engagement Report,” recently released by the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB), “examines the continued negative impact of systemic and COVID-19 specific issues on the education of students who are blind or have low vision.” This latest study focuses on three issues emerging from earlier reports as students returned to in-person learning: access to technology, impacts on educational progress, and the pandemic’s social and emotional impacts on children who are blind or have low vision as well as their families and educators. Among the key findings are indications that digital learning platforms used were not fully accessible or usable; difficulties with reliable internet access; and loss of learning, particularly for subjects like Orientation and Mobility (O&M), and decreased opportunities for work experience or building skills in the community. Social-emotional challenges described by parents include the fear of COVID or children choosing not to socialize. The report includes recommendations as well, such as increased communication between school staff and families, “ensuring full accessibility of all software and hardware learning tools,” and legislative action. For additional details about the study and how it was conducted, visit the CISION AFB press release entitled American Foundation for the Blind Announces Third Access and Engagement Report, Observing Impact of COVID-19 as Students with Visual Impairments Returned to In-Person Education. To read the full report, visit the AFB webpage on Access and Engagement III: Reflecting on the Educational Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Celebrate Disability Pride Month: Free Online Events

As July, Disability Pride Month, unfolds, a number of special events and programs are happening virtually. Consider these possibilities:

Assistive Technology for Low Vision: On July 12, 2022, from 12 to 1 pm Eastern Time (ET), the Michigan Disability Rights Coalition will host this program so that individuals with low vision or vision loss can learn how to use assistive technology. Part of the Assistive Technology (AT) TechTuesday Training Series, this session will cover devices and technology available to individuals with disabilities and older adults for daily living, recreational activities, and hobbies. For more information and to register, go to the Eventbrite listing for Assistive Technology (AT) for LOW VISION.

From The New York Public Library’s Business Center: To celebrate Disability Pride Month, a series of online panels are being held as part of “’BIZABILITY: How Creatives, Entrepreneurs, and Non-profits Are Changing the Way We Understand Human Potential.’” Four programs will explore from a business perspective how individuals and organizations are contributing to channel the “power of inclusivity.” These include sessions being held on:
- July 13, 2022, from 3 to 4:15 Eastern Time (ET): Universal Design: How “Inclusive Architecture” Benefits Businesses and People: This session promises to “change forever-and for the better-the way you look at commercial buildings, public spaces, and bathrooms.”
- July 18, 2022, from 12 to 1:15 pm ET: How Diversity Actualizes Potential: The Omnium Circus Approach: Participants in this session will discover how the company, Omnium Circus, created a “jaw-dropping audience experience” by hiring “gifted circus performers” from various nations and cultures “embracing a multi-racial, multi-abled, LGBTQ inclusive approach.”
- July 20, 2022, from 3 to 4:15 pm ET: The Nuance of Disability: “Because of,” NOT “In Spite Of”: A film director and producer and writer will share their experiences as professionals who tapped into their disability and made a determined choice to “flourish because of it…” From this vantage point, disability is transformed from a legal requirement or afterthought to a welcome element that adds to creativity.
- July 28, 2022, from 12 to 1:15 pm ET: Millions Lost: The Unrealized Potential of Entrepreneurship and Disability: Although much is written about how individuals with a disability are adept at problem solving, are resilient, and have adaptive skills, like empathy, all of which are key attributes of entrepreneurs, few people with a disability are entrepreneurs or are working with them. In this forum, entrepreneurs with a disability will share their experiences and highlight “the millions of people who are facing unnecessary roadblocks” that prevent them from realizing their potential.
For more information on these programs and to register, visit The New York Public Library webpage on the BIZABILITY SERIES: How Creatives, Entrepreneurs, and Non-profits Are Changing the Way We Understand Human Potential.

During a forum on how to Harness the Power of Inclusion: On July 14, 2022, from 12 to 1 pm Eastern Time (ET), participants will have an opportunity to check their knowledge about disability in the work environment and to learn basic principles of disability employment law. This event, sponsored by the NC Department of Health and Human Services, is an event of Windmills, a disability awareness program providing business leaders with information, skills, and tools to foster an inclusive workplace where all employees can thrive. Additional information and a registration link from Eventbrite can be found here for Harness the Power of Inclusion - Fact or Fiction?

