Dedicated to Improving the Lives of Blind and Visually Impaired People

RDPFS Resources for Partners June 2, 2023

Attention Readers: We need your input!

Last week we introduced a new format for our articles, where the first few lines of each piece were included with links leading to the remainder of the article. This new format has been questioned by some readers, who are asking that it be reconsidered. For this issue, we are continuing with this approach. However, our team is exploring different formats to ensure that the Bulletin is accessible and readable to our subscribers. We value all of our readers and greatly appreciate your feedback. Please share comments by sending them via email to Janet Weinstein, Editorial Director, at [email protected].

Father’s Day Gift Ideas

by Connor Courtien, RDPFS Intern:   With Father’s Day fast approaching in the United States on June 18, 2023, this is a good time to get a suitable gift for a Dad who is living with vision loss. If you’re looking for something to give to a father in your life, there are some great ideas for what you can order online covering all types of interests. One option, sports glasses with 3.5 times zoom and glare-reducing rubber shields, one of the items available through MaxiAids, can be selected for those with low vision who enjoy going to sporting events. This can be particularly handy with summer just around the corner when outdoor sports are at their peak. If a father being honored enjoys watching television, consider getting a large-print universal remote, from Amazon, which will enable them to more easily channel-surf. For a game enthusiast, gifts that could make a good combination are braille and large-print playing cards along with an automatic card dealer. These will make poker nights with friends and family a breeze. Another gift idea is a talking watch with large-print numbers that announces the time as needed, which serves as a great option if you’re looking for something a bit more refined. To see more ideas for Father’s Day gifts, check out this article from MaxiAids, which also covers ideas for those with hearing and mobility impairments. [...]

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Tips For Wrapping Up the School Year

As the school year draws to a close and we begin to savor the summer respite, it’s a good time to begin to plan for the fall “back-to-school transition.” Paths to Literacy has prepared practical tips to ease the transition: – For Parents: Discuss Progress: While children are still in school, it can help to initiate the back-to-school process. This can include meeting with your child’s teacher for the visually impaired (TVI) and orientation and mobility (O&M) specialist and reviewing the individualized education program (IEP) and progress over the past months. – Look into Ordering Textbooks: Check with your child’s TVI, IEP school case manager, or classroom teacher for a list of textbooks. The TVI can order the books in the “appropriate reading medium” to ensure that your student will be ready for the fall. – Plan for Assistive Technology Needs: Consider how adaptive tools and devices can be stored as well as whether assistive technology can be used at home, including practical skills that can be refined, such as touch typing, downloading digital books, playing computer games, and other activities. – Review Independent Living Skills: Summer is an opportune time for children to take care of themselves and help around the home. At the same time, they will develop confidence and self-esteem while learning how to do household tasks, such as making the bed, doing laundry, and preparing snacks, independently. – Plan for Summertime Services: Many school districts offer extended programs beyond the school year for students who need additional support to retain what they’ve learned and build on their skills. This can involve practice for specific IEP goals and can be discussed with the IEP team. – Summer Camp and Other Activities: Many traditional camp activities, such as swimming, canoeing, hiking, and climbing a rock wall, are available at camps for children and youth who are blind or visually impaired. It’s advisable to look for camping programs that also offer practice for developing skills in independent living, recreation and leisure, socialization, and orientation and mobility. Check with your TVI or O&M specialist about camping options in your area and read more about summer camps here. More details from Paths to Literacy are available here for Six Ways to Wrap Up the School Year. [...]

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Travel Tips for Summer Trips

by Connor Courtien, RDPFS Intern:   As summer approaches, you might be considering options for a vacation, or you may already have one planned. Either way, here are some suggestions to keep in mind when traveling or planning your trip if you have a visual impairment. First, if you want a change of scenery, but have yet to settle on a locale, consider choosing a destination that engages senses other than sight. Some examples of such sensory experiences are the aroma of a Parisian bakery, or the feel of a Caribbean breeze, which can offer a nice contrast to your daily life. Among the key aspects to consider when planning your trip are your accessibility needs. If you’re traveling alone, it might be best to visit a metro area, as these are typically easier to navigate and offer more accessibility features. If you have a companion, however, consider venturing to more rural sites. Whatever destination you decide on, be sure to do some research on what resources there are for visitors with blindness and low vision, such as accessible tours and public transit maps in large-print or audio formats. These offerings can often be found on government and official tourism websites. Similarly, be sure to check their policies regarding visiting with animals if you have a canine assistant. Another handy tip for the preparation phase is to make a checklist of all of your assistive technology and make sure that everything is functional and any software you use is up to date. When it comes to travel and lodging, it’s a good idea to call ahead and ask for assistance in navigating any unfamiliar airport, train station, and hotel you’ll visit. Most places should be able to accommodate your needs, and this can minimize stress while traveling. For more travel tips, check out this article from All About Vision, Yes, You Can Travel If You’re Blind or Have Low Vision. [...]

