Dedicated to Improving the Lives of Blind and Visually Impaired People

RDPFS Resources for Partners June 23, 2023

Summer Reading Program’s Virtual Launch: June 26, 2023

The National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled (NLS) and its affiliated libraries nationwide invite patrons of all ages to join in the Kickoff of the NLS Summer Program on Monday, June 26, 2023 at 4 pm ET on Zoom. Dr. Carla Hayden, the Librarian of Congress, will read from a storybook, followed by “Music and Story Time” with Matt Mazur from Turtle Dance Music. This online event is open to all ages. Register here to join in the NLS Summer Reading 2023: Kickoff. This kickoff will be followed by author talks, story times, and music each week, starting on Thursday, July 29 at 7 pm ET. That event will feature Megan Labrise, editor-at-large of Kirkus Reviews, speaking with Shelby Van Pelt, The New York Times bestselling author of Remarkably Bright Creatures. Register here for the NLS Summer Reading 2023: Author Talk: Shelby Van Pelt. Those who sign up to attend will receive details about how to join each event after registering. To locate the NLS library serving your area, visit their “Find Your Local Library” webpage here. You may also call 888-NLS-READ (888-657-7323). [...]

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Deafblind Awareness Week: June 25 to July 1, 2023

Deafblind Awareness Week, observed at the end of June each year, aims to increase awareness of individuals who have combined vision and hearing loss. The timing recognizes and honors the birth of Helen Keller, the renowned “champion for people who are blind or deafblind,” on June 27, 1880. Established in 1984, this commemoration calls attention to the accomplishments and needs of those who are both blind and deaf. Although many people think those with these dual sensory losses cannot see or hear, most individuals who are DeafBlind “have some degree of usable vision and/or hearing,” according to a post on the Paths to Literacy website. However, the combination of hearing and vision loss causes “’severe communication and other developmental and educational needs.” Therefore, children who are identified as DeafBlind are “singled out educationally because impairments of sight and hearing require thoughtful and unique educational approaches in order to ensure that…(they) have the opportunity to reach their full potential.” This year’s awareness campaign celebrates the strengths and contributions of those who are DeafBlind in the workplace. Helen Keller National Center (HKNC) provides resources and suggestions to join in the celebration, including information about the DeafBlind community; pointers on how to raise awareness among employers, elected officials, and online; and more. Find out additional details from the Helen Keller Services webpage on DeafBlind Awareness Week 2023. More information about the occasion and about DeafBlindness are provided on the Paths to Literacy announcement Celebrating Deafblind Awareness Week. [...]

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Why Disability Inclusion Matters in Workplace DEIA Efforts

With a diverse workforce, organizations gain new perspectives, experiences, and ideas. Competitive organizations are those that strengthen diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA) efforts. Throughout the month of June, the Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion (EARN) is calling public attention to the reasons why company DEIA plans and efforts need to encompass people with people with disabilities. EARN recognizes that people with disabilities are the “largest minority group in the world,” and that businesses inclusive of those individuals “benefit from a wider pool of talent, skills, and creative business solutions.” Additionally, “people with disabilities represent the third largest market segment in the United States” and inclusion practices geared toward these populations also benefit everyone. So, by hiring and involving individuals with disabilities, employers can gain increased understanding of how to meet the needs of “this important and expanding customer base.” To provide guidance for employers across all industries who are new to understanding the role of disability in advancing workplace DEIA initiatives, EARN offers specific action steps that can be taken, covering: – An inclusive business culture: involving an organization-wide commitment to DEIA and plans and implementation; – Disability-inclusive outreach and recruitment: developing relationships with a wide range of sources for recruitment of qualified candidates with disabilities; – Disability-inclusive talent acquisition and retention policies: facilitating hiring and advancement of those with disabilities. – Accommodations: providing resources employees with disabilities need in their jobs, such as assistive technology, flexible schedules, or other offerings; – Effective communication of policies and practices internally and externally: demonstrating commitment to disability inclusion; – Accessible information and communication technology: ensuring that the workplace is physically and digitally accessible for all; and – Accountability and Self-Identification: adopting written policies, practices, and procedures and tracking effectiveness and identify possible improvements. For more details, read the EARN webpage on Disability Inclusion in the Workplace: Why It Matters. [...]

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Request for Information Issued to Ensure Access to “Decent Work” for Persons with Disabilities

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs (USDOL/ILAB) has posted a Request for Information (RFI) to gain input, advice, knowledge, recommendations, and promising practices from those experienced in “strengthening engagement for disabled persons, including disabled workers.” This RFI focuses on the “relationship between disability rights and access to decent work” and “supports disability inclusion and economic empowerment as potential strategies and remedies.” Findings will be used to point out research gaps as well as promising approaches, practices, and policies that are effective in reducing discrimination and barriers that negatively impact “equitable access to education, employment, and social protection.” This is strictly a request for information, with no related funding opportunity announcement. For additional information, and to read the full description of this opportunity, visit the Grants.Gov webpage regarding this Request for Information USDOL/ILAB: Ensuring access to decent work for persons with disabilities. [...]

