LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired, based on San Francisco, CA, is offering presentations, via zoom, by developers of apps for people who are blind or with vision impairment. Featured developers represent both mainstream and specialized apps, including Be My Eyes, Spotify, Microsoft Soundscape, Voice Dream Scanner, Aira and GoodMaps Explore. For more details and to register.
A roundtable discussion on accessible gaming for iPhone and iPad will be held by the New New York Public Library Andrew Heiskell Braille and Talking Book Library. Participants can hear from others about their favorite games – and share their own. Join here.
The National Federation for the Blind (NFB) National Convention, “Anywhere and Everywhere,” will be held virtually from July 6 – 10, 2021. “Whether you are learning about the National Federation of the Blind for the first time or are a longtime member curious about the latest accessible technology, you will find something to meet your needs at this year’s convention.” Conference offerings include a “Rookie Round Up” for those new to NFB; an exhibit hall, featuring new technology and other products and services; a career fair; information on new apps and workplace advances; opportunities to network with other attendees and NFB President Mark A. Riccobono; and much more. To register and for additional details.
“Better Together Wherever We Are,” the 60th Conference and Convention of the American Council of the Blind (ACB), takes place virtually from July 16-23. “’Despite all the challenges we faced during the coronavirus pandemic, we reached so many more members and friends of ACB in this format,’” said ACB executive director Eric Bridges. “’It has been exciting to see all the new relationships that have formed in a virtual universe.’” This year’s conference features eight tracks, including: Audio Description; Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; Education and Employment; Entertainment; Health and Wellness; Technology; Advocacy; and General. For more information and to register.
Chair of the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) LGBTQIA Plus Group, Sanho Steele-Louchart, spoke during the June presidential release, a monthly message from NFB President Mark A. Riccobono. He highlighted the significance of Pride month in the NFB community, highlighting the importance of reaching out to those who are blind and LGBT. The group holds regular discussions via zoom, every Thursday at 9 pm EDT and via email to speak about what it means to be a blind LGBT person, or to be an ally of an LGBT person. For more information, visit NFB's website, or contact Sanho Steele-Louchart, via email: [email protected] or by connecting through the NFB LGBT Facebook page. For a personal perspective, read Connor “Carley” Mullin’s article "What Pride Means to Me."
Blind LGBT Pride International (BPI), an organization formed in 1999 by members of the American Council of the Blind (ACB), pursues the mission “to promote the awareness, inclusion, and well-being of blind and vision impaired LGBT people through education, advocacy, and peer-support.” BPI reaches out with support to members via email communications, virtual town hall meetings and an annual gathering at the annual ACB convention. They also produce a podcast each week, aired through the ACB Mainstream Radio, "Pride Connection."
Hadley Discussion Groups are increasingly popular ways for anyone with a visual impairment to connect to others with shared passions and experiences. From gardening to cooking, tech tools to braille, there’s something for everyone on these monthly call-in groups. Upcoming groups include “Get Up and Go!” for staying physically active on July 7, “Travel Talk” on July 7, “Writers’ Circle,” July 13, and “Crafting Circle,” July 18. To learn more, visit Hadley.edu/Discussion-Groups or call 800-323-4238.
“IGNITION,” a fitting name for the new business creation program from Honda Motor Company, Ltd., has announced that they are developing “an in-shoe navigation system to support the visually impaired…” This new venture, established as Ashirase, Inc., aims to begin sales prior to the end of their fiscal year ending March 31, 2023. The navigation system uses a smartphone app and vibration, relying on a motion sensor inside the shoe. Ashirase provides data conveyed through the user’s foot movement. By doing so, it does not interfere with hand movement and use of a white cane or with the sense of hearing. The vibrators are positioned to align with nerve layers, making it “easy to feel the vibration.” For more information, read about it in Stockhouse here.
The Android operating system for smart phones offers an increasing variety of accessibility features for users with vision, hearing and speech impairments. For example, TalkBack, Android’s screen reader for phones, enables users to interact with their device tactually and through spoken feedback. The screen reader describes what you are doing and speaks aloud when alerts and notifications arrive. A simple description of Android accessibility features can be found in an article from The Times of India. Read about it here.
A number of disability organizations have expressed concern over the paper ballot mandate that is part of the For the People Act (H.R. 1/S. 1). More than two dozen organizations signed a statement included in a press release detailing those concerns and issued by the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD). Although the Act covers provisions to enhance access for voters with disabilities, the paper ballot will “inevitably harm voters with print disabilities…” Among the issues: that it will end innovations to “produce a fully accessible voting system that provides enhanced security;” limit voters’ right to privacy and the ability to “independently…cast their ballots;” and that it will “ultimately segregate voters with disabilities.” For more information about the For the People Act, the concerns related to the paper mandate, and the changes sought by the organizations to ensure accessibility in the proposed legislation, read the full press release.
A team of researchers led by Professor Shelby Temple from the University of Bristol, England have “introduced insights into identifying future risks of age-related macular degeneration (AMD)…,” according to Nature World News. Their work is based on the premise that by examining the color-blind qualities of octopus and “their ability to detect polarized lights,” researchers and eye care practitioners can develop medical devices to determine the risk factors for vision loss in humans. The research team “measured polarization vision” in their octopus subjects in an effort to develop an ophthalmic device to facilitate screening people with low macular pigments. More information about their novel findings can be found here.
With the growing numbers of older adults – and the accompanying rise in the incidence of low vision and other lifestyle challenges – safety at home is gaining increased attention. AARP now offers a free “HomeFit Guide.” This publication, available in English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese, offers practical advice for every room of the house. Utilizing task lighting, contrasting colors along the edges of counters, and using tactile labeling are among the recommendations related to vision challenges. They also now have a HomeFit AR app, available for iPhone and iPad, that can be used to identify household objects like refrigerators, sinks and stairs. The app scans a room and suggests improvements to make the house safer. To learn more and download the Guide: get HomeFit. For the HomeFit AR app: get the app. Read more about HomeFit and about “Aging in Place Comfortably and Stylishly” in The New York Times here.