Dedicated to Improving the Lives of Blind and Visually Impaired People

RDPFS Resources for Partners June 17, 2022

Events of Note:

Safety and Self-Defense for People with Vision Loss Tele-Support Presentation: June 20, 2022

This Monday, June 20, 2022 from 8:30 to 9:30 pm ET (Eastern Time), Lighthouse Guild is presenting a free, virtual program covering self-defense tips and strategies that can help people with vision loss be safe at home or in the community. “Increased rates of violence across the United States and in our own neighborhoods” have “raised safety concerns for everyone, especially those with vision loss. The speaker, Sensei Devin Fernandez, who has over twenty years of experience in Martial Arts, was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa in 2000 and has launched Third Eye Insight -- Fitness for the Blind to integrate his expertise in martial arts, yoga, and meditation with the “gift of service.” For more information on the virtual program or to register, visit the webpage listing for Tele-Support Presentations: Safety and Self-Defense for People Living with Vision Loss.

Using Google Translate: A Virtual Workshop on June 23, 2022

The Andrew Heiskell Library of The New York Public Library's workshop on "Using Google Translate" will take place online and in person on June 23, 2022 at 2 pm ET. The workshop will explore this cross-platform for translation in depth. Participants will find out how to translate from speech, text, handwriting, and the camera, how to build a list of commonly used phrases, and more. To register, click on the Zoom registration link for Using Google Translate. For more information, email [email protected]

Free Virtual Summit on Eye Health: July 13-14, 2022

“Eye-conic Approaches to Eye Health,” the 11th Annual Focus on Eye Health Summit hosted by Prevent Blindness, will be held virtually on July 13-14, 2022. Participants will have access to presentations from experts, an exhibitor hall, educational materials, videos, and toolkits, and opportunities for networking and collaboration. This interactive event brings together a broad range of stakeholders from the vision and eye health community to create a dialogue and learning platform related to the latest significant public health issues around vision and eye health, The goal is to foster dialogue on such topics as research, access, service integration, disseminating best practices, strengthening the patient voice in clinical practice and public policy, technology to support vision health and quality of life, children’s health, and more.  This summit draws an international audience of patient advocates, advocacy, vision, eye health, and community organizations, researchers, health care professionals, educators, government staff members, and corporate representatives. Keynote speakers are Frank Bruni, writer for The New York Times and author of the bestseller Beauty of Dusk: On Vision Lost and Found; and Amelie Ramirez, DrPH, chair of the Department of Public Health Sciences and Director of both the Salud America! National Program and the Institute for Health Promotion Research at UT Health, San Antonio. For more information and to register for this free event visit the webpage for the 2022 Focus on Eye Health National Summit.

Celebrating Juneteenth

June 19th, known as Juneteenth and declared a national holiday in 2021, celebrates the end of slavery. To mark the occasion, here are sources for more information and accessible books on the topic:

Learning Ally’s website highlights history related to Juneteenth and some sources for reading. Their reading list contains such titles as Juneteenth for Mazie by Floyd Cooper; Juneteenth a novel by Ralph Ellison; and All Different Now written by Angela Johnson and illustrated by E.B. Lewis. For more information, visit Learning Ally’s webpage on Audiobooks Celebrating Juneteenth. To check out their reading list on the topic, go to the Juneteenth Reading List.
The South Carolina State Library Talking Book Service has issued a list of titles that “focus on commemorating one of the highest of American ideals, values, and freedom.” The books and articles cited, covering all ages, explain the background for this observance and related modern history. The writings noted include Freedom's gifts: a Juneteenth story by Valerie Wilson Wesley; Osceola: memories of a sharecropper's daughter by Osceola Mays and Alan B. Govenar; and Juneteenth by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson, Drew Nelson, Daevan Mangalmurti, and Piper Walsh. For more titles and information, visit webpage: Celebrate Juneteenth with Talking Books

Special Juneteenth Audio Program

A commemorative NPR (National Public Radio) program on Juneteenth, originally broadcast earlier this week, features “outstanding young Black musicians performing works by Florence Price, Coleridge-Taylor, Sam Cooke and more.” To listen to this one-hour program, co-hosted by special guest, musician Kevin Olusola, visit the NPR webpage on From the Top: Juneteenth Special.

DeafBlind Awareness Week is Coming: June 26 - July 2, 2022

Plans are underway for this year’s celebration of Helen Keller DeafBlind Awareness Week, June 26 to July 2, 2022, which focuses on “Diversity and Inclusion: Creativity and innovation are built upon a diverse group of perspectives.” The DeafBlind Awareness Week advocacy campaign has been commemorated each year since 1984, when President Ronald Reagan issued a proclamation to recognize the occasion. The 2022 celebration aims to increase awareness and spread the word about the achievements of people who are DeafBlind and to communicate the message that those who are DeafBlind have “learned to shift their perspective to create greater accessibility and choices for all.” To carry out the campaign, HKNC (the Helen Keller National Center for DeafBlind Youth and Adults) offers a number of educational and promotional materials. These materials, which can be downloaded from the HKNC website, include a poster, cover letter, suggested activities, and more. To learn more and to access these materials, visit the webpage for DeafBlind Awareness Week 2022.