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Men’s Health Month

The month of June marks the celebration of Men’s Health Month, aimed at increasing education and awareness of the health conditions affecting men around the world. This commemoration addresses issues affecting the well being of men, including the need for regular medical exams, including eye care. Generally, men are less likely to seek medical check ups and care than women, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Regular care helps to prevent illness and is vital in ensuring timely treatment. In terms of eye health, early detection and treatment are important to preserving vision and to overall health. Diabetes, for example, is the leading cause of new cases of legal blindness among adults ages 20 through 74. It can be detected through an eye exam, based on its effects on blood vessels in the retina. Diabetic retinopathy, the eye disease most commonly caused by diabetes, can sometimes be prevented with regular medical and eye care, proper nutrition, and ongoing exercise. For those with diabetic retinopathy, vision loss can be halted or prevented with early detection and treatment. Diabetic retinopathy is also among the ocular conditions that are more common in males, according to the NCBI (National Center for Biotechnology Information of the National Institutes of Health). Other eye pathologies more prevalent in men include retinitis pigmentosa (RP), which causes deterioration of peripheral (side) vision and eventual loss of vision in most cases, acquired central serous retinopathy (causing central vision loss or distortion), and color blindness. For additional details about RP, read the webpage from NORD (National Organization for Rare Diseases) here. Information about central serous chorioretinopathy is available from the American Academy of Ophthalmology here. Color Blindness information follows this article. For more facts and resources about eye conditions and care overall, visit the National Institutes of Health – National Eye Institute’s webpage, “Keep Your Eyes Healthy.” The Men’s Health Resource Center also features useful information about various topics, such as diabetes, aging, and specifics about numerous eye conditions, including age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, and glaucoma. And for more guidance about health in general among men, read the HHS article asking men to take action to “Take Charge of Your  Health.” [...]

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Color Blindness: Types, Symptoms, and What to Do

Men’s Health Month is also an opportune time to highlight color blindness, since the risk is much higher among men than women for the condition. People with color blindness have difficulty distinguishing between colors because some cones (nerve cells) in the eyes are missing or do not work correctly. The most common type makes it hard to differentiate between red and green. Another kind involves blue and yellow. Complete color blindness, where no colors are seen, is uncommon. In addition to difficulties seeing the differences between colors, symptoms can include trouble telling how bright colors are or detecting different shades. People with serious cases of color blindness may also have other symptoms, such as nystagmus (“quick side-to-side eye movements”) or light sensitivity. In addition to male gender, those who are at risk for color blindness are those with: a family history of the condition (it is most commonly genetic); eye diseases such as glaucoma or age-related macular degeneration; or health problems like diabetes, Alzheimer’s Disease, or multiple sclerosis (MS). Color blindness may also occur because of damage to the eyes or brain. The condition can be detected with a test given by an eye doctor. While there is no cure for genetic color blindness, it usually “doesn’t cause serious problems.” If there are problems with everyday activities, devices and technology can help, such as special contact lenses and glasses, visual aids, apps, and other technology. With the use of an app, for example, a photo taken by a phone or tablet can be tapped in a particular area to find out the color. For more information, read the pieces from: the National Eye Institute (NEI) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) entitled “At a glance: Color Blindness” and from the Cleveland Clinic on “Color Blindness.” [...]

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New Apps Provide Virtual Labels for Controls and a Way to Explore Images

Two new free tools for users of iPhones who are visually impaired are now available, following their development by a team currently based at the University of Michigan (U-M_).One reads the labels on control panels; the other identifies features within an image so that they can be explored through touch and audio feedback. The VizLens app is essentially a screen reader that speaks what appears on labels at the user’s direction. With this innovation, users, via their smart phones, can understand and operate everyday objects, such as home appliances and public kiosks. ImageExplorer, the second app, provides input to help people with vision loss better discern the content of images. The app developers incorporated “object and detection models—including Meta’s Detectron2 visual recognition library and Google OCR (optical character recognition) and image analysis models.” With the uploading of an image, ImageExplorer provides a comprehensive analysis of the content of images along with an overview of the visual, including objects detected, relevant tags, and a caption.  Anhong Guio, U-M assistant professor of computer science and engineering, led the development of both apps. VizLens made its “academic debut in 2016,” while ImageExplorer was first discussed in 2022. Guo’s team has relied on feedback from hundreds of user-testing participants who are visually impaired and have experimented with VizLens and ImageExplorer. Some features of ImageExplorer need further detail and different parts of the app “sometimes give conflicting information.” Guo points out that “’The accuracy relies on the models we use, and as they improve, ImageExplorer will improve.’” Despite the shortcomings, results presented in 2022 demonstrated that the app does make it possible for users to “’make more informed judgements of the accuracy of the AI-generated captions.’” Read more from Tech Xplore here about how  “New apps for visually impaired users provide virtual labels for controls and a way to explore images.” To access the apps, download VizLens here and ImageExplorer from the App Store here. [...]

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

Enjoy the best in current fiction, romance, mystery, biography, adventure, and more. Reader’s Digest Select Editions Large Type features expertly edited best-selling books in every volume. You get a full year of exciting reading (five volumes in all), for the low nonprofit price of $25. Indulge your love of great reading in a format that is comfortable and pleasurable to read. A portion of the proceeds from each subscription supports Reader’s Digest Partners for Sight Foundation’s work and dedication to fostering the independence of people who are blind and visually impaired. Each subscriber also receives a large-print calendar free of charge. Subscribe to Reader’s Digest Select Editions Large Type today or give a gift subscription. To order your subscription by phone, call 1-800-877-5293. [...]

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