Dedicated to Improving the Lives of Blind and Visually Impaired People

RDPFS Resources for Partners March 3, 2023

Tax Tips and Resources for 2023

by Daniel Parker, RDPFS Intern

The beginning of March means that tax season is truly upon us. Following is a list of resources from across the Internet to guide you in filing the necessary paperwork:

- Turbotax has an article on filing with vision loss, updated for tax year 2022. It covers the various tax deductions people with vision loss may qualify for, although it does not directly touch on accessible ways to file.

- An article from the National Disability Institute has more on the tax deduction for those with vision loss.

- The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has an accessible tax resources page, including links to accessible tax forms and publications. Another IRS page explains the deductions, credits, and other benefits people with disabilities can claim. This article from the American Council of the Blind (ACB) explains offerings from the IRS in somewhat plainer language. It is important to note that the accessible forms are not only available in PDF format, which can be challenging for screen readers, but also in HTML, plain text, e-Braille, and large print versions. Another plain-language explanation is provided by this news release from the IRS.

- Finally, VisionAware has a tax guide bringing together various resources geared especially toward people with low vision.

We hope this information is helpful and that tax season goes as smoothly as possible for all of our readers.

Birding By Ear: Late Winter and Spring Edition

by Daniel Parker, RDPFS Intern

Birdwatching, particularly the auditory aspect, is a popular pastime year round for those with vision loss. As we approach the spring season, here is a brief summary of what to expect in the North American bird world for the next few months. Going into March, it is duck season. Not for hunting, but for migration back north to their nesting grounds. Making trips to places where many species of ducks congregate along with geese, gulls, eagles, and other winter birds can be a rewarding experience. Besides being generally vocal, male ducks put on elaborate courtship displays to attract the females, complete with calls distinctive to each species. This is also the time when songbirds, which have spent the winter mostly silent, lift up their voices. You can expect robins, cardinals, sparrows, finches, chickadees, woodpeckers, and others to be serenading you in the mornings especially. The migrating songbirds, including sparrows, finches and blackbirds, are also appealing. The real glut of songbird migrants, however, streams through from mid-April in the south to late May in the north. Easily overlooked unless you know they are coming, the most notable of these are more than 50 species of small, colorful, vocal birds called warblers. Turning up even in small pockets of woods, each species has its own specific songs, and you never know from one day to another what might land in your yard or park. Other migrants at this time include swallows, flycatchers, vireos, thrushes, tanagers, and grosbeaks. From June on, the singing drops off dramatically, and you start to hear the persistent begging calls of young birds eager to be fed by their parents. Once these become less noticeable, we circle back again to fall migration. All About Birds includes sounds for all our common birds. For those looking to learn songs in a more systematic way, however, two of the best resources, available for purchase, are the Peterson Birding By Ear series of CDs and the Larkwire song-learning game.

“Ask the TVI” Online Program Begins March 9, 2023

During Lighthouse Guild’s new “Ask the TVI” online support group, being held the second Thursday of each month, a Teacher of the Visually Impaired (TVI) will provide information about children’s vision loss, development, early intervention, educational policies, transitions, and more. The first discussion, on March 9, 2023 at 1 pm ET, will cover the stages of visual development and common sights of vision concerns in children. Learn more here about the "Development of Vision, Birth to Age 5" discussion.

Long COVID in the Workplace Webinar: March 9, 2023

Millions of people are now experiencing long-term, chronic health conditions as a result of their initial infection during the COVID-19 pandemic. Symptoms affect people in a variety of ways and can impact one’s ability to work. “Long COVID may be a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act, so employers need to ensure accommodation processes and practices are effective in retaining much-needed workers.” A webinar from the Job Accommodation Network (JAN) on March 9, 2023 from 2 to 3 pm ET will provide insights about the impact of Long COVID in the workplace. The program will include findings from the Disability Management Employer Coalition (DMEC) on the topic as well as tips regarding navigating the accommodation process, “accommodation solutions, and practical resources from JAN and the Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion (EARN).” To find out more and register, visit the JAN webpage What You Should Know About the Impact of Long COVID in the Workplace.

March is Social Work Month: The Importance of Social Work to Vision Rehabilitation

by Daniel Parker, RDPFS Intern

During March, Social Work Month 2023, we salute and thank social workers for their services and stress their importance to the rehabilitation of people with vision loss. The 2023 theme, “social work breaks barriers,” is a perfect summation of this. An article from the American Optometric Association (AOA) summarizes core social work services as they relate to rehabilitation. Their sample list includes food assistance, resources for those who no longer have a driver’s license, medication management and assistance programs, help with disability advocacy, mental health resources, resolving transportation to medical appointments, and more. Social workers have also been recognized for their role in addressing mental health issues that can emerge among older adults and others experiencing vision loss, according to many sources, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Recognizing this potential issue, AOA recommends doctors use screening questions to assess whether to involve a social worker, including asking the patient about this step directly. An article on blindness and visual impairment from the Encyclopedia of Social Work describes the services social workers can offer people with vision loss from the perspective of that profession and gives potential clients a notion of what to expect from them. Reinforcing the theme that “social work breaks barriers,” the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) recently recognized their importance to people with vision loss by bestowing their National Lifetime Achievement Award to Nancy D. Miller, LMSW, Executive Director and CEO of VISIONS Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired in New York. NASW CEO Angelo McClain, Ph.D., LICSW, reflecting on the impact of social work on the lives with those of vision loss, stated that “‘Ms. Miller has devoted her career to helping a community that is often marginalized and underserved in creative and resourceful ways. She has shown how the social work profession can help individuals and families surmount challenges and reach their full potential and help our society be a better place for all, including people who are blind or visually impaired.’” Let us, once again, thank all social workers for the assistance they provide to individuals with vision loss.

