Dedicated to Improving the Lives of Blind and Visually Impaired People

RDPFS Resources for Partners June 16, 2023

Registration Open for Focus on Eye Health Summit: July 12-13, 2023

The 12th annual Focus on Eye Health Summit, a free, virtual, interactive national event hosted by Prevent Blindness, will pose the question “Why the Eye?” to stimulate dialogue exploring vision “through a public health lens.”  Conversations will cover challenges to equitable access to eye care, explore collaborations among stakeholders, and look for opportunities to include vision and eye health into public health policies, practices, and the advancement of research. The two-day event, from July 12 to 13, 2023, will reinforce the importance of focusing on the eye. Along with expert presentations, the program offers an exhibitor hall, educational materials, videos, toolkits, and opportunities for networking and collaboration. Summit attendees will include patient advocates, community, advocacy, vision, and eye health organizations, researchers, health care providers, educators, government and corporate representatives, and more. For additional information read the press release announcing that Prevent Blindness to Host 12th Annual Focus on Eye Health Summit. And register here for the two-day event. Summit to Address Mental Health and Vision Vision loss can have a significant impact on mental health. According to findings from a recent study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in four adults with visual impairments experience symptoms of anxiety or depression, compared with about one in six in the general population. To address this issue, the second day of the Focus on Eye Health Summit (July 13, 2023) will be dedicated to presentations and discussions related to mental health and vision. The keynote speech, “Innovative Mental Health Approaches,” will highlight the importance of including mental health, with action steps, in the “vision and eye health community.” Prevent Blindness has also convened a Mental Health Task Force made up of professionals from different fields, along with clients. The Task Force has identified opportunities to improve processes and advocacy related to vision rehabilitation, resources, professional training, and development of an integrated model for eyecare. Their work will be shared with policy makers, providers, professionals, and others involved in the emotional well being of individuals with vision impairment. For additional information on mental health and the Task Force, read the Prevent Blindness news release announcing the Launch of Multiple Efforts to Provide Education and Resources on the Effects of Vision Loss and Blindness on Mental Health. And read more about vision impairment and mental health in this CDC article, Vision Loss and Mental Health. [...]

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Commemorating Juneteenth: Texas Talking Books and More

Juneteenth, a national holiday recognized this Monday, June 19, 2023, celebrates the end of slavery for African American people in the United States. The specific date commemorates the fact that on June 19, 1865, General Granger notified people in Galveston, Texas that all slaves had been liberated. In his words, quoted on the Texas Talking Books Blog, “’The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired laborer.’” In subsequent years, celebrations of freedom for African Americans occurred and now take place across the nation and around the world. In recognition of the holiday, and the role of their state in its origin, the Texas Talking Books Blog of the State Library and Archives Commission provides a list of books, both fiction and nonfiction, for all ages about Juneteenth and its significance. For the list, and more information, read the blog on June 19: Juneteenth. Additional information on the commemoration is available on the website for JUNETEENTH.COM. Personal Reflections from a Woman Living with Blindness A blog featured on the Access to Vote website elaborates on the intent and impact of this commemoration of freedom on those with disabilities. In “Reflections on Juneteenth,” Marilyn Baldwin shares her experience as a black woman who is “living with blindness and other health challenges.” Baldwin states how different her life would have been if slavery had not been abolished, noting that she has a “wonderful life” thanks to the abolition of slavery and the progress achieved through the Civil Rights movement. After attending an HBC (Historically Black College), Baldwin worked as an educator and in government and as a volunteer with many advocacy organizations. However, she notes that “we must take time to remember and learn the truth about our history so that the past is not repeated.” Read the complete blog post here for more of her “Reflections on Juneteenth.” A Virtual Juneteenth Event on June 19, 2023 with Film Director Charles Burnett Charles Burnett, Oscar-winning director of “To Sleep With Anger,” “Killer of Sheep,” and “Nat Turner: A Troublesome Property,” will speak with Professor Steven Cleveland from California State University, East Bay during this virtual, free program on June 19, 2023 from 7 to 8 pm ET. To reserve a spot for the event, sponsored by A King in Paradise, visit the Eventbrite listing for this “Conversation with Charles Burnett.” [...]