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Team Chosen to Represent U.S. in 2023 Goalball Youth World Championships

by Connor Courtien, RDPFS Intern:   Five teen athletes have been selected to represent the United States in the 2023 Goalball Youth World Championships, which is set to take place from July 15-19 in Sao Paolo, Brazil. Played competitively in 112 nations, goalball involves two teams, each made up of three players, who face each other across a court, with one team seeking to roll a basketball-sized ball with bells inside “over the opponent’s goal line.” Members of the opposing team attempt to block and gain control of the ball, at which point they become the offensive team. The championship tournament has historically been very significant in the development of young American goalball athletes, with many former participants having gone on to represent Team USA in the Paralympic Games. It will mark the eighth time the U.S. is represented at the Goalball Youth World Championships, having previously accumulated 13 medals between the boys’ and girls’ teams. ‘“It has been six years since Team USA has competed at the IBSA (International Blind Sports Association) Goalball Youth World Championships when the boys’ team won the gold medal in 2017,”’ remarked U.S. Head Coach Keith Young. ‘“This year, we are sending a full team with youth players that had a strong showing at the 2022 U.S. National High School Goalball Championships, and we expect to make the medal podium.”’ Be sure to read more about the members of the team and their achievements in this post on the Five Athletes Selected to 2023 Goalball Youth World Championship Team from the U.S. Association of Blind Athletes (USABA). [...]

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New Search Engine Feature Expands Accessibility of Images

Several new accessibility features have been announced by Google. These innovations include detecting typos in URLs as well as an enhancement of its Lookout, or “assisted vision” product, launched in 2019 to help people who are visually impaired. The Lookout app utilizes a phone’s camera to assist people with low vision or blindness get more information about their surroundings and perform daily tasks more easily and efficiently. A new “’image question and answer’” feature enhances the Lookout experience. Google has explained that “’Now, whether or not images have no captions or alt text, Lookout can process the image and provide a description of it—then people can use their voice or type to ask questions and have a more detailed understanding of what’s in an image.’” Read more from MyBroadband here about how Google Chrome will check URLs for typos and more. Please note that when  going to this link for the first time, the site may ask you to verify that you aren’t a bot trying to create spam traffic prior to connecting to it. [...]

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Application Available for 2023 Foundation Community Partnership Award

Each year, the Mutual of America Foundation holds a national competition among hundreds of nonprofit organizations. Their Community Partnership Award recognizes “exemplary leadership” in “facilitating partnerships with public, private, or social leaders who are working together as equal partners…to build a cohesive community that serves as a model for collaborating with others for the greater good.” The competition is now open and the deadline to submit applications is July 1, 2023. Award winners demonstrate the value of the partnerships to their communities as well as the ability for their work to be replicated by others and “their capacity to stimulate new approaches to addressing significant social issues.” Awards include: The Thomas J. Moran Award, with a $100,000 grant and a documentary video about the program; The Frances R. Hasselbein Award of $50,000 to a partnership addressing social challenges in multiple communities or the ability to be replicated; and four other Honorable Mention recipients, each of whom receives $50,000. Applicants must submit general information about their organization, a written statement about the project and partnership, an annual report, financial statement, and other organizational details. For more information, and the application form, visit the webpage with the 2023 Application for the Mutual of America Foundation Community Partnership Award. [...]

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Virtual State of the Science Conference on Disability Statistics Recording and Summary Document Released

The Interagency Committee on Disability Research (ICDR) conducted a two-day conference in February to review the “state of the science in disability statistics.” Federal, state, academic, and other partners came together for this State of the Science Disability Conference on Disability Statistics to consider the current state of key topics in statistics related to disabilities. Topics covered ranged from research on disability using linked datasets to collaborative efforts across stakeholder groups to future directions in disability research, to name a few. Among the key findings: – Identifying specific subgroups related to disability is crucial to ensure that all disability groups are represented; – It is necessary, useful, and expected to include people with disabilities in every stage of the research process; – Possessing data provides power; and – It is vital to make data accessible and user friendly to a wide range of individuals, “especially consumers.” A document has been published by the ICDR with highlights from the conference as well as a full summary report and recording. These materials are available on the ICDR Reports page listing for the 2023 ICDR Virtual State of the Science Conference on Disability Statistics. [...]

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