Gearing Up for World Glaucoma Week: March 12 to 18, 2023

An annual, global initiative of the World Glaucoma Association (WGA), World Glaucoma Week seeks to increase awareness of this leading cause of irreversible blindness. Glaucoma’s damage to vision may be limited with early detection and treatment. This initiative includes a series of worldwide activities that invite individuals affected by this condition, eye care providers, health professionals, and the general public to “contribute to sight preservation.” The goal is to alert everyone of the need for regular, comprehensive eye exams to identify glaucoma as early as possible to prevent vision loss. WGA provides resources, including newsletters  and social media posts (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) that can be shared and used to generate ideas for local projects. Learn more by checking out This is World Glaucoma Week.

Disability Journalism Fellowship Now Available: Application Deadline is March 24, 2023

Applications are now being accepted for a fellowship to cultivate the development of journalists specializing in coverage of disability issues. The New York Times and the National Center on Disability and Journalism, a service of Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, are working together for the third year on this fellowship “to address the lack of coverage of disability issues in journalism.” Fellows will be provided with mentors, a peer network, and training related to covering disability issues. The Times is seeking candidates for its 2023-24 Fellowship class who are “strong writers and creative thinkers, and are eager to throw themselves into a yearlong, intensive journalistic experience.” This program is intended for “an early career journalist.” For more information and to apply, read the listing here for Reporting Fellow, Disability. Additional details about The New York Times Fellowship are available here.

Commemorating Women’s History Month

"Celebrating Women Who Tell Our Stories" marks the theme of March, Women’s History Month 2023. The National Women’s History Alliance will be encouraging the recognition of women today and throughout history who have been active in “all forms of media and storytelling,” such as print, radio, stage, film, blogs, podcasts, and other forms of communication. As the month unfolds, this Bulletin will highlight the messages and individuals who exemplify the theme.

A Celebration of Black Women Leaders in the Blindness Field

To begin the recognition of Women’s History Month, and as we mark the conclusion of Black History Month, following are descriptions of a few of the African American women who have been leaders in the National Federation of the Blind (NFB). These descriptions are excerpted from an article in the Braille Monitor by Denise Avant, a member of the NFB Board, on Women's History Month: A Celebration of Black Women Leaders in the National Federation of the Blind. Avant is also a member of the Black Leaders Serving for Advancement (BLSA), a subcommittee of NFB’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee. In recent years, BLSA has held events to “highlight the leadership and potential leadership of Black members…” These leaders shared their stories in a BLSA program saluting Women’s History Month and moderated by Avant.
- Dorothy Griffin, current president of both NFB of Georgia and of the Metro Atlanta Chapter, “loves helping people, frequently taking calls from blind people…’to help them move to the next level, where they want to be...’” Among her many activities, she works in the media for NFB-NEWSLINE®.
- Barbara Manuel, president of NFB of Alabama, “loves to bring people together to work in the affiliate,” while serving as an advocate for members who call upon her when they have been “mistreated or discriminated against.” She balances her service with NFB with her work as a blind merchant.
- Suzanne Turner, first vice president of NFB of Ohio, shared her story about growing into her leadership position. In her early NFB career, she served as president of the Cleveland Chapter, stepping down after one year because “it was difficult for her to lead effectively…” After completing national leadership seminars, she again became president of the Chapter. “Telling her story shows her honesty and demonstrates her shared experiences with others.”
- Sabrina Simmons, second vice president of NFB of Michigan and chapter president of the Detroit Chapter, takes a “person-to-person” approach to communicate with members so that she can understand “’where they are coming from and help them move forward in their talents.’”
All four of these individuals credit the many women in their lives who served as mentors and role models, from family members to elected representatives to other NFB members, helping to “shape them into the leaders they are today.”

World Kidney Day on March 9, 2023 Advances “Kidney Health for All”

World Kidney Day, a global initiative, aims to raise awareness of the “importance of our kidneys” to overall health and to reduce the incidence and impact of kidney disease and “its associated health problems…” WKD 2023’s theme, “Kidney Health for All,” calls for integrated health strategies that prioritize prevention, early detection, and management of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), including kidney disease, diabetes, and other diseases, recognized as “the leading causes of death and disabilities worldwide…” Individuals with chronic kidney disease (CKD) have a greater risk of having visual impairment and major eye diseases. Research findings have indicated that “the prevalence of visual impairment and major eye diseases was approximately two- to seven-fold higher in participants with CKD.” The research findings also highlighted the importance of ensuring that people with CKD have access to regular eye care to detect and treat ocular conditions as early as possible. For more details about the study, read the Review of Optometry article explaining that Chronic Kidney Disease (is) Linked with Vision Impairment. Additional information and resources are available also from the National Kidney Foundation on Kidney Disease, Dialysis, and Your Eyes.

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