Disability Rights are Human Rights: On July 22, 2022, the San Diego Law Library is presenting a program highlighting the past 100 years of key moments and individuals involved in the disability rights movement. Participants will find out about those leaders “who fought for equality and laid the foundation of the four ’pillars’ of the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act): full participation, independent living, equality of opportunity, and economic self-sufficiency.” The event takes place from 3 to 4 pm Eastern Time (12 noon to 1 pm PDT). For more details and to register, click on the link from Eventbrite to Who Are the Heroes? A History of the Disability Rights Movement.

Even More Summer Learning

Learning never stops and this summer, this is definitely the case. Here are some upcoming online offerings that can add to the summertime experience:

On July 14, 2022, from 10 to 11 am Eastern Time (ET), parents, families, caregivers, and professionals are invited to join in the webinar on “Everything You Need to Know About Social Security: Overview of Benefits, Disability, Supplemental Security Income (SSI).” During this free Adapt Community Network program, Nilsa Henriquez, Public Affairs Specialist from Social Security, will discuss SSI (Supplemental Security Income), the application process, and eligibility criteria. Spanish interpretation will be provided. For more details click on the following links: in English: Everything You Wanted to Know About Social Security: Overview of Benefits, Disability, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), or in Spanish: Todo Lo Que Necesita Saber Sobre El Seguro Social: Descripción General De Los Beneficios, Discapacidad, Seguridad de Ingreso Suplementario (SSI). Pre-registration is required. To register, please click on the RSVP for Everything You Need to Know About Social Security: Overview of Benefits, Disability, Supplemental Security Income (SSI). If there are any issues with the links, register by email at [email protected] or by phone, (718) 436-7979 Ext. 704.

Making Smartphones Accessible to Users with Vision Loss: July 20 and August 10, 2022: Join in either or both of these programs to learn how to make everyday technology accessible to people with vision loss. Tech for Everyone: Making Smartphones Accessible to Users with Vision Loss is offered online by Lighthouse Guild with DOROT and will include expert panelists, live demonstrations, and Q&A.
Session 1, on July 22 from 1 – 2 pm Eastern Time (ET), focuses on the Android Smartphone and covers such apps as TalkBack, where the screen is read aloud, and Google Lookout, which enables the device to describe objects and text in the user’s surroundings.
In Session 2, on August 10 from 1 – 2 pm ET, iPhone users will learn how to magnify the screen and access apps such as VoiceOver (where what is on the screen is read aloud).
For more details, visit the Lighthouse Guild webpage listing for Tech for Everyone: Making Smartphones Accessible to Users with Vision Loss. And to register directly,  visit the Meeting Registration page. For any questions, contact DOROT at (917) 441-3706 or [email protected].

Nominations Invited for the 2022 Bonnie Strickland Champion for Children’s Vision Award: Applications Due on August 1, 2022

Established in 2014, the Bonnie Strickland Champion for Children’s Vision Award recognizes substantial efforts by individuals or groups of individuals to advance public health approaches for children’s vision and eye health at the state or national level. The award commemorates Dr. Bonnie Strickland and her work “to establish a comprehensive system for children’s vision in the United States.” Dr. Strickland retired in 2014 from her position as Director of the Division of Services for Children with Special Needs with the Maternal and Child Health Bureau. Nominees may be an individual or group of “diverse stakeholders,” including family members/caregivers, community leaders, or professionals in public health, healthcare, and education, and others whose efforts have improved children’s vision and reduced disparities in children’s vision and eye health within the United States. Criteria for nominees include the demonstration of an impact in one or more areas of a population health system that supports children’s vision, such as training and education, public awareness, service provision, and making the connection between overall health and vision. The award will be presented at the annual meeting of the National Center for Children’s Vision and Eye Health of Prevent Blindness, which will be held virtually on October 14, 2022. For the complete list of criteria and other information, visit the webpage for Bonnie Strickland Champion for Children’s Vision Award. And the nomination form for the Children's Vision Award may be downloaded here.

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Would you like to spread the word about a program, webinar, other news, event, 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].