New Coalition Advocating for Accessibility in the Music Industry

RAMPD, the acronym for the organization Recording Artists and Music Professionals with Disabilities, “works to amplify disability culture and advocate for accessibility in the music business.” The initiative was founded in May 2021 by the musician Lachi and singer-songwriter and violinist Gaelyn Lea, together with about a dozen founding members. Lachi, who is blind, stated that “’I founded RAMPD to kill that silence and to amplify disabled voices, as a service to the music industry, because the next generation absolutely deserves it.’” The coalition aims to make disability inclusion and access an actuality within the mainstream music industry, to address and remedy the lack of “visibility, access, and representation” for professional music artists with disabilities. Awards shows are a particular focus. The work of Lachi and RAMPD has already had an impact on the industry, notably at the 2022 Grammy Awards telecast in April. That event included a number of first-time accessibility features, based on the work of RAMPD and other accessibility advocates, such as a built-in ramp, ASL interpreters, and live audio description and captioning. To learn more about their work or to join the initiative, visit the website for RAMPD Recording Artists and Music Professionals with Disabilities. For details on the Grammy Awards and accessibility, read the article in  Forbes: How The Grammys Got Accessibility Right, And What They Could Have Done Better - An Interview With Lachi. More information on RAMPD and its launch are available in an article in The New York Times: A New Coalition Amplifies Disability Culture in the Music Industry and one in The Hollywood Reporter: RAMPD Is on a Mission to Make the Music Industry’s Events and Award Shows Accessible.

"What Does a Black Hole Sound Like?" “Sonifying” the Visuals

To help people who are visually impaired experience the images, NASA has begun “sonifying” its photos of outer space. Recently, this involved recreating the sound of a black hole some 240 light-years away. This marks the first time in history that people on earth can hear the sounds of a black hole: “a low-pitched groaning, as if a very creaky heavy door was being opened again and again.” The electromagnetic data that made this sound possible had been around for nearly 20 years, with the decision to transform it into sound occurring recently as part of NASA’s initiative to convert its space photography into something that could be appreciated by the ear. NASA has released a brief audio piece of the sound which can be heard by clicking here on the 35-second audio clip of the New NASA Black Hole Sonifications with a Remix. To learn more about the development of this technology, read the article from Houston Public Media: Space: NPR: What does a black hole sound like? NASA has an answer.

Summer Gardening and Yard Care Tips

by Jaime Rodriguez, RDPFS Intern

Gardening is a fun, summer leisure activity and yard work is a necessary and, at times difficult, task. However, both can be enjoyable, sensorial experiences and can help to increase happiness and decrease stress if you know some basics about gardening and/or yard care. For beginners, some basics tips may help in getting started:
- If you are creating a flowerbed or vegetable garden, you can section off and enclose it by using commercial edging products, like bricks or pavers, crushed stone, or fencing. Fencing helps to protect gardens from hungry woodland creatures in need of a snack.
- Consider using landscaping fabric, mulch, or corrugated cardboard around plants and seedlings to protect them from weeds and to reduce the need for watering.
- Colorful, textured materials such as woodchips or seashells can be used to mark the perimeter.
If you are blind or have low vision, marking flowers or fruits and vegetables may be challenging. Here are a few suggestions to make the tasks easier and more satisfying:
- Create custom signs or labels, laminate them, and attach them to sticks;
- Use brightly colored or textured stones to mark unique plants; or
- Create a grid pattern using fishing line or yarn, and use tactile objects like beads in each row.
Choosing plants such as mint, lemon, and lavender can provide the experience of different scents, and selecting those with different textures can be helpful too. Consider using an apron, toolbelt, and a plastic tote container for gardening tools to make the experience safer and more enjoyable. If your yard needs to be mowed, be sure to approach the task with caution. Wear long sleeves and pants with closed-toed shoes, along with protective eyewear, a hat, and sunscreen for protection from the sun. Clear any hazards such as tree branches or toys, and mow in sections, taking time to stay oriented within your mowing area. For more information, please check out the APH Vision Aware webpage titled, "Gardening and Yard Work Tips."

For Father’s Day: Poems from the Heart

“Hi father dear, a pithy piece here,
Won’t take too long, you’ll be free once it’s gone,
And I promise not to send, any more prose this weekend…”
This begins a poem by Maribel Steel, dedicated to her Dad on Father’s Day. Steel,, who notes that she is visually impaired, thanks her Dad for devotedly and skillfully editing and proofreading her writing. “’His reply? ‘Flattery will get you everywhere!’”
DeAnna Quietwater Noriega provides advice on how to write a postcard poem and also shares her Father’s Day poem. She explains that a “postcard poem” contains five lines and is concise, so that it can fit on the back of a postcard. Noriega provides specifics for each line, noting that it can include an introduction, main message, and conclusion. Her personal Father’s Day poem, while not a “postcard poem,” conveys the experience of having a Dad, who:
“…feels pride in his child’s accomplishments.
The light of his approval shines brighter than any trophy.
A Dad seeks to impart his hard won wisdom,
But accepts that some kids can only learn by making their own mistakes…”
To read more from these expressions of appreciation by "VisionAware Peers," visit the APH VisionAware website article on Father's Day Poems from the Heart.

Happy Father’s Day to All Who Celebrate!

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