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New Science Access Tools for Students with Blindness or Low Vision

Two access technology companies are collaborating to develop new tools to meet the needs of people with blindness or low vision. The two firms, Independence Science and ViewPlus Technologies, plan to develop “a working prototype of a new STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) education product.” They will be working with a team of blind scientists to “inform product development road maps.” Both companies were founded by blind scientists, who know from their own experiences how important inclusive access is to tools and techniques for the visualization of data. In describing the project, Mike Hingson from Independence Sciences noted that “’It is these collaborative efforts between technology firms that leverage one strength with another to drive innovation to its furthest potential. We will develop products that blind people want.’” Dan Gardner, CEO of ViewPlus Technologies, added “’We look forward to making STEM more accessible for all through this collaboration and ushering in a day when everyone can participate equally in STEM subjects in an inclusive way.’” ViewPlus Technologies has experience in developing technology that can produce multi-dot height, tactile graphic input, and braille on the same page. This combination of output modalities makes it possible for people to work together, regardless of their level of vision. Independent Science has designed products making equipment for STEM laboratories more inclusive. One example is their Talking LabQuest, which provides users with graphics information two ways: through sonification, which offers auditory access, and through transmission to their braille embosser product line. Read more about the collaboration on the Purdue University webpage in an article describing how Independence Science and ViewPlus Technologies partner to create science access tools for students who experience blindness or low vision. [...]

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Air Quality and the Eyes

The recent air disturbances in the Northeastern United States due to wildfires in Canada triggered much concern about people with various health concerns, particularly related to conditions like asthma and other respiratory issues. Air pollution can have a significant impact on vision and on certain eye diseases as well. During the height of the crisis, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) warned that exposure to the fine particulates circulating can cause short-term health effects, such as eye irritation, along with exacerbating medical conditions like asthma and heart disease. Previous scientific studies have provided additional information regarding the effects of air pollution on the eyes. Findings have indicated that outdoor pollution may “exacerbate dry eye disease” and can trigger conjunctivitis, for example. Air pollutants have also been associated with “abnormal development of the neural retina” as well as an increased likelihood of being diagnosed with glaucoma. Studies have also described “myopic macular degeneration, age-related macular degeneration, and diabetic retinopathy in association with air pollution.” For more information on air pollution and the eyes, read these National Institutes of Health (NIH) articles: from the National Library of Medicine, The Adverse Effects of Air Pollution on the Eye: A Review, and from the National Eye Institute (NEI), Hopkins Vision Researcher Links Environmental Change to Eye Health Hazards. To learn about the current air quality in your area, visit the website for AirNow. [...]

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New Tactile Braille Learning Device for Students in Science, Math, and Art

The BrailleDoodle, a new device for braille and tactile learning in science, math and art, features a surface that refreshes repeatedly. It allows students to write, create, and feel as they go along, empowering children “to reach their full potential through braille literacy, even remotely, while enjoying tactile art.” The device contains hundreds of holes, each with a smooth metal ball that can be pulled to the surface with a magnetic stylus. It also includes a braille side, with examples of letters, numbers, and words, and space to practice. On the “Doodle Side,” there is room to enjoy what has been called “’the Etch-a-Sketch for the blind.’” The product is distributed through a recently established nonprofit organization, The TouchPad Pro Foundation. BrailleDoodle is available for the “kickstarter” price of $75 through June 19, 2023. That price is available beyond that date for readers of this Bulletin by contacting Daniel Lubiner, product developer, via email at [email protected] and including “RDPFS” in the subject line. For addition information, read an article from Blind New World entitled BrailleDoodle: a New York Teacher Invents Something to Change Everything and a piece from Perkins School for the Blind on the BrailleDoodle. [...]

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“The Blind Man Running His Family Diner”—A Father and Son Team

The Bendix Diner, a long-established eatery in New Jersey, has been featured extensively in films and on television. The manager, John Diakakis, runs the diner as well as his “busy household.”  Diakakis also “has retinitis pigmentosa and has been legally blind since birth.”  He works with Tony, his oldest son and short-order cook, calling out orders, serving food, and “cracking jokes.” A single father, Diakakis has raised Tony and two other children. A documentary covered in The New Yorker, “Bacon ‘N’ Laces,” illustrates their relationship and experiences at work and elsewhere. In some sections, audio of pouring coffee and cutlery clattering accompany a black screen, to represent “Diakakis’ perspective.” Stephen Michael Simon, the film’s producer, explains that “’He knows exactly how to get around that diner, where everything is.” For more information about this father/son team, and a link to the documentary, read The New Yorker article on “The Blind Man Running His Family Diner.” A transcript of the film is also available in the piece entitled “Bacon ‘N’ Laces: A Son and His Blind Father’s Shared Obsession.” [...]

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Happy Father’s Day to All Who Celebrate!

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

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