Dedicated to Improving the Lives of Blind and Visually Impaired People

RDPFS Resources for Partners June 3, 2022

Tomorrow: Join in a Virtual Discussion on Planning New Activities or Travel

Do you have concerns when planning a new activity or preparing to go somewhere new? Do aspects of your vision impairment "come into play in either deciding to do them (new activities) or being able to do them?" Would you like “to be able to call up your strengths to push by those concerns?” Join in the Delaware Valley Council of Citizens with Low Vision (DVCCLV)’s Zoom discussion tomorrow, June 4, 2022 from 12:45 to 2:15 pm Eastern Daylight Time (EDT), to consider these questions and how they can be resolved. Join in tomorrow's Zoom here. For more information, including telephone instructions, contact DVCCLV at [email protected].

Virtual STEM Camp for Students with Vision Loss Begins Next Week: Spots Still Available

The Virtual ExCEL STEM Camp, provided free of charge by APH (the American Printing House for the Blind), begins preliminary sessions on June 8, 2022. APH first hosted the online summer camp in 2020 and 2021 and invites families to join in this year’s adventures. The nine sessions run from mid-June through mid-August for students from kindergarten through high school seniors. Preliminary sessions on June 8 and 9 feature a two-day program on problem-solving skills for younger campers and a “career open house” for older students. Once in full gear, the camps will include activities like “tending the garden, while learning all about perimeter and area, surviving on a desert island, camping out in the wilderness, becoming a crime scene investigation team, and building our math skills with the incredible edible abacus.” APH invites individual registrations as well as sign ups by groups through teachers hosting larger camps and by TVIs (teachers of the visually impaired) seeking to learn more about instruction in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) subjects. The activities will be recorded and posted on the APH YouTube playlist for campers who are not able to join in the live sessions. To learn more about each camp and to register, visit the APH website page on 2022 Virtual ExCEL STEM Camp.

New Accessibility Tools for Screen Readers, Checking Text, and More Coming Later this Year

by Jaime Rodriguez, RDPFS Intern

Apple has announced new accessibility features for users with disabilities, expected to drop later this year. Over the years, the company has heightened the accessibility of its products by upgrading its hardware, software, and machine learning to assist users with disabilities. As a result, users can not only operate their devices independently and with more ease, but they can also navigate their environment with more ease and independence. A major innovation for those who are blind or have low vision is Door Detection, which can assist users in locating doors and describing door attributes, such as whether it is open or closed, and whether the door can be opened by pushing, pulling, or turning a handle. This feature can also announce signs or symbols around doors, such as room numbers or accessible entrance information, utilizing LiDAR, the device's camera, and machine learning to function. Door Detection will be available in Detection Mode within the Magnifier, Apple's support app for users who are blind or have low vision. Another new feature expands the use of the VoiceOver screen reader to include more than 20 additional locales and languages. VoiceOver on Mac has gained a Text Checker tool that can find common formatting errors, making proofreading digital documents simple. Other innovations include a Voice Control Spelling Mode that allows users to dictate the spellings of words, one letter at a time, and a Buddy Controller where two people can play games as one, using technology to combine input from two controllers. These features and many more will be available on newer iPhone and iPad models that have a LiDAR scanner. For more information, please read the press release, “Apple announces new accessibility tools for disabled people.”

Upcoming Events of Note

Personal Use or Reasonable Accommodation: Webcast Training on June 9, 2022

Sometimes what is thought of as a personal use item may be considered a reasonable accommodation. In a webcast on June 9, 2022 from 2 to 3 pm Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) consultants from the Job Accommodation Network (JAN) will explore the issues involved when determining what is considered a personal use item and what can be considered a reasonable workplace accommodation. For details and to register, go to Personal Use or Reasonable Accommodation: What’s What?

Webinar Series to Examine Public Transit as It Applies to People Who Are Blind and Visually Impaired

A series of three interactive webinars this month will consider “The Potential, Promise and the Pain of Public Transportation: A Primer on Accessing, Funding, and Advocating for Transportation.” Each session covers an area of public transit, from the basics, to how to “participate and inform transportation services," to the benefits derived from partnership and advocacy. Sponsored by the Vision Serve Alliance Aging and Vision Loss National Coalition (AVLNC) and the Alliance on Aging and Vision Loss (AAVL) Special Interest Affiliate of the American Council of the Blind, the webinars are open to the public, although pre-registration is required. Attendance is limited, so be sure to register as soon as possible. Registration links for each program are included below:

On June 15, 2022, from 1 to 2:30 pm EDT: The Basics of Public Transit: The Complete Trip from a Blind/Low Vision Perspective, the first webinar in this series, covers the framework of public transportation, including regulations and funding, and the challenges people who are blind or visually impaired face. For more information and to register, click on the link for The Basics of Public Transit: The Complete Trip from a Blind/Low Vision. Perspective.

The program on June 21, 2022 from 1 – 2:30 pm EDT explores how to Make a Difference: Strategies to Participate and Inform Transportation Services. Participants will learn about strategies to facilitate the involvement of community advocates and human services providers in transportation planning. Information will be provided about national, state, and local opportunities to join in mobility management and coordinated transportation networks, tools to facilitate partnerships with colleagues in health, education, and labor sectors, and more. For additional details and to register, check out Make a Difference Strategies to Participate and Inform Transportation Services.

During the final session in the series, on June 29, 2022, from 1 to 2:30 pm EDT, attendees will learn about Using Partnerships and Advocacy to “Get on the Right Track” with Accessible Transportation: Specific Examples. This program will use case studies to cover the many aspects of public transit, including the stakeholders involved, the process, outcomes, current status, lessons learned, and more. For details and to register, click on the link here for Using Partnerships and Advocacy to "Get on the Right Track" with Accessible Transportation: Specific Examples.

Information about the series, including featured speakers, is also available by clicking on the dates for each session on the Vision Serve Alliance Calendar here.

June is Cataract Awareness Month

To increase awareness of cataract, which remains the leading cause of vision loss in the United States, Prevent Blindness has declared June as Cataract Awareness Month.  Cataract, a clouding of the lens of the eye, blocks or limits the passage of light into the eye. Cataracts may result in blurry or hazy vision and distorted perception of color. More than half of all Americans ages 80 and older have cataracts or have had surgery to remove them. Cataract may also occur in children, although the incidence is very low. Worldwide, cataract is the leading cause of blindness. The goal of this annual observance is to educate the public about risk factors, symptoms, types of cataract, and cataract surgery. Risk factors for developing this eye condition include such issues as age, excessive sun exposure, genetics, eye diseases such as glaucoma or diabetic retinopathy, and smoking. To learn more, read the article  For Cataract Awareness Month in June, Prevent Blindness Provides Educational Information and Resources on the Leading Cause of Vision Loss in the United States. For detailed information about cataract, including what they are, symptoms, causes, treatment, and more, visit the National Eye Institute of the National Institutes of Health webpage on Cataracts.

National Safety Month: Sports and Swimming Safety

by Jaime Rodriguez, RDPFS Intern

June, National Safety Month (NSM) in the United States, is a time when Americans can consider the safety of themselves and their families, friends, co-workers, and community members in their shared environments. NSM was first celebrated in 1996, when the National Safety Council (NSC) sought to spread awareness of safety hazards and accidental injury for industrial workers. Now it encompasses all aspects of health and safety for everyone, in the workplace and everywhere else. NSC advises about many ways to stay safe, including injury prevention, by identifying and assessing risks and hazards in one's environment, and slips, trips, and falls, which are a leading cause of accidental injury or death. The organization also focuses on analyzing ways to mitigate hazards in one’s environment. Now that it’s the summer season, people will likely be spending more time outdoors, participating in activities like swimming or playing sports. In recognition of NSM, here are some tips for how people who are blind or have low vision can stay safe during these activities.

Recreational swimming is a healthy form of exercise when approached safely. When swimming in pools, it is recommended that people who are blind or have low vision use a private lane, if available, to swim laps. Place brightly colored objects, radios, or other sound-emitting devices to mark the ends of your lane. When in open water, make sure to swim with a buddy. If you get disoriented, swim in the direction of the waves, or listen to the sounds in the environment, such as people talking or dogs barking, to orient you towards the shore. And as always, when swimming, wear goggles to protect your eyes.

During sports or other outdoor activities, it is also a good idea to use protective eyewear, such as sunglasses or goggles, to shield your eyes. To protect your head and body, wear a helmet and/or sports padding. If possible, visit the location where you will be playing ahead of game time, to identify any potential hazards you need to avoid. It is also a good idea to discuss your needs with your fellow players or peers. You can also check with your eye care professional about sports safety, as many activities may require restrictions or adaptive equipment for safety reasons. And as always, when for all outdoor activities, make sure to wear sunscreen to protect your skin, and wear appropriate sunglasses and a hat to protect your eyes. For more information about National Safety Month, check out the National Today article, “National Safety Month 2022,” here, or the National Safety Council’s website, here. For additional suggestions about swimming safety, check out the APH Vision Aware article, “Swimming: Tips for Swimmers Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired.” And for more information about sports and outdoor safety, read the APH Vision Aware article, “Outdoor and Sports Safety for Children Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired.”

Beep Baseball: The Sport’s 2022 World Series is Coming to Texas in July

by Jaime Rodriguez, RDPFS Intern

Baseball is one of America’s favorite pastimes, enjoyed by people of all ages and abilities. For people who are blind or have low vision and want to play the game they love, there is Beep Baseball. The adapted version of the game, Beep Baseball allows people who are visually impaired to play baseball with slight modifications. More than 30 teams play across the country, each consisting of six players who play a six-inning game. Teams can be co-ed and all players wear blindfolds to eliminate any advantage by players who have partial sight. There are two bases instead of three, located at the first and third base positions, which are four-foot tall, padded cylinders, with speakers that buzz to alert players in which direction to run. Beep Baseball players do not run all of the bases after hitting the ball; instead, a base operator turns on one of the bases, directing the batting player to run to one particular base. Two sighted participants play as pitcher and catcher, and one to two spotters in the field alert the defense as to which zone the ball has landed. “Beep baseball is a challenging, physically-demanding and enjoyable competitive sport for athletes who are blind or visually impaired…(who) use a combination of strength, skill and auditory senses to focus on the beeping ball and buzzing bases.”

Beep Baseball season culminates in a World Series of Beep Baseball. The 2022 World Series of the sport is coming to Texas in July 2022. The games will occur at the Cris Quinn Memorial Soccer Complex in Beaumont, from July 24 to 31, 2022. If you are interested in learning more about this event, check out the National Beep Baseball Association's webpage, 2022 World Series. And for more information about the sport, including an in-depth description of the gameplay, rules, or how to create or join a team, check out the National Beep Baseball Association's webpage title "Beep Baseball 